Saturday, May 31, 2008

Six silver bullets

Weather wise and otherwise it was almost the perfect day today. I did have to take six silver bullets to survive the unexpected heat but that's no matter, in fact it was a pleasure. The shopping was done, the tyres checked, tank filled up, a few minor chores and then out into the garden, shorts and all. It seems Ali and I are now one with nature and apart from a noisy garden party in the distance we enjoyed the strange privacy and cocoon that is the world of the garden. The only snag was that we were working in it rather than enjoying it but the labour was pretty pleasant in the still and in the sun. Progress is being made.

CD of the day: The Raconteurs, Connsolers of the lonely.
Song of the day: Guitar by Pete Atkin.
Food of the day: Sweet and sour chicken.
Pudding of the day: Rhubarb crumble (from the garden).
Effect of the day: Delay pedal.
Film of the day: Into the Wild.
Cookie of the day: White choc chip.
Chord of the day: Am.
Shower of the day: The evening one was the best.
Tool of the day: The edge tool.
Cat of the Day: Clint (slept indoors and ignored the wonderful weather).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some things

The mid-week crisis of mid-life carries on, a strange tiredness smothers all life. Shoes cause small red marks on the rubbed toes or could it be the socks? Rain returns to this land after a brief spell hovering in the mid-Atlantic where I presume it bothered nobody. Three mids in this so far.

Nice to have a wee change now and then and gardening certainly helps. So here are a few other things related and otherwise:

Skyphone - All is wood
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - The flame that burns.
Polish food sections in the supermarket.
Back to back episodes of Smallville.
A familiar pie from the past.
Car cleaning and rubbing away the scratches.

It seems many funky laptops are available on the web, all deals are good, all offers are splendid and never to be repeated, all specifications are high, all delivery is free if you pay a little more than you want to, all lists are long and full of confusing numbers, all combinations are possible except the ones you might be interested in. Software isn't free as by rights it's price must remain extortionate. If only it was petrol or highland water.

The tall plumber fixed the running watery thing that has annoyed us for months but didn't do anything about until clearly exasperation set in and I should say that it was not reported by me. A small rusty washer was to blame and certainly not God, the powers that be or any of the cats, perhaps it was a guest or just fair wear and tear.

This week I spoke to a man who is almost blind. Car number plates are all he can read.

Tonight I'd like to do something worthwhile.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stone Chips

Dropped your chips?

You load 16 tons and what do you get? Well I got some tuna risotto and a white wine spritzer thanks to Ali's intervention, now I'm very tired. It was all thanks to some kindly HGV delivery driver who dropped two pallets of stone chips in the middle of nowhere, a little south of our house, not per the instructions on the note or the ones I tried to pass across a dodgy mobile phone connection. Such is the fun of being in the middle of an extensive home and garden improvements programme. In actual fact most of the chips were bagged and it was all a wheelbarrow job but one that left me fairly sore and exhausted but also strangely satisfied. That must be the noble glory of carrying out actual physical labour or "real work" as some would describe it. Perhaps the path to true enlightenment, peace and serenity follows the road of blood, sweat, tears and stretched wheelbarrow arms and a dizzy feeling when you sit down.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bambi burger

A warm, blue skied and sunny weekend has passed and I finally got my Bambi burger and a warm pint of beer in a plastic beaker at the Hopetoun House Carriage Trials. Lots of horses and buggies of course and all the horsey people out in their finery. Always good fun to mix with the toffs, tread in horse shit and enjoy the great outdoors, of which there is plenty around here. The horses and buggies are a splendid sight and the elegant riders and competitors make the whole thing easy on the eye and a reminder that not all in the country calendar is fox hunting, strangling badgers and snaring rabbits.

The cup final had a predicable outcome with the Huns winning (as expected) and the hard working QoS getting a grand day out but no trophy. Let's hope the mighty Gers win exactly he-haw next season. The Eurovision Song Contest was an exercise in complete crap but of course we voted for a number of the mad Eastern European offerings. Much wine, roast beef sandwiches and chocolate was needed to sustain me through it, I survived, the British entry, a pale and sickly piece of cod-funk did not. We wondered on how well Scotland might do was it permitted to enter this annual banal song-fest, would we, on our own (seen as a conquered and crushed race of course) suffer from the same tactical voting that the UK does?

