Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Like Pulling Teeth

Tuesday 29 December 2009

The hardest part of today's trip to work was getting out of my own drive. A cacophony of crunch-op sounds had me worrying for the tyres, especially as K thought that one of them looked a bit flat. It seemed okay this morning.

A busy morning culminated in my first appearance in the gym since Monday 14 December. I did a resistance workout but omitted the sit-ups between each circuit. For such a small gym it was busy with one girl taking instruction from Chris, the Sports Physiologist who had put me back on the straight and narrow and another regular pounding away on the step trainer. Someone I hadn't seen previously came in and impatient at having to wait for Chris to finish his training decided to turn the radio off and put his own CD on! This is considered bad form. The unwritten etiquette is that whoever is in the gym first has control over the music and today, as usual, it was me. I used to bring my own CDs and mp3 player but I was always a bit concerned about imposing my tastes on other people. The mp3 player also had a habit of getting tangled or falling out and wasn't worth the hassle. In the end I decided it was easier and less stressful to just put the radio on, make sure it was on a station with reasonable reception (not guaranteed) and get on with my workout.

If he'd asked around if anyone would mind if he put on a CD then I would have raised no objections, especially as I was about to finish and Step Woman had her own tunes. Chris doesn't seem to like the music too loud while he's working with someone, which is fair enough, but a simple ask around and it would have been okay. And the fact that he chose to put on the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits, which I like and purchased for K's Christmas, is neither here nor there. You ask first.

After I got back to the office and ate my lunch the weather started to turn. The snow was lying and quickly covered the area as far as I could see from my second floor office window. The boss told those who were travelling to Fife and the Borders to go home. You don't need to tell me twice. The snow was very powdery to touch but the volume soon built up. I cleared the snow from the car and headed off into the wilderness and another Narnia-like journey. Normally I go straight over the Comely Bank roundabout but a small roadwork meant the traffic tailed back to the roundabout. Plan B: I decided to take the opening before my normal exit. Other drivers had the same thought and we trundled, convoy-style, along our sneaky detour. I wondered why drivers didn't use this road more often and then it soon became clear why. The upward slope at the end is bad enough without having to then get across one lane of traffic into the busy flow on the other side of the road but when it's covered in snow and ice it's impassable (cue for a song?). Sir Edmund Hillary in a 4x4 would struggle to get up that hill and I made the smart decision to turn back. After performing a manoeuvre last seen on Dancing on Ice I turned back, took a more successful sneaky detour and got back on track only to find myself in nose-to-tail traffic on Craigleith Road. After what seemed like an eternity I got through the lights. As usual someone in the left lane cut across me without indicating as we went through the chicane that is the junction from Craigleith Road to Queensferry Road. There are two lanes going into the chicane and two lanes coming out so why so many in the left feel they need to cut across to the left is beyond me. Actually it isn't beyond me; they're dickheads. The rest of the journey was pain free.

Our street, if anything, has got worse with more crunching and popping as I gingerly put the car back in the drive. After the girls finished their lunch we out Home Alone 4 on. Now most franchises of this sort start to flag but the fourth instalment was in need of a crash car and defibrillator. It was woeful. I tolerated, nay enjoyed, the first 3 - especially the sound of Felicity laughing her head off - but 4 was terrible. After dinner we played The Magic Tooth Fairy Game, one of Flick's Christmas presents. You collect teeth, put them under the pillow on the Magic Bed and get a gold coin and the first to four gold coins is the winner. The game doesn't take too long and is ideal for families. My own complaint is that the gold coins don't always come out. The tooth is placed under the pillow; a "Magic Wand" is then used to trigger the disappearance of the tooth and in its place should appear a Gold Coin. K opined that this could make it the new Mousetrap, which, as everyone knows, never worked like it did on the telly adverts. As it turned out Felicity won.

K and I watched "In The Loop", one of my Christmas presents. Once you get over the fact that most of the actors from The Thick of It are playing completely different characters in what is essentially a spin-off from said series, it's an enjoyable political farce. Sure it's foul-mouthed but it's also hilarious.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christmas Gift for You

Sunday 20 December 2009

Did my last Christmas-themed radio show of the year and prepared for three days off.

Monday 21 December 2009

The last of the Christmas Shopping is done as Flick and I brave Tesco. The shop is full of dithering clueless idiots but we stay on-list and get in and out in no time. We even have enough time for Flick to do the scanning in the self-service checkout - what a star! We watch Home Alone after lunch.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Flick and I have a Making Day, which results in a mask, based on Daddy's face apparently, and a painted fairy. Post-lunch it's Home Alone 2.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

A heavy snowfall overnight has meant the obligatory snowman must be built. Being sub-zero outside we get out, do the deed and get back in as soon as possible.

