Sunday, 27 September 2009

Most of us...

...fondly imagine that within us lies the kernel of a great novel, awaiting only a final push to issue forth, corporeal and magnificent.

Most of us are wrong.

Courtesy of my big sister, here are the finalists in a recent competition to write really awful openings to novels.

10) "As a scientist,Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it."

9) "Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens."

8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."

7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: 'Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep.'"

6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved."

5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store."

4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."

3) "Like an over-ripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."

2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word 'fear'; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."


1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, You lied!'"

And then of course there's your editor's upcoming opus entitled "10 million krona? How much is that in real money?" which opens with:

'The president of the Nobel committee called again for quiet as he addressed the cheering audience at the awards ceremony in Stockholm. "I see" the tall, distinguished Swede told the audience "that our decision to award the Jaggy Thistle editor the prize for literature for the third year running meets with your distinct approval" he continued to renewed rapturous applause.

Raising his hand again to quieten the adoring throng he smiled broadly before saying: "And I'm sure you will also approve of the committee's decision to just award the Jaggy Thistle editor with the prize every year from now on, because, let's face it, he's the best writer there will ever be!"

Cue bedlam.

Later, in his suite in the five star Stockholm Hilton, the Jaggy Thistle editor took another sip of the free Krug and shifted his weight languorously on the bed covered in crisp 100 krona notes. To his left, a naked Maura Tierney, her off ER, smiled coquettishly, to his right, an equally naked Angelina Jolie eyed him with something approaching naked lust.

He groaned wearily and said "Girls, girls, you're wearing me out! Give me five minutes rest for goodness sake."

"Here's what we'll do" the naked twosome said in breathy unison, "we'll froth each other up again, and you join in when you feel like it."

As the girls entwined in a sensuous, sapphic sandwich, the editor managed to pull his gaze away from the writhing duo to take in the splendour of the suite, the effervescence of the Krug and the blanket of money covering the bed. "Fuckin' 'ell" he said as much to himself as his rapidly moistening companions, "this is all right, int' it?"

And then he woke up. Lying in a skip.'

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Referendum? neverhappendum says Tavish

Scottish LIb-Dem leader. and ex-headboy, Tavish Scott warned against a referendum on Scottish separation this week, warning: "To be distracted by such constitutional tinkering during a recession is folly."

Quizzed by the waiting media as to what would happen after the recession ended Mr Scott said: "After the recession there will be Xmas to think about, then Easter and soon after the summer holidays and whatnot. And, er, Avatar's coming out which will be dead good probably so everyone will be too busy going to the films."

Alex Salmond called for the voting age to be reduced to 16 in the proposed referendum saying "It's high time that our young people be allowed the opportunity to decide to say yes to our independence proposal, which explains why I'll be handing out free i-pods to all sixteen year-olds to subliminally influence their voting behaviour."

At the time of writing it's not known if the opposition parties intend to give out free naw-pods.

Inside: Just time for the Watson's Wind Up writers to steal that gag before the show starts up again, eh boys?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Scots on the box

"Jonathan Meades-off kilter", conts Wednesdays BBC4 9pm,"Mackintosh's masterpiece: The Glasgow School of Art", Monday 21st September BBC2 Scotland, 9pm.

I had what passes in my head for an original thought last week.

Here it comes.

This is my idea, which I'm going to share with you.


Documentaries on the telly tend to fall into two broad and distinct categories - they are either essentially one idea stretched out for an hour OR they contain too many ideas to cover in a hour.

As an instance of the latter can I just refer you to "Jonathan Meades: Off Kilter". An avowedly alien, stridently secular, forensic analysis of Scottish architecture and its wider social context.
Meades is English, but, you know, in a good way...

The show is on BBC4 as part of that channel's Scottish season. You know, the thread that should be branded "Isn't Scotland interesting? Oh look they have their own parliament and everything. Isn't that so sweet?" but isn't. Sarcasm apart, there are a few nuggets among the dross and the Meades stuff is the goldest of the gold.

He throws ideas about the relationship between the built environment, history and culture like mental confetti. While you're trying to catch hold of just one idea, whoosh! He's off again, throwing another shower of insightful insanity heavenwards.

