Monday, September 28, 2009

It's A Full Life

Friday 18 September 2009

One of my colleagues is retiring after 30 years service and we have a lunch for her. A small affair, we’re sad to see her go. Who’s going to send us our Friday quiz now? Actually, I’ve taken on that mantle.

Saturday 19 September 2009

The girls are out at ballet and then to Edinburgh for toy shopping and a surprise meeting with one of her Grannies. I have the house to myself so I put together the next two radio shows. It’ll be back to the usual mix of mod, soul, Motown and 60s alternative pop after tomorrow’s Northern Soul special.

I start to watch “Dial M for Murder”, which had been on the Sky+ box for a few weeks. I’m only halfway through it when the girls return and I abandon any hopes of concentrating on it. It’s the return of “Strictly Come Dancing”, which means I head off to the study with a bowl of Maltesers/M & Ms for some quality “pottering”.

Sunday 20 September 2009

One of these days I’ll do a whole radio show without a mistake, unfortunately it won’t be tonight. I turned up the speakers in the studio and enjoyed some quality Northern Soul tunes. Anyone got any lino and some talc?

Monday 21 September 2009

I get home from work early and watch the rest of “Dial M for Murder”. I knew he’d get found out. When I’m reincarnated I’m going to come back as a bounder/cad in the early 20th century. People believe anything they say, except clever detectives.

It’s our daughter’s first day with her new childminder. When I pick her up after school I see she has a massive bruise and scrape around her eye. In her excitement at showing her new childminder where she lines up on the playground, she tripped and fell. You can tell them until your blue in the face not to run but they just can’t resist it. They have so much energy and it’s hard for them to resist the natural urge to sprint everywhere. I wish I had it.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Before starting work, I write a letter to the Dunfermline Press about the number of school children who I witness on a daily basis playing “Chicken” in the local roads. I’ve encountered two such children directly in the last fortnight.

Today’s Twitter #baddriver award went to not one but two individuals. I say individuals, I mean cocks. Following on from the lane-swapping, non-indicating, speeding knobhead in the crap-looking BMW (a 1-series I believe – yes, I had to look it up), I go to collect my daughter from her after-school club. Having sent off the letter to the Dunfermline Press this morning, yet another child decides to step out into the road without looking. It’s a good job that I was driving at 15 mph and paying attention because she certainly wasn’t. I pointed out to the child that she could’ve been killed and that even my daughter knows to look both ways and she’s only five. The girl just shrugged her shoulders and wandered off!

Shortly afterwards I pulled up in the right hand lane at a roundabout. A local taxi was in the left hand lane. When the opportunity came to go I pulled away, keeping to the right. However the taxi driver (West Fife Taxi Driver Number 62) decided he wanted both lanes and cut straight across me. I swear that drivers in Fife are the worst I’ve ever had the misfortune to share a road with. I resisted the temptation to phone Ace Central cabs and make a complaint because it would’ve made no difference. I wouldn’t have got an apology; such is their arrogance. Taxi drivers think the world owes them a living and are always bleating in the papers about a lack of ranks and are quick to criticise any new service they think might threaten their livelihood, such as the Yellow Taxibus. When it came to the Taxibus they certainly weren’t above scare mongering and lying to the Dunfermline Press. I really miss the service because if I want a night out in Edinburgh I have to take the car and not drink. Sure there’s a night bus (aka “The Vomit Comet”) but one unpleasant trip on that particular mode of transport was enough for me. Early on in our move to Fife, even before I learned to drive, I had stopped using West Fife taxis. Most of the cars stank of cigarettes, were driven by shabbily dressed slobs and had scant regard for the rules of the road and other road users. My wife asks me if it’s just me that “attracts” these idiots. Is it?

My anger at the non-caring schoolgirl and the stupid taxi driver soon turned to joy when I got home as my daughter had brought home her first Learning Log from school. Now I don’t know if in this new ‘non-failure/deferred success’ society we live in these days whether these comments are in every child’s Learning Log but I was still quite emotional reading “wonderful work – as usual”, “what a clever girl” and my favourite “she’s going to be a fantastic writer”. Of course, she wasn’t really aware of how pleased I was with her. I mean, I told her of course how proud I was but she was more concerned with colouring-in and her Playmobil.

Mummy too was dead chuffed when she read the Learning Log. After tea, at Flick’s suggestion, we got out a quiz book; one designed for 5 to 7 years old, and asked her loads of questions. She loved getting the questions right, of which the vast majority were. I can’t think where she gets her love of quizzes from.

