June 30, 2010

Phonetic Definitions in Dictionaries are a Complete Waste of Time

Here's a dictionary definition for the word 'diaspora' from Merriem Webster Online
Main Entry: di

Pronunciation: dī-ˈas-p(ə-)rə, dē-


Now I'm talking here about the phonetic definition, that is, how each word is pronounced. If you don't know what I mean by phonetics, think back to when you were first taught the alphabet, and were taught "ah, buh, cuh, duh, eh…' etc. How the letters sound is phonetics


Look above! What freaking help is that to anyone? They may as well have the 'how you say this word' section in French or Latin! I mean, really, what flipping use is it to anyone? Who can read "dī-ˈas-p(ə-)rə, dē-"


To make matters worse, there are several ways dictionaries display pronunciation:


Here's the same word on the Cambridge Dictionary Website "/daɪˈæs.pər.ə", and on the Google Dictionary Website "/daɪ'æspərə/, from dictionary.net /Di*as"po*ra/


Now dictionaries are supposed to be helpful, and to be fair to the above websites, some have a little audio icon you can click to hear someone say the word (wrongly, in American, probably, e.g. 'butter' pronounced 'budder', or 'bank' pronounced 'benk' - there's a whole other article on here somewhere about American pronunciation, if you want to get into that!). So that's not too bad...but my gripe here is about the phonetic spelling you see in pretty much all dictionaries, not just online ones. You have just seen four explanations of how to say the word 'diaspora', none of which would be any use, to anyone.

I still don
't know how to say this word: is it dye-ass-purra, or dye-az-pore-ah, dee-ass-per-ah? I'm none the wiser having read the above, and I know of no one who would be.


The phonetic alphabets used in dictionaries are: useless, unhelpful, irregular, inconsistent, indecipherable and uninformative, to everyone except trained linguists, who would no doubt know how to pronounce most difficult words anyway.










June 29, 2010

Blind, Bitter, Bigoted, Biased – A Scotsman’s View on England’s World Cup Exit

An Interview with Hamish McDumpling, a Scot.


Interviewer: So Hamish, you're a Scotsman. Tell me about your views on the English national team.


Hamish: Ha-ha ye English basturts, yiz are fuckin' shyte so yiz are. Yiz are fucking shyte [geez ma beer hen cheerz] ENGLISH BASTURTS ARE SHYTE. Yiz think yiv got a god given right to belive yiz can win a game of futbaw, but ye huvnae, yiz are fucking shyte and ah hate yiz ye fucking English basturtz. Remember Braveheart ye English basturts, I'm supporting the Germans, you fucking horrible English cuntz so yiz are, English basturts.


(Interview interrupted by Hamish's wife who points out that the Hamish lost a grandfather and two uncles during the Second World War).


Hamish: Aye the fucking English basturts. It's their fault. Highland clearances you fucking English basturts.


[Interview interrupted again by Hamish's wife, who points out that they holiday in England every year, have several English relatives, work for an English company with a branch in Glasgow, and that their two best friends, Tony and Carla, are English. They also have an old English Sheepdog.]


Interviewer: How do you rate Scotland's chances under Craig Levein?


Hamish: English basturts!


Interviewer: How about the Old Firm? Is their dominance a problem in the Scottish game?


Hamish: English basturts!


Interviewer: Indeed. You sound very bitter Hamish.


Hamish: English basturts!


Interviewer: Is there anything that could be done to alleviate this schadenfreude you Scots embarrass yourself with every time England lose?


Hamish: English basturts!


Interviewer: Why haven't Scotland qualified for a major tournament since 1998?


Hamish (Now spitting his words through gritted teeth and red, enraged complexion): English basturts! Ah hate yiz ye fucken English basturtz.


Interviewer: Do you not think it might be healthier for you, and your country, to be less hate-filled and bigoted? Be more positive, as it were?


Hamish: Fuck off you English basturt.


Interviewer: But what about the Scottish game? It's at it's lowest ebb for decades?


Hamish: English basturts! Ah hate yiz ye fucken English basturtz.


Interviewer: Quite. Do you like yoghurt Hamish?


Hamish: English basturts.


Ad infintum


June 23, 2010

I’m Done With A Particular Section of My Ex-Life

Quite a few years ago, before my Uni days, I did quite a bit of DJ’ing in my home town of Hull, East Yorkshire.

Before I did this, I had never made an enemy in my life. I grew up first in Hull and surrounding, and then in Scotland, and then back to Hull as a young adult of around 19.

I can revisit all of those places, and all of those people I met with great fondness and happy memories. Nobody gets along with everyone of course, but I had a great time, and still keep in touch with pretty much everyone from those days and eras. I can go back and be welcomed in pre-Dj’ing Hull, or Scotland any time.

