HOME FROM HOME

September 30, 2012

In our later years a lot of us will end up in a residential home, sucking Mint Imperials and telling anybody who’ll listen about the Good Old Days.

But not me.

Taking up residence in a home is expensive – in excess of £500 a week on average. That’s about six times the basic pension.

Unfortunately a number of these homes are substandard. In fact, a couple of years back Care Commission officers slapped an enforcement order on a West Lothian facility. They said they had “serious concerns” about the standard of hygiene and infection at the home.

Lovely.

So, here is my mastermind plan. When the time comes, I’m going to book myself into one of these Premier Travel Holiday Lodge Inn places. Why? Because rooms are under £20 a day, plus you’d get a discount for a long term contract. That’s a fraction of the cost of staying in a residential home.

When the grandchildren come to visit, they eat for free. Plus they can use the swimming pool.

Besides the obvious attraction of the stuff-your-face hotel buffet breakfast, every room has a flat screen satellite television set along with tea and coffee making facilities – and biscuits. I can shower when I want, then amble off to the bar while housekeeping is cleaning the room, replacing the bed linen and topping up the mini-bar.

Then there’s the advantages of having staff at my beck and call, the hotel supply towels and toiletries – and newspapers. And if I get bored of that particular establishment I can move on to another cheap ‘n’ cheerful hotel in a different town; perhaps somewhere that has a better weather forecast. Or a nicer view.

In fact, if I get together with some of my friends we could all see out our Autumn years as one big happy group, being catered for and having a fine old time to ourselves.

Now, does that not make perfect sense?

Drew McAdam


A SIMPLE SPACE SOLUTION

September 23, 2012

NASA have just reported that it is “at a loss” on how to fix a stuck bolt on the International Space Station. This follows a six-hour spacewalk which saw astronauts trying to free the offending bolt.

The space station is whizzing round the Earth, 200 miles above the surface, at 17,000 miles per hour with an astronaut clinging to the outside, trying to loosen a bolt. And he can’t.

Back to the airlock.

The jammed bolt means it’s impossible to install a new power system which the Russians have sent up to the $200 billion (that they’ll admit to) box in the sky.

Following numerous attempts to free the offending bolt, the ground crew said they were out of ideas. In fact Jack Fischer at NASA’s Mission Control Centre in Houston said: “If you guys have any thoughts or ideas or brilliant schemes on what we can do, let us know.”

As it happens, Jack, I do.

Now, I am a technical incompetent. If I had to knock a nail into a plank of wood I wouldn’t know which end of the screwdriver to hit it with. However, I know a few blokes who could help out.

As a performer I often work with backstage technical crew – the roadies. These guys are amazing. They can fix anything and get any piece of equipment to work again, no matter how goosed it first appears. They are miracle workers, possibly in league with the Devil.

Yes, they may have straggly hair, beards, boots, shorts, and beer-stained Dire Straits T-shirts. But they also have belts with lots of pouches that hold all kinds of weird and wonderful tools and implements. With all that magical paraphernalia, they can fix anything – and I do mean anything.

One told me: “If you can’t fix it with Gaffa tape… you need more Gaffa tape.”

And another gem of wisdom from a roadie was: “If you can’t fix it by belting it with a hammer, it’s an electrical problem.”

I tell you, if you shoot one of these guys into space with a can of WD40 and a roll of Gaffa tape the problem would be solved within minutes. I bet they wouldn’t even need a spacesuit!

There you go: Houston, we have solved your problem.

Drew McAdam


MUSIC THEN AND NOW

September 16, 2012

 

I still remember that magical moment. Top of the Pops 1971 and a little corkscrew-haired fellow with a star of glitter on each cheek, singing about a hubcap diamond star halo and a cloak full of eagles.

This was Marc Bolan and T.Rex who sold an incredible 100,000 singles a day.

And suddenly the floodgates were smashed open. Music changed, with bands like Mott the Hoople, David Bowie and Alice Cooper charging the charts. Roxy Music and Slade were in there too, along with Bruce Springsteen and Queen.

Make no mistake; these were exciting times that produced a storm of original and innovative music that washed across the whole country.

I know it’s popular to bash the X-factor these days. But let’s face it, the little karaoke trolls who clamber onto the stage to show they have a talent can hardly compete with the real bands of yesteryear.

They don’t have much time to impress, either. In a recent hour long episode of the X-Factor there was a total of eight minutes of actual music!

Where the bands of yesteryear missed out was that if they had a sad story about their dead grandfather / mother / cat they kept it to themselves.

Back then, everybody thought they could front a band. But you didn’t need a panel of judges to put up four big “X”s to tell you that you were rubbish. Your mates had their own unique way of telling you.

I know, because they told me.

