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2/28/2008

I feel...

I have slightly neglected my fourteen (14) faithful readers by not posting anything for the last twelve (12) days and have therefore decided to take a little time tonight to let you all know what's going on in the life of me. (Yeah, I know... Boring.)

I have taken the bold decision never to return to the foul piss smelling hellhole that is A4E, as it depresses the shit out of me, despite the fact I may get into all kinds of trouble from The Man for refusing to go. Fuck Da Man... Da Man can kiss my scrotal sack and call me Sven for all I care.

It's not the fact that the A4E room stinks of piss, or the fact that the troglodytes spend most of their time there pissing around on Google earth, facebook or myspace, or the fact that there is a very perceptible evolutionary ladder on show, or the fact that the tutors seem more interested in getting copies of the latest DVD's from certain people* that has convinced me never again to darken their doors again...

It's the fact that I've come to the conclusion I would be better off taking a freshly sharpened pencil out my bag and jamming it into my eye than be there. One thing is for sure, I'd be far less likely to catch a terminal dose of some horrible disease sitting in Accident and Emergency holding the pencil steady than I would in A4E. And that's taking the nationwide outbreaks of MRSA into account.

*Who will remain anonymous as I wasn't about to get chatty with someone who has fuck you tattooed on their forehead.

Daddy don't do pop music...

Or so I thought until the other day when I got in his car and found, for once, he wasn't listening to some blowhard on Talksport witter on about a game where eleven grown men chase an inflated pigbladder around a field, instead a tune I recognised as being modern was bouncing out the speakers and he was tapping his fingers along to the tune.

My first reaction was that I was hearing The Voices again but no, my old man was listening to pop music. Amy MacDonald to be more precise. Which kinda stunned me more as she's exactly the type that I expect my old man to call Teenyboppy Shite.

I remarked that it wasn't like him to listen to music made after the death of Elvis in 1977 and I hadn't ever expected him to listen to pop music unless he was at a party and had no other choice. He said, and I quote... "It's not pop music. It's Amy MacDonald."

"It fuckin' is pop. It's in the charts now." I replied, knowing this to be true as I had read about it the day before in the music section of The Guardian. "It's blatantly pop. It couldn't get more poppy if it tried." I continued.

"It's Scottish music." The bearded one retorted.
"Balls man..." I said.

"Scottish music is some choocter bampot droning on about the Misty Blue Hills of Tyree while more choocter bampots shag the haggis behind him... It's Highland weirdies singing about their long lost love o'er the sea and the boat that they fucked off in... It's small poofy looking Frenchmen on Shortbread tins, See You Jimmy hats and cacky tacky Kiltie dolls in plastic tubes... In short, it's everything Scotland should be stamping out as it perpetuates the worldwide view that all Scots are Ginger haired, wear kilts and fuck sheep when in actual fact we were the nation that gave the world such wonders as anesthetics, Brownian motion, pneumatic tyres, the decimal point, the Kelvin scale, Logarithms, Paraffin, TV and the ability to communicate globally using the telephone." I spat, getting quite riled at the thought of foreigners perceptions of the Scottish race in this day and age.

The very same night I downloaded a copy of Miss MacDonald's album* and must say it was surprisingly good. The girl can sing that's for sure.

* Amy, should you read this and think me evil for not purchasing a copy of your album rest assured that if you want payment for it whip me off an email and I'll arrange to meet up with you to give you the cash.

2/16/2008

Moto GP season build up begins...

A new generation of riders will take to the tarmac when the new season of moto gp starts next month in sunny Qatar and to all intents and purposes it promises to be a season to remember if form is anything to go by.

World champion Casey Stoner is still the man to beat but fans favourite Valentino Rossi has shown his intention in the latest pre season test in Sepang by posting the fastest laptime with an impressive 2:00.300, albeit on qualifying tyres.

Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa continue the factory Honda attack with an updated version of the HRC RC 212V but look to be struggling after Nicky Hayden complained the engine is down on horsepower, due to it being designed around the lighter and smaller Dani Pedrosa, and was unable to better last years laptime in Sepang.

New boy Jorge Lorenzo, team mate to Valentino Rossi, has shown promise in pre season tests posting the second fastest laptime on the final lap of three days of testing in Sepang despite chronic front end problems that prevented him from pushing as hard as he would have liked.

