Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday Tommy

My little nephew Tommy is three years old today… or as his father just described it to me on the phone a moment ago, “THREE years old - f#ckin’ hell Neil - where did the time go? And there’s such a thing as sleep you say? Sorry mate, no idea what you’re talking about.”
I think he’d been drinking.

I don’t have any recent photos of him but here are a couple of my favourites from past years. The first was taken when he was only eight months old I think but you can already see a cheeky, mischievous look in his eyes. I couldn’t say for certain but I’m pretty sure he’s gripping either a catapult or a little girl’s pigtails just out of shot.

The second was taken during a family holiday to the lovely Scottish island of Arran in August of last year. Nearly two years old at the time you can see he’d already developed and enhanced the family fondness for exotic European lagers. Sadly, his mother Rona (my sister and the woman in black who’s feeding him the beer with that crazed maybe-this’ll-get-you-to-sleep look in her eyes) was taken away by alarmed social workers shortly after we returned to the mainland. Tommy misses her of course but he’s been assured she’ll return safe after her two year custodial “holiday” in the country.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fake That

I was going to start with the usual explanatory explanation about this week’s newspaper column but my anal retentive side tells me it would be better coming at the end… and I’d never argue with that.

For legions of music fans throughout the country, last week’s announcement was the news they’d waited almost a decade to hear. No more would they have to spend long, dark evenings gazing wistfully at the frayed concert tickets and lipstick-smeared album covers from a bygone era. Gone would be the heartbreaking memories of spending hours on the phone to the special helpline set up after the band went their separate ways. Now, finally, they could get excited about the prospect of seeing their idols take to the stage once more to recreate their mesmerising, musical magic – performances so potent, let’s not forget, that emergency underwear was mandatory not optional.

Because after all the media whispers and music industry speculation, last week’s press conference confirmed that the rumours are indeed true – The Signals are back together and will be touring again in 2006.

For the vast majority of you discerning music lovers, I know this news will have consumed you in recent days and relegated Christmas to “that day we eat turkey” in the excitement stakes. But I also realise that at least one or two of you will be reading this and scratching your heads and making noises like, “Huh? Who?”

You are probably the kind of people who have either Perry Como or The Sugadoll Pussybabes at the heart of your music collection so it’s perfectly understandable that the phenomenon of The Signals may have passed you by. To get you up to speed with the rest of the population then, here’s a brief history lesson.

The Signals were already local legends in the bustling, Central Scotland music scene when I joined them as lead singer in the mid 1980s. Touring relentlessly, we traversed the country in our spluttering transit van breaking hearts and box office records as we went. Who, for example, can forget that memorable night at Glasgow’s School of Art when literally dozens of highly strung students stormed the stage to get a piece of us? And our triumphant chart feud with arch rivals Blurasis will forever be remembered as the era when “real music” won the day.

By the end of the decade though the incessant touring and adulation was taking its toll and the cracks began to show. Playboy drummer Handsome Doug endured a series of botched surgeries attempting to preserve his looks whilst introspective lead guitarist Bill “Slowhand” Gates moved to Seattle and made a modest living from inventing the internet.

My own troubles with pizza addiction have been well documented in the years since but by 1990 I could hide it no longer – the stained shirts and tomato covered stubble were a dead giveaway. Most disturbing of all was the seminal moment during the “No Sleep Till Aberfeldy” tour when stocky bass player “King Thumb” Campbell committed the cardinal rock ‘n roll sins of “falling in love” and “settling down”.

We struggled on, of course, continuing to sell albums by the millions and amassing a record 469 Brit Awards but in truth the magic had gone. As I said to Bono at the time, “It’s time to let you Irish boys have a spell in the spotlight. But remember son, global success and unlimited wealth doesn’t always make you happy.”

