A sad St Andrew’s Day

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clutha

Sitting by the River Clyde, the Clutha Bar was busy with over a hundred people celebrating the end the working week when their night took a dark turn. A Police Scotland helicopter fell from the sky – according to an eye-witness the rotors were not turning and it just fell on to the roof of the pub. Waking up today to the full story having just caught parts of the story last night there is a great sadness about the tragedy of the accident, but a great pride in the resilience of those who were there and rather than running from the issue stepped forward to help those inside the pub.

At the time of writing there are 1 fatality (potentially more) and 32 confirmed injured and the emergency services are continuing to ensure that those still trapped are reached as soon as possible in case of injury. I was moved by the Leader of Glasgow council’s pride in his fellow residents as he talked about the human chain that pulled the injured from the pub and how everyone came together to help. Jim Murphy the Labour MP was just beside the bar when it happened and you could see the impact on him also as he tried to describe the events and reaction. The reality of this situation must be kept at the front of our minds because with the rolling news broadcasts we can become desensitised to the truth of the event.

There are two things that spring to mind though watching the footage of the interview with the authorities. Firstly can the media please show more restraint and respect for these people trying to do their jobs. Stop asking about numbers, sounds, voices heard, communication with those trapped, the emotions of the fire-fighters and such as it is hugely disrespectful to try to turn this into a tawdry TV event rather than the human tragedy it is. We at home not involved just want these people to be able to get on with their jobs without being harangued by the rude microphone wielding pariahs – and to those who are directly affected, with people missing or injured it’s downright inappropriate to ask for those kind of details. Let the official spokespeople tell you what they can and report facts please.

Secondly, the blame game. As it was a Police Scotland helicopter some knives will be out for both the service and for Bond and this misses the point. While I have my own concerns about how low many of these new Police helicopters are flying over our city and the value in them we have to remember that this was an accident and again let the authorities do their jobs on this. If it turns out that there is a fault with them then ground them across the country until they are checked. Also remember that there is a real likelihood here that those 3 fatalities could include Police officers that were on board the chopper and they too have friends and family that will be grieving.

This is a tragic accident and a sad day for Glasgow. They need space and support in equal measure so no amount of cameras, microphones or journalists will make the job any easier. Politicians need to stand back and not make this an issue for points scoring either – that helps no one.

Thoughts are with all those who are involved from the victims and their families, to the witnesses and the emergency services who once again do work that I could never do. And if you want to help and can do so – please go to your local Blood Donor Bank and give your pint to help ensure that supplies are maintained for those who need it. Go to www.scotblood.co.uk for more details.

JD

There are times when Science damages itself!

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“Scientists have devised a new “love test” that they believe is a better guide to the success of a relationship than the good intentions of newly-weds.

The research suggests that a subconscious response to an image of a partner could be a useful predictor of marriage outcomes.

Those who had a negative gut reaction were more likely be unhappy several years later.

The study is published in the Journal Science.” – BBC Website

Seriously? Just read that once more to make sure and then ask yourself this question: What the  F@!# are they doing spending money on this kind of research? I know Steve Wright in the Afternoon needs his factoids from somewhere but this is ridiculous.

Firstly it should be pointed out that this research was conducted at Florida State University, but in a week where UK funding for Science and Technology Research and Development is in danger of cuts you have to ask yourself why these idiots carry out such pointless and utterly meaningless work. This comes straight from the book of “If you’d just asked me, I would have told you that” book of science I have lying around here somewhere. I am more than aware that understanding the chemicals and subtleties of human and animal behaviour and brains is important in the development of us being able to treat and enhance or medicines and therapies but this is a step too far.

This is from the US where there are obviously restrictions in some areas of scientific research because of moral and religious objections – which I disagree with, but it’s not my country to worry about – but there are still huge areas of work in medical science and behavioural studies that need the time, money and attention to further the work being done at the moment.  So what did they find out? That you should trust your gut reactions when choosing a partner to marry – wow! That is amazing! So let’s break this down for the hard of thinking: “If you love someone and want to spend the rest of your life with them, and they feel the same way about you, then you are more likely to be happy and stay together.” It’s not rocket science is it?

