Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little bread with that sir?

"I can assure you that no animals at all were harmed in the planning of this wedding officer."

Things are moving in the way they are bound to, in all directions in a fairly uncoordinated way. As a part of that I spent a very pleasant rock n' roll Friday night in the company of Teddy Thompson, Tift Merritt, Miss Fi and Ali, mostly talking about mint based drinks, the music of the spheres, the magic building site that is Edinburgh and Teddy T's chat up routines.

The quest for a visually stunning drink continues. Is mint tea acceptable? I think it is. Could you add whisky or gin to it to perk it up? Probably. Does it go with cake? Not quite sure. We'll have to carry out a series of controlled experiments under test conditions once a cake base has been identified.

The spectre and horror that is Marryoke has raised it's head and it won't go away. I am veering towards some kind of adoption of this practice, indeed forming plans (and then discarding them), then forming them again. I may have to apply for some kind of meaty grant from either a public body or a drinks manufacturer or a family member. The cinematography gene in me is itchy and the artistic muse calls aloud and demands an answer (of sorts), You-Tube and the Oscars beckon and the loss of reputation and personal credibility are a small price to pay.

Teddy T in action, great band and lots of charisma, songs may need a little work. No sure about the shoe statement but that's show biz.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sympathy for Glenrothes

Some guy who writes a newsletter dislikes Glenrothes because like many other places it's out of time and suffering from the (economic) structural decay that will become common place as the banker's revenge continues to run it's course. Bah Humbug! Art, imagination and architecture are great things when at their peak, when a major decline sets in, the temples, markets, theatres and circus tents collapse and the wild beasts and feral children run free. You could say we get what we deserve.

So what about the wider issues in Scotland? I have to admire the Greens trying to screw 100 million a year for ten years out of Wee "pointy finger" Eck. Based on my primary 7 maths that's £20k a head (maybe £60k an average household) for insulation, wind turbines and solar panels. Just imagine going down to B&Q with 60 grand to spend on your house's green credentials every year, might need a roof rack. My course of action, should I be given the opportunity would be to spend the princely sum on a nice villa in southern Spain so reducing Scotland's pollution, insulation and energy consumption problems rapidly and in my case permanently.

Survey results just in:

What is Scotland to you?

The best small minded small country in the world.

The best nationalistic dictatorship in the world - looking for the right dictator.

Where a good quality diet doesn't matter.

Never best, not even second best.

Where potholes find homes.

Where recycling means confusion.

Where mountains are small and the welcome smaller.

Where industry used to be.

Where football shirts are fashion statements.

Where culture remains primitive but engaging.

Where modern media has yet to develop.

Where there are plans but no cash.

Where we have ambition but no vision.

Where we have social services but no social life.

Where pub culture has been outlawed by pricing strategy.

Where currency is worth less than a Euro.

Where music and poetry means a series of Burns tribute acts and sod all else.

Where equality is a possibility.

Where refugees are welcomed for the recipes they bring.

Where religion is misunderstood by each generation.

Where the national sport is scratch card scratching.

Where you'll have had your tea.

A place where schools don't consider national history worth teaching.

Where mediocrity is celebrated.

Where division is by common language.

Where wild things (occasionally) run free.

Thanks to the good folks of Glenrothes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coming around

It's a healthy and good thing to change your mind about something, particularly if it's in the positive axis. Before I'd ever been in it I disliked the local Datoka hotel because it was new, big, brash, next to Tesco and the A90 and it just seemed out of place. Now I've been in and around it a couple of times my position has changed, for one thing it's very stylish, for another it really does work well as building. The space is sensibly and usefully divided, the decor is veering towards tacky but fits in well, the materials are rough but the effect is warmth and economy. Black is in there big time and it's serving the environment well.

The actual bedrooms are thoughtfully put together and when compared to hotels in the same price bracket actually quite nice. So I feel a little smug having moved seemlessly from one position to another, proof that my inherant stubborness has a healthy limit and than nothing is beyond redemption. Nothing that is apart from Carry On films, the excessive wearing of sports clothes, monkeys, 1970's town centres, the Lords and those with deep pink to redder necks.