So now the years have slipped by and the wounds have healed and the time is right to spread our gift of song once again. The guaranteed £2m we will each receive has absolutely nothing to do with our desire to go on tour – it’s all about the fans and I can guarantee a bigger and better extravaganza then ever before. And if any members of Blurasis are reading this I only have two words for you – take THAT!

Regular readers of this blog need no introduction to The Signals due to the frenzied flurry of renewed interest that took place after THIS exclusive revelation back in April. But I thought it was time to spread the great tidings of musical joy to a wider audience during this season of goodwill.

Pity then that earnest has-been-wanna-be-again pop tarts Take That (think New Kids On The Block but with a bit of talent) chose the same week to announce their own attempted reunion and comeback, albeit without the inclusion of one their founder members – Bobby Somebodyorother. They seem to be back for the money whereas we, of course, are back for good.

I can see another Signals/Blurasis face-off looming on the horizon but I’m calm and relaxed in the knowledge that I could take both Mark and Jason in a fight. Simultaneously.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Output, Less Input

So there I was in the pub with the boys on Friday night discussing important national issues like the life and death of George Best and listing nostalgic Christmas presents from the dim and distant past.

For example, who remembers the Chuck Connors Tin Can Alley rifle range? Or those oh-so-realistic TV adverts for the Evel Knievel stunt rider where he always landed perfectly and never fell off - only £69.99 (batteries not included)? Or the Action Man with the all-new vice like grip (it gets lonely out in the field) – AND real facial hair? Or the classic board games Microdot and Escape from Colditz? Or the Gola football kits that came complete in a handy cardboard suitcase type thing (boots not included)?

I could go on and on but I’ll cut straight to the sad plight of one of my drinking buddies who was looking a little forlorn on Friday night. Young Dave “Poochie” Carruthers was a stalwart of last year’s golfing glory in Myrtle Beach (if you clicked on “the boys” above, he’s the one on the left exposing his white, well moisturised flesh) but for complicated financial reasons he won’t be making the rematch in Arizona next April.

Dave sidled up to me half way through the evening and with that wistful, girlish sigh of his said, “Hey Edge. How come you no write much on that blog thing no more? Every morning I click on it hoping to read something new but it’s just the same old crap about your sad, single life. I get enough of that at home mate.”

After giving him a sharp clip round the ear I pondered his question awhile and have now decided to try and mend my ways. So starting this coming Thursday I’m going to embark on a little experiment. Especially for you Pooch, I will attempt to write something every day for the whole month of December; 31 days to be exact; a veritable literary advent calendar if you will… with seven extra days.

This may involve me foregoing some of my evening meals but the sacrifice will be worth it I’m sure. If it turns out to be more of the “same old crap” then you’ll only have yourself to blame mate.

Oh, and I wasn’t going to tell you this but those two Scouse pals of Bruce’s thought you were very cute. We refrained from telling them about your “gym membership” (lycra not included).

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How NOT To Get In My Spare Room

For the first time in known history (and possibly also history that is as yet still undiscovered and therefore not known), I knew what I was going to write in this week’s newspaper column a whole seven days ago; almost a week in fact. Plenty of time then you’d think to have it all typed up and spell checked and ready to submit (or ‘file’ as it’s apparently known in the newspaper game) to enable me to let my hair down over the weekend and sip a few Malibu and pineapples. Allegedly.

But alas my lazy streak kicked in, the hair stayed up and the only thing I sipped was the bitter sweet taste of a looming Sunday deadline. Still, it was fun writing it for a change and there’s another of those trademarked glossary of terms© at the end to explain the parochial stuff.

In last week’s thrilling installment of this column, I mentioned that due to a recent change in domestic circumstances, I am currently accepting applications for the vacant post of lodger. Since then the response has been overwhelming and I’m still sifting through all of your letters and emails and trying hard not to laugh too hard at some of the photographs that accompanied the correspondence.

