Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Blogathon Over And Out

So how was it for YOU? Are you tired after 31 days NON-STOP? Reading this p#sh every day for a whole month? Or is this the first time you’ve ever been here and you’ve already made up your mind not to read the next paragraph? In case I start telling you about my cat? Or my new hat? Or my dapper cravat? (Can you tell I own a rhyming dictionary?)

So many questions... but anyway, enough already. I’m off to find rock ‘n roll fame so have fun while I’m away and I’ll see you both next month. Maybe.

N x

Monday, October 30, 2006

Never Mind The Bollocks...

… Here Come The… um… sh#t, we forgot to think of a name!

I know what you’re thinking… the clocks have just gone back here in the UK condemning you to six months of seemingly endless darkness and signalling the imminent arrival of Brussel sprouts to spoil your Christmas. What I really need, you think to yourself, is to get out of the house and travel as many miles as it takes to find some quality live music in the amiable surroundings of a venue selling strong liquor.

Well you’re in luck because tomorrow I’m heading south to meet up with my cousin Franc (you remember him?) and begin rehearsals for our forthcoming ‘concert tour’. Vast arenas, state of the art sound systems, laser-induced light shows, legions of roadies, backstage parties, excitable groupies and illegal substances are just a few of the things we won’t be experiencing during our Takin’ It To The People Tour 2006 which, if we’re totally honest, should really be called the Takin’ It To The People Of A Small Corner Of Warwickshire Tour 2006, if the venues listed below are anything to go by.

But no matter, because it’s all about the music (right?) and your journey will be well rewarded with the sweet harmonic sounds of Lennon, McCartney (not Heather), Simon, Garfunkel, Mclean, Martyn, Buckley, Petty, Rice, Gray, Johnson, Gallagher, Hendry, The Signals, Snow Patrol, Crowded House and many, many more. There may even be a few Barenaked Ladies!

If you need a little help imagining the elaborate staging of these prodigious events (and NO Hammy, I WON’T be wearing my chunky ‘folk jumper’) then the picture below should give you a clue as to the levels of raw, sexual energy that will be emitted. It’s just not a proper gig unless you perform each song with the angsty eyes-tight-shut.

This is a photo of New Zealand brothers Neil & Tim Finn (from Split Enz and Crowded House) who Franc and I saw in Edinburgh a couple of years back and… hey, hang on a minute… they’re related and they play gigs together… THAT’S what we should call ourselves - The Sutherland Brothers… except we’re not brothers… and wasn’t there already a band called that… so, what about… The Sutherland Cousins… nah, a bit of a mouthful (as our groupies would say!) so… The Finn Cousins!!!

So, we’re looking forward to seeing you at one (or all) of the gigs below. If for some crazy reason you can’t make it, then perhaps you could lend me your video camera instead and I’ll arrange to record the shows and put them on the internet so we can be discovered and become famous and finally buy ourselves Raleigh Chopper bikes and arrange gigs in a town near you. Let’s… ahem… ROCK!

Thurs 2nd Nov – The George Inn, Barford St Michael, near Bloxham.
Fri 3rd Nov – Chandlers Arms, Epwell, between Banbury and Shipston on Stour
Sat 4th Nov (2 – 5pm) – The Two Boats, Long Itchington, near Southam
Sat 4th Nov – The Bridge, Napton on the Hill, near Southam

P.S. I think the only pub missing from this list is The Slaughtered Lamb! And best bring along your Morris Dancing gear in case we suck and need a distraction for a fast exit!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Only 56 Days To Go

Having observed one of the end-of-year ‘holidays’ yesterday, it’s surely time to move on and deal with Christmas. So courtesy of pimple-arsed Bruce (again!) here’s a little game you can play to vent your frustration at all those beloved relatives who insist on serving you Devil Food on December 25th.

(Isn’t there a joke somewhere about elderly relatives and vegetables?)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Let Me Be The First To Wish You A...

My pal Bruce sent me this about two weeks ago and then last night it turned up on 'Have I Got News For You'. Amazing, or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Swap Shop

Right then... today I’m on the hunt for a wee favour. I’m looking to borrow a digital video camera next week for a small.. *ahem*.. personal project that I’ll tell you more about on Monday. Ideally, it should be idiot-proof; i.e. not too many buttons, and cheap (if I have to hire it) and easy to connect to a computer.

In return for the borrowing/hire I am willing to swap my Raleigh Chopper bike and my clackers (were they banned in your school too?) which I’m sure, now that I’ve looked at them again, can serve more than their original purpose as an innocent children’s toy. Ladies?

Seriously, if anyone has any contacts and/or resources (Stuart – university supplies? Pooch/Andy – perhaps from your ‘gimp’ room?) to help me out, I’d be very much obliged. Just drop me a line to ‘Top International Televisual Solutions’ at neil@neilwritestheworld.com.

