Thursday, 27 September 2007

This Country Needs - Spray Officers

After 5 months of back pain I finally decided to see my GP a fortnight ago. Yeah I'm a stubborn eejit. I'll deal with pain for 5 months day and night before I finally decide i'm a deserving candidate for the attention of a doctor. I have a high tolerance for pain so I tend to measure my pain against the pain of those who are dying. Inevitably my pain usually falls short so rather than take up the time of a doctor I tsuck it up and eventually my body heals on my own. Usually. Only this time it didn't. I probably still wouldn't have went to the doctor's if it hadn't been for the night I couldn't get my jeans past my knees when I wanted to go to bed..

That state of limbo was the straw that broke my resistance and off to the doctors I went the next morning.

His advice, after waiting a week for the results of the x ray, get surgery, change career or risk back problems for life.

Great! I don't mind saying surgery scares the bejeesus out of me. I don't like the idea of people cutting me open and messing about with drill bits anywhere near my back no matter how skilled they are. So it looks like I have to change career and hope it gets better on its own through rest. Which in its own way is going to be fun seeing as indecision on the career front is just one of my superpowers.

With so many possibilities for a new career I thought it might be best to narrow it down a little so I took a moment to reflect on what I wanted to be when I was kid.

Yeah that will really narrow down the choices.

I first dismissed the career choices of Clark Kent, Peter Parker and Jesse James as a lot to live up to for someone who can't write, doesn't own a camera (I did , it was stolen) and is against the usage of guns as a point of principle. I then had a brainwave - I could be a fireman!

Completely forgetting for a second that back pain might get in the way of actual fire fighting my mind was on more important things like the positive effect having a uniform might have on my sex life.. I'm a guy, we think about things like that.

I doubt aged 4 and a half that I thought much about what fire fighting would entail. At that age I didn't give it a second thought about running up ladders into smoke filled rooms receiving the gratitude of bored fetishistic housewives because I didn't really want to be a fireman. I wanted to be a spray man! I just wanted to use the hose and spray things with it.

Thinking about it now there might actually be a need for spray men. after all this is a country that has Police Community Support Officers, who are essentially police officers but with out the wage, training or powers of arrest but they do get a uniform. Now if there is a need for such Police Community Support officers there is surely a greater need for Spray Officers. Spray Officers wouldn't need to be the trained in how to run up ladders or how to handle a smoke filled environment because they would be there to support those with such training. They would be trined to use a hose in less dangerous but still needy environments.

Spray officers could be the answer to a long standing problem for the Scottish Fire Brigade. Within a fortnight of the introduction of spray officers neds who up until that point thought that Friday night entertainment consisted of throwing stones or Irn Bru bottles at Firemen (and women), would be forever more absent spectators at Scottish fire incidents. You may think that would eliminate the need for the Spray Officers but you'd be wrong. After spraying the neds was done there would still be the lousy parents to deal with. There are a lot of bad parents in this world. Parents who put their own safety before the safety of the child, You know the ones. You've seen them on TV. The parents who are out in the street screaming hysterically that their wee Jimmy is still in the house. If wee Jimmy was yours or mine we wouldn't be outside screaming as to the whereabouts of the fire brigade, we'd be risking life and limb trying to get into the house, it would take 10 people to stop us.

Dammit to hell! Why did I have to do my back in! You have no idea how many bad parents I would take great pleasure in spraying half way down the street. That job would have an (almost) illegal amount of job satisfaction.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Life's Lessons Learnt #86754943

Don't Sit Down To Write A Script Whilst Suffering Back Pain

If you're going to write a script, it has to be good. It has to be worth the effort expended. The characters have to sound like real people talking. This is widely recognised to be hard work. Writing something down which sounds like a real person talking is the kind of thing that wins Quentin Tarantino plaudits. Quentin Tarantino is unlikely to sit down in front of his computer screen with the intention of writing a script whilst suffering from 5 months worth of back pain. Sitting in front of your computer screen and typing the words 'It hurts, it fucking hurts, I don't know how much more of this I can take! rarely makes good material for dialogue. Unless of course you are Quentin Tarentino.

