Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weekend at Perth: Sunday's tweets explained

    @[autumn] Ladies, there's a lotta quality on the Dundee team. And in case you don't know wot I mean - #phwoar #sovt2011
Yeh, well that one pretty much says wot it does on the tin, innit? And they were dead yummy some of those dudes.

    @[autumn] Polonia Jets 5th place match - noisy affair & fun. Now in the library for the women's final. Shhh, mustn't make noise or enjoy it. #sovt2011
I always find the crowd's response to volleyball very disheartening. Volleyball's such an exciting game, so constant with action and tension, and how people cannot be swept up in the drama of it is beyond me. The crowds here are pants: unresponsive and disinterested. And dead quiet, thus explaining my library jibe (no, they were not actually in the library playing). On the other hand, before watching this silent women's final, I was watching Polonia Jets play a German team. Now I am biased as they are a part of my club, but Polonia are really great to watch. They cheer themselves on a lot and seem like they thrive on the noise. They are probably considered pretty obnoxious for their clapping and noisemaking and I won't dismiss their obnoxiousness, but not for that reason.

    @[autumn] But I obvs don't follow rules well. So I'll be the one shouting out the #shitchat #sovt2011
In the past, I have been an announcer at volleyball matches; once, I announced all day during the finals of the Scottish Cup. It's probably better to refer to me as a colour commentator, cos I actually don't do any proper announcing very well. Me as an announcer calling players on to the court is usually the auditory equivalent to the video game Pong: all over the place. But to be honest, that's my style: chaotic, full of the shit chat and exuberantly reacting to a play - basically, how I am in real life. Anyway, I was not announcing at this game, but I was using my odd announcing phrases to cheer on teams. Generally, Oh, SNAP! works in any situation, as well as a cry of Yahtzee! A great hit could also be greeted with BOOM!: simple, yet effective. For a block: Someone built a wall at the net! Slightly odd, but funny to me is As my Daddy down in Georgia way would say, "Lord have mercy!" My all-time favourite interjection is also inspired by a one-liner by my father: "He got beat like he owes somebody some money." So after a really great play, I will shout out, Just pay him back his MONEY!! Yes, I did chuckle as I typed in my own shit chat.

The worse thing is that most of the places I have "announced" in have horribly shitty sound systems. So all anyone ever hears and sees is some odd woman with frizzy hair and a mic, jumping up and down, making word-like noises, like Juhh uh-uh uh uhs JUUUHHHH!! I think I kinda need to give up the shouting and announcing, particularly in the spirit-free environs I tend to do it in. It just feels kinda like a minstrel show or something, as if I'm Sambo hyucking it up for the indifferent Man.

Hmm... leave it to me to turn a little nothing into a whole big something about race.

    @[autumn] C'mon - consider moving the men's final match up a bit? FBS 1545?? You're joking! #sovt2011
There was an hour between the women's final and men's final and I found that personally ridiculous. FBS = First ball served, as in that's when the game begins.

    @[autumn] I even offered Xxxxx Xxxxx a Tunnocks caramel wafer to move the men's final even 15 mins earlier. No go. #sovt2011
So I decided to take matters into my own hands regarding the game's start time. I approached a game official with the offer of every British granny's favourite biscuit. Cos no person under the age of 75 ever buys Tunnocks caramel wafers and no person under the age of 60 can resist one. And if you are under that age and in possesion of one, then you were obviously gifted one by your granny or great-auntie. Obviously, the referee was very ethical and declined my offer. Later, Tunnocks retweeted my comment on the Twitter.

    @[autumn] Doing my all to fill #sovt2011 Twitter feed to the brim with inane #shitchat. How'm I doing?
Pretty successful, I'd say.

    @[autumn] But Should I feel bad I'm at Perth and didn't play any volleyball? I mean, nobody is expected to go to Glasto and sing all the songs! #sovt2011
Maybe SOVT officials should rebrand the tournament as a festival like Glastonbury? I think it would bring in more people outside the insular, incestuous community that is Scottish volleyball, whether it be spectators or players. And then I'd obviously not feel bad for schlubbing around and not doing any physical activity on a weekend dedicated to it.

    @[autumn] Glasgow Mets no 11 looks less like US 400m Jeremy Warrander now with longer hair but still qualifies as #doppelgängeralert #sovt2011
One of my more obscure alerts, to be sure. I'm sad about that cos if you actually knew who I was on about, you all would be going Dang, she's right! He do be looking like that boy! With the poor grammar and everything.

