Friday, January 22, 2021

Victims of Physics

"Been studying physics for a few months now, pretty much through lock-down and beyond into Tiers Three and Four. Mostly one to one mentoring via screen work and some light reading. Believing I'm starting the break through now on a few of the more difficult theories and principles. It's sinking in, slowly but surely. All chalky fingers and brain waves. When you know you really know. Yeah. Changed my world view. Hoping to kick start my career as things open up again, late 2021. Academic. Might just rustle up some pancakes too, the egg and banana kind, feeling pretty scientific right now."

We are all, and always will be, the simple victims of simple physics. It's that simple.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Staying comfortable

The life styles of cats: staying warm, comfortable, well fed, doing whatever they please and sleeping twenty two out of twenty four hours. Quite a good number and worthy of making a high entry on the reincarnation options chart, if you believe in that sort of thing. Also as it's a snow day and humans are in lockdown, then we're doubling down on working from home and staying indoors. The cats, will however venture out to pee and poo - a possible reincarnation downside.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Pardoned by Trump


Plagues, pestilence, ignorance and  poor tastes in fashion and use of vocabulary. It's been a difficult few months for the Trump faithful. The wheels have however fallen off but they're not quite defeated yet. Some however are now pardoned in a perverse mockery of justice. I suppose seventy million voters can't be wrong, in their own minds anyway, while we think we know better. We'll see an uneasy peace that might not last long; hours, days, weeks maybe? 

His family remain scary, along with the various lunatic sycophants, strutting and pouting and barracking like a cut price versions of the Osmonds and the Wild Bunch on a stag weekend. No actual actual talent or ability, just a deep rage that they can't quite aim anywhere. Money and bully boy powers don't talk, they just swear. Joe Biden will have a tough job, these people do not want to fit in to his vision and they never will. Bring a fractured nation together? I doubt it. I'll watch it crumble on TV, a rare live event worth taking in.

P.S. The wild bots are still active, check your fridge, under the bed and behind your ears. You can't be too careful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Statutes and Statues

I'm not the brightest of buttons but even I can see there's a pretty basic problem with the composition of this (genuine) YouGov survey question. If anyone has any doubts about government spin and manipulation on "sensitive" issues then this is a nice example. Well it always was a Tory vehicle but this dumb example exposes their contempt for the folks who contribute opinion and information. On an otherwise light blue Monday this actually wasn't the internet highlight of my day, or even close to it. Just more evidence to add to the pile, though sadly in the great scheme of things it's hard to land an effective  punch these days. Looking on the bright side we might all wake up one morning after what passes for reality's bad dream and simply live on, happily ever after.

Cat fishing alert: I see those nasty QAnon/Commie Bots are out again. It's likely to be a busy week for them as they crash and burn.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Winter Shadows

 Winter Shadows. 
A fragile brightness. 
Then gone. 
A mark upon the wall that wasn't ever there at all.

So back to a smaller font size: Easier on the eye, always more manageable and less shouty. Sunday was yesterday. A day without much bird activity in the garden, a few nibbling here and there but it was as if they were all having a day off. "Staying in a barn, keeping themselves warm and hiding their heads under their wings", as the story goes. I made soup but was troubled by the fact that it seemed to smell of soup. Soup on some higher plane. I'm not my best critic or observer. At least my sense of smell tells me I'm Covid free. Then there was a smoked bacon encounter, a brief argument with a robot till, some pruning of the bushes and shrubs and the regular weekend task of trickle charging. 

In the front garden the new water feature, also known as a burst water main situated further up the hill, continues to entertain and amuse us as it washes away the foundations of the house. Scotland certainly knows how to waste it's water, we're world class but will come to regret it once the Tories use it to refill the Thames. We've had traffic lights and barriers around the incident for a week but nothing else has actually happened. I realise that, at this time, it's harsh and unwise to judge Scottish Water (the company) too quickly, there will be some back story no doubt.

Saturday found me out three times picking up road warning signs (for the water main) that had blown over. A police car sat at the traffic lights as I re-erected the fallen signs. The two man crew quietly observed my actions (those of a good citizen I'd say) as if I was some kind of idiot taking the law into his own hands. In my head I had already prepared a long and sweary monologue that I intended to recite to them. However when the lights changed they quickly moved on, no doubt headed for the MacDonald's drive through. Anyway, none of this is important, just winter shadows blowing in and out.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Talking Reality Television Blues

This arrived out of the blue, well via Twitter actually. Old school meets new school. Words, visuals, styles and lyrical content you've seen and heard before but it still really works. Impressive that singer who is 80 is still exploring and developing his own talent. (Helpful here to just forget all TV Voice nonsense, even though it's a putrid TV show and typical populist couch fodder that doesn't make Tom Jones any less of an artist and performer.)

Whilst this is all very entertaining and up to date, more importantly I've recently gone through a philosophical change that may see events of a greater magnitude unfold than this sort of thing. I've now decided to live the rest of my life as a slightly but not completely fictionalised version of myself. This simple step allows the creation of wild and interesting scenarios, unusual back stories and useful excuses for the avoidance of responsibility or consequences. Of course as it is purely fictional I have no clear idea where any of this is going. So with that back to Tom Jones and actual reality.

