Saturday, 30 June 2007

We're Under Attack - It's Time To Show The Bastards Who Is Boss And Show Them Now! Or Is It?

It's been quite a weekend, planned London attacks were stopped by luck, not by intelligence but by a traffic warden going about doing their job. Whilst an attack at Glasgow Airport might have initially looked horrific, but quickly seemed a shambolic and far from sophisticated operation. The lack of loss of intended fatalities should be enough reason for religious people whatever their persuasion to thank their chosen God for the mercy on human life.
The sight of the burned out Cherokee Jeep at Glasgow Airport was a sobering wake up call that terrorist attacks don't just happen in capital cities like London and Madrid or financial capitals like NYC. If they can happen in Scotland, they can happen anywhere. What has become clear is that the authorities in charge of public safety have to be diligent in their duties and remain vigilant, aware and focused that a threat can come from anywhere at any time.
What we should not do, however, is jump to immediate conclusions that the attempts to bomb central London and now Glasgow Airport were part of a wider al Qaeda-Islamist attack on Britain. If there is a connection, the forensic material taken from the two cars in London and the burned out Cherokee Jeep at Glasgow airport will prove that link.
There will inevitably be calls for revenge, but where has that ever got us? After the 9/11 attacks it might have been the right thing to do to go after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan but when he was still running around free it was naive to extend the fight to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Did it make the world a safer place? I'd argue it didn't.
There will be others who will call for increased powers for those whose job it is is to find a link between what the attempted attacks in London and Glasgow and al-Qaeda. There is always a temptation when we are perceived as being under attack to seek a greater degree of security by isolating strangers.
There are some in the government that will say its time that suspects of terrorism should be held for 90 days without charge so that a case may be successfully brought against them. That's despite the fact that in recent years pre-charge detention has already been increased from 14 to 28 days. Provided suspects are picked up and arrested of course I would argue that a time period of 14 days should be ample time for our police, with all its resources, to find some sort of evidence that link suspects to a crime in which to charge them. Two weeks is a long time to not be charged with a crime and yet be subjected to suspicion and jailed, a month may be required in extremely complex cases but if you cannot find evidence in that time can you really expect to find the evidence after 3 months?
We have to remember that Britain is not exactly a new target for terrorists. The religion of today's terrorists may be different to those who threatened this country 20 years ago but the threat itself isn't any greater than what we endured back then. If the laws that we had for dealing with self proclaimed Irish freedom fighters were suitable to keep us as safe as we could expect, when people wanted to harm us then those same laws should still be workable today.
People determined to do harm or kill, do so whatever laws are in place, they have no respect for law. They don't stop to think 'wait, how am I going to be treated if I am caught'. Changing the law of how we deal with the perpetrators won't make a slight bit of difference to our safety but laws are in place to protect us all from miscarriages of justice.
We have to wait till we learn more of what went on in both the London car attacks and in the attack in Glasgow before we reach for solutions that may ultimately prove ineffective, but which come with a heavy price in terms of eroded civil liberties. If you or I looked like someone who had committed a horrible crime and were mistakenly arrested we would expect the law to be our ally so that we could receive a fair trial and the truth be heard. Laws by themselves do not prevent criminal acts, they are there not for our security but for our freedom.
The men who drove the Cherokee Jeep at Glasgow Airport were as angry as they were ill-prepared. They could have quite simply walked through the terminal doors and threw petrol bombs inside the main building? What would have happened then? Were there security measures in place to stop them entering the building in that manner? Those are the real questions that need to be answered. How do we prevent terrorists carrying out their acts of destruction? We don't know if the next threat is going to be a well thought out detailed plan executed by determined extremists or a simple quickly thrown together idea by a solo nutter but the truth is either outcome can be just as damaging if the act itself isn't prevented.
Back in the 70s and 80s when it was the IRA that was bombing London, Manchester and Birmingham there were a number of miscarriages of justice, innocent men spent years in jail despite the fact that the police had the manpower and resources that should have prevented mistakes from happening. Back then the length of time that a person could be held without charge was far shorter than the 2 weeks it is today and yet innocent men confessed to acts of terrorism that they could not possibly have done and were locked up for many years before being set free. It is only a matter of time before someone who is psychologically suggestible confesses to a crime to escape their legal limbo
. The length of that time will be different for everyone but the longer the time that a person can be held without charge the greater the likelihood that the numbers of false confessions will increase.
Reconciling the tension between freedom and security is difficult. On the one hand every country has an obligation to protect the security of its citizens but it should not do so at the expense of democracy. Laws can all too easily undermine or destroy democracy under the guise of defending it. We would do well to remember that some of today's terrorists do not like our freedoms and are eager to destroy them. We cannot always prevent the mad extremist who spontaneously decides to take human life from succeeding in their goal but we should be able to protect our freedoms and liberties that the terrorists hate so much.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Its On Repeat #2

Foy Vance - Indiscriminate Act Of Kindness It's a quiet one this one, and a slow builder. Some songs you like right from the off and others grow on you. If I'm being honest I wasn't blown away the first time I heard this but the more I listened to the words the more I got into it.

Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple I came across this band at the turn of the year and at the time I was working with a lot of Poles who introduced me to Polish music for the first time and although they didn't share this band with me I mistakenly assumed that Gogol Bordello was an Eastern European outfit because it had a similar sort of sound to some of the Polish music. It just goes to show you I know absolutely nothing about music as Gogol Bordello are from New York City. Bugger it, I can be man enough to admit when I'm wrong.
After watching Glastonbury on BBC2 and seeing Gogol perform I had to dig this track out again. The song itself makes no sense, well to me anyway, but it has a weird hyperactive energy to it and sometimes I like weird energy.

Basement Jaxx (Feat. Lisa Kekaula) - Good Luck I do like a good bit of Basement Jaxx from time to time and Lisa's voice in this track is awesome. And that's not a word I use often. It's totally awesome, man! OK enough of surfer dude persona.

Devendra Banhart - Lazy Butterfly This guy has a unique singing voice, its weird, it shouldn't really work and yet it does. A voice that breaks the rules.

Che Fu & King Kapisi - The Man With The Elephant Nose 2 New Zealand acts joined up to perform a song for when I'm feeling rather sensitive about my appearance whilst suffering from Hay fever. OK so maybe they didn't really have me in mind, but it is a good song if you like New Zealand hip hop (a milder much more family suitable version of its American cousin) even if it is extremely hard to get a hold of.

Cherry Ghost - People Help The People Another quiet one, another grower.

Dougie MacLean - Caledonia I always have to have at least one token Scottish song, and this is an oldie.

Milton Nascimento & Lo Borges - Um Girassol Da Cor Do Seu Cabelo If the last song was an oldie this must be ancient seeing as it comes from a decade before. It's Brazlian and no I don't have a clue what its about, but I don't care. I don't need to know the lyrics to enjoy the beat.

Camille - Ta Douleur She's got that dark moody sexy French sophisticated look on her album sleeve and yet her music is charming and playfully experimental at times. I can't think of any other artist that would suddenly blow raspberries with their mouth in the middle of a song.

If you can't get hold of the tracks feel free to ask on the understanding if you like, you buy, i'm all for artist royalties.

The Moment When "3 Months, Probably Longer" Became 6 Weeks

"I am afraid that we have sold the house. They want vacant possession of the flat before they will sign the missives."

I knew it! I knew it was too good to be true. I never much liked the saying that goes when it looks too good to be true. it probably is. I'm a realist in life, I always assess a situation and look at what's possible, what's probable and the worst possible outcome in everything I do, but there are times when I let the realist within have a rest and the optimistic twin gets out to play. One such time was 6 weeks ago when I agreed to come here.

As soon as I saw it a voice in my head was telling me it was wrong, it told me to turn round, go back home and don't look back. I knew it all and yet I dared to dream. Just maybe, just this once things will work out better than expected and even if the new owners didn't want me to stay at least I would have 3 months. June, July and August. Maybe longer. The house wasn't even up for sale yet after all.

What I forgot was the rare availability of homes like this in Scotland, and that buyers with the cash to buy such homes are just as rare. I forgot that the news would quickly spread amongst the super rich that the house was going to soon become available and I overlooked the fact that people who have millions think nothing of adding in little extra sweeteners if they really want something and want it now.

Sometimes I'm such an eejit. An A-rated numpty.

Now because I didn't listen to myself I have to find somewhere new by the 7th of July.

Warning This Blog Is R- Rated

Based on the number of times I have been (for lack of a better word) obsessed by the following: Dead (4 times) Drugs (3 times) Sex (twice, is that all? Not living up to my maleness me thinks) and Death (once) this blog has been deemed

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Dammit, Has It Really Been That Long That I've Forgot What To Do?

So much to it being the official first week of summer. It rained all weekend. It was so heavy that working in it was a waste of time and hiking, even though I haven't been out in the hills for months, would have been miserable.

