Monday, April 19, 2010

Virgin on the Furious

Reeking Lums of London

When I should have been making plans and travel itineries to get me too London amid Iceland’s best efforts to thwart me, I think they still have a big hang up about the Cod War you know. I have instead been distracted by some of the most eye scrapingly brutal television I have ever subjected myself too. I don’t really watch must TV, but I think it’s important to tune in now and again to remind myself why.

Offender number 1, Question of Sport. Christ, this was dated when Emlyn Hughs and Gareth Edwards were the captains. Sue Barker is I’m afraid to say no longer a poor mans Chris Evertt, unless the poor man has cataracts. But she’s not the worst, oh no, not by a considerable distance. Imagine taking a carrier bag, a Sainsbury’s one, its nearest in colour I think, filling it with dented saucepans until you can’t get any more in, paint a couple hang dog comedy eyes on it and there you have it, a decent representation of Matt Dawsons head. I think he may be the ugliest man assaulting my eyes on TV, excusable if he was remotely endearing, but I think he honestly believes he is some kind of comedy genius and that mob in the studio audience, who are the same ones who go and watch snooker by the way and hover around in the background on Antiques Roadshow just encourage him.

Offenders No2 and 3. Bloody Dick and Dom. These two are the equivalent of banging your head on a low ceiling and biting your tongue at the same time. They should stick their hand up to go out and entertain the troops in Afghanistan. I think they boys would have a ball throwing grenades at them. It must be depressing for them though, they really thought they were going to be the new Ant and Dec but now there whole career is heading towards them being a less distressing chuckle brothers.

Offender number 4. Fast and Furious. I mean, come on. I like action films and even those that ask me to cut it a little slack and say, “yeah, that could happen I suppose” but those that jar you right out of the cinema seat or sofa are just taking the piss, what is it with them. It’s like a little dog that’s trying too hard to please its owner and gets too excited and just pisses on the carpet. There all tearing across the desert in cars, big Vin Diesel shoots a tyre out of one of the pursuing motors with his shotgun. Of course, it then flips up in the air and cartwheels in a flaming ball across the desert like a 1950s land speed record attempt gone wrong. I mean, it’s a puncture for God’s sake.

Offender number 5. Andrew Lloyd Webber has a face like an old elephants knee. There is no place in my living room for a face like that or for musical theatre and all that gurning hamminess.
Finally up in front of Judge Lum, The Microsoft Explorer 8 ads and in particular the one with the middle aged guy who doesn’t want his wife seeing what he’s been masturbating too on the pornoweb and him showing off in a sweaty panic how quickly those kiddie pics can be closed down without leaving any evidence. That ad would have been much more effective if it was set in a gloomy damp bedsit, with a grubby stubble chinned 50 year old, in vest and pants, desperately bashing away at the erase history button as the vice squad come crashing through his door.

Still, it’s not all been bad, I saw Back to the Future all the way through for the first time and thought it was genuinely excellent.

I’ve been slagging off the local job centre a bit lately but realise I was probably just projecting the disappointment in myself that I was there in the first place rather than any real fault with the people there. I signed off on Friday and I had to go and hand a little letter in to do it officially. The usual impenetrable reception made sure I didn’t get over the threshold without an appointment but when I said why I was there, the woman’s face just lit up in a kind of euphoric disbelief, “Oh, that’s just wonderful, we don’t hear that often in here”. I was quite humbled really, to think that these people work away, getting worn down to a nub with the whole hopelessness of it, but when someone gets a job, it’s like they’ve won a little battle or something.
I decided, luckily enough, to let the train take the strain to London, and strain being the operative word in this instance. Iceland’s continuing efforts to bring all of Western Europe to heel meant that it was full of diminished frequent flyers, but I had been quite looking forward to the journey if I’m honest and at four and a half hours to Euston, and another thirty minutes on the tube out to Docklands, the plane, when you take checking in and waiting for bags and getting from Heathrow into account, would have taken just as long and cost twice as much. My seat was the worst on the entire train though. Seat 49, coach C on a Virgin Pendolino, avoid like syphilis. No window, no table and a fat student eating a smelly burger king with tomato sauce right next to me before we even left the station. I don’t think she will be in seat 48 all the time mind you, but here are still better seats. I noticed that is impossible to walk up a train with any class or in any kind of a dignified manner. Everybody gets bumped and jostled from side to side and end up staggering up the train like a drunk.

On the tube from Euston the empty seat next to me was of course taken by a Rangers shirted, Carling swigging ulsterned returning to the East End from the Rangers game in Glasgow. He was alright actually but he ended up in a long conversation with an Andy Murray look-a-like across the carriage that was the most intellectual football related discussion I had ever heard. The Brazilians are mesmeric, whose footballing ethos is one of dance, rather than battle, and on it went. The little Ulster fella wouldn’t have heard anything like this before in Govan. I just wanted to stand up, take his can of carling, squash it down to a pointy and jagged pancake, and ram it with all my might, elbow deep, down pretentious Andy Murray look-a-likes throat. Knob.