Cheers and have a nice weekend. Is this when we put the clocks back? If so, I’m going back to 1983!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Weekend Achievements 3

The saga of my autumnal World’s Greatest Uncle Tour 2006 would not be complete without another quick mention of my feisty two and a half year-old nephew Fraser. There was much celebration on Sunday afternoon when he managed to “do wee-wee” STANDING UP for the first time. (Although frankly, I think my first clumsy attempts at using cutlery for the first time later that same afternoon just shaded it.)

Actually, that’s not quite accurate because when I visited Fraser earlier this year, he was running about half dressed as I built him yet another magnificent rail track and got so excited at the magnificence on display that he managed to do wee-wee standing up right there in the living room; on top of the Fat Controller’s head. (To clarify, the Fat Controller is a little model of a much loved children’s character; ergo, the Fat Controller is not ME.) So on Sunday we were celebrating the fact that he managed to perform all the complicated multi-tasking involved in standing up and wee-weeing INTO THE TOILET for the first time.

Sometime later – after he’d calmed down and I’d resorted to eating from a nosebag – I sat him down and quietly explained that when he grows up and turns forty, he will once again discover the simple majesty and sweet merciful relief of peeing into a toilet SITTING DOWN. As you can see from the photo below, (and yes, I only own one t-shirt) he wasn’t too impressed with this, on-the-face-of-it, backward evolutionary step. He’ll learn.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Weekend Achievements 2

Most of you, I know, have been following the ongoing research within the scientific community to devise a DNA algorithm for solving the NP-Complete problem (the Shortest Common Superstring Problem, in layman-speak) by manipulation of biomolecules, and have no doubt been as troubled as I about the lack of tangible progress in this field.

Well fret no more because as you can see from my lab photos, my little three year-old nephew Tommy cracked the code on Sunday and produced an impressive model of his controversial TRIPLE helix theory in the process.

He’s currently in the process of typing up his 10,000 word thesis on the subject - which should provide nice stocking fillers for the family come Christmas time - complete with supplementary graphics of Lightning McQueen and Thomas. The tank engine guy.

Not to be outdone, Tommy’s six month-old sister Amy rolled herself over on to her front for the first time on Sunday night and it was quite a sight to see. She wasn’t quite sure what to do next so adopted the limbs-out, head-back position much loved by freefalling skydivers the world over. (Don’t tell her mother but I’m gonna have her walking at Christmas.)

Amy has a very wise and knowing air for someone so young and often looks at me as if to say, “Hey Scruffy! I could leap out of this swing and juggle all those balls whilst hopping on one leg if I wanted to but you just fed me custard so I’m gonna chill here for a while.”

And check out this similar expression after hearing yet another of younger cousin Jude’s stories about world class nappy filling. “Hhmmph. Boys are like, SO childish. And get your grubby hands off my jar of puréed pizza Uncle Neil, you greedy b…”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Weekend Achievements 1

I’m making no apologies for being an uncle bore this week, such was the enjoyment of spending time with my four fun-loving nephews and one gorgeous niece over the weekend. There are many worthy achievements to tell you about not least of which was my restraint in NOT punching any of the stupid f#cking Cockneys clogging up the f#cking check-in/security lines at f#cking Gatwick airport last night after I’d spent two f#cking hours parked on the f#cking M25… deep breath Neil… 1, 2, 3…

Anyway, here’s a quick taster of things to come as we see cheeky cousins Tommy and Fraser happily playing with their trains together; not a remarkable achievement in itself such is their natural affinity for one another. What IS remarkable, of course, is the wonderful train track which their Uncle Neil built WITH HIS OWN FAIR HANDS! Tunnels, bridges, sheds, stations, loop-the-loops, overpriced sandwiches, gruff-mannered platform staff, ticket barriers – that baby has got the lot. Once I perfect my balloon animals and get a clown suit, my comprehensive consultancy service will be available to mange all of your child social engagement needs. (Book early to avoid the Christmas rush.)

Tomorrow: Tommy wins Nobel Prize and Amy goes flying.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Aint Gonna Stand For No Cheeky Monkeys Muthaf..

I’ve been learning some new songs in the past few days (and not just because I’m going back out ‘on the road’ next month - venue details and booking information coming soon) courtesy of my musical nephews Tommy & Fraser. Most of the songs, thankfully, are fairly informative but harmless. For example, did you know that as well as the wheels on the bus going round and around, there are also grannies on the bus who go ‘knit, knit, knit’ and mummies on the bus who go ‘chatter, chatter, chatter’? As you would expect, I asked Tommy whether this song might not just be reinforcing outdated sexual stereotypes but he confirmed that in his experience, other mummies seem to ‘chatter’ non-stop about how hard it is to decide between buying new kiddies shoes or an extra bottle of white wine. (He also whispered to me that a few of the old knitting grannies tended to smell of pee.)

