Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Songs in the key of blackbird

impossible songs

impossible songs

Songs in the key of blackbird

Christmas Eve found us in the local church experiencing our first Nativity service in years. Sadly it was clearly a case of song density over content and substance. We sang every carol in the ragged little book and all were pitched in that weird church music key that only little old ladies seem to be able to sing in. Oh how we whined, croaked and failed to hit the required notes. "It’s in the key of blackbirds," said Emma quite correctly. As we struggled to rise to those elusive notes the landed gentry looked down upon us from a private box in the "gods". Sadly their benign and aloof staring into space was never translated into words or deeds. No alms, goodwill wave or message, no free Christmas trees or turkeys for the poor of the parish this year apparently. The presiding minister then produced an ill conceived and frankly awful message that referred to Princes Diana’s soul flying above that "lonely island" and some references to Glen Affric and the light pollution caused by street lamps(?). No wonder the chattering classes are confused by organized religion and the antics of its leaders and simply settle for the greedy, materialistic Christmas model our society has constructed. We trudged home, cut up by the midnight headlamps of various Range Rovers and Discoverys slewing away from us, we opened our nice little presents and drank a little more wine.

Boxing Day was interesting, no trains and few buses but Argos and Sainsburys at Linlithgow were open so we could stock up once again will more alcohol and purchase some vital birthday presents, all required for consumption over the next few days. Linlithgow is a grey and cold town and is a contrasting oddity with its magical classic Scottish organic architecture of the 16th Century quite distastefully melded with the heavy concrete and clay schools of design so loved in the nineteen sixties. At least the (big shed) shops were open. I do get the irony in this.

Currently playing: Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (special edition), the Eagles – Long road out of Eden and the Dr Who Christmas special, thanks to Sky plus.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Neon Christmas

impossible songs

impossible songs

No blogs go

I wish I could list or even remember the things I’ve liked and listened to this year, the films I’ve watched or the places I’ve been. It’s in there somewhere but on Christmas Eve impossible to extract. I may have discovered Ernest Hemmingway, the joys of orbiting London in the tube, special Coca-Cola, log fires, excessive use of the word "however" and become an expert at fidgeting in airport lounges. Sandwiches have not figured much this year but it has been a good one for pasta and chicken and yum yums from Turrif.

Recent listenings/ viewings that have taken up my time and a little attention:

No cars go – Arcade Fire, Don’t lose yourself – Laura Veirs, John Barleycorn – Martin Carthy/Eliza Carthy/Paul Weller, Philosophy – Tommy Mackay, Submarine Girl + Christmas Revolution – Norman Lamont, Dickhead – Kate Nash, Valerie – Mark Ronson, The beauty of a foreign land – CBQ, On an Island – Dave Gilmour, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, War of the Worlds (repeat), The Pink Floyd Story, Life on Mars, Smallville and the Old Grey Whistle Test, the Simpsons (like every year). There were a few decent football matches also but that was a while ago.

It’s nearly Christmas, the turkey is ready to fly, the sprouts and swedes are clean and soaking and food and shiny things seem important. Another milestone will pass and soon it will be tomorrow. Whatever your passion and what you choose to believe, enjoy it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Angels and saliva

impossible songs

Strange angel picture or what?

"Angel came down from Heaven yesterday, she stayed with me just long enough to rescue me, and she told me a story yesterday, about the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea.... " James Marshall Hendrix - a long time ago.

impossible songs

A tidal wave of Christmas cards have landed on my office window sill, a bumper crop of random Santas, angels and snowmen from colleagues and friends and the wider world. Even at home our cards are building up and CDs and odd other things either sent in error or with some sense of guilt and purpose. Whatever I believe, I believe in the mid-winter festival – it has to be a good thing. A portion of light and warmth in all this insipid fog, cold and road dirt that threatens to cloak and choke everything. Light, from whatever source is good, warmth is better and bonfires are the best. I’d like it better if it was early Spring however.

Saliva ducts, glands, jets or whatever you call them are fine when they are working properly, get a tricky little infection in them and it’s no fun at all. A bit like putting methylated spirit in your car’s screen wash. So now my faith has been firmly placed in the power of antibiotics to make this Christmas bearable. I am a rubbish patient and a frustrated eater, sleeper and salivator. I also hope that the infection doesn’t turn out to be stones (how do you get stones in these tiny ducts and how do you get them out again?). So one more time "Roll away the stone, sha la la la la push, push!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


impossible songs

impossible songs

A man sits on an aircraft, he is reading a paper. When the plane lands he removes the TV section, folds it up into quarters and puts it in his inside coat pocket for later (one assumes). He discards the rest of the paper, leaving it in a seat pocket. The time is 2035.

Six older people (all in their sixties) are in the lounge of an airport, clearly they have all attended the same funeral that day, possibly a friend or a close family member. They huddle together and all attempt to complete the crossword puzzle from the Daily Mail. One man goes away to the toilet, when he returns 10 minutes later he has one of the answers - the one on which they all had been stuck.

