Team Gym

In advance of our skiing holiday in the New Year, some of the more dedicated members of the party have been meeting up, weekly, at the gym, in an attempt (perhaps a forlorn one) to get fit. Our current gym of choice is Ainslie Park, which I keep wanting to call Astley Ainslie, for some reason. The Astley Ainslie is a hospital, mostly full of old people recovering from serious conditions. I have no doubt that I will end up in the gym there soon enough, but am in no rush.

For some of us, though, notably Filipideedoodaa, once a week at Ainslie Park is no longer enough, and so she has suggested we start going twice.

“How’s six o’clock at Meadowbank on Monday?” enquired F….

“Do you work near Meadowbank on Mondays?” I asked, wondering about the change of venue.

“Well, it’s on my way home if I go home that way” she replied.

There, in one sentence, the logical genius that is Filipideedoodaa is encapsulated.

The whole gym thing, so far, has been a rewarding, but exhausting experience. Last week, on returning home, I felt so drained that I promptly devoured most of a box of Lindt chocolates. I confessed this to the Admin Supremo the next morning at work, who confidently asserted that this wasn’t a bad thing, since good quality chocolates don’t contain very much milk. Or something.

This week, having confessed my indulgence again, this time to Broon and F…, Broon immediately and confidently backed up the Supremo’s claim, and followed it up by claiming that the best thing after exercise is a chocolate milkshake. WELL, I can tell you, that piece of news went down well in my corner, if not F…’s, as she has renounced all chocolate products since a large chocolate bar fell on her head when she was six years old, and being a bloody-minded Welsh redhead, she isn’t breaking her fast for nobody. On further querying, Broon appeared to be quite genuine in her chocolate milkshake belief, and after all, she is a qualified physio, so off I popped to McDonalds, which is on my home if I go home that way. I have resolved to go home that way after every gym night from now on, in the interests of the quick recovery that chocolate milkshakes provide, according to Broon et al, 2004.

I pulled up at the drive-through.

“Chocolate milkshake please.”

“Regular or large?”

I thought for a moment.

“Large please.” After all, I had done thirty reps on that fiendish leg press thing. This gym malarkey is starting to look up. And the gym at Meadowbank is slap bang opposite…. McDonald’s. Good choice, F…


Just returned from four days in Salzburg, Austria. Myself and the Admin Supremo were at a retail seminar, working hard, as you might expect.

On the train back to Munich and our Edinburgh flight, the Supremo found himself haggling with the conductor on the train, who explained (in German) that we needed to pay extra to be on this particular train. The Supremo deemed this totally unacceptable, and protested loudly, in English. The conductor, faced with the prospect of an argument with possibly the world’s most argumentative man, suddenly appeared to lose any grasp of English he might have had, and one credit card transaction later, moved on.

The trip was pleasingly punctuated with stops for coffee, at every opportunity, convenient or otherwise. And the odd slice of Sachertorte and apple strudel, obviously. When we weren’t working hard of course, which wasn’t very often.

Salzburg is an outstanding city, with a wonderful old town full of twisting medieval streets and a rich history. It is the birthplace of Mozart, who himself wasn’t that fond of Salzburg and its denizens, and moved to Vienna at the earliest opportunity. But what did he know about anything, apart from music. That he did know about. We enjoyed a simply stunning rendition of his Requiem in the Kollegienkirche on Saturday evening. And headed to a concert featuring Mozart on the Sunday morning. Unfortunately, we got that one wrong, and it was Haydn, Ravel and Fauré. We also weren’t expecting all of Salzburg to turn up for the concert in their Sunday best. I daresay they weren’t expecting two Scots/Irish loafers to appear in their jeans and hoodies either. Mercifully, they served coffee and Lion bars at the interval, so despite the lack of Mozart, all was not lost. Still, we sneaked out after Fauré’s Pavane, before having to endure another Haydn symphony (Haydn, I can’t help but feel, is the poor man’s Mozart). The Pavane was the BBC’s World Cup theme in 1998. I think this important fact was lost on the majority of the good folk of Salzburg, and was somewhat disappointed that the conductor, who looked remarkably like David Baddiel, didn’t point that out. One feels that if it had been David Baddiel, he would have surely mentioned it.

