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Friday, 29 April 2011


Before my American friends write me off a just another socialist, let me declare that it is for once true that some of my best friends are Republicans. I mean it. The word doesn't immediately summon up, for me anyway, images of Neoconservatives slavering at the mouth. However, it would be true to say that the influence this demonic bunch exert in the GOP is frightening. Just ask the grieving relatives of the tens of thousands of both US and foreign citizens who have died, or those who have had their basic rights trampled over in this particularly nasty little cult's push for power. 

Just take a look at their recent history. We're talking about a bunch of people who practically worship a senile old geezer who couldn't remember his own name and allowed everyone else to take the fall over the Iran-Contra scandal. They actually believe this moron was responsible for the downfall of the Soviet Union. Jeez. 

After Bill Clinton had not only balanced the Federal Budget ahead of when he promised he would, in fact leaving a huge surplus, they managed to get a man elected who couldn't find oil in Texas, so astute was he. This guy managed to oversee the worst economic performance in America's history, yet he is still hailed as a financial genius. He managed to set fire, in cahoots with his puppy Blair, to a large part of the Middle East during his 'War on Terror', which left the West in more rather than less peril.

Now, with the United States having got over itself and actually managed to elect (without any voting jiggery pokery) its first President of African American origin, they're actually considering nominating, among others Donald Trump or Sarah Palin. One is a multi millionaire who still believes Obama was born outside the state which categorically says he wasn't. The other, well, it defies logic that this nutcase, the darling of the Tea Party, could even be given airtime. As Governor of Alaska, she did her level best to destroy what natural resources it has, with a fair degree of success. 

I know Obama hasn't exactly set the world on fire with his progress, but he did manage eventually, and despite the cowardice of so many in his own party, to get his Healthcare Bill passed, albeit somewhat watered down. He deserves some credit for that. Now, with a Republican Congress sworn to hamstring him until the elections, is it too much to ask that the American people act like adults and see this once proud party for what it has become? 

The first Baron Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." The old boy had a point. Nixon, Bush, Shrub, Cheney. Need I go on?

Today's the day

Got you. You thought I was going to talk about the Royal Wedding, didn't you? No, today's the day before the day when Paisley RFC go for broke. Here's how it breaks down. Paisley are at present one point behind McLaren in the league and both have one game to play, Paisley at home to Moffat tomorrow and McLaren away to Strathclyde's finest next Saturday. If Paisley beat Moffat and score four or more tries, we get five points (four for the win plus a bonus win point). If the Police beat McLaren after that, or if they hold McLaren to less than four tries and Paisley's winning margin over Moffat is greater than McLaren's over the Thin Blue Lions (see how I'm building up our Boys in Blue?) to the tune of 17 points or more, we get the trophy. Confused? I hope so. To sum up, Paisley have to put a barrow load of tries past Moffat, and the Police have to have their finest hour for many a year, hopefully buoyed by the unexpected arrival of heavy support from nearby Cotton Town.

Now, at the risk of coming over all emotional, I for one would like to register my immense pride at my very small involvement with PRFC. They have showed this season that they can raise their game to a point where they are almost unrecognisable from this time last year. In 2009-10, they won 3 games and lost 17, averaging a 35-7 loss. This year so far, they've won 10 (hopefully 11) and lost 5, averaging a 19-10 win. Whatever way it turns out in the next week or so, they've made us very proud at the club, and we'll be celebrating after tomorrow's game with a barbecue. The day's festivities begin with a curtain raiser when the Development XV play the Under 18 side, kicking off at 1pm. The main event kicks off at 3pm. If you're around Paisley tomorrow afternoon, we'd love it if you took the time to come and lend support to your local rugby team. The boys will tell you that a good, noisy home crowd makes all the difference, so bring the kids or come alone, but come anyway. You'll be more than welcome.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that, along the way, McLaren have been worthy opponents. They had to pick themselves up from an unexpected defeat by Clydesdale, managing to steal the win at home to Paisley the next week, to keep their league chances alive. They and the other teams in this league have made this season so enjoyable for those of us who no longer trundle out in the mud week after week and have to live vicariously through our team. Mull, whose hospitality is second to none and who have to travel inordinate distances to play. Birkmyre, who until last week could have won this league. Clydesdale, who have pulled off one or tow shock victories. Jordanhill Phoenix, who have made huge improvements just a little too late in the season. Of course, I have a particular fondness for Strathclyde Police. They've been very friendly hosts over the years at their lovely clubhouse, Lochinch, set in the wonderful surroundings of the grounds of Pollok House. Mind you, this has nothing at all to do with the fact that they have the potential to gift Paisley the league title. They've suffered in recent years from police budget cutbacks which have often made several of their players unavailable at any given time, and yet still play the game. I'll be stood with Big Sandy next week cheering them on.

