Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas

I got slightly chastised by someone in America earlier this week for wishing them “Happy Holidays”.

“Are you some kind of gutless, kowtowin’, politically-correct, commie-lovin’, whale-savin’, carpet-munchin’, Mitsubishi-drivin’, pinko liberal type?” she seemed to be implying as I read between the lines and ignored the vivid image of her spitting tobacco and reloading her shotgun.

“Not really,” I replied, after contacting my lawyer about restraining orders. “I drive a Toyota.”

So just in case there’s any trouble, I’m off to the seclusion of the Borders for a week to meet up with my family in a secret Witness Protection Programme-owned property, fifteen miles west of Langholm, just off the B907, near the Bentpath cemetery.

I shall, of course, return briefly on Wednesday to play the FINN COUSINS GIG IN FALKIRK so hope to see you there if you can make it. If not, be sure and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS. Y’all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Amo, Amas, Amat... And All That

So… Milan. Nice city. Not jaw-dropping, not pig-ugly, just… um… nice. Pleasant. Agreeable. If you’re planning a trip there anytime soon here are my top three survival tips…

1. Learn how to speak Italian.
Believe it or not, English is not the primary language in Italy. Luckily for me, a lifetime of watching ‘Gregory’s Girl’ coupled with my Latin class during 2nd year at High School, had equipped me with all the necessary vocabulary to handle any situation.

Pizza? – “Bella!”
Women? – “Bella! Bella!”
Can you spare 2 Euros? – “tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito” (Yield not to misfortunes but advance all the more boldly against them)
How the f#ck do we get off this packed Metro? – “In meus signum, nisi abyssus” (On my signal, unleash hell)

2. Treat the women with respect.
The women in Milan are undoubtedly bella bella but more than that, they also smell incredible. However, unlike those who frequent certain bars I could mention in Falkirk, they do not seem to appreciate being approached and sniffed at close quarters.

3. Don’t have dinner in a restaurant.
Not when you can go to most bars between 5pm and 7pm and help yourself to a free, all-you-can-eat buffet of breads, meats, pasta, rice, couscous (what IS that by the way?) and many other culinary delights. THAT, my friends, is a happy hour!

But I didn’t just go to Milan to eat pizza and sip coffee (although that is reason enough) so this email I received a couple of weeks ago should explain all.

Date: Mon, 04 Dec 2006 18:33:27 GMT
Subject: Congratulations - You have won!!!

Just a quick note to let you know that your name has been drawn for one ticket for the performance by Sting & Edin Karamazov in the intimate surroundings of the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan on December 13.

What you now need to do is email us back at no later than midnight tomorrow confirming that you can accept your ticket. Once you have done this your name will be added to the guest list for the event. Please note DO NOT accept a ticket with the intention of giving it to someone else. Your name will be on the guest list and you will require photo id in order to receive your invitation to gain admittance to the event.

Because the event is admission by invitation via a guest list, although you are free to tell anyone that you have won a ticket you may wish not to publicise your name for fear of someone trying to gatecrash the event in your place. The choice of who you tell is therefore yours.


Keen-eyed readers may remember that I had my reservations back in May about this project and to date, I’m still not convinced that Sting hasn’t crawled too far up his own arse, so I can’t yet bring myself to buy the album. But when I received this email (and then discovered that I could get a return flight to Italy for £40) I reasoned that if you’re going to see a once-great pop star perform 16th century music on his lute, you might as well accept a free ticket for his concert in the beautiful surroundings of an ancient church. In Milan. Given those parameters, the gig was pretty good and definitely worth the trip and although he didn’t confirm it in so many words, I think he might be returning the favour by making a surprise appearance at The Finn Cousins gig next week.

Oh, and one other cultural point for you high-brow literary types. The concert venue, the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, is also the home of Leonardo’s ‘The Last Supper’, the painting featured so prominently in Will Shakespeare’s page-turning thriller ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (“Unputdownable” – Queen Elizabeth I) Many scholars and conspiracy theorists claim that the painting contains all manner of hidden meanings but personally I think the message is rather obvious.

