Boy With The Thorn (1359)

Boy With The Thorn
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http://www.kraftwerk.com/
Wednesday December 30, 09

The Noughties - A Review, Of Sorts

06:52 PM
Welcome, my lovelies, to the final day of the 2000s.

It's a faintly disturbing thought that I have documented most of the decade, to a greater or lesser degree, on this here journal system. I started this lark in 2001 with what I acknowledge to be some humourless, downbeat writings, and have continued in that spirit to this day. As we approach 2010 (can you believe?) it seems an opportune moment to look back at the decade past to see how far I've travelled as a person. Plus some other shit.

Decade milestones
2002 - Graduation from university. I don't mean to blow my own trumpet, in fact self-promotion is really not in my character at all, but I graduated in 2002 with a rather splendid degree from a rather splendid university. It was a combination of inspiration, perspiration and alcohol which I am extremely proud of. Looking back, I'm particularly impressed with the balancing act I pulled off in my final few months between work and play. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't have taken my academic abilities further - I could have ended up making a living from doing something I really loved. But in truth that would almost certainly have entailed having to do things on a more or less day to day basis that I couldn't have done. Some academics view their teaching duties as an irritating chore, but for me I suspect it would have been unbearably stressful. I regret that things couldn't have been different, but I don't regret my decision, if you catch my drift.
2002 - British taxpayer. In the autumn of 2002, after months of disheartening failures to gain employment, somebody finally thought I was worth hiring. A misjudgement on their part, of course, but we've reached the end of the decade and they still can't get me off the payroll.
2006 - Home ownership. Having returned to live with my parents for nearly four years after leaving university, in 2006 I made the leap into home ownership and returned to living on my own (when I say "returned", I mean I spent three years-ish doing so at university, albeit in halls). (This was only made possible from a financial point of view by a promotion gained in 2005, which I decided did not merit seperate listing as a highlight as it only really involved going from a shit job to a slightly less shit job.) (I wonder if anyone has ever put three bracketed statements back to back like this? It's certainly unusual.) It's been a great move, as my location and the ability to do what I want, when I want has been essential in keeping me sane.

So I think that's about it as far as personal milestones go. In ten years, I've graduated, got a job and a home. So you see, I have gone somewhere in this decade. Not as far as virtually everybody else in their 20s goes, but I started the '00s as a poor student, flitting between university accommodation and my parents' abode, and end it as a homeowning, taxpaying, graduate. Though I hardly feel happy with my lot, I'd do well to reflect that though my progress has been meagre, there are some my age who won't be able to boast any of those things.

Of course, and yes, this story is old (but it goes on), the noughties have proved a spectacularly fruitless decade so far as finding the thing I desire most, i.e. somebody to love. I ought to be grateful for all the above personal milestones and maybe just accept my lot, although I'm reminded at this juncture of a wonderful Sean Hughes joke. This isn't verbatim, but the gist of it is as follows:-

I was watching Comic Relief [note to any foreign readers: it's a biennial charity telethon thingy] and they had a short film on an Ethiopian village. They were speaking to this malnourished man wearing rags and who lived in this little mud hut on arid land who was saying that, because of the drought, they desperately needed foreign food aid or he and his wife would die of starvation. And I thought, that's the most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard...how come even he's got a wife and I can't get one?

My most profuse apologies to Sean Hughes, who I'm sure is a regular reader, for probably making an arse of your material. ( Though I suppose that's better than making material out of your arse.) I think I've captured the spirit of it, though. Anyway, I love that joke, firstly because it's hilarious, as jokes are ideally meant to be, but also because it exposes and ridicules a whole gamut of negative human feelings, and hopefully leads one to put some perspective on their own self- obsessed worries.

So this grumbling about my solitude really will not do. Noughties, I salute you for that which you have given me (detailed above) and prostrate myself at your feet in gratitude for that which you have not taken away: for, most importantly of all, you have left me with my loved ones intact, and I pray your successor will be so kind.

Now, of course at any year end one will always find "best of lists", and these are even more popular at the end of decades, so I present to you below my own "Best of the Noughties" lists. Being terribly indecisive I must stress that these are strictly in alphabetical order, which will save me from agonising over which album was the fourth best of the decade and which was the fifth best. I hope you will enjoy, though suspect you will not.

Top Five Treasured Memories
-- Boy With The Thorn, MA (2002) - Graduation was a special couple of days. It was an end, it was a beginning. The beginning of not very much, as it turned out, but I didn't know that at the time.
-- Greatest football game ever (2003) - I have a general policy of not mentioning which football team I support purely because it would make me much more identifiable should anybody I half-know stumble across this journal. (Which is to say: attendances do not tend to number in the thousands.) Not that I expect anybody I know to stumble across it, but anyway, I enjoy the anonimity and would rather not endanger that. One never knows what weird combination of words people might google. But I did witness the greatest game ever played. I just can't tell you anything about it.
--London Calling (2009) - I haven't had many holidays this decade...in fact I haven't had any holidays this decade...this is the closest I got. A really enjoyable weekend in London of sport, drinking, and just the almost-forgotten feeling of being a tourist and being somewhere different.
-- My brother's wedding (2004) - an all round great day, and I even managed not to make a complete pig's ear of being Best Man.
--On the lash (2008) - I've done a lot of drinking this decade, but probably my favourite drinking memory, and God knows there are many of them, was a thirty hour bender with a much-loved ex-colleague who was soon to depart these shores. We drank, we played pool, we drank, we abused the jukebox, we drank, we danced, we drank, we talked pish and we drank.