OK, this has been a bit of a ramble, but William and Kate's impending nuptials have allowed me to have a day at home, so I'm not wasting it. If you want to have a gander at some of Paisley's finer moments from this season, click on this link.

Credit to Gordon 'Power' Powrie for putting this video together.

'Moan the Polis!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Is it me?

Look, I really don't expect to turn on the news to find really meaningful debate going on in Parliament, but come on. It's a bloody Punch and Judy show. Our erstwhile hero, the PM, bleats interminably about the 'recovery' heralded by 0.5% growth in the first quarter. Across the Dispatch Boxes, Judy, in the shape of the slightly more stupid brother, launches into a tirade about how the End of Days has come. Before we know it, we can hear faint strains of "Oh yes it does!" and "Oh no it doesn't!". It's mind numbingly, staggeringly tiresome. Surely I can't be the only member of the Great British Public who is sick of what passes for 'debate' among 'grown men and women'.

Do you feel confident that, if you sent one of these 650 buffoons to Morrison's for a loaf, they wouldn't come out an hour later with a half decent bottle of wine? What? Yes, I did say Morrison's. Yes, I did say 'half decent'. Look, if you buy a bottle, drink it and fall over as a result, it's half decent in my book.

Anyhoo, back to the (funny) farm. Is this our future? Has vigorous, intelligent debate really died? Don't tax your brain too much. It was a rhetorical question. Sod it, I'm off to Morrison's.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Funny title, eh? You're probably wondering what I'm on about. Well, in all honesty, I Googled "Be the best you can be". I'd heard the phrase somewhere and I was looking to come up with a smartarse quote. Instead, I found the above website and thought, "What the Hell, go with it." Still sounds like uncoordinated rambling? Allow me to elucidate.

Today I watched Paisley RFC's 1st XV be all they could be. In order to give themselves the best chance of winning their league, they were faced with beating Clydesdale today, in the process securing a bonus point by scoring four tries, and repeating the feat next week against Moffat. Well, phase 1 is complete, despite Clydesdale getting the opening try within three or four minutes. Paisley showed barrowloads of character in getting tow tries in each half, the second two scored by substitutes. Cue much merriment, and, I suspect the ladies of Paisley being wooed by a very happy bunch of revellers tonight.

Now, this bunch of lads ( I use the word 'lads loosely in some cases) have allowed me to live vicariously through them for far too long, but with their permission I will continue to do so. While I was happy playing the game, I was never dedicated enough to play to the level that these guys do. I never had that inner strength which appears to fire them. They're a disparate bunch, each with his own unique character, and each with the ability to recognise two things; that there is life outside of rugby, and that rugby is everything.

So, Ben, Seve, Chinz, Billy, Stef, Judge, Kev, Al B, Ted, Euan, Powrie, Joel, Simon, Dani, Ryan, Scott, ASBO, Muz, Marky and all the others, is it OK if I hang around a bit yet? I kind of like bragging about being involved with you lot.

On another note, I have some personal thanks to offer to Stef and Dani, two-thirds of our South African contingent. Some time ago, they'd extolled the virtues of Saffie food, including Kudu, Boerewors and Biltong. Well, I'd already tried the first two (delicious, by the way) and found some Biltong in Morrison's today. I thought I'd give it a go and while watching the game started getting myself on the outside of a reasonable portion. During a lull in the proceedings, I found myself reading the back of the packet and was not amused to discover the meaning of 'Biltong'. The translation given was 'strip of buttock). Thanks for telling me guys.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Family Double

My wife posted earlier today in 'Maudlin Thursday'. In this blog, she discusses the Moronic Man who took it upon himself to try to rearrange the homes of Neil Lennon, Paul McBride, QC and Trish Godman, former MSP, by sending a cheery wee Easter card with some explosives as a wee mindin'. Now, I'm not going to repost the whole of her blog, because it's well worth your time following the link below to read it in its entirety.