Ducati still look like the champions elect but as Stoner seems to be the only rider who can tame the wild power of the bike the problem of an injury to Stoner must surely be a worry to the Italian factory.

A promising test in Sepang must be encouraging for the Honda Gresini team and new boy Alex De Angelis’ 2:02.194 time in Sepang, which was fifth fastest, must be a boost for the much improved team.

American rider John Hopkins will ride for the Kawasaki team this year alongside Aussie wild boy Anthony West who is surely one to watch for the future.

This season also sees reigning world superbike champion James Toseland attempting to make his mark in the premier class of motorcycle racing alongside Colin Edwards in the Yamaha Tech 3 team. Edwards, a five year veteran of Moto GP and a former World Superbike World Champion should be able to provide good feedback to Toseland and give hints and tips on the difference between a World Superbike and a GP bike.

Rizla Suzuki could produce a shock or two with their paring of the experienced Loris Capirossi and relative youngster Chris Vermeulen both of which have the pace and the talent to win races.

As you asked...

Here's the creative writing gig nonsense...

**************

(This first exercise was to rewrite a passage on a character named Dennis, a likeable pupil in a classroom, in a negative light.)

Away from school, in the pub most of the teachers called him Dennis the Menace.
More often than not I simply called him “You boy.”
“You boy, come here at once…
“You boy, no running…
“You boy, are in serious trouble…
“You boy, will amount to nothing in life…

On one occasion I had threatened to call him an ambulance to take him home. The cheeky little sot merely pointed out that an ambulance wasn’t the kind of vehicle likely to take someone home. “Rather more likely to take me to a hospital I’d say.” He quipped, to the amusement of his classmates.

I couldn’t stand the petulant little fart but in less than two years he would be gone from my life forever more and I would be rid of him. Of course, there would always be a Dennis of some sort to deal with. Their names may be different but on the inside they were all fundamentally Dennis.

On my first day at the school I had been warned about Dennis by a couple of the other teachers but I laughed it off and said no child would ever get the better of me. How wrong I was, I had no idea.

Initially I put Dennis’ anti social behaviour down to a lack of self confidence, bravado is often the camouflage of the timid, and attempted to correct this through careful nurturing and guidance. Later I realised that my labour was in vain and that occasionally you had to let them go or the rest of the class suffered. Teaching could be cruel like that sometimes.

At first it seemed like I was getting through to him, he was attentive and engaged whenever I took the time to talk with him, but I was soon to learn that Dennis was a breed apart and had merely used the time to garner information about me that he could use as ammunition if he ever needed it.

When the joyous day of Dennis’ departure from the school came little did I realise he would become the benchmark by which I measured a pupils teach-ability. I found myself rating students on a scale, as a scientist measures the viscosity of a substance, so I measured petulant pupils by their Denniscosity.

**************

The following exercise involved coming up with character names, one serious one not so serious.

[1] Names of characters.

1. (An old lady born 1920's) Lady Hill - Margaret-Anne
2. (An old man born 1930's) Norman Fielding - Friendly Fielding
3. (A poodle) Frenchie - Master Fran├žoise
4. (A German Shepherd) Prince - Teeth
5. (A weak, mother dominated man) Jason Simm - Sympathy Simm
6. (A strong bossy woman) Maureen McCain - Mother Mo McCain
7. (A strict teacher) Mrs Cloquet - Coquette Cloquet
8. (The perfect heroine) Sophia Jansen - SJ
9. (The imperfect hero) John Grant - Diesel Grant
10. (A newspaper seller) Andrew Willard - Andy W


**************

This exercise was to write a first paragraph for certain settings.

Setting.

1. (Happy, contented children)

The nursery was filled with toys of all shapes and sizes. A large rainbow mural was painted on the sky blue walls. A half finished puzzle lay on the floor next to a shining metal robot that was catching the rays of the morning sun that streamed through the bay windows, overlooking the large walled garden.

2. (Elderly, lonely spinster)

The air in most of the rooms of the house was so cold that anyone going in them would be able to see their breath; Not that anyone ever went in them. The heating worked but it cost too much to put on so Margaret-Anne lived in the easily heated room above the kitchens of the hotel below.
Her only company these days was the mouldy furred feline that was known as “Cat” and the television presenters that she talked to occasionally. Long gone were the endless parties of her youth when she was the focal point of many village gatherings where her dance card was never empty.

