Sunday, February 26, 2006


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Not quite right Questions that cry for vague answers of a sort.

Has anyone noticed that when “the Chain” by Fleetwood Mac is playing on your car stereo it is impossible to get stopped by a red light?
Is anybody worried that in the near future (by 2016) there will be heaps (mountains possibly) of discarded mobile phones by the sides of our clogged up roadways?
Does drinking Coca-Cola make small children hysterical?
What is the best course of action to take when trapped on the beach trying to locate a lost football?
Do farmer’s markets represent good value for money or is it all overpriced shit?
Does the bottom of the sea have a smell?
Is the most common password in the world S3cr3t?
What do pigeons eat that makes them so fat?
Has anybody ever assembled a piece of flat pack furniture correctly at the first attempt?
Extended warranties – do they represent good value for money and on what appliances is it best to take them out on?
Divorce and marriage – what is the point?
Timing belts, do they ever really break, apart from on Fords?
Why do you have to wash out bottles that are due to be recycled?
Esoteric is a word that did not exist in common conversation before 1981, true or false?
Vegetarians are all rather irritable and concentrate on chewing food and salivating too much – true?
Where is the tipping point in pirate impersonations?
Is smoking now the most desirable form of anti social behaviour?
Shaving doesn’t have to hurt does it?
Can you eat mussels without feeling sick?
Where can I find my socks?
Exactly which trees should we cut down in order to maintain our view and is this behaviour morally reprehensible?

OOTB 200th edition

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OOTB 200

Over and done
Selected reports and performances
Some folks missed out
Some folks dipped in
We made the big figure
Pirates emerged
Had a few laughs
Figure it out for yourself
The best experiences are shared and live.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Of mice and herring

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The herring have returned to the Forth Estuary, seventy-five years after they were driven away or exhausted by thoughtless and persistent over fishing – by members of my family. Now they are returning, from breeding grounds in the Baltic and on the Scandinavian seaboard, from Iceland and Greenland and some mysterious icy depths. I saw two today, in oil and a tin. We all partook of the lubricated flesh, on toast with cream cheese. We may well buy more and store them up, dead shoals in their tin coffins, bathed in embalming oil for viscosity out of water, neatly placed in our many new white plastic containers. Perhaps in years to come archaeologists will come across them and marvel at their unexpected discovery lurking under our windowsills, the treasure of the herring catacombs.


5am and Syrus the cat caught another mouse. Some poor rodent soul, scavenging to feed himself and the family caught unawares. There were apparently dull thuds and other odd noises as the cat finished of his mortal enemy on our bedroom floor. He was clearly satisfied with the kill and the consumption but still ate a hearty cat food breakfast half an hour later. Fortunately I slept through the entire event thanks to my crystal clear conscience and having spent the previous day in Birmingham. Ali described it all to me in graphic detail however. Cats don’t seem to understand electricity or heat or keyboards, what do their parents teach them?

Later as I stood in the kitchen eating a fried egg roll and looking out of the window a passing rifleman shot twice at something (not me thankfully) in the woods across the road. He disappeared with a colleague as if in pursuit of something, something larger and more interesting than a mouse or a herring I suppose.

The house is also going through a phase of reorganisation or reinvention. Furniture is moving, items are being put away, and new shelves, units and drapes are appearing. For a few days I thought we had a poltergeist but then it turned out to be more natural than supernatural. Having as big (and as complex) a family as we do means that our house has to be Tardis like in its adaptability to deal with the constant sets of changes, expansions and occupancy that we enjoy. It all works anyhow.


1 pack of pancake mix.
2 eggs. (preferably a little overage)
250ml of cold water.
A drop of blue milk.
Oil & pan.
Source of heat.

Mix up the stuff. Cook the lot a small ladle full at a time in the (hot) oil in the pan. (when the batter bubbles all over it’s time to turn or flip the pancake). Eat straight away with syrup, condensed milk, butter and a fork. I’ve no idea what is in the pancake mix, it looks like wall filler.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Lazy Rock and Rollers

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“We are lazy rock and rollers
Lazy rock and rollers, lazy and we don’t have the time,
To walk with the animals or talk with the animals
Or even step right out of line.
We’re not inclined and we don’t mind.”

This is the ballad of and to and for the lazy rock and rollers, too lazy to practice properly, learn words and chords and arrangements or anything. They just bum around all day, buy reduced organic produce from the dump fridge in Tesco, drink cheap red wine, smoke Café Crème cigars and wear T-shirts they bought on E Bay or at The drive old Japanese or Korean cars, they play only occasional gigs and with borrowed gear and their strings are worn and rusty. They live in odd places between the housing schemes and country houses around here, there and in Fife. They play breathing and hold your breath type games while crossing the Forth Road Bridge or on occasions the Kincardine Bridge. They seldom use the Tay Bridge as they dislike the A92 and any mention of North East Fife. They take holidays in Ibiza sometimes and have all done at least one parachute jump for charity.