    @[autumn] Glasgow I'm determined to leave here with no voice. It's on. #sovt2011nensindoorfinals
Last year, I completely lost my voice and could not even go into work on the Monday. I actually started to lose my voice on the Friday, the first day of the weekend, in the car on the way up to Perth. This year, sadly, only a gruff tickle was to be had.

    @[autumn] Things I learned at Perth, 1. Slow quicks can, amazingly win points. #sovt2011
Ooo, this is kinda hard to explain without some visual representation, so thank god for YouTube. It can be a pretty spectacular play, seeing the hitter throw the opposition's defense off-guard by the setter setting the ball quickly behind herself and the hitter switching her position to hit. But only if completed quickly and sharply. Which is not what I saw. And yet, the slow manoeuver variation won points and that's me learned.

    @[autumn] Things I learned at Perth, 2. A person will kiss their own biceps with enough shouting of "Kiss the guns!" #sovt2011
During Friday's drunken stupor, I bet Dyvie's boyfriend a tenner that he would not, after hitting a ball, kiss both of his arms in a kissing of the guns motion. I underestimated the lure of a few bob, for he did it. Repeatedly and without receiving any more money, only from me loudly insisting on him doing it. I also underestimated Dyvie's man's threshhold of embarrassment (level: low).

    @[autumn] Things I learned at Perth, 3. One can be completely exhausted after a weekend of *not* playing volleyball and doing bugger all. #sovt2011
Friday night broke me and I barely drank on Saturday night.

    @[autumn] Things I learned at Perth, 4. The cool box won't cool without ice in it. #sovt2011
Actually, that's something some of my compatriots learned. But the uncool box made a lovely seat for someone's bum around the BBQ.

    @[autumn] I want some syrup with that pancake! Awesome pick-up, Mike Penny. #sovt2011mensindoorfinals
For you non-volleyballers, a pancake is a last resort defensive move players use. It takes pretty good timing and skill; lots of people will attempt it, but few will do it well. And the crowd was privvy to an exceptional one at the men's final in Perth. Now yeh, I said that don't do Christian names on the blog, but I made an exception with this one for a couple of reasons. One, I don't know this guy, so it's unlikely that he or anyone he knows will know that I'm be talking about him and thereby his anonymity should remain that. Two, if I managed to retrieve a ball with a pancake like this boy did and my team win a point from it like his team did, I would want my full name, social security number/National Insurance number, date of birth and parents' names published beside that achievement it so everyone could clearly identify me! Basically, the man deserves his propers - it was totally badass.

    @[autumn] to @[pal-macca] You know what I'm missing here at #sovt2011? The smooth stylings of one Xxxxx X'Xxxxx. Guess his MI5 work has take him away.
The guy to which I refer is Macca's friend Bezu, probably the coolest cat in the world. He just lanks around the place, oozing coolness and genuine niceness. Then he gets on the court and goes crazy. But he travels quite a lot for work and never really talks about it, so I imagine him to be a spy. I totally can see it too cos he's so motherfucking cool! Anyway, he's another reason why I have such a girl crush on Macca: only cool people can be pals with cool kids.

    @[autumn] Kisses and hugs exchanged to mark the end of #sovt2011. Two fingers pointing to the right, to the right means see you next year. So ->->
As I was going, I could see this kid I first met last year, waving at me through the window. This kid introduced by a mutual acquaintance who described the kid as a "little bit dyslexic". Our mutual friend took it back when he realised how un-PC that was for a teacher like him to say. Anyway, the kid and I met up again this year cos I brought him back his camp chair that I saved from the skip at the last minute - I kept that bloody chair for a whole year.

So the kid was waving at me through the window and I was to him, both of us not really understanding what the other person was meaning. Finally, we came to the door. "What?" I said. "See ya next year," he smiled. "Oh, so that's what all that means? Two fingers pointing to the right means see you next year?" The kid shrugged: "I guess so." I guess so indeed.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekend in Perth: Saturday's tweets explained

    @[autumn] Doors at the disco close at 2300 to accommodate football watchers, and open til 0100. So buy your bloody tickets already! #sovt2011
Each year on the Saturday night, there's a disco in the gym. Champions League final was scheduled at the same time and that (along with Grumpy Bear and his wife's absence - those two are big proponents of the disco and usually encourage people along) was keeping the people I know from going to the dance. I was hoping to push people in, but didnae work really. I also switched to the #sovt2011 hashtag when I realised that they were on the Twitter and encouraging the use of that one over #sovt.

