December 2008


I discovered three things yesterday:

1. Methil is a hole.

2. Alloa need a striker.

3. Methil really is a hole.

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I was at a book launch in a big, posh, baronial manor tonight and the book being launched has 1,000 of my words in it. To be fair, some of them are repeated.

It’s an anthology of writers from Clackmannanshire … some people I know from Alloa Writers, some strangers … called Unheard Voices.

Writers mingling, yesterday

Writers mingling, yesterday

As exclusively revealed, oo, ages ago here on Words. Sentences. Stuff. my story, The Last House, made the cut. As it turns out, it’s first up and while I can try to kid myself that this placement was a decision made on quality, I have to say there’s some really excellent stuff in there, not least a poem by Jane M Spence called Skating On Gartmorn Dam.

As I mentioned after the theatre the other night, it’s a pleasant surprise to find that so many people in such a small place have a creative side.

The book was put together with the help of Stuart Hepburn and Tom Murray, who are Writers In Residence in the wee county.

Stuart used to write for Taggart and Hamish McBeth and wrote the adaptation of Christopher Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning and has a page on imdb and is leaving the residency to write for River City. Or as he puts it, to sort it out. It’s something of a buzz to know that someone with such credentials has read my story and deemed it worthy to be placed in an anthology that has an ISBN and everything.

Apologies, though, go to Ashleigh and Calum who, as I type, are currently enjoying their second day of wedded bliss. I intended to go to the reception, but they weren’t giving out free copies of an anthology to the featured writers so I hope they can see and appreciate my dilemma. Perhaps a hint for others planning their own wedding … who knows.

Alloa’s a pretty small place and I’ve lived here for about eight years, so it’s somewhat surprising to discover that there’s a theatre hiding away in it. Even more surprising to find that it’s home to a rather fantastic dramatic group.

The Alman Dramatic Group are coming towards the end of their sold-out run of Joseph Kesselring’s Arsenic and Old Lace and after seeing it tonight, it’s little wonder it’s proved so popular.

Julie and I were put on to it by Stuart Bailey, who plays the role filled by Cary Grant in the 1941 movie, and after a gentle start, the play found its feet, the pace picked up and the farsical elements of the story started to shine through. I believe the term in the 40s was screwball.

It’s easy to focus on the Am in Amdram, but there were some very convincing performances on show, not least from Mr Bailey who really seemed comfortable in the Grant role or from Gary McKenzie whose hilarious portrayal of German plastic surgeon, Dr Einstein, was a real scene stealer.

Something to look out for in the future and next time, let’s try not to look so surprised, eh?

Sometimes I happen upon a website that teeters between genius and scam and the other day, I found another such example although this one goes that extra mile and picks up the “License To Print Money” award.

It’s called Swoopo and on first glance, it looks like just another common or garden auction site, except it’s claiming to sell big ticket electrical goods for a fraction of their High Street prices. PS3s, DSs, XBOX 360s are all going for £20 – £50. Wondering who was insane enough to flog gear for prices that Bloke In The Pub would baulk at, I had a closer look. Five minutes later, their business model became apparent.

Each item has a countdown timer and a price. When you bid for an item, the prices goes up by 7p and the timer, I think, goes up by 15 seconds. You can watch these auctions live and after 30 minutes of viewing, I didn’t see a single auction close. When a PS3 is about to go for £15.20 with 5 seconds to go, who wouldn’t bid another 7p on top of that?

But here’s the clever bit. Each bid costs you 50p.

So that PS3 I mentioned a moment ago that was going for £15.20? Well, there’s been a flurry of activity on that item and now, it’s going for £29.20, ie there’s been two hundred more bids. So without selling anything yet, the good people at Swoopo have just made £100. There’s one on there just now for £89.53. How many 7p’s is that? More to the point, how many 50p’s is that?

The answers are 1279 and £639.50.

So for a £299 piece of kit, they’ve made more than double that already from bids and there’s still the final selling price to take into account and they have dozens of such auctions on the go at the same time.

There’s one more question outstanding. Right at the start, I wondered who was insane enough to sell these items for these crazy prices? It’s them!