Why M&M Direct show the worst of people..in my opinion

Have a look at the video above.  If you are lucky enough, in this instance, to not live in the UK you might not have seen this series of adverts.  Each evening at 6pm my family watch an episode of The Simpsons on Channel 4. The latest sponsor of the programme is M&M Direct a catalogue company which delivers clothing and the like to your door.  Why I am posting about this and these adverts?  Well they really, really annoy me.

Advertising is like water off a duck’s back to me normally but these adverts are just wrong on many levels and perhaps I am not a ‘normal’ person and the target audience but they put me off ever placing an order with this company.  See if you can sit through the whole video.  See if you can ignore the ear bursting screaming, the fact that often the parents of the ‘kids’ look the same age as them but mainly the fact that these grown men and women (these are not small children doing the screaming) are just an example of the crassness of the UK modern age.  Old enough to have a job and life of their own, old enough to buy their own clothes but no.   Ask yourself did your parents ever buy you anything because you screamed at them all day?  No..thought not.

As I said this idle muse posting is really just because I wanted to share my annoyance with these adverts but there is one other point.  I know for a fact that these ad’s have been rather successful for M&M Direct.  Why you might ask.  They show horrid spoilt people being lazy.  Well I think its because…many people identify with these adverts and see their own lives in them….shudder.


Alisa Craig finds a buyer at last!

The Granite Milestone that faces Girvan

A constant view on the horizon for me each day is the isle of Alisa Craig.  This solid granite plug sits in the sea off Girvan and has done so since the eruption of a massive volcano in the very dim and distant past.  It’s stone was and still is used to make curling stones renowned the world over and its home to a mass of Gannets and Puffins too.  Due to the extremely changeable weather that Girvan gets being where it is you can, if you are there are the right moment, get some superb images of the ‘Tunnocks Teacake’ or ‘Paddys Milestone’ with cloud formations.   This image above was taken by my good lady while out on a walk.  I have posted it here in a large size so feel free to copy it and use it for a desktop image or such if the mood takes you.

Anyhow the reason for this little post.  One of my news feeds told me that the little island of Alisa Craig has finally found a buyer.  Its been up for sale for many years and it seems to be a British based group for possibly ecological reasons.  You can read about it here.  And before you ask…it was not me…I haven’t got 1.5 million sterling in my account, not quite!


Winter Season hits Scotland hard today!

From BBC early this morning central Scotland

I am typing this post between the roar of the wind and the losses of electricity that have been battering Girvan since late last night.  Although the weather service did warn us all that high wind was to be expected I think the country got more than it was expecting.  Early this morning the power went out but not before the local radio reported that the Scottish Government had upped the yellow weather warning to a full red top level alert.  By that time the whole rail network had closed down, part of Glasgow Central Station’s roof fell in and many roads were shut with fallen trees and tipped over vehicles.  Girvan primary school was closed and going to work impossible due to the debris and high wind.  See the BBC for more.  Look at this video for what is happening in South Ayrshire.

Scotrail Train with a broken window

What does this mean.  Well it means no work today and maybe not on Friday depending on the damage and the roads.  No email from me and while I did manage to get The Ion Age release out for today I did that on battery power on an Ipad! No orders will be leaving Alternative Armies, 15mm.co.uk or The Ion Age until next week (I am told Royal Mail has stopped for the moment too).  Apologies to all but there is not much I can do about this….

Its not been a good week for Central Scotland really.


Children in Need 2013

Today is the annual Children in Need event on television and I, along with the rest of the family have done my part.   I enjoy watching the televised event and I do not donate money by phone.  I donate money by hand held boxes, by boxes in shops and by way of Girvan Primary School’s events.  Today’s event was a ‘wear your pyjamas to school’ day which mercifully it stayed dry for.  After what has been a hectic week at work (see the Havelock ESO results over on the Ion Age blog) I finished up a bit early and picked the three offspring up at the school gate.