So I put the time to good use. I've been here about 6 weeks now and the only places I've spent any time in is Tesco's for food shopping and the local petrol station the rest of the time I've been working. Pathetic I know. So I took the opportunity to check out my local pub for the first time by having lunch there. I'm not really much of a drinker but it was as good a place as any to find out who my neighbours might be.

It wasn't my intention to go hitting up women. It's not my style to make such bold plans but as luck would have it whilst I was tucking into my scampi and chips I exchanged glances with a 20-something woman across the room.
That one brief moment was trouble. It was time enough for me to notice her eyes. I'm a sucker for eyes. Some guys are breast men, some guys are leg men, I like both but really its the eyes and a smile that has proven to be my secret weakness.

That one short moment was enough for me to steal another look, and another, and another. Each time I did so, I did so too long, and would could get caught which would immediately result in me finding something very interesting to read in the Sunday papers sprawled out on the table before me.

One second I was wondering if she was single, next I was trying to act like I wasn't just staring at her when it was quite obvious that I was. I should have just carried on eating my lunch and afterwards find a way of starting up a conversation with her and her friend. But how could I? There I was eating alone? Jimmy-no-mates, in a strange pub, in a still strange town contemplating talking to two women and for what? A glance?

I’m not entirely sure of what goes through women’s heads when they are approached by a guy, but men actually have a lot more on their minds than may be evident at first glance.

Unless a guy is blessed with a lot of confidence he wonders whether or not he’s going to be rejected. Fear of rejection would probably be the number one reason why a man doesn’t go up to a woman and start a conversation with her. From our perspective it’s a crap shoot. In most situations a man has to do the equivalent of a “cold call”. I’ll explain.

Years ago before I went to college I decided I had to get a job for the summer so that I would at least have some funds before the debts started to mount up, unfortunately I didn't have much experience in the work place and the only company that would take me on was a double glazing firm as a door-to-door canvasser. Canvassing involved knocking on peoples doors, usually around the time they were sitting down for dinner or watching their favourite program, in an attempt to get them to willingly give up their telephone number which would then lead to them sitting with a salesman for no less than 4 hours for a product with an overly inflated price without knowing that they would actually wanted double glazing in the first place. Most of them didn't. It wasn't a fun job. It was hell.

You have to be some sort of masochist to enjoy doors being slammed in your face time and time again. I'm surprised I kept it up for 7 weeks. I probably only did so because of that stubborn streak that gets me into too much trouble.

That’s what men have to do when we approach women. Unless there’s some initial flirting or signalling, we approach a woman whom we are attracted to and have no idea what her response will be to our advances. She could be flattered, disgusted, or anything in between.

When I was a teenager there was a girl in my French class that I wanted to be my girlfriend. I wasn’t exactly sure why but I did. So after many weeks of trying to ignore this strange irrational impulse I eventually got the courage to talk to her and ask her out. I was rejected out-of-hand. She hardly knew who I was. How was she supposed to say yes, when the day before she didn't know that I had existed.

I suddenly found that moment revisited today whilst supposedly reading that interesting article in the Sunday papers.

The funny thing is that, what’s even scarier than rejection is acceptance. Why? Because an initial acceptance could lead to an ever bigger, more personal rejection later on in the relationship.

Over the years I found some ways to increase my chances of getting a positive response and reduce my chances of coming up “snake eyes”. These are not hard and fast rules but more like guidelines.

Wait for, at least, light feedback. If you are looking at a woman across the bar and she sees you and looks away don’t do anything. There’s no indication of interest and any woman who won’t at least flirt from across a bar is probably not interested.

Make eye contact but don’t be overbearing. Almost any human interaction seems more personal, more sincere and more intimate if there is a reasonable amount of eye contact. Woman’s defences are softened by honest eyes. Some even believe that eyes are the windows to the soul so don’t look away, If you are caught staring, don't deny it, smile.

Goal number three should be to make her laugh not swoon. I'm not the type to get away with pick-up lines, even if I could think one up to begin with I just wouldn't be able to get it to roll of tongue without instantly wanting to bitch slap myself into another time zone. I can however make people laugh. I'm not sure how or why and quite frankly i'm not interested enough to analyse it but getting a woman to laugh has rarely been a problem. This is where I used to make mistakes. When I was younger I overlooked humour as my way in and and took an altogether all too serious approach when approaching women that I was interested in. It was rarely successful. An initial meeting is loaded with non-verbal signals and communication you have to make the most of your verbal choices or she could lose interest fast. Inevitably if I wasn't relaxed and myself she would talk to someone who was. Enter humour into the picture.