But some of the other songs were a bit more dark and troubling and hinted at a level of violence not often found outside the toughest L.A. gangs. Driving back from the park the other day, Tommy’s little angelic voice struck up from the back seat…

Five cheeky monkeys swinging through the trees…” accompanied by some cute little arm movements to approximate ‘swinging’.

…teasing Mr Crocodile, ‘can’t catch me’…” hands each side of the head as if replicating moose antlers and waving impudently at the crocodile. At this point the singing gets slower and more dramatically tense and I get the feeling things aren’t going to end well.

AAA-long came the crocodile…” arms together stretched out in front and moving in a snaking, stealth-like manner through the water “…quiet as can be…” arms slowly part very wide as if jaws are opening… “SNAP!!!

“F#cking hell,” I thought quietly to myself as I struggled to keep the car on the road. I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say that when the next verse started there were less than five cheeky monkeys doing any swinging.

Tomorrow: Itsy Bitsy’s back! And this time she’s mad as hell!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some Viewer Discretion Advised

When my pal Donald first told me he was a big fan of doing it “30-Second Bunnies-style”, I felt a bit embarrassed that he was being so open about short changing his wife in the Marital Obligations Department. But then he went on to explain that he was, in fact, NOT crap in bed and what he’d really been referring to was a website where he enjoyed catching up on classic movies as reinacted in 30 seconds by some comical cartoon bunnies.

As a busy father of two he didn’t have a lot of time to scratch his arse never mind actually leave the house for a night of social enjoyment so the website was the perfect way to keep abreast of what was happening in the Hollywood world outside. Having been down south for the past few days “helping” my sister with her kids, I now realise that spare time is a precious commodity so this website is a good, quick release from the pressures of being The Greatest Uncle In The World.

If you’d like to do it 30-Second Bunnies-style, click here on these pink words that’re underlined.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a nappy needing changed so I’m away out the back for a smoke whilst my sister deals with it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

This Tape Will Self Destruct In 5 Seconds

"Agent Orange, this is Vatican One. Excellent work but be advised; do not make your efforts too obvious. We do not wish to compromise the mission this early in. Good luck. Vatican One out."

Very parochial and shallow, I know. But it made me laugh.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Amuse Yourselves

I realise THIS doesn’t have the same Friday adrenalin rush as spankin’ your monkey but it’s good for your brain. Mind you, so is broccoli.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Top Ten Reasons...

…why the years 1981 – 1984 DIDN’T suck.

Last week, my pal Gordon had the bare-faced temerity to suggest that we’d all have been a lot better off, thank you very much, had the years 1981 – 1984 not existed, thus saving us the embarrassment of walking around for 48 months with those Flock of Seagulls hairstyles. Obviously I couldn’t let this outrageous affront go by unchallenged (I LOVED getting that haircut) so being the reasonable and cultured soul that I am, I offered to give him a right good kickin’. Gordon replied that perhaps pistols at dawn would be a more gentlemanly way to settle the matter but quite quickly we realised that neither of us had the resources to go through with this – we don’t ‘do’ dawn. So, since the keyboard is mightier than the Walmart handgun, here’s a few wordy retorts off the top of my head...

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark – July, 1981
The perfect cinematic experience.

2. The Police – Ingliston, Edinburgh – December 31st, 1981
My first time seeing them in concert was absolutely electric. Best Hogmany ever.

3. Rory Gallagher – The Apollo, Glasgow – May 1982
The legendary rockin’ Irish bluesman in the most legendary venue of them all. The after-show party was pretty good too!!!

4. John Cougar Mellencamp – ‘Jack & Diane’ – October 1982
The perfect rock ‘n roll single.

5. Diner – November 1982
The best film I saw whilst bunking off lectures at university and still an all-time favourite.

6. The Tube – Channel 4 – November 1982
Arguably the best live music television show ever.

7. Cheers – Channel 4 – February 1983
Arguably the best sit-com ever.

8. Aztec Camera – ‘High Land, Hard Rain’ – April 1983
Amazing, still, to think that Roddy Frame was just a teenager when he wrote this perfect collection of pop songs.

9. The Signals – The Kinneil Bar, Bo’ness – December 24th, 1983
The debut live show from the ‘classic’ line–up performed in a venue that the locals affectionately called ‘death hole’. Memorably, the DJ retained a sizeable length of lead pipe under his decks “in case they b#stards get o’er excited like”.

10. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born In The USA’ – June 1984
Despite the bombastic title track and Courtney Cox’s dancing in the dark, this is a perfectly observed collection of songs about small town life. A late night favourite in The Signals van on the way home from gigs. Oh, and 1982’s ‘Nebraska’ is arguably better still.

