Updated my flickr site


At the risk of seriously irritating my first wife I was putting a load of photos onto my Flickr site today that I like. It still needs a bit of culling but I think it is worthy of public display now. Have a look and tell me what you think. Click on the link on the sidebar (bottom left of this page.)

Gone, but not forgotten


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My beloved pimpmobile has been sold.  But it is by no means a thing of the past as it will be one of the lead cars in rust2rome 2007.  See the link here.

Sponsored by Think Hard it will set off from South Queensferry at 10am this Saturday June 2nd on a 14 day rally from SQ to Rome and back. I will keep you posted on progress.

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Here’s the lucky owner/driver, Alan (on the right) and Rally organiser, Marko (on the left) fuelling up for the challenge ahead.

Our Wee Wonder


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Last Sunday Tom, our 12 year old son, took part in the HSBC Wee Wonders golf competition.

To say he is into his golf is a bit of an understatement. But to achieve something does not necessarily follow. To illustrate the point, in the last seven years I have competed in something like 25 Medals and not once had my handicap reduced.  But nobody could accuse me of not trying.

When I say not once, I mean… not once.

In contrast; in the last two years, Tom has never had his increased.

Anyway, to the story. Tom is first out. 26 of Edinburgh’s finest 12 and under golfers. The player that gets the ball furthest round the course in 36 strikes goes to the Scottish final in Royal Troon.

He wins.

He celebrates.

He finds out that the Royal Troon event coincides with when we are in (Non-Royal) Lagos.

Ach well, like Scotland in the 1978 World Cup he can be the only undefeated person in the entire tournament (apart from the winner of course).

Current Listening; Monkeys, orchestras and rufuses


There have been a number of interesting new releases of late that I have parted cash with. A bit of a mixed bag but pretty good overall.

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The new Artcic Monkeys album has forced me to reappraise their first which, after the fuss has died down, is rather good.

The new one is very good. It’s got more light and shade (a ballad even) and seems significantly more mature – if a little less spontaneous.

Rumour had it that John Cooper Clarke wrote the first album, but as speculation has died dowwn and, I think, realism has kicked in, it seems unlikely. However it may be true that he is retained as a mentor – which I can believe.

Some of their lyrics are really very good indeed. Very witty. And very Yorkshire. Even so, John Cooper Clarke could not possibly have captured that essence of youth. No way Jose.

For a band this young to have released two albums so good is actually quite rare and quite remarkable.

Highly recommended.

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The Cinematic Orchestra’s 4th album, Ma Fleur,  is a hard one to call. I like it a lot. But in mood and tone it is virtually identical to their first which, in contrast to ‘The Monkeys’, is disappointing. However if you are unfamiliar with this excellent band do not let this slight criticism put you off. It is a mature, easy to listen to (but not easy listening) modern Jazz record of some quality. Whether it lasts the test of time to feature in the albums of the year list though I am uncertain of.

Recommended.

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Rufus Wainwright’s 5th release is a game of two halves.  Overly praised by the critics it has not progressed at all since his last. But may prove to be his most commercially successful. It is the usual mixture of torch songs, angst and dirtiness, but it peaks early and fades fast. It’s good, because he is brilliant. But it’s not that good.

Nevertheless I expect the two stand out tracks, “Do I disappoint you” featuring his awesome sister, Martha, and ‘Going to a town’ to both feature heavily in the reckoning on my tracks of the year CD come December.

Despite my reservations; recommended.

A religious experience


Wow, what a day I had yesterday. The 7.45 train to Glasgow with my pal Doug was hitch free, three meetings later (inc lunch) I got onto the 2.45 back to Embra but it was cancelled.

“Nae bother”I thought “It’s only 15 minutes till the next one.” And sure enough, it was.

Only the “next one” was only going as far as Polmont. Reason being that (allegedly) a train had hit a cow on the tracks between Polmont and Linlithgow. Now, I say allegedly because Scotrail is not known for its economic use of truthfulness.