Today though I forgot all that I had learned from years of experience. I couldn't even manage stage one. I fell at the first hurdle. Have I really been single that long that I have forgot how to flirt.....

Friday, 22 June 2007

The Worst Day Since Yesterday

Sometimes I prefer to do the whining in my head but others times I feel like I gotta let it out. Guess what time this is.

Right now I feel like I have a face that would have an ogre running for the hills.

My eyes itch so bad they feel like an inflated puffer fish when I scratch.

Scratching makes it worse of course but trying to resist the urge is as successful as Scotland's attempts to win the football World Cup.

For the past week I have seldom felt the relief of what it is to breathe through my nose. Only 3 more weeks to go then!

I shouldn't complain it's only been the worst day since yesterday, its just its not been any better.

Flowers may look pretty and grass may look harmless but for one month of the year for people like me the beauty that is nature hides a hidden hell.

The joys of being allergic to pollen are few and far between. Oh wait what am I saying, there are no joys just endless sneezing, blowing, sniffing, and weeping.

I suppose it might be possible to try to use the symptoms to my advantage if I were to come across a gorgeous sympathetic nurse type but its hard to have flirtatious conversation when you feel at your least attractive. Speaking through your dose is just not conducive to it. I doubt many women are attracted to my nose's best attempt at a Truman Capote impression.

Of course I could be wrong I might not really sound like that at all, but when I can hardly hear any one else speak it would be one cruel trick for my head to play if I don't sound like that when speaking whilst bunged up.

If days are bad, nights should be a relief, right? Wrong. Pollen count might in the opinion of experts be lower in the evening but that's because by that time its spent all day blowing up my nose and clinging there despite my body's best attempts to sneeze it away.

The sneezing continues throughout the night.

If I'm lucky I'll get 20 minutes sleep. The short rest is needed. It makes it all the easier to recover from the panic attack that I have when I wake and realise that I can't - breathe - gasp - gasp - g -a -s - p.

H - E - L - P M - E.

Actually don't bother, I'm only letting off steam, I'll be back to normal in about 3 weeks or thereabouts, in the meantime each day will be the worst day since yesterday. Can't wait.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Its On Repeat This Week

New semi-regular interactive post where I share what I'm listening to at the moment of writing and you do the same, hopefully along the way new music will be discovered by all that play along.

Two songs By Amy MacDonald - Mr Rock N Roll and Poison Prince. Amy is a singer songwriter with a mature deep singing voice and is only 19 so hopefully there will be much more to come from her.

One by Cheikh Lo - I've been playing Sante Yalla for a few months now, can't seem to get enough of this Senegalese tune.

Air Traffic - Shooting Star. Good tune for summer.

Scouting For Girls - Its not about you
Seems to be a lot of British bands coming out with a similar style lately but its a decent enough song nonetheless.

Kings of Leon - Fans

Kate Nash - Foundations.
Kate has grown on me, I wasn't sure if I liked her at first. I initially thought that she was just a Lily Allen rip off, in fact the first time I heard her I thought it was Lily herself but the more often you listen to the track the more often you see subtle differences. Not sure though if we really need both Lily and Kate playing such similar styles of music Hopefully they will go in separate directions.

Angelique Kidjo - Lemanja Another African tune and I have to admit that to having no clue what it is about but it doesn't stop me enjoying the song.

Stephen Speaks - All These Things If it hasn't been on a chick flick movie yet, it will be.

St Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart Sometimes the cover can be better than the original version and this is a case in point

Candie Payne - I Wish I Could Have Loved You More. Similar style to the song above it was through playing Candie that I felt the need to replay St Etienne again.

Tapes N Tapes - To be honest I don't know much about this band at all I came across the song Cowbell by accident and somehow its been played over and over again.

OK now its your turn.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Apparently I have A Passing Resemblance To...

If I looked anything like Sophie I wouldn't be able to do anything for making love to the mirror every morning. So its just as well I don't.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Thick As Mince!

Lambs may look cute at this time of year but between you and me they stink a little bit, they are also a little bit stupid as I discovered this morning.

I woke up to the sound of sheep 'baaa, baaa, baaahhing', which isn't that unusual in these parts so I ignored it. Or tried to anyway and attempted to fall asleep again but there's nothing like the sound of bleating to make you count sheep over and over again without quite finding the ability to nod off. So I got up, showered, ate breakfast did the usual morning routine, checked emails etc etc and still I could hear sheep. I was tempted to shout out the window "Shut up and just eat the grass already!" But I didn't. For the simple reason being I don't think sheep listen to humans. Because I didn't do that I didn't bother to look out the window. I instead just carried on working on the deck plan that I was drawing. So it was a few hours later that I eventually finished what I was doing and went out to see a client. It was then I discovered what the racket was about. One of the lambs that grazes in the parkland outside had somehow managed to get into the garden despite the closed over gates but had got itself trapped in the goal netting of the 5 year old boy upstairs moveable football goal posts. In its desperation to escape it had dragged the goals all over the garden and in doing so had got itself even more entangled in the netting.

