August 31, 2006

Connecting the Dots

Because it's been six days since I last posted, an update on why:

Last Saturday were the inaugural if.comeddies (aka the annual Perrier comedy awards, mauled beyond recognition by corporate rebranding gone mad). I managed to snag an invite to the ceremony (which was a mercifully short ten minutes, much how the Oscars should be) and the subsequent award party. I was hoping to rub shoulders with a few celebrities, but apart from seeing a drunk and confused-looking Rich Hall, I mostly spent the night taking obscene liberties at the open bar.

Sunday I was hungover. I was also going on about three hours of sleep, and it was only by the grace of copious amounts of coffee that I managed to stay awake through Demetri Martin's fantastic show and then the Underbelly's drink-the-bar-dry last night extravaganza.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday passed in a blur of bad smells and hard labour as we tore up the venue and flat packed it all into the back of a garage until next year. It was actually a fairly interesting experience in parts, like a giant 3D game of Tetris that required me to clamber about on top of twelve-feet tall stacks of couches and tables, trying to fill in spaces with other miscellaneous pieces of furniture and equipment.

And today I've been savouring the glorious freedom of having nothing to do, on only the third day since July 25th that I've not had to go to work. Tomorrow the flat hunt begins, so I probably won't be doing too much posting for the next week, either— but after that I'll have two weeks off to generally recover and take it easy before I move to London proper. And we all know what happens when I get two weeks to take it easy: blog incontinence. So you can look forward to that, and appreciate the novelty in the fact that you're looking forward to someone's incontinence.


August 25, 2006

Conversations With Greatness XCIV

Next Friday I will likely be frantically flat-hunting in London, so CWG will return in two weeks time.

August 24, 2006

Someone's Getting Fired...

From the Edinburgh Evening News: Funerals set to go ahead despite fire at crematorium
CREMATORIUM chiefs said funerals would still go ahead today despite part of the building's roof being destroyed by fire . . .

An investigation was under way today into why the fire started and the extent of the damage.
Preliminary findings indicate that the principal cause of the fire was probably a cruelly ironic God.
It is understood that no human remains were in the cremator at the time.
Right, because that would have been a disaster.

I'd write more, but I'm blogging at work (a new low, I think), and if this is anything to go by that's not as innocuous as it sounds anymore.

August 22, 2006

Money Shot

Has anybody else noticed the striking resemblance between the celebrated economist featured on Clydesdale Bank's fifty pound notes, and the star of a certain fantastically witty comic strip that appears regularly on this blog?

Let me tell you, I did quite the double take when this turned up during my cash-up the other night. I had no idea I was a forger, of sorts.

August 20, 2006

He Has Tomb Much Time On His Hands

A few days after I arrived home last month, I got a letter from my local MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament, for those of you not familiar with the Byzantine political system in this country). It was, to put it mildly, something of a non sequitur.
Dear Mr Ladd,

Eventually, after some considerable time, I have heard from the office of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland. The extremely good news is that the Keeper has identified that the garden and tomb do not form part of the legal title of the property and has taken the decision to rectify the registered title for 1 Chamberlain Road to remove from the title that area of ground. In short, this means that after the rectification application has been agreed John Livingstone's Tomb and the memorial garden will revert to its previous public status . . .

I know from the large number of residents who have contacted myself and Councillor Sue Tritton, that this will be very welcome news and we would both like to thank you for all your support and help . . .

The Council's legal department has assured me that it will write to the solicitor acting for the owners of 1 Chamberlain Road asking them to completely reinstate the tomb area.

As you can imagine both Sue and I are delighted and again thank all local residents for their support and encouragement.

Yours sincerely,
Mike Pringle MSP
At the time I was still fairly jetlagged and sleep-deprived, and wasn't really sure why my MSP was writing to tell me all this— so I befuddledly cast the letter into the mountain of papers on my desk and forgot all about it.

Then, today, another piece of Scottish Parliament stationary landed in my mailbox:
Dear Mr Ladd,

The saga of John Livingston's Tomb continues.
Oh no!
After writing to you last week when I believed that the decision of the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland was final and that the Council would be taking possession of their ground I am now informed that the owners of 1 Chamberlain Road have a right of appeal.

This latest chapter is, I have to say, very regrettable. The consequences will probably be that all local residents are denied the use of a recreational space over the entire summer.

My colleague Councillor Sue Tritton arranged a meeting with the Council's solicitor which I attended at which the solicitor advised that an interdict preventing the Council from re-occupying the tomb area has been served on the Council . . . Sue Tritton and I have urged the Council to make all necessary efforts to resist the interdicts and re-take possession of the tomb area as soon as possible.

The Council has agreed to inform both myself and Councillor Tritton of any further developments which we well then be in a position to pass on to local residents.

