Everyone has a drunken uncle….or in my case several!

Today the news is full of Obama’s drunken Uncle being pulled over in his car and telling anyone who would listen, who is nephew is and that ‘The Whitehouse would sort it out’ Guffaw. What an absolute clinker. As I lay in bed grinning at the cringe making behaviour I began to ask myself hasn’t everyone got a drunken uncle?

I did. In fact courtesy of my wild Dad I had quite a few. His oldest muckers – not blood relatives – his dearest pals – his real family. There are a few still careering round the world causing mayhem but several, including my Dad  are no longer with us but have left me with some of the funniest memories.

Sandy was one of his bestest chums  and a favourite bearded warrior. He  was a wild bear of a man with a singing voice like Caruso and  a laugh that would be picked up on a seismograph.

When Dad and him got together it was a case of light blue touch paper and retire fast. They sat up late, talking, drinking and entertaining anyone else who could take the pace. They chased me down the high street at the Banchory show with  police cones on their head when I was 16 and hormonal and embarrassed just being seen out in public let alone with adult boozers.  It took me years to get over it. Teenwolfess.

As I watch Teenwolf roll his eyes at me 6 times an hour I can only imagine what he would do if I was to revert to the behaviour of his Grandpa. Google Childline. Google Easyjet and get a one way ticket to anywhere fast. Hmmmn…

So Dad and Sandy were wingmen. From early days dressed in kilts hanging off balconies telling stories to anyone who would listen in France in the late 40’s to wild rugby days in Scotland and at  my Dad’s 70th birthday party and beyond  they just  loved life and lived every minute of it to the fool no I mean to the full.

Now I  regard them  as a template for life. Not as a terrible warning but a great example. No whispering, sensible, tight laced, upright, sssshhhhhhhhhhhh type behaviour. A celebration of  wild laughing, banjo playing, joke telling, singing, larger than life, bad dancing, FUN. There is a lot of beige in the world. I try not to add to it. In their memory.

Sandy’s granddaughter stayed with me at the weekend. Her Mum and Dad are a delight but I didn’t really know their daughter as she was brought up down South. The second I met her, the sparkle in the eyes, the quick wit and the zest for life made me realise that sad as it is these great old guys  have moved on it gives great comfort to see the elixir of their spirit very definitely lives on.

Dogs. Teenagers. Fags.

The look I was sporting.

Half dog half womble is asleep on the bed. Sammy, the big gormless one is sitting breathing on my arm, with a sock in her mouth staring, willing me to let her come up. She is a great hairy labrador so the answer is no. They normall sleep in the kitchen but when the long suffering husband is away they are given a free pass to rampage. I don’t tell them. They just know.

This weekend we have had a house full of teenagers which may explain why I have behaved like one myself. Teenwolf and his pals age 16 and from down south Shona and Liz 19 & 20 respectively.

Yesterday was my dear chum Liz’s 40th birthday so she met 20 of her girlfriends for lunch. Or as it started off a screechathon. 70% of the women there were journalists and presenters so are all lacking the shy gene. Liz’s other friends from East Lothian were there too and the whole thing went off like a rocket.

Teenwolf dared to enter the den of 22 women as he had forgotten his keys an experience that may stay with him for a while. An hour later he was back to give me my keys back only to find me outside the bar/restaurant  in the company of 3 teenagers and a stand-up comic smoking a roll-up. First time I have smoked for about 5 years. I can see how hanging out with young folk makes you feel young – at the time. I have to say waking up this morning my roll-up coated mouth and prosecco soaked liver I am  feeling all of my 39 years. Ahem.

I got home about 9pm. The teenagers were just ramping up to go out for the night. Teenwolf and his pals to a party and the Southern based teenagers to Dragonfly and a show. As I slumped on the sofa with a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits I  listened as the music was turned off and the clomping of feet on the stairs announced they were off out. Upset? Annoyed?  Wishing I was young again? Nah. Just blissfully happy. A couch. A TV and a dog under each oxter – what a fabulous Saturday night.

