Sunday, December 31, 2017
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Note: End of year grumpy post coming up. The phrase "new year", with or without capitals, makes the introvert and the mean little Puritan man in me cringe. People seem to think it's worth £££s of rare tourist gold so let's all roll over and be welcoming and servile. Who actually sees all that cash? What locals do well out of it? Hmmm. Maybe best to just get out of the way?
So crowds of bemused revellers descend upon the City of Edinburgh and set foot on the damp and frozen Scottish soil for (to me) no obvious good reason. Of course Edinburgh is a great place to visit but would you seriously want to be there in winter and at new year? You're going to get fleeced for one thing, also be dirty drunk, patronized and disappointed and be part of a huge and largely stupid crowd that don't quite know why but feel like they need to celebrate the turning of a calendar page by staying up all night in a strange city. It's neither religious or heathen, it's simply commercial exploitation and lots of dumb fucks will participate lemming like in the annual carnage. There will be greasy chips and wooden prefabricated German Markets, baseless optimism (for a brief period), pickpockets, "warm hearted" media coverage and tolerant policemen and bouncers.
In the distance you'll hear the bassy drone of music and interminable fucking bagpipes and the flash of far away fire works (for a world record nine minutes or so). Wow, this is the place to be, herded between fences, carrying no bags rules, frisked regularly and drinking watery beer from a plastic cup while you try to find your friends or just a friendly face. No, stay at home or go to a pals or a warm family house and avoid Edinburgh at all costs (then come along later in the year when it's all a bit more sensible and the weather is better).
Friday, December 29, 2017
|Industrial light and magic.|
|A rare view, taken looking north from Scotland's ancient capital Dunfermline. Snow shows on the Ochils in the distance and generally, as you might imagine, things are as grim as they've ever been there.|
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Number 2 in an occasional series: I inadvertently summoned up a ghost the other day, mid winter soup creation and a rushed kitchen seance. Not things I usually combine but accidents happen. There was some sewage vapour diluted in the air and a bloody coldness that could only have come from frozen hell itself. Clearly a troubled spirit, perhaps they lived here once, all curly hair, flowing robes and of course a deep sadness, the like of which I can't quite fathom. Strikes me as the basis of some new cookery show...spirits in the kitchen, ghouls on the chopping board, the great British Cake Seance. Another TV idea I'm working on is Dog Food Masterchef. I think this has great potential. The ghost agrees.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
#2017Acquisitions A cheeky wee 4 track EP inside our Xmas card from chums Impossible Songs @Johnbarclay1 and @alisongraham Top notch results of a German recording in October...
After a long and "blinded by the light of the low December sun" drive from Aberdeen it's nice to see that our Christmas release CD is being well received here, there and on Twitter. Thanks Mr CBQ.
Listen here, for free, if you will. Ta. https://www.jamendo.com/album/173271/in-another-world
Sunday, December 24, 2017
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Not even close to the nightmare before Christmas, no panic, mad crowds, traffic jams or chaos...the Christmas weekend arrives with a whisper, in my own head anyway. And (never start a sentence with an and) there never were blue passports...more utter nonsense to hopefully forget. They had black covers and blue text inside, that's all.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
But this isn't her. It's somebody else who looks similar. Grandma died in 1968 anyway so it's ancient history. Best to keep on the right side of these guys (?) at this time of year, particularly the window cleaner. Don't want a rogue window cleaner going rogue on us, that's worse than anything apart from a rogue fishwife maybe.