Flick designs some Cool Cardz, which I think she got last Christmas, and I'm now officially a "Best friend". Cool! Flick then helps me dig out the car and drive. I say "help", she pelts me with snowball as I do the adult work. The third of the Home Alone triumverate is viewed after lunch. We then play Hangman on her chalkboard and I listen to Andrew Collins, who is Supersub once again. Knowing I have to at least attempt to get to work tomorrow I stick the shovel in the boot.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Drive through snow, ice and fog to get to work. I half expect to be having a breakfast cuppa with Aslan. Thanks to a snoring wife I'm up at a hideous hour and can't get back to sleep. The work clearing the car and drive yesterday has paid dividends, as it doesn't take that long to get the car going and the windows cleared. I drive to work to the soundtrack of Ryan Adams through the winter wonderland. Halfway across the bridge the fog lifts suddenly.

Due to a poor night's sleep I'm in work by 5.15am! Crazy, I know. I even thought, for a nanosecond, about going to the gym - I haven't been for over a week - but dismiss it with the seasonal "it's Christmas" excuse. I'm busy until everyone else comes in. I catch up with 109 e-mails. A breakfast buffet, which had been cancelled and then uncancelled, is organised in one of the classrooms. It's filled rolls and bucks fizz all round. I stick to orange juice. I get a flyer at 11am, which is when my lunch normally starts.

A colleague informs me that there are actually 4 Home Alone films. Sky only showed three, back-to-back, and I assumed that we'd seen them all. Sky isn't showing number 4.

A signed 7" arrived in the post from Fat Cat Records. It's Frightened Rabbit's "It's Christmas So We'll Stop". It's rather ironic as yesterday I had said on Twitter that Frightened Rabbit didn't really do too much for me. Not "pop" enough you see.

K makes some festive biscuits, which we all help to decorate, as follows:

Friday 25 December 2009

Christmas Day and Santa has brought me the box set I wrote to him about. It's "Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968". He also brought me a Yellow Submarine jigsaw, a book on the Top 100 60s albums and 007 Bond Girls playing cards.

Kirsty makes a fabulous Christmas dinner of chicken, roast potatoes (goose fat of course), Yorkshire puddings, pigs-in-blankets, carrots, peas and potato croquettes. A double-headed pudding in the shape of a Christmas Pudding and a chocolate pudding. Tre-men-dous!

Watched The Royle Family.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Boxing Day with the Outlaws, which was relaxing. More pressies in the shape of "In The Loop" and "Telstar" DVDs, a jumper, a Beatles t-shirt, a Toblerone, some socks and a blue gingham shirt. I might have forgotten something.

After driving home, laden done with even more presents for Flick, we put her to bed before embarking on the mammoth task of putting together a Playmobil farm set. Usually this is a Daddy Job but I need help on this one. Two hours and 15 minutes later the job is done.
Sunday 27 December 2009

Both Hibs and Aston Villa soundly thrashed. My mate Dave assisted me on my radio show. Did a Jocknroll special with contributions from Dave. We both enjoyed it and hopefully we can do it again this year. Home Alone 4 is on after all (not Sky) and I tape it for future festive watching. I know they're not great films but Flick loves them and I'd hate to deprive her of the last one. There isn't a Home Alone 5, is there? IS THERE?

Monday 28 December 2009

Listened to Andrew Collins on BBC6Music while putting together 5 radio shows for January. I'm utilising the 101-track "Where The Action Is" box set that Santa brought me. Listened to Andrew Collins, subbing for Cerys this time.

Back to work tomorrow...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Cat on "Where The Action Is" Kirkcaldy VRN 1287AM - Sunday 27 December 2009

I figure that by Boxing Day people have had enough of Christmas records so I've decided instead to give myself a musical Christmas present. I'll be joined in the studio - snow permitting - by my mate Dave as we host a two-hour Jocknroll special, playing a variety of well-known and not so well-known Scottish bands from the last few years:

Camera Obscura - Swan (4AD 2009)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
Aberfeldy - Tom Weir (Rough Trade 2005)
Roddy Hart - Flames (Odd Art 2004)
Sergeant - The Time Is Now (Shy Recordings 2009)
Ally Kerr - Could Have Been A Contender (Much Obliged 2007)
Roddy Frame - Western Skies (Redemption 2006)
Aztec Camera - The Boy Wonders (Rough Trade 1983) (Connect 3)
Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (Jeepster 1998) (Connect 3)
The Beatstalkers - Little Boy (CBS 1968) (Connect 3)
Big Dish - Miss America (WEA 1990)
The Bluebells - Wishful Thinking (Will She Always Be Waiting) (London 1984)
Superstar - Superstar (French vocal) (Deconstruction 1997) (Foreign Language)
Orange Juice - I Can't Help Myself (Polydor 1982)
The BMX Bandits - Let Mother Nature Be Your Guide (Karaoke version) (Vinyl Japan 1989) (Half-Time Instrumental)
Teenage Fanclub - Slow Fade (PeMa 2005)
Colin MacIntyre - Famous for Being Famous (Future Gods 2008)
The Fabulous Artisans - Sycamore Square (Bendi 2008)
The Goldenhour - Julie's In Control (Neon Tetra 2007)
Trashcan Sinatras - People (Lo-Five 2009)
Attic Lights - Never Get Sick of the Sea (Island 2008)
Del Amitri - Ceasefire (Chrysalis 1985)
Justin Currie - What Is Love For? (Rykodisc 2007)
Daniel Wylie - Define Love (Neon Tetra 2007) (Connect 3)
The BMX Bandits - I Wanna Fall in Love (Version #2) (Unreleased 1996) (Connect 3)
Simple Minds - Love Song 12" (Virgin 1981) (Connect 3)
The Orchids - Thaumaturgy (Sarah 1992) (Two of a Kind)
The Orchids - Last Thing On Your Mind (Siesta 2007) (Two of a Kind)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Please not that some of these tracks probably won't be aired due to the great likelihood of Dave and I blethering too much!