Today after another visit to the temporary horse kingdom next door we returned for some sun drenched gardening, more wine and the customary back ache that goes with hard labour. Reviewing the outstanding works it's clear that one of those nice horses and a plough might come in handy about now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Marks & Sparks

I probably have an obsession about the Marx Brothers based on the notion that heaven and eternal life may turn out to be quite similar to being trapped in one of their films. A strange kind of cross over place between hell and heaven, with love, laughter, comedy, torture, bad songs and acting and every so often some surreal piece of intervention. I am probably wrong about this.

Sparks on the other hand have produced some interesting music over the years, most of which I've avoided but that's not because I dislike them. It's more down to my capacity to take in and absorb, it's always been low compared to the true music fans.

Tea tonight was a hotch potch of M&S goodies (£10.00 for a meal for two with wine), as it turned out I added to the feast with additional M&S finely packaged chicken. Heated and served in moments and then it was gone in the ping of a microwave.

Next over to field to check on the many horses and shiny caravans that had arrived for the weekend show and then on to locate the buffalo burger van for tomorrow's lunch. No problems, it looks ready to roast and I'm assured the sun will continue to shine. It's been a long week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can't be bothered

Things to do when you otherwise can't be bothered:
Make scrambled eggs on toast in the microwave and toaster, add lots of pepper.
Add a liberal amount of whisky to your tea-time Nescafe.
Shop at Maplin on line for a power adaptor.
Strim large tracts of garden and be ruthless with weeds and nettles.
Clip your nails.
Recycle a few good things.
Ponder on holidays and sort a small amount of personal stuff.
Delete those texts you were keeping.
Upload a few photos and orientate them.
Sit on the couch, watch football and play with your DR3 drum machine.
Drive a Ford Fiesta with 47 miles worth of fuel left in the tank.
Imagine yourself buying and eating a buffalo burger on Saturday.
Wonder through the land of maddening emails.
Discover some "cat-kill" and bloodstains hidden behind a door.
Decide not to iron for the third night in a row.
Flick your fingers in an OC way until they hurt.
Look for a dishwasher filling methodology, find one and then abandon it.
It's the middle of the week of course.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Welcome to the world of blank things set in lists and by numbers.

The seven patterns of human wisdom in a linear form:

1. The stir fry and muddle it all up approach.
2. The make it up as you go along.
3. The intense follower and the finisher.
4. The restless believer asking questions.
5. The dreamer and whisperer.
6. The face down, hands up unbeliever.
7. The staring ahead, thinking and not blinking.

None of these are pure obstacles but each one is able to form a wild and natural barrier to clear thinking and its pursuit. Choose wisely young Skywalker.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The beat goes on

Badly behaved Space monkeys visiting the Ideal Home Exhibition and making full use of modernistic furniture and appliances. The connection with Half Man Half Biscuit and whatever nonsense they are up to will make sense to some. These monkeys were won in a magical fairground far away and are, in real life 100 times larger than this image.

The cats stare out of the window and ponder the wonders that float by on the other side of the glass. Wasps, birds and bees and everything that lives in woods and hedges gets caught up their lazy radar until one day the two collide and something tragic happens with the cats coming out on top. No matter how much we feed the cats and try to civilise them they refuse to leave their wilder ways.

Trying to put a pedal board together should be simple enough I suppose but I find it all a bloody pain. Firstly there is all the fiddling and setting up and understanding what the various things do, then putting them in an order that works and then connecting and testing. Once done its reading the manuals and a long trial and mostly error process to get the sound, effect or rhythm that you want. So far so good (it works) but I'm still a power supply and few patch leads down. Then I have to coordinate my feet to stamp on the stomp buttons at the right time so it all sounds right and tuneful. It's been a long term work in progress but this weekend has at least seen it stutter forwards and who knows where it will end?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Best photo

After some consideration I've decided that this is the best photo I've ever taken.

Things we like

impossible songs

things we like......................