Yours sincerely,
Mike Pringle MSP
What do you think is worse? That some fool with a chip on his shoulder and a mail merge function on his computer can waste public money by sending the same letter to every registered voter in his constituency, regardless of whether or not they even know what the hell he is talking about? Or that somebody thinks the tomb of a long-dead puritanical pastor (thanks, Google!) is a recreational space to which summer vacationers should want to flock?

Needless to say, I will keep you updated on further developments in the saga of John Livingstone's tomb.

August 19, 2006

Who Wants the Windows Seat?

I was casually skimming over this BBC article about Boeing's failed in-flight broadband system yesterday. It was fairly dry stuff until, quite by chance, I decided to read the caption to the stock image attached to the story:

Hey, hey! What a sly little pun by the BBC!

Also, is that Larry King in the background of the picture?

August 18, 2006

August 17, 2006

A Cat Amongst The Pigeons

Urgh, I seem to find myself apologising for my lameness vis-a-vis my posting frequency far more often than I'd like, these days. The truth is, I can't ever seem to get away from the Underbelly, even when I'm not on duty. There's always some show that I want to see, or some group of friends having a drink— and now the lovely Maryam is visiting so I really have very little time to sit down for some quality bonding with my keyboard (let alone read through enough news stories to yield anything worth talking about).

That said, has anybody else read about this quintessentially British (and hilariously idiomatic) murder story?
A man has been jailed for killing his neighbour after blaming her for a fire which killed 50 of his pigeons.

Pigeon-fancier Michael Stockton, 44, of Audley, Staffordshire, shot dead Susan Rondel after a heavy drinking session.

The father-of-two told Birmingham Crown Court he had no memory of shooting Mrs Rondel, 48, originally from Wales, who had accused him of poisoning her cat . . .

Det Insp Guy Titchener, of Staffordshire Police, said: "Clearly, the relationship between cats and pigeons got out of hand - with both parties blaming each other for the poisoning of cats and the interference and death of pigeons."

Now, I know what you're asking: what the fuck is a pigeon-fancier? The answer is, fairly simply, someone who keeps and breeds pigeons (though I do like the OED's broader entry on 'fanciers' in general: "One who has a liking for, and a critical judgement in, some class of curiosities, plants, animals, etc."). This, of course, raises a whole host of other questions, most obviously: why would anyone freely choose to partake of a pastime with a name that sounds so unsavoury? I mean, can you imagine explaining that to someone at a party?

A: So, what do you do?
B: I'm a pigeon-fancier.
A: Oh. Is that like, um, a kiddy-fiddler?
B: What?! No! I just have a liking for—and a critical judgement in—pigeons.
A: Are you hugh?
B: No, George.
A: Sorry, that was a typo. I meant to ask if you were high.

Also, "I blame you for the interference of pigeons!" is probably the best thing ever uttered directly before committing manslaughter.

August 12, 2006

Show and Clientele

Tonight, instead of going out, I am staying at home and just barely managing to stay awake, even though it's only 8:30pm. I've only had four hours of sleep the last two nights in a row, and today was possibly the most exhausting day of work I have ever experienced— it's been our busiest day so far, so I had to spend much of my time selling tickets and frantically trying to catch up with all my management duties in my spare seconds. One of the scheduled staff for today showed up two hours late, too, which made the morning a little more interesting.

I also had to deal with my fair share of unreasonable customers. For example:

Her: Well, now look, this just isn't good enough. I spent twenty minutes on the phone trying to redeem this coupon this morning, and they just wouldn't let me. But it says right here 'offer may be redeemed in advance', so why should I have to come all the way into the box office?
Me: I'm sorry madam, but for these special offer coupons you always need to come to the box office in person.
Her: [pointing to fine print] But it says right here, 'Offer may be redeemed in advance.'
Me: [pointing to the continuation of the fine print on the next line] Actually, it says 'Offer may be redeemed in advance at the box office'. There, do you see?
Her: No, it says right here, 'Offer may be redeemed in advance, at the— box office'. Oh . . . yes . . . But, uh, it doesn't say it can't be redeemed over the phone. So it's still very ambiguous.
Me: I'm sorry you felt misled.
Her: Well, in the future you should really ensure the wording is clearer.

On the other hand, we also had a really very sweet old woman ring up and ask cryptically to speak to someone in management. When my astute sales associate who answered the phone asked what the call was regarding, so that she might properly direct the call, the old woman clammed up and refused to say anything except that she would like to talk to management. Fearing a talking-to about poor wording or heartless refund policies, I reluctantly took the phone, and was greeted with this:

Her: I , well, it was just a joke you see. I bought these tickets to surprise my husband, but they were for last night and I think he might have eaten something that's given him food poisoning because he was very ill last night and we couldn't go, and I was wondering if you could help me.
Me:: Is it a refund you're looking for?
Her:: I, well, no... I just, it was only a joke, you see, and, and, well... I'm a little bit embarrassed to tell you what the tickets were for. But, er, it was, well, uh, it was Puppet— it was Puppetry of the Penis. Oh dear.