Good day, good health and enjoy the rest of the festive season. I'll be back on the 3rd of January with my normal show and a new theme tune.

The Cat

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Cat on "Where The Action Is"Kirkcaldy VRN 1287 AM - Sunday 20 December 2009

It's the last of my three festive extravaganzas:

Saint Etienne - I Was Born On Christmas Day (Heavenly 1993)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
Badly Drawn Boy - Donna and Blitzen (Twisted Nerve 2001)
Adam Faith - Lonely Pup (In A Christmas Shop) (Parlophone 1960)
Peter, Paul and Mary - Christmas Dinner (Warners 1969)
The Orchids - Christmas Is The Time To Be With Your Baby (Columbia 1964)
They Might Be Giants - Santa's Beard (Bar/None 1988)
KT Tunstall - Mele Kailimaka (Christmas in Hawaii) (EMI 2007)
Connie Francis - I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter (MGM 1962) (Connect 3)
Arthur Lee Harper - Wintertime (PHI 1968) (Connect 3)
Ed Harcourt - In The Bleak Midwinter (Unreleased 2004) (Connect 3)
The Beatles - Christmas Time Is Here Again (Lyntone 1967)
Low - Just Like Christmas (Tugboat 1999)
The Cocteau Twins - Frosty The Snowman (Fontana 1993)
The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York (Pogue Mahone 1987)
Britney Spears - My Only Wish (This Christmas) (Jive 2000)
Isabelle Aubret - Savez Vous Qu'il Fait Au Sapin de Noel? (Label Unknown 1969) (Foreign Language)
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Hwiannggerdd Mair (Mary's Lullaby) (Mercury 1993) (Foreign Language)
Russ Conway - Snow Coach (Columbia 1959) (Half-Time Instrumental)
The Crystals - Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Philles 1963)
The Variations - The Man With All The Boys (Immediate 1965)
The Beach Boys - Christmas Day (Capitol 1964)
The Beach Boys - Santa's Got An Airplane (Capitol 1977)
Valerie Masters - Christmas Calling (RGM 1964)
Pet Shop Boys - It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas (Fan Club 1997)
Teenage Fanclub - Jesus Christ (Creation 1997) (Under The Influence)
Dropkick - Scampi for Xmas (Download 2007)
Dan Lyth - Maybe This Baby Could Save Us All (Moojuice 2009)
Twice As Much/Vashti Bunyan - Coldest Night of the Year (Immediate 1967)
Darlene Love - White Christmas (Philles 1963) (Connect 3)
Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today (Rough Trade 2009) (Connect 3)
The Del-Vetts - I Want A Boy for Christmas (End 1961) (Connect 3)
Attic Lights/Cerys Matthes - Santa's Girlfriend (Island 2008)
Sufjan Stevens - Joy To The World (Asthmatic Kitty 2005) (Two of a Kind)
Sufjan Stevens - It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad (Asthmatic Kitty 2001) (Two of a Kind)
Nat King Cole - The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot (Capitol 1953)
Chris Rea - Driving Home for Christmas (Magnet 1988)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Good day, good health and have a great Christmas. I'll be back on the 27th for a modern Jocknroll episode of my show as I figure everyone is sick of Christmas records by then.

The Cat

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday 19 December 2009

Getting more Christmassy by the minute but I won't be venturing forth into the big wide world.

I slept like a log last night (I woke up and my head was on the fire! Boom-tish!) and missed the first hour of Sounds of the Sixties. I was ecstatic when, at 9.35 am, Brian Matthews played the Christmas Three-In-A-Row request I'd sent in a few weeks back. He even commented on the Jocknroll part of my e-mail address, calling it "brilliant". He then played Jackie DeShannon's "Do You Know How Christmas Trees Have Grown", "Mr Scrooge" by The Orchids and the Joe Meek-produced Valerie Masters with "Christmas Calling". It's made my day and it's now even 10am!

As the records are playing I'm bombarded, okay, slightly peppered with Twitter and Facebook comments. One of them even suggested I could do the sounds of the Sixties show. As someone who doesn't particularly like the sound of his own voice (some friends might disagree), I don't think I could. I mean, I'd LOVE to but not even in my wildest dreams could it happen.