    @[autumn] Been quiet on Twitter front cos I've been trying to do more useful things, like walking upright and opening eyes to see. #sovt2011
I was told my last tweet on Friday night/Saturday morning was round 0500 and I was roused at 0930 by all the activity round my tent. Yeh, I wasn't so much as hung over when I staggered out of the tent as still drunk. I didn't graduate to hung over until at least 1400. I was so steaming, I didn't even get meself a egg and bacon roll for my breakfast from the burger van that gets parked outside the gym during the whole of the tournament. And I never not eat.

    @[autumn] Too much dithering over where to watch the footie - driving me crazy. Probs cos I'm starving!
We were all a bit exhausted by the time diner rolled around and enjoying hearing each other's shit chat a bit too much that we didn't leave the campsite until after 1800 for dinner at a pub and some after-meal football watching. Wot a bunch of morons! At that time of day, we would be lucky to have room to stand in the toilets and watch the match, hip to hip with some stranger. I mean, this is the Champions League Final - biggest football event in the world! As I mentioned in End of season do, someone needed to be decisive about things. Man, did I miss Turtle and Grumps - but don't tell them I said that.

    @[autumn] Patrice Evra with his facial hair: channeling Wesley Snipes #doppelgängeralert #championsleaguefinal
Sometimes I look at someone and it just hits me: that dude looks like someone else. And I can't shake it and I have to tell someone. But most of the time, my references are too obscure, odd, far-fetched, or just plain shite to be appreciated by others. So I kinda invented the hashtag #doppelgängeralert to help deal with these moments in my life. And during the game, the Manchester United defender Patrice Evra did look like action star Wesley Snipes. Which is kinda not a compliment.

    @[autumn] Pep Guardiola is a bit of all right, innit? Looking particularly fine in that suit. #championsleaguefinal
Wot can I say? I heart men in a nicely cut suit. So sue me. I forgot to attach the hashtag #phwoar - another one that I use a lot on the Twitter. I just love that word. It's ridiculousness rather suits my silly behaviour and comments over these objects of my affection.

    @[autumn] I'm alone at the disco. Poor me. This is when I miss Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx's manic dancing. #sovt2011
That blacked out name is the Grumpy Bear. When he gets shit faced, he becomes a violent dancer. That was how bad that disco was - I was wishing for Grump's thrashing manoeuvres to make the shite music bearable.

    @[autumn] Yes, as I've just explained to an astonished person, I'm *not* playing at all AND I'm in a 3-man tent on my own. Indulgent! #sovt2011
For reasons I have explained previously, I don't like playing volleyball at Perth. Maybe one year I'll get a sash or a button explaining my philosophy: I'm here for the booze and the banter. That answer usually gets a response of Fair dos from any right minded Scot.

    @[autumn] No longer alone at disco - the lovely Xxx saw me sitting on me own and took me into her fold. Too bad the music's still rubbish! #sovt2011
This lovely girl came up to me when she saw me sitting on my own and insisted I sit with her and her friends. She practically pulled the chair out from under me and dragged me to her table. A really lovely thing to do. So clearly, she wasnae Scottish or English. My dear, dear Scots, please don't think I'm slagging you off completely. If a Scottish person saw me sitting there, they would have probably come up to me and had a few funny words with me - definitely. But then they would have pissed off and left me there on me own. Cos asking some stranger to join your group, which would undoubtedly only be comprised of people one would know from infancy, is just a bit... forward, innit? Like that lone person's vulnerability and slight desperation might rub off and infect you. Or worse, you might actually have to have a real conversation. Cos, as much as I love Scottish banter, a real convo is pretty damn hard to come by.

    @[autumn] Xxxxxxx: "I'm showing some restraint tonight. I'm going to stop drinking at 0300 or 0200." #shitchat #sovt2011
This was said by the Faroshian, who is from the Faroe Islands. Actually, people from there are called Faroese. But because I'm a dick, I obnoxiously call him Faroshian and luckily for me, he has a good sense of humour about it. There used to be a guy in the club from Monaco and I used to call him Monockan cos I'm an arse. I still don't know wot to call them though. I was right to label this shit chat cos this kid was still awake when I went to bed at 0330.

    @[autumn] 'Boom shake the room' has played. Thus, the #sovt2011 disco has finally fulfilled its destiny. Every. Fucking. Year.
Yes, every year that I've been there (and even prior to that, according to Grumpy), this song is played. It's not like it's even the best song in the DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince canon - that, of course, is Summertime. Other songs that must be played: Don't stop me now by Queen; the Grease megamix; The Proclaimers' I'm gonna be (500 miles). I'm fairly use the the shitty music people prefer here, but I somehow cannot comprehend the inclusion - nay, the insistence - of Boom shake the room. Macca, who has been to her fair share of Perth discos and knew the score, retweeted this comment.

