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So, there was a referendum. That happened. And we voted No. A trillion pounds' worth of international media descended on Scotland for a week—and the weather even stayed good while they were here!—and, as a nation, we had a chance to create a better world and we bottled it. I used to think that it would be embarrassing to be Canadian, but all the Canadians have as a national stereotype is that they are uniformly self-effacing and scrupulously polite. Since 19th September, on the world stage, Scots are craven directionless cowards. All of that William Wallace stuff that we've built up over the last eight hundred years, gone. We are lackeys.

I for one will not stand for it.

It takes time to build up a reputation like the Scots have—like the Scots had. Specifically, it takes eight hundred years. Down-to-earth pragmatists running the world with relentless efficiency in spite of their bewigged imperial masters. Hairy-arsed skirt-wearing maniacs perpetually game for a fight with ye, then a drink with ye, then another fight. The reason the claymore works as a weapon of war is that it's so damn big and heavy that, once you start running with it held out in front, you can't stop no matter how many English cavalrymen are in your way. We pissed all of that away in one night, and now, on the world stage, we are cowards.

I was there at the dawn of the third age of mankind at the vote count for the Edinburgh region. It was a long day. The day before had been full of joyous, jubilant, exuberant marches in the Meadows, of hope and excitement, of impromptu mass choruses of Flower of Scotland. The tang of change was in the air. I could taste it. And then, on the great day itself, with history hanging in the balance, I had weighty duties to which I must attend. I'd set an alarm for six a.m. but was up at 5:30. One doesn't get to create a brand new nation every day. Out at 7 a.m. to witness the ballot boxen being sealed. Touring polling stations all day—technically in my organizational capacity as a polling agent for the Scottish Socialist Party, which is something that still confuses me. I'm not part of the Scottish Socialist Party. I only know one socialist and I'm on nodding terms with two or maybe three others. I'm still not quite sure how this happened, but I had an ACCESS ALL POLLING PLACES pass and I wasn't afraid to use it. I may have spent slightly more of my day than would have been decorous waving the pass at people like Wayne and Garth at the Alice Cooper concert.

In the evening, it was off to the Highland Centre to observe the vote count. History was being made. At one stage, I was on the news. During a coffee break (I was on tea because I needed a sustained burn rather than the quick hit you get from coffee) I got to have a lovely conversation with Andrew Marr: I dislike his politics and I disapprove of his philandering but I bloody love his historical documentaries. I forgot to mention that my girlfriend's mother taught him English at Loretto.

The Yes and No campaign activists were given lounge areas on opposite sides of a big room, separated by a sort of concourse where there was a nice lady selling tea and coffee from a counter. I bought a bottle of water for £2. Bloody hell, said I, aloud, they told me the price of a pint might go up. The BBC and ITN news crews, on the other hand, were separated by fenced-off enclosures with scaffolding and big scary signage. I found this amusing: a physical paean to the civilized nature of the entire debate. Ultimately, we are all residents of these great British islands. Who needs barricades when there is a tea lady?

My role—still, apparently, on behalf of the SSP for reasons I still can't quite fathom—was to observe the count and ensure that no foul play was taking place. I can confirm that, as far as I can tell, the vote was scrupulously fair and above board. It was just that every bastard had put the cross in the wrong box for reasons that remain utterly incomprehensible to me.

It was obvious from early on that the Yes side were losing. As the postal ballots first came out, while I was still skittering around looking for a table to attend, one of my Yes colleagues turned to me and murmured: we're gettin' hammered. Surely not, I said. It's early days. We were always going to lose on the postal votes. It's the regular ballots that will vindicate us. Half an hour later, it was obvious even to me. Tally marks on the clipboard in front of me, sampling a ballot box from somewhere in the southside: 202 No to 75 Yes. You bastards. You sold us out, because some fucker lied to you about your pensions to guarantee his own. Fuck the fucking southside, man.

