Wednesday, 31 October 2012


If I say: The Budgie is out of the Cage, it's unlikely that you will know what I'm talking about. This is because I'm using coded communication. Oh yes, what an interesting day I've had. Here's a summary of  what I've learned: coded communication can be strategically useful whilst providing a lot of laughs. Let me give you an example. You come in from an appointment, sidle up to an office colleague dressed (not unusually) in a kaftan and fez. You nonchalantly say to him (or her) in muffled tones: "The Ferret is in the Microwave." Without a second's hesitation, you withdraw to your desk and open your lunchbox. You casually assess your colleague's reaction to the communication. S/he may (a) check the microwave (b) Google the statement (c) look vacant or (d) respond to your message. Option (d), I find, is by far the most entertaining. Your colleague saunters over to you and says: "I have found my Trousers." You say: "What in the name of James Bond are you talking about? I'm not the least bit interested in the whereabouts of your trousers. Now go away in your kaftan and play your juvenile tricks on someone else."
What does The Ferret is in the Microwave actually mean in this context? That I can't tell you. It's classified information. Even I don't know.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


So the northern icecap is melting big time. The ice sheet covering Greenland will be the size of a tablecloth by the end of 2014. Should you be worried? Well I'm not saying much, but here in Rural Perthshire we're piling sandbags high and deep in a shambolic act of pointlessness. A couple of metres rise in sea level and the great flood will be on us. Yes, the volume of water will be be beyond comprehension. Yes, the destruction unimaginable.This may sound smug, but we're ready for it. We've got focus, we've got locally made wine, we've got sandbags.

Monday, 29 October 2012


Can you manage your inner chimp? Apparently, Sir Chris Hoy won all those gold medals at the Olympics because he is thoroughly at home with his inner chimp. In fact, he can access the explosive energy and creative passion of that little monkey in an instant and then get him back in the box before you can say Get me a banana. This is the essence of optimum inner chimp management, as I understand it. There's no use in giving free rein to your inner chimp then find that you've been apprehended by the Old Bill for trashing the entire stock of your local Tesco. Or, you think your little guy is under control when suddenly he leaps on to the boardroom table in a business meeting and you're smacking the MD across the face with a warm ciabatta. Get that inner chimp under control and come 2014, you could be on the bike behind Sir Chris at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Clocks go back this weekend. Back to what? Who knows. Maybe we'll get an hour more light in the morning. Maybe we won't. Maybe you'll get up at 7am, thinking it's eight, get to work at nine and discover it's still seven. And that it's still Sunday. How does that work. No-one knows. Or, you might forget to put your clock back at all. You'll get up at a random time on the Sunday morning (thinking it's probably around a leisurely 10ish), then look at a clock and realise it's only 8am. Or is it? You charge round the house checking all the clocks. Your mind goes into freefall as you discover that no two clocks show the same time. Which clock did you put back? Where did all these clocks come from? Who are you?

Thursday, 25 October 2012


I'm sick and tired of living in a money-grabbing, go-getting, self-promoting society and I'm going to do something about it. First of all, before I give you the details of my transformative action plan, let me set some parameters here. I'm not going to (a) give all my money away to charity (b) attempt self-sufficiency in the fruit and vegetable department or (c) join the Monster Raving Loony Party. I'll admit I did consider (c), but on closer inspection I realised that their manifesto was completely incoherent, even by my shambolic standards. So, my Transformative Action Plan. What is its substance? How will I implement and evaluate it? When will I stop making big dramatic statements without thinking them through? I'm like a sparkly, inviting gift box with nothing inside. I'm like a fascinating book cover filled with blank pages. I'm a bit of an *rse. But I've recognised this. Perhaps I can become a person of integrity; a person of principles.

Monday, 22 October 2012


A lot of people hate sprouts but force a couple down at Christmas lunch - I have no idea why. Now I'm very fond of sprouts. This fact, as it stands, is not problematic. The thing is, if I see a mountain of leftover sprouts, I have this overpowering urge to eat them. I certainly don't want my sprout obsession (as some might call it) spiralling out of control as it did last Christmas. I'm talking fifty or sixty sprouts, not seven or eight, which might be considered a normal portion. I know that my sprout consumption is neither appropriate nor advisable, but once I start (experience shows) I can't stop. I could - unless I discipline myself - find myself in a very embarrassing situation. Last year, I was physically removed from the after lunch convivialities and isolated in a small broom cupboard for three hours. It's not funny.

