Sunday, 31 January 2010

Dan! Dan! Dan!

A few posts back I mentioned I was going to a gig featuring Fife's second favourite noise pop band, DanDanDan. Given they haven't gigged in over a year it went pretty well, even though frontman Richard 'Dick' Gilbert cut his finger and broke his G-String in quick succession. They'll do anything in the name of entertainment, those guys.

The lighting wasn't amazing for photos, so here is a grainy video recording of the crowd pleasing Carefree Youth, Whither Art Thou Gone? Let it penetrate.

Friday, 29 January 2010


Watched The Shawshank Redemption last night.

It's still good.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Useful Feedback

You know how people tell you to get feedback from failed interviews and applications wherever possible? But you never actually do it cuz it will just add insult to the injury of your rejection? Yeah. I did that for a recent application.

The post was part time Communications Assistant for PYT Scotland.

I have been applying for Communications Assistant jobs since I graduated in June 2008, because the bulk of what you do is “ensure that our website, newsletter and social networking sites are regularly updated,” as well as helping out with the creative side of marketing the company (as opposed to the soulless sales side). Essentially it’s a way of writing for a living, which is what I’ve wanted to do since I was about 8.

There haven’t been too many vacancies of this type in Edinburgh over the last year and a half, but I’ve gone for the ones that come up, and been interviewed for a couple. But at this stage I’m starting to wonder whether I need to do another qualification, move cities, or just give up entirely. So when PYT told me we don’t want you, but in line with best practice we can tell you why you suck so bad ...’ Well, it seemed silly to waste such an opportunity.

The panel scored me out of six for each of the essential and desirable criteria. This was already potentially problematic, as I spent most of my time linking these criteria to the job description. No competency based bullet pointing for me, oh no. I went with overarching themes of interest in and ability to do the job. What a faux pas.

In confirmation of these suspicions, the email went on to say, “if you believe you have been scored unfairly on a skill that you perhaps do possess then we would recommend that you make this clearer in your covering letter and CV for future applications for a post with similar requirements.” Hm.

So anyway, the scores. For ‘working knowledge of content management programmes for websites’, the panel declared I had no evidence and gave me a 0. In terms of my letter and CV that was probably fair, although the 8 years of blogging means I have actually encountered a reasonable amount of coding, and I did point out my quickness and willingness to learn new stuff. It’s not like I wouldn’t have 4 spare days a week to do it in, as this is a part time position that would see me living on even less money than I do now.

‘Good understanding of / experience in marketing for the arts sector’, was one of the bits I was genuinely concerned about. I don’t have professional experience of marketing for the arts sector, I said to myself. Sure, I have a crapload of understanding, but I can’t very well say ‘my sister works for the Byre so I actually have heard a lot about marketing shows from behind the scenes’ or ‘my flatmate is in an up and coming indie band and talks a lot about the logistics of getting people through the door for gigs’. That won’t look professional, even though my knowledge is disparate and my understanding wide. Then I talked to some folk, and ended up putting:

“As well as writing and editing for the student press during my time in St Andrews, I created a number paper and electronic publicity materials for the student theatre community, averaging one play or musical per semester. I was also publicity officer for a society I co-founded to raise money for the Harbour Trust and the RNLI, which involved creating and distributing publicity materials for events, maintaining a database of membership information and writing an e-newsletter. I have built on these skills and interests in my current job by contributing copy to the libraries newsletter and blog, and by creating posters and leaflets for events being run in our library and other branches.”

So, did they concede even a small amount of knowledge/understanding? No they did not. I got 0.

Other zeroes were for:

- ‘relevant education qualifications’ (they never at any point specified what these might be but clearly not a 2:1 from St Andrews, which leaves you with no transferable skills after all)

- ‘working knowledge of the youth theatre sector in Scotland’ (“I have knowledge of the youth theatre sector in Scotland from the viewpoint of a participant and that of a reviewer. Growing up in Perthshire I was a member of the Scraphappy and Blairgowrie Players amateur dramatics groups, and contributed to local papers, reviewing several youth theatre productions. I continued to review gigs and plays for the student press at university, developing my journalistic skills as well as my knowledge of the arts sector in Scotland.”)