Later: we were always going to lose in Edinburgh. It's the rest of Scotland that will vindicate us. Then Clackmannanshire voted No. Then Shetland voted No (fucking Shetland, of all places). Then Dundee voted Yes, but only by a baw-hair, where all of our polling had indicated a good seventy or eighty per cent. At that point, we knew all was lost. Facial expressions changed. The evening became a slog. I had been up since 5:30 and it was now 4am and everything left was a foregone conclusion.

I'd got chatting to a fairly well-known professor of events management with whom I'd already done some networking for work, and plan to do more in the future. He's also a stunningly nice bloke, and a Yes voter obvs. By the point it was clear that we'd lost, self-preservation took precedence over solidarity. This is the country we live in now, the country that Scotland has chosen: every man for himself. So in the immediate short term, I opted to promote my own career and come back to making the world a better place later, and when Professor Joe offered to chum me back in his taxi at 5am, I agreed.

So I was there—just getting ready to leave—when the announcement came through that Glasgow, fairly overwhelmingly, had voted Yes. It was a brief moment of levity in the midst of a long night of otherwise unmitigated despair. A chant started up in the campaigners' lounge area: Glas-gow, Glas-gow, Glas-gow. Someone shouted: ya dancer! Someone else: Ye cannae fool a weegie!, and then it was time to go. It was a glorious moment. It was the only one. It wasn't enough.

The next couple of days were numb and bleak. I've been clinically depressed before and I know exactly what was going on in my brain. I surfaced from bed every so often to read Twitter for five minutes or so before I couldn't take any more. And then on Monday it was back to work, to catch up on the paperwork I'd missed during the last week, in time to catch a train down south on Tuesday. The last place I wanted to go. As a deeply pathetic form of revenge, I made sure to take scotch whisky with me, and Irn Bru, and lots of Scottish fivers.

We had a chance and we bottled it. But it was a good fight, and it's not over.

And now I have a branded Yes clipboard, which I'm keeping. Spoils of war.

There is an epilogue to this post, but it's going under access lock.

gominokouhai: (Khaaan!)

I was amused to learn, now that it's all over, that Our Eck is a big ol' Star Trek fan, specifically of Wrath of Khan. I wish more had been made of this earlier in the campaign. Full tax-raising power. No, sir! You have devo-nano! FULL POWERS, DAMN YOU!

Liking Eck more and more, now that it's all over. The last few days I've just wanted to give him a hug, because I think he needs one. Then there was his principled refusal of any seat in the Lords, and now I find he has impeccable taste in sci-fi. And he's right: if the promised powers are not delivered, we will chase Cameron 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before we give him up. Personally I'm particularly looking forward to the flames bit. I suspect Dishface is so greasy that he would self-ignite.

Back in the day, when I was a unionist, Star Trek featured heavily in what passed for my reasoning—although I didn't understand this about myself until significantly later, after a good deal of introspection. Obviously, went my thinking, the logical end goal of civilization is the United Federation of Planets, and we get there by heading towards global unity not away. For one thing, I later realized, adopting, as a genuine political model, a fictional utopia created by a somewhat mediocre cop-show screenwriter might be seen as impractical; and for another thing, I was goal-seeking using a naive hill-climbing algorithm. For shame, pajh.

A utopia is also an eutopia, of course, but it's telling that Roddenberry's vision is the one that took root inside my head as the default position to aim for. Naive it may be, but goddamn I wouldn't mind living there. I'm not sure if it's the proto-post-scarcity economy or the implicit communism that attracts me so much. Or the green alien babes. No, it's the skants. Definitely the skants.

I love Star Trek to bits, of course, naive as it may be, but these days my politics are much more in line with Babylon 5. I am prepared if necessary to go as far as Blake's 7, but I hope it won't come to that.

Thinking about this as I type, I should probably make a more detailed inspection of Malcolm Hulke's Doctor Who stories before I fasten my colours to any particular allegory, here.

Obviously I'm deeply disappointed with last Thursday's result, but I've decided we may have been foolish to think we could win against the combined forces of ignorance and cowardice, backed by the full might of the British state. We were not foolish to fight. And we will not be foolish to do it all again in a couple of years, with lessons learned and a new generation of engaged citizens on our side. The future is coming, whether it's got green-skinned babes in it or not. That better world we wanted to create?... independence didn't quite work out, but it's still waiting to be created. We'll do it some other way.

