Category Archives: Life In General

The World’s Gone (Dough)nuts

I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I enjoy a good doughnut.  Whether it be the plain old, sugar covered variety or one with toffee icing and custard in the middle (one of my personal favourites), they are a very pleasant treat.

However, no matter how good any doughnut or other cake tastes, nothing could persuade me to queue for three hours as has been the case recently, with the opening of the first Krispy Kreme in Scotland.

If ever evidence was needed that many people now act more like sheep than human beings, this was it.  A bit of hype and the world suddenly becomes obsessed with doughnuts.  I wonder how long these ‘fans’ would have waited at their local bakers or supermarket for exactly the same product.  In fact, I would be willing to bet that some of those standing in line don’t even care for doughnuts at all, but instead wanted to be one of the crowd.

I’m not sure why this story annoyed me so much, perhaps it’s just that I find it frustrating when people have no minds of their own.

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No Roses or Violets

I was in a supermarket last week and it took me a few minutes to work out why the store in question was promoting boxes of chocolates so heavily – St Valentine’s day.

I’m probably going to sound like an old bore, but my wife and I no longer buy each other gifts or send each other cards at this time of year.  It’s not that we’ve fallen out or that the ‘magic’ has gone, we just feel that, with four kids, there are other things we could be spending our money on.

We do buy each other gifts at other points in the year – my other half loves flowers and I like to buy them for her, I’d just rather do it when she is least expects it rather than because card shops or florists are telling me I should.

I’m not knocking February 14th altogether – for younger couples or those who have recently started dating, it can be a special time.  It’s just that, for an old married couple of 8 years, it’s not as high on our list of priorities as it once was.

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Ten Hopes For 2013

I’ve probably mentioned somewhere before – most likely around this time last year – that I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions.  Most people seem to have no intention of following through on these and it all seems like a bit of a waste of time.

However, at the risk of contradicting myself, I have written down some hopes and wishes for 2013.

  1. Our family remains healthy and happy (obvious I know)
  2. MM continues to show the increased level of confidence she had gained during 2012.
  3. Doodle’s behaviour at school improves further.
  4. Our twins enjoy their last few months of nursery and settle when they start school.
  5. We have plenty of opportunities to spend time together as a family.
  6. We are able to get away on holiday a couple of times during the year (nothing fancy)
  7. My wife has plenty of time to study but also time to herself away from the demands of being mum to four kids.
  8. MM learns to swim and her brothers start to move closer to doing so.
  9. I have some idea about where my long-term career lies.
  10. I continue to write and enjoy it.

Happy New Year

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Remove the Front Page

I’ve never visited New York and I’ve haven’t read the New York Post, but I have two problems with their front page photo of a man on the subway track seconds before his death.  The poor individual had been pushed from the platform but some unknown scumbag and a photographer, who was waiting for a train, captured the scene with two shots.

  1. The photographer himself.  Was his job really more important than a man’s life?  I think for most people, the initial instinct in such a situation would be to try and help, not leave a fellow human being there to die.
  2. The decision of the paper to publish the photo.  How must the victim’s family feel?  Their loss has basically been used to sell newspapers.

Their already seems to have been a backlash to the shameful behaviour of those involved.  Hopefully it leads to a long-term reduction in circulation.

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It’s Not About the Cycling

It must be about ten years since I read ‘It’s Not about the Bike’, Lance Armstrong’s amazing autobiography.  In the book he details how he overcome cancer and not only returned to professional cycling, but won the sport’s ultimate prize – the Tour de France.

Of course, his reputation is now in tatters.  The seven victories in Le Tour have been wiped from the record books following the revelations from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that Armstrong not only took performing enhancing drugs, but also ‘encouraged ‘ his team-mates to do the same.

With former team-mates lining up to testify that Armstrong was heavily involved in doping, it seems that the weight of evidence against him is overwhelming.  It’s not only the cycling community who have turned their backs on the man from Texas – long-term sponsors, including Nike, have also now distanced themselves from him.

However, some people refuse to accept that Armstrong is guilty: some fellow riders have denied any knowledge of drug taking, while loyal fans claim that their hero is the victim of a cover up and that there is no real hard evidence against him.