- ‘experience of event delivery’ (“as a proactive member of several university societies I assisted with the organization and delivery of a range of events, including gigs, film screenings and quizzes. Meanwhile in my current job I plan and run a lot of events for young people including craft activities, ‘Rhymetime’ sessions for mums and babies, and themed reading sessions with my primary aged reading group. I also support visitors to the library in running events including graffiti and art workshops, as well as information visits from youth workers.”)

I mean OK, reading over all this again I would change parts, but 0 seems excessively harsh, particularly re event delivery.

There were no 1s (minimal evidence) but many 2s (reasonable evidence) in:

- The ability to be creative within your work (I didn’t tell them about my book recycling activity, I suppose)

- Ability to work on your own as well as collaboratively with the core team (just… whatever. I am a good team worker and I’m fine on my own, I just am, it was in the cover and the CV and would be evident from references too.)

- Ability to multi-task (“I am also used to balancing competing priorities. As a student I learned to balance coursework with part time jobs and extra curricular activities and now, working in a busy community library, I manage daily administrative duties alongside planning and running events for young people, addressing challenging behaviour, dealing with enquiries and assisting customer use of technology.” – which translates to I still manage to do my job even when there are 30 kids running around shouting, jumping on couches, and asking me for different things. If they find a candidate who can multi-task better than I have to in that kind of environment, then hats off to them.)

- Understanding, enthusiasm and interest in theatre with and for young people (“Having worked a lot with bored young people in both a care and youth work capacity, I am hugely enthusiastic about the opportunities that Scottish youth theatre can offer them”...)

- And CRUSHINGLY, a 2 for my journalistic flair.

‘IT skills and self-sufficiency in using a range of software packages’ was better, gaining me 3 out of 6, which translates as ‘good evidence’. To gain this I proclaimed in my cover, “I have experience using Macintosh and Windows operating systems and am comfortable using Microsoft Office, Outlook, Photoshop, and Macromedia Freehand. I am also taking an evening class at ECA called ‘Introduction to Creative Digital Drawing’ to expand my knowledge and have recently started learning how to use Dreamweaver’." In my CV I also point out that I use TALIS, the database used in the libraries, and support customer use of stuff like Netloan (the crappiest piece of software known to man) and Comic Life. Any thoughts on extra stuff I need to be saying to get a 4, let me know…

Then there were 3s for my effective oral, written and on-line communication skills, and my GSOH. Yes, they graded me on my sense of humour, and I got 3 out of 6. Burn. This brought my overall score up to 19, which is nowhere near 30, as some of you may already know. And “anything scoring 30 or below indicates that the evidence of your skill base was perhaps just not relevant or diverse enough to be considered.”

So, there we have it. Competency based job application judges = stern. Stern but fair, like the Russian police.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A Letter To The Inland Revenue (first draft)

Dear Inland Revenue,

I am writing to complain about your monumental incompetence, the like of which is generally reserved for agencies such as the Home Office.

In April of last year, I wrote to inquire whether it would be possible to send my £650 tax rebate care of a different address than the one on your files, as by the time it was issued I would temporarily be staying with family and friends in between leaving my old flat and moving into the new one. You responded by ignoring this query, and trying to blind me with the shiny point that you just noticed you owe me £100 more than I thought, due to mistakenly taking pennies from me in previous jobs.

There came a period of several months where I wrote and telephoned a number of times to ask when I was getting the £750 which you had after all confirmed I was owed. Each time I was asked to send you a different piece of documentation (P60s from three years ago that had no relation to the sum I was trying to claim, that sort of thing).

Eventually in October (six months after my first letter) I obtained a different telephone number to contact you on. It transpired at that point that a cheque had been issued, in May, to my previous address. Did I not receive this? Well, no, I moved. Hence my letters and phone calls. It appears that the people who were receiving my communications thought I was trying to claim for a totally separate £750, and they couldn’t for the life of them work out why I thought I was due it, hence constant requests for further documentation.

