Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adventures in Camping Day 3: The Smoo Strikes Back

Smoo, Smoo, Smoo...It's a funny word right? Smoo, it's also a strange thing to name a cave and that makes the cave infinitely more interesting than if it was called Dave's Cave or the Cave of Dave. Catchier certainly but nowhere near as good as Smoo Cave. Anyway there was no-one called Dave in Smoo cave but there was someone called Colin and he was, well, he was...unique.

Colin by his own admission had spent too long in the cave. He was the guide for the Smoo cave tour, he also very possibly lived in it. We had arisen early on the third day of the trip in the hope that the tour was on so we could get it done and then move onto our next destination. As luck would have it, the tour was a go. The cave itself was pretty amazing, especially as to get into it we had to get into a dingy to get to the main cave. But what really sold the Smoo for us was our intrepid guide Colin who had the look of a man who often eats rats, not for sustenance but for fun. His speech patterns were also interesting as he had a habit of shouting out certain words usually at the end of sentences, for example when we told him we were from Forfar he said "If I'd known you were coming I would have got you to bring me some 'BRIDIES!'." It was weird but endearing. He also tried to talk to a German couple who were on the tour by shouting the odd German word which was really just him shouting words in a German accent such as "Ich bein ROCKS".

So with the Smoo cave finally checked off of our list we could make our way to our third and final destination, Gairloch. Before that though we stopped off in Ullapool for some lunch. Ullapool is basically just a giant homing beacon for bus tours or we just got unlucky and landed there on a perfect storm of bus tours. What I'm saying is there were a lot of bus tours there, in case I'm being a bit vague. After plowing through the happy snapping tourists we went to get some fish and chips where upon we came across a 'starer', some random guy who was ogling us the whole time we were there. I actually never saw him because I was staring at another group of four odd looking young guys. Only three of them noticed me staring however as the fourth was staring at another group of four young guys, one of them never noticed as he was staring at us....and so on.

We arrived in Gairloch about mid afternoon where it was grey and a bit wet which is basically how I remembered it being. I had spent six weeks in Gairloch many years previously doing teacher training during a particularly harsh winter. Nothing had changed.

I probably didn't take full advantage of Gairloch the first time I was there due to the bad weather and my hatred of people. When I wasn't at the school I spent the rest of the time gazing forlornly out of my hotel window mouthing silent abuse at the locals as they shuffled past my window.

However this time was different, I was with my friends and the sun came out so it was an altogether more pleasant experience. We had a coffee in a really nice coffee and books place and had a nice wander along the sea front until Fraser stood in some dog shit. Still a jolly fine way to spend the afternoon.

That evening we had our tea in the bar of the hotel I lived in the first time which was lovely and made me wish I had actually spent some time in it rather than peering into it with bitter resentment at all the people having a good time inside. After the food we drank and played pool (I won my first game ever which is an achievement I celebrated by carving a message about it into the fleshy part of my thigh with a rusty knife. You know, so I remember).

Then we retired for the evening back into our ridiculously small tent. And that was it really. Next morning we got up, took the tent down, quick bite to eat and we were off home. We'd spent three days out in the wilderness and survived. Nothing particulrary terrible had happened to us such as this:

We did spend most of the trip shouting 'OH JESUS CHRIST' anytime we came across odd looking locals which is not really the best way to introduce yourself.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Adventures in Camping Day 2: The Smoo

Day 2:

Waking to the realization that it was my birthday, my 30th no less wasn’t the best way to start the day. Still, putting that out of mind we trailed downstairs to sample the breakfast delights of the Seaview B&B and also for another look at ‘foreheed and teeth’. The breakfast was good but unfortunately ‘foreheed’ wasn’t in that morning, probably still at home brushing her monstrous teeth.

After a quick shower I came out of the bathroom to discover that my friends were all wearing black t-shirts with a picture of me looking very camp from a wedding about ten years ago and with the slogan ‘Vagitarian’ plastered under the picture on it. It took me a good two minutes to realize they were wearing the t-shirts. I had to wear one too.

Since the sun was out we went down to the sea front of John O’Groats to see what was there. Still nothing. A wee museum, a closed hotel and something called the Coffee Experience which disappointingly turned out to be a Costa.

