Monday, 28 February 2011


.. for the week of silence. After the three days of solid writing I started a new job, which was interspersed with more writing of articles and book 2 of 12 books in 12 months - this didn't leave a huge amount of time for blogging.

I will be better organised from now on, but in lieu of a proper post on this occasion you might want to have a look at a cute picture. Or failing that, read about Nicola Morgan's alternative World Book Night campaign, which I think is a really good idea.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The River City Blog #7

It's Saturday night, so I'm taking a break from a mammoth catch up on 12 Books in 12 Months (7661 words written today) to watch River City. Such a party animal has never been seen.

In this episode, Gina wants sour faced daughter Jo to organise a fashion show to keep ovarian cancer in the public eye on Montego Street. This, she confesses, is mainly because she was absent for last week's fundraising spectacular, presumably because she was busy ensuring that her other daughter (Mad Ruth - who I just read is meant to have borderline personality disorder, so now I feel a bit bad for slaggin') was safely under lock and key in a psychiatric unit somewhere. Maybe she's hoping that all the excitement will make Scarlett faint again - her family's misery just isn't getting enough screen time at the moment.

Meanwhile Nicole is having a birthday perty, but her ex best friend Carmen has turned all twelve of her mates against her so nobody turns up... except her deeply annoying boyfriend, who wants to get it awn because they have an empty house. Rather unexpectedly Nicole holds her ground on the fact she says she isn't ready for sexy times yet, but in typical soap style her folks (Dr Brodie and Leyla) get home right at the point she is pushing him and his cheap bottle of cider out the door. To them it looks like she is taking the cider from him and planning to get jiggy - they assume she never invited any other guests at all. That, my friends, is irony.

Elsewhere Gabriel urges Jo to let people help her with the fashion show, but her aversion to Amber means she won't go to her for help... This is relevant because Amber owns the only clothes shop in Shieldinch, although god only knows how she makes a living because all I've ever seen her sell is one shirt. Anyhoo, Gabriel goes to Amber himself and sends her to the pub where the most unrealistic journo in the world is telling Jo that whilst it's a nice idea, they gave cancer loads of coverage last week and her pissy little fashion show will interest NO-ONE. Honestly, who does she think she's kidding? Clearly never read a local paper. They print literally everything.

Upstairs, Jimmy hangs round Rrrraymond's toilet failing to cope with Scarlett's illness, whilst she is back at hame asking her mum and sister to help her end it all if things get too much. That's the cancer, not just life in general. Because Scarlett has ovarian cancer - I don't know if you knew that. But she does. When Jimmy finds out (they always find out, on TV) he's not upset by the prospect of euthanasia, but by the fact she didn't ask him to do it, and romantically promises to be there until the last breath is squeezed out of their relationship. Aww.

Oh, but before that he beats up a kid (Nicole's no good boyfriend, actually) for taking the piss out of Scarlett's wig. Said kid then dumps Nicole on the grounds of her parents giving him a bollocking, telling her "she's not worth this amount of hassle." What a charmer. Rather than notice she's well shot of the spotty prick, Nicole proceeds to the basket ball court where she first saw him to bawl her eyes out against a fence. Adolescence is a complicated time.

I couldn't help noticing, though, that for the second week in a row there was no comic relief. I know cancer is srs bsns, River City, but I have come to expect comedy subplots either from Robbie the Big Gay Hairdresser or Annie the Bubbly Barmaid (who still doesn't have a character profile on the website). Sort it out, guys. This is my Saturday night you're messing with.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Royal Wedding

So, what's your view on the impending Willikate nuptials? Perhaps you are upset at the prospect of their fancy pants wedding being paid for by our hard earned public money? Or maybe you're just chuffed at the prospect of getting an extra day off this year?

I hadn't thought about it overly much, other than to make slightly disapproving noises that they aren't getting married in Sallies Chapel in St Andrews as per the tradition of couples who meet in the hallowed halls. But I guess Westminster Abbey is a bit better for the number of guests they'll probably have.

Today I thought about it for a couple more minutes, because I got the following message on Facebook.

Hi there,
I am writing a feature on the Royal Wedding for a magazine in Austria. As you studied in St. Andrews I just have one or two questions:
Have you ever met Prince William or Kate Middleton during your studies?
if there is any chance although you didn't take a class with him maybe you have heard of others about the issues I am interested in. I wouldn't even mention your name, it is just to polisdh up the article a little bit:
Do you know if he was a normal student or did he want any special treatment? any funny anecdotes you heard/saw during his time at St. Andrews?
Have you heard of others why he did choose Kate and if they were attracted to each other from the beginning:))) Thanks sooo much

'Buh?' I went.