Right up until I had a little local, small, success, and it was small, I was everyone’s ‘best mate’. I DJ’d in Hull for around 3 or 4 years before starting to get some more better gigs (for the area) and I never fell out with anyone until I started to do ‘well’…then people got jealous and started making stuff up…

There’s a saying in England that those that build you up, knock you down, and in my experience that’s true. I’m not bitter about not DJ’ing any more, I gave that up years ago, but I am annoyed that those small-minded bitter little fucks ‘continue’ to give me a hard time about stuff that happened (in fact in nearly all cases didn’t even happen, lying c**ts), around fifteen years ago. There are some seriously deluded people on that local music scene in Hull, who think that their opinions count for everything, in fact some of them believe they are ‘everyone’, and they certainly know how to spin a lie.

Anyway I’m tired of being public enemy numero uno, for things I never did, with people I no longer care about.

If you’re reading this and you knew me 15 years ago from ‘those days’, get in touch and say hi, I’ve no problem with you.

The rest of you can fall in the fucking River Humber.

June 22, 2010

Uncle Tom's Funeral

Uncle Tom’s funeral is right now as I start this – 1.30pm UK time, 8.30pm South Korea Time. I’m sitting here playing old 50s and 60s songs in his honour. I’d like to be able to say I’m really enjoying it, you know, like one of those funky funerals where everyone has a party and no one is upset because of what a great guy he was. And he was. Tom was a great fella, I loved him to bits, he was funny, and genuine. You can’t buy genuine, not like Tom’s. His heart was on his sleeve. He would well up at movies or some poignant moment on the TV say, or would laugh out loud at things, and speak his mind. He had no inhibitors, and I don’t mean that he was mouthy, because he wasn’t, what I mean is that he had that rare gift of actually being able to verbalise what he was thinking, almost straight away, like all the best comedians, and actors, can. This of course made him tremendously funny – I’ve said it before and I’m saying it now, he was one of the funniest people you would ever have met.

But I’m not here enjoying myself, I’m upset, and I know those that are attending the funeral right now will be inconsolable too.

I couldn’t go to the funeral today, and I genuinely regret that. I'm in South Korea, and I was actually on a school trip to LotteWorld, which is a theme Park in the middle of Seoul. I couldn’t believe it. One of the most emotional days I’ve felt for years, and I’m flying around on roller coasters. It was actually good fun, and it took my mind of Tom for a bit. (Photos when I’ve cheered up).

We are a small family, set within a bigger family. I’m much closer to my mum’s side of the family, and she only had one sister, Marilyn, and Tom was her husband. They had three kids and my parents had three kids, all roughly the same age (the first five born in ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69, and ’70!) and we all grew up together. I’ve known every one of them, and them me, since age dot, and Tom was the first one of this very tight knit little group to go, in a very long time.

The whole landscape of ‘family’ has changed now for me. I know that when I go to, say, a christening or something like that, there’ll be no Tom – someone I would never feel awkward around because I’d known him forever. Someone whose table I would sit at. At Christmas, or someone’s 40th, or 30th or whatever, there won’t be a Tom there, and it just won’t be the same, and not only because of the minus one, but because he was such a giant of a man, and such a funny one. God I’ll miss him. To know I’ll never hear that voice again, or laugh at one of his jokes (witticisms really, he didn’t tell jokes), or just spend any time with that lovely man is absolutely heartbreaking for me, and many other people too.

It’s horrible when someone you love dies. It hasn’t happened to me for a very long time, and in that respect I guess I’m lucky.

Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the smiles and laughs. Wish I could hug you one last time.

See you Uncle Tom,


June 20, 2010

This entry is for Adults only. And No Mums! So Mum, if you happen to be reading this, stop now and turn on the telly instead. It’s explicit!

I happened to be in a bar, in Seoul, with my very good friend Tristan, and his lovely girlfriend Danielle, who, very kindly, had bought him a copy of this year’s ‘Sports Illustrated - Swimsuit Edition’, an item he vowed to treasure until his dying day - and he meant it – he even kept the cellophane wrapper, whilst telling of previous editions he lovingly owns and enjoys.

The girls inside were, of course, fantastically beautiful, gorgeously photographed and wearing very little. I swear bikinis are getting smaller, which from my point of view is no bad thing.

However, the point of my article today is not to drool over bikini-clad women, though the thought is tempting, it about hardcore pornography vs. suggestive photography, like that in Tristan’s magazine. When I say hardcore, I mean explicit, and when I say explicit, I mean naked, with NOTHING left to the imagination.

Before I go any further into what could be an embarrassing diatribe, I’d like to point out one thing. Every single male I know has looked at pornography. I have never, ever, met a guy who, when the conversation turned that way, has denied ever looking at pictures or videos of people having sex. In short, guys anyway, have all done it, and will continue to do it.

