Thursday, June 30, 2005

29/06/05 Rainy Day

A shitty rainy day. God, the weather in Scotland is so depressing. Where has the sun gone? ha ha
My Saskia bet is looking increasingly reckless in the cold light of day. She's still the favourite to go. In fact the odds have dropped from 1.32 to 1.12 on Betfair,
(that means if I put £200 on now, my winnings would be only £24, and not the £64 I currently stand to pocket).
This is all fine and dandy, but the nature of BB is that they always look to engineer the unexpected and the scenario could change drastically before tomorrow.
They could muck about with the editing and do a total character assassination of Mr Maxwell tonight, should they see fit. Or somebody could just decide to leave voluntarily and the eviction may be cancelled. In short, there's too many random factors involved for canny gambling men like myself to get involved in. But 3 pints of premium lager was just enough to make me lose sight of this fact.
Anyway, on a more poignant note, legendary Bolton performance poet/comedian, Hovis Presley died very recently, and I'd like to pay tribute by including one of his poems on this here Blog, because I think it's great.

I Rely On You

I rely on you
like a Skoda needs suspension
like the aged need a pension
like a trampoline needs tension
like a bungee jump needs apprehension
I rely on you
like a camera needs a shutter
like a gambler needs a flutter
like a golfer needs a putter
like a buttered scone involves some butter
I rely on you
like an acrobat needs ice cool nerve
like a hairpin needs a drastic curve
like an HGV needs endless derv
like an outside left needs a body swerve
I rely on you
like a handyman needs pliers
like an auctioneer needs buyers
like a laundromat needs driers
like The Good Life needed Richard Briers
I rely on you
like a water vole needs water
like a brick outhouse needs mortar
like a lemming to the slaughter
Ryan's just Ryan without his daughter
I rely on you

© H Presley 1994

Brilliant, huh?
Apparently, in the North West of England, it is a very popular verse to be read at wedding ceremonies these days.
We were due to have a special 5s game last night to mark Gordon Cooke's final game before he emigrates to the good ole US of A, and then have a couple of ales.
Unfortunately he was too busy to do either, (he's leaving this morning), so that's that then...Farewell Gordon, and good luck, and thanks for all these bonecrushing tackles!
In a way, it's maybe just as well that I missed the beers, as I may have come home, switched on my PC and bet £200 that Martin Evans would buy a round before 2010, or something similarly ridiculous...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

28/06/05 I Feel Like Funny Tonight

Me getting ready to go onstage last night. Posted by Hello

I was a bit apprehensive about my gig at The Stand last night ; mainly because my previous 3 outings had been pretty ropey and as a result, my comedy confidence had badly dipped.
It was a fairly quiet night. About 20 or so in the audience. I suspect this was mainly due to it being another gloriously sunny June evening in Edinburgh, and the idea of spending it in a dark, sweaty, underground bunker had only a limited appeal.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, a deputation of representatives from my 5s football game had come along to witness the spectacle of my onstage antics.
I couldn't see them with the lights shining in my face, but I recognised the trademark cackles of messrs Dave Reilly and Jamie Frain, and all was well in the world. They've probably been to see me more than anyone else I know, and 2 nicer stalkers you couldn't possibly hope to meet.
They are primarily musicians, and both currently have products available which you can obtain at spectacularly competitive prices via Dave's website (
The gig went a lot better than the last 3, and I felt a lot more relaxed again on stage. The Stand has always been a good venue for me, and it feels like a home match when I amble on stage there.
There are still shades of Metal Mickey in my delivery. I never used to have this problem. I think it stems from being so familiar with the material that you can fall into the trap of just reciting it rather than bringing it to life.
Maybe I should revive my amateur dramatics career?
I've had a few emails asking me about my betting regime, with one or two cheekily accusing me of disclosing only my winning bets!
Anyway, if anyone is interested, for the football season 2004/05 (I am mainly a football gambler), my net profits were £4370.75.
I had a 2 week holiday, and started again for my summer betting season. I divide the gambling between football season and summer random bets.
So far I've won £60 on Germany winning the Euro 2005 Ladies Football championship, £60 on Greg Rusedski's defeat, £75 on Tim Henman's defeat and £210 on Lyndsay Davenport beating Kim Clysters.
I lost £30 on Mexico losing to Argentina in the Confederation Cup, and lost £50 on Lyndsay Davenport beating Kuznetsov (or whatever her name was yesterday)
So at the moment I'm £320 up...hurrah!
Coming back from The Stand last night though (after 3 premium lagers), I ended up making a slightly reckless bet. I put £200 on Saskia to be the 5th housemate evicted from the Big Brother House on Friday, (I'll win £64 + my stake if correct).
So you can all have a jolly good laugh at my expense if it turns out to be Maxwell...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

27/06/05 How To Succeed In Comedy

I've often thought that it would be a really good idea to come to a secret arrangement with an unemployed Samurai warrior, whereby at the end of my stand-up routine, he would burst into the club and commence randomly slashing at members of the audience with his scarily sharp sword for 2-3 minutes before leaving the resulting carnage and disappearing into the void.
It's fair to say that this would represent an extremely unorthodox ending to an act.
However, my gamble would be, that this crime would achieve such notoriety that it would be a frontrunner to undergo a dramatic re-enactment on BBC's "Crimewatch UK" programme.
This would obviously be dependent upon the crazed swordsman still being at large.
To facilitate this, I would have cultivated an extensive array of contacts and safe houses for the mad psycho killer beforehand, thus ensuing that there is no immediate arrest in this baffling case of random mass murder.
To set the scene in the re-enactment, obviously the BBC would ask me to perform the last couple of minutes of my set. In this way I am granted invaluable TV exposure.
Nick Ross would do a sombre voiceover.
"Ironically, moments before the tragic events, the audience were helpless with laughter as they enjoyed the performance of local comedian, Jim Park..."
I know this is a very extreme measure to take just to secure some TV airtime, but it's such a highly competitive environment out there in comedy land that the end justifies the means.
Furthermore, in true "Goodfellas" style, I would have to arrange for my Samurai business partner to be "whacked" to ensure that details of our evil arrangement are not inadvertently leaked to all and sundry.
I'll also have to arrange gangland hits of everyone who reads this Blog, as I've obviously given out too much sensitive information here which might prejudice my liberty or jeopardise the broadcast of my new show on Channel 4.

