Poundland, The Bluetones on Cassette Tape and Tarmac at the Darvel Music Festival

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At ABC Glasgow, 2011
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Cheap DVD artwork at its finest

On Facebook the other week, fellow Scottish Comedy scene open spotter Joe McKeown (though in truth he is far more prolific than me gig wise and actually has himself a corner of a Glasgow Comedy Festival show next March, hiy, you should check it out) posted a picture of a DVD of some shite looking film starring Andrew Dice Clay and Teri Hatcher which was on sale for one pound in, well Poundland of all places. I was in that shop this week, my wife’s Christmas present won’t buy itself after all, and I spotted a few copies of it in amongst, what is now, a quite big CD and DVD selection. Their “Replay” range as the stickers on each item say, which I think means they are all second hand but rewrapped in the fiddly plastic stuff. It might be the stuff that websites like music magpie and that get sent by folk clearing out their collections cos they are all iTunes and Netflix now and this is how they are resold. I don’t know. But the Dice Clay DVD was there in multiple copies, I picked it up had a wee read at the back of it, but didn’t buy it, not even for a pound.

wpid-screenshot_2014-12-22-12-22-02.pngI did make a purchase however, the Bluetones “Return to the Last Chance Saloon” on CD. Going back to Facebook again, a few months ago, September actually, there was a wee fad where people were listing their top ten albums that meant the most to you or favourite or best in your own opinion or whatever the criteria was, I can’t quite remember. I done mine, but I made my list up from albums which have found themselves in my car stereo the most.  Standing in the queue with my pound coin in my hand it dawned on me that this album I’m about to buy should probably have been on my list. I have posted a screenshot here for posterity, 4 likes doesn’t say much for it I have to admit. Still pretty happy with it. Auto correct altered Shotters to Snotters at number 7 because I don’t think Shotters is a word it knows but then neither I wouldn’t think would Snotters be a word it knew so I must have taught it.

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Bluetones there, bottom left in amngst the great and the good; KLF, Kulashaker and Oasis both taped off the radio and er, Spin Doctors

Madonna’s Immaculate Collection probably shouldn’t be there as it’s a greatest hits rather than a studio album so that could be the one to take out, or I could just make it a list of 11, who really gives a fuck? As I said, I had decided to go with albums that regularly got taken back into my car over the years and that qualifies from when I got my wee green Polo which didn’t initially have a CD player so I dug out all the old tapes that I still had one of which was this Bluetones album, plus a New Kids on the Block one that we found in a box of old stuff that had been left in our house when we moved in, and played it a lot.

I got it in a bargain bucket at Fopp years and years ago before it was closed down, before it was HMV under another name even. In fact, it might not have been in a bucket, it might have been at the till in a “get this for 2 quid if you spend 5 quid or more” type of deal. Upselling is that? It has what I consider the most perfect pop song ever on it, which is “If”. It also has the theme tune to the old TV show Teachers which had Rick from Walking Dead in it and a really chirpy one near the end called Down by the Reservoir. It’s a good album, I like it.

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Hiding the offensive tache

I have seen them live a few times, The Bluetones, I got tickets for their final tour (for the time being) for my 30th at ABC in Glasgow so I took my wife since no one else was that bothered really. It was a nice night, we went for a wee a meal at Karma Sutra Indian restaurant beforehand, a groupon deal most likely, and I had garlic chilli chicken curry which would have burnt the face off you. It led to a rather uncomfortable night stomach wise as I’m not as good at eating really hot things as I think, great band live I think but when your belly is groaning from being attacked by an internal fireball and your mind is racing as to whether you are going to shite yourself its harder to enjoy. I also never shaved beforehand thinking it would be fine but there are photos taken and I have a shite looking tache.

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See?

The other time I seen them was in Darvel town hall of all places at their (Darvel’s) annual music festival. Never would I have thought it would get a band that we would have known and had been on Top of the Pops and had music videos on MTV and everything to play, but they did. We were in quite early, and saw a Belgian electro type band called Lorraine (I think) who were great but haven’t heard anything about them since. I remember speaking to some people on the night and there was fellas there all the way from Dundee to see The Bluetones, in Darvel. Fucking Dundee to fucking Darvel. Bizarre. Well it might not be that bizarre, but at the time it was. To me anyway.

Nice tanktop
Nice tanktop

But I guess all it takes (bear in mind I haven’t a clue what I am talking about when reading this sentence) is a local music promoter to get some decent contacts and all sorts of great things can happen I suppose, so maybe this was just one of those times. The festival, from memory, was sponsored by a tarmac company who had a poster up, so I guess Mark Morriss and the boys were up here on the back of road surfacing dollar. About them, Darvel town hall isn’t particularly big, it wasn’t a high stage and rock steady security at a minimum. You could get ridiculously close to them. The gig was really good and I got a t-shirt. Which I lost in my mum’s house somewhere. Or maybe I left it in Canada when I lived there, I’m not sure.

What’s definitely not in Canada is my good grey hoodie which has disappeared off the face of the earth after me leaving it hung over the pram that sits under the stairs in my house, but I suppose now’s not the time to start moaning about that.

Remember I Carried That Queens Baton Thing?

I like a diary so since I carried the Queens Baton thing for the Commonwealth games last week last month, I thought I would fill anyone who is reading in on how that came to be.

wpid-img_20140628_111214.jpgIn diary form of course…..

Some time last year:

I was asked as a board member if I minded being nominated to carry the baton on behalf of the Killie Trust. I didn’t mind at all so agreed. It was as much to see what happened next as anything else, I would say it was pretty unlikely I would be picked at the time so a wee keek at the process for a nosey guy like me seemed ok. They sent out an email to confirm that I agreed to be nominated and then the waiting begun.