There are a lot of charities out there…a whole lot.  In fact I have got to the point where I ignore almost all of them as the feeling of guilt at not dropping coins into every hand that reached out was getting me down at a deep level.  This does not make me a bad person.  In fact I am a ruddy good person as all who know me will point out but my resources are limited.  So I choose which I support and Children get some priority in this as does the UK so Children in Need is near top of the list (after Sense).  It is a very worthwhile cause.

So have a look, have a read.  Have a watch if you can.  Give them some money too.  If you live in the UK and you walk home after work, sometimes the child you see in the street needs your help more than you might know.


Wigtown Book Festival 2013


Sally Magnusson, Horace and The Poet

Yesterday I attended the 2013 Wigton Book Festival and I had an excellent time.  The weather was warm and sunny and there were a great many events and readings taking place across the pleasant little town of Wigton.   This was not the first time I had been, in fact last year I attended and posted here about it.  This time my prime reason for attending was once more Sally Magnusson and her creation Horace the Haggis who was out and about promoting his new book for the kiddies.

My middle son, The Poet, was literally vibrating with excitement to get into the large tent where the reading was to take place and he enjoyed it greatly.  He even got his copy, being held up proudly above, signed by the authoress who remembered him from the previous year.   My eldest went to a talk being held by Robert Harris who while discussing his new book is also the author of Talisman a board game from the 1980’s by Games Workshop which was a firm favourite of mine.  If Mr Harris was distracted by being asked about it rather than his new work he seemed delighted to discuss the game!  The smallest of the wee chaps went to a talk on Dinosaurs where he put forth his theories on evolution and asked if birds would turn back into T-Rex’s any time soon.  A picnic lunch was spread and the drive home was very nice too with the choice of music being two albums by The Alan Parson’s Project.


Books from the Book Festival

I trawled the book shops in the town and managed to find three gems among the literally thousands of volumes in each and every shop.  You can see these above.  There is also a flyer for the special exhibit for ‘Wigton 2113’ which sadly I could not get into as it was booked out…sci-fi denied!

Fantasy Wargaming edited by Bruce Galloway is an excellent find as books about wargaming, what I do for a living mainly, are thin on the ground.  No training manual for my profession no.   I have several of these titles about different periods and genres and they are all very useful.  This one pre-dates the whole modern fantasy wargaming movement but it does give solid grounding in what is to be expected.  I look forward to reading it.  The other two are a pulp science fiction art and story  book made for children in the 1980’s in a series which if you can believe I own the others but have never seen this one missing volume EVER before.  Awesome!  Lastly a heavy weight academic text on Three Tomorrows examining tropes in sci-fi from a British, American and Soviet perspective.  Yes, Soviet.  Its not new but it dates from the same period as Terminator and Blade Runner.

If you can get to Wigton for next year’s festival then do so as it is an excellent day out.


Vodophone…a Customer Satisfaction Epic Fail!

Today is a good day.  Why you ask…well its simple.  Today I got back the near two hundred pounds that Vodaphone took from my bank account.  Let me tell you a little story.

On the 28th of August I looked at my current account and discovered that two hundred pounds was missing.  Now that is not small change to anyone.  Asking in the bank I was told it was a charge from Vodaphone against my good lady. Which was odd since she no longer had a phone contract with them having cancelled and paid if off a month plus earlier moving to another provider.  I, being a civilised fellow, thought that a quick call to the company would resolve this and get my money back.  But no….

On the evening of the 28th my wife made half a dozen calls to their call centre and I kid you not the workers there not only did not help her but they all ‘accidentally’ hung up on her during the calls.  Eventually finding a decent chap we were told that they simply did not know why they took the money as we had no account!  Don’t worry we will sort it out they said.  Time passed, time passed.  We phoned back and tried again the next week and were promised a speedy solution and a return of the funds.  Well that was the 31st of August and here we are on the 9th of September.  That is, in the age of Paypal and instant communications, nearly two weeks to get a resolution.  Just not good enough.  Not at all!

I had to cancel plans, cut down my expenditure.  No one suffered but I feel strongly enough about this to say that they just ‘stole’ the money and then sat on it.

Well done Vodaphone you moved me to make a blog post like this something I avoid normally.  You will never get my custom again.


A Present from Vegas and Boston USA


Give them Dice and Gummy Lobsters!