Teenwolf displays extreme affection in public.

Standing at the airport waiting for Teenwolf and his fellow rugby tourers to arrive back after 2 weeks playing rugby in South Africa. It felt like a long time. For us.

As we waited a few conversations with other parents were held.
Me ‘Did you hear from your one?’
Woman 1 ‘No’
Me ‘You? ’
Woman 2 ‘Nothing.’
Woman 3 ‘Oh I got a text from my one. Asking for money.’
Me ‘I texted Teenwolf and asked him how it was going and he texted his father ‘Tell Mum to back off!’’

Back off!?!@$% We were in different continents. If I backed off any further I’d have been on the Virgin Galactic Space Craft inaugural journey.

As fellow parents laughed at their lack of communication and acknowledged relief they were all back in one piece. The doors opened and 30 strapping lads were disgorged into the arrivals hall.

As Mums and Dads craned their necks to get a glimpse for their returning offspring they continued striding on straight to the carousel to retrieve their bags.

I caught Teenwolfs eye. He nodded. Barely perceptible to the untrained eye but if it’s all you’ve had in 2 weeks it feels like a warm embrace.

The joys of the teenager.

One Day

Remiss blogger alert. Me.
It has been mad here.
Sorry.
Something very exciting is happening so I have had my head deep in the land of sensible but I will tell all when I am allowed. When you sign a Disclosure Agreement it is practically like having your mouth glued shut. Not good for the likes of me…..however
I did write an article for The Sunday Mail at the weekend about One Day. The book by David Nicholls and now the film of the same name which is the talk of the steamie. If you read the book you might like to read it. If not then have a read anyway I have pasted in a nasty comment some geezer left on The Sunday Mail website which you might enjoy.

Here is the article.

OK, I confess. My name is Alison Craig and I don’t absolutely love One Day.
The world has gone mad for the book with the famous cover and now the film… but I don’t really understand why.
I read it ages ago and thought it was OK. Ish.
When I first heard the buzz about the imminent release of a film of a book called One Day, I even wondered if they were talking about the same one.
I am a complete book fiend and read lots. Not in a War and Peace sort of way but in a rollicking good plot, story and escapism sort of way.
I spend far too much money on books and hours perusing my next choice in book shops before devouring them with relish.
Part of the fun of finding a cracking book is sharing it with friends.
The moment I finish a great one I rave and rant about it and pass it on within hours. I read One Day in about a week – not exactly unputdownable – and when it was finished I just kind of thought, yeah. Fine. Next.
So hearing that readers around the world were being plunged into bouts of unstoppable sobbing and snottering puzzled me a little.
Am I a hard-hearted harridan? I don’t think so. The Kite Runner and Any Human Heart are just two recent books that were passed on to friends, warped by the excessive tears that fell as I wept my way to the last page.
Was it the subject matter? I am a middle-aged woman and the nostalgic references to music and politics of the day did evoke memories of a moment in time. Sadly, so did the male protagonist Dexter.
He’s a self-centred megalomaniac who perhaps reminded me of too many men I worked with in TV who were exactly that. I just didn’t like him.
Also having had many a friend mucked about by characters not dissimilar to Dexter and his personality disorder, I wanted the female protagonist, Emma, to get over him and get on with her life. I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t read it. But, for one reason or another, she doesn’t.
The overall theme was familiar, maybe too familiar. It seemed to be playing straight into the hands of the mid-life crisis crowd, that ‘Is this it?’ feeling.
There were the questions, inevitably posed inwardly in the middle of the night. “Was the person I was madly in love with age 19 the one I should have stuck with after all? And, if so, would I be happier?”
As an author myself, I understand how hard it is to write and finish a book. It is a labour of love and I would never detract from Nicholls’ talent as a writer.
I have read his other novels – Starter For Ten and The Understudy – and really enjoyed them.
But, of the three, One Day is my least favourite.
The cynic in me also thinks One Day got more attention because it was written by a man.
If it had had a female author’s name on the front, it would have been slammed into the pigeonhole marked “Chick Lit” and largely ignored.
Plus if you want a geezer to write about relationships, I personally can’t see past Tony Parsons or Nick Hornby.
And now we have the film which can’t possibly live up to the book, which itself can’t live up to the hype.
But, like everyone else, I will probably end up going to see it… one day