So all that and I haven’t even mentioned E.T., Starman, Return of the Jedi, The Right Stuff, The Natural, The Verdict, Tender Mercies, Rocky III, Ghostbusters, Footloose, Thriller, The Unforgettable Fire, War, Synchronicity, Dare, The Lexicon of Love, The Crossing, Steeltown, Sparkle in the Rain, Dare, Sexual Healing, Rip It Up, Party Fears Two, Town Called Malice and of course, The Allan Hendry Band, live at the Alma Theatre, Falkirk on June 17th 1983. What a night!

Feel free to add your own special memories at your leisure.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hoots Mon!

I’m going down south tomorrow to teach my nephews the ancient art of conkers and as you can see from the adjacent photo, I have acquired a MASSIVE specimen to ensure that I win all uncle v nephew contests and send them running to their parents with bruised knuckles, ha, ha, ha. But how, I hear you ask, did I manage to secure such a remarkable example of King Conkery…?

Like most Scots, I tend to spend my Tuesday mornings taking a leisurely stroll around my local loch, all the while keeping a sharp eye out in case a rogue haggis runs up my kilt whilst I’m in the middle of playing the bagpipes and eating shortbread. Last Tuesday – as I was sitting having a quiet smoke by the water’s edge and giving my chanter a vigorous rubdown – an Alsatian dog went rushing by chasing a squirrel which promptly disappeared up a tree to escape. The dog remained at the bottom of the tree barking up at the squirrel and seemed set to remain there until Christmas when suddenly a large, jagged, nut-like object came bulleting down from the branches and smacked him on the head. (I swear I’m not making this up.)

Of course I nearly choked on my shortbread with hysterical laughter as the dog sloped off in embarrassment and the squirrel, along the rest of his little Ewok friends, celebrated the destruction of the evil Empire. I kept a safe distance until they had retired to their woodland barbeque and then I went scouting round the base of the tree and discovered my aforementioned MASSIVE conker, mentioned previously.

Now I know sometimes that photos on the internet don’t do justice to the subject matter so I was hopeful of producing a little back-up evidence to underline the impressive height and girth of my specimen. As luck would have it, former Celtic and Liverpool football legend Kenny Dalglish happened to be taking his Tuesday stroll around my local loch so I asked him to pose with the conker to put it in perspective for you. As you can see, my wee nephews don’t stand a chance.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Buffalo On A Plane

Courtesy of Debby in “the Chicago area” comes this insightful video of air travel in the 21st century. Warning; do not drink hot beverages while watching lest you wish the insides of your nose scalded.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Lost My Heart In The Heat Of An Austin Night

Saturday night. The mean streets of Glasgow. Push through the throng of on-street smokers to enter the bar. Descend to the basement venue. Order a pint. Find a seat. Check my watch. When’s the last train home? Ryan Adams is singing ‘Come Pick Me Up’. Do I really wanna be here? Band test mic levels. Lights go down. “A-one, two, three…”

And we’re off… on the most unexpectedly enjoyable gig I’ve seen in years. I’m in Sauchiehall Street’s Nice ‘N Sleazy to see the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash (how good a combination of venue and artist is THAT?) courtesy of a hearty recommendation from my cool, sassy future sister-in-law Kathryn (you remember her?) and it turns out to be a memorable night of thumping and evocative dirty-rockin’ country, honky-tonk, blues fare.

The band are tighter than a Scottish gnat’s chuff with a padlocked wallet and they take you on a pulsating road trip – The Road To Bakersfield, California Sky, Radio Girl, Restless Heart, The Pride of Abilene, Austin Night (take it from me, these boys know what they’re singing about) – all standout landmarks from their latest album ‘Mile Markers’.

Loud bass player, handsome drummer, introverted guitarist with lightning fingers and stocky singer with acoustic guitar; I sit there hoping that this is exactly what it must have been like to see The Signals (you remember them?) at their peak.

A fantastic night all round (Scottish support The Gilded Angels were pretty good too) and my only disappointment was emerging into the night air to discover I wasn’t on Austin’s 4th street ready for another pint at The Ginger Man. Still, it’s only five and a half months till I go back. Until then… been there, seen ‘em, bought the CD and, especially for you Kathryn, bought the t-shirt too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Disney Acts Over 'Sex' Video

I’m sure the actual video featured in this little story is funny too, but reading about it yesterday in the sometimes-earnest Scotsman newspaper – especially the matter-of-fact style of writing in the last paragraph – made me laugh out loud in the middle of a train journey to Glasgow causing concerned parents to tutt and hold their precious children a little bit closer to protect them from “weird scary beardy man”.

The Walt Disney Company yesterday said it took “appropriate action” against employees at its Paris theme park who were caught simulating sex while dressed as Disney characters in a digital video that has received wide attention on the internet.

Disney would not say whether it had dismissed the costumed employees featured in the grainy video, which appears to have been shot with a hidden camera at a backstage dressing room at Disneyland Resort Paris. “The behaviour shown is unacceptable and inexcusable,” a statement said. “The video was taken in the backstage area not accessible to guests. Appropriate action has been taken to deal with the cast members involved.”