However, when she shared with her Facebook pals, a friend of ours replied with a couple of thoughts I am prepared to plagiarise. Here's the text of his message:

"Collective Cultural Blame... thats the nail in the coffin of its just one crazy guy argument. You cannot use that argument when that person has grown out of a culture that has promoted fear and loathing of another group, it is the responsibility of the whole culture that maintains this climate that is to blame. they should as you say, be forced to foot the ENTIRE bill for policing Glasgow on match days. They should be told straight, control your fans and end this or we will end you by bankrupting BOTH clubs... I had the kids in the park yesterday, but we had to leave early because all the old firm idiots showed up, getting hammered in prep for causing trouble that night... In this case though, I think it demonstrably has very little to do with the respective religions, simply look at the people causing the trouble. The more time a person spends in church actually practicing their religion the less likely they are to be involved in the violence. I can almost guarantee the 'protestant' that sent the bombs will not be a regular churchgoer. In fact I bet he would be hard pushed to actually describe what a protestant is beyond 'not an Irish catholic'"

Zane Grey, I'm buying you a pint next time I see you. I couldn't have put it better myself, which is why I didn't try. As you know, I like to be verbose and think I'm terribly literate, but for once, you outdid me. Thank you.

As an afterthought, I note the police appear to be closing in on the eejit, somewhere in the vicinity of Kilwinning. Now, why doesn't that surprise me? Jaysus, now I can't visit my relatives in Kilwinning.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A club's gotta do what a club's gotta do.

Last Saturday, I watched with disbelief while Paisley RFC snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The thing of it is, it's still hard to believe that it happened. Paisley absolutely hammered McLaren for most of the game. with a lead of 8-6 with a few minutes left, a McLaren player was so far offside that the Paisley fullback nearly fell over him. This guy recovered the ball, McLaren moved it out to the wing and that was it. Game over. Most galling of all is that the ref wasn't exactly unsighted.

Be that as it may. Ever Paisley player on the field gave and gave until there was nothing left to give. All of us are intensely proud of them. Now, have they accepted the league is now unattainable? Don't you believe it. While it's true that we're now dependent on other results, what we can control is out last two games, or rather how we approach them. The nature of this league is that it's almost inevitable that there are a couple of surprises left, so what we do is go all out to achieve two wins with bonus points and hope that Strathclyde's finest have something to say about what happens in the competition. Have I mentioned how fond of the Police I am? 'Moan the Polis!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Confused of Linwood.

I just listened to that old -fashioned New Labour bully boy, Dr.(honest to God, I'm not making it up) John Reid holding forth on democracy and the effect that AV might have on it. It appears he's arguing that, if the public want a coalition, or a hung Parliament, then under AV they might actually vote for that, might even get it. Now, says Dr. Reid, that would be a Bad Thing for democracy. Or was it democracy that was the bad thing? Jeez, I'm glad he was there to explain democracy to me.

I'm hoping he starts appearing more regularly on our screens again. I've missed him since he went into semi-retirement and took up making the SFA look stupid (or shooting fish in a barrel, as it's otherwise known). I can't wait for him to explain The Law to us, and why, when his job as Home Secretary was to uphold same, he considered it so beneath him. It must have been another Bad Thing that only politicians of the bold doctor's level of  towering intellect understand. We need you Dr. Reid. We don't know what to think. Please tell us.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Audio Visual?

I just saw a broadcast on saying no to AV. It's not surprising but it's still disappointing to hear the dis-ingenuousness and general all-round nonsense being spouted on this subject. Is it at all possible that AV might move us away from this kind of politics, the kind where we have to listen to lies used because the truth might damage the cause? It's difficult to see how worse government could come from AV. Wouldn't it be nice to be treated as adults, given the facts and trusted to make a rational decision? It appears that the opposition to AV fear this more than anything. I wonder why? Maybe because they care so passionately about us that they won't allow us to make our own mistakes. How generous and selfless of them.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Good Books

I've just been reading 'A Portrait of Scottish Rugby' by Allan Massie, published in the wake of the Scotland Grand Slam in 1984. In looking at great players of the past, in this case full-backs, he writes a great deal about Ken Scotland, but turns to another great writer to sum up his feelings about Ken. He quotes Neville Cardus, the cricket writer, on the subject of Tom Graveney.

"If some destructive process were to eliminate all we know about cricket, only Graveney surviving, we could reconstruct from him, from his way of batting and from the man himself, every outline of the game, every essential character and flavour which have contributed to cricket, the form of it and its soul, and its power to inspire a wide and sometimes and sometimes a great literature."

Massie, of course, argues that this could be applied to Ken Scotland in terms of rugby, and that this places him in a class with Jackie Kyle, Mike Gibson and Barry John. I can't say yes or no to that since I never saw Scotland or Kyle play, although I do remember Gibson and John, and they certainly set the standards for their time. Allan Massie restricted his opinions to players he had seen in action, so I think he probably knows what he's talking about. What I do know is that this is a great piece of writing, establishing a standard to which I might aspire but never expect to reach.