Top Five Things I Probably Didn't Love At The Start Of The Decade But Which I Love Now
-- Cricket (spectating)
-- Crosswords
-- Cycling (spectating)
-- Jamaican music
-- Tea

Top Five Gigs, with possibly incorrect dates cos I haven't double checked them
-- David Byrne, Glasgow, March 2009
-- Kraftwerk, Glasgow, June 2004
-- Morrissey, Glasgow, Nov 2002
-- New Order, Glasgow, October 2001
-- U2, Glasgow, June 2005

N.B. I will almost certainly have forgotten at least a dozen truly amazing concerts.

Top Five Albums
-- Arab Strap - Monday at the Hug and Pint
-- At The Drive-In - Relationship of Command
-- Four Tet - Rounds
-- LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
-- Radiohead - Kid A

Top Five Words I've Used In The 2000s [Censored for the faint of heart]
-- And
-- C*nt
-- F*ck
-- I
-- The

Top Five Ways of Killing Time
-- Pissing about on the internet
-- Playing Pro Evolution Soccer
-- Watching Hollyoaks
-- Working
-- Writing Moz-solo journal entries, then deciding that they're rubbish and not bothering posting them

Top Five Girls Who Could Have Been Girl With The Thorn, Had Only They Seen Any Worth In Me
-- American Girl - Briefly there might have been something there in the spring/summer of 2002, although it didn't take her long to work out that I was a worthless dickhead. She was far more clever and worldly than I, which I suppose it what put paid to this one. Still, meeting her was definitely good in that it helped me to get H (see below), who was shortly to depart my life forever, out of my system.
-- Brunette Pub Quiz Girl - Possibly mental barmaid who was, however, impossibly gorgeous, and the object of my desire 2004-05. Ended up shagging one of my mates. Such is life. In all honesty, thinking back, this one definitely wouldn't have worked because I think I'm probably too classy for her...ha!
-- Girl At Work - Ongoing since 2006, I tend to oscillate between periods where I think of her as a friend who happens to be an attractive female, and other periods where I am deeply infatuated with her. There were two, or three if you count my cowardice, very good reasons why I didn't make a move when she was single, one of which is of course the fact that she is a work colleague. Ergo, in my head I can defend my inaction; in my heart I regret deeply my disinclination to gamble. On occasion recently - and always after a drink, you understand - she will hug me and tell me that shes loves me. I am 99. 99999999% sure she means as a friend, which simultaneously warms and breaks my heart, as if it were an old paving stone in the Sahara.
-- H - I was, I think it's fair to say, absolutely besotted with her in my final year at university, 2001-2. Friendly and smiley and lovely. Small but perfectly formed with a posh home counties accent, and so pretty that even today it makes my heart ache to think of her. It would never have worked, of course, what with her being a classy bird from (I'm guessing) a rich family and me being a wee scrote from the Scottish central belt. She probably likes skiing and French cuisine, whereas I like football and Bovril.
-- Lovely Rita - The most recent object of my affections. I've only known her a matter of months but have made the mistake of really falling for her, so she sneaks into the top five. More at a later date, perhaps.

Right, that'll do. I'll see you in the next decade - may the new year, and beyond, bring you happiness.
Thursday December 17, 09

An Open Letter To Santa Claus

01:46 PM

Dear Santa,

I apologise for not taking the time to sit down and handwrite this, but I figured you'd no doubt notice it anyway, what with you being omnipresent. Or is that God? Oh, I don't suppose it matters, you're both about as real as each other. No doubt if I'm getting confused God will pass the message on.

I don't know if I've been good this year. I suppose if one considers this question in terms of the seven deadly sins, I have been guilty of the following at some point in the last twelve months:-

Lust - But surely if God didn't want us to lust he wouldn't have made all those lovely brunettes?
Gluttony - Probably drink mostly, although who can forget that time when I took advantage of the local pizza place's free 9" if you buy garlic bread with a 12". I mean, I live on my own for fuck's sake, how unneccessary was that? And I bloody ate them!
Sloth - Recently I spent about two weeks solid at work just playing Minesweeper because I couldn't be bothered working. I set some good times, mind. Also been a bit sloppy with the housework.
Wrath - I am quite a calm soul, but occasionally referees really get my goat.
Envy - Mostly related to lust...

By the way, I just took that list from Wikipedia, so those might not be the seven deadly sins at all. I mean, I haven't seen that film, so I don't have that as a reference.

So it hasn't been all bad, I mean, I don't think I could consider myself guilty of greed in the material sense, and what with my self-belief being largely non-existent these days I'm pretty sure pride isn't an issue either. Two out of seven ain't bad! I reckon that qualifies me for a couple of presents, although I recognise that the final say in the matter rests with you.

