Monday, 30 November 2009

Boys Will Be Boys

I discovered during this Thanksgiving weekend that you really should not be so engrossed in a conversation with your wife that you happen to not pay attention to what your 3 year old stepson is saying and/or doing. By making that mistake I did not see a frustrated small swinging fist aiming straight for the testicle region.

Until that moment I had completely forgotten how much such a contact could hurt.

I don't even know how I could forget.

I went to a primary school where the playground sport involved 20 - 30 individuals picking up some unsuspecting victim and carrying him to one of the pillars of the outbuildings, that was supposed to shelter us from the rain, but instead doubled up as a ball breaking instrument of torture when the legs of the victim were spread and then rammed as fast as it was possible for 20 - 30 7 year olds to run together crushing his nether regions on the pillar.

We all deserved this treatment because we all did it to one another. Our reasoning back then was 'well if I don't join in, it will be me next.'

Ultimately, the day would come when it would be our day. That brief moment when we weren't paying attention to the playround happenings would result in pay back.

And it hurt. I remember the pain of that initial contact with the pillar as if it was yesterday.

But somehow I forgot about the pain that comes after. The pain that lingers for a couple of days.
In my view the sport that likes to think of itself as the 'beautiful game' isn't  so beautiful as it once was. The big football clubs of the world have become play things for the mega rich. The teams in the top league in England are owned by Russian billionaire oligarths, American Businessmen, and Arabian royalty. The fans no longer have a say over who runs their club and their sporting emotions are completely at the mercy of the whim of someone who can live thousands of miles away and has no historical emotional tie to the club. European players fall down at the slightest touch from an opposing tackler like they have just contracted swine flu. Average middle of the road players now earn more in one week what a teacher may see in any year of his career.

The sport which once was the game of the working class man has now become so expensive to go to a game that the working class man is being priced out of buying a season ticket for his family in favour of the corporate clients who will go else where once the team stops winning..

In the 80's though the game was a much simpler sport, it didn't have the mega tv contracts for the top European leagues distorting the uneveness of the big clubs and thhose clubs which had a smaller fanbase or who came from smaller countries. Only the very best players got the big money contracts. And the best players were spread around the world. They played against one another. They didn't play with one another in superteams like the Real Madrid's and Chealsea's of today.

In 1986 when the first football world cup that I can properly remember took place, there was one player that stood above them all in that tournament. He was short, (no he's not Gordon Strachan) and as I was the shortest in my class at the age of 8 I took a liking him to instantly. He was also a genious with a football. He could seemingly control a football like to was tied to his shoe laces.

I'm not young enough to have seen Pele play but for me Diego Maradona was a player that showed what a beautiful game football can be. It helped that he was skillful, but probably also helped that he was Argentinian and was lined up to play against England in the '86 World Cup. I am Scottish and my dad likes to consider himself English even though he's lived in Glasgow since the age of 5. I half suspect its less to do with him being a proud Englishman and more to with the fact that Scotland will never win any of the major tournaments and England have a slim chance of that. As with every year before and since my father was boasting about how well England were going to do in that tournment. Then came Argentina and with it Maradona. In that one game Maradona scored 2 of the best goals I can ever remember seeing. The first goal was outrageous. A player of 5ft 5inches, a little bit podgy in the stomach region out jumps the 6 ft 1 inch English goalkeeper and knocks the ball into the goal with his hand.

It was rediculous. It was illegal. By rights he should have been sent off. But the goal stood. If you were English on that night you were in despair. If you were Argentinian, or Scottish, you were elated. The second goal was even better than the first. England were still trying to comprehend what had happened 3 minutes before when Diego Maradona single handledy dribbled round 6 English players to score again and with it knock England out of the World Cup.

Diego then took what was an average looking Argentina squad all the way to the finals and lifted the trophy. On the football pitch he was genious but off it was flawed. He's had his moments when he has been addicted to cocaine and he's shot at journalists who have come too close to his home.

This video of Manu Chao's song La Vida Tombola highlights much of Maradona's life and doesn't just focus on just the heroic moments although his 2 goals against England are there (around the 1:40 and 2 min mark). I like the song a lot, and it is a tribute to Maradona but I think the fact that Maradona's flawed moments are shown in the video too it makes it all the better.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

School Regrets? - I Have A Few

Do you ever wonder why you bothered to learn certain subjects at school? Probably not, but occasionally I do. Mathematics for example was one of my more enjoyable classes and one of the few subjects that I was any good at, at least until I was 16 when suddenly it seemed to get that bit harder.

