Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jack O'Lantern

Whenever Halloween might be it's not today but here's my offering to the gods of trashy festivals, autumn, winter and commercial indecency. Almost all my own work and now I've abandoned it to allow nature and the dark forces of the season to have their way and so return it back to the soil. That's how it should be. Remarkably no fingers were cut and no persons or animals injured in the long creative process that led up to this picnic table moment.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fifty Nine Earth Years

As it's been a birthday weekend and therefore busy, sociable and altogether web unfriendly. I've not been in the least bit bothered about posting anything so here is a brief and truly unrepresentative set of little gems and images that fail to capture much. The panic will of course be over very soon and by at least 0800 tomorrow and normal life will have resumed in all it's complex and absurd splendour.

A burning slab of cake to celebrate, thanks to Mrs AGB.
Blurred birthday photo of the author wearing a Cookie Monster hat.
Some essentials. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

A trip to the butchers

Most Friday afternoon's I wheel home via John Whyte's butcher shop in the village of Limekilns; I get some things there for the weekend you might say. Crushed on the Fife coast between shipbuilding and industrial sites it's a quaint and attractive wee town, there's a couple of pubs, a cafe (bike advert), a wee shop and not much else, apart from the butchers which survives and slumbers on in a precious and unglamourous way. No till, no card machine, no pre-prepared nonsense and no overselling and no bargains, everything is a lot dearer than you find in the stupid supermarkets. That's because it's proper stuff, tasty and fresh and the regular customers keep coming back, often from quite a distance. As a business model it's probably fatally flawed for sustainability but it has a soul, something you won't encounter when you shop with the big boys.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

iMac with Retina 5

Wistfully seeking out the apple page that demonstrates the new iMac Retina 5 with it's umpteen megapixal screen and more bells and whistles than you could ring or blow. Sadly all I got was the broken image above. It's still quite impressive though (based on the front page not the dead demo)...the final killer blow for the TV this time?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fight Club non-tribute

A club devoted to fighting that may or may not exist yet it does exist in the form of the real tribute clubs that are based around it's fictional plot which may or may not exist depending on which one of the many well formed and/or ridiculous theories that you might subscribe to. Of course you may well have a life and not be bothered by this or by the self described and prescribed rules of film discipleship and ritualistic blogging. I don't really know but it's damn close to fifteen years since it was all released and unleashed upon a leaden and unsuspecting world. The consequences are still with us and reverberating around real and imagined worlds today.

Ghosts that we knew

So I'm still dicking around with guitars and in between important house related tasks have been making slow and confused progress with the various projects and masterpieces that are scattered around the place. You see when it comes to putting it all together there are so many options and few if any parts are actually a standard size so getting the right fit or even an easy fit can be struggle. Of course wood and plastic parts can be modified with the application of the correct tools and steady hand and more importantly a keen eye. Also as a wise man once said you should really measure twice and cut once, that is the law. It all boils down to making sure that the guitar neck pocket is as good a match for the neck and that's a fine trick if you can pull it off. So the ghost guitars are slowly rising from the dead (or at least a coma or a pretty deep session of intoxicated sleeping); next.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Duck Suit

It's an awful and tragic tale but one that suffers from some strange pieces of media reporting as well as hype and hysteria. I'm glad it's thousands of miles away and in another country, one with a bizarre legal system it seems. Anyway in one of the regular radio bulletins today I caught a South African reporter with a very strong accent give the following brief report: "Oscar Pistorius was in court today, as usual in a plain shirt, tie and wearing a duck suit." You may need to repeat it a few times. This trial and the sentencing fiasco will never be the same again for me, whatever the outcome. That's unfortunate.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