With that in mind, I would like some or all of the following:-

1) My football team to be top of the league at Christmas. If you could sort it for them to be top of the league in May as well that would be awesome. Is asking for the cup as well stretching it a bit?

2) I want Lovely Rita. That's not her real name but you know who I'm talking about. Remember and make a wee puncture in the wrapping paper so she can breathe. I like Rita so much that recently I almost asked her out. I was so close! I got as far as "Rita..." with the intention of following that up with some carefully rehearsed line that I'd been over in my head a hundred times, then lost my nerve and mumbled something like, "Ehhh...nothing, it doesn't matter." Smooth, son, very smooth. Rita's great. She is predictably, a brunette, she's charming, she's beautiful, has the most beautiful accent, and shares a number of interests with me, enough to make me think we could be great together if only I wasn't such a knob. But I suppose if she's great and I'm a knob, together we'd still come out about average, so I mean, you'd take that most days of the week, wouldn't you? Santa, I wouldn't ask for another Christmas present so long as I live - or, y'know, at least until the next Girls Aloud album is out - if you could sort this one for me.

3) I'd like a ticket for Lady Gaga (anywhere will do but not Glasgow, the date doesn't suit) plus accommodation and rail tickets, and if you could chuck in a bit of spending money for beer that'd be cool. I've been feeling a bit despondent recently but have found much comfort in music, it's like Marley (was it Jacob or Bob?) says: when it hits you, you feel no pain. I don't think that's entirely true but there's definitely something in there, whether it's listening to music or singing away to myself, it lifts the gloom. And since Lady Gaga is probably The Greatest Individual On The Bloody Blimey Planet just now I'd love to go and see her. I love Lady Gaga.

4) Think I may be pushing it a bit asking for a fourth present, so I'll just shove all the obligatory world peace bollocks in here, and if you get round to it, great. But just so we're clear, I'd rather have the Lady Gaga ticket.

I think that's it for this year. I'll be locking the whisky cupboard on Christmas Eve, so don't even fucking think about touching my single malts or next year I'll wait up and beat the shit out of you. You can make a cup of tea if you like - but only the PG Tips or something.

Cheers then,

Boy With The Thorn

Friday August 21, 09

Boy With The Thorn's Journal (continued)

04:23 PM

I've been reading Dracula of late. As you may know, if you've ever read it, or even perhaps if you haven't, it is written in the form of diaries and correspondence, and so I have been inspired to take up writing my own journal in the hope that perhaps even the smallest detail recorded here will shed light on the evil that we now face.

You may, incidentally, have noticed that I never did write a Moz week part II, so I shall simply state that his Thursday gig at the Barras was superb, and that nothing else of interest happened that week. I mean, nothing else that would interest you.

Friday 14th August
I stopped for a couple of pints on the way home after work. The sky was heavy, as if it was about to start pishing doon, and indeed it did. During the course of this terrible storm there were no recorded incidents of any strange boats crashing ashore - not that I live on the shore these days anyway - and nothing which could be considered as unusual. I did get wet on the way home, however, and fell asleep on the couch after my tea, waking up to the chilling sounds of some drunken knob passing by. Oh, what could it all mean?

Saturday 15th
I was compelled by football to travel to the far east. Fortunately I had studied a little of the language of these parts, and was able to communicate with the locals to a degree, although my plea for pies went unacknowledged, as it is local custom to run out of pies ten fucking minutes into the first half. Shortly after half time, although frankly it might as well have been shortly after kick off, the shutters of the pie hut were quickly closed, as if they feared the approach of a great evil. The wind in these parts in strong, and it feels as if it may be blowing in something quite undesired, to say nothing of the effect it is having on the quality of the football.

Sunday 16th
I cannot remember what happened today apart from winning the pub quiz. Is it possible that the Count has even the power to erase my memory, to strip from me those dreadful lessons I have learned of his powers and how one may counteract them? Or did I really not do anything apart from lie on the couch watching football on the telly?

Monday 17th
It seems the Count's dark powers have cast a blanket of depression upon us all, for even the Fringe show I went to see this afternoon felt like it had had all the humour sucked from it. Oh God! I must not think of the terror he is wreaking upon our comedy, for it surely cannot be that the show just wasn't very funny to begin with. In pursuit of the monster I trailed around a number of (public) houses, on each occasion partaking of local hospitality, though oh, it tasted bitter under such circumstances. Bitter with occasionally little hints of zest. And the odd stout. I wracked my brains in the evening as I tackled the pub quiz but struggled to find answers and was soundly beaten. My heart must endure such agonies as it is torn between the foxy Irish barmaid and the foxy Kiwi barmaid; yet I know it to be true that the Kiwi barmaid is going out with some wee nyaff that frankly even I could have in a fight, so perhaps I ought to turn my attention to the Irish bird.

Tuesday 18th
In search of further clues as to the Count's whereabouts, I travelled to Glasgow to see U2; regrettably, I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I did partake of a rather fine pizza though.

Wednesday 19th
Little happened today, save for another great downpour, which feels like it is a portent of dreadful things to come. Indeed it is; another pub quiz defeat follows this evening, and as the rain returns, I get distinctly drookit on the way up the road afterwards. It feels as if the monster's powers may be growing.

