Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sleep the clock around

Listening to The Duckworth Lewis method - The Duckworth Lewis Method

Dialect phrase of the day: Face like a skelped arse - ruddy or rosy cheeks

Two consecutive days off! What a marvel! I have just spent about 15 hours asleep and I'm busily checking myself for evidence of bedsores. How do I feel after this epic bout of deep dreamless sleep? Curiously, absolutely bloody awful. Today I've gone into the National Library of Scotland to try and find some solace amongst the books.

There's not even a Test Match to listen to, nothing can put me into an almost comatose state of absolute bliss like a day spent listening to Test Match Special, it's like aural heroin. The mellifluous tones of TMS and cricket in general are inextricably linked to my childhood and my late Grandfather. It was with my Grandfather that I played my first games of cricket and who drilled me in the art of batting. Although a very lovely man and a wonderful Grandfather, he was extremely competitive when it came to cricket, having played the game to a high level in his 20s . He had been a wicket keeper and and remained pretty nimble behind the stumps well into old age. Aged eight I would stand to face tame underarm deliveries from whichever indulgent relative had agreed to play along, with my granddad taking the whole affair very seriously, crouched behind the stumps in our back garden he would ooh, ahh and tut at any delivery that was roughly on a line and a length. He was also not averse to whipping the bails off with a triumphant owazt if he deemed I had stepped too far out of the imaginary crease. There can be very few people who can claim to have been sledged by their own grandfather, especially when they were still a small boy, but then there can be very few people who have been drop kicked by their own grandmother (that however is a story for another day)

For the uninitiated sledging is the art of breaking a batsman's concentration by intimidating them verbally, in effect talking them out. Here is an excellent example by Sri Lankan wicket keeper Kumar Sangkkara.

I have now ceased my employment with the street punks. I found myself curiously emotional as I said my final farewells and it feels rather strange to think I won't be going back on Monday. A side effect of this is that I'll be getting rid of the Eliminator. That's my car rather than a nickname for any appendage. I thought I'd better clarify that as I once caused a former work colleague considerable disgust and alarm by failing to make this clear. This is probably a good thing, Edinburgh is eminently walkable, I have my bike and the bus service is much better than most British cities. Then of course there's the Tram system, something which most Edinburghers have militant views. Contrary sod that I am, I couldn't give a fig either way, although I am curious why the tram will run from Leith to the airport; none of us in Leith can afford a holiday.

There also appears to be a seemingly limitless supply of Taxis buzzing around the city, driven by the most erudite taxi drivers you could ever hope to meet. This a pleasing contrast to their London counterparts, who by and large, are ranting Essex Freemasons. Taxis have always held a particular fascination to me. When I was kid I saw travelling in a taxi as an unimaginable luxury and decadence and I used to imagine the joy of travelling in such a conveyance. Where I lived, the only time you ever saw anyone get out of one was when a woman come back from having a Hysterectomy. Imagine my disappointment when I first stepped into one as an adult, rather than looking like the interior of a better class of gentleman's club, it was Spartan, draughty and smelt of sick poorly masked by magic tree air freshener.

I began using taxis in Leeds, principally because using the the number 4 or 16 bus late at night without a stab vest could be classified as an extreme sport. These two buses ran between two of the roughest council estates in the city and were heavily patronised by drunks, heroin users, nutcases and some of the most foul mouthed pensioners one could ever meet, even in daylight hours it could be a bowel loosening experience.

One Saturday afternoon I met an acquittance who had travelled out of the city centre on a slightly earlier bus. What had occurred was surprising even for the number 4. Two drunks had got into an argument over the ownership of some booze and one had knocked the other one out. This in itself was not an unusual event, however the victorious drunk made the foolhardy error of yelling to the packed bus "now who else wants some?" Unfortunately for him the answer was, "nearly every single passenger on the bus." Within seconds, the whole bus had erupted into an orgy of indiscriminate violence, with women in their late 50s wading in. The driver, seeing the blood and snot flying, leapt from the bus locked the doors and let the waring parties get on with it. From the outside it must have looked like something out of a wild west saloon.

In future I shall stick to my trusty bicycle, although I imagine such occurrences on the number 5 bus to Stockbridge are unheard of. That way on they're probably knocking the shit out of each other over ownership of some sunblush tomatoes and organic humus.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

This maudlin career has come to an end.

Listening to - Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm jets

Dialect word of the day: Jakey - a hardened street drinker

I have now been living in Edinburgh a year today and in the words of the Reverend I.M. Jolly "It's been a helluva a year." What with the recession, banking crisis, recession or whatever you want to call it. All this carry on makes precious little difference to me; I was an abject failure in the boom years too. In fact if one accepts that poverty and wealth are relative, I am probably richer than I've ever been. This state of affairs won't last though as I have four -count 'em - days left and my work with social services is done, for good, hurrah! I am getting very demob happy and I'm doing rather less than the bare minimum. I will miss the riches it provided though.

Edinburgh in August is a funny time of year, with the University closed for the summer holidays, the city is appreciably quieter in June and July and then suddenly burst into life as the Military tattoo and the Fringe Festival start at roughly the same time. In the interests of anthropology and the fact I was given a free ticket, I went along to the Tattoo with Jess and some of her workmates. I have to say that it was amongst the most excruciating two hours of my life. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, the wail of the Bagpipes sounds to me like a live cat being thrown into a threshing machine and never fails to set my teeth on edge. So being trapped in an arena where 80 of the sodding things were being played in unison nearly tipped me over the edge, at one stage I was tempted to feign a fit just to escape the noise. The bagpipes were broken up with a lot of marching up and down in frankly daft uniforms, which seem to my uneducated eye quite impractical for doing killing in.

The festival is once again in full swing and the city has been taken over by floppy haired Oxbridge types, braying about their godawful shows and forcing leaflets into one's hands. I've been to see a few bits and pieces, mostly free or cheap stuff and it's been generally very enjoyable. Whilst in principle it is an amazing thing to see the city this busy and vibrant, it is also a colossal pain in the arse if you have the misfortune to want to get anywhere in a hurry. A walk up the Royal Mile with Sam and Dave (my old school friend and her boyfriend, rather than the Soul group from the 60s in case you thought I was name dropping) yielded about 35 flyers between us, by then end of it I was begining to hope for a Jehovah's Witness to thrust a copy of the Watchtower into my hands just for a bit of variety.

The Watchtower is a cracking read, I love the poorly rendered pictures of humans walking with dinosaurs and other assorted beasts in some Eden- like paradise. There's also usually a heart warming tale of how the agency of the Jehovah's witnesses have saved young people from a life of sin and depravity. I am certain these stories are largely fictitious, made up to gee up the faithful, as the Watchtower's vision of deviant youth also seems to be rooted in the 1950s and the errant young people are called things like Colin or Sandra, the sort of names young people haven't had since the sweets were still on the ration. Colin and Sandra's transgressions usually consist of smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, getting into the fictional knickers of the opposite sex. Having been 'saved' them from these frankly rather pleasurable activities poor fictional Sandra and poor fictional Colin will get to spend the rest of their natural lives being told to fuck off by hung over and crabby fictional householders who they've summonsed from their beds at some appallingly early hour on a fictional Saturday morning.

So it seems I've been wasting my time these past few years, attempting to undertake offence focused work, sorting out employment/education opportunities, encouraging positive leisure activities, counselling fraught and feckless parents and generally running around like a blue arsed fly after the street punks has been a waste of time. All I needed to do was give them a few Watchtowers to punt door to door and instil an abhorrence of blood transfusions and they'd have been as right as rain.

Just as well I'm leaving really.