I put the finishing touches to my Dec 27 show while the girls are at ballet. I must stress that only Flick does ballet. K sits in the corner knitting things like a cover for her iPhone. I kid you not, I've seen it!

The afternoon is spent cleaning. You can see the carpet in the study now, well most of it.

I received some information, by Special Delivery no less, from the BBC about the quiz show. It's the usual stuff about what you can and can't wear. It's just the excuse I need to have a look at my wardrobe. Having lost a stone and a half in weight I'll have to try on everything in my wardrobe to see what does and doesn't fit. A wee trip to the January sales could be on the cards. Ben Sherman, here I come.

It's exciting but also nerve-wracking. I always think a certain amount of nerves is natural but too much and you can go to pieces and make a fool of yourself. I need to swot up on the Eurovision Song Contest, my specialist subject, and I've been spending some time pouring over a couple of books and asking K to test me. Of course, this could all be pointless as I would have to get through five rounds first before I got to the final Question of Genius, which is to win some money. Still, best to be prepared just in case. Just don't be rushing to Ladbrokes to put any money on me. I find that if you worry too much about whether you'll win or not, you won't enjoy the whole experience and that, honestly, is why I do it. It's something different and always a talking point. I do believe the show will be going out sometime in April 2010 so I'll be embargoed from giving anything away until then. As it should be. I don't kiss and tell. Unless you tickle me!

I've also got to put some thought into my appearances on Fred MacAulay's radio show in January. The book has been giving me nightmares but I need to dig deep and get it re-started/done.

Right "Strictly Come Dancing" is finished so I can return to the living room...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still Still Ill

Wednesday 16 December

The lurgy still lingers like a bad smell. I try and catch up with some programmes on Sky+ that I've been meaning to watch for ages. "Wonderland: I Won University Challenge" and "Games Britannia: Monopolies and Mergers" are watched and deleted.

Thursday 17 December

I bit the bullet and went to the doctor's. I tend to flit between two doctors so I have more chance of getting one of them. I'm prescribed a double dose of Amoxicillin and fingers crossed that does the trick. I'll also make sure I finish the course. I've a bad habit of thinking I'm over the worst and then, bang, it's back!

After picking up my drugs (man) I head home for some soup and return a call form "A Question of Genius". They want to go over some information from my application to see what they can use for my my "biog" on the show. It might be the case that there isn't time for any little chats but they're prepared. I like that. They're thorough and pleasant about it.

Being a creature of habit, I bought the Christmas double edition of the NME. Boy, has it changed. Thankfully they've binned the next-to-impossible Christmas Quiz, which I would rather stupidly pour many a festive hour over every year. Instead I settle down with a hot drink, a pen and the Big Christmas crossword. With a hand from Mr Google it's eventually finished. Another important boy-job done.

It's started snowing and now it feels like Christmas.

After collecting The Flickster from Kids' Club I perform lots of adult grown-up tasks like filling the car with a water/anti-freeze mix, cover the windscreen and salt the driveway. I haven't got any grit or "proper" salt so I figure Sea Salt will be just as good!

Friday 18 December

I'm finally turning the corner as far as my ailments are concerned. I had a decent night's sleep, which is a good sign. My head is still a bit bunged up but the Amoxicillin is doing it's job What do the Verve know about drugs?

It's Terry Wogan's last day of "Wake Up To Wogan". I'll miss him. I enjoy his gentle badinage and Irish whimsy.

Everyday on my Facebook page I've been linking to a festive music video. It's my musical advent calendar and I thought I'd share them with my blog readers. Eyes down for a full house, here we go:

1 - 3. I missed the 1st to 3rd because I forgot!
4. Camera Obscura - The Blizzard
5. Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Let's Boogey To The Elf Dance
6. The Wedding Present featuring Simone White - Holly Jolly Hollywood
7. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
8. Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
9. Cocteau Twins - Frosty The Snowman
10. James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
11. Fountains of Wayne - The Man In The Santa Suit
12. Sufjan Stevens - Put The Lights On The Fire
13. Nina Van Pallandt - Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown
14. Thea Gilmore - That'll Be Christmas
15. Badly Drawn Boy - Donna and Blitzen
16. Connie Francis - I'm Gonna Be Warm This Winter
17. The Beach Boys - Christmas Day
18. Cineplexx and Ally Kerr - The Christmas Family Tree

More to come, assuming I'm spared over the festive period!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Ill

Friday 4 December

The throat infection is still around. The doctor prescribes penicillin with an Ibuprofen chaser. I head back to bed.

Saturday 5 December

World Cup draw. England are drawn against Algeria, USA and Slovenia, which is far removed from my prediction on Twitter of Jedward, Katie Price and Karry Katona. English punters are already discussing who'll knock them out on penalties.

Apparently Charlize Theron, who is co-hosting the World Cup draw, reportedly pulled out a ball and said "Ireland" instead of "France" during rehearsals on Friday. Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke stressed that it was 'only a joke'. I bet the Irish think it's funny!