After that we were off again, our next destination was a place called Durness which was a bit of a drive so we decided to not waste time. We stopped soon after, wasting time, at Dunnet Head which was a spectacular location and then at a wee beach shortly after. As we were mingling around looking like a bunch of ruffians a small dog (that looked like a tiny lamb) came bounding up to us. It wasn’t immediately clear who it belonged to until a high pitched snooty call of ‘Ruby, Ruuuby!’ echoed around the dunes. A middle aged lady appeared and upon seeing four t-shirts with my face (and my real face) with the slogan Vagitarian she quickly beckoned ‘Ruuuby’ over and darted off as quickly as her legs could take her. We were making friends.

After a solid few hours of driving where we got to soak in some radiation from Dounreay, get stuck behind dozens of German campervans and find a beautiful beach that reminded me of the one from the movie ‘The Beach’ except that it wasn’t shit and pretentious (take that Danny Boyle), we finally arrived in Durness.

The reason we had chosen Durness was because Fraser had mentioned something called the ‘Smoo Cave’ that was there. Apparently it was quite a big cave (the biggest in Scotland at one point, now second biggest) and well worth a visit.

After making our way down to the Smoo Cave which was very impressive and can be read about here:


Inside we noticed there was a tour on but because of recent rainfall it was off today. It was then that just inside the cave we say something dark and ominous swimming in the water. It’s name was…Colin!! Who you can read about in part 3.

After leaving Smoo disappointed but hopeful the tour would be on tomorrow we made for the campsite. As we were pitching the tent which belonged to Fraser he revealed that he had never actually been inside it and had only seen it from the outside when someone else had used it. From the outside it looked huge with a good sized porch area where we could all sit in our deck chairs. The sleeping area however was tiny, really only big enough for two but which we had to fit four which somehow we did, which involved sleeping in the most uncomfortable positions ever. We gently mocked Fraser for the rest of the day but since he was the driver we were quite nice to him apart from pissing in his sleeping bag, backpack, car and food. Bastard!

That night I got my tea bought for me including a Knickerbocker Glory .

It was one of my best birthdays ever. I was still 30 though, which was rubbish.

In part 3, Gairloch, dog shite, more Smoo and COLIN!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Adventures In Camping Day 1

30. It's not a particulary big number unlike say 172,5840,4912. Pretty big number right? But 30, that's nothing, unless it comes after a decade of being twentysomething. Then it's a huge monumentous number.

I'm 30. It's not fun.

Camping though, that's fun. Loads of fun. Combine it with a roadtrip. Double fun with a little fun cherry on top. So for my 30th, two friends (Lee and Fraser), my brother (Darren) and I (Sexy McSexface) went on a camping road trip around the North of Scotland.

Day One: It rained, obviously. Still a little bit of water wasn't going to deter us so we loaded up the car and off we went.
First stop: Aviemore for a bit of lunch. We went to a place called 'The Winking Owl' which was immediately christened 'The Wanking Owl' because we are so witty. (No owl has ever been caught wanking due its 360 degree viewpoint). Beyond that, the lunch was grand and then we were off again.

Next stop: Dornoch, for a coffee and a piss. That was it.

Stop No 3: John O'Groats where we intended to set up camp. We failed. Due to horrendous rain and gale force winds pitching a tent would have been impossible unless we wanted to awake the next morning in Orkney. So we decided to look for a Hostel instead which we found remarkably quickly. Unfortunately from the outside it looked like it belonged to someone who would mount the heads of lost travellers above the fireplace. Inside though it was quite pleasant apart from the woman behind the desk who told us we could stay in a B&B down the road for four extra bucks which was honest of her and now probably means she is out of business.
We quickly found a B&B called the Seaview (our room faced the opposite way from the sea). The receptionist had quite a unique look about her so she was nicknamed 'Foreheed and teeth' for the remainder of our stay. (Not to her face obviously, we're not monsters!). John O'Groats is a strange place as despite being a tourist destination it doesn't really have anything there. It's just miles of barren lansdscape that eventually gives way to the sea. It reminded me of Wuthering Heights to the point where I kept thinking I heard the warblings of Kate Bush echoing across the spooky landscape, although that may have just been the guy in the next room snoring who we could hear through the paper thin walls. We also heard him take a shit.

