Monday, July 30, 2007

Never a Dull Moment

Perhaps it should have been a dark and stormy night. In actual fact it was a bright and sunny evening but real life isn’t like the movies and let’s be honest, who would want it to be? Fighting off the advances of Hugh Grant while Batman and Spiderman try to outdo each other in the superhero stakes isn’t my idea of a good day, but I digress.

It was Saturday evening and all I was doing was innocently carting computer equipment into my garden shed (maybe another post if it becomes an interesting enough story) when sirens began to wail and police cars and an ambulance raced along our road until they very quickly realised that it was a cul-de-sac and skidded to a rather abrupt halt.

Thoughts of “the PC’s mine officer, it’s not knock off, honest” came to mind but the policemen and ambulance men had other things to think about.

Thankfully this time their thoughts did not concern terrorists but the ubiquitous “group of teenagers” who were milling around in the way that they are wont to do. This does, in the minds of many, constitute them playing havoc with law and order, so had someone called the police and the ambulance just on the strength that they might be about to commit some heinous crime like well, standing in the street and talking?

A serious faced policeman, who didn’t look much older than his interviewees, took statements and the youngsters tried to look innocent with a well practiced attitude of “it wisnae me what done it sur”. Of course, by this stage I was wondering just what been done and it was at that moment that a girl was wheeled into the ambulance. She looked a bit older than the other teens so had they been with her or had they just seen something happen to her and called the police and the ambulance. Should Hercule Poirot have been on the scene with his little grey cells?

A couple of people passed with dogs and I really wished that I had had a dog as it would have given me an ideal opportunity to walk past, nonchalantly like, and hopefully find out what was going on. I could even have trained my dog to do its business near the policeman so that I could dawdle longer and hear more. Sadly it was not to be.

The ambulance drove off and the police and the youngsters were still deep in conversation. At one point someone held up what appeared to be a small yellow box. A detonator perhaps?

Much later when everyone was away and I was hopeful that aimlessly ambling along the street wouldn’t appear too nosey, I took myself off to the spot of all the excitement. I’m not quite sure what I expected to find. Blood? Broken Glass? A hand grenade? Sadly there was nothing there to indicate that anything untoward had happened. There was however a faint, intermittent siren like sound which lasted all night and into the early hours of the morning.

I never did get to find out what happened but there’s never a dull moment in these here parts.

Thoughtful Blogging

Kelly has very kindly nominated me for the Thoughtful Blogger Award for making bloggers feel at home on my site. It’s a great honour and there’s always a kettle on and cakes on the go round here.

I’d now like to pass the award on to:-

Valentine Suicide in the hope that I might get some Sainsbury’s Fruitcake when I next visit.
Katie for braving the Scottish Weather and putting up with Glaswegian humour.
Debio for living somewhere hot and sunny.
Pepette whose blog is named Il Pleut Il Mouille. I had to look it up in the French/English dictionary and she’s right, it does.
The Good Woman who is leaving Scotland for sunnier climes.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I’d Have Been Quicker Walking

I suppose I should have realised that there was something wrong when I approached the station platform to find far too many people milling about looking disgruntled. The announcement board told the story of their and my impending misery with its stark “Train Delayed”. Since I started my adventures in train travel there have been many imaginative reasons for train delays and cancellations. As well as the infamous “leaf on the line” and “the wrong kind of rain” other memorable excuses have included “the driver didn’t turn up this morning” (and we couldn’t be bothered to find a replacement), and “stormy conditions the previous night” (a slightly stronger wind than normal which let’s be honest, in Scotland we should be able to cope with).

Whatever the reason for the delay, we were never informed and eventually a train hauled itself along the track in the direction of the platform. Of course not the platform it was supposed to be at and we all had to shuffle our way through the throng of passengers whose trains had come in on time and were now rushing in the opposite direction.

