Saturday, March 31, 2007

Short return post

impossible songs

impossible songs
From West Lothian to Japan

The move is over and we are (almost) settled. The house is warming and responding to our TLC, we hosed down the front of it today, rebuilt the trampoline and hacked away some of the jungle and the sun shone as we ate lunch outside. The broadband has also stammered back into life and we are reconnecting with the wider world. As an example tonight I discovered that we were played on a Japanese podcast a few hours ago. Funnily enough they played the track “Tokyo Skyline” from the “Heartburst” CD. I thought it came across well in what is basically a 50 minute “letter from Japan” radio show in the great broadcasting tradition of Alistair Cooke. The show is called Japantalk but is broadcast in American/English, nice to get a mention there so thanks…
(I think we appear at about 26 minutes into the programme.)
Door the Billy.

Just like “My name is Earl” I now have a list though I’m not trying to straighten out my Karma or be a better person – I’m trying to door the Billy (IKEA parlance), fit the cabinet, hang the picture, paint the floor, cut the grass etc. Of course Ali is painting, sorting and planning feverishly at the same time. We are slowing winning.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

White Room

impossible songs

impossible songs

White Room.

Flat is the bottom and white are the walls and ladders are not to be tripped over even by accident. We inspect the new billet for signs of infestation, heel marks, slips and slides and drastic battle damage. The garden (in place quite correctly) is not visible unless you stare out from a large or tiny window or care to step outside.


Only a few short hours till we move, only a few hours before the broadband is disconnected and we are plunged into the abyss of disconnect in a strange house ?? miles away from the nearest telephone exchange. Our fate is therefore in the hands of “local circumstances, weather, pestilence, crows on cables and connection distances prevailing”. We may never blog, upload, download, browse or shop again. Then again we may find that a brave new supersonic highway runs along the shores of the silvery River Forth and we can hitch a long and a smooth ride upon it – is it possible, do such good things happen in a cruel world? How can God be bothered to listen to one hundred million Chinese mobile phone conversations every day, watch George Bush and his minders and read all our thoughts simultaneously and still keep the universe in its imperfect balance? Hasn’t he got better things to do with his time and will it rain over the moving weekend? Too many questions and too few answers. Thank you all for your collective indifference and whatever else, see you in the future.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Castle has been found

impossible songs - Abercrn Castle, midhope

impossible songs

Big old castle: After living here for almost two years we’ve just discovered that the huge bulk of Abercorn Castle is on our doorstep. Proof of how effective castle design can be if you want to avoid annoying neighbours and invading armies.


An evening spent reviewing at OOTB. It turned out to be a full and varied show and the place was busy all night. I was pleased to see four new female acts debuting (possibly some kind of first for OOTB) and they were all stylishly different and pretty interesting. We ride an odd curve in OOTB, a few months ago when it was quieter we were considering dropping back to a twice a month thing and now it’s just about impossible to get a slot unless you turn up really early and new faces are appearing every week. That’s show business.


More boxing and packing and sorting. Becoming bored I was starting to play a game of secret box subversion. The idea being to include incorrect items in a labelled box i.e. a bongo drum in the bathroom box and so on. I was caught on the first box.


An Italian meal (that was fine for me but not so good for Ali) surrounded by jubilant Irish rugby fans and then to the Usher Hall for the Garfunkel concert. He was very good, still possessing that unworldly and at times scary voice, no hint of the aging process cracking the ethereal veneer. The material was as good as you can ever get, all the old songs and a few standards thrown in for good measure, a nice change from rock and blues and delusional singer songwriters.


Several small furry creatures revisited: I was cleaning out the garage and came upon a rats nest in amongst some cardboard boxes that I was about to transport to the dump. Not a pleasant discovery so I gingerly raked the nest outside, found no rats (thankfully) and than decided to set fire to it. The fire took hold far more quickly than I’d expected and in no time various odd, stained and useless boxes were added to the fire and were ablaze. At one point when the wind changed direction there was a real possibility of the garage catching alight – what fun you can have when moving house.

