Thursday, 30 June 2011

Storytelling... by Text Message!

Today's post is something a bit different: a story composed by text message conversation between me and my friend, Kay. What started as spontaneous banter soon took on a life of its own. I've chosen to present it as composed - in bitesize chunks with my parts justified to the right and my co-writer's justified to the left... enjoy!

Their eyes met across a crowded room She had the look of a well satisfied woman, he was gay. It was never going to work...

She say him looking and wondered: was her hair a mess?

He looked at her and thought "Ooh, lovely hair but her bum looks big in that."

She feels his stare and blushes, wondering if it is the tweed skirt having this effect...

He looked at her, bemused; was she embarrassed? Or having a hot flush? She didn't look old enough but she was wearing tweed.

She began to wonder if he realised that the librarian look was just a cover.

Something wasn't right. He began to wonder if the librarian look was just a cover. If only he could put his finger on it!

She starts to wonder if her Superhero pants are showing. Maybe her skirt was tucked into her knickers.

For a moment he thought that he might have seen her at SHeroCon, the Superhero get-together. No, that wasn't it. She did have a certain poise and aura, though. Yes, he thought, that's who it is...

Yes, it's Cider Girl!

...his Nemesis. For as long has he had been AlcopopMan, Cider Girl had been his biggest enemy. Even now as a civilian, he felt himself fill with a mixture of fear and anger in her presence.

Cider Girl's senses, whilst slightly deadened, were not completely shot. She recognised a smell, something told her to move fast.

He watched as she tensed and sprang backwards towards the door. His own long redundant sixth sense kicked in and he too could smell what she smelt, feel what she felt. Almost instinctively he performed a back-flip just as a hole appeared in the floor and from it rose the figure off...

Could it really be? Lord Harket of Norway? Cider Girl had only dreamt about seeing him in the flesh.

The stench of Rollmops filled the air... Cider Girl and the former AlcopopMan took a deep breath and said, almost in unison: 

"What does 'Take On Me' actually mean?"

The End

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Not an A-Z of my CDs: Q

There was never - despite seeking alternate candidates from my followers on Twitter - much dispute about who would be featured artists for this entry. Even those, like me, who aren't particular fans have a favourite Queen song or two. So here are 5ive + Queen with We Will Rock You:

...Only joking!

Here is my chosen track... Enjoy!


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Scotsman Steps

Once upon a time, there was a handy short cut which could take the time-pressed traveller from the South end of North Bridge in Edinburgh down to Market Street below and the side entrance to Waverley Train Station. This short cut - the Scotsman Steps - ran down the side of the offices of The Scotsman newspaper and could save you at least 5 minutes on your journey.

For as long as I can remember, though, the steps have been far from pleasant with graffiti common and the scent of stale urine. This state of affairs continued even after the re-development of the The Scotsman offices as a four star hotel; something I always found surprising.

Now, however, the steps have been renovated, as part of an art project sponsored by the Fruitmarket Gallery. Turner Prize winner Martin Creed has re-clad the steps in marble and the Victorian gates have been re-instated to ensure that the stairway doesn't suffer from it's previous fate.

There's more on the history of the steps and the genesis of the renovation plans here and the result here.


Monday, 27 June 2011

On the Ning Nang Nong

This latest entry in my anthology is one of the favourite poems of my childhood. From the mind of the late, great Spike Milligan, it is quite simply nonsense. I defy you to read this and keep a straight face...

On the Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!! 


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunday Sounds 8

This week's Sunday Sound popped into my head during the week and resurfaced this morning. It's an  eighties classic from Aztec Camera - Somewhere in My Heart:


Friday, 24 June 2011

Iconic Images 17

This latest in my occassional Iconic Images series features two film posters - A Clockwork Orange and Jaws:


Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Tailor... a short film

Today's post is a short film version of the "Jewish joke" Markus Pincus the tailor - although surely a joke's a joke, regardless of context and history. 

Set in New York, and shot beautifully in black and white, the mostly silent film tells the tale of two young Talmudic scholars who are concerned that they've been done by their tailor, Markus Pincus...

Here's a written version of the joke too:

Two Orthodox Jews went to Markus Pincus the tailor for new suits.

"Listen, Markus," one said, "the last suits you made for us were sort of gray. We want black suits, the darkest black cloth that we can get."

