Tag: <span>England</span>

For lunch today, whilst the cars drone round the F1 circuit in Bahrain and millions of weary runners plod their way over the finishing line of the London Marathon, I will be having Raisin and Cinnamon bagels, lightly toasted.

On said bagels I’ll put some salad cream and some thin slices of chicken.

Apparently this is “weird”.

So I was wondering, dear reader, if:

  1. You think that is, indeed, weird
  2. If you eat anything similarly weird

In the case of the latter, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, a staple lunch during my 6th year at school was a roll with cheese, ham and banana.


Guess, I’d best not mention the week when I moved down to England and most nights had a dinner of tuna, smash and beans, lest you think I’m some kind of weirdo.


Danah Boyd has been reflecting on her long lost handwriting skills.

“My ability to communicate without editing has decayed. My patience for creating text at a rate slower than I think has decayed.”

Are we getting lazy? Are we too reliant on technology or are we simply adapting how we work and think to match the new capabilities we have at our disposal.

Personal computers have been around for long enough now that they are a standard, obvious, piece of kit for a technical communicator. I’m 34, and those of you from my era probably won’t EVER have asked whether a PC is part of the provided tools or not, it’s just something that is presumed (asking for a particular spec is different).

So, whilst I still use pen and paper to jot down notes, I don’t ever write anything of any length that way. Contrast that with some letters I stumbled upon the other day, written to my Gran when we had moved to the South of England (there are few in number but her replies are treasured). Written in one go, by hand, I was obviously still capable of editing my thoughts before committing them to ink. These days my tendency is to write first, edit later, publish quickly.

Everything you read here has passed through that (somewhat wonky at times) filter, and it’s a luxury I’ve become so accustomed to that I no longer really consider the process. Editing is such a key part of my written communication, regardless of where it is manifest, that it is now just something I do. It wasn’t always so.

Writing notes at college required on-the-fly information structuring and text editing, due to the simple premise that the less time spent scoring through lines of text the better. I have notes from early training courses which show I still adhere to that principal for at least the first couple of years of being a professional, entire sentences written out by hand with nary a score or embellishment to be found.

Fast forward a few years and my notes quickly descend into random words and scribbled quotes. If I don’t type up my notes the night of a conference, training course or meeting then they take on the cryptographic qualities.

And I guess this is one reason why the prominence of laptops in meetings and at conference venues has slowly risen over the past few years.

The odd thing is that most people acknowledge that note taking works best when pen on paper.

So I’m making a concerted effort to rediscover my inner editor, to take a few extra milliseconds when jotting down notes and thoughts to make sure they mean something. It will take some time but, in the long run, I think it will be worth it.

Technology is wonderful, it has many benefits but sometimes it’s good to step back and rediscover the abilities you used to have.

Personal Musings

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My life has been littered with decisions over the past week or so. None particularly major but each crucial in a small way.

The decision with the biggest impact is definitely whether I should pay the electricity bill, or purchase the Mac OSX upgrade. OK, not really a decision… (yes I’ll pay the bill… meh).

Overall, most of the decisions have been small and in the large scheme of things, inconsequential. They centre around the myriad of items I’ve been throwing away as I continue to declutter. Trips to the skip, trips to various DIY places to purchase storage, trips to charidee shops, all have been preceded by a quandary.

Louise and I are pretty good at getting rid of stuff we don’t need or use. Moving house several times in the first few years we were together, including down to England and back, meant that it was pretty easy to know what we had (pack your entire house 4 times in 3 years and you’ll know what I mean) and what we didn’t actually use.

However, we’ve been in this house for over 6 years now and as we are not likely to move for at least another 6, then it’s understandable that we’ve slowly been accumulating ‘stuff’. Personally my minimalist tendencies make it very easy for me to justify the removal of items from any room, but I am conscious that can leave things a little ‘cold’ and of course I’m not the only person who lives there. We are pretty good at compromising though, and it’s safe to say we both now tend to agree on what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Decluttering the house will take some time and, as I’ve mentioned, means that some hard decisions need taken. It’s easy to decide that I don’t really need 4 spare USB cables, or that having 2 spare keyboards is a necessity, so out they go. Similarly there are a lot of things which have slowly been added to various drawers and cubbyholes, none of which have much value other than pleasant curiosity (a champagne cork with a G initialed on it, for example). However there are some items which hold real value, and so I now have a small ‘sentiments’ box.

