Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To the other capital

Not Cardiff or Belfast...

Thanks for the positive feedback about the marathon Eurovision post, it was something special to watch, that's for sure. I'm off for a week of heady socialising in London as of this afternoon - so DUaB will be shutting down for a week. Rest assured I'll be up to all kinds of blogworthy stuff down South, and will give you plenty of updates when I get back here. Until then, let's hear it for holidays! And Latvian robots!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A load of Balkans

For those about to rock...

There is really nothing else quite like the Eurovision Song Contest - the annual 'music' talent contest provides amusement, kitsch, controversy, skimpy costumes, rampant nationalism, and the occasional catchy tune. In short, it's perfect for bloggers. For my non-EU readers, every year 24 European countries put forward a song and over three staggering hours of live television these are performed, and then voted on by the public from those countries. Last night Athens hosted the 51st contest, as they won last year with a Shakira-esque singer who managed to rhyme 'conviction' with 'crucifiction' in her entry. Oh yes.

So my flatmate Paul and I settled down to a corking evening of cheesy Euro pop, with Michelle (who is from the US and has no previous exposure to Eurovision) coming in now and again, and quickly leaving with a puzzled expression on her face. As it lasted for a loooong time, I took a few notes, so here are some things about each entry as they came on. The BBC's coverage was tremendous, with Terry Wogan once again providing hilarious commentary. I wonder if other countries actually take it seriously? (Apologies for the length of this post - but it serves to give you an idea of what we went through)

1. Switzerland - six4one with "If we all give a little"
Sample lyric - "If we all give a little we can make this a world for everyone"
Well, we're off. The first entry is a group of three men and three women in various strange costumes. They don't look Swiss, although we aren't sure what Swiss people should look like. Lots of arm waving and daft hats. The crowd seem to like it.

2. Moldova - Natalia and Arsenium with "Loca"
Sample lyric - "Hey Loco, I'll give you my choco, do you want it or not?"
A 2-Unlimited style cheesy summer pop effort, with plenty of skimpy costume changes as the blonde singer Natalia keeps shedding clothes, although she ends up in a wedding dress, strangely. Someone rides a scooter on stage. This is what Eurovision is all about, although they are let down by Arsenium who Paul thinks looks like a Butlins Redcoat. They blow kisses to the crowd.

3. Israel - Eddie Butler with "Together we are one"
Sample lyric - "So let's close the door on yesterday"
An Israeli gospel choir with screeching women in white suits. Plenty of melodramatic key changes as Eddie the lead singer sits on a white grand piano. To be honest, it's rubbish.

4. Latvia - Cosmos with "I hear your heart"
Sample lyric - "A violin on a summer night, on a full moon mountaintop, couldn’t sound as sweet as you do – don’t stop"
Now this is more like it. Admittedly the song is fairly anonymous as Cosmos are six suited men singing a capella, although a couple of them have cracking mullets. Just as we're writing them off, three of them start to assemble a robot which moonwalks across the stage. Astounding, this is brilliant. Crowd goes wild, the robot waves.

5. Norway - Christine Guldbrandsen with "Alvedansen"
Sample lyric - "Only I can spark you to flame, come and play my secret game"
Six stunning blondes sing a song about elves. Dressed all in white, they don't sing in English - but neither of us care. Do all women in Norway look like this? We watch the song in total silence, having forgotten about the Latvian robot.

6. Spain - Las Ketchup with "Bloody Mary"
Sample lyric - "Una Bloody Mary por favor"
This one seems to be a drinking song about going on holiday, and has ballet dancers dressed in black. To be honest, I'm still thinking about the Norwegians.

7. Malta - Fabrizio Faniello with "I do"
Sample lyric - "I kept a piece of heart you gave, from our breakup day"
An emotive spiky haired bloke with an open shirt sings something about relationships ending. Maybe if he wasn't constantly surrounded by gorgeous dancers his girlfriend might not have left, eh? Just a thought, Fabrizio. He finishes the song on his knees, looking up at the heavens.

8. Germany - Texas Lightning with "No no never"
Sample lyric - "Never ever not gonna keep you safe where it's warm"
Wow. This one's a country and western song, complete with luminous cacti and banjos. The singer looks like an older version of Lulu, and the band all have stetsons. The crowd really like it. With quiet shame, I write 'This is actually quite good' on my pad.

