Saturday, November 17, 2007

the better team

we look better than them and that's the first real save by buffon.

atmosphere is still upbeat and we're making some amount of noise.

the only freason the linesman gave that offside was because he was in
so much space he couldn't miss it.

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if we can get a goal from this we can go on and win it.

craig gordon is a fan- he thought we'd scored then too......

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not good start.

we could all see the gloal coming a mile off.

now they seem to be fi.nding their stride.


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our guys warmed up in front of us. they look ready.

italian fans to our right look a bit quiet. it is pandemonium in here now.

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My view

at the game

arrived at hampden.

i can honestly say that i've never seen an atmoshere like that in
Glasgow before any football match, it was absolute madness. 45 minutes
to kickoff and thbe ground is half full. half full, and entirely

this is going to be special.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Tortoise and the Hare

The pressure is mounting as we edge closer to the big day. Everywhere I go I’m reminded of it, and it’s the one thing that everyone wants to talk about. The logistics of the event are fast becoming a nightmare as plans change at the last minute and the associated costs mount up. I have family issues to deal with about it, trying to keep everyone happy, but knowing that the only outcome is one where no one gets their preferred option. The stress is building up too, and I’m beginning to feel properly under pressure for the first time. With only 9 days to go until I get married, I’m still more worried about Scotland playing Italy on Saturday. The wedding will be a doddle in comparison. Debbie’s in charge. I’ve got tickets, but not for behind the goal at the Rangers end rather than in the North Stand as before. I’m going with my Dad, but know that my Mum/Brother/Sister/Finance all want to go in his place. I’m going early to take in the atmosphere get pished, but am worried about the fact that I need to get packed for the Wedding/Honeymoon. And that’s before the football starts. Alex McLeish should have faith in his team and his own ability. Previous, almost abortive, posts have set out the reasons that a 4-1-4-1 formation will suit Scotland’s needs best, and we should stick to this on Saturday. McLeish picked a team to win in Georgia and we got comprehensively beaten by a team with two 17 year olds in it. We need to stick to what we’re good at and that’s staying organised and taking advantage of set-pieces and the counter attack. There’s room for both McFadden and Miller in such a formation, although Lee McCulloch may have cause to feel hard done by. We can’t chase the game against Italy, we’ve got to contain and frustrate them and be ready to take our chances. Easy does it. We need to be like the tortoise, not the all too eager hare. Only 56 hours to go.

Friday, November 9, 2007

And the winner is.......

We spent an hour or so setting up the event. My office houses the only TV in the building, but was too small to accommodate the expected numbers, so we relocated it to the Boardroom. We had to buy a TV ariel, as there was no socket in the room, and spent a good 25 minutes trying to achieve a watchable signal. We eventually managed to get a grainy picture with perfect sound, and called it quits at that. We emailed the whole office with an invitation to witness the big event, and we gathered, about half of the office expectantly waiting, listening and squinting quizzically at the fuzzy outlines of Jackie Bird, John Beattie and Michael Kelly. We chatted expectantly amongst ourselves, expressed our hopes for those in the room who had recently bought houses in the East End and waited. The atmosphere built slowly and steadily as we moved towards decision time. Pictures of grainy chaos and confusion. Unexpected silences as hesitant presenters pondered while the gallery shouted in panicked voices in their ears. BBC Scotland only went and missed the bloody announcement didn't they? Good grief. We all trudged back to our desks to check on the internet to check whether Glasgow had actually won. Show over. I hope they're already planning for the start of the 100 metres by 2014 or they might miss that too. Muppets.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Scotland's Last Sporting Bid

Glasgow's bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games has been impressive in its professionalism and scope, and although I have sympathy with Abuja's case for an African games, I really hope we're sucessful on Friday. Perhaps Glasgow has learned from previous Scottish efforts.....

The View From Platform 15

The usual follow-up to the information that I live in Edinburgh and work in Glasgow is - is that not a terrible commute? To be fair, it's OK, but the best bit for me is to walk to the end of Platform 15 and see the National Gallery and Edinburgh Castle lit by the rising sun. For my first job, I used to catch the 7.10 train to Glasgow from Motherwell. The view was not as nice.
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Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Top 10 Channel 4 Programmes

