Burns night.

(Warning: this blogger has been drinking. A lot.  Do not expect a tightly focused argument in this post and try to keep up with the random subject changes)

It seems entirely appropriate that three 50-hour working weeks should end on one of the nights Scotland designates as an excessive whisky consumption night.

No, not ‘Friday’. It’s the official birthday of Robbie Burns, poet and drinker extraordinaire. Poets seem to be famous for boozing. There must be some link. I’m a crap poet – perhaps I should drink more.

Tomorrow I have a single shift, starting at the crack of noon, so can welcome this bottle of Ledaig into its new home… me. In theory I am not working Sunday. In theory – since I wasn’t supposed to be working last Sunday, there is no guarantee, but if the Boss doesn’t contact me before I get to Smoky-Drinky tomorrow night, well, too bad. Three weeks of seriously restricted booze intake is more than the human body can bear. I wouldn’t want to go down with a bad case of alcohol deprivation, it might cost the NHS money!

I might forget to charge up my phone. I’m old enough to get away with forgetfulness now and then. The ‘smoking makes you forget things’ fake science story won’t work because the Boss smokes too, and despite going straight from school to work, she is canny enough to know when she’s being bullshitted. Just because someone didn’t go to university doesn’t mean they aren’t smart.

In fact, I recall meeting some school friends in a pub many years ago (when smokers were still allowed in). Some of us had gone on to university and were perpetually penniless. Some had left school after O levels and gone to work. One was loading lorries (intelligent guy, but really enjoyed lifting heavy things), another had joined up with the oil exploration boats. The latter was talking about which model of car he was planning to buy. We ‘intelligent ones’ at university were wondering if we could afford another pint…

There is also the question of pensions. If you finish higher education at around 23-25 years old (first degree then PhD, longer if you do a Master’s in between), your pal who left school at 14 to become an apprentice electrician has at least ten years’ pension contributions under his belt before you even get started. He’s also looking to buy a house by that time while you are still pausing over buying a kettle. He has learned how to handle money, your first job is more money than you’ve seen in years and you can (and I did) blow the finances very badly.

Government’s idea of helping people is to make them go to university. When I did it, they gave us a grant which was just enough to live on but you could finish university with no debts at all. It was possible. Now it is not. They raise the school leaving age and push kids onto university courses that won’t help them at all – and I’m not just talking about witchcraft and knitting degrees. Our universities produce around eight times as many qualified forensic scientists than the jobs market can possibly accommodate. That’s one of the less common courses!

For a lot of those kids, if they had left school and apprenticed to a plumber, they would be running their own business by the time they are 25, they would have a house with a well-dented mortgage and a very nice-looking pension pot. The ones forced into university when it wasn’t really for them are flipping burgers and living in a council box in a high-rise tower that reaches halfway to Mars and where the lifts only go down, and at terminal velocity. You don’t even have time to be offended at the graffiti.

I don’t know if the likes of Burns, or Dylan Thomas, had much of an education beyond the right amount to pour into a glass but they clearly had minds. Fuzzy minds, a lot of the time, granted, but they clearly had those fuzzy minds. I have a feeling the modern education system would have thrashed their creativity out of them, and the modern medical establishment would have tried to keep them sober and plain and normal and dull.

If Thomas wrote ‘Under Milk Wood’ or Burns wrote ‘Ode to a Louse’ now, there would be Outrage! and when their drinking came to light, paranoid drones would nod like sage in the wind and display less intelligence than that herb as they pronounce ‘gross diversion’ as the label for the dog (bonus points if you know which song that’s from).

I had a look at the Daily Offended but found nothing that pushed absurdity beyond their usual daily fare. Maybe they’ve reached their limit. They do now say that snoring is more deadly than smoking, which is probably true. Crossing the street might be up there in the death stakes, inhaling bus exhaust and the over 2000 nuclear explosions might eventually come to the attention of the MSM but I won’t hold my breath unless there’s a bus passing.

Considerable amounts of snow fell today but there is less on the ground than before. I think this is a fall of anti-snow, which combines with and annihilates previous snow. I’ve heard some large snow slides off the roof tonight.