Hmm, maybe he does suffer back pain....

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Blogging The Lazy Way

Are you feeling lazy? Me too. There are so many good reasons to slack off at the moment. But I'm feeling so lazy I can't even be bothered to give you examples on this. So you are just going to have to trust me. In such times, who can summon the energy to lift a mouse-clicking finger?
Naturally I have been slouching along the path of least resistance over the past few weeks. Coincidentally, I've also found myself on the sharp end of a few plans. All of them had one thing in common: they would have been twice as good if half as much effort had been lavished on them. This is because most of the preparation which goes into preparing your average plan is simply trying to account for all the questions a client may have but rarely ever does.

Blogging is a similar test which only the lazy survive. It's a Zen thing.

Rules for successful blogging include:

Keep It Short. Apparently there has been some research into the habits of regular blog readers. According to the people who know the results of this research, regular readers prefer short concise posts and would rather not use the scroll button on their mouse when the left button could redirect them to another blog with shorter posts.

Only make one point.
Isn't it a bit presumptuous to think anybody will listen to a lazy nobody like you make two?

Get your readers to do the work.
If it's a small group, ask them questions, start a discussion or group exercise. If it's a large group then invite them to actively participate in a silent way - for instance, visualise their favourite place, or the best meal they've ever had, or something else (if you're feeling on top of your game, this could be something relevant to your lone point). Sometimes it takes a bit of nerve to get this started, but as any pantomime dame will tell you, if they don't do what you ask them first time, all you have to do is ask them again. Readers love to feel important and it's less work for you.

Keep it brief
By now you can see that too much preparation simply creates trouble for blogger and reader alike. But it would be irresponsible of me to suggest that you step out in front of your readership completely unprepared. There are a couple of areas where your efforts aren't totally counterproductive, and I recommend that you concentrate on these:

Put extra effort into the first five words and the last five words If you start well and finish well, everybody will assume that the middle bit was excellent, too. This sounds flippant - and flippant it is - but it is amazing how far you can get on a good introduction. It doesn't hurt to end on a high either.

Produce quality not quantity
Dig up a single good one-liner, an excellent analogy or example, and perhaps one striking new piece of information. (Here's an idea - put one of them in your first five words and one more in your last five words.)

Use paragraph breaks Sometimes you may find fitting all your blogging moments of genius into that 10 word rule somewhat limiting and your posts may as a result stretch to two or more paragraphs. So please whatever you do remember and break up your paragraphs with an empty line. Don't worry no trees will be harmed in cyberspace with all those empty lines but you might just stop someone complaining about your paragraphs all running into one.

Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck You don't want to come across as having the education of an 8 year old unless of course you are an 8 year old. So check you posts for spelling errors. And don't accidentally delete half a sentence, or worst still half a paragraph whilst correcting one misspelt word. If you do so, your post won't make much sense and all your efforts in following all the other rules will have been in vain.

Don't mix and match garish background and font colours Your readers won't thank you for the migraines you induced.

Of course I break all the rules of blogging. I never was much good at catering for the majority so my final tip has got to be - Don't do as I do, do as I say.

Good night & good luck.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

A Conversation With God

Hello! Anybody out there? God ... are you listening? What happened? It's gone a little bit cold for the middle of September. If I were to put a sock in Richard Dawkins' mouth would you see fit to turn the heat of the sun back up again, not much, just a tad.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

I'm Starting To Believe In The Impossible

As a Scotland fan that is never a good thing!

Less than 18 months ago. Italy won the World Cup. They beat France in the final. They also beat the Ukraine in the quarter finals. Scotland didn't even qualify. Scotland hadn't participated in any major tournament in 8 years. As luck would have it all four teams were drawn together for the Euro 2010 qualifiers. It seemed at the time that the Scottish players may as well advance book holidays to separate destinations. That was until Scotland beat France in Glasgow, albeit with desperate defending and a somewhat fortunate goal. The Tartan Army started to dream the dream. Then Scotland to the Ukraine and Italy away from home. Scotland were still up there though in a four way battle for two positions. But for how much longer the French had revenge on their minds. Surely Scotland couldn't win in Paris?

