Monday, February 28, 2011

Strange to say

Slightly more serious than necessary flyer for one of Scotland's premier tourist attractions, it even has one of those cafe things and a shop of some sort. Whatever next?

I found myself (despite not being lost) agreeing with two prize weirdos, Happy Jack McConnell and Grumpy George Galloway: they both think that the Scottish Parliament needs to grow up and beyond it's rigid, unreal and restrained form. Ditch the written speeches, the one day a week attendance and the cuppa tea toon-hall mentality. It's only taken ten years for this simple truth to dawn. Unfortunately that same undynamic mind set means it'll take another ten years to actually come to anything.

Meanwhile back at the stone prefab, too much home made soup eaten far too enthusiastically and with too much gusto. The very floorboards of the metabolism creak as we sway from one side to the other like a ship on a foaming northern sea. Good soup though, no good background TV however and it's the last days of the very last days on R2.

Logs v coal: In a burning fireplace and heated environment which fuel medium provides the most satisfaction and ultimately heat? I don't really know.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nights fair drawing out

Nice to hear that the UK has frozen Col G's assets, maybe some small beam of light is shining into the darkness. What else will be revealed now that we understand something of Libya's depth of operations and the spiders web of influence and double dealing here?

The sun sinks slowly into the west. Peaceful.

Photo of the week

Scritti Politti

I read somewhere that politics is always a good career choice for men and women of a certain class who probably would not achieve much in the real world. Looking across the main UK parties there is a lot of evidence for this and from time to time it can yield strange results. Cameron and Clegg both look and sound like a couple of used Bentley salesmen hovering and hoping to make a deal, plus a Foreign Secretary, wounded by his own behaviours who cant get stranded Brits out of North Africa. (Clegg has stayed in touch with the rest of the world whilst running the UK from the safety of a Swiss ski holiday chalet. As Libya collapses, he has his Blackberry with him and it’s fully charged up by all accounts). The Chancellor meanwhile seems to have little or no grasp of primary school arithmetic or Standard Grade Economics. He will be, in his own words be, “judged by the figures”. This current parade of arrogance, ignorance and indifference is nothing new, Labour’s crop of full time, battery bred, party members were/are no better. It’s just that the Tory-Boy coalition who grin from the front benches are even more divorced from reality and frankly much easier to dislike. Maybe it will be better once they learn to synch their diaries.

One of the big problems you have to face up to as you get older is the constant stream of younger people (mainly in the media and politics) expressing opinions and wielding power without the benefit of age or experience or, worst of all, a balanced view of the world. When you’ve been on one revolution of the roundabout you’ve seen the scenery once, when you’ve been round it a dozen times you pretty much know where everything is and what it looks like, you might even know what’s coming up next. The trouble is by that time you’ve stopped bothering about the actual ride, you’re a bit dizzy, you’re looking at the other riders thinking how peculiar they look and you realise how uncomfortable the seating is - those pesky upstarts on their first go have no idea that this is going to happen to them. They’re still thinking about the bonus they’ll get when they sell their next Bentley. Thankfully most people younger than me (?) but outside of politics and the media seem pretty sensible, what is it about these areas?

I wonder what the Bentley Boys will do with Colonel Gaddafi’s numerous UK assets, houses, business interests and network of royal and political toady’s? (The FT, Penguin Books, properties in Central London and numerous off-shore accounts administered with UK expertise). They could of course be confiscated, sold and the dictator’s family wealth redistributed back to the poor people of Libya and whatever (hopefully stable) government eventually rises there. That probably wont happen though as a small secret army of lawyers, accountants and international bankers will already be in full contingency mode siphoning and making safe the Libyan funds and maybe one day, as part of the pay-off/squirreling exercise and wider settlements some more Bentleys will be sold on. Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

This weeks winning Lottery numbers are…oops, missed them again. Just to clarify my own position here I do not own a Bentley and I never even been inside one, however I have been on numerous roundabouts, merry go rounds and fairground rides.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Guilty pleasures

The Middle

OK it's one of those Fridays and I'm going nowhere, curry cooked and consumed, kids busy on Facebook, fire roaring and the cats are...around somewhere. So despite numerous other TV choices and better and more worthwhile things that I should be doing I'm sitting here absorbing Sky's comedy hour (or two) and these imports are actually pretty well made (they're obviously American) and despite that funny. I also like the American Office better than the UK version, pity it's not on tonight.