March(ish)

They play West FM on the radio at my work, on the news there are clips of people who have been selected as baton bearers and are celebrating. I check my emails, nothing happening there, so assume I haven’t been selected, however later in the afternoon an email appears, but it is blank, just an official header but no text. I phoned when home from work and I am told that it was a mistake, lots of people got sent the same and that they were working on it and would send another email later.

So I waited.

It arrived around 9pm and I had been selected. Haha. Who would have thought it. Magic. I don’t really know what to do now. Seems a bit weird. Luckily I didn’t have to break any news myself as its broke for me on facebook.

wpid-image-3712dbe43cf352163f98c220c8bc82d0077332bcd158f72928945ce6156666c7-v.jpgTuesday 27th May

Got my commonwealth running gear through today. And a letter that says I am carrying the baton through….New Cumnock. Hmmm.

Thursday 29th May

I call the Baton relay hotline (or office phone probably, kinda over selling it here) to see if there has been a mistake in where I have been placed to run. All the letters and FQA stuff I got on Tuesday says that you can’t swap and when its done its done but I am thinking maybe just maybe its a mistake. I get through and explain that New Cumnock is a fair distance away, I am closer to Prestwick, Irvine, Troon etc. all places outside East Ayrshire but closer than New Cumnock. She checks my record. Confirms that it is a fair bit away but then offers her sympathy and says that its just unlucky. Turns out its not a mistake. Ah well.

Wednesday 4th June

The photo call for baton bearers at Burns Monument in Kay Park is today. I have a few hours off my work to attend. the Provost gives a speech then we are out for the picture. I take a place up the back, out the way. The photographer snaps away without really making wpid-img_140042282903989.jpegit clear he had started then shuts the chair he was standing on and give the floor to the family and friends who were there with their point and shoots. I am positive I wasn’t looking in most, and I doubt I was smiling as I assumed he was just getting a few practice shot in before directing us to wave flags or cheers or whatever. Or maybe he did and I wasn’t paying attention. I was standing away up the back.

A photo appeared on facebook later on. Don’t think it was an official one, however, I’m not smiling in it. What a surprise.

Thursday 12th June

The photo that was taken appears in the Kilmarnock Standard. It looks mostly like the one above except I am looking at my phone in it. Brilliant.

Friday 20th June

After dodging it for almost a fortnight I was finally coralled into an interview for the local radio station, I did it over the phone down at my cousins house as I needed an iphone to record it on and send via email for whatever reason. After a shaky start I relaxed and answered the questions as fully as I could. I mentioned The Killie Trust when asked why I was nominated, rambled on some boring pish about the process of finding out, then when asked if I was nervous about anything I replied that I was more concerned about what I should wear on my feet as my running trainers are fithy and on their last legs. My choice would be my checkerboard Vans, but I would probably regret that. I wonder what all the other people will wear, I should do some research and check some photos online and see what has been the footwear of choice the past few days its been carried around Scotland. These are the type of things that entered my head at the last minute on the day before sadly. I also became concerned about how my running style would look as its not my best feature, and thats when running naturally (naturally is a curled shoulder shambling mess), I am guessing I will be trying to run a bit slower to savour the 200 metres but that will only make me look dafter. The reason I was dodging the interview is because I have a quite a dour personality and I was concerned about how that would come across. I tend to downplay things that happen in my life instead of come across excitable and cheery. I didnt want to sound ungrateful or miserable on West FM. Or any Fm for that matter as it couldn’t be farther from the truth, but my voice could convince you otherwise. I did it though, and we will se what clip gets used if any.

Anyway, at night I went to a stag do in the Brass and Granite pub, I repeated my worries there to a few people. Never got much helpful advice though.

wpid-dsc02524-20140624-150423.jpgSaturday 21st June. The Big Day

Woke and managed to get to New Cumnock for half 8 as requested. Turns out there were plenty of folk from Kilmarnock running here, this makes me feel good but also a bit of a dick for being so awkward about it and phoning to see if there had been a mistake, I bet they never made a phone call mind you. Just me. On the way down I hear myself on the radio, rambling on that boring pish about being told I had been selected. I’d love to say I was cringing however I wasn’t as my voice wasn’t as much as a whiny loser as I thought it was.

After a quick briefing on the minibus we were driven to our spots on the course. I was number 9 so third in New Cumnock (actually I was second as the person who was sencond never turned up so the first person ran two legs) my number indicator sticker was wrapped around a lamppost so you couldnt see it properly. I took a photo with my phone anyway but it’s not too clear. One of the bits of info that we were told on the bus was to try not to have your phone in your back pocket as the cameras were catching either arse cracks or people pulling up their trackies because of the weight in the back pocket. I had mine and hoped to hand it off to someone at my start place. However everyone congregated at the end of my 200 metres so I had to just take the risk of scanting myself with my phone.

The police escort came up and filled me in with how it all works. Again, some research prior would have been useful as when he told me there would be time to get my family in for a photo I didn’t know what that really meant and so when we got to them up around the changeover I didn’t know what to do. Since doing it I have seen clips and photos and folk getting good photos and the likes. Mines were kinda rushed and a bit of a mess actually. I hold my hands up there.

So my police escorts were there and then the lady who carried it 400 metres appeared. At the handover we get our photo taken with the baton together,then she would leave and I get my photo taken myself. This was something I questioned on the minibus beforehand actually. As it is the minutiae of things that bother me, as I have mentioned it’s not the carrying the baton that I worry bout rather the shoes I wear, how I run and now who holds the baton in the photos. It was cleared up though as it turns out we both hold onto it. Which is fine, and we do both hold it. Then she lets go and it’s me. So I start running. A light jog I think it would be best described.