They just bloody well have. What the hell is going on? That's twice we've beat the French.

We now sit top of the group. two points ahead of France and one point ahead of Italy who have just beat the Ukraine. So the Ukraine look unlikely to qualify and therefore can probably only act as spoilers for France and Scotland who they have to play. As is typical of Scotland they still have to do it the hard way. They may sit top of the table with 3 games remaining but they have still to play the Ukraine and Italy. Whilst France only have one hard game to play, with that being the Ukraine. Italy have only tricky game that being Scotland's final game of the qualifers which both countries will probably need to win.

I think I preferred it when Scotland had no chance. This hope thing is not good. Its possible Scotland could get 6 points out of 9 and it will all be for nothing if they can't beat Italy and France go on to beat the Ukraine. And yet that hope is still there and its saying 'You Know You Want To Believe - Go On, What Harm Can It Do?'

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


When I moved into this house I couldn't help but notice the wasps that congregated in neat little lines outside the bedroom window. After careful inspection I found that the cause of the gathering of wasps was due to the fact that underneath one of the slate tiles, directly below the window, was a nest. At the time I thought about getting in a wasp exterminator to do whatever it is they do but then I thought about living creatures and all that so I decided against having them killed. I instead though I would just put up with inconvenience of not being able to open the window for a few months thus allowing them to carry on their business in peace.
My reward came this evening. Whilst fumbling with the wrong key on the lock of the front door I felt a sharp pain on my leg. I looked down, couldn't see anything for my jeans, shrugged off the pain. I then went back to continue to try to place the wrong key in the lock when I felt a ticklish spot on my neck. I scratched said spot. Tried the key again only to notice dozens, and I mean dozens, of wasps crawling all over my arm. Before I had the chance to shake them off they all started to sting like it was some sort of coordinated premeditated attack.
The neighbours must have had a field day watching me run around the garden,waving my arms like a lunatic. I've got one forearm that's swollen so much that Popeye himself would be proud of it had he ate two can's of spinach.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

