Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thats the sound of an AK-47, the chosen weapon of your enemy

But Lummy, thou reek no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Hoots man, a wee bit o Burns fir aw ma reeking lums, seein as its Burns night or there aboots.

That's enough off that, this last wee while has been a bit of a mixed bag for Lum No 1.

Biggest thing first though, I've decided to move abodes, from South East London, to East London, cor blimey guv'nor.
I got the chance to share a flat over in Stratford, a little bit cheaper, a little bit nearer work, a little bit nearer my usual escape route of Stansted Airport, all adds up to a big bit of sense. Stratford, no, not Shakespeares one, is a busy place, lots going on, most of it I will try and avoid like the plague but it will be a welcome contrast to Hither Green, the only town twinned with a brand of sleeping pills, Dozidrom (TM).

The street I,m moving too is bookended by two pubs, The Railway Tavern, a Queen Vic type of place, full of locals, mostly from Poland and the Balkans. The proximity to the Olympic Park means a 5 o'clock its full of dusty blokes with tool bags and high-vis vests, you don't want to be in here when it all kicks off, nothing worse than a nail gun shootout. The other end is a place called The Cart and Horses, which interestingly is billed, very proudly, as the Birthplace of 80s heavy metal icons, Iron Maiden.

I had never wondered what gave birth to Iron Maiden, or where, but guessed it wouldn't have been a village hall in some leafy English parish, with ladies from the Womens Institute bringing in scones during rehearsals.
No siree, on reflection I imagined some kind of bloody gore fest from Alien or Lambing Live and this pub, at the end of my street, is exactly the kind of place this lot would have been spawned. First up , it smells, I couldn't make up my mind if it was the toilets, or what they use to clean the toilets, if it was the latter, they shouldn't bother and save a few bob and maybe spend it on some furniture.

Opposite the door is a long bar, running the entire width of the place, in the middle of the space in between, normally filled with tables and places to sit , is a pool table, the sitting arrangements confined to the two available walls, the fourth taken up by an impressive stage, all decked out in Iron Maiden imagery and ghoulish cartoons. I thought I had walked into a Wild West Saloon, all that was missing was a piano player that stops when I swing open the doors, and some shifty card game going on in the corner.

Where I sat myself, there were knot holes in the wood, where you could peer down to the sinister depths of the cellar, I thought I saw an eye, staring and bloodshot glaring back, and some scurrying, that could only be made by overlong toenails on beer kegs, I poked a couple of Quavers down, but didn't hear anything more, maybe it was Eddie.

The barmaid was from the east end of Europe of course, not the east end of London and the few patrons really did look like the Unforgiven. Maybe that's why Iron Maiden came here, no distractions during band practice. The place across the road looks more appealing, The Thailander, which is the first pub of that name I've seen anywhere, it has made me curious though.

I've not been feeling myself either this last week, I blame it on a lazy dinner I made. Hotdogs, a favourite snack, maybe at the pictures or the baseball game, but as a rule, ones enough. There is no need to test this rule by eating a whole packet of Red Dog hot dog sausages, with accompanying fried onions on five finger rolls, that's a whole hand, because I have already done that and have decided it is not desirable. Infact, when I see that packet of Hot Dog sausages now, in Tescos, I see something totally different. I see me slapping them into an AK-fartyseven like a magazine of cheap Chinese knock off bullets, the kind that can go off, randomly through the night, spraying there malodorous malice all around the room, but mostly under the duvet. Waking you up, like gunfire in the street, the crouched dart to the panic room, well, in this case the toilet, and safety, at least until the next time. They say Hotdogs get their name because the end of the sausage poking out the bun looks like a dog with its tongue out, I don't see that anymore

We started with some Burns, the egalitarian poet of the peasants, but lets not end there. Consider now for a second this little piece of here and now I read in The Times, written by the wife of Michael Gove, our minister in charge of education and ensuring all our children, from all our backgrounds are given the opportunities that merit brings, and not the ones that privilege do, she says " Like all angst-ridden working mothers, I live in terror of upsetting the cleaner" . What unthinkable horror, and I thought it was all canapes and Klosters up the other end of the spectrum, I thank the heavens I was born working class.

Land may yer lum reek.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When 12km isn't

Hello reekers,

The week started with some belly splitting mirth, I laughed so hard and for so long that once the hyperventilation kicked in, I had to breath into a brown paper bag for an hour and a half. This was comedy writing at its greatest, with the ability to dilate pupils, palpitate hearts, get your endorphins in a fizz, induce wonderment at the creativity, make you doubt everything you thought you knew about anything with its sheer imagination and boldness. What could have reduced me to this comedy wreck?
I stole ten minutes at work to book some flights home in February. Ryanair, the rapid livestock movers of choice were offering tax free flights to go with their frill and service free flights and I was directed mistakenly to the page that describes the destination I had chosen, Glasgow Prestwick. Where I read this little piece of fantastic fiction

" Ryanair’s low cost flights to Glasgow Airport land 12km from central Glasgow in the wild and lovely west of Scotland".