Monday, June 27, 2005

26/06/05 More Dead Cow Sandwiches In The Sunshine

My presence was required at Park HQ in South Queensferry to attend yet another barbecue. Another opportunity to laze about in the sun and graze on burgers and beers.
Much as I enjoy this kind of thing, there comes a point where you crave a shitty, rainy day and an opportunity to do some more constructive chores without feeling that you are mssing the only decent weather we'll have all summer.
Peculiarly, this laying about in the sun eating and drinking makes me feel completely knackered by the evening.
I was reduced to lying on the couch mumbling insults at the current highly unloveable inhabitants of the Big Brother house.
I'm referring of course to the notorious Channel 4 TV show, rather than my big brother Gavin's house in Manchester, (just in case there is any confusion there...)
The weekend started with a drinks evening with old University colleagues of mine, Billy and Dave.
Billy told me a few anecdotes of a working holiday, he, Dave and a few others, had gone on to Holland in the 80s.
There was some funny stories, and some of them I must have heard well under 100 times already, so they were still relatively fresh.
(I can now feel a caustic comment winging it's way towards my Blog)
This weekend had a lot of danger points, but I am happy to pronounce that I have successfully gone a month without smoking one of the sticks of the cancer variety.
Unfortunately, I'm also following the "Robert De Niro diet", ie the one he went on to play the later scenes in "Raging Bull" when Jake La Motta resembled a slightly overweight hippo!
It's salad and fruit juice all this week...

25/06/05 Peebles

It's the Peebles Beltane Festival and I joined the Samba Band in the parade in the sunshine. As Gala Days go, it's a good one as the locals all seem to get genuinely enthusiastic and assume a healthy party mood for the occasion.
They are a simple, but happy folk.
There's a very developed love of transvestism present down Peebles way. I don't think I've ever seen so many men masquerading as ladies in a parade, outside of Brazil.
I've got this vision of them all getting drunk during the day, then smooching around at some late night "disco" in Peebles High Street, with the local blacksmith carelessly letting slip to the newsagent that he "actually quite enjoys the feel of exotic lingerie on his skin".
At this point the music would suddenly stop, and the DJ would hurriedly announce that everybody had to go home, as someone took things a "little too far". All the men dressed as ladies would trudge home talking in gruff voices about Rangers' prospects in the Champions League.
I was talking to Kim from Spain, a member of the Samba band about my stand-up routine. He said he understood everything perfectly except he couldn't work out why the punchlines were funny. I thought it best not to go into any further analysis on this topic, as the reason could be that in fact the punchlines were not funny, so he wasn't really missing anything. Of course, this is misplaced self-deprecatory humour going on here.
As Arnold Brown once said, I used to do self-deprecating humour, but I wasn't very good at it.
Kim is doing research at Edinburgh University into Parkinson's Disease. Interestingly, he plays shaker in the Samba Band.
We retired to Dot's for a tip top relaxed boozy barbecue. I think we now owe Dot 7 cows, 72 chickens and 570 gallons of beer, (it's hungry/thirsty work doing these marathon parades you know...)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

24/06/05 Another Famous Park

My namesake Posted by Hello

Apart from my surname routinely being misheard as "Clark" by countless customer service representatives, it is also noted for being among the most popular names in Korea, (North and South, I believe).
I'm often tempted to go to Korea and cash in on my surname's Korean celebrity. I'd imagine I'd be able to get lots of discounts and would effortlessly engage in endless banter on my family origins. Perhaps they might see me as the returning "Father of the Nation" and treat me as a messiah type figure, showering upon me undreamt of wealth and riches. Although, in fairness I do dream quite a lot of wealth and riches, so it would have to be an astronomical sum we're talking about here, before I would categorically state that it was "undreamt of" on a purely personal level.
The downside of all this would be that inevitably someone would see me as a phoney, a fraud and a threat to the national fabric of the Korean people, and I would likely end up being assassinated by a lone gunman working with others, (JFK satire).
Coincidentally, Manchester United have just signed a Mr Park from Korea.
What makes this even more exciting is that his initials are "J S".
On the back of his shirt will be emblazoned "J S Park". By an incredible co-incidence, my name (including initials) is "J S Park".
I'll now be able to get my own personalised Manchester United replica top with my own name on the back. And of course, I can deflect accusations of pomposity by pointing out correctly that it is the name of a current Manchester United player, and does not represent a(nother) pathetic case of self-aggrandisment.
This'll be great. When I score my trademark quality goals, I can run off and point my thumbs behind my back, just like the pros do, to draw attention to my name.

Friday, June 24, 2005

23/06/05 The Sun Has Got His Hat On

What great weather this week in Edinburgh. I've been lounging around in the sun, playing golf, doing a bit of hillwalking, having the odd alfresco libation...
This is all well and good. The problem is I've got loads of stuff to do with regards to the upcoming Fringe show, but just get led astray by the appearance of the big yellow circle thing in the sky.
Living in Scotland, you can never be really sure whether the current hot spell is going to be the defining moment weather-wise of the whole summer, and that the rest of the season will be the usual grey, rainy, chilly shite we all know so well.
Therefore, you feel you have to take advantage of the weather while the going is good.
I'd quite like a few days of shit weather now, to allow me to work on my assorted tasks without a temptation to gambol about in the sunshine, gradually metamorphosising into a donkey, and being taken away to work in a Circus.
I bumped into Geordie freelance artist Stevie Woods in town. Stevie is something of a "free spirit". I used to play 5s football with him. The convention was that one team would wear white, and one team would wear black. However, Stevie always showed up wearing a Newcastle United top, and would just shrug his shoulders when his intelligence became a matter of debate amongst the assembled players.
He's just come back from a holiday in Spain. He was staying in a non-air conditioned caravan. The temperature there was constantly between 37 and 40 degrees.
Apparently Stevie "hates" the sun. What a character!

22/06/05 Time for a flutter

I haven't been making any bets since the football season ended, however my gambling instincts have been re-engaged this week by the Women's Euro Football Championship and Wimbledon.
I got the week off to a flying start by pocketing £60 on the German Women's team winning the Euro Championship. They looked unstoppable from the start of the competition.
I've now managed to capitalise on the exits of Greg Rusedski and "Tiger" Tim Henman to the tune of £130 profit.
(no losing bets to report...just in case you think there is some delusional exercise going on here)
In bygone eras I would have been sent to the Bloody Tower for treason.
I'm always ambivalent about Wimbledon. Occasionally you get a great match that makes compelling viewing. However, these never ending camera pans round the spectators, with their silly little Union Jack hats, and the annoying "Come on Tim!" shouts, (there's always a little competition about who can get the last "Come on Tim!" in, before the umpire tells them "quiet please!".
And when Sue Barker cheerily explains the total weights and volume of strawberries and cream needed to service the whole championship, I really have to restrain myself from the overriding urge to put my foot through the telelvision screen.
It all stinks of privilege and repressed behaviour. It's such a difference when there's loads of rain delays, and they have to end up opening on a Sunday, and the real fans get in to the "show courts".
Are there any other sports where you get to sit down, have a drink and a banana, every 5 minutes. It's crazy. I think individual games used to last much longer in the old days and they maybe needed a wee rest.
In the men's big serve game, they've often hardly broken sweat and it time for a seat and a Robinson's barley water.
Not exactly shades of a Tri-Athlon going on here, is there?