In the bar upstairs a dog eared copy of the current Times is on a radiator, nobody picks it up. It looks dirty.

A man is snoozing in the same area, his newspaper is spread across his lap. He sleeps through his flight announcement and misses it. He does not react when he wakes up and realises what has happened.

A woman reading the Times is also eating crisps, her paper and her fingers smell strongly of cheese and onion.
I keep my distance.

I read the Scotsman almost from cover to cover, I miss most of the ads and a section towards the end. I don't bother with the rugby but I read the football pages. I read all the letters and all the editorials. I like to know what people are thinking. Much of the actual reported news is not news at all but seeing it in print it takes on a strange kind of relevance.

Today has been and ordinary day - most of which was spent in Southampton airport departure lounge.

Monday, December 17, 2007

7 Days

impossible songs

impossible songs

I can't quite remember much from the past seven days or so. No blogging or writing. Some playing songs at SQ arts open mike. Some flu bugs, sore throats and general bouts of ill health. Getting frostbite from handling goal posts on a freezing Sunday morning. De-icer on windscreens and roaring coal fires - thanks to the chimney sweep's hard work in removing the squirrel who may have been a bird.

These winter weeks are tough on the old body put still inspire with the strange beauty of the cold and the dark and the sparkle of the frost - oh and we did some shopping. One more thing, our Christmas tree is the best in the village by a mile and few stray fir cones.

All in all it's an uphill struggle to meet the inner hysteria that Christmas brings: Perhaps the rubbing on of some pure duck fat or goose grease, to the forehead or around the shoulder blades would ease the seasonal stress and also aid the cooking process. Not sure if it's worth the try.

Our regular PC has died and our ancient digital PC has been brought out of retirement - also meaning that the broadband has been reduced to dial up speeds but the old PC (like an old fiddle some may say) still can manage the odd decent tune before falling over after 5 minutes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Thank you

impossible songs

impossible songs

Sometimes in life, just a few words are quite enough...

Insolence for the indolent

impossible songs

impossible songs

Insolence for her?

Surely this has to be the best / worst / most awful product ever, as advertised on TV by a pouting, sneering blonde - an image we all aspire to. This Christmas give her some "Insolence", then on her birthday surprise her with a little "Petulance" and possibly for your anniversary a nice bottle of "Stroppy" or perhaps the cheeky aroma of "Huffy" or just plain old "(In a friggin', don't even talk to me, bad little number called...) Moody". Can you imagine being in the brainstorming session that came up with this as a marketing idea - aimed squarely at Ned Girls, hormonal and hyper teenagers and bunny boilers of all sorts. I hope it smells like a French rugby team's armpits after a night out in a Scunthorpe curry parlour.

I guess a male range will follow in due course: "Diverted Flatulence", "Ignorance (is complete and utter bliss)", "Selfish Lazy Beast", "Greedy Fat Bugger" and of course "Uncommunicative".

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Good cat bad cat

impossible songs & the bad and the good

impossible songs
The unbearable lightness of heavy responsibility.
Friday evening was spent in panic and crisis as our cats displayed for the first time the darker shades of their characters. Clint (the naughty kitten) disappeared into the West Lothian darkness at about 7.45 pm. He failed to reappear by 8.15 unlike his (good) sister Smudge. Having recently lost our long term cat Syrus we called out a two person search party straight away - in the rain. "History has repeated itself yet again" was all I could think as we staggered around in the fields, woods and roadways in the dark and cold, banging on a feeding dish and whistling and calling. At about 11.30 we abandoned the house to house, hedge to tree search and came home, tired and well and truly down in the dumps. Our little cat was lost and the feeling of being powerless and unable to search further was awful.
Then a miracle: It came after we'd gone to sleep thinking about how we'd have to tell the kids of how yet another cat had disappeared into the Hopetoun Triangle. Clint trotted in at 5.00am, clean, alert, dry and warm - where had he been? What had he done? Did he care or show any sign of remorse? Well no he's a bloody cat and doesn't bother in the least.
A few theories have been floated on this one: Parallel worlds, kidnap, rabbit hole, chimney, UFO abduction, hiding under a strangers bed, exploring the fields, wandering into another house - none can be confirmed to explain how he (a small and timid kitten) effectively vanished for 10 hours on a cold and horrible night - at least he's back, we're sane again and the squirrel soup is on the cooker.

Friday, December 07, 2007


impossible songs

impossible songs

Too much red meat is murder

I spent a couple of days in Dusseldorf, (the airport is featured in the picture) went to a meeting, drank some beer and had a large steak in a traditional German Argentinian Steak House. The Euro weather was as weather is most of the time and the traffic was as thick as it is at the Maybury at 1700hrs on a wet Friday. On the way home many a happy hour was spent at Heathrow meditating in between delayed flights, staring at the ceiling and reading and eating more processed meat and milky coffee in an unconcentrated, uncontented way.