3. (Teenage boy or girl)

They called it The Bends. It was nothing more than an abandoned railway station to the local adults but to us kids it was the only place to hang out. There was an old bridge to shelter under when it rained and plenty of places to hide your cigarettes if you couldn‘t take them home because of nosey brothers, sisters or parents. At weekends there was enough cider and cheap vodka to sink a battleship and anyone could get a hold of weed if they asked the right people.
Not everyone that went there went for the drinking and smoking, some just went because there was nowhere else to go. The community centre had been closed by the council for health and safety reasons and the village hall was where pensioners played 10p bingo and chased the dream of winning the raffle.

4. (Bank manager at work)

The slats of the blinds that hung over the windows created a disconcerting effect to anyone who entered. The large antique desk, with its heavily polished wood and well worn green leather inlay, was also a formidable barrier between the bank manager and anyone who was called into the office.
The intimidating surroundings of the room were only softened by the bank manager himself. He was a portly man with a slightly receding hairline and a jolly demeanour that always shone through the well cut suits that he wore.

5. (Young woman on holiday alone)

The small villa, with its picturesque views over the bay, was the perfect place to forget. It immediately felt like the kind of place where she could empty her mind and not spend her time thinking of him. Within minutes of the taxi dropping her off at the gates her memory had stopped tormenting her and peace had settled upon her soul.
The knowledge of his indiscretion was still in her mind but the sound of the waves lapping on the shore beat back the little voice with their gentle susurration. This was surely somewhere she could centre herself and think about her future.

**************

This exercise was to write a few paragraphs using a character and a setting of my choosing.


Sophia sat on the balcony, drinking a cup of jasmine tea and watching the large rollers make their way towards the shore. It had been two months since she first arrived but the pain was still as fresh in her mind as it had been the moment she had found out about Simon and his secretary.
Sheltered from the baking sun beneath the overhang of the balcony roof she pondered how she had arrived at this point in her life.
After leaving high school with very few qualifications she realised that a good education was the key to a better life and had enrolled in college where she took a course in economics and accounting. Working two jobs to pay for her education had been difficult but nowhere near as difficult as putting up with the harassment from her manager.
Three years later she graduated with the highest grade in her class and soon after got a job in a local accounting firm. Working her way up through the ranks she soon became a full partner in the firm and was pulling in more than a hundred thousand pounds a year.

**************

This excerise was to come up with connotations.

1. Rolls Royce.

Powerful, Garish, Overbearing, Tacky, Leather, Smooth, Languorous, Red Carpet, Chauffeur, Presidential, Britishness, Prestigious.

2. Coal.

Dirty, Fossilised, Fuel, Hard, Dense, Scuttle, Coalman, Miner, Pit, Shaft, Coal Face, Seam.

3. Fish and Chips.

Greasy, Warm, Salt, Sauce, Newspaper, Windblown, Pickled Onions, Smell, Seaside, Deep Fried, Cod, Haddock, Vinegar, Batter, Crispy.

4. Diamonds.

Hard, Cutting, Luminescent, Attractive, Shiny, Expensive, Tasteless, Hypnotic, Pressure, Carbon, Fake, Cubit Zirconium, Robbery, Koh-I-Noor, Girls Best Friend, Gemstones, Pearlescent, Lustrous, Stars.

5. Net Curtains.

Billowing, Lace, Patterned, Patina, Veil Like, Secretive, Furtive Glances, Nosey Neighbours.

6. Red.

Angry, Embarrassed, Shamed, Ferrari, Intense, Balloon, Heat, Burning, Flame, Violent, Blood, Roses, Vibrant, Vivacious, Danger, Mad, Bloodshot.

7. Blue.

Sky, Cold, Deathly, Insipid, Oceanic, Football Scarves, Water, Police Box, Ribbon, Azure, Sadness, Depression.

8. Coal Fires.

Warm, Hearth, Hale, Comforting, Mantle, Ashes, Coal, Kindling, Soot, Chimney, Heat, Smouldering, Welcoming, Comfortable, Brass Bed Warmers, Cottages, Soothing, Magical.

**************

The following excerise was to write first sentences on the setting provided.

First Sentences.

1. The Golf Club Outing.

Willie was three sheets to the wind before the coach had even left the car park, despite warnings that he was being watched by the club secretary.