After the fire
So with a load of new logs to burn today seemed like a good, seasonal time to fire up old sparky (new sparky really) and do some solid fuel, log burned cooking. First breakfast, half a dozen logs and a lit match and in no time the hot plate was red and glowing. A full burst of bacon, black pudding and eggs were swiftly (almost) incinerated and consumed. The oven however remained slow to start, lukewarm and sluggish despite all the hotplate activity and fierce heat.  Little did I know...the beef stew casserole was placed in the oven and duly forgotten, a few more logs tossed inboard and I got on with other domestic matters. The oven was having none of that, once it heats up it goes like some fire storm. Incredibly and unexpectedly it hit 300 degrees and cooked the casserole in no time, blackening the potatoes and totally destroying a random selection vegetables. The moral of the story is if your cooking with logs in a cast iron stove don't turn your back for too long. This is a powerful cooking machine.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


When it comes to that awkward time of year when all your stocks of precious logs are down or reduced to white ash blowin' in the wind, who are you gonna call? Well it might be an idea to call the logline or in fact visit the logline premises and get yourself a log delivery arranged so you have a nice selection of logs. That's just what we did today and now, after a cash exchange and a fair bit of labour and humping of logs the log store is nearly full and ready for whatever seasonal variations and dreadful conditions the wild Scottish winter may throw at us.  Of course I'm not smug about this, our circumstances and rewards are out there, moulded into the path that the universe is determined to take us upon. We stand (and sit occasionally), watching the skies, daydreaming and ever ready for the consequences and the awful but fully deserved fate that awaits us. There, I've said it all now.

Friday, October 10, 2014


These are Boxtrolls

These are not Boxtrolls

I know it seems unlikely that this might matter at the moment but come the day you will thank me for this piece of information. I'd hate for anyone to be confused about this.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

We need to talk about heaven

On reflection then: There's an old Polynesian folk tale that says when somebody dies their soul is taken deep into the ocean and washed clean in the mighty Pacific currents from whence you first came. Whilst the cleaning process is going on  your soul is held steady and you relive all the happy moments of your life and you are enriched. The happiness breeds peace and acceptance and in a new and tranquil state your soul ascends slowly through the blue waters to be warmed by the first rays of the dawning sun filtering down into the deep. At this point you are, as if by magic or by the gods, transformed into an Angel Fish and you become conscious and aware but with no sense of purpose other than to be a fish. In this new and blissful state you live on until the cycle of life is complete for the fish you now are and you merge finally with the ocean and drift away with the tides and all the tiny particles and creatures borne by them. It's an interesting theory but not one I can't really subscribe to with any degree of enthusiasm...tomorrow I'll go to the cinema with the kids and watch the Boxtrolls, thereafter life may then begin to make more sense.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Silence of the alarms

In a feat of eye watering electrical engineering I've managed to fully repair and reinvigorate our state of the art burglar alarm. It's amazing what can be achieved with a Swiss Army knife, a roll of gaffer tape and a wonky set of stepladders. I also succeeded in ridding this fine old house of stray vampires and some uneasy and homeless spirits in the process. A good day's work.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Archie Gilkison

I've quietly been taking in the various stories, commemorations and musings formed up for the centenary of the Great War. Some good, some not so good; probably all very well intentioned. Here's a piece scavenged from the BBC about AG from Glasgow, describing his life and death. I think it's an interesting story and his work is impressive. The final poem is a belter:

I heard the piper blaw,
Wi my ain een I saw,
What ye can never knaw,
For I was Fey wha followed.

Archie Gilkison
1885 - 1916.

(and in more modern English)

I hear the piper blow,
With my own eyes I saw,
What you can never know,
For I was fated to die who followed.

Monday, October 06, 2014

She comes in colours

Always irritating when your body starts telling you it's getting on a bit, it generally does this via the language of pain. I wish there was some other method. The problem is that you can't really do much about other than meekly accept the fact that joints, muscles and various other bits of meat are starting to wear out. I'm slowly moving from the pink to the red but I do possess the secret weapon against any premature ageing of the mind and body and I'm about to turn it on and fire it straight into the seat / heart /sinew of the pain...Jazz Chords.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

5ive Easy Pieces

This type of silly reflection comes around regularly - Five Easy Pieces.

