Monday, February 28, 2011

Revolting, its so this season

Good evening my revolutionary reekers, don't either of you think of trying to topple No1 Lum.

The Spring Revolution Season is upon us.

All over the Middle east the common man is waking up to the years of democratic slumber and shaking out

the sheets of oppression.

Like military coups, a good revolution has been a rare find these last few years, a few courageous efforts, like Burma, but by comparison to the 70s, a very poor offering. A true revolutionary golden age, fuelled mostly by the Cold War and the plans for world domination hatched in the anonymous offices of Washington and Moscow. But every cloud has a silver lining, it did marshall in some stunning uniforms.

I noticed a picture of Gaddafi this week, in a giant square shouldered be-medalled military jacket. Big glittery stars, cummerbunds and sashes, those brush like shoulder adornments, he had it all going on. The Rock star sunglasses he has a thing for jarred a little, and detracted from the overall look he was trying for, unless it was for a kind of General Jim Morrison theme but still, a Sterling effort. Mussolini is the contemporary inspiration I think, he did for uniforms what Chanel did for the little black dress.

The King of undeserved baubles must be Idi Amin, the Kampala cannibal, he must have awarded himself a gong every time he climbed some stairs. The African Dictators generally also liked to give themselves titles to go with them, not the regal and dignified Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath as our own privileged mob might, and in fact do, give themselves, but the vulgar and comedic His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC,[C] DSO, MC, Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular". I don't even think he ever was a Doctor you know.

Or Zaire's Mobutu who impressed the girls and frightened the boys of the Congo with "the earthy, the peppery, all-powerful warrior who, by his endurance and will to win, goes from contest to contest leaving fire in his wake" and "the cock that covers all the chickens in the coop". Though strictly not a title, more a translation of his name apparently.

The personality cult, learned from 2000 years of successful religionism, is something else they embrace. At one point in Mobutu's regime, every television broadcast was preceded with images of him, transcending through the clouds above, and no other person was allowed to be mentioned by name, only the position they held in society. I shouldn't be too critical though, we have our own Kate and Wills personality cult going on.

I got into conversation with an old CIA man once, no, honest I did, you meet some interesting folk in my job. Anyway he said, while working in Zaire in the 70’s he was at an ambassadors reception where he met the countries minister for transport. While making polite chat, the minister explained that he was quite new in the job, my American acquaintance asked him what he did previous to being the Minister for Transport, and without irony or any sense of the abnormal he said, I was the driver to the Minister of Transport. Right place, right time and in Zaire, right tribal background.

The communist revolutionaries were much less ostentatious in their choice of uniform. Unmistakeably inspired by the military, but taking the cue from Castro. Khakis, functional and plain, you’ll see Chavez in this get up nowadays. More religious parallels there, just as Protestantism adopted black and itchy hair shirts as opposed to the silk and bling of the established Catholic order so the Communist revolutionary didn't want to associate themselves with the aristocracy or wasteful order of undeserved wealth that they had just shot up against a wall.

The problem a lot of these dictators have is that they are often in charge for so long, surrounded by yes men and toady's, they begin to believe their own cultish hype. They begin to think they are chosen, regal and born rightfully to rule, then they try and create a dynasty, with son following father, in effect, creating what they destroyed 30 or 40 years before, no wonder the people get upset. Even if it takes a bit of a while for it to bubble to the surface.

A bit like Chlamydia, and to tug the analogy just a little further, Gaddafis probably wondering how the hell that happened, one minute things are ticketyboo, next minute he’s getting bad news from the Dr. Sure, he’ll say, I did a few things in my younger days, but I've been a good boy for years and years, ever since Ronald Reagan bombed by bollocks off.

Chlamydia sounds like Victorian parlour plant, I expect Alan Titchmarsh to get enthused telling me of its fragrant blooms and whether it favours sun or shade. Syphilis isn’t a word, it’s a sound you make when trying to get the attention of a cat. That’s not right. Such blights should have appropriate names like blisterscratchia or oderousdischargastia. The only one to get it right is gonorrhoea, now that certainly sounds like something that would crawl up your willy and wreck merry hell.