By the time I got to Docklands it had gotten dark, and to be honest, a little intimidating. Stabby little youths could be hanging about anywhere and I only had a vague idea where I was going, but my spider senses were spot on and made it safely to the Hotel, where funny enough, I was immediately robbed by the barmen. £5.30 for a Magners and a packet of crisps, Welcome to London. I could understand if it was The Ritz Carlton or something, I paid £8.50 once for a vodka and lemonade in a hotel in central London. But this wasn’t, it’s a Travelodge. Now Travelodge is fine and functional, especially if you like those themed hotels, this one appears to be a prison themed one, I think I am in the Wormwood Scrubs Wing.
Start the new job tomorrow so a big day, and just discovered I left my tie and toothpaste at home. BUGGER.

Lang may yer Lum Reek

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eruptions and Elections

Good day Reekers,

Sadly, I found myself captivated by the televised electoral debate. I couldn't help it, it had me at hello. As a kind of participant introduction the camera zipped from Clegg, to Cameron and then unfortunately, to Brown, who in this slick young company, was a bit sore on the eyes. Still, this isn't Westminster's next top model, what have they got to say I thought to myself consolingly and thankfully Brown at least had some substance and came over as being experienced even if that experience is mainly in fiscal meltdowns and PR gaffes galore that he mostly has some culpability in. Cameron looked at different times during the event, frightened, nervous, dim, condescending and as if it had suddenly dawned on him that perhaps he should have spent the last couple of years developing ideas a charismatic, credible shadow cabinet and meaningful ways forward out of this mess, rather than just being reactionary and contrary because, really, he had nothing. Clegg on the other hand continues to impress but then its much easier for him. No weight of expectation like Cameron, no baggage dragging behind him like Brown he can just pop up, looking fresh faced, preach the middle ground and as long as he remains credible, then he'll appeal. The real winner I think may be Brown though, any votes Clegg wins will help him back into office, possibly with Lib Dems on the cabinet and I think that may be a good thing and at least would be a little different. At the end, Brown was first to start pressing the flesh with the audience members, followed by Clegg but Cameron just disappeared out of shot, I bet for the next one he doesn't.

Of course, the news afterwards was full of it and I ended up quickly bored with all the partisan comment and autopsies. Jonathon Dimbleby was wearing the same tie Huw Edwards was wearing on the news a couple of weeks ago, it doesn't look any better on him so turned over and brother David was doing Question Time with a rubbish panel, John Sergeant being the only one on it worth listening too and only then because he looks and sounds so miserable, fed up and cynical about the whole pantomime.

Whats the story with Iceland. I think they are suffering from Small Country Syndrome. First they pretend to be the richest country in the world and lend everybody money they don't have and being all flash like those people you hear about that tell everyone they have won the lottery just to get attention. Then they send their sulphuric fumes and ash over western Europe virtually closing it down and sending it back to the dark ages. Iceland is obviously just a front for some global criminal organisation. The G8 leaders probably sat around a great big board room table last week watching a video message from them, demanding all the fish in the sea or there would be trouble. Superman, James Bond and Our Man Flint will be there now, infiltrating their evil lair. I bet everything is back to normal by Monday and James Bond is picked up in the North Atlantic, on a raft shagging some blonde bird.

I was in a pet shop yesterday, not one of those big pet superstores mind you, an old fashioned one that look an utter shambles and only 5 minutes away from being shut down by the RSPCA. It reminded me of the pet shop in Baker Street, Stirling that I used to get taken into as a treat when I was little. It had puppies in the window, cages of squawking, fluttering birds, aquariums, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters. It would have ferrets next to rabbits, cats next fish tanks and if you were lucky, maybe a rat snake that would in all probability, be next to the rats. There would be loads of cages all different shapes and sizes, mince morsels and dog biscuits crammed to the ceiling with hardly any room to move. Well, this one was a bit like that, but no birds, puppies, rodents, squawking or indeed anything interesting apart from some dirty and empty fish tanks and a dirty and empty headed shop keeper who sold me 2 pigs ears for £1.30 , I don't know if they were a matching pair or not.

Plans for next week are jerking forward in awkward unsure spasms. Found a cheap hotel for the first week, and just booked a train ticket which cost £60. I have no idea if that's good or bad. I did a little research and found that the train takes half the time, but costs twice as much as the bus, but equally, takes double the time and costs about half as much as a plane. Living in London without an almost limitless expense account to draw on is a bit unsettling if I'm honest and I'm beginning to feel a little anxious. Natural I suppose when your starting a new job, in a new city ,miles away from friends and family. I will not make it home every weekend, so will miss the kids a lot, and if anything that's what worries me most. I hope I'm doing the right thing.