Those goons in the House of Lords have set up yet another cringe worthy performance with the cash for law bending and manipulating revelations. It is scary to catch a glimpse of how arrogant and out of touch a group of people can become when they have spent years in a cosseted talking shop badly running great swathes of this country and lining their pockets in the process. In the other House of course they bellow and argue like buffoons over their black and white views on who is right and who is wrong. Strange how it never occurs to them that finding some common ground, sharing a little clear thinking and the pooling of resources in positive strategies might just help the old country along a bit more than their childish bickering. Two tribes.

The frog and toad totem pole photo collection goes from strength to strength, how's your's doing?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New dawn of some golden day

It can get noisy around these parts but we mostly respect the environment.

More than ever we're now using some obtuse and oblique strategies to describe, understand and justify our lives and I suppose to re-connect with people who orbit the same sun but not the same spot of land. A constant balancing act of blogging, micro-blogging, texting, blue toothing photos and music and the odd 150 or so emails that wraps the process in fun and clever mechanics. Sometimes watching TV is almost relaxing, the friendly ping of Twitters in the background, newspapers littering the floor as Jonathan Ross returns to the screen to grin at Tom Cruise, already busy out grinning him. Which one would the average straight guy go gay for? Is it a contest at all?

The morning frost was scraped from the car and a light January sun rose over the hedges as we headed away into Edinburgh to collect the little box that contained the remains of Smudge our cat. The usual mess of roadworks and debris greeted us into and waved us out of the city, Smudge's carton sat on the back seat, like a gift from Amazon or At least she's back home now and we'll scatter her ashes somewhere, sometime. It seemed a good idea to buy a selection of chocolate, pizza and finger food to munch through for the remains of the day.

Before that is started on it was the heavy but healthy brunch with smoothies, sausages (must be beef), eggs, hash browns, beans, toast, bacon and a pot of tea for Ali. It set us up for a hoovering and dusting marathon, experiments with light bulbs and starters and a stream of weekend laundry. Saturday is the day for utilities, kids wrestling with PC applications, Sky Soccer Saturday, dreams of the great Scottish novel, waste bins, exploring the depth of the freezer, glossing across the mail and papers and a single candle burning on the table to remind us of a little cat.

Tomorrow is Burns 250th birthday, the media and the tourist board are excited, it's their big time and they milk like it really meant something. Haggis will be stabbed and eaten and Burn's rather inaccessible works skimmed over as cliches and warm but now exhausted phrases are repeated with an acquired profundity by people trying to connect with something already dead and disconnected from most of our daily lives. The books are dry and open, the pages are staring at the ceiling but the words fail to to lift off and fly, mainly because no one really wants them to or needs them. They are like Bible passages or Dickens prose, best summed up in a few short songs, skimmed phrases or strap-lines and then put back on the shelf for the next festival of the glorious past or redundant holiday ceremony. On Monday Tesco and M&S will discount the neeps and mash and then lay out the aisle ends with Easter eggs, yellow chickens and daffodils. You know it makes no sense but you'll put your PIN number in anyway, these are your sins and you carry them with you, no matter where.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mr Shed 2009 & America under new management

The shed fever continues, the pressure and the sweet pain of competition grow and become as addictive as some sweet drug - like a Muller strawberry fruit corner yogurt. Now, today almost nothing else matters as much. As things hot up I've taken the radical step of adding photographs taken in the searing light of a typical West Lothian January day. This natural approach will I believe reveal the best aspects and the true nature of our wonderful shed. Click on the title link or here to see the latest suite of pictures, read and enjoy the blurb or if you are brave enough post some clean and creative shed related comment.

Meanwhile the question of the day is (and isn't likely to be answered), what is the best meal for a healthy but middle aged chap like me? Diet and lifestyle choices these days provide so many quandaries and moral dilemmas.

a) A Big Mac and a medium latte (no fries, no ketchup).

b) Poor Man's noodles with a curry twist and mackerel sauteed in olive oil.

c) A banana, a pack of 50p carrot batons and a slice of birthday cake.

d) Instant coffee, a cereal bar and a chunky Kit-Kat.

e) £25.01 worth of BP unleaded at 85.9p a litre.

f) Listening quietly to the Tom Morton show, eating nothing but possibly swallowing some saliva.

e) A plastic cup filled with fizzy vitamins and chilled water from the "Middle-aged man" Tesco range of healthy stuff.