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Having spent two hours in the garden, clearing dead summer flowers and planting spring bulbs, I'm in a mellow sort of mood. There'll be no shouting here today. No cynical comments or provocative questions. I can do acquiescent. I can do collaborative. Later on I might do a spot of knitting, or perhaps bake some brownies. (No I won't.) Actually, I've just purchased a book called 'Knitlympics' and I'm so wishing now I could knit. You can knit Sebastian Coe! Or Paula Radcliffe! It's brilliant.  There are pictures and everything. Who am I kidding? I'm already struggling to sustain my Italian lessons, front crawl practice drills and preparation for my Satirical Songs One Woman Show at next year's Edinburgh Fringe. When am I going to learn elementary knitting?

Saturday, 20 October 2012


I prefer to settle disagreements or clarify confusion by measured and reasoned dialogue. An assertive style, in my opinion, is always the wise choice. So, here are my top tips in the event of an interpersonal sticky situation. Listen to what the other person is saying. Demonstrate this by paraphrasing the message. State your position in a clear and succinct manner. Wait for a response. Proceed thus.
If you've read some of my posts, you may well be asking yourself: Who is the real person here? Is it the mature and reflective individual described above, or is it the cognitively-challenged yet opinionated idiot who writes the blog? The thing is, it's definitely me who writes this blog. It's an original document. If I lose grip and my barely concealed volcanic anger bursts through well that's tough monkey nuts. If something (or someone) bugs me and I raise my voice LIKE THIS AND CONTAMINATE THE CYBER-ENVIRONMENT WITH MY TOXIC RANTINGS well, just be grateful that  you don't actually have to interact with me in the real world.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


Some dude has a four figure overdraft and buys a wallet for £95. Is that ironic, or moronic? Top secret, classified U.S. military and political files are protected by the password: password. Is that (a)moronic (b) insane (c) WHAT IN THE NAME OF NATIONAL SECURITY WERE YOU AIRHEADS THINKING? Some bloke is looking online for an extra-terrestrial Facebook buddy. He stumbles upon the Guidelines for the Protection of the American People in the Event of the Worst Catastrophic Emergency Possible, and the Pentagon says: THIS IS THE BIGGEST AND MOST GRAVE HACKING OFFENCE SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE. Really. Look, the man just typed in password. Is it perhaps time for you Pentagon people to get your heads together over breakfast and think up a new password? Then, get some-one with an I.Q. above 40 to write it down, put it in a sealed container and blast that sucker into space.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


                                              Art and Culture also available in Glasgow

Next week I'm leaving Rural Perthshire for a day and heading out West  on the Megabus. Yes friends, I'm going to Glasgow. It's my annual shopping trip for various commodities. I get off at the bus station and, in sixty seconds - really - I'll be through three floors of John Lewis frantically buying up useless objects and outrageously expensive clothes. Those shop assistants (retail consultants to you) see us folk from Rural Perthshire coming. They practically throw the goods at us. Oh look at the country folk, they say. Let's give them some retail therapy Glasgow style, they say. By the time I get out of there, I'll need a couple of strong coffees before I take on Sauchiehall Street. So many shops, so few hours. The list gets trashed. I buy on impulse, and I buy in bulk. When I get back on the Megabus (six hours later), I swear I'll have filled both rucsacs and have sent the rest of my booty back to Rural Perthshire by freight train.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