Modern Family

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shine a light

I'm old enough to remember when these guys were cool and dangerous but I've avoided them since about 1973 so I found catching up on them via this film interesting and well... tedious. I wanted to like them, to get back to Beggars Banquet or Let it Bleed but it's just not there for me anymore. The past is a strange and uninhabitable place.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Misty Journey

Over the hills and far away

Trying to collect your thoughts is never easy. They have lives of their own, they travel, they change, they refuse to stay still. This can build frustration for those of us interested in using and developing our thoughts. Their constant movement and delinquency is difficult for us, they are determined to break free from the confines of the mental cages we try to put them in, they are free and relentless. They also get lost, forgotten and ignored. Meanwhile time passes far too quickly and the route back to those thoughts is paved over by other more vigorous and current thoughts. Gone, evaporated into the mist.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Non Euro-person

Today the west of Scotland was in bleak and dreary form, low cloud, drizzle and a heavy, seasonal gloom prevailed. Quite nice really. I was behind the wheel, engine and dashboard of a new Vauxhall Astra Coupe, nice enough, perky and quick. The two problems it comes with are a) a huge rear view mirror that manages to obscure large areas of windscreen b) a driver's seat designed for the average modern Euro-person who I apparently don't resemble in any way, thankfully; my bobbing head hitting the roof continually even in the seat's lowest position. So, is it time to rethink, remodel and redo my body type and fit in again? Not really possible and not really what I'll ever be about.

Driving on the back roads outside the tourist season is nice, no caravans, lost foreigners, cyclists or other traffic bric-a-brac to get in the way, just the mist, cattle, chance agricultural encounters and faded blind summits to contend with.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Atom Heart

So we're discussing what vegetables to grow this year following last year's magnificent potato failure and the great chutney mountain. Maybe it should be based on what we eat the most, like carrots, lettuce or turnips. They all seem quite unattractive in the cold light and dim evenings of February. We thought of bananas and celery and ridiculous things, keeping geese and rabbits and chickens. We eat lots of eggs. I thought about the effortless way the apples grow and the mixed blessings of their mounting fertility and relative uselessness and tendency to turn brown when exposed to sunlight. Then there is our lack of a strong gardening work ethic, time and somewhat sterile green fingered imaginations. Maybe we should just get some cows, learn from their serenity whilst syphoning away the methane and selling the toxic red meat to Iceland.

At least I've got at least three decent riffs up my sleeve and stuck onto the end of my fingers. Blues tone, delay and octave splitting seem to make the difference and set the mood, in no particular order.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Steampunk and pubs

Jekyll & Hyde pub in Edinburgh, nobody out having a fag either.

I spent most of yesterday in the J&H pub in the toon, drinking, eating and talking about music, guitars and politics (well that's all I remember). Mr Reckless's highly enjoyable stag afternoon/evening event being the reason for hanging out there. Nice touch having mystery test tubes shots (15%) behind the bar that you can glug as the good doctor might have done and basic fish and chips for £4.00. The J&H has serious Steampunk potential but somehow falls short of fully realising the decorative and atmospheric dream, needs more of a range of dark beers and bar pumps that work. The Crusties and Goths were absent but a marathon game of Risk was underway, nice eccentric pub behaviour - maybe I don't get out enough. The J&H did make think again about the story and the film(s), the dark sides of the soul and how spooky old Edinburgh must have been.

The smoking ban, much as I almost approve of it for all the normal reasons, means that bar staff BO can be noticeable. We need something to spray into bars to create some kind of appropriate odour, the elaborate, vapourising machine should of course correspond to Steampunk design ideals.

Not a bad cast and a nice movie poster

Quite a disturbing and fascinating photo, I'm not quite sure why that is; Mr Hyde's make up is more reminiscent of the Munsters than proper horror so nothing much there. The marvellous look in the girls eyes is striking however, fearful, haunted and just a little bit excited, and she's pulling away. That's the Mr Hyde effect - from the dark side of the soul.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fat Burning Furnace

I foolishly clicked a Facebook offer and was greeted with this rubbish. I wondered how long I could stand the idiotic sales pitch and repetitive delivery, I thought I was tough enough to endure it all the way but no, I couldn't put up with it any longer than 12 minutes. 50000 (now very slim) people could apparently. I do love the way they describe it as a miracle but sadly I'll never know the details or how much it costs. Isn't calling it a miracle going against some sort of trading law and shouldn't it be blasphemy in a multi-cultural society like ours? That's what we really need, a few public executions for the mis-selling of slimming plans and life improvement programmes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

20p Soup

Road sign of the day; somewhere in Poland, you may need to slow down to get the message.

