April 29, 2013

Seriously? We are THAT vain?

Okay, I can understand why there are mirrors in changing rooms. You want to see how the clothes look on you. How that jacket hangs. And does the colour suit you?

That’s fair enough.

And I can understand why a display rack with various spectacle frames would have a mirror nearby. I mean, you want to check that the colour and frame-shape suit your face.

That’s reasonable, too.

Same with hats. If you buy a hat you want to be sure it will look good, and that the jaunty angle is just jaunty enough. It seems only reasonable that the shop would provide a mirror.

However, I was recently at the airport, where in the duty free shop I happened across a display stand with headphones. And under each set of “cans”, was a mirror.

It took me a moment, and then I realised: What? You want to check out how you look with a big set of ear-defenders and a coil wire perched on your head? You worry that they suit you? That they don’t clash with your hairstyle?

Yes, there are people out there who worry about their visual appearance to that extent. So vain that they would select one pair of headphones over another on the basis of how good they look – rather than how they sound – when they’re wearing them.

If you are one of these people, let me tell you now: There is no way you will EVER look good with what resembles a steak pie clamped to either side of your head.

Drew McAdam



April 14, 2013

As a youngster I loved the pleasure of randomly dipping into a set of encyclopaedias we had in the family bookcase. It was packed full of the most amazing stuff.

In my time leafing through those great tomes I learned about inspiring figures like Clive of India and the Second Carnatic War. I learned how a battery works, and I learned all about the most amazing animal in the world: the duck billed platypus.

In fact, I was so enthralled by these books and the knowledge they held that I endeavoured to read each and every volume from cover to cover. Admittedly, I started at Aachen (it’s a German town), and didn’t get any further than aardvark (a nocturnal mammal native to Africa). But it was a start.

I discovered the delight of taking one of the volumes from the shelf, opening it anywhere, and just reading whatever was on that particular page. That way, I built up an incredible storehouse of knowledge. I learned that Olympus Mons is on Mars, and is the largest volcano in our solar system. When travelling in a school, Killer Whales breathe in unison. And Peter Durand invented the tin can for preserving food in 1810.

I also learned that the skeleton of a spider is actually located on the outside of the body. And my imagination was gripped by the story of short wave radio, and how it works.

And these weren’t just a string of facts. I delved into the history of sailing ships and currency. I immersed myself in the biographies covering the lives of the most extraordinary people who have made their mark on this world in the fields of science, politics, philosophy, economics, and so on.

All this, just by opening an encyclopaedia at random, and starting to read.

Of course, we don’t have encyclopaedias today. Instead, we have Google.

So, I tried the same thing. I typed in random letters and just waited to see what it came up with – it’s the closest I could get to randomly dipping into the family encyclopaedia.

What a dreadful disappointment.

Here is what I discovered… lots of information about cheap holidays, flights and hotels. I also found out that UFOs really exist, and that wearing a hat made from tinfoil stops subliminal messages from being beamed into your brain by the Government.
Irina Shayk recently paraded her “to die for” figure in new swimwear shoot.

Oh, and Aaardvark is not a mammal from Africa – it’s a company that manufactures archery equipment.

Yes, with the internet came access to a sea of information. But information is only of any value if it is useful information rather than celebrity non-news and advertising. Sadly, most of the internet falls into those catergories.

However, I’m going online now to see if I can buy an old encyclopaedia. Happy days.

Drew McAdam


February 6, 2013


It’s become a multi-million pound industry – testament to the fact that an army of people are using these services.

I’m talking about internet psychic hotlines. You’ll find the little adverts popping up online with the headline: “Ask our psychics anything – for free.”

Ask anything? And for free, eh? That sounds like it could have comedy potential.

The advert for each psychic usually runs along the lines of: “I’m Monica. I’ve been working with tarot and angels since my early teens.” The site invites you to type in a question, and the psychic will type an answer… Well, half an answer, and an intriguing one at that.

It’s a teaser designed to intrigue you about the stranger they tell you is about to come into your life. Or the life-threatening danger you face in the coming week. Or the money you could miss out on.

It’s at that point you are invited to “please click to go private”.

Clicking private means giving your credit card details. Don’t worry, though. They accept all credit and debit cards. And it’s only £1.50 a minute to type in your question and get your answers.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure some of these psychics are terribly accurate. One psychic told me that I will be giving birth within two years. (They obviously thought that it was the female version of my name.) That’s one of the problems when you’re corresponding by keyboard, rather than voice.

And when I really tested their abilities, they were left wanting. Not one of them could tell me with any certainty whether or not my car would start in the morning. And most of them were completely wrong in their answer to my query about whether or not it was going to rain next Tuesday.

Not one of them was able to tell me where I’d left the remote control for the TV, or where I could buy a monkey. You know, I’m beginning to suspect that some of these psychics aren’t very good.

Just because they say they can see the future and talk to angels doesn’t mean they really can. Which is a shame for the many thousands of individuals, many vulnerable, who – perhaps in desperation – turn to these psychics. They pay vast sums of money for an answer to their problems.

Typing messages back and forth for an hour is going to cost you £90. And I’m not sure there’s much to be gained from that.

But what would I know? I’m not psychic.

Drew McAdam


February 3, 2013

A wet and windy morning, yet some 200 people went along to the Playhouse Theatre at 11am the other morning. Why? Because it was the Press Launch for The Lion King, coming to the theatre later in the year.

And it wasn’t just for journalists, but for competition winners, too.

I have to say, this was a slick and professional presentation. Well, it would be – it was organised by Disney. And they don’t do things by half.

It started bang on time. Some of the cast members were there in full costume – along with a gospel choir. They performed a clutch of song and dance numbers, right there, just feet from the assembled group.