If anyone read this and a light bulb went on over their head then there’s not much in there in the first place. Marriage isn’t difficult but more and more people make it seem that way. Having been married for over eight years there are times when we could have happily throttled each other and others where you are more in love with the other than you have ever been before. It’s not a Disney fairy-tale or a script from the desk of Richard Curtis – life will throw the biggest pile of crap in your way at every possible turn, you have to learn to deal with it and you do that as a partnership. By working through issues together you become stronger and often it’s about living with your best friend as it is about romance or sex. Things get tough – goodness knows we’ve been through the mill once or twice already and we’re still relative newbies to this – but you will get through it.

There are always going to be things that are unforgivable, or actions that cannot be taken back, but I genuinely think there are a lot of people out there who don’t think enough about marriage and the commitment in the first place so it’s no wonder the divorce levels are high. Having played at several hundred weddings you can often see unhappy couples shuffling round to their first dance and you know it’s not going to end well – for some you hope it’s a quick thing especially for some of the characters we’ve met. Bridezilla at Fyvie Castle who stomped her feet in the middle of the dance floor like a Roald Dahl Character is the first to come to mind. She had fallen out with everyone by the time had arrived leaving the florist and the caterer in tears – didn’t wash with me and I could see the guests and even her new husband were embarrassed by her. So I ignored her and did my job.

Another was the groom that had every single part of the day timed to the minute – and I mean minute – so when we arrived to set up the whole wedding was running late I thought to myself that this one wasn’t a keeper. There were those who argued during the first dance, those who were drunk and fighting by the last one and others who disappeared during the evening leaving the other to dance to Auld Lang Syne themselves. Shouldn’t laugh, but then they should have thought about that before they decided to get married. So the survey/study means nothing and certainly fails to introduce anything new to the discussion. In my day we had this thing called common sense – it didn’t require a study to appear in a science journal people just had it. Nowadays there’s probably an app for it. Wish more people would download it.

JD

 

Are we there yet?

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There’s a light in the distance, you’re safe or so you think. You can just make out the villages of Saturday and Sunday in the distance as you emerge from the heavily wooded and dangerous Weekday Woods – but you’re not clear yet. You still have to make it through Friday.

We’ve all seen it in every horror film that just when our heroes believe they have made it Jason appears, Michael Myers sits up and Carrie grabs our legs – it ain’t over until the fat hand hits five. This is the final hurdle, you take your eye off the ball and think you can begin to wind down. Until the urgent email arrives or the phone call you least expect – something that does one of two things: stops you in your tracks and you have to power up your brain to get going again and you’ll probably have to meet everyone else in the pub nearer half past five because this HAS to be done for a client – or – the evil hobgoblin of work will now live in your brain all weekend.

The latter is worse of course because at least you can draw a line under the week. That message or call is usually something from your manager about a meeting or an appraisal or a complaint. I’m sure when these sadistic managers are promoted they are put on courses to ensure maximum impact on you as workers. The meeting or “chat” (even worse) will not be anything serious or problematic but it’s a power thing where they want you to be thinking about it all weekend and ruin your two days of relaxing – or spending with your family. The two are separate.

You spend Friday night worrying about anything you’ve said and done that week – what could it be that they want to talk to me about? You wake up on the Saturday and it has drifted from your mind until someone mentions work again and that’s you until you are back at work on Monday. Your weekend is ruined. Again.

Even if you escape the grasps of the Friday afternoon blip – there are still pitfalls. The boss that doesn’t let you leave even a minute early – even though they are probably already sitting at home with their feet up as they had a “meeting” at 3pm. The younger members of staff are only too keen to remind you of the pathetic sadness of your social life as they reel off all their upcoming adventures over the next three nights – that will be replayed in graphic detail for you on Monday morning even though you don’t know the people they’re talking about and after the stories never want to.

Then there’s the hobby person who has a busy weekend ahead with the dogs/horses/sports/groups that again you’ll hear about Monday. You sit there as they ask you what you’re up to. You could lie but then you’d have to construct a good story for Monday or be honest – “I’m not doing anything this weekend” or “Nothing Planned”. They look at you with a strange kind of pity as if you are the mad one who needs to get a life when sitting in a cosy house that you work all week to pay for, with the family you hardly see and catch up on the stories and TV you’ve missed. Is it me?

The clock that has haunted you since waking on Monday finally grinds to a halt as you leave the office and get into your car. Silence. No ticking interrupting the empty quiet around you. It’s the weekend. And a new clock begins ticking. The one that gets louder until you lift the duvet and get out of bed on Monday.

JD

Fun! That’s what is feels like again!