When the doors opened we collapsed into the train as if our lives depended on it. Despite it having seemed to be an empty train when we started to step aboard, somewhat miraculously as soon as we were inside all the seats were taken. We were lucky to have got on mind you and felt for those with sadness and anger in their faces who we left behind. They could only watch helplessly as the doors shut in their faces leaving them to whatever fate they imagined awaited on the platform. Let’s be honest their fate would probably be their spouses shouting at them for being late and the dinner being ruined so it probably was a fate worse than death.

The train started its crawl out of the station like a sick old man, coughing and spluttering as he contemplated the last moments of his life. In stark contrast trim eager young trains set off beside us at an energetic pace and at least three had passed us before we even met the daylight outside the station walls. Even the posh voiced taped announcer sounded sick.

"Thi..i..i..i..s train is urgh"


We didn’t hear any more. Either she had expired or she had thrown herself from the train in misery. We never did find out.

The train struggled on. Sometimes stopping for a breather and then hauling itself into unwilling motion again. No conductor came to take tickets and with the loss of the announcer we really hoped that someone was actually driving the train. Eventually, and thankfully, the train came to a standstill at my stop, taking roughly double the time it normally takes. I only hope for the other passengers’ sakes that it made it to the end of its painful journey.

I think I’ll take the car in tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Who?

Who’s this Harry Potter chappie I keep hearing about? I believe he’s got a book out about gardening - Harry Potter’s Healthy Marrows. Is it any good? It sounds quite interesting and marrows can be so difficult to grow but I’ve heard that he’s a bit of a wizard so it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for him should it?

Apparently he’s had a few books out before this. I don’t suppose any of them are about cabbages? I’ve had nothing but trouble with them this year.

Rockin’ Girl Blogger

I have been nominated for a Rockin’ Girl Blogger Award by Debio. This calls for a trip to the shops to buy a glamorous outfit and some killer heels.

I hope I get to meet George Clooney at the awards ceremony. Mmmm I think a trip to La Senza might be in order too don’t you?

Thanks Debio.

Now on to my nominees for the award. They are:-

Kelly the Domestic Goddess
Funky Munky
I Should be Working
Nunhead Mum

We can all chip in for a taxi but George is mine!

Sadly my blog seems unwilling to add a page element to the template thereby ensuring that the Rockin’ Girl Blogger Award picture may never see the light of day on my blog. If anyone can help I would be most grateful.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Life Begins at 30

One of my new colleagues turns the big 3 0 at the weekend and is viewing the experience with some trepidation. This may have had something to do with the fact that her flatmate told her that the best time of her life had been that from 20 – 30 and after that it had gone downhill rapidly. To be fair there are a number of downsides that I have encountered since hitting 30 which I shall painfully relate:-

1. You develop an unhealthy obsession with “what the weather’s going to do tomorrow” and buy a sensible raincoat.

2. You dash home in time to see “Location Location Location” and know that your home must be “decorated in soft neutrals.”

3. You turn up to a nightclub only to have the bouncer ask you respectfully whose mum you are.

4. Your hairdresser has stopped asking you if you are “going anywhere nice tonight”.

5. All your friends are getting married and you haven’t met any single men of your own age for at least 10 years.

6. Your friends have stopped asking you if you are seeing anyone.

7. You meet your mum whilst admiring that lovely cable knit cardy in Marks and Spencers.

8. You realise that the 1980’s only seem like a few years ago.

9. You have colleagues who weren’t even born in the 1980’s.

10. And the worst? You find yourself quite enjoying that nice chap Terry Wogan on R2 of a morning.

I think that I convinced her however that things actually do get better after the age of 30. Actually hitting 30 itself was a bit painful for me but here’s why the subsequent years have been more than kind:-

1. Being cool and fashionable no longer matters and in fact it is quite acceptable to be a little eccentric.

2. You can economise by borrowing your mum’s clothes and shoes without fear of embarrassment or ridicule from your peers who are by now doing the same thing.

3. You now have friends who are older than you, thereby passing the important age milestones before you, making the process less painful when you reach them. (Thanks here must go particularly to R. and J.)