I should note that it’s a bit of a strange thing in that you would expect to see the runner coming first with the baton in hand. The runner is pretty much last after a car with a led message thing on it’s roof, the BBC truck with the cameras filming each runner then you surrounded by cops running and motorbikes. So when I have it my family and friends out to see me don’t actually get a glimpse until the truck has passed.

I tried to take it all in, look around, spot things but really it’s over in a flash and there isnt much to look at really, few houses on the right, fields on the left, and the tv truck right in front, I suppose I just looked mostly at that hoping against hope that I didn’t look too odd and that I was holding the baton right and my trackies weren’t slipping down at all, that sort of thing, plus the thought that I could have a quick minute with my wife and kid before giving up the baton was on my mind.

As I said, when it came down to it we made a bit of a mess of it. Unsure where the cameras were and me being paranoid about what to do with the baton and how long we had we smiled and posed for something but not sure what. My wife hade made cracking wee daddy flags for Codys pram which ultimately have got in the way of a good photo.

wpid-dsc02540-20140624-150431.jpgI then jogged the last few feet and saw my mum, dad and sister who had arrived a bit late due to my dad taking advice from a guy from his work on where I would be running rather than the black and white of the letter I was sent. I then handed over the baton after the official handover photo and that was me. I walked back up to my family and the waiting West FM roving reporter Vicky Murray who interviewed me post run. She followed up on pretty much all the daft things I said the yesterday, in particular about my choice of running shoes, which in the end up I plumped for my blue adidas ones, and I admitted to scanning everyone elses feet as they arrived in the morning to make sure I hadnt made an awful mistake in chosing those particular ones.

That line of questioning didn’t make the edit when they played my clip on clyde 1 and West FM later on that day, rather it was my surprised delight that so many folk had travelled to see me. Like the one in the mornign, wasnt as bad as i feared. My worry of having a whiney, neddy west of Scotland accent faded more and more as the day went on.

wpid-img_139917026103988.jpegAfter that I walked back the length of New Cumnock to my car, saw the famed outdoor swimming pool, and drove home. Had a wee nap. Woke up to find my picture on the bbc website after my wife emailed it in and for the Killie Trust and others to have posted pictures on facebook.

Later on we headed into the town centre to see panto star Liam Dolan MC the proceeding in a saltire suit. Liam, back when he was called William was the DJ at my wee sisters birthday party in the Riccarton Community Centre actually. we waited around to see the baton finish its journey for the day in a wrestling ring at Kilmarnock cross in front of a big crowd.

A wrestling ring.

Was pretty cool actually.

Back home I barbecued in my baton bearer tshirt.

Tuesday 24th June

On my way back from a gig in Dumfries i decided to turn left at the roundabout in New Cumnock to the spot where I collected the baton to see if i could prise the wee number 9 sticker off the lampost as a memento of the day. Sadly it was stuck on fairly tightly and even though I badly need my nails cut i couldn’t get underneath it to get it off. Sake.

Thursday 26th June

Time to check the local papers and see if I feature.

I don’t. Well, I don’t know if I do or not, I only checked the Kilmarnock Standard and I am not in that, unsurprisingly since I was in the Cumnock Chronicle (i think) area.

Wednesday 16th July

After a shower I fire on my commonwealth trackie bottoms and remember that I haven’t posted this blog so put the final touches on it, give it a once over and write this short entry for today to complete it. At leats its published before the baton relay is finished so has (some) relevance. Which is the best I can hope for really.

So there we have it. All done, well not quite, obviously I have my commonwealth tattoo to get somewhere on my body, the Olympic athletes all get the rings on their bicep ot somewhere so surely I am now qualified to get some sort of emblem forever etched onto my person, athlete/baton bearer are the same thing in the whole movement, no? And of course there will be the unveiling of the mural on New Cumnock main street with me on there somewhere no doubt.

Or maybe not.

No, it was a brilliant experience and I am honoured to be a part of it, thanks to anyone rewding who came out and supported me or supported me from home or wherever, and to Andy Millar and the Killie Trust who nominated me, I really appreciate it. Thanks.

John versus Food

The following is the story of how I ended up trying to eat this:wpid-imag2157.jpg

I am a big fan of Joey “Jaws” Chesnut and all the folks at MLE (Major League Eating to the uninitiated), I have been for a few years since I had setanta sports and they showed the July 4th hotdog eating contest from Coney Island on ESPN America. Of course, there is also Adam Richmond and his tv show Man versus Food which I enjoyed on Dave before he stopped being a mad fat eating machine after giving up doing the challenges, at which point you had seen all the episodes anyway. The combination of these two things resulted in me, like a whole host of men, fancying their chances in belly bursting challenges. Preferably one where the prize is you picture on the wall of the restaurant to show your munching prowess.

Enter stage left my next door neighbour Gary who took on a eating challenge to eat ten hot wings in the quickest possible time. He dismantled the record to the tune of shaving about 8 minutes off it and effectively retired the contest. He then went back to try the next incarnation of the wings challenge and got his arse handed to him and he bowed out of competition eating saying never again. Still proud of him though.

wpid-image-802682c20e896a2b14fc134b8841642739c343d2e610800d5d7e11cc4affe1ca-v.jpgThe connection is that he made me aware of the 2.5lb burger challenge in The Brooklyn Cafe in Shawlands, Glasgow, the place the wings challenge he was involved in was done and from there I said I fancied doing it.

