Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't eat the ham

Ham: The note said quite clearly don't eat the ham but alas I saw the note too late and by that time I had in fact eaten all the ham. It was of course incorporated into a little salad ensemble. Tasty.

Packing books: I was impressed that whilst packing that awkward category of books labeled "For the Garage" they all seemed to sit rather well together in a box and none of them resorted to spontaneous combustion or anything weird. The books were (and in no particular order); The Koran, The New English Bible, The Life of Buddha, The History of Witchcraft, some Richard Dawkins' stuff, Das Kapital and the Simpson's Scripts Series 4 & 5.

Wedding ring: I thought I'd lost it, I emptied out and checked three wheelie bins in the frosty dark whilst wearing a very becoming head torch (two blue recycles and a black messy bin), searched the house, began to unpack the "For the Garage" newly packed books - then I found it in my pocket. Phew.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Get one here

An oil tank that is, you know you want one, you might even need one. Just think of the 1200 litres of gay and/or merry Christmas Kerosene you could store there, just the ticket for family and friends and waifs and strays as the tail end of Hurricane Sandy Denny sweeps across the flat and pointy bits of Central Scotland as it inevitably will (so we can blame more of our serial misfortunes on our American cousins and/or global warming and instant packet soup). It'll be on Gumtree any day now and of course the lucky buyer will not only collect  it they will also uplift this wonderful garden feature that will enhance any sweet and twee suburban garden or wild country croft. It is of course empty but you can have the pleasure of filling it yourself with whatever you like, it may stink of oil for a bit though. Buyer beware and so on.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Edinburgh Daily Photo etc.

The unexpected and cold clock shop in Sighthill reminded me of a Joni Mitchell song, not sure which one but  that's how my thought processes seem to work from time to time.
Shop girls posing and giggling in a Jenner's window. I liked the hat sported by the bag lady on the left.  They seemed  amused and approved of having their photo taken by some daft middle aged shopper. 
We wandered around the capital city today in the watery sunshine. I visited Jenner's cafe for the first time in my life and supped a sunny latte and a chunk of chunky cake. Older ladies tried hard to look young and also tried softly to look after some errant grandchildren, always a cafe irritant, they sorted themselves out eventually. As the crowds gathered and circled we searched in vain for bathroom fittings, treasure chests and fancy bulbs that resemble candles. Ladies posed and chatted in shop windows and we thought about the poor guy who looks after all those clocks, this must be an awful day for him winding them up, down and backwards. I tried on tweed jackets and looked thinner than David Bowie, such was their power of optical illusion and perspective distortion. It's all in the herring bone, speaking of which I'm right back into the world of sardines - just open a tin and it's Grecian summer time somewhere. In other news the Kindle Fire HD is quite a tiny beast, could be a life changer as I'm dragged kicking, screaming and mystified into whatever century this happens to be.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Autumn trees

This nice tree is slowly changing colour as the seasons move on, the clocks change, the sun drops a few miles in the sky and the timber wolves come down from the hills ready to feast on the charred bones of lost tourists. Yes it's just another normal day in our new, ready to be explored and ploughed around garden.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rak 600

Once I thought that all toilets and their seats were the same, designed by Leonardo Da Vinci or some other bloke like Tesla a thousand years ago at the edge of civilisation. Turns out I was wrong, I've discovered today that there are other kinds, ones with strange fastenings, in odd shapes with Italian designed features and special toggle bolts to hold them in place. I am humbled and mystified and now stuck with a spare seat that does not fit this wondrous new toilet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not so bad

Three beautiful Slushies photographed at the Manchester Lego Emporium and Life Long Learning Experience.
Of course things are not so bad, so says me, the ever optimistic global warming, doom and gloom denial merchant. Today I learned that there have been bumper rice and grain crops this year in lovely green Botswana, in Chile's river valleys the cotton yield is the highest ever, in the Solomon Islands the fish markets are operating at record highs. Meanwhile the Antarctica ice fields are getting colder and thicker than ever and some Rockie Mountain glaciers are growing backwards into their deep frozen mountain origins. It is however a shame that back here Autumn is upon us and that there are no horse chestnuts, no plums on the plum trees and no apples on the apple trees but clearly other parts of the world are doing OK. I also hear that you can get eight (8) Appletastic Pop-Tarts for £2 and that our dear friends at Shell and BP are selling their finest petrol for a mere £1.35 per European litre. So big fat chins up everybody and shove a little more oil into your Volvo.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Unravelled weekend