Of course, Armstrong’s fanbase was not built solely as a result of his ability on a bicycle.  Following his illness, Armstrong created his own foundation, Livestrong, which provides assistance and support to anyone who is affected by cancer.  The organisation is non-profit making and since 1997 has raised nearly $500 million in order to aid cancer sufferers and their families.

Amongst Livestrong’s fundraising ideas was the sale of yellow wristbands.  What initially appeared to be a very basic way of promoting the organisation and raising awareness of the illness, became an enormous success – 80 million bands were sold worldwide, with celebrities and politicians desperate to be seen wearing them.

Now, for Armstrong, it appears to be all over: despite maintaining his innocence he has publicly stated that he won’t fight the allegations against him. He has been banned from cycling for life by the sport’s governing body (UCI) and he has stepped down as Livestrong’s chairman.

In cycling terms, he’s finished.  Not only did he cheat, but it appears that he encouraged, and in some cases used his status to coerce other riders to break the rules.  Those who didn’t toe the party line were ostracised.

It’s easy to suggest that other cyclists didn’t have to follow Armstrong but if you’re a young professional and the team leader, who also happens to be the biggest name in the sport, tells that you’re going to join an organised doping programme, then it may prove difficult to say no.

When it comes to Armstrong’s other role however, the position is less clear.  Regardless of his cheating on the bike, his contribution to the fight against cancer is huge.  Thousands of sufferers and their families have benefited in some way from the funds raised by Livestrong, with Armstrong being very much the face of the organisation.

It would be therefore be unsurprising, and understandable, if many of those who have been recipients of his charitable works still view Armstrong as a hero.  They won’t see him as a dishonest cyclist – instead they will view him as someone who did everything he could to help fellow cancer sufferers.  So many people have been aided by the good work of Livestrong, and with Armstrong removed from the picture, so many more should be in the future.

In this whole sorry episode Lance Armstrong and a number of other cyclists are the guilty parties who deserve whatever punishment comes their way.  Let’s hope that their actions do not lead to scores of innocent people also being penalised.

 

 

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If I Ran the Country

No, this isn’t about politics so don’t worry.  However, if I was in a position of power, I would have been forced to take action this week.

Last time I looked, we were in early November – so why, oh why, are we already being exposed to Christmas?

I can just about understand why the shops are already filled with trees, advents calendars, selection boxes and other gift ideas.  After all, these companies have to make money and the minute bonfire night is over, they move onto the next big event.

However, it’s hard to accept that a dedicated channel is already broadcasting nothing about Christmas movies.  At the right time, ie mid-December, there’s nothing wrong with a good film to get everyone in the mood for the festive season.  That time is yet to arrive.

Perhaps even worse was a radio station I heard while at work last week.  They took a request and subsequently played ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty McColl.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this song, it’s one of my favourites and by far the best yuletide anthem in the business.  However, playing it so early is the equivalent of listening to ‘Here Comes The Summer’ on Hogmanay.

The radio presenter didn’t help by claiming that it isn’t really a Christmas song.  Perhaps he should check the lyrics.

I won’t be overly surprised if, in the next couple of nights running to work, I see my first Christmas tree in someone’s garden or window.  I love Christmas as much as anyone, but not nearly two months before.  For these people who are hyped up 7-8 weeks in advance, it must be something of an anti-climax by the time the big day finally arrives.

I have no political aspirations, but if I did, one of my first acts would be to pass a law preventing any Christmas trees, decorations or music before 1st December.  I’m not saying I would throw guilty parties in jail (though it’s worth considering) but a suitable punishment could be arranged…like being made to eat turkey every day for a year or being forced to continually listen to ‘Mistletoe and Wine.’

 

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I’m Still Here

Every month since I started this blog – almost two years ago – I’ve promised myself that I will post regularly and not leave long gaps from one piece to another.

September was a prime example.  Two posts at the start of the month and I thought that finally, I would start reaching 4-5 posts per month on a regular basis.

Of course, that hasn’t happened.  For various reasons, some of which I will talk about in future posts, I haven’t put anything new on the blog for about a month.

I have written some other stuff which just needs to be proof-read and will then be published.  No doubt I will then tell myself again these will be the start of more regular articles and that I will be far more prolific in the months ahead.

Let’s just wait and see.

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