Friday, March 30, 2007

Something For The Weekend 12

Hey Dave, if you get time over the weekend, have a look at this brilliant thing I discovered here in the States…

If you want to locate a friend, just enter their mobile phone number – you’ll have to key 4 digits in the first box and 7 in the second – and wait for the tracking to find the phone. Wait for it to load completely… it's amazing technology. You might want to keep it away from your better half though! And probably best not to try and access it in the office.

Scary stuff…

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Out Of Office

I am now out of the office attending the funky wedding of my littlest brother Keith and his beautiful fiancé Kathryn in Austin, Texas, USA. It’s gonna be f#cking great! Thank you for your correspondence but I will be unable to delete all the unread, insignificant emails you send me until I return from vacation on April 4th. Please be patient and your mail will be deleted in the order it was received.

However, if you happen to be in the Austin neighbourhood this weekend, why not drop in and see me at the Radisson Hotel & Suites, 111 Cesar Chavez at Congress. That’s the one with a Starbucks IN THE FRICKIN’ LOBBY! (SPRING BREAK WOO HOO!) I’ll be wrapped up in all the groovy wedding celebrations on Saturday but can be tracked down at the Old Pecan Street Café (310 East 6th Street) at 12.30pm on Sunday. Probably still very hung over after sippin’ a couple of tequilas and wearing my kilt over my head.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eh... Pass!

On Saturday evening I got a text message from my friend, The Wee Man, asking me if I could tell him the age of all three members of The Police. He was on a bus at the time with his son, The Wee Wee Man, making his way home from Hampden Park in Glasgow, having just witnessed the magnificent Scottish national football team claim a 2-1 victory over the mighty Georgia. I was quite surprised to hear that the Peach State had been allowed to enter a team in the European Championships but apparently the State was named after King George II of England so that’s alright then.

[Quick aside: Did you know that the 1994 movie “The Madness of George III” had its title changed in the States to “The Madness of King George” because producers were worried that American audiences would assume they’d missed the first two movies in the trilogy and not turn up?]

Anyway, back to The Wee Man. Apparently a furious debate had broken out on the bus journey home about The Police and the age of the three members. Naturally, The Wee Man decided to settle matters by texting The Font Of All Knowledge About The Police, but when I read his question I was dumbstruck. I didn’t know the correct answer. How was I ever going to appear on Mastermind if I couldn’t come up with the most basic of information about my specialist subject?

So apologies to you Wee Man. As penance, I gave myself a right good thrashing on Saturday night and then spent Sunday researching the correct answers. The only one I guessed right was Andy who will be 65 in December. Stewart will be 55 in July and Sting will be 56 in October. Can’t wait to see this youthful trio in concert later in the year!

Police trivia will make its return to a screen near you later next month.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Something For The Weekend 11

Usually on a Friday, I’ll impart some sage cultural wisdom to my young friend Dave who doesn’t get out much because of his low self-esteem and his honking body odour, which, by the way, nobody advises him about but he can so totally tell there’s something up when he catches them turning up their noses and whispering about him.

It had been my intention to tell him about the classy music I’ve been listening to this week (‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ - Prefab Sprout, ‘Eponymous’ – REM, amongst others), during my commutes to work. But I gave him a lift home from a football game last night and he told me that Prefab Sprout was “much too cheery like” and didn’t fit well with his depressive disposition. I wasn’t listening too intently because of the overpowering smell in the car but in the end, I decided against conveying the musical recommendations this week. Plus, during the game, I took the full impact of a Hot Shot Hamish-like power shot right smack bang in the b#llock brains which resulted in me hitting the deck like I’d been snipered, clutching my nadbag in agony. And you women have the cheek to go on about the so-called ‘trauma’ of childbirth… sheesh!

