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You tube!

I’ve been reading a few tweets from Giovanni Di Stefano

It seems that Saddam’s former legal representative has become fascinated with the goings on at Rangers/Sevco and the SFA and Scottish Government. He also seems interested in what was known by the authorities about Craig Whyte before he took over the Ibrox club last year.

Check out this Youtube broadcast he made yesterday:

And I thought he was a Dundee fan…….

Mauchline Holy Fair

Here stands a shed to fend the show’rs,
An’ screen our countra gentry;
There Racer Jess, an’ twa-three whores,
Are blinkin at the entry.
Here sits a raw o’ tittlin jads,
Wi’ heaving breast an’ bare neck;
An’ there a batch o’ wabster lads,
Blackguarding frae Kilmarnock,
For fun this day.

Robert Burns “The Holy Fair” 1786

There were over 70 stalls, street theatre, concerts and exhibitions.

Mauchline, where Burns lived for four years is a treasure chest of history for anyone interested in the bard. For example this is Poosie Nansie’s

In Poosie-Nansie’s held the splore,
To drink their orra duddies;
Wi’ quaffing an’ laughing,
They ranted an’ they sang,
Wi’ jumping an’ thumping,
The vera girdle rang,

The Jolly Beggars (For Love and Liberty)

In the churchyard, there were several graves bearing familiar names

The grave of William Fisher, aka Holy Willie

The grave of Mary Morrison who died when she was only 20 years old.

Oh Mary wouldst thou wreck his peace who for thy sake would gladly die
Or wouldst thou break that heart o’ his wha’s only faut was lovin’ thee
If love for love thou wiltnae gie at least be pity to me shown
A thocht ungentle cannae be the thocht o’ Mary Morrison

Burns wrote the poem/song about Mary when she was only 16.

One of the most poignant graves was that of Jean Armour and four Burns children (two sets of twin girls) who died  in infancy. The eldest of the four was not yet three when she died.

Capercaillie played an excellent version of this at the end of their one hour show:

Anyone within travelling distance should put this event in their diaries for next year.

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Happy Birthday

Exactly 20-years-ago today a modest British scientist, Tim Berners Lee launched his new invention.

At the time, almost no-one noticed.

And yet he is without doubt one of the most important people of the 20th and indeed the 21st centuries.

His invention has touched every single person reading this.

So happy 20th birthday today to Tim Berners Lee’s brainchild,

The World Wide Web

Texts and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

It was only a matter of time after Amy Winehouse died before the texts,jokes and emails started.

A ‘joke’ text buzzed on my phone about an hour after the news was announced and there have been several since.

And it’s not just the jokes either. I have read several emails and comments built on the premise that the singer was ‘just a junkie’, a ‘waste of space’ and that her fate ‘served her right’.

What is it in human beings which glories in the ultimate misfortune of others?

Just why would the death of a very talented 27 year old woman be considered as a subject for humour or gloating?

These comments in the main have been made by ordinary folk. Beep! text – forward – sent.

Perhaps I’m being a bit po-faced about it, but in a society where someone can be jailed for up to five years for posting sectarian comments or abuse online, why is it that joking about tragedy and death seems to be blithely accepted?

Working where I do, I encounter rather less famous addicts than Amy Winehouse regularly. Young people addicted to drink and drugs making a nuisance and fool of themselves in public on a daily basis.

Poor, uneducated souls bereft of any ambition or hope, stoating about the place looking for an alleyway, a bench or a bin shed to administer their next installment of escapism from their miserable lives.

There was one particular guy who was a real pain in the neck. He fueled his addiction with shoplifting. I have personally ejected him from our premises on several occasions and banned him.

On the last occasion, he remonstrated with me. “Why are you banning me?” “Because you are a habitual shoplifter” “Do you know what a comment like that does to my confidence? – I’m trying to change!” “Well change then!”

Then I didn’t see the guy for a while. From being a regular amongst the park bench drinkers, and the walking ASBOs he was nowhere to be seen. I wondered if he had gone the way of so many before him.

Then I heard he had got his life together. “Aye he’s given up the drink and drugs, got a flat and a girlfriend and is working out at the gym!” said a local policeman to me.

One day, in the queue at the Post Office I saw him.

He was looking clean and healthy. Rather than looking around with the haunted expression of someone who was used to being watched, he was relaxed and smiling. “Well done” I said “Keep it up”. “Thanks big man, that means a lot to me” he replied. “I see you’ve overcome your addictions too” he added “Have you lost a couple of stones?”.

Blimey, addictions – aye I suppose he’s right.