Thursday 20th
Ancient studies, from times when scientists had not such closed ideas about what might constitute science, suggest that a stake through the heart may prove fatal to the Un-dead. Tonight I have made a most interesting observation, for it appears the best way to go through Hearts is with Dinamo Zagreb, as that was comparable to a fucking knife through hot butter. Moreover, it appears the Count may have another victim, as Christian Nade wasn't half wandering about like a member of the Un-dead, certainly far more than he resembled a lone forward. Oh, my poor dear Scottish football, what a fucking disgrace you are!

Wednesday May 06, 09

Moz Week Part I

02:44 PM

Oh, my sainted aunt! I am giddy with excitement. And no, not at having seen Morrissey on Monday, or at the prospect of seeing him again tomorrow, but due to the climax of tonight's European Cup semi final. It was exquisite in its beauty.

As if there wasn't enough excitement at the moment, what with living at the epicentre of world news, a handful of miles from Britain's first swine flu victims and the home of the almighty Susan Boyle, now the most famous and talented person on the planet! No, but is she? Famous, I mean? I keep hearing all this decidedly implausible stuff about her being "huge" in America, so I really would be interested to know if my American readers - oh, I know you're out there! - have any bloody idea who Susan Boyle is.

I must regain my composure though, for I have come out of hibernation to write of my "Morrissey Week".

It was terribly unfortunate that I should come down with swine flu in the week prior to the shows, but it would seem it's an overrated affliction as I managed to attend the Stirling show on Monday anyway.

I had rather a good day of it, opting for some medicinal refreshments beforehand. This may shock and stun you, but I've never been out drinking in Stirling before, so I had a little adventure wandering around some local public houses. My first stop was a delightful little place which I had set out specifically to find on reading a review. It's not exactly far flung, but nor is it in the centre of the so-called city. (I did have a wee chuckle thinking about how much money they had wasted in recent years replacing most of the street signs with signs which tell you not only the name of the street, but that you are in the "City of Stirling", in case you'd forgotten where you are.) I should know Stirling well as I was there often as a lad, but as time has gone on my visits have become less frequent, so I printed off a map to help me find the pub, and of course forgot to take it with me.

After much wandering around and climbing of hills, and it would seem a couple of agonisingly close wrong turns, I was almost about to give up when I found it. Well worth the effort with a fabulous olde worlde, cosy interior, friendly locals, and fine beer at a fine price. I stayed for a couple before heading up the road to a virtually deserted but perfectly pleasant bar with a hard of hearing barmaid who gave me a pint of feckin' lager. Still, it was okay.

Off back to the centre next, where I visited a chain pub, and partook of some of their pub grub, a lovely salad in Morrissey's honour. Naw, only joking! It was a sizeable BBQ burger with cheese and bacon. It was braw.

Then I fulfilled a lifetime ambition by visiting a pub I had passed often as a bairn. It had always seemed incredibly mysterious with its heavy door and high, dark windows. Subsequently, with greater pubbing experience than I had when I was eight, I have come to realise that this is often the sign of a shithole, but I simply had to visit, and to my pleasant surprise it was perfectly alright, in fact it's probably exactly the same as it was twenty years ago... It was here that I spied my first Morrissey fans, as most of them had clearly decided to visit establishments closer to the venue.

So the question - how could Morrissey compare with my new pub discoveries and that cracking burger?

First, a word about the support band, Doll and the Kicks. I turned up too late to see the start of their set. I might have made more effort to be on time had I realised that Doll was such a doll. They were okay. Er, yeah, that'll do for the support band.

As for Moz, well, I thought he was very good. I was pretty happy with the setlist. I haven't been looking at setlists, so didn't quite know what to expect. A smattering of Smiths classics (some my first time seeing live), nice Vauxhall choices, the better latter day singles and decent cuts from the new one, which I admit to not yet being fully familiar with despite having had months to remedy the situation. Moz seemed chipper enough and in good voice.

It was slightly odd for me. Being under the weather (and my "medicine" not quite having had the hoped-for miraculous effects) I made a conscious decision to stand further back than I normally would, where I felt the audience were lacking a tad in enthusiasm. Like last year's Edinburgh show, I felt a little detached.

Anyway, I am now back to rude health, and as I said, I have no complaints about the standard of the show, so roll on tomorrow! The last time I saw Moz at the Barras was one of my favourite-est gigs ever; if it's half as good as that I'll be a happy Boy.

I'm not, though, going on Friday, even though I could easily have got a ticket. Had he been playing in Edinburgh, I'd have gone, but going to the same place for the same thing two days in a row would feel a bit too much like a job. So let's hope Thursday's better than Friday. Maybe I just won't read the Friday reviews so I never know...

You'll see I've entitled this entry "Part I", which hopefully will make me feel I should give a report on tomorrow as well. (Or possibly, you're thinking: "Oh God, I hope not, he wittered on about pubs and burgers for ages and then spared Morrissey fewer words than Stirling street signs...")

Och aye.

So what else is up, I hear you ask? (You did ask, didn't you?) Well I've been to a lot of very good gigs this year. I was planning to cut down but frankly I've been enjoying them so much that it be masochistic lunacy to deprive myself. I think maybe David Byrne and the Zombies were my faves so far of 2009. I even bought a natty tour poster at the latter signed by all the, er, living Zombies (?!), which I plan to get framed one day. Some day. Though as what's his face once wrote, the best laid plans of mice and men, etc.