Recipe of the day; 20p soup. Wander idly around Tesco looking for something else and find bags of 10p vegetables in the over age bin. Buy two packs. Bring them home, add split peas and whatever stock cube you can find in the general food cupboard. Boil for a few hours while you watch Grey's Anatomy, Question Time and some adverts. You might also check the usual stuff on Facebook and Twitter and delete the usual freecycle and spamish emails and eat two slices of toasted cheese and corned beef. Soup should be ready and once you've stirred it a bit and added seasoning. Switch it off and forget about it and eat it the next day. Masterchef it isn't, soup it is.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grow up

I didn't watch the Brits and I generally avoid award shows of that kind. The news snippets I gleaned from the web were enough to remind me why. A general parade weak on talent and in a state of constant mediocrity is all I can really see from the safe distance of the other side of the screen.

So, from the human side of the screen today's top guitar effects are:

1. Clean delay - sounds feeble but really does stretch rhythmic ideas.
2. Octave pitch - noisy with distortion and a lot going on in the background.
3. Wah distort - added chorus in there somewhere, can't stand to keep it going too long though.
4. Blues lead - like having oil on the fretboard, every phrase becomes a super fast skideroo Iommi special.
5. Blues rhythm - obvious partner of No4 and nice to toggle between the two.

Also everything today is being played at full speed and minimum volume on battery power only; how green is my value?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peace in our time

Once in a while, unexpectedly peace descends. There is no explanation, no understanding, no nonsense, just a feeling of peace prevails, perhaps in difficult times, for no obvious reason.

Meanwhile Battlestar Galactica has popped up on Sky Atlantic, a programme I've never watched...looks ok but...back to guitars and coffee and a little more peace.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Poor people smoke, rich people burn

Nice nippy and primitive toothpaste.

As I travel through this world I observe many things, mostly trivial media junk, aspects of human behaviour or traffic related. There are a few cat related events also. My latest discovery is Euthymol which not only cleans your teeth, it also provides eternal youth, oh yes. It's working well for me, I now have clean teeth and acne.

I don't understand the BIG SOCIETY, I don't understand volunteering to fill gaps in social services (or why any sane person would want to do that) and I don't understand why the public sector is always too big, the private sector is always too small and the third sector is misunderstood and anonymous. What I see is blunt privatisation covering rash cuts and stretching out thin resources at greater cost to the taxpayer and ultimately those who can least afford them...and why is it that poor people smoke?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fridge Interiors: Daily Photo

250 million year old salt lamp sits on top of 40 year old piano. A light in the darkness.

Revolution? Yeah right.

OK, where is Egypt going post street demonstrations, unrest and revolution? Funny how historical experience and evidence from recent history seldom connects with the masses out there on the streets, those risking life and limb and reputation for the sake of change. The first thing is that in real terms for Egypt's 80 million people, not much is going to change, in not to go there. Next is that the perpetrators of any revolutionary movement, in most cases do not survive for very long after the main event. So they can expect short change from the various generals, back office politicians, media moguls and religious leaders once the heat dies down. They will quietly disappear like incoming aid funds into a dictators bank account; here and then gone. As for 99.9% of the 80 million who live in poverty and injustice? Well they can celebrate in the opium of the moment and then return to the familiar subjugation and benign tyranny of Islam, Christianity and the skewed, oil driven economics of the Western and Arabic worlds. If the hard core doesn't change, there is no change.

From the reality of current affairs to the interior of the fridge, lighter, with less chocolate, wine and junk than previously. We are so healthy it's pretty unhealthy but at least the fridge has some room in it for a change.

From Fridges to Fitba. I predicted that middle-aged pie man Neil McCann would step from the Dundee bench yesterday and score, wish I'd had fifty quid on it as they cuffed the Wee Rovers and did the Pars a decent favour. Meanwhile today in Leven, No3 son scored a hat-trick in a 1 - 3 win over local opposition. Then he got nobbled in the final seconds, a scary moment and a sore knee as the final whistle blew. I hailed the team "Kings o' the Mud" after 80 minutes of continuous rain ruined an already damaged pitch and nearly gave 22 young lads and a series of dads galloping hypothermia. Brrr.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Welsh Swans in a field: Daily Photo

Around here

Around there

Here and there

Nice to get unexpected visitors. today it's four swans swimming or paddling or whatever it is that swans do in a puddle. I've been watching them all day, they clearly like this puddle. The puddle is capable of supporting life.