4. You start to mentally prepare for and look forward to the challenges of the mid life crisis.

5. You can criticise younger people for their taste in music and clothes sense and in fact it now becomes a new fun hobby.

6. Your boss doesn’t laugh when you mention that great new idea you have had. OK he also doesn’t take it much further but there is a sense of progress no matter how small.

7. You get to experiment with hair dye as a “gradual lightening” of your hair takes place.

8. Your auntie stops asking you what you are going to be when you grow up despite the fact that neither of you know yourselves yet.

9. When you buy far too many sweeties and the shop assistant gives you a funny look you can say “it’s for the kids”.

10. You can indulge in a relaxing snooze after lunch without anyone thinking anything untoward

See it’s not so bad it it? Now...... Roll on 40. (Gulp)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Kids These Days

Hooray – I’ve made it through to the second day of my new job. I think that there was relief all round when I turned up this morning after yesterday’s run through of all the numerous tasks that had been allocated to little old me.

Yesterday on the way home from work on the train I encountered one of those horrors of children, recalcitrant and cruelly joined to an ineffectual mother. The child could possibly have been quite cute in a pleasanter alternative reality but his screwed up childish pout put paid to any notion of that. Said child had one of the biggest helium balloons I had ever seen tied onto his wrist which was battering into everyone within the radius of half the carriage. Mother, as you’ve probably already guessed, did absolutely nothing. Our balloon misery experience was intensified by an open window which gave the balloons trajectory more force as it thwacked into faces and rendered the reading of newspapers impossible. Grown men grew apoplectic with rage but, as is the British way, said nothing. At one point the boy whined that he wanted the balloon untied from his wrist, and when Mother said no in a rare moment of activity, he then proceeded to wave the balloon about even more maniacally. Everyone in the carriage was giving the boy and the mother dirty looks but she appeared to be oblivious and continued to do absolutely nothing as the balloon whipped into the faces of all the nearby passengers with gay abandon. The mother did say something about cutting it off his wrist when they got home. I was very tempted to find a pair of scissors and not only cut the thing off his wrist but also to burst his blessed balloon there and then. That would have shown them both.

When ah were a lass I wouldn’t have been allowed a helium balloon, never mind been allowed to take it on a train. Come to think about it, it is very possible that when ah were a lass they hadn’t yet been invented. Ooh, in my day it were a crust of bread before bed if you were lucky. Kids these days eh!


I'm really not worthy but it appears that I have been nominated for a Schmooze Award by Katie, a Long Islander now living and schmoozing in the fair city of Glasgow. The award is for "the ability to converse casually with others and make social connections". The blogosphere is of course an excellent way of making connections all over the world so long may it continue. Of course part of the fun of being given an award is the ability to pass it on. I would like to award it to Omega Mum for her constantly funny, witty and sometimes poignant posts which never fail to make me smile. The quality of her posts have given her a large circle of blogging buddies, making her an ideal recipient of this award.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eating for Scotland

I have been tagged by The Good Woman to recommend 5 Glasgow Eateries. I have to say that on being tagged I immediately encountered Bloggers Block and the names of the many restaurants I’m sure I must have have visited over the course of the last few months mysteriously vanished from my mind. This is of course the same mind that tried to enter a boarded up shop and car park so perhaps that’s only to be expected. Anyway, whilst I was desperately trawling the vast empty recesses of my memory and t’internet trying to remember where I was when I last encountered a Glasgow Eaterie, R. called me and reminded me where I was while I was with her in any case. So here are the combined recollections that we could rustle up:-

1. Café Cossachok, 38 Albion Street, Glasgow

This restaurant has recently moved into bigger premises in Albion Street and I’m very taken with its Russian, Armenian, Georgian and Ukranian menu which includes Blinis, Beef Stroganof and Musaka. There is a lovely homely atmosphere, the staff are very friendly and the food is very good value for money. There is also live folk and jazz music and an art gallery to peruse at your leisure. The only thing that lets the side down is the puddings which are not home made and appear to have come out of the frozen food section of the local Asda. However everything else is so good that, in my opinion, this small inconsistency can be overlooked.