I listen in to “Pirate Radio” on Radio 6 International. John Cavanagh has a great radio voice and one I’d kill for. “Pirate Radio” is a show broadcast live from The Arches in Glasgow during which John takes us on a journey of musical memories. I wish I could’ve seen it in the flesh, rather than just the audio-only version, but I couldn’t justify another midweek jaunt along the M8.

Is it just me or does Mark Knopfler’s “Border Reivers” single sound like Jackie Leven?

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Having heard most of Collins and Herring's Podcast #82 yesterday, I downloaded the latest one last night and tuned in to the first 25 minutes on the way to work. It was bizarre sitting in a car listening to a podcast that had been recorded in a car. Where will they think of next?

Unless you’re a professional, writing a book is by no means easy. Apart from the fact I have so little time to dedicate to my own attempt, I’m not happy with what I’ve written so far. The lack of time and quality of the work are frustrating me. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself, I’m my own worst critic. I’m hoping a forthcoming weekend, when I’ll have the house to myself, I’ll be able to ‘get my muse back’ and plough on with it. I know that someone like Andrew Collins or Stuart Maconie would write it so much better than me but I don’t want to get hung up on that. I need to find my own voice and I’ll probably have to work even harder than a pro to get it knocked into shape. So far I’ve written about 25,000 words but I consider them to be no more than extended notes. I need to get on a roll with it, just like my daily exercise routine. Initially I struggled to fit in the cardiovascular and resistance routines but now they’re part of my day. I need to do the same with the book.

I’ve e-mailed Western Division of Fife Constabulary with my concerns about road safety with regard to the behaviour of some local school children – the ones with the death wish – and the speeding in my own street, which supposedly has a limit of 20mph.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Today’s in-car entertainment is an Inspiral Carpets compilation. My god they made some great singles. Add in my current gym soundtrack of The Charlatans’ “Melting Pot” and it might as well be 1990.

I had stopped buying the Dunfermline Press (aka the DePress due to its parochial and lifeless content) but I’ve starting getting it while doing the weekly “big shop”. My letter about death wish pedestrian school children is in. Also in is an interesting piece about a local resident – one of the boy/man racers – who has been done for an offence involving a motorcycle. I laugh my head off because he drives like an idiot all over the local area. Sadly he doesn’t seem to have learned from it. He was the one who parked across the pavement last week. I hope he loses his licence.

After collecting Felicity we head off to Tesco. She’s my little helper as we work our way through the shopping list. Her reward is a Kinder egg, which she reminds about on every aisle.

K and I catch up on last week’s “House” and an episode of “Pointless”, our new favourite quiz show. Some of the contestants on this edition were thicker than a thick thing from thickland. “Name a country whose name is spelt with six letters”. The first contestant said “Africa” and another said “Chile”!! God give me strength.

Friday 25 September 2009

I switch the alarm off and head to the shower. After my ablutions I check in my myopic state the time on my wife’s clock. Is that a 4? Shit, I’ve got up too early and it’s not even 5am. I check my own clock and I hadn’t switched it off after all, I’d dreamt it! I figure that I’m awake now so I head off to work early and hit the gym. I even get the very first car parking space. It’s not even 6am and life is good.

I have the gym to myself and get a good sweat on. A ten-minute cycle is followed by three circuits of leg press, pull-downs, chest presses, shoulder presses, some free weights and “the plank”. When I finish I see that the rashes have returned. Now the ones on my forearms aren’t so bad but the insides of my legs are really blotchy. I’m either picking up something from the gym – maybe it needs a good clean – or I’m developing heat spots. I keep ruling out the latter because I’ve only been getting them in the last couple of weeks and I’ve been gym-bound for the last few months. Bizarre. Dr Gregory House would know what it was.

I finish Paolo Hewitt/Paul McGuigan’s book about Robin Friday, “The Greatest Footballer You’ve Never Seen”, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. He was like a cross between Stan Bowles, George Best and Frank Worthington but only played in the lower leagues. I wonder if there’s any footage of him on YouTube.

Friday night is always one for short half hour/one hour programmes. We attempt a two-hour Miss Marple but have to give up after an hour and 20 minutes as we’re both nodding off. I can tell I’m tired when I can’t settle on the sofa. As soon as the nodding dog takes over we give up and go to bed. By the way, I do think that Julia McKenzie makes a much better Miss Marple than Geraldine McEwan. Julia plays it less like a nosy old woman.

Saturday 26 September 2009

The girls are out at ballet and, after a brief return for lunch, the hairdressers. I’ve prepared a big To Do list and the new energised me works his way through it. Upload phone photos to PC? Check. Prepare another radio show plus Beatles special? Check (not so much Beatles as covers and Beatles tribute/novelty records). Copy a couple of CDs for Gaz? Check. Prepare two audio rounds for forthcoming quiz night? Done. Order a couple of CDs from Amazon (because I NEED more CDs)? Check, two more girl-related compilations duly paid for. Purchase some more blank CDs? Done. Update Amazon Wish List for Christmas (I know, it’s almost upon us again)? Done. Order more printer cartridges? Wait until pay day.