The Syme family got a gift in the mail this morning all the way from sunny Las Vegas by way of Boston Harbour and then back to England.  Within its cardboard walls the package contained three bags of bright red (the kind of red that only American candy customers get as those ‘e’ numbers are banned in the EU) Gummy Lobsters along with three silver metal dice.  Each of these dice filled with delicious Salt Water Taffy (something else that you cannot get with any ease in the UK).  Very kind to send these things in three’s it means that the three little Symes will not have to duel to the death over a share.

It always makes me smile when I get a gift like this.  It proves that people are good and that trying to be nice to everyone makes the world a nicer place.  Makes up for the potentially near fatal car crash I nearly had this afternoon with a primate who had both eyes on his phone and no hands on his steering wheel but…that is enough about that.

So.  Thanks Uncle Steve and Aunt Lesley!  Kisses from us all.  Expect a wee pressie from Girvan later this week or next.


Getting Ready for School…less affordable now?


The summer holidays are over and the rain continues to fall in Scotland (well it was actually a good seven weeks all in for weather this year) and my three are going back to the land of education.  Aside from this being the first time for the youngest, The Warrior, it also means the need to buy yet more school uniforms and supplies.  So off I went and bought what was needed.  I looked for bargains, for special offers, for value and then bought it three times over.  I got all that was needed and it took most of a day to do it.

Well what can I say.  Despite looking for the best offers and making a killer saving on the older two boy’s shoes the cost was more than last year.  I know there is a third child now but its more than that.  The cost of everything was up.  I ain’t moaning, I am just saying as the song goes.  I am glad I don’t have to do this more than once a year (but items do need replaced regularly!).  Above you can see most of the pile, not all of it but it gives you an idea spread out more than six feet across.

Is the new gear for school starting less affordable now.  My opinion is that despite the claims of major retailers it really is.  I won’t say how much I spent but it has left a sizeable hole in my pocket.  What do you do if you have four, five or more children…share shoes or hope the government aids you is all I can say.

Moan over…back to the positive once more! 


Commonwealth Games – Glasgow 2014 – Irn Bru


Brand New but Vintage Bru!

I have not been posting much here or on other forums and for that and the hundreds of you who read these items every day I am sorry.  But fear not the reason for this will be revealed in all of its awesomeness on Monday 19th August.  Just you wait…fans of 15mm especially.

Moving on from that good luck to Scotland in this evening’s football match against England at Wembley.  Victory will go to the Tartan Army I am sure (errr….maybe not) but its the first time that Scotland have played ‘The Auld Enemy’ since 1999 and I remember that match well.  I also now realise I am since that match a father of three, married, a home owner, a successful author and car driver among other things…it sure does creep up on you eh.  I will post a comment after the match and let you all know what happened.

Lastly the above image is of a brand new design of Irn-Bru can of fizzy drink which has been produced in celebration of Glasgow’s hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  We may not have been big enough to get the Olympics but this is just as good as it is actually near enough to visit.  The can has a vintage design on it and it looks and tastes very nice too.

All in all its a great week…and the kids go back to school on Monday too. 🙂


Parliamo Glasgow – Stanley Baxter

While live is mighty fine by the sea in sunny Girvan, Ayrshire I do sometimes miss the city of my birth; Glasgow.  Following a recent conversation with a friend who has never been to the city and in trying to explain to them that when I was a ‘wean’ the dialect spoken there was often impenetrable not only to non-english native speakers but also the majority of the other residents of Britain!   While I speak reasonable ‘Glasgow’ I am long out of practise (except for creating Joccian dialect in Flintloque!) so I directed myself and friend to YouTube and Stanley Baxter.

Long, long ago the great Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter did a series of sketches, quite hard to get these days it seems, where he acted out typical scenes of the city and then after delivering the lines in ‘Glasgow’ he would then switch to a proper RP English accent to give a translation in the style of a travel programme.  Have a look and enjoy…even if you have to run it back a couple of times!

Oh and yes all Scottish people can speak proper English when they want, but what would be the fun in that.   Differences and diversity make Britain the great nation it is today.