Saturday, January 16, 2021


Spartacus, aka Tesco Cat (@TescoCat) has moved into a new form of social distancing at his occasional Tesco home. Instead of sitting in the foyer proudly on top of the anti-freeze or curled on the logs and firelighters he's now staying safe, below the radar in a cardboard box that only contains an actual cat and no flammable materials. Stay safe Spartacus. You'd all do well to follow his good example.

Friday, January 15, 2021

For the Record

 "Being retired from full time work is fine but one of the things I really miss is the undoubtedly wonderful feeling you get when  finishing the working week on a Friday. During this part of the lock-down (since October anyway) I've been doing some (paid) work every week and I can honestly say that the Friday Feeling is the best and most satisfying thing about actually working. There, said it!"

Thursday, January 14, 2021

WFM or iRobot?

I am not (quite) a robot but I'm close to being machine busy (not true). It's just innocent social research work from the cat infested couch. In my revised working life I've become a professional voice. A hollow set of questions and polite noises trapped and wrapped in telephone wires and imageless Skype mechanisms. I chat with my clients carefully, safe from Covid and ridicule so they can tell me what they think and I can silently nod or roll my eyes or smile, sticking to the script, mostly. People, it turns out are not so bad, they just need to talk, to tell other people things. Who would have thought that? If you don't ever talk out loud and hear your own opinions then you're a ticking time bomb. It's that simple.

Not only am I a professional voice, a bit like Sean Connery used to be I suppose, I'm also a professional listener. Children crying and dogs barking in the background, over tuned TV sets, traffic grazing past, eating sounds, piped music and mysterious electrical blips. Is anyone listening to the listener I wonder? And then there is time, time monitors calls and conversations like an industrial process, we always know how long it all took. Unrecorded bits of history that are actually recorded and will never die as they translate into binary segments or summaries chasing themselves around in hot servers for what passes for a day's work these days. WFM, Working From Home. What does it all really mean?

There's an decent online forum happening that's all about paranoia but I don't think that you were included in the invitation.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Heaven and/or Hell

The ugly truth about how bad people can be: So when it all breaks down and when the crazies hit the streets, well there's nothing new here ...

Goya, the burial of the sardine: 1812.

I'm only posting this to remind myself, as if I needed reminding, that this shower of useless criminals and liars remain for the time being in charge of the country (wherever you might like to crayon in the borders). A government incapable of showing any compassion towards children and families in poverty etc. etc. it's a long list ad nauseum. Also we should never lose sight of the fact that as surely that Trump is the worst American President in history, then these tow-rags and charlatans form one of the worst British Governments ever. 

I don't believe in Heaven or Hell but every so often I like to fantasize that there is indeed a nasty, fiery hell and that these "righteous" politicians, greedy capitalist blood suckers, grey minded fascists, bigoted born again Christians and TV Evangelist types will simply wake there one day and get a nice surprise and a warm glow in their nether regions.

 Don't believe a word.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jethro Tull - Live 1969

A strangely visceral little piece of film that captures the rough and ready rock experience of 1969 (Sweet Dream and For a Thousand Mothers live in Southampton). The quality is surprisingly good with the camera man being lucky not to have been punched in the face by Ian Anderson. That flute waving could have cost you an eye. Life was so simple then, a couple of WEM PA columns, 4 stacks of 4 x12s and no discernible light show, foldback or props. All for the purists and at bargain prices with no criminal ticket tout apps or fuss. You stood in a line and bought a ticket and you'd be home by ten thirty.

This is the original JT line up with Glen Cornick, Clive Bunker and Mick Abrahams backing up Ian Anderson. I met Mick Abrahams in a pub in Dunfermline a few years later, he was a sales demonstrator for Yamaha guitars and they'd just brought out their SG model. The Skids were there that night as he showed off the capabilities of the guitar. I think Stuart Adamson bought one there and then and the rest, as they say, is history.

Monday, January 11, 2021

The many things I don't understand


Some say this is a special and unique kind of show, new from Marvel. It's called Wandavision. There's a lot of hype, Twitter bursts and odd Gifs moving around in my peripheral vision like the survivors of a haunting. I'm slowly taking the bait, it's what I do. It's on Disney + however and at the moment my life is simply not compatible with this alternative televisual system. The fault of the Samsung engineers we are told although we've not been told anything official. So it will remain an enigma to me, wrapped up in tinfoil and smeared with melted chocolate of the darker kind and slightly frayed around the edges.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

ASDA Sunset


Marvelous photo by Mark Fleming; the petrol station, ASDA, the Jewel, Edinburgh - under a blood red sky.

When everything seems to be a bit rubbish, you feel like a prisoner in your own home, feel guilty if you stay out a wee bit too long, can't see family and loved ones, can't think straight as the weirdest news bombards you and every politician just angers or irritates you with their ineptitude ... find beauty in simple things, everyday things, regular and obvious things. Also ignore the fact that petrol is for some reason back to £1.11 a litre, it's only one week in 2021's shit show and the fridge is broken down.