Putting cushions in a clothing recycler: As I was dumping some of our excess baggage I found myself filling a clothing skip with cushions, handbags and strangely enough a wooden Zulu figure. Quite who would wear such an outfit beats me but if you ever see anybody wearing seven blue cushions, carrying two small black hand bags and clutching a black figure, I don’t want to hear about it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Goose train

impossible songs

impossible songs


We’re now pondering over the pros and cons of keeping some geese at the new house (in the garden), as watch dogs. Goslings are surprisingly cheap to buy, even cheaper if you buy them as eggs but that involves some very tricky early rearing techniques that I’m not confident about. Of course if they outlive their welcome or fail in their primary task of guarding your possessions you can eat them. That process involves some unpleasantness however. The other thing about geese is that they can live a long time, some 20 to 25 years, some (and I find this hard to believe) have reached 80. The downside is that that the geese could out live the pair of us and become poor homeless orphans one day and a rather tough lunch for somebody in 2075. Best not to think about it.

Black and white.

Why is it that black and white photos seem to convey a warmth, soulfulness and depth of reality that coloured pictures just don’t? Maybe monotone vision is more natural to us and we’ve evolved (I hate the term) into colour vision but still relate more easily to black and white, it works in cinema too, once you adjust. Is the colour of the world truly artificial and we’re stuck in an inappropriate and unfamiliar point on the spectrum with more colours to come and unfold as our perceptions deepen? (!).


I got a train to work today (despite the impending strike) as my car was in for an MOT, service and quick rub down with a wire brush. Being without a car and traveling by train is a slightly disconcerting experience but at least allows a regular driver like me another angle on the world. The train was clean, not crowded and on time and I enjoyed the view of mysterious back gardens and queuing traffic for all of ten minutes before alighting at Inverkeithing station. Then the world turned rather drab as I experienced the grayness and crammed new building works and the desolate properties that surround the station – Fife badly needs a makeover, somebody needs to start caring about it because much of it looks a complete mess. The planners, the Councils and the people are allowing houses to rise that look terrible now and will end up like downtown Baghdad in a few more years.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Unbuilding chickens and Alfa Romeos

impossible songs wish for an Alfa and get a little nostalgic gradually.

impossible songs

Unbuilding beds.

I have been unbuilding, dismantling, unscrewing and packing all afternoon and I seem to be getting somewhere towards preparing for our house move but there is always something else to do. I haven’t started on the garage, shed or coal cellar yet. Ali did a load of packing when I was in Aberdeen at the weekend and with progress made I guess we’ll crack it all before the big day. In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve managed to accumulate such a lot of extra stuff and create a huge, muddy carbon boot print in the process - no doubt.


Life seemed grim this Monday morning; we both awoke with mild hangovers, fizzy tummies and overwhelming weekend fatigue. Every waking second of the weekend has been packed with and mixture of moving, setting up things in the holiday house, football and training, rain, flat/house moves in Aberdeen, children, grandchildren, swimming pools, heavy (nicely) meals, piles of boxes, landfill sites, sprinting around shops and as usual a series of unplanned events. Oh and we’re planning a house-warming party that is currently (in its early stages of conception) rivaling Princess Diana’s wedding, Glastonbury and the launch of the space shuttle as an event. I think the big garden, big logs and the wide open spaces of this odd corner of West Lothian have all gone to my head.

The chicken/ no chicken dilemma plays out.

We will not be keeping any chickens in this new garden either because:

a) We don’t know anything about them.
b) The cat will likely kill them – and he is beyond training.
c) We don’t want to have to kill them - messy.
d) There may be issues with neighbours and the like.
e) It involves an investment of time, money and chicken feed.
f) Nasty diseases, illnesses, ignorance and permits are other pertinent issues.

Lunar cat

A strange grey cat may be also adopting us, a bit like the black rabbit in Watership Down (but a cat) he breezes in a the margins of our consciousness and then whisps away over into the hedge to the field where the somewhat suicidal local game birds are hiding. His appearance has coincided with the recent pink and hazy lunar eclipse, which for once I actually witnessed.

Art Garfunkel.

In a rare social and musical experiment we are going to see man who launched all those tedious airport and high street restaurants all because he had a cool and funky name that could be exploited, Garfunkel. S & G have drifted back into by waking mind recently, I do occasionally hum “Farewell Frank Lloyd Wright” or “the Boxer” to myself in moments of weakness and I also watched a large chunk of “The Graduate” recently on ITV 4 at some ungodly hour. I hadn’t seen it since it was playing in the cinema many years ago (I think I had to lie about my age to get in), anyway it is such a beautifully shot, sunny film and strangely optimistic despite the dark, destructive family story line and S&G’s music was never better or more appropriate and the red Alfa Romeo spider is just the best looking little sports car on film.