They shave 4.2 times per week unless they are female, shaving stats are about 1.25 for the ladies (unconfirmed). Nostril hair may at times be clipped.

Their favourite chord is B minor at the second fret because it fits around so many cute licks sliding back to the A major or 7 and Fleetwood Mac use it a lot.

They call their trainers “sneakers” but not “pumps”.

They know all the names of all the Ramones and who is dead and have argued about which ones are in Heaven and which ones are in Hell.

Female LRRs may have been “Miss Wrangler” at some disco at one time.

They don’t quite know how to behave on a bus or where to sit.

They don’t ever do gardens, but they like to make sure the waste is in the correct bin, green, blue or brown. They instinctively know what days what bins are emptied without having to refer to the list that is stuck to the fridge door. Bottle Banks?

They like the idea of eating oily fish five times a week but Chinese is hard to beat.

The ultimate LRRs guitar is the Epiphone Les Paul copy in sunburst finish. The “Slash” edition is particularly popular.

The animal thing is hard to fathom, they’d like to own horses and live near Montreaux but they think climate isn’t great by Lake Geneva. Being photographed with a horse is cool, unless the horse is in Dublin. Being photographed with a horse in New York is far too much of a touristy thing and to be avoided.

LLRs have day jobs in all sorts of walks of life; some however are unemployed or sponge. Some are housewives and rock chicks. Some work in Ikea or social work.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bamboo & nonsense

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Bamboo is not pictured - just a frosty thing in a field

Feed the winter in your heart, feed the fog that stalks your mind. Look out over these fields close by, frost and white slices of cloud and filtered light. Dream of the strange warming, the spring that rushes towards you to end the winter’s battles and skirmishes.

In the heat of the fight the mother’s desert their children. Their white angry eyes cannot quite see a right way so they stab backwards in anger, tearing at any emotion too raw to make sense of. You have become some unspeakable cannibal and the direction you lost was the fault of that bigger, unimagined navigational mistake – a long time ago. Here comes the song of timely revenge and sick vengeance. In the mean time I have turned into a phoenix yet again.

These are the days you never dreamed you’d see, days when you’d talk to yourself and do your best to squeeze the happiness from every moment, funny how that can work so well for us.

The bamboo will rise in just three days, so says the book of the wise and voices that whisper. Anoint your head with bamboo juice and black bean sauce, sweet chilly pickle and all I’ve ever cooked for you, seek shelter in its thick bamboo and sauces, dripping new growth. Hide and be safe in some sunny garden somewhere behind this bamboo curtain I have constructed for you. I love you more than my Meccano set.

These are the words that some of you will repeat.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

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Brokeback Mountain

Saturday evening came around and we’d planned to go to the cinema to see “Walk the line” The Johnny Cash biopic. It sounded the best of a not very interesting selection of movies so we both fancied it and as I’d grown up with JC’s music I was curious to see how he’d be portrayed. I ‘d always liked the corny country stuff, despite the fact that for many years he was uncool, unhip and all the rest of those crap labels get applied to talent in that “mid-life/ mid career” place. Anyway the show was sold out so ice cream and tea bought and in hand we had little other choice than “Brokeback Mountain”. It seemed to me over hyped, Oscar hyped, gay hyped etc. so do we wait for the DVD and see from the couch? That was really how we both felt and I expected Ali to sleep through most of and I thought I would just get sleepy, restless and irritable.

The dull ads and trailers nearly had us both asleep by the time the film had begun. Then I guess as things took hold and the story unravelled we both found ourselves fully interested and affected. The film turned out to be stronger, starker and much more powerful than I had expected. The gay sex scenes and so called cowboy issues were strangely irrelevant in the overall story of bleak and blighted lives hampered by an inability to change circumstances and seize opportunities. The traps that are convention, responsibility and acceptance sprang hard shut on these two individual’s in ways that many of any sexual persuasion would empathise with. Pivotal moments creeping up and around and then the release of gut-wrenching emotions as realisation and resignation kick in. So when was / is / has been the best time of your life? Think about it, you may be surprised and if it’s not right now perhaps you have some work to do.

So whatever you love, whoever you really love, your need of them may well force you to make the toughest of choices. If you’ve never reached a point like that in your life then to be honest I’m not sure if I feel happy or sad for you, you’ve certainly missed something. Come the day I hope that you choose well young Skywalker.

Getting back to the basic film, the cinematography was pretty good and young Donnie Darko’s in it; don’t you just think time travel is the best thing?

Grave of the fireflies

Friday found us at the BG annual dance in the Edinburgh Conference Centre. As ever (?) I was on my best behaviour and did not get pissed nor even feel the need to. My kilt did require some urgent first aid with some black thread and a needle but this was administered a home just before we left. Ali of course looked sexy and splendid in a slim, shiny red dress, her shoes however, though right for the outfit were clearly hurting her feet from fairly early on in the evening.