The hotel for dead fish employs a lot of people that the above newspapers would describe as "migrants". I dislike the term just about as much as I dislike these papers. Folks from the EU who have the guts, courage and drive to uproot themselves and move and work elsewhere deserve nothing but praise. These people are bailing out out our industries and services daily, we rely upon them and they are generally good contributors and great workers. Of course there will be a percentage that are wasters, just like within the so called Anglo Saxon/Celtic/Norman UK population. You find those kind everywhere. As I've said before, many EU workers that I've encountered put their UK colleagues to shame with their energy and positive attitude. So stop buying these right wing tale telling rags.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Dill. What is dill anyway? If ever the North Koreans want to destroy us I'd suggest that rather than using nukes they use dill bombs. The mess a single dill bomb would create would be far worse than any other WMD. Dill is insidious, gets everywhere, has a funny smell and frankly I'm not sure why it even exists. Has anybody ever said that they'd love a nice piece of dill flavoured anything? Anyway at the hotel for dead fish today was dill day and it was pretty traumatic and messy.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
(Nothing to do with fishwives either). Back at work today, mostly on some kind of auto pilot. One that allows random whistling and the inner humming of tunes in no kind of order. There is also a certain amount of day dreaming or flights of fancy. This includes imagined conversations, replayed conversations, prize winning scenarios, inspiring talks to both myself and a variety of others and of course well worded rants of justification from all sorts of sources i.e. the merits of adding cream to fruit juice, ways to remove Mr D Trump from office, other miscellaneous acts of political revenge or downright revolution based around the current UK set up, why I did what I did (or why I do what I do), remembering gilt edged rants from previous daydreams and attempting to reconstruct them and also, by way of a break, thinking a few positive thoughts about the future. Of course by the end of the day these various long winded acts of twaddle are completely forgotten but will not down reappear on my return to the hotel.
Sunday, December 17, 2017
Saturday, December 16, 2017
That time of day and year when you excel at John Bull printing skills and the land outside is bathed in a strange, ethereal winter's glow. This level of success in life has not been easily achieved, there have been sacrifices and a certain amount of pain along the way.
Even the birds of the air and the beasts of the field will get a bit peckish from time to time and head around to your garden for just a bit of good natured freeloading. Be not concerned, it will not harm you it's only me pursuing something I really don't have a clue about. It appears that someone left the cake or possibly the suet out in the rain and that resulted in some catastrophic failure within the feeding system. Blocked. Well it's all been purged and everything is fine now apart from the bitter cold and crunchy, churchy ground found underfoot. Look carefully and you'll see the wee birds come and go and then disappear into some parallel universe somewhere close at hand.
Friday, December 15, 2017
The final episode of Detectorists has now been aired. Spoiler alert. The treasure was found but not in the ground. A tiny, well paced glimmer of a bright and slow show that excelled at portraying normality and eccentricity at the same time. They are parallel and diverse, like some perfect summer than never occurred. Normal people are crazy and flawed and things happen to them but it all goes unrecorded, marked only by the lost coins and buttons trapped underfoot. Maybe the pace of this was too slow, too much of a plod for most but not me. Sad and funny, desperate and contemporary and well written. It has passed it's peak but it was a damn good peak. A season three might be a good idea but then again it might not. In comedy and light drama leave them wanting more, not begging for less. That's entertainment. RIP, stay in the ground, undiscovered. That's the best way out.
A slow still day by the river. Nothing happens. Everything is frozen in the cold and in the vice like grip of a Friday early afternoon. The sun tries hard but stirs nobody. The wind is absent and the amber weather warnings are far away, meant for someone else. The birds are busy, just surviving the winter. Dogs play here and there, far and away from owners with long leads and devices set to cast a ball as far as possible. The radio is filled with the truth about Scottish hip hop, pies on rolls and food banks. Who will eat where at Christmas and people aghast over tax and social responsibility. Some want nothing to do with anything because they've worked "so hard" to get to where they've got to and of course so should everybody else...but that's not how this world is, it's unfair and all the rules are unfair and the rule makers are unfair as are those who interpret them. Only the weather is fair, for today anyway.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Monday, December 11, 2017
Colder and more curious: Here are some ice sculptures not created by the hands of men (or women), soaking up the pale sunlight and subsequently refreezing and growing stronger and fighting for climatic survival. Inside each are a million or so (my estimate) tiny prisms reflecting light and creating an unknown series of equally unknown spectrum(s) or whatever the spectrum-ish plural might be.
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Ice and a freezing garden but no snow, so happy with that for the time being. The freeze just slows everything down nicely and suspends nature and belief. Meaningful and profound thoughts escape me. Christmas countdown, things to do, wrapping and planning and testing. Leftovers to eat, laundry and wild birds that now need feeding twice a day, if time allows. Creaking somewhere inside me, ominous ageing evidence, warm wine, background music and repeated songs. Spice and cold pizza, flashes backwards and fast frozen forwards. December.