21/06/05 G8

I have to say I'm somewhat pissed off with all this G8 malarkey.
From what I understand, the governments of the 8 wealthiest countries in the world have decided to hold a summit meeting in Scotland.
What's crazy about all this is that they have chosen dates which coincide with massive pop concerts and demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people.
This is madness. Couldn't they have chosen another time? Don't they think that the Scottish Police resources will be stretched enough?
It's like Edinburgh in August.
The population in Edinburgh more than doubles in August. It's gridlock on the streets. The hotels are all full. The bus drivers are even less charming than usual.
Then someone decides to schedule the World's biggest International Arts Festival to coincide with all this.
The whole world has gone mad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

20/06/05 Scott Monument

Strolling along Princes Street, I spontaneously decided to go up the Scott Monument. I surmised that it had been more than twenty years since I had achieved this feat, and thought it was time for another visit.
In case you didn't know, the Scott Monument was built in honour of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. He wrote a series of dry,unreadable novels such as "Ivanhoe" and "Waverley" and was duly rewarded with immortality by this monument which looks like Thunderbird 3. As monuments go, I reckon it's a good one, and its architecture fits nicely into the Edinburgh context in a way in which the St James Centre doesn't.
You don't get decent monuments these days.
I was browsing this week in my local branch of "Monuments R Us", and found the standard very poor.
I'd forgotten how cramped the spiral staircase was. It's quite awkward when you meet people going in the opposite direction to you, and you have to squeeze past them.
My visit was notable in terms of timing to a large group of attractive german females coming down the steps as I made my way up.
It took quite a bit of manoeuvering to get past. I have to be honest and describe this as something of a "Festival of Frottage".
There's nothing you can really do to avoid it becoming this.
It doesn't take much to get my paranoia levels to a heightened state. I began to wonder whether they thought that I spend every day in life going up and down the Scott Monument, in the knowledge that such situations are an inevitable feature of the narrowness of the spiral staircase.
Oh dear, here comes that frottage fetishist again.
Hopefully, the fact that I've only been up the Scott Monument twice in the last 20 years demonstrates "reasonable doubt" in a court of law, should anyone decide to press charges.
Although, I would be slightly worried that the controversial Scots verdict of "not proven" might be deemed appropriate and I would have to live with the stigma of not being found definitively innocent hanging over my head.
The view at the top is very nice though.

Monday, June 20, 2005

19/06/05 Turkey Tales

On Xmas day many years ago, my faithful old dog Robbie ran into the house with a large turkey carcass he'd found at the rubbish area of a nearby hotel.
To him this was a veritable coup and he ran around the house and garden for a good few hours with it, leaving a trail of debris, trying to find somewhere peaceful to eat it.
After a while, we decided to confiscate it as he was making a bit of a right old mess.
This was not appreciated by Robbie and he made determined efforts to retrieve it. We ended up hiding it on top of a cupboard, out of his reach.
During the night I felt a bit dehydrated and went down to the kitchen for a drink of water. I was somewhat surprised to see my older brother Gavin sitting at the table with Robbie's turkey carcass in his hands, picking at it and eating scraps of meat from it. He had mistaken it for the turkey that we had been eating for our Xmas dinner. He was not particularly amused when I gently explained the recent recorded movements of the turkey carcass which he was eating.
Robbie was also singularly unamused, not to say confused by Gavin's actions.
I think Gavin can now see the funny side though...
Talking of "turkey shoots", yesterday I played golf with Mr Mark Dance, the elder brother of the famous "Fabulous Dance Brothers" music hall acrobatic act, on the hallowed turf of Dalmeny Estate Golf Club.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, a delightful sea breeze drifted in from the Firth of Forth. Glorious. On such a day, it seemed unimportant who actually won the match, as it was really just all about the pleasure of taking part. But it was me. I won. Just by one hole mind you. But winning is everything and second is nowhere and all that kind of thing, and I also hit the longest drive of the day. No triumphalism from me. That would be wrong.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

18/06/05 The Shame Game

satire..! :-) Posted by Hello

I have to confess to feeling a twinge of sympathy for the young scallywags who were "named and shamed (and photographed)" by the Daily Record for trying to sell their Live8 tickets on Ebay.
They were all about 18. It was definitely an unlovely act, and certainly not in the spirit of the event ; but who could honestly say that as an 18 year old, with a likely fairly low disposable income, they would not have been slightly tempted to cash in on their good fortune in securing a ticket?
In the end their actions aren't preventing any money going to the relevant charities. Live8 have already made millions through the premium rate text competition.
It always rings a bit hollow when the Daily Record sets itself up as our "moral guardians". I can't stand that paper. It's a nasty little rag.
Anyway, lots of other people will be making cash out of the event. The bands will undoubtedly benefit from the exposure in terms of record sales. The inflated price hot dog sellers around the stadium will be capitalising on the event just as much as the Ebay mob.
I don't want to sound cynical. I absolutely support the aims of the event and hope it's a total success. The reality of life is that there are always people who will benefit privately from these occasions.
The Ebay people in Scotland are just slightly unlucky in that they've been highlighted and given pariah status by the Scottish press.
I can't bring myself to criticise Geldof though. He's a loose cannon, but I don't really think that this foreign debt initiative would have gotten this far without his personality and influence pushing the politicians to get it on the agenda.
As far as I'm concerned he's the dog's bollocks, and I'm not going to join in with any petty sniping aimed at his efforts.
So anyway, Patrick, Tony and I lounged about all day on Bruntsfield Links ruminating on ideas for the show. It was a good productive session. Unfortunately, even though it was cloudy, we got zapped by the UV.
I was supposed to be doing a stand-up spot at Richard P's birthday party. However, I was knackered and sunburnt and decided to enhance the dehydration by getting fairly pissed. Richard didn't mind. He was going to do a spot but decided against it as well. Well done to Patrick though, who did actually do a spot!
We had a couple of drinks at the Old Waverly Hotel in Princes St where Patrick was staying. Although, when we got to the bar, the barman said they had no beer. No draught. No bottles. Nothing. So it was cider then....with the inevitable sore head the next day.

