Sunday, April 30, 2006

My Name Is Earl

I can’t believe we didn’t stumble across one of these babies last week in the States. 'Specially since all the classy Nascar debutantes were in town doin’ all of thar whoopin’ and a-hollerin’.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Arizona Update 2

We lost.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Arizona Update

For Poochie, Kirky, Wendy and any other interested parties...

Team Edge four points down (6-10) with 8 points remaining today. STOP. Boys confident of dramatic last day comeback. STOP. Blousie current MVP with 3 stonking big points. STOP. See you all soon. STOP.

P.S. 'AVE IT!!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The One With No Title

When I started writing for the Daily Record ten months ago, the Features Editor sat me down and spelled out the two main rules by which I had to abide.

1. Try not to write about football because that's already adequately covered on the back pages.

2. Never write the column after drinking heavily and spending an hour in a hot tub with seven other guys having been out in the desert sun all afternoon during a golfing holiday 5,000 miles away in America.

I thought she was just talking crazy at the time but now I know better. Curing severe sunstroke with beer and fast bubbling water DOES NOT WORK.

It's always fun and rewarding wading through the stacks of emails in my in-box every week to read your feedback regarding the contents of this column. These can often be quite frank and forthright such as the note I received recently from a Ms G Greer in response to the story of my washing machine breakdown and how women love to do laundry. I could tell she was not in the best of moods when she began her message with "You chauvinist pig. How dare you…" but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed she'd just typed it after burning some cakes or falling behind with her ironing.

Sometimes your correspondence can be a bit bewildering as evidenced by the six emails submitted by Mr V Agra after reading about my embarrassing episode trying to decipher the menu board in Starbucks. The subject header of each email read 'PLEASURE HER, ENLARGE NOW' which I understood to mean that I should buy my girlfriend a venti-sized coffee rather than a grandé, but come to think of it, he may have been writing to me on another subject altogether.

However most of your emails are very complimentary and a perfect example dropped into my in-box last Thursday as I was packing for my holidays. It was from a Miss A Stalker and said, "Dearest Neil. I've been enjoying your articles every week since they began ten months ago even though I suspect that sometimes you just make up stuff to fill the space. Up until now you've made no mention of your birthday so please can you let me know if this is imminent. I will then be able to buy you a large and extravagant gift as thanks for all the hours of pleasure your column has given me."

Well Miss Stalker, being a modest soul, I was going to let this particular subject matter pass quietly without any great fuss. But since you ask, I can exclusively reveal that this coming weekend, I will once again be celebrating my 39th birthday. (This'll be the fourth year in a row.) There really is no need to go to any great trouble to buy me a gift but the cash is clearly burning a hole in your pocket so I've taken the liberty of compiling a brief list to aid you on your shopping excursion.

1. A Raleigh Chopper bike. This has been top of my birthday list now for the past 35 years so I'd like to get hold of one soon before all the cool kids move on to some new fad. Better throw in a set of stabilisers while you're at it.

2. A new washing machine. I realise this may seem excessive but it'll avoid me turning up at your door with a bag full of dirty laundry and will help dispel my habit of "shackling glorious womanhood to the oppressive yoke of sexist slavery" as Ms Greer so quaintly puts it.

3. A triple-shot skinny venti caramel macchiato to go. I've got no idea what this is but I heard somebody mention it last week as I was plucking up the courage to go into Starbucks and it sounded exotic.

4. One of those electronic apples that people on the train seem to use to clean their ears. An iPod is it?

5. Socks, especially those multi-coloured, musical ones that colleagues seem to love so much at office parties.

6. Pizza. Any size. Any quantities. Any toppings. Except mushrooms. Oh, and beer.

I'll be home from my holidays on Friday so please arrange to leave any large items by my back door. Many thanks.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.

If you need to contact me in the next 9 days I’ll be here. Looks shit eh?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ch.. Ch.. Ch.. Ch.. Changes

Officials at media conglomerate were left reeling this week when an inside source revealed the contents of internal correspondence which hinted at big changes afoot for the group's popular websites in the days and weeks to come. When accosted by reporters on leaving a “gentleman’s” club on the south side of Edinburgh, Ned Suderlang, nwtw CEO and President refused to pass comment about the rumours and speculation on the basis that they were totally unsubstantiated and he was too shitfaced on Stella to talk.

The inside source refused to be named but provided this reporter with a tape of an alleged telephone conversation he’d had with Suderlang on Sunday evening that detailed the aforementioned big changes and which confirmed that they were indeed afoot.

Inside Source: “Good evening sir. It’s Stuart calling. You know, from IT? I think we may have a problem.”