Those of you who make it through to the final stages of this selection procedure will hear from me soon when you’ll be invited to attend a gruelling Lodger Idol-style interview and audition. I can’t say too much about the process at the moment but I’m particularly looking forward to the swimsuit parade* as well as the hands-on tasks to determine your compatibility as a roommate. How will you fare I wonder in the Star Wars trivia multiple choice quiz or in the should-milk-go-into-tea-first-or-last* practical assessment?

For the rest of you however, the road ends here. I thank you for your time and interest and I wish you all the best in your search for lodgings. On this occasion it was just not meant to be. Specific feedback as to why you didn’t make the grade will be provided on request since the reasons were many and varied and, in extreme cases, quite disturbing.

Take the email I received from a Ms. Terious of Fife for example, who asked if I would be sharing my light saber with any new house guest. Whilst the thought of re-enacting classic Jedi duels has a certain appeal, I’m not convinced that that was what you meant. My light saber is a precious instrument that requires careful handling so I wouldn’t want you to misinterpret any spontaneous cry of “May the force be with you!”

Then there was the rather abrupt letter from a Mr. A. Retentive of Perthshire which included a long list of conditions I would have to follow if I was lucky enough to have him as a lodger. I’m sorry but anyone who believes that toilet rolls should be hung in the bathroom with the loose end hanging down the back is living a sad and deluded existence. Everyone knows that loose end to the front is the only rational and acceptable solution.

To Miss Little of Moffat, I don’t care how “friendly and cuddly” your pet tarantula* is, I will leave the country if you ever come and visit my town. And please stop sending me photographs of you and “Chuckles” in increasingly compromising positions. It is neither big nor clever nor, I suspect, legal.

The same goes for Mr. B. Bag of East Lothian who wrote to tell me that his main activities include “digging up stuff, setting fire to stuff and stuffing stuff.” It’s not a career path I envisage following myself but I’m sure there’s a soul mate (or a qualified therapist) out there for you somewhere.

And finally, to Big Eck of Govan*. I’m not sure what kind of mishap must have befallen you to warrant your desire to “get the hell out of Dodge” but my spare room is not a refuge for people on the run. From the tone of your letter it sounds like you need a quiet break from things so why not just grab your golf clubs and hop a cheap flight to the Med. I hear Portugal is very nice at this time of year.

Interview packs containing full details of the auditions will be dropping through the letter boxes of successful applicants in the coming weeks. Plenty time for you then to brush up on your movie trivia and run your swimwear through the wash. Bikinis only please.

Glossary of Terms:

Swimsuit parade: Ladies only.

Should milk go into tea first or last?: If your answer to this question is anything other than “last”, you are wrong.

Tarantula: Big, f#ck off spider.

Big Eck of Govan: This is an ever-so-clever reference to the predicament presently facing Alex ‘Big Eck’ McLeish. Mr. McLeish is the (current) manger of Glasgow Rangers Football Club (the club play their homes games in an area of Glasgow called Govan) who are not enjoying the best of fortunes at the moment. On Saturday they endured what can only be described as a severe, 3-0 ass-whipping by their biggest rivals, Glasgow Celtic Football Club.

Everybody in Scotland is expecting Mr. McLeish to be fired in the next day or so (personally, I hope he stays for at least ten more years) probably after their midweek visit to Portugal (see what I did there?) to play a European Champions League game.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

This Time It's Personal

Somebody said something nice about me the other day (and NO Dave, I don’t mean you and that whole freaky, I-used-to-watch-you-when-you-were-sleeping-in-Myrtle-Beach malarkey that you insist on whispering to me in the canteen at work) and it’s taken me a couple of days to recover with the aid of smelling salts and a large quantity of Stella Artois.

But it got me thinking about a couple of blogging issues that, up until now, I’ve avoided like the plague. Incidentally, how CAN you avoid something like the plague? Doesn’t a plague, by its very nature, sweep through a community with such speed and absence of forewarning that it is… em… unavoidable? But I digress.