17/06/05 Circus Crew Perform in Perth

Patrick, myself and Tony did spots at the Amused Moose show in Whispers nightclub in Perth. This was the first time we'd all seen each other do our schtick.
With consummate timing I had a bad night. On the evidence of this showing I'm definitely the weakest link. I thought Patrick and Tony were great. I'd seen Tony a few times before, but he was doing some new material, and gave a really funny, assured performance. I loved Patrick's stuff. Very gentle, wacky streams of consciousness, packed full of gags.
I didn't enjoy my spot at all.
I was first on after the interval. You generally expect the compere to do 5-10 minutes at this point, before introducing the first act of the second half. I think the compere did about 25-30.
I find the "hanging about interminably waiting to go on experience" has a bad effect on the way I perform. When I'm psyched up and ready to go, but then have to wait an uncertain amount of time, I get a bit tense and lose energy. It just gets mentally tiring waiting and maintaining the adrenaline for your intro. Not that I'm making excuses or anything. I fluffed a couple of lines early on that usually get big laughs, then started going too fast. A robotic performance ensued.
There's always positives to take from these situations. It certainly provided a good kick up the arse, and I realise that I've got a lot of work to do before the Fringe.
I'm really pleased to be involved with such a strong line-up for the show though. And the knowledge that I'll have to raise my game considerably is a positive. There's no danger of me being complacent.

Friday, June 17, 2005

16/06/05 On Your Bike

my name in lights...! Posted by Hello

Well, the gig got off to an inauspicious start when Irish,flame-haired, former sambista Trish introduced me as Jim was a dagger in my chest.
It was a tricky gig. I was the first "comedy" (allegedly) spot of the evening. Before I came on, a band played some nice, way down, ambient stuff featuring acoustic guitar and digeridoo. Very enjoyable.
It's difficult going straight from this to stand-up comedy. Usually a compere will spend 10 minutes warming the audience up to get them into comedy mode. Plus, it takes a little while for people to stop talking. Thanks to Mr Kay for hassling the crowd at the bar to belt up.
Anyway, after this slow start, I thought the set went really well. There were a few heckles, a guy came up on stage with his mobile phone after it went off. I'd said that if I were a more experienced comedian I'd have taken the phone off him and have had a hilarious improvised conversation with the hapless caller. He came onstage anyway. It turns out it was a text message (?). He asked me if I had a message that he could send to the person who'd texted. I came back with the side-splittingly funny ad lib, "Yes, just tell him to fuck off!" ...comedy gold, comedy gold...
It was great to see Phil Kay onstage. I haven't seen him perform for ages. First of all he drew the raffle. Probably my favourite part of his show. Just great off-the-cuff madness. He then told a series of bike related anecdotes. Apparently he has had 11 bikes stolen because he can never be bothered to use a lock.
He spent the last 20 minutes strumming his guitar and improvising a song about his problematic marriage. He tends to split audiences. I like acts that do that. I think it's better to make some people laugh a lot, rather than have everybody laughing at a lower intensity. Avoid lowest common denominator comedy.
One of the things that impressed me about Amsterdam was that there are thousands of unlocked bikes parked all over the place. Admittedly most of them are old bangers, but I just like the fact that people feel comfortable about doing that.
I heard a bizarre new ambulance siren yesterday. It sounds like an alien spacecraft about to land. Curiously similar to the Space Invader flying saucer that taxi'd periodically across the top of the screen. That's 300 points if you count your shots and hit it. I was always shit at Space Invaders.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

15/06/05 The Armchair has gone!

Amazing. Such is the power of the Internet that as soon as I'd mentioned it on the Blog, the armchair vanished into the ether. Perhaps, the owner is an avid reader of my Blog and was embarassed to see that thousands of people a day were laughing at their appalling taste in soft furnishings.
I was thinking today of people I've known through my life with peculiar nicknames, as well as the reasons for being landed with the same nickname.
Here's a few I remember ;
"Big Squashie" ; was given this name after pronouncing "Quasimodo" as "Squashimodo" whilst reading aloud from "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at school.
"Cheesy" ; became nickname after person in question specifically asked for a Pizza in an Italian Restaurant, "without cheese".
"Peanut" was buying a round and misheard a drink order, screwing up his face and saying "Peanuts?"
"Berjikoff" ; had a strong likeness to the "village idiot" character in Woody Allen's "Love and Death"
"Howker" ; was witnessed frenetically scratching his genital area while half asleep in bed. Derived from the verb, "to Howk"
"Screw" ; can't even remember why. It was a non-sexual reason though!
"The Hawk" ; not sure where this came from. Perhaps he ate small furry mammals and/or had exceptionally good eyesight?
"Doc Photon" ; again, I'm unclear where this came from. Great nickname though!

Why not send me a comment with any hilarious, genuine nicknames and their reasons?
I'm willing to pay absolutely bugger all for the one I deemed to be the most original and funniest.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

14/06/05 Strangers On A Train

I headed through to Glasgow on the train for the gig at The Stand. I was at one of these table-for-four seats next to 3 people who were going to see REM in Glasgow. They were arguing about Edinburgh bands in the 80s...what was the name of their single?, names of people in the band? etc. I knew the answers, but didn't want to engage in conversation as I was trying to swot up on new material which I was intending using at The Stand.
Directly across from us were 4 spotty teenagers, obviously going to the same gig.
I caught the 11pm train back. I saw a spare seat, sat down, then looked up and realised I was next to the same 3 people. I also realised that the 4 spotty teenagers were in the same position as well (they didn't have any connection with the other 3)
I thought that was a bit spooky.
I was then expecting Peter Cushing to introduce himself and ask each of us to pick a tarot card whereby the screen would go all wavy, and he would reveal something rather nasty about to befall each of us in the future.
And then in the end, we'd find out that Peter was in fact the Horny one himself! (btw that's the Devil, not Sid James), and we were in fact, all dead, because the train had crashed at Falkirk High, and we had been placed in some peculiar limbo-like state to complete our contractual obligations with "Hammer Horror Inc".
(listen, if you haven't seen "Dr Terror's House of Horrors", this will mean nothing to you...)
But thankfully, I discovered I was still alive and got out at Haymarket. I'm not sure about the others though. Anything could have happened in that tunnel between Haymarket and Waverly.
At the gig, the tried and tested stuff went really well, but my new material spectacularly bombed.
This material related to Strawberry Scuffle and the singer Mary Hopkins. I'm going to give this stuff another couple of chances though, as the delivery was dreadful.
There were two no-show comedians, so I was told I could do 15 minutes. This is the longest I've ever done. Good practice. That'll be the length of my main timeslot during the Fringe show.
I met an old friend Nick at the gig. I used to share a flat with him at Stirling University. Throught the conversation I had with him, I discovered that an Irish guy who also lived in our student flat had been killed in the World Trade Centre on 9/11.
I was never particularly close friends with the guy who died, as he was a rugby playing "jock" and I was an NME-reading, dope-smoking, post-punk layabout. We inhabited different social spheres. However I liked him a lot and he was a very decent bloke. I remember thinking at the time of 9/11 that it was likely there were some people I knew or had connections to involved in the incident. IT workers, Investment workers for companies that I'd worked for who regularly commuted back and forward to NY.
In the end there wasn't. However, last night the connection finally materialised. I expect millions of people all over the world have some tenuous link to an individual involved, such is the cosmopolitan nature of NY City.
btw the chair is still there, and I have now gone 15 days without smoking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