Outside of basic arithmetic though it hasn't proven to be that useful in my life after school. Even though I drew plans for a living when I was a garden designer I never ever needed to know the distance between two points with the help of a hypotenuse. I did once, I repeat once, workout the distance of the hypotenuse on one of my many drawings but in truth the exercise was completely unnecessary as I was only doing it to see if I still knew how. Surprisingly, I did. But for the life of me I cannot work out why teachers had to have us learn it as much as we had to.

Algebra! Outside of serious mathematicians, scientists and teachers who actually uses algebra in the real world? And what percentage of the general population do these people make up? I somehow think the months and years of learning algebra does not equate to the usefulness of the subject. Would it not be better to have specialist advanced classes for people who show some sort of aptitude or interest in the subject and teach another more useful subject for the rest of us? Perhaps some sort of class that allows us to understand money or credit card loan rates.

Some classes, like mathematics, with algebra, we had no choice to take when we were are at school, for others though we have to take full responsibility for our own decisions.

I don't know what its like now with the schools having so many more foreign students but when I grew up in Scotland we only had to take one additional language as part of our studies for 2 years of secondary school. The language chosen as part of the enforced curriculum was French, as for some reason even though the UK is a member of the European Union (which at that time had I believe 15 member countries, now 25, most of which, if not all, speak a separate language) French was seen to be the most useful second language to have. Even though I wasn't any good at it I chose to continue my French class for a further 2 years in the hope that it might be useful in my later life. I have to say though other than spending a week in Switzerland, and 2 weeks in France those classes were pretty much a waste. I would probably even say that I learned more on those 3 weeks I spent on holiday than I did in the 4 years in a class room. Sad, but true.

Its probably been over 12 years since I have spoken French so I doubt I could remember much of anything useful. Perhaps though when I take my wife on a holiday to Paris or the south of France I might be able to remember just enough to prove somewhat useful when ordering a meal or a hotel room, but probably only after spending a couple of days in the country first.

Its funny how life turns out though. When I made the decision to continue taking the French class for an extra couple of years I could see myself taking regular holidays in France, I did not foresee that I would fall in love with a Hispanic woman. Or how much more useful taking Spanish lessons would have been over French?

So what are your school subject regrets?
Passing one of the many churches in Salt Lake City on the way home last night I noticed that there is going to be a special Thanksgiving service tomorrow. While I can understand the desire of the church to get into the spirit of the day by having a a service that promotes the thankfulness for the generosity of all mankind I have been somewhat surprised that there seems to be a distinct lack of any sort of community based event that thanks the Native American population directly.

While I have been humbled by the thought of strangers inviting us over for Thanksgiving dinner, because they thought that my wife and I might not have anyone to celebrate it with this year, it has also surprised me the number of other people who have asked if I celebrate Thanksgiving back home. We don't. Perhaps the closest thing we have to it is around harvest time when the primary schools and churches organise a collection of food for the elderly. I'm not even sure if the schools still do that now, but I do remember collecting spare tins of food from the cupboard and vegetables from the garden between the ages of 5 and 11 and then distributing it around the community. It was fun but nothing like Thanksgiving here.

I find it all the more surprising that there is isn't some sort of public show of gratitude towards the Native Americans here in Utah probably because one thing I have noticed since moving here is how much Utah does to celebrate other cultures. Throughout the year there seems to be event celebrating cultures from all around the world. I would have thought Thanksgiving would have been the perfect time to have a very public celebration of the Native American population and the early pilgrims to this country.

But alas, as of yet I see no sign of such a celebration.

Still i'm looking forward to Thanksgiving at the sister-in-laws house.



Sometimes I forget just how much my life has changed in one year.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

6 Words That No Man Wants To Hear

"He had a circumcision go wrong."

Sport - Where Miracles Do Happen

After 21 years of me taking an interest in the game of rugby, Scotland were finally able to beat the bloody Wallabies this weekend.

The only problem with that was I wasn't in Scotland at the time and have only youtube to thank for what little I saw of the match so I'm not going to have that (insert old man voice here) "I remember the day when..." moment. That's fair dinkum mate! ( I probably used that term wrongly, but bugger it)

Anyway it seems that it might even been a well deserved victory. The Scots might not have been able to put too much in the way of attack during the game but what little opportunities came their way they maximised and the defence was resolute and impressive. Everyone wearing a blue jersey played with pride and a collective spirit of they-shall-not-pass attitude for the full 80s minutes. Not something that can be said that often lately.