"See this cloth? Pincus said, fingering a bolt of fabric. "This is the stuff they make nuns' habits from. There ain't no blacker cloth." After a few minutes of haggling, Markus was able to convince the two Rabbis that this was indeed black cloth and they negotiated a price.

A few weeks later, the two men were walking down the street in their new suits when they passed two nuns. Impulsively, one of the men went up to the nuns and matched his suit against their habits. He muttered something to his friend and they both walked off, much to the shock of the two nuns.

"What did that man want?" one nun asked the other.

"It was very strange," she replied, "he looked at my garment, whispered something in Latin and left."

"What did he say?"

"He said, 'Markus Pincus Fucktus'." 


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Not an A-Z of my CDs: P

This week: Prince. But, for my first choice, I'm taking liberties with my own rules... I've gone for When Dove's Cry but Quindon Tarver's version from the soundtrack to Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet.

As it happened, it is next to impossible to find the Prince version on You Tube as where it does appear, the soundtrack has been muted for copyright reasons. A bit of an odd position, I feel, for an artist who has previously released an album as a free give away in the Mail on Sunday!

Anyway, I was able to get a copy of my second choice for today, Cream:



Tuesday, 21 June 2011

More Jazz. Nicer...

Following my earlier post, here's some more jazz with the late, great Humphrey Lyttleton and Bad Penny Blues:


Jazz... Nice

Aside from going to a few gigs with friends in Edinburgh, I've never really got into Jazz. That said, what I've heard and experienced I have, on the whole enjoyed.

That's not, I hasten to point out, due to it's perceived lack of coolness, although to many Jazz has a bit of an image problem - think Tweed jackets with elbow patches and a nice pair of Hush Puppies (or Ken Clarke, if you must). And, of course, there's Mark Thompson's Jazz Club Host from The Fast Show:

Anyway, the genesis of this post came about whilst listening to my Desert Island Discs podcast. This week's castaway, Len Goodman, chose Dave Brubeck with Take Five. It is a quintessential Jazz track that I'd heard many times - but never knew who it was or what it was called. Here it is:

Enjoy... and feel free to suggest other Jazz standard to me - Spotify links welcome!


Monday, 20 June 2011

It's that time of year...

Two years ago, Andy Murray became the first British player to win the Queen's Club Championship since since Henry Austin in 1938. A week ago he won it for a second time, in a match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga which featured some audacious shots.

In a season which has had its ups and downs since he reached the final of the Australian Open back in January; Murray seems to have now come into form, reaching the semi-finals on the clay in Paris for the first time, followed by his win at Queen's, just in time for Wimbledon.

Of course, I am aware that by typing this I am adding a drop to the ocean of  "Is this the year a Brit can finally win Wimbledon?" comment with which the newspapers and other media are awash. That, though, is not my intention, especially as every year since 1937 it has proven to be futile speculation. Indeed, the press seem to revel in the failure of the best British players of the past 70 years to capture the prize, building them up just to let them down.

That said, Murray really is our best hope for years (and for years, you can read decades). It's one match at a time, though, and that starts today with a headline slot on Centre Court later against World No. 59 Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Stock up on your Strawberries and Cream and enjoy!

Meantime, here's some footage of those trick shots from Queen's:


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Sounds 7

Today's Sunday Sound is something you might not have expected on this blog - but could be deemed appropriate for a Sunday - a piece of Christian Rock.That said, eclectic is this blog's middle name so maybe you were expecting it sooner or later.

Delirious? were a worship band who achieved some commercial success in the late nineties and early two-thousands. I seem to remember Neil Morrissey being an unlikely champion of them and him making a complaint to Radio 1 about how little they were played on the station. I have also learnt today that they achieved a number four single last year (with "History Maker").

Anyway, here's Deeper from 1997:


Saturday, 18 June 2011

It. All. Ends. (Supplementary Post)

Earlier today I posted a trailer for Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows (Part 2). I prepped that post a few days ago, only to find a new trailer published the following day. So here, in all it's glory, is the latest trailer:

I. Can't. Wait.


It. All. Ends.

There's just under a month to wait until the last of the Harry Potter films and I'm really looking forward to it. Whilst I've not been as much as fan of the films as the books - indeed, I've not actually seen all the films - I am really looking forward to the conclusion of the series.