She was so endearingly flustered, I really was sorry that I couldn't give her a refund.

Bed, where are you?

August 11, 2006

Conversations With Greatness XCII

So much for blogging more frequently. :-(

A propos, one of the shows at the Underbelly has been distributing, as advertising, little badges that read 'I [heart] Bloggers'. I was wearing one out last night, and had the following conversation with someone who had just been introduced to me:

Him: Ha-ha, 'I heart bloggers'... Are you actually a blogger or are you just being sarcastic?
Me: I'm a blogger.
Him: Oh.

August 07, 2006

Smart Attack

From BBC NEWS | Education: Pupils 'cannot be called clever'

In its annual conference, the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) heard last week that teachers should not use the word "clever" to describe good students, lest they be thought uncool by their classmates. Rather, they say, the word "successful" should be used.

A government spokesperson criticised the suggestion, saying, with a certain degree of endearing obliviousness to the topic at hand, that it was "not the brightest idea." The idea, of course, was relieved not to have been described as "bright", thus narrowly escaping certain mockery at the hands of other, more popular ideas.

Last year, the PAT also voted to replace the word "failure" with "deferred success".

Okay, so if "successful" means "clever", then "deferred success" must mean "deferred cleverness". Which I guess means the PAT are suggesting that slower children are failures.

Hooray for stupid semantics debates!

August 05, 2006

Lunatic Fringe

So, work has officially started. So far, it's been a lot of fun: the rest of the staff are great (and have all become bestest friends with each other almost immediately, so there's a really nice atmosphere in the box office), our new beer garden is insanely awesome, and getting to meet so many of the performers has been very interesting (most of them are, as you might imagine, real characters).

It's also been fairly surreal, as the above picture is meant to imply (oddly enough, not only were there storm troopers wandering around yesterday, but a Delorean also pulled up in the afternoon, so it was a real Eighties memorabiliafest for much of the day). That giant, purple, bug-eyed thing in the background is our new venue, the E4 Udderbelly, which is a 322-seater tent in the shape of an upside-down purple cow.

Spank!, the late night comedy showcase that I ballyhooed muchly last year, had its opening night yesterday, and contained appropriate amounts of hilarity and on-stage nudity. I particularly enjoyed the stand-up stylings of Matt Kershen, who did a fantastic set to close the show.

In fact, pretty much the only bad part so far was on Thursday night when a group of eleven drunken men swarmed the box office demanding their money back. As supervisor, the job fell to me to inform them that, uh, we don't give refunds. Let me tell you, it is quite an experience having a wall of men yelling at you in unison, and I'm not quite sure whence I found the guts to stand there and tell them exactly the opposite of what they wanted to hear.

And now I'm off to have some lunch and then, this afternoon, to see Into The Hoods, a hip-hopping, breakdancing retelling of a selection of classic fairytales.

Ah, Fringe.

August 04, 2006

Conversations With Greatness XCI

Sorry I've been a little slow to update, lately; I've been run off my feet getting the venue ready to open. Now that shifts have started proper, I should be able to write a little more regularly.

August 02, 2006


It was the staff welcome party at work the other night, and I had this thoroughly disturbing conversation with one of my box office sales staff:

Her: You're only twenty-two? But you look so much older than me!
Me: [...]

Then, later on, while re-telling this story to others:

Me: ...'But you look so much older than me!' I mean, can you believe that?
Her: Well, I see what she means, you really don't look twenty-two. I'd say more like... twenty-six.
Me: [...]
Her: But is looking old really a bad thing?

Now I know how Adrienne feels all the time.

Thankfully, upon thoughtful reflection, I have decided that this says more about some interesting social psychological mechanism whereby people in positions of authority appear older to their subordinates, than it does about my age-ravaged features.

I have also decided that those two employees are going to be on latrine duty for the rest of the Fringe.

New Blog on The Kid

I've been running my old blog for three years, now, and it's served me well. I have become a better writer, I have established a modest fan base, and, of course, I have impressed a whole bunch of chicks.

But the title was getting a little confusing, and the list of archives was getting a little unwieldy, so I've renamed, redesigned, and shifted the whole of exBostonian over to a new address where it will lie, perfectly preserved, for all eternity. In the meantime, the trenchant wit and overuse of the word 'douchebag' that you've grown to love will continue in kind, at the same address you've always had bookmarked, and with little discernible difference except for the title (but please note the new RSS feed).

So, without further ado...