That evening we had some food which was served up by the aforementioned 'Foreheed and teeth' and then we spent the rest of the evening in the bar. Unfortunately the TV in the bar was on MTV so occasionally we would get glimpses of one of those awful reality shows about people who are famous for acting like inbreds. In this particular show we got to see some dumbass get her dumb ass waxed.

After that we retired to bed and hoped that the rain would stop so we could at least pitch the bloody tent. We would soon regret this way of thinking.

In part 2: Smoo cave, Ruby, Vagitarians and the TENT!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's safe to go back in the water. Snow, however...

It’s nice when you meet someone who is on the same wavelength as yourself. Finding out that you don’t have to explain your jokes, pop culture references and temper tantrums. It’s even better when you meet a member of the opposite sex on the same wavelength, a sexy wavelength. Although saying, “show us your wavelength” is not much of a come on. Unless they are on your wavelength in which case it is.

I digress.

Meeting like minded people is great. People who have similar interests, who get your sense of humour, people cursed with the same social retardation as you. That’s very liberating.

Recently I met up with an old flatmate of mine, the esteemed Mr Will Kirton. He was meeting other people too, people I didn’t know which made me a bit anxious. Within minutes of meeting these people though I realized I would get along just fine with them. They were all creative, witty, urbane people…like me. Of course I was much better looking.

Anyway, after Will and a couple of others went for a smoke I was left in the pub with a chap called Ali. We very quickly got talking about movies and what the basic ingredients for blockbuster movies are. We came up with four.

Explosions. Never underestimate explosions. Explosions are important.

Ladies nipples .


Skiing. This was Ali’s idea . I don’t really like skiing in films. Apart from this bit which Alan Partridge can describe better than me:

The final product of these four ingredients was….

Wait for it…

Drum roll…


It pretty much sells itself.

This was the idea we had within five minutes of meeting each other. This either shows we are creative geniuses or that we are complete buffoons.

Unfortunately it turns out that someone has beat us to it:

Yep, someone has already had the idea for Snow Shark and actually made the damn thing. Badly.

That is one seriously fucked up wavelength.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coffee Shop Wanker

I’m writing this in a coffee shop. I could easily write it at home but that would mean that nobody would see what a pretentious wanker I am.

Plus there are no sexy baristas in my house, well apart from the one locked up in the attic but she’s seen better days.

Anyway, so here I am typing away with a determined look on my face, furiously bashing away on the keypad which I think makes me look passionate about what I’m writing but really makes me look as if I am sending an angry email to an ex-girlfriend. If anyone were to look across at me right now (which crucially no-one is) they might think there is a “writer”, someone who is working on the next big thing, the thing that will be considered the most influential piece of literature of the 21st century. Because really that’s what writers think, that’s why they leave the comfort of their own houses to trudge down to the nearest coffee shop to drink overpriced latte’s and listen to people at the next table talk about Dundee Cake (literally what the old dears next to me are talking about).

They do this because writing can be a lonely experience especially if it is something that you do for a living or just because you think you have something to say. So, the need to have people see you actually ‘write’ is quite a big deal. Because the chances of anyone but your friends and family reading what you have written is slim. Sure you can post links to your writing on Twitter, Facebook and on the side of cows but that is no guarantee people will read it. Your musings, insights, conspiracy theories and Doctor Who spec scripts will only mean something to you. They won’t change anyone’s life. Well, the rare writer will create something that will speak to someone in a profound way, like the way the Twilight books have ushered in the sexual awakening of chubby 15 year old girls.*

So, because I am seen writing in public, I can now say “I am a writer”. A proper one except I make no money off it and I haven’t really written anything of note apart from quarter of a bad novel, a couple of unmade scripts, the odd article for a student newspaper and these blog postings. The sexy barista I mentioned earlier has seen me typing away at least once a week and might assume I’m a writer and I intend to do nothing to change her mind. Actually she probably thinks I’m a total loser because it’s a beautiful day and I’m spending it in a coffee shop that is mostly frequented by the menopausal (they are now talking about incontinence). Also I bumped into her in a pub one night when I was drunk and made a total penis of myself. She doesn’t even make eye contact when she serves me anymore which at least means she can’t see the self loathing in my eyes.