I'm still toiling away in my comfortable but uninspiring job. I had this rather exciting notion that as a sideline, I could make some money as a crossword compiler. I don't know if I've ever shared this with you, but I do like a wee crossword, even though I'm shit at them. I don't know how you go about starting as a compiler though. Or if there's much money in it. Or if there's much call for them. Or even if I'd be any good. I'm sure it'll never happen - as thingumyjig once wrote, the best laid plans of mice and men, etc.

Here's some of my efforts, though. I'm rather pleased with them. Or at least one of them. Let me know what ye think!

Yob led astray is a youngster (3)
Appearing alongside in Malawi theatre (4)
Definite article from shortened Times Higher Education Supplement - but not in
south (3)
Norse God with hammer also has first nail - that'll be spiky! (5)

There's nothing like a good crossword clue.

I also met this nice girl the other week who I think can actually stand me. I mean, I'm pretty rubbish at reading signs - or possibly I'm not and there are just never any signs to read - but I do believe she fancies me. Is she mentally ill? In all likelihood. Bizarrely, even before I spoke to her - a conversation she initiated, by the way - I had noticed her and thought, "Yeah, not bad...", so it was nice that she appeared to not hate me.

But don't go buying a hat just yet. I probably made a pig's arse of it on our second encounter. "You're the only thing I remember from last Saturday," she said, a positive sign surely, although also a sign that she's a bit of a lush. (Hell - so am I.) I was invited to join her and her friends at the next pub, but hung back while they moved on in order to finish my pint, which, in fairness, I had fully half of remaining. And, y'know, I'm trying to play it at bit cool, not over-keen. But ten minutes later when I went to find her - I couldn't!

Will I be left with nagging doubts for the rest of my life that I may have missed my window for the sake of finishing a pint of Guinness? I mean, Guinness for God's sake, dependable but unspectacular Guinness, certainly not worth a "Sliding Doors" moment in the way that a good pint or real ale might be.

I'll keep going back to the pub till I find her and ascertain whether she now dislikes me for sort-of standing her up.

I'm sure nothing will come of it but I owe it to myself, and more importantly, you, my dear reader, to find out.

Well that was bloody long. I'll let you get some sleep now.

Friday November 21, 08

Thank Crunchie

05:02 PM

Welcome to the future of Friday nights!

You see, I've recently started doing this thing (bear with me, I know these technical terms can be tricky at first) whereby I keep a record of virtually all my expenditure. As much as I can remember, at any rate. I will be assigning codes to these records and will, through time, be able to get a clear idea of what I'm spending my money on, and in pursuit of which activities. It's a really "out there" idea, I know. I'm surprised nobody has thought of this before; perhaps I'll try to sell the concept to some businesses.

I've only got around two weeks' expenditure recorded, but what is already clear is that I'm pissing unreasonable and possibly unsustainable amounts of money up against the wall - and that's in what I'd consider to be a relatively quiet couple of weeks. This is my fourth consecutive night in.

So, henceforth, with the notable exceptions of four of the next five weeks, Fridays will consist of coming home from work, passing by the pub, locking the door, opening some cheap alcohol that I've won at some pub quiz or other, watching the boxing on Sky, and writing a load of shite here. Possibly.

It has been a helluva busy time since last you read my musings. The most momentous event has been the birth of my second nephew. I don't think you need photographs. Just imagine something that looks like a baby and doesn't do very much. In his own way he's adorable, and I'm sure he'll grow up to be a marvellous fellow. I hope I can be a good uncle to him in due course. His big brother's a bit more entertaining at the moment. Perish the thought, but I think I might actually quite like toddlers. Their limited ability to communicate makes them seem quite charming and amusing, you know, like drunks. You can still beat them at football and other games involving physical prowess. They have engaging, burgeoning senses of humour, and are young enough not to appear to be cheeky little shits, even though they probably are being that. Please note this does not mean I have changed my mind about wanting to be a father. Not that I'm ever likely to have the option. But for some unfathomable reason my older nephew appears to like me. I put this down to underdeveloped critical faculties, and as he gets older presumably the natural way of the world will be restored in good time.

I've been to loads of gigs lately which have mostly been very good, but very tiring. Also very expensive. I might be going to a free one next week. It involves, but is not headlined by, the Saturdays, my new favourite group. It's at a small club, so I reckon that might give me a chance to pull the delectable Frankie. (See my previous missive.) Of course I might not go as it clashes with a pub quiz, and I doubt I can convince any - or should that be either? - of my few friends to go. But if you fancy going and can be in Scotland next week, give us a shout and you can pose as one of the two mates I'm allowed to take.

Regrettably, that's about all I can think of to write. I must have been lying earlier when I said I'd had a helluva busy time. I mean, I could expand on my gigging adventures, but I don't want to bore you. I thought it might be a nice idea to start a separate "blog" somewhere in which I review such activities. Two problems: I'm not critical enough - I'd quite like to develop a reputation as someone who's incredibly hard to please, when in fact the opposite is true; and, regrettably, I feel whenever I'm writing that I keep using the same tired phrases/words, if not in individual pieces then at least in the course of collected writings. This is regrettable. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if anything comes of that pointless idea.