Moving on, we spent some time with a portable audio guide machine thing glued to our ear as we walked around Mozart’s residence. The audio commentary contained a fair few bursts of Mozart’s music, which led to the amusing sight of other tourists dancing and jigging along with what looked like a portable credit card machine pressed against their ear. By the time we had made our way round Mozart’s birthplace, and then the inside of the quite impressive Castle, we were both getting serious museum fatigue. So we popped into Mozartplatz to say goodbye to the man himself, and then quick-marched back to the hotel for a nap.

We followed that up with easily the most expensive meal I have ever had, at the Ikarus restaurant at Hangar-7. Outrageously good food, and service, at an eye-popping price. An Amaretto in the glass-and-steel bubble suspended from the glass-and-steel hangar ceiling, 50 feet above an exhibition of Red Bull-sponsored planes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars, rounded the evening (and the trip) off in some style. As befits men of style, such as the Supremo and myself…

Some photos of the trip here

More toilet tribulations

“Would you like a bit of egg?” asked mum, proffering some chocolate.

I was down chez mes parents, sharing some post-prandial conversation. My sister Alison and the wean Maggie were there too. We suggested that, it being July, it was the wrong season for chocolate eggs and was it not actually a Terry’s Chocolate Orange anyway. Dad, or The Lord Cecil, as we like to call him – after a Hackney pub defunct since the day a double decker bus drove into it – whose chocolate orange it was, was graciously unperturbed at it being shared around. Tell the truth, he seemed a little put out that there was no ice-cream to go with it.

Met Wiseman for dinner in PizzaExpress tonight. After some slightly disappointing exploratory main courses (exploratory in that we both deviated from the reassuring familiarity of our customary pizza choices), learning the lesson along the way that spiced beef and mushrooms are not a number ONE topping combination, the thoughts turned inevitably to dessert. Here we often differ. Wiseman regularly goes for the Chocolate Glory. I find the tiramisu keeps me more regular. Tiramisu, indeed, is an old and faithful friend. A bit like a dog. A dog is slightly better, in that tiramisu is sometimes off the menu – this fate befell me, distressingly, on two consecutive visits to PizzaExpress. A long time ago, but it has lodged in the memory. Dogs, on the other hand, are never off the menu, at least not in Hong Kong. They are sometimes asleep, but you can wake them up and they’re not even grumpy about it. How do they do that?

Chocolate Glory is more like a girlfriend. It’s great to start off with, but you soon start to feel sick.

Speaking of regularity, some seagulls appear to have no problems in the waste pipe department, as my car can testify. They have managed to deliver several consignments onto the driver’s door, one of them right on the edge of the window, nearest to the handle. So every time I get out of the car I push the door shut and… yep. If you meet me in the street avoid shaking my hand.

And while we’re on such matters, I believe Broon has recently had to purchase a new toilet seat for her house to replace a broken one… it would appear that the phantom toilet-seat destroyer has struck again. The Admin Supremo has been recently spotted in the North Fettes area carrying his own toilet seat around with him. It’s all very curious. Perhaps we could make it into a TV mini-series. (Q. Do they still have mini-series on TV or is it all mind-numbing “reality” stuff nowadays?)

Room 65 kicks off this week, which must mean that I’ve been numbing your minds, those of you that are still reading, for over a year now, since I remember mentioning it in the blog last time around. Am guesting on piano again, which means more ill-timed glissandi and misleading introductions. But I’m sure we’ll all muddle through. Feel free to drop in to the café at 65 High Street if you’re bored of an evening.

And with that I’ll bid you goodnight.

Lie-ins and bowel movements

Woke up on Tuesday morning at 7.50am. Jumped out of bed, suppressing expletives in various languages and pulling a muscle in my back as I did so – that one under the shoulder blade. 7.50 is the time I normally leave the house in the morning. Decided this time not to leave the house, given the distress which would have been caused to onlookers by my state of undress.

Shortly after arriving at work at 8.30 on the nose, discovered that our receptionist had also slept in when I joined her in the queue for breakfast in O’Brien’s.