There isn’t that much in it at the moment, the nameplate from my Grans old house and a knocker from her old, huge, sideboard, alongside a pencil top Chewbacca from my childhood and a small plate with an Osprey on it which… well it came from my parents but not sure where they got it from.

And so, with bin bags filled, and memories safely stored away, I can now move onto the next room. Well I would if I had the space. There are now two large boxes full of CDs, ready to go into the loft. Alas, the loft is starting to reach the point that we consider it “full” (the point at which you can no longer navigate round the boxes and piles of … stuff).

Guess which area of the house we should’ve decluttered first…


Black Swan Green

Another holiday book, by a favourite author, and it’s as every bit as good as his previous novels, whilst remaining (like the others) completely different to anything he’s written before.

In the book, you spend just over a year with a 13 year old boy called Jason as he plots his way through the various minefields he encounters. Set in the early 1980s, pop culture references litter the novel and, as an 80s kid, whisked me back to that time of in my life. Jason is a kid who not only struggles to fit in, being smarter than average and he enjoys writing poetry whilst knowing that it’s a bit “gay” and could get him beaten up, but who also struggles with a stutter.

Jason narrates the story and it’s a credit to David Mitchell that you empathise so strongly with his lead character that you begin to sense how he is feeling before it is fully articulated. Admittedly it may be because I see some of myself in Jason, but that doesn’t detract from, as usual, the wonderfully engaging style that Mitchell brings to all his novels.

Dealing with various life changing events, including the impact of the Falklands War on a small rural community in England, I was so caught up with the book that I almost felt cheated when it was over.

If you haven’t read any of David Mitchell’s books before then this may be a good place to start as it’s, probably, the most accessible. However, they all share a similar trait in his wonderful depictions and vivid wordplay that brings his stories to life, dancing from the page.

Highly recommended.

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After a long week, a night out was just what I required. The fact that the company put some cash behind the bar for us was an added bonus.

Thankfully I had Saturday to myself, which is just as well as I spent it comatose on the couch, munching on chocolate chip muffins and Steak McCoys. I have noticed that it takes me longer to get over a hangover these days, and I decided to skip my Sunday morning run. Just couldn’t face it. Must get out tonight. Someone nag me please.

We spent most of Sunday pottering. The house got a once over, as did parts of the garden inbetween some very brief but very heavy showers. We caught up on all our TV watching and I almost started reading that Harry Potter book. Almost.

And next weekend we have a wedding, a stag night, and a reception, from Friday through to Sunday. Thankfully I’ve already taken Monday off… ohh must find out when I pick up my kilt…

I’m waffling. Largely because I’m stuck for things to say. So what else is happening in the world?

The Tour de Farce is over, some bloke who may or may not be on some kind of performance enhancing drugs managed to avoid the drugs tests long enough to win it, and apparently some 21 year old Welsh guy finished the race in second last place. Which is the greater achievement?

The floods in England seem to be receding, and “everyone” will have to pay. Well that’s not very fair, is it? I quite specifically chose to live at the TOP of the Clyde Valley as the instances of flooding were on the rise (sorry) several years ago. Ohh wait, they meant to say “everyone in England”. Well that’s ok then. Sucks to be you, right?

What else? Well Mike Reid won’t be running around anymore, and the EastEnders writers have just had an entire storyline canned. Apparently Mr. Brown thinks we should be thanking Mr. Bush. That’s thanking as in “shake his hand” not thanking as in “shake him firmly by the throat”. What a strange world.

And last but not least, I downloaded some illegal music. Namely every “Now” album ever released (which some poor soul has collated from various random sources). I feel dirty and ashamed to admit such a thing. I mean it. I am ashamed to ‘own’ so much dross. Did score me brownie points with my “stuck in the 80s” wife…



1. Being linked from Dooce brings in a few extra hits. A few being something around the “60” mark, and certainly not as many as I would’ve thought… however the link was in her sidebar, not from the main content. I’ve had a similar number of ‘referrers’ from Reluctant Nomad (to whom I placed the link that Dooce linked to in the first place… if that makes sense).