So since I’m sitting here with a bag of frozen peas between my legs, I don’t have the energy to type much more. Except to say Dave that if you fancy a brisk walk on Saturday morning, get yourself along to the Burtons Biscuit Factory on the Calder Road. It’s just up the street from my office building so I paid their factory shop a visit at lunchtime on Wednesday and came back with half a ton of Toffee Pops and now I’m the most popular guy around. See, you can buy yourself popularity and at only £1.20 for a bag of (at least) a hundred biscuits, it’s a bargain. If that doesn’t work, you can always compensate by eating the whole lot yourself. Cheers.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Stuart

One of my little brothers had a birthday today and for the next 37 days or so we will be the same age. (My parents must’ve been right frisky in the 60s!) I forgot to phone him this evening because I was late getting back from a football game where I endured a traumatic incident (see tomorrow) so by way of belated greetings here’s a little story about our early childhood from a couple of years ago. The story that is. From a couple of years ago. Not our early childhood.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Laugh? I Almost Started.

I meant to include this on Monday – and I promise I won’t mention it again for at least another week – but since a couple of people asked me, you can find the article I submitted for inclusion in the new ‘Shaggy Blog Stories’ book by clicking here on these red words that are underlined.

Monday, March 19, 2007

What?!? No Boring Sting Story?

If you’ve dropped by this way because it’s a Monday in March and you’re expecting to read another of those why-The-Police-are-the-greatest-band-in-the-world-and-here’s-another-example-of-my-stalker-like-devotion-to-them pieces, then I’m sorry to disappoint you but I just haven’t had the time to look out all the long lens photos I took of Sting and his family during the 80s. If you’ve dropped by here for another reason – or purely by chance –then I’m not. Sorry, that is. To compensate, I was going to just keep things simple and relay a joke someone sent me on Friday. But then I endured a rather disturbing incident on Saturday which left me shaken so trivial things suddenly seemed unimportant.

Then I received this email on Sunday which seemed a far more worthy thing to tell you about. It’s from the clever guy who put together the blog book for Comic Relief which I was banging on about on Friday. As we speak, the book is raising vital funds to ensure that Davina McCall and Ant & Dec have continued opportunities to cry on camera at the plight of those less fortunate than themselves. Like The Crankies. And Bob Carolgees. (Jeez, I just googled Bob and it appears he and Spit the Dog are in the candle-sellin’ business these days. Not the same as spending Saturday mornings with Sally James, eh guys?)


Following some gentle prodding
(I have a mental image of the internet wielding a deadly electrical device designed for the restraint of velociraptors), I have decided to assemble a signed copy of “Shaggy Blog Stories”. This will be auctioned on eBay with all proceeds going to Comic Relief.

As one of our 101 esteemed contributors, you are invited to sign your name on a sticky label or other suitably adhesive surface
(I’m gonna use bubble gum!), and post it to me. I shall then place your sticker as close as I can get to your piece in the book, without actually obscuring your text.

Hoping you can oblige, think of the children, etc. etc.

Cheers, Mike

(Total copies sold by Sunday evening: 340. Total profit to date, including Lulu.con’s waived commission and 28% gift aid: £1,577.60. Not bad, huh?)

So there you go. If you’re not feeling flush enough to bid for the signed copy of the book, you can still acquire it at a very reasonable price by clicking on these red words that are underlined and then just sign all the names yourself. Think of the children... And Davina.

And finally, I’m not usually one for posting warnings about potential scams but, as I alluded to earlier, I had a close miss on Saturday. I walked into B&Q (think Home Depot if you’re in the States) and some old guy dressed in orange asked me if I wanted decking. Fortunately, I got the first punch in and that was the end of that. Those less suspecting might not be so lucky.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Something For The Weekend 10


I’m a bit hungover today. Or still p#shed? Can’t decide which. So here are four short and sweet things you could be doing/looking forward to this weekend.

1. Next Tuesday evening (I think) on BBC Radio Scotland, there’s a special interview with football legend Henrik Larsson. It’s supposed to be very good. How could it not be?

