Let it snow, let it snow ... no, let's not
As a seasoned (well at least salty) local sports reporter, I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing the cold white stuff would just disappear.
The fact that I have had the last three weekends off pales into insignificance with the amount of extra hours I've spent digging my car out, unfreezing said car, unfreezing said car two hundred yards later and so on.
Every time I listen to the radio there's a friendly wee chappie telling me not to travel unless it is absolutely neccessary. Well, for me, going to work is absolutely neccessary. It not only provides me with income so I can do things such as eat, live and do exceptionally silly things with bows and arrows on my time off, it also keeps my brain ticking over healthily.
I can't work very well from home for various reasons I won't go into here, so it's either trudge in, or simply stay in the house and watch daytime TV, and I've never been a big fan of shows like Jeremy Kyle. (That took all my self control to type his name without adding any extra expletives).
Now my car is kinda stuck (rear wheels refuse to budge) I need to rely on the boss to get me in (which she has done today, so the day-to-day work of the weekday is assured.
However, when it comes to the weekend, when can I expect to stand on a sideline again? Won't be this weekend, unless there is a thaw and blowdry of biblical proportions. Even if someone invents a way to get rid of the snow without leaving all the sludge and water in its wake, pitches are bound to be frozen, even under their blankets of white.
I'd hazard a guess that there will not be any football at a local level until 2011. Rugby-wise, Melrose hope to get their cup match underway against Munster on Saturday
, but they are asking for volunteers to help clear the pitch. It may just be that there will be enough people just like me, sick and tired of Christmas Shopping, except with time on their hands, to do it. Let's hope so.
It's live! It's live!
Well, here it is, the Southern's new website is here.
I think once people get used to the new format, they'll find it easier to navigate and find the story they are looking for. But then, I may be just a little teensy bit biased!
I'm sure if people have any issues with it, they will get in touch - let me know by commenting on this blog.
The football and rugby season is well under way and as the weather begins to turn, there's no more standing on sidelines wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
That may well be a good thing, because that sort of behaviour is often frowned upon, especially when you have a bod like mine. It is the body of a god, it's just a pity that god is Buddha.
Besides, it's just wrong. It doesn't feel right standing on a sideline in anything other than full cold weather gear. It adds to the general feeling that you are there to work, not just top up your tan.
I had a bit of a break last weekend, due to the fact that A) I had already worked 50 hours, and B) My car was in the garage suffering from an exhaust problem. When you only have 800ccs you know the very instant something goes wrong because a little lack of power is more noticeable. It's back up and running now, though.
I decided to spend a lot of last weekend making up arrows, which I find to be a remarkably life-affirming thing to do. It's quite calming, making sure that everything is fitting together properly, even if you're watching the X Factor at the same time, shouting at the ones who can't sing.
This Saturday, I'll be watching Gala Fairydean try to gain a bit of revenge over Coldstream and on Sunday, I'll be shooting sticks at a target 20 yards away. The good thing about this is that you rarely miss. The bad thing is that your arrows penetrate the boss so far it's tough to get the beggars out without breaking them.
I see another weekend of making new arrows on the horizon ...
Football chants wanted!
It's been a while, hasn't it?
My only excuse for not updating this particular part of the Southern Reporter website is that I have been trying to get my head round the fast-approaching new Southern Reporter website, which should go live in a couple of weeks. Hope you like it. Watch this space.
I attended the Scottish Cup match between Gala Fairydean and North Junior champions Sunnybank on Saturday - not a good day for the East of Scotland side, losing as they did 6-1.
There was not a huge gap in actual football skill between the two sides. The Sunnybank men were bigger, stronger and better drilled, but the main difference was the fact that although the Aberdeen outfit brought down only 40-50 fans, they sang for the entire 90 minutes. It certainly did not feel like a home tie for the young Fairies.
There was barely a quiet moment. When they ran out of songs, they began with their chants. When they ran out of them, they started the songs again. Beats me why the Fairydean ran out of pies before half time because they didn't shut up long enough to take a bite.
It was a completely different atmosphere from that of any East of Scotland match. Sure, the East of Scotland crowds are vocal, but it's only to cheer a goal or yell obscenities at whatever official is unlucky enough to be in charge that day. Singing and chants just do not happen.
Why is that? The area is not short of songwriting talent. And fans are not backward in coming forward with their opinions. So perhaps it's time the two got together and wrote some songs which could be started at any East of Scotland match.
Send your entries to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can come up with. There's no prize, but when the dulcet tones of 100 or so fans are singing your song, what other prize do you need?