If, as a smart, internet-savvy person, you have already clicked on the nice pink words underlined above, you’ll have encountered the first of the issues to which I was referring. A perfect example of a well written, humourous/humorous, honest and open blog which, above all, is very personal.

I don’t really do personal (not exactly breaking news to some of you I’m sure) but perhaps I should? I wonder though, is that because it’s a laziness thing or a cultural thing or a male thing? Are the Scottish/British contingent among you recoiling in horror at the every thought while the rest of you bohemian Europeans and Americans are screaming “Go on Neil, SHARE... Dude.”?

Who knows. We’ll see. Until then, I’ll just keep it locked up tight in that safe, sanctity of a place, deep in the darkest recesses of my psyche secured by triple padlocks and a guard chain. It’s served me well up till now *twitch* especially during those three years in my youth that I spent locked in the cellar at home. Happy days.

The second blogging issue is the one about Links – placing a list of blogs on your site that you read regularly and like, in the hope that others will discover them also. There are two very good reasons that I haven’t done this.

1. I didn’t build this site so I don’t know how.
2. I lied about there being two reasons.

So if anyone can assist (in simple, easy to understand language, i.e English, NOT computer Elvish) I’d be very grateful.

And thank you Wendi for the “shout-out”, as I believe it’s sometimes referred to by the young people. As I said to you privately – WARNING: PERSONAL SENTENCE IMMINENT – the use of the word “smitten” in this day and age is a lovely thing to hear.

Oh, and if you’re reading this Mr. McLean, I strongly suggest Houston as the venue for the next blogmeet thingy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

RAF With GSOH. 36DD Preferred

One of the perks of writing a newspaper column (aside from the champagne swigging orgies that I imagine the real journalists enjoy) is that sometimes you can surreptitiously use the medium for your own devices.

Had I placed the following article in the appropriate personal ads section of the paper, I’d probably have paid about ten grand for the privilege. Instead, they’re paying me (considerably less than ten grand) and now I can just sit back and wait for the floods of applications to… eh… flood in. Probably.

For reasons too complicated to explain in this short space, I am, as of this week, living on my own for the first time in a long time. The up side of this, as a good friend pointed out recently, is that I can now run around the house naked to my heart’s content. (I didn’t admit that this type of behaviour was not entirely unheard of.) But the down side of course, includes a sharp rise in living expenses as well as an alarming increase in the number of times I end up talking to myself.

Neil: “So what do you fancy for dinner Neil?”

Neil: “I don’t care, just as long as you put on some clothes when you’re standing next to the cooker you freak.”

The financial implications are a concern though so last week I approached my boss to enquire about the possibility of a salary rise to aid my plight. When her hysterical laughter subsided long enough to reply she said, “Why don’t you just advertise for a lodger?”

At first, the thought of my remote control in the hands of some Strictly Come Dancing-loving maniac was too terrifying to contemplate. But I decided the idea had merit especially when I stumbled across that episode of ‘Friends’ where Joey manages to secure Elle MacPherson as a roommate.

So I’m now accepting applications to fill the vacant post of lodger. I do have some rules though so before you rush to your computers to email me your credentials, (along with a compulsory photograph) bear in mind the following.

I’m generally quite tidy but if you feel the urge to clean the house weekly rather than monthly then be my guest. And if you have advanced scientific knowledge about how to work the Dyson vacuum thingy languishing in my kitchen cupboard, you’ll go straight to the top of my list.

Bathroom Etiquette:
I’m a great believer in the bathroom being a place for relaxation and reflection so I think a time limit of one hour should be enough to do everything you have to do. However, when emerging from the bathroom I never want to hear you utter the phrase “I’d give it a couple of minutes.”

I can’t claim to be any kind of Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen unless you use the last of the milk/butter/beer and don’t replace it. Then you’ll f#cking know all about it you selfish, f#cking so and so.

I have an antique “music centre” from the 1980s in the house complete with CD player AND a turntable, so by all means bring along your music collection and make good use of it. You can even listen to some of my CDs if you feel the urge but please remember to replace the box on the shelf in strict alphabetical order. If you’re someone who believes that The Beatles should be filed next to The Police, you need not apply.