13/06/05 Tales From The Skip

The offending armchair (with designer accessories)  Posted by Hello

There are a couple of skips in the vicinity of my gaffe at the moment. One is for the work going on to fix the stonework on my building, the other is for my neighbour who's getting some landscape gardening done.
There's a long tradition of skip etiquette in this country. Apparently, if you see a skip, you should collect all your old shite and discreetly dump it all in the skip when no-one is looking.
This policy has been rigidly adhered to with these 2 aforementioned skips. However, the workers who are using the skips aren't having this, and have taken to remove any unauthorised deposited items and dump them back in the street.
Of course the Council Cleansing dept guys will only pick anything up if it is in a black bag, or if a "special uplift" has been formally arranged.
So what we have now is something of a classic stand-off.
For the last 2 weeks, an armchair with a handily placed gas fire sitting on it, has sat outside my flat. Neither the Skip owners or the Binmen will touch it.
I'm stunned at how disgusting it is. It's the worst looking item of soft furnishings I've ever seen in my life. Did someone actually have that in their living room at some point? I suppose they must have seen it in a shop and thought, "Oh, That's really nice, we must buy that!".
As a punishment for illegal dumping, I think the owner should be traced, (I'd imagine there are likely to be traces of DNA on it), and made to sit on it, on the stage of the Ross Bandstand in Princes Street, from 9am to 5pm every day.
People could walk past and make sarcastic remarks about what a nice choice of armchair it was. I think this is a fair and commensurate punishment for this wilful act of fly dumping.

Monday, June 13, 2005

12/06/05 The Beat Goes On

Lucia : The Queen of Scottish Samba Posted by Hello

I'd intended spending today trying to sort out some stand-up ideas and sketch-type things for the Fringe show. I've got quite a busy week coming up. I'm doing The Stand in Glasgow on Tuesday, a Bike Charity benefit gig in Edinburgh on Thursday (with the legendary Mr Phil Kay), an Amused Moose gig in Perth on Friday, and a spot at Richard Pulsford's birthday bash on Saturday. In addition, Patrick and Tony are coming through to Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday to work on some ideas for the Fringe show.
So I decided to go through to Glasgow to play samba at the West End Carnival. Well, it was another top sunny day. An impressive display of willpower.
Glasgow people get more up for these sort of street parades than their Edinburgh counterparts. It was just a pity that it started pissing with rain really heavily half way through the parade...
Good fun though.
I stopped for a Chinese carryout on my way home.
As I waited I noticed that the (loud) record playing in the restaurant was stuck in a loop.
It was some lilting French folk song. At the chorus, it would do that CD scratch/repeat thing a few times, stop jump on a bit, play another 5 seconds, stop, then go back to 30 seconds before the same chorus, and the debacle would all start again. I must have heard this cycle about 20 times in the time I was waiting in the restaurant. It was driving me insane, and I was only there for about 15 minutes.
I couldn't understand how the rest of the diners and waiting staff were tolerating it. Nobody seemed that bothered.
Just as I was leaving I mentioned to the waiter, "Isn't that record driving you mad?". He just shrugged and laughed.
I'm obviously too sensitive. I felt like I was being softened up psychologically in Guantanamo Bay, to make me more amenable to sustained interrogation. It really was that annoying, believe me.
In a similar vein, I can't go to the cinema at weekends any more. I turn into the Incredible Hulk. It's the culmination of mobiles going off, "text received" bleeps, watches beeping on the hour, people munching "industrial skip" sized containers of popcorn, cellophane sweetie wrappers being unwrapped (most annoyingly when people try to open the sweets stealthily, rather than just get it over with quickly), people talking and people farting, coughing, sneezing. It's hell. I'd rather stick cocktail sticks in my eyes, or do a lunchtime comedy spot at Becogent Call Centre in Airdrie.

11/06/05 Gala Day!

Gala Day! Posted by Hello

I joined the Edinburgh Samba School to play at the Gorgie/Dalry Gala Day. This is my local community, so I was happy to help out. It was another brilliant, sunny day. Perfect weather for outdoor practioners of the samba experience.
For many of the players, it was their first, ever gig. This show was seen as an opportunity to blood players who've been attending the beginners classes.
Last minute advice on patterns was dispensed and crumpled up pieces of paper were concentrated upon. I remember being very nervous before playing my first gig in Penicuik, and recalling how I played, I was justified in being nervous about it.
We were on about 30 minutes later than we should have been as the Line Dancing had overrun drastically. This would have been excusable if the display had been setting the audience alight, and that in all the frenzied excitement, time had been forgotten completely. Rather than adhere to the showbiz maxim of leaving the audience wanting more, I got the impression that no-one ever wanted to see Line Dancing again, ever, well certainly not within the next 50 years.
Then we were on! It was a good appreciative audience. Although there was a cluster of bampots. At a glance they appeared to be an extended family. It clearly wasn't a very broad gene pool, (more of a "gene puddle" as that wag Mestre Mark commented).
They were intent on disruption and drawing attention to themselves in any way possible. They went through a repertoire of jokey pretendy drumming, deliberately crap dancing, grabbing spare instruments (including hitting shakers with sticks (?)),and hitting Mark and his drum with an inflatable hammer at appropriate intervals. They were also badly sunburnt, and gave the impression that a fairly substantial amount of alcohol had recently been imbibed.
The enjoyment of playing was to some extent curtailed by worrying what they were going to do next. Everyone else in the audience was fine though! I'm not dissing Gorgie/Dalry in general! I really like it. I live there!
At night it was Lucia's 50th birthday party.
Lucia is the most recognisable face of Scottish Samba. Generally seen leading parades in all her Brazilian Carnival finery, pursued by a cluster of spotty, male press photographers snapping away madly.
I can't believe she's 50. She doesn't look anywhere near that age.
Great party. Fantastic food. A rivetting belly dancer. Some frenetic samba. And a load of beer.
I've always thought that Lucia has the loveliest smile in Christendom.
If she was to smile at me, then ask me to go and jump off the top of the Scott Monument, I would do it unquestioningly. On the way down, I might eventually ponder whether I'd made a poor decision, but by then it would be too late.
I anticipate she'll still be cavorting along Princes St at the 2055 Festival Cavalcade...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