Meanwhile it's clear that some of the Tesco deputy store managers at South Queensferry are not really up to the task. Cutting a very long story short I was stuck with two of Tesco's finest as they tried to repair a malfunctioning cash machine. I was waiting twenty minutes while they, via phone calls and collaboration tried to clear the machine. "We're beat", said one," we cant fix it, no manager pin number." "Have you tried 1214?" I suggested, trying to be helpful. "Why?" retorted the manager. "It's written in black felt tip pen across the chassis of the machine PIN 1214, I saw it before you closed the door." "Uh?" Two minutes later I was on my way with my cash, so when in Tesco if you want something done... back in November the same team couldn't unlock the fireworks cabinet either.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Edinburgh School for the Deaf

It was Zimmerman night in the Voodoo Rooms, tall tables were set and there was stale perfume, the riders were seated and the horses were shod, all gathered like disciples to their Zimmerman God.

The God that gave meaning and words and reward, they soaked in his lyrics and music's recall, three songs maybe two, fifteen minutes of fame, a dwarf eating spiders and a beggar who's lame.

We don't do three minutes twenty, two fifty or less, our songs last nine minutes 'cos more must mean less. We Zimmer in essence, we Zimmer in awe and some days when the moods gone, we don't Zimmer at all.
We don't Zimmer at all.

If there was a prize, award or free lottery entry for Bobness renditions at the Voodoo Rooms (I really like typing the word voodoo for some reason. What might be your favourite type of typing words or are you so uptight and dimwitted that you never even thought of that at all and you don't appreciate words or ever take pleasure in the simple beauty of their various forms, shapes and sounds? If not then find out about WC Fields or somebody before it's all too late and you dry up inside like an avocado stone left forlorn in the sun) last night The Invisible Helpers would have won, led by Norman L they were a magnificent, churning urn of burning Bobfunk. The prize for unBobness, a good name and bizarre but predicable antics would go to the ESftD as rendered above.

Tea tonight was Masochism and Sadism shepherds pie gathered in a quick fire shopping spree plunder in one or other of their busy and very public emporiums. I filled two bags with ready meals, dairy produce and mystery cakes. I like mystery cakes (particularly if they have that voodoo icing on them). Small bananas £1.49 but ready to eat.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sun sinks

The sun sinking slowly in the west. Photo by Joe

Today (and it's not even over yet) has been a frozen curry kind of a plastic container and chilled but not chilled out day. When I get back to work later I may reflect on some of this or at the very least hoover the laptop's hard drive. Always a rewarding experience.

In the afternoon I paid a rare visit to an innocent banking establishment and for most of the banking experience managed to contain my deeply cherished and twisted inner rage. Even when the poor clerk apologised for keeping me waiting in a well rehearsed and insincere way I did not bite nor grimace. I behaved and waited twenty minutes whilst the latest banking technology wheezed at the prospect of transferring rainy Scottish money to sunny Maltese money, then printed out 6 forms which I duly signed and then repeated the process. I was a picture of middle-aged calm, the large queue of winking and blinking townspeople standing behind me seemed less pleased at this extended test of their patience. "Sorry to keep you waiting" I heard her say.

Tomorrow is Bod Dylan day, well mostly night I suppose. Bob's been there for me on many crucial lifetime moments, explaining, justifying and amusing. Other times he's been completely absent. That's the trouble with Bob, you just never really know. We'll see how well he's doing when being ritually covered by the Edinburgh glitterati (good if inappropriate word) at the Voodoo Chile Slight Return Rooms.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Is it dull, is it human or is it dancer? Cod psychology and religion, bits, shapes and shards and locations possibly in the Canary Islands or Dalmatia or somewhere similar. We're on the second episode, some folks are already hooked, six more to go. Big stones are also featured, quite beautiful at times.

Meanwhile I exist, not unlike an outcast, on soup and toast and strange exotic combinations of soup and toast but not soap. That's soup and toast with cheese and maybe 17 pieces of fruit.

I got my reckless wish today, no rain just frost. Careful what you wish for.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekend over

Bad cat gets a cuddle.

A cup tie visit to Aberdeen yesterday is now a distant but not entirely unpleasant memory. The best part being the tasty £1.00 (very hot) pies and the ceaseless witty banter and relentless sing-song abuse you only get truly absorbed in when a part of the travelling support. The home fans were given no quarter and we were well ahead in both incisive comment and volume until a cruel 92nd minute own goal wrecked our afternoon party. Ho hum. Tails between our tails and some pie aftertaste in our throats it was the long walk back to hastily parked cars and the long dark drive back to Fife. Down on cash and petrol maybe but we'll be back.