I operate a strict no smoking policy within the house. This rule is subject to review if I happen to run out and I’m desperate enough to bum one off you.

I’m not averse to you inviting friends round to visit but let’s try and keep the numbers at a manageable level. If you’re Elle MacPherson and you simply have to use the house for you and all your gorgeous dancer friends to work out, then I suppose that would be okay.

All applications will be dealt with in strictest confidence unless your photo happens to be funny enough to publish in this column next week. And if you’re a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, make sure you possess your own TV.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Oh Dear Lord What's Wrong With Me?

It’s been over 24 hours now since it happened and I still can’t come to terms with it. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat (so I KNOW there’s something terribly wrong with me) and I can’t control the uncontrollable shaking that shudders through my limbs every time the memory of it washes over me.

How did it happen? Where did I go wrong? How can I retrieve that simpler time when up was up and down was down and certainty was certain?

Yesterday began so perfectly; a quiet, lazy, uneventful day spent lounging around the house reading the papers, catching up on tv shows I’d missed during the week and viewing some harmless sporting events. Harmless. HARMLESS. How pitiful and empty and hollow does that phrase appear to me now.

The Scottish national football team was playing a meaningless friendly in Glasgow against the mighty USA and I could barely keep my eyes open as some drab woman droned her way through the national anthems and the game kicked off. To stay awake, I was soon flicking through the channels looking for any exciting alternative – a fly fishing programme or the pottery world championships – when I stumbled across the BBC showing the England v Argentina football match. For the uninitiated, these two countries have some history so I tuned in hoping for a bit of action – a kick here, a punch up there or perhaps a full scale military re-enactment of the Falklands conflict.

What I got instead was one of the most exciting football matches I’ve EVER seen. With five minutes to go, England were 2-1 down and looking like they were heading for defeat but they refused to give up. I gasped as the Argentinian goalkeeper stopped an unstoppable David Beckham header from point black range. Wayne Rooney took my breath away with an audacious chip from outside the box that went inches wide.

And then it happened. Michael Owen sneaked in at the back post to square the match and two minutes later, when he scored the winning goal, I got off my seat and clapped and cheered. I’ll say that again – I got off my seat and clapped and cheered for England as they won a football match. Oh dear lord in heaven above, what the hell is wrong with me?

During a brief respite in the bodily convulsions this afternoon, my sweating hands managed to dial the phone number of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous for this story.

“Bruce,” I stuttered as he answered the phone. “The match. Yesterday. I cheered. And clapped. For England. Please help me.”

“I KNOW,” he replied. “I did too.”

Oh sweet Jesus it’s worse than I thought. It’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s The Day of the Triffids. It’s the end of the world as we know it. It’s too late for me but run Forrest, run like the wind. Save yourselves.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Here’s a story that was smack bang on the same page right beside my article in the Daily Record yesterday. I make no comment or judgment about it – just thought it was kind of interesting / poignant / coincidental / something or other / ish.

£1.4bn of prezzies
British parents are gearing up to spend £1.4 billion on presents for their kids this Christmas. Mums and dads will shell out an average of £119.78 on each child’s gifts, a survey says. But their generosity doesn’t end there – adults will splash out another £16 on gifts for every child they know.

DVDs and videos will be this year’s top presents for kids, closely followed by books, clothes, computer games and board games. A spokesman for Churchill Home Insurance, who carried out the survey, said: “The massive amount parents are spending overall is surprising.”

Despite what I said yesterday, there’re times when I hope the definition of “kids” stretches to 42-year olds and under. Oh and I really DO need new socks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christmas Time, Mistletoe And Whine

Twas the night before the 45th day before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse… except the mouse I just clicked to highlight and delete the sentence I just typed all wrong.