    @[autumn] 'Footloose' brings out the worse in people. #sovt2011 .
Yeh, I forgot to mention this little ditty. When this song comes on, it's like a siren to all previously in-control people to lose their fucking minds. And everyone's in perfect unison, as if choreographer showed everyone all these elaborate group dance moves, with kick dancing, the doing of the Carlton, shuffling and the chicken leg dance. All of which, when put together, looks absolutely nothing like this video. There is also always a lot of people who somehow decide to do an imaginary jump rope. Wot did I miss? Was this in the film or something?!

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Weekend in Perth: Friday's tweets explained

Last weekend in May for many (in the UK and US) is a bank holiday: in the US, it's Memorial Day weekend. For UKers, I have no clue. I, strangely, don't get the Monday off - I get the Monday of the previously weekend off. Why? Cos Edinburgh's a bloody awkward place. But last weekend in May is always special cos that's when I'm off to the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament (SOVT), AKA Perth. Now I have written a few times about it on the blog (here, here, and here) so I will leave it to you to read up on it.

This year, SOVT officials got their shit together and they were on the FB and Twitter (@sovt2011; trying to trend with #sovt or #sovt2011). I used the latter extensively, much to the chagrin of the people around me. "Again with the Twitter?!" was their shout. Shit, I was only on medium usage! Anyway, here's me, from Friday. (NB: real Twitter names were not used and this is indicated with square brackets)

    @[autumn] Xxxxxxx, AKA Klaus is wearing leather trousers. #shitchat #sovt
#shitchat is a hashtag I'm championing, cos sometimes when you see or hear something so insane and crazy, you have to call it how you see it. (The black out is because I never write people's Christian names on the blog.)

    @[autumn] Here in Perth. Tent up. Made run to the shops and burger on the grill. Have already heard some #shitchat so wknd starting about right. #sovt
And to be honest, most of the shit chat was coming from the kid wearing the leather trousers. Several times, I had to make the shhhh motion to him, like I would a child at school.

    @[pal-macca] Looking forward to hearing some of the #sovt #shitchat courtesy of @[autumn]
That's my friend Macca who is now in New Zealand and we used to play volleyball together. Last year she managed, via Twitter, to introduce one of her friends to me at the Saturday night disco. Pretty awesome. She is really the inspiration of the #shitchat hashtag - she's the kinda person that would point at someone and laughingly announce that. I really miss that kid.

    @[autumn] Doing the Friday night tradition: BBQ, engaging in #shitchat round the barbie and freezing our arses off. #sovt
I don't know why we just do go to the pub or summat. We just sit around in a circle, around a dying BBQ, shooting the breeze. Every year.

    @[autumn] I've a quality box of red on the go. #sovt
Boy and I went camping the first weekend in May with some pals and I bought a box of wine that I barely put a dent in so I decided to bring it along. As for quality... a tangent is needed.

Some Spanish friends were the ones who first pointed out that English speakers (chiefly Americans and British) have a unique ability to make words that are strictly considered nouns into verbs. As in, you want to check a fact online, you Google it. Well, I think (and I could be wrong cos I haven't been in the US for a while and this could be something on the go) that the British are unique cos they can make words that should strictly be nouns into adjectives. Like the word quality. Ergo, my oddly phrased tweet. Later on, we'll see how my bad tweet phrasing gets me in a world of trouble, but for now, onward with the tweets...

    @[autumn] Finished the bottle of tequila amongst the group in less than 10 mins. All about the drink, drink, give. Now on the quality box of wine. #sovt
In the last few years, my team has taken to selling shots of tequila round the campsite for charity. We provide salt and and lemon and often take to joining the drinkers. We even some of the bars to that song 'Tequila'. So I purchased a half litre bottle for that purpose. Why I decided to pull it out for us to drink instead, I cannae recall. Maybe it was the quality box of red...

And while on that subject, I want to defend my little box of wine. Everyone was taking the piss out of it - another reason I referred to my wine baby as 'quality'. It was rather tasty despite its humble (read: down market) packaging. And don't you know it was empty Saturday morning! I bet they were sniffing and licking their anti-bacterial wipes as they slagged off my wine. Alcoholics!

    @[autumn] Xxxxxx tells a story about a lecturer who says "cunt" instead of "current". #goodchat
My tweets usually hit my FB wall and I reckon I was defriended after this comment came up.

