Monday, May 23, 2016


As usual, moving relentlessly at the pace of a lazy snail we're working on a beefed up version of this recording, currently played "live" with voice, guitar and drum machine only - as per the video. The new mix will include bass, a second guitar line and extra drums, hit-hat and cymbals. It's just being remastered/rehashed and all being well will be in the shops by Christmas...not sure which year. It's all pretty exciting stuff.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I now wear a cycling helmet

Now that I am a man who has achieved a certain level of advanced maturity, mentally and physically  I've decided to dispense with some of my health and safety prejudices and get on with wearing cycling helmet when I'm on a bike. It's the right and sensible thing to do but for a number of years I just didn't because I considered myself to be the kind of person who seldom falls from a bike. I'm not sure if there is a proper medical term for this condition other than delusional. That's because I know myself to be the kind of person who falls out of trees, from shed roofs, from stepladders, pavements and generally bangs his head at any given opportunity. To continually go bare headed on a bike just seems daft and tempting fate in an unpleasant way. So today we got up early (whatever that means on a Sunday) and set out to patrol the shores of the Forth, out to Preston Island and past Culross while the still, fine morning held some promise for the day ahead.  Amazingly everyone else out at that time seemed happy and carefree, said cheery "good mornings" and went about their business as if in a Mary Poppins' kind of world.  We were an unlikely part of it for a short time. Unfortunately the talking animals and helpful bluebirds didn't turn up.

I was cycling along, unrecognisable in the helmet and sunglasses thinking about pitch invasions at football matches. The melee at Hampden yesterday was in many ways understandable given the emotion of the moment for the Hibs fans. Not so good that people invariably got assaulted or abused as a result. The last good humoured one I recall was at Greenock Morton's ground when (we) DAFC won the title. The fans were on the pitch but no damage was done, nobody was hurt and there was only singing, back slapping and cheering going on . It struck me that the old commentator's cliche of "and the fans have invaded the pitch" seldom get's heard these days, probably just as well. Anyway I'm glad Hibs cracked it on the pitch and beat the Huns, sorry that the fans screwed up and happy that I can now cycle a little bit more safely than previously now that I've downgraded a major part of my stubborn streak.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Four days of pasta

That's correct, it's been pasta for tea for four days now, three days of a tomato based, minced beef kind and one day of a cheesy, onion concoction. There's still some of the cheesy variety left as leftovers for future consumption. For some reason pasta, unlike most other food types seems to do reasonably well if left alone in our fridge. Who'd have thought it? I've still not reached the more desperate point of covering it with brown sauce, that's an intense and needy level I've yet to hit. I don't really feel any the worse for this dietary experimental experience either, in fact I'm positively thriving with creative juices, guitar-man-ship and idiot dancing now all operating at quite a high level. I've also gained new skills as a Mayfly whisperer. I can walk amongst these short lived and challenged insects and come to no harm and what's more as I pass through them in their best cloud formation they move out of the way. Strangely untouchable as they dance on the breeze as if with some burning religious fervour in their little hearts. This is quite civilised and sophisticated pattern of behaviour compared to that exhibited by most of the local wildlife most of which appears either just greedy or stupid. Perhaps they sense the high levels of pasta in me or it may be related to the magical powers of the deeply overcooked garlic. I'll probably never know.

Some educational extras: This is how it all works for the Mayfly, no mention of gardens, sources of stagnant water, garlic or interaction with humans. It's a short but eventful life and I like the idea that they experience time quite differently from the way we do (something I just made up).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Science Fiction Morning

Worlds evolve in parallel: This morning I'm feeling the deep and blinding sunshine of a pseudo Science Fiction Morning complete with a light breeze and some dense hoovering. The rain has gone. I've discovered the added joy of connecting lots of different wires and leads together, all towards the great goal of eliminating that buzz, that crackle, that dull hum, that noise that defies and confounds the silence, where ever it may hide. This of course is the faint hum of the universe, a great machine that runs without any stopping, as far our feeble time lines are concerned anyway. We run in the hum, slightly oblivious and determined to remain uneducated and cheap. "That is why I have created and captured these recordings" said the Professor. "This story will run and run and never worry if you fail to understand first time around."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