The funniest ever episode of "The Thick of It". Next week's episode can't possible be funnier. Can it?

Sunday 6 December

Did the first of my three Christmas shows on the radio. A pleasant change from my normal show.

Monday 7 December

Back to work and back to the gym.

Tuesday 8 December

It's Flick Wriggly Nativity today and I have a half day. Before we witness her sparkling stage performance as one of the sheep in the choir, the Good Lady Wife and I take the plunge and get an iPhone each. Not the new super-duper 3GS but the common-or-garden 3G one. It's free, with a contract. We sit in the car, near the school, stuffing McDonald's and playing with out phones! all I need is a Burberry baseball hat.

The Good Lady Wife had spent the early part of the morning in the class and the teacher had said that Flick was "very intelligent". Now, we're not getting carried away with it but that is pleasing and we're secretly chuffed. She has her faults but the pluses out weight the negatives. Long may it continue.

Wednesday 9 December

I'm still fumbling my way around my iPhone and I'm not happy that you can't put your own ringtones on it. You can only do it if you live in the USA. This is despite there being a "Create Ringtone" option on one of the iTunes menus. I'm sure there's an illegal way round it but I can't be bothered with that. I download my first app, which is the Sky Sports Centre one. I also get the Sky+ app, which means I can set a programme to tape remotely if I'd forgotten to do it at home. It works from upstairs but I'll try it from work tomorrow.

Thursday 10 December

Being first into the office I always pick up a couple of copies of the Metro from the front reception. I peruse the normally idiotic letters page (no, it isn't as funny as the old Viz letters page) and see a letter from someone at BBC Scotland who is looking to speak to people who are looking to get motivated to achieve something in 2010, whether it be to lose some weight, run a marathon or swim the Channel. With a great desire to re-start my book in 2010, I drop her an e-mail. I also mention how I motivated myself towards the end of last year to rid myself of depression and lose weight this year. She replies that she'll be in touch. My 2009 health kick was the main reason the book fell by the wayside.

When I get a call from "A Question of Genius". I've been selected for the show and it'll be recording in January. I'm so chuffed. I don't expect to win (I never do) but I'm looking forward to it. I like the buzz of it all; the excitement of being involved in something that's going to be "on the telly". Should I get to the last round my specialist subject will be UK Top 40 hits of the 1980s and that's a big "should".

More apps: Facebook, Tweetdeck, a Virtual pool game and the Profanity app, a favourite of Andrew Collins and Richard Herring.

Friday 11 December

Our work Christmas night out. A (very nice) meal at Le Monde followed by a visit to The Jamhouse, which is owned by Jools Holland. It caters for an older crowd but is less of a meat market than some Edinburgh venues of old.

Between leaving the restaurant and heading off to The Jamhouse we have a couple of drinks. While there I get a call from the woman who put the letter in the paper about motivation and goals for 2010. We have a chat about what I want to do and she says what they're looking for and the format of the programme. (I'm being deliberately vague about the exact content of the conversation for reasons that, well, I can't go into just now!) Again, she'll get back to me after she's spoken to others who have written to her.

The nearest I get to hedonistic behaviour all night is when I mixing my drinks; Diet Coke in Le monde and Diet Pepsi in The Jamhouse! I danced most of the night, which may be down to the sugar rush! Unfortunately there's was no Slosh, which I'm a demon at.

Walked through Stockbridge (the lure of the chip shop is strong but I resist) to get to my car and bump into an old colleague who is amazed at my transformation. She can't believe I've lost a stone and a half and in her inebriated stupor keeps stroking my slender face! The drive home is relatively quiet and after dropping off a colleague in Rosyth I finally get home between 1.30 am and 2am. A good night.

Saturday 12 December

Recovering from last night's non-drunken debauchery. My feet are still buzzing and my back and knees are aching. I'm now at the age where it takes a couple of days to recover.

Spend the day taking it easy and preparing my radio show for tomorrow.

Sunday 13 December

The second of three festive shows. this time the studio has been decorated and I feel like I'm broadcasting from inside a Christmas cake!

Monday 14 December

Anyone wishing to see me humiliate myself on TV can get free tickets here: I'm recording on Wed 6 Jan 2010 at 2.30pm in Glasgow

Tuesday 15 December

Off sick as the throat infection kicks in in big style. I'm breathing like an asthmatic donkey. I couldn't even move when the alarm went off. Dragged myself out of bed to phone work around 8.30am. Start popping pills shortly afterwards. My head's mince and my body is aching.

The team from "A Question of Genius" have been in touch to say that I'll have to change my specialist subject from UK Top 40 Hits of the 1980s to the Eurovision Song Contest. They say my original choice is "too broad". (I don't entirely understand the logic behind that with 10 years of hits against 50+ years of foreign records but I'm too ill to get my head truly around it. Hell they could ask me to change my specialist topic to "Deserts of the World" or "Margaret Thatcher" at the moment and I'd probably agree.) The specialist subject is only required for the very last round so the chances of me getting there are remote. Nevertheless I'd better do some swotting.