2. Remember the Finn Cousins? Well one half of the renowned duo (aye, him on the right there – Findlay Finn by day, Leon The Hitman by night) thinks he’s too good for collective glory and is branching out on his own. The selfish wee sh#t has just uploaded a new song to his own myspage page and you can listen to it if you click on these red lines that are underlined. I’d disparage it some more if it wasn’t so darned catchy.

3. Remember all that selfless work I do for charidee that I don’t like to talk about? Well f#ck it – I’m now a published author; me and 99 other people, in a new book called “Shaggy Blog Stories” so this is me talking about it. This book has been compiled and published in a mere seven days by a clever and resourceful guy called Mike Atkinson and the profits (minus my 25%) are going to the Comic Relief Red Nose Charity Fund Thingy.

You can order the book NOW – although not quite in time for Mother’s Day – at the link below. Go on… you know you want to.

And I will be hosting my first public signing at my house anytime you care to pop round with your copy. American readers can track me down at Guero’s, 1412 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX, 78704 – March 28th through April 2nd. I’ll be the Dangerous Rock God Dude (thanks Peggy) in the corner wearing the denim jacket and dog tags sipping tequila.

4. And finally… I lied about there being four things.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Full Denim Jacket

Last Friday at work was, as usual, a day to cast off the suit/business-casual chinos and whip on the Speedos and flip-flops in order to embrace the dress-down, weekend-starts-RIGHT-HERE vibe that ripples through our happy organisation. As a pay-off for getting to dress in beachwear, the staff make a small cash donation and the proceeds go to a different charity every week. To collect the donations, a couple of volunteers always linger at the front door with buckets or tins and once you’ve dropped in a few pennies AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION YOU’RE A MAJOR BENEFACTOR you can usually pass merrily on your way, beach towel slung haphazardly over your shoulder and knotted hankie perched playfully on your head at a jaunty angle.

However last week, in addition to the gauntlet of front door collectors, a gaggle of volunteers had also gathered in the canteen (I can’t quite bring myself to call it a restaurant) and were selling all manner of charity shop-type bric-a-brac to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. In order to get to my desk as quickly as possible to wolf down the roll ‘n square sausage (x2) I’d just purchased, I had to pass very close to the volunteers and their wares and was dreading having to buy yet another of those multi-coloured wrist bands to show my support / awareness / benevolence.

Imagine my delight then when the nice lady explained that multi-coloured wrist bands are just SOOO last year and instead, this year’s must-have charity support / awareness / benevolence accessory IS... this set of very cool dog tags. Before she had time to yell, “Now hit the deck soldier and gimme twenty,” I’d handed her an Andy Jackson and was marching proudly to my desk, dog tags clinking round my neck every step of the way and senses on high alert for the merest hint of Charlie in the undergrowth.

I thought basic training was hard (“Only two things come from Falkirk… steers and queers… and I don’t see no horns on you boy”) but that’s nothing compared to these punishing days in the DMZ (De-Motivated Zone). I’ve lost a lotta good buddies on this tour; some done gone AWOL to second-rate media companies whilst others just disappeared overnight - ruthlessly captured by the other side.

But it’s not all deadly river patrols and village-burnin’. Me and the platoon got a little R ‘n R time in Sum Yunguy at the weekend. Man it was good to blow off some steam. And I sure do love the smell of square sausage in the mornin’; it smells like... mmnnnn… breakfast!

Finally, for my good buddy Donald back home – since he asked so nicely (and because he’s such a tender lover. Apparently.) – here’s that photo of the dog tags together with a denim jacket worn in his favourite style.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Shaggy Blog Stories

Do a lot of work for charity? Don’t like to talk about it? Got a blog? Written something funny? Wanna get published?

You have until 6pm tonight (UK time) to submit something for consideration so click on these red (nose?) words that’re underlined to find out more.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fashion... Police... Part 1

It’s March… it’s a Monday… so it must be time for another of our thrilling instalments of “The Police: The Luteless Years… ‘N All That”. This was going to be a glossy twelve-page, Hello-type centrefold spread looking at the key fashion milestones of the 80s but I think we’ll save that for our rousing conclusion at the end of the month.

