February 2009


img_0214Stranraer is 118 miles away from Alloa, meaning that there are only three grounds in Scotland further afield. I didn’t fully appreciate that before I left, but I do now. My right ankle certainly appreciates it, given that it’s now in a perpetual state of readiness for an outbreak of a Canadian Barn Dance.

Yes, it was a day spent observing advertising hoardings with odd dialing codes, which can only mean another Alloa away day.

Jude pulled out from the trip yesterday so I was on my lonesome as I bombed down the M77, but thankfully there was plenty to keep me entertained on the way down.

For example, I saw a traffic sign outside Maybole warning me of the presence of otters. Now, I’ve never seen a real life otter — and I still haven’t — but today was the first time I’ve ever been warned about them.

There’s a Cassillis Hotel and Cassillis Road in Maybole, which will be of interest to only one person and he probably already knows.

Every town in Ayrshire welcomes you on the way in and Hastes Ye Back on the way out.

Roads in South Ayrshire are obsessed with monitoring your average speed.

Sections of the road between Girvan and Stranraer are like driving round the Hawaii coast on Test Drive Unlimited. I know that sounds unlikely, but I thought it on the way home too, so it must be true.

Stair Park in Stranraer is wee. In fact, it’s toaty, as you can probably see from the photograph. But seriously, it’s very small and this is coming from someone who spends every second Saturday at Recreation Park. Stair Park is the sort of place you see at the side of the road and you’re likely to drive past because you think that can’t possibly be a football stadium — that’s surely part of a generous doll house. But no, that is it.

So, that was my Saturday. I left the house today at 12:10 and I arrived back at 19:05 but it was all worth it because today, at the 17th attempt, after travelling more than 1,000 miles to 11 different grounds scattered across the country, I finally saw Alloa win away from home.

Moan the Wasps!

Between The Lines went live at Fiction At Work today. I’m not sure what, if anything, the little picture accompanying the story has to do with the story, but it’s a lovely little picture so I’m not complaining.

Please click the link and enjoy the story.

Between The Lines is a short story of mine that starts in the middle of a sentence, finishes 500 words further along the same sentence and tells a brief tale of a guy doing coke in a nightclub toilet. Between The Lines, y’see. Geddit?

Anyway, I’m pleased to announce the story will appear in the 23 February edition of Fiction At Work. The more eagle-eyed among you will recognise this link from last month. That was Marshmallows. That was a different story. This is something new.

Expect more links, cakes and directions in a week’s time.

One of the things I enjoy most about the various iPods I have scattered around the house is using them to listen to audiobooks. There’s something rather pleasant about being read to, perhaps a rather obvious connection to our youth, childhood etc. You get to a certain age and the only things likely to be read to you are your rights. If you’re lucky.

Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter books is a joy. James Van Der Beek’s reading of Lunar Park was surprisingly good, as was George Guidall’s performance of American Gods.

The downside is, audiobooks are rather expensive, so it was this thought that took me to eBay and started a hunt for a cheap Bret Easton Ellis audiobook — perhaps Rules of Attraction, if such a thing exists.

But rather thatn finding a cheap Bret Easton Ellis audiobook, I found an expensive Bret Easton Ellis hardback. A seller was looking for £221 for their first edition, second impression of the UK hardback version of American Psycho. It was in good nick, too. Only slight discolouring of the pages and slight bumping to the dust jacket. In fact, it looked almost as good as the first edition, first impression copy I have on my bookshelf.

img_0208I only bought it because I lost my paperback copy, but it would seem that the £10 I paid for it in 1998 has produced something like a 2000% return in the 11 years hence. And it that isn’t a woot moment then I’ll have to look up woot in my urban dictionary. In fact, I might have to do that anyway.

Roving reporter explaining about the damage done to roads in the South of England following the severe weather we’ve all been enjoying:

REPORTER: So if you discover a pothole, please tell your council so they can look into it.

The council doing anything other than just staring into a hole, I’m sure is implied.

For a brief spell in 2002/03, I was ahead of the game. Due to a series of unlikely events, I ended up writing book reviews for Blackwell’s online store and perks of this, along with a generous wad of book tokens, was getting advance copies of a couple of books. One was Things Snowball by Rich Hall, which I got in a kinda pre-production copy. Since then, I’ve been playing catch up.

This was further brought home in the last few days when I started to get into the band Nickel Creek. It’s hard to pigeon-hole them into a genre, but there’s pop, indie, bluegrass, folk all in the mix, which is all very handy when it comes to frustrating my mate Stoobs. That notwithstanding, largely, it’s a very pleasant mix.

But they’ve split up. Years ago. Super.

Anyway, here’s a live recording of them doing a cover of Britney’s Toxic. Great stuff.

I was all set to write a couple of hundred words about how appalling it is to see Iggy Pop turn into a corporate shill and hawk car insurance on TV, and how much more appalling it is to see him sell his soul with his leathery old moobs on view. There should be dignity on such matters.

So that’s what I was going to do, but then I read Madam Miaow’s views on the matter and decided not to bother.

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