    @[autumn] Dyvie's boyfriend thinks the lyrics to Trousersnake's Sexyback is "I've got a sexy back" and apparently he has got a sexy back?!?! #goodchat?
Yeh, I think the drink was kicking in cos this comment isn't really anything, is it? Dyvie's boyfriend is German so he kinda has funny ideas about what people say in English - well, his misunderstandings tickle me. Any of my tweets and FB postings also have to be translated to them. But hell, my comments have to translated to most people, German or not.

    @[autumn] I've jumped on people and tackled folks. I'm a drunky bear. #sovt
For my birthday, Boy bought me an adorable jumper with a bear hoodie on it. Most of the time when I wear it, I bounce around shrieking, "I'm a crazy bear!" No lie. I wore it to work once and shrieked that at my rather bemused boss. And yes, I was wearing this jumper on Friday night. While wearing the jumper, I tackled Dyvie and wrestled her to the ground cos she spilled my tin cup of wine (which was later kicked into the gents' loo by her boyfriend - och, the state of that poor cup on Saturday morning was pure shocking). Also while jumper-clad, I ran and jumped on this fellow I know, like I was doing the vault at a women's gymnastics competition. It was most embarrassing cos while I know the guy (he's the boyfriend of a girl I kinda know from the club and he played with the club years ago), I don't really know him like that. In fact, I don't think I really know anyone like that, save my own Boy. So that was dead mortifying and yes, the bear was drunk.

    @[autumn] Xxxx: "I normally ken!" SHE'S Italian! #goodchat
Ken (see the British-to-American dictionary on the side for a definition) is properly Scottish word and I love that my Italian friend uses it. In actually, she usually doesn't ken - but don't tell her that.

    @[pal-atw] so long as you're accusing them of being racist as you do so in reply to @[autumn] I've jumped on people and tackled folks. I'm a drunky bear. #sovt
I love that my high school bestest ATW was getting in on the act and knows my inane chat.

    @[autumn] I can see the moon, as well as the sun coming up
At this time of year, it isn't until well after 2300 and getting on til midnight that the sun fully sets, with the sun rising around about 0300. It's always a lovely sight, even when pished.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Desert island discs

Well, Desert Island Discs has finally become properly interactive for the regular man: a site has been set up that allows us public to list the eight tracks we were take with us to a desert island. This has had me thinking all night, to the determent of anything else I was meant to do.

I am still a bit fuzzy with the show, but I wonder: is this a forced exile or self-imposed? Because if it is the former, as in I was shipwrecked there, then I would want much more upbeat songs. Am I alone or with another person, cos this affects my choices too. I kinda assumed I would be by myself. The thing is, I don't like thinking about this very much. Holaminit - I'm off on an island, all by myself, possibly shipwrecked? What will I eat? How will I protect myself? Where will I sleep? Is there clean water? This whole endeavour is fraught with peril and the songs are kinda on the back burner. What will I eat?!

Anyway, I started off with a long list and that's been drawn down cos it contained songs by the same artist or the same genre or theme. The long list included three REM songs, which lost Losing my religion (for many years, my fave REM song and my go-to karaoke song) and Shiny happy people in the short list. There were three hip-hop love songs, with Killing me softly by the Fugees getting dropped. And two songs that heavily feature samples, but the one that got the ax was My 1st song by DJ Dangermouse (it's a mash-up of a song of the same name by Jay-Z and music by the Beatles - it's from the Dangermouse's Grey Album and my new fave cheer me up song). My two No Doubt choices (Don't speak and Spiderwebs) both didn't make it. Obviously I had to choose between my favoured artists: Otis, Ella, Aretha and Smokey (none made it from either one of them- sorry huns!), Jimi, the aforementioned REM, Nirvana.

I kinda made my criteria to be songs that I don't pressed fast forward when the come on the MP3 player. Here's the short list that I'm still whittling down (I've mentioned some of these songs in a previous post of this nature):

This is when I'll really need your help so it will be the least likely time I'll hear from anyone!

Ugh. I've had a good look back at all the songs and they are all pants. Rubbish, rubbish pants. During the night, I decided to cut out two from the short list as well. Oooo, I hate shit like this, so rather good I've not been banished to a desert island then.