Late night birthday music with disappearing participants. Photo courtesy of Mr D Reilly.
A long weekend away from work fairly addles the brain, I needed the merry-go-round to stop this morning so I could step back into my comfortably institutionalised world (as described by Groucho) and so allow normal coffee drinking and health biscuit munching to prevail - and indeed it did. I do realise now that I've developed a taste for Scouse ( an English  food with Scottish roots), beetroot balls (?) and squeezy strawberry jam. None of these things will smooth the long journey towards my next birthday but they help along with the batch of whisky I've acquired. Now all I need to do is gather together the right tools and step again out into this dark and potholed world and build a self assembly bed or two.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sheet music

The farewell bonfire containing yet another burning shed.
Never cool but still shit hot musicians.

After four days of organised chaos I'm slowly regaining my faculties and my a constitution is also coming back to normal, phew. Wednesday night saw us suffer a spectacular power cut that lasted more than twelve hours, not a great start for our road trip (2 x sons and 3 x grandsons) to Manchester. We left in the cold and dark and didn't stop until we reached the warm MacDonalds at Penrith. Then it was heads down and straight onto Old Trafford for a museum visit and tour of the stadium, all very good, then the movies and food in the evening. Next day we had the full blown Lego experience and then a rainy drive back up the road for a 10cc gig in Edinburgh.

10cc were never cool or popular with my rock and roll buddies. I recall being in Jersey in 1974, my ownership there of Sheet Music was subjected to a fair amount of derision and scorn, I'd brought it into our band's hippie barn and it was treated as if it was some kind of nasty infection. Of course we were working our way through Zappa's Grand Wazoo, Little Feat's Sailin' Shoes and other stuff by Poco, Pink Floyd and Bad Company. A shame really, 10cc's music still stands up pretty well after nearly forty years and the current touring band are excellent though I must confess I've not kept up with their recent output. Anyway I did rather enjoy the gig, as did a few thousand other noisy over fifties.

Saturday was all about kicking off the twelve hour party that marked my birthday and saying goodbye to Abercorn once and for all. The party ran almost to plan but with some fiery additions, a burning shed (as is the custom) and a burning birthday cake (which isn't any kind of custom), minor fireworks as Tesco allowed, dancing, drinking and a late night live jam. I was shattered but happy when we wound up and down about two.

Today was a mixture of clean up and recovery and visit for all to the new house. This was after scoffing a huge haggis and venison based breakfast - next, the tough stuff, the actual house move.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Birthday portrait

There comes a time - when you reach a certain age and some things just seem to fit.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Through the door to the blue light

I was writing a dull and predictable piece about organised religion and control and misery, the act of hiding in plain sight and generally pouring more petrol on the highly unpleasant Jimmy Savile bonfire. It was as if I had to prove some important point to somebody, most likely myself. I read about fundamentalist cults and the birth of public relations, all quite unfunny. Then I gave up on that and had a cup of Minestrone soup in order to return the blood to my head and hands. That felt better. Then I discovered the Google doodle about Winsor McCay and Nemo in Slumberland and suddenly it was all about the wondrous thing that is curvilinear projection and those great cartoon vistas that McCay created and that nobody really cared about except some geek at Google today (or about six months ago at their really cool planning meeting in Google HQ).  Anyway, everything that you ever wanted to know the answer to is on the other side of that door, the strange blue light breaking through the edges kind of gives it away. I'm headed there now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Gates v Jobs