Even though the Aussie players aren't exactly known for their great sportsmanship when they have lost there was nothing but praise from the Wallibie players for the Scots.

So thats 2 wins out of 2 games in the Autumn Internationals for Scotland. After Fuji and Australia can Scotland add Argentina to the list of scalps? It would be nice to think that Scotland can use this result to push themselves forward, but for some reason I'm not that confident. Usually when Scotland do the impossible they then to procede to mess up during the game with a supposedly easier opposition.

During the same weekend, LA Galaxy with Beckham, Donovan et all lost in the final for the MSL cup to Real Salt Lake, a team without the star names and up until a few weeks ago looked like it couldn't even qualify for the play offs, that was until the final game when results went their way.

Maybe the Scottish rugby team could learn something from Real's late run in recent weeks in their pursuit for glory at the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

I Wouldn't Be British If I Didn't Complain About The Weather

If you believe the car number plates in these parts you might think that Utah has 'the greatest snow on earth.' How they came to this conclusion I have no idea but I have to say I was looking forward to putting it to some sort of scientific test, Scotsman style.

So when it started to snow on Sunday night and the following morning I looked out and saw this

and this

and lots of this

I thought my time had come to put the Utah snow to the test.

Now I'm naturally a lazy person so if I can do 2 things at one time allowing me more movie watching, book reading and eating time later I am all for it. Why then stop at the science of snow when I could also teach the locals some proper ESL lessons? Trust me some of the locals here need some ESL lessons, some of them need some listening skills - funny enough not so much those who actually have English as their second language but some of the people who are supposed to have English as their main language have great difficulty understanding it when it is spoken by someone from the island where the language originated.

So I thought I could see if 'the greatest snow on earth' made for some great snowballs and if it did I also thought the situation might be ripe for teaching some of the gringos how to listen to what I am saying. Those who don't listen or didn't make any attempt to listen would get a snowball in the face.

Hey what can I say, I'm just a boy at heart!

Only, it didn't happen. Just a few hours after I took those pictures this was the scene. The snow couldn't even hang around long enough to put my 'greatest snow on earth'/ESL experiment into action.
Bah Humbug!

Monday, 23 November 2009

It's Hard Being A Mummy Blogger When You Are A Man

It has been drawn to my attention that I may have to rethink the subject matter of my blog and change my writing style.

In the past when I was bored and looking for new blogs to read I would on occasion hit the blogger's 'next blog' link. All too often if I did that from my own blog I would be taken to another blog written in a language that I had no understanding of.

Which in a way was kind of ironic in that all too often people in Salt Lake City don't have a clue what I am saying, and for all I know my blog readers could be having the same trouble. As ironic as it may have been my ignorance of languages, especially those of the asian variety, meant that hitting the 'next blog' link rarely resulted in me finding anything interesting to read by clicking on that link.

So when I read that Blogger people had reprogrammed that link so that you would be taken to a blog resembling the one that you are reading I was curious to see where the link might take me if it started of at nowriterjustanoverthinker. I was of course hoping it might take me to a blog that was funny, intelligent, amusing, interesting. Well a man can have an ego too!

I was slightly disturbed to find that on 3 out of 3 occasions the 'next blog' button took me to mommy/mummy type blogs. Now don't get me wrong I have nothing against mommy/mummy blogs. I just never considered my blog to be one of them. I know I might occasionally wear an item of clothing that some people might consider resembles a skirt, but that does not make me a mummy.

Anyway I might need to write about my wife and children less and instead talk manly things like sport, sheds and automobiles. Any other suggestions are of course welcome.

Dungeons & Dragons & Virgin Mary's

Ava Maria, as seen in Downtown, Salt Lake City.

When my wife said "Don't you think I look a little like her?", I would have loved to have said "Yes, of course you do dear." But for some reason I was struggling with the concept of seeing my wife as the virgin mary.

My beautiful wife, can occasionally have a beautiful ego to match however I can't help thinking that she doesn't quite look at me in the same manner. On the same day as seeing the Ava Maria she probably looked at this and thought 'Ah, my Scotsman!'