Monday, May 23, 2011

What my heart wants

So it's my pal's Dyvie's birthday on Wednesday and she's invited us round for a potluck dinner. I was at a loss about what to bring. I haven't been cooking that much lately, save Saturday night when some pals came round for a supper party. I say supper party as opposed to dinner party cos I can't cook dinner. Dinner is formal and shit, with warmed plates and no spills on the dishes. Supper is some stuff ya slap together that is tasty as hell and filling. So it was the latter. My stomach was in pain for several hours after dinner for all the food I ate. Boy suggested the party play a board game. "Nah!" I finally yelled, after his third try, "Man, we don't wanna move!"

I was keen on a seasonal dish for Dyvie's potluck, as I was the theme for Saturday's cooking. No heavy foods, like cassaroles or heavy meat, just spring time and light. So we had some asparagus and tomatoes in the fritatta; some spring onions and baby new potatoes in a nice light potato salad. So I settled on the potato salad for Dyvie's do, which received lovely compliments at supper (in fact, Boy and I fought over the leftovers). But I wanted to bring something else with the potato salad. I was watching a feature on Food Network's Unwrapped about Hungry Man frozen dinners and their most popular dish, chicken and mashed potatoes. It was then I realised that I wanted some fried chicken with the potato salad.

How very... urban, innit. Nevertheless, I FB'd Dyvie to tell her that I was bring fried chicken and potato salad. I don't know if she really believes me: it is rather... ehem... cliched. But the heart wants wot the heart wants. But my heart didn't remember how fucking hard it is to cook fried chicken! I've cooked it about three times in my life (once at Thanksgiving instead of a turkey - v odd, I realise) and it's a total pain. Wot do you do with the leftover oil? Is it cooked through? I'll have to cook it Tuesday night for Wednesday - will the skin stay crispy that long? ARGH - my stupid, stupid dumb heart and wot it wants.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Touch your own mug, and other muddled thoughts on race

Maybe I'm saying something, but most likely it isn't anything. Proceed.

So my awesomely rad sister some years ago bought me a sloganed mug that has been a fave of mine ever since. It is now missing and I have decided to accept that it is now gone. RIP mug - you were loved and will be missed. And the slogan on the mug?

Touch your own hair.

I giggle just thinking about it, but it hasn't really been that well received. At one place I worked, a woman indignantly hissed, "What does that mean?" With that one question, it is clear that I was working in the UK when this question was asked, as I cannot imagine any American not understanding the meaning. The context is completely lost here.

Erm, how *do* I explain the often uneasy relationship in the US between Blacks and the predominant culture (i.e., white folks) that this mug satarises so succiently? Is it possible for me to express the audacity, radicalness, and sheer uppity-ness of the message? It's not that I'm unwilling or unable. I have no problem with making full use of audacity and I take particular advantage of my unique multi-cultural, multi-national personal make-up within this largely homogeneous society in which I currently live. And Scotland is a rare homogeneous society, cos there are large swathes of people here who actually like when others are a bit unusual and even provocative. In fact, it is to be expected of you. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but there is no worse insult than for someone to have bad craic. So yes, I have randomly and ironically accused people of being racist for doing unracist things.* So going back to the mug (and perhaps my weird craic), the problem is that context cannot be effectively established without a 9-hour PowerPoint presentation with diagrams and flow charts. Like Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, only going on about race.

So back to skewed context. It was 0330 on Sunday morning and I was in a pie shop in west end Edinburgh. To give you even more context, I was coming from a night out and was wearing a pair of red hotpants (over a pair of tights/stockings - get real thinking my thighs would have it any orher way). Not to be too up my own self, but my bodacious bum was on fine show. I have an ass that makes it clear to most Black people in America, even with my odd colouring, that I am in fact one of them.

One of the guys I knew and was with at the shop was winding up two random girls. "They're racist! They're saying you have a big black bum! Did you hear them?" The girls were dead offended and wanted to batter my pal for my sake, not realising I knew the dickhead.

Finally, I spoke. "Stop talking about my bum," I said. "I know you're all obsessed with my bum cos it's amazing. You all wanna get with it. You wanna get with it, then go back to your white women after having your black girl with a big bum!"

Some of the people in the pie shop looked back at me, dumbfounded. Most were too drunk to take notice of my tirade. I guess dropping a little bit of radical (and womanist) Alice Walker philosophy at half past three on a Sunday morning in Edinburgh, Scotland is a bit much.

* Well, I should clarify: it's ironic to me. It is probably distressing and not at all ironic to have some brown girl to go up to you and shout, "Racist!" when you're queuing in a Poundland.