The video shows Minnie Mouse being grabbed by Goofy and then by a giant snowman.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


It’s Saturday (and I can’t tell you how gorgeous a day it is here in Scotland) so you’re probably getting ready to hit the garden centre or Home Depot. While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a few of these for around the house…

Friday, October 13, 2006

Whit's THAT Aw Aboot? 3

So… let’s imagine for a moment that you DON’T own an iPod or similar device for playing downloaded music and there are still stores in existence for the business of selling CDs, just like back in the good old days of yore around 2002. And let’s say you’ve purchased a CD and are sitting on the bus on the way home listening to it on your Discman (if you have the strength to carry such a behemoth), the involuntary tapping of your foot and nodding of your head confirming how right you were to make this particular purchase.

And let’s picture the scene as you arrive home and place the CD back in its case ready for filing in strict alphabetical order. You’re looking down on the CD cover and then you cock your head to the right in order to read the details on the spine only to find that the details have been inverted and read from BOTTOM TO TOP. Whit the f#ck is THAT aw aboot? And more importantly, whit do you do next, besides visiting the chiropractor to fix the carnage of having violently thrown your head from right to left. Do you just file it as it is? Or back to front? Or, God forbid, upside down?

Anyway, that isn’t really what I wanted to tell you about. Last night I had a dream… that one day people of all creeds and colours would… no, scratch that. In the dream I had seven fatted calves and the fields were full of nature’s bounty and… no, scratch that.

Seriously, in the dream I was standing in Times Square trying desperately to hail a cab for the airport when I heard someone say that Snow Patrol had just released a new album. Instantly forgetting how late I was for making my flight, I ran into the big Virgin Megastore and started searching. When I found it, the CD only contained eight songs, all of which had been written as some kind of anti-war protest. (Don’t know why that’s relevant.) However, in a miscalculated effort to appease the public and give them value for money, the record company had bundled the CD together with ‘classic albums’ from the 80s (Big Country, The Thompson Twins???) in those chunky double CD cases, much like they sometimes do with DVDs/videos.

As I glanced my eye over the spines of the CD cases and perused all the ‘classic’ options on offer, the ONLY thing I could think about was “how the f#ck am I going to file this at home?” Not only that; this bothered me so much that it WOKE ME UP! Whit’s THAT aw aboot?

Anyway, now that I’ve got it off my chest so early in the day, I can see a lovely afternoon nap looming in my immediate future. Oh and while we’re on the subject… I don’t care how often you write in with your own suggestions, I’m telling you right now that Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ is the song of the year, BAR NONE! ‘N that’s all I gotta say ‘bout that…

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's A Moo Point... (3)

… like a cow’s opinion… it doesn’t matter… it’s moo.

Time to rifle through some correspondence and find out what’s at the forefront of your minds this week. First up – all the way from Texas, America – comes the following from a sweet l’il lady whose hair tumbles freely with a gorgeous honey-dewed aroma and whose eyes are… Huh? What did you say? She’s getting MARRIED next week? So I can’t continue with…? Whadya mean QUIT while I’m ahead - I’ve only gotten to her eyes!

Anyway, as I was saying, I got this email which said…

Man + Vacation = Mancation. Can’t wait to hear your glib and uninformed opinion about it! Especially since you were doing it with your buddies before it became the hot new trend…

m xxx

Having never encountered the term before, my first concern was to clarify exactly what “it” was I’d being doing with my “buddies” all these years. In order to keep my opinion as glib and uninformed as possible, I carried out the minimal amount of research and stumbled across the following definition.

Mancation (n)
1) Period of time where female significant other is absent, thus leaving male on his own without feeling obliged to female concerns. (If THIS is true then I’m on permanent mancation.)

2) Male-only vacation, usu. with intentions to escape female significant other.

N.B. This is a period that should involve take-out, canned beer, not making the bed. It is not to be confused with semi-awkward male-only fishing, hiking or camping trip where the unspoken goal is to prove manliness. See: Bareback Mountain

Related terms: Bromance

The definition went on to say that the term was “famously invoked” by Vince Vaughn in ‘The Break Up’ with Jennifer Aniston – “I’m excited. I look at it like I’m on mancation.” – but I can’t confirm this because ‘The Break Up’ is a chick flick and is likely to contain scenes of a weeping and/or r, r, r, r, relationship nature, so I haven’t seen it.

So yeah, I’ve been on male-only vacations (check back next week for possible photos) where the pursuit of birdies and holes-in-one has been the prime objective. And if they were hard to come by, then we’d just go play golf. Boom Boom!