2. My Google pagerank is 6, not 7 as I previously thought. Apologies to those who, when I mentioned the erroneous figure on Saturday, voiced their incredulity. I am sincerely sorry for wasting your incredulity, something which should be kept for REALLY incredible things… like Scotland beating France. Have I mentioned that?

3. Scotland beat France at football. Admittedly France did have the ball in our net a couple of times, but they were cheating, and we are the best team in the world. Or something. I don’t really care. We beat France. England couldn’t even beat that part-time team from Burger King.. um.. McDonalds… or wherever it was.

4. I did not watch Robin Hood. I will not watch Robin Hood. I have an irrational dislike of “popular” TV, this may be why I don’t understand all the fuss about that sci-fi programme that was on a while back, you know, the one with the dodgy production values and ‘star guests’ as baddies. Doctor How.

5. Still jogging. Sunday was harder than normal but then I don’t normally spend several hours in the pub on a Saturday, stumbling from bed 20 minutes before you are due to start probably isn’t advised either. Thankfully it was still the first week of the new block (of ten weeks) and the actual running time was low. Not so on Wednesday.

Why the FUCK does it take 10 days to “process a form”. I’m adding Louise to my bank account as we don’t have a joint account. This hasn’t been an issue in the past but is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now and as the dribble of extra funds that we now have owed to us after the re-mortgage (which is almost complete, just waiting on first payment date) was presented to us via a cross cheque made out to, yes that’s right “Mr. Gordon McLean and Mrs. Louise McLean”… well our need to have an account that both of us can access suddenly leapt up the priority list.

Yes, I should have done something about this beforehand. Yet that still doesn’t explain why, having gone to the bank on Saturday morning with twenty-zillion different forms of ID for both of us, having completed the required form in triplicate, signing the form in our own blood, and providing DNA samples from the back of our eyelids, they still want to take 10 days to process the form. When I asked why the not-so-helpful wan… er.. assistant said that he wasn’t entirely sure but it had to go to the “central processing office”.

When I asked, with some vehemence, that that didn’t really explain why it would take so long he replied: “Well, I’m not exactly sure where it is but I think it’s somewhere south of the Quatanga Nebula, and hey, those little froolongs only have two fingers so maybe you should cut them some slack”.

Bemused and slightly befuddled I left the bank.

7. Thanks to all who left questions (well nearly all, some of you buggers just LOVE to be contrary). I’ll be tackling them over the coming weeks, and maybe keep a few back for the end of the month as we’re away to Spain for a sneaky week in the sun.

8. WE BEAT FRANCE. Sorry, this may take some time to sink in.

9. There is a possibility that I’ve fabricated one of the above items, part of it at least. However it’s quite subtle and I doubt many of you will spot it, but I thought I’d best be honest about it. There are parts that I made up.

10. I don’t really have something to add here but, well, by the time you get to 8 you sorta havta keep going to 10, right? You certainly can’t finish at least at 9, that’d never work. There are no “Top 9” lists (although maybe there should be?).

Life Work

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Our First Minister caused a bit of a stooshy recently by stating that he wouldn’t be supporting England in the World Cup. But why should he? He’s not English after all..

As for me, well it’s a tricky one, that’s for sure. Ach, who am I kidding, it’s very straightforward. ‘Mon the Soca Warriors!!

Actually that’s not strictly true. In truth I wouldn’t mind England winning the World Cup but for the inexorable press coverage it’d get. I mean it was pretty bad after the rugby World Cup but if they won the footie version? Jesus, it’d be awful.

I was actually listening to a phone-on on the Radio about this during the week. And for most people the decision of whether or not to support England was an easy one to make. You either don’t support them as a matter of principle (and state your allegiance to whoever is playing them next), or you don’t mind them winning, and might support them in a few games.

Most people on the phone-in who said they’d be supporting England did admit that the downside would be the programmes, and articles and endless loops of speculation about whether this team was better than the ’66 winning team, if Gerrard IS the best midfielder in the world, and if Beckham should retire. Meh.

And that’s the thing. It’s not the supporting of England that’s the problem, it’s the constant stream of hyperbole that goes along with it.

Anyway. I’m off to buy a Brazil top, or maybe Argentina… France anyone??

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