Friday, December 08, 2017
|Traditional Fife breakfast, having been fully consumed.|
|Murky, reflective photo of Fife's ancient capital c/w dinner plate.|
|At this time of year decorative frippery is allowed here and there, even in the bleak and austere surroundings of rural Fifeshire.|
|Humorous vehicle number plate on honey wagon seen passing through the Fife villages with a precious cargo of mature sewage. One of Fife's main exports and contributions to the Scottish economy.|
Thursday, December 07, 2017
|Cat in a deep snooze as I sell off my future via a remote recording device hidden down the phone line.|
|Hurricane (insert latest name here) passes through Fife as calmly as the traffic on the Queensferry Crossing.|
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
When you're hurt or unwell the natural thing to want to do is to curl up in a ball, sleep and let some warm magical force of healing wash over you. Or you can tough it out, move, lift, bend, squeeze and walk yourself out of hurt and injury. Up to a point that is. There are healthy limits. But I have however observed in the last few days that my refusal to stop, despite a certain amount of pain and stiffness in the morning has resulted in me, following my traumatic fall down the stairs, feeling better a bit sooner than I'd imagined. I sing also.
Monday, December 04, 2017
For a few split seconds I was weightless, possibly graceful even. Then came the moment, arriving in all it's standard slow motion finery when it all changed and I hit the bottom of the stairs. Blind panic and pain set in but I gathered my thoughts and focused on the zones that were crying out for help; foot, side and back. Hmm, head is just befuddled and shocked, not a proper injury? Ankle is bloody sore (check), side mostly ribs sore (check), back strained but probably ok. I'm alive anyway. That's a decent outcome.
Fast forward two days and the bruises start to appear, dull blue and grey surface scars that illustrate the minor trauma's locations. I'm hobbling a little and straining with certain movements but feeling a lot better. I can drive, I made it to work where I worked, I've had two reasonable sleeps and few hot showers. I'm an expert at sliding my foot into a bandage and then stuffing the whole fat foot into a shoe. The support the shoe provides is very satisfying, I should wear them more often. So that's another near death experience notched up, gone in an instant it was, how many more before the actual real thing?
Sunday, December 03, 2017
A strange, distorted figure appears on the wall, caught in a brief glimmer of the early morning sun's rays. A silent shadow passing, a spectre moving, creeping across the wall, taking the opportunity in the moment of brightness to reveal itself. Then as quickly as it appears it is gone, returned to some nether world, some place neither here nor there nor in between. Swallowed up, from the bright day into the abyss that is the remains of Sunday morning. And so the clouds pass and move to cast new shadows elsewhere on others. My thoughts wandered and I moved on. Then I turned as I thought I heard a distant scream as it echoed somewhere far away and unfathomable. I was mistaken, there was no sound, just a figment of my imagination, my overactive mind...or was it ?
P.S. The same shadowy figure was encountered later in the day, chopping vegetables, grating cheese and baking some cauliflower and broccoli cheese (with added red pepper). I ignored it of course.
Friday, December 01, 2017
It was always going to be some kind of pearly picture that went with this...now if only I could remember how this song came about (link above takes you there for free plays). It was written in the spring of 2002, Ali came up with the words and I added the tune. We recorded it in Germany with Martin producing and playing bass and Siggi on keys later that year. It's really about our writing relationship (I think) and the reforming of Impossible Songs that took place when we got back together after a twenty year hiatus. A declaration of intent sort of. It has a nice, light, poppy feel to it despite being written in quite a stressful period when our creative partnership was forming up and lives outside were breaking down, so the softer sound contradicts the heavy meaning in the lyric. It's a song that, in my opinion turned out better than I'd hoped for but, as is the case generally with our stuff, hasn't set any heather on fire as yet. We're in this for the long run though so you never can tell.