But then didn’t do anything about it. Just talked about it for ages and ages until we went to give my wife’s cousin and her future husband (now actual husband) their wedding present, we chatted how they were going to go grub daft post wedding when no dress or kilt needed fitting into, it was now that the burger challenge came up and Alan the husband to be was well up for. Plans were made and 6 weeks after the wedding on Saturday the 7th of June we were booked in, man versus man versus beefburger. And that was that.

I have to say I was looking forward to it. I told people I would be happy if I could eat half of it but between you and I there was the image that played over in my head of me polishing up the remaining morsels and sauce with the last hunk of bread, dabbling the corners of my mouth with a napkin and throwing that on the plate amid the cheers and adulation of the crowd. Standing I would raise my arms in triumph.

wpid-imag2165.jpgIn reality it ended ten minutes early with both myself and Alan sitting with our elbows on our knees, face in hands in real discomfort trying to avoid eye contact with the remaining burgers. In fact alan wasn’t even at the table. He had moved to another to keep away.

Of course I had done some training, the pre match build up for that first hotdog eating championship I watched gave me a few gems that have stuck with me, one was that slim folk have an advantage in such things as there isn’t as much fat on them which restricts the amount your stomach can expand to allow more in, plus the top athletes chew multiple bits of chewing gum in their mouth at the same time to build up their jaw power (apparently some of the MLE’s biggest names have the same pounds per square inch of power in their jaws as alsation dogs) so I did that for a fortnight. Not too much tho, didn’t want bug overdeveloped jowls looking like I had the mumps, but by the same token I didn’t want my quest to finish the burger hampered by a tired mouth when my belly was willing to take more.

So we sat down, and ordered our two extra toppings, I took fried onions and gherkins, Alan onions and sauteed mushrooms, apparently these were the best for attempting to finish the challenge, least eating involved and could act as lubricant for forcing down some bread or something. I don’t know really, at least they weren’t onion rings or chips which were other options. When the burgers came out it was effectively game over. I had nipped upstairs to the bathroom as I was worried that the thing that would stop me from winning would be that I would need a pee within two hours so I had a quick one before we started. Our table was at the bottom of the stairs and it looked enormous from the top step which I stopped on post pee. The pictures online hadn’t done it justice at all, it just got bigger and bigger as I got closer, no chance.

wpid-image-f888accb49f94c1f262dcc746f6259a4fa0b2cd14e1a42f5daaf5d5971131641-v.jpgWe kicked off, Alan opted for the tactic of eating the lid of the roll with the onions and mushrooms, getting that out of the way first, I ate it like a burger, roll and meat together, wee bit of tomato sauce. It was bloody brilliant (i would recommend the Brooklyn Cafe for a meal and in particular their regular sized burgers, it’s the same recipe they use for them and the monster I was eating and it was, as I say, bloody brilliant) and hopes rose that maybe just maybe it was acheivable. Alan was flying but i was making my own progress too. Then after fifteen minutes I was pretty much full. If it was a normal meal i would have been finished there I would say. But this wasn’t a normal meal so I battled on. Half an hour in though and the strain was showing, my chest had broke out into a wee stress rash and progress was slowing down. I would say I was about halfway through but a big chunk of the bun was sitting still to be eaten.

I say bun, it’s more like a loaf cut in half than a tradional roll. A brioche bun (or loaf) no less. Which seems to be all the rage in burger circles now. The seaseme seed bap a thing of the past.

Forty minutes in and we both had our phones out trying to do something that would take the edge off the discomfort. What has happened is that the idea of eating a whole loaf seemed like the real test in this when I fact it was the taste of the meat which was our undoing. After a point it became impossible to put in your mouth as it tasted like burger. Ordinarilly not a bad thing, as I have mentioned a really good burger served in here, but having ate so much of it in the short period of time a wee rest was needed.wpid-imag2161.jpg

wpid-image-c6d85ef559046be037ed2090ef76dad06468e2f8d89f2faf102959d7178f95e6-v.jpgActually, Alan was pretty much done at that. He never went back to his. I kept going but very very slowly. Had a bit more meat and attempted the “dipping the bread in water” trick which you see on man versus food and the cometitive eating circuit. It actually works and I got through a bit more. Not a lot mind you, if all I had left was bread then I would have happily had aright good go at slurping away at soggy bread but since I had about a third or so of the rest of it, it seemed pointless to eat the sweet roll.

And, well, that was that I guess. We saw out the time and failed in our attempts. No pictures on the wall, not even a tshirt. It really is a mammoth task, a total ordeal. So repetitive. To eat the same thing for so long, that same taste. I ended up ordering Coca Cola toward the end to put some other taste in my mouth, even though i had steered clear so not to bag myself up on the fizzy juice. I actually felt delerious during it. Almost like I was drunk. Or maybe not so much drunk, more like an afternoon in the T in the Park campsite with a bottle of poppers. Every bite had me giggling like a wean.

Ach, it was a valiant attempt if I don’t say so myself, and like Gary before me I decided to hang up my knife and fork and said never again.

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Unless of course one pops up where its amounts of packets of crisps in half an hour, I am up for that, or pot noodles in an hour, aye, pot noodles in an hour……….

Farewell Old Friend

In the week before Christmas I finally said goodbye to my old shitheap Volkswagen Polo, but having been so busy since it’s only now I get the chance to look back on our time together. Here goes.

There's the old girl
There’s the old girl

I got it off some guy from dundonald through gumtree for 300 quid after having been to see a few others (one of which was a registered write off, which still baffles me as to how it got insured) and it seemed a decent deal, it was only supposed to last 6 months or so before we got something else when I got a new better job. Things didn’t really work out like that though.

