Has BBC 5 live completely lost the plot?


We listened to 5 Live all day yesterday as their presenters time and time and time again vented their spleen at the LOCOG for the empty seats that were evident at a number of Olympic events.  Five Live has been on  amission for months to undermine the event and despite an explanation, a very clear one, that the empty seats were those of the “Olympic Family” ie athletes and officials who are mostly in training at this early stage of the event and therefore unable to attend events.  Despite this they attempted to whip their listeners up into a frenzy of dissent.

This typifies the bad side of Britishness, amidst everything that is wonderful about these games we have an innate need to find fault.  I’m sick of it.  Aren’t you?

Later in the day it appeared the tide had turned against them and they turned 180 degrees into arse licking support.  Presumably the tweets and emails of listeners like me eventually wore them down.

Secrets of the master bar staff


I was out with a pal for a meeting in South Queensferry one evening last week.

We had a couple of beers (Belhaven Black to be precise – a new Stout from Scotland and very nice it is too).

Keir, my daughter Ria’s boyfriend, was behind the bar but one of the barmaids served us our second drink.

This is the chitty she (Chloe) gave Keir to place our order.

Hilarious.

So good I did it twice


On Saturday I cycled this route (initially in the rain as dawn broke – well 7am) with a couple of pals.  It took me to a lovely little, one pub, village called Torphichen in the hills between Livingston and Linlithgow and through the Beecraigs Park.

Quite hilly, it proved almost too much for one of our group and it was a leisurely 4 and a half hours before we set foot back on Queensferry soil.  But the route was fantastic, much of it on car free single track roads so I thought, what the hell, I’ll go out again this afternoon and see what time I can do it in.  Two hours on the dot and with 63 miles in my legs idea preparation for the freshnlo Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh bike race on 9th September.  You can register here.

By the end of the second run though my thigh muscles were starting to groan and a long bath was called for.

Monday was a work from home day with meetings in Edinburgh both in the morning and in the evening.  Consequently I put another 52 miles on the clock.  So a good few days all in all.

The Angels’ share. A must see feel good movie with a bitter core


Wow, Ken Loach’s 21st movie (might be more) further deepens his fondness for documentary style movie making in Scotland.  As a child I was supremely moved by Kes.  My Uncle took me to see it as a 7 year old and it scared me.  The anger and bitterness of a Northern life of poverty, dominated by a glowering Brian Glover as the bullying PE teacher and the innocence of the lead character played by David Bradley left me all aquiver.  Since then I’ve followed Loach almost universally.  Riff Raff, Raining Stones, My Name is Joe, Carla’s Song, Looking for Eric.  All brilliant.  All gritty, all uncompromising.

Looking For Eric raised his box office bar by ingeniously casting Cantona and described as a comedy it had the odd laugh, but was no comedy.  And this in some way compares.

This man is a national treasure.

And, so, to a movie billed as a proper comedy.

Well, it is very, very funny.  Paul Lavety has made sure of that with a brittle acerbic, cynical script that bowls along spewing expletives faster than you can say “see you next Tuesday”.  The plot itself is a little fantastical but you can forgive that because the performances are extraordinary, not least by British TV stalwart John Henshaw in a career defining role.  In some ways it’s Henshaw’s movie and the denouement, which features him, is extremely moving.

I said it was a bit fantastical but the overall effect is fantastic.  At one moment gut wrenchingly violent.  The completely believable East end of Glasgow Gang culture that it’s set amidst is quite shocking at times, and at others it’s laugh out loud especially with its liberal use of top notch gratuitous swearing.

Don’t take your mother (although my mother had been the week before me and loved it!).

This is a great movie.  A certainty for award victories and a life affirming way to spend an afternoon or evening in the cinema.

8.5 out of 10.

Omnishambles


This word is trending right now.

It’s trending because of the Olympics because they’re threatening to go Pete Tong (but won’t) but really the word could apply to a lot of things and it has the potential to become a real favourite of mine.