Hopefully the snow is going away again. I want to get to the lab next week. Also hopefully, the new guy at work will turn up as required and there will be no ‘can you cover?’ phone calls.

At the end of March I will have six months’ retail experience. The organisation I am with, the one who cleans Local Shop, is always complaining that they can’t get experienced staff. They pay as little as possible, there are no perks, experienced staff go for better jobs. This mob are entry level and they don’t even realise it! All they will ever get are the inexperienced because once we have experience, we move somewhere else.

Somewhere that demands six months’ experience… and gets the same bill-covering pay for less hours. No wonder they are always looking for staff.

Anyway, back to poets. There is a great poet alive who sets his stuff to music but his latest release is a fucking dirge. Miserable and droning. He is obviously not drinking enough. In the past, he did. I always liked this one -

Back to helping the Ledaig move in. It’s almost there, it just has to rearrange the furniture in my liver.

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34 thoughts on “Burns night.

  1. “one of the nights Scotland designates as an excessive whisky consumption night.”

    Ahh! We Irish have those too! The only nights such consumption is encouraged are weekend nights and weekday nights.

    – MJM

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  2. In San Diego, we do that eight days a week, but take a day off in the middle, just to prove we aren’t addicted.

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  3. Enjoy your nite of merriment, Leggy! I hope you don’t have a hangover tomorrow.

    Just 2 more months, and you can escape that job, and find something better! Good for you. Cheers and have a nice weekend. I hope you don’t get anymore snow. We got the first pile in a while today, 1 inch. Since my nice neighbor shoveled mine, I didn’t care. I hope we don’t get much this winter either.

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    • I was hungover, but didn’t start work until 12 so had time to recover.

      Escaping the job might not be too easy, it depends what’s on offer. However, it’s always been true that it’s much easier to find a job if you already have one, and now I am well acquainted with stock rooms and with how to interact with idiots – sorry, customers – without losing patience in three seconds flat.

      I’ve also met some interesting people among those customers. This town has a lot of old people, and I’ve met some with very interesting tales to tell. Including a WW II bomber pilot. I have also noticed that a lot of the old ladies are extraordinarily randy and care not at all for the modern trend towards no physical contact, nor do they care about ‘sexual harassment’. At least, not when they’re doing it.

      I’ve also met a lot of idiots but they tend to be the younger ones. I like to let them talk to me as if I’m half-witted for a while, then put on my best English butler accent for them. With lots of very, very big words.

      The snow looks like it’s melting. This means it’ll freeze again at night and get smoother and shinier every night. That’s what it was like last time I fell and cracked a rib so I’m staying home for now!

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      • Glad you stayed in. We are getting ice storms out here, not pretty, and very dangerous. Glad you are finding nice people to interact with.

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  4. Indeed there was a special group of savvy kids blessed with the additional good fortune to narrowly fail sixth form entry, Leg-Iron. This talent became self-employed in their twenties and they overtook their peers; retiring early to a place in the Sun.
    You triggered a frenzied and disappointing search through my drinks cupboard, last night. In the absence of any other reasonable deduction, I conclude that malt molecules have a capacity to spontaneously diffuse through glass. So it’s off to Asda this morning in a quest to replenish stock with an even more adventurous label to rub shoulders with the Glenfiddich.

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    • Ach Melvin! Glenfiddich!? O.K. But a really good Scotch, for me any way, is Islay Malt. Or one of the Orkney malts, using sea weed instead of peat. Try it and see. Maybe it is not your taste, but I find it fantastic. (Of course, maybe you have already tried it…if so, please ignore me. :-) )

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      • That you can spare the time to depart from your adventure book exploits as a self-proclaimed spy doing ‘wet jobs’ for the Bundesnachrichtendienst, to advise me on Scotch is most flattering. I must drink to that, mine Furor. ;)

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    • if you like the really smoky ones, try an Ardbeg or a Bruaichladdich. If the peat sensation isn’t to your taste, avoid them. Those particular firewaters are complete with smoke.

