Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mole Hill Daily Photo

Going Underground.

Despite the hot weather the moles have carried on working feverishly in the cool and the dark of the West Lothian underground. The mole hill is getting bigger and we are rather perplexed as to what action to take next - maybe they'll just stop, maybe they won't, maybe the house will collapse. A major worry is that moles will form an unholy alliance with the Japanese Knotweed and that may signal the end of everything.

More from the underground.

Last night we discovered another underground empire, this one overseen by a large toad. We were moving a slab and found the toad's tunnels formed by white washed snail shells, pebbles and twigs and in the middle the grey and wriggling form of the toad. After some inspection and wonderment we recovered this chilling labyrinth with a smaller stone and peace was restored. Meanwhile in another part of the garden the potatoes have started to sprout vigorously, the plan is coming together.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mole Wars

Not an accurate mole representation.

The growing season is upon us, great swathes of green, distorted grasses and weeds, fat flapping leaves and stringy strange flowering interlopers that all must fall before the mighty strimmer. Once it’s charged and ready and I’ve finished my coffee.

Today’s background music has been brought to me thanks to the occasional use of Spotify which today has defaulted to Jonny Winter for some reason. His frenzied slide and picking is struggling to get out of the laptops wee sound holes but I cant be bothered to set up the more elaborate speakers. I’d forgotten about JW but listening to him, particularly the rough live stuff I can see the animal appeal of it all. Very busy, feverish and lick intensive playing that pleases the crowd and the fact that he is a blind albino and by now no spring chicken also springs to mind. He deserves a listen now and then.

We have a mole, maybe two. I have seen their hill, brown and fresh just outside of the back bedroom window. I suspect that more mole hills will appear and that a similar situation will arise as was two or three years ago when the high drama that was the “Crow Wars” was played out in all it’s pride and passion. The year is 2009, the month is May, welcome to the Mole Wars.
The background music is now moving onto Jeff Beck, live at Ronnie Scotts as it inevitably does but I'm going to cut more grass and make hay etc.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Owner of a lonely heart

The strange black window that is not a window.

The rhubarb harvest is coming in, stick by stick, stalk by stalk, leaf by leaf into the compost bin. The fresh stalks will be cleaned and soaked in brandy and sugar, raisins will be added and golden syrup. Then the steady baking in the slowest and most effective heat that Scottish electricity can muster - and then we breathe deeply and wait. And so to sleep.

It's true a cat can fit into a Tesco "bag for life".

Currently listening to "Owner of a lonely heart" by Yes. Going round and round in my head. Is there no end to this madness?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life still

"Still life with fruits from tropical sources as viewed from a toy helicopter". Number 3 in a limited series of prints that are available from Invisible Graphics Plc for a reasonable period of time and an unreasonable amount of money.

It was with some relief that today’s working day ended for me and I found myself not caught up in road works, not going to a supermarket and not making the wrong choice of petrol pump on the forecourt of a soulless filling station. Home safe if a little unsound in the mind department.

Tonight is shaping up to be a night filled with a variety of entertaining possibilities: A trip to the heartlands of Fife, the chance to view the finale of the “League of Chumps” played out in some Catholic splendour and the opportunity to purchase free software and agonise over as it slowly downloads. Before all that tea will have to be ritually unfrozen and some soft drinks removed from their containers and consumed. Life is never dull but it can be predictable.

This weekend sees the return of the Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials ( last year three were found guilty , two not proven and two acquitted: boom boom), one of my favourite and least understood local events. I’ll be hanging around with the toffs eating bambi and buffalo burgers, drinking expensive beer and looking out for a hog-roast that I can observe and possibly hire. I’ll also trip over some fallen logs, shake hands with Prince Philip (one of my heroes) and stand for a long period of time in super soft horse dung without realising it. Hope the rain goes elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Space Fish

Space fish are caught quite easily, you can use your Sky dish or even simply by using the traditional analogue television ariel. To ensure a good catch first switch off the TV but leave the mains power on (the red light). The power drawn from the network is attractive to the fish, acting as a simple bait. Atmospheric conditions play a vital part, with wispy low cloud and mist making all the difference. Sit quietly in the lounge, preferably on a comfy chair and rub your hands together, slowly but rhythmically. The heat and friction generated combined with the electricity in the TV ariel/dish system will attract the fish. The fish are trapped when they swim low through the cloud and become entangled in the static signals and rising heat, a fatal combination. They are stunned even by the relatively low voltage and fall to the ground. This can take up to half an hour so be patient but look out the window now and then to see what may have dropped by. Then simply go out with an orange B&Q bucket and collect the fish.