Honest, if I tried to review Meades' mind-fuck here my head would explode so if you haven't, catch up with the first two bits on i-player and if you don't have access to i-player, then, er, you're fucked.

As an example of the first style, one idea stretched to breaking point, consider "Mackintosh's Masterpiece" part of the Artwork Scotland strand that pops up now and again on Scottish Beeb 2.

What was stated here early doors and reiterated for the remainder of the show was the idea that Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art was a really good bit of architecture.

Well, duhr...

Contemporary academic staff at the School said it, contemporary speccy , spotty students also said it and various recognisable alumni (Peter Howson, Muriel Gray and Liz Lochhead among them) said it.

The camera work said it with, in turn, interesting and banal shots of bits of the building, leavened by the odd bit of artistic "wackiness" just to show how the school is still cutting edge, subversive and dangerous and aw that ae? And when we weren't being told for the nth time what a really good bit of etc. the building was we were being told that "it's a really interesting space".

Oh, fuck off.

And it was quite interesting and quite pretty, but know what? At the end of the hour I really didn't know any more than I did at the start. In sum, the show was like a pile of those ubiquitous Mackintosh postcards you find in Glasgow's tourist shoaps, taken and flicked through really quick to give the illusion of movement. Great play was made of how Mackintosh insisted art be useful and rooted in the real world but the real world never got a look in here.

For example, there were the obligatory bits of visual filler, sepia shots of Edwardian men and women at work as students in the school's original buildings. Hang on. Women in higher education in the Edwardian era? Who were these women, where did they come from? What was their background? What's going on here? That's just one question, interesting to me at any rate, that deserved consideration. What we got here was the history of a building with nothing, and I mean nothing, apparently going on outside the building.

Oh, and just to rub salt in the wound, "actor" Daniela Nardini treated us to her speak-your-weight-machine style narration...

Enough, already.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Swinney: "This new invention will slash housing costs"

Finance Secretary John Swinney, under fire this week for a budget that slashes spending on social housing, hit back at his critics this weekend saying: "I've seen the first photograph of a process that will slash housing costs."

Mr Swinney unveiled photographic evidence sent to him in an email from "Inflato-hooses" a construction company based in Lagos, Nigeria.

An enthusiastic Mr Swinney told The JT: "Quite off their own bat, these Nigerian engineers bought a site in Glasgow I think, although I don't like Glasgow, so I never go there, and inflated two luxury high rise apartment blocks in seconds."

While the actual process is top secret the company are willing to make the process public just as soon as Mr Swinney, in a gesture of good faith, emails the company details of the Treasury's current housing account and the pin number needed to access it.

Proof positive: Fully inflated block joined in seconds by the one on the right.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Ladees an' gennelmen...

Pressley exits post with Scotland

Steven Pressley has confirmed he has left his post as an assistant to Scotland manager George Burley.

...Steven has left the building...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Every country's

See full size one I would imagine.

That ethnic or geographically isolated group that the rest of us suspect might take an overly close interest in woolly ruminants. Thanks to Thunderbay Pete for passing on this luminous gem in the bedazzling cluster we call sheep-shagging jokes.

An Aberdonian was washed up on a beach after a terrible shipwreck.
Only a sheep and a sheepdog were washed up with him.
Looking around, he realized they were stranded on a deserted island. After being there awhile, he got into the habit of taking his two animal companions to the beach every evening to watch the sun set. One particular evening, the sky was a fiery red with beautiful cirrus clouds, the breeze was warm and gentle - a perfect
night for romance.

As they sat there, the sheep started looking better
and better to the lonely Scot.
Soon, he leaned over to the sheep and... put his arm around it.

But the sheepdog, ever protective of the sheep, growled fiercely until the man took his arm from around the sheep.

After that, the three of them continued to enjoy the sunsets together but there was no more cuddling.

A few weeks passed by and, lo and behold, there was another shipwreck.
The only survivor was a beautiful young woman, the most beautiful woman the man had ever seen. She was in a pretty bad way when he rescued her
and he slowly nursed her back to health.
When the young maiden was well enough, he introduced her to their evening beach ritual. It was another beautiful evening... red sky, cirrus clouds, a warm and gentle breeze - perfect for a night of romance.
Pretty soon, the Aberdonian started to get 'those feelings' again.
He fought the urges as long as he could but he finally gave in and realizing he now had the opportunity, leaned over to the young woman cautiously and whispered in her ear,

'Would you mind taking the dog for a walk?'

