And now, for something completely different. Actually, I’m not a joke

My score is in the most left hand column. I’ve scored better. But it’s matchlay and it’s the winning that counts.

Tonight I, the worst player at Dundas parks Golf Club, stood aside my opponent on the first tee, for my first round match in the club championships.

A lack of confidence did not pervade my opponent’s frame.

Me?  I have come last, stone last, in medals at Dundas Parks more often than any player in the club’s history.

I am officially.  A joke.

Not only that.

I am temperamental.

I lose heart easily.

And I am disappointing in many, many ways.

But my chums support me (especially the Rough Bros).  Good guys who just think it’s funny and know that I throw up the odd surprise.

Cue tonight.

My opponent, with a higher handicap than mine (I know, it’s hard to believe) probably knew how rubbish I am.

But in a  Dodgeball way I pulled it together.  But so did he.  He played to his handicap.  So I had to play under mine to undermine him.  Two under as it happens.

I won.

I am legend.

As Tom would say “I am Ninja.”  He was genuinely chuffed and that meant a lot.

My god this is good.

I stumbled upon this at Fopp and paid top dollar for it (£15).  It’s a double CD compilation of German Electronic Music of mainly the 70’s.  The school of musical experamentalism that gave us Can, Faust and Nue (the best known exponents ) also gave rise to a host of widely disparate sounds.  Some funk, some jazz, some electronic.  All interesting.

Interestingly, no Kraftwerk, but they came from a different school and were less overtly political than this bunch who were rebelling against the worldwide reputation that Germany had earned itself in the wake of the second world war.

No two tracks arte the same but there is a great deal of overlap and their influence can certainly be heard in the work of early Human League (Dignity of Labour EP) and a host of other later bands.

One of my own favourites is Hans Joachim Rodelius who is represented here on his own and as the band, Cluster, the other member of Cluster, Deiter Moebius also pops up with a track.

Only Casn and Amon Duul get two tracks so the variety is huge.

It’s an electronic delight.

‘Mon the Salmond

aye aye

Salmond’s challenging of the SNP’s right to be in the leadership debate is at the very least entertaining and at best an interesting constitutional call.  I’m in favour of him winning the court case I have to say.

He has two reasons for justifying his claim;

  • He has managed a coalition with little fuss for three years
  • He governs 10% of the country

Philip Lardner was in the running to be medievil politician of the year until he opened his mouth.

I read tonight that, and I quote, Philip Lardner, the Tory election candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, said that most Britons consider homosexuality to be “somewhere between unfortunate and simply wrong” and it should not be supported by the state.

Philip Lardner. No longer the candidate for Ayrshire and Arran.

In a section on his website, he supported parents and teachers who do not want children to be taught about homosexuality and churches who do not want to employ gay people.

Philiip Lardner is not really in touch with this century and life in general.

He ought to heed this poster.

My sister’s mercy trip to Serbia

This is my sister’s recent trip to try to save a bear’s life in Serbia in her own words.


Emily at work

As some of you may know, I recently got a serendipitous email asking for help with an ill bear in Serbia called Micko. He had had a bloody discharge from his nose for a few months and had stopped eating, and had now started having seizures, not a good history.

The Worldwide Veterinary Service were looking for volunteers who had experience of working in a zoo (check), experience of working with bears (check) and were available immediately (check).

It’s not often you read an ad like that and think, ‘Hey! They’re describing me! ‘  But it seemed they were and as I  was just about to be off work on holiday  I thought I’d get in touch and see if they needed a hand.

After many frantic emails and phone calls, I found myself two weeks ago on Friday booked on a very early bus to Heathrow the following Monday morning, to start my trip to Serbia.

During the many emailed discussions I managed to get Heather Bacon, the vet I worked with in China with the Moon Bears in touch with the WVS and we were all set.  She was flying in from China and I was, well, busing in from Totness, not quite as glamorous, I know.

The best laid plans to, for once, have a leisurely trip to Scotland were abandoned, and James was his usual understanding and supportive self.

We met at Heathrow along with the wonderful Tess, one of the stalwarts of the WVS office and together, we started our mini adventure.

We arrived in Belgrade and were taken immediately (well an hour and a half away) to Banostor where ARKA, the charity we were there to help, had their sanctuary. The sanctuary consisted of a set of enclosures at Pavel and Branka’s (our hosts) home. They had been given care of these rescued bears mainly, but not soley, from the dancing trade by the government and had been promised a wonderful sanctuary for the bears which had never materialised.

For 11 long years these amazing people have struggled to house and feed these 6 bears from their own meagre earnings and have done a wonderful job with the resources they have.

On arrival, we  immediately went up to have a look at Micko, who we could make out in the dimming light, lying semi-comatose in his back den, wet and emaciated, with a swollen muzzle and one paw across his face, the look of agony written clearly across his face.

We darted him 3 times with a powerful pain killer and only on the last dart did he show any signs of flinching.  We left him over night at least safe in the knowledge that his pain would be lessened until we could do something more to help.

The following morning we returned to the sanctuary and anaethetised Micko to examine him. We quickly drew some blood and put him on i/v fluids and then with the help of the local vets who provided the mobile x-ray machine WVS had hired,  took some x-rays of his nose. Sadly, as we had suspected, he was diagnosed with a massive nasal tumour which was growing backwards and putting pressure on his brain, causing the seizures.

With heavy hearts we told Pavel and Branka that there was nothing we could do for poor Micko and after a long anaesthetic, gently put him to sleep.

We visually examined all of the other bears that day and decided we could do something positive while we were there and help one of the other bears the next day.