Once dead and rendered unattractive the fish (usually the breed “Hokiah”) should be gutted and cleaned and then oven baked in a light cream and mushroom sauce with fresh herbs and Champagne tea leaves. Don’t forget to rustle up a few boiled potatoes, butter and broccoli to go with this, it adds a nice touch of colour which may stimulate the diners appetite and gastric juices. Serve on white dishes with warm red wine set at the temperature of a Tuscany study. Keep the dessert simple, rhubarb and banana crumble or a white chocolate Magnum. With luck more fish will cooperate and appear tomorrow and you can either repeat today’s recipe, give them to a friend who likes fish or stick them in the freezer in those nice bags you get. The season for catches and experimentation is devilishly short so make the most. The astrology pages often hint strongly as when the season may begin. it’s all a matter of taste, headgear and quick response.

Then there are the giants who steal your socks, only if you are bad of course. The degrees of “badness” and the relative levels of such punishments are as yet fully undefined. Something of a moral minefield yet to be explored.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Unsafe at any speed

One careful owner, low miles and it's outlasted the Hillman Imp.

One of my daughter's kindly reminded me of a nickname I revelled in during the early eighties (not that she was there): "Tefal Heid". This came about thanks to a series of TV adverts, my bravely swept back hair style at the time and some colleagues who watched too much TV. Every so often it returns to haunt me though it fails to hurt me unlike that curious hairstyle many "round" women seem to sport (which must hurt them and certainly hurts the innocent spectator). This when they pull back their very straight, very dark hair into a severe pony tail in order to make their head appear to be the shape of a ball.

The pin eyed "ball head" then (often) sits on a ball body, topped with ball chins all served up with a white top and black (ball) leggings. It's not an uncommon look here is the malls and fine hotels of West Lothian. Does it, could it, should it have a name? The "Tweedle-Dee", the "Stern Nazi Nursery Nurse", "Mrs Tefal"?

How safe is it to eat "Healthy-living bacon" that is two days out of date? Safe but ironic I 'd say, possibly a good lifestyle choice and combination, a little risk, a little taste. I can't say that for the beleaguered smokers who are starting to look more and more odd these days. Huddled together outside pubs, sitting on doorsteps with dogs on string, leaning against large plate glass windows or staring into space in alleys piled with refuse.

It's not a happy picture and some one needs to help them and not with chewing gum or patronising campaigns. No, they need places to go, like the opium dens of old frequented by Conan-Doyle and the like. Once there they can form groups, write novels, lobby for rights and wrongs and be safe in an otherwise unsafe world. They pay their taxes (unless they are smugglers) and need places to go. Good health is undeliverable and is an illusion propped up by state propaganda, environmental and PC fascists and big business. Some choose to disregard all advice and remain "unsafe", whilst I don't envy them I respect their suicidal and animal instinct rights.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ready, Steady,

Another crammed weekend nearly over. Week -1 for Lost Series 6 being another way of course to describe last seven non-halcyon days. Aberdeen was visited on Friday and various children and grandchildren gleefully encountered, games played, lunches lunched and science centres explored and almost destroyed. Too many cakes may have been eaten in the marvellous process.

Today (after yet another win at the football, v the mighty Pittenweem), I came dangerously close to learning how to appreciate and play the ancient game of strategy and territory known as Go. I never will play with or take up those glistening pebbles in gaming anger but I like the idea. Thanks to Mr F and Ms K. for the tuition and the Japanese feast.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rubber fetish revisited

£12.99 from Tesco, just a little trim needed.

A busy afternoon is rushing away from me. The new rubber mats are installed in the car, only a few easy snips and cut fingers later. That had followed an encounter with a petrol station car vacuum cleaner. A new experience and one I'm not likely to repeat. After wrestling with this great suctionless hissing snake for a few minutes I realised that it had about as much breath as Grandpa Simpson walking into a blizzard. It was not providing an ideal platform for the pristine set of mats about to go down - I try but I fail. Grump.