We then had a chat where the guy explained he was now actively helping other addicts. Local readers may already know who I’m talking about here but no names no pack drill except to say that in his younger day this guy was a promising footballer.

He found the will from somewhere to transform his life from a very low point.

Amy Winehouse was well off financially but just couldn’t find the emotional strength from within to change.

And thus became text joke subject of the week.

Probably the best £100 I’ve Ever Spent

A few years ago I invested in a satnav.

It is a Tomtom.

Over that time goodness knows how many wrong turns (and arguments) it has spared us.

It has probably saved me a fortune in fuel and time.

As regular “staycationers” when we go to areas of the UK we don’t know, the satnav comes into its own.

I’ve updated the maps regularly online and also downloaded a few more voices, many of which are free, from the Tomtom site. One of the voices was tagged “Belfast Rough” which says “up ahead hang a left” and “You have reached your destination – can ah shot op noy?”

I noticed when I was updating recently that amongst the celebrity voices, some are genuine and some are impersonators.

One of the genuine ones is Billy Connolly. He can be added for a mere £7.50. Amongst the Big Yin’s instructions are “Turn around when possible. It is advisable to turn your entire car around. Do not just turn around inside the car.”

Other genuine voices are Eddie Izzard and John Cleese all with little quirky instructions and funny comments.

I’m not certain however, how quickly some of the jokes would take to wear thin on a long journey.

A year on we’re still waiting for Bob Dylan’s foray into the satnav market. He revealed last year he’d been approached by two manufacturers and it had been suggested some of his song titles could be worked into the instructions. Bob did seem quite keen on the idea but maybe he was just at the kidding.

I’m wondering too who could use a Victor Meldrew satnav?

Or Homer Simpson?

And I don’t think I’ll be downloading Brian Blessed any time soon……

Do You Know Who I Am?

This arises from a discussion on another forum where it was put forward that people use their fame as a magic wand to various ends. Sometimes it may be to book a table at a restaurant or get a better seat on the plane or a concert, or as seemed to be the case with Steven Gerrard yesterday to influence a judge into letting him off with a serious assault.

I remember once being in the queue in the supermarket behind the late John Toye who was a well known newsreader on Scotland Today and lived in these parts. On this particular occasion Toye who was rather over refreshed, was taking issue with a poor checkout girl about something completely trivial.

“Do you know who I am?” boomed Toye as he tried to force the issue. “Yes I do” said the girl “And if you don’t start behaving I’ll phone STV and tell them you were being drunk and abusive in a supermarket and that all these people are witnesses! – now will that be all?”
Suitably chastised Toye paid for his goods and left.

The one I have heard attributed to several well known folk is the airport situation where celeb says “Do you know who I am?” only for the girl on the desk to announce that she is seeking assistance for Mr X at the checkout desk because he seems to have forgotten who he is.

One kind of hopes it actually happened – and that it was Jeffrey Archer or Fred Goodwin.

I’m sure that celebrity and fame do swing favours and decisions but here is a perfect example of how anonymity can sometimes work to one’s advantage:

Does anyone have any “Do you know who I am?” stories which happened to them or which they’ve heard about?

Lets hear them.

(Edit) I remembered this morning about John Toye’s big moment of fame although I’m not entirely sure if it is apocryphal or real.

The story goes that Fanny Craddock had been a guest on a show he was presenting and it was allegedly he who said “If you’re making donuts at home I hope they turn out just like Fanny’s”

The Wit and Wisdom of Nicholas Fairbairn

I wrote here about the late William Donaldson’s hilarious book, Brewer’s Rogues Villains and Eccentrics.

Donaldson’s Who’s Who of the esoteric, unusual and frankly barmy is a classic. I doubt if I have ever laughed out loud more at any book.

Due to a posting on a friend’s (sadly private) blog I had occasion to get the book down from the shelf last night. The article on Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, the late, completely mad and insane (I am not exaggerating or being ironic here) former Scottish Solicitor General and Tory MP caught my eye.

nicholasfairbairn

Darwin's Proof

Nicholas Fairbairn

Nicholas Fairbairn

So politically motivated was Fairbairn, at age 11 he set about smashing all the windows in his local Co-op.

On his appearance on Desert Island Discs he said;

“Women MP’s lack fragrance on the whole” and that they “definitely aren’t desert island material. They all look as if they’re from the 5th Kiev Stalinist machine gun parade”

For his luxury item he chose a photo of former Russian president Khruschev’s wife, explaining, “her ugliness would prevent me fantasising about sex”

In a debate at Edinburgh University he told a student that she was “a silly rude bitch and since you are a potential breeder, God help the human race!”