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Emotionally immature? Prone to incendiary and irrational outbursts? Like to speak you're mind? Got something completely commonplace and obvious to share? Have ill formed and stupid opinions? If this is you then why not try a long, slow course of silence? I have and it's completely worked for me (and benefited the rest of humanity). Just get yourself a blog address and stay away from all other forms of social media as you slowly stew in some kind of resonant silence.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
I've recently read a lot of critical reviews about Amazon and it's working practices within their big sheds, strangely known as "fulfillment centres". There's an article from the Daily Mirror that's been widely shared regards bad things happening at the Tilbury FC near London. By and large the article is fairly accurate I'd say (having worked for about a month in an FC nearby) but doesn't tell tell the whole story. The problem is that Amazon and a thousand plus other large industrial enterprises are pretty miserable places to work. They have been since the Industrial Revolution so nothing new here. Factories and facilities that push along material, whether it's "box kicking" (Amazon and other logistics centres) or "nut grinding" (shipyard or fabricators) are all harsh, noisy and busy work places that are inherently unpleasant to be in and people are not treated well. They are all tiny cogs, no more and they are fragile. I've worked as both a drone and a manager in these places for around 45 years. It's tough. I know.
The problems are two fold - output v people: the factory owners need to keep costs down and increase productivity so the staff quickly become victims in the pursuit of more output. They can't win. The (younger) staff are also often ill prepared for such a harsh and number driven environment. I've seen first hand the shock on a young person's face when they are given any instruction, told to work "bell to bell" or expected to achieve a target that seems unreasonable or difficult. School and society does not prepare people for the humdrum and awkward reality of earning a living (?) if you are unqualified or unskilled. Life is going to suck hard, you're not an astronaut or a ballet dancer or a grinning face on a magazine cover, you're to be a faceless resource turning out product without question. For many people that's as good as it gets, chasing debt week by week in a grey pattern of survival.
It's an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object type of situation. It's also poorly managed, the team leaders I saw at Amazon were victims as much as the staff, they issued orders or pursed metrics that, when questioned on, they clearly didn't understand nor could they defend and there was a huge gulf between them and the "real" management that they could not cross; the top guys are conveniently faceless and absent. In other words there was no ownership of either the process or the development of it on the shop floor. All was top down with no room for real or constructive feedback. You can't just change the recipe at KFC or the shelf pattern at Tescos.
I did question the metrics used numerous times during my month at Amazon. Staff would be criticized for errors of 1% or even lower as the warehousing machinery reported back on performance. Basically that means doing things 99% correctly isn't good enough...how many things in life do you get a 99% correct score on? Clearly nobody really wants errors or sets out to do a bad job but human beings will always fail to some degree. Modern industry, with it's systems and granular visibility all down the line fails to take this into account. We are all the weakest link or the single point of failure but the plain truth of that is not accepted. In the old days of ledgers, typed work orders and actual bills of material nobody really saw the actual real numbers. I was there and production and productivity was a black art. People worked hard but the truth was invisible, technology has exposed this and we are paying the price. Modern and inexperienced managers don't know quite how to deal with this and the staff, expected to be as drone like as the system is, are caught in a trap of unreasonable expectation and the myth that is "continuous improvement" to the point of breaking. Meanwhile, the customer expects the right thing at the right time and at the right price and on a warm china plate and of course we are all customers...
So maybe be a bit kinder with your Amazon feedback, with the waitress in the pizza restaurant, the delivery driver and his white van or the person correcting the supermarket's robot till. Then get angry with the owners, the faceless inhuman engineers, far away investors, inadequate education systems and the toady governments who allowed mass manipulation and erosion of worker's rights and tax avoidance to continue to prosper and rule the lives of ordinary people. Anyway, where's my package from Amazon?
Monday, November 27, 2017
It's always useful to keep up with the local vernacular or funicular or whatever. Slang gets about. So now I know the current choicest terms to use whilst referring to cocaine in any given East Fife township i.e. Methil. Average cocaine, mixed with caffeine and other unknown and dodgy additives is known as "Council" or when in Methil "Cooncil". A portion of Cooncil is around £30 and it's purchase and use carries a high degree of risk in many ways no doubt . "Good Cooncil" is allegedly pure (?) and retails at about £100 for a portion. I'm assured that £100 worth of "Good Cooncil" will keep a half dozen young men occupied for about 24 hours. So I'm not recommending any of this, neither trips to Methil or purchasing and using cocaine anywhere, simply noting that these terms exist and, when stepping out in Fife you might wish to keep your ears open for their use. So if somebody from Fife tells you they are having a "Cooncil Day" you've been warned.