An Invitation That Was Enough To Make Me Glad That I Didn't Go To Art School

There are very few people in the world that I don't like. If I meet someone for the first time I usually try and find some sort of redeeming quality in their character no matter how deeply hidden it is. However with some people it isn't so easy to do.
Dougie is one of those people. He's an artist. Or at least he likes to think so. Any work I've ever seen of his has been utter crap. And yes I realise appreciation for art can be a personal thing but there is art and then there is taking the piss. In the case of his work, I would say an elephant could do better. In fact elephants have. But that doesn't stop himself from saying "Hi, I'm Dougie, I'm an artist" to each and every new person he meets. He used to be an Art teacher for East Kilbride High School until he got the sack. And the phrase 'those who can't do, teach, certainly rings true in his case. Yet every time you meet him he always tells you about his latest art exhibition he's holding in some out of the way place that you can't possibly get to.
Personally I would say he's less an artist than he is a scrounger. He's never got any money for anything. Now the scrounging, that truly is an art form. He'll get you to pay for anything he wants and you won't even realise your are doing it until you are handing over the money. He'll wear you down with stories you've heard a million times before in a slow monotonous tone that sends you to sleep and he'll do so whilst walking, crawling would be a more apt description. I'm not kidding snails could pass Dougie. Dougie, being an 'artist' doesn't have a time table to keep like the rest of us, so when he walks he walks very slowly, and just for good measure will suddenly stop dead for no apparent reason. But this is all part of a plan that he's perfected over the years. While he's breaking you with his stories and his walking speed he'll take diversions into shops and without once stopping his story he'll pick things up, go up the counter and say can you get this and suddenly he'll move like he hasn't done for at least an hour, meanwhile the shopkeeper is looking at you expectingly whilst you aren't sure if you've even got enough money to pay whatever junk he's just bought. I'm wise to his game now so won't follow him into a shop but others still get caught out.
As you can tell I don't like him much at all, I've tried to find that hidden redeeming quality but as much as it pains me to say it in his case I just can't find it. Dougie is not the type of guy I would spend any time with if I could get away with it but he hangs around a couple of friends like a bad smell so sometimes I can't avoid him. Today was one of those days. I was invited over to watch the rugby, the Scotland - Portugal match was on, it sounded like fun until I knew Dougie was going to be there. It was made worse still when there was a powercut at John's house and Dougie invited us over to his to watch the game. Its kind of impossible to say no when the reason we all got together was for the game. The amazing thing was he even offered to make us something to eat. This we had to see, this would mean he would have to spend money on us.
So we went over to his house. None of us had been there before. It was a nightmare. You've never seen anything like it. It looked ok from the outside. As soon as the door opened we knew we'd made a mistake than none of us were going to make again. You couldn't get in the door for canvasses, stacked about 25 thick, leaning one of top of the other, on both walls of the hall, leaving just a narrow passageway to get in the house. We literally had to place one foot directly in front of the other just tp inch forward, which was fun seeing as there was 4 of us. It was like walking a tightrope just to get to the living room, each of us trying not to put a foot through a canvas. And the smell! Trying to walk a tightrope whilst being overpowered by the stench of cats just made it all the more difficult. That in itself was a strange one, seeing as he doesn't have any cats. Your guess is as could as mine. Finally we reached the the living room, suddenly by comparison the hall was looking immaculate now. A bigger room meant more canvasses. There is a TV in this room? We couldn't even find a place to sit. Up to our knees in crap. Papers, paint, & brushes everywhere. Finally we found the couch, a 3 seater, of which all 4 of us sat. Along with the smell of cats there was another smell to be discovered, sort of sweet n sour n musty, none of us could quite work it out. We all looked at one another, without saying a word as if we expected to find the answer of the strange smell in each others eyes. And then we heard "Do you want anything to eat..." The three of us answered in chorus "No it's ok, I'm not really hungry, couldn't eat a thing." It was like 5pm I had worked all day without eating. I was starving but I would spend a month in the Sahara walking under the midday sun before I ate or drank in this place. I'd only been in the place 15 minutes and I was feeling the need to have my stomach pumped to get rid of the toxins.
And the game? Oh that was great. Squinting at a 10 inch screen, at times we couldn't even see the ball.
As soon as the final whistle blew we all quickly made our excuses to leave. Only trouble was we'd been sitting cramped on a 3 seater couch and our legs had given up the will to live and now we had the tightrope to walk. The smell of cat piss and that other sweet n sour delight had gone to our heads, as hard as as was getting in it was harder getting out. It was like Hotel California, you can get into the place, all be it with great difficulty, but don't expect to leave. Oh but the smell of the city has never been so pure.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Face Fit For Radio