The representative from Disney gave a slick presentation and slide show – with video segments – on how the costumes and puppets used throughout the show are constructed.

Visit Scotland were brought in to the frame. The Playhouse staff members were polite, attentive and efficient.

Even already, giant advertising posters are everywhere, and the box office is being doubled in size to cope with the demand for tickets. Impressive stuff.

But of course it’s impressive – it’s Disney. They do things properly. They are customer-focused. They do it big, and they do it right.

And that got me thinking. All those sluggish companies and inefficient firms that let us down and break their promises when it comes to everything from delivery times to product quality could do with bringing Disney in to advise them how to run their businesses properly.

Actually, I think some of the captains of industry would look rather fetching in big ears, red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves.

There would be no delays with the trains and transport companies if Disney was at the helm. No standing from London to Carlisle. No surly staff… Yes, Disney would sort it out.

And when when you think about it; a lot of those inefficient and incompetent firms are Mickey Mouse setups. They’re halfway there already.

Drew McAdam


January 27, 2013

It’s hard to believe that so many drivers don’t know what the little stick thing with the button at the top is for. The one between them and the passenger.

It’s a handbrake.

The idea is, when parking, you pull it on, and it stops your car from rolling away. (That said, I have to admit there have been a couple of occasions when I had to chase my car down the street.)

But that’s by the way.

The other use for a handbrake is when you come to traffic lights and they are red. You brake. Pull on the handbrake. Select neutral gear. Then take your feet off the pedals.

What could be simpler?

So, how come many people don’t actually use it? Instead, they sit in front of you with their foot firmly on the brake pedal.

Was a time when cars had two brake lights, one on either side, and down low. Now, however, most have an extra strip of laser-bright red LEDs at a height which precisely matches the eyeball height of the driver behind.

On a dark night you invariably have one of these never-use-the-handbrake clowns in front of you, and their intense eyelevel brake light is melting your eyeballs.

Obviously they never look in their rear view mirror, because if they did they would see a furious, demonic luminous red face glowering at them.

And when they eventually take their foot off the brake to draw away, the after-image of their brake light is burned into you retina to the extent that you don’t realise they’ve gone.

Just another example of the thoughtless, inconsiderate, lazy driver.

That brake light after-image could explain so many UFO sightings, though. “It was amazing… this red light seemed to dance in front of me. Wherever I looked it was there; just in front of me… until it melted through a wall. And my car didn’t.”

So, to those drivers: the brake pedal is for slowing you down and stopping. Its purpose is not to stop you from rolling away. That’s what the handbrake is for.

The driver behind you would like me to pass that message on to you.

Drew McAdam


January 6, 2013


Do you remember the TV programme where members of a family would play daft games, then the ultimate winner watched items pass on a conveyor belt? They then won the prizes that they could recall in a set time. These prizes usually consisted of household appliances, and a cuddly toy. There was always a cuddly toy.

Well, here is a list of the sort of thing that might have been on that conveyor belt: diary, camera, hi-fi music centre, chess board, world atlas and radio.

If that was all, and you remembered them, you would be doing quite well.

So here are some more items: torch, games console, calculator, video camera and a telephone.

How many of them would you have managed to remember?

But we’re not finished yet. There’s a compass, clock and a notebook. There’s also an encyclopaedia, dictionary and photo album, television set and music collection, along with a calendar, books and a collection of recent movies.

Got all that?

The thing that struck me about this game was that it would be very nice to win all the items, but how did the winner transport all their booty?

I had a mental image of the contestant leaving the TV studio, shoving a massive wheelbarrow loaded with the mountain of goodies they’d won, then trying to get everything onto a bus.

I mean, seriously; how would you transport all that stuff home?

But if you were to win all those prizes today, 40 years on from when The Generation Game was at its height, you wouldn’t need a wheelbarrow… Because everything on that list can be carried in your pocket!

Except the cuddly toy.

Think about it.

Drew McAdam


December 31, 2012

It was a TV interview. Some bloke complaining that he had graduated from university but couldn’t get a job despite having a hard-won degree. He had to accept work stacking shelves in the freezer of his local butcher.

I must say, my heart went out to him. Years of work, study and application – and it all came to zero… Well, several degrees below zero.

Had he stopped there, I would have been writing this column with a different slant. But he didn’t stop. Instead, he went on to reveal that his degree was in Art History.

What? At school, a chum of mine took Highers in Art and Mathematics. The only job I could see suited to these qualifications was one that involved painting computers.

But a degree in Art History? Only useful if you’re applying for the post of curator in an art gallery.

I mean, did he really think a pointless degree like that entitled him to a top job and a top salary? It would seem he did.

And he’s not the only one. There are thousands of them out there.

Wealthy teenagers taking courses that have no bearing on real life, and then complaining  they can’t land a job suited to their intellectual and academic capacity. Poor lambs.

A little bit of research reveals that there is a plethora of next-to-worthless degrees. Ask yourself: who is going to employ you just because you have a degree in philosophy. Or psychology. Or – wait for this – David Beckham Studies, from Staffordshire University. I kid you not.

You can even take a Madonna studies module as part of the Gender Course at Harvard. Or Oprah Winfrey studies at Illinois.

There are degree courses in parapsychology at Edinburgh and Liverpool, among others. Very handy if you want to join the Ghostbuster team. However, it’s unlikely to impress a REAL employer who is offering a REAL job.

The first thing youngsters should learn in life is that you must always give the customer what they want. And when the customer is your potential employer, he certainly doesn’t want you waving an archaeology degree in his face.

Unless, of course, you want a job stacking shelves in the local butcher shop. In that case, your degree will do just fine – for swatting flies. Oh, and beating off the bailiffs when they come to collect your student loan.

Drew McAdam