However my main problem with the term ‘mancation’ is the clumsy use of the play-on-words. Surely it only works if the basic construction of the word remains? (Remember: rhyming, good) As I said to a close personal friend the other day, “If I was travelling in May then I’d be going on a ‘Maycation’; or if I was taking a trip to the bay it would be a ‘baycation’.”

“So maybe you should call it a ‘gaycation’ instead,” he replied with a wink. The rogue.

Anyway, I could drone on (even further) with stories from previous mancations (like the time six of us spent a whole morning huddled round a television engrossed in an infomercial for this) but instead let me leave you with a little game you can play the next time you’re away with your buddies.

Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox & the blond one. Which one would you marry, which one would you sh#g and which one would you throw off a cliff? Discuss.

If you have a favourite subject you’d like analysed quickly and glibly, send your suggestion to “It’s A Moo Point” at neil@neilwritestheworld.com

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just A Bit Off The Sides?

My next door neighbours have a hedge in their back garden which separates our two properties and for a while now (i.e. ever since I moved here seven years ago) I’ve been thinking that I really should tidy up my side of it. As you can see from the ‘before’ photo below, it was getting a bit out of hand and more importantly, it was obstructing my view into the bedrooms of the house diagonally opposite. (By the way, check out the size of my power tool lying on the sheet ready for action.)

So yesterday I finally took matters into my own hands by keeping a firm grip on my power tool at all times and launching into some advanced hedge sculpting, or topiary as we say in the horticultural game. I realised quite quickly that attempting a twenty foot-wide recreation of the Millennium Falcon was a little out of my reach so I settled for a short back and sides instead.

As you can see from the ‘after’ photo below, it’s a big improvement on what was there before (THREE windows in view now) although I wasn’t able to reach the highest bits on my neighbours’ side of the fence. When I rang their doorbell and spoke to the nice lady who answered, she was appreciative of my offer but informed me that her husband would be trimming her bush at the weekend thank you very much. Aw c’mon, gimme a break - it was such an obvious joke.

If you have a bush that needs trimmed by my large power tool, send your FULL details to “Top International Topiary Solutions” at neil@neilwritestheworld.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Happy Birthday Joe

I can’t quite believe this as I type it but today is the 18th birthday of my eldest nephew Joe. That’s him on the right of the photo below having a right good laugh after challenging his brother Fraser (in the middle) and cousin Tommy to see who could eat their ice cream the fastest. Aw, look at their poor wee brain-freeze faces.

Like most teenagers, Joe’s a sensitive soul who thinks his uncles are the bees b#llocks so I won’t embarrass him by saying that it only seems like yesterday since we were playing Spyro the Dragon together on his Playstation and watching his video of The Little Mermaid on a seemingly continuous loop.

Tonight, no doubt, he’ll be experiencing his first ever sip of alcohol (HA! HA!) but if he’ll accept one more piece of uncle advice from me, DON’T do what I did on my 18th birthday.

It was… *gulp*… 1982, I was still at High School and I was due to sit my Maths Higher exam (for the second time) that afternoon. On completion of the exam, my so-called friend Donald and I decided we’d go straight from the school assembly hall to the corner bar just down the road and demand alcohol of some description. Being the smart-arsed individual that I was (although come to think of it, Donald might’ve talked me into this) I was wearing the full school uniform (shirt, tie, blazer, lederhosen, etc.) and I’d brought my birth certificate with me in the sincere hope that I’d be asked my age. The scenario played out a little like this…


Strapping 18 year-old Neil and stocky friend Donald enter deserted bar, faces fixed with a fox-like focus and smug smiles seeping from the corner of their mouths as they straighten their school ties. A wench-like barmaid appears from below the bar.

NEIL (smugly): “Two pints of lager please.”
WENCH (disinterestedly): “I’m sorry son , I cannae serve ye.”
NEIL (in high pitched squeal as he removes birth certificate from inside pocket and slams on bar): “But I’m 18! See?”
WENCH (smugly): “Naw son, we’re CLOSED.”

Neil and Donald emerge with bowed heads into blinding sunlight to be met by howls of derision from assorted classmates.

So a very happy birthday to you Joe and I hope the party goes well on Saturday night. Drink responsibly (i.e. use a glass) and don’t hesitate to get in touch with your favourite uncle for more style tips and life wisdom.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sacré Bleu…

… or rather, F#CK ME, to give it its more literal Scottish translation… what a weekend!

If you haven’t already heard (probably because you work for the BBC in London) the Scottish national football team beat France 1-0 in Glasgow on Saturday to become World Champions* and I was there to see it. It’s hard to put into context just how unexpected this result was but let’s just say that I had more chance of coming home to find Angelina Jolie and Gillian Anderson rustling up home-made pizzas in my kitchen wearing nothing but beaming smiles and a light dusting of flour and begging me never to leave the house ever again. (I’ll give you a second while you picture that…) It almost makes me want to fly to Africa and adopt a baby so he/she can grow up and produce some grandkids to whom I will eventually be able to say, “I WAS THERE!”