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  5. I considered buying a decent Malt to celebrate Burns night but baulked at the prices. I bought Spanish brandy instead to raise a glass in his memory as a poet and excise man (spits). Celebrate the former…

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    • There haven’t been any special offers on malts for a long time, and the prices are rapidly heading into second-mortgage territory. There are some vatted malts (blended malts) which are very good. Monkey Shoulder is one, and Glen Orchy which is only in Lidl.

      Lidl also have Ben Bracken, a 12-year-old single malt which isn’t the greatest but it’s pretty good and at £17.99 it’s still in real-world prices. It’s a Speyside, and I prefer Islay, but at that price I’m prepared to compromise. So I have a bottle here ;)

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    • Yes! I’m surprised to find anyone else knows that song. It’s one of my favourite Bowie songs. I only ever once heard it played in public and that was when I found it on a pub jukebox in 1977.

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  6. I know I’m going to regret this (waiting for supercilious comment from you know who) but..

    I feel I must be slow. I was 30 by the time I got there (4 yr Bachelor’s, 2 yr Masters and 3yr Doctorate) but, as an excuse, I can claim I was busy with other things too at the time (since the RAF insisted I had to learn to iron, stand up straight, walk properly and shoot people in the correct manner). Second was quicker (7 yr total), harder and bloody expensive (I swear Kings Chancellor bought a new car, or at least had a nice holiday in the Bahamas, off my time there).

    I too have school friends who went different routes. The richest (banking) left with, I think 4 O-levels and nothing since. The poorest (unemployed and unemployable) did law (and anything he could imbibe, inhale, ingest or inject). Me? I fall somewhere in the middle (income below the sundry joiners, plumbers and drivers). Too many certificates and, because I work for the NHS (in a none medical £100000+ job) I still can’t afford a kettle :-(

    I thought about retraining as a plumber (CORGI naturally) about 15 years ago (when the dire shortages were in the MSM) but they turned me down as ‘over qualified’? (I think it was really my suave good looks which intimidated them, fearing all the lady customers would only employ me – stop sniggering!). The problem in my area of employ is that the NHS is a monopoly, so it’s like it or lump it – it’s enough to drive you to drink/smoke! (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

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    • Oddly enough, I also considered retraining as a plumber. However, to get onto the course run by the local college, you already have to be apprenticed to a plumber. So I’d have to persuade a plumber to take me on as apprentice and then vanish for a year into a college while he continues working single-handed. I don’t see many plumbers being keen on that arrangement even if I was still a teenager. Since I’m now older than most of them, it’s a dud idea.

      I was hoping to have a business card with ‘Microbiologist and Plumber’ on it. I not only fix your pipes, I tell you what’s growing in them.

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      • I read a letter in the Telegraph years ago (when the subject of plumbers fees was topical) from a retired solicitor who had recently had some emergency plumbing work done. When presented with the bill, he said to the plumber “Good Lord, I didn’t earn that much money when I was a solicitor!”

        To which the plumber replied “No, nor did I.”

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  7. Interesting analysis about careers.
    Most of my University chums, and me, all (fortunately) got (averagely)-well-paid jobs as new graduates, in various sectors. The one that became a Merchant Banker with Rothschild’s packed it in after two years and disappeared back home to mum and dad. Odd, because he was the best fun of any of our crowd, the wittiest, and probably the sharpest intellect. I joined an ad-agency: for 16 years had good fun and earned almost enough money all the time, went through several others and Beecham’s, and I got fired (it was called “we’re really sorry but we’re having to let you go”) only about 50% of the time.

    The others are all now very, very comfortably rich, retired and “practising upper-middle-class-gentlemen and gentlewomen”. I have to work like stink just to stay stationary.

    I didn’t know, really, any of the teenagers who would be leaving school to do what my mother used to call “selling meat in Sainsbury’s”.
    She would not have allowed me to know any of them: her justification would have been “…Darrrrling boy, they arrre nice people…but they are very _unedu-caaaayyyyy-ted”…(or worse)……”dear boy – his father is only a self-made-man!” (Her pronounciation [and social attitudes] and accent derived from the fact that she was Lebanese, and fancied herself enormously for her AUB degree and her descent as what she called “Ay ducter’s dorter”. She’d even introduce herself to complete strangers, like the serving girl at the greengrocer’s, as “I amm ay ducter’s dorter”…)

    So I guess I grew up thinking that “failing your A-levels and therefore “nutt” going to University” (which is what my parents called anyone who didn’t get past CSEs) was the pits. The number of mega-rich builders and “property-developers” round here, some of whom are under 40, suggests they were mistaken.