Instead, let me give you a quick glimpse of the kind of pop memorabilia that money just can’t buy… unless you’ve got enough to build yourself a time machine and go back to the 80s to scoop the whole lot for ten shillings and a half crown.

The garment below is hanging over the back of the chair in which I sit, currently, to type this tale of the garment below, hanging, as it does, over the back of my chair. As you can see, it was once a denim jacket of some description (I want to say Wrangler but I suspect it might be M&S) which suffered the same fate as many of the upper torso items of clothing I owned in the 80s - it was rendered sleeveless. Undoubtedly this was done to cope with the endless Scottish summers of my childhood, back in the days before Al Gore invented global warming and caused it to p#ss down constantly, thereby ensuring we’d all stay indoors and play with the interweb which he also invented.

As you can see, my Mum was thoughtful enough to sew my name on to the back of the jacket to remind me that my name wasn’t Sting. Or Flame Boy. But I think I did most of the other patch-sewing myself including, you’ll notice, the Honda and Yahama patches on the shoulders to imply to girls that I might have a motor cycle and could therefore sweep them away to California – or Bathgate – at a moment’s notice, long blond mullets trailing behind us in the wind as we rode. Like the wind.

And the jacket ensemble is completed by my collection of priceless badges of The Police, most of which enjoyed a healthy rotation on the generous lapels of my school blazer during the heady years between 1979 and 1982. Thankfully, I was out of short trousers by this point or else, clearly, I would just have looked ridiculous. Ha, ha, ha.

Next week: The records. Still got that rare, cobalt-blue flexi disc of ‘Roxanne’ from the front cover of Smash Hits? You have? But is it the Japanese, 10” import version with the alternate picture cover and ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ as the B-side? Thought not.

P.S. If you’re getting bored of all this nostalgia about The Police… well… that’s just tough t#tties but at least it’ll quieten down at the end of the month. However, if you’re keen to learn more, YOU MUST get a hold of this brilliant documentary which I obtained and watched at the weekend. Some music films claim to be fly-on-the-wall efforts but when the film is shot, directed, produced, edited and scored by one of the band members, then you’re truly invited into the inner sanctum. Absolutely f#cking brilliant!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Something For The Weekend 9

Dear Dave,

Last Sunday morning – not long after I awoke reeking of red wine and garlic and temporarily paralysed by the sound of Motorhead performing an impromptu gig just behind my eyelids – I shuffled downstairs, turned on the television and collapsed on the couch. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that the Sky remote was WAY over the other side of the room and therefore out of reach so for several hours I made do with ALL FIVE of the terrestrial channels that still come down the old aerial on my roof.

For a while there on BBC2, there was some programme called, spookily enough, “Something For The Weekend” presented by that bloke from Soccer AM together with a lovely Scottish girl who looked liked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but give her a couple of Bacardi Breezers and… well… you know what I mean.

The show seemed to consist of showing old TV clips, chatting to D-list celebrities and A LOT of cooking performed by one of those earnest, salt-of-the-earth chefs from Merseyside who, remarkably, didn’t utilise the Scouser’s Laptop* in any of his recipes. As you can imagine – having been awake now for three whole minutes – I was like, SO TOTALLY starving so when the show ended I crawled through to the kitchen to see if I could replicate what I’d seen and rustle up a wood pigeon Kiev and a fois-gras cheesecake. Alas, the larder was bare of all but a few scant leftovers so what follows is my ad-lib recipe for the perfect hangover omelette.

Step 1. Get a frying pan and heat up a little oil. Olive not Castrol.

Step 1A. To prevent third degree, oil-spatter scalding, put on a comedy kitchen pinafore. The one with the fake boobies from the 1970s is always a popular choice. At least it was with my Dad.

