Saturday, June 15, 2019

Fish plays guitar

Above: A surreal advertisement depicting a fish playing an electric guitar. To the best of my knowledge this has not yet happened in the real world plus it is only a fanciful illustration trying to sell you a guitar. Sometimes people will say things like "life is so surreal" or that some event was "so surreal" or that they felt "surreal" (?). But it wasn't or isn't any of that, perhaps it was strange or unexpected, it jarred with the rest of what was going on or maybe just hard to understand. None of that makes it surreal. Surreal is not real, it is super real and we live in a world of "ordinary" real, "regular" real and far too may unnecessary bits of over use of inverted commas brought about by lack of imagination and of course that old faithful; laziness. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Return of the insects

Two wasp's nests, a giant spider and a lot of ladybirds: I'm in an optimistic mood, the insects are fighting back, maybe it's the wet weather, maybe it's the mild winter, maybe it's none of above. Perhaps my insect vision has grown and expanded, I'm seeing the world through ladybird coloured glasses, there's no credible explanation. The return and rise of the insects may save us all from Armageddon; the lack of pollination and the death of wild birds. Not noticing too many bees however, not sure when their big season is. The colony in the fields next door have been moved on by their shepherds, pastures new and all that. Anyway I've decided (as per yesterday's rant) on defaulting to optimism as the superior state of mental well being.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Asda car park: Somebody who really likes cats or just fails miserably to understand that sometimes words have two meanings.
Back from the brink of Gogglebox: Years and Years, Black Mirror, A Handmaid's Tale etc. Dystopian science fiction is like a drug, a drug that's a bit like heroin in fact. A black drug. A black hole of a drug. Invariably modern dramas in this genre try to scare the pants from us by predicting and portraying future worlds where things become darker, less controllable, more frightening and downright dangerous. There is no comfort, there is no salvation, just a ragged humanity constantly beleaguered by oppressive regimes, alien attack or nature going crazily out of control. It's a ratings winner every time and it does reflect real life but slightly skews it away from the everyday experience. 

So is there now an alternative case for more of a balance where science fiction carries a new and jarringly optimistic tone, where there are actual positive outcomes, where humanity isn't crushed, when we actually work together and manage to prevent doom and destruction falling upon us? In this other storytelling universe things actually work out, the good guys win (and not just the key characters we've been rooting for but everybody), there's a positive outcome. Is there anybody writing this stuff these days? 

I can't say I'd expect this to sell but there has to be a safe adult fictional place outside of kid's TV programming. The constant dramatic bombardment of negative energy, awful outcomes and the bigging up of man's inhumanity to man wins every time. As Steven Hawking once said via his voice machine, "it doesn't have to be this way". Just think about that please, even for a few seconds before cynically dismissing it. Not all coppers, politicians, billionaires or scientists are bent or bonkers.

On reflection the original Star Trek had a more upbeat tone as it grew awkwardly out the 50's wild tales and it was of course cheesy and unbearable at times but it got us all addicted to some higher plan and purpose ... we just didn't realize that the rot was setting in. Now we are not so much what we eat but what we view.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Reckless Eurovision

It's a few weeks since Eurovision but that's hardly important. What is important however is this epic series of snappy renditions from a Eurovision that never was but one that probably should be. I don't quite know how else to put it ... a highly creative piece of mash-up art work?

Monday, June 10, 2019

The sky...

FFS: Last night I experienced the latest incarnation of BBC's "the Sky at Night". Once the brilliant domain of the eccentric and goofy Patrick Moore and filled with genuine enthusiasm and mind boggling facts, figures and concepts (all presented in a wonderful, catastrophic garden shed manner) this show is now firmly in the hands of idiots. It's presented in the style of a condescending version of Blue Peter for adults. Howling feebly at the moon with no wit, nuance or respect for an audience that might just have lived through the actual space race and the development of space research and those mighty engineering and development leaps in technology and science than once enthralled us (and still do). 

The presenters spoke like primary school teachers and explored absolutely nothing with their tone-deaf, puerile scripts. It was so bad that I felt simply stupider after watching this half hour long accidental splashdown without any parachutes. Poor Patrick must be spinning in his grave at the very thought of a once flagship (if niche) show turning into a badly stated space travelogue for the under sevens as if read from a Ladybird Book. I'm not going back into the spacial vacuum of BBC4 to view this again any time soon.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Super different tastes

I heard some young, bright, eager and slightly irritating young (Indy) musician using the phrase "super different tastes". She said that "we in the band have super different tastes". At around that point I concluded watching the interview/promo or whatever it was by hitting the stop button. Having said that here are two "super different tastes".