Glasgow was the place to be on Saturday and by good fortune I was able to enjoy pre and post match drinks with an entertaining group of people who somehow manage to maintain and update their own blogs whilst training full time for the Professional Drinking World Championships. If I had the technical know-how, I’d create links to their sites down the side of this page but since I don’t, you can find a list of them (and others) here. Cheers Gordon for organising and by the way, can you believe we beat France 1-0?

And finally… while I’m waiting to secure a proper job of some description I’ve decided to take up a part-time, self-employed position in the public relations industry. My official title is Scottish Media Slut and things got off to a flying start last Thursday when my name was read out by former Scottish rugby player John Beattie on Radio Scotland in reference to the fact that I’d managed to come up with the wrong answer to a phone-in/text-in competition question. Later that same day, I turned my hand to television and made a memorable appearance on Sky Sports when Colin Montgomerie’s second shot to the 9th hole at Kingsbarns ended up running over my toes. And yesterday, I returned to my old stomping ground in the publishing world when the Scotland on Sunday printed a letter I’d submitted about their Ryder Cup coverage.

Later this week you can catch me in the new Scorcese thriller “Things To Do In Linlithgow When You’re Unemployed” and, although I shouldn’t say too much at the moment, I’d recommend getting your hands on the November issue of Hello magazine to find out what Gillian, Angelina and I REALLY get up to in the kitchen.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Spankin' The Penguin - The Last Word

I visited my old office on Friday and was disappointed to discover that the Fun Police in the Big Brother IT Basement had deemed Spanking The Penguin – The Quentin Tarantino Director’s Cut inappropriate for normal work-day access. So apologies to my former colleagues if this resulted in you actually having to get your heads down and churn out some industry on Friday for ‘de man’ .

Posted below is my high score of 983.8 so let me know how you got on if you get a chance. C’mon Clive, I just know you’re itching to tell me that you broke the 1,000 barrier.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

50 First Dates

Before I go out today to do some heavy drinking so I can stagger along to the Scotland v France game at Hampden Park in the time-honoured manner, I have a question. You know how on some websites (banking, blogger, bigwhitebaps) you often have a user name/log on and a password? And you know how sometimes they give you the option to ‘save details’ or ‘remember me’ so that you can shave vital seconds off your log on world record attempt the next time you need to access them?

Well how come my computer seems to remember the details for three or four days but then seems to have its memory wiped on the fifth day almost as if it had never visited the site in the first place? I know there must be an easy answer out there but equally, I hope there might be somebody reading this who can save me the trouble of finding out for myself. (See earlier reference to busy heavy drinking schedule.)

So if you can shed some light on the problem I’d be much obliged. I’m guessing it has something to do with settings or cookies or Groundhog Day (hey, did I mention I met Bill Murray on Thursday?) but then again, it may not.

Friday, October 06, 2006

REALLY Spankin' The Penguin

It’s Friday and I’m sure we’ve all had a tough week (all this blogging and NOT ONE NAP) so today let’s have less words and more play. I know quite a few of you have spent many a frenzied hour in the past spanking your penguin in the office. But now it’s time to take the frenzinessationicity to a whole new level. I’ll post my attempt at a high score sometime over the weekend but meantime flex your wrist muscles and maintain a firm grip at all times as you play Spanking The Penguin – The Quentin Tarantino Director’s Cut.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Heaven In Scotland

Sorry, no time to write because I simply HAVE to go here today to watch this. Come back tomorrow when I’ll have an exciting end-of-week game for you to play.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You Know You Make Me Wanna SHOUT

I’m keeping this brief today ‘cause I have to go and attend a job interview later. Meantime, amuse yourself with this classic Scottish yarn.

Sean Connery is being interviewed by Michael Parkinson, and is bragging that despite his 72 years of age, he can still have ‘shex’ three times a night. Scots singing sensation Lulu, who is also a guest on the show, looks on intrigued. After the show, Lulu asks, “Sean, if Ah'm no bein' too forward, Ah'd love tae hae sax wi an aulder man. Let's go back tae mah place.”

So they go back to her place and have great sex. Afterwards, Sean says, “If you think that was good, let me shleep for half an hour, and we can have even better shex later... but while I'm shleepin’, can you hold my baws in your left hand and my willie in your right.”

He sleeps for half an hour, awakens, and true to his word, they have even better sex than the first time. Then Sean says, “That was truly wonderful darling, but if you let me shleep for an hour thish time, we can have the besht shex yet. But again, you must hold my baws in your left hand and my wullie in your right.”

Lulu is now used to the routine and complies - the results are mind blowing once more. Once it's all over, and the cigarettes are duly lit, Lulu enquires, “Sean, tell me, dis mah haudin yer baws in mah left hand and yer wullie in mah right stimulate ye while yr sleepin?”