The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

gominokouhai: (Default)

Off down south tomorrow for a company meeting. I went to the bank today and withdrew £20 in Scottish fivers, because I want to piss them off. The bank teller had never heard that one before—seriously? I honestly thought everyone did that—and told me I'd made his day.

All set for this goddamn nine-hour train journey tomorrow. Gots my sound-isolating earphones, emergency Irn Bru (can't buy it down there), emergency whisky (Islay Mist, won't react with the metal in the hunt flask), gots my vindictively pan-European sandwich, and my instructions for haxx0ring free train wifi. Spent some time with [personal profile] stormsearch perfecting my Scots accent.

Michael Mcintyre has this bit that he does about, every time someone wants to spend a Scottish banknote, some mad Scotsman pops up from nowhere and shouts don't you know that's legal tender. It's funny because it's true, and not, I hasten to add, because Michael makes any effort to make it funny in any way. He crams this bit in to any set he can. Heard a Scots accent on my way to the theatre tonight. Reminded me of that guy who says: don't you know that's legal tender . And off he goes again.

[personal profile] stormsearch is not a qualified voice coach and her instructions have been sporadically helpful, but with her experience combined with my voice-talent nollij, we made headway. The word £ is a particularly difficult word to say in Scots. There's an argument that it's pronounced poouwnd and another, equally legitimate, argument that it should be pronounced pnd, and both of these should be done simultaneously, while also pronouncing the ou as an ai except that it's really more of an eh but do it with your face all scrunched up like this. I got there eventually. As is so often the case with learning experiences in my life, whisky helped.

Thus, I am now ready to have the following exchange, should it be necessary, with an unsuspecting southerner:

Good day to you, shopkeep, and what a marvellous day it is indeed. I would like to purchase this bottle of Coca-Cola® if you'd be so kind. What's that? You doubt the authenticity of my cash monies? Well, dear shopkeep, I do so regret that it must come to this, but I fear you leave me little option but to go Full Scotsman on you. Ahem. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT'S LEGAL TENDER, that's a five pooouwnd note ya wee numpty, huv ye no seen a five pnd note before ya great sassenach.

Interesting, perhaps, to note that, although I am a trained voiceover artist and a remarkably good one, it's only been since this week that I've been able to pronounce sassenach with the appropriate amount of sass.

And I know there's no such thing as legal tender, but the unsuspecting southerner won't.

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Those of you who grew up in the 90s will know already that perky elfin teen-pop princess and sometime Ozzie soap star, Natalie Imbruglia, in a dark and terrifying departure from her usual glittery milieu, once witnessed the terrifying Frankensteinian reanimation of a previously deceased human being. It's well-known that her popular song Torn is a postmodernist retelling of T'Pau's China in your Hand from the perspective of an affected observer descending into schizophrenia.

You all know what I'm talking about, but because I'm nice I shall provide the vid for context. Behold.

In which there are several embedded media )

Splains why I always liked the theme to Ski Sunday so much, but: how the FUCK did I not already know that about Ski Sunday? My musical recognition skills were hitherto frankly superhuman, but lately I've noticed that they've begun to diminish with age, or possibly with lack of practice. I'm now all out of faith in my own abilities. This is how I feel: I'm cold and I'm ashamed, but thankfully still fully dressed.

gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

I've had a bloody awful day, started badly at 0730 (exactly) and got steadily worse from there, has only now started to wind down a bit at 2330. I had a manhattan or two when I finished work at 2100, but what I really needed was a sazerac, and I now finally have one. Well, sort of.

A proper sazerac requires orange peel and acquiring same would mean climbing two flights of stairs to pick up an orange. This is clearly work for chumps, so I have substituted the usual Peychaud's (which I have, of course, ready to hand in the kitchen) for Angostura orange bitters and dubbed the result the ersatzzerac. The good-quality rye whiskey, cognac, gomme (home-made, natch) and absinthe mist I obviously had ready to hand in the kitchen. The orange was the tricky part.