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Monday, May 16, 2011


Candyland, UKers, is children's game and one of the first board games that children in the US will learn to play. How to play: pick a card that features a colour and move your pawn to that colour. Yes, that is all. Yes, the game is that slack, but rightly so: the only nuance 2- to 4-year-olds can really appreciate is colour differentiation. For some overplayed parents, the mere shriek of the word 'Candyland' strikes terror in hearts for the game's soul-deadening dullness. Candyland does not have the same stranglehold on British toddlers as it does their American counterparts, so I was pretty surprised to have been able to buy one at a car boot sale here.

While I mock Candyland's completely transparent simplicity, it's a rather good game for a teacher like me to have. I work with struggling learners across the school. Struggling Primary 1 (P1; kindergarten in the US) pupils often lack skills of self-regulation. This is, in essence, a good memory, the ability to pay attention and the ability to control inhibitions. Simple board games, with their insistence on turn taking, strengthen these weak skills.

That being said, my Candyland game is currently being monopolised by a P6 child (a fifth grader). He borrows it and takes it to play with his best pal in class, every day. My Learning Assistant (LA) and I have to structure his lessons around the game: every time he gets an answer right, he gets to pick a card. After about her 800th game, my LA pulled me close to her side today.

"See if we don't play Candyland," she muttered murderously in my ear, "That's it: the day's a right-off." She glared at me and I'm awfully sure she made a throat slashing motion at me. Well, she did point right at me after she did it, just in case I wasn't sure.

Don't I know it how right she is! Perhaps this is foolishness though, but I'd rather paralyse a few million brain cells then deal with a non-Candyland lesson with his kid. I'm pretty sure I'll have to send the game up to high school with him, so I only have one more year of having to play this game. But for now, my LA said it right: we're being held hostage by *fucking* Candyland.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

End of season do

Last night was the end of season celebration for my volleyball club, Jets. This will be henceforth referred to as the "end of season do", do being the word that Scottish people use to refer to events of a celebratory (and of course, drunken) nature that do not occur regularly. So, what would be called a bachelor party in the US is here called a stag do. Someone at work moving? A leaving do. You get the picture. Now attempting to write the pluralisation of do is, for me, the trickiest bit. Dos? Do's? As much as I hate to see a superfluous apostrophe, I am inclined to write do's, as most Scottish are. Please don't judge me too harshly. When in Rome...

The club rented out the venue space at the Scottish Book Trust (hey, free publicity! I really should get a kick back), which we have done for the past two do's (Casino Night and Race Night). It's actually a lovely space, wasted on pissy dickheads like us. We never use the amazing mezzanine/balcony level and I have ceased trying to get people up there. You would think with the amount of fornicating/hooking up going on in the club (that will have to be another entry, my lovelies), someone would be up there, snogging.

I'm not sure who decided this - cos as I mentioned before, we are just a group of immature and drunken nobs - but we had a catered, sit down meal. It was nice enough, for a meal that had probably been cooked at 0430 and sitting in warmers all day: just only a touch dry. Prizes were given out. I didn't get one, so we will swiftly move on to what really matters: the dancing.

I decided rather early on that we would be dancing after dinner and I figured I would collate a playlist. This is not an easy job for your dear blogger. I have rather peculiar taste for the EDN, i.e., I need to hear bass in the music to dance. This eliminates all of my favourite DMX jams that I'd probably dance to. This meant also that I was moaned at about not have The Birdie Song. To be fair, I thought he was being ironic when it was suggested. Unfortunately, it was procured on someone else's MP3 player and when played, all was right in the Jets world. What can be said that I'm more reassured about a dancing situation that includes the misogynistic and homophobic 'Where da hood at?' over the flipping Birdie Song? We'll need years on that therapy bench for that.

After numerous shouts of "One more song!", we managed to get the wastoids oot the door of the SBT and on to our next destination. Now this always throws us for a loop. While we are united in our utter devotion to volleyball, we have disparate tastes, ranging to people who have to the Birdie Song on their fucking iPod to metalheads. Nothing satisfies the lot. In the past, we've gone to shitty places like Stereo where they only serve vaguely alcoholic Kool-Aid (those are alcopops to you UKers) to the masses of 12-year-olds they admit and shitty aeroplane hangars/tin cans/dead traps. Yes, I refer to the hell hole Drop Kick Murphys, where as God as my witness I will never step foot in again. Even if I could cure cancer, world poverty and get rid of my ham hock arms with one foot in the door of the place, I'd never go there. Slimming of the thighs would have to be thrown in on that deal, but God's not down, saying I'm being too greedy and all bets are off.