10/06/05 Testing Times

Oh dear, after some recent spectacular highs, the good ship "HMS Comedy" has hit some decidedly choppy waters of late.
I was in Glasgow last night doing a gig at The State Bar. It was a heat of the long running "So You Think You're Funny Competition".
I'm not a big fan of competitions. Many of them are dodgy. There are often endless heats with people who've been previously knocked out making surprise re-appearances in later rounds, (like me next week in the Amused Moose heat in Perth). There are suspicions that agency influence has a hand in pre-determining winners etc. They are perceived as attractive money earners for promoters, as only the compere gets paid bla bla bla comedians get too pissed off when they do badly in them, and get too bigged up when they do well in them. One man's meat/poison and countless other anecdotes are all applicable...
I'm just doing them for the stage time and because I've got a show at the Fringe that I need to try out a lot of new material for.
All the comedians struggled last night with the audience. It was like playing to the crowd of Michael Jackson devotees who hang around outside the courthouse, shortly after he'd been found guilty and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. This is not an exaggeration. Very hard work out there.
We don't find out till next month who gets through to the semi-finals. Ho hum.
It was a strange environment. There were pockets of people supporting each act. You got the impression they'd decided only to laugh at "their" friend.
This is a shitty state of mind for a comedy space. You should go along to a comedy night to be entertained, not to show partisan support for one act. It's all bollocks really.
My mood darkened when I found out that the Fringe Programme have cocked up our entry and have our show starting at 9.55pm instead of 9.40pm.
This is going to cause an inordinate amount of hassle and warrants a claim for substantial compensation I'd say. grrrrrrrr.
To make matters worse, Jonathon Ross has been awarded an OBE for "services to broadcasting".
The world has gone mad.
In keeping with the appropriateness of Mr Ross's award, I expect Harold Shipman to receive a posthumous knighthood for "services to medicine".
I know my opinion on Mr Ross is not universally shared. Some normally sane and rational friends of mine really like him and think he's very funny.
Ah well, I'm sure Vlad the Impaler's children loved him as well, and that he was really a big softy behind that ruthless facade?
On a brighter note, I played golf with Mr Mat Clements, samba superstar, and proprietor of, on the hallowed turf of Dalmeny Estate Golf Club.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, a delightful sea breeze drifted in from the Firth of Forth. Glorious. On such a day, it seemed unimportant who actually won the match, as it was really just all about the pleasure of taking part. But it was me. I won.
2 and 1. (Just for the sake of completeness and documentation.) No triumphalism from me. Absolutely not...

Friday, June 10, 2005

09/06/05 Cockburn Comedy

Ah well, the comedy mojo took an inevitable dip last night. The promoters of "Cockburn Comedy" had seen me at The Stand on Monday and asked me to do a spot at their Thursday club in the Arcade Bar.
I produced a rather tentative, stumbling performance. Got good laughs. But I didn't really enjoy it and felt slightly nervous for no particular reason.
It's strange, I feel more relaxed doing my act in front of 200 people at The Stand than a dozen people sitting around a bar. It feels like you are performing in someone's living room. I'm a bit awkward with small audiences like that as you feel you have to engage them with banter. I'm usually ok at this, but last night wasn't really up to it.
When there is a big audience, you can detach yourselves from them. I think I prefer that, but a good all-round stand-up would have the ability to adjust his act to suit the environment. Must try harder.
I'd gone for a stroll up Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat before the gig, and pathetically was feeling a tad weary.
The other comedians were much better at playing the room than me, rapping with the audience and using assorted props in the bar.
I took it as a learning experience.
Dave Reilly and Dave Bann made appearances, although Mr Bann missed my show. I was quite happy about that as he has never seen my act yet. I'd rather he saw me on a better night.

08/06/05 Jacko!

I had a feeling that today was going to be verdict day in the Michael Jackson trial. That's 3 days deliberating by the jury. That's a respectable amount of time to consider things I'd say. I reckon the Judge privately briefed the Jury before they were sent out to deliberate.
He'd have told them to take at least 3 days. This would be essential to lend a little credibility to the American Justice system. Even if they are sitting around doing crosswords and "I Spy" games for 72 hours...just put on a show.
The Legal Industry still cringe over the OJ Simpson jury. In that case, 10 months of evidence was fully deliberated on and a verdict agreed in a stunning 42 minutes!
The media people would love that again though. They've just got to hang around a, by all accounts, desperately dull corner of America, waiting for the verdict.
I can't see a guilty verdict on the main charges. I reckon he is guilty, but the evidence presented doesn't have "beyond reasonable doubt" written all over it to my layman's eye.
Plus, all the characters in this story seem essentially flawed.
There's much previous form of lying on oath and a damaging suspicion that ultimately it's all about money.
So anyway, I was verdict today after all.
I predict Jackson is found guilty of the lesser offence of supplying alcohol to minors and is given a 12 month suspended jail sentence.
I am Mystic Meg. That's me, that is.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