Also this evening, unrelatedly, but possibly illustratively: I walked for ten minutes to buy cigarettes that I don't even smoke any more.

I am also using slightly the wrong sort of glass for a sazerac. This matters.

I may as well just buy a fedora and have done with it. Actually that's not true. I already own two fedoras: one vintage, one that actually fits my head, and both of them I owned before fedora shaming became a thing. They are currently in storage. I had them when fedoras were still classy. Yes I am 150 years old. Shut up.

(The sazerac is also 150 years old, and it is delicious, so shut up.)

And before any of you make the obvious jibe that the fedora was never cool: I'm just going to leave this here.

Vignettes

Mon, Mar. 24th, 2014 13:09
gominokouhai: (Inspector Fuckup)

The 23rd century is going to suck, and this is why: all of those hot alien babes, green-skinned or otherwise, saying what is this human emotion you call love, to which I am compelled to reply: baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more.

Buwuh? [Or alien equivalent.]

Honey, you wouldn't understand. It's an Earth thing.

DAMN YOU HADDAWAY, COCKBLOCKED FROM FOUR CENTURIES IN THE PAST AGAIN

~

My wall planner indicates the phase of the Moon with little moon icons (moonicons). Down at the bottom of the planner, to splain the different moonicons used for the different phases of the Moon, there is a legend, or key. It is (and it says so at the bottom of the planner) a moon key.

It is particularly good at the gibbers phase.

~

The security light outside my flat door has started strobing. This wouldn't be a major problem but that I'm now unable to pass it without throwing some shapes and singing THE SYSTEM. IS DOWN.

We bought those security lights so that you could escape the building safely in the event of major power failure. Not so that you could throw light-switch raves.

~

I am in the process of developin a series of whisky-tasting evenings, themed, with narrative cohesion and everything. Partly this is for work use and partly so that I have something I can do if they ever fire me. The big practice session is tomorrow night. I bought all of the whiskies myself (and did so for the pre-practice session last week, and for the copious amount of targeted bar time it took to select the whiskies in the first place). Next time, I hope to be able to expense this shit.

Thinkin of a name for myself should I ever take the whisky-tastings freelance: I quite like Six Nine Two Events, or possibly 692 Events, which is a tip of the hat to the 692 illicit distilleries closed down in 1834, eleven years after the Excise Act made it much easier to be a licit one. I like the idea of raisin a glass to those stubborn holdouts who kept to the old ways, as a tribute and a memento mori. Plus, it sounds trendy enough that nobody ever needs to know.

Other possible business name ideas included: LASER SPLOSION WHISKIES, DIAL-A-SPLOSION (because somebody needs to have a business called that and it's not my responsibility that dialling for splosions isn't exactly what I offer), and Whiskypalooza, at which point I gave up.

Help?

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I've been investigatin electropop lately, most of the current batch of which appears to be Canadian for some reason. I have no problem with this. At least it's not Canadian hip-hop. Movin on from the Canadian theme before I get myself into trouble, at this stage I feel I should mention CHVRCHES, who claim that their band name is pronounced churches, but I know better. They are from Glasgow and they are awesome. Particularly the lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, who is cute and elfin and adorable and basically so much the complete opposite of Shirley Manson that she goes round the back of the spectrum and becomes exactly as amazing. Chvrches spell their name with a V so that you can google for them, which you should do immediately if you've not already done so.

I have this 160GB mp3 player to fill up, and it's an actual mp3 player this time, so I can't cheat by includin the complete Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who and all the seasons of Sherlock I haven't watched yet. It's got to be actual music, and even for me there's only so many versions of the Glorious Ninth I need to carry around with me in my pocket. (A post on which is forthcomin; suffice to say I renounce all former allegiances to Karajan.) Somebody on the Twitters recommended the New Order album Power, Corruption & Lies, which I've not actually listened to. When it was released in 1983, my listenin habits were more or less evenly split between Prokoviev and Pinky & Perky. (I was precocious, but I was also three years old.) That I have not got round to it since then is an omission I knew I must rectify forthwith—but, in my defence, do any of you realize how many different versions there are of the Glorious Ninth?

