Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Time thieves

It may come as a surprise but I don't rate summer much. I prefer winter. Autumn rocks.

One of the things I hate most about impending summer is the loss of an hour when the clocks go forward to BST, or GMT +1 as I think of it, the +1 being stolen.

There is talk of NOT GIVING IT BACK. The clocks would stay forward in October, keeping my hour forever, and then go forward again in March. Preposterous! To put us in line with Europe. Presumably they'll be robbing Portugal too, or do we not mind about that?

Supposedly it is better to be light in the evening, so commuters can get home in daylight. It'll be fine to be dark until 9.30 in the morning though, people are tireder in the evening and more likely to crash.

I beg to differ. I am awake in the evening, this is barely true of any morning. I have long hoped for the abolishment of BST, it being an outdated practice since the advent of electrical light. But this is Not On.

GMT here means it gets light around 8.30 and dark around 4.00 in mid December. Those times correspond with school times. Children travel to and from school in daylight. If it gets light at 9.30, they will travel in the dark in the morning for a couple of months a year. Not exactly ideal.

I have heard further rumour of a different time zone in Scotland. I most sincerely hope that means we get our hour back. If I can't trust in the UK government, can I trust in the Scottish one? I don't care much if we share a time zone with England, I do actually care if my children get to school safely.

Seems Mr Cameron is keener for independence for Scotland than most of Scotland is. Way to annoy the Scots, again.

I read an argument for the new time saying that the rising sun is dangerous for drivers. Well, don't drive your kids to school! Simple. Solves soooooo many problems. The other argument being that we are being dinosaurs. Yes! Abolish BST!! BST + 2 is just wrong.

I just want my hour, Charlie.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

England the Brave

We're racist apparently.

So said the people who complained to Fife Police, resulting in HMV Kirkcaldy being subject to the police removing their "Anyone But England" merchandise.

Ok! Way to incite hatred.

We don't want England to win. We don't. Not because we are racist, because they would be insufferable bores if they won. We don't hate them. We don't have a line in racist slurs. We don't attack the English, we have a light hearted banter about long standing rivalries.

Why don't we support the Home Nations? We do, the others, just not England. Why? Mostly because they are infinitely better than the rest of us. Scotland has never qualified for the second round, other than the time we did by some technicality and said no. We haven't been at the last three World Cups. And it's a bit galling to see the expectations laid upon England and a complete inability to enjoy the fact that their team are THERE. The unshakeable belief that England should win everything and any failure to do so is the fault of some fall guy, or down to cheatery and being robbed. Be like the Dutch, enjoy the experience and go for it. They've never won, they're not bitter. The bitterness of the English support rankles. Where's your Tartan Army equivalent?

The English football fans have, I'm afraid, created a bad impression historically. Very few other nations have the same record of violence and discord overseas.

Necessary disclaimer: Scottish opinion of the Old Firm, and support thereof, is somewhere largely below that of the English support. They are indefensible.

Now, I can accept that 99% of English footie fans are far, far removed from those that cause discord abroad. But there's a difference in attitude between that of the English and that of, erm, everyone else.

Example A: World Cup 2002. I explained to my colleague why I would be supporting Belgium, because they had qualified from our qualifying group and so theoretically would be in Scotland's place. He was baffled, he couldn't comprehend why this didn't make me hate Belgium and wish them the worst run possible for "stealing" our place.

Example B: In 1465, when Raith Rovers last played well, they were put out of the UEFA cup by Bayern Munich. The Raith Rovers support thus wanted them to win. Each team that they beat by a lower margin than they had beaten the Rovers was equivalent to Rovers beating them by the difference. By Bayern Munich winning the cup, it would have technically made Rovers the runners up. An English flatmate could not comprehend why Bayern Munich were not Most Hated, they would have wanted them to be defeated 18-0 in the next round, and in all matches for ever more.