Step 2. Crack (hatch? peel?) two eggs into a bowl and whisk together with a little milk. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to add a softer texture to your omelette, mix in some crème fraiche – from the French ‘crème’ meaning ‘delicious cream’ and ‘fraiche’ meaning ‘not really’.

Step 3. Scramble furiously around the fridge / cupboards / down the back of the couch, searching for ingredients to add. Here’s the three I found.

Step 4. Grate some white, creamy, crumbly Cheshire cheese, taking care not to let the blood or skin from your serrated fingers get mixed in with the gratings. Wensleydale is also good.

Step 5. Slice some pitted black olives in neat.. um.. slices. I’m a freak for olives at the moment; have them with everything.

Step 6. Scoop out the last of the potato salad (Healthy Living variety, of course) from its little tub and mash with a fork. I’m sure there’s an official Kitchen Masher implement to do this task but I don’t have one.

Step 7. The pan and oil have to be pretty hot so when your smoke alarm goes off, add the eggs. The edges of the omelette should form almost immediately and you should peel them back a bit from the sides of the pan (using an official Kitchen Spatula) and then swirl the pan to allow the rest of the liquid egg to fill the gaps.

Step 8. Sprinkle in the cheese evenly. Then the sliced olives. Then spoon in the potato salad.

Step 9. Two minutes later you’re ready to fold the omelette in half.

Step 10. A minute after that you can slide it on to a plate on top of some buttered toast.

Step 11. And 30 seconds after that you can lie back down on the couch having eaten the whole f#cking lot. Bon Appétit… or, if you prefer, Good Appetite.


Now let me just double check if I’ve covered everything…

Omelette recipe? Check.
Objectify women? Check.
Stereotype Scousers? Che.. eh.. no, hang on a minute…

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

GOT 'EM...

…four of ‘em to be exact. Now who wants to come with me?

Monday, March 05, 2007

King Of Pain

The first of these why-The-Police-are-the-greatest-band-in-the-world-and-I’m-their biggest-fan dissertations was intended to be twenty thousand electrifying words of trivia, stats, peroxide tips and more. But then I was tricked into consuming a trough-load of red wine on Saturday night and since it’s now a mere 36 hours a later, I’m still a bit p#shed. Honestly, my vision was so blurred on Saturday that at one point when I was out in the garden having a quick smoke and gazing up at the night sky, I could’ve sworn the moon disappeared. Both of them. So for today I’ll keep it (relatively) short before the keyboard gets fuzzy and my typing just ends up producing a whole load of shiz$g%t5y9e£rb#&….

First, a quick word of thanks to my big pal Gordy who sent me a text message yesterday to alert me to the fact that there was an article in The Sunday Times about The Police reforming and did I want him to post it to me. Rather than accept his generous offer, I dragged my sorry excuse of an ass off the couch and threw a coat over my jammies in order to shuffle along to the local shop to pick up a copy. Three short hours later I returned to the house having finally tracked down a fork-lift vehicle sturdy enough to pick up said newspaper. I mean honestly, how many f#cking rainforests disappear every week to produce that behemoth Mr Sting? Of course, if I’d been smarter (or sober) I could’ve dragged my sorry excuse of an ass up the stairs to the computer and read it here instead.

Anyway, the article was very good and it reminded me of how, back in the 80s, I used to buy all the music papers (Sounds, NME, Melody Maker, Record Mirror etc.) every Friday and scour them for the smallest reference to the band and what they might be up to. I kept those hundreds of cuttings for years until the moment - somewhere round 1998 - when I finally gave up all hope that they’d ever get back together again. DOH! But I still have all the concert programmes and what fantastic souvenirs they make despite costing an arm and a leg at the time – 6 shillings and tuppence ha’penny I think it was – for a few glossy photos.

Better than all the concert programmes however is this collection of all twenty editions of ‘The Police Official File’; small, A5-sized little magazines, which were published between April 1980 and December 1981.
These were packed with more glossy photos, ‘exclusive’ band interviews, fan club information, merchandise listings and some quality letters from besotted fans such as… (I’m not making these up.)