2. Bombay Blues, 41 Hope Street, Glasgow

If you love Indian food and you love buffets this is the place to go. All manner of Indian delicacies are available in a cosy, friendly atmosphere and at the sort of prices that suit your average penniless P.A. Just don’t do what I did and take the phrase “eat all you can” too literally or your stomach will protest for the next week. I can assure you that when this happened to me it had nothing to do with the food – just my greed.

3. Thai Lemongrass Restaurant, 24 Renfrew Street, Glasgow

All manner of gorgeous, authentic Thai food which I can’t pronounce so it must be good. The service is very pleasant and the atmosphere and décor is fabulous. The prices are not overly cheap but it’s worth saving up for a couple of weeks and going to experience it for yourself.

4. Two Fat Ladies, 118A Blythswood Street, Glasgow

Fortunately you need neither be a fat lady nor have any interest in bingo to gain admittance to this fine establishment. A veritable feast of speciality fish and shellfish awaits, along with a friendly service, an intimate atmosphere and prices that should but won’t have your bank manager freezing your account.

5. Topolino, 285 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

A lovely little Italian establishment offering not just Italian Food, not even M&S food, but burgers, piri piri chicken and Cajun spiced salmon. A friendly service and excellent prices make this a real delight.

I would also like to give an honourable mention to Wagamama, 97 – 103 West George Street (outlets throughout Britain) who do quite the best noodles I have ever tasted.

I believe now that the correct form is to tag three more people to recommend 5 eateries in their necks of the woods. Rather than put the onus on anyone in particular I would just say, if anyone reading this would like to do such a review, I would be very interested to read it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

This Could be the Last Time

I left the office, where I have worked for the past 2 ½ years, for the last time yesterday. Around a month ago I had been advised that I had been made redundant. To be honest, it didn’t come as a great surprise as things have been difficult financially for some time. It was still a huge shock though and a few tears were shed. The company will probably be wound up over the next couple of months and it will be sad to see it go. We all had our hopes and dreams for the business which just could not be realised on the basis that we were paying out more money than we were taking in. You don’t have to be a student of economics to see that things are not going to work out under these circumstances.

Maybe I stayed too long. Whenever things were looking bad my boss would say “Don’t worry, it can only get better. Better times are just around the corner.” I really wanted to believe him and fell for the line a good many times but things seemed to get progressively worse with each proclamation of better times ahead.

Over the past month I have been involved in the winding up of the business which has been extremely hard. Somewhat harder was letting the other staff know. Fortunately though they have all been able to find alternative employment with a bit of help from my boss’ contacts. I have also been fortunate enough to find myself another job, leaving my boss to take the ship down on his own.

I had taken a few days off last week and I returned yesterday armed with cakes to say goodbye. The electricity, gas and water had been shut off in most of the building, the formerly busy rooms had been stripped bare and the remaining staff were huddled together in a small room with sagging floorboards which appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

As I was leaving my boss took a phone call and I waited until he had finished.

“Good News?”

“A client is talking about a new big job that is coming up. This could be what we’ve been waiting for. This could really turn it around for us”

I smiled encouragingly and closed the door.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Not From Round Here

I had a day off work today (more of which later) and spent the day visiting old haunts and elderly relatives, namely my previous town of residence and my Grannie.

My first failed port of call was Tescos. Now I had been told that it was shut for 6 months for refurbishment but this fact had slipped my mind. It had still slipped my mind when I drove up to the boarded up building and gaily tried to drive into the boarded up car park. I do worry about myself sometimes.

“Can I help you dear?” said a man coming towards me.

“Oh, they must have new car park attendants” I thought

“Yes I’m trying to get into Tesco”.

“The store’s closed dear. You’ve got a long wait. We don’t open again for another 6 months.”