And sadly not just for my morning breath.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Some Day's Just Suck, You Know

I woke up with a horrible taste and a in frog my throat in this morning so I coughed hoping that would get rid of both. Only it didn't. If I had anyone here to speak to I would now probably sound like the boogie man that lives under the bed. Only this boogie man couldn't get under the bed because after spending 4 hours on top of a dodgy mattress he had to move to the couch for a slightly better night's rest. Only now that I am up and about do I realise how sore my back is.

But on the upside I think I could do a mean voiceover for horror movie previews.

How do you get that job anyway?

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Zucchini's & God.

"Heavenly Father doesn't want me to wear a Zucchini" said my 5 year old step daughter this weekend.

My initial reaction was "Huh!"

And then I realised she was looking at an old photograph of herself taken this summer where she was wearing a bikini. Things were starting to make a little bit more sense.

I was still confused as to where she might get the idea that God would not want her to go swimming. It is one of her favourite things to do so whenever we have the children we try to take them swimming if there is enough time, so I wasn't sure why she suddenly thought that swimming was bad. But it turned out that it wasn't swimming that was bad but just the wearing of the bikini. Now I can understand the logic of this. I'm sure there will be a time in the future where I might suggest to her myself that what she is wearing is inappropriate, even if I do feel that at the age of 5 this attitude might be a tad premature I still respect the right for someone else to have a different opinion on the matter. But what I don't understand was why her step mother would use God as the controlling factor in this instance.

I admit I am not the most godly of people, but despite what I may have said here in the past in jest I am respectful of other people's beliefs. But I cannot understand it when people will not take responsibility for themselves, for their own rules, and instead prefer to have a 5 year old and a 3 year old scared of what God might do to them.

I am new to parenting myself. Up until March of this year I had no experience of parenting so I can understand how difficult it is to parent and how difficult it might be to be accepted as a step parent by children. I know from experience that I am not as relaxed about parenting as my wife is, or their real father is. I see dangers everywhere. Knifes, scissors, crowds, flip flops going awry are just some of the some of the things that scare me as a new parent. But I make rules when the children are with me to help limit the dangers. Sometimes I am the bad guy as a result. I hate being the bad guy, and sometimes I admit I can take it personal but I prefer to take on that role if it limits some of the dangers out there when the kids are under my protection.

As much as I do not like it when my step children misbehave I would much rather them to think of God as loving and take full responsibility myself for the rules that I set in the house and anything that may happen because of it. I cannot understand why anyone would want young children to be frightened of God. In my view it goes against the whole spirit of religion. And its so 18th century.

No End To My Wants

So I got my craving for Ceviche satisfied last weekend (much to the dismay the following morning of my better half) but this weekend I have a new desire.

It's Autumn. Which generally for me means one thing to look forward to. No not Christmas (that when I am this skint is too far away to think about just yet). Not Thanksgiving (although I am getting strangely excited for my first experience of it). No this is the time of year I look forward to the rugby season starting proper. For me the club game in Scotland hasn't lived up to its promise from the days when the amateur sport turned professional in the 90s. So for me the season really starts when the Autumn Internationals begin.

I've loved the game of rugby since I was fortunate enough to go to the right school that actually involved it in the sporting curriculum. I learned to play just before the game turned professional, when Scotland had some amazing talents in the international squad and when Bill McLaren still commentated for the BBC. Had I gone to that same school now, I might not have had the same interest in the sport I have today. For a start there is a shortage of talented players in Scotland now that would find a place in a World XV but since when has that stopped us Scots enjoying our sport? We seem to revel in the underdog role.

I think it is most likely the lack of a Bill McLaren type of commentator on the box that would mean I wouldn't have the same interest in the sport. Today's commentators seem to lack the enthusiasm and joy for the sport that the great man had. The commentators of today certainly don't lack passion for the sport but its somehow not manifested in the same way. The ex players that commentate today focus a lot more on the mistakes within the game rather than the good plays. The English commentators especially, seem biased in the opinions. Bill in contrast focused less on the mistakes, mentioning them but laughing them off perhaps with a quick memorable turn of phrase and was enthusiastic about good plays no matter the nationality the executioner of the play was. I suspect it was his enthusiasm for the game that meant I learnt to play and enjoy the game more than I would have from just the training field alone. It is his approach to commentating that allows someone who is new to the sport to enjoy it as an outsider looking in. A neutral not sure of the rules does not want to listen for 5 minutes of half time why a particular play was bad, if the play breaks down they can see it for themselves they want to be able to see the more enjoyable elements. Sport is serious but at the same time its there for us as entertainment.