On more general Scottish/English rivalries:

It's not generally PC to call people by names, however accurate, that are used as an offensive term. You know the obvious ones, you wouldn't use them. Historically, we were the Scotch. Why aren't we any more? Because a certain country landlocked to us used it as a derogatory term, and so we became Scottish. Except, sometimes, it slips in. And rarely
from genuine ignorance. It annoys, always, as does the equally humorous "jock".

See, there are a few facts. We accept them. As a nation, we do drink more, we do eat more fat, we do achieve less as a country. We are much less affluent, and there is a constant exodus of the great and the good to England.

But we have a better health service, a better education system, a better legal system and we are fiercely proud of what we do well. And we don't really like being teased about being Scottish, because it's not something we're ashamed of. It's not ok, actually, to say "what??! You're not drinking??? But you're Scottish?" Yes, I am. Listen to all my vowels. Ha.

Don't. Call. Me. Jock. And actually, I'm quite generous but will be utterly offended if you come into my house and turn down my food.

Andy Murray is British when he's doing well, Scottish when he loses. Always true. Donald Dewer's death was an incidental report in England. In exchange, we have a wonky map that ends at Newcastle. We can be insular. Heh.

We have an (unofficial) anthem. It glories the fights we won against England and has a veiled threat that we will have victory once more. We happily sing that at the English, who don't have their own anthem, the sods. Not that we resent them using the British one, it's rubbish! Other nations have rousing passionate anthems, the English/British have funereal dirge. Adopt Land of Hope and Glory and be done with it.

Yeah. Love them. But really, it's banter. We don't discriminate against the English, as they don't against us. We don't incite violence or nastiness. Jock is never used to hurt, nor is Sassenach. It's all a chip on our collective shoulders and harmless banter based on years of battles. Most people don't want independence because we're not daft. Yet.

But please. We will never support the national team. Those that do, don't care about football.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


I'm in a mood.
Because I'm self obsessed. Obviously, or I wouldn't have a blog dedicated to nothing except things I done thunked.

So. A little quiet. And a little bit ginormously insecure about complete lack of interesting topics/anecdotes/observations.

Had some crisps today. Mmm. Oh, you discovered the cure for AIDS? That reminds me of a cup of tea I drank on Friday. Do let's talk some more about the tea and we'll forget to go back to the AIDS thing.

What? You're going? Oh.

Last day of work: 27/10/05
I think it's having an effect.

There'll be more. There always is.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


It's verrrrry exciting. It is. I adore the World Cup, always have. In 1998 when Scotland played Brazil, I nearly burst. So did most of the rest of Scotland to be fair. Several times. We own the 1998 World Cup Monopoly, which I do believe used some impossible ranking to ensure the teams that were there were in the game. Like, erm, Scotland. Scotland is Whitechapel, Switzerland has the humiliating position of being Old Kent Road. That's the Switzerland that's, erm, at South Africa. Unlike...

*Our* group is blatantly obviously group G. With Brazil and Portugal. Oh to qualify for something to move up a seeding. So we're not always THIRD seed. Bah. Blame Craig Brown, and Walter Smith a bit. For this reason, and this alone, Scotland's performance shall be played out by North Korea.

I may add the decision between North Korea and Ivory Coast was a) arbitrary and b) not mine.

So, expect North Korea to beat Portugal, perform surprisingly well against Brazil and fail to get the solitary goal against Ivory Coast that would have got them through.

England has quite a nice group. They always do, because they're quite good. Damn them. If we could get nicer groups, we'd do better. Gah.

In 1998 World Cup Monopoly, England is Oxford Street. Nobody will buy it, because we're so damned mature. Although that was then, we are all scarily much older now and hence more competitive. Winning is more important than imaginary principles.

The real World Cup? Yes? Huh? Oh.

The groups:

Group A
South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France.

I'm still in 1998 so France are my pick for this group. South Africa are hosts so may do better than they should. Yes. It does happen. Yes. Mexico and Uruguay, both been good. Could be any of them.

Group B
Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea and Greece.