I've learned that if one person says "Let's go to ___!" the loudest and most fervently and walks quickly in that direction, the drunken herd follows. I know if confidently insisted on going to the bus station, a dozen Jets would herd over there, with me as their shepherd, looking for a Diet Coke and vodka and a place to sit and take their shoes off. Luckily for them, I led their sorry, gazeboed asses to Espionage.

Now the 'Naj is kinda like a date with a nice, but nerdy geography teacher your mother set you up with: it makes you wonder, "Is this the best I could do on a Saturday night?" But you're in, stuck, and there's nothing you can do and nowhere to go. When you're in the Tardis-y like maze of the 'Naj, all space and time cease to exist. We could have been there 10 minutes or 11 hours, I could not tell. There could be 4 floors or a million. It is our Matrix. Evil lurks in every corner to try to prevent us from our ultimate goal - getting out in one piece: harpy drunk girls; hen do's wanting loads of attention (yes, yes bitch - you're getting married. Get over yourself); dudes who can't dance, trying to lure your beautiful compatriots away.

May I digress from the Matrix analogy for one moment to address this very sad phenomenon of the boy that cannot dance? It is endemic here. I am not even going to entertain any arguments that it's cos I'm in Scotland, the whitest place in the world. And I'll tell you for why: 1) Some white boys can dance (I met a few in my time in NC, but only a few!) and 2) Even the brothers and other brown folks here cannot dance. Not even a shuffle. They do not even have the ability to look cool, let alone sexy, while they stand by the wall, instead just looking weirdly creepy and strung out.

I've lost some steam and there's plenty to read here. I'll get back to you about other stuff later.

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The car boot sale

Here's a draft that I began nearly two years ago in June 2009. Yeh, it ain't finished, but til you pay for this shit, this is what you get. Anyway, just gives you a flavour of life here, innit. It's kinda an appropriate post cos it's Sunday and the car boot sales are on in the Omni Centre on Sundays...

I miss US yard sales. There's something about it that reminds me of a Wild West shootout: you approach your opposition - you must show no fear. Who will flinch first? Who will win? Oh, I do miss it.

They don't do yard sales over here really. In Edinburgh, there are more flats and such, so ability to throw your crap on your front lawn for the whole world to see and pick over isn't a possibility. But what we do have are car boot sales and jumble sales. Car boot sales are essentially what Americans would call a flea market. You assemble in a car park (parking lot) and sell your stuff from your car's boot (car's trunk). A jumble sale is similar, sans the car, so perhaps held in a school hall or something like that.

I really liked yard sales in the US for children's books. I would have to say the majority of the books I have in my room available for my pupils to read were bought in yard sales. However, the quality of the books here are not the same. I've spent many a year trying to work out why. I used to reckon it's cos the majority of the British populace are actually illiterate thickos. This theory is still alive (just looking for more conclusive evidence), but I don't think that is the real reason. What I have found that there's a certain section of the population

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Like the Terminator...

I'm back. Like a Phoenix, I rise from the ashes of my own shittitude. Actually, when it comes to this damn blog, I think I'm a bit like wot Janet described in That's the way love goes: a moth to a flame. Och, well, I'm here now so let's not delve too deeply into my inconsistent writing record.

Today's my penultimate day at uni. Yup, it's my second-to-last day of classes. My second-to-last day of dragging my sleepy as through to Stirling on the train at a time even God thinks is ridiculously early. The second-to-last day that I will show up to the good old Pathfoot Building (actually, an architectural marvel, IMHO) without my suggested assignment. Don't worry, I probably won't change that for the last day — if it ain't broke...

And yet I dream of something more. The whole journey I have been alternating between tweeting my dearest ATW (topic: her awesomeness, natch) and thinking about wot's next for lil ol' me. Happily, I can report that I have that I possess some things that my father would label pipedreams, if he used such a word. And no, I will not be sharing them at this time. But wot I can promise is that I will do this a little bit more.

Now, if you detect any spelling errors, my apologies. I am usually very fastidious about that, but I'm writing on the iPhone. Fastidious is the word I'm thinking of innit? Basically, I'm saying I get fucked off when I see an error. But with the iPhone's damned predictive speller, it can't be helped.

I just re-read this entry: man, it's shit! I'm like Simon Cowell on this thing. I have a very special announcement: I will be making a special announcement shortly. V tedious. Especially when you know the announcement is that bloody Cheryl Cole is going to be judge on X Factor (Americans, all together now: Whoooooo??? Shit. I hope me coming back on the blog and ready to take my next, heretofore unannounced, step in life isn't the equivalent to the dud revealing of the former Mrs Cole. Yeh, no boos please?