Today (Friday) it was two steak pies from the Gyle and a rhubarb pie from the Coop re-steamed in the microwave to retain the flavour. Then I prepared a tasty pot of squirrel soup complete with a full range of imaginary ingredients. This was followed by no more pies or meat but an unplanned cat hunt - more of which later.

Not so secret squirrel

impossible songs

impossible songs

A shot in the dark

A squirrel appears to have set up home in our chimney, a better and warmer home in winter than some bare tree out in the woods I suppose. The actual chimney is the one in our bedroom unfortunately, the net result being a series of wild and unexpected scratching noises that occur in the middle of the night as he/she stores his/her nuts in the space behind our blocked up fireplace. These noises are about three feet from my head. This nocturnal lodger did freak both of us out to begin with but we have now settled down a little and are coming to terms with the new visitor (we don't run out of the bedroom screaming anymore). His timing and his habits leave a lot to be desired however, the 3am scratch and sniff session being the most irritating. Next week the cheeky Cockney scamp of a sweep from Mary Poppins (Dick van Dyke no less) is due to sweep and hoover our lum, we'll see how Mr Squirrel likes that. In the end it's live and let live I suppose, I'm saying that and feeling rather guilty because I ran over two poor little rabbits this morning - by accident.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ferry Christmas

Above: Tommy Mackay - guitar techno-guru.
Below: The mighty stage rises from the Forth.

impossible songs

impossible songs

Ali and I drifted into the seasonal spotlight in South Queensferry tonight to assist with the pre-Christmas celebrations (?) by singing backing vocals on Norman Lamont's (or is it the Wright Bros?) rather clever song "Christmas Revolution". Tommy Mackay also assisted with the doo-whops after his own short and sweet performance. The magnificent inflatable and multi-coloured stage was littered with dignitaries, elves and brass bands and a howling (well moaning) gale was blowing in from the sea, a feature we've become used to around here. After that Tommy, Caroline, Norman and the Impossibles retired to the Boat House for strong drink, salmon, salad and pigeon breasts along with Spanish black pudding - a traditional Christmas treat in these parts. Meanwhile outside in the cold distance the fire works popped and sparkled as the children sang and had their own seasonal strops over undelivered Nintendo Wiis. I believe it is only the 2nd of December today, a long and busy month lies stretched out before us all.

A bear for all seasons

impossible songs

impossible songs

The last bear related post I can be bothered with.

This rather innocent looking and sin resistant bear can be purchased over the net in order to commemorate your child's first Roman Catholic Communion. Complete with chalice and grapes motif this tasteful gift underscores the rightful place of the teddy bear within religious ceremony. I suppose that any suitable name can be given to this bear once he has been gifted to the fortunate child, so making the associations and links between cuddly toys and the deep mysteries faith firm and possibly even lifelong. Any warming comfort you can get for your tormented soul in the darkest nights of life's lowest levels can't be a bad thing and it puts a few more rattling coins into the collection plate.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Frog Prince

impossible songs

impossible songs

The Frog Kingdom meets the real world.

Finally caught on film (or phone) the holy and high king of Frogland & Hopetoun's image is revealed for all to see. This ancient, mysterious and wise beast lives, breathes and catches flies in our coal cellar and on our back step. Normally he is hidden but he will appear when it rains, at night or if the local cats are on the prowl and disturb him (or if we perform strange and primal incantations). His tadpoles are many and various, some have met sad and mysterious ends, some have made it to the lawn and beyond and a few ventured under the garden gate into the wide world and various roadway pot holes - beyond the trampoline. He may in fact be Queen of Frogland also but that is another matter altogether and we lack the expertise or motivation to explore the possible answer. I could be wrong but it is likely that his name is Mohamed, we will never know the answer to this, like so many of life's other deeper questions. Our human position is clear, simple and primitive while this grand king/queen frog/toad straddles the universe in an arc of triumphant lizard like amphibious power.

The Golden Compost

impossible songs

Mohamed and a new disciple.

impossible songs

The great bear tale and the threat to Islam and the free world.

You can tell a lot about the followers of a religion from the glimpses you get into their perception of their god. If you believe that any god is mortally offended by calling a teddy bear Mohamed or Jesus or Buddha or Allah or Clapton then frankly I'm worried about your belief system. It must be as small, narrow and unreal as the god you'd probably wish for isn't. The trouble is that nothing can be proved, only argued about or rioted about with a hysteria and level of stupidity that can only be marvelled at. I'm sure that in some darker material parallel world they've sorted all this out - but it seems beyond us in this one. The awful thing is the way this story focuses attention on the absurd and cruel side of things in Sudan rather than the humanitarian crisis that is running unchecked in the rest of the country.