An announcement goes out along the lines of…

“Sorry about this but we’ve laid on a bus from Polmont to Linlithgow and you’ll get back on the train there.”

“Fine” I thought, “15 minute delay, not the end of the world”

So I phoned my pal, Will, to tell him I’d see him at 4.15, not 4pm as arranged.

The train arrives at Polmont and that’s where it all started to go wrong because, as Scotrail had promised, there was a bus laid on.

A BUS.

That is… ONE BUS.

Now, I was very good at arithmetic at school, so I know that a six carriage train divided by a 58 seat bus (coach actually) = something like 10. So A BUS isn’t that useful.

But perhaps I was wrong because, after half an hour a NOTHER bus turned up and took a NOTHER 58 people to Linlithgow.

At that pointScotrail must have passed the problem onto one of their arithmetically minded people because a NOTHER bus turned up and i got onto it.

Strangely, the bus driver decided that the best route to Linlithgow was the shortest one in miles that is, (ie through the town as opposed to along the motorway then double back thereby avoiding THE BUSIEST TOWN CENTRE WITH THE LONGEST HIGH STREET IN SCOTLAND).  So instead of the journey taking 10 minutes it took 25.

No bother, I was now in Linlithgow. at 4.25.

But the pain was not over. Oh no!

“The next train will leave at 4.52” Why they should need to wait half a NOTHER hour for a train to leave for is beyond my scope of comprehension. Needless to say at 4.52 they announced a further delay until they loaded a NOTHER trainful of passengers onto our already, by now bulging, train.

Ten minutes later we were off. “The train will arrive in Edinbutrgh at 5.15” they said.

My arse, it was 5.21. But what’s 6 minutes out of 2 and a half hours.?

I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a NOTHER 4% delay.

Anyway, on the plus side it gave me a chance to start this amazing book which I will review fully later.

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And I saw this church sign in Polmont, which made me smile.

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Tongue Rot


I spotted Ria (my 12 year old daughter ) admiring her blue tongue in the hall mirror last night. It toook a while to discover what the culprit was.

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This product, believe it or not, serves no purpose other than to turn your tongue blue.

It’s called Brain Licker but I think my pal, David Reid, could rename it pretty effectively but I’m not going to step into that one.

I had a sneaky look at it later on and you know what it is? It’s a bottle of, ‘like’ tongue ink.

So, the award for new product innovation of the year 2007 goes to…

Do something amazing this Sunday (May 27th)


Jeana, the one from Prison Break (see below) would like me to bring to your attention a fabulous Open Day on Sunday (May 27th).

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It’s not very expensive and all the proceeds go to charity. It’s the annual Suntrap Garden Day and you can see their website here by clicking this link.

Better still you can get a taster from the photos she took in the very place this afternoon.

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I’ve been three times and it’s a lovely day out.

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The next time Jeana’s drunk she’ll regale you with the “Little Britain experience” we had there two years ago. Probably the funniest ten minutes of my life.

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John and his team have done a remarkable job in getting the place ‘just so’.

If they could transfer it to Chelsea they’d get a Gold!

Is Canada the hottest musical place in the world right now?


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So far this year we have been treated to three magnificent Canadian releases from Feist, Arcade Fire and now Rufus Wainwright (review to follow when I’ve given it due consideration).

And yet say Canada and music in the same breath and musos sneer. Why? Is Canada sooo uncool? Well, for the record here are my top ten Canadian acts of all time.  I’d be interested in your comments.

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1 Joni Mitchell (Too many albums to choose from and at least five utter classics)

2 Arcade Fire (Neon Bible is awesome)

3 Leonard Cohen (The songs of Leonard Cohen is spellbinding)

4 Rufus Wainwright (Cannot put a foot wrong)

5 Martha Wainwright (Ditto. Her duet with Snow Patrol last year was the highlight of a fine record)

6 Neil Young (A patchy legend)

7 Daniel Lanois (As artist and producer)

8 Cowboy Junkies (Kings and Queens of hushedness)

9 Feist (Great new LP. See review)

10 Martha And The Muffins (OK, their albums were so so but Echo beach is a classic)

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And the Hall of Shame?