Did I mention I was ill?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Review of the Year

Over the last couple of weeks I've been thinking back over the whole year, which seems to have gone on forever, and tried to remember the highs and lows of 2009. Here is my list, which I may add to as I remember things.


Getting into a daily weekday exercise routine to combat depression and lose weight (1 1/2 stone at the time of writing)
A whole year without anti-depressants
Interviewing Andrew Collins on my radio show
Being shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category for the Hospital Broadcasting Association awards
Seeing my daughter dance on stage at the Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Getting paid for some writing in The Scotsman (even if it was in praise of Status Quo)
Having a book dedicated to me and being sent a signed copy (thanks S)
Edwyn Collins playing with Teenage Fanclub at Trongate 103 and Mono on the same night
Our family trip to Crieff Hydro


Finding about the death of an old friend, 11 months after it happened
Getting chicken pox
Missing the HBA awards due to Chicken Pox
Not winning Best Newcomer at the HBA awards
The end of Recommends in The Scotsman, which I regularly contributed to
A long weekendwhich began with our childminding fiasco and ending ion someone trying to run me off the road, which brought on a lot of stress and a panic attack


Simon Goddard - Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and The Smiths
Graham Joyce - Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular
Paolo Hewitt/Paul McGuigan - The Greatest Footballer You've Never Seen
Stuart Maconie - Adventures on The High Teas: In Search of Middle England
Mark Radcliffe - Thank You For The Days: A Boys' Own Adventure in Radio and Beyond
Luke Haines - Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part In Its Downfall
Harry Thompson - Penguins Stopped Play: Eleven Village Cricketers Take On The World
Andrew Collins - Where Did It All Go Right (audio book)


Transatlantic Feedback – The Monks
State of Play
No Country for Old Men (on TV)


Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
The BMX Bandits - The Rise and Fall of the BMX Bandits (thanks Duglas)
Jackie DeShannon – Breakaway: The Songs of Jackie DeShannon 1961-1967
Dropkick – Abelay Hotel
Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry - Do-Wah-Diddy
Gerry Goffin and Carole King - Honey and Wine/Song Collection 1961-1967
Ivy League – Major League: The Pye/Piccadilly Anthology
Various – Destroy That Boy: More Girls With Guitars
Various – Where The Girls Are Volume 8
Various - The Girls Are At It Again: UK Beat Girls 1964-1969
Various - Boy Trouble: Garpax Girls
Ace of Cups - It's Bad For You But Buy It
Jackie Lee - The Town I Live In: The EMI Years 1965-1967
Cher - The Best of the Imperial Recordings 1965-1968
Lulu - Shout: Complete Decca Recordings
Sergeant - Sergeant


Camera Obscura/Attic Lights (Barrowlands, Glasgow)
Edwyn Collins/Teenage Fanclub (Mono/Trongate 103, Glasgow)
Attic Lights/The Primary 5/Dropkick/The Parish Music Box (Town Hall, Darvel)
Attic Lights/Norman Blake and Euros Childs/BMX Bandits (ABC, Glasgow)
Attic Lights/Norman Blake and Euros Childs/Rod Jones/Frightened Rabbit (Picturehouse, Edinburgh)
Dropkick (Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh)
Office team building day clay pigeon shooting – I loved it
Collings/Herrin live podcast (Edinburgh Fringe)
Richard Herring - Hitler Moustache
John Cavanagh - Pirate Radio (on the radio - couldn't make the live show)


Sport: The Ashes/The Tour de France
Comedy: Big Bang Theory/Modern Families/The Thick of It/Harry Hill’s TV Burp
Drama: Damages/Dexter/House/Mad Men/ Red Ridings Trilogy
The Gadget Show
Quiz Shows: Pointless/ University Challenge/Only Connect
Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe/Gameswipe/Screenwipe/You Have Been Watching
Kids: Shaun the Sheep/Gigglebiz


21212, Edinburgh


Michael Moore
Charlie Brooker
Stephen Fry
Andrew Collins
Richard Herring
Cairn String Quartet
Jim Gellatly


Jon Holmes' BBC6 Music show - Soft Rock feature talking about Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"


Drivers – One in particular who, but for my evasive action, would’ve killed me on Craigleith Road. The irresponsible and downright stupid driver of SG05 0XL won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Fife Council – I finally get the promised bus shelter, some three months after I stop using public transport.

Near Neighbours – The people who live (or visit) at the bottom of my road who speed up/down it. The speed limit has been changed to 20 mph but they regularly do 40 mph.

Silent Calls from “Home Improvement” companies who are “not trying to sell me anything” but are. Try and find out about these companies on the Internet and they don’t seem to exist.

Carphone Warehouse – Salesmen lying to my wife and the company failing to reply to my complaint.

ILA – The Independent Learning Account was more hassle than it was worth. Won’t be bothering again.

Lack of communication - Companies and organisations who don't reply to e-mails really gets my goat. E-mail is supposed to make communication quicker. It doesn't, it just makes ignorance faster.


