Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tree Hugging

I was interested to learn that the Forestry Commission has decided to appoint a cultural diversity officer on a meagre salary of £30K.

I would have thought that those of a non heterosexual persuasion would be more than delighted to don a hard hat and utility belt. I imagine that the prospect of wielding a massive chainsaw while performing a Kylie Minogue dance routine would fill their hearts with delight.

It’s good to see taxpayers money spent on such worthwhile projects. I’m actually quite tempted by the job myself. A full pension entitlement and free use of a big Land Rover with bull bars is not to be sniffed at.

I would have to point out to all prospective candidates that the chances of being squished by a large tree are rather high, and that forests are full of nipping varmints and biting insects. All that fresh air is all very well, but winter gales and lightning strikes should also be taken into account.

I’m sure I could cope with earning all that dosh while sitting in a leather executive chair ensuring that fair and equitable recruitment policies were fully implemented.
I could distribute circulars and everything. I think I may have finally discovered my true vocation.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept

Like most right thinking Britons, my eyes turn westwards when the mighty greenback starts to look a little anaemic. The exchange rate with the £ is extremely favourable at the moment; a trip across the pond thus a more than usually attractive prospect.

At the moment I can get a direct return flight from Glasgow to New York, travel insurance, and 7 nights staying here for the derisory sum of £737. To put this in perspective, it would cost much the same to fly to London and stay in some disgusting dive for a week. Added to this would be the extortionate London prices for food and drink, the prospect of being knifed by a crack head, and dreary grey skies. There’s no contest really.

The hotel may be top of the budget range, but it should at least be a cockroach free zone. Anyway, nobody goes to New York to sit in a hotel room.

I could stock up on electronic goodies and clothing for a third less than in the UK, thus defraying some of the expense. Of course, in truth, I’d really be going for the breakfasts and the freshly baked bagels with a generous ‘schmeer’ of cream cheese and some smoked salmon.

I’m swithering*. The credit card nestles in my sweaty palm as I write this. Should I stay or should I go now?

* Scottish term for not being able to make your mind up.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some bands are born to be shite, some aspire to shiteness, but very few (apart from Coldplay), get to announce their utter shiteness to an unprepared and gormless world.

I give you the View. Think of them as the hideous offspring of Supergrass and the Libertines and you won't go far wrong.

I am, however, prepared to give some credit to the numpties in two respects:

a) they come from Dundee, home of Rockstar games,
b) they've been banned from every Travelodge in the United Kingdom.

For those of you haven't sampled the delights provided by Travelodge, I say don't even think about it. Nylon curtains, a plastic fantastic bathroom sourced from a Kowloon coolies underpants, a 'continental' breakfast at £6 per crossaint, miserable gurning acned staff.

I could go on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


In Paris with You

Don’t talk to me of love. I’ve had an earful
And I get tearful when I’ve downed a drink or two.
I’m one of your talking wounded.
I’m a hostage, I’m maroonded.
But I’m in Paris with you.

Yes I’m angry at the way I’ve been bamboozled
And resentful at the mess that I’ve been through.
I admit I’m on the rebound
And I don’t care where are we bound.
I’m in Paris with you.

Do you mind if we do not go to the Louvre.
If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame,
If we skip the Champs Elysees
And remain here in this sleazy
Old hotel room
Doing this and that,
To what and whom.
Learning who you are,
Learning what I am.

Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris,
This little bit of Paris in our view.
There’s that crack across the ceiling
And the hotel walls are peeling
And I’m in Paris with you.

Don’t talk to me of love. Let’s talk of Paris.
I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do.
I’m in Paris with your eyes, your mouth,
I’m in Paris…with all points south.
Am I embarrassing you?
I’m in Paris with you.

James Fenton may be a baldy coot with a lugubrious Oxonian voice, but he is also one of the most underated poets writing in English today.

You can hear him read 'Paris' here. 'Jerusalem' is also worth a listen. If anything as pertinent to the mess in the Middle East today has been written I have yet to hear it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


It rains a lot in the west of Scotland. So far this year there have been two dry(ish) days, the rest dominated by howling gales and horizontal rain.

I blame the Americans for this. After all, the depressions develop in the Gulf of Mexico and hurtle across the Atlantic with a little encouragement from the Jet Stream. Chuck and Wilma are happily ensconced in their Florida villa congratulating themselves on their escape from frozen northern climes. It doesn’t occur to them to spare a thought for Scots shivering beneath their eiderdowns. Some people just lack empathy.

I’m convinced that the melancholy Celtic temperament, and propensity for consuming vast quantities of whisky/vodka/rum, is an inevitable outcome of foul winter weather. Opening the curtains to another morning of torrential downpours and gales aspiring to hurricane status is enough to get anybody down.

I suppose being confined indoors watching daytime television does have a few meagre compensations. Snack foods may be consumed on the sofa, and the hundreds of DVDs purchased on a whim from Amazon viewed at ones leisure.

I’m thinking of moving to Vladivostok. It might freeze my bollocks off, but at least it won’t rain every day; and the vodka should be cheaper.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Like a Rolling Scone

I was pleased to learn that his Bobness has purchased a mansion in Scotland. At a mere £2 million this diminutive pied a terre should provide the aging scruffball with suitable accommodation when he takes a well earned break from his never ending tour.