Having established that there was only one amount of money, which you definitely owe me, that I have never received, the man on the end of the phone said it should be simple enough to cancel and reissue the cheque. After all you would easily be able to determine whether it had been cashed. Which it hasn’t.

So anyway, that call filled me with optimism for a while, but of course nothing happened. So I called the magic number of apparently competent people again in November and they said oh, it can take quite a long time, sorry about that, will ttly contact the progress team for you.

And then nothing happened some more, which I excused over Christmas/Hogmanay even though it would have been mega useful about that time. And then I called again about two weeks ago and they said oh, there’s a note of your November call on your record, but nothing since then. And our department aren’t actually allowed to contact the progress team directly anymore. ‘What should I do then,’ says I, very patiently after having been on hold for 45 minutes, ‘just keep phoning till someone does something?’ And the girl said, very sheepishly, well probably yes.

SO, in a nutshell, we are in agreement that you owe me £750. We are both aware that I have not received it. Discussion about the matter has now been going on for 9 months. Everyone I have spoken to has been very polite, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that none of them seem to be able to do their jobs.


Yours Sincerely,

Alison George

Sunday, 24 January 2010


A Gig!

Featuring the return of these chaps. (The picture is the link.)

They haven't played live together for over a year, a sad state of affairs indeed. But tonight they rise like a phoenix from the ashes to conquer The Ark.

That's the Edinburgh venue, not the big wooden boat.

Other acts on the bill are Black Avenue (who are Scottish grungers, not to be confused with the Portuguese or Hip Hop bands of the same name), Simon Patchett (a chap from Inverness), Autonomous (who like brackets and come fae Kirkcaldy) and No Love Lost (again, a Scottish post punk act not the American hair rockers who were the initial google result). The £4 entry thusly averages out at 80p a band! BARGAIN.

Friday, 22 January 2010


This is a lazy piece of spam if ever I saw one.

Your Email id have been choosen by the BAT Company to receive a grant prizeof 1,000,000 GBP. Please fill the contact form given below.. FILL NAME:,ADDRESS:, PHONE NO.:, COUNTRY:

No exposition a la "I am a Nigerian prince" or "I have a terminal illness but many savings" or "there's been a screw up at the bank I work for and together we may reap the rewards"... Just 'send your personal details to a complete stranger now, kthxbye!’

The BAT Company (that’s British American Tobacco, acronym haters) have been careful to stipulate on their website that such emails really aren’t actually from them (for those people who thought tobacco 2009 at hawamail dot com was a legit company email address and that spelling and grammar are the sort of thing an enormous corporation ignores in official correspondence about giving away large sums of money to randoms who have probably never even heard of them).

Apparently “The emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their appearance, sometimes using our company trademarks and names of senior executives.” That being the case, I’m guessing mine was an early one…

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Couple of free things to do in Edinburgh, courtesy of the libraries blog (for which I occasionally write things).

If you like graphic novels, or Burke and Hare, or both, then you might want to go to the launch of a new graphic novel about Burke and Hare. The writer and the artist will be there and everything. This is occurring at Central Library next Thursday (28th January) and although it is free you do need to book a place. Full details here.

Then almost a month on from that, one of the events for Carry a Poem month (which is February, by the way) includes a thing at Central Library with some songs being sung by Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap, poetry being read by Jackie Kay of being a poet, and general chat from author/musician Doug Johnstone of Fence band Northern Alliance. Again you need to email to book, but it sounds like that might be worth doing. It's happening on Thursday 25th February, and further details can be found here.

Monday, 18 January 2010


No I most certainly have not. Cereal after school? Sacrilege!

But in all seriousness, Coco Pops are rubbish, aren't they. If anyone knows what happened to Ricicles, on the other hand, could they let me know? Ricicles were pretty good.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

A Gig Review In Text Message Format

8pm. Crap. Got there late and missed Sea Bass Kid.

8.05pm Sneaky Pete's is a ridiculous venue. What's that mahoosive pillar all about? And the lowest average temperature of one of those incubators you hatch chicks in.

8.10pm OMG tiny person transporting drinks! I feel like a giant!


Cancel the Astronauts have some proper elbow dancers down the front. Kudos.

Our view of Cancel the Astronauts.