In other news, the longbow is still playing a large part in my weekend - at least the parts that don't involve football or singing.
I'm off to Mugdock Country Park this Sunday to take part in the last clout competition of the season. Wish me luck.
If I get a clout I'll be singing.
Another competition another quid
Those of you who are champing at the bit for my next blog about archery will have to wait no longer. ;)
The Scottish Clout Championships took place at Culzean Castle and me and my mediocre talent headed west, along with the nation's top junior longbow archer (Connor), a packed lunch, a Doug Anderson and a Sheriff.
It was another mixed bag for me, I'm afraid. After notching the first clout of the competition and enduring old traditionalists dribbling over my lovely red arrows, it all went a bit downhill from there. I have no idea what my score was because I was a bit miffed at losing out in taking part in the best ends shoot-off by countback.
That did make sense, honest.
But I was quite chuffed with my score, if a little disappointed I could not build on my good start. Connor also had a clout, which meant we both left the competition with a quid each, which would have paid for the ice-creams, had Caldwells been open on the way back. Hey ho.
What else is happenin? Well, The Southern seems to have inherited a new video reporter, in the shape of Sally Gillespie. Check out her first attempt, filming some of the Border Union Show.
This may mean I can take a step back in this area, which is nice because God never made me for standing in front of a camera.
In other news, The Southern website is due to get an overhaul in the next few weeks, hopefully making your visit a more pleasant one. Watch this space!
Got a huge blast from the past last week.
I was muckin about on facebook and found my old American football club, the Musselburgh Magnums.
Now I never try to tell anyone I was good at it. I just tell them that my nickname was The Judge. Just because I don't always mention that it came from the inordinate amount of time I spent on the bench is neither here nor there.
I was a linebacker/defensive lineman/offensive lineman/kickoff return specialist, which translates as the coach hadn't a bloody clue where to put me. I did score a touchdown once, but it was probably because when I tripped I had the good fortune to fall on a ball that the offense had dropped behind the line.
These were the days - and the photo on the site really took me back.
I'm number 65, by the way. And no, these are not my own shoulders.
What a braw heid o hair I had though!
Seeing this in no way makes me want to take part in anything like it ever again (I would die) but it does make me think back to the days with a smile.
My only regret was that I have lost my copy of the Channel Four documentary "Mud and Guts" which followed the team for our championship year (which culminated in a thrashing of the country's top team the Glasgow Lions (above).
If anybody has it, I would pay dearly (a pint next time I see you) for a copy!
It's a dog's life
It's been a while, hasn't it?
I thought I had better update this – even if only to let you know I'm still alive. However, I've kind of gone to the dogs, so to speak.
This weekend, I took in the Border Union Agricultural Society's Annual Championship Dog Show, held in Kelso's Springwood Park.
If I'm absolutely honest, it's not really my thing, but I couldn't help be stunned at the sheer amount of hard work it takes to organise such a huge event and the intricacies of logistics required to keep it all ticking over to a fairly tight schedule, so well done to show manager Marjory Macgregor.
No less than 6,000 canines in one park together sounds like a recipe for complete and utter failure, but it all runs perfectly well.
Over the two days, I discovered several things I previously did not know, which is always a good thing.
They were as follows:
Pink-skinned ferret-like animals, with white Tina Turner hair and ugg boots are actually dogs. They go under the name of Chinese Crested and one actually took reserve best in show. Silly me.
Terriers that look like they have recently suffered an accident which resulted in their nose exploding are not to be rushed to the vets. They are actually supposed to be that way and they go under the name of Kerry Blue. One won the best in show – congratulations to Phil Davies of Swansea.
Little creatures that look like the old kung fu guru in Kill Bill 2 are actually dogs. I'm afraid I didn't catch it's name, I was so transfixed by its stare.
Dogs do not like people that walk about with a humongous tripod. I was growled at a couple of times, but the ones that really freaked me out were the Great Danes that simply stared at me with bloodshot eyes and an open mouth. It was like Scooby Doo, but certificate 18.
Once upon a time, I thought a Samoyed would be a great dog to own. I imagined, I believe, that it would attract the ladies, who would run up and gush over how lovely my dog was. On the Saturday, I saw a fella ready his Samoyed for showing. The only person who came up to him was a 25-stone bloke and he only asked him what doggy shampoo he used. Also, he spent 20 whole minutes brushing his pride and joy before lifting it off the table and brushing it again for 20 minutes because there were a few hairs out of place. Not my idea of fun.