It encourages you further by promising you a 20 minute bus ride into Central Glasgow.

Hold on, I've only been away nine months, I'm pretty sure the tectonic plates don't move that quickly, if its only 12km, why does it take me 45 minutes on the train, its not Stevensons Rocket, its not got a man with a flag walking in front of it to warn the horses. Plus, I don't know what kind of bus is on that route, maybe they are rocket powered hover buses, driven by Nikki Lauda on a custom built designated arrow straight road, I'm pretty sure that's not the case though.

After I'd recovered from the seismic shock that I,ve maybe been measuring everything wrong, which could have depressing consequences for me, I decided to investigate a little.
Glasgow Prestwick airport is next door to Troon, the same Troon as the famous golf course, on the south west coast of Scotland in Ayrshire. A very pretty part of the country, none of the drama of the highlands but a romantic rolling landscape that gave birth to Robert Burns and Robert the Bruce, Alexander Fleming, John Dunlop and James McCosh. Reeking Lums may not be familiar with the last of those men, but he was a noted philosopher of the Scottish School of Common Sense. They say common sense is the least common of all, so this seems like a worthy pursuit, it must have been because his common sense led him to becoming the president of Princeton University.

The thing about Troon is, its 31 miles from central Glasgow, that's 59km, not 12. To make the bus trip in 20 minutes, the bus would need to travel at an average speed of 1.83 miles per minute, that's about 110 miles an hour, optimistic. Where did the 12kms come from then, bear in mind Ayrshire is also where the famous Electric Hill is, now that's the contourious oddity where the road looks like its going downhill, but your actually going up, and if you stop your car and take your foot off the brake, you'll roll gently uphill, which is very strange but perhaps there's also a road where 47kms can disappear, mmm? doubtful!.

I can only think that is the distance between central Glasgow and the very northern tip of Ayrshire, which is a teeny bit of a liberty, still, £36 return, cant argue there, that's my kind of common sense Mr McCosh.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

O.A.Ps with A.D.D

Greekings, Lums of earth,

Another weekend in south east Londinium and this week, rather than lie like a coma patient I managed to drag myself to the front door, and once some muscle memory returned to my legs actually go out. Its not like I'm some 21st century hermit, I'm just skint and down here their are millions of people demanding payment for services or things that may constitute weekend fun, so I tend to avoid them by not having any. But I needed the air so out I went to have the paper money sucked from my pockets in Greenwich.

I had a Masala tea in Monsoon Cafe and a mooch about a little flea market where I bought two second hand dvds for the same price HMV sell you new ones. The dvds got me in the mood for a movie and by chance Greenwich Picture House was just warming up its projectors for their afternoon matinees.

I could have had Gullivers Travels, in 3D, er no thanks. I like Jack Black, well I did in School of Rock but I heard this was rubbish, and not in a teeny totty way. Also, 3D, I'm still not convinced. Its just another distraction for directors, rather than intriguing plots and fizzy dialogues and creative cinematography they have to worry about giving us things to duck from. Its gotten too lazy, too formulaic, not always of course, but most of what gets the longer runs at your local odeon-worldplex will be.

In their smallest screen, and this is only a small 4 screen picture house, they were showing The Big Sleep with Bogey and Bacall. I've never been to a classic movie screening before and didn't know what to expect, apart from expecting it not to be busy, I got that right.
There was film student girl, I'm sure she was taking notes in the dark and the professor, at the end of my row who reminded me of that old TV boffin Heinz Wolfe, was that his real name you think? Come to think of it, Heinz Wolfe reminded me of Professor Pat Pending in Whacky Races. Behind me a few rows was a curious woman, I called her, in my head of course, not conversationally The Widow. She was about 60 and alone, but big, blond and brassy and the last type I would have thought to see in an old Film Noir screening.
Me of course, with this beard I'll take the name of Hobo, they probably thought I was just in to get out the cold and right next to me, even though there were about 100 empty seats all around us, sat Hinge and Bracket. Easily 150 years between them, the scent of Lily of the Valley overwhelming. I mean, I bought a box of popcorn but half way through I thought it was a big bag of Parma Violets.