Of course I took pity on the poor thing and tried to set it free, but the lamb was so scared it was having none of it and tried to run. For all of 5 yards. By which time it had got itself so entangled in the netting that it couldn't move its legs. My first inclination was to cut the netting away from its neck with a knife or scissors but that wasn't workable due to the lamb moving too much. so I had to untangle the netting by hand. That was fun. Every time I managed to get a leg or the head free it thought it could make an escape and would promptly get itself stuck again. 40 minutes later I did however manage to set it free, but only after the lamb had made so much noise that the mother found a way into the garden and bit me in the leg for my troubles. That's gratitude for you. It wasn't too painful but I'm still going to enjoy my Sunday roast at the weekend. I just hope between birthing time and dinner plate, sheep actually develop brains because I don't fancy rescuing sheep on a daily basis.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Summer Comes, Summer Goes

Spaniards enjoying the summer sun in Glasgow.

I'm All For Freedom Of Speech, Even For Stupid People But....

Some people seem to think that since they have the ability to think and talk and type for themselves that they have to share whatever is on their pathetic little mind with the world. Me for example. Thanks for reading by the way. But seriously their is worse people than me out there. No seriously, there is. There is Ann Coulter for example. Ann Coulter is one of these people who have the ability to piss me off with the dumbass things she has to get off her chest. I know I shouldn't look but sometimes I just can't help myself. I find myself having times of my life where I have to have another look to see what stupid crap she has come up with now. It's like when you are driving across town going from A - B, enjoying the scenery and the lovely day, thinking that the world is a beautiful place but then you come across a level crossing and by sheer bad luck find that the engine fails when the car is halfway over the line. A spot of bad luck yes but its fine unless you look at the train that is heading right for you, at speed. If you do that its trouble, you hand may well be on the door handle that will lead to your escape but unless you can get a grip of yourself and look away from the speeding train and get your legs running then in a moment or two you will find yourself looking at a bright white light and maybe even your body below. That moment there is an Ann Coulter moment.

She's one of these people who think's she is clever, and maybe she is, I don't know. Intelligence can be an attractive quality but not on this creature. She seems to think she is better than others and that is one ugly personality trait.

This is some of the nonsense she comes up with....

At the precise moment in history when the U.S. has abondoned any attempt to transmit Anglo-Saxon virtues to its own citizens, much less to immigrants, George Bush wants to grant citizenship to hordes of immigrants who are here precisely because they are fleeing cultures that are atterly dysfunctional and ruinous for the humans that live in them. Yes, this country has absorbed huge migrations of illiterate peasants in the past - notably Italian immigrants at the turn of the last century. But also notably, half of them went back. We got the good ones. America was not yet a welfare state, guaranteeing room and board to the luckless, the lazy and the incompetant from cradle to grave.

And this...

The government does not allow us to stop supporting welfare recipiants in America, millions more of which it plans to import under Bush's bill. That's not a free market - it's a roach motel.
The author Samual P. Huntington asked "Would America be the America it is today if in the 17th and 18th centuries it had been settled not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish or Portugese Catholics. The Answer is no. It would not be America it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.
I don't want to live in Mexico, Quebec or Brazil, but now I guess I have no choice, since with "open borders" I can never leave.

See what I mean about the train wreck, she doesn't know when to shut up and worse I don't know when to look away.

Up until now I've not had a lot of time for George Bush and the politics he has inflicted on the world but if he has the power to upset Ms Coulter he's gone up a little on my book, not much, just a smidgen of a fraction, but up nonetheless.

When I read the phrase 'British Protestants' I, being Scottish and brought up as Protestant, felt an uncomfortable shudder work its way up my spine. I can't help feeling those Americans with Italian heritage might well have had a similar reaction. What Ann Coulter seems to forget that she too is a decendant of an immigrant. Or maybe she hasn't, maybe she just thinks she's one of the good ones.