Performance indicators: At odd times this week I've been mixing music and generally fiddling with files and programmes in a desperate bid to squeeze some creative wonder juice from machine to machine and then out into the world but alas, I am already undone. It's the doubtful pleasure of working between the twin evils of Apple and Microsoft. Sometimes I don't know if I'm coming or going or ready to commit axe murder on some Chinese built piece of plastic and recycled metal. Windows always wants to stop, reboot, reinstall and then procrastinate, like having lunch will someone who cant quite coordinate talking and eating. Apple is like some stubborn psychopath who must have his own way and his own terms met, tells you so repeatedly and you then have to go along with it or else out comes the big knife. This isn't what you expect from IT (well it is because it's been doing it for bloody years). In some naive future fantasy I've spawned I imagine that somehow all IT will be straightforward, benign and simple to use, it will anticipate problems and glide through tasks. We will be like gods as we walk amongst the bright shining screens and images installed in our dwellings, the smoothly running electric servants that have captured our ideas and wishes then uses them to turn on the microwave or knock off a quick novel or two by reading our wonderful thoughts. This would be progress. Until then it's as if we've been kidnapped by two malevolent powers, neither really wants the ransom money, they just want the pleasure of witnessing your slow torture as you try but fail to anticipate their next fiendish and twisted move. Of course there is always the PC and right-on solution of Ubuntu but that's a bit like having to learn fluent rhinoceros in order to type a telegram onto toast and then send it to a penguin in South Georgia - and about as much fun.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Today's conversation with Sky TV helpline wasn't too bad an experience. I only queued for about five minutes. It did take three attempts to get my vocal rendition of the post code to stick  in there, the robot had some trouble with my phonetically challenged E apparently. It's all sorted now albeit it seems a pointless part of the process. Eventually some presumed real person asks you for a postcode at the next step anyway so what if anything is validated by the exercise? Next minute I'm talking to a real man, he's happy, I can tell, he's buzzing 'cos it's a Friday. He sounds like he's stumbled onto Lance Armstrong's long lost stash of testosterone and jabbed a few syringes of the milky fluid into his posterior. We do the business in no time and he passes me the reference number for the call. It's all fixed he assures me. Then he closes the call with the immortal words, "and you have a really nice day and take care out there!" I imagine he's winking at me, grinning, pointing and wagging his finger, like some Cohen Brothers  detective or county sheriff on speed. Then I think, what the hell does he know about "out there" that I don't. Maybe something or somebody  from up in the Sky is really watching.

Appliance of the day

Yes it's an oil fired boiler, what a fine little machine. Got some spare oil or kerosene lying around somewhere? This bad boy will soon scoop it up and burn it all away in no time at all.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In the suburbs of Cuckoo Land

Nice to get up early (well the usual silly time) and make some kind of effort to seize the day today. Thursday the something or other of October. The plan is to sort and move and possibly discard major items and minor items as a preparatory prelude to our impending house move. Things like bags of coal, bikes, garden implements and useful bits of found flotsam & debris will form a major part of this. The process will require some sound judgement, realism, a large green vehicle, good kinetic practices and a fair amount of coffee and pop tarts. The problem I have is maintaining a clear and focused head (just like the good Danny A) and not allowing myself to be diverted by some rootless sat-nav into the suburbs of Cuckoo Land. A well established little place nearby that I've been known to visit from time to time. You can tell when you're there when you hear the La La tunes start to play in your head and thoughts about flowery guitar tunings and the re-mixing old bits of music creep in. Here comes the sun.

An artist's impression.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

What is wrong?

Why is it that years after her sudden spurt of fame the music of Lily Marlene Allen is still ruining and ruling the AOR airwaves?  Somehow her old material (there may be new stuff somewhere) has become a staple of evening radio. So it breeds and survives there, popping up when you least expect it, stuck in between Joy Division and Muse or Bob Dylan and Rush and all I can do is wonder...why?

Meanwhile all across Central Scotland the Northern Lights spotting and hysteria has almost broken out. All you need to do is stay up all night wearing wellies, a duffle coat and a woolly pom pom hat, avoid any industrial scale light pollution and point yourself to the North night sky. Then shoot and capture the wonderful images with your handy iPhone and then post them on some BBC site. Easy done and pretty effective. See them here: The experts say tonight will be another good one for more views so get out there.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Phone in a toilet

Today I managed to drop my Sony whatever it is phone into a conveniently situated toilet bowl. Plop! Thankfully the bowl had not been used so the water was clean, at least to look at. The phone was quickly rescued but not exactly given the kiss of life.  Now it seems the phone is rather unhappy and no longer operational, the water has had it's way and multiple short circuits must have occured. So that's the end of that. Not a great start to the week. I immediately headed off to the barbers and had myself a jolly good hair cutting session followed by a rather bulky Dairylea sandwich. I'm still a bit glum however.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Fruits without labour

Oktoberfest Fife-style: Early morning fruits grown in the garden of our new house with absolutely zero effort or input from us. Then the view from the garage as a spider spins a nice dewy web across the door and reminds  that we were not the first to pass this way.