Dear Ed,
I’ve seen some photographs in magazines where Andy, Stewart and Sting aren’t smiling. Does this mean they don’t like having their picture taken?
Sylvia Knowles, Ipswich, Suffolk

The editor reassures this obviously hysterical teenager by calmly explaining that “…(the boys) believe in acting natural when having their picture taken; if they’re smiling, fine, if they’re not, that’s okay, too.” Excessive use of commas seems to be the foremost requirement of being an editor.

And then there’s…

Dear Mark (This fan obviously think they know the editor personally)
I really like the way The Police’s hair looks at the moment. I hope they won’t decide to change it or cut it short like it was on their first album cover.
Haley Jobson, Portmadoc, Wales

Somewhat confusingly Mark replies, “Dear Haley (if that’s really your name). They’ve certainly got no intention of changing their hair colour or style right at the moment. But, as far as the future is concerned, with Sting, Stewart and Andy, you just never know! Now stop bugging me with your stupid questions, and your fake Welsh place names NEIL, or I’ll reinstate that restraining order!”

I think I was already a member of the fan club by this point but if I hadn’t been I’m sure this attractive feature of a cool 80s dude in some official band merchandise would’ve sent me scampering to the post office for a 4 shilling postal order to cover the annual subscription. My application would’ve read something like, “Please can I join your club? Oh and can you also let me know please where that cool guy gets his hair cut? Ta. Neil.”

I’ve no idea if having all twenty of these magazines in mint condition is worth anything substantial, although I notice that someone on eBay is trying to sell individual ones for £1.99 each. But it doesn’t matter because I’d never sell them. It’s over twenty years since I picked them up and read them but flicking through them yesterday was a joy and went a long way to curing my hangover. Almost.

Next week: 80s fashion. AM I too sexy for my shirt?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Something For The Weekend 8

Hey Dave. Remember that time in Myrtle Beach when you went to bed with a great big smile on your face ‘cause you’d experienced something wonderful for the very first time? To be clear, I’m NOT referring to the first occasion you crept into my room to watch me sleeping and no doubt allowed your stubby little fingers to caress my baby soft face before stealing my moisturiser.

No, I’m talking, of course, about the journey in the van surrounded by your older and wiser golfing buddies who took you under their collective cultural wing and schooled you in the ways of, amongst others, Al Green, Frank Sinatra, Hipsway and Reo Speedwagon. (That last one was just Bruce.)

Well today’s lesson is a bit like that. Ever since The Police played at - or rather, rocked the f#cking socks off – The Grammys a couple of weeks ago, my entire cultural universe has focussed on reacquainting myself with their entire back catalogue and I’ve spent many a happy morning stuck in rush hour traffic singing “Don’t Stand So Close To Me You F#cking BMW Drivers” whilst flicking them the vicky-v’s.

Now I realise that when the The Police were at the height of their powers you were just a dainty little toddler dressed up in a frilly pink dress ‘cause your parents really wanted a girl, but that’s no excuse not to bring your musical education up to date. However I beg you not to just cop out (ba-bom, tsshh!) and buy one of the fifty-three Greatest Hits compilations available for them.

A lot of their best songs were never singles and you’ll gain so much more from seeking out all five of the original albums and checking out the evolving styles, range of influences, maturity of the songwriting, and all that other b#llocks that journalists in Q magazine like to talk about.

I could go on and on and on and on and then on some more about how good this band were/are and how big a geek I was/am about them… in fact… I think I will. Starting next week, Mondays in March are hereby set aside to divulge (and exhibit) more Police trivia for your ongoing education. Come back then if you’d be so kind… ‘cause I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing you. And if you don't want to fork out £7 on Amazon for each remastered album, let me know and I'll make you copies.

07:32 Update: For a limited time, you may be able to download copies of all the albums FREE by clicking on these blue words that are underlined.