Sorry. I really wanted to show you some photos of me standing in various piazzas wearing a scarf tied up in that Euro-bohemian, fancy pants type of way (remember that?) but my camera went a bit funny so you’ll have to make do with blasphemous religious imagery instead. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Just Wanna Be...

… (bup-ba-dada, bup-bup…) your teddy bear.

This week, I have mostly been in Milan (did I mention I was going to Italy?) which I’ll tell you about next week once I’ve finished getting all the pizza stains out my beard. But last week, more importantly, I was down south in England at my sister’s to see my nephew Tommy’s starring performance in his nursery Christmas show, ‘All About Christmas’.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, a solitary little teddy bear wakes at the foot of the Christmas tree and learns all about Christmas (see what they did there?) from a variety of time-travelling, musical characters including Father Christmas, some angels, a fairy or two, a wise man or three, assorted mince pies and the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Playing the crucial, pivotal role of Teddy, Tommy brought a vulnerable gravitas and depth of emotion to the part seldom seen in nursery performances and he held the whole production together when less accomplished actors (so-called) dried up under the white heat of the spotlights. People are still talking about his phenomenal improvisation skills when, sensing some anguish among the cast, he advised Mince Pie No.3 to “go and use the toilet if you need a wee.”

After the last of the bows and the curtain calls were completed, we made our way home and decided, since it was still too early to start drinking, to play a quick game of Who’s The Cutest Teddy Bear Of Them All. Now you too can play so cast your votes in the usual manner and pretend there’s a big prize on offer if your choice matches that of the judges.

So is it…

Teddy No.1: My sister Rona who seems to be saying, “Look, you made me cock my head to the side now just hurry up and take the effin photo. And are you sure it’s too early to start drinking?”

Teddy No.2: Rona’s ‘special needs’ husband Al. Sad really.

Teddy No.3: Your friendly neighbourhood blogger with the facial hair to match.

Teddy No.4: Tommy, the original and still the best?

The choice is yours.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Two Weeks And TWO DAYS To Go

And you thought Christmas fell on the 25th!

While you’re jotting that down in your diaries, I’m off to Italy. Ciao.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bits & Pieces...

…remember THAT quiz from the Radio 1 roadshow? Peter “Hello Mate” Powell live from Weston-Super-Sands-Under-Yarmouth, or some such place? Man, I would’ve killed on that quiz. But I digress…

I had something really, REALLY funny to tell you today but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what it was. I seem to have started a lot of things this week but for some reason or other I’ve had trouble finishi…

So are you enjoying the re-runs of ‘This Life’ on BBC2? How hot is Anna? How addictive is ‘Lost’? D’ya wanna know what happens later in season 3? How hot is that new chick that fancies Jack? How good were Take That on ITV on Saturday night? Robbie who? How hot was Gar... eh... never mind. And how FANTASTIC is ‘Planet Earth’? And when is 'ER' coming back? Do you think I’m watching too much television? Are you getting annoyed by all these questions? Does a Pope sh#t in the Vatican?

Okay, some bullet points instead…

1. If I had a microphone/headset thingy for this computer I’d do what Lesley did last week and let you hear my voice. Podcasting Millionaire has now squeezed itself into my top five list of ideal occupations.

2. Current favourite listening is ‘Built To Last’ by Scottish band the Endrick Brothers which I managed to ‘download’ (is that the correct terminology?) free through some Beanscene promotion. Not a wide choice of up to date, ‘popular’ tunes but you can still find some gems there so definitely worth it for the 50 free songs. Now how do I copy them on to black vinyl?

3. If you’re struggling to think of a Christmas gift for me I will DEFINITELY be happy with this. And yes, I’m aware of the relentless, ruthless, globalisation, domination argument blah blah blah but f#ck it, the products are tasty.

4. Unexpected news of the week is that I have to go to Milan (that’s in Italy) for a couple of days next week (although apparently, I’m not allowed to tell you why at the moment) but if you’re speculating that perhaps the Champions League line-ups may have a new face when the knockout stages begin in the new year, then that would certainly be one explanation.

5. And finally… according to the counter thingy on Blogger, this is the 299th post to this website. The 300th one is gonna be a cracker so come back on Monday to readallaboutit.