Saturday, 28 November 2009

And the winner is .....

I don't often win anything. Though I often come close.

I guess it started at school. In my final year at primary school I got the 'Proxime Accessit' medal. (not sure if the spelling is correct). This is for the person coming second. The winner was, of course, the 'Dux'.

At age 16 I took up ski-ing and entered the North of Scotland Novices Cup. I came second, 0.3 seconds behind the winner - and 10 seconds ahead of the person who came third.

In 2002 I went to Sydney to represent Britain at golf in the Gay Games. I came 4th on countback and therefore just missed a medal.

I tried again at the 2007 Eurogames in Antwerp where I again I represented Britain at golf. This time I did win a medal, but it was silver. My playing partner won gold after sinking a 20 feet putt on the 18th hole to pip me by one shot.

Then, finally, on Thursday evening I won something. And it was entirely unexpected. It was our annual AGI awards dinner, taking place at the Royal Institute of Physicians. After dinner, the awards took place. Prizes were given for those who had submitted papers on a number of topics in the world of Geography. The final award of the night is the Past Chair's award. Given to someone who has contibuted to GIS and to the AGI in particular. The recipient does not know in advance that they have won. I was relaxing at our table when suddenly my name was announced as the winner. I was gobsmacked. And really chuffed.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

BBC Alba

I am not exactly a techno geek. I have a bog-standard pay-as-you-go mobile phone. No Blackberry. No i-Phone. I don't have sat-nav. I have a notebook PC but rarely use it. My Outlook diary is held in about 3 different places, so I often have to scribble reminders on bits of paper.

And I don't subscribe to Sky or Virgin satellite TV.

However I did recently replace my 20-year-old television with a new set - a 37in LG with freesat. And suddenly I have a plethora of strange free channels. My favourite of these is BBC Alba.

Three reasons -
  • The outside shots of the spectacular scenery in north-west Scotland shows off the picture quality of the new set.
  • I enjoy the music programmes from such places as Stornoway, Ullapool or maybe Eden Court in Inverness.
  • Live Scottish football.

So on Sunday I found myself watching the second half of the Challenge Cup final between Dundee and my beloved Inverness Caley-Thistle live from Perth. Just two small problems. The entire commentary was in Gaelic. And ICT were 2-0 ahead when I started watching and 3-2 down at the end of the match. Frustrating.

Back to Julie Fowlis live from Achiltibuie!

Saturday, 21 November 2009


I hate November. I always have. It is wet, windy and dark. The days continue to get shorter. And there is a long winter to look forward to.

Accordingly I feel lethargic in November. I realise all the things I haven't done during the year and the people I haven't seen. But it is not a month which pushes me to suddenly do those things. And so I will once again have the same New Year resolutions as I had last year - and the year before.

Andrew is in Tenerife delivering a talk to the Tourist Board, so I have the weekend to myself. A great chance to get things done. Yet here I am, Saturday afternoon, and all I have managed is a trip to Sainsburys and a couple of hours on the internet. What's wrong with me? Where has the energy gone?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Change in Government

The present Labour government seems to be resignedly heading towards defeat in the General Election which will have to be called before May. There is no sense of purpose any more; not even a pride in their achievements. And there undoubtedly have been some significant achievements.

I am still a member of the Labour party, but since it is unlikely that I will vote for them I guess it is logical that I should cancel my subscription.

If only they had managed to change leader when they had the opportunity six months ago.

Mind you, the Tories are increasingly shambolic. Their new links to right-wing homophobic parties in Eastern Europe frightens me. I have no confidence in George Osborne as Chancellor. And the thought of Liam Fox, Eric Pickles etc. in positions of power is frankly scary.

I am likely to vote Lib Dem just because they have been right more often than the other two parties. And they have a moral purpose that the other lack. But no doubt my vote will be a wasted one. It will not influence the result. The Tories will win. But at least I will be able to say -'Not my fault, Guv.'

It is just a pity that politics has become a decision between the lesser of evils rather than a potive statement about Britain's future.