Suderlang: “F#cking right we’ve got a problem. I’ve just paid £70 to a Russian burd for some excessive jiggling and your call’s cutting into my entertainment more than her thong’s cutting into her ass.”

Inside Source: “It’s about the websites sir. We have domain and hosting renewal issues which demand decisive and immediate decision making. And money. What should I do?”

Suderlang: “Well for a start you can repeat that again in f#cking English. And cut to the chase.”

Inside Source: “Well sir, I think we should retain the domain name but look to carry out a bit of a redesign in the months to come so that all content is located in one location; with links and tags and RSS feeds and all that other good bollocks.”

Suderlang: “I’m sorry, I’ve got no f#cking idea what you’re talking about but at least you sound like YOU do so get it sorted. And make it cheap. And don’t ever call me here at the club ever again. Ever.”

Fans of both sites are already experiencing changes by way of mysteriously disappearing graphics and some redirection but the inside source assured this reporter that content would still update on the blog site if the writer in question gets off his fat arse long enough to post something.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Amy Lauren Fiona Summers

My niece. (ALF Summers for short!)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Four Days Late, Two Days Early

Every Sunday I write and submit a column to the Daily Record, Scotland’s biggest selling daily newspaper (if you ignore the report in today’s Scotland on Sunday that The Sun has taken over that title) and every Tuesday the column is printed in the paper and copied on to this website.

For reasons that will become obvious at the end of this story, I’ve decided to post the column today so that it takes its proper place on this day in history. Confused? Read on…

There has been tremendous excitement among the Sutherland clan in recent days as we eagerly await news of a new arrival. My sister is on the brink of giving birth to her second child so the family are currently indulging in their new favourite hobby of phone-staring whilst fighting the urge to call her every hour to see if there’s any news. When the phone does ring, the expectant grandparents are displaying a fleetness of foot that belies their 140 years (combined) as they rush through to the hallway screeching, somewhat obviously, “The phone! The phone!”

Being the eldest and wisest of her three brothers, I decided to take the low key approach by sending my sister a text message at the beginning of last week to pass on some words of comfort and support. It said,

“Rona. It would be ever so helpful if u could squeeze out my new niece/nephew by the weekend in order to give me something to write about in the newspaper next week. If u r currently in the delivery room, u may reply at a later time. Love, Neil. P.S. Tell that no good husband of yours I’ve forgiven him for knocking u up. Again.”

As yet, there is still no news so my focus as World’s Greatest Uncle remains directed towards my three nephews, the youngest of whom persuaded his parents to leave their home in England last week to come up for a visit. Although a mere two years old, young Fraser and I get along famously, not only because I sneak him chocolate buttons when his parents aren’t looking but also due to the fact that we have so much in common.

For example, we both enjoy getting our heads down for a quick afternoon nap whilst the adults scurry about cleaning up after us. We also have a mutual dislike for mushrooms and are not shy in making this fact known at every opportunity. And during moments of high excitement such as birthdays and Christmas, we both have a slight tendency to pee our panties.

On Saturday, I went to visit Fraser at his grandparents’ house and was looking forward to seeing what new toys he’d brought with him. Much to my consternation, his parents had decided to leave most of them at home in order to fill their limited car space with so-called essential items such as clothes and strollers. Worse still, he had been given my box of old toy cars to play with and was eager to tell me all about them.

“Uncle Neil! My car! Vrrrooom!”

“That’s actually MY 1972 Corgi E-type Jaguar,” I pointed out with a grimace. “And I don’t think granddad appreciates you bashing his head with it so maybe I should just take it for safe keeping.”

For a moment it appeared as though an ugly standoff might ensue however tensions eased quickly after the distribution of a few well-timed chocolate buttons. With the concept of sharing now cemented, the rest of the afternoon passed without major incident but signs of tetchiness reappeared later at the dinner table. As the steaming bowls of risotto were passed around, a howl of disapproval rang out across the room.

“Aw mushroom. I NO LIKEY.”

“Be quiet Neil,” snapped my mother. “What type of example is that to set to Fraser?”

I sat sedately for the remainder of the meal, hiding the mushrooms under my cutlery and thinking about how I’d be a great uncle to my new niece or nephew. I’d love to outline my strategy in more detail but there’s a ringing noise downstairs so if you’ll excuse me, I better go.

“The phone! The phone!”

I didn’t know it at the time but at the precise moment I was making up and typing those last two sentences (4.30pm), my new baby niece (7lbs 8oz, no name as yet) made her first appearance into the world and immediately asked why her favourite Uncle Neil wasn’t in attendance.

“He has to work on Sundays dear,” assured my sister in between gasps from the oxygen mask. “But he’ll be bringing you chocolate buttons soon.”

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why Don't You...

