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.

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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.