Given Channel 4's birthday this weekend, I thought a list would be appropriate. Here's my Top 10 Channel 4 Programmes of the last two and a half decades: 1. Channel 4 News The best news show on TV. Better presented, and more informed coverage of the widest variety of stories from all over the world. 2. Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights I can watch the DVDs over and over again. In slow motion. With director's commentary. 3. The Word It was the epitome of cool. Nirvana debuting 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' on international TV. The time when Kim Deal from the Breeders dropped her trousers during 'Cannonball'. Mark Lamarr becoming a liberal icon by telling Shabba Ranks that he was 'talking crap' when he came up with homophobic nonsence. 4. Teachers We all knew the characters. They were our friends and they were living our lives. And it was funny. And had cool tunes. 5. Drop the Dead Donkey Did for journalism what LA Law did for the legal profession. 6. Father Ted Catchphrase TV. The mainstreaming of non-sweary swearwords. Feck. 7. Shameless Sick and wrong. And brilliant. 8. Brass Eye Chris Morris is a genious. This was has last truly accessable TV series before Jam. 9. The Sopranos I know this is cheating because it's an HBO series, but the Sopranos was event TV in my households for years. I have watched every episode, and loved them all. Even the last one..... 10. West Wing Everyone in politics wants it to be like the West Wing. Fact. I wanted to be Toby.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The light at the end of the tunnel

I woke up this morning with a nostalgic feeing about London. I left my hotel and took the short walk to Blackfriars Bridge, looking to reacquaint myself with the wide open spaces of the river.

I missed my morning run on a Routemaster 159 from the edgy goings on around Brixton Hill down to cultural explosion on the bustling High Street culminating on the great majesty that is the crossing of the Thames at Westminster Bridge, with Parliament to the left and the London Eye to the right, but my view today down the river past the Oxo Tower to the South Bank and across to the Tate Modern was an inspiring start to the day.

The one niggling point was the need to travel underground again to get under the junction to the banks of the river, beneath the sunshine and the bustling streets. London is best above ground, but the subterranean way of life: through underpasses and tunnels, down escalators and passageways to tense, often silent and overcrowded trains drains the soul. Above ground Londoners are vibrant, different and unique in the world, but down below we are all reduced to the lowest common denominator, differentiated only by the experienced (Oyster Card ready, purposeful striding between ticket barriers and platforms) and the novice (rucksacks scattering commuters while fumbling for a map and a paper ticket).

My nostalgia lasted until I boarded the plane to Edinburgh. Surely for £150 a seat we could get enough space for my entire row to sit upright at once? Would the pioneers of aviation really view plastic cutlery and soggy sandwiches as progress?

My day started so well in the sunshine lit streets of the city, but ended up crushed under the weight of an overpacked overnight case and a cramped economy class seat. I'm now in a taxi home to Debbie and dinner with her Mum. I just couldn't face two buses now.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Supermarkets v the people?

The Competition Commission’s verdict that rather than posing a threat to humanity and the Great British way of life, and given the opportunity to compete with each other on a level playing field, supermarkets can in fact be A Good Thing has been met with a puzzled reaction by the media this morning, and an angry reaction by smaller retailers and environmental and community groups.

The well-worn argument is that the general public, who love their local retailers more than capitalism itself, are being denied real competition on their Main Streets because big nasty supermarkets come along, sell cheap groceries and clothes (god forbid!) sometimes in an unfair way by marketing loss-leader products, and unjustifiably drive the little guy out of his local business.

On the key point, the Commission and today’s critics agree. It’s not healthy or fair to have a market in which 75 percent of the market share is held by just three companies, or towns like Dundee, Perth and Inverness which have over 50 percent of the market controlled by Tesco alone. But while the unlikely alliance of the Federation of Small Business and Friends of the Earth believe that this situation can only be resolved by restricting the market and favouring small/local businesses, the Commission want to free the market to provide increased choice for consumers. Time will tell who is right.

But there are two points that spring to mind for me about this.

Firstly, it’s not simply the predatory and restrictive business practices of the big supermarket chains which are having an adverse impact on small retailers on their own. There are wider changes in our society and within our communities also do not spell good news for this sector. More and more of us are working longer hours, further away from home, coupled with a greater proportion of women in the workforce mean that the small local shop, open from nine to five with a limited range of goods available is a less attractive and convenient option for modern families in particular. Society is not to blame for supermarkets buying up land to prevent their competitors expanding into a particular sales territory, but these changes mean that traditional small business cannot exist in its previous form.

But supermarkets are popular. That’s why they are successful businesses and why Tesco’s share price reached new highs yesterday. People choose to go there to shop for a range of reasons including convenience, price and quality.

When Tesco was planning to build a new store in Banff in the Northeast of Scotland a couple of years ago there was some localised uproar. Protests by local people, petitions and lobbying of local politicians prevailed. The store was to be built over existing playing fields, in a beautiful established park, next to a historic building and serious art gallery, so Tesco had offered to build an all-weather football pitch at the other side of the town as compensation. The local MSP, Stewart Stevenson, maintained a neutral stance over the issue, so decided to use his access to the local voters’ roll to organise a referendum on the issue. The turnout was around 60-70 percent, higher than that for the local parliamentary election.

And the result?

The locals voted in favour of the new Store by two-to-one.

There are pros and cons to the domination of big supermarkets in our communities. But we need a combination of major factors to change,, both within the retail environment and in society at large, if we are to make everyone in this debate happy over time.