The internet now makes it even easier to view nakedness, and I must say, I’m quite happy about that. Going into a shop as an awkward young adult to buy a jazz mag was nothing short of painful.

My entire point here is this - Tristan thinks that the ‘Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition’ is the very epitome of eroticism. I disagree, I have to say that I would much prefer to watch very, very naked Russian lesbians having at it, than look at girls in bikinis in a magazine, however pleasant that may be. Nakedness, to me anyway, is far more erotic than bikinis.

He has vowed to comment on this article, so Tristan, over to you – defend thyself.

June 14, 2010

(Some) Korean Taxi Drivers Are C***s!


OK, most of them are nice, honest, and above all, cheap. The basic fare here is just over a quid, which will cover the first couple of miles easily. Overall, I would say that taxis here are a third of the price of back home (UK).


However, a few of them are utter c*nts. Some won't stop if they see you are a foreigner. On Saturday, I was in Yongsan in Seoul, and there was a taxi rank at either side of a busy four lane road. I jumped in the front taxi at our side with my two American friends, to be told that, where we were going, we need to use the other rank. So out we got, crossed the road, only to be told the same thing at the other side/rank!!


Now I'm not paranoid, this was simply Korean taxi drivers taking the fucking rise out of us indeed a couple of them who were standing near their taxis were audibly laughing at us.


This is not the first time I have had trouble with taxi drivers here I nearly got into a fight with one who tried to charge me 20 000won, (about a tenner) to go about a mile this is ten times what the normal fare would have been. I got, let's say, fucking furious, and got my money back after an extremely heated exchange.


Others have taken one look at me and just driven straight by. Wankers.


I'd like to take some revenge on them somehow, especially the Yongsan ones - nothing sinister, just a 'last laugh' kind of thing. Perhaps I'll leaflet drop the area, telling people to beware of the taxi drivers in the area, and advise them not to use the rank. (I probably won't bother, but I fucking feel like I ought to!).


Taxis here are safe, cheap, and plentiful, but there's the odd few drivers who deserve a little bit of comeuppance

June 13, 2010

My Uncle Tom Died Today, He Was 70 years Old

RIP Uncle Tom

As a little boy of 2 and 3, I was actually a little scared of my Uncle Tommy - he had a beard and a loud voice! He used to call me ‘Polo’.

The first thing anyone would notice about Tom would be that he had a pronounced limp. He was often in a lot of pain with this, in his later years he could only walk short distances, but he would never complain. We could all learn a thing or two from Tom about how to put up with life’s troubles in a cheerful way.

The next thing you’d be aware of would be how funny he was, with his big booming voice, and razor sharp wit. He loved a laugh, and was always the first to see the humour in anything.

He was a kind, generous, and above all, funny man. All will remember that despite his lifelong disabilities, he was always the funniest guy in the room. He was never depressed about his situation, and could laugh and joke at anything life would throw at him.

I think it’s important that you keep in touch with people you’ve known since you were aged zero. It means a lot. I’ve lost one of mine today. Uncle Tom has always been my Uncle Tom. He’s always been a part of my life. His two daughters, Lisa and Joanne are as close as sisters to me, and I know how upset they’ll be. His son, Dave, worshipped his Dad, and I can’t even imagine how upset Dave will be. Devastated won’t cover it.

He had a big family, with many brothers and sisters, and was a granddad several times over. There will be a lot of tears in East Hull today. There’s been some in South Korea too.

Rest in peace Uncle Tom. I know I’ll never hear your voice again, and that hurts, but you were so kind to all of us. You were an inspiration, and you have left us with so many great and funny memories.

Love you,


June 10, 2010

“But.” I like Korea, but…

[Edit = as it transpired, it wasn't my classroom, but the entire school that was on AC lockdown!]

I often think that it's too easy, too cheap, to see and speak about the faults of things and people. I detest bitchy people, to be positive is so much better, but, however, there a few times when we all need to unload, so here's a wee gripe about some Korean things I don't like…

For example, I ride my bike around the town I live in, Dongducheon, and this week there have been 6 (six) different ladies who have just walked blithely out in front of me without so much as a fleeting glance to see if there is anything coming their way. I kid ye not – six. It's as if they cross the road with their ears. "I can't HEAR a car, so it must be safe to cross." There's little doubt I'll eventually run someone over, and when I do, she will know, even if she doesn't speak English, exactly what I think of this non-visual crossing-the-road tactic!

Children also ride on the wrong side of the road on their bikes, straight towards me. Now I appreciate it's their country and ergo their rules, but next time this happens, I'm kicking the little fucker off.

Build quality. One thing matters in Korea – speed. Speed above all else. So you bought a new house, and there's screws sticking out of the wall, and they've missed bits they should've painted, and……Doesn't matter, they built it quickly, that's what counts.