One final thing today, I don't watch a lot of TV, most of it just makes me angry and confused, like Ashes to Ashes, that Life on Mars spin off. Why is a detective in the police running about in an Audi Quattro? I know its there to tie the stories to the 80s, it is an iconic car I suppose, but come on, they were not exactly your everyday run about for your police sergeant, were they? They should have given him a Capri or Opel Manta, something he could afford.

My reeking capabilities may be curtailed next week because I don't know if the homeless shelter has wi-fi, you would think it would wouldnt you, in this day and age.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sweet Fanny Adams

Reek - a - boo

This week started at rock bottom, then we got the shovels out.
I have had marked in my diary for weeks a very special event.
On Monday, the Scottish Football Association was opening up the supporters club on line to new members, this doesn't happen often, and with the guarantee of tickets for the Euro qualifiers and a new manager at the helm there was bound to be a virtual crushing mob, pressing up against the banks of servers that would obviously have been acquired in anticipation of the tremendous demand.
The SFA though, decided to stick with the trusty Amstrad CPC that they had bought off the proceeds off Mexico 86 and total head banging meltdown ensued. The pixels on my computer screen, responsible for rendering the refresh button will pixelhate me for the amount of work I gave them. But all I ever got in return for that furious button pushing was a server unavailable message, and, 6 hours later, an apologetic note from the SFA saying sorry and explaining that after they've been down to PC World to see what offers are on, they will try again.

That was rock bottom, the shovel came out when I inadvertently tuned into the Paxman interview later that same evening. He was having a go at the Liberal Democrat fella, Nick Clegg I believe he is unfortunately called. In the interests of electoral fairness, the other candidates should be named after irritating insect pests too.
Paxman enjoys being a shit too much I think but I think he asked a great question when he said "Where in Britain needs more immigrants". It was only great for the answer it provoked mind you. Inverness apparently, which is just about as far away a major population centre from Nick Cleggs house, and every other house in England come to think of it, as your likely to get. I don't know who the Lib Dem candidate is for Inverness, but I don't expect, I'm afraid to say, he has done them any favours there.
But I actually ended up quite liking Mr Clegg, I'm not against immigration, and either is he, Paxman tried to corner him on Britains growing population but when the numbers in the world are going up, why should we in Britain not expect ours to go up too and share the burden. Much respect too for him explaining to the millionaire Paxman, that if your earning £8000 a year, £300 in saved tax, is a big deal. Yes, well done young Clegg.

Can't say the same for the Tory lot however. They have had loads of time to think of it, lots of ammunition stored up after all Browns blunders and that flimsy manifesto is the best they can come up with? Hand power back to the people? Local communities getting together to decide on local issues? I think we've been here before the last time that lot were in. I think John Major introduced the Quango culture and this would be the same. A load of old retired busy bodies and civil servants controlling the agenda because they are the only ones with the time and the twisted motivation to get involved. No thanks Cameron with your divide and conquer and devolution of accountability wily ways.

My final week in the comforting bosom of the land that begat me. Its D-Day soon and I'll be off to London. I say soon because that is as accurate as I can be. I know when I am expected to turn up for my new job, but that's about it. My plans are still in the oven getting half baked, in fact, if we were to compare them to the plans for D-Day, the greatest military accomplishment of modern times, they would be equal to the bit where somebody said, "I know, Lets send some soldiers with guns to France".

I did take a little time to scout for some prospective rental properties, a little time because that's all it took me to discover that even the pokiest, grimmest cell, the Fritzls would turn there nose up at, is out of my Rymans Unibond Reserves league. Incredibly one of the first places I clicked on, was in Alloa Street. Whats the chances of that? The irony is, I could rent an entire street in Alloa for what they were asking for one flat. Then there was a place that looked quite nice but was in Mudchute which sounds like its been plucked from Rogers Profanisaurus. I'll keep looking but increasingly likely that I'll have to find someone to share with, another minefield but bound to provide plenty of reeking opportunities.

Especially as I have just received my new contract and there is a big bold section highlighting, in terms that could not be stronger, that blogging about , well, you know, that big International Sports Day we're having in a couple of years, is most definitely not allowed which is a bit of a shame, but understandable I suppose, given what I do. I'll have to make a job up because saying, "I'm really not allowed to talk about it" just makes you sound like an enormous pretentious knob, I shall give it further thought.

The Scrabble board came out last night, I hate that game, but I think I would hate it more with those stupid rules they are proposing bringing in. Somebody should tell them Junior Scrabble already exists and those that aren't happy should go and play with that. Anyhoo, like I said, I hate playing Scrabble, but actually of course, I just hate losing, which I did. I had trippy rejected and epony, which I tried to convince was the name for horses on one of those virtual racetracks but with no luck. I did get away with medusa though, i thought the proper noun rule would apply, and so did my opponents but it turns out, its a kind of jellyfish, get it up ye's.