Keyboardist just had to tape his synth back together, but band carried on like nothing was wrong. Consummate professionals. Well, they seemed to. Can only see their heads from here.


Futuristic Retro Champions = Synth Tastic fun. Whispers of Letters to Cleo in the vocals. But Scottish.

Our view of the Futuristic Retro Champions.

10.20pm "Am I the only one who remembers
Come on Gang being a lot better than this?" - CT ... still draw a hell of a crowd though. I thought they had split up for some reason.

Our main view of Come on Gang.

Turns out they were playing almost exclusively new stuff ... it'll probably grow on us.
Fortune Favours the Brave FTW!

In summary, then:

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Remember, by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away, 
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go, yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Overheard On The Bus

Two American men on a number 8 bus.

One: Oh hey, I haven't seen you in ages, I didn't know you were on the bus.
Two: Hi there.
One: Were you at the bus stahp? I did naht see you at the bus stop.
Two: Yuh. I didn't see you there either.
One: I guess it was quite a crowd down there wasn't it?
Two: Sure was busy.
One: And they never queue in Britain.
Two: No.
One: I think they should have a sign or something.

Both laugh inanely. I tune out.

EVERYONE knows the queuing system for Edinburgh buses, its very simple. You stand basically anywhere around the general vicinity of the bus stop, and everyone takes a mental note (via the medium of glancing about out the corner of their eyes so as not to have to meet the gaze of a stranger) of who got there when. Then when the bus tuns up you get on in the rough order of who has been waiting longest, allowing elderly people to queue jump because we were all brung up proper. What need have we for signs?

Later on I accidentally started listening again and they were discussing the difficulties of making a courgette carbonara. Lame.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

It Snowed Again

Early morning visitors to the library.

Not quite sure what was happening here. Bird Strike, maybe.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

A Message For Dr K

Scary plotting toddler would like to wish VK the best of luck in bringing her Infant Vocalization research to the conference loving people of Budapest.

Schmooze like you've never schmoozed before!

<-- Please do not look too closely as I drew him in a bit of a rush.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Informative Verse

Alison discovered whilst working at the library
Rather miss the point
Of acrostics, tending as they do
Inscribe one word for each letter and then move on, instead of writing a poem.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Pizza Hut Graffiti

I don't know if this sentiment is strictly true.

There again, maybe it was a Viking who wrote it.

Maybe, just maybe, there's a rift in time and space in the toilets at Pizza Hut, and some Vikings came through and wanted to leave their mark?

But they'd probably carve their graffiti in rune format, rather than writing in English with a biro. And it would have been mentioned in the Evening News. Oh well. The case remains unsolved.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Nut 'im!

I won’t lie to you, my knowledge of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes is centred almost exclusively around that seminal Disney movie, Basil the Great Mouse Detective. I haven’t read the books, or watched the television series, or even been for a pint in the Conan Doyle. But I can only assume this was helpful to me when viewing Guy Ritchie’s latest offering, Sherlock Holmes.

Frinstance, despite my lack of research, I have a notion that there were fewer explosions and less bare knuckle boxing in the original stories than there were in this film. Whilst this might be an issue for Holmes fans, it didn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact I thought it all very jolly, as my Grandma used to say; even the ridiculously overlong fight with the enormous French henchman – or Frenchman, if you will. And I did like Robert Downey Jr’s big confused face confusing about all the time. He has a nice face.

Downey plays Holmes as a sort of less bastardy Withnail, incapable of looking after himself but bastard clever and shambolically stylish with it. Jude Law’s Watson, meanwhile, is a surprisingly good foil (unless for some reason you like Jude Law, which I don’t, but if you do I suppose you might not be surprised by his goodness) and theirs is one of the more entertaining onscreen bromances of recent years.

Female characters are fairly peripheral, but Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler has some pretty sweet dresses and she does steal a guy’s wallet so yay, another blow struck for feminism there.

I would counsel against sitting in the front row if you see this film, because it makes some of the action sequences quite difficult to follow and causes bad guy Mark Strong’s apparently freakishly large head – accentuated by a daft haircut – to appear even larger. The man could crush puppies with those almighty jaws.