Rural Perthshire covers a very large area. We're talking miles and miles. Huge great tracts of land. Lots of massive trees. Rivers, lochs and waterfalls. People drive around Rural Perthshire for days just to marvel at the trees. Some people simply drive to count all the trees. This takes lifelong commitment, as you'll appreciate. I joined a local tree-counting group once. I got to 24,387 then lost interest. I said to the group: "Beautiful as Rural Perthshire is, I don't care if I never see another tree before hell freezes over." The group continues without me. My subsequent involvement with a waterfall jumping group ended prematurely when I missed the bank by a couple of feet, fell into the raging torrent and got fished out by the fire service somewhere in Angus.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Even here in Rural Perthshire, we can get the disturbing T.V. show that is Made in Chelsea. Now I watch this only in the interest of research. The paper I am writing, by the way, is called Emotionally Retarded and Morally Bankrupt Social Interaction in a Post Post-Modern Framework. The characters in Made in Chelsea are apparently real people. Look, Malteser, or whatever the hell your name is. QUIT WHINING AND GET A JOB.
To be a member of this dazzling social group, these are the criteria:
  • have a stupid name (e.g. Minky, Flunky or Donkey)
  • display a pathological inability to have a direct conversation
  • throw spontaneous and extravagant parties (e.g. you get new hair extensions)
  • stare intensely at people without communicating anything
If you find yourself meeting these criteria, congratulations. Get on the phone to the producer. Do it now. I'll get back to my research. There are so many upmarket bistros to sample in Chelsea.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


So, you wake up one morning and think: "Today's the day I go minimalist." This means that you go through each room in your house, you look around with a critical eye and say "Who put all this sh*t in here?"  You sit down with a cup of coffee and write a list. This is the crucial part of the whole down-sizing process. Only seriously essential items go on that list. Don't mess about. The Bear collection, the occasional tables, the 24-piece dinner service - ditch these now if you want to impress your friends with your cutting edge extreme minimalism. I know what I'm talking about. I took the leap from the cliff of rampant consumerism some time ago. I'll admit there was a short period of adjustment. Soup on a plate was challenging, as was sleeping on the floor. But the feel-good factor has been worth waiting for. I sit on a small rug in the living room and marvel at the space all around. I'm actually living the minimalist dream. The downside is that I have no furniture, no fruit bowl and no friends.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


How would you feel about a Fancy Dress Monday at work? I know someone who turns up at the office every Monday wearing some bizarre outfit. One of his favourites is a full length blue kaftan and a red fez. I am reliably informed that he sits at his desk in a confident and breezy manner, answers the phone with a professional tone, and gives not the slightest clue that he is completely deranged. His Manager has apparently offered him a bunch of therapy sessions plus a special clothing allowance to get the hell to Marks & Spencer for a striped shirt and some slacks. He has refused this support, and continues actively to encourage colleagues to join him in Fancy Dress Monday. Now I'm not saying I wouldn't cross the street to avoid this wingnut, but I do admit that his free spirited approach to work attire is challenging. For me, Lieutenant Uhura's uniform (combining  sensational elegance with reserved formality) might be the way forward.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


                                                     Summer fun in Rural Perthshire
Back in Rural Perthshire, the locals continue to stock up for Winter. If you haven't got 300 toilet rolls, an assortment of fleece jackets and a shedful of seasoned logs, then basically you're lacking intellectual rigour and are possibly a Southern Jessie. I myself am currently wearing two layers of thermal underwear whilst eating thick, hearty vegetable soup by way of training for the onset of the chilly season. You won't hear me complaining about current low temperatures and the price of de-icer. I know that these are the salad days; the days of fluffy kittens and cocktails with little umbrellas. By this time next week, let me tell you, we'll all be sleeping in balaclavas with hot water bottles up our pyjamas. Bring it on. Where I live, the girls have got hairs up their nostrils and arm muscles the size of small rodents. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Monday, 8 October 2012


                                           Before everything went pear-shaped.....

Yes I've been away from Rural Perthshire. Italy, if you must know. 29 degrees C in October. IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT. The locals were wearing knitted twin sets and overcoats. So it was a great week. It would be ethically questionable and legally inadvisable for me to publish details here, but let me say that my flair for Italian opened quite a few doors. Ordering food, buying clothes, booking trips - I made a big impression simply by being a Brit speaking the local language. I was stunned when the police accosted me at a ristorante on my second night and escorted me to a small cell for what they called 'very big insulting talking'. On that particular occasion I admit that the door closed quite firmly and aggressively and didn't open for two days. C'est la viande, as I said to the Officer on my release. I immediately went to a cafe where a young woman came to take my order. 'Signor,' I said, 'a double espresso avec some cream, and make it fasto.'