In the run up to/deep in the midst of, the festive holiday season there’s a subject I’ve been wanting to write about in the newspaper. It’s not one that easily lends itself to much humour and to certain eyes, it could be interpreted as having been written by some lazy, preachy auld git who’s not particularly keen on Christmas. The opposite is true of course, but if that’s how it sounds, so be it.

I’d almost given up on finding a way to introduce the subject when I stumbled across a separate, but not unrelated, story in the newspaper last Thursday. In an instant, I was off and running on a mighty quest, a mission, a crusade, a holy war of sorts, to right wrongs, slay dragons, sing carols and kiss tender young maidens under the mistletoe. Hopefully.

With the end of the year fast approaching, here’s a little festive conundrum for you. Close your eyes, think hard and tell me, what did you get for Christmas last year? Come on, it was only eleven short months ago so it shouldn’t be too difficult to recall. Was it 2004’s “must-have” iPod/DVD/Xbox/mobile phone that you can now buy for half the price because it’s been superceded ten times over? Or was it the more traditional collection of fragrant cosmetics you never used, or books you never read, or comedy socks you never wore?

If you’re still struggling to come up with an answer, put it to one side and consider this instead? What Christmas gifts did you buy for your partner/parent/sibling/loved one last year? Did you put a lot of thought into it? Was it something they really desired? Did an emotional tear appear in the corner of their eye as they peeled off the wrapping paper to reveal the fruits of your thoughtful labour?

Now I know some of you are thinking it’s the 8th of November and discussions of this nature should be confined to a more appropriate and relevant time of the year – September perhaps, when the first strains of Jingle Bells appear in television commercials and your letter box is crammed full of Christmas catalogues. But before you venture out to commence the madness of Christmas shopping, think about your answers to the questions above and bear in mind the following, earth shattering revelation.


Bah humbug? Perhaps, but it’s an argument that’s rolled out every year (starting in September of course) and every year a little bit of the true spirit of Christmas seems to erode away.

So what would it take, I wonder, to make us reassess our attitude to Christmas? A complete overturn of our must-have-it-now culture? The alarming levels of personal debt in this country? Last week’s announcement of a record number of Scots being declared bankrupt? Or maybe a simple tale of a child’s generosity is all we need.

If you missed it, last Thursday’s Record reported the story of young Charlie Carr, an accident prone six year old who spent time in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital recently after splitting his head open and cracking his collar bone. Charlie had a birthday at the end of October and rather than receiving gifts, he asked his friends and family to donate to the hospital to help the nurses who’d treated him.

“I’ve got quite a lot of toys,” explained Charlie, “so I wanted to do something else for my birthday.”

Gulp! This is a remarkable story at any time of the year but especially now and one which should inspire us all to do something different this Christmas

So here’s my proposal for an alternative gift-giving strategy. Amongst your immediate family introduce a Secret Santa draw so that each person only has one gift to buy. (I exclude young children from this process because let’s face it, the joy of Christmas is watching them open lots of presents and then get sick on their selection boxes before dinner.) Fix a price level and then utilise the remaining shopping days to come up with the most caring and personal gift you can muster. With all the spare time you’ll have you may even want to stretch your creative side and make the gift yourself. Imagine that! And if you’re still determined to part with any spare cash, follow Charlie’s example and donate to your favourite charity.

I guarantee that next year you’ll have no trouble recalling what you gave and received. And if any of my immediate family is reading this, I could really do with some new comedy socks.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Significant Events Indeed

As a post script to yesterday, let me first say that I wasn’t in any way expecting November 1st 2005 to deliver an episode that came even close to matching the momentous ones that have occurred on this date in previous years. But I was wrong. DEAD wrong.

Tonight… on the way home from work… I… I… (I can barely see the keyboard to type at the moment through the tears of joy streaming down my face) I… got a seat on the train. A SEAT I tell ya! And not the crappy fold-down one by the door either.