Maybe all the new immigrants could gather together, join forces with their welfare state handouts and each put something aside for the Ann Coulter Fund Appeal. She no longers wishes to stay in the America of today so the Appeal Fund could get her a place on the next Russian Space Mission where a place can be bought for a few million dollars and with the mega bucks she has personally gifted in tax to immigrant coffers I'm sure they would be happy to donate to her cause. The price might even well be negotiated downwards for a one way ticket. Failing that this privileged white American could just kick herself out of the Immigrant made America , of course I'm not sure what country would welcome her and her kind. Quebec? Mexico? Brazil? Anyone?

Sunday, 10 June 2007

I've just realised that I'm ageist

I'm sitting here watching the Isle Of Wight festival on Channel 4 and the Rolling Stones have come on stage, they still have it, they sound good and far better than most of the younger bands you will hear today. Yet I look at their faces and I can't stop myself from thinking about when they might retire. It's wrong and I'm not proud of myself for thinking it but damn they're old!
I always thought I was a believer in equal opportunities for all and yet here i'm thinking - 'go out gracefully!'
Of course maybe it's just because it the Rolling Stones, even when they were young they were scary, although I'm sure back then the drummer looked like he had teeth that wasn't left behind in a jar in the hotel.

Two Big Bands, Two Small Venues

It was quite a week in the Glasgow music scene. This week two of the biggest bands to come out of Scotland in the past decade both went back to their roots by playing small shows in Glasgow. It’s rare for musical artists when they hit the big time to go back to playing in the small venues that they had to play in earlier in their careers when they were just starting out, but this week two of them did just that.

The first show on Monday was Franz Ferdinand in the Grand Ole Opry, a band I’d never seen live, at a venue I had never been to before. On the next night Snow Patrol played in the tiny, but great, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, this is a band I’ve seen a couple of times live, once before they made it big, and once after, truth be told I wasn’t that impressed either time. So with that in mind I decided to pay to see Franz Ferdinand while a friend won tickets for the XFM Scotland Radio Snow Patrol session.

The successes of Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol came from entirely different paths. The former are a relatively new band, though lead singer Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson have been pillars of Glasgow's music scene for years. Both studied at the Glasgow School Of Art and started playing in a band for fun.

Franz were a band much whispered about the Glasgow music scene but for some reason I’d never taken the time to see them, then seemingly out of nowhere their debut album came out and little more than six months later Franz Ferdinand had become a household name.

Their music was fun - albeit of the arty, intelligent kind – but it was by no means certain that their music would make it mainstream. This was a band very much in touch with their Art School roots, they designed their own costumes, album cover even down to the font used, and wrote their own songs. Many of which have all the ingredients to sound pretentious when you know the background to them, one song was inspired by a cult Russian novel that the majority of their fans have never heard of, nevermind read, it shouldn’t really work but somehow when those guitars start strumming it does.

Snow Patrol, on the other hand, took their time. The band members may all hail from Northern Ireland but they all went to university in Glasgow and it was here for almost a decade, first under the guise of Polar Bear, and latterly as Snow Patrol that they learned their trade. They had mild success in the 1990s,when they were the Glasgow scene's perennial underachievers. By the time they released Final Straw, they were ready to call it a day if things didn't work out - there was a real desperation in that title but desperate men sometimes take the most rewarding risks. Final Straw's plangent ballads and chugging rockers propelled the band to sales of millions. Their follow-up, last year's Open Your Eyes, was even more successful - no album sold more copies in Britain last year.

Personally speaking, whenever I’ve seen Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody take to the stage I’ve not been impressed by his ability to command it and work the audience like a lead singer should. At the beginning of his career I put it down to the fact that most of the songs weren’t very well known, or that good to be honest, but I was expecting more after Final Straw came out, especially with songs such as Run, Chocolate, and How To be Dead making the radio airwaves as frequently as they did but somehow although it was a great studio album made for playing on the radio the performance I seen live that same year didn’t really translate on the night to a good gig. In contrast people who had seen Franz Ferdinand the same year as their debut album came out commented on how great they were at commanding the stage.

The venues, and the atmosphere at each of the gigs this week, speaks to the differences between the two bands. Franz continue to go their own way, by picking an unorthodox setting (a venue beloved of Glasgow's Hank Williams obsessives) and selling it out by hushed word-of-mouth alone, they turning the entire thing into a cowboy-ish singalong. (Kapranos even sported a natty cattle-rustler's checked handkerchief to go with his black shirt.) Snow Patrol's audience, on the other hand, are radio competition winners - die-hard fans, to be sure, but required to engage with the world of corporate sponsorship to attend. Not that I could hear Colin complaining. After all, seeing Snow Patrol in King Tut's once involved a tumbleweed-strewn dancefloor and weathering tuneful but derivative and noisy indie rock. Now it involved seeing one of the biggest bands in the world in a venue where he could see the whites of Gary Lightbody's eyes.