Answers on a postcard please...

America is under new management says America, fine by me. When do we get to have a go at this over here?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shed of the year

As it's been a hectic day at work I naturally came home eager to relax and as means of reaching new competitive highs and creative peaks and calming myself down I decided to enter our shed in the "shed of the year "contest. We are up against stiff competition from a number of international shed specialists but what the hell. My entry is simply called "Small shed ensemble with barbie and barrow accessories, at night".

The unique features of our shed are a)that you can't actually get into it, b) that it once contained a wasps nest, and c) it stands on four unique house bricks. I fully expect the judges to swoon with delight and award us some handsome prize, hopefully a new shed that the average person can get into.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Projects and the rest

For some reason I didn't want to post anything over the previous Smudge post. Some kind of respectful distance needs to be placed between the memory of the wee cat and my ramblings and occasional rants. Somethings don't easily coexist in certain kinds of space but under pressure they have to, in other words life goes on and on.

Today the Obama show has taken over everything in the media and imagination and I suppose quite rightly so. Today I have parked my cynicism, my distrust and my unbelief and decided to be moved (a bit) by his address to the nation and be impressed by the crowds and their hope and (likely) baseless optimism. Hope is the greatest thing, even if unreasonable or unrealistic it forms us up and allows a forward motion and an energy release that can change worlds. Hope is also hungry and needs the fuel of recognition and tangible success in goals realised, er..Go Obama Go...

Meanwhile looking around the room and into the PC files, unfinished projects pile up like debris on the beach, ship wrecked ideas and bits of other things that I can't quite put a value on or somehow develop from some base position. I compile lists of their names, peer into them like avatars on Facebook and stepping back see only bits of a jigsaw but without the box lid. Striking a better a better note than my twisted black guitar currently can I found a short story I'd written hidden away on the (newly re-jigged) OOTB site, how on earth did that get there? The Great Gondolli or something like that...

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Our beautiful little cat Smudge died this weekend. She'd been missing since Friday and we were fearing the worst. After searching in the woods, roadways and gardens Ali found her this morning, she'd been hit by a car a few hundred yards from home. She was a smashing, cuddly wee thing, full of fun, mischief and a great mouser and we're now missing her badly, as is her big ginger brother Clint. There are somethings you just don't want to ever have to write about.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ah! Sweet mystery of Fife

Fife is blockaded this weekend, held hostage by FETA terrorists bent on preventing the escape of millions of doe-eyed, straw sucking Fifers hoping to stretch out their credit card advances on the streets of Edinburgh, but FETA says "thou shalt not pass". The reverse is also true with central Scotland now sealed of from the bonnie southern banks of the Firth of Froth to the bonnie ex-banks of the credit crunch. I may sneak over into Fife tomorrow, early in the morning when no one is about and the border guards are occupied with the Sunday Mail crossword or queuing for a sausage and egg McMuffin breakfast at the golden arches drive-thru.

In the mean time my supposed creative weekend has hit a dip thanks to an unexpected and so far fruitless pussy cat search. Recording and mixing plans have been dropped in favour of head scratching, looking out of the window and wandering around the hedgerows. Bugger, things are looking bleak.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Toys out of the cupboard (funk 4)

A pile of equipment litters the dining room, almost joined up by imperfect leads and devices looking a bit like the inside of Neil Young's barn after it's been robbed. Pedals and power supplies are lying across the floor in tribute to the failure of the music industry to standardise connections. A guitar waits patiently in the distance eager to rush up to Gm7, D and then back to Amaj for a last hurrah.

As it's January the salmon and home recording seasons are once again open and nothing in the vicinity is safe. The drum loop known as Funk 4 has been edited, reverbed, muted and then topped and tailed, it now lasts a mere 1 minute 30 seconds but in that time it buries the wah guitar with the slight delay and the FX effect that struggles to find four notes. Well done funk 4, we salute you.