…just switch off your television set and go and do something less boring instead?” Remember that theme song? The presenters (granted, they were kids) never seemed to catch on to the irony that they were presenting a television programme during the school holidays that encouraged kids NOT to watch television during the school holidays but instead, go off and make space rockets out of toilet rolls and the like.

And was it just me or did the very early episodes include some mystical creature called “a doris”? My recollection is that it looked a bit like a long furry duster for blinds and shot about the place at incredible speeds. I realise my memories might be warped by spending much of my early years partying with Drew Barrymore but I’d be comforted to learn if anyone else remembers this.

Anyway, got any plans for the four-day holiday weekend? If the weather keeps you in, forget about any fancy blog redesigns and RSS feeds and tags and links and all that other bollocks techie people love to tell you about. Here’s a fun thing to do with your computer instead.

Take a post-it note (any colour), fold it in half (and NO, it doesn’t matter if it’s folded longways or otherwise you OCD freaks), fold it in half again, insert it into the space between the keys on your keyboard and drag it along to the end of the row. Repeat several times for each row and see how much crap comes out the other end.

When I tried this at the weekend, I turned up enough crisps, corn flakes, rice and chocolate sprinkles to keep a small Vietnamese family well fed for an entire week. As for the human hair that emerged, well my pal Bruce has claimed the lot and is weaving himself a nice toupee as we speak.

Nice eh?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Eagles May Soar High...

…but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines. – David Brent

Here’s a question for you. As part of a job interview this coming Wednesday, I have to deliver a ten-minute presentation on the following topic.

How would you approach meeting your customer's needs (notice how this bit’s in bold so I’m guessing it has some importance) - from the point he / she identifies a change is required, to the implementation of that change? Please deliver your thoughts and practical experience, as opposed to a theoretical framework of Project Management.

I know. I kind of lost interest half way through that second sentence as well. “The theoretical blah blah of say what now?” Anyway, I’ve been a bit busy lately watching golf and 24 and The Office reruns so I’m gonna have to knock something together quickly later tonight.

If you have any spectacularly creative ideas or inspiration as to how I might achieve this with the minimum amount of effort, drop me a line at the usual address. And I promise there will be a real reward this time for the any information that leads to a quick arrest/avoids me having to be evicted due to unemployment. Many thanks.

Meantime, here’s the thing I sent to the newspaper this week.

It has been brought to my attention that this column may be concerning itself too much with trivial matters, some of which stretch the bounds of credibility to the limit. This critical assessment arrived in several guises following last week’s triumphant tale of how I managed to persuade a date to do my laundry after my washing machine packed up.

The main thrust of the disapproval was directed not, as you might imagine, at the fact that I was able to get my laundry done in such a brazen fashion. Because let’s face it, women love doing laundry. No, the questioning centred on other issues and can be neatly summarised by the email I received from one so-called friend who remarked,

“You had a date? YOU? With a woman?”

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I had such glad tidings to shout about but the sceptical tone of his email got me thinking that perhaps I should refrain from writing about personal experiences and turn my hand instead to commentary on the burning issues of the day. Up until now I’ve avoided such an approach for two very good reasons.

1. I don’t watch the news very much so I conceal my ignorance by just making stuff up.
2. I lied about there being two very good reasons.

However, a shift of this magnitude was one I couldn’t make without specialist help so I decided to call my life coach to acquire the insightful wisdom I needed.

Ring, ring.

“Hi Mum,” I chirped as the phone was answered. “It’s Neil.”
“I’m sorry, who?” she replied flatly.
“Neil. Your eldest and dearest son.”
“Nope, sorry. You must be mistaken. I used to have a son called Neil who phoned me all the time to let me know what was going on in his life. But he went off somewhere to try and be a writer so now I have to read a newspaper every week and decipher the fanciful outpourings from his deluded mind. Believe it or not, last week he was trying to claim he had a date. Sad really. Such a beautiful child.”


As the sound of the dialling tone rattled through my brain like a parental machine gun, I decided enough was enough. It was time to grow up and get serious.

Without further ado then, this column will henceforth concentrate solely on matters of national importance, shaping opinion and raising the level of debate on all crucial topics; like the decline in the use of the word ‘henceforth’ among our young people for one. And the fact that Gary Lineker is rubbish at presenting the BBC’s golf coverage of the US Masters for another. Surely the obvious choice should have been Kirsty Gallagher, daughter of former Ryder Cup captain Bernard, and far more pleasing on the eye during all those rain delays.

The big story of the week though was the furore surrounding the alleged visit of Prince Harry and friends to a lap dancing club to celebrate the end of their officer training. One report claimed he paid £60 for a private dance during which “excessive jiggling” was involved. To fulfil my new remit as biting social commentator, I took it upon myself to visit the establishment in question at the weekend and can now report that this story is a complete fabrication. Excessive jiggling costs £70.