Three act drama

Of course and obviously it's stolen from Twitter, where else am I supposed to go to for content that's a bit broader based than own dull and narrow life experiences? 

When you have clear, expressive pictures you don't need any words.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Lost Maps

If you thought that the Crook of Devon was some kind of criminal type from the West Country then you'd be right, it's also a place in Scotland however. The above map is of Crook of Devon and is in Crook of Devon but for some strange reason is located on a stone wall, in a quiet lane at the outside rear end of a churchyard where nobody (except a nosey git like me) would ever expect to find it. Most towns have their maps near the tourist information, on bus stops or by the entrance to the local Morrisons (note other major supermarkets do not bother with this as far as I know). Crook of Devon however keeps it's hand crafted map hidden from prying eyes. Of course it may be that you can only find the map if you're actually lost, that's a clever twist.

Mount Everest

Awful to hear that four bodies were found amongst the trash collected on Mount Everest. I do wonder about "adventurers and thrill seekers" who queue up to climb the mountain (maybe this applies to any really grown up and angry mountain). What the fuck are they thinking? Mountains are dangerous places, do what you can manage, do what you can cope with. Don't try do to what might kill you and possibly kill the ones who come looking for you. End of rant from a reasonably safety conscious 64 year old who enjoys the outdoors up to a point.

Thursday, June 06, 2019


This is an actual thing, by Coldwar Steve. The cover of Time. Unthinkable last year at this time.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Daily Cafe

Old School: The Powmill Milk Bar has not changed in 30 years, maybe more. Clunky and hardly elegant but not quite a greasy spoon. I went for the classic fried egg and haggis roll with a flat white, all for £5.50 and with really quick internet for hours of easy, endless amusement. Friendly staff and, as you might expect on a wet Wednesday, the clientele are mainly wrinkly Honda Jazz driving types i.e. over 60s. They take a long time to make their minds up making me wonder if they've ever been in a cafe before but then again quite what to eat may be their biggest decision of the day. Things I liked: the long well stocked bar and counter (as above), my tasty snack, the wifi and the ability to swing back on the wooden chairs. Didn't like: weird sticky tables, gungy toilets and the slightly gloomy look of the place. Anyway as I'm touring the area with my heavy workload I'll be back.

Strange spectacle

A strange spectacle yesterday. Just across the water the football ground at Bo'ness is on fire. Obvious tragedy for the club and it's supporters. From this distance it looks like some wartime battlefield scene.

Monday, June 03, 2019

LD Experience

This was fun: Pitched up yesterday for an off-road Land Rover driving experience up in the heart of damp and rural Perthshire. We began with coffee and biscuits in the loch-side retreat and then headed for the hills,the glens, steep hills and bumpy descents and the muddy swampy places were Land Rovers have their native and natural environment. Now I know what it takes to be a good off-road driver, basically buy a Land Rover, it does it all itself while you quietly hang on. Oh, but don't buy a white one second hand, they're the ones the off road schools use so beware.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

How memories were...

... or how the magical properties of old prints and photographs can confuse and delude in a dangerous but pleasant way: 

This photo arrived in my Twitter feed today: "Blue Train, Scotland, 1960s". The striking thing is that everyone on the train looks relaxed, stylish and cool in a proper 60s way. Was it a set up, all preened and posed? A promotional shot for British Rail or some tourist flyer? Whoever posted it didn't think so, just another day on the train during some random Scottish summer, snapped at the right moment. A wonderful everyday moment.

The funny thing is that a photo like this plays on your mind and quickly starts to influence your memories (well mine). Despite the knowledge of my own experiences, it seems that the past was not only sunny and strangely colourful but people looked nice, behaved in a civilized way there was an obvious peaceful, simple happiness just about everywhere. Things were safe, clean and predictable and somehow better. The trains probably ran on time and you could get a seat. OK I know this is an illusion and total rubbish but if you're of a certain age and you look into this picture for a few moments you'll feel your own back pages and thoughts of the past start to blur, distort around the edges and just drift into a, dare I say, happier place.

None of this evidence based, it's all about feelings and a mild unconscious influence, perhaps just wishful thinking. Such is the power of a random image, reflected on and seen through rose tinted glasses which works quite well still, despite years of cynical black and white filtered observations.