Oh - if Jacques the Lad (whom we all miss, right kids?) happens to read this, I apologise for not having been in touch recently, but you see my computer's acting weird and I have problems with Messenger. I'm not avoiding you. I suppose I could have sent you a text saying this but that costs ten pence and, y'know, times are hard.

Right, good night. I'm off to find something to watch on the telly while getting sozzled.

Thursday October 09, 08

I bet you thought you'd seen the last of me...

03:37 PM

It's pretty bloody boring, this being on holiday lark. Today's Network Rail strike has effectively forced me to stay at home today rather than going into the city, and consequently I've done the square root of hee haw, unless you count nipping to the supermarket for a bottle of wine and some milk. (Needless to say the bottle of wine is now finished, the milk largely untouched.) I've watched a couple of episodes of Hollyoaks and caught up on the week's Eggheads - how I look forward to finding out how the Suedeheads got on! I even watched yesterday's Countdown in which a grown man got trounced by an eleven year old. Indeed I was so desperate for entertainment that I watched "comedy" "music" "quiz" Never Mind The Perpetually Diminishing Returns, which was only worth it for Frankie from the Saturdays (formerly of S Clubs Juniors...it's okay, she's 19 now), whom I temporarily fell in love with until she said she'd never heard of The Fall.

In other falling in love news, yesterday I saw possibly the most beautiful girl I've ever seen in my entire puff. There I was, sitting in solitude in a darkened corner of an Edinburgh pub having a final pre-gig drink, when in she walked. I found it genuinely disconcerting, because it was just a bit too much like God/other supreme being had read my mind and created my perfect woman. Maybe He/It had, and this was my reward for suffering patiently through 27 years of loneliness and watching shit football teams. Maybe I was meant to go up and talk to her (but, y'know, I was going to a gig in quarter of an hour's time...) Sigh... I can only describe her as a better looking version of Mila Kunis. I think she was American. The good news is that I think she was in looking for a job - maybe if I go back next week... Maybe by some incredible chance she reads my Moz-solo journal? (Most recent ABC Circulation Figures: 1 (including me proofreading for typos)). If so...

American(?) girl in the sort of pink salmon-y coloured t-shirt that was in the same pub as me yesterday, will you marry me? I love you. Even more than I love Frankie that used to be in S Club Juniors, and that's regardless of whether or not you're familiar with the work of Mark E. Smith & Co.

While I await a response to that, I must acknowledge that it's been a while since I wrote here. I bet my regular reader is desperate for an update on how the last few months have been going, what's new in my life? Read on, MacDuff!

- My footy team has been moderately successful
- My beloved boss left, as have some of my other favourite people at work
- I loved Euro 2008
- I saw Leo Messi play in July!
- It's been a good year for gigs with still a few of my favourites to come
- I haven't worn the t-shirt I bought at the last Moz gig in public yet because I need to get into shape
- I went to T In The Park this year to see the awesome RATM and it wasn't quite as Hellish as I remember
- I had a smashing time during the Edinburgh festival, but spent lots of money
- I bought a camera (not an expensive one)
- I took a lovely photo of the great Alessandro Petacchi with it
- Rick Wright died :( RIP, Rick. (Okay, not really "new in my life", but it needs mentioning.)
- I've started going to a new (that is, additional) pub quiz which I'm enjoying immensely

So, that's about it. I'll try to write again soon, darlings.

In the meantime, I leave you with the following existential matter to consider: Who would win a fight between Simple Minds, Avril Lavigne, John Coltrane and Traffic? Eh? If you like you can consider various tag team combinations.

Yours,
Thorny

Monday January 14, 08

It's not been a good year for the roses either

04:43 PM
Fucking 2008! Whose shit idea was this?

We're not even half way through the month and already assorted disasters have occurred. I got new upstairs neighbours, who have a child that would appear to be the Spawn of Satan. The Noisy Spawn of Satan who enjoys running about and banging things. My peace shattered, I can only respond by playing loud rock music and thus probably pissing off my downstairs neighbours who are actually quite acceptable. There have also been two postponed games of football. I did go to a Premier League game one weekend rather than face a football-less Saturday, but even that finished 0-0. A couple of folk I know have lost relatives. And worst of all, at least as far as I'm concerned, my boss is leaving to go to the other side of the world.

While many people might consider their boss leaving to be cause for celebration, I am absolutely distraught. I love my boss. She is one of my favourite people in the whole fucking world. In fact if you were to ask me to write a list of, say, ten people that I didn't want to go to the other side of the planet, I'm fairly sure she would be on it. This is an absolute disaster. Work-wise I will miss her enormously as I imagine it would be reasonable to say that she is the best manager anyone could hope for - wonderfully competent, understanding, supportive and always willing to help. But I'm even more saddened on a personal level, as she is impossibly lovely and makes me laugh. This is shit. It really is shit.