From the Dark Ages

So it's back to doing a little home recording, mixing and unnecessary fiddling. The equipment is not quite state of the art, a little primitive and pretty clunky. However I actually understand how most of it works, only having the refer to the manual every five minutes or so and then having a reasonable period of thinking time followed by giving up followed by starting again. Easy when you know how or just can't be bothered learning new stuff. So the first step is to set up the already (live) recorded tracks, get them balanced and then add in some extra elements that will hopefully improve the whole sound, then mix and master and...we'll see how things progress.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

National Savings and Local Complaints

Once again those pesky robots at Google have fiddled with my photographs in a rather high handed way and I've of course tacitly approved of their shoddy workmanship by adding it in as above. Still and so to speak; however irritating they may be they are not as bad as our own National Savings/Premium Bonds organisation who require you to  register your details on-line, then print them and then post them off to them. WTF? Is this not 2016 and are they not fully digitally enabled as per our wonderful government's (woeful) promises? Apparently not quite.

P.S. I wholeheartedly apologise, I promise to buy some of your shit products and I need that million quid jackpot ASAP.

Random reflections

If today's unseasonal but useful rains clear up I may well swop places with this gnome. He's keeping an eye of the south side of the sky for us at the moment. It can be a busy place.  If the rain keeps up I'm downing tools and doing some music stuff.

I was reminded today how poor my sense of timing can be. Boiling eggs and guessing the time does not work, particularly when you're doing other things at the same time. I always under estimate. I think "that's a good five minutes" when it's really only two. The end result being squidgy eggs that you can't return to the shell and reboil. No.

Somethings do make you feel old and a little too experienced. Turns out that Robert Fripp, who is probably a lot less grumpy than he seems is 70 today and it's his and Toyah Wilcox's wedding anniversary. To be honest they always seems to me to be an odd match for each other (based on my tiny and ancient knowledge of both of their lives probably based on a couple of interviews in the Sounds or the NME) but obviously they're still together. Here are the happy couple looking perfectly normal in a recent pic nicked from FBook. Could be Ali and me in few years time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

This Garden Earth

I really enjoy our garden space, we're very fortunate. Scotland at the moment has a pretty tolerable climate. The sun rises early through the trees, now all green and busy and heads across the sky lighting and warming the garden pretty much all day. Apart from a few shady corners there is no hiding place from it's rays. The dry spell has lasted longer than I expected, I've become used to at least a couple of consecutive rainy mornings but now once the early clouds clear it's bright all day. Is this really the warming process or just some weather blip? I'm on the fence here, I've seen evidence both ways in Canada and Iceland and the expert bodies (all of whom seem to be using fairly sound scientific examples) probably can't be wrong. I guess I'm guilty of having more faith in the Earth itself and the processes and weather systems that have run since the dawn of time. We do tend to over estimate our influence on things; man loves to believe he's the author of so much change be it good or bad. The thought of another, impersonal force influencing doesn't sit so well with that arrogant stance. So I'm not saying that we're not shitting up the world and making things worse, we surely are, that's all we've ever done. We're a selfish, thoughtless species in the main. It's more about to what extent we're actually doing it, how much the Earth is fighting back and how much influence other unseen factors may be having

This was the garden yesterday, looks pretty much the same today, let's hope we can follow that pattern into tomorrow and beyond.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pet Sounds flounders

Maybe not so incredibly but this is 50 years old, about now. I don't hold to any view that the sixties were somehow the cradle and golden age of modern music, that's nonsense. Every generation has creative high points and with the benefit of looking backwards you see how what works and succeeds or  how it fails and how potential is not realised or opportunities are missed out. History teaches us that we can't learn much from history other than good things and bad things tend to happen but not always in equal measure. So I always liked the Beach Boys, even as an uncool guilty pleasure. This album is taken as being their best, Brian Wilson at the height of his creative powers and so on plus all the urban myths that surround it. I'm not so sure, it ticks many boxes (the train still beats me though) but Holland and Surf's Up are better albums. Anyway, happy birthday. The past remains a pretty strange place.