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AQ Bon Accord

There is something brilliant about running wild, being silly and having a laugh. I’ve really missed it – genuinely missed it. Being let loose to run around the Bon Accord Centre promoting and flyering for Avenue Q was great fun – the two fella selling Sky might not agree but we had a laugh.

I think this gets to the nub of why I’m bored and pissed off at the moment – beyond the obvious mental health issues – just being silly and letting go of all the constraints of “the right thing to do” is liberating and we should all do it more often. It’s one of the reasons I’ve long called for grow ups play areas in parks, male crèche for men in shopping centres and Hoodles/Smugglers’ Cove for the parents (never mind the kids). The themed blogs this week on counting down the days to Friday and wishing away your life are sadly true, and I’m aware for a large percentage of the population it makes them happy to be grown ups and have that routine, but for us dafties…

Life is a horrible Black and White world where there are more than fifty shades of grey but all of them are straight-laced, boring and serious. Just once in a while we need to rank up the colour, contrast and brightness and let go, have fun. I’m not a drinker or someone who partakes in drugs – I know some people find their escape that way – so I want to find other ways of flexing the wilder, creative, funny, extroverted side of me. Ideally it would happen in the shape of a job but I’m more than aware of the likelihood of that ever happening so you need to seek out the chances to shake of the shackles of society. One great way is through spending time with the kids.

Jake and Jenna are at that age where you can be really silly with them and their laughter tops up that multi-coloured thermometer of joy in you. Tickle fights, silly voices when reading stories, singing at the top of your voice, chasing each other. Wouldn’t it be great to go into work tomorrow and have a giant game of hide and seek? Or get everyone outside on the patch of grass for a game of rounders’ at lunchtime? When did we lose it? When did we grow up and forget the simplest joy is good old fashioned fun. If you can make someone smile it lifts your day, if you make them laugh it lights up the room – that’s why I adore going to see comedians because they get to do that for a living. Well most of them – I have seen a couple this year that I’d rather forget. But kids have it – is it an innocence, a naivety or a lack of awareness of the rules?

I think this is one of the reasons we all fight so hard again society and the media making kids grow up too quickly – to lose that purest of joy in you is one of the greatest losses in your life.

JD

In the interests of balance…

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For the last couple of days The Krankies SNP and the Yes Campaign have come in for a bit of hiding from me – mostly because I think their fundamental idea is wrong. But there are two sides to this debate and you’d think i was fully in support of the “Better Together” Campaign to keep Scotland as part of the UK (Probably the Devo Max flavour). Well I am and I’m not.

The idea of the Union is my preferred outcome in next year’s referendum because I haven’t heard the argument that convinces me that the current set up will be improved by separating from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the associated islands. But it has to be acknowledged that the Alistairs, Darling and Carmichael, are making a pig’s ear of the job in putting forward the positives of the Union and how Scotland benefits.

And it’s not as if they haven’t got the ammunition to take down the Yes campaign as there are so many academics, business leaders and finance experts who are helpfully explaining the issues with all the SNP plans. But when you have the man who bailed out the banks having sat at the side of Gordon Brown fronting the campaign it doesn’t fill the electorate with anything but dread. He’s not a strong enough characters to take on Sturgeon or Salmond.

We need to give both the SNP’s big hitters their due they talk a great game, have a very well organised media strategy and are able to challenge any counter arguments made – but they aren’t infallible and there are massive holes in their plans. The No campaign is automatically on the back foot as the ideas will all naturally come from the group advocating change, so they need to start setting the agenda rather than responding to it. Promote what we do well and how that is improved by being part of the UK. Use the same platforms that the Yes campaign do, but with a heavy weight frontman or woman.

I don’t want to be sitting here in an Independent Scotland run by people who have ruined Education with CfE in its current form and the atrocities of the College merger programme which has been rolled out across the country to save money but damage education. They are great at the headline grabbing things like free prescriptions and bridge crossings but when it really matters they haven’t done anything apart from the free care for the elderly which I applaud. They are all talk and that is where they need to be attacked and challenged.

So “Better Together” stop reacting to things and lead – how can people buy into the idea if you are seen to be dragging your heels behind the Yes campaign every time? With current polls showing the Union the preferred option at a ratio of 3 to 1 votes you need to drive the message home to ensure that doesn’t move in the next ten months. They can’t win at the moment, but there’s a chance you could lose votes.