I had to go to Glasgow today and it was a perfect opportunity to road test the new phone. I'm still loving it, though the battery life is pretty rubbish. I reckon if I turn off all the fancy functionality, don't look at it and hope nobody phones me it should last the day.

And finally finished off today working on the lawn with that old Simple Minds track spinning at 45 in my head, Scarify Yourself.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Mos Eisley Mardi Gras

The Monday Reek

Howay Lums, less than a week to go before my exile across the border begins and I'm beginning to feel like Steve McQueen on that boat in Papillon especially as I have no idea where I'll be living yet, or indeed what I'll be living in. A cardboard box, a wheely bin, a bus shelter, I have many options in my price range. I have a phone call on Monday to set the relocation agents scurrying across the metropolis looking for that elusive penthouse loft conversion with river views and only 5 minutes from work, I think it may be a tall order as I have specifically stated that I am not willing to sleep with any cash rich old Arabs or murder and assume anyones identity.

Back to the weekend though and I have to say, it started off with some real rock'n'roll on Friday night with my attendance at the end of season curling club dinner. It was in quite grand surroundings of Kincaid House in the nearby village of Milton of Campsie and possibly because of that, I was instructed to wear slacks. Now, I don't think anyone under fifty has ever worn slacks, or even I suspect, know what slacks are, so I played it safe, wearing a grey suit and subdued tie. Not that I am fond of exuberant ties and novelty ties should, whenever they are spotted around some knobs throat, be jammed in the doors of train carriages, just as they are leaving the station.

So the dinner went well and then the bombshell, with the revelation that everyone around the table was expected to stand up and tell a funny story or something. My curling colleague to my right then produced a notepad with four or five pages of jokes. The only rule, apart from the one ordering us to tell a humorous story was that it should be clean and free from profanity. The first old fella got up and told a joke about a bus conductress. This was topical stuff I thought, my Gran was a bus conductress until they got rid of them all in 1972. The story took an unexpected turn that ended with the bus conductress hanging her open legs out the back of the bus because the driver had had mustard on his sandwiches.
Frankie Boyle can sleep easy I think but after that there was a definite awkward silence only punctuated by fake appreciative mumblings, until my note padded chum thought he would take up the running with his researched efforts. It was car crash comedy, there may be some cancers that are funnier than the offerings he served up. Thanks for trying isn't what you want to hear when you have finished your little piece, no matter how well meaning it is. Another, longer, stagnant silence. Then I entered, stage left.
I still believed at this point that we all had to do it and we were going to be there all night waiting for all these old jokes and stories to be drawn like a lanced boil out their heads so tried to think of something to say that could be made to sound remotely entertaining. So off I went, telling the true story of how my very first boss when I started working in the distillery at Cambus used to say the fish he caught last night was so big, he "used its een fir curlin stanes" (een = eyes about 500 years ago in Central Scotland). That got a little spontaneous laugh, I think it was the way I told it, so on I ploughed with another of his tall tales. "Last night the coal board were roond at ma hoose, they werny happy wi ma gairden, there tellin me to stop growing ma carrots because ther knocking aw the miners helmets aff ". Another little laughter burst, but then I did over cook the accent a bit, still, you have to remember the audience and mine were all almost over 105. I like to think that it was too hard to follow so nobody tried and we wrapped up the evening on that hilarious note, though maybe I may have inadvertently loaded the straw that finally broke the camels back of the audiences appetite for funny curling stories.

Saturday and still no car for the weekly visit to see the children and this Saturday has brought an added complication because my bubble headed daughter had left her jacket in a shop in town and I, because I only live 10 miles away from it in the opposite direction could just nip in and get it. Of course I can sweetheart I said and off I went to catch a bus to town then a train to Alloa. Incident free and the weather was gorgeous so it was actually all quite pleasant being moved about the country with minimal effort. Sorry did I say incident free, I meant a total balls up. I went to the wrong shop, thereby asking the wrong shop assistant to retrieve from the wrong lost property bucket, the wrong jacket. It was the right colour, and material so I think its an easy mistake to make, especially if you discount its tiny tiny size that would hardly fit a 10 rear old, never mind my 16 near 17 year old woman-child.

Alloa with the sun out. The temptation to expose as much flesh to the sun as possible cannot be resisted by the fine folk of Alloa. Acres of wobbly blue white skin, a scrabble bag of indian ink tattoos anywhere within reach of their right hand, normally the lower left arm, where mum will be lovingly etched or perhaps, dad. At least most of them are spelled correctly. Faded baggy vest tops, hurriedly pulled from the suitcase from last years holiday and the obligatory tracky bottoms. I suspect these and the lovely grey marl sweatpants are worn purely because of the effort it saves, what with having no buttons or zips to bother about, all that fastening is just a hassle we can do with out.