Bob increasingly resembles a tramp. He looked pretty cool circa 1966, but since then his physical decline has been precipitous. Should he wish to mingle with Glasgow vagrants all he will need to do is swig from a bottle of Buckfast and mumble incoherently. Nobody will be any the wiser.

His new abode is actually quite close to were I live. Next time I’m invited to J K Rowling’s for lemonade and fish fingers I might pay him a visit. I’m sure he’d be delighted to meet me and reminisce about the sociological importance of leopard skin pill box hats.

The geezers more Zimmer frame than Zimmerman these days, so I’m sure he won’t look aghast at the tartan rug and shortbread that I intend to present to him. I’d give him some whisky, but that might induce some incoherent stream of consciousness ramblings that could result in a stroke.

I’m all in favour of the Jockocracy mingling with the rock aristocracy. It should be a true meeting of minds.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ralfie Dahling

Some people are irritating. Impossibly good looking; debonair, and talented, they whisk effortlessly from success to success without ever feeling the need to glance at their reflection in a shop window to ensure that there isn’t a hair out of place.

I don’t like thespians as a rule. On the whole they are self regarding preening twats who have taken up permanent residency in their own anuses. I make the odd exception to this general rule of total dickheadedness: Ralph Fiennes being one of them.

He’s a very talented actor who doesn’t accept shit roles, and would rather commit hari kiri with his fish knife than agree to appear in a US mini series.

Unfortunately he goes and spoils it all by insisting that he is called Raife, not Ralph. And he’s shagging an old slapper.

What a knobhead.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I have had an unusual visitor over the past weeks. I have twice seen a Scottish Wildcat at the back of my house.

I am quite chuffed by this as the critter is the rarest wild mammal in Britain. Some experts think that there may be as few as 400 remaining in the wild. As with most predators, they were hunted virtually to extinction during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although resembling a domestic cat, they are much larger, with broad heads and wide bushy tails. Their gait is different as well, their movements similar to that of a small lion.

These days they are not endangered by the actions of man. The main threat to the species lies in hybridisation caused by interbreeding with domestic cats. Some people think that the only hope for their survival is for the neutering of domestic cats in areas where the Wildcat is extant to be made a legal obligation.

We used to have Wolves, Lynx, and Beavers. It would be a great pity if we were to lose one of our last wild predatory mammals. Since the last ice age the Wildcat has evolved perfectly to survive in the often harsh environment of the Scottish Highlands. It would be a shame if lack of interest were to lead to its extinction.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Unlucky Alf

There was a character in the Fast Show called unlucky Alf who, as his name suggested, didn't have much luck. He was constantly being electrocuted by household appliances and had an unerring ability to fall down open manholes (no comments PigTaz please).

I've always felt an affinity with Alf. It's not so much that I'm prone to misfortunes, it's just that fortune rarely smiles on me. Other people find £20 notes in supermarket car parks, win £32,000 on five race accumulators, and always bag top prizes in lotteries. It never happens to me. That's why I never gamble. Its got nothing to do with morality; It's just that I know that I'd always lose.

Amazingly, I had a serendipitous experience before Christmas. I ordered a Compaq notebook from PC world on a Barclaycard that I hadn't used for over a year. Two days later I received a letter stating that they'd stopped the payment as a precaution against fraud. I went back on the web site and tried with another card. Sold out. Bastard.

Several days later a grubby little delivery man turned up at the door with a package emblazoned with the brand name COMPAQ. I phoned Barclaycard, who confirmed that no payment had been taken. I phoned them again today and still no payment has been taken. It looks like the goons at PC World had been at the mulled wine a bit early and I have bagged myself a free PC.

At last, some luck. I'm sure it won't last. I'll probably be diagnosed with a ghastly little tumour later in the year.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I Like cars. I like fast cars. I like driving fast cars fast. Miraculously I've never had an endorsement on my driving license; until yesterday that is.

I was happily trundling along at 90mph on a 60mph speed limit road when I noticed a flashing blue light in my rear view mirror. I was nicked, banged to rights, collared by the long arm of the law.

It wasn't a local copper. They don't pay much attention to speeding, preferring to spend their time bird watching and playing cards. It's just my luck that a woolie suit had been drafted in to cover for one of the locals.

Now I can look forward to a fixed penalty notice and a fat fine. Not the best of starts to the New Year.

Oh well, never mind.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I don't really class Christmas/New Year as a holiday. Everyone's on the skive, so no self respecting malingerer can take delight in knowing that millions of hard working folk are grafting, and observe their ill advised labourings with a mixture of pity and contempt.

I need some more proper jollies. I think I've finally worked out my life/work balance, and am coming down firmly in favour of the former. Knitting, marquetry, stamp collecting et al don't really make the grade in my defintion of 'life'.

I could quite happily spend half the year abroad, moaning about poor sanitary facilities and the appalling manners of foreigners. I might suffer the odd hankering for a bottle of HP sauce, or a proper bacon sandwich, but I think I'd cope.

Beirut is looking rather attractive. The hotels are dirt cheap at the moment, the prospect of Israeli missiles landing in their jacuzzis having put off the limp wristed jet set.

Cowardy custards. Lets face it, the Jacobs usually only bomb the Shiite district. Even if the worst did come to the worst I'm sure the magnificent Royal Navy would send a big battleship to whisk me to the safety of Cyprus.

Given my immense contribution to the health of the British economy it would be the least I deserve.

Monday, January 01, 2007



Come back. Some of us love the bones of you.