The backroom staff at work have had their numbers boosted and their biscuit supply disproportionately depleted by the arrival of Dish, freshly arrivée from France and still blogging, much to everyone’s relief. Having spent a whole year picking up working practices in France, we are anticipating her going on strike at any moment, but in between spells on the picket line she will be helping the Admin Supremo in his tasks – primarily coffee-drinking and causing civil unrest. And cheerily replying “Super Dooper Doo” when asked how he is by people on the phone, shortly before ferociously devouring them for applying the wrong tax code to our invoices or some such.

Mum, meanwhile, has gone south for the summer, or at least this week, to spend time with my sister and little Maggie. Share the love, I say. It would have been rude of me to keep all of the nagging to myself for the whole year. Dad, having been notified that I would be staying with him while mum was away, immediately booked himself a week in the most expensive nursing home he could find. I fear I may have messed up the porridge production one morning during my last stay, and my dad has a long memory when it comes to the quality of his food provision. Initial reports from the nursing home have been encouraging: the desserts have been of a very high standard. In fact he almost fell out of his chair with excitement while describing them. Dad takes his desserts very seriously.

Speaking of falling out of chairs, the toilet seat at work has cracked again. Reluctant to speculate on the identity of the guilty party, I can only report that all members of staff used the facilities on the morning in question, and none reported any problems getting purchase. Nor, indeed, was any damage noted or commented on. Perhaps their circumspection can be attributed to a desire to not feature in a blog entry…

Time for bed. Don’t want to sleep in again. Angry Mac Guy describes a blog as a generic layout filled with details of the writer’s every bowel movement. Apologies if this one’s been a bit like that, I like to think it usually isn’t. Come to think of it, my blog normally has details of other people’s bowel movements. Not sure that’s any better. Ho hum…

Wiseman’s Back, and Broon the Parsnip

The Northern Ireland trip passed off peacefully. It was great. In fact it was dead-on, so it was. There have been some changes since my last proper visit (where a proper visit is defined as lasting more than 24 hours). The now relatively well-established peace (I describe it thus with some caution, as our Admin Supremo, volatile enough to spark a civil war in Switzerland, is actually holidaying VERY NEAR to the province at this very moment) has caused house prices to sky rocket. However, some things remain the same. You still get offered a choice of chips or rice with your Chinese takeaway.

I made my escape back to Scotland and drove straight to the Strathclyde Hilton, where an old friend was having a ceilidh to celebrate her recent marriage. Needless to say, with dancing to be had, much of the chatroom was present. Jen, on her way rather predictably to the bar with a couple of friends, where she was no doubt planning to convince someone to buy her a drink, was accosted by an older gentleman and his mates.

“It’s alright, ladies, I’m HERE,” he announced.

“YESSSS!” replied Jen, rather more audibly than she might have planned, while punching the air triumphantly. Whether the trace of sarcasm in this response was picked up or not was unclear, and she spent the rest of the night looking nervously over her shoulder.

Wiseman, out of circulation of late due to spending time with the missus, no longer has a missus to spend time with, and hence had to make do with our company instead. Having booked some rooms at the hotel and stayed overnight, I got up early and sneaked into the gym the next morning to watch the great man at work.

A picture speaks a thousand words, they say.

Tonight I made my yearly visit to my mum’s GB Display. The GB is an organisation for young girls that gives them something to do besides buying shoes and talking about Big Brother, namely playing games and learning about God, and their Display is the annual end of year show. I realise that openly admitting that I spent the evening watching young girls cavort about a hall might not do any good to either my credibility or my status with Disclosure Scotland, but I can only protest my innocent involvement as the musician. Don’t shoot me, I’m only the piano player. I might hope that Broon, who was also present, would back me up here, but realise that my acerbic character profiling might just come back and bite me on the bum. Oh well, such is the lot of us satirists.

Mum, who is captain of this particular company of girls, waited until halfway through the minister’s opening prayer before deciding to check if the radio mic was working. She switched it on and blew hard into it. It was working, what’s more it was turned up quite high. After the subsequent explosion she turned and smiled, apparently pleased that the whole hall now knew the PA was switched on.

We moved on to the first song, during which my music book made several attempts to pitch itself headlong onto the keys. My playing wasn’t that great, I’d be the first to admit, but I didn’t consider it so bad that the music book itself would seek to intervene and call an abrupt and atonal end to matters.