Maybe it was because it was the finest day of the year so far, and right bang in the middle of the Easter holidays to boot, but Alloa resembled some alternative universe Miami South Beach or The Mos Eisley Mardi Gras. After 15 minutes of course, the skin isn't pasty white, its taking on tones. Not tones of bronze and rich dark tan though, oh no, tones of blotchy pink, like a tiger prawn with a well skelped arse. If you look hard enough, if you can that is, sometimes you can see shapes like the way you can on the surface of the moon. The blotches are trying to spell out a message perhaps, HELP, probably.

Still, a good thing about Alloa is the number of Bookies there are in town means virtually everyone has one each so none of them are very busy, even on Grand National Day. I manage to get the bets on, with the normal scatter gun science that has proved so fruitless in the past 30 or so years and settle down to watch the race with No1 Daughter. Clare Balding is looking well, in a manly kind of way but who is that resident BBC bookie. Some fat cockney that looks like he should be selling meat pies in Albert Sq, a gangsta butcha. Big hand for the horse that just decided, after being pampered like a premiership footballer, fed all the best oats, put up in the cosiest of stables and driven around in the finest horseboxes, that he just didn't fancy it and stayed on the start line when all the others were mindlessly tearing off to their uncertain destiny.

I used to smoke, I haven't for well over a year now and when I think of the money it used to cost, I'm even more happy I have managed to cut it out, but it does make it easy for me to justify spending money on DVDs. But honestly, when you see The Thing for £2 in Asda, its more of a crime not to buy it and for less than a packet of ten fags.

Sunday and I'm in Love. In love with a mobile phone I spotted in the window of a Virgin Media Shop. The HTC Desire, its a bit of a poncy name, but it could just as easily been called the HTC 5dollaifuckyoulongtimeyankeeboy for the allure that it gave off on first sight. So I immediately signed up for a two year relationship with the thing, lets see how we get on.

Lang may yer lum reek

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Whatever happened to The Bash Street Kids?

The Reeking mass of lums,

Easter is over, except for school teachers, bless them, they have another week off yet but who would grudge them that eh? Not only are they charged with providing the intellect that will steer our country away from the ditch of hardship and ensure that my pension gets paid so I don't freeze to death in front of some insipid solar powered two-bar heater. They also have to put up with surely the most stupid looking teenagers in the history of teenagers.

We had arranged a couple of days away with friends in Lancashire and set off at 7am on Monday morning. Its the first 7am I had seen since my, career break , I now feel justified in calling it that. What a 7am it was too. Grey, cold, windy and horizontal rain trying its best to get in the car along with the cartload of bags that travelling women seem to need, even for just two days.

I hadn't been looking forward to the three hour drive in the Vauxhall Astra just because on first impressions it came over as being pretty crap, and so it proved.
Astra, does that word not conjure up silver suited space pioneers, thrusting out of planetary orbits and hurtling between shiny modern worlds of wonder. There should be a law against products with non-representative names. The Vauxhall Astra for example should be called something like the Vauxhall Dull, or the Vauxhall Vapid something that said a little about it or the people that buy them.

The rain immediately brought into sharp focus an irritating fault. At least it was irritating after 5 minutes, after 2 hours I was ready for slicing my ears off with salt and vinegar flavored razor blades. The window wipers, when they returned to their seat gave off a noise, that most accurately could be described as a thlapp. So, it was, thlapp.....thlapp.....thlapp....thlapp for mile after monotonous mile, unless of course the rain came down even harder, or I was driving blindly because of the curtain of impenetrable spray that another thundering supertanker had thrown in my face, then it would be, thlapp..thlapp..thlapp..thlapp. That and the constant mono-drone from the little engine, it must have been like that for those airmen in the war, flying for ten hours to bomb Dortmund except they only had to live with the fear of a terrifying death in a fiery ball, I had that bloody thlapp.....thlapp to cope with.
I also have to point out another similarity with those intrepid heroes and their Lancaster bombers, I think a midnight bombing run to the Ruhr would have used less fuel than I did.

Camelot Castle theme park was the destination and hats off to them. They really had the medieval feel down to a tee, what with the gap toothed diseased yokels and incomprehensible Olde English accents. There was a comforting familiarity to be found when gazing unbelieving at most of the patrons, its like I knew their back stories already, like old friends. Then I figured it out. The slack jawed mouth breathing, the somehow both wiry and greasy hair pulled back in a pony tail so tight that it gave the ladies expressions like a Japanese Commander rushing from the undergrowth waving his bayonet and shouting banzai yankee dogs. The tracksuits, if I could remove all the stripes, from all the tracksuits in there, I think it would comfortable stretch to the Sun and back. Yes, like I said, I figured it out, they had all been on Jeremy Kyle at some time or another getting DNA tests or I had seen them wired up to a lie detector.