Before the start they were chattering away, and one of them nudged me and says " em,em, emm , what is this" as she dismissively gestured at the screen. "Its a Trail-er" I said, a little loudly and over pronounced, I immediately grimaced a little, they were probably called something else in her days, she wont know what I'm on about and she'll ask again and I'll have to explain and I'll miss the trailers. I don't even think they had trailers back then, any free time was filled with Pathe News reels of Jackbooted Nazis stomping into Czechoslovakia or steamboat willy in that rubbish little tug boat, toot, toot.
"Its a little long" she came back with, as if I was wrong. It wasnt by the way, it was a pretty standard length for a trailer and then of course it ended and it was obvious it was a trailer, she looked a little happier then but still never even said thanks, such is the way of the upper classes, I know that from the 3 minutes of Downton Abbey I had to watch while standing in Yummy (The Chinese Takeaway). That's still a stupid name for a Chinese takeaway, I feel I have to explain in brackets what it is even though regular lums will have heard me go on about it before.

But how impatient do you need to be to get agitated by a movie trailer. I thought when you were old the world sped up and everything went by in half the time. Trust my luck to get the only pensioner with attention deficit disorder sat next to me, she's probably got restless legs or something I stressed to myself.

It reminded me of a couple of old dears on the docklands light railway one weekend, they were on the way to Greenwich to watch a play. They were obviously concerned about making it on time so one of them, the oldest one, got to her feet, not easy when your shoogling along at thirty odd mile an hour and approached the attendant in a doddery kind of way, DLR trains are driverless, so he was their only hope. Imagine the Queen Mother speaking, that's what she sounded like, "my man, can you make this go faster" "What? he replied, incredulity dribbling off his chin when he had finally closed his mouth "we're going to be late, we'd like it to go faster" she clarified helpfully. He just laughed and walked off up the carriage, which I thought a little disrespectful but then so was she, risking my death in a mangled derailed toy town train, maybe even a Coronation St style catastrophe in Mudchute just so that her and her old biddy, who did look a little mortified, could take their seats before curtain up.

So, what of the movie, The Big Sleep. Magical, that's what it was and on the big screen I just got totally immersed in it. If I watch a film like this on TV, I end up being jolted out the story because the special effects or staging is unconvincing to my 21st Century film goers eyes, but at the cinema, you forget all that, you appreciate every little thing especially the characters, the words they say and the lines invested in even fairly junior characters. Speaking of trailers though, I saw one for the Coens True Grit. It looks great, I was a little worried because they are tramping on hallowed ground with this one, The Duke, Rooster Cogburn "Fill yer hands ya..." the eye patch, I loved that movie, I watched it again recently and loved it, every character in it is a joy, even Robert Duvall playing the baddie gets some sympathy. It looks like the new one is going to be good though, I cant wait to see it.

Fitting really because this beard I'm allowing to grow on my face will have me looking like Jeff Bridges Rooster Cogburn by the time it comes out, If I get an eye patch, I'll maybe get in the pictures for free. At the moment it makes me look more like the pencil drawn guy from The Joy of Sex.

Lang may yer lum reek.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Apocalypto ho ho.

Happy New Year Lums,

My resolution is too reek more sooty haverings up the lum in 2011 so, expect a blizzard of nonsensical bunkum from me for the next three weeks, then nothing till May or something, that's normally how the resolutions go. Or is it just me that's incapable of shaking off all the undesirable habits that have attached themselves to me in the past forty odd years, like barnacles on a ships arse, each one unwelcome, slowing me down and laying me lower in the briny sea.

I'm ill equipped to deal with the apocalypse the Mayans predicted is coming. When society falls, I'll have to come up with a plan. Its alright for people with skills. Joiners, butchers, doctors, they'll be alright, they'll be sought after. The rest of us, I guess we'll be food or fertiliser, probably both.

Now we're all in the appropriate mood, let me share with you the highlights of my Christmas break at home, if I say it started with a funeral and ended with a speeding ticket, and then remind you that I said highlights, you'll be well on the way to the conclusion that this may well have been a most miserable Christmas, and it mostly was.

Lets start with the very sad departure of My uncle Mickey McDonald after a short and sudden illness. When I was a small boy, I suppose he wasn't much older than I am now, I remember the visits to see him and auntie Cathy. Even then, I recognised the humour of the man, he always had a grin, he was always kidding you on and had an inextinguishable twinkle in his eye every time I saw him, which was always a treat, I'm sure everyone he met saw it too. Even when older, he hadn't changed, the same Mickey, having a laugh and a carry on with my dad, like they were boys again. One of the last times I talked too him at any length he told me about his time as a Royal Artillery Gunner in the Korean War, the battle of Imjin River and how he had to swim across in a freezing Spring of 1951 with a million China men chasing him. Over a thousand allied troops lost their lives in the three days of the battle, it was one of the fiercest fought since the end of WWII and my old uncle Mickey was there, a long way from the Gareloch. Anyway, well done Mickey, you were a cracking man.