9. Denmark - Sidsel Ben Semmane with "The twist of love"
Sample lyric - "He didn't know how to twist, didn't know how to make a girl insist"
Next up are the Danes, with a Grease style musical number involving plenty of dancers and some breakdancing. I missed most of it, as I was in the kitchen scouring the cupboards for something to drink.

10. Russia - Dima Bilan with "Never let you go"
Sample lyric - "Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, love's carving it into the stone"
Dima is apparently a heart throb in Eastern Europe, he has spiky hair and is wearing a vest. He stares soulfully at the tracking camera as it pans past. A woman showers him with rose petals as another appears out of a white grand piano which nobody was playing.

11. FYRM - Elena Risteska with "Ninanajna"
Sample lyric - "Dance with me nananinananajna"
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia put out a gorgeous young Kylie-type singer in a low-cut top and denim hot pants. Paul tries to work out if Nananinananajna is the name of a person as I quickly Google Elena Risteska. After seeing the results, she becomes my favourite.

12. Romania - Mihai Traistariu with "Tornero"
Sample lyric - "Tornero, tornero, tornerai, tornerai"
Mihai can 'reach five octaves and one third', apparently, whatever that means. He also wears an incredible amount of makeup and likes enormous, crashing key changes. Dry ice makes it's first appearance.

13. Bosnia & Herzegovina - Hara Mata Hari with "Lejla"
Sample lyric - "Wind rolls down the meadow, pain follows me like a shadow"
Terry Wogan mentions alcohol for the second time as the Bosnians bring an accordian and funny-shaped guitars to the mix. More white suits as they walk slowly around the stage, singing their emotive lyrics. "This kind of stuff wins Eurovision", I say to Paul. He looks away.

14. Lithuania - LT United with "We are the winners!"
Sample Lyric - "We are the winners of Eurovison! We are!"(x4)
"Lithuania have never won the contest" says Terry, despite their positive song title. Paul thinks it sounds like van Halen. I write 'six hairy men in suits, shouting'. One of them produces a gold megaphone. When they finish, the crowd boo them.

15. United Kingdom - Daz with "Teenage Life"
Sample lyric - "If you treat the kids fine, together they will shine"
Paul fetches Michelle to see our entry, which is frankly appalling. "What's the deal with this?" she asks. I try and explain what Eurovision is about, but Daz's yellow jacket and dancers dressed in school uniforms say more than I ever could. Michelle leaves.

16. Greece - Anna Vissi with "Everything"
Sample lyric - "I can feel my life ending, as a whisper, goodbye"
The crowd go crazy as the home singer comes on. Greek flags wave frantically as Anna yelps out her over the top song. The crowd join in and Anna finishes in a heap on the floor. Will Greece win again? If the audience could vote, absolutely.

17. Finland - Lordi with "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
Sample lyric - "It's the Arockalypse, on the day of Rockening"
Finland are something else. In a competition of pretty girls and cheesy pop, they produce a hard rock anthem dressed in full length rubber monster costumes. "They look like Klingons" says Terry. The song is brilliant. The drummer looks like the Predator, and the lead singer unfurls a huge pair of wings. Outstanding.

18. Ukraine - Tina Karol with "Show me your love"
Sample Lyric - "You'll be my part, that's why I came"
Tina's lyrics cause some tittering in our flat as she gamely tries to follow the Finns. She has a very short skirt, which helps, and is highly enthusiastic. Backed by dancing Cossacks with tambourines, they introduce skipping to the show for the first time tonight. Tina blows kisses to the crowd.

19. France - Virginie Pouchain with "Il etait temps"
Sample lyric - "Oh what a treat when the dream is at the end"
We're not at the end yet, as France's turgid entry means there are still five acts to go. Her high notes are seriously out of tune and she seems to give up long before the end. Terry mentions the war.

20. Croatia - Severina with "Moja Stikla"
Sample lyric - "For the grass has not yet sprouted, where my high heel has trodden"
Plenty of classic Eurovision stereotypes here - dancers in ethnic costume, over the top singer, masses of makeup, dry ice, and the classic whipping-the-skirt-off-routine Bucks Fizz patented all those years ago. We're not sure what the song is about.