Lost in a car park

The trouble with silver cars is that a) they are common as muck and b) muck is very common, so returning to a large open car park after dark and trying to locate your ride home can be tricky. Usually at Edinburgh airport I park in the multi and manage to just about remember the level, the rest is easy. On Wednesday I chose the open air long stay in a burst of economic anguish and thanks to a quick bus pick up and little thought on my part, on my return I could not find my car.

Panic however didn't set in, I just walked around for a while, at angles, across bays, from sign to sign, from pay point to bus stop. Many cars were found, none were mine. I thought about asking for help at the office but the potential humiliation was too much so the random walking continued until after about twenty minutes we were reunited and I sped of as if nothing had happened. The last time this happened was in Disneyland when I couldn't remember the colour of the hire car only that it was in the Dopey area with a cuddly toy on the back window shelf.

Favourite old tunes of the day:

The King will come - Wishbone Ash.
White room - Cream.
Folsom Prison blues - Johnny Cash.

Soup of the (yester)day: mature vegetable.

Amplifier of the day: TEC6200 Stereo Power 100w.

Sweet of the day: Chunky Kit-Kat.

Pie of the day: Mince round.

Effect of the day: Phaser.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gavin and Stacy chic

Sometimes it's good to get into things later than everyone else. This series is honestly funny, well acted and there still are a load of unseen (for me) episodes to come. Some little touches are perfect, the blue Saxo is great, the fat friend and the surreal Nessa, Wales and the extended family. The house in Essex is a study in contemporary life style that David Hockney would love, thank you BBC channel whatever your number is.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Art is everywhere

Art is everywhere, art is out there to be enjoyed, disliked or tolerated - in unexpected places. Art has little to do with galleries, £20 million price tags, diplomas and cocktail parties. Art doesn't need more funding or prizes, receptions or patronage by corporations. It just needs to be conceived, carried out, looked at and appreciated.

High Hopes

Why will the USA and the UK continue to support the state of Israel despite their violent and heavy handed conduct towards Gaza?

The answer is almost simple: The USA and all the other western powers that have grown into Christian based democracies cannot, for a series theological, historical, moral and philosophical reasons bring themselves to condemn Israel. In the minds of all the modern Hebrew based religions and the government systems that they co-support the position of Israel regards the “rest of the world” remains as it was first described in the Five Books of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament). The Jewish nation remains the “apple of God’s eye”. Put simply they are God’s chosen people and their struggle to maintain Israel is fully justified by the earliest of Bible teachings and is therefore not a principal to be trifled or disagreed with.

Many contemporary church sermons, methods of teaching and pillars of thinking remain based on these early writings, available to all as the books Genesis to Deuteronomy, translated and incorporated into the Holy Bible. To unpick one part undermines all the other passages, so if Israel’s status is threatened then so is the creation story, the doctrine of original sin and the fall, the Ten Commandments, the moral absolute that is the Hebrew Jehovah and the need for a messiah to arrive to redeem fallen mankind. The rest of the Old Testament and the significance and relevance of the New would also fall apart as a piece of joined up literature and template for life. It’s a bummer of a theological trap that the USA’s political system and its church based followers cannot allow themselves to fall into, otherwise we’re (as stupid white people) all completely guilty of all the (western) colonisation and evangelical crimes of the last 2009 years and we’ve no mandate to move forward.

The violent and intolerant situation we’re now seeing is worsened by harkening back to the latitude God apparently gave to early Jewish heroes like Joshua and Caleb to go out and ethnically cleanse the tribes that were occupying the promised land of Israel when the Jews returned from captivity in Egypt. That thinking still lives on and in various forms, both practically and metaphorically and influences a great deal of modern political thinking and Christian teaching. There are Jews, there are Christians and there are the rest of us, so sending air strikes into schools and hospitals in Gaza when you view the victims as being outside of the love and care of your God is easy. The Christian religion is very good at the convenient use of exclusion, separatism and the drawing of hard, judgemental lines, often despite what the very core values of the religion may profess to be about.