And here is the charming comment a rather bitter little man left at the bottom of on The Sunday Mail website.
Richard1024 wrote:
“As an author myself ” hohohoho! One duff book about Aberdeen and a self-regarding book about your pregnancy doesn’t put you in the same league as the One Day best-selling author. Green eyed monster got to this one, for sure!

Plus the idea that a female name on a dust jacket is a way of getting ignored should amaze Jacqueline Wilson, Alice Sebold, Lynne Truss, Patricia Cornwell. Josephine Cox…

Do you think he sounds like a frustrated, unpublished, unhappy, writer? Yes me too.
For his info I did not write any book, duff or otherwise about Aberdeen – so not only is he bitter but he is wrong too. Ah well…..

Just a few ideas for Edinburgh today – if you fancy.

It is hard to come to Edinburgh and know where so start.

If you are looking for something  a bit different though. Saturday is  The Farmers Market  on Castle Terrace which makes you feel like you are in the south of France not Edinburgh. Then for the duration of August, right beside the market is the West end Fair which sits on the corner of Lothian road and Princes Street opposite the Caledonian hotel. A perfect place to get something unique to take home. There are textiles, bags, jewellery, and lots of great bits and pieces. There are literally dozens of stalls and lots of smiling faces to welcome you in. I popped in the other day and ended up getting some xmas shopping – odd  frankly. I am more of a Christmas eve shopper but I can recommend it from the ‘smug forward thinking shopper’ routine.

Then whilst you are at the West End stroll along to the West End Village  which consists of a few streets packed with one-off unique boutiques, shops, coffee shops. Well worth the 2 minute walk to get there – similar to Victoria Street this area fills you with hope that ‘the man’ is not taking over the world.map for west end fair

Whilst we’re at it Thistle Street in the centre of the city which runs parallel to between George Street and Queen Street – also packed with great shops and restaurants. toady there is a special MIH jeans event  at Jane Davidson a chance to get a pair of jeans that don’t make my bottom look like three walrus wrestling in a duvet cover. I’m going.

Get out of town to East Lothian for a walk on the beach and a look at the ladies Golf Championship at Archerfield – flying the flag is local lass Catriona Matthews. Or up to Perth for the Horse Trials. Let’s hope they’re not found guilty.

Last but not least – best bars in town? Look no further – here’s the list. CLICK HERE

If you’re fringing enjoy – if you’re you now have an informed choice.

Whatever you are doing, let’s hope the sun keeps shining.

A knight in shining armour spotted on the streets of Edinburgh.

Bloody rain.

Can’t believe it is this bad. Still.

Still.

Last night the weather was so bad I took my car about a 1/4mile in the pouring rain and left it paying an displaying until 10am this morning. If you are regular reader of this blog you will know I am not a great sleeper. A great pain in the backside yes but not a great sleeper.  So when I awoke this morning at 9.53am I jumped out of bed and ran like the wind to retrieve it before I was given a ticket.

So as I sloped back to get my car you can imagine the devastation on clocking a ticket under the windscreen. Grrrrr. So angry was I that I just reversed out of the space and crumped right into the side of a guys car.

Reparking I emerged apologising as he examined the side of his car.

‘I am so sorry. Soooooooooo sorry. Bloody woman drivers! That’s what I’m thinking and I’m a woman. What an idiot.’

‘Oh’ he said smiling ‘ it looks fine. It sounded a lot worse than it looks’

At this point I could have hugged him. I mean really. What are the odds of a man behaving like that when you have whacked into his nice red shiny car. (No I don’t know what kind it was ).