Thanks to Bill, today I look forward to the Autumn internationals. I wish I could take my wife to the home of Scottish rugby, Murrayfield this weekend to watch Scotland take on Australia. Not because I expect Scotland to win, I don't we have beaten them since 1982, but I would love her to take in the atmosphere of the stadium as the national anthem is sung. I would love her to enjoy a great exciting game, one with hard tackles but unlike football (soccer) one with fair play and none of the dramatics of the over paid football players.

Had Bill McLaren not retired in 2002 and his voice could be heard around the stadium I suspect she might even be suitably distracted from the rain and the cold wind to enjoy the game that bit more. But that would for me maybe a good reason to stay here in Utah as I would be sure to hear from her at the end of the game "Why can't you talk like him? I'd love you forever if you talked like him."

Sadly though I can neither talk with his Hawick lilt or take my wife to the game at the weekend. Life is not fair sometimes.

I suppose we could go to the Fiddlers Elbow to enjoy the game but that will only be an option if the game is on late enough back home to take into the account for the time difference here for the place to be open. And its not the same as watching it in pub back home, full of Scots and Australians with an invested interest in the game.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sweet Perfection

Now I don't want you thinking that having a hot wife is all bad. When you have a hot wife, it does have its upsides. For example - unlike in my childhood, I no longer have to add a hot water bottle at the foot of the bed on cold winter nights.

That comes in handy if you don't drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate and therefore as a result have no kettle in which to heat a hot water bottle.

When your hot wife even comes with a sensor and an adjustable thermostat that automatically recognises when you leave the bed for a toilet break and makes the bed nice and toasty for your return its sweet perfection in the human form.

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Downside Of Having A Hot Wife

When I was young and single I could see no downsides to having a beautiful hot wife that was horny all the time. It seemed such a win-win situation for those lucky buggers who managed to capture themselves such a beast. In those long years of being single I think I must have thought to my myself that I deserve that too (yes I really am that humble and selfless). As at the first opportunity of getting a hot beautiful horny woman to show any interest in me I married her before she could change her mind. Here she is on that day.

On that day that was the smile of the most beautiful woman in the world and who would do me no harm. Oh how naive I was!

That smile is a back breaker. More often that not it leads to sex, at least once a day. My younger self would have been delighted. Honestly, my older self is too. But that smile and an old mattress is not a good combination. The springs in the bed just cannot cope with our exercises, and on days like this neither can my back.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Things I've Been Craving of Late

HP Sauce on my chips. I don't know why but I've been wanting it bad for like a couple of months now. It is even available here in Utah in the British shop in Sugarhouse. But its like $4 a bottle, in the words of the grumpy drunk priest in Father Ted - "Feck Off!"

A bottle of Irn Bru. Not just any bottle, the glass 750ml glass bottle, and not because I'm Scottish and you get 30 pence refund for returning the bottle. But for some reason it just tastes better from those bottles. Especially when its been chilled in the fridge. Again I can get Irn Bru here in the Scottish shop in downtown, but again its expensive and its only available in the smaller plastic bottles but its just not the same.

My Mother's Cheese Pie. I wish I could remember how it was made. All I remember is the rolling the pastry base on to the bottom of the casserole dish, sticking it the oven for a bit and bringing it out later to see this 3/4 inch of soft tasty cheesy goodness that I could eat all by myself. Strange thing is I'm one of these people who doesn't like to have cheese on everything (how did I end up in the States? - must have been love.) and yet I love this pie my mother made. I've tried looking for recipes online to see if I can see anything like it, but nadda, no luck, maybe it was an old family recipe or something. Thing I don't understand is you can find just about anything on the internet, things you don't even want like a recipe for a nuclear bomb but nothing like the cheese pie my mother made. Why didn't I pay more attention in the kitchen? Maybe some day I'll have to write a Dear mum letter that my she who must be obeyed likes to nag about.

Ceviche. Every so often I've been having been wanting to go back to the local the Peruvian restaurant and tuck into this fish and seafood dish but lately we've been too skint to eat out so sadly no lime soaked octupus, shrimp, fish combo are on the menu.