Come the revoltion, Lang may yer lum reek

Monday, February 7, 2011

Hell seats 58 and is diesel powered

Evening Lums,

Kenny Dalglish, what a man, away from the white heat of management at the top of the professional football game for 10 years, he breezes back in, steadies the Liverpool ship, infact, not only steadies it, but somehow turns them into the the best to watch side in the league, sells the star striker for £50m and buys two for £58m and still sounds like he left Govan yesterday.

The Scottish accent is incredibly robust and resilient. I've met old Scots that have been down here for 25 years yet you would swear they had just gotten off the train at Kings Cross, its not just here though, it could be Australia or California or anywhere, mind you 3 months in Canada seems to have an affect on some vowels.
The Irish accent is similar, why is that, do we try extra hard not to lose it?
I think we do make a concious effort to sound as homely as we can, especially the further we get away from home itself. Its maybe like a little beacon we give out, hoping that another travelling Scot will recognise it and engage you in shortbread talk and a mutual moan about the price of things in London or Tokyo or Los Angeles or somewhere.
I was at an event a couple of weeks ago, at Wembley Stadium, Hardeep Kohli was there, doing a little 15 minute stand up routine, I say stand up, but he died on his arse, what he said may not have been funny, but he's got an unmistakable Glasgow accent, not like Dalglish or Ferguson from Govan, more BBC Bearsden than Barrowlands but appealing all the same.

I met Dalglish once, and McQueen, Jordan, Rough and all the greats of the 1978 World Cup Squad. They were training at the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane before jetting off to Cordoba. Me and my pals bunked off school, I was only 9 and and a half, and went to watch their training session in the afternoon. Ally McCleod told is to get away from behind the goals because " these baws are really travelling" . I know, and you know, the net or Alan Rough was meant to stop them but he obviously knew more than we did, on reflection, that wasn't a good sign.

Wembley stadium, impressive, but so it should be at half a billion poonds, they should have been able to build it on the moon at that price and I don't know, maybe I was expecting too much but the atmosphere might have been better there too. I don't mean when its full of people, I expect its fine then, but should you not feel a tingle of excitement when you see the grass of a grand stadium, its the history, the moments that have occurred and been etched in millions of memories. It leaves behind a trace that you feel, like walking through the finest of cobwebs, its all around and everywhere you look, not here though, I was left a bit underwhelmed, I could have been in any of a dozen stadium in the country, apart from the seats spelling WEMBLEY in 20feet high letters. The highlight of the day was meeting the X-Factor voice over man, who is a thoroughly nice bloke with time for everyone.

I have one memory from the last few weeks though, indelibly scratched into my sub-conscious. When I'm old and senile, I will rock back and forth mumbling about it, I'll carve it into my room wall with the sharpened end of my catheter, maybe shuffle around the wards ranting at the moon, the nurses and other inmates wont know what terrible ghastly experience I had endured. What I'll be howling is NATIONAL EXPRESSOOOWoowooo!!

Because January is traditionally a very long month with an extra week between pay-checks, I had to impose my very own austerity budget with some very difficult decisions to make. It makes me think of those geese that fly across the Atlantic twice a year, making it across with the final beat of their wings, I would probably, if history tells me anything and I stretch the analogy just as far, plop into the ocean 100 yards from shore exhausted and starving and in need of a beer.

The Ministry for Transport bore the brunt of the cuts with the usual Ryanair flight to near Glasgow, but not that near Ryanair, being replaced with the National Express bus through the night. It made perfect sense, £25 return, a comfy reclining seat, 8 hours undisturbed sleep as I am cosseted and gently rocked by the motion of the er, road liner, and the reassuring damped thrum of the engines as the professional and highly trained coach pilots navigate the M6 through the gloom, delivering me refreshed to Glasgow as the sun comes up, probably waking me with a hot towel and the juice of a freshly squeezed Seville Orange.