In passing, I did have the privilege around four years ago to be asked to chair my club's annual dinner, at which the speakers were Roy Dingwall, a great entertainer, and A.R. Irvine, one of my personal rugby heroes. It was a pleasure to sit alongside such a legend and listen to him regale us with stories of Scotland and the Lions, talking with genuine pleasure of another legend, the diminutive Welsh winger Gerald Davies, again a player I greatly admired.

Good books. Good times.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Is it me? You'll be starting to gather by now that I'm a bit of a Grumpy Old Man. There is a bit of truth there, but it's not all entirely without cause. A lot of it's to do with the dumbing down of Britain (all right, Scotland if you're reading this Gary).

Take graffiti for example. I'm fairly sure that graffiti had a lot more thought put into it when I were nobbut a lad. Leaving aside real artists like Banksy, graffiti is pretty uniformly dire, so the claim that it's a genuine art form is undermined badly. Mostly, graffiti now seems to revolve around football, PIRA, or the Pope. Of course, there is a new breed of graffiti artist with the resurgence of the card carrying socialist incapable of writing anything without quoting Marx and Engels. The inability to say anything without recourse to constant quotation is hardly creative.At my school, someone once wrote on the wall of the boys' toilets, "Down with the Establishment.". Quick as a flash, a reply was posted, reading, "If you take down the establishment, where do we all pee?" Now that's proper graffiti. No? I'll get my coat.

Then there's poo. When did adults start using the word 'poo'? I stopped when I was about eight years old. Far be it from me to advise you as to how you refer to ordure, but come on, people, it's akin to describing your sexual parts as willies, pee pees or front bottoms. Oh wait, we do that too. While we're at it, I hate doctors who talk about your 'waterworks'. What is this, Monopoly or a doctor's surgery? Can we go back to saying crap, shit or even ordure?

Supermarket tills are next. Remember when the girl at the checkout was able to figure out for herself how much change to give you? Now, we buy stuff at £9.99 and have to wait while Colossus waits a minute for effect, makes a lot of pretend printing noises, gives it another couple of seconds and then tells her to give you a penny in change. That's one penny, by the way, not one pence. Just saying. While we're at it, no I don't want double bloody glazing and if I do I'll ask, so don't approach me at the shop entrance.

Basically, it seems like we've lowered lots of bars. I don't mean we should expect all our kids to be rocket scientists, but is it too much to ask that we at least assume until we know otherwise that they're capable of being such? We don't exactly set a shining example, do we? Graffiti, poo and checkouts are all signs of the imminent collapse of civilisation. Trust me.

Friday, 1 April 2011

How to be Guardians of the World's Morals, or Coalition in a Fankle.

Well, what to do, what to do? That maniac Qaddafi, with whom we of course had nothing to do (right, Mr Blair?) is slaughtering his own people. Someone very close to me would probably say, "No shit, Sherlock.". I mean, this is news, isn't it?

So what do we, the world's policeman (well, the world's policeman's poodle), do about it? Do we get involved on the ground, which is illegal, or do we attack the maniac's ground troops and air force, which apparently isn't. Can we target Qaddafi himself? It seems so, at least according to HMG. Mind you, everyone else with a passing knowledge of international law thinks otherwise, but what do they know? It's just a pity that the Americans handed Saddam over to his own people for one of those troublesome affairs. What's the word I'm thinking of? Oh yes, trial. They should have just stuck a grenade down the hole. At least that would have confirmed what most of us already know-that we are no different to them.

If this appears to be a bit of a cynical ramble, that's because it's born of utter cynicism. Why would anyone over the age of ten believe that we give a toss about the people of Libya, the cause of freedom, democracy, yadda yadda. I'm sure you could forgive the citizens of Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Gaza, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe etc. for taking all of our leaders' talk with a pinch of salt.

We ramble about freedom but only try to enforce it where we stand to gain financially, and then only with carefully selected puppet governments.. We talk about the rule of international law when we ignore it totally. We ramble about democracy when we don't practise it. We press China for reforms while we sell our souls to them. Is it possible that there is one politician out there who actually believes the horse doody he/ she is feeding us? Sadly, the answer is probably no, there are hundreds of them. They believe what they're telling us. They have spent so long hiding from reality that it no longer exists for them. Think about that when you vote at the next election.