But, in spite of our less than ideal neck craning seating circumstances I enjoyed this rip-roaring comic book of a film very much. It's not outstandingly amazing, but there are lots of good moments, and I was never bored. If you can't be bothered to see it in the cinema, definitely give it a look when it comes on telly in a couple of Christmas's time.

Friday, 8 January 2010


I have come to the conclusion that I didn't have a proper fringe between the ages of 12 and 24 because my subconscious was trying to protect me.

In weather like this there are always risks, but when your hair is actually a deliberate feature of the top part of your face it just gets so much worse.

I am referring, of course, to the dangers of HAT HAIR.

It goes left, it goes right. It's flat on top and a massive bouffe from the ears down. When you can just shove it to the side, maybe using some kind of clip apparatus, the situation is manageable. When you have all these short bits going in different directions the clip solution looks RIDICULOUS. Presumably this is why the emergency services keep telling everybody to stay indoors.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

I Am Smarter Than Your Kid

Apparently the wearing of these boots with a grey skirt and a green jumper makes me a goth.

I'm guessing this comment was not so much in reference to the 4th Century Roman botherers as to the type of kids who hang around the top of Fleshmarket Close dressed all in black. Except I think those might be emo kids these days. But when I were a lass it was definitely goths.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Pom

The assistant gazes at the reasonably attractive man from Gdansk
with round eyes full of regret.
'Je suis tres desolee,'
She says in pidgin Polish.
'We do not have Robots and Empire in the library at this time.'

He smiles; the melancholy smile
of a man who has read the first three books in the series
and cannot understand why the fourth is unattainable
(it's a specific expression that causes hairline cracks around the aorta of those who see it).

Then he sighs
and vanishes into the mist
never to be seen again.


First day back at work was also my first anniversary of starting the job. To celebrate, one of the teenagers decided me and the boss are an item and dedicated his Guitar Hero performance of Welcome to the Jungle to our blossoming love. He was pretty gash, but it's the feeling behind it that counts. Like punk.

But young people are foolish, and do not think outside of the library. For when I got home, Captain Tact spent several hours waiting patiently for me to eat a chocolate penguin and finish a job application. Then at 11.15pm he accompanied me in negotiating the icy bitch that is Dundas Street so that I could hand deliver it (the deadline is 10am tomorrow and some people still don't accept email applications.). That is true dedication, and proof (if proof were needed) of which side my eggs are buttered on.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Femur, Patella and Tibia (Oh My)

I have decided to take a course of cod liver oil capsules to see if it helps lessen the terrifying cracking sound in my knees. Hopefully this also means I will remain rickets-free, like Victorian children.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

They Took Our Jerbs

Today I took a multiple choice quiz on totaljobs to find out what sorts of things I should be applying for. It came up with a summary of my working style, which was this:

"Your style is characterised by independence and a drive to maintain your free spirit in your dealings with people and events. You are warm and enthusiastic but you tend to hide your light, being fairly introverted, not really needing other people. Other people find it difficult to understand you but nevertheless are attracted to you, seeing enviable glimpses of your true character.

You judge things according to your values, taking little note of the preferences of others. In a choice of career it will be important to you to clarify for yourself the choices that are open and the implications they have with respect to your values. In the right place with the right people and work you can be intensely loyal. In this sense it is important to you to believe in the work you undertake; that will improve your performance many fold."

I take exception to the ignoring other people’s preferences part, because over the last year I’ve gotten quite good at factoring in what other people want to do / want me to do and creating entire projects round it. But other than that it seems spookily accurate for a quiz that consists entirely of ticky boxes…

Anyway the upshot of all this is that I would be alright in sales, service (including retail) and social work, but would suck at engineering, computer programming, or anything scientific. Curses! I have been deluding myself for so long into thinking that I can become an IT guy irrespective of my complete void of interest and/or knowledge! Still, better to find out now than continue down the road of applying for voluntary posts on the large hadron collider. I see now that was a silly plan.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


Happy New Year.

Thus far I have spent mine playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook and watching Jonathan Creek.

Mayhap you are faring better, or at least more productively.