Do you have ANY notion how many people study at St Andrews every year? I mean, I haven't the faintest idea, but there are a lot. It is a small town, granted, but we don't all hang out together all the time. That pair were in their final year when I started, as well as being 800 million social classes above me. The likelihood of us hanging out in the same places are not high. They don't seem the RockSoc type, frankly.

The best - and indeed only - anecdote I have about William in St Andrews is that a mate of my sister once saw him buying a lottery ticket in Tesco. This is mildly amusing, on account of leading to wild speculation on what someone with an enormous personal fortune might do if they won a couple of million quid on the lottery. Blow it all on hats, maybe. I have also heard through friends of friends that Kate Middleton 'seemed very nice,' which is lovely, but somehow I don't think is the calibre of gossip required.

Good luck, mysterious Austrian journo. Mayhap you sent this message to some worthier targets than I.

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Another video, because it makes me laugh. Not sure why, but it does. I defy you not to end up singing this in moments of quiet.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mair Spam

I have already mentioned that I'm writing daily posts about song lyrics on my other blog, in honour of February's Let's Get Lyrical literacy campaign. These posts seem to be attracting unprecedented levels of spam, and I wanted to share some of the comments with you.

Someone who identified him or herself as Online Casino said of my Def Leppard post (in which I suggested that Pour Some Sugar on Me might refer to early onset diabetes):

I like the helpful information you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

Thanks very much, Online. I do try.

World Spinner left the same cryptic comment on Bon Jovi's cowboy fantasies and also Vanilla Ice's hair:

Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

I'm glad to hear that the eighties are still controversial.

Hemen Perekh asked of my post on Gary Numan living in his car:

Why are young Indians committing suicide ?
As per India’s National Crime Records Bureau Report [ 2009 ], every day,
- 8 committed suicide due to poverty
- 7 committed suicide due to unemployment
And NCRB found that nearly all of these were less than 29 years of age.
As long as Indian Authorities continue to treat such desperate acts of unemployed as “ Crimes “, is there any hope for 3.5 million young Indians graduating from colleges each year ?
Or are the Authorities waiting for these jobless to rise in a revolution and throw them out ?

To be honest, Hemen, I haven't really looked into it. But it all sounds very worrying.

The casual sexism of Rick Astley prompted Caryn Brennenstuhl to comment:

This actually answered my drawback, thank you!

I can only speculate wildly as to what Caryn's drawback might have been - presumably she was undecided on whether she should break up with Rick Astley - but nonetheless I am happy to help.

Carla Escher remarked of my nonsensical reminiscing about the Backstreet Boys:

I’m impressed, I must say. Really not often do I encounter a blog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your concept is outstanding; the difficulty is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about. I am very completely happy that I stumbled across this in my search for one thing relating to this.

Carla, your words have moved me deeply. I firmly agree that there are not enough people dedicating their spare time to educating people about the lyrical misdemeanors of a group of pop has-beens. Maybe together we can right this wrong.

Suknia on my fairly dull 'there is no irony in the song ironic' Alanis post:

Please write something about your wedding! You should search more information about color wedding dresses. [link] There you can find much more information about weeding dresses.

Sorry to disappoint, but if you had read the post you would realise there was nothing about my own wedding in there. And although I confess to being somewhat intrigued by the concept of a 'weeding dress', I'm afraid I don't have a garden, so it would be surplus to my requirements.

Locksmith Boston on *NSync and their dirty paps:

Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.

I did no such thing. I don't live in Boston and my locks are all working fine.

I’m trying to find things to improve my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!

Oh do you? Which ideas would you be honing in on here?

Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just cool and i could assume you are an expert on this subject.

Sadly, no. I'm more of a passer-by on the subject of *NSync. But I do know that Nick out of the Backstreet Boys (who came FIRST, by the way) used to say in interviews that his favourite food was pizza. No idea whether he was telling the truth or not, though.

And on that bombshell, we have reached the end of my spam folder. Well, not the end. But those were the more interesting ones. Maybe I'll make this a regular feature, sort of like reader's letters. Or maybe I won't. You'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


A friend posted this on Facebook and I felt the need to share.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Drinking On A Monument With A Man Who Doesn't Like Me

Happy V Day, y'all. To celebrate, why not watch the all new video from Kid Canaveral? It gives you an insight into what love is really all about, through the power of stop motion animation by the very talented David Galletly.

Look out for an appearance of a print by Dundee-based illustrator Sanna Dyker in there as well...

Friday, 11 February 2011

The River City Blog #6

It is the day of Scarlett's ovarian cancer fundraiser, so Montego Street pulls together like never before to raise as much cash as possible. This makes for a deathly dull episode which feels Children in Need-like in length, although I am assured it only lasted an hour. Meanwhile, Robbie the big gay hairdresser is getting grief from a nasty loan shark with designer stubble. He has managed to rack up nearly 4 grand in back rent and the nasty man needs it before the end of the day or he will go visit Robbie's estranged parents in Bearsden and very probably stab them up. Surely these two plot lines combined can only end in disaster?