And it also gives me the excuse to replay a desert-island sex gag that featured some years ago over on

For reasons that need not detain us here, Jimmy, a joiner from Coatbridge, finds himself washed up on a desert island with Sharon Stone.

Blessed with a plentiful supply of wood and tools from somewhere, Jimmy builds a hut and makes a decent job of getting food and such. Sharon soon involves Jimmy in matters carnal, but every morning as soon as the sun rises, Jimmy disappears into the hinterland leaving Sharon to wonder what all the banging and sawing's about.

Weeks pass, pleasurably spent exploring every bendy bit of Ms Stone, until one day, Jimmy leads her into the forest to look at his project: a Scottish pub fashioned out of local material.

Bidding her to remain silent, Jimmy presents Sharon with a waistcoat made of palm leaves to wear, and insists she attach a moustache made of leaves. He positions her behind the bar, steps back, then saunters forward, beckoning "the barman" with a bent finger.

"Here" he says, leaning conspiratorially over the bar counter, "you'll never guess who ahm shaggin’.."

Thursday, 10 September 2009

From The BBC: really dude, who gives a ...

Scotland has lost a Munro. The Munro Society has discovered that Sgurr Nan Ceanniachean in Wester Ross does not meet the required height to be a Munro.

Latest measuring technology showed that the mountain is actually 913.4 metres in height - almost a full metre short of Munro height.

The reading has been verified by the Ordnance Survey and the hill will now be considered a Corbet.

It still leaves 283 Munros for hillwalkers to climb.

Members of The Munro Society who carried out the measurement are being encouraged to stay in more.


From the BBC: "Following Scotland's failure to qualify for The World Cup in South Africa, George Burley says he wants to stay on as manager..."

Monday, 7 September 2009

And yet more from The Scotsman....

"Scots still don't know who I am, admits Gray"

A year after taking charge of the Labour Party in Holyrood, Iain Gray admits there is still much work to be done in terms of raising his profile... There's no hiding the fact that I need to raise my profile," he said...
Mr Gray conceded that many Scots still didn't know who he was and admitted that he wasn't that sure himself, saying : " I've got my name written down and I keep looking at the piece of paper to remind myself. But sometimes forget to carry the paper with me and I forget. Do you know who Iam? Could you tell me my name please?"

Mr Gray then fell silent and simply stared blank-faced into a mirror, slowly blinking...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

From The Scotsperson: "Butcher defends Burley"

TERRY Butcher has launched an impassioned defence of George Burley and insists helping the Scotland manager defy his detractors over the next few days would mean more to him than reaching the World Cup semifinals as a player with England.

"I wouldn't have dealt with it very well, don't worry about that. I would have had the critics by their throats."

When it was pointed out to the touchingly loyal but terminally obtuse Terry that approximately half the Scottish population think George is a numpty and the other half are somewhat more critical, he was forced to reassess his desire to have the critics by their throats saying: "I'd probably have to get another pair of hands grafted on, to speed things up a bit."

One of life's natural NCOs,Terry is to star in the planned remake of Dad's Army as you know who.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

MacAskill to Megrahi:"Show compassion"

Bollocks- in- vice Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will this week plead with freed Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi to show the same compassion shown to him.

It is thought that Mr MacAskill will call upon the Libyan to "fuck off and die" expeditiously, thus getting Mr MacAskill off the hook.

The Justice Secretary will say :" Despite opinion poll evidence to the contrary, I still believe that in releasing Al-Megrahi I expressed the will of the Scottish people in showing mercy. But, enough is enough. I call upon Mr Megrahi to do the decent thing and desist from any further stealing of oxygen forthwith."

It is thought that Mr Megrahi will respond, saying he has got over "that mild touch of cancer" which cleared up completely after a course of antibiotics and a nice sit down.

Mr Megrahi is currently putting the finishing touches to his Freddie Garrity tribute act that will tour Tripoli nite- spots later this year.

Inside: Kenny on the telly saying he couldn't say definitively when Megrahi would "expire". Does Kenny come from the past?