Then arranging an odd selection of groceries, a rigid bass guitar and three large robot Transformers (= the needs of three grandsons), sundry left over items and a large and mysterious birthday present not destined for me into the reluctant boot space of Mr Cougar who needs an oil top up. Prior to this I'd had a long conversation with a motoring expert, a bloke who runs a garage, about where and when to use mineral and synthetic oils. The handbook of course advises various things described in number form but that assumes you know what's blubbering around inside your engine anyway. I was just on the point of understanding when he hit me with the sucking in air, clenched teeth, classic remark, "of course a lot of manufacturers use semi-synthetic oils these days". Groan.

Late lunch was to be a quick Burger King Whopper enjoyed alfresco at home. After leaving the Tesco jungle I sped into the BK drive through, grabbed the big bun and headed home. Sadly that was not to prove straightforward. The pot hole menders were out in force and had managed to block the main road whilst unloading a much needed tractor, a finger tapping, burger cooling delay followed. Then I found my usual easy right turn blocked by more abandoned yellow vehicles so I took what I imagined would be a speedy detour. This time it was a white van, stopped in the middle of the lane giving directions to a family of lost cyclists. When I finally arrived home a builders pick up (with a grinning radiator face) was parked across our entrance and so I abandoned all hope of a hot snack. Happiness is of course a warm bun, but under certain circumstances you take whatever you can get. Hmmmph.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Amazonia deluxe

Naturally rich in antioxidants and just two little milk chocolate Aztec, amazonian, rain forest delights in the yummy form of orange hearts provides the thingummies needed to neutralize free radicals for a day. So I'm on the Choxi diet, for the mean time. Not sure about combating the free radicals but maybe they deserve it for thinking too highly of themselves or perhaps holding unpopular views that were never going to get them anywhere anyway. I've had four chocs today already so I'm pretty much neutralised.

Apart from finally managing to mix and fix about 17 older tracks culled from Mr Zoom most of my creative efforts have been channeled into guitar painting using large amounts of surplus nail varnish. This sticky, vapour filled task is actually quite satisfying and the end result is a unique masterpiece that defies description. You could of course call it a guitar painted with nail varnish. Scottish craft, thrift and ingenuity at it's best. Then there is lightscribe...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Impossible Pie

Much of today (47.5 minutes) has been spent listening to the Tommy Mackay produced "MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE SONGS" CD, marvellous, quirky and something everybody should have a personal version of.

Mission Impossible - The Chemical Brothers
Jonny B.Goode - Chuck Berry
Alison - Elvis Costello
Expedition Impossible - Hooverphonic
Big John - Jimmy Dean
A is for Alison Cary Aria
Impossible - Shout Out Louds
Jilted John - Jilten John
Ali, Walk with me - Ravonettes
Impossibly Germany - Wilco
Come Back Jonny - Devo
Alison, She's so Horsey - Instamatic
It's Impossible - Shirley Bassey
Ballad of Jonny Guitar - The Death of a Party
Alison - Slowdive
Nothing's Impossible - Depeche Mode
Jonny - Gilla
Ya Ali - Himesh Reshammiya, Sunidhi Chauhan
Jonny Remember Me - John Leyton
Jonny Too Bad - Slickers

English Breakfast Pie: Tonight's late night discovery on the radio phone shack noisy experience non-digital thing. A pie that contains sausage meat, beans, tomato, bacon and egg. That has to be tried and tested at some point, imagine cutting a cold slice of that bad boy for elevenses.

"Thank you, thank you for the pie."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mirror rorrim

Being ambidextrous makes me like these people, in that one way. I can also mirror write and forward write at the same time. Not so good at ironing shirts and boiling potatoes.

Leonardo da Vinci - Renaissance artist and scientist
Albert Einstein - Scientist
Richard Feynman - Scientist
Oscar Wilde - Playwriter and poet
Nikola Tesla - Inventor
Michelangelo - Artist
Benjamin Franklin - Scientist
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - Religious and political leader
Ludwig van Beethoven - composer
Donovan McNabb American Football Player

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Of the tomato

Sugar tomatoes

As the sun breaks through t he mists rising from the Firth of Forth and it’s steamy cauldron of toxins and goodness I discover a hidden gem of a guilty pleasure of a random set of food based metaphors re-mixed. Still struggling to emerge from some age endued mist of forgetfulness I rediscover the sugar tomato. A staple of the young Barclay diet, one formed when food was slower, less plentiful and based of a profound working class ethos constructed around eating whatever was available in whatever (almost palatable) combinations could be arrived at. Many of these were a creative mix of the seasonally available, the staples (always some in cupboard at least up until Wednesday) and the opportunistic.