Deathly Hallows part 1 seemed to fly by and ended with a cliff-hanger, setting up part 2 nicely. There'll be death, destruction and a fair amount of tears. There'll be treachery, secrets and revelations. And there will be a victor in the epic battle of Good against Evil.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Simon's Cat in Hidden Treasure

He's back! And as is usual, he's here:



Letters to the Future

In the past on this blog I've featured letters to my 16 and 60 year old selfs.  I've now found a website which will let you write an e-mail to yourself and specify when you want it delivered. Laying aside the relative transience of e-mail addresses, this is a fabulous idea.

Even more fabulous is that you can choose to make the contents of your e-mail public. Here's a few of my favourites:

Horrible News 
I slept with your wife. [think about it - Ed.]

Dear FutureMe, Today is March 3rd, 2005. Your condoms expire this month. I hope you finally got laid. Sincerely, Past Me P.S. if you didn't, that's okay... just jack off into them now before they turn to mush!

You're an idiot
Dear FutureMe,You're an idiot for filling this out. And you were wasted when you wrote it.

Dear FutureMe, Read the god damned subject. If you don't have one by now, kick yourself in the nutsack.

Hey You
Dear FutureMe, You are almost 50 and are surely about to go through a midlife crisis. Don't be a pussy. Live a little.

The site's called FutureMe and you can find it here. I'm now off to compose my own letter...


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Waiting Sucks...

For American fans, the wait is almost over... for us Brits, it's barely began. I refer, of course, to True Blood series 4 which airs from June 26th stateside. Meanwhile we Brits will have to make do with the various trailers and clips that have been released as promotion. Of course, we could always rewatch the previous series/ That is, if anyone wants to get me them from my Amazon Wishlist! ;-)

Anyway, here's one trailer:

And for those of you who are fans of Eric (and there's a lot of us) here's he is in own teaser trailer - billed as a topless blond man!:


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Brilliant. Just Brilliant.

At the end of April, I posted this piece featuring a trailer for Senna. Tonight I went to see it. A full review will follow but for now I have just three words:
Brilliant. Just Brilliant.
If you've not seen it yet - get yourself to a cinema. Even if it is not being screened daily, the chances are you'll get a chance to see it on Tuesday 21st June, Senna Day. Listings can be found on the film's Facebook Page.

Not an A-Z of my CDs: O

When I was home a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an old cassette (younger readers should click here for further information) of Roy Orbison which had belonged to my Grandfather. Having decided that he should feature on this blog, I can think of no better choice for "O" than The Big O himself.

I've resisted the temptation to go with Pretty Woman (too obvious) and after much deliberation have decided to feature You Got It:

And here's a version of Crying he did with k.d. lang:


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Because this will never grow old... (2)

Further to my post earlier featuring gaffes by James Naughtie and Andrew Marr, here's another classic live radio slip-up. During a sound clip of what is thought to be the oldest recording of the human voice, someone suggests to Charlotte Green it sounds like a bee trapped in a jar...


Because this will never grow old...

I don't think I will ever tire of the clips in this post, even if I live to be 100. Just before eight on December 6th 2010, James Naughtie managed to, ehm, "mispronounce" the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt's name on live radio. Here it is for your enjoyment:

...and here's Andrew Marr repeating the error barely an hour later:


Monday, 13 June 2011


While I'm not alone in reminiscing about the past and how much life has changed, even during my lifetime, I don't believe in harking back to a Golden Age. Modern life is not necessarily better or worse than in previous generations - just different. Or, to put it another way, there are aspects of modern life which are better and aspects which are worse - and some which are, arguably, both.

One of these areas is the joint rise of the smart phone and social networking. While being instantly connected to family, friends and news sources can be good, it can also be a drag, especially when trying to avoid information on a particular and popular event, say the F1 qualifying or Grand Prix, because you intend to watch it later.

I also find this instant connectivity and availability of information distracts me from taking time out to do other things, like spend time with a book or just to think. But there have always been distractions in life which is the subject of today's poem by William Henry Davies (1871 - 1940):

Leisure by William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


Sunday, 12 June 2011

A new window on the widow's world

Since I started this blog a couple of years ago, I've surprised myself by the number of photos I've taken and posted, largely under the influence of Stephen's 5 on the 5th. So much so, that I've decided to establish a new blog for photographs to augment my photographic posts here.

the widow's window will allow me to show pictures in a larger format than I typically do here and to display a wider range of pictures - particularly where these don't fit in with the theme for a larger posting. It will also give me an opportunity to use historic pictures, republish favourites and, perhaps, play around with the cropping and effects on some pictures too.

I've already made a few posts there, so feel free to go and have a gander!