1. Actors: How often do you look at actors and watch their performances and think, “these people are not doing any acting at all? They just behaving in a way that’s normal to them and part of their character, there’s no effort or mystery or great method, they are just doing the same thing all the time but in a different place and with another name and some assumed identity. They probably have a natural tendency towards smiling, being over dramatic in life or glowering and perhaps they have in interesting vocal tone or range and they maybe have quirky looks. They can remember long strings of words which is a clever trick but hardly creative. All quite accidental, opportunistic and nothing to do with talent. How hard work can that be?

2. Chefs: Heating up meat or fish, plopping it onto a (warm) plate with a few vegetables, arranging it all so it looks nice, drizzling it with some artistic splash of a mysterious and coloured product that has no obvious taste. I don’t see the big deal apart from the fact that kitchen’s can be hot, smelly and unpleasant. All food needs to be cooked and prepared properly, most of that is down to making a few good choices at the purchasing stage; don’t buy rubbish, keep it all clean  and then follow the recipe and set about presenting it properly. It’s not a tough call, it’s common sense and we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time. Get over it.

3. Formula 1 drivers: Back in the day it was tough and dangerous. Now, apart from bad whether it’s dull rich kids whizzing around after successful karting careers  in elaborate over engineered Scalextric cars put together by boffins and scientists miles away from the general public and monitored by more equipment and telemetry than you’d get in an operating theatre or a air traffic control centre. Of course it’s all for the TV audience but each race just looks the same and with every season becomes more like an elaborate video game but without the mayhem. Then there’s the pointless and hysterical commentary, who cares?

4. Politicians: It can be a class thing or a no-hoper thing but you can get dragged in from being a TU activist if you’re a nuisance. Get caught up in a braying and not so well supported set of party activities and get-togethers, pretend to care for your fellow man/woman or cause and then major on some issue that bores the pants from most ordinary people. Turn up at meetings, smile and be personable but abrasive and stick to the party line on Twitter, Question Time or when writing to the local press. Bring along a few disciples and get them to put out flyers and posters. Then retire to the House of Commons bar and hibernate for five years whilst flipping homes and enjoying long holidays.

5. DJs: Get into a hot, sweaty club (preferably in some foreign country) and play blaring heavily bass biased music to drunk and wasted young people. Shout and wave your arms during breaks in the music and wear a stupid hat of some description, get some girls to dance along on either side of you if you can. No need to know the first thing about music or song writing you just need to work the wheels of steel or use some short circuited app on your phone using your mp3 or a borrowed vinyl collection. If the beats are big enough, it’s all loud enough and the lights are bright enough then everybody has a good time and you get the credit and the fee.

Good luck to you all, nice work if you can get it.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Concrete and clay

Who can not be moved and inspired by the simple and innocent pleasures possible in bashing a fence post into the ground?  Then once it's in place mixing up some nice and gooey concrete and spooning it in, around and down to set and secure the post. Lovely stuff. So today has been an epic DIY adventure, cupboards sorted, shelves up, pictures displayed, wood treated with wood stuff, bulbs placed in planters, shelves and all hanging things secured to walls and the thought of that concrete curing by chemical reaction out there in the evening rain. Tea was pork chops with fresh veggies and the spirit of Enid Blyton lives on in the jungle and the evergreens.

Friday, October 03, 2014


If you were given an assignment at school to write an essay on "why Swindon isn't a shit hole" it would be tough. A town centre laid out in random streets with no obvious pattern or core, a selection of run down shops, bleak hotels and drunks and vagabonds wandering everywhere at 7.30 on a Monday evening. Who says first impressions don't count. But I want to love or at least feel some kind of low level of fondness for Swindon, home of XTC and the Great Western Railway and that towering (but tiny), cigar chomping Victorian mastermind IKB. 