Next Tuesday this column will turn its attention to the serious matters of bird flu in Fife and Jack McConnell in New York. Coincidence? Other major talking points will be covered in weeks to come.

Unless I fix up another date of course. With a woman.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Remember those lazy days in the office around Christmas time when you’d wile away an hour or six spanking your penguin? Well the good old days are back again and if you click here, you’ll discover another addictive diversion to help you wind down for the chocolate / egg / bunny festival that is Easter. It doesn’t quite have the same satisfaction levels as beating the crap out of a polar animal but what the hell.

Oh, and Jimmy - if you’re reading this through the haze of your daily hangover, (although granted, the bhoys done awfully good last night) here’s the score to beat so far.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Steamie

One of these days I’ll do something other than just copy and paste a weekly newspaper article in this space.

Could be I’ll explain to you why last week’s ‘ER’ was stunning television in every way. So, for that matter, was 9/11 documentary ‘The Falling Man’.

Perhaps I’ll finally get round to replying to an email asking my glib opinion on a range of comparative and fascinating subject matters – ‘Swap Shop’ or ‘Tiswas’? Cats or dogs? Shampoo AND conditioner?

I might just scribble a few words on a postcard after giving in to the urge to just jump on a plane on a whim for a weekend of tapas and San Miguel.

Or maybe I’ll reveal the secret source who supplies me with not-entirely-legal dvds of ‘Capote’ and ‘Syriana’ and the second season of ‘Lost’ (plot spoiler alert – the hobbit’s a drug addict!) while simultaneously denouncing such practices as neither big nor clever and you should really know better Andy. Seriously kids, don’t try it at home… if you ever COME home that is… I mean, how hard is it to pick up a phone and tell us where you are Neil… do you think this place is a hotel?… eh?... well, do you?

Until then, this is all I got…

As regular readers of this column will testify, I know everything there is to know about women. For example, I know that they like to decorate their homes with candles and pine cones and tiny little boxes too small and impractical to contain anything more than a stamp. I also know that they like shopping and cooking and having babies and because of their superior development in the field of multi-tasking, can often perform all three simultaneously. I even know that they have a strong preference as to how the toilet seat should be positioned after use. If I’m not mistaken, the correct answer is up, presumably because it makes it easier to clean.

Apart from a thriving consultancy business where I dish out this vital information to less fortunate pals – “Should you get her a cactus for Valentine’s Day? Sure mate, she’ll love it.” – I’ve had few opportunities of late to utilise my encyclopaedic knowledge for personal gain. However last week, all the long hours spent researching magazines and websites paid dividends as my knowledge of women turned potential disaster into glorious triumph.

The week began, quite literally, with a bang when my washing machine did a passable impression of a machine gun during an energetic spin cycle and ground to a halt. I stared at it for a while expecting it to just fix itself but the wisps of smoke emanating from the filter suggested something serious had happened. I even tried pressing various combinations of the complicated looking buttons on the front (I only ever use one setting) but nothing seemed to work.

My first instinct, of course, was to summon my mother to make a 100-mile round trip to collect the laundry and sort things out but since that strategy hasn’t worked for over twenty years, I decided to go with plan B. As luck would have it, I had a date fixed up for Saturday night and in an instant the solution presented itself. My date is a woman. Women like washing. Save up laundry and take to woman. Easy.

Sure enough, I turned up on Saturday two hours early (ever the thoughtful companion) with the laundry sack slung over my shoulder and immediately turned on the charm.

“Hi there. Great to see you. How're you doing? Any chance of using your washing machine? Your hair looks lovely. Oh, you haven’t washed it yet? Never mind, plenty time.”

My date’s speechless manner and curious smile was enough to tell me that the witty repartee was working its magic and her reaction couldn’t have been happier if I’d produced two tickets for a Star Trek convention.

“How would you like me to wash your delicates?” she asked as she directed me through to the utility room. I was about to reply that it seemed a bit early in the date to be discussing communal showering rituals when she qualified her question with, “Because I usually separate underwear from shirts before they go in the machine.”

I had no idea what the hell she was talking about so assured her that whatever she felt was best would be fine.

“And is this all you’ve got?” she exclaimed looking at my four shirts and two pairs of boxers.

Keen to impress her further with tales from my backpacking experiences I explained that in an emergency, underwear can be worn four times, front and back and inside and out.

Two hours later the laundry was done and I had enough clothes for the next month or so. Being the perfect gentleman, I decided not to ask her to do the ironing – but of course my extensive knowledge of women tells me she would really have loved to.