*I don’t actually mean that the Twilight books are profound. Well maybe the bits where Jacob takes off his top.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Natalie Portman Doesn't Live Here

I want a theme tune.

No, seriously I do. Imagine walking into a room full of people you don't know and then your own personal theme tune kicks in alerting everyone to your presence. The theme tune would also let people know what kind of person you are. A jaunty upbeat number would suggest you were a fun easygoing person while anything dark and ominous meant you were to be avoided at all costs.

Why do I want this?

Because I'm a victim of television. For years I've been soaking in the conventions and cliches of television (and film) like a gormless sponge so that it's had a rather detrimental effect on my fragile mental state. Television has become my reality to the point where if I'm remembering something from my past in my minds eye it looks as if it was directed by the Coen Brothers. The cinematography of my memory is wonderful.

It's a problem in day to day situations too. I'm never too sure if someone is telling a joke because there is no laughter track to let me know. If someone is telling me sad news I find it hard to react normally because Coldplay isn't sound tracking the moment. I never even know when to nip to the toilet because reality doesn't have adverts.

I'm exaggerating obviously but because I'm used to seeing how things pan out on TV and films I kind of expect my life to do the same.

For example, I had to move from Glasgow back to my hometown of Forfar a while ago. I didn't particularly want to, I was going back to live with my parents and plus I didn't have a job. Despite these setbacks I managed to remain positive about the whole situation. How did I manage this?

Garden State

Yep, I figured going back home will just be like the film 'Garden State'. It will be quirky and odd and I will learn some valuable life lessons along the way all to the sound of cool indie bands like The Shins . Plus Natalie Portman lives there. That's right I'm going back home to meet Natalie Portman.

Natalie Portman doesn't live in Forfar.

I knew that of course but because everything worked out OK for Zach Braff in Garden State I assumed things would work out in a similar way for me. They didn't. I haven't learned any life lessons or if I have I've ignored them because they didn't fit in with my myopic world view. Also no-one I know here likes The Shins.

And as for Natalie Portman. I haven't met anyone like her. Or perhaps I have but didn't realise because my eyes didn't lock on to her across a crowded room to the point where everything started moving in slow motion to the warblings of Chris Martin. How am I supposed to meet 'the Natalie Portman-esque one' if reality doesn't clue me in using the cliches of Hollywood, HOW?

Anyway, my time in Forfar is coming to a close as I plan to move to Edinburgh soon (in a four episode arc) and I don't really care if it doesn't resemble something out of my favourite TV shows or films (as long as it isn't Trainspotting).

By the way this is the theme tune I want...

I have no idea why!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Writers Block


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Don't Mention The Lesbians

I was recently rummaging around the cupboard in my room when underneath the mangled corpse of a hooker I found a blood stained copy of Morvern Callar by Alan Warner. I will start by saying it's a book that bored me to tears but I have kept a hold of it, in fact I have kept every book that I was forced to read at Uni. Why? For the precious happy memories of Uni life that they illicit in me. One of those memories I am about to share right now except it's not exactly a happy one.

Cue Lost flashback whooshing sound effect:

There was a girl, (there's always a girl), in my first year Scottish literature class that I took a bit of a fancy to. She will remain nameless for her sake. She was different to a lot of the girls that I knew, she was the very definition of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, if you're not familiar with this term then think of the type of character Zooey Deschanel plays in every film, that was her. Not that she looked like Zooey Deschanel, I mean she was pretty but not Hollywood pretty.

I had tried to strike up a conversation with her many times but had always been thwarted by my crippling lack of confidence. Then one day in a stroke of luck she arrived late to tutorial and the only available seat was next to me, the lucky girl! Once she struggled vainly and in quite a bit of panic to find any other seat she admitted defeat and cautiously sat next to me. My first thought was 'She wants me' for reasons that made no sense even to me. After she got the jacket off and her book, writing pad and pen out I decided to make a move, any move really, so I said the first thing that came into my head and that was "funky pen". I have never used the word 'funky' again. Thankfully she appreciated the comment as it was indeed a funky pen. It was a sparkly pink colour with feathers branching out the top...OK, really it was a fucking ghastly pen but she was weird and aloof so she got away it.