Argentina are the obvious favourites to win the group, with runner up being any of them. Nigeria: unknown. S Korea I cannot forgive the 2002 cheatery, but they did do quite well. Greece, I'd pick them myself. So. Greece for no good reason (apart from that wee win at the Euro Championships in 2004).

Group C
England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia

England's group, they're going to win it, with USA runner up. There's no point in pretending otherwise.

Group D
Serbia, Ghana, Germany, Australia.

Germany to win group D. And probably come second as well. Erm. Australia second! Because I like 'em.

Group E
Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon.

I always support Netherlands. (I always call them Holland as well because I am really quite ignorantly British.) But I do also love Denmark, based on having several smashingly great Danish relatives; also a bit based on their 1994-6 ish squad. Schmeichel and the Laudrups. Erm. Mostly Schmeichel actually. So, either good. I shall decide either way which one to properly support (and thus jinx) having seen them play each other on Monday. Obviously t'other will come second in this group.

Group F
Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia

Italy and someone else to go through. I don't know!!

Group G
(Scotland's spiritual group)
Ivory Coast, Portugal, Brazil and North Korea.

Brazil to win this group. Because you always predict them to win. Because they usually do. Runner up: Portugal.

Group H
Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland.

Spain to win this one. Because they're quite good and because (sorry) they are always the most aesthetic. And in second place: Switzerland. Because if THEY can, WE could.

For the rest, in cloud cuckoo land, second stage would be entirely predictable, leading to semi finals of Netherlands v England, and Spain v Germany, with Netherlands and Spain being victors. England lose to Germany in the third place playoff and Netherlands take the cup.

And now for something completely banal.


The Walkers World Cup ones.
I have selflessly tasted these (most of them. Not the Haggis or Welsh Rarebit ones because we're not there) and can exclusively reveal the following outcomes of the tournament, based on said flavours.

Firstly, France will win, their garlic baguette flavour is best. They will beat Italy (spaghetti bolognese flavour) in the final. South Africa (chutney) will do surprisingly well, and England (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, tastes of gravy and Not Nice) will do unexpectedly badly. Netherlands (Edam cheese) will fail to meet expectations and do nothing bad, but nothing like as well as they should.

Australia (BBQ kangaroo. I know!) will do ok, but fail to leave a lasting impression. The Japanese (teriyaki chicken) will be another team that will dramatically outperform expectations.

The other countries/flavours are kind of meh and will do nothing memorable.

And a lesson there is that writing a blog before falling asleep means for editing to make sense.

The crisp prediction matches past form more accurately than cloud cuckoo prediction. Ah well.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


An investigation into the wonder that is Irn Bru yielded some information that I feel compelled to share.

However, much of it comes from Wiki, naturally, which begins with:

Irn Bru (pronounced Iron Brew)...

Nooooooooo! It is so not!

Irn. No second vowel. And the oo of Bru is a shorter sound than the oo of brew. Irn Bru. Unpronounceable too. Remember?

But still. Onward.

Previously acknowledged facts about Irn Bru:

1) World champion hangover cure. Best served as a can, opened upon going to bed, drunk (down in one) a few hours later when the thirst of death awakens you. Should inebriation prevent this lack of preparation, then once the near death stage of hangover has passed, Irn Bru can be drunk and full health can be grasped at instantly. If full planning has been neglected, being able to journey to the shop to get Irn Bru and consume same will indicate that recovery has begun.

2) The only adequate accompaniment beverage to a chippy. In a glass bottle, which you save till you have about 18 empties and really need cigarettes, then you exchange them shamedfacedly at a different shop than you bought them in for cash/credit.

3) Nothing stains like Irn Bru. It's not so good for your teeth either. But ssssssh. It tastes smashing.

4) Irn Bru adverts are phenomenal. They are. Remember the ones from the 80s, I think I posted them before? Ahhh, the insanely strong red haired wee boy bending lamp posts and lifting a steamroller? The Forth Bridge, constructed from Irn Bru? The Coke advert parody? And newer ones... The cheery Goths? The cow that wanted to be washed down by Irn Bru when it became a burger? The Snowman parody? Brilliant, all of them. Hugely complained about which just confirms their brilliance.