Indian Curry. This is a big one, I've been craving some Chicken bhuna with fried rice and nan bread, and spiced mushrooms as a starter (yeah I am a greedy pig) for months. Sadly though there just isn't that many Indian restaurants around in Salt Lake City and those that are here seem to be way on the other side. Some day though me and my better half will have to check them out, if however they don't prove to be as good as those back in Glasgow it might just be another excuse for a date when we finally are able to go travelling.
So I was scrolling through the latest BBC headlines as I do regularly when I spotted -

Rain And Winds Begin Hitting UK

Since when has that been news, that was a daily occurrence for me when I lived back home. Maybe the headline grabbing element of that sentence is in the 'begin'. Maybe it stopped and I missed that piece of news.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Living In Different Worlds

Time, place. Experience. Sometimes its the seismic events of history that make me wonder if I really am of this world. Sometimes major events come and go and don't really affect me directly as much as I think it should.

There has been 2 huge historical events that have taken place in my lifetime. I wasn't born when man first stepped on the moon but I do remember the late evening tv pictures of 9th of November 1989. The fall of the Wall wasn't that spectacular. All you saw was a bunch of leather jacketed Berliners attacking reinforced concrete - mostly with hammers, with little success (although I bet you can buy those chippings on Ebay today). Nobody died, as far I remember. A lot of people got drunk, and stoned (d'oh bad pun). The wall itself wasn't an impressive structure. It wasn't even particular tall or especially forbidding. Its real power lay in the killing ground of mines, dog runs and razor wire behind it.

The concrete barrier was always more symbolic than anything else. It didn't matter that none of the crowds of scrambling people could do much damage to it without the help of some heavy equipment. What mattered was that they were climbing all over it, and hitting it ineffectually without getting machine gunned to oblivion. As a sudden and surprising symbol of hope and optimism and moment of time representing changing times those watching it could ask for no more. Those little hammers that couldn't do much damage to concrete had somehow on that night managed to put an end to an age of idiocy. A 40 year threat of worldwide nuclear holocaust seemed to evaporate that night.

I remember watching those tv pictures. I remember the hope and joy. But at the end of the day it didn't really affect me in the way I thought it would go on to. I was too young at the time. Too young perhaps to feel threatened by a possible looming Armageddon. It didn't feel real enough. I have never lived in a communist country, so I didn't feel get to feel any restrictions being lifted. The closest I've been to living in a divided city was in Glasgow on the day of Celtic - Rangers game, hardly the same thing.

So when the Wall fell I just went on living my life pretty much as I always had, albeit in a Europe with the map redrawn.

A dozen years went by from the day of the fall of the Wall before something as big happened again. This time it wasn't a chilly November night that brought hope but a bright September morning that brought shock and fear. The planes crashing into the Twin Towers in 2001 was just as unbelievable as the pictures of men clambering on the Wall with arms aloft.

For a while on that terrible Tuesday I was even afraid. I was in Scotland that day, but my mother had went abroad for the first time in her life that weekend. She was visiting her best friend who had moved to New York over 20 years previously. She had called me on Sunday from New York and had told me that she was going to visit the Towers on the upcoming Saturday. When I saw those aeroplanes crashing into the Tower my first thought was that maybe she had decided to change that day trip and brought it forward by a few days. The panic that came over me was horrible. I had no telephone number for where she was staying and couldn't get in touch with her. But whereas the whole world seemed to know what had happened that day, she was resting at her friend's holiday home situated on the banks of the Finger Lakes with no tv, no telephone or radio completely unaware what was happening just miles away. When she finally did get to hear of it and get a chance to call me my panic was replaced with a selfish relief.

After that although al-Qaida had attacked the USA I didn't think that I was personally living in a more dangerous world. I had lived in the UK when the IRA had bombed buildings in a regular basis. I wasn't one of those soldiers who had to go to War. I wasn't one of the grieving parents who had to suffer when their son was brought home in a box. I didn't believe in the war in Iraq but neither was I one of those who marched in the streets against it because I ultimately knew it wouldn't change the politicians minds. I didn't feel threatened by Muslims. There have always been extremists of one kind or another, and none of them have ever really affected my life directly.

When I remember the pictures of the Wall falling I remember happy times, I would have loved to have there that night but ultimately I wasn't, perhaps as a result I don't really feel that they had as a powerful effect on my life that it could and should have.

Strangely, as big as the fall of the Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers were as moments of the history of our time, it was the probably the collapse of the banks and markets beginning on September 2008 that had a bigger more direct impact on my life. Is that selfish? Do I really need to be a part of something to feel it? Am I really part of this thing we call the human race?