Now that she had given me a hint of smile I felt much more confident and was ready to start spouting nonsense when mercifully the tutorial started. Now, I was very quiet in tutorials in first year, only talking when I was asked a direct question (by second year however you couldn't shut me up, I was like a solo Jedward). In this occasion however I thought maybe I can impress the girl by saying something insightful about the book, about that bitch Morven Callar. Forty-five minutes in I still hadn't said anything and was getting desperate so when the topic of the sexual subtext between Morvern and her female pal came up I jumped right in. What I said is a blur, I think the words 'lesbian orgy' came up but the rest is a mystery. Whatever I said must have been terribly outrageous because the tutor sat open mouthed for a second before calling it a day. Suddenly realising what had happened I at least thought it can't get any worse...it did!

The girl hastily put her things away and threw her jacket on before turning to me and saying 'I wish I hadn't sat next to you'. Then she left. Epic fail.

Some good did come out of this though as the incident was so horribly etched in my mind that I decided to write a terrible sitcom pilot called 'Rosco' (how vain!) in which the incident was written out pretty much exactly as it happened. It's the only funny thing in the script. In fact it's probably the funniest thing I've ever written.

I still like lesbians.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Pointless List about TV. I Wouldn't Even Bother Reading It

Since its the new year...Happy New Year by the way...I thought I would write one of those review of the year things for 2010. I pretty much hated the majority of 2010 apart from that few days in the summer I spent in Spain but even that wasn't entirely pleasant, what with the sunburn, weird eye infection and the night terrors...yes, actual night terrors where I basically let out small garbled screams until the friend I was sharing with had to wake me up much to his amusement and my extreme embarrassment. I blame the heat and the demons in my head.

Anyway since my life was an unsatisfying mess last year I have decided to instead list one of my rare pleasures in life...good TV shows. Mostly because the only other list I could think was of top ten sexual fantasies I've had and also because I don't get out much. So without further ado here is one of those shitty little lists which you can enjoy, disagree with or completely ignore.

1. Misfits
Misfits should be rubbish, what with it being described as a cross between 'Skins and Heroes' which makes it sound hellish, twice. Thankfully though it is infinitely better than both those shows. It's funny, sexy, clever and extremely violent. It also gets extra credit for throwing the C word out once an episode...you know, cunt! It's also visually gorgeous, using full use of its budget to create little cinematic treats each week. The second series had its faults, the time travel stuff made no sense and Curtis and Kelly's powers were ignored for the majority of the series. Minor quibbles aside it was a fantastic run and I anxiously await the third series where a group of carnys with powers turn up...oh wait, that was Heroes. The cunts!

2. Sherlock
An updating of Sherlock Homes to the present day really shouldn't have worked. It should have become just another detective show with a brilliant but tempremental super sleuth as its star like Inspector Morse or A Touch of Frost. But co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (whose 3 part documentary on the History of Horror was also fantastic) really dove into the original stories and put a fresh spin on them which managed to seperate it from the abundance of other detectives clogging up the channels. Benedict Cumberbatch (a name more ridiculous than Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Tim) really shone as the titular pair, capturing the essence of the characters better than Downey JR and Jude 'the prick' Law ever did. Plus great cliffhanger too.

3.The Walking Dead
Zombies...on TV...every week!

4. Eastbound and Down
Kenny Fucking Powers went down Mexico way in his further fall from grace in the hilarious but too short second season. One of the biggest bastards in television history still manages to stay surprisingly likeable thanks to Danny McBride having so much fun as the foul mouthed steroid using egomaniac.

5. Doctor Who
Yeah, I know, its for kids but its such a generally good natured programme that also wants to terrify children that you can't not love it. Doctor Who felt genuinely fresh this year after the departure of showrunner Russell T. Davies who seemed to be winging it in the last few episodes he wrote. David Tennant was a hard one to lose but new boy (literally, he's only about 13) Matt Smith breathed fresh life into the character and new showrunner Steven Moffat (hey, its the Sherlock guy) added a fun fairytale vibe with some cracking timey wimey stuff. It's a pity Karen Gillan's Amy Pond is a shouty bore, still she is easily the sexiest ginger since Maggie Thatcher.

So that was my top 5 shows of 2010. Next time: My top 5 times I cried myself to sleep, number 1 is right now, goodnight.