The meal was fine, the company pleasant, and the speeches short and at times funny and then the dancing began. I’m a firm believer that if you go to a dance, you should dance and that’s it, just let yourself go. We were quickly up for the first dance and I guess Ali’s shoes lasted about 30 seconds tops; they were quickly abandoned by the front of the stage, beneath the band’s guitarist’s Line 6 effects bar. The golden shoes, upside down, lying there like two accident victims hurled from a speeding train wreck or air crash. Alone, rejected and as sorry and sad as any given scene from “Grave of the fireflies”. We danced on, shoeless.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Bootleg Tom Mackay

Bootleg Tom Mackay

“Killer Civil Servant” The Foul: First in what may turn out to be a hundredweight of Fall tribute bands is the solo incarnation of the out of the bedroom incarceration that has become the Foul. I believe this CD lasts for all of 31 minutes and can be played at weddings. (Giggly, excited girls, you read it here first!).

As sweet as a bus journey through West Lothian, as risky as riding down the side of a coal bing on a mini scrambler (without a helmet), warm as Waverley lager, as comforting as a fistful of dynamite, as enlightening as the next four episodes of “Lost”. The city of Edinburgh, and all of her city fathers (from just outside of South Queensferry) is/are so proud of this piece of work and also that Tom is an ex-Fifer.

Tom is also in fact, in fiction and in real life a civil servant; so it came as no surprise to me that he has had a long time love affair with progressive rock music, nights out on the town, anti-smoking legislation in the 80s, laminate flooring and a band called the Fall. It was his admiration for the Fall however that went on to inhabit the very core of his being and also made things happen at the core of his life long learning and enterprise enterprises. In a nut shell it has given us this magnificent recording which history will completely envelope in myth, mystery, mince, muggles and Maltesers. My favourite track is “Ballroom Insect”, but that’s just what I think today.

Things that people are saying already:

“This CD may be free but I’ll not be giving you my copy officer!”

“As I was playing “Killer Civil Servant” this morning the sun shone through my bedroom window, “what a remarkable coincidence” I thought.”

“As I was whistling “Ballroom Insect” I actually looked down at the ground and saw some insects cavorting.”

“Whilst going past a butcher’s shop and looking in the window I remembered that I had heard a song on this CD entitled “Your heart out”.”

“I had no idea he had it in him.”

“A woman walked past our house talking loudly into a mobile phone just at the beginning of “Clear off”.”

“Fame and fortune beckons.”

“Dice Man is not a character in the Tom Cruise film “Top Gun” is he?”

“Just get some rolls, a paper and a lottery ticket pet.”

More information? A free listen? A free download? A free lunch?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Still to happen to you?

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Cannonballs to be fired

Thinking of things that have been left in our house by family members made me think of the following things that have been left in our house by family members:

Ice axe, drum kit, baby shampoo, Nintendo magazines, Galaxy chocolate, dress shoes, hair bands, plates, dishes, soap, bananas, coats, a glove, socks, DVDs about football, cuddly toys, Happy Meal toys, beer, wristbands, White Stripes CD, mobile phones, poetry books, various small sweets.

Thinking of fangs that have beer left in our luxury liner by family pets made me drunk at the thoughts of tinkering with time left in our lives by complete strangers:

Ice cube, oil drum kit, baby snakes, Nintendo boxing gloves, Ford Galaxy, stone age shoes, metal bands, pirates, fishes, soapy bananas, cords, a golly-wog, sticks, DVDs about philosophy, cuddly trees, Happy Meal crumbs, bears, wristwatches, members of the White Stripes, mobile shops and libraries, poetry people, various small seats.

Tinkering with prangs that have been happy accidents in our luxury laundry by famous pets made me Rin Tin Tin at the idea of an Alsatian breakfast with all the time left to think of complete idiots:

Iceberg, oil rigs kit, snakes eating cows, Nintendo peace programme, HMS Ford Galaxy, stone age petrifaction, metal age petrifaction, plots, fish fingers, banana skins inside out, chords, absent without leave, cheese sticks, DVDs about pills and cola, young trees from the Sahara, Happy Meal change, rats, wrists exposed, members of the KLF, mobile sculpture and librarians, poetry’s raw materials, various small exposed sentences.

Flying the coop.

Chicken noises are rare round here, it’s mostly wild dogs you hear, early morning serenade, to various rabbits and bitches and mates. The chickens are quiet, understandably, the cock wont crow or assert himself, their little hen house is a silent place, until the sun comes up then out they race. Don’t try to experiment with chickens, unless some rare inspiration has landed upon you and drives you to do something culinary that none of us have ever thought about: To serve a nice, cooked chicken dinner to your immediate family.