After a long and tiring week toiling in a dim, dusty room sorting out stock for the new Waterstone’s I was very glad to get a weekend off. As I had to stop off at our West End branch to drop off keys I figured I may as well meet up with my mate Gordon, who works nearby and duly arrived in the late evening sunlight to have a pint or two outside of Teuchters. This was followed by a brief stop for a pint or two on the way home at Ryries, which was interrupted by a bizarre bunch of middle-aged, tubby musicians who come in with fiddles and accordions and play very loudly for a few minutes before passing round the cap for money. Or a tambourine in this case. I think folk give them money to make them go away. I normally enjoy live music in the pub, but these guys just breeze in, play loudly and walk up and down stopping at everyone’s table on the way, which is annoying when you’re trying to have a very well-earned drink and chat with a mate after a long, long week. Anyway, ten minutes further along the road home – not so much The Road Less Travelled, more the Road Pissed and Sozzled – and we stop in at another pub, the Balmoral.

Now the Balmoral is a bar on Dalry road we have both passed many times yet neither of us has ever drunk in despite living in this part of town for many years. With the excellent Caley Sample Room, Diggers and The Golden Rule nearby we don’t go into the other bars so much. It was an okay pub but there was a real lack of proper ale. However by this time our quick two or three pints had grown to take us past ten o’clock, so we didn’t much care by then. Guess who was very glad he had Irn Bru in the fridge when he got home? And guess who had very annoyed pussycats yowling at him and glaring pointedly at empty food bowls when he got home?

So after that I thought it time to take the rest of the weekend at a slower pace and relaxed with a nice Laurel and Hardy DVD I picked up form Fopp for a mere 3 quid. The Flying Deuces – the one where Stan and Ollie join the French Foreign Legion. It’s also the one where Ollie dies at the end but is reincarnated as a horse before going off with Stan at the end. Fabulous stuff. Stan Laurel can reduce me to gales of laughter with a slight change in expression.

So on Sunday I decided to get a little more productive and to this end battered out no less than three reviews for the Alien Online – two books (How to Build a Nuclear Bomb and Roma Eterna) and a movie (Underworld – flawed but mildly enjoyable, unlike Cypher which was so bad I’m not going to waste time writing a review of it). Now I feel like I have done something productive after a couple of weeks of no reviews (which is a long time for me). And I am extremely pleased to see our beloved Alien has been nominated once more for an award in the Best Small Press category. Perhaps Ariel is right and Peter Crowther will walk away with it again for his Most Excellent PS Publishing (whose titles I have been very happy to stock and sell) but I still think we’re in with a good shout (we’ve won one award and are hungry for more).

Anyway, it’s great to be nominated because it means the SF Community are paying attention to us and like what they see. As they are the people we largely write for this is a pretty rewarding feeling and one the whole Alien team – including, at last, Alex – should feel proud of. And despite his modesty, Ariel should feel especially proud of. Yes, it is a huge team effort, but he’s the one who pulls it all together and keeps it running, so accept some sincerely-meant kudos, mate, you deserve them, as do the whole team.