Blissfully unaware of impending crisis, DI Fraser MSP shows his acting talent by perfectly replicating a cringeworthy speech from someone in local government. And dishes out networking advice to teenagers, apparently. Not that Nicole is likely to follow advice from anyone, however varied their acting ability. God, Nicole's annoying. Not to mention cheeky, manipulative, spiteful and stupid. And she doesn't even have an excuse - at least mad Ruth is mad, but Nicole is just a perfect portrayal of a horrible teenager. Comeuppance is surely due.

In the best moment of a very tedious episode, ex-con Theresa lambasts some small children in front of all their parents, telling one her violin playing was "mince". Which it was, but then spoilsport Jo makes her stop MCing the kid's talent show, which is a terrible shame. She takes over the slave auction, leaving Annie with nothing much to do other than flirt with Raymond (ew) but soon gets ousted from that by Scarlett, so she can do a dramatic fainting thing later on. Thing is, nobody in Shieldinch really cares for Theresa, so the fact she has turned over a new, slightly less criminal leaf has passed most of them by.

Perhaps as part of her campaign to get locals on side, Theresa and her slightly squashed face lie to cover for Robbie when the money is found to be missing, then uses some nefarious contacts to get him the rest. So presumably he'll be back to his usual comic relief role next week, complete with both legs, but the mystery remains, why did she help him? And what does she want in return? Maybe she's going to pimp him out. I can see Theresa strutting about in a floor length fur coat. And the beauty of that is, it wouldn't even need to be an especially long one - she's only about four feet tall.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Some other fun stuff from The Blairie.

This raised over £500, but sadly did little to detract from stereotypes about people living in rural areas. Although having said that, I was never aware of any pig racing when I lived over that way, which was for the first twenty years of my life. So maybe this is a new and modern way of raising funds.

This is only funny out of context - dolphins on the pull at Tollcross? Surely not... Unfortunately this is a local swimming team, as opposed to the marine animal. Oh well.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Local News For Local People

I may live in Edinburgh now, but this wasn't always the case. Once upon a happenstance, before I lost my youthful good looks to become a cynical city slicker, twas the simple town of Blairgowrie that I called home.

The other week, I went back to the 'gowrie to house sit for my parents, who had absconded to the late 1950s (or Cuba, as it is also known). It seemed like a good opportunity to sit and write the first of those 12 books in 12 months, un-impinged by the trappings of metropolitan life.

Nice idea, but of course it didn't work. My folks have all the good TV channels, for one thing. And for another, Blairgowrie is home to some of the best journalism known to man. I ask you, dear reader, how could I possibly concentrate on my own work once I heard of the plight of the Blairgowrie Beavers?!!

For your information, Eric the Ericht Beaver - so called because he was found in the River Ericht, do you see? That's a river in Blairgowrie - was REMOVED from said river and evilly IMPRISONED (they genuinely used the word 'imprisoned' in the article) by Edinburgh Zoo. And some people got peeved and decided to get Eric back, so there was a dramatic prison break which you undoubtedly heard about in Reporting Scotland. Except not really. But what did happen was that the intrepid reporters at the Blairie threw their full weight behind the Scottish Wild Beaver Group's campaign against the trapping of beavers on local rivers.

Which is great and everything, but one of the ways they are doing this is by having T-Shirts made with the slogan HANDS OFF OUR BEAVERS.

Seriously?! Are they genuinely that far behind in terms of modern slang? How has NOBODY told them what a ridiculous thing that is to put on a T-Shirt?

Having said that, I'll be buying at least three.

P.S. For a slightly less incredulous look at the actual issue, see Suitably Despairing.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Exciting News (If You're Me, Which I Am)

This evening I sent my first ever invoice as a freelance journalist - the first time I will have been paid for my writing since the heady days of The Perthshire Advertiser (who had the reasonable rate of £15 per review and free tickets to all the PYT and random touring ballet I could shake a stick at).

To celebrate, Captain Tact has given me PLAGUE. But I'm still cheesin', as the kids say. You can read the article in question here, if you'd like. It's about trying to get paid work. In journalism.

Meanwhile, on t'other blog, recent Let's Get Lyrical themed posts include Def Leppard and Rick Astley. Hooray!

Monday, 7 February 2011

The River City Blog #4 and #5

I'll be honest with you, I missed a couple of episodes of River City whilst I was writing Caligula's Blog. And because I'm the only viewer, the BBC only has one episode up on iPlayer at a time, so I missed my opportunities to catch up.