As a further complication the numerous Biblical prophecies about the progress of the Jewish people, their dispersion, persecution (no joke) and their return to Palestine in 1948 all add weight and depth to their beliefs. A further problem is that the other “yet to be” stories at the far end of the Bible work backwards towards the present day. They contain a huge amount of prophetic writing that shows the end of the world, Armageddon, occurring above or around Jerusalem following a long series of violent wars and conflicts all fought out in the Middle East. What good upstanding, church going Christian or God fearing Jew can afford to deny the significance of these current events when seen in the context of a Biblical wipe-out? The whole of the Middle East has now become a huge self fulfilling prophecy that cannot be overturned because so much is a stake for the credibility of our (sic) cherished beliefs, rich, fat and obstinate churches and wayward parliaments. Never mind the oil either.

Everybody wants a little certainty and justification in their lives and that’s what the Bible, when interpreted in this fundamental way gives. Good guys, bad guys, slanted eyed Arabs or dark skinned godless tribes from the edge of the world, they are sheep or they are goats. Sadly the people of Gaza are all in the wrong place at the wrong time and because Hamas is bad (which it is) and the vengeful God has said so, we need to fix it with our tanks and aircraft regardless of where that leads (and in the minds of many because it leads to certain Armageddon).

It helps to look for constructive humour from time to time but where can you find it these days?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Untitled 574th post

This is soothing and almost fun, click here.

A busy and entertaining weekend is coming to an end, lots of food and drink, family and friends around and surviving some dodgy weather and eccentric cat behaviour.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The placebo is working

Shopping for Placebos in the sticks.

The mind is greater than the body and it is possible to live for a thousand years and overcome sickness, old age and the vapours. My daily course of tablets will see me through, each one transformed in an effervescent sparkle into a healthy gulp of water and chemicals, thereafter the darkness will fall but a bright light will surely shine and you get in Tesco for £2.99.

Tonight it was a large Rogan Josh with heavy portions for one and all while listening to the Cult, Wishbone Ash and Ted Nugent. I may watch Grey's Anatomy at some point once the cats are fed, the sun goes down and the dishwasher cleans all the bright little pieces of cutlery. It is Friday after all.

Shopping in Aldi seems like a good idea until you pack your bags and realise you have all the right things with the wrongs labels and they may turn out to be the wrong things after all and you've missed bits from the yellow sticky list. Damn.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Secret CDs and UFOs in January

My favourite news story of the day has to be that of a UFO colliding with a wind turbine, I'm more inclined to think that a big boy did it, hit it with a stone and then ran away - but then aliens will be aliens.
Edinburgh's Secret CDs night isn't as you might think a pub night out for Midlothian cross dressers but is the recurrent showcase night for local original music run by Jim Igoe. Jim tries hard to put together a varied combination of acts and in the process allows them to hawk their CDs (on the night and via the web link in the blog title) and hopefully gain a wider audience.

We attended the first session of the year last night and enjoyed the easy going efforts of William Douglas, possibly the best undiscovered talent in the city. William pushes light humour with strong observation and getting the maximum melody from the minimum chords. He also has the look and charisma of a young Neil Young, hungry and edgy. His songs and the use of 7ths and repetitive sequences ending up in unexpected places are polished, the lyrics are childlike, fresh and just a bit dark and unsettling. I've watched him now for about five years and always expected a breakthrough to occur, maybe this year, maybe these songs.

Ali enjoyed a quartet known as "Lipsync for a Lullaby", a strange mix of cello, guitar, drum, bass and a loop pedal. I'd need to hear a bit more of them to form a final opinion as their live performance was a little disjointed and the high and floating vocals were lost in the lipsync and cacophony.

At home retro cooking returns with Poor Man's Noodles back on the menu.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wild eyed cats strike curious etc.

Our cats either leaping in a peculiar way or stuck to the wall thanks to the special Velcro suits Ali knitted for their Christmas or possibly just doing something else.