So, after nearly three years my old faithful companion failed it’s mot quite spectacularly and was resigned to the scrap heap.

Was shiteing myself up there
Was shiteing myself up there

Now, it reads like this mot was carried out the week before and the destruction was quick dignified process, it wasn’t, it lay in my drive, sorned for four months since that failure and replaced with a newer, bigger Peugeot as my main mode of transport mainly due to a mixture of laziness and bad luck. During that period it got used as an aid for me painting the outside of the house. One for throwing the dust sheets in so didn’t have to keep them in the house and also I rolled it in against the foot of the big ladder so I could go up and do the apex safe in the knowledge the ladders wouldn’t or couldn’t slide.

It was a v reg with no power steering, electric windows or CD player. Everyone you told about the lack of power steering said the same thing about having arms like Popeye. Popeye is one of those references that everyone uses when it comes to getting muscles, like Freddie Mercury is when you grow a tache, even though you would think by now they are maybe outdated. I didn’t get arms like Popeye, to be honest you hardly notice the lack of power steering and just get on with it. I mean you park about four spaces away from other cars in supermarket car parks in the hope that no one parks beside you and you don’t have to manouver too much when getting out and you try not to reverse park at anytime. But it’s fine, its all about adjusting.

The lack of electric windows wasn’t really an issue either, sometimes I wished I could open the passenger window while I drove but mostly I worry about stuff getting sucked out if they are open like on a plane so it actually worked out well. The radio being a tape player was interesting as we had got a house which we hadn’t moved into and in amongst the shite that was left by the previous owner was a New Kids on the Block tape which got a fair few airings in the polo before a CD player got fitted.

Other improvements I made were to stick my KFC personalised registration on it and also I debadged it. Or what I would consider debadging. I didn’t do that for any other reason than so folk didn’t know I drove a shitey 999cc motor or know the actual age of it through the dated font of the writing of 1.0l and polo that was on the boot.

When we got it I stayed down in Prestwick so it regularly made the journey back and forth to Killie. One of the first times I drove it up the bypass (keeping at 50) I thought I had broke it as it the rev counter was way up over seven thousand. I cursed the bastard that sold the heap of shite to me only to realise that instead of fifth gear I had put it in third.

More regularly it went the Dundonald way to my work at Moorfield. I always saw the same guy standing for his bus at 7.21 in Gatehead and wondered what he did for a living? Where was he going? When we moved up to Killie I didn’t use that road anymore and I never saw him again. I don’t really think about that much anymore, apart from when I just typed it out here, probably wasn’t worth mentioning.

It got me to a few comedy gigs, one in paisley where I drove up a one way street and another in Irvine where on the way back I passed the police who had comes off a bit of the road due to a deer being hit by a car or van and killed. It was genuinely strewn all over the road. Bits of leg and intestines all strewn all over the road. I was a bit worried as I approached as I assumed the police were doing spot checks and my motor in my mind was in ill health. But that was unfounded. Poor deer mind you.

Took it to Biggar for a wedding once, gunning the shitheap at 70plus for miles on a motorway was a bit different from scooting it to and from my work which is five minutes from my house. During the reception I nipped out to sit in the driver’s seat and listen to the last five minutes of the Barcelona v Manchester United final at Wembley through a fair amount of white noise. I mentioned the radio earlier but forgot to mention that mw didn’t work particularly well. In fact it didn’t work full stop if the engine was on but you could hear some when engine was off but it was through heavy static. So I found out about Barca’s win that way.

You might think I should just have used my phone to follow it through Twitter or even some sort of tv app but Biggar is pretty much north Korea when it comes to phone coverage so that couldn’t happen.

The old Polo even helped me up a few rungs of the manhood ladder when I changed the tyre. A tyre which burst on the way to my grans but I didn’t notice until the way back when

Look at that, I fixed that.
Look at that, I fixed that.

I could hear a grinding noise and couldn’t get it up to 50mph on the bypass back home. I assumed the engine was on it’s way out and frantically tried to get it hone without it blowing up. Once in the drive I jumped out and noticed it was down on one side and realised my mistake. The sparks must have been flying out the back as it grinded away on the wheel.

Luckily it never caused any problems, one of the advantages of not having a nice alloy wheel I suppose and the next day I put on the new tyre and reflected in my manly achievement.

wpid-IMAG1299.jpgFinally, I never had oor Cody in the car until the day before it’s road tax expired and I sorned it for good. So I took him a drive to Morrisons. Was good, wish I had done it sooner. He enjoyed it too, wee bit different from his usual mode of transport.

wpid-IMAG1323.jpgSo that’s about that, sadly I never even seen it go. Was out driving around Kilmaurs trying to get my kid to go to sleep and came back and it was gone. What’s worse is that it was put on one of those carrier things and my wife says it went on the front overhanging bit.

Which is probably a load of shite now I think about it cos there is no way they had one of those vehicles in my wee cul-de-sac. I should probably find out exactly what happened but then again, do I really care? Best to draw a line under it here and now. Ta ta old pal.

The Greatest Goal in School Fitba History

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I was never much of a footballer when I was younger. I did however score the greatest goal in school football history. The greatest goal. Not exactly what you would expect from the guy who looks like the guy from behind the desk in pointless.

So I will set the scene, its nil nil in the Scottish cup quarter final Kilmarnock Academy (us) v Arran High School on a miserable Wednesday afternoon.

It was in the Scottish cup or maybe it was the Ayrshire cup, the details of why we were playing aren’t important, mostly because I cant remember. I do remember why we played early Wednesday afternoon however, instead of after school, it was so the Arran boys could get the ferry back over the water at a reasonable time and as such it meant we got out school before lunchtime to play football and never had to go back afterwards. A great day.