As far as I can gather, the Burns Night episode (which should have formed the basis of blog #4) featured DI Fraser out of Taggart guest starring as an MSP or something. He accidentally offended Scarlett by thinking she had breast cancer rather than ovarian, so she shouted at him, went back to work, and celebrated her re-found independence by getting her husband to help shave her head. I know that's what I'd do in her situation.

Meanwhile angry soldier Leo is addicted to prescription drugs, so stole Leyla's keys in order to get some more from the GP Surgery; and mad Ruth is still being mad and husband Andy (who she only married about three months ago) will almost definitely leave her for a new life in Dubai next time cause he can't cope with all the crazy. I empathise to a degree - she is awful. But you ought to have checked that out before you got hitched, fool.

I am sort of glad I missed last week's (#5), because it looks as though they tried to get Ruth the sympathy vote, and frankly she's about as empathetic as the EDL. Andy accepted the job in Dubai, to which her response was to declare their marriage over in order to make him stay. He called her bluff, she regretted it but was slightly too late in trying to fix things, there was soul searching, and FINALLY some other people noticed that she's unhinged.

However, as if making up for lost time, they took it too far the other way and had her sectioned for drugging her little girl. She may be irritating but she hasn't been doing that - the missing drugs are being taken by AWOL soldier and general reprobate Leo. Which all sounds quite harrowing, so to cheer things up there was also a subplot where Wee Boab tried to get Robbie the Big Gay Hairdresser in trouble with Deek by hiding an MP3 player...

Yeah, fair play BBC, leaving it up for as long as a week is above and beyond the call of duty.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Dear internet,

Any of you guys know why this post on my other blog would be attracting lots of spam? Because it's had 30 or 40 spam comments since I posted it.

Here are some favourites:

- You truly have a gift for reasoning and communicating a thurough understanding of the world of sugar /body dynamics… Thank you… Your videos will help me to hopefully get healthier!

'Thurough' you say? Thanks. Recent videos I posted included this one on how not to dance, and the one for Amanda Palmer's new single.

- I love your transitions and lucidity. I have been writing for Ghost Writers for a while now, and they pay me good to write blog posts like this, or content articles. I clear $100-$200 on a awful morning. Judging by your skill with the english language, you may enjoy doing the same.

You may have noticed that the post in question is a short paragraph telling people to click on a link to an article I wrote for The Edinburgh Reporter. It's lucid enough, I suppose, but hardly the greatest literary feat ever accomplished. I wouldn't cite it on a CV as an example of my command of English, anyway.

The other one I enjoyed today had no text, but was posted by the Secret horses club on the subject of a Horse Genetics Calculator. You might be better off visiting if that's your bag, though. I'm not re-posting the link they left me.

So, any thoughts on what I did there?!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Comedian Makes Child Cry

The article below was written for this site here. You should like it on Facebook, follow it on Twitter, then forget all about it as is your wont.

In other news, at midnight last night I completed a first draft of my first book for 12 Books in 12 Months, and Let's Get Lyrical kicks off in earnest today so there's some chat about long haired American pop group Hanson on my other blog.

The usually optimistic worldview of our great British nation was severely tested today when renowned biped Michael McIntyre made a small child cry in front of a live audience.

The child, aged 9, went on so-called television show Britain’s Got Talent to deliver a spectacularly unfunny comedy routine.

McIntyre reportedly buzzed him out with a string of abuse that included comments such as, “Bet your mother wishes she’d had that abortion now!” and, “I’ve seen funnier war crimes!”

His unkind words prompted a fierce response from heavily medicated co-host David “Jump In My Car” Hasselhoff, who leapt out of his seat and punched McIntyre in the mouth before proclaiming the whimpering child the best darn comedian since Chevy Chase.
All of which happened before said kid had cracked any jokes.

OK, so I’m exaggerating. What actually happened was that McIntyre asked the child who his favourite comedian was, got the response ‘Harry Hill’, and McIntyre buzzed him (the Britain’s Got Talent way of telling you to fuck the fuck off). Hilariously, the child then descended into floods of tears.

Even though this might be the funniest thing McIntyre has ever done, he is now backpedaling furiously to apologise for the joke. Supposedly it’s inappropriate to treat children in this way – as if they were nothing more than tiny adults, I mean. Because we all know the best way to teach kids things is actually to patronize and talk down to them.

If that child were 19 rather than 9, McIntyre’s joke would probably have got a huge laugh. But just because he is quite short and does not yet know his times tables, it’s been labeled as tantamount to abuse. Frankly, if this kid wants to be a stand up, he’s going to have to learn to take a joke - however weak it may be.

He’s also going to need a method of dealing with hecklers that doesn’t involve crying.