It could apply to the Easyjet check in process that I experienced at Naples airport last week.  Well, when I say process I mean complete lack of process.  It truly was an omnishambles and could have been solved so simply with a bit of literal (not even lateral) thinking.  Four flights checking in at around the same time (over about 40 minutes) and five check in desks one dedicated to fast pass check in that nobody was using because we ain’t falling for another way for SleasyJet to rip a tenner out of you) but anybody could check in to any desk.  The result?  As each flight became perilously close to gate closure all the remaining passengers were called to the front in a massive scrum – the worst case being 50 schoolkids headed to the front of the queue that we were in and held us up for half an hour.  Truly, miraculously stupid.  The solution.  One desk per flight and if you arrive late you miss your flight.  Simple.

It could apply to David Cameron and his House of Lords debacle.  Frankly it could apply to David Cameron.  Full Stop.

It could apply to Rangers FC and the entire farce that has attended the unraveling of their legacy of cheating.

It could apply to the mess that Lothian and Borders Police made of traffic managing the closure of the Edinburgh Bypass on Saturday when I nearly missed my dear Friend Kennny Harris’ funeral (as it happened I was 50 minutes late).

You see, omnishambles could become omnipresent in my vocabulary.  Look forward to it.

king of the mountains?


I had an afternoon off and I had some stuff to pick up in Edinburgh so, between rain showers (well, when I say SHOWERS…), I jumped on the old bike to do a training run for the Pedal For Scotland ride that’s now only 8 weeks away. You can register here… http://ow.ly/c1Ssg

So, I cycled into Edinburgh (11 miles ) and then did two circuits of Arthur’s Seat (my second volcanic circumnavigation in a week given that I’d done Vesuvius last week).

The trip round Arthur’s Seat is 3.3 miles and I clocked 14 minutes or so both times.  My memories of the ascent (just under a mile) to Dunsapie Loch were far more onerous than the reality.

After that a cycle back to South Queensferry and all 32 miles done and dusted in about 2hrs 15 minutes.

Cream crackered now like.

Glasgow to Edinburgh by bicycle


So, as I may have mentioned already I’ve been asked to blog on behalf of http://ow.ly/c1Ssg the Pedal For Scotland bike ride which runs from Edinburgh to Glasgow on the morning of September 9th.

To be honest six months ago the very thought of it would have filled me with dread but being four and a bit stone lighter, partly thanks to my beautiful bike I am actually relishing the challenge.  Nevertheless, I need to build the mileage up and get the “miles in my legs” if I’m going to make a decent fist of it.

It’s 47 miles which should be achievable in just over three hours at my rate of riding (I average 16 miles an hour typically).

So, yesterday amidst the rain and before the Andy Murray defeat I got on my bike and thrashed out 17 miles in about an hour.  For a change I wore my heart rate monitor to see how I coped.  From a start where my heart rate was about 60 I quickly settled into a rate in the mid 130’s (good solid exercise) but at the end I had to tackle the dreaded Hawes Brae in South Queensferry.  A real beast of a hill about half a mile long and really steep.  It climbed and climbed as I forced my way to the top, peaking at 168.  For those of you who know for a 50 year old that ‘s 220 – 50 (170)  only 2bpm short of it.

My objective is to get 100 miles a week into my legs but that’s  a big ask.  Also I’ve got two holidays planned so that isn’t going to help either plus FCT has a show on in the Festival called Once on This Island which will also preoccupy me for the best part of a fortnight.

But anyway.  Here goes.

Into the deep


Fresh from my holiday in Italy (more on that later folks) I’ve taken the plunge and decided to enter a cycle race!  Well, it’s more of a huge crowd pleasing ride  across Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh.  It’s called Pedal for Scotland and you can read about it here http://ow.ly/c1Ssg.

It’s  organised by Cycling Scotland and involves over 14,000 cyclists so I expect it to be quite a spectacle.

I’m really up for this because at around 50 miles I think it’s doable but still a challenge.  I will, of course, be approaching the challenge with my usual “competitive Dad” spirit.

Money goes to Maggies Centre but don’t worry I won’t be asking you for more money; not now at least.  Follow my training as we get closer to the event.