Fairbairn, himself the son of a psychiatrist, also said;

“Freud said that the essence of the comic was the conservation of psychic energy. But then again Freud never played second house Friday night at the Glasgow Empire.”

On Edwina Currie when she had to resign over the salmonella and eggs gaffe:

“The Hon lady should remember that she was once an egg: and very many members on both sides of the house may regret that it was ever fertilised”

However it would be churlish not to mention the efforts of Fairbairn’s widow, Lady Sam in keeping up her late husband’s traditions. I found this:

“Lady Sam Fairbairn, the widow of notorious ultra-right wing Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn, now lives in a villa in Mexico after selling her baronial home Fordell Castle.
“I don’t do very much,” she says. “I have never done a days work in my life and it’s a bit late to start now.
“I’m seriously spoiled. I don’t cook, I don’t clean up, I don’t wash my own clothes – my maid does it all.”
Lady Sam, who left Britain because she couldn’t stand the prospect of life under a Labour government says she has become an “ardent convert” to New Labour.
“I am now a confirmed supporter of New Labour,” she says.
“They are more right wing than anyone will ever be. Tony Blair is brilliant.
Gordon Brown is great.”

Sadly Lady Sam passed on as well a few years ago, aged 59 the same age as her husband had been on his death and of the same cause.

Too much drink.

Jackie Stewart

A bit of local stuff here.

Whilst passing the Dumbarton Council Chambers the other day with banners, balloons (sic) and tartan much in evidence, I wondered what the occasion was.

Had Poundland got Nescafe in again?

Had a Labour councillor had a half decent idea?

No, it turned out that former world champion motor racing champion and legend Jackie Stewart was visiting his home town to receive the freedom of West Dunbartonshire.

Jackie never misses an opportunity to emphasise that his schooldays were the most unhappy of his life through his unidentified dyslexia. He was by his own admission regarded as stupid and had few friends.

Only when he left school and was able to make his own way and create a successful path for himself did he flourish.

I suppose it’s good that he has raised awareness on this issue. He says his dyslexia was only identified when he was 42.

One of my earliest memories was attending Jackie’s wedding in Helensburgh. He married a relative of a friend of our family.

Having said all of the above, I heard him on the radio laying into the government for not doing more to support motor sport. He was absolutely scathing about Labour and Gordon Brown.

Maybe it’s just me but the Year of Homecoming seems to be characterised by people who have been successful and buggered off out of Scotland to forever pay their taxes elsewhere. In Jackie’s case it’s Switzerland and it was specifically to avoid tax that he went there.

These people have no right to tell the Scottish or UK governments how to conduct their affairs.

As for the freeman honour, one would like to think that Jackie would put his hand in his pocket to help some worthy local project.

I won’t be holding my breath.

Small World (2)

The internet is a wonderful thing. I love doing this blog and also being a member of several mailing lists. Connecting with people worldwide with similar interests is stimulating, interesting and fun.

The opportunity of meeting some of those people intensifies the satisfaction.

In 2006 when Paul Buchanan announced his first gigs in nine years, several overseas (from here!) members of The Blue Nile mailing lists expressed a wish to come to Glasgow to see him and several did. We met some very nice and interesting people and were delighted to show them some of the sights and countryside only a stones throw from the city. One of the most interesting people we met was (highly respected) illustrator, artist, musician and author Jon J Muth who along with his wife Bonnie had made their way from upstate New York to come to Glasgow for the gigs.

I hear from Jon via email now and again and recently he sent me a link to the following short video about him and one of his many projects by a friend. It’s a fascinating film and well worth the watch.

He really is just as calm and laid back in real life!

Don Roberto

Recognise the guy on the left? He was descended from Scottish and Spanish nobility. He was a founder member of the Labour Party and the first ever chairman of the SNP. He served as a Liberal MP. His friends and acquaintances included Buffalo Bill, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Oscar Wilde and Keir Hardie. He farmed in Argentina, prospected for gold in Spain and posed for a while as a Turkish Sheik in Morocco. His wife was called Gabriella Chidiock de la Balmondiere and she posed during her life as a Chilean/French poet but was in fact Caroline Horsfall the daughter of a Rippon doctor.

Dumbarton residents may remember “the monny” which was a monument at Castlehill in memory of this chap whose family home was a couple of miles away at Ardoch. After constant vandalism it was re-situated at the more gentle village setting of Gartmore to which he also had ties.

The fascinating story of Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, is told in a documentary on Monday on BBC2 at 9:00pm

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