‘I will give you my name and address for insurance stuff’ I said guddling around in my car for a pen, which I didn’t have of course. ‘Och I don’t have a pen I can’t find one’ I said gibbering by this stage.

‘Oh don’t worry it really looks fine he said give me your mobile just in case but it looks to me like you can  just forget it’.

Well talk about make my day. What a gent. A knight in shining armour. It restored my faith in the human race.

Can you imagine Jeremy Clarkson – petrol head and curly topped, public school boy full of bluster – in similar circumstances?  I suspect a slightly different reaction. So with a spring in my step and a song in my heart I sloped home to thank my lucky stars.

Impeccable service South African style V Grumpy service Scottish style.

Smile and the world smiles with you

By the very moniker Teenwolf you know the days or trailing scraps of blanket, teddy bears with a well sucked thumb plugged into his mouth are well gone. However the one thing that Louis aye takes with him when travelling is a pillow. The lucky thing is guaranteed a top nights kip if the head goes down onto a good pillow. So during out text exchanges from his rugby tour in South Africa to Edinburgh he mentioned he had left it at the last place they stayed The Stellenbosch Hotel in Stellenbosch which was disappointing.

So I thought it would do no harm to email the hotel and mention it to them.
Well talk about service! Their receptionist is going into Cape Town tomorrow and is delivering it personally to the next place he is staying. Now Scotland – how is that for service?


On a less positive note I was at the Book Festival on Sunday morning. Sitting, staring vacantly into space I needed a caffeine and fast. Queuing up it became apparent one of the grumpiest people on the planet was making the coffee. The guys were great. Chatty, smiley and full of the joys of Festival life but there at the front making the coffee and scowling at customers was the nippiest wee face I have seen in years. I was embarrassed when I heard her local accent. I could feel my blood pressure rising. Having been in the service industry for years nothing annoys me more than seeing someone working – and there are thousands that aren’t – treating people with general disdain with that ‘I am better than this ‘ attitude that has plagued Scotland for years. She couldn’t raise a smile. I smiled at her, tried to chat and just jolly her along but she was having none of it. The girl before me in the queue rolled her eyes at me also appalled. The guy behind me looked afraid – she looked like she might just lash out with her sodden milky rag as she tugged at the nozzle of the machine.

My favourite story of such grumpy badness was my Dad in a hotel in Aberdeen years ago. He was finishing a cup of tea and off to meet his friend off the train – the station was directly across the road. So he asked a passing waiter
Excuse me could you tell me what time it is please?
The guy looked at him and said ‘ you are not at one of my tables’ and flounced off.

That was in the 1950’s and it chills my very proud Scottish soul to the bone to think that scowly faced nonsense still exists. I am going back to the book festival today and if she is still there being vile I will post an update.
Today I went back. Maybe she was having a bad day? Give her the benefit of the doubt I thought.
But sadly not. I have to report she had the same expression. Smile free. Non engaged and scaring the locals and tourists alike. If she doesn’t want that job – there are thousands that do. Matthew Algae Coffee tent Edinburgh International Book Festival – if you see her tell her cheer up!

Sleepy, grumpy and baggy. Not 3 of Snow White’s friends. Me.

Insomnia. In. Somnia. A place. A half way house. A twilight world. A hell hole. Hello.

Have been here and got the baggy t shirt before. What to do?

Lavender. Exercise. Drink. Bath. No TV or internet. Deep breathing. Nytol.  Tried writing everything  in my head down in a long list on loo roll but went through a family pack of Andrex and by the time I had finished it was 7am so I had to get up and start the day like a baggy troll. New pillow, Paul McKenna CD which put everyone else in the house to sleep including the long suffering husband and the dogs but not little old (emphasis on old) me. Crunchy faced. Humpy backed. Grumpy mooded. What to do? A baseball bat across the bonce? It’s becoming a realistic possibility though I don’t think I can administer that myself and the queue that would form if I offered the possibility of legitimately walloping me to my friends would disturb the neighbours in surrounding streets. So the dog and I – she understands the problem – will lie there gazing at teach other in the half light. Me inventing the next 3 great products, starting a company or 2 and planning to travel the world by boat. The dog? Thinking of biscuits.