    My dear mum also thought there were only “three” universities in Britain: she would grudgingly allow “London” to be defined as the third, and only because it contained something called the “School of Oriental and African Studies”, where she had what I now realise were some sort of international-lefty-UN-brownnosing friends.

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    • Every other place, to her, Bristol, Durham, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, York, Liverpool and all the rest of the Russell Group (that was all there was, then) was – to her – RED BRICK (and therefore implied one’s personal failure.)

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      • I went to Cardiff. I’m not sure that one even qualifies as ‘red brick’ since it’s a component of the University of Wales, the head part of which is in Aberystwyth.

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    • I have one of those mothers but to a lesser extent. She always put on her ‘posh’ voice when speaking to people even when we lived on the council estate and my father drove an Imp. When he upgraded to a Ford Corsair she turned into the Queen.

      Since I was the first in the family to go to university, and (so far) still the only one with a doctorate, she is the mother of a doctor rather than a ducter’s dorter.

      It has much the same effect.

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    • Ha! My youngest daughter just completed her degree at SOAS (Arabic and Law), Yes, it’s a real hotbed of multi-culti lefties! Fortunately having a father like me meant that she came out of it only paying lip-service to some of the less radical leftyisms, and she met with pretty robust disagreement when she put them to me. She came through the experience relatively unscathed, thankfully.

      As for me, I left school at 16 with two and a half ‘O’ levels and spent the rest of my life trawling round the world doing anything that crossed my path to make money. So I’ve been a door-to-door salesman, an articulated truck driver, fork-lift driver, shoe repairer, labourer, dope dealer, accounts clerk, home appliance repair man, cocktail barman, engraver and lots more I can’t remember. The last 30 years I’ve worked for myself, as a carpenter, a recording studio build/refurbish specialist, a property speculator, I’ve owned a bar and I even had an industrial paint stripping business for a while. I’m now back to being a carpenter, and I still don’t have any money (my last divorce wiped out the small amount I’d accumulated). But I enjoy my work and I have a great way of life, so although not financially well off, I’m wealthy in other ways. And I’ve crammed more into my life than most people would in half a dozen lifetimes, so I have no regrets about not having gone to uni.

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      • Seems to me that if you have a lot of money, there are a lot of people trying to take it off you. Government, other crooks, and if you ever worked with cheeeeldren there’ll be at least one who claims you copped a sly feel forty years ago because they know your bank account can stand the compo and you can’t prove you didn’t touch them.

        Fortunately I have never worked with cheeeldren, the youngest students I ever dealt with were HND level. So that’s not an issue. I’ve never been rich enough to interest even the meanest of con-men or burglars so that’s not a big deal either. The government trying to take more and more to pay for their stupid schemes though, that is an issue. Especially since they expect me to pay for my own denormalisation.

        Minimum wage will definitely continue until the end of this tax year at least, then I start looking for something with about the same income but fewer hours. I calculate survival level to be about £12K a year here, mostly because the heating is expensive in winter and because I like good whiskies.

        Hm. I am definitely in the definition of ‘fuel poverty’ but I wonder if I fit the definition of ‘whisky poverty’ too?

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  8. I have fallen head over heels for Asda’s Bowmore Islay. The olfactory sense enslaved by a new and subtle, peaty smokiness. A hint of Castrol R combined with the erotic mix of warm vanilla and cinnamon. Anyway, we will be inseparable this belated Burns night….so I bid a ‘gweed nicht tae Doric speakin freens’.

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  9. Just finished a bottle of Aberlour and although not bad was a bit disappointed with it. Cracked a bottle of Grants sherry cask reserve tonight, very nice indeed.

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    • Aberlour – tried, it, very nice but at the price there are others I prefer. The Grants sherry cask was on offer in Morrisson’s recently. It’s a staple for me, along with the ale cask version. Both much nicer than the standard Grant’s and usually about the same price.

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