Starting as sub I came on in the second half but the game went to extra time. We won a free kick in the centre circle which Bobby Calder took as he stroked the mitre delta (with Kilmarnock Academy written in black marker on 4 panels to deter thieves I expect) with his grubby looking battle worn puma kings, he was the epitome of an actual footballer in the late 90s.

Bobby I am sure played for Scotland schoolboys, the Victory Shield year group that is on Sky every year and features 1% Michael owen types and 99% future bricklayers and tilers.

Anyway, the ball was in the air and I was running, I was well onside, I knew this because the referee is doing the play on hand gesture and as the ball drops out the leaden sky I bring it down on the outside of my bright yellow, size ten, screw in stud shiny lotto boots, the epitome of a skinny big imposter in the late 90s.

You know what is depressing? How little life playing sport at Scottish schools resembles anything in american high school sports movies. Take the 1997-98 Killie Academy under 18 team. For a start we wouldn’t be playing on a shite Wednesday afternoon in front of one person, it would have been a Friday night under the lights at a the custom built Frank Donnelly Stadium in front of a big crowd. And we would be treated like gods!

Frank Donnelly: Headmaster, Author, Golfer, stadium named after him guy.
Frank Donnelly: Headmaster, Author, Golfer, stadium named after him guy.

Well maybe not me so much as I was on the periphery being a sub most games, but such zero to hero narratives are a staple of the sports movie. Myself and a guy called Ozzie were the regular subs, the forgotten men till the round before this one, where against Troon some Irvine secondary school, due to unforeseen circumstances we only had 11 players and we both got a start and I scored my first ever goal ever, getting on the end of a Gavin Milloy cross which went over the goalkeepers head and all that was needed was for me to meet it with a bullet header, from one yard out, which may or may not have already been going in. Back at full strength v Arran we found ourselves back on the bench.

But from there I was first sub used, then Ozzie.

Ozzie had masses of long ginger hair., hair that remind you of an orang-utans elbow, like swathes of long ginger grass at the side of a motorway. Ordinarily you wouldn’t notice it, its because we warmed up together that I spotted it, stretching out those hammys and a perfectly good head of hair peeks out above a set of shin guards. Its hard to ignore. Yes Ozzie has the hairiest kneecaps I have ever seen.

Or touched, it was so soft, not all wiry like you would expect, I stroked it in a moment where our substitute bond was perhaps stretched a little too far, it was the kind of hair that if it was on a young girl a father would brush on a Sunday night after having washed it with no more tears or vosene.

It was as if he had never kneeled down in his entire life.

So I bring it down with the outside of my yellow boots.

This is not the boots, google images couldnt find the boots. Close enough.
These are not the boots, google images couldnt find the boots. Close enough though.

Well I say my, they actually weren’t mine at all they were David Hills, he wore them for Stewarton Annick on a Sunday and I got a wee loan of them when there was a school game any given week, he bought them in Dublin the day after Jimmy Macintyre scored to give us (Killie) a two goal cushion but also an away goal at Tolka Park to see off Shelbourne. As he looped the ball into the net that night I remember looking to the sky and thinking, “its going to rain” and rain it did and my kappa trackie which I had worn every round of the cup winning run of the season before was soaked by the time we got back to the fancy hotel.

Killie fans at Shelbourne
Killie fans at Shelbourne, I think we were round to the left a bit.

Now this was back when you were only supposed to wear brightly coloured football boots if you were a real player. Paulo Di Canio wore fancy boots, a tall skinny future quiz show celebrity lookalike didn’t really fit that particular bill.

But I was hotter than fucking Falcao when I scored this goal so its fine.

So, as I said, I bring it down with the outside of my boot, just on the edge of the box with the goalkeeper rushing out to meet me, as it has came down its in front of me, I had never controlled a ball quite like it in my life and with it in front of me I have slid at it and knocked it under the oncoming keeper and into the net.

As I get up the one supporter is cheering, Marc Hannah dogged the school to be there and I celebrate. I went on to score again, a tap in, and it finishes two nil.

Super sub I was known for a while. It said so in the school newsletter which was circulated and stuck on classroom doors. I highlighted my name and tried to stand near to people reading them, in the hope that they made the connection and asked me about it.

Sad really.

But, if it was an American movie? Fuck me! As the new star of the fitba team I would essentially be like a big flashing hard on, at a different party every week and burds lining up just to be seen with me. In reality no burd in the entire school gave two fucks if you were in the fitba team or scored a double, including the best goal ever scored in school fitba against the future farmers and fishermen of Arran.

In a movie version we would all be dressed better, our varsity bomber jackets on or maybe draped around the shoulders of one of the many braw burds that I mentioned two minutes ago, handing over your maroon with gold piping school blazer which you usually wore with a white shirt and cats deed trousers doesn’t have the same appeal.

The game day experience would be better, local radio stations maybe discussing the potential impact players on the bench, the one with the ginger kneecaps or the tall specky one who scored in the last round.

And what about an inspirational coach, who can pick the wheat from the chaff and then inspire a community by bringing in some success. We had a pe teacher who oversaw 25 a side kick abouts on the rugby pitch as a trial match where a squad is picked on the following criteria.

a. Can they kick it far? and
b. Did the pe teacher like you.

Pretty much the blueprint for the current Killie set up actually. Hardly cinematic.

However if it was a film the final act would be utter shite as the next round I started up front, number nine on my back, lucky yellow boots on my feet……

And I was utter pish and replaced by the guy with the ginger kneecaps after 55 minutes.