So, let’s not bash The Britain’s Got X Factor Idol Talent Extravaganza. After all, if the likes of Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones or The Beatles stepped onto that clinically produced TV stage they would get the big red “X”s above their heads within seconds.

More recent bands such as U2, The Stone Roses and the Sex Pistols wouldn’t stand a chance. Why? Because they would be delivering songs they had penned themselves rather than just ripping off the work of previous performers. Their delivery would be energetic, original and vibrant. And we certainly don’t want that, do we?

We don’t want to see another Marc Bolan creating mass hysteria and fresh, new, exciting music. Actual entertainment rather than just another “good singer”.

No, thank you. We want a brown sludge of musical mediocrity. And thankfully we have the TV talent shows to give us exactly that.

Drew McAdam


THE SCIENCE OF SMOKING

September 9, 2012

I started smoking to make myself look older. And I have to say, I think it’s beginning to work!

The problem was when I tried to stop. It turns out that cigarettes, and the little parcels of nicotine they deliver, really are addictive.

As it happens, I was in the pharmacy the other day. And there, on the counter, was a new product. An electronic cigarette. Well, everything is electronic these days; so why not fags?

Looking just like a filter cigarette, it has a lithium-ion battery which you recharge by plugging it into your computer – I kid you not. When you suck on it, it produces what looks exactly like curling smoke, but is actually water vapour, and delivers the ‘hit’ of nicotine.

In comparison, traditional tobacco cigarettes contain around 80 carcinogenic chemicals. The electronic version is also a fraction of the price of real cigarettes.

I have to report that I have now been smoking the e-ciggy for two weeks, and haven’t been back to the real thing since. Yay!

And then it happened: the headline “Experts Warn Electronic Cigarettes Can Damage Lungs”. Here we go again.

It didn’t take too long before Junk Science stepped in with “science by press release”.

It turns out that this headline is based on a report by Professor Gratziou from Athens. Having said that, her actual research paper has neither been published nor peer reviewed – which means it’s not actually available for analysis.

What’s more, the “study” doesn’t find that the use of electronic cigarettes causes damage to the lungs. Rather, it suggests that there is an “observable effect”. In other words, inhaling water vapour has an immediate and short- term (ten minutes) effect on the lungs. Wow, who would have thought?

Want to know who has funded this study? Google the professor’s name and the words “financial conflict of interest”, but don’t be too surprised at what you find.

Once again science with an agenda distorts the truth. These e-cigarettes have weaned me off the deadly weed and its cocktail of poisons. And yet here is “science” trying to scare people from using them.

Perhaps the headline should be “Unethical Junk Science can seriously damage your health.” At least it would be an honest headline.

And with that out of the way, I make two predictions. Firstly, e-cigarettes are going to become a massive hit – if you haven’t seen anybody “vaping” yet, you soon will. And, secondly, the bureaucrats will find some way of taxing them.

Remember, you heard it here first.

Drew McAdam


THE SHOW MUST GO ON

September 2, 2012

 

Many people enjoyed the Scottish television programme, The Hour, which was on each weekday evening. Remember that? Michelle McManus and Stephen Jardine were the presenters, with Grant Stott sometimes stepping in to help. Every evening they were on our screens at 5pm with their big smiles and jokes.

It was a programme packed with titbits, competitions and wee quirky stories about Scotland, and over the years they had some really big stars on as guests. There was music, cookery, antiques and so on – all with a Scottish theme.

It was a fantastic showcase for Scottish talent, from young musicians to actors and performers of every kind.

Mind you, I also liked it because I had a regular spot on the show.

But, alas, it is no more.

And now when you tune in to STV (Yes, that’s SCOTTISH television) at the 5pm slot, what do you see? Some non-Scottish based quiz show.

Now, I should be really mad about that – in fact we all should be – and in some ways, I am. You see, the team that worked on The Hour was like a family. A tight knit, talented and highly likeable group of individuals doing a remarkable job to put on a live show night after night. You wouldn’t believe the work and dedication that goes into producing something like that.

However, this new game show, hosted by Tim Vine and written by John Archer, now fills the spot that I used to enjoy. The problem is, I’ve met Tim Vine a couple of times – as recently as last week – and a jolly nice fellow he is, too. And the writer, John, has been a good friend of mine for a very long time. A nicer bloke you couldn’t meet.

Even so, it’s a bit galling to have a perfectly good Scottish Television show ripped out and tossed away. Even worse when it’s replaced by yet another quiz show (even if it is entertaining and funny.)

As for all those young Scottish musicians, performers, actors and singers; where are they going to get a spot on the telly now? How do we find out about all those quirky stories from around the country? Not on a game show, that’s for sure.

How terribly depressing.

Drew McAdam