Monday, August 30, 2004

Hard Travelin'

Back in Blighty after long, long, road trip from St Jean de Monts. Very small town in the Vendee region of France, just south of Brittany.
It's the home of some Muscadet wine and salt - yes, salt - and not much else. But good time was had by all. The boy got to swim a lot, play football a lot and make many friends a lot.
The weather was weird - one minute sun blasting away, while the next the rain was pissing down. Luckily, there were a few days of uninterrupted sunshine, which put a little bit of colour on my skin. I wasted far too much time on reading three really crap books. But the Pelecanos, DBC Pierre and Elmore Leonard gear that I also read made up for that.
Good news on the return - Millwall have notched up their third win on the trot, superb.
And, even better, watched Celtic beat the anti-democratic anti-republicans this afternoon. Not a great game by any standards - but, fuck it, beating those disgusting fuckers in any way is positive, ain't it?

Sunday, August 15, 2004

We're All Going On A Summer Holiday

Reidski and family are off to the Vendee region of France tomorrow. It will be fun, but, if only Reidski had more than two bob to his name, it would even be better.Thank goodness that wages will be in bank on thursday, so there is light at the end of this horrendous penniless tunnel.
A great day was had by myself and the boss yesterday. The boss had a spare ticket for my beloved Millwall, playing the much fancied to win quick return to the Premiership Leicester. Went along thinking "if we get a point, it will be a bonus."
However, the Lions played superbly, with their two new signings from Canada playing a blinder. They totally played the midlanders off the park and won 2-0. It really cheered me up, particularly as I had made a fuck-up at work this week and was rather miserable anyway.
Millwall winning, Celtic winning and the multinational corporation that calls itself Man Utd losing - well, what a weekend.
Be back in a couple of weeks - missing you already!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Groovy Times

To follow on from last post -not only new album from The Blue Nile coming up, but also from The Delgados and the Trashcan Sinatras.
+ new series of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.
+ new footie season starting.
+ Rangers dropping two points on first day of said new season.
+ me winding up a couple of ultraliberals who think they're socialists on Perspective's blog.
EQUALS: great anticipation on the music front, excitement on the television viewing front, entertainment on the football front, laughter on the Rangers front and fun on the bloggy front.

Friday, August 06, 2004

These Things Take Time

Rejoice! Rejoice.
Thanks to a recent article in The Independent and in this month's Uncut, we hear the stupendous news of a new album from The Blue Nile, release date being August 30th. I haven't been this excited about a new album coming out for many years.
By the way, while the story was in the magazine format of Uncut, I couldn't easily find it on their web site, so try The Indie for info on this one.
On the domestic front, the boy has been attending a summer sailing school this week. And, no, this shouldn't conjure up any Henley Regatta image, being funded as it is by the New Deal for Communities (NDC) scheme, which was established by the Labour government since it was elected in 1997. And a great scheme it is too, going solely by how it has had an impact on our own deprived community.
Bundles of (useful) information have come through the door since this scheme was established here around 2 years ago, always with the emphasis on how local people can get involved and have a direct say in changing and improving local services and local resources.
So, for those who rage against Labour and ask what good has it done, I'll always use the New Deal for Communities scheme as an example of what makes Labour fundamentally different from the other lot.
Back to the boy, then, the NDC carry out numerous out of school activities for local children and someone came up with the absolutely fantastic idea of the sailing club. Apart from the fact that it is a lot cheaper than the alternative play scheme options, it's a healthy activity and a great way of occupying a little part of the badly underused Thames.
We have this great waterway cutting its way through the most beautiful city in the world, yet its empty of traffic - traffic which is considerably less damaging to our environment than that on the roads.
I received a totally unexpected late-night visit from oldest brother last night. He was on his way home to Glasgow from Tokyo and missed his connecting flight at Heathrow. So Reidski puts him up and shares an enjoyable glass of whisky over tales of his hols before departing to bed.
Talking of bed...when Hats comes to an end on the turntable and I polish off the last of the Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc, then I'll hit the sack.
Not before I briefly mention my trip to the doctors this afternoon, however.
My weird swallowing problem is not one that he could handle, so he's making an emergency referral to a throat specialist at the hospital. "Whooppee!" was the cry from 'er indoors when I said jokingly that I would probably have to get my voice box removed.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Rise Up

Sister Anne demands words. Well, here we go...
...I came across the following while looking for something at work this week. It's a letter taken from a late 1968 edition of the Railway Review, the weekly paper of the National Union of Railwaymen (the predecessor of today's RMT - the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers). The fact that unions at that time had a weekly paper in itself fascinated me. But this letter doubly fascinated me. It's a great rant, but one which shows great working class political intellect. And it has great resonance for class politics of our own times.
It was headed "This rotten society"