The rides were pretty lame, it wasn't Ye Olde Universal Studios, that's for sure and they had a ghost train ride called "Smiffys Dungeon of Doom". It was Smiffy from the Bash Street Kids, despite not seeing him for 30 years I recognised him immediately, but I expect the kids there, and in fact, anyone under about 35 wouldn't have any clue as to who Smiffy was, he wasn't even a very prominent Bash Street Kid. Wonder how the rest of the Kids turned out? He was the highlight though, there was no dungeon, and no doom, the shambling Ned heads outside were scarier.

What is it with kids? They never ask for Irn Bru when we're out at home, where you can get it like cocaine in Pablo Escobars pantry. No, they wait till we are on foreign shores to get a penchant for it. This is Vimto country I tried to explain. The suggestion was made to smuggle some in and that immediately painted images in my head of ginger bearded, pasty skinned men, wading ashore in kilts on an isolated beach, pulling behind them a rowing boat full of barrels of Irn Bru to be stashed in some secret cove.

I've stayed in a lot of hotels, all over the world, its been a real thrill and a treat to have done so and the first thing I always do in them, is check the drawers for left behind belongings. Of course I have never found a thing, I presume the maid or whoever would be off with any booty, but I cant help looking. Hoping to find a yellowed treasure map or some forgotten manuscript that explains why if we evolved from Monkeys, there are still monkeys, or yes, when a tree falls in a forest when no one is there to hear it, it bloody does still make a noise.

This hotel, I don't even remember its name had many things you would expect to find in a hotel, comfortable rooms , a decent pool and quite the most terrible restaurant that I have ever eaten in , ever. I have stayed in hotels and eaten things that I didn't really know what it was, I ate things in Ghana that I was later told might have been bat, or rat, or cat, its the last time I stay at Dr Seuss's. But at least it was tasty and the service was always good.
This diner, I shall call it that, because that was what they called themselves was truly, truly rubbish. Gordon Ramsay would have machined gunned the lot of them that were responsible, minced the remains and then fed it to pigs, in the hope that they might have made a half decent roast at last. The waitressing was provided by teenage blondes more interested in gabbing and checking there hair in the mirrors, she should have checked her hair that was in my dinner , that would have been good.
The pizzas were obviously cooked by someone that didn't know anything about food because the they used cheap processed cheddar cheese that bled a yellowy grease over the whole thing, turning the Italian crust base, into a soggy, floppy disaster that Salvador Dali would have had problems making believable in paint.
The cheesy nachos suffered the same fate with the ill chosen cheese and crackers, resembling a plate of pot pourri covered in a bulemics stomach contents. I almost escaped by playing it safe with the salad, but after that Richard Hammond show last week that revealed the presence to the world of Vinegar Eels that live in salad dressing, I couldn't even live with that. A truly memorable dining experience. Still, the company was good and we will all laugh about it some time in the future.

So , that's it, I had hoped to talk about the election and politics but that can wait till I am in the mood.

Land may yer lum reek.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Its tongue is how long?

Happy Reeking Easter Lums

Yes, here we are at the weekend again, at the end of another long and exhausting week of shiftlessness. I did of course manage to secure some monthly wages for the next couple of years, which is good and don't worry lums, with what there paying me , the Olympic budget is likely to be safe. But the weekend means a tramp up to Stirling, The Gateway to The Highlands to see the little lums, and Auld Lum up in Dunblane. I had hoped to have a car procured by this time and have promised to take an unused motor off the hands of an in-law, but it would appear that it is unused for a reason.
The reason being that it wont go, which is quite a good reason. It is at the moment still with the highly trained team of auto-electricians who are no doubt applying all their know how, drinking tea from oily mugs and flicking the dogeared pages of grubby pornomags, to come up with a car that starts and stays started. Maybe next week.

This weekend being Easter and with plans for the beginning of the week that requires a car with more than 2.3 seats in it like Susans little extravagance, I have had to hire a car.
I am no stranger to the hire car, having often felt the need to gratify my needs with them in the past. Well its a job, and as long as their clean and my own car doesn't find out, there's no harm done. But my experiences have never been very good. I never get upgraded to the shiny end of the car park where the Mercs and big Volvos are. When I press the keyring, always silently praying under my breath, BMW, BMW, BMW, its always something totally anonymous and boring. Focus, Kia, Fiat, a role call of motoring anaesthesia. Once I was pointed at a Toyota Prius and after 20 minutes of trying to start the thing, I had to call for help, positive it was broken and about to demand a great big Audi as compensation, but it wasn't broken, I was just being old and dim so once the pre-start up and launch procedures had been explained, I selected forward, and hummed away, near silently as quickly as I could, which wasn't very. This hire car was no less disappointing. A two years old, Vauxhall Astra which had the slightest hint of the odour of travel sickness about it and seemed to be made out of double thickness bacofoil or something. Though top marks to Vauxhall, making car seats that are so full of static electricity, I can only assume its for charging the battery or something. Still, for this weekend, its better than the bike and I'm grateful for it.