I refuse to believe that January is the most depressing month of the year, how can it be when you can get such a buzz from tearing down decorations and hurling dead trees to the foot of your garden? It should be an Olympic sport really and we'd be damn good at it.

Actually the most depressing month of the year is September when your holiday credit card bill mugs you with a mixture of cash transactions, stupid impulse buys and currency conversions. Then again that happens most months. The biting January cold is quite hard to take mind you, we're on two scuttles a night for coal and a brace of the finest sticks plus a can of de-icer every three days and that's without roasting any chestnuts or making a bed properly. Thankfully going back to work has been a joy and the roads on which I travel shine like new pennies thanks to the black ice, Mr Cougars dim lights and the mysterious West Lothian pot holes.

P.S. Instant coffee is a strange substance, ever noticed how you start to dislike it's suddenly bitter taste once you get three quarters of the way down any jar regardless of the brand or type or the size of the jar. Hmmm.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dinosaur eh?

The people who write or broadcast about history make it their own and interpret it on their terms, often very narrowly and with only very shallow insight. Apart from my general dissatisfaction with Scottish history not being taught properly in Scottish schools I can now add to that my annoyance at Prog Rock continually being rehashed via the Beeb and summed up as "truly" represented by the efforts of Yes, ELP and bloody Genesis. It's as if ten years of music and loads of bands have to be succinctly summed up in 40 minutes - so we'll use stock film and interviews to "capture" our version on the cheap. Punk and Glam rock hardly fare better with the same old protagonists getting credit for inventing whole genres of music that in fact evolved over time in a thousand different ways. The real life development of rock music isn't lived in sound bites and vox pops nor was it exclusively summed up by the Old Grey Whistle Test, the disastrous Isle of White Festival or any Reading Festival. I was there or there abouts as I recall.

Worse than the Katzenjammer Kids

Eyeless in Gaza

The (outside) world events as portrayed in the news often leave me puzzled and ultimately cynical and pessimistic. The repeated conflict in Gaza, the aggression and ludicrous self belief of the Israelis, the belligerent Hammas forces, the impotence of the Western powers and the intransigence and posturing of the Soviet Bloc (or whatever it calls itself). Meanwhile the Arabs and sunglass wearing followers of Islam bay like tethered hounds or fiddle for quick solutions as if they were looking for the keys to their Lexus and Cadillac SUVs. It seems like every man-jack is determined to fulfil all the garish Biblical prophecies in the book of Revelation or the Qur’an and then some. Lions, beasts, whores, harlots, lakes of fire, tattooed numbers, rockets and AK47s all line up to confuse and pick out an eternal story than runs and runs and doesn’t get better. Meanwhile innocent people suffer and the arms brokers make a few million more. Where’s the bit in the Bible about wiping the planet clean and starting again?

Having said that who wants a clean planet? If we got the chance to start again we’ve all be in fig leaves and fighting over the last banana before burning down the forest to create a chill-out zone and a clearing to plant out our carrots. Then we’d snare the last of the rabbits before turning them into warm slippers and furry hats then feeding the remains to the feral cats we were trying to domesticate. That is of course unless we change track, mind sets and beliefs and adopt the “Celebration” model for community life. Celebration in Florida is a (more than most) manufactured town and a master-planned community in Osceola County near Disney World. It was developed over time by The Walt Disney Company albeit their influence has decreased over the years. Perhaps the answer is out there, not in focused religions, acute political stances or blind tribalism but in manufactured, sanitized small communities that manage themselves and build big fences and feed the residents a nice big dose of Soma on a regular basis – in the water mains, drinks machines and chip shop vinegar. The application of this may just make the likes of Cumbernauld, Glenrothes or the Middle East acceptable places to stay and would ease the practical problems of government a thousand fold. Strange that the Israelis haven’t as yet demonstrably tapped into the Gazza water supplies.

Power is fine but useless without control. Benign control only comes via healthy fear or slavish love but fear is the most effective. Love can be too strong and is prone to turning, love also spawns idealism – itself a threat and possible destabilizing agent. So whoever controls the water controls the population – you don’t need their hearts and minds when you have a grip on their plumbing systems. Barack Obama and the Presbyterian Church know this very well and this will be one of their key subliminally managed strategies in the thousand year plan.