I have a disease, I don't know what its called but I know it exists. I admit its a strange one and I might be the only one that has it but I have a disease that makes it impossible for me to say the word "No!"And it gets me into all sorts of trouble. I'm not someone who has a lot of free time on his hands so when someone asks me if I can do them a favour my head generally thinks 'No, not really....' but before it can finish that thought my mouth will blab out, "Sure! How can I help?" in a really enthusiastic tone while my head silently screams 'You idiot! You have a million and one things to do and you just had to say yes and add something else to the list.'
And so to the point, on Tuesday I was approached by a friend to do his shift on hospital radio tonight. I had no idea he did hospital radio. For some reason I was under the impression that the need for hospital radio had seen its day. I have no idea why I thought this, I just did. I was wrong. It's still going strong. And somehow I got myself roped into it tonight. Presumedly the other volunteer DJ's couldn't fill in so I was probably the last resort. In my head I was saying 'No, hell no,I know nothing about being a DJ. No, you've given me 3 days notice here. No, what the hell do you play to the ill and the dying?' But again I heard that voice saying, "Sure, yes, why not!"
So I then spent the next 3 days wondering what the hell I was going to play. The more I thought about it the more I cursed my inability to say no. ^The first thing I had to to think about when creating a play list was the fact that they was a wide range of age groups to cater to. That in itself wasn't too difficult, I have a broad ranging taste in music and can be considerate about not imposing my tastes on other people. However I have to admit that before this week I had never given much thought to the responsibility of playing music in a hospital environment. It's further complicated by the fact that in a hospital you have people dying, and others just slipping in and out of consciousness. There are certain songs you don't really want to play to such people like for example The Fugee's singing Killing Me Softly sprung to mind, just in case a sleeping patient comes around at the wrong time and mistakes Lauryn Hill for an angel that is suggesting it is a time to follow the bright light. Whereas Wild horses by the Rolling Stones might just give such a patient extra will to carry on, but then again it depends which part of the song they were listening to. Then you have to think about the nurses on late night bed pan duty so any thoughts of playing I Hate You So Much Right Now by Kelis or I Hate Everything About You by Three Days Grace can also be scored off to reduce the possibilities of an overstressed nurse going on a rampage and taking it out on patients. Not that I would played such songs anyway but with this thought pattern other songs soon had to be reconsidered.
As you can probably tell I spent 3 days thinking about this way too much but despite that tonight did actually run smoothly. As far as I know there wasn't an increase in the number of patients choosing to visit the pearly gates whilst I was on air. And a rather attractive Kiwi nurse did say that I have great taste in music and that it was the best show she had heard in a long time so that was good for the old ego. Less good was having to listen to my own voice. It's amazing how you can go through life not really listening to yourself, and it can be quite a shock when you don't sound quite like you thought. I may have the face for radio but I don't have the voice. Listening to myself tonight it was almost enough for me not to ever talk again. Of course, by tomorrow I'll probably forget, slip up and do just that but I know now that any woman who likes the sound of my voice and accent should be avoided at all costs for the simple reason she has no taste and is obviously not right in the head.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Question Of The Day

Why is it that the last tissue in a box twice as thick as the rest?

Answers in a postcard please.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

I Shoulda Been A Surveyer ( I Mean Survey Taker)

Once upon a time (a long time ago now) I was in a Town Planning & General Practice Surveying college course. I may as well have not bothered because on completion of the course I didn't bother going into either field of work. Although I found planning interesting, jobs were few and far between compared to the numbers who were being trained at the time, and surveying I just found boring so off I went into a entirely different career.
But looking at the papers this week, and every week for that matter, I can't help but think that an opportunity might have been missed. There is, judging by the number of column inches by the British press, a lot of work for survey takers. (Let's gloss over for one minute the fact that I studied as a surveyor in the building field as having no relevance whatsoever to the point I am making in this post.) It seems to me that with every new day that passes there are details to be found in our wonderful British newspapers of a new survey that reveals interesting or not so interesting titbits of modern life. This week's big survey that was in all the papers and even some news programs on TV was the Handbag Survey. Apparently, if the results are to be believed, women go through 111 in a lifetime. I have to admit to being a little sceptical of the results of this survey and others, seeing as I have never been surveyed at anytime or anywhere or know anyone who has, for this survey or any other. I also know that my own mother replaces her handbags every 3 months but would probably find each one would last 3 years if only she didn't stick half the contents of the house in her handbag every time she was getting ready to step out the front door. But I digress from one of my meaningless points, which is, who are these survey takers, and who are they surveying if they aren't surveying me, or anyone that I know. It seems to me suspiciously like they must either be surveying each other or more likely just making the results up and presumedle getting paid for it too. And for what? The vast majority of these surveys seem to have no real purpose.
I excel at going through life without real purpose and feel that I can easily do that kind of work. What is the next pointless survey going to be? The number of bras a woman owns? I could make a start on that right now. I know someone who claims to own over 800. I haven't seen each and every one of those bras worn (it's not that sort of blog) but still nonetheless, having seen the walk-in wardrobe that is bigger than my house and each item of clothing within colour coordinated, that and the fact that she has a great cleavage (ok maybe it is that sort of blog after all) lead me to believe that she could be telling the truth. All I need is a few more participants and I could find myself in a new line of work. Now who do I need to see about getting paid for this work?