All of the bears there need a health check and dental work as all have smashed and rotting teeth, a throwback to their dancing days, where teeth are dangerous to the gypsies who own them so are smashed out.

One bear in particular stood out as being the first in line for help, and that was Kasandra.  She had the worst teeth that Heather has ever seen (and she has vast experience of bad bear mouths!) and had a completely shredded top lip, from many attempts to place a ring in it. Th gypsies normal pierce the bears lip with a ring and use this to put a rope or chain through and then drag the bear around by this.

However in poor Kasandra’s case, each time they put a new ring in, it ripped out through the bottom of her lip so they put in another and another until there was no lip left to rip. Her face looked as if it had been put through a shredder.

We anaethetised her on the second day and Heather removed 20 rotting teeth from  her mouth. She then managed to reconstruct her top lip with some ace suturing and after a mammoth 5 or so hours of anaesthesia, she was once more a beautiful bear.

We sadly had to leave the next morning so could do no more on this trip, but Tess made a promise to Pavel and Branka on behalf of the WVS that another team would go back and check the other bears. Heather is hoping to go out again to do this but sadly I won’t be able to join them in the summer as I am committed to going out to South Africa once more to run the cheetah cub project.

It’s a hard life!

If anyone is interested in supporting the fantastic work that the WVS does, supporting charities all over the world by sending qualified volunteers where they are needed, or specifically ARKA, please look at the WVS website where you can make donations or become a member.

People have asked why vets in Serbia didn’t help but basically, from what we could make out, no-one cares.

Pavel and Branka had consulted some vets before who had been unconcerned by Micko’s clinical signs and when they anaethetised him, failed to even get a blood sample, but cleared Pavel and Branka out financially for the privilege. If you’re interested in more back story go the the WVS page and search under Micko.

Lib Dem Facebook Group.

Maybe. Just maybe. If we all vote how we think...

Wise words….

We’d like to see people who agree with Lib Dem policies actually voting Lib Dem for a change.

“If everyone who’d wanted the Lib Dems to be in power actually voted for them, they’d win” – John Cleese

If you believe in Lib Dem policies, vote for them. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to vote for which ever ‘Labservative’ party is the lesser of two ev

No sign of the Clegg bounce heading earthwards so far.

“Calm down. Calm down.” (Actually, no! Don’t!)

A Yougov poll today actually had the Libs in the lead.

Surely this is the single most remarkable political ‘happening’ in more than a generation (SNP’s victory in Scotland excluded).  Fundamentally we all need to rethink our politics becuase on this basis the Libs become an electable party and I. for one, will be shifting my allegiance back to where it has always been.

It is a great week for politics.

Let’s see if we have the collective national bottle to vote for the only true centre party and get one over on the faux centrists.

Was history made on Thursday night?

I have consistently voted Liberal for years but have reached the stage where I’ve formed the opinion that my brilliant political insightfulness and wisdom is wasted because 20% is the sum total of the electorate that the party can mobilise.

So blow me?  This quote from the BBC website nearly knocked me over.

“A Sun newspaper poll, carried out after the TV debate, suggests Labour are in third place on 28% (down 3%), with the Lib Dems on 30% (up 8%) and the Conservatives 33% (down 4%).”

The Liberals up 8%? EIGHT PERCENT?

If this is the case Nick Clegg’s performance on Thursday night (where all agreed he walked the Prime Minister’s debate) might be the most effective political performance in history.

What this poll suggests is that Nick Clegg has single-handedly turned a duopoly into an oligopoly in one fell swoop.

Immediately, if this is true and is sustained, it moves me back to being a Liberal voter because I can see value in the vote.

Immediately it makes the election the most interesting in a century.

Immediately I am very, very excited about this election.

I do so hope I won’t look back on this and think how naive I was to get excited about one poll.  In one paper.  And The Sun at that.

But maybe, maybe this could just be a snowball effect beginning to form.

The greatest irony?

This poll, which puts Labour in third place, would see them back in power.

Politics.  It’s a weirdo.

I wouldn’t trust him with a bag of lettuce

Ria, my inquisitive but uninitiated political daughter, spent some time tonight quizzing me on the fundamentals of the upcoming election.

It was very interesting.

I then asked her what she thought.

By a mile Nick Clegg was her party leader of choice and it seems that the ‘Three Leaders’ speech has become a breakthrough moment for the Libs.

But the killer comment was this.

“David Cameron?  I wouldn’t trust him with a bag of lettuce”

RIP. malcolm Mclaren

The above ad epitomises Malcolm McLaren.  He always thought differently.  He surprised.  He pissed off the Daily Mail.  BIG TIME.  That has to be a good thing.  Did he invent punk? Maybe’s aye, maybe’s no.  Did he bully the sex pistols?  Maybe’s aye, maybe’s no.  Did he style a generation? Oh yes. (And influenced the three that followed.)

Bow Wow Wow had one great song and enraged the world by putting a naked 15 year old on a record cover – in a tribute to Manet and with a title  as mad as ‘See jungle, see Jungle.  Go join your gang yeah! City all over.  Go ape crazy! It had genius written all over it.  Shit song though.

Adam and the Ants blew the pop world away.  Just listen to the difference between Dirk Wears White Sox and Prince Charming.  In a word.  Malcolm McLaren.  Incredible.

And then, of course, came his own crazy (but lovable and influential again) solo recording career.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Buffalo Gals. It was alike a whole new genre plucked from thin air.

As Linus Pauling says ‘The best way to have great ideas is to have lots of them.  He did.

He truly was one of the crazy ones that changed all of our lives for the better.

God bless.