Rain returned today, grim and forceful, lovingly leaving puddles and temporary floods, held in fields like saucers, drowning the winter crops and gathering toxic salt and mud and mixing it more and more to coat cars and roadsides and fill treacherous potholes with unseen slime. Come back Jack, Mr Frost, cold and shining, dry and open, clean and strangely perfect.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

34 Hours

Another RIP post, Gary Moore this time. Probably best remembered for a lot noisy music he must have felt fairly much indifferent about, even some of the Thin Lizzy stuff. In my humble opinion the (very) old album by Skid Row, 34 Hours, was one of his best and a worthy memorial. Go out and buy it in vinyl. Not only are the songs pretty good but the lengthy sleeve notes which explored guitar and recording techniques in some detail are even better (for guitar nerds). I learned a lot as I listened, then promptly forgot it all. You cant get any of that with a download experience.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Late great Christmas present from the past

The shed fell over the other night thanks to the 90mph winds that were crossing Scotland on their way to Siberia, today I re-erected it. Inside it was feeling pretty sorry for itself with many things damp, ruined and therefore damp and ruined. There was also a mystery package, addressed to my good lady, posted out from the Internet box-shifter known as Firebox. On the delivery instructions it clearly said, "leave in shed, safe place". Indeed it was safe, having sat there now for about 7 weeks, undetected and pretty much forgotten until Hurricane Ned struck. Inside the floppy packaging and in perfect condition was of course "the world's largest Gummy Bear", what else would you expect to find lurking in a wrecked shed?

Meanwhile guitar noodling has reached new and almost tuneful heights thanks to the super-noodle neck now fitted and fully working on the Gibson Noodlemaker. You should hear my Bm7 noodle and my Lemon Song riff and turnaround.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Boxed set

Keep safe on this wild and windy night, watch a boxed set in the comfort of your own home or if you like living dangerously in your static caravan in Roseneath. The shed and the chimera have just blown over. Eek!

Double Neck

Despite the extreme weather today's pony express got through bringing six machine heads, one Gibson neck, one nut, some circulars and mail not meant for me. The first three items allowed project #1 to move forward by a few degrees. (Above) The new neck is on the left, the old iguana neck is on the right. The photo below was taken after a short struggle that saw the neck fitted, the nut glued in place and the machine heads fitted and my palm getting a screwdriver burn. Strings on tomorrow.

A brief history of time, idleness and ongoing projects:

1. As above, supersonic neck refit.
2. Record outstanding works of musical significance.
3. Stop leak in car floor pan.
4. Fix sunroof in car.
5. Fix air-con in car.
6. Fix bathroom ceiling.
7. Various outstanding chutney issues.
8. Book holiday.
9. Reorganise kitchen broom cupboard.
10.Many garden related things.
11. Win lottery.
12. Eat unseasonal food currently blocking up the freezer.

That'll do I think.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Taman Shud

When you google Mars Bar, photos of Marianne F turn up. Forty odd years on and the new fangled web and old but magical black and white news world have long and persistent memories.

I continue to lose weight thanks to my dogged refusal eat anymore Mars Bars or one a day as was the custom round these here parts. In a daydreamy state today I calculated that if all the Mars Bars I'd ever eaten were laid end to end they would stretch all the way from Newton to St Bridget's Kirk in Dalgety Bay (via the coastal path). After 56 years enough is therefore enough and I will no longer tread the long and winding chocolate path between here (or there) and the birthplace of Bridget the famous Fife midget. My diet is therefore safe for the time being as I cling to the wreckage of this inspiring and slightly worrying vision.

It was fairly late in the day and in life when I first discovered the hidden world of the Lego album cover cult. My infatuation lasted a few hours and then it faded away to not very much as I failed to find a Lego Sergeant Pepper or a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Prophets Sears & Sages the Angels of the Ages (in mono), better luck next time Lego people.

Meanwhile, the hidden codes of Taman Shud or Shad or Shod and the radioactive death haunt me like any good mystery should.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

In a spectacular piece of Kamikaze reorganisation the BBC are replacing Radcliffe and Maconie with Jo Whiley from whenever they get around to it. Unbelievable. The evening R2 slot goes to a blond, sycophantic irritant who knows nothing about music and R&M head out for a 1300 - 1600 wilderness slot on Radio 6, an interesting enough station but not one that is car friendly in any sense. "Cheerio all you truckers". What are they playing at? Spoiled my day it did, until I undercooked and then overcooked the tea time pizza which really spoiled things. I'll get over it eventually but in the mean time I'm grinding my teeth like a proper old codger.