21. Ireland - Brian Kennedy with "Every song is a cry for love"
Sample lyric - "Being strong, being tough - never tender, always rough"
More tittering. As befits tradition, the Irish entry is a whimsical ballad, complete with violins, swaying backing singers, and a pained final note. "Eurovision can't be won by someone called Brian", I say to Paul.

22. Sweden - Carola with "Invincible"
Sample lyric - "When it's coming over you, you won't let it go"
Even more tittering. Michelle looks at us with a confused expression. Sweden's entry sees the first use of a wind machine in the finals, and also the first wearing of silver trousers. The backing singers produce large silk flags as Carola manages to rhyme 'heart' with the word 'heart'.

23. Turkey - Sibel Tuzun with "Superstar"
Sample lyric - "My brilliance will bedazzle you. Watch out!"
Another energetic blonde in a short skirt. "She looks like one of those people in Dalkeith that would beat you up", says Paul. Terry Wogan informs us that the dancers are actually British. I mark it down as one of ours, although it's pretty dreaful.

24. Armenia - Andre with "Without your love"
Sample lyric - "What I say? What I hide? Without your love?"
The final entry! It's almost over, as Andre belts out a Greek bouzouki-style number whilst standing on a metal box. The crowd appreciate it, although maybe they are just relieved they've reached the end. I'm not even sure Armenia is in Europe. But the singing is over.

So with the end of the performances, it's time for the voting. Each country has a public phone vote, with the stipulation that you can't vote for your own country. Of course, voting for a neighbour seems to be allowed, and the tactical stuff begins. The Slovenian televote comes in first, and they give 10pts to Croatia and 12 to Bosnia. The crowd are booing already. Andorra give Greece 1 point and Spain 12. More booing. Political votes pile in, as Latvia give Finland 8, Lithuania 10, and Russia 12. Amusingly the Portuguese public give no points to Spain. The voting continues.

Over the next hour - yes - the choices of the European public are counted and verified. Croatia give Bosnia 12, Bosnia reciprocate. "The old Balkan foxtrot" as Terry calls it. Ukraine give Russia 12, but get only 10pts back. The French give Turkey top marks, and the Greek host congratulates Turkey through gritted teeth. The rock monsters of Finland are storming clear in the voting. Belarus are next to give their results. I write 'Armenia 8, Ukraine 10, Russia 12' on my pad. They give Armenia 8, Ukraine 10, and Russia 12.

The man from the German jury appears on a horse. Terry mentions the war again. We've been watching this for almost four hours now, as the Dutch spokesman makes an ill-advised sexual comment. Albania give Malta 1pt, and they become the last country to get off the mark. Nobody will get 0 this year. Moldova give neighbouring Romania 12, leading to more booing. Finland are 50pts clear. The Serbian public give Macedonia 8, Croatia 10, and Bosnia 12. The UK jury gives top points to Finland. Rock on! Paul votes for Latvia because they had a robot in their routine. They come 16th. Greece give 12pts to Finland, who have won. Outstanding result, Europe I salute you. Lordi come on stage to reprise their winning entry in their monster costumes, holding bouquets of flowers. The Eurovision song contest really is something else.

Final top three scores - Finland 292pts, Russia 248, Bosnia 229.

Finnish Monsters Rock Eurovision

Official Lordi site

Official Eurovision site

Walking at the weekend

Water of Leith in winter

Just a quick note for my UK-based readers - in this Saturday's Guardian (20th May) they are giving away a free Guardian walks guide, of 'Britain's 50 Best Walks'. As you may know, I like a walk now and again, and so picked one up. Imagine my surprise when one of the top 50 is only the Water of Leith footpath, that I walk along every day on the way home from work - and the joy of which I covered in an old post. I seem to remember mentioning '...very few people know about it' - I guess now the secret's out of the bag...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Signs II

Some more strangely interesting signposts from around the world for your enjoyment - starting with this one I saw on Rottnest Island, off the coast of Western Australia. If this were in a factory carpark or industrial estate, fair enough - but it was in the middle of nowhere on the coast of a sparsely populated (to my eyes) desert island. Firstly, it was on a clifftop, so there was actually very little space to assemble. Secondly, it was on the side of a single track road with nothing in sight apart from sand and bushes - I have no idea who this could be for. Thirdly, where were the other five? A mystery.