The past screams silently. Great railway terraces dot the horizon, details and slated roofs fight for space under a gloomy sky, the faded glory of steam claws to survive amid shielded outlets, bland malls, badly wired traffic systems and so much concrete clutter that you wonder just what the planners were thinking. "Here's a nice little railway town, let's just obliterate it because clearly the Luftwaffe failed so now we can do our worst and nobody will care." I'm sure Karma will reward these people in due course, maybe it's happened already, just being there might be punishment enough. Meanwhile IKB slowly rotates in his grave and reflects on how he got the rail gauge size right whilst the rest of the world got it wrong. Top bloke.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Countess Minto

The last time

"Their real lives lie before them, teetering on the brink of adulthood …the time when we leave the ghetto like state of incompleteness known as childhood and attempt to make something of ourselves," (gleaned from the latest Knausgaard of course).

There on the carpet, misaligned and mismatched are the photographs that we try to lay together to form some kind of map and tapestry that may take us to a place in the past. A strange landscape viewed from the present day’s solidity from where we hope to understand how and why we came to be here. Then there is the absurd hope that maybe even in all those complex contradictions, appetites and disgusts that still swirl around in our souls and minds and unconsciously and so powerfully continue to govern us, that the light of understanding will shine.

I don’t know if it was Keith Richards or Brian Jones that played the guitar riff in the song “the Last Time”. I seems like it should’ve been Keith, perhaps that just makes it cooler. All I know is the puzzlement and excitement that I felt when I heard it, when I grappled with the strange, glistening sound and the rebellious rasp and edge in it’s tone. It didn’t quite fit with the rest of the BBC Light Programme’s output. Adults didn’t like it; it was like some kind of active poison to them. They recoiled as if a gun had gone off. No “Sparky the Magic Piano”, or the Springfield’s “Island of Dreams”, or the sweet sequined voices of Alma Cogan or Doris Day or  the comedy songs of Charlie Drake and the Goons. This was music from the future, like Telstar or Jonny B Goode. It’s probably the most significant audio moment in my life but I struggle to remember details to connect with and hold it. It’s buried in the debris of a thousand radio shows and flickering TV screens, wedding tunes and great cinema overtures, black vinyl spinning discs leading all the way to the abstract and indistinct sparks of sound we now lose in the deep darkness of file systems and cloud storage.

Back then music was like some living cartoon that danced across the growing, confusing head-space, you memorised it like a drug formula or an exam question. You sang yourself to sleep with the hummed melody as the frost formed on the inside glass of your bleak bedroom window. There, half asleep and half awake as the ambulance took your father away in the grey dawn where cigarette smoke hung and then descended on soft furnishings and tissue. Then up and dressed and out into the wild; you still trudged to school none the wiser of the night’s event, fortified with Frosties and a Melamine cup of sugary tea. As this NHS drama played out Keith’s guitar riff played in, like some bated fish hook bound to pull you away from a terrible ignorance and a fearful existence. Maybe you’d get the belt, wet yourself, get punched or, more likely just get ignored, just like the rest of the herd as you live out your orphan destiny. 

Daydreaming into a decade of insignificance, you could hardly matter less if you were microscopic. Here were the best and most obedient post-war working class job fodder, human confusion, sickly white and unable to grasp the concept of education never mind where it might, given patience and circumstance lead. It may have been the end of the age of the Empire but nothing big occurred inside the 425 line flatness of my being, just the reverberated ring-a-ding of that guitar sound. An elemental force that might change the world, still mostly red and expressed in Mercator Projection with frayed edges. It made me happy and was only really blocked out by getting struck in the face by an unexpected and wet football or a kicking from a big boy who preferred the Beatles.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Junior shoots his shadow somewhere far away from a golf links.
Today: A week after the big vote I'd kind of stopped thinking about it, then a fellow fitting carpets in the house began a conversation...here we go again. I'm also puzzled about the furious and all encompassing enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup, a golf match of some sort. People seem to be going nuts and selling their souls, blocking up traffic and generally paying over the odds and it's the biggest thing etc. to arrive in the home of golf since golf. It is however only available to view if you've got a Sky Sports package. So I avoided all that and spent the afternoon pursuing red fluff around the house, cutting wood, glueing wood, drilling wood, destroying wood and then standing back and admiring wood. No wonder I'm worn out.