07/06/05 Park's Circus Publicity Stuff

Park's Circus Publicity Posted by Hello

Here is a publicity shot for the upcoming "Park's Circus" show!
In spite of the fact that I look like a crazed, slightly decomposed, zombie flesh eater, I like it a lot. I think it's a fairly mad, wacky image of the 3 of us which should encourage hordes of festival goers to beat a path to our door.
I always did find Circus clowns slightly scary anyway.
I went out to Mitch's country seat yesterday to get it sorted out. Mitch is something of a wizard with all this image/photo manipulation stuff, and the range of possibilities is all very mesmerising to a computer dinasor like myself.
I have to pay homage to his patience, as it usually helps a graphic designer if the client has got a vague idea of what he is looking for. I just tended to agree with all Mitch's suggestions, and found it difficult to come up with any positive decisions on my own.
Luckily, Mitch managed to resist the temptation to smash my head repeatedly off the floorboards, shouting, "At least give me a basic idea of what you actually want you useless TWAT!".
Eventually, I was sent to entertain little Jem, son of Mitch, for a while. This gave Mitch an opporchancity to finish off the picture.
This also gave me the opportunity to attend my quarterly psychological briefing from Jo. This session was entitled "Attitudes To Relationships Vol 23(a)".
Thankfully Jo doesn't yet have a Blog, otherwise she would have the opportunity to disclose to the world what a complete mentalist I truly am! :-)
Later I had a shot of Mitch's newly constructed "white knuckle" Tarzan Swing. This involves something of a "leap of faith", as you have to take a run, then swoop over an unappealing drop into a ravine before swingning round and back to safety.
Having had Mitch labour away all afternoon on the publicity picture, I thought the least I could do was risk an entertaining, painful death by taking on the Tarzan challenge. I am happy to report that I survived. It did feel like preparing to do a bungee jump.
I later on met up with Pete and Greg Mitchell. Greg repeatedly tried to set me on fire after I queried if he had enjoyed watching Celtic lose the league on the last day of the season. I don't know. Some people. Really...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

06/06/05 Double Diamond

works wonders!
Well, no, frankly it doesn't. It is a market leader in "Disgusting Beers Of Our Time".
I used the double title as I had 2 comedy gigs last night. One at The Stand and one at Reg Anderson's new comedy night at the Q Bar on Leith Walk.
I had another great gig at The Stand. I seem to have stepped up a level recently. I'm not sure why exactly, but the past couple of gig responses have been way,way above anything that has gone on before. I think I've worked out who I am on stage a bit more. I used to be a ranter, now I'm playing it more as a befuddled space cadet. The latter is definitely working much better.
As is often the case with the first night of fledgling comedy evenings, the Q Bar was fairly sparsely populated. There was an audience of 10. Interestingly they were all tourists in Edinburgh. They were also all female. They were also all attractive as well. (oooohhh misssusss!)
I really enjoyed doing a set to them. They laughed at all the right bits. It was tricky in the sense that a pre-requisite in getting some of my jokes is a knowledge of the TV series "You've Been Framed" and "Tales of the Unexpected".
No-one in the audience had heard of either of them.
It was a good exercise in improvisation, as I had to depart from the routine and explain, with examples, the format of these programmes before doing the "joke".
I don't want to come over all Bridget Jones, but....I have now gone 7 days without smoking a fag and thought I should take the opportunity to congratulate myself on the internet for my courage, my strength and my indefatigability.

05/06/05 Sunday Morning Nightmare

Ageing punks will recognise this Blog title as a track from the one and (thankfully) only, "Sham 69". For years I had a piece of Jimmy Pursey's shirt. He dived into the audience at a gig at Clouds in Edinburgh, and his shirt got shredded by the baying mob. I didn't know what happened to the bit I had. It got lost. Shame. It could be worth a lot of money now. But probably not.
I'd like to begin by saying that my Samba review in the previous blog entry, was a satirical review written in "Whose Line Is It Anyway" fashion, in the style of a "samba god". Although, it probably is still fair to say that I did indeed play particularly brilliantly. (I'm being satirical again...or perhaps not?)
I had a sore head after my barbecue antics. However, I managed to make it to the Meadows Festival.
Unfortunately with all the rain, the Meadows had turned into a bit of a mudbath, and the attendance was pretty sparse.
I stood for 20 minutes looking at owls in the "Birds of Prey" stall. They are amazing looking creatures. I felt a bit sorry for them being chained to a perch though. And being nocturnal animals, they must have been slightly pissed off to be getting stared at by a hungover prodigiously talented percussionist at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.
The other stall that caught my eye was a demonstration of "keep fit" line dancing being given by a group of mature members of the community.
It was a little incongruous to see that the instructor was a great big fat bloke. This slightly deflated the image of doing this activity as a basis for achieving fitness and health.
It would be a bit like Keith Richard playing a guitar solo on the video of the groundbreaking anti-drugs anthem "Just Say No!" performed by the kids of "Grange Hill".

Sunday, June 05, 2005

04/06/05 I do like to be beside the seaside

I played with the Edinburgh Samba School at Port Seton Gala Day. The locals seemed to like it. They are simple, but happy, folk.
I was playing tamborin and vibra-slap, aka "Twanger". I was slightly concerned that my presence in the band might cause disapproval in some quarters, as my recent rehearsal attendance has been, at best, sporadic.
Fortunately, I played particularly brilliantly and didn't make a mistake, of any description, all day. It was a virtuoso performance of samba brilliance, and many people told me afterwards that they felt greatly privileged to witness it, and that it would prove to be an enduring memory for them.
The Twanger breaks in the 3-1-5-2 sections of Baion did though provoke a certain degree of controversy, as their efficaciousness was cheekily questioned by the band's Mestre Mark. However I am 100% certain that I played the Twanger at the appropriate spot, and that it would be absolutely churlish to criticise me in light of my innovative twanger-ing causing the rest of the band to make an arse of getting back into the groove. It should really be up to the rest of the band to raise their game to adjust to the challenge of playing with such a gifted percussionist.
It's not all a bed of roses being a prodigiously talented instrumentalist like me though. I'm playing next week at the "Gorgie/Dalry Festival" and I daresay people will be expecting me to equal, or ridiculously, even better, my level of performance yesterday. I can feel the mounting pressure already.
God was having a bit of a right old laugh with his weather remote control. He jokingly switched from the "bright, warm sunshine" to "pissing down like stair rods" settings, intermittently all afternoon.
We later retired to Paul & Morag's gaffe for a delightful barbecue
At the back of their house, you open the garden gate and find yourself in a kid's swing park. As a child, this must be roughly on a par in terms of perks, as your parents owning a sweetie shop!
As we all know, the combination of adults, alcohol and a children's swing park are a dangerous mix. At one point, I found myself being spun round sitting in a circular spinning device type thing. I estimate I was spinning at approximately 75 mph, and that my ordeal lasted for about 10 minutes. The Spanish Inquisition guys would have loved this device.
On alighting from the aforementioned torture device, I staggered dizzily around, narrowly avoiding a collision with the slide, and fell over in a heap. Luckily, there were some small children around who helped me, in my time of crisis, by jumping on my chest, and shaking me back and forward. Bless.
I then proceeded to drink rather a lot of wine, and make flippant comments about samba.
I thought Debbie and her friend were going to do a "Fame!" type singing and dancing tribute show for the assembled throng. However, it turned out that they were actually going to see the show "Fame!" at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh that night, and had decided to get into the spirit of the occasion by wearing legwarmers, headbands and 80s fashion. Apparently, they were the only people in the entire audience who thought this was an appropriate gesture. This is a shocking inditement of humourless Edinburgh theatre goers!
I experienced something similar myself when I turned up in a Nazi uniform at a showing of the film "Schindler's List". I was so embarrassed that I was the only person in the entire audience who thought this was appropriate!
I shared a taxi back with a few others. The taxi seemed to go via Fort William. I'm not 100% certain of this, but it just seemed I was in that taxi for a long, long time.