5) Vodka and Irn Bru is very nice, never ever, ever order it for yourself.

So. New facts.

A.G. Barr was Andrew Greig Barr, brother of the original founder Robert Barr, and head of the factory in Glasgow where they began producing Irn Bru in 1901.

The name supposedly comes from being produced as a drink to stop steelworkers drinking so much beer. Hence Iron. And when it was changed from Brew to Bru on account of not being brewed, it became Irn Bru.

It may or may not outsell Coke in Scotland. Many tell that Scotland is the only country anywhere that Coke is not the best selling soft drink, but sources disagree. Whatever, it's either the best selling or nearly the best. And wiki tells me it's the third best selling (after Coke and Pepsi and ahead of 7up and Fanta etc) in the UK. Which is good, it used to be hard to source in England. I got distinctly excited in about 1990 at being able to purchase a can in Windsor, only to be told sniffily (as is the way in Windsor) that everywhere sold it. They probably thought we always sold Sprite too.

Robin Barr (great grandson or thereabouts), chairman of AG Barr, was/is one of only two people to know the recipe, and he mixed the essence once a month, which he was to continue after he stood down as chairman. In time he intended to pass the recipe and mixing duties to his daughter, Julie, which may or may not have happened by now. The other person who knows the recipe is not documented; they are not allowed on the same plane as Robin Barr. The recipe is written down and stored in a bank vault (just in case), presumably someone else has access to that or that's all pointless. There's a film in there. Been done? Not Scottishly enough if it has. Sean Connery could play Robin Barr.

There's more, but I have to return to my drink: a can of Diet Irn Bru. It's not the same, but it is nice.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Without reason

Sometimes things happen for no reason whatsoever, they are genuinely random things. They just do, but something in human nature makes us demand to know "why?".

Actually, that's not true. We only want to know why when it's a bad thing. We don't spend ages wondering why it was that the £10 note was in the gutter, why it was you that happened to be there to find it and why not someone else. No, the need for reason is reserved for the awful.

The shootings in Cumbria are one of those diabolical news items that chills you to the bone, that makes you hug close your loved ones and shudder at the thought that something as random as that could happen to anyone, anywhere. It's horrible. The immediate thought is as to why the perpetrator couldn't have taken his own life without the shootings of other people first. But we cannot ever know why, and to dwell on it is unhealthy. Justice cannot prevail, for the man is dead.

I read a blog just now as to the reason we need to know why, for peace of mind. It states that different explanations as to why will help other people find peace. And that religion will be of great help to many.

I have issues with that.

It is unexplainable; any explanations are made up. We cannot know why he did it. What possible purpose is there in surmising invented motivations?

It doesn't affect most people. It didn't happen to them, their loved ones are safe. The grief and suffering by those who were affected is none of our business. Other people would have died outwith Cumbria yesterday, some of them horrifically. Their loved ones will be devastated just as much, but will be allowed to grieve in their own way, privately.

There's a disgusting hierachy of death and how sad it is. Really, the only factor relevant is how the deceased relates to you, and I don't believe for a moment that the way in which they died makes it easier or harder to deal with. Had your loved one been gunned down in Whitehaven, would that have been worse than if they had been run over in Kendal? Or killed in Afghanistan? Or died of natural causes?

I'm not for a moment suggesting that the shootings are other than devastating, don't get me wrong, but there's something slightly sickening about the mass claiming of grief. Having seen the effect the shootings in Dunblane had on a community, it's utterly wrong to presume any level of understanding.

And religion? How? Did God not like the gunman and his victims? How can religion explain that?

There's no follow up news. The man is dead, there should be no ongoing investigation or justice. We can't know why and we have no business to make up possible reasons. The loved ones of the victims need to be left alone to cope.

NB I do know his name. I am not recording it.