Funerals are quite rightly, sombre affairs, and often the only time you see old faces from the past. The relevance of them long forgotten, but the sight of them stirs some deeply buried memory. In my case the memory is normally from old school hogmany parties at my Granparents house in a little village on a Clyde sea loch. The kind when the door gets knocked every ten minutes after midnight, with another man from the village bringing a dram and a song. No music playing, just singing the usual play list unaccompanied, Danny Boy, I'll take you home again Kathleen, There was a Soldier, that kind of thing. No fancy vodkas or anything coloured blue then, just bottles of whisky and a jug of water, and it went on and on, sometimes for days.

Anyhoo, the faces I remember from those nights, when I was just a boy, peeking around the door, or pretending to be asleep up the back of the room. A few of them were there, at the funeral, not ruddy cheeked and beaming new year smiles, belting out Jim Reeves or laughing at the Big Yins patter on Big Banana Feet, but old, worn out and hard to imagine them as they were once, but I guess that's just the way of it.
Can I order one apocalypse please, for delivery the day after I get old.

So that was Christmas Eve, Christmas day passed with the usual hilarity, first of all the gifts. What do you get the man with everything? Well, if by everything you mean aftershave, underwear and chocolate, you get him more of the same. I did get a very nice Ted Baker shirt, from the Shirley Crabtree collection. Imagine if you will, buying your wife, that you love very much, an expensive dress for Christmas, the one you spotted her eyeing up in the window, you may even have imagined her dropping you a couple of hints to buy it like " don't ever buy me clothes " or "remember to keep receipts for everything". So you buy it, and can hardly contain your self as your size ten wife eyes the fabric, the quality of the finish, especially around the size fourteen label and ultimately ten hours later on return from casualty, the stitching around your nostrils where she rammed the hanger. I, being a man, took it a little better, with a discrete, its a little long in the sleeve, maybe you could change it for the size below.

Between Christmas and New Year is like a dead zone. Like the festive period is passing through the Oort Cloud or something. It slows and becomes unimportant, the only thing keeping time is the TV schedules, but even now that's gotten a bit fuzzy with the number of repeats and catch up channels there are.
I avoided TV totally, apart from a bit of darts. I didn't mean too watch, but it sucks you in, darts. Its so quick, a game lasts a few minutes, a set maybe ten and entire match can be done in half an hour, you have no time to get bored, the commentators are entertaining and the players are a joy to behold. Just ordinary blokes with tattoos, an extraordinary skill, no punishing gym regimes, no playing since he was three or "he only wins because he has the best arrows" carry on. Just guys that picked up three darts at some time and found they could throw them quite accurately, more accurately than anyone else in the pub/town/county/country or even world.

I didn't shave for the week so I thought I'd keep it going and see what kind of beard I get. I thought I'd get one of those that looked like I've just trekked across the pack ice from the North Pole, it would make me look rugged, travelled and interesting, instead it looks like a raccoon is raping my face. Its the unwelcome grey, all around my chin which is inviting comments like "very wise" and "distinguished". I'll keep it going and see if its just a barrier that has to be crossed for the first time beard grower, but if I start looking like McGrew the Trumpton fireman, its coming right off.

As I ponder this nonsense there has been a murder, some poor girl in Bristol but the police enquiry all seems a bit odd, there are profilers, psychics and theories galore, now police are hunting a pizza and a sock, whats all that about? If they discover the pizza is a vegetarian one, is anyone else thinking they'd like to know the whereabouts of Heather Mills that night?

The other news creating a bit of a tizz is these birds falling out the sky dead in Arkansas, now been joined by a load of fish in a river from not much further away, not falling out the sky of course, that would be odd, but floating to the surface, which I suppose is the equivalent for a fish, but not as sore.
Arkansas is of course right in the good ol bible belt and these biblical style occurrences are fairly putting them all on hyper thump down there. Mind you, it is a bit strange, but before we start blaming the Wrath of God lets bullet the alternatives and randomly pick a likely cause, it seems to do the trick at work, so lets try it here.
  • Aliens in their very specific wildlife bothering spaceships,almost definitely
  • Secret US weapons testing, kill all the little birds and fish and the North Koreans will have nothing to eat, I bet frogs and dogs start turning up dead next
  • Solar flares, cant be that, have you seen the weather.
  • Magnetic disturbances at the centre of the earth, where the core has stopped spinning and we're all doomed. Don't think its that, I'm sure the Golden Gate Bridge falls apart in that movie.
  • Virus being spread in the pollen of killer plants. M Night Shyamalan, nuff said.
  • Racial crime, they were all blackbirds after all, but why would white supremacist doves go after fish, unless they had swum down from upstate New York to help organise some kind of blackbird civil flights rally. That would make sense
  • Suicide, got to admire their coordination if that was the case
  • Angry God, jeez, what eating him, mind you he seems a little less pissed off than the time he sent the tsunami. Maybe somebody bought him a new white smock two sizes too big.
Happy New Year, I hope 2011 is as long as you expect it to be and

lang may yer lum reek.