These evenings tend to include games with audience participation. Early on in the night we witnessed a game which involved one of the leaders “making soup” by waving her arms vigorously as a number of girls-pretending-to-be-vegetables ran round her at speed, before they shot off back to the corners whence they came.

“You got the idea?” she asked the audience, confidently. I chanced a look across to Broon, skulking in the back row on the opposite side of the hall. Broon clearly had as much idea what was going on as I did. Which was unfortunate, as shortly afterwards she was deemed to be a leek and was summoned onto the floor. It wasn’t long before she got confused and tried to pass herself off as a parsnip (no-one was fooled), and ended up back in her seat red-faced.

And that’s about it. Colin Eye informs me that the pesky IT people at his workplace have blocked his ability to make comments. Perhaps they have read your comments, Colin. One can only surmise how long you can remain in the Cabinet without being able to make comments… shame really, since you’ve just made it in. And it’s such a nice photo…

Chocolate Digestives and Grammatical Pedantry

It’s a bad thing when you run out of chocolate digestives. This happened to us at work this week, but mercifully, Adi, our Admin Supremo, was on hand to dash across to Somerfield and save the day. He even got back with the goods before my tea got cold. This is top notch admin work, in my view. Our previous incumbents in the Admin Supremo position, notably Dish and Broon/Annie-Anne, would have been hard pushed to match this performance, tending to be more adept at scoffing the biscuits than supplying them. Dish, going by her comment on the last post, also appears to have developed the skill of playing ultimate frisbee with her buttocks, which strikes me as no mean feat. Can you throw as well as catch, Dish?

Anyway. Last week I accepted Colin Eye’s invitation to join him in a viewing of Spiderman 3. I accepted, somewhat against my better judgement, having been bored witless by Spidermans 1 and 2. But my alternative last Saturday was to spend a hand-wringing evening in the bar, examining another Holy Cross 2nd XI defeat (2 out of 2) and pondering how we might learn to catch a cricket ball (4 catches taken out of 20+ chances). Even for someone with my fondness for melancholy AND cricket, it seemed like an overly-depressing combination, so I opted for the cinema. I might have caught up on some sleep while I was there, had it not been so loud. The action sequences were fun, and I liked it when Spidey went to the dark side for a bit. I can even take the ridiculously far-fetched goings on, but what I just can’t abide is the mind-numbing tedium in between. If I wanted to watch somebody clumsily blundering their way through a relationship… well, let’s just say I don’t need any pointers on how to do that…

Speaking of mind-numbing tedium, I was reading a work-related newsletter recently, when a wonderful error caught my eye:

“For those currently waiting for NHS hearing aids we agree there needs to be a sustainable low weight solution…”

I’m presuming that they meant low wait, rather than casting aspersions on the lack of dieting success of the entire NHS audiology waiting list.

One of my co-pedants in the Apostrophe Protection Society, who refers to himself as the Comely Bank Branch, delights in observing mistakes like this in everyday life. He then texts them to me for my amusement. Consider the following messages I received in the last few months:

‘Birthdays’ at the east end of Princes St is closing down. One is encouraged to hurray while stocks last.

The Bristol City branch of is advertising the lunch of the Sony Playstation 3 on 23 March. Apparently stocks are limited.

I myself have noted that without leaving Queensferry St in Edinburgh, it is possible to unwinde with a drink at Halo after a day’s work, and then move on to sample the pre-threatre menu at Petit Paris. Before Christmas I also saw a Feastive Menu on offer in Burntisland, Fife. Perhaps my favourite of recent times was a warning sign in a hotel room which encouraged the occupant to advise Reception on their arrival “if you are disabled or hard of hearing which would effect your exit in the event of a fire”. I wasn’t aware that having a hearing loss enabled you to leave buildings, but then again, what do I know about such things.

So, Colin has now been mentioned in my last two blog entries, and as a fairly regular commenter should really be given a character page. As should Broon, really. However, the Blog Character Cabinet is pretty full. I think perhaps a couple of evictions are in order. I haven’t received any abuse from Friendy in a while – he must be on a shoogly hook. I like to keep these things democratic. Anyone care to vote someone off? Anonymous comments, for once, welcome 😉