The roadworks between Glasgow and Stirling as just as overwhelming as ever, they must go on for about 15 miles. You will recall, a couple of weeks ago, I ran out of fuel in the middle of them. But I hardly ever see anyone working on them. Occaisionally you see a squad of workmen usually made up of the following group, it must be a union stipulation or something. 1 man in a machine, 1 man shovelling/raking something, 5 men watching leaning on brushes. I cant help thinking, I might be wrong because I don't have the benefit of a London School of Economics degree, but maybe, if some of the men leaning on brushes maybe did a little road building it could perhaps, its just a thought, be finished a little more quickly.

The kids and I went for a quick jaunt through the shopping centre in Stirling and ended up in Waterstones. While I was waiting on the two of them to choose something worthwhile to read I couldn't help but notice the number of vampire books and stories are in there. There are whole sections devoted to vampires and blood sucking and werewolves called Dark Romance. Not one of the vampires on the covers looked like a vampire should, well not like the Count from Sesame St anyway. I expect there is some oblique angsty teenage meanging in it all that I am too old and senile to get. Good, I hope it stays that way.

I love spending time with the young lums, there sense of humour is almost as stupid as mine and I can talk utter nonsense with them and they don't seem to mind. Little mini-me has obviously been learning about whales in school, WHALES, not Wales, why and what would anyone need to learn about Wales? Anyway, according to him, a whales brain is the size of a small family car, a Class C Vauxhall Astra perhaps, and its heart is as big as a Class D Ford Mondeo and its tongue is 100ft long. Wait a minute, says I, "100ft long, are you sure? Why does it need a tongue that length?" So we spent the next 10 minutes wondering what peculiar kink of evolution could have given a whale a 100 ft tongue and what does it do with it. Maybe they swim right up to the edge of the ocean and catch dog walkers with their tongue on the shore like an Iguana, or gather around the end of the runway at Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong picking off the low-flying airplanes as they come into land. We finally decided, seeing as we hadn't heard of any of these incidents on the news, that he was talking mince and it wasn't that length at all.

Having a car for the weekend feels a bit like the patients in that film Sleepers must have felt, you wake up out of a years long coma, and knowing you could slip back into it at any time, you just want to get as much done as you can, so I grabbed the opportunity to go get a quick Easter Sunday haircut at City Barbers in Glasgow. Every haircut these days is quick, not like the old days when I had to take a magazine with me to Hairways in Dunblane for my cut n blowdry. The barber, as is their wont to engage you in meaningless conversation, mentioned that he was flitting into his new flat today, in The Merchant City in the City Centre, which is a great location in town I would have thought. But then, when I thought about it a little more, my haircut took about 5 minutes and cost £7, £9 with my generous tip, if they were all like me he would be on £108/hour. Now, obviously not everyone is nearly totally baldy like me, so lets say, some haircuts take 10 minutes, remember its a barbers, not John Freidas place, that's still £50 an hour or so. Astronauts wont be on much more than that.

I was grateful they were open right enough, Easter seems to have grown in significance as a holiday worth celebrating since I was young. The old sceptic I am has cynically put it down to the shops wanting to sell more tat of some description or another. Now, the religious and the church going community can of course get right into it, and good luck to them, I hope they enjoy it but I cant be bothered with the phoniness of those that are not, I feel they are trying to create a little Christmas.

Easter Sunday of course meant an Easter dinner at the in-laws and a desperate last minute frantic rush to Dobbies Garden Centre to buy a gift of some kind for the host. Dobbies at the weekend is like the foyer of some hotel for 100 year olds, as the guests all get gently pushed up and down the aisles by there helpful bellboys, in this case, their sons and daughters. Or, if they still have their sight and strength in their thumb to control an electric wheelchair then they can of course career around in one of those, like a bump n go toy that has just had new batteries put in it. I managed to peel off the main search party and amuse myself for a few moments around the books and DVD section. There were some real treasures in there for the man of beige. Gems like " The Book of Knots", "The Illustrated Guide to Steam Tractors" and "Britains Signal boxes". It was all too much, I thought I 'd try the DVD section, I'm a big film fan, I might uncover a masterpiece. Arthur Askey has a couple of films out, filmed in trendy black and white, Spielberg probably directed, called Band Waggon and Back Room Boy, which I'm sure isn't as gay hardcore as it sounds and there was one copy remaining of "100 years of Buses and Trolley Buses". It was good of them to make the distinction, I don't think anyone could have taken it seriously if Trolleybuses were just lumped in with Buses. With only seconds remaining before my absence was surely discovered I came across the computer games stand, one of those revolving wire things, that you buy postcards from at the seaside. Maybe I'll see a copy of Grand Theft Auto, Liberty City Stories, but no, all I could see was Railway Simulator, though, that might have been stimulator.