Sugar tomatoes - take a tomato, cut it in half and dip it in white sugar. Brings out a whole new selection of tomato flavour believe it or not.
Tatties and butter - boil potatoes and mash them a bit, fork in butter. Served on it’s own (‘cos there is nothing else to go with it).
Tatties and milk - as above, supped with a spoon in a kind of bizarre white soup form.
Salad cream sandwich (piece) - white, plain bread and a liberal amount of salad cream (not mayonnaise) applied with a knife.
Sugar piece - as above but spread the bread with butter and then dip/lay in sugar.
Tomato Sauce piece - as above but no butter, just sauce.
Biscuit piece - bread and jam sandwich (preferably strawberry) with a digestive biscuit added between the bread slices. Something of a luxury snack due to the generous amount of ingredients.
Sugar rhubarb - as per tomatoes but the rhubarb stick needs to be repeatedly dipped into the sugar.
Neep - (turnip) generally pulled from a field, cut in half and eaten raw.
Cheesy egg - egg broken open, placed in a saucer and baked in the oven covered with cheese. No obvious reason for this at all.
Stewed tea - tea that is repeatedly boiled and then served with about three spoons of sugar and no milk.
Coffee - served with Carnation evaporated milk and sugar - usually from a very small Nescafe tin or from the infamous “Camp” coffee and chicory bottle.

Silver screen near you needs Silvo.

It’s almost been a year since I’ve visited a cinema of any description. That’s not normal behaviour for me but on reflection there are compelling reasons, well maybe one big reason, no films I‘ve really fancied. The new city centre/shopping mall or out of town, big shed cinemas have all the soul and attraction of a 1960s canteen, tawdry carpeting and fittings, ghastly and expensive food, assistants who don’t grasp the concept of assistance and a programme of films that always include puerile advertisements and tedious trailers. Strangely I don’t miss really going and neither does my wallet albeit Star Trek may draw me back, purely for reasons of inverted nostalgia of course.

More gloom and ill vented dissatisfaction in today’s Sunday papers, at least the bankers must feel like they are getting a break from being pilloried and maligned. It’s like some huge universal rotation is going on where different groups enjoy a week or so of being the pariah and whipping boy for the world (a small corner of it, and one than fails to register in China). Meanwhile the real criminals, arms brokers and fixers rummage through and feast away on the rich scraps and tender morsels that remain hidden by the other’s unfortunate self generated smoke screen. Next up will be civil servants, social workers, French fisherman/truckers or farmers and then possibly football agents and their lawyers. I’m assuming here that in the mean time things don’t escalate and none of the stupid and greedy politicians are hung from any lampposts or given a burning tyre neck tie to wear. If that happens it’ll be too late for anything and we’ll end up with Simon Cowel as the Prime Minister, Jordan as Chancellor and Joanna Lumley usurping the queen - it could work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The simple pleasures

The simple pleasure of getting a decent haircut.

The world remains further away when viewed through my failing glasses, now due an upgrade. All things are distant and in some cases pleasantly blurred replicating the effect of three good glasses of red wine but without the after taste. The big decision on whether to plump for a haircut or a visit to the opticians’ is not easy, a planned visit to the dentist also looms and there are other complications. The barber or hairdresser is the cheapest and easiest option and the one most likely to be taken, probably on Friday. For a fiver and a one pound tip my unruly and thinning barnet can be tidied up to an almost presentable point. All I have to do is grin and dimly endure the drab conversation and blank boredom generated by staring at myself as a shrouded floating head in a large mirror. The opticians is less straightforward, I have to book and then wear a number of devices, read and concentrate and then pick out a pair of frames from pre-arranged selection, most of which will look weird. All glasses and spectacles are weird, it’s just that we’ve become used to seeing them and using them. Anyway, the ones I like will be expensive and so I’ll settle for something cheaper and hopefully thinner and then not think of such things for another three years or so. The dentist is more of a routine, like a car MOT but with even less meaningful conversations and a bit more pain and discomfort. Radio Forth plays in a background in the surgery, this adds to the pain, in fact most of this audio assault is worse and more distracting than the dental pain. Perhaps the dentist is making some point here, there is the pain of the monthly £18.66 to consider also. (In the end I go to the barbers, there are five guys ahead of me in the queue and so I read a complimentary copy of the Sun then wait some more. My hair is then cut but not without a pointless conversation about holidays in Egypt and the many gay waiters there, apparently).