Better, Safer, Stronger Europe.

I'm always uncomfortable seeing politicians (mostly the ex variety here) sharing a platform over bigger issues. I say that despite being eager to see a more realistic, collaborative political model actually run and deliver things in this country. So I'm conflicted, maybe it's the personalities and their recent histories and general lack of credibility. Here we have all the wrong people probably saying almost all the right things. However these three standing at the gateway to Europe (?) that is a shed in Stanstead doesn't really make a good case for anything other than acting as a foil for numerous Twitter rants and blog fodder like this.  I'l get back to promoting my own little economy via Gumtree. Jeep for sale anyone?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

15th May again

Snacks and Prosecco. 
Some folks like crab, others like asparagus.
Then there's whisky, coffee and there's Baileys.
Anniversary night out, some of the food and drink sampled.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hard roads often lead to beautiful destinations

Blossom 1
Blossom 2  
Four sticks
Too nice a day to sit in and write or even to sit out and write so here are three sunny garden pictures and a wise and profound sounding post title that I stole from somewhere. The blossom and the flowers don't last long really but for today in the sunshine they look bright, unworldly and eternal.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bus to Glasgow

Glasgow's a cheap day out when you're old enough to have the Scottish Entitlement Card in your wallet, that's free travel in any bit of central belt dialect. It's chilly place though, where brave buskers and beggars were staying out in the cold now that the heatwave has passed and the gloomy clouds have returned to remind us all where we are in the world.  After lunch in the relaxing Spitfire Cafe, soup, sandwiches and cake and a lot of tiny tea pots, (toilet c/w odd additional fittings featured above) we moved onto the Art Gallery where I took this photo of the arse of the iconic Duke of Wellington statue and his faithful horse.  The gallery was a strange mixture of the simple and the over sophisticated, too much space, a lot of style but not enough content or explanation. Edinburgh knows a thing or two when it comes to setting up an exhibition if that's not an unfair comparison (but that's how wars start). 

As a driver of 40+ years traveling by bus is always a strange experience. The simple fact that you can see things, over fences and hedges, into houses and offices and just observe familiar places and landmarks (along the motorway) from an elevated, new angles and detached position is fun. It makes me wonder how much of Scotland I've ever really seen, most of now seems to be that bit in the middle distance that is caught in the windscreen while everything at the edges just flashes past. I'm no bus junkie though, my trips will be carefully rationed...too many old, moaning wrinklies on board. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cheap sunglasses

My bike has now returned from a lengthy stay with the bike doctor in the fictional village of Dunfermline, one time capital of Alba or was it Aldi? Anyway said bike has new tyres, new air in the new tyres, brakes and gears that work and it may be a little cleaner than it was before, all for £55 cash and no awkward negotiations required. I took it for a zoom along the coast just after lunch in the unseasonal warm weather (38C in the conservatory) wearing a T shirt (and other clothes) and cheap polarising sunglasses, turns out they're the best sunglasses ever. They give the world a warm and amber glow, they provide rich and soothing sun-tones that speak of new worlds and light from sources we currently can't quite perceive because of their relatively complex atomic structure compared to that of our primitive fish inspired, round and foggy peepers. One day we'll all evolve eyes good enough for meeting these sunglasses' mysterious capability, until then we can only dream. Now I'm off to cut more timber just in case any local witch burnings are required out of the blue and at short notice; be prepared.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

As I walked out...

... not far from the Fife Coastal path near to Torryburn. The early afternoon sunlight plays on the trees and the stones in the local, long abandoned churchyard. The gravestones tell there own sad stories of short lives, infant deaths and families cut back by regular early deaths over quite short periods of time. Of course the people represented and (almost) remembered here are those that were well enough off to afford plots of burial land and the now smooth and weathered gravestones that might live on after, maybe for hundreds of years. The rest died poor, anonymous and forgotten.