Also mysterious, but for different reasons, are Japanese signs. This one was in the large public park in Nara, a city east of Kyoto which was the original capital of the country. Deer are sacred in the Shinto religion, so are everywhere. To me (not being able to read kanji or hiragana), it looked like saying you weren't allowed to milk the deer, and maybe their antlers give off some kind of electricity. Fortunately for us we were with a Japanese speaker called Kazuko, and she translated. Apparently during mating season the deer - which were about four feet high and looked as docile as anything - get aggressive and you shouldn't approach their young. Fair enough - although it didn't say they don't produce electricity with their horns, so watch out.

'How to jog', as seen at Asakusa in northern Tokyo. My jogging career lasted about a week, and I just ran for ten minutes until my vision went white, then limped home and threw my trainers back in the cupboard. If I had only had one of these handy posters. In extreme detail, it covers the importance of warming up, warns about dehydration, and seems to give the health benefits for each part of your body that is exercised (including the hair, apparently). At the very bottom, it even tells you how to tie your shoelaces - although if you need help with that, you probably wouldn't have made it into the city to be able to read the poster in the first place.

Beware the smiling Zombiewoman who beckons you to her Public Lounge. I saw this in Kyoto, and immediately wondered what exactly a 'Public Lounge' is. Once again my lack of Japanese reading skills mean this is sadly a mystery. I don't even know what the words are coming off the enormous cup of tea like poisonous blue smoke. The top line of characters probably mean something like 'We harvest organs for transplant', or something. We didn't go.

Of course, no discussion of Japanese signs can conclude without a reference to the most commonly-cited example of their inventiveness - the electronic toilet. Taken at a hotel in Ginza, Tokyo, these were the instructions. It might be too small to make out, but the diagrams are a selection of people/backsides being alternately sprinkled and blasted with water. I attempted to try the buttons before use - but somehow they only worked when weight was applied to the (nicely warmed) seat, so you had to sit down to see what was what. Jets of tepid water, as it turned out. Not unpleasant, but not particularly nice, either. Still, it's always fun to have buttons to push, I guess.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Having been to a variety of places, I never get tired of odd or unusual signposts. This was the oddest I've ever seen - although it was part of the annual 'Sculpture by the Sea' art exhibition in Sydney. These signs were placed at random intervals along the coastal footpath between Bondi and Tamarama beaches and were designed to be deliberately ambiguous.

At the same exhibition - the dangers of 'installing' an art project made from (what looks like) flimsy plastic right next to the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean. Best of luck for Monochrome as Object #3, Pam! Maybe put it in a gallery to be on the safe side, eh?

On a suburban street in Canberra - the dangers of Australian wildlife. After reading this, you can't help nervously scanning the nearby trees. It felt like dozens of beady eyes were bearing down on me - but you'll be please to know I scuttled past the sign without losing an ear to any rogue birds. Unfortunately it never specified what type of bird to look for - it may have been a ground-dwelling sparrow thing, so me covering my head with my arms and whimpering could have been pointless. If I ever go back there, I'm taking a cricket bat, just in case.

This one was brilliant - on the tiny island of Ulva, in the main bay of Stewart Island south of New Zealand, you can find this 'threatened plant'. I should say so - when the picture is bigger than the actual thing, you can call it threatened. I had a quick look around, there were no other clusters anywhere - for Gunnera hamiltonii, that was it. If I were a gardener, I'd dig this up as a weed and chuck it without any thought. Hence the sign, I presume.

East of Christchurch is Taylor's Mistake - a surfing bay and sandy beach named after an unfortunate ship's captain who had some rock-related trouble there. Anyway, it made a good sign for a photo - and have you ever seen me with a cheesier grin? It's almost frightening.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pillock in a Bubble

David Blaine, this week

What did you get up to this week? Anything interesting? I went for dinner with friends, drank in a few pubs, watched a cricket match on the Sunday. What I didn't do was chain myself in a plastic water-filled bubble for seven days and 'make eye contact' with people queueing to see me. But then I'm not David Blaine. "My only fear is the unknown," said Blaine before descending into the sphere whenever it was last week. That and fin rot, I presume (a joke for my Aquarist readers there). I would think if you sit underwater for a week you know pretty much where you'll be at the end of it. And that you'll be more wrinkly.