Fingers crossed for a nomination (or two) at the HBA awards in Erskine (I’m in for Best Specialist Music and Best Speech Package)
Hopefully re-start and finish my book
A job on radio
Learn to play guitar
Weight loss (another half a stone will do nicely)

The Cat on "Where The Action Is" Kirkcaldy VRN 1287AM - Sunday 13 december 2009D

It's week two of my festive fun and games as I present the following Christmas menu for your delectation on "Where The Action Is":

Eels - Everything's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas (Dreamworks 1998)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
The Crystals - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Phil Spector 1963)
Rufus Wainwright - Spotlight On Christmas (Unreleased 2004))
Jackie DeShannon - Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown (Imperial 1969)
Three Wise Men (aka XTC) - Thanks for Christmas (Virgin 1983)
Darlene Love - Marshmallow World (Philles 1963)
Aztec Camera - Walk Out To Winter (Rough Trade 1983)
Kate Bush - December Will Be Magic Again (EMI 1980) (Connect 3)
Julie London - Warm December (Capitol 1958) (Connect 3)
Paper Dolls - Remember December (Utopia 1970) (Connect 3)
Marvin Gaye - Purple Snowflakes (Motown 1964)
Kim Weston - Wish You A Merry Christmas (Motown 1993)
Manic Street Preachers - Ghosts of Christmas (Download 2007)
Bob B Soxx & The Blue Jeans - Here Comes Santa Claus (Philles 1963)
Big Star - Jesus Christ (Rykodisc 1974)
France Gall - Il Neige (Philips 1965) (Foreign Language)
Nana Mouskouri - Mon Beau Sapin (Fontana 1972) (Foreign Language)
The Funk Brothers - Winter Wonderland (Motown 1993) (Half-Time Instrumental)
Stevie Wonder - Everyone's A Kid at Christmas (Motown 1993)
The Carpenters - Winter Wonderland (Medley) (A&M 1978)
The Beach Boys - Merry Christmas Baby (Capitol 1964)
The Beach Boys - Little Saint Nick (alternate mix) (Capitol 1964)
Sufjan Stevens - Put The Lights On The Tree (Asthmatic Kitty 2006)
The Orchids - Mr Scrooge (Decca 1964)
Camera Obscura - The Blizzard (4AD 2009) (Under The Influence)
Jethro Tull - Ring Out, Solstice Bells (Chrysalis 1976)
Connie Francis - Baby's First Christmas (MGM 1961)
Fountains of Wayne - I Want An Alien for Christmas (Atlantic 1997)
Patti Page -Pretty Snowflakes (Mercury 1955) (Connect 3)
Claudine Longet - Snow (A&M 1967) (Connect 3)
The Beach Girls - Skiing In The Snow (Dynovoice 1965) (Connect 3)
Louis Armstrong - Cool Yule (Label Unknown 1953)
Camera Obscura - Happy New Year (Andmoresound 2001) (Two of a Kind)
Mary Margaret O'Hara - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve (Virgin 1991) (Two of a Kind)
Nat King Cole - The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot (Capitol 1953)
Yo La Tengo - It's Christmas Time (Egon 2002)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Good day and good health.

The Cat

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Cat on "Where The Action Is" Kirkcaldy VRN 1287AM - Sunday 6 December 2009

It's a Cliff-free zone as I present the first of my three special festive editions of Where The Action Is.

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (Ze/Island 1981)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)
Darlene Love - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Philles 1963)
Big Star - Jesus Christ (Rykodisc 1974)
Rilo Kiley - Xmas Cake (Nettwerk 2003)
The Ronettes - Frosty The Snowman (Philles 2003)
Margo Guryan - I Don't Intend To Spend Christmas Without You (Demo 1967)
Etta James - Merry Christmas Baby (Private 1998)
The Soul Stirrers - Christmas Means Love (Checker 1968) (Connect 3)
Shonen Knife - Space Christmas (Seminal Twang 1991) (Connect 3)
Ryan Adams - Hey Parker It's Christmas (Promo 2003) (Connect 3)
The Searchers - The Happiest Christmas of All (Unreleased)
Alma Cogan - Never Do a Tango With An Eskimo (HMV 1955)
Ron Sexsmith - Maybe This Christmas (Nettwerk 2002)
Vikki Carr - It Must Have Been Mistletoe (Delta 1992)
The Flirtations - Christmas Time Is Here Again (Deram 1968)
Katja Ebstein - Wovon Traumt Ein Weilnachtsbaum Im Mai (Liberty 1969) (Foreign Language)
Gillian Hills - La Tete A L'Envers (Barclay 1961) (Foreign Language)
The Ventures - Jingle Bell Rock (Liberty 1963) (Half-Time Instrumental)
April March & Los Cinchos - Last Train To Christmas (Sympathy for the Record Industry 1998)
Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance (Asthmatic Kitty 2006)
The Beach Boys - The Man With All The Toys (Capitol 1964)
The Beach Boys - Santa's Beard (Capitol 1964)
The O'Jays - Christmas Ain't Christmas, New Years Ain't New Years Without The One You Love (Neptune 1969)
Paul Revere - Wear A Smile at Christmas (Columbia 1967)
The Cocteau Twins -Winter Wonderland (Fontana 1993) (Under The Influence)
James Brown - Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto (King 1968)
The Wedding Present featuring Simone White - Holly Jolly Hollywood (Scopitone 2008)
Elton John - Step Into Christmas (DJ 1973)
Eartha Kitt - Santa Baby (Christmas) (RCA Victor 1954) (Connect 3)
Fountains of Wayne - The Man In The Santa Suit (Atlantic 1997) (Connect 3)
Jackson 5 - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Motown 1972) (Connect 3)
Brenda Lee - Strawberry Snow (Decca 1964)
The Ronettes - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Philles 1963) (Two of a Kind)
The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride (Philles 1963) (Two of a Kind)
The Quik - Bert's Apple Crumble (Decca 1967) (show theme)