“Oh Dear” I said, somewhat embarrassed. “Erm I don’t come from round here so I didn’t know, sorry”

“Don’t worry you’re not the only one who has done the same thing” I’m sure he lied.

I feel that it may have been more truthful to state that not only was I not from round here but I was in fact from the moon. Far more accurate.

My next attempt at finding an open shop was the second hand bookshop, near my old flat, which I used to visit on a regular basis. On approaching, the first thing I noticed was the dog, a real live Jack Russell, sitting in the window of the shop. Showing excellent business sense, he or she wagged his/her tail whenever a customer came into the shop and barked to scare away any other dogs who approached. Obviously other dogs were serious competition to his bookselling business.

The shop itself was, as usual, in wonderful disarray. It is possible that at some time far in the distant past there was a system of books on subject classified shelves, but that had long since vanished and now books were liberally strewn all over the floor in and out of poly bags with the lucky ones finding shelf space wherever there was room. You must be prepared to spend a good couple of hours in the shop, scrabbling among shelves and on the floor, dodging angry spiders undisturbed for years as you search for a hidden gem which in all probability, and with a lot of patience, you will undoubtedly find.

The human equivalent of the Jack Russell was an animated chap behind the counter. As a small digression it was impossible to actually reach the counter as there were so many books on the floor in front of it. On purchasing a book you had to lean over all the books tossing the book you wanted onto the counter, careful not to trip up as you left.

The shopkeeper had either led an interesting life or had pilfered his interesting life out of one of the many books in his shop. It appeared that he was wanted by the CIA, the FBI, MI5 and various other intelligence agencies in relation to shady work which he had done some twenty years ago. I listened intently because some part of me warned that to show disbelief could prove dangerous. I bought a couple of books and made a hasty exit.

Next, it was off to my Grannie’s for lunch. It would appear that whenever I visit my Grannie we have fish and chips, either from the chippie or Tesco’s. Today was the Tescos option brought to us by the second Tesco that the town is “fortunate” enough to have. We always have tons of tomato ketchup on our fish and chips which is great because when mum and dad visit they don’t approve of tomato ketchup so we miss out. Aren’t we just big kids?

We spent the afternoon rambling about the nearby dams and watching the wildlife (swans, pewits, curlews, swifts) and trying to avoid the seagulls who make it their mission to pelt any hapless humans who come under their flightpath.

Then it was hometime. Having loaded up with sucky sweeties to accompany me I set off. My journey was slightly delayed by a tractor which appeared to be doing about 60mph in the field it was in, hurtling over just in time to pull out of the said field in front of my car where of course it slowed down to 10mph all the way home.

And there we must leave it. Holiday and day out over, it’s back to work tomorrow. Could be worse, at least it’s Friday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Absolute Friends

I have just finished reading Absolute Friends by John Le Carré. I don’t tend to read a lot of spy novels but thought that I would give this one a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it but would have to say that I was at a loss to understand what was going on for much of the time. This is, you understand, not a fault of Le Carré but a fault of mine. As far as I can ascertain the two main characters were not only spies but double agents and I believe double agents twice over unless I’m much mistaken. Does this make them quadruple agents? Then there were a host of other supporting characters who may or may not have also been spies and who may or may not have been double crossing them. Then there were the various shadowy groups that they were spying for, along with the multitude of ideologies supported and denounced which I think may or may not have been the reason for the spying taking place to begin with. Or perhaps not. (Phew!) Add to this not one but two love interests pertaining to one of the lead characters and some evocative descriptive passages and you have a great novel, just one which I struggled to follow from beginning to end. Is it just me as I fear it may be?

To be fair, by the end I was beginning to understand a bit more of what was going on, with the book’s denouncement of the war in Iraq and comment on the media portrayal of terrorism (I think). By that stage, however, it was a bit late for our two slightly hapless heroes but I will say no more in case you haven’t read it. If you haven’t read it you really should. It is a good book despite my confusion. As I’ve said, I think it’s just me.