Anyway, the other night he came out, having survived, but only just. He described his time in the bubble as 'horrific' - "I think the time has started to really take its toll on my body. Every muscle doesn't just ache, it feels like a sharp shooting pain, like a knife being stabbed." I would think that would be a stabbing pain - but I'm no expert. I dunno, I can't work him out. Some say he's a showman, in the long tradition of Houdini etc, some say he's a headline-grabbing egotist. Essentially he's a more extreme version of people who do stupid things when drunk - "I bet you a fiver I can down this pint in under ten seconds!" "Yeah? Well Dave reckons he can sit underwater for a week!!"

I suppose as long as only he gets put at danger, it's not a bad thing if he wants to do bizarre stunts - he could spend a week pushing grapes up his backside for all I care. He certainly seems to be well rewarded - TV Networks sold $9m worth of advertising during the bubble thing, and he's set to earn a large seven-figure sum as a result. Taking that into consideration, fair play to him - people have always paid good money to see strange people doing mystifying things - like watching Bolton Wanderers, for example. Why shouldn't he rake it in?

I only thought that until I visited Blaine's website, however, where you can purchase things like this poster, entitled 'Drowned Alive' featuring an incredible drawing of a heavily muscled Blaine straining at his chains, whilst being surrounded by angels. And a man in a rowing boat, for some reason. I doubt he personally drew it - but is this how he sees himself? If not, some members of the public certainly seem to - "I got water on my hand from his body," said excited student Anthony Taylor. [no relation...] He visited Blaine every day of his aquatic incarceration and said he felt a strong bond with his fellow Brooklynite. "I'm proud of my brother and I think he did good. Most people don't even like taking baths. Nobody else could do that." [BBC]

Well, that's true. But then, would anybody else want to? Yes, as it happens. At the same time as Blaine was having the algae scraped off his tank, a man called Ted Alcorn was doing a similar stunt on Broadway called 'Dunk for Darfur', to "highlight how many had died in Sudan while he was submerged while the world held its breath,". A noble cause, but paperwork got the better of his intentions, as he was promptly arrested for not obtaining a permit. Maybe Blaine is taking the cult of celebrity too far, but at least he walks the walk - you wouldn't catch Paris Hilton* doing something like that. But it makes me uncomfortable that if something went wrong, he'd become a modern-day TV martyr. They should just tip formaldehyde into the bubble and turn him into a Damien Hurst sculpture - Blaine could become his own statue. He might actually like that.

* - Now my Google hits are going to shoot up...

NY cheers on David Blaine

Monday, May 08, 2006

A means to an end

They look like this!

If you scroll down all the way to the bottom of this page - past all the colourful photos and witty, uplifting dialogue (should you find any), you might see a small black number right at the very end. This is how I keep track of all you lovely readers - except my Grandparents, who read paper copies printed off and posted to them by my Mum. 'Silver Surfers' always slip under the radar. Anyway, thanks to the fine people at, I can get an idea of how many people visit the site, where they are, and how they came to arrive here.

I only do it out of mild interest, I constantly find it surprising people a) would want to read what I write, and b) can actually find me - given that there are 35 million blogs on the internet now. Feel free to click on the 'Next Blog' button at the top right there, which will - thanks to the magic of the t'interweb - take you to another random outpouring of a Keyboard Superhero making things up, much like myself. Or it could be in Spanish, so you'll never know. Anyway, a fair few people seem to find me by accident - and to them I can only apologise - but others come across DUaB after Googling for something.

Yep, such is the power of Google, it has now become a verb (or adjective, or whatever the right term should be. Ahem). So people looking for information bash in some near-sounding words and they get me in their list of possible sites. I don't do anything deliberate to end up in these results - some of them I read and scratch my head as to how my random outpourings get connected to what they were looking for. But hey, hopefully I can be of help - like the person who searched for 'SHOW ME WHAT SPIDER CRABS LOOK LIKE', I can only point upwards. Also, 'FUNICULAR AND CABLE CARS TO LAKE ASHI' I covered in some depth here, so maybe that person got the answers they were after.

I doubt the person who searched for 'ROBBIE WILLIAMS FAN SITE KILT PHOTO' went away rewarded though, although there is a picture of me in a kilt on here somewhere - as if that were any consolation. 'EASTER WEEKEND DUNE ACCIDENT' is something I couldn't remember happening, although I did see someone get hit by a flyaway parasol on Curl Curl beach once - maybe that was it. I don't think I've ever covered 'AUSSIE RULES CHANTS', or 'JEAN PAUL GAULTIER UMBRELLAS' - the mind boggles. As to 'WHY DOES A TELLY TURN ITSELF OFF?' I can only answer HAVE YOU TRIED LOOKING IN THE MANUAL?.