Musically, too, the bands are polar opposites. Franz Ferdinand specialise in high-octane burners such as Michael, with which they opened. New song Favourite Lie, like the four others they premiered on Monday, was markedly heavier on the keyboards than their previous stuff, but no less energetic - it finished with a rabid blast of Italo-house piano and a furious, pounding rhythm. Snow Patrol, meanwhile, stuck closer to the mainstream. Their biggest hits - all of which delivered with smiling gusto - are camera-phones-aloft ballads, made to be sung by fields full of thousands of fans. Their music is artfully crafted, for sure, but Snow Patrol don't do art quite in the it-should-be-so-pretentious Franz Ferdinand manner. I wasn’t there myself but I did get to hear some of the songs on the radio the next day and from what I heard it was clear that Lightbody has finally found the key that enables him to command the audience. Although that might have been down to the fact that the audience were made of radio listeners who have been subjected to the songs for the past three or four years, certainly when the band played an older favourite Post Punk Progression much of the audience that had been up to that point playing the game and singing along to more recent hits Run (dedicated to Biffy Clyro) and Spitting Games, suddenly stopped doing so. But you can’t blame the audience for that, Post Punk Progression was from an time before Snow Patrol made it onto radio playlists.

In the Grand Ole Opry Franz Ferdinand managed similar devotion from the audience. On Monday I must have been in touch with my feminine side because I found myself aggressively tapping my feet to the guitar strumming hits of their first album, an album once described by Alex Kapranos as music for women to dance to, but if that’s so I’m not too bothered, I certainly wasn’t the only one having fun. Even when they played songs such as Shopping For Blood – an acid tale of modern, conspicuous consumption - and sounding like a band of outsiders, snarling as Western civilisation declines they still were able to make the song fun for its audience. There's a genuinely menacing streak in that song's glam-rock stomp, that contrasts nicely with the adrenaline-fuelled ecstasy of Take Me Out, during which the crowd sang that deadly riff over and over again.

These two bands are as different in approach and end result as you're likely to get when talking about million-selling artists, but they're the defining facets of Scottish music: the arty and the commercial, the louche and the hard-working. In their wake have come bands and artists who fall on both sides of the divide, and the fact there is room for these upstarts in the mainstream is a product of their success. And never mind that Snow Patrol are all Northern Irish, or that only one member of Franz Ferdinand is a bona-fide Scot - they're both bands steeped in Glasgow, in Scotland, and belong there as much as apple pie has a place in the good ole U S of A.

Friday, 8 June 2007


It's days like today when the sun burns down all day and the light lasts well into the long summer night that reminds you what a fantastic country Scotland is to live in. And when you have been working outside for over 14 hours, what a fantastic invention chocolate chip ice cream was.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

I Might Have Overdone The Spice

It was curry night tonight, by the time I was done eating the inside of my arse felt like it resembled the Japanese flag.
Too much info?

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Dear World,

When I am in the process of making penne pasta, meatballs and sauce, please remember that I am male and therefore cannot multi-task at all well. Do not call just as I'm about ready to dish up as the phone ringing is likely to lead to a temporary state of confusion which in turn will lead to me forgetting that the sieve got lost in the move which will lead to a moment of blind panic when I cannot find the wok-come-substitute-sieve.
Thank you.

You'd think after living here for 16 days and having cooked my fifth serving of pasta (its easy) in that time I would remember to buy a bloody sieve but noooooo I've got to do the pasta pot meets the wok shake and dance act because thats much more fun.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

And Now A Break From The Regular Programming - No Apologies For This....

I stole this from stark raving black's blog.

I started using Firefox a couple of years ago, partly because it was safer than Explorer but mainly because it was quicker, then Mozilla developed it further and added stuff that slowed it down, which was a pain but if you have broadband there is a way of making it quicker again. By doing the following I was able to speed up the page downloads by about 25%.

Here's what you do.

* Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Type “network.http” in the filter field, and change the following settings (double-click on them to change them):
* Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true”
* Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true”
* Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to a number like 30. This will allow it to make 30 requests at once.
* Also, right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0″. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

If you still have dial up though, leave it as it is. I probably should have said that Firefox is by default optimised for dialup connections, at the beginning. Whoops!

Friday, 1 June 2007

My Apologies

After getting my internet connection up and running after a 2 week absence I had planned on catching up on blogs and responding to comments but it's 10 pm, the sun is still shining, its a lovely night so I've decided to go for a walk instead feel free to think up a comment that I might have typed had I been here to do so. Thanks.