(You are quite possibly wondering in what sense I mean I "love" her, and to be honest I'm not even sure. Obviously, what with being older than me, my boss and not single, I've never had any designs on her, but if, say, she was to split with her man and ask me to marry her - well it is a leap year! - it would be the easiest decision of my life. So maybe I love her like a big sister. That I quite fancy and would marry. Well, I'm sure it happens in parts of Fife...)

Sigh. What a crap way to start the year.

On the other hand, I have had a couple of cracking nights out, not least the weekend past.

Myself and a few work colleagues, including my lovely boss, went out for a couple of post-work drinks which turned into a couple of dozen post-work drinks. After much pubbing and some mad dancing to 80s cheese for hours in a club, we ended up back at hers, continued drinking, had five or six hours sleep and then started drinking again. Eventually, having started this session at 5pm on Friday, I got in at 12:30am on Sunday having had nothing to eat since Friday lunch time. And yes, it is big, and it is clever. What a blast, I haven't had fun like it in ages.

Though when you have good times like that, it does just make it all the more gutting that she's leaving. As I was hugging her in a joyous drunken moment in the middle of dancing to some 80s pap, I just wanted to hold her forever. Hell, if I refuse to let go she can't possibly get into Australia since I don't have a visa, right?

So anyway, the previous weekend's Sunday night session where I was knocking back a load of free drink, got to bed at 2am and had four hours sleep before going to work was a bit tame by comparison.

In other news, I've decided I quite fancy this barmaid. I don't actually know anything about her except that she's not very good at pulling a pint of beer, which you would think wouldn't be an attractive quality from my perspective. But who knows. Maybe she'll end up as Chapter 143 of my probably forthcoming book, 'Barmaids BWTT Has Fancied But Never Got Anywhere With'. That one's bound to go on a while - it might take even longer for folk to read that than it's taken me to read the Grapes of Wrath.

Here's to a better second half to January.
Wednesday January 02, 08

It's beginning to look a lot like January

04:57 PM

I took a brutal approach to killing off the festive season by removing all traces of Christmas by early afternoon on the 2nd. I really cannot be arsed with decorations after the first, as, if anything, they're a painful reminder of good times now gone, while one is left staring into the abyss of January, February and March, the three most godforsaken months in what is already a pretty godforsaken timeline.

In referring to "good times now gone", I'm surely being somewhat charitable to the last week and a half, which have been decidedly humdrum. I did try playing my Frank and Bing records to get me in the mood, I even tried a reggae Christmas compilation, but to no avail - I simply could not meaningfully engage in the festive spirit this time around. I could muster even less enthusiasm for the New Year.

At least 2007 is gone, consigned, appropriately enough, to the dustbin of history. Because in the bin is surely where it belongs. A year of zero personal development, of zero joy with the opposite sex, of approximately two laughs per month, of sporting failures and frustrations. On the other hand, I did go to some splendid concerts, exhibitions and comedy.

But enough of that old shit! This journal entry (my first in six and half months, stats fans) is primarily about 2008. I'm not usually much of a resolution maker. Of course most people make up rubbish like getting fit, stopping smoking or drinking, eating healthily, yadda yadda yadda. Fuck that. If I could afford it I would actually take up smoking. Nevertheless, here are my resolutions, some of which may not actually be resolutions as such:-

1) Watch less television. Television watching should only be acceptable during the eating of a TV dinner, during a sporting event, or when the pubs are shut and one is too drunk to play Pro Evolution Soccer sufficiently well to avoid buggering up your Master League season. I don't, in the grand scheme of things, watch a great deal of it, but it is mostly pish and so my intake must be reduced.

2) Read more. Oh, I began last year with fine intentions, but it all rather fell away and I'm still on the same book I started in May, I think. So, I need to switch off the television and read more often instead.

3) Save money. I'm not skint, but my flat does need things done to it, so I need to save money. I could save money by having a few weekends off the booze (I must stress, following my earlier comments, that this is for financial rather than health reasons) and going to fewer gigs. I think I've cut down on both alcohol and gigs in the last year, so it would be nice to continue the progress.

4) Don't be so bloody lazy about the housework. Nuff said.

5) Chill out about by ongoing state of dreadful loneliness. You see, as I get older, I find myself more and more not giving a toss about anything, which I've found to be tremendously liberating. No need to march against your government starting illegal and immoral foreign wars! A simple, "Tsk! Wankers," under your breath and you're sorted. Wouldn't it be great if I didn't give a shit about everyone else being happier than me, not knowing anyone else who is single? Wouldn't it be great not to fall in love (in a sort of fantastical, half-whipped manner, usually) with every second woman I meet and then feel terribly slighted that she'd rather spend her time with someone else? Wouldn't it be awesome to think that I could stay in on a Friday and Saturday without this gnawing feeling that I should probably be out propping up a bar somewhere, just in case Miss Right happens to walk in that night? (Of course I also go out because I like beer, but sometimes I'm not really up for it and I just go out anyway.)

Wonderful. Imagine it. By this time next year, I could be happily listening to people telling me stories of weekends away with their significant other without me wishing a painful death on one or either of them out of a sense of bitterness that they are loved and I have only a teddy bear to hold at night. In fact I don't even have that! I could watch Hollyoaks without wanting to throw things at the screen because there happen to be happy people on. I could be sitting at the bar, enjoying a pint, doing the Times Crossword, and maybe some girl will come in and think, "Hey, who's this relaxed, handsome chap! He has a certain va-va-voom about him!" Or maybe she won't, and I won't care.