Listening to: Call Me Anytime - The Cops

Friday, 6 November 2009

Why I Couldn't Be A Conservative In The USA Reason # 1

As I'm not a citizen no one in the USA is going to invite me to vote but that's not a good enough reason not to have a mini series of blog posts.

Back home in Scotland I was very much of two minds politically. I liked the idea of an independent Scotland but wasn't entirely sure that enough people were going to vote for it in order for it not to be a wasted vote. I am also not entirely sure that Scotland could be strong enough economically for the first 5 - 10 years after breaking itself off from the UK to have something to build from thereafter. Perhaps when there was still oil in the North Sea back in the 70's it would have been good but now? I just don't know.

I also believe in a government that has low taxation and minimum government interference in the lives of the citizens that it serves. So although I hated Thatcher when she was in power I was pretty much a conservative at heart, and just could never see myself voting labour when they seem to be control freaks and have acres of government at every level. Plus its probably not helped by the fact that Blair was someone I despised more than even Thatcher.

Now you may think that with my earlier statement of believing that a government should have minimum interference in the lives of the citizens it serves and my preference for low taxation that I would be as much as a conservative here as much as I was back home. But conservatism here is a different beast. And for that reason alone I think it could make a semi-decent mini series for this blog while I get back my blogging groove.

Reason # 1

Conservatives in the USA seem to believe with more enthusiasm than liberals in the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

I'm not going to make any pretense that I am tough Scotsman. Guns scare me. I don't want to be anywhere near them.

In addition to that I don't want to read any more stories of kids accidentally shooting their siblings when they get hold of their father's loaded gun that was supposed to be locked away in a cupboard. I don't want to want to read of cults in Texas being armed to the teeth and shooting FBI officers. I don't want my step children to be scared of going to school because other kids are carrying guns in their backpacks along with their books. I don't want to step into a 7/11 in the middle of the night to buy a bag of Swedish Fish and have some drugged up wannabe Jesse James flashing a gun barrel between my eyes - with all the Mexican food I eat I'm likely to shit myself there and then.

Back in the day when the USA was a new country I could understand the need for people to have the right and the need to bear arms. It was a dangerous world. Native Americans didn't exactly like the idea of the white man moving in on their land. Criminals from Europe saw America as the land of opportunity and would happily steal the land from underneath your feet. As would some crooked businessmen who might want your land to sell it onto the railroad or just to build a ranch. Back in those days the local sheriff might be too far away or just not powerful enough to save your sorry ass. Therefore a good man at the birth of this country may have been expected to carry a gun in order to protect his family.

Now though we live in different times, the USA as so many levels of police that it should be a safer country in which to live. I suspect it would be safer still if it wasn't so easy for gangs and desperate junkies to be able to get a hold of guns from legal and illegal sources.

Back home I felt if I was unlucky enough to come across a ned with a knife nicked from his mothers kitchen that I could have the chance of outrunning him before any damage was done, its not see easy to outrun a bullet. Maybe if the Bill of Rights was amended and the antiquated belief that the people have the right to bear arms was reassessed and something was done about the number of guns freely available in this country I could feel safe eating Mexican food before visiting a 7/11.

Listening to: Sean Kingston - Me love

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Ah Gringos! Given time I might grow to love them.

As Scottish accents go I never really considered myself to have a particular thick one, but since spending the last 8 months or so living here in the States I'm finding myself having to reassess that assumption. It seems the gringos just can't understand me.

That I could find acceptable if they'd only just try - but whereas Latinos will take the effort to listen and on occasion make an attempt to have conversation like the Mexican worker who the other day took my order for a Whopper and ended up talking about the weather here compared to back home and the film Braveheart it seems most white people in these parts would prefer to cut me off and look at me blank faced as soon as I open my mouth. When I first moved here it didn't take long for me to get used to the close minded attitude of some of the local white population but then just the other week I applied for a job that I was well qualified for. I first sent of an email complete with my resume and then followed it up with a phonecall.

Me - "Hello, I am replying to your advert on ...... regarding the job that you ....."

Interupted mid conversation with "I can't even understand you! If you can't speak English why do you think I would even consider employing you!!!"

When I first came to Utah I thought it might take an adjustment of sorts to fit in and settle down and then reality struck.

I hate to imagine how I might have got on in Utah if I actually had a thick Scottish accent. Like if had a nasally accent like a Glasgow ned for example or a sing-songy West Highland accent or god forbid a Welsh accent like some of my relatives from my father's side of the family.