Doing Fringe and Festival tonight with the girls so tonight I will be both awake and entertained – a blessed relief.

Weekend Survival Technique Edinburgh Festival

As predicted two weddings and some great pals staying for the weekend meant a slow start to Sunday.

Wedding one one Friday was a civil ceremony which was a delight and as the crowd gathered for a celebration the best wee piper I have heard in years took the floor. Then the barbeque fired up and the production of  barbequed Scottish lobster and rare roast beef with salads from heaven was frankly a life saver as the lethal cocktails we were gargling down needed something to absorb them. A French 75 -  champagne gin, lime juice and sugar. You can imagine.

After the usual array of appalling dancing we slipped off home. Plan of keep it quite a big day tomorrow went awry as our pals were hitting the high spots of the Edinburgh Festival and were indulging in a Thai meal. Barr feeding myself like a Periogrd goose there was non way I could or drink another thing so as I lay prone on the sofa the long suffering husband went out.

The following morning suffice to say I was glad I had resisted as he was a little quiet aka struck dumb. Ramping up for another wedding, the slap was duly slapped on, the friends were collected and off we went to Direlton Castle. A ruin in East Lothian – the prefect setting for a wonderful ceremony. It stayed dry. Were were in shock. Guzzling prosecco on the ramparts and then a London double decker bus (she married a lovely Londoner called Bill)  took us to the beach in North Berwick to continue the party. A happier couple I have never seen. Tear to a glass eye.

Glass eye? Well a red eye this morning. Muzzy head. Mouth stuck together. Unusual facial shape and awoken with the labrador poking a used sock in my face. Fragrant.

Being a shocking host we ran out of these bloomin’ Nespresso capsules so when we managed to get ourselves into a vertical position we shuffled into town for a coffee and as we meandered around found the Edinburgh International Book Festival at Charlotte Square. The best place to hang out from now until they take the tents down. Queuing for coffee we sat on deckchairs dislocated of mind and body. A joy. Watching the world going by, spotting literary glitterati and looking blank.

So…..after a walk with the dogs, a lie down in the garden in the sun, a text from Teenwolf to report they won their first match in South Africa in a township 27-24 all is well with the world.

Now it’s just my liver I have to worry about.

3 shows tomorrow at The Fringe and a list of the top ten must sees….until then………..

Teenwolf remembers how to text ye olde homestead.

Yes! Lines of communication are open from South Africa to Scotland.
One text from Teenwolf
‘Woke up to the sound of rain. It’s 12 degrees. Off training again now.’
So from that I gather.
a. He slept
b. It’s raining
c. It’s cold.
It took 24 hours for those words to be texted but you know what?
That’s enough.

When I was that age I went off for a couple of weeks with some friends to Europe and never called my folks once. They seemed calm. I wonder were they?
Before the advent of the mobile there was no contact.
I used to walk about a mile to school when I was 7.
As far as I know Mum never called to check I had got there OK.
If it had been teenwolf at 7, I would have called, in fact I wouldn’t have let him go alone.
So we are the paranoid generation.
Listening and reacting to the most hideous stories covered in the press as if they were every day occurrences. They are not. That’s why they are headline news when they happen. So it’s all about perspective.
And as my friend Jenny who sat next to me at art knew when she saw my picture of a standing man. I drew the head, body and legs but ran out of paper at his knees – so just popped his feet in there. Perspective has never been my strong point.

Off to Wedding 1 today. Have emptied the shop of sausage, bacon, juice and Resolve for us and our friends tomorrow am. So I am attempting a rebuild of my saggy self and need to start now. I will report…..