I’m also starting to put some thought into my Hospital Radio Awards entry for this year. I’m only going to try for the Specialist Music category. The Best Male Presenter category requires a “hospital” element and I always feel awkward going round the wards, harassing nurses going about their duty. The Specialist Music category doesn’t require that so I can fill my five-minute entry with juicy vignettes about mod and soul. Andrew Collins was telling me that when he was judging the Talk section of the Sony Radio awards entrants were given up to an hour for their entry! He suggested that filling five minutes was a lot harder than a whole hour and he’s not wrong.

I test the two audio rounds out on the girls and neither gets 100%, which is exactly what I’m after. I’ve done harder audio rounds but these will get the contestants thinking.

I’m pleased to receive an e-mail from Simon Goddard, author “Mozipedia” and “Songs To Save Your Life”. Simon and I corresponded many years ago when he was on the Isle of Skye and I was still living at home in Bonnyrigg. Simon put together a rather excellent fanzine called Jingles The Creep and we exchanged missives on all manner of music and culture-related topics. We lost touch, as you do, and it’s only in the last few months we’ve reconnected. The circumstances of the reunion, which is only via the information super dual-carriageway, were rather unusual and maybe I’ll relate the tale another day.

Simon reminded me that Saturday was the 24th anniversary of me meeting Morrissey outside the Caird Hall in Dundee. What I remember most about the day, apart from meeting the band and getting all my singles signed, was that I couldn’t do a thing with my hair. I don’t recall what “product” I was using but I had run out and my hair was a mess! I woke up in a Dundee B & B resembling Worzel Gummidge. At the gig I remember concocting a story for a girl who I think had broken her borrowed camera. She commented that she could never go out with me because I was such a good liar!

While I accept that people just don’t write letters anymore, Simon’s email is a hark back to the days when people still did such things and took pleasure in doing so. There was no delete button with pen to paper. A long, thorough email full of interesting stuff, with much to enjoy and comment on, that’s how my pen pal letters were “back in the day”. In those days the mood for each day was set by what the postman/woman would deliver, especially when I wasn’t working. Now, bar subscriptions to Mojo and Web User and an occasional delivery from Amazon, I have no expectations of my appointed postal worker. Anything out of the ordinary is a welcome and unexpected surprise but they tend to be few and far between. One interesting email is worth (at least) a thousand dull ones.

My friend Jayne from Motherwell, who I’ve also reunited with online recently, reminded me that 26 September 1985 was also the day we first met. Those really were the best of times. If only I knew then what I know now (about life, that is, not Jayne!). I never “went out” with Jayne but she did come around to my house and I liked her even more when I realised that my mother didn’t like her!

Sunday 27 September 2009

I love cycling, the sport that is, and the World Championships are on. The men’s road race is on today and I dip in and out of it. It’s on for the best part of six hours. I start watching it at home and catch the end in the radio station studio. Well done, Cadel Evans.

I started work on finding the carpet in the study! I know it’s there somewhere but with all the piles of “stuff” on it it’s hard to know where. I started off by moving round the CDs so I would have better access to the ones I use on my show. The CDs are split into three distinct categories; radio show ones (usually 1960s), Jocknroll (Scottish acts) and general A to Z for the rest. By the time the job was finished I was sweating like Stan Collymore in a car park.

The radio show went reasonably well. Being a perfectionist I’m never satisfied with it but there were no major errors. I console myself with the fact that even the likes of Terry Wogan and Ken Bruce still make mistakes. Graham Scott, who used to be on before me, is back at the station and I’m glad, if only because I’ll no longer have to run between studios to swap over during the news. We have a good bit of pre-show banter.

On the way home, another group of kids decide to play “chicken” with me on the road near my house. I just don’t understand their mentality. They’re lucky that it was me and not some speeding boyracer, of which there are plenty in the vicinity.

Monday 28 September 2009

This morning’s in-car entertainment is provided by The Wonder Stuff.

One of my local community police officers has emailed me about my recent problems with ‘death wish’ children and local boyracers. He’s going to do a “speed survey” in my street and find out what the local schools are doing to promote road safety. Knowing my luck the boy/man racers will be on holiday and I’ll be told there isn’t a problem.

My “quiet” time at the gym (11-12) is now busier than Piccadilly Circus. But I was first in so, whether they liked it or not, it was The Charlatans again. I should add the compilation of a “Gym CD” to my ever-expanding “To Do” list.

It’s a full life.

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