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Check me out, on a poster no less.

So that was it, one of, if not the pinnacle of my footballing career. Its not much I know, however I have dined out on it for 16 years now and most of this formed a stand up routine I done at the Sports Bar in Rugby Park, Killie in February 2013 and later that year at a hospitality after dinner speaking gig in a bowling club in November.

It also got aired at a gig where I died on my hole in Glasgow in March when I totally forgot most of it as it wasn’t really going well and forgot to even mention how the goal actually got scored. It was then that I realised that maybe telling folk about an afternoon I spent playing football while still at the school is maybe for a certain type of audience and should get kept for it.

I am rambling, thanks for reading all this, I am sure some folk might remember it and might even have played that day. So now you have read it, why not listen to it too? Last month a guy called Jim Thomson who was at the gig in the Sports Bar handed me a disk which was a audio file of the whole gig he had recorded so I tried my hand at sound editing for the first time, picked out my set, saved it and uploaded it and in the end you have read all this only for me to ask you to listen to me say pretty much all of it in just under 12 minutes. Go on….

Or go to the site if the inbedded link doesnt work.

Ta.

London: A Story in Pictures

Scotland played England down at Wembley last month, I was there, we got beat 3-2 but it was still a highly enjoyable trip. Here is some pictures with some stories behind them which will be some sort of attempt to describe that particular Wednesday. And briefly the Thursday too.

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So, first of all I will tell you I have absolutely no idea who the guy is behind me on the lion. While trying to find somewhere to go for a pee I decided to have a go at climbing up on a Trafalgar Square lion and after getting a helping hand of a punty up the tail i shimmied along to that position and asked Blackie (on the ground) to take my photo. He told me to climb up on the head like everyone else but let me tell you here and now, its a fair distance off the ground you are on that there lion, maybe 14 or 15 feet up? Plus its very slippy and i had a pair of stupid Flossy shoes on with no grip and was half cut and basically too scared. So i just sat there. At this point that other fella climbed up and sat behind me. I didnt want yo go any further and he was blocking my way back. I commented to him that this was maybe the most awkward I had ever felt in my life as I straddled a big lion with another man I dont know’s legs wrapped around me.In saying that to him the realisation dawned on him too of the situation and he screamed at his pal to quickly take his photo so he could get down. Eventually they did and we got down by sliding down the tail.

Oh, and I am not touching his leg.

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These are the shoes I was talking about. But here we will talk about the travel arrangements there as i merely go changed into the kilt and that after a quick shower in the hotel when we got to London and took this photo as we walked in the hope we would find a tube station. We left Kilmarnock at around half 5 (instead of 5 as expected cos two guys were late) and as expected some folk were kilted up from that time and would only wear that till they were back in their house on the Thursday night. On the bus was a fella wearing a kilt with an England top, I overheard someone asking the reasoning behind this choice of attire, the answer was something to do with friendly relations or something, not anything particularly interesting. He did get interviewed at Westmorland Services by a guy with a big TV style camera. He also seemed to be a main man in the running of the bus which had the whole busses carry out in cool bags and also ice, actual dods of ice for folk drinking spirits or wine. This sort of thing is not common in any bus I have ever been on. There was even Killie pies if you wanted them, they were cold mind you but you could have filled yer boots should you have wished. I tried to get my head down for some kip with the plan of starting drinking around 9am but keeked an eye open to see the fella beside me tucking into a pie with his can of Strongbow at the back of 6.

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These phone boxes were between Trafalgar Square and the train station to take us to the ground. In Prague for the infamous 4-6-0 game a good friend and London travel pal David Alexander slept in a phone box as he couldnt find his way back to our apartment in the area known as Praha 5. This was just so he knew that there was somewhere for him to get his head down should he fail to find our hotel this time out.

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The train out to the game was fairly entertaining, the England fans in our carraige were in the most part having s great time. Singing and laughing and joking. All except one guy whose face was like thunder. Absolutely raging he seemed that all us jocks were down having a great time in his country. His demeanour got the attention of loads of folk beside us and even the police on the train ended up coming up and standing just over his shoulder for the remainder of the journey.

wpid-IMAG1414.jpgThis is our taxi driver back to the hotel from the chip shop just around from the underground station we got off at. A chip shop I should add that we got a bottle of beer in while we waited on the chips frying, different world down there in London, wouldn’t get that in the Welbeck chippy. But back to our taxi driver. I don’t know his name. He is from Pakistan however and liked cricket. Martin and I threw all our limited knowledge of Pakistani cricket at him. Shoaib Akthar I think I managed to come up with, then Sachin Tendulkar and Mularitharan who are Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers and not Pakistani. We may or may not have also spoken about kabaddi and whether or not our taxi driver had played it at any point in his life. It was a good chat and he agreed to a wee photo on arrival at our destination. Good guy.

wpid-IMAG1514.jpgThis is the reciept from Burger King at Charnock Richard, which is a service station we visited on our way back home to Scotland. I have no idea if there is a place called Charnock Richard but they do have a Burger King/KFC in the flyover between the north and south parts of the services (its even called “Burger King Bridge” and that’s where we ate, right by the window too, watching the cars zoom underneath. Always wanted to eat on one of those. One less for the bucket list.

wpid-20130830223103772.jpgTrafalgar Square was a sight to be seen. When we got off the train on our way there, there was Scotland fans tellin g us we were going the wrong way (must have been going to Wembley early) so we would have been forgiven for thinking we got there too late as it was starting to empty. It wasn’t, was still jumping. The fountains were full of fairy liquid and also folks empty cans and most likely urine. There were fans everywhere, I climbed on a lion as I mentioned earlier and saw plenty o blokes go down to their scants and climb to the top of the fountains. Never saw the guy that got lifted, missed him by about an hour I was told. Saw a good few people I knew and saw a few tramps eyes light up at the booze they would be able to get their hands on from what was left lying around. The sightseeing buses that passed and all the tourists walking around the outside clicked away with their cameras. Must have been some sight.