Here's Windmill Barn Venue, a place I hardy knew existed until today and with the normally tightly closed gate wide open. It appears to be a fine (expensive?) looking wedding and meeting venue just a few fields away from our own little cabbage patch.

Day revolves around a sandwich

Well a small part of a day maybe. There's an M&S brown bread cheese and ham sandwich sitting in the fridge.  It was bought in Aberdeen yesterday and has made the long journey down here relatively unscathed, now it's just chilling, waiting. I'm also considering adding some pickle and salad to it before consumption, that's an obvious game changer. It'll be bigger, fatter, tastier as a result but not as the M&S sandwich designer intended it to be. I may miss something because of this, it's the possibility of the bad science of unintended consequences in sandwich consumption coming together in a light lunch setting and ending badly. Of course as there two sandwiches in the pack so I could modify one and not the other or add the salad etc. to one and then mayo and tomato to the other. Then there's the mustard, when do I bring that in? I have a fresh and unopened jar I bought in Aldi for 59p last Friday. The day that I accidentally visited four different supermarkets in the space of two hours in the most unplanned and uncoordinated burst of shopping I've recently experienced. It was mainly down to me not having a decent list to begin with. So back to the sandwich... more thinking time is required.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Lost photos of the sea

A lost photo.
Just dawning on me that I have not set or used the alarm on my phone for about a month (...well maybe once in Iceland), that's a significant change in my lifestyle now I'm unemployed/retired/at rest etc. Changes happen but also sneak up on you, little things, having more time but not knowing quite what to do with it, deciding to do things then doing nothing or just going with some other unexpected flow. The thing is that every day is different now, there's routine if you allow it but then there's none if you don't need it. Before April my life was carefully set up and regulated for work, long hours, travel, thoughts and worries and a sense of busyness and (artificial and self generated, looking back) purpose. Being retired now seems like some kind of long running Christmas present that you open up every day and then, as the contents unravel you run with. Somehow I didn't expect that. Suddenly time belongs to me most of the time and this morning the sun is shining and I'm headed off on a road trip and I can leave whenever I like.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Popular chords

Spent an enjoyable and  busy day recording yesterday. As it turns out Em and Cmj7 were the most popular chords. You just never know quite what direction music sessions will take you in. Other chords used included Am, Bm and a few others for good measure. Now it's all somewhere in the mix.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Completer Finisher

As I have a number of guitar projects on the go and am forever moving bits between them, stopping work to concentrate on something or just being unproductive (lazy) so it's unusual for me to have actually finished something. (Of course in a sense they're never finished because tinkering about and rehashing things is all part of the game).  So today it's the composite P Bass that's done and it has  turned out to be reasonably playable. It started up as a blank eBay body, everything else is new, imported, recycled or just different; neck, machines, bridge, electrics and Wilkinson pickups. I kept the sunburst finish, it's not in bad shape (and I'm not sure what's lurking underneath the finish) and restricted the dragon tail pyrography to the headstock. I'm still adjusting the action and intonation but it sounds ok so far. It's also very heavy...more protein needed in my diet.

Friday, May 06, 2016

After, after, before.

A few months ago the shed roof blew off. I've been holding myself back from doing the repair and watching the always unpredictable weather. Well the weather moved on a bit into sunny and slightly calm and so I replaced the damaged sections and laid on some new roofing felt (obviously as above). There's still a bit of finishing off to do but the worst is over and I didn't hurt myself too much during the repair programme, something of a first. This spot of DIY was swiftly followed by the ritual hacking into shape of two virgin guitar headstocks. Sadly I missed out on a proper before picture so it's a semi complete along with a nearly finished. Posted for (future) reference only.

Saw this inside my brain and I thought of the relative mediocrity ingrained in Scottish politics and songwriting:

I woke up this morning, the election was done,
A rainbow result, they all think they've won,
Seems like everyone did well or at least as expected,
Got a steady job for 5 years now that they're elected.