What sparked this entire post was this. Today, my air conditioner in my classroom isn't working. So I told my boss, who went off to tell someone. He came back 10 minutes later to tell me that 'I'd used too much electricity this week, and it wasn't gonna be switched on until 1pm". They'd turned it off down at then office! It could reach 32 fucking degrees here today, and it's 27 degrees now! I have a classroom with 30-plus kids in it. Can you imagine how warm and stifling it is, even with the windows open?! My point here is that they don't seem to care about pleasing their employees. A quiet word would have done (not that I've been using it much anyway). Why treat their employees like small children? My immediate boss is very nice, and very apologetic – it simply wasn't his fault. Someone higher, and they LOVE hierarchy in Korea, just looked at the figures and switched it off. If I was to try and sum up Korea in one word, megalomania would be high up the list of words I'd choose from. Get up that ladder! To be powerful here, even, say, a principal in a school, is to be completely revered and obeyed. You cannot question their decisions or motives. If the principal says that all students are to have a test today, at the last minute, then they do. No teacher would speak up and say it doesn't make sense to do this. And I really must say that this level of conformity is a little grating. NO-ONE speaks up for themselves. Everybody eats the shit of the person above them. Honestly, it's kind of pathetic. Obey. Do. Work. OK…

I'll finish on a positive. I don't want you thinking Korean people are horrible and useless, because they are not; they are a helpful, kind, hard-working people. They really are, but what they consider to be common sense and normal, sometimes, is far removed from we would consider the same in the West.

June 06, 2010

As Weeks Go….

As Weeks Go….

Well, that was a week I’ll never forget…

Last Saturday, I went out clubbing and drinking with my American colleague Dwight, and I met this woman. We talked a lot (and a bit more!) and I escorted her home on the train as far as my stop. She didn’t seem the one-night-stand type, so I arranged to meet her another time – nothing fixed, just an exchange of phone numbers… To be honest here, I can’t be arsed reliving the entire thing, but I really wanted to hook up with this woman again, and, well, it didn’t happen, for whatever reason. I think, with hindsight, she perhaps was the one-night-stand type, and…..

Meh! Anyway, “I’ve had a little woman trouble this week” is the upshot of all that. Happens to everyone sometimes, and sometimes it’s happened to me where I’ve been ‘the trouble’, if you know what I mean. Dating, and meeting people can be hard, and you might get hurt, or you might hurt someone else…

Anyway, that was one thing…waiting around all week for her to call/answer my texts (two texts, in case you think I’m a stalker!), was extremely distracting…

On Thursday, my new i-pod touch and digital camera, which I had in the classroom because we were teaching English about technology – were stolen! I’d only had both of these for a few months. This was the very day after I’d repaid my previous school 420 000 Korean Won (about 220 quid/400 dollars) that they said they’d overpaid me. So I do a good deed and give them it back no questions asked, and I get ‘repaid’ by having my gear stolen.

How’s that for a week?!

I have a motto, in fact I have several, and one of them is ‘don’t get too pleased with yourself when it’s going well, and don’t get too down if it’s going badly’. Everything changes…

I’ll leave you with a quote from Hamlet, not because I’m trying to sound clever and well-read, but because it’s a famous quote and it fits my week exactly…

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” (Hamlet Act 4 Scene 5).

June 03, 2010

Five Four, No More

[A poem I wrote after Dundee United won the Scottish Cup]

Five Four, No More

There was a time,
An age ago,
When DFC were king,
The trophy count,
Was five to nil,
We hadn’t won a thing.
But Wee Jum’s boys,
In ‘79
Picked up a cup at Dens!
And then next year,
Against the ‘Dee,
We won the cup again!
By ’83,
We’d won the league,
And 5-3 was the score,
In 94,
A cup once more
To make the score 5-4.
For sixteen years,
The funny team,
Had wheeled that scoreline out,
Even from the lower leagues,
“The score’s 5-4!” they’d shout.
We had to suffer all those years,
But now we’ve evened up,
Cos Houstie’s boys,
Have done the biz,
And won the Scottish Cup!

June 02, 2010


DUNDEE UNITED WON THE SCOTTISH CUP!! (I know, it was two weeks ago, but I've been celebrating)

The Scottish Cup probably means very little to anyone reading this that isn’t Scottish, although, I’m not myself. English football fans will see it as also-ran trophy in an also-ran league, and to some extent, that’s true.

Here are a few statistics about the cup itself:

The loathsome, sectarian-riddled ‘Old Firm’ of Rangers (spit) (33) and Celtic (spit) (34) have won the trophy the most times between them. No surprise there. It’s amazing what crowd numbers, and therefore finance, blind hatred can generate.

The actual trophy is the oldest national trophy in world sport, at 125 years old.

The crowd at the 1937 final between Celtic and Aberdeen, which was 147 365, is a European record.

My team, Dundee United, are the current holders! And I can’t tell you how much that means!