wpid-IMAG1411.jpgWembley isnt spelt as I always thought. or maybe it is but when you see it written in seats when the stadium empties after the game it doesn’t look right, this cant be a mistake that no one has spotted surely? Is it not Wembeley? Actually, that looks awful, its definately Wembley, my mistake. The ground clears fairly quickly and when it does you realise how massive it is. After the game we went down the 18000 stairs to the exit (singing “i want to go home, I want to go ho-oame, wembleys a shitehole, I want to go home” regardless of the fact that it was anything like a shitehole) and took a long road for a short cut to get back to the train station as the way we avoided i am sure would have took us onto the big underpass right to the station.

wpid-IMAG1392.jpgWhen we got off the train out to the stadium, the train with the potential mental case English fella, we stated about wondering what to do. Premier Inn had bouncers on their gates as their bar was opened up and folk were drinking on their grass. Others were lined up to get in. I needed a pee but the bouncers wouldnt let me in, ended up peeing behind someones car in a car park (i asked him if it was alright first) we kept walking toward Wembley and decided to try the next pub, can’t remember the name but when we lined up to get in the bouncer asked as what we were doing as we could just go in, well once we had put the last remnants of our carry out at the door for pick up when we left. Couldn’t believe it, there was room to move about and ten minutes later we had a seat. I had a email sent out the week before about Scotland only pubs around the ground, it must be one of them. I was good, and ended up being the only pint I had, while away. in a pub.

wpid-IMAG1400.jpgAnd then we left the pub and it was raining, the wee weather apps on all our phones hadn’t predicted this, warm but a little cloudy they said, but here we are. I have no idea if this is Wembley way, or if its called that at the new ground but this was our walk up to the ground and from here it looked pretty cool.

wpid-IMAG1407.jpgAnd i guess there was the game. In which I felt we played really well but in the end couldn’t beat a very ordinary team. On the way down we spoke of just scoring a meaningful goal, an opener or an equaliser or something would be a brilliant feeling, to get that was brilliant, the opener felt as if we could take the roof off the place, what a feeling. I however missed Kenny Millers second goal as I wasn’t aware the second half had started. Was just down on the concourse waiting on the toilet queue thinning out when the roar went up and everyone rushed to the tv screens that are dotted everywhere hanging from the ceilings. Also down on the concourse were a few of the guys I was with. They were waiting on food from the stall only to be told there was no burgers left. He took a pint of lager instead and then tried to get the beer up to his seat by assuring the steward that it wasn’t a pint of lager at all, rather a burger. The steward never accepted this logic and he had to drink it downstairs. It was a valiant attempt nonetheless.

And that’s that I suppose, a brilliant few days on one of my favourite places in the world. With a more favourable result it could have been as good an away trip as Paris in 2007.

Hopefully the revive the fixture more regularly, and if it transpired that all the games were down at Wembley then you wouldnt get too much resistance from me.

Cheryl Coles Tattoos and English Left Backs in General

Last week, in the wake of the unveiling or leaking or however it was carried out, the revelation of Cheryl Coles new arse tattoo inspired me to write a pithy status about it on facebook. I came up with it on my Sunday shift at work and improved it I thought as the shift wore on before finally when I emerged in the daylight at 2.30 from an 8 and a half hour warehouse slog I posted it on my facebook account and waited for a reaction.

But nobody bloody liked it.

Now its something of a hot topic of conversation in pubs and in online group chats on things like Viber about the level of interest a post or photo can get on the likes of facebook. 10 likes seems to be the base level for acceptability. Any less and its as well not being there. A massive fail.

The status was

“Cheryl Cole likes a tattoo to celebrate English footballs full backs eh? First ashley Cole, now Danny rose. Surely next she will get a tattoo depicting multiple images of a bandy legged ex Scotland and Aberdeen goalie in tom hardys mask from the last batman film.”

70704390_cole_20941cNow I think that is a good bit of patter but it appears that no one understands it (or, you know, thinks its shite) so I will take the opportunity to explain it.

Lets kick off with the Mrs C tattoo she has on the back of her neck from when she was still with her husband. Her husband being (C)Ashley Cole, an English full back.

cherlShe now has enormous roses on her back and arse, its really rather horrible I think, but quite clearly its her own wee homage to Danny Rose, who happens to be Tottenhams new first choice full back after being papped out on loan to other teams in seasons past.

So thats two English full backs etched on her skin, what will next trip to the tattooist deliver?

leighton,%20jim%201998aexclusive-image-of-tom-hardy-as-bane-in-the-dark-knight-rises-102438-00-470-75I thought she could get a few images of the bandy legged ex Scotland, Aberdeen, Manchester United and Hibs (and more) goalie; Jim Leighton (left) and team it up with the mask worn by Tom Hardys oddly spoken Batman baddie in Dark Knight Rises, you know, Bane (right) Leaving something that kind of looks something like………

This?

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See? Its a hilarious image that you were supposed to piece together in your minds eye from the clues I gave so that it depicted Everton and England left back Leighton Bane’s or rather Baines.

Oh I laughed when I came up with that, laughed and laughed at how clever I was. She could get it above the roses but below the neck writing, it kind of looks like a cross, folk get crosses all the time……

Right, yer all right, its a pish joke. Time tae move on.