Dinner was very nice with a particularly stunning dessert, well done Mrs. Though I have to say, one member of the party chose to share with the throng the fact that The Reeking Lum was sitting among them. The reaction was surprising and even embarrassing for even me, as you would think I had just revealed to them that I was on the waiting list for transgender surgery. I felt I had to justify my musings and my haverings and explain that its good therapy and I find it, well, rewarding. Still, horses for courses, if we all had the same sense of humour, then I would laugh at fart jokes. Philistines.

Lang may yer lum reek.

No Lum for a few days as some R&R away from the front line has been won, though I look forward to a right good reek when I return. Also, thanks to all that offered congratulations and good luck in my new job, wishes to me, its a lovely thing to receive and I did so warmly and gratefully.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Subway to Mt Olympus

I trust no Lums were fooled on April 1st.

Yep, April Fools day and I find myself disproportionately excited about getting out the house and down the street if only to visit my local job centre to give an update of all my job hunting activities. Perhaps I could try and fool them by telling them I am being headhunted by NASA for their upcoming manned mission to Mars, or maybe go into the detail of MYPY.COM the personal online pie customisation and delivery idea. Maybe there is a start up grant I could qualify for.

The burden of proof is on me, apparently, to provide evidence that my job search is active and ongoing. I say proof and evidence as if I have to bring in a signed note from all the HR departments that have binned my CV or maybe some grainy stills from CCTV showing me entering the newsagents empty handed, but coming out again, with a paper in hand. Actually what they require is for me to write a list of things I have managed to do. Like read the papers and browse the net. I think I might add "Watched Jeremy Kyle" to see if any of the end of show credits had no names against them. Its not the most inspiring of places I must say.

I did have a quick shifty through the available jobs and of course you cant help being drawn to all the , sorry, both the 50k jobs that were there, shining like hilltop beacons among the other 176 meets minimum wage positions. Unfortunately, OTE usually follows which of course means On Target Earnings. To make that commission you probably have to sell someone the The Eiffel Tower then harvest their organs before selling their kids to Romanian Gypsies.

I am glad to report however, that this will be my final hearing in front of the jobless panel, as I have actually been offered a job and for the last three days have been negotiating a salary. Which is a new experience for me and I fear I ended up caving in a little bit too early I think. But no matter, because on April 19th, I become an Olympian, yes, this is no April Fools Joke, I am joining The London Organising Committee Of The Olympic Games, LOCOG for short, though it does sound like your are trying to clear your throat when you say that. I'll be based in Canary Wharf in London, just right across the road from Gods own bacon rolls.

The more alert Lums among you will of course realise that the daily commute will be problematic from Kirkintilloch and you are right, I am afraid the Reekin Lum is relocating to the Heart of Darkness for a couple of years. That, in World Cup year, introduces massive risk, the thought of working in amongst that lot if England win the bloody thing is almost too ghastly to comprehend.
A team of agents are already on the case, trying to find me somewhere to live within my budget, and as soon as those cardboard boxes have been found and a vacant railway bridge been identified, I'll be off. At least I shouldn't have trouble finding something to reek about.

Gadgets are a mans best friend, they are fab, the look of them, the touch of them, how they sound and how they look in the dark, I am a sucker for a gadget. Well, reading about them and coveting thy neighbours gadgets anyway, but now I have to do some serious gadget replenishment which, for someone such as me, must be like the trippy nirvana LSD promised in the 60s. First up for consideration is the mobile phone. Now, when choosing a gadget, I like to read all the magazines and listen to what lovely Suzi Perry has to say on The Gadget Show, and that's it, I put almost total trust in them. What they are saying is the iphone is the one to go for, and anyone that has one, will tell you the same, but this is where it gets a bit twisted. I have this contrary streak running through me that means that because everyone else has one and they all gush about how fab they are, I don't want one, I want to be thought of as an individual thinker that cannot be bowed by the herd. Anyway, I have an ipod touch and I'm , er, appy enough with that. I want something new and a little bit riskier.
So, I've discounted all the rest and its a toss up between the hegemony of the iphone and the new contenders running the Android OS. The googlephone looks promising, but its not over here yet, so pretty much made up my mind to go with either the HTC Legend or Desire.

Down the street and an hour to kill before I was up in front of the beaks at the job centre, so I sadly ended up in Subway for lunch. I'm glad I had an hour because the number of decisions you have to make in there is overwhelming for my remaining brain cells. You have to chose what kind of bread, how long it should be, what filling of course, toasted or not, salad items to be stuffed in and finally what sauce out of a possible 6 or so. I reckon you could eat in there every lunchtime for 67 years, and not have the same thing twice, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they all taste roughly the same.

There is an odious form in front of me that requires attention, actually, the one odious form comes in three odious parts, and has been supplemented by an additional, equally odious form from the job centre, all to do with a redundancy insurance policy I have for a bank loan. I remember taking the insurance policy out, about 5 years and £1800 ago, all I had to do then was tick a box. Now when I want to claim, I need the services of a Philadelphia Lawyer and the patience of St Patient.

Lang may yer lum reek