It is possible to judge what's best between breeds that are as different as the Chinese Crested and a Whippet. How it's done is still beyond me.
I have always liked dogs, but I'm not too sure about the ones that have been clipped, silk-ribboned or inbred into a genetic bottleneck. It's a bit like playing god with dogs just so you can get a ribbon that says it conforms to the breed's genetic ideal. Most of those who choose to do this are incredibly nice people, as I found out. However, like I said before, it's not my thing. Maybe they think the idea of shooting arrows for a hobby is rather silly and outdated.
Maybe I'll get myself a cat ...
I've been a bit snowed under the past week or so, putting together the brilliant (even if I say so myself) Homes and Gardens supplement that will come with the Southern Reporter, Berwickshire News and Berwick Advertiser this Thursday.
Elsewhere, football is becoming a bit of a bore. The team I support (Celtic) are playing so poorly at the moment, it's like watching Gala Fairydean. (Therein lies a dig). Indeed, I have barely watched them this season as it's tough to get excited about a team of overpaid workshy pillocks booting a ball around when there's so much more you could be doing with your time.
I still believe football is a beautiful game, when it's played right. But I haven't seen that in any team for quite some time, other than a few Premier League games. SPL? Forget it.
I'd much rather stand in a field in the rain and cold for a few hours, shooting pointy sticks at targets, utilising a bigger stick with a string on it.
Talking of which, a group of us travelled up to a blustery Mugdock Country Park yesterday for the first BLBS competition of the season, the Spring Forward Clout. Archery has never promoted itself as a spectator sport (and nor have I promoted it as such), it's more of a participation thing.
This was my first BLBS clout competition away from home, and although I did not win anything other than a quid in the 50p clout sweep (which was grand - my wee red arrow went right through it!) it was great to meet up once again with all the other archers from around the country.
The club did well too, with Elaine Pearson grabbing the ladies' title and the best end shoot-off in a tight tussle, and Doug Anderson taking the second half of the gents' competition. Well done to them.
Frozo was there too, as the only competing junior, but although he also claimed a clout, he didn't beat his personal best and thus failed to win a medal.
Let's hope that some of the other clubs begin to see the need for youngsters coming through to compete, if only for their own long-term strategy.
Hi bloggees - if that's not a word, it should be.
What's going on this week? I've just put up a new video on the main Southern Reporter site, all about a new craze sweeping Hawick, and all down to one man.
Stuart 'Speedy' Andrews is a free-runner who used to run and jump across the rooftops of our nation's capital at about a hundred miles an hour.
Now, after settling into the Borders and taking a year off the sport, he's retraining his body and mind towards doing the same in Hawick. There's no real death-defying stunts for Stuart now, just using the dykes, walls, railings and bankings to get from A to C fluidly and quickly.
It's not jaw-droppingly stunning stuff, but he makes the difficult moves look easy. He no longer goes at 100mph. Instead, he talks at about that speed. Honestly, I spent two and a half hours with him last Thursday and he never stopped from start to finish. The guy has got to cut down on the coffee!
But it's his willingness, nay his desire, to teach the skills of the sport to youngsters in Hawick that is his most impressive trait. He has the ability and the opportunity to change the lives of so many kids struggling to find something to do that catches their imagination. What he does attracts their attention, because he does it well and it appeals to their sense of adventure and fun.
If he can teach them how to do this safely it could turn their lives around. Once they have learned the basics, all they need to do is to put on their trainers and the town is their playground.
So, Stuart, may your trainers never lose their bounce.
Elsewhere, the archery club I shoot arrows with is holding a come-and-try this Sunday. Everyone is welcome to come along and try for themselves the sport that has got me harking on about it in just about every blog I write.
I would not exactly call it an obsession, but it is in great danger of becoming one. Take Sunday past. We were aiming for clouts (the wee white ones about the size of my belly button) from 180 yards away. You can't see how good or bad your shots were until you walk up there. Not once, but twice, my arrows were tucked in behind the targets as if they had magically gone through the bleeding things without leaving a mark.
I accepted this the first time, but when it happened again I was left screaming at the sky, asking the reason why (Must be a song lyric there somewhere - copyright Kevin Janiak 2010). It's not that I believed that there was a fella up there who could either answer the question or, indeed, help out in any way. It was just a last, desperate cry for the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and archery.
So if you want to see what all the palava is about, come up to Thirladean (just off the Selkirk to Moffat road, half a mile past the Waterwheel Cafe) on Sunday from 12.30pm. See you there!