There is nothing quite like honest work using gardening tools, rakes, spades and getting a blister on your palm and black fingernails. The rattle and smoke of an old lawn mower spluttering into life and bumping across an uneven lawn.The pain of physical labour and the satisfaction of having done something and not just looked at it and walked away. Cold beer in a deep glass flowing into a froth and promising a taste and experience never delivered. Doing things that aren't quite right, smoking a cigar, laughing at an un-PC joke, getting the better of somebody you don't like, spilling a secret, eating a fish supper in your car, drinking a bottle of wine alone and allowing your thoughts to drift almost endlessly, sweating and not changing your T-shirt. Sitting outside and listening the millions of sounds that make up the backdrop of the countryside, the chirps and squawks of life and death, the rustle of unseen creatures in a hedge, fat raindrops plopping onto flagstones, birds flying low like lost angels on a mercy mission. Peace.

I love the bizarre thoughts that come and take over and are then forgotten despite their colossal importance, unlike reading the poorly scripted magazine articles and listening to the non-news on the radio that never ends. The stupid bulletins based on speculation and opinion whilst around the world a billion bigger dramas are unfolding that the news reporters are missing. Real life played out under their noses and ignored and unrecognised. Shame.

Soon there will be lollipop man and women called Darren and Sharon, the young become the grey and repeat the mistakes of the past as we rely upon our inherited opinions for guidance. This is where it goes. Older.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vacuum Song

impossible songs

"I'm just sitting here trying to sing a song that's good enough for you.

Staring into the vacuum and wondering what to do, where to place a lift and where I can just go 'oooh'.
I'm just sitting here trying to sing a song that's good enough for you."


The best chocolate is that that is taken directly from a 5 degree fridge.

Always have your strimmer fully charged, ready for the unexpected.

It may be cheaper to take a taxi for a single journey.

Warm beer is best avoided on a hot day.

Trouser pockets are not necessarily safe places.

Dirges are just that.

Your satellite TV will do more for you than you imagine.

Crossing the road in loose shoes can be hazardous.

Drum machines may contain hidden metronomes.

Early to bed, early to rise is generally a tiring and tiresome way to live your life.

Come to think of it.

Place the ashes on the beach at low water and the tide will wash them away. Of that you can be certain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


impossible songs

None of these Antorias are mine I'm afraid.

The return of Cadbury's Smash to the store cupboard and the dining room table has been a significant event in this weekend's nutritional experiences, what with the Chicken Kievs and the home made apple crumble and all that. Some of this was washed down with cans of root beer whilst putting together garden type toys such as slides - before the thunderstorm redefined the weekend. I remain happy and well fed but I do have a small pile of outstanding ironing to do, DVDs to watch and various instruction manuals to read. If it all gets too much they'll simply be placed into some convenient flight case for a rainy day.

Moving forward there are some plans taking shape but their shape is variable which may well be for the best. Staring into the West Lothian woodland and the fine mist that seems to hover around the edges of it soothes and helps no end. Every so often a cat, a game bird or a set of fat squirrels emerge to add movement to the landscape. Meanwhile the sky remains peppered with noisy swifts back from Africa, full of gossip and hell bent on the repair work necessary to restore their small holiday villas located in the roof of our coal cellar. The cats look on, licking their lips and yawning, ignoring the wasps building their nest under the slates and the fat and dizzy bees who seem to have recovered from the recent media panic about their extinction. Nature is a wonderful thing when left alone to get on with it's business.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cat burglar

impossible songs

Mavis the strange, stranger of a tortoise shell cat has been finally apprehended sleeping in our lounge. For some time, we suspect she's been sneaking into the house via the open all hours cat flap and pinching Clint and Smudge's supper. This morning Olivia discovered Mavis asleep on a chair - caught in the act. The other cats were puzzled but not overly disturbed by the interloper who based on her friendly behaviour and freeloading life style may well return tonight.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Secret CDs

impossible songs

Thanks to the mighty Jim Igoe and friends for putting on Secret CDs VI at the Phoenix in Edinburgh last night. A rash of rare talent was on display and the discerning audience contained a few famous and familiar musos from the Edinburgh "go it alone and don't give a damn" music scene.

Our set was radically shortened by Ali catching a cold so we struggled through about six songs all in the key of sore throat a la Marianne Faithful. A couple of the pieces emerged decently from the ordeal and the tweaking of keys and capos to suit a major voice variation was a challenge i almost enjoyed. Afterwards we feasted on fish and chips outside a midnight Italian Pizza Friary - some comfort food after a busy evening.