Listenin then, at last, to Power, Corruption & Lies, three or four tracks reminded me of That Goddamn American Express Advert that I remember seeing once. And then, finally, it arrived in my ears as some part of me knew it would: Blue Monday, the biggest-selling 12" single of all time.

Of course I knew it already. And, because I was cursèd to grow up in the nineties, I knew it already chiefly because of this:

Even back then I was aware that this was possibly the worst advert of all time. I envisioned a cadre of corpulent besuited bastards, cocaine-crazy and caffeinated, masturbatorily manifesting moronic muppetry, thuswise: it's time for an EMERGENCY MARKETING MEETING!

INT. DAY. The MID-NINETIES. Opulent CORPORATE BOARDROOM

(PROPS DEPARTMENT: please make sure there is a RED STAPLER somewhere in shot)

TWAT #ONE is agitatedly pointin a STICK at a FLIPCHART that has some damn GRAPH on it.

TWAT #ONE
Okay, we're the wealthiest and most expensive credit card company on the planet, we own all the money in the world, and each of us has a secondary personal Learjet just so we can ship around the team of flunkies required to wax our primary Learjets, but but we need more. More... flirting?... sorry, that's a whole different advert that hasn't been made yet, with subtler humour than this scene. Anyway. I understand there's an entire new generation of suckers who have money. So: who knows anything about this "youth demographic"?

TWAT #TWO
Well, from what I've read in the newspapers, the Youth Demographic really do like their "music with a repetitive beat".

TWAT #ONE
Excellent. Let's have some of that. Anyone else?

TWAT #THREE
They like... skydiving?

TWAT #ONE
Brilliant. Throw that in there. What else?

TWAT #FOUR
I heard that they really like skin-tight black PVC trenchcoats.

TWAT #ONE
Who doesn't? You're fired. Next!

[VO] prolonged nasal SNORTING noise

TWAT #FIVE looks up from the table, takes a moment to orient himself

TWAT #FIVE
They like... geishas pulling stupid faces?

TWAT #ONE
Give that man some stock options.

~ FIN ~

I have always said that I hated the bloody Nineties: the decade of Westlife and the Vengaboys and Columbine and backwards jeans and Global Hypercolor and pastels and plaid and the Bosnian genocide and the Doctor Who Movie. But! (Even before you start: that was a preemptive but.) To be fair to the nineties, we also had Dark Season (so much pastel! and Jacqueline Pearce!) and Knightmare and Animaniacs and Way Out West and Portishead and we had both Ren and Stimpy simultaneously.

I've made my peace with the nineties.

After all, if we're considrin solely the restricted subset of credit card advertizin, then it could be so very, very much worse.

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I aten't dead folks! Been busy being awesome. I know you understand.

Awesomer yet and on general release RIGHT THE HELL NOW, gratis to stream or torrent: Death Knight Love Story! In a world... suspiciously similar to the World of Warcraft universe... one corpse... forcibly resurrected in an unholy ceremony... escapes the dread legions of the Lich King. Can she learn to love again? Find out this summer this holiday season right the hell now.

Starring: BRIAN BLESSED as the Arthas the Lich King! JOANNA LUMLEY as Lady Mirabeux! JACK DAVENPORT OFF COUPLING as Zielieck! ANNA CHANCELLOR as Miria!

And, in a very brief cameo in the first couple of minutes, yr. corresp.!

On which note, I'm just going to leave this here:

  • I was in Death Knight Love Story with BRIAN BLESSED
  • who was in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Christian Slater
  • who was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon
Thus, as of yesterday, I have a Bacon Number of 3, which is ONE BETTER THAN HITLER.

For what it's worth, if you're keeping count, then if you're terribly charitable about the strictness of your definitions, we established last time that I also have an Erdős number of 8.

Go, link, share, watch etc. Did I mention it has BRIAN BLESSED as the Lich King?

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