Good day and good health.

The Cat

Friday, December 04, 2009

Still Ill

Monday 30 November 2009

Had to take a Family Care Day to look after Flick who has been doing a fair impression of Fungus the Bogeyman over the weekend. Took her to the doctor on Friday and found him to be ever so slightly patronising. I wasn’t sure if he was talking to Flick or the Good Lady Wife but I didn’t like his tone. He seemed to think we’d taken Flick to the doctors too early!

In between wiping the greenest snot I’ve ever seen from Flick’s nose I built a Nativity scene from a Press-Out set. I started it at 10am and finished it at 3pm. There was a couple of occasions when I’d have gladly have put a match to it but I persevered, as the picture below shows.

At one point I was struggling with Mary’s head and as she passed by, Flick stopped, suggested I save her until the end and carried on back to CBeebies! 5 going on 25!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

I’m not saying it was cold this morning but there were three brass monkeys crying their eyes out when I went to defrost the car.

Whenever Flick gets ill, she invariably and very kindly passes the germs on to me. Today I’m not feeling too hot and have decided to skip the gym. I used to beat myself up about missing a day without the weights or the cycle but no more. Instead I’m going to take a brisk walk at lunchtime to get my daily “fix” and to have a look around Boots. We have a Secret Santa draw at work, with each participant spending up to £10 on the person they picked out of the hat/chosen receptacle. Boots is always good for gifts so I’ll be headed along there at lunchtime.

Bought three gifts (for the price of 2) and a Boots Meal Deal (saving £1.86) and I was a happy shopper. Who said Christmas shopping is stressful?

All our Christmas cards have now been sent and it’ll be interesting to see who we’ve missed and if the mysterious “Karen and Andy” send us a card for the third year running.

Find out from Flick that a child of an ex-neighbour has being asking Flick for a share of her school snack and not just once or twice either. She’s now been told to say, “No, get your own” if she tries it again. The offender is the middle of three sisters, with a butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance, unlike her sleekit, mouthy big sister. Flick has a caring, thoughtful nature and I don’t like the idea of people/kids taking advantage of her.

After an hour spent doing Advent competitions on the net I caught up with Sunday’s House and Monday’s University Challenge.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Why don’t people indicate anymore? Roundabouts, lane changes, turning corners, drivers just don’t do it anymore. Everyone else is supposed to be a mind reader. And at this time of year it becomes even more apparent the number of one-eye monsters on the road. And, no, I’m not referring to the PM; I’m talking about cars with only one headlight or one brake light. Do people not check their vehicles anymore? End of rant. For now.

Our first overseas Christmas card has arrived. I posted cards to Spain and the USA last Thursday, after my audition, and the first has arrived, in Long Beach.

Thursday 3 December 2009

I could've put money on it. Just as I thought I'd got away with catching Flick's infection it hit me, like a juggernaut! I woke up feeling a bit groggy and put it down to a bad night's sleep and the usual waking up in the middle of the night feeling.

I drove to work only to feel even worse when I got there. I stayed for an hour before doing the sensible thing and coming home. (As I drove home between 7.30 and 8.15 I noticed the tailbacks going the other way. I'm so glad I leave for work before 6am.)

I managed to get a doctor's appointment for 9.40 am and she confirmed I had indeed picked up Flick's infection and she prescribed Penicillin V, with an Ibuprofen chaser. I was back in bed by 11.30 am and slept, on and off, until 3pm. I made sure I had enough time to come round before heading off to pick up the girls, only for K to phone and say she'll collect Flick herself. The rest of the afternoon was spent in front of the Alibi channel watching Diagnosis Murder and Murder, She Wrote.

Flick cheered me up with a reindeer she had made at Kids' Club. She's very creative.

Fingers crossed I feel better over the weekend as (a) I hate being ill and (b) I've got the first of my Christmas shows to prepare.

I've asked all my Friends on Facebook and Followers on Twitter for their Best and Worst Christmas records so feel free to add your choices in the Comments box below. Time for some more pills...