Well things could be worse. I did finish it and I didn’t get past the first page of Ulysses, but anyone who claims to have finished that one is clearly lying.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Frontline of the War on Terror

Hearing last weekend that Glasgow Airport had been a terror target was bad enough. I didn’t think that things could get any more scary. And then they did. It was reported on the news that the terrorists had been holed up only a few streets away from my very house. Not to diminish the sentiments of my previous post on the subject, but after that things took on a rather surreal edge.

No sooner had my village and county of residence been horrendously mispronounced on News 24 than R. called me in somewhat of a panic.

“Have you been evacuated?” she started, and then

“Is there a bomb in your house? I always thought that your neighbours were a bit strange. It’s them isn’t it? “

I tentatively peered out of the window, but seeing no policemen, vans, sniffer dogs or crime scene tape felt that it was safe to assume that the terrorists had not made my street their base. I advised R. of this and she rang off not sounding entirely convinced.

Of course the terrorists in their “wisdom” had decided to make another small street in my village their base. In a way it does make sense. We are extremely close to Glasgow Airport and so quiet that the last thing you would expect here would be a terrorist cell. They had obviously done their homework on us which is, in itself, pretty terrifying.

Of course it was the talk of the village and everyone laughed. It was the sort of dark, tension filled humour that is used at times of great stress just to stay on the recommended side of sanity. The only people not present were those who lived in the same street as the terrorists as they were not allowed to leave their homes. Mind you I did hear of someone nipping out a back way and shimmying under police tape to get away for an appointment.

Later on, out of sheer nosiness I took myself along to the street in question. There didn’t appear to be any fear in the air, only a strange sort of exhilarating excitement amongst those watching the scene. Reporters and cameramen sat at the end of the street in an expectant manner, with police crime scene tape indicating demarcation zones. Policemen went in and out of houses but didn’t give anything away. A Glasgow Cabbie bringing Japanese reporters told anyone who cared to listen about how he knew the real story. Of course being a Glasgow Cabbie he knew so much more about the incident than the police or the intelligence agencies. (Or maybe he actually did!) Most of the village also turned out and waited in the same expectant manner until about lunchtime when hunger pangs drove all but the most hardy (and those who had brought their picnics for an interesting day out) away. I noticed a couple of the local girls hanging about. No doubt to attract the attention of one of the hunky policemen on duty.

I returned home to a strange tranquillity. I cooked bolognaise sauce as next door’s cat lazily dozed in the front garden and birds gossiped in the trees. It was difficult to imagine that terror had been so close at hand.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Catching Up

Well that’s me caught up on all the action since I’ve been away. I’m off now to write some more posts.

See you soon.

An Uneasy Truce

Hooray! It would appear that I have success in IT related matters.

The modem and the PC are now talking to each other again, with the PC promising not to nag as much and the modem promising not to criticise the PC’s driving skills.

Things are looking up and long may it continue. Thanks for all your messages while I’ve been “down” and I’m now looking forward to visiting you all and finding out what I’ve been missing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'll Be Back

I may be away for a couple of days as my modem and my PC are no longer talking to each other. They have been sent to marriage guidance counselling (aka the local PC repair shop) to try and resolve their differences. I therefore have very limited access to IT equipment but will be back as soon as hostilities have been brought to a peaceful resolution.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Glasgow Airport

When terrorism comes to only a few miles from your door (and potentially even closer according to some news reports) it does tend to bring it home somewhat.

I have nothing particularly eloquent or intellectual to say on the subject of terrorism but there is nothing particularly eloquent or intellectual about smashing a burning car into an airport terminal full of families with young children going on holiday. The only blessing is that no-one was killed.

Can you imagine the utter panic and terror of the people inside the terminal? Can you imagine how you would explain the unfolding events to the children present? What sort of warped mind conceives and plans these atrocities?

We can only hope that Gordon Brown can succeed where Tony Blair has failed – to halt the cancerous spread of terror.