Rent Free Living - Update

The advert on Gumtree went something like this 'Rent Free Flat / For 12 hours work a week.' I say something like this because I can't remember it exactly, it seems so long ago now, but that was about the gist of it. So anyway I sent off an email to the advert poster thinking that the opportunity was long gone seeing as the advert had already been up for 2 days, but nothing ventured nothing gained. Surprisingly I was informed that it was still available, being a somewhat cynical person though I started to wonder what was wrong with the flat, or indeed the work. At this stage I was thinking that the flat was an apartment building, probably rundown hence why it was available for free and that the advertiser had unreasonable expectations of what was achievable in 12 hours but still I was trying to look on the bright side and think about its location. Perthshire was after all an area that I liked to go for drives, walks, cycle rides, climbing etc whenever I could find the time off work and have in the past contemplated living there if only I could afford to move to an area where no-one knows my name and business reputation. With this in mind the thought of my own place rent free in an area that I liked to spend time in sounded appealing, even if the apartment itself was suspect or the work demanding I was looking at it as an opportunity to test if I enjoyed living in the area as much as I thought I would and if I did I could always look to move somewhere else, that is if I got the flat/job that is.
So emails went back and forth between me and the landlady with her trying to learn more about me and me trying to learn more about the flat and what the work entailed. Finally after a number of emails we sussed each other enough for me to get an invite to have a look at the flat for myself, this was when I found out that the apartment wasn't quite as far north as I had first believed, it was in fact only 27 miles away which was all the better for me for getting to work in the morning. So excitedly I jumped into the van and followed the instructions of how to get there. 40 minutes later I found myself driving in a parkland on a single track road with ancient trees (I mean literally ancient - these trees were/are hundreds of years old, unusual in Scotland in that most trees of this age sadly did not escape the sacrifice of culling for the First World War effort) convinced that I had taken a wrong turning because there couldn't possibly be an apartment at the end of this road, not when all I could see ahead of me was the spring sunshine and ewes giving birth to new lambs under the shade of the trees. I was sure that I was driving up to a farm and was looking for a way that I could turn the van but seeing that there wasn't any way of doing that I drove on for about half a mile when I came across some black iron gates and beyond that an Adam style mansion. The Adam's were a Scottish family dynasty of architects who designed homes for only the wealthiest of Scots a couple of centuries past, so when I saw this building I knew I was in the wrong place but I needed new directions so I rang the door bell more in hope than expectation that the owners might be able to send me off to the right place, imagine my surprise when I found out that this was already there. I think I managed to hold back the blasphemy that was on the tip of my tongue but I'm not exactly sure. Although I think I must of done seeing as they seemed to like what they saw and I have been living there coming up for two weeks now. Not quite in the main house itself but the 'flat' down stairs. Flat? You have to be kidding me! This isn't what I would describe as an apartment, its far too grand. In my book you do not get 'flats' attached to the ground floor of country houses. But then I'm not rich, so who am I to argue.
I wake up every morning still amazed that I am living here for free, especially when I consider that there is a second apartment on the ground floor that is rented out for no less than £350 a week at its cheapest in November and £690 a week in the summer. Granted my 'flat' hasn't been kitted out to the same standard but I can live with that. My only concern is that I might not be here for long, the house is getting sold in 3 months but the landlady seems to think that the new owners might stick to the same arrangement due to the size of the grounds and the upkeep required to maintain them. I'm not so convinced. I'm not that lucky. I'm still not quite sure how I managed to find myself in this position in the first place. I'm just going to enjoy what little time I have here and laugh at the thought of the family that just moved in next door for the week and just paid £500 for the privilege. It's just a shame that the owners are moving away because my new landlady is an incredibly nice person. For someone so rich she isn't the least bit snobbish at all which is not what I expected. And I was only living here 2 days, trying to look keen and eager to show my appreciation for living here by working my 12 hours without being asked when she came over to thank me and said that I didn't need to rush as some weeks there would be 12 hours work a week and others only 2. Of course there is no way I would only work 2 hours a week I feel guilty enough as it is, I feel like I'm robbing her blind but it was a nice gesture anyway.
I took pictures of the house and the grounds to share with you what a lucky bugger I am but I can't seem to find my usb or firewire cables to get the images off the camera but luckily part of of the House is rented out to tourists so I was able to find an image online.

The four windows on the left of the steps on the ground floor is my 'flat'. Now you know why I almost swore when I saw it.