Only one of those descriptive flourishes is remotely accurate, it was actually £26 because I paid for priority boarding. Now, apart from the obvious risk of parting with one shiny pound to get on first only to find that everybody else has as well, I mean, its only a pound, why wouldn't you. The second, less obvious risk is maybe why. You see, with priority boarding, you have no say in who sits next to you, this is important on a 10 hour journey, 10 hours, I flew to Bangkok in 10 hours once. This thought came pounding into my head like two Biggest Loser contestants racing to Greggs.

I had already scoped some of my fellow passengers in the waiting room during my desperate futile search for the business lounge.
At least half my passengers look like they had just arrived in the country, in the back of a container, but that's OK, though the ones with shouty crying babies didn't fill me with optimism of successful multi-cultural integration in the next 10 hours.
There was a clew of students, an Abu Hamza look alike minus the hook, an old Polish man with the biggest hearing aid I've ever seen, a walking stick in one hand and a big rattan bag of Big Issues in the other, he was the one I was most concerned about, mainly because of his rocking back and forth, random rants and he seemed to like to poke things with his stick.
But there was worse, a passenger that would be less welcome than flatulence on a moon walk.
A tramp. A real genuine tramp, not just somebody that chooses not to adhere to the normal washing conventions, or a chirpy man of the road, with a red spotted hanky on a cane and crooked top hat, this was the genuine article.
I spotted him in the bus station, I just thought he had come in out the cold and would stretch out on the seats once we were all away. He had about 5 old jackets on, the top one a high vis overcoat he's picked up in a building site skip, mind you, how many tramps get run over in the dark in a year by bin lorries, sensible move that when you think about it. Filthy jeans that were too short and probably didn't fasten, old black shoes, a great big extravagant moustache that hid his mouth and was stained with the nicotine of a million salvaged fag ends, a manky bald brown head that looked like an old foosty Malteser that's been left in the sun then cooled again, nicley set off with a red'white and blue headband that gave it the look of an egg in a cup, a rank one mind you.

You can imagine the state of mind I was in, as I smugly peered out the window at my less fortunate travelling companions, safely in the seat of my choice as the bus slowly filled and saw him at the end of the queue to get on, what if the seat next to me was the last one, he would have to sit there.
What was he even doing on a bus to Aberdeen anyway, going for a job interview with BP? He didn't sit next to me, a porky student did thankfully , but I sensed him as he shuffled up the bus, the nose sense especially picked him up as went past.

I was already a bit fraught and we hadn't even moved yet, it only got worse, non-reclining seats, knees jammed in the seat in front because they were designed for Fantasy Islands Tattoo, I thought I'd rest my head on the window frame and try and sleep, but the vibrations knocked a couple of fillings out my head.
First stop, the only reason I think was to let the drivers have a smoke was at a place called Norton Canes, I've no idea where that is, but I remember it because the Chinese lady behind me opened a big bag of beef Monster Munch as we left.
Next stop was because the unfortunate passengers sitting near the tramp thought he had pissed himself and the drivers made us all get off to check, he hadn't apparently, but it was an understandable misconception. And so it went on until we reached landfall in Glasgow, a more miserable 10 hours its hard to remember enduring, even when I had a job working a giant dry ice making machine, in a corrugated shed, during the harshest winter for 25 years.

I finally got back to Kirky about 8am, it was a lovely morning, sun just coming up, light mist shrouding the church steeples, I felt like Bilbo returning to the Shire, and then shit, I had it all to do again to get back to London.

Come to think about it, that tramp would have gotten to Aberdeen about lunchtime probably, a stroll about town, a walk on the beach then back to the bus stop for the 14 hour trip back to London, two nights out the cold and a trip to the seaside for £25 quid, you wouldn't get that in the Capital.

After an emergency spending review, I can happily report that Ryanair has been reinstated as the haulier of choice.

I have reserved a spoonful of bile for my new most annoying ad character on TV, now that GoCompare man seems to have finally been rested, though I hope assassinated, MoreThan Freeman, what is that all about, why a French Horn and coffee cup, why does he stand on the roof of things, why did Morgan Freeman agree to this puerile miasma , why why?

Lang may yer lum reek