"Sir, - Because the white man is not ostensibly responsible for the present decimation of the Ibo people in the so-called state of Nigeria, which was and still is an artificial body-politic forcibly created by British imperialism, our ‘free’ mass media are waxing eloquent over their suffering and the crying need to put a stop to the fratricidal war. They practically ignore the far worse butchery still being perpetrated on innocent women and kids in Vietnam by the highest paid thugs of the English speaking world and the blatant fascist outrages committed by our kith and kin in Rhodesia on the Ziimbabwe people.
At home we, as railwaymen, are still being bossed and upbraided by bourgeois worthies whose outlook on public transport is conditioned by the fact that they do all their overland travelling in chauffeur driven limousines and are the same type who, while cutting the more plebian bus and train services to the bone, applaud in the name of progress the costly Concorde gamble, not, I suspect, because it is going to bring a weekend in New York any nearer for the average worker.
Self-styled town planners, snugly ensconced in detached, open-plan residences, laud the advanatge of tower block flats for rehousing the urban poor; ensuring that the distraught young housewives forced to live in them keep the pep pill manufacturers at full blast and help to put extra strain on the under-staffed mental hospitals already brimful with other victims of this neurotic and cut-throat society.
Meanwhile, educationalists pontificate on the virtues of comprehensive schools while ensuring that their own offspring attend those exclusive institutions which under the patronage of the old boy network makes certain that regardless of ability, these protected sprigs never want for a cushy number or have to tag on to the dole queue.
Not to forget those nutritional know-alls, who having wiped the salmon mayonnaise from their sleek chops, assert that pensioners can be kept comfortably alive on a diet that would emaciate a small pet poodle. At the same time, the ubiquitous food adverts exhort us to believe that British grub is not only best but cheapest – ignoring the fact that it is tasteless and being more stuffed with drugs and preservatives than nourishment, not such a bargain as the nosh tycoons make it out to be.
Admitted we still have the biggest collection of ham actors and comic singers under one roof at the Westminster Palace of Varieties, for all the big drum banging, our health service scarcely measures up to that of ‘under-developed’ Cuba and is streets behind that of the ‘totalitarian’ GDR.
In line with the Nelson tradition of looking the other way, although our antiquated hospitals admit ever increasing numbers of lung cancer cases caused by the much publicised navy cut fags made from ‘pure’ Virginia tobacco, our professional scaremongers concentrate on the relatively harmless cannabis and the perils of the pill; after all, who of any importance holds shares in ‘Consolidated Marijuana’ and what tax system can squeeze state revenue from straight sex.
On the same track, ‘Clean Air’ legislation has spared us the unhealthy habit of burning cheap ordinary coal in favour of the dearer smokeless fuels, so that now instead of taking deep lungfuls of noxious, sulphurous air we inhale the more modern variety well laced with petrol and diesel fumes – unless of course we can afford to live in the highly desirable and expensive garden suburbs advertised in the snob Sunday papers.
Now, to cap it all, we are being lectured on the necessity to work harder for less pay in order to pave the way to future prosperity (whose? is never mentioned). This gratuitous advice is delivered by ‘bland friends of the people’ who have never in their parasitical lives regularly clocked on for jobs that are boring, dirty and/or physically strenous; but because the hired hacks of capitalism have done their dirty work so well, most trade unionists seem to regard them still as paragons of integrity and ability – a con trick that must make the shade of Dr Goebbels green with envy.
Yours etc,
Bill Easter
Covent Garden Branch"

If anyone out there has ever heard of Bill Easter, please let me know.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Everybody's Happy Nowadays


What a great break that was.

My visits home usually consist of me sitting indoors at parents place, with the boy bored out of his skull. But, oh no, not this time.

Day trip to Lochwinnoch nature reserve (saw one duck) followed by walk to nearby water sports centre where the boy and two cousins and uncle went out in the pishing rain on paddle boats while Reidski watched from shelter.

Day two was trip to Rothesay, which I hadn't visited since school trip many eons ago. And a fun day out it was too, with much merriment along with the way with the boy and his cousins (four of them this time).

A wonderful night was then had with tnr and thewife, with both Reidski and the boy walking off with some great new tunes in our possession.

Day three was a very welcome lie in and slob out before taking the boy round to cousins where he played, went swimming, had night in front of box and stayed with cousins and host uncle and auntie. The latter duo also made cake to celebrate the boy's birthday. However, the boy admitted today that, at first when cake and Happy Birthday started up, he didn't know who was the birthday kid until realising that it was for him.

Meanwhile, Reidski spends a rather superb evening with the radical postman and his clan. Superb wine, superb food and superb chat was supplied by the artist of the household before she departed to leave postman and I to ponder the state of the nation and the state of ourselves over more than a few malt whiskies.

A very pleasant journey was then had back to the big smoke today on one of Virgin Trains' brand spanking new Pendolino trains. The boy announced it as "the best train ever". Just a pity it was 45 minutes departing Glasgow Central. Heard news along the way that one of my older siblings has won some sort of "visitors' prize" for a piece of art that is hanging in home-town exhibition. The punters know best, obviously, so cash going Speed's way!

Bud ice is now being drunk and Uncut magazine's Americana 2004 is ending the day off in tremendous style. Off to friend's birthday lunch tomorrow, so must think about getting to bed pretty shortly - nighty night.

Before I leave, however, something has struck me over the last few days. The boy, for some strange and inexplicable reason, has mutated into a 21st century version of Malky. This means nothing to most people, but, for some of us - Reidski, Speed and Jimpy (who is yet to hear of this weird freak of nature), to name but three - it's AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!