Friday, May 31, 2019

View from the office

Whilst the actual view from the office (which of course isn't an office) isn't bad at all, the imaginary one is slightly better. Always good to have a vivid imagination that seeps across into reality. Perhaps I just dreamt it or maybe, under the influence of Rory Stewart's erstwhile leadership, I accidentally smoked some opium or had a piece smeared on a slice of dry toast. I though he might be a good Tory, a bit like how in WW2 films there's occasionally a good Nazi but they're still Nazis albeit they're conflicted. I also imagined that a cat had peed in my coffee cup, that wasn't so good mainly because the imagined part only became vivid once I'd drank the coffee. Then I imagined I was asleep and so the imagined parts became the dream thereby rendering them fully unreal and eventually totally forgotten, that's why I had to make this up. Meanwhile I saw Neil Young in a vision but somehow he was lacking in stature, he was of course an old man and clearly not 24 anymore but for some reason he was performing in an intimate walking concert on the approach road to the Forth Bridge. His ex-wife Peggy was there too but he wasn't bothered by this. It was a nice sunny day however. Then I awoke and had a cup of tea but in reality I was still asleep but had managed to type it all up. Typical start to the day I suppose. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hanging candles of Babylon

Candles captured after eating a substantial lunch at the almost fictional "Pillars of Hercules" shop and cafe. The herb garden is in the photo below. All quite nice for food and most of it clearly home grown. No actual candles were eaten at lunch time, maybe later though.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Lucky potato

Thanks to another of those irritating Smack-Chat filters here's me making both a serious and stupid face whilst listening to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard floundering around in a radio interview on the ever unreliable BBC. Note how whilst listening to Richard's Brexit based excuses for being unable to provide a clear message on anything I revert to my working class roots and doff a handy cloth cap and NHS issue specs. In my pockets are 20 Woodbine, three shillings and sixpence, some string, a hankie and a "lucky" potato. For those of you who do not know what a "lucky" potato actually is, well just count yourselves lucky. 

Shortly after listening to this interview and making light of some newsworthy and serious political matters I magically turned into a glum ginger cat.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Figures of fun

Conflicted: I like the yellow Scotland and am not surprised by the dumb-ass Brexit blues in the south but not sure how exactly that corresponds to a Mr Burns figure? Is Scotland like the head of Mr Burns and England and Wales are his body? What does it all mean? Simply chop the head from Mr Burns and all will be well? Or is it that our island(s) are just some laughable cartoon caricature of greed and ignorance regardless of whoever's side you're on. Hmm. Anyway, glad that's over and Scotland came out of it looking at least a little sensible and EU positive, just what's going to happen  next?

Nice to see that  the Sabbath loving Western Isles have yet to declare, welcome to the 21st century.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Guitar bingo

Caught indoors on a rainy day? Why not have a nice game of guitar scale bingo? Simple to take part in and only mildly infuriating for all the participants. The bingo caller, a musical expert, simply calls out a musical scale of some sort i.e. Harmonic Minor, Mixolydian, Major Pentatonic, Dorian or Diminished (there are many others that could be chosen) and the first guitarist to pull of a credible and clear lick only using notes in the appropriate scale wins a point. Points are of course lost or deducted for poor fingering (?) or just playing the same old stuff you always play using that Blues scale you got from the Bert Weedon book when you were 16. Tone is of course important but it's way too complicated to allocate scores for so forget it. Points are also deducted for any players who say things like "it's all in my fingers" and "I'm lost without a decent compressor" or "I've broken a nail".  You can also be disqualified for Jazzy noodling, super-fast skiderooing or pulling out a guitar slide from the back pocket of your jeans. Open D tuning is also frowned upon, not sure why. Please note: there are bonus points for any credible attempt at any Steely Dan line.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Euro Elections

As it's Euro Election day (nicely illustrated here by Cold War Steve (thank you)), I'm already planning my working day ahead and my late night, last minute trip to the polling station. Once there I fully intend to throw a virtual milkshake into the great voting machine and scribble a cross on a very long piece of paper. The political theatre and absurd comedy that we've grown to love and detest will then carry on in the background leaving us a quiet weekend. Then I'll probably forget about the whole thing until the results emerge on Monday. That's right the Scottish results are held back because the good people on our remote and strange wee island communities need to take a Sabbath break on Sunday so absolutely hee-haw happens apparently. Not a single black box is to be moved by man, woman or beast. Either that or suffer the wrath of God which I know everyone truly wants to avoid at this time, particularly now that things are so screwed up. The last thing we need is an upset God bearing down on us.