I probably won’t watch much of Celebrity Big Brother, firstly there are no celebrities in it that I admire, many of them I don’t even know and secondly like most reality shows the banality and repetition is now becoming tedious – the format is dead. A third reason to avoid it is the hooting Davina pulling faces and shoving her hair out of her eyes. January should find me staring into the screen savoring old Coen Bros. films or hijacking Ali’s discovery of Grey’s Anatomy or her boxed set of Bones – that seems better although Ulrika Jonsson and Tommy Sheridan are a possible nightmare love match from either Heaven or Valhalla. Still thinking of films what is the cultural importance and legacy of the movie Garden State?

I picked up a random radio question, “what makes you/me proud to be British (or Scottish)?” For once I can be positive about something and can readily summon up a list of answers in a rough top 10:

Kilts, tartans, whisky and clans (but not Robbie Burns).
Hills, lochs and the Forth Bridges.
Getting to the top of the M6, seeing the gloom ahead and knowing I’m nearly home.
The selective use of bagpipes but not as WMDs.
Fife, Edinburgh Castle, the Clyde Submarine Base, Leuchars and Lossiemouth.
Boiled eggs and soldiers, beef sausage, Irn Bru, pies and bridies.
The East Neuk and the rise and decline of herring fishing.
Pubs, chip shops and Oor Wullie as they used to be.
Scottish weddings and (in a dour and respectful way) funerals.
Chick Murray and the eclectic and shambolic world of Scottish comedy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

God again

Thanks to Paul for this test of belief, logic and the amplified mechanics of the wheels and cogs all spinning in the heavenly spheres that circle our pretty little empty heads: Battleground God.


The lucky cats at Ocean Terminal welcome MMIX

2009 started frosty, clean and sharp but has now turned back to the customary wet, dripping and muddy mud-fest that we struggle through daily. I found this out whilst transporting the Christmas tree from it's triumphant stance in the lounge to a less than triumphant and much more undignified slow death on the bonfire site. Stripped naked and neglected and due to be burned during some future drunken barbecue it would make a fine central character in some poignant allegorical tale of spiritual decline. Today and in the coming days many such trees will find themselves on death-row, behind a hedge or wall or compressed into the brown wheelie bin you can never fill in winter. I also hoovered without breaking anything and celebrated with coffee and twenty minutes of Planet Rock's heaviest heavy metal muck from the past reminding me of the brief time I spent on duty as a youth. A state of mind and dishevelled dress that was not encouraged, recognised or understood by the authorities in Central Scotland in 1969.They did play "Little Wing" by JH which sounded fab, hard to believe it's over forty years old and still fresh as an Afghan Black five skinner rolled out on a gate fold sleeve.

So all the decorations are down and organised in boxes and colours and so on but they will still manage to be in a complete mess when we next unpack them, the 2008 Christmas Gremlins will be to blame.

Determined to beat the gloom I drove into the 'Ferry to see what was on, as expected shops were shut and barricaded, people walked dogs aimlessly and a heavy dull set of clouds were set up in the sky. To cheer myself up I browsed around the M&S shop in the petrol station checking the grim newspaper headlines, the ready meals and having a useful conversation with a cash machine. Home again for ironing, fish pie and farewell to Paul who was heading back to the great industrial wasteland and Irish refugee camp that is Scallie country.

Yesterday - Science Fiction, Ghostly Tales and Fairy Stories: Well that would be Ali's journey through the mind of Arthur C Clarke via his writings, Jonathan Creek's strange and badly scripted and plotted murderous bathroom and the Brothers Grimm with Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. I watched the first half hour of this thinking "what a complete mess" then my agile mind twigged that it must be the work of Terry Gilliam otherwise how could it so creative, chaotic and unfunny. In the end it's relentless stupidity won me over and as the story ended almost happily I was hungry for cheese, wine, home made bread and cough mixture. I slept like the Sleeping Beauty albeit with a molten throat.

She walks, talks and roller skates.