Neither commands respect, neither is fit to run what's left of the country.

Intelligent, capable, and seemingly competent MPs charged with running the country seem unable to run their own lives or account for their expenses. When caught out, having in some cases committed obvious fraud they simply say “I made a mistake and I’m sorry”. In any other walk of life or career that statement would quite simply get you fired, you’d lose all professional credibility and you’d possibly go to jail, but this is Britain where we accept politicians saying glib, patronising and stupid things (“we’re doing everything can” - just what is that?) and then when caught out some one sided investigation runs for two years at the taxpayers’ expense and ends up drawing no clear conclusions and it all blows over until the next whistle is blown. Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Penelope Cruz at Cannes & Free Software

Or on reflection...

I do feel a bit sorry for the old chap who managed to reverse his Ford Mondeo over the pier edge at South Queensferry. A slip of the foot and you're immersed in Fife's finest sewage, a few wee-wee trickles from West Lothian and the diluted fish and chip vinegar and sauce from a thousand discarded half eaten and ill considered suppers. With the amount of Grocs that head down to the sea-front I'm surprised there aren't more accidents of this type. It's a prime spot for coffin dodgers, pension dodgers (my current grouping) and responsibility dodgers (you know them by their fast and stupid looking cars) many of who haven't the faintest idea why they are there or what on earth it is they should be doing. They gaze moon-faced over into the desolation that is a glinting Fife and point as the trains click-clack across the bridge whilst squinting through inappropriate designer (?) sunglasses - at least this one mature driver brightened up the afternoon with his unfortunate dunking.

Lost still has me intrigued and baffled, I now cannot imagine life without a weekly fix and am living in dread of the series end not meeting my ridiculous and unreasonable expectations. Then there will the vacuum that it leaves and the prospect of knowing that nothing is likely to fill it for the next ten years or so - complete TV desolation beckons. Odd moments in the evening are spent scouring the web for clues and plot spoilers and the reworking and summaries of episodes that may allow me to build up my understanding of this fiction. Oceanic Flight 518 has ruined a fair few lives now and mine is just another on the long list. Perhaps I should buy a Find 518 t-shirt to identify and warm my soul as I continue to drift and pension dodge.

Late nights find me down loading more free music mixing and mashing software. All of which works surprisingly well, distorting, clouding and occasionally enhancing the material I submit into it's wonderful mangle. The 21st Century is a strange and mesmerising place and the digital gods are truly smiling on us and you can get three large tins of Heinz beans in ASDA for £1.00.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Periodic Tables Tuesday (as ever)

Full Moon over the 'Ferry.

Five portions of fruit a day is the target, the score is a little less but heading in the right direction but I have a few questions: How many portions (or protons, much more interesting) are in a pineapple, a water melon and a chicken. Oh and what is the healthy status and relevant position of a Muller fruit corner?

Flight of the Conchords is funny and clever and in the space of a week I’ve watched all the episodes in the first series. Not normal behaviour but fun and useful.

Commonly misunderstood misunderstandings:

Van Gogh hacked his own ear off. True but only because Gauguin suggested that self harming was going to be the next big thing.
A hanged Munchkin can be seen in the Wizard of Oz. False but there is now a new theory that various members of Pink Floyd played the flying monkeys.
Mussolini got the trains running on time. False, he simply got the timetable rewritten to match the actual times the trains were running to.
The Great Wall of China can be seen from space. False, but it is true that space can be seen from the Great Wall of China.
Swallowed chewing gum stays in your system for seven years. False it says in for fourteen years, a bit like hot dogs or red meat.
Walt Disney’s body was frozen. True, of course it was. He was stone cold dead.
Bob Holness played saxophone on “Baker Street”. False he played saxophone on “Born to Run”.
A coin dropped from a skyscraper will kill a pedestrian. True, provided it’s a 50kg New Guinea stone penny (with a hole carved into the middle).
Lemmings deliberately commit suicide. False but one or two have done away with themselves when their novels or works of poetry failed to be selected for publication.

Not really impressed by the use of colour here but was it 1936 and it's all allegorical and only relevant to the turn of the century (1900) anyway, or the end of the world.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Ways to move soot: Part 2

Never easy to complete the domestic chores in the rain. The soot has now become a weather based routine and will therefore be absorbed into the existing regime. Why worry about small, flying pieces of carbon. What possible harm could that do unless the molecules decided to form themselves into some sort of footprint and then stamp all across the face of the planet.