It was a magnificent throne of a seat which came complete with a handy table on which I could effortlessly rest my newspaper AND my jaw which, by this time, was aghast in shock. I never knew travel could be like this, cruising to my destination in sweet, ass-cushioned comfort. Oh happy day. Thank you Lord for continuing to reveal life’s bountiful pleasures.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On This Day In History

34 years ago today, I started a new primary school after my idyllic childhood was mercilessly uprooted and shifted to another part of the country. It’s never been talked about, much less confirmed, but I believe our family may have been embroiled in something unsavoury and we were forcibly placed into a witness protection programme.

22 years ago today, I started my first proper job (delivering newspapers until the age of 27 doesn’t really count) and ended up working for the same company for 19 years, 6 months and 6 days. Approximately.

2 years ago today, I caught a flight from London to Hong Kong at the beginning of a seven month, round the world, “big holiday adventure” as my little four year old friend Megan likes to call it.

I mention these facts only to highlight that I thought here might be some newspaper column mileage in the notion that significant events often happen on a recurring date. I was wrong. The mileage was short and the journey came to an abrupt halt at a literary dead end.

So instead here’s a tale of a weekend spent golfing and drinking and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can only hint at.

I have a little calendar on my desk; one of those page-a-day efforts that you tear off each morning to reveal that YES – it really IS a long time till the weekend comes round again. My particular calendar contains scenic photographs of different golf courses and they’re often accompanied by a bit of history about the course or a flowery quotation from some literary figure I’ve never heard of. Last Thursday was a perfect example.

“Golf camaraderie,” proclaimed the writer, “like that of astronauts and Antarctic explorers, is based on a common experience of transcendence. Fat or thin, scratch or duffer, we have been somewhere together where non-golfers never go.”

As a golfer who regularly frequents golf courses with friends, the revelation that “we have been somewhere together where non-golfers never go” was hardly earth shattering news. But I could tell the writer was hinting at something deeper and the discovery of the quotation was timely, coming as it did two days before a golfing weekend away with some of my oldest pals.

The organisers of the trip had clearly decided that hopping a cheap flight to the Med to play golf in the sun was strictly for wimps and had opted instead for a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland. They had reasoned, no doubt, that on the off chance that the late October weather turned inclement, we could always fill our time with a spot of antiquing or lashings of tea and buns at the local café.

However, as our convoy - fat, thin, scratch and duffer alike - rolled into town on Saturday morning, spirits were high and hip flasks were at the ready.

“Weather looks reasonable,” noted Optimistic Doug before emerging from his car to find the remnants of Hurricane Wilma howling across the fairways. “Och, it’s just a breeze,” he added annoyingly as I donned a fifth layer of clothing to my already bulky frame.

Fortunately the rain stayed away and we checked into our hotel on Saturday night excited about all the possibilities that a night out in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland might bring.

The room allocation passed without major incident – although I’m sure I caught one or two relieved looks on the faces of those who managed to avoid sharing with the well known snorers – and after ignoring certain pleas to stay in and watch The X Factor, we were soon suited and booted and ready to paint the town red. Or a lighter shade of grey at least.

First stop of the night was the local curry house, a choice that always seems like such a good idea at the time but one which, five short hours later, will relegate the snoring issue to the bottom of the list of problems associated with sharing a hotel room.

From there, the search was on for a decent drinking establishment but the rain was now lashing down so we waddled across the road and tumbled into the first pub we encountered. Had there been a piano player playing, he would have stopped abruptly and joined the rest of the saloon patrons glaring at the eight strangers who had somehow breached their town walls.

Maybe it was just my imagination but pool cues, along with the women folk, seemed to be held a little tighter until the locals determined that eight timid city boys did not require to be run out of town. Besides, it was too wet for them to light their flaming torches.

Although I’d love to tell you about the crazy antics that unfolded as the weekend progressed, the rules of the trip caution otherwise. What happens in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland STAYS in a small seaside town on the east coast of Scotland.