Some of the potential subjects people are after, and end up with me, are almost poetic in their strangeness. Take 'DOWN UNDER SYDNEY CITY LOVE', or 'TORRENT SUPERVOLCANO DUTCH'. No, me neither. 'CENTIPEDE ON SKEWERS' is a good one - Google has 910 entries on this important subject. It also has 692,000 sites answering the very valid question 'WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE 2012 OLYMPICS' - although if Ken Livingstone clicks on the 5th ranked result to find out, he'll get an old piece I wrote about a basketball match at Sydney Olympic Park.

I'll try and answer as many of these as I can though, so here goes. 'WHO INVENTED THE DEEP FRIED MARS BAR?' - A chippy in Stonehaven, near Aberdeen. 'TYPICAL BRITISH BANK HOLIDAY WEATHER' - rain. 'HOW MANY CALORIES IN A TUNNOCKS CARAMEL WAFER?' - not enough. 'INTERVIEW BLACKBURN'S LUCAS NEILL' - I would ask him why he gives away so many penalties. 'IRN BRU ONLINE ORDER NEW ZEALAND' - hungover again, Edd? ;)

The two most often searched-for terms that point people here are 'DANGEROUS THINGS ABOUT AUSTRALIA', and - I'm not making this up - 'WHAT DO MEN WEAR UNDER THEIR KILTS'. I'm not sure if those people are nervous first-time wearers trying to find out for themselves, or hopeful women looking for photos. Either way, I doubt they found out what they came for here. My personal favourite Google entries are 'TOKYO GIANT RATS' - which I'm sure I would have a recollection of - 'ACCIDENTALLY SUCKED INTO THE ENGINE - CAUSES OF DEATH', which yields 26,700 results, amazingly. But to finish, a perfect way to sum up DUaB. I congratulate the person who navigated here after searching Google for 'UNPUNCTUAL HUMOUR ESSAY'...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A good walk spoiled

Nice shot, sir!

How frustrating is golf? Bloody frustrating if you play like I do - and yet bizarrely I still enjoy it. Odd that. Anyway, yesterday was a rare sunny day, so I took it off and played golf with an old friend of mine. For years I'd been using the same old crappy set of clubs I bought when I was 15 and just starting out - and I still get junkmail from the place I bought them from, which is annoyingly impressive. A few weeks ago I received a four-figure cheque from Australia after cashing in my Superannuation I accrued whilst working over there, so I spent a fair whack (pun intended) of that on a new set of clubs.

What with Scotland being the home of golf (if you don't listen to the Dutch or Chinese), there are plenty of courses around here to carve up. The one we chose was reasonably long, straight and flat - good for getting back into the game (I'd not played for a couple of years). At the first tee, after a few scything practice swipes, I calmly teed the ball up, brandished my shiny new driver (the head of which is the size of a small dog), and with the next group looking on, promptly sliced the ball five feet along the ground - just making it off the raised teeing area.

So after that I figured it couldn't get much worse. Cocking up at the first tee is about as bad as it gets, as golf being what it is you assume every other player on the course is deftly skilled and sees you as some kind of feckless amateur. But the group behind lost a ball on the first and didn't have to wait for us at all, so we could get on with things at our own pace. Not that that helped my game any - but it was a nice sunny day (albeit windy), and it was good to put the new irons to some kind of use.

When I was in Australia in 2002 I played on a course in Northern Queensland, which was also great fun. Part of that was getting the chance to drive a golf buggy - and aside from nearly rolling it (which wasn't my fault), the closest I came to killing myself was when I picked up a rake to smooth over a bunker I'd just hacked out of, only to find a large pea-green spider sitting on the handle looking intently at my hand. I also sliced one into the bushes (a common occurrence when I'm not hooking into the bushes), and started poking around with my club in ankle-high scrub for my ball - forgetting that several of the world's deadliest snakes live wild there. So after freezing, and frantically scanning the leaves for a slavering camouflaged reptile, I quietly backed out of the rough and got another ball from my bag. As hard as the courses are in Scotland, at least you can go into the rough without being killed (which is good news for yours truly).