Despite the fridge being poorly, or at least running in an erratic manner, the current freezing weather, due to end shortly, means that perishable food, full fat milk and strange cheeses can safely and happily reside in our entrance vestibule. That is not any kind of euphemism or any other kind of ism, it's what you do when the technology breaks down. You work around it and triumph, eventually. 

Saturday, January 09, 2021

J.A. Braithwaite Ltd.

Back when we used to go out and visit actual places: J.A. Braithwaite Ltd. Unexpected beverage shopping* and a journey through the past. Dundee's oldest shop has been selling fine teas and coffees since 1868, moving to its Castle Street premises in 1932. It's still there in 2020 and still trading and fully fitted out with all the necessary period coffee grinding and roasting equipment. Strangely (not sure why I say that but...) it has a Facebook page and not much else. I'm guessing people travel from far and wide to experience the blends, the very visble hand made process and the ambiance of a bygone age. In the current Covid Age, as it will be remembered, I imagine it's now firmly closed. Simple pleasures denied, I hope it survives.

*This could form the start of a new series: "Shops I've walked by 100s of times and never entered". 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Tesla and Revisionist History

Vehicle and appliance designers like to sell their newly dreamed up wares as clean, simple and desirable (aside from those in the wayward and over hyped Steam Punk universe), easy on the eye and pleasing to the person in the street. So could the Sinclair C5 and a Tesla vehicle go head to head, 40 odd years apart? One design that arrived at the right time in history and one that clearly didn't. 

But as an alternative view just imagine the C5 in late Victorian or Edwardian times (also imagine no cobbles but smooth roads and streets in those times) ... OK that's a rather large leap in imagination but if Nikola Tesla and Clive Sinclair had ever met up in a twisted warp of recent history; now there's an interesting sci-fi premise. Elon Musk could be scripted in as the eager if incompetent lab assistant who understands the magic of numbers and commercial persuasion better that the actual science. The typical maladjusted sideman/lab assistant trope really. 

He's the one who steals the ideas and eventually takes them to market as the two old heads look on aghast but with a strange sense of relief. Eventually the leap in technology they unwittingly create with their inventions and Musk's sales techniques and vision usurps the US rail and oil barons and also undermines and removes the corrupt European monarchies and World War 1 is averted and a golden age of science and technology dawns. 

Highways and bridges are built, electric airships and vehicles are commonplace and the oil stays mostly in the ground. The Titanic is still afloat and there's no Wall Street crash or Third Reich. There probably are a few other problems I'd imagine; Israel, Russia, China and Japan maybe? Oh and the the restless and down trodden Scots. We've still to conquer outer space though. This stuff just writes itself ...

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Fine Figure of a Blackbird

One of the weird things about wild birds (or one of the weird things about people), is the way that once you recognize or become familiar with them in your garden. Then you begin to see them in other places. I should add these places are mostly outside in areas where you'd expect to see birds, in the air for example. 

I've been seeing "this" blackbird when I'm out enjoying my regulated times of allotted perambulatory exercise, some distance, but not too far, from home. It's as if he's following me like some guardian angel or dead relative. He communicates via head nods and imagined winks that I repeatedly fail to understand but he remains persistent, even as the message is lost. 

I've noticed both robins and blackbirds seem to have this curious ability. They crash into your world and then pop up unexpectedly in some hedgerow or bush. It's as if there were many wild birds out there, just appearing randomly and impersonating the ones in your garden and passing messages in some avian chain. Either than or yet another glitch in the Matrix.

Now he's tap, tap, tapping on the window glass ... you know where this leads.

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Sharing Fun Facts

Once upon a time Facebook was cool: It was all too good to be true really, freely sharing fun facts, silly stories, holiday photos, cute pets, and birthday wishes with friends and family while the Facebook machine callously and coldly harvested all our data, sold it on and then allowed it to be used to influence and control global political outcomes, consumption and appetites. A kind of feast of digital cannibalism that we were eager to take part in. It seems so long ago now.

All we wanted were a few birthday reminders and for people to know the kind of films, music and sports we liked and maybe that we were happy, enjoying a sandwich or at least having a nice day. But we failed to realise that our simple wants, needs and likes were actual commodities as valuable as fossil fuels, gold, human trafficking or a large amount of the correct type of sewage. 

There are hungry markets for everything and, for the average person these days, you're either sold or about to be and you're going to be none the wiser or better off for it. Should you allow it? Someone is always greedily watching you and your precious data, it may well be us. Did you get that* Alexia?

*Finally there's the curse of experiencing Facebook remorse. That hollow, weird feeling of having finally done it, said it or shared it. Have I shared too much? Can I delete it before it's noticed? Is anybody listening? Nobody knows. Nobody cares either.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Hand to Mouth

The reasons why I couldn't bake this home made soda bread are many and varied so I'll not bother listing them here. Instead I'll just enjoy the bread and reflect on the next few weeks more of the Great Scottish Lockdown; not seeing family and friends, working from home and a January and February mostly spent on reflection, mopping up the debris from failed freezers and learning life's cruel lessons. Please note that going