Friday, June 03, 2005

02/06/05 Last Mention Of Big Brother

The current cast of Big Brother are a sorry bunch. It's actually quite sad. Each individual obviously believes that they are "special", due to the fact they've been chosen from thousands and thousands of applicants to go into the Big Brother House.
However, the reality of the situation, is that Channel 4 have deliberately picked a lot of unintelligent, dysfunctional saddos, who they are confident will generate a heap of banal arguments and watchable TV tension.
I know this gets said every year. But this year it is definitely true.
I don't think the format really works any more anyway. Everyone is far too conscious of the cameras, and are acting totally unnaturally in an attempt to exert a level of control on how they are perceived by the TV viewers.
It's the Meadows Festival in Edinburgh this weekend. Was it really 20 years ago that myself and a couple of friends staged the "Rent-A-Laugh Show" at this very festival?
We managed to wangle some funding for this from the Meadows Festival Association.
The running order included an "Alcoholic Juggling Contest". Myself and Mitch, (current owner of Edinburgh Film Studios), competed in this challenge.
We had to juggle until a whistle was blown, then drink as much as possible out of a bottle of wine, until the whistle was blown again, whereupon we had to resume juggling, then drink again etc etc. The winner was he who finished the bottle of wine first. We performed this competition twice throughout the course of the afternoon, (hic).
Other acts were someone called Ken, accompanying himself on guitar, singing a song entitled "A Tin Of Peas". George Coleman did a human drum kit impression, cunningly morphing some cymbal playing into working in a fish and chip shop. Nicky Hind sang the "Laughing Policeman", and we all joined in at the end for a rousing chorus of "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life".
It's worth pointing out that this was a long, long time before "Vic Reeves' Big Night Out" appeared on your television screens.
I'm quite stunned, given my current level of alcohol tolerance, that after 2 bottles of wine, I was more than happy to pop across to a local hostelry with the cast, to discuss the finer points of that afternoon's performances.
Another abiding memory of that day is observing James "Lord Lucan" McNeill biting chunks out of a pint glass in Burlington Bertie's Bar.
I don't know why he did this. I only know he did. This was a long time ago!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

01/06/05 It's A Shit Day!

Well it pissed rain all day today. A tad disappointing after Tuesday's glorious weather.
I went down to the Gramophone Emporium in Stockbridge. This is a curious shop. It's only open 2 days a week. Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays. It's a tiny little shop with thousands of old 78s, vinyl LPs and gramophone players. There's only really enough room for 2 people in the shop at any one time, and one of these has to be the owner. The owner is very helpful and will happily have an extended chinwag on any area of old recordings. I believe he works at Edinburgh University and just runs the shop as a part-time hobby.
I was on the lookout for "laughing records". These are odd old 78s which were very popular in the 1920s. One such record involves a man singing the Toreador song from Ravel's "Bolero". However, he repeatedly fails to hit a high note and his voice cracks. This prompts a woman to burst out laughing. This process is repeated several times, with the laughter getting more and more intense. It's practically impossible to listen to it without bursting out laughing.
These records used to be played as ice breakers at little parties to get everyone relaxed and cheery. Basically, the audio equivalent of a big spliff being passed around the cocktail party.
We used to have this record, but it has gone AWOL. The gramophone man needed me to provide more information, (I didn't know who recorded this), so I'll have to do a bit more research.
I was talking to my big brother on the phone tonight. Coincidentally, he is a big fan of Big Brother, and will happily talk about it till the cows come home.
This is dangerous. He was beginning to get me interested, and I ended up watching last night's highlights.
I know people say this every year...but they really do seem to have surpassed themselves in selecting 13 of the biggest tossers Britain currently has to offer. 100 grand isn't enough to persuade me to spend 11 weeks in a house with that lot.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

31/05/05 It's A Beautiful Day!

I have now removed about 500 tons of weeds and cutting from the garden and transported it to the recycling centre to be turned into compost. How Green You Are, How Green You Are!
We used to sing that at kids' parties if someone was looking for something, (to the tune of Auld Lang Syne), singing louder if they were getting close, and quieter if they were further away. Hah! Who needs computer games. We made our own entertainment.
It was great day weather-wise yesterday, and I did some serious basking.
John Burns, a comedian from Inverness, has come down to stay for a day as he has a job interview in Edinburgh. We went to Belushis to witness some stand-up and have a couple of beers. Belushi's is a bar attached to a Backpackers Hostel. I felt like I was in Amsterdam, my knapsack on my back. The comedy was good, the beer was rubbish.

30/05/05 Trauma Revisited

Getting obsessive about this battle with the weeds. They will be beaten.
On a tea break, I stumbled across the film "Ring of Bright Water". A Bank Holiday treat.
I couldn't watch it all the way through though. Way, way too upsetting. I saw that film at the cinema as a small child and was completely traumatised.
The story is basically about a bloke who buys an otter as a pet in London. He then decides to quit the Big Smoke and head up to an idyllic cottage in the Scottish Highlands. He takes the otter (Mij) with him of course. He also meets a bit of local tottie in the fragrant shape of Virginia McKenna. This is all very lovely and heartwarming until....yes, tragedy is just around the corner, and some local fisherman type mistakes Mij for a rat and kills him with a spade.
The film tries to end on an optimistic note when some baby otters are seen cavorting about and it is assumed they are Mij's sprogs. It's not enough. I was devastated.
I was surprised they were showing that to today's generation of impressionable children. Maybe they've edited the ending?
I would compare seeing this film as a small child, to putting on a video of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" at a toddlers' party.
But even this isn't anywhere near as upsetting. At least the people killed in TTCM are all really, really annoying Americans. What we're talking about in ROBW is a lovely, playful, friendly otter who never did any harm to nobody.