2. The Sinister House.

The foreboding look of the house was only heightened by the darkness of the late evening light.

3. The Celebration.

Streamers of every colour hung from the light shades as everyone tried to keep quiet so as not to give the surprise away.

4. Home at Last.

The reassuring squeak of the loose floorboard just inside the door let her know she was finally back in the comfort of her own home.

5. The Land of Plenty.

The grassy fields stretched as far as the eye could see, sweet welcoming fruit hung from the branches of the wild juniper bushes and proud, noble deer frolicked in the long, wild grasslands before them.

**************

And there you have it. The stories so far as it were.

2/12/2008

So, here I am at A4E...

I've searched almost every available job position available in Scotland and have sent off applications, which if current trends are consistent, will be ignored and I will climb one more rung on the "I hate employers" ladder that I have been scaling for the last year and a bit.

Why is it that employers go to the effort of placing an advert online or in the newspapers don't bother replying to people who take their time to apply for them? It's not as though it's difficult.

All it would take is a standardised letter to satisfy me. I'm not asking for the head cheese of the company to come around to my house and personally applogise to me for not being able to employ me, all I want is a small note stating... "Sorry, at this time we are unable to offer you a posisition. We wish you all the best in your future career and will keep your details on file should anything suitable to you arise in our company... Or words to that effect.

2/08/2008

Update...

Like I mentioned earlier the guff for my creative writing course arrived last Saturday.

Last night I sent off the first assignment to be critiqued by my tutor.

It probably should have taken more than a week to do, given that the timetable set by the college is something like five weeks, but I found it to be easier than I expected and was able to rattle through it at a fair old rate and still make it as good as I could have.

Part two of the course is slightly more challenging but still nowhere near as difficult as I initially thought it would be. In it I am given six topics and have to submit 250 words about two of them to the tutor. But as I am resolved to challenging myself more than the course seems to be I've decided to write 250 words about all of the subjects presented to me, if only for the practise and to keep me writing.

The most interesting thing about the course is that I have evolved into a student type person. I went to the local supermarket and spent more time in the stationary aisle eyeing up pencil cases, trying to decide if I needed a ruler and which notepad I should buy than I did actually doing my shopping.

Should I be worried? Is this the first step on the slippery slope to buying a pen that can write in four different colours, buying a pair of corduroys and metamorphosing into someone who looks like a supply teacher?

I hope not. I've never been a fan of tweed with elbow patches, I think anyone who wears a cravat should be shot and quite frankly I'd look bloody stupid smoking a pipe.

2/05/2008

On Saturday morning...

I was awoken by a large envelope hitting the floor of the hallway.

Contained within was all the guff for my Creative Writing course.

In order to practise my writing...

I've started a collaborative blog with a couple of fellow aspiring writers.

It's called "A Post A Week" and can be found by clicking here.

Danger Will Robinson, Danger...

If you ask a reformed alcoholic which drink he fears most he'll give you one answer...

"The next one."

And that's as true as it gets with the people in society that become dependent on a substance in order to be able to function. It's also true of me. I think. I'm not 100% sure.

The reason I say that is because two months ago I resolved to pack in smoking weed and was doing quite well until three days ago when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted some orange bud. "No thanks man, I'm off that shit." I replied almost immediately.

"You sure? It's the best bit of green I've had in a long time man, it'll melt your face off." He said.
"Positive mate. Besides, I'm as skint as a careless childs knee." I replied.
"Well, you've seen me right in the past. Have this bag to make up for the times when I've been broke and you've sorted me out." He stated, handing me the bag of green.

So for the last three days my routine has been... Wake up; Roll up; Bake brain stem with green stem; Pass out; Rinse and repeat.

2/01/2008

Funky up your mobile...

With these eye-catching wallpapers.
Or ear-grabbing Ringtones.

I'm sat in Stabucks...

And there’s a poor fucker behind me being grilled by starbucks executive types and by god he’s flapping. Stuttering is not an option in situations like this, the ability to bullshit is.

In situations like this the ability to pad out sentences is a godsend. Why say “If we waste water it’s bad for the environment.” when you can wax lyrical like Bob Geldof during live aid. “If we waste even a tablespoon of water it dramatically effect the lives of every man, woman and child on the planet, for gods sake, people are fucking dying man!”

You can take this tactic too far though. Decrying the global machine that is Starbucks, leaping up and whipping out a fist to lay the suited and booted exec on his ass may be taking things to the limit.