Sean replies, “No. But the lasht time I shlept with a Glashwegian, she shtole ma wallet.”

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tartan Shorts 12

Strange Retail Experience Of The Week
Due to the unavailability of my friend Gordon to play golf yesterday, I went down to the local High Street to make a visit to the post office for my pal Bruce. (By the way Bruce – the woman gave me a strange look when your return item in the plain brown package started to buzz!) Anyway, I took the opportunity to pop into the bakers next door to purchase some lovely potato scones but they only had five left. Try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for an ODD NUMBER of breaded goods so I emerged from the shop with only four. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever gone into a bakers and said, “I’ll take seven soft rolls please.”?

Best Television Of The Week
I’ve read some newspaper reviews saying he’s just not amusing anymore but last week’s episode of Ricky Gervais’s Extras was laugh-out-loud, hide-behind-the-Ikea-throw-cushion funny. Cleverly, all the best lines are delivered by the supporting cast, not least of which was Stephen Merchant’s “punching the mongoloid” observation.

Most Disappointing Television Of The Week
Cracker – The plot was rubbish (are there only half a dozen policemen in the whole of Manchester?), the tension was negligible and, criminally, there was no appearance from the Dana Scully of British police drama, DS Penhaligon. At least Robbie Coltrane was good. Let’s hope the return of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect later this month is more engaging*.

Incidentally, if you can tell me the connection (without looking it up) between Robbie Coltrane and the actress who played Penhaligon (apart from the fact they were both in Cracker) then congratulations – you’re as geeky as me.

*Doesn’t necessarily mean she has to get her kit off… unless it’s integral to the plot. Ooh there’s a good idea – Top Ten Films In Which Helen Mirren Gets Her Kit Off

Birthday Of The Week
Sting was 50-something yesterday but I’m reluctant to mark this as any cause for celebration, such is the dread I have for his forthcoming album of 17th century lute music. Instead let’s celebrate the birth of Stephen (or is it Steven?) Kirk who was born at around 11am on Sunday morning to my good friends Graeme & Elaine and immediately opened his eyes and asked his father whether Celtic had won the league yet. “Patience son,” came the soothing reply. “We’ll celebrate at Christmas.”

Funniest Internet Photo Of The Week
I was casually checking divorce rates on Friends Reunited the other day when I came across this photo from 1985 showing the prefects (what’s the US equivalent – hall monitors?) at my old high school. On the face of it, (excluding the hairstyles and the WHITE SOCKS) the photo isn’t particularly hilarious but it made me smile because the handsome young man in the top left hand corner is my wee brother Keith. And the guy standing two places along from him with the World’s Biggest Earlobes, is Scotland’s foremost sports writer, Gordon Waddell of the Sunday Mail. Sorry pal, but it serves you right for not playing golf yesterday!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Public Service Announcement

It’s conference season here in the UK where like-minded people of particular persuasions come together to socialise, debate issues and watch their leaders squirm and smile uncomfortably as they share the same stage together.

This coming Saturday (October 7th), after the Conservative Party have wound up four days of talks about their new logo (a squiggly tree - for p#ssing up against, no doubt.), the main event of the season will take place at the luxury Radisson SAS Hotel in the heart of Glasgow. The gathering will uproot people worldwide from behind their keyboards and screens and bring them together for an eagerly anticipated celebration of quality internet prose and strong Belgian beer.

Guinness-loving Clan Chief™ Gordon McLean is expected to deliver a rousing keynote speech in which he’ll outline his plans for bringing a diverse range of exotic drinks to the table without spilling a drop. The much revered leader has endured a challenging year at the helm but drew admiration from followers and media alike when he refused to drag his tribe into an anticipated bloody conflict with the Trainspotters and Stamp Collectors; the so-called “axis of evil”.

Conference festivities will kick off at 2.00pm on Saturday and full details and directions are available here at the clan website.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Easy Like Sunday Morning

Day 1 of the October blogathon and because it’s Sunday, let’s start with something short and relaxing. (Especially since I played - and walked - 36 holes of golf yesterday and every muscle in my body is screaming “WHAT THE F#CK?”.)

For all you ladies in loving, co-habitative* relationships, I know you spend most Sundays being wooed and looked after by your thoughtful and considerate partners. No doubt he (she?) runs out for the papers and then returns breathless to rustle up a little light breakfast, presenting it to you in bed with an attractive floral decoration, a beaming smile and a pitch-perfect rendition of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”.

But while you’re floating away on a Sunday cloud of soft warm croissants and catchy melodies, have you ever wondered what this song is actually about? Australian comedian Tom Gleeson will explain all if you turn up your volume and click on these green words that are underlined

*The spell check thingy didn’t like this word I made up. And I now suspect that Microsoft has secretly introduced personalised, artificial intelligence into its Word application since the only suggested alternative was “hesitative”!