Scotland 1, Macedonia 1. (Bring back Bertie, All Is Forgiven)

How Scotland escaped from the game last night with a draw is a complete mystery to me.  Macedonia were excellent, with Goran Pandev in particular outstanding.  They must be returning to Skopje today wondering how the hell they did not leave Glasgow with all three points.  We are only five days into a qualifying campaign that runs over 13 months, and hope is evaporating fast.  Under Craig Levein’s stewardship Scotland will not have a hope in hell of getting to Brazil in 2014.

He must go, now.  The next match is away to Wales in October.  This is a game we MUST win now.  It is also a game I am quite keen to go to, but I am struggling to arouse any enthusiasm after the last two inept displays.  Three wins in ten competitive matches is not good enough.  Craig Levein is completely out of his depth, and if the man had a shred of self-awareness he would know this.

Last night’s attendance was reportedly the lowest Hampden has seen for a competitive match in many years.  This shows the lack of faith the Tartan Army currently has in it’s manager.  With the limited resources at our disposal, it is a form of suicide to persist with a man who can’t even keep the ’12th man’ onside.  We need inspired and reinvigorated.  Craig Levein is not the man to do that.

Bring back Bertie!  All is forgiven!

A Gift, From Me To You.

A conversation I was having with a chap on Twitter this evening inspired me to make a list of 5 books that I think you may enjoy.  Books that I love and treasure, and ones that I think everyone should love and treasure.  Call it a wee gift, from me to you.  They are in no particular order, though the first book is the one I recommended on Twitter this evening, and the one that prompted this post.  I hope you enjoy them.  This may, or may not, become a regular feature.

Fup, by Jim Dodge.
Fup, is quite simply a wonderful little book.  It has a duck, a boar, a gentle giant making fences, and an immortal grandfather who spends his days distilling Ole Death Whisper whiskey.  I first read this book on the train between Glasgow Central and Wemyss Bay, and devoured it in less than 45 minutes.  It’s a book I haven’t read in a while due to giving all my copies away – they don’t come back – but it still has me smiling like a loon just thinking about it.

Sombrero Fallout, by Richard Brautigan.
Richard Brautigan is one of my very favourite authors.  I think it is tragic he is seemingly not very well known.  Sombrero Fallout is unlike anything you will have ever read.  It is surreal, absurd, profound, concise, bittersweet, and quite beautiful.  It is the tale of a writer’s lost love, and of an ice cold sombrero that falls to earth bringing chaos to a small town in America.  Brautigan has a style all of his own, short sentences that deserve to be read out loud for the pleasure they bring as they trip off the tongue.   All of his books are fabulous, but this is my personal favourite.

The Good Fairies Of New York, by Martin Millar.
This is a book that took me by surprise.  It was sent to me by a good friend of mine in Scotland, a guy who I would think the last person to recommend fairy stories.  But this is a fairy story with a difference.  It’s a story about two kilted, punk fairies on the run from their clans in the UK, who end up in New York.  There is sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, fighting, and more crazy fairies than you can shake a stick at.   With one of the most memorable opening pages I have ever read, this is another book that made me laugh out loud, a lot.

Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut is quite possibly my favourite writer, and Slaughterhouse 5 is probably his most famous book.  It is a satirical black comedy, with a dash of sci-fi, and personal memoir thrown in.  It is ostensibly about Vonnegut’s experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden at the end of World War Two, but it is also very much more than that.  This is a book both funny and disturbing, horrific and humane, serious and surreal, which should be required reading for armchair generals everywhere.

Hunger, Knut Hamsun.
This is an incredibly intense and powerful book about the travails of a desperately poor writer trying to make enough money from day to day in order to live.  Rarely have I had such an emotional involvement in a character.  Here is man who’s pride leads him to the very edge of starvation, a starvation that is somehow made palpable for the reader.  The test of a good book, for me, is in it’s memorability.  I have only read this book once, about ten years ago, an ex-girlfriend has my copy, and I can still remember the emotional rollercoaster it put me on as if it was yesterday.  And by no means is this an irredeemably bleak book, it has many humorous episodes too.

Yes, We Have No Trains.

Well, it has only taken three days for the public transport network to let me down.  This morning the 0625 Glasgow train was cancelled for reasons unexplained by the metallic voice from the tannoy.  The next train I can get to Ivybridge doesn’t leave Plymouth until 0809.  Which, considering I am supposed to be at work for 0730,  is causing me a slight headache.

I might have to try the bus tomorrow…

Trains, Pains, and Automobiles…

It appears that my poor little car is buggered.  The mechanic has suggested it might be worth the gamble of spending £70-£100 replacing the belt, but apparently it is quite common when a cambelt goes for further work to be required on valves and pistons, which could cost about £500 or more.  Considering that the car has just had a new exhaust fitted, and is probably only worth £500 or so anyway, I am disinclined to spend more money fixing the thing.  Money, this month in particular, is something I just do not have.

This creates for me a bit of a pain, namely with regard to getting to and from work.  Yesterday I got a lift to Newton Ferrers from a colleague.  On finishing my shift I decided to walk to Brixton, a stroll of about 4/5 miles, and then catch a bus.  The walk took a little over an hour, all uphill, and the bus cost me £3.90!

Today I am working in Ivybridge.  The first train direct from Plymouth was at 0809, arriving at 0824.  Sadly for me I had to be at work by 0730.  So this meant catching the 0625 train for Glasgow, and changing at Totnes for a connection which got me into Ivybridge for 0724.  A journey of just about an hour!  I finish at 4 tonight, so it is anyone’s guess what time I shall get home tonight….?

Wish me luck.  The rest of this month I am going to need it.