Dr Drum has arrived - well he has been collected from a shed in Livingstone a week late. I'm not sure if this exactly how Internet purchasing is supposed to work, I saved a tenner on the price but had to make a 22 mile round trip to rescue him from pallet city. All I have to do now is read and understand a 60 pages instruction manual and write a few songs.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Iron manic

impossible songs

Life is full of little surprises, never did I expect to be teaching any one of my sons the guitar riff from the Sabs 1971 "Iron Man". A truly awful piece of work that even then (I recall there was a very short time when handling the first Black Sabbath album was cool) was disliked by everybody except complete meat heads. However time and marketing are strange things and now that leaden, 6th form, primitive riff has re-emerged and become associated with what looks like a very good film. My 13 year old likes the basic riff but not the rest of the song so at least he has some good taste. Iron Man should be last of the big Marvel movies, I can't imagine Dr Strange easily making it to the big screen and if he did what music would fit - the Cure? The back catalogues continue to be pillaged and our imaginations and memories are put firmly back into some desolate and dark place.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The return to NYC

impossible songs

I reserve the right to return to New York, that is my stated state and I love the paradox. To be a tourist on pilgrimage to the haunts and quarters and pavements that first fired my imagination before it froze with age and experience. Bob Dylan, Nico, Lou and Andy on the mean streets and in the plush hotels and waterfronts and galleries bless me with a jolt and jump start. I'd swear I saw the ghost of Elvis being carried out of there or was it the Algonquin or the Somewhere Else? Cheap guitars and t-shirts in a Greenwich Village store and old furniture shops in Soho and the waving cats in porcelain. The intellectual bums and the taxis and the easy breakfasts suck up the sacred dollar and the all seeing eye but I fly by in my Volvo-like helicopter, safe with my borrowed insurance. Why does this all resonate and trigger reactions in a Scot from the Central Belt? (Borrowed and not returned from the library of the buckle of the Bible Belt and the cults of lesser men.) Where is my heart and memory in these last and late days of the green and blue familiar planet? Why do I gravitate towards Expedia and Trailfinders and browse there, savouring their hook, line and sinker wonders? Saviours of the modern man and benefactors in a time of discounted famine and need. New York is not my town but it is my city - I shall return and eat a Kenny Rodger's roast chicken and sip the world's finest coffee whilst avoiding the soup kitchens and the desolation rows.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Confessions of a food poisoner: It was "Old Sparkie's " first outing of the year yesterday. The cleaned up barbie was fired up to feed the hungry family, all exhausted after numerous wheel barrow exploits around the garden, dinosaur hunts, football blowing up and (eventually) successful searches for bicycle pumps. The food was well done and marginally less hazardous to consume than anything the local fast food joints are cooking up (I hope). I do think that the sausages, which contained bits of apple and onion and other things were rather good, their subtle flavours and their finely carbonised exterior were missed out by the numerous small children present who seemed to prefer munching on Pringles and cheese. Whatever else happens we've at least welcomed the summer and the arrival of our family of nesting swifts from Morocco with our first outdoor spectacular.Next morning everybody woke up in fine fettle and I'm taking that as being a good sign that all the toxins in the food and dirty fingers were burned away.

impossible songs

Pan's Labyrinth: On Friday night we watched this strange and disturbing film, set during the Spanish Civil War it blurs reality and fantasy through some horrific events and graphic imagery. The overall effect was one of inducing the viewer to keep on drinking large amounts of red wine in order to dull the senses and focus the mind elsewhere. It may not sound as if I did but I liked the film and the sub-titles, been a while since I read a better movie.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The power of lime

impossible songs

There is a link between this Innocent looking material and a variety of problems that can occur in the inner reaches of the human body. I have proven that but I am still strangely drawn to this powerful substance both as a dip and an ingredient. Regardless of the consequences I am strangely drawn. I am a strangely drawn man and not a badly drawn boy. Such is the power of a jar of pickle that though I know it does me no good and in fact it causes me some discomfort, I am driven to finish the jar by fair means or foul. I must add it to more recipes and test the overall effect on others - my victims and victims of the pickle. Apart from participating in this kind of activity from time to time I am a normal person. I should also like to record that I do not enjoy the taste or texture of this lime pickle.

Now that it is truly May I feel that it is OK to get serious about gardening.

I'm listening but I'm not hearing very much.

Scribbles are returning to inhabit the empty pages.

Doctor Drum is in the post.