JD

Friday Eve

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I’m growing to think of Thursday as a gremlin that sits in the corner watching you, beckoning you into it’s confidence and you look at it thinking it is the start of the end – turns out to be the end of the beginning instead. Don’t feed it or get water on it as it quickly mutates from that cute fluffy gateway to the weekend into the “S#!t it’s Friday tomorrow and you need to meet deadlines” kind of day.

That pile of things you “filed” away somewhere on your desk are now being asked for and for the life of you their purpose or how to complete them has been buried underneath all the other pointless stuff you have had to remember since you were told. So to the emails and you search for a guide or a hint of what you can do with these strange pieces of paper. the clock’s ticking has almost stopped and you only notice the occasional movement. It’s the slowest point of the week – except for Friday itself.

And the excitement of Friday’s arrival is celebrated as if a long-lost friend is coming to visit instead of the truth of the fifth working day in a row. I suppose it depends on the perspective but for me the only relief comes at the end of Friday leaving the building for home knowing I won’t be back for a couple of days. To many it has become the weekly equivalent of the last day of term in school but this is only true in some businesses or organisations as for many it’s just another day that means work has to be completed.

To dismiss it is foolish and invites in that awkward moment when you are asked to do something on your day off but at work. Bacon butties and a lunch out do not an early weekend make. The look of confusion from a co-worker who has to deal with a phone call or email around 4pm is always entertaining as they switched off yesterday lunchtime. That’s the danger of a Thursday.

That rush from Monday to Thursday just to have a positive feeling on a Friday says a lot about us as a nation and our approach to the working week – it can’t be a positive thing, but it does explain or collective move to the pub for a celebratory lemonade or two. But we’re not there yet and we have eight or so hours to navigate through tomorrow. Like any horror film you know that you are not safe until the final credits finish and the lights come up in the cinema.

Don’t say you weren’t warned

JD

Independence Referendum – A Metaphor

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There are some people still confused about the upcoming referendum and the consequences involved. Here is a (overly stretched) metaphor that may help some of our friends on the Yes campaign to understand our position on this side of the argument.

Yes: Ah I see you have cake.

No: Yes I do, thanks.

Yes: Would a like a special piece of cake – much better than yours!

No: Erm, I quite like this cake. It’s not perfect but I’m enjoying it.

Yes: Oh well don’t worry our cake’s better

No: In what way?

Yes: Well, it has great sponge.

No: Well this sponge is good.

Yes: But is it?

No: Yes, it’s fine.

Yes: You’re so negative – do you hate our cake?

No: What?

Yes: With its special icing and butter cream filling and local jam

No: My cake has all that already and I’m fine with it. I’d rather just have this cake. Thanks for the offer though.

Yes: You hate cakes, you won’t let people have a choice of cakes will you?

No: Erm, I didn’t know my cake was causing you so much trouble. If people want a choice they are welcome to it.

Yes: Good. So you agree that not liking our cake makes you cakist. You ready to swap then?

No: Can I see your cake first?

Yes: No.

No: Can you tell me more about it?

Yes: Oh certainly it is exactly the same cake as you are eating, but it’s better.

No: How?

Yes: Just is, and it’ll cost you more or less than your current cake – not currant cake – but current cake

No: But I’m happy having paid for this cake to enjoy it.

Yes: You’re wrong there. You have been told your cake is good, but you haven’t tried our cake.

No: No I haven’t but you can’t show me the cake, you can only tell me it’s what I’ve already got and it might cost more or less. Why would I want your cake?

Yes: Because it’s better – I’ve tried your cake. Didn’t like it. Now I’m proposing making a new one…

No: Hold on you haven’t made the cake?

Yes: No, but having looked at several other cakes I can assure you it will be affa tasty.

No: How do you know?

Yes: Oh it just will. Trust me. It’s a local cake – that makes it better.

No: Haven’t you tried to take my cake before?

Yes: Oh yes on several occasions, but this time we’re convinced that this is THE cake. We’ve got some great recipes and are ready to bake.

No: How long will that take?

Yes: Oh initially 18 months to bake and even then we have to agree with the current suppliers – not the currant suppliers – but the current suppliers that we can have the same ingredients.

No: You don’t know what your ingredients are?

Yes: Of course not that has to be negotiated. Are you simple?

No: You want me to give up my cake that I have, to have your cake that isn’t made, hasn’t got all the ingredients, you have no deal with the supplier, and you have no guarantee it will be ready or good.

Yes: Yes.

No: No thanks.

Yes: Cakist!

The End.

JD