It does my heart good to hear that our careful and diligent politicians have respectfully been using their precious allowances to boost the ailing economy with a series of wild and random purchases. This selfless action may well save SS Great Britain and the RBS from sinking under the present incessant onslaught from Chinese made torpedoes and fire crackers. It’s disappointing to see that the popular press has so far gotten the wrong end of the stick and corrupted the details of their measured spending sprees and generous philanthropism towards the small businesses of Britain. Meanwhile they’ve been free to invest the full weight of their salaries in Camen Island savings schemes and West African gun running cartels. Good for them, we need more politicians not less, let’s elect some more in June and send them of to Stuttgart or Belgium where they can rack up some more ridiculous claims.

A treatment for Toe Friction: As the weather warms and the non natural fibres in socks fight back so the incidences of toe friction increase. This happens when your toes vibrate very quickly and rub together creating the aforementioned toe friction. This generates heat which damages the delicate skin surface leading to a degree of redness and rawness appearing. This can hurt a bit unless corrective action is taken quickly. Remove all footwear and retire to a wild and lonely place where your feet can relax, free from their cramped and panic attack inducing location in dark socks and questionable shoes from the last century. They will then adsorb and adjust to the ambient temperature and stop looking like elongated bits of boiled beetroot. A modicum of Savlon squeezed out and applied to the areas with your index finger may also quicken this effect. I believe that the Scottish Government are planning to put a helpful pamphlet through every individual’s door (or perhaps every actual door in Scotland), as to whether or not this publication will be about Toe Friction I have no idea.

Martin Clunes was born to play Reginald Perrin as well as a number of other parts and also to do voiceovers for commercials and documentaries. So writes the drama and TV correspondent of the “Sunshine Desserts” newsletter in a blistering piece that also describes in some detail his courageous lifelong battle with toe friction.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Ways to move soot: Part 1

No she wont.

As we travelled across Germany last week we couldn't help but notice how clean their dirt was compared to ours. Scottish dirt (maybe this is UK wide, we've yet to check ) tends to be grubbier, dustier and less orderly than the European kind. Maybe this is why our governments never really agree or harmonise on things and the occasional war is sparked. They just see us as dirty, dust cloud covered, awkward little plebs, not unlike Linus was in Peanuts. Our dirty dirt hampering harmony and possibly making the more sensitive European types feel a bit itchy now and then when caught in our repulsive Celtic and Anglo Saxon presence. It's a theory anyway.

In soot management and combatting terms I've arranged the Times sports section into an elaborate Origami type construction that deflects the advancing soot in a way similar to the operation of a Formula 1 spoiler or damper. This highly engineered method seemed to be working until a stronger than expected down draft distorted it's finely tuned surfaces and rendered it less effective than I'd hoped. Back to the drawing board and the newsagents. Today's big regret is the consumption of a impulse bought steak bake - never a wise thing to do on a rainy Friday such as this.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

George Best had a girlfriend

George & Mary

I came home tonight to find yet another pile of mystery soot to clean up. What did the common people do to amuse themselves before the invention of soot? Evenings must have dragged somewhat in those dark days. I'm sure that by the eighteenth century many large country houses had teams of soot cleaners armed with bellows and brushes and donkey carts fully employed on a 24 hour basis on the extraction and removal of their stately soot. It may of course just be our persistent use of tons of cheap Eastern European coal bought on the black market (of course).

Random use of the Wikipedia site keeps me level headed and peaceful these lunch times. Today I researched the R101 catastrophe, the Hindenburg crash and the SS Lusitania, so tragically lost some where south of the Irish coastline in 1915. Disasters make oddly compulsive reading, truth is stranger etc. I also browsed the ex-girlfriends of George Best and the ongoing weight problems experienced by one time Cheers bar-person Kirstie Alley (or was that another actress?).

Once the daily soot clean up was over it was straight out into the customary May hurricane and rain weather cocktail to cut the grass and render the garden a better shade of respectable. You never know when an irritated and impatient passing funeral party or some tiny private wedding group will crane their necks over the hedge and issue loud "tut tuts" and waggle their pointy fingers at our green constructions and ongoing landscape projects. After that I ate a whole pizza and am now regretting that I did.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Favourite soft drink

Everybody in this family likes a drop of sugar free Sprite.