Tesco dailyish photo

Because I'm older than you I don't mind paying attention to detail: Spotted in that haven of good taste and value - Tesco South Queensferry. First it was on offer at £5.61, then they cut it back to £4.20 and finally it's available at £1.05. The trouble is that the £4.20 and the £1.05 offers are currently running concurrently on those lovely Tesco shelves about an imperial foot apart (light bulb section). My advice is to choose wisely when it comes to shopping, maybe looking elsewhere now and again? Every little helps.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

May take up to 10 minutes

Alan Sugar's Amstrad Sky Plus box must be the most feeble and over sensitive electronic device ever built. Any blip or hiccup in the power supply effectively shuts down this device and it goes straight into a mighty huff and then refuses to come out. Any material saved on the hard disk is also under threat at this time apparently - that's nice, add a new threat and fear factor. This has happened three times in the last few weeks and it takes more coaxing than Lazarus to get the breath of satellite life back into it. First of all there's the googling for help, then the button and power fiddling, then watching the little blue lights flip on and off (?), then the reassuring message on screen arrives (as above) and you wait. Then everything goes blue and you press various buttons on the remote, then you wait again. Then it finally works again, but you can tell it still holds a grudge. All this  makes me wonder (and this applies to most modern technology) why once you get it home it always turns out to be such a piece of shit and why we, the innocent consumers and customers settle for this. Groan.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday's artwork x 3

3 x new pieces on offer today. Representations of the cat known around these parts as Clint*. The artist is currently unknown, they may indeed be self portraits.

*all sub text to be rightfully ignored please.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Infinite variables of chaos

A recurring dream, a crew member on an airship, poking through the fog, crossing the Atlantic, setting records and living on the edge of a great hydrogen filled bag of danger. It's the nineteen twenties but the Great War is still raging. Nobody could stop the trench warfare, nobody could cancel anything out even though you'd think all that military and industrial power would've some how done so long ago. And me, I'm still on the airship on a secret mission. I need to eat less toasted cheese around bedtime. I need to make a cheese free promise to myself. It also makes you /me wonder when it was that people started using the word "environment" in the way they do, I never did hear it when I was at school. So now I'm watching the thriller "Hunter" on the BBC; I heard the phrase used  in this blog post title, I'm applying it to various things now. It makes sense.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mumford & Sons v M&S

It seems to be the done thing these days to dislike Mumford & Sons, they must represent some kind of pimply derivative indie based folky thing that irritates those  intelligent people in the know. I've not really heard much of their stuff, just radio and TV smatterings. What I have heard is lukewarm OK but nothing special and still the Radio Jocks and TV types are gushing about M&S in that vacuous way they do. The next big thing getting bigger and then arriving at bursting point. They're not going to change my life, not if this, their third album and their tedious strums are anything to by. Not a bad CD cover though - complete with good shoes. I'll stick with the old M&S two can dine for a Tenner offer, same price as a CD and available at a store near you now. Some Twitter wag thinks all their stuff is a below (did I say strummy?).

Monday, October 01, 2012

Bucket lists revisited

Revisiting bucket lists, I'm coming out against them. They're all about experiences and that woosh factor, thrills and spills and far away sunsets. Good though they are, as lived in moments, none of that counts for much. That's all OK but it's not life, it's not what life is about. I'd rather build a tower and have it stand for a thousand years that just jump from a tower with a parachute and then need to do it again. The huff and the puff of the walk and the journey are fine but it's the footprints in the fresh snow that tell the story of where you are and where you went to. What we are is fragile and contradictory, what we experience is vapour and impossible to share but what we create from and around those things is the real deal. You realise it only in stages, quickly and in the moment as life takes huge strides and passes you by. Sitting on a warm couch, listening to your grandchildren talk about school and games and football. In a restaurant with children and partners and grandchildren, living on through their dreams and tensions, their hopes and what they will do with their hands. Friends who laugh with you, holidays and sunshine. Deleting the emails you don't need to read and turning away from what and who wastes precious time. So you film and build, record and write, draw and capture the arc of that perfect story, make discoveries, push yourself to capture this time, this time that is now. Because you'll never have it back again.

Less whoosh, less whamm, more life (I so used to draw these things up...).