Sunday Sounds 6

Today's Sunday (Pet) Sound has been embedded in my mind as the result of seeing an advert for something or other. It's God Only Knows by The Beach Boys:



Saturday, 11 June 2011

Mongrels is coming back

BBC 3's adult puppet show is coming back. The show is centred on the life of Nelson a kind hearted but rather simple urban fox. It is by turns surreal and puerile and, occasionally, touching. The cast includes an overly pampered pooch, an alley cat, a pigeon and Nelson's vulgar uncle. The show also attracted a number of cameo appearances including Scott Mills, Eamonn Holmes and Clive Anderson.

In this clip from series one Kali, the pigeon (voiced by Katy Brand) has had her wings clipped and is being menaced by Nelson's Uncle Vince (voiced by Paul Kaye):

And here's a clip of Nelson critiquing Marion's approach to being Fire Marshall on Bonfire night:

You can find out more about the show here.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Milton Jones

Early today I posted a video of Tim Minchin which I found when I was looking for a clip of surreal purveyor of one-liner's, Milton Jones.

I therefore belatedly present this video of Mr Jones. Enjoy!


Google Street View - a musical, ehm, tribute...

Having decided what to post last night, I was looking for clips when I came across this fantastic song by Tim Minchin from Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz of the Year from a few years back. I loved this at the time and, watching it again, I still do!

So here's the superb Tim Minchin with a sideways look at Google Street View:

You can see my previous Tim Minchin post here.


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Lego Printer

Thanks to Stumble Upon, I came across this video of a the "Lego felt tip 101" printer in action., Yes, you read that right, the Lego felt tip 101 printer... Created by a genius (and/or geek) from genuine lego and, er, a felt tip, it really works!

Thanks to Geek Stuff for the h/t.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Pretty Pictures - Scottish Edition 2

As regular readers know, I've spent the last week at home in Scotland. While there, I managed to get a few snaps taken - here's a selection of some of my favourites. These ones were all taken in Edinburgh.

Detail from Sarcophagus in Greyfriars Churchyard

Derelict Sarcophagus in Greyfriars Churchyard

Statue of "Greyfriars Bobby"

Stewart Ford F1 car (the SF-2 from 1998)

John Knox, New College

Hope you liked and enjoyed. 


Monday, 6 June 2011

Bedouin Song

This week's poem is from a poet I'd never come across until Friday, Bayard Taylor. I could pretend to have learnt all about him but that would be fraudulent, so instead here's his Wikipedia entry.

This post is dedicated to my Sister and her new Husband as during his speech at their wedding, he quoted from Taylor's poem "Bedouin Song". Here it is in full:

Bedouin Song by Bayard Taylor (1825-1878)

From the Desert I come to thee
On a stallion shod with fire;
And the winds are left behind
In the speed of my desire.
Under thy window I stand,
And the midnight hears my cry:
I love thee, I love but thee, 
With a love that shall not die 
Till the sun grows cold,  
And the stars are old,  
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!

Look from thy window and see
My passion and my pain;
I line on the sands below,
And I faint in thy disdain.
Let the night-winds touch thy brow
With the heat of my burning sigh,
And melt thee to hear the vow
Of a love that shall not die 
Till the sun grows cold,  
And the stars are old,  
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!

My steps are nightly driven,  
By the fever in my breast,  
To hear from thy lattice breathed  
The word that shall give me rest.  
Open the door of thy heart,  
And open thy chamber door, 
And my kisses shall teach thy lips  
The love that shall fade no more
Till the sun grows cold,  
And the stars are old, 
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday Sounds 5

It's no secret that I'm really liking Adele just now - in contrast to a number of other female artists in the charts she has a very real talent for singing and songwriting and the prospect of a long career ahead of her.

Today's song has been running around my head this week - mainly thanks to my second cousin who was going to be singing it at my sister's wedding reception (the eventual choice was Someone Like You.)

Here's a recording of Adele performing Set Fire to the Rain on Later... with Jools Holland:


5 on the 5th - June

For this month's 5 on the 5th, the theme is "new"... and I must confess that I have not gone (or even attempted to go) with the theme. (I don't think the fact that all the pictures are new will cut the mustard.)

I've chosen instead a series of pictures of Edinburgh Castle - taken from a variety of viewpoints and times. As ever, follow the link to Stephen's blog to see more 5/5th submissions!