10 years of painful, costly and irritating self (righteous) government have been inflicted upon us I hear. Makes you want to form some impromptu victim support group to deal with trauma dealt out to each of us from this hall of shame: McConnel, Macleish and Salmond to name but a few, what a sorry shower, all stuffed into a stupid building and drunk with a sense of power they don't even possess. Meanwhile the over excited Scottish media suck up to them like they'd just won the battle of Bannockburn when in real terms they're somewhere in the third political division slightly above a "toon cooncil".
Nice to see the Senior Service moving their subs all up to rainy Faslane (no need to ask Alex Salmond's permission), I feel sorry for the Janners mind you but they've a lot of other good things going for them down there, sun, sea and a ferry to Spain.
More mystery soot has appeared and then disappeared up the hoover followed by a stray pen. This was followed by hoover surgery to remove the foreign object and so restore normal service. Hoovers in my experience tend to effectively resist being taken apart or being probed surgically by wire coat hangers. Blood, sweat and tears follow and there are more chronicles of wasted time to log.
The folks from Dundee who make their own Star Trek home movies deserve an Oscar, a Bafta and transported to Fife - Live long and prosper on Tayside.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Ace of Bass

Ali and part of the cellar collection.

Strange black dust pours our of the chimney breast, no fire lit, no passage of air or draft. Space soot. Missie the cat sits squarely on top of the sky remote, trembling and purring, her eyes turned to sleeping slits. The football match on TV is over, I'm back home from Fife and Ali is breaking the tech barrier. At tea time the chilled pineapple worked rather well and lasted no time at all other than the ragged bits that remain in the teeth still releasing some vague memory of taste and the rain has stopped. I'm now recalling last seeing my driving licence somewhere in a rucksack pocket, in a small case in a large case buried at the back of the cupboard under the stair - I can't afford to forget this and must remove and declutter and I may find that old copy of Cubase in the process.

At least Swine flu isn't making headlines tonight, the hype is hopefully dying down, the ignorant and stupid media coverage may now die the death from the virus of public indifference and boredom. Meanwhile proper medical advice, balanced reporting and media credibility is undermined in the process.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What is more?

Martin and Hieke's apple tree - last weekend.

Our May day holiday began with a coffee on the couch and the bewildering viewing that is BBC early morning news. First there was one of my least favourite politicians, Harriet Harman saying that though she was ambitious she was satisfied to be GB's deputy and the top job wasn't for her. Unbelievable. This was followed by the highly likable Sister Beckett, the art critic/historian nun who described the viewing of Christian Icons as "leading us beyond the known", which I thought was rather good if a little optimistic. "They show us more" she added, then in some strange rhetorical way asked herself the question "what is more?" Neither her or the interviewers bothered to answer - and the question hung in the mind and mid air as it quite rightly should. Next up was a puzzled looking Ian Broudie back with a Lightning Seeds album after ten years. Not something I'm excited about nor was Ian really, come backs are tricky and for some best avoided.

Last night we all sat riveted, welded and with jumpy legs as the 100th episode of Lost was aired. It was a bottle of red wine and three double Baillie's' session with the plot centering on Faraday's time travelling injuries and the dilemmas generated by trying to engineer the future from the past, the usual stuff, fun, irritating and compelling. Only two left in this series.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Swift return

In Ravensburg, by a toy shop, a teddy attempts to impersonate Mr Swift while Ali looks on.

Our old friends from Portugal, Mr & Mrs Swift have returned to their nesting spot in the coal cellar roof. The cats have of course clocked them and a few frustrating months of waiting and pouncing now begin. Otherwise most of this weekend has been laundry and gardening with a smattering of football and catching up on life in general. One of the best bits was playing hide and seek in Dobbies with various children and grandchildren, much more fun than shopping and fine if you don't get caught. We didn't.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The whine of various airports

Bought at Pret at Stanstead, a classic rhubarb blend with a daft name that I had to try and buy. This was the second of four airports visited in a week of wandering, recording, drinking, meeting old friends and avoiding rain and crashing in the same car.

Lindau is damp but pretty, cobbled and a good stop for coffee, soup and views of the Swiss Alps (almost).

Mobil rock out in a fun pub on a warm Saturday night and I'm about to do a guest spot on Willie and the Hand Jive - I almost avoid any classic pop gaffes in the process.