Celine Dion

Shania Twain

Avril Lavigne

Bryan Adams.

All total pish.

The Hold steady. Boys and Girls in america.


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I saw this band putting in an awesome performance on Jools Holland last week and rushed out to buy this, their latest record.

I’ve not listened to it enough yet to draw a final conclusion on its greatness or otherwise but, put it this way, It holds a great deal of promise. They are compared to Springsteen (with the E street Band) and I can see why. But I don’t like Sprinsteen and I DO like this. Tales of Blue Collar US life abound.

What a shocker of a sleeve though.

PS two months later;

This is an awesome record.   The songs are hopeless, despairing drug filled hell.  But what a ride.  A very good record and extremely highly recommended.  The fact that the main man is such a poor singer is one of its great touchpoints and I think should fuel its popularity.

Feist. The Reminder.


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I’ve been listening to this for a while and was rather disturbed when I heard it played TWICE in Starbucks. That is the kiss of death from my point of view as I thought it was a bit of a discovery. But turns out it’s merely Starbucks Coffee table fodder.

Anyway for the record it’s a moody rather pleasant distraction. Apparently her third (or so) album she hails from Canada and is a member of Broken Social Scene – not familiar with their stuff.

So, is it any good?

Yes.

The Outsider, Edinburgh


It’s about time I gave you lot, my occasional readers, (God help you, have you nothing better to do with your time) the odd food review. After all, we all have to eat don’t we?

Friday 18th May, my 45th birthday and I decided to take my gorgeous wife, Jeana, out for lunch. I know, I know it should have been the other way round. But c’est la vie. She got the pints in at The Doric afterwards. We chose The Outsider in George IV Bridge for this rare event. I took the eftie aff so as to prolong the experience and only had about 20 phone calls so not too bad.

Anyway I can report a very favourable experience. After an oily (as opposed to buttery) garlic bread starter that had spent little time in the garlic fields of Francais we moved onto more positive territory. The Chorizo and pepper mash topped with Boudin Noir (That’s Black pudding if you don’t speak French) was delicious, if a little on the sparse side and it wasn’t mash it was slices of tatties. Buit it was very good indeed. Big J had a Ceasar salad with smoked chicken that she pronounced, ‘nice’.

Then we shared an apple and blueberry crumble which was excellent except that it seemed to have raspberries rather than blueberries in it. Anyway, after three bottles of Western Australian Chardonnay between us we didn’t really give a monkeys.

Service was pretty good, the dining room light and airy with huge ceilings and a great view across to the art college. Good music, kinda French house stuff that was unintrusive but kinda cool.

Recommended.

The Human League continue to amaze


25 years ago my sister, Jane, and I went to see THL at The Playhouse in Edinburgh. She was 7 months pregnant. I was not. Looking at us today some would suggest the roles might have reversed.

It was a free gig in Falkirk for the Big in Falkirk Festival and attracted at least 5,000 spectators I’d say.

On a lovely Saturday night the entire population of Falkirk appeared to be in attendance and were either steaming drunk or E’d out of their faces. As we’d driven from Edinburgh we were sober.

This slideshow captures the night…and the crowd. It has to be said THL were as good as the day they hit number one. But the highlight for me was when Phil left the girls back stage to perform an outstanding rendition of their finest song; Being Boiled.

Guy Robertson has arrived


My good pal, Guy Robertson, was instated as head of the Scottish IPA last night and in his inaugural speech he promised an end to the sort of PC’ness that runs through these bodies.

“I’m sure he will.”, I thought.

It only took him a further two miuntes to prove his point though when he uttered the immortal phrase. “Scotland’s the only country in the world where you can’t smoke a fag, but you can marry one.”

Respect is due.