From Princes Street with Evening News kiosk and Irn Bru cab

The Barracks, from Castle Terrace

From Princes Street. At night. Obviously.

From the Grassmarket

From Greyfriars Churchyard, with The Hub  (formerly the Highland Tolbooth church) to the right


P.S. Had a number of candidates for entry today, so expect more Edinburgh and Fife photos soon!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Public Service Annoucement

Today I am bringing you a guide to some party/bar tricks which may come in handy... Who says this blog is good for nothing?!

You can find more of this sort of thing on Professor Richard Wiseman's most excellant blog.


Friday, 3 June 2011

Oor Wullie, Your Wullie, A'body's Wullie

© D C Thompson & Co Ltd
Whilst searching for inspiration for this blog (I wanted a Scottish poem, seeing as I'm at home this week) I came across the following, unattributed poem. Written in the style of Burns' various addresses (To A Haggis, To A Mouse etc), it's a tribute to Oor Wullie, whose adventures are a regular feature in the Sunday Post, along with those of The Broons.

Unlike their stablemates in The Dandy and The Beano, Oor Wullie and The Broons have never made the big time outside of Scotland (although Paw Broon has a Twitter account). This is probably on account of the humour and the language being distinctively Scottish.

Anyway, here's the poem and a glossary which explains some of the dialect words:

Oor Wullie

Fair fa' your rosy-cheekit face,
Your muckle buits, wi' broken lace,
Although you're always in disgrace,
An' get your spanks,
In all our hearts ye have your place,
Despite your pranks.

Your towsy heid, your dungarees,
Your wee snub nose, your dirty knees,
Your knack o' seeming tae displease
Your Ma an' Pa.
We dinna care a tuppenny sneeze
We think you're braw.

You're wee, an' nae twa ways aboot it,
You're wise, wi' very few tae doot it,
You're wild, there's nane that wad dispute it,
Around the toon.

But maist o a' ye are reputit
A lauchin' loon

Weel-kent, weel-liked, you're aye the same,
Tae Scots abroad and Scots at hame.
North, south, east, west, your weel-won fame
Shall never sully.
We'll aye salute that couthie name:
Oor Wullie.

lauchin' loon=laughing boy
weel-kent=well known


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Talk This Way

Here's a brilliant video which is a mash up (as all the cool kids would say) of Run DMC's "Walk This Way" and the sorry saga of Cheryl Cole's brief US X-Factor career.

Canny, man (as all the cool Geordie kids might say).


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Tributes to the Strength of the Human Spirit

For most of us in the UK, most of the time, life is a routine of some description - we work, we play, albeit in differing measures. For others here, and countless others around the world, life is more complicated. Circumstances, illness and disease can all conspire to disrupt the "normal" course of events.  

Somehow, though, the human race has the ability to triumph over all kinds of adversity. An example I came across recently was in an episode of The Secret Millionaire. The programme featured a fabulous lady called Anna Chandler. Anna is 24, wheelchair-bound and suffers from a congenital condition called Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones) but that doesn't stop her from being an enthusiastic volunteer on the hospital radio. Rather than give in to her circumstances she has adopted a wonderfully stoical approach to life - battling her own pain by helping others with a constant smile and ready wit.

Another example of someone who faced adversity with good humour and grace is Rob Daley, the father of the British Olympic diver Tom Daley. Through years of battling with a brain tumour he supported his son's ambitions and saw him rise to the highest level of his sport - embarrasing him once or twice on the way.  While his son is - and will continue to be - an inspiration to many, Rob Daley should be an example to us all.

Of course, a cheerful disposition is not, in itself, enough to face life's hardest challenges. People like Anna and Rob rely on the help and support of various medical and care professionals. It is in recognition of this that the family of Rob Daley have launched an appeal in aid of three organisations which helped him: St Luke's Hospice in Plymouth, the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust and Marie Curie Cancer Care. Should you wish to donate, you can find details here.


Not An A-Z of My CDs: M

I recently had today's entry for this series in my head at work the other week and it prompted this exchange with one of my young colleagues.
Me: I've got Madonna stuck in my head.
Colleague: Oh, what song?
M: Like a Prayer.

C: Ah. I can take or leave Madonna but I don't mind some of her earlier stuff like Ray of Light...
Cue much laughter on my part!

Unfortunately "Embedding has been disabled by request" so here's a link to the video of Madonna with Like a Prayer. It always reminds me of going to the shows in Bo'ness and, in particular, my first time on the Waltzers.