I've not yet worked out how I'm going to do this. I guess there must be some Zen Buddhist training or something, or perhaps medication. Would castration have the desired effect? I'm thinking maybe the zen route...

Right, that's enough for now, it's back to work tomorrow for me, unlike a lot of people who have lives and who therefore have a reason to take holidays...

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy 2008, on the condition that it is not happier than mine.

Monday June 18, 07

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

03:29 PM

**Advance warning: dodge this entry if you don't like self-pity.**

So this evening I've been doing a bit of the old internet self-diagnosis to find out what the fuck my problem is. (Yeah, it's a bit hit and miss, last year I had a bit of a rash and had myself diagnosed as suffering from a particularly brutal strain of the Ebola flesh eating virus.)

See, I think I'm either...

(a) A sufferer of Avoidant Personality Disorder
(b) A sufferer of Social Anxiety
or (c) A total wanker

I decided I ought to look into it since the last few weeks have seen me slip into my latest bout of bitter, frustrated dejection. There are two possible triggers for this: a particularly traumatic end to the football season, or something to do with that girl I've mentioned a few times.

The football has been bloody awful, the season from hell. To sum up, my team got relegated while our arch rivals won the two major trophies and Barça blew the Spanish league in a hardly believable fashion. Good God, can this be worth it, I thought? Maybe, I thought, I ought to give football up. Concentrate on the cycling, maybe. But it turns out most of my favourite cyclists are druggies. Well, y'know, most cyclists full stop are druggies. What about the cricket? Ummm...actually that's even worse as I've seen Scotland seven times this year (three on the box, four in the flesh) and they haven't even been competitive once. The fact that last Saturday was hideously boring has convinced me that I need my football back. After all, if I live to be 126 there's no way any season could possibly be worse than this one. Look on the bright side.

Now, that girl, she's been fooling around for weeks with some tosspot (I've never met him - in fact I had the chance to and made my excuses - but he must be a tosspot) that, reportedly, she's not even all that keen on! For feck's sake, there are three billion women in the world who aren't all that keen on me, yet not one of them's fooling around with me! What's that all about?

Right, I know that one girl not fancying me does not indicate that I am the sufferer of some mental disorder - in fact, on its own, it just points towards me being an ugly git. But it gets one thinking, particularly as I seem to know an ever-dwindling number of single people. Here I am, past my mid-twenties, and I can count my number of genuine friends on one hand that was involved in a gruesome sawmill accident, and I seem unable to form any sort of meaningful relationship with a member of the opposite sex. As anyone who has been reading this pish for the last six years will testify. I spend most of my time doing stuff alone, not even bothering to suggest to someone else that they might like to waste a few hours of their time in my company.

And while I certainly don't hate my job, why the bloody hell do I work in an accounts department? That's not what I'm good at, it was never my ambition. I would have loved to have done something in the field of history, and I was bright enough to, if I do say so myself, but further study would have brought with it the terror of teaching and lecturing, which I just could not have faced. I feel as if my future's written, and when I'm double my current age I'll still be working in some humdrum numbers job and living alone. It seems to me that my life to date has been ruined, and will probably continue to be ruined, by my social ineptitude and Real Madrid.

(That said, I actually do love living alone, but, y'know, it'd be nice to think there might be something else somewhere along the line, even if it does mean I couldn't spend as much time listening to prog rock and watching foreigners kicking a ball about a field.)

Anyway, I should think that's enough of that. Thanks for reading, if indeed you have. What's the verdict...? Er, yeah, I had "total wanker" too.

It would be nice to end this little moan on a positive note, so let it be known that I was extremely proud of the volume and quality of housework I got done this evening. I battled through an enormous pile of dishes, cleaned the kitchen, hoovered every room, made a delicious meal, chucked out some stuff, moved thirty-odd CDs that were lying around back to their homes and cleaned the whole of the bathroom. In short, I am a domestic God. Great marriage material, I reckon.

Monday June 04, 07

Break the bad news to your fatted calves...

03:43 PM

My exile is over.

I had long thought that the reason why, all of a sudden, I could hardly ever access Moz-solo was down to one of the many nasties which had infected my poor, long-serving PC. By last week, "Old Faithful" was finally crippled, and so I had to get my finger out and gut the hard drive and start from scratch.

To my disappointment, this did not appear to solve the problem. Still, despite its new clean bill of health, it didn't want to connect to Morrissey-solo.So, if it wasn't my computer, and I knew it wasn't the site, what could I do? And on this beige swivel chair it suddenly struck me: I just might have found the solution. What I need to do, I thought, is set up a proxy server. Go into my LAN settings, I thought, and experiment.

Oh, alright, I'm lying, I still haven't even a bloody clue what a proxy server is, but I stumbled across an internet forum dedicated to problems with my ISP, and it suggested it, and hey presto...here I am, two full months after what many might have feared to be my last journal entry.

I'm so delighted I'm not even going to bore you with details of my miserable little life this evening.



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