Sure, it’s probably satisfying beyond words but you’ll not find a payrise notice at your workstation you’ll find a pink slip.

The executive has all manner of cards and shit in front of him and he’s working well with his co-executive. “Can you give me an example of when you provided good customer care?” The empty suit asks.

“I… I… I… Erm, Eh, I once held the door open for a customer once.” The interviewee replies, badly.

I think he should be more direct. “I once refrained from popping some fuckwit in the head when he was being a dick to me. That’s good customer care right there.”

But balls to that. There’s a blonde chick who’s wiggling her foot in my direction and smiling. Have I got shit on my shirt? No, thank god. I look bad enough at the best of times without the remains of a steak bake making me look like a refugee from Kazakhstan.

I ponder for a second if she is aware that she is pointing an extremity at me but come to the conclusion she’s not. Why on gods green and blue would someone so cute be flirting by body language with me? Perhaps she’s retarded. Not terribly so that it shows on her face in that high forehead, dribbly way but enough to effect her judgement. I dunno. And right now I’m too hyper on coffee to make an approach.

Besides, I have to make a move back to A4E. I’ve had almost two hours for lunch and need to at least look like I give a shit about being there.

I feel like wishing the interviewee the best of luck with his interview with tweedledum and tweedledummer but resist as it could be taken the wrong way.

“Screw these fools man, it’s just a job. You are not your job, you are not the all singing all dancing face of starbucks. You, my friend are better than these fuckers! Fight the power and fuck the man!” may not be the best thing to tell the swine.

A4E...

School may not prepare you for the real world; You know the one… Bosses, deadlines, targets, etc but it certainly prepares you for somewhere like this.

Like school there are distinct groups…

There are the kids who smoke illicit cigarettes behind the technical studies block… Here they smoke illicit joints a few meters away from the front door and pretend that the tutors don’t know they are all half baked at the best of times.

There are the bullies… Here they aren’t the hold your head down the toilet and show you the blue goldfish type, they’re the ones who use vocalisation as a form of bullying or strength of character as a way to subvert your will.

There are the school swats… The ones who kiss teachers ass and show just how good they are at doing their work. Which is kind ironic as if they were half as good at work as they claim to be they wouldn’t be here in the first place.

There are the pretty girls… Who huddle in corners comparing nail varnish, the latest fashions and do nothing productive. Unless you count making snide remarks about everyone not in their group and who’s only form of vocal contact seems to be to giggle like hyenas on PCP.

And finally there is the class clown who see’s all these disparate groups and realises they have one thing in common. And takes the piss out of them for it. That’d be me.

Jim Dunn is an idiot…

In this weeks Scotsman motoring supplement Jim Dunn claims to have control over a car which is in the process of aquaplaning. What?

Fair enough, the car in question is a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera which is a precise and well engineered bit of kit capable of making even the most cack handed of drivers look like Sterling Moss. (Even if you happen to be unfortunate enough to land one that got to the end of the production line late on a Friday afternoon.)

Aquaplaning is what happens when the amount of water between the tyres and the road is too much for the tread to dissipate and the car is effectively lifted clear of the tarmac. To experience aquaplaning for yourself drive through one of the many massive puddles that inhabit Scotland’s roads at a good rate of knots, and believe me knots is the correct term here, and you'll experience the phenomenon at close quarters.

The result of aquaplaning is loss of steering, a loss of brakes due to the force of the bow wave knocking the brake shoes clear of the disk and a sudden increase of the heart beat normally associated with extreme sports such as bungee jumping, skydiving or any other sport where the thought "I may be about to die" is at the forefront of your mind.

To put it bluntly when a car is aquaplaning the only thing you have any control over is whether or not you soil your trousers; And If the car in question is headed towards something immovable like a large rock, a tree, or something with a certain amount of give such as a hedge, a dry stane dyke or, God forbid, an armco barrier which is the only thing between the edge of the road and a steep drop off, even this may be out of your hands.

For Jim Dunn to claim any degree of control over a car that has no contact with the road is akin to claiming he has superhuman powers that even the best drivers in the world would sell their souls for.

But then again what do you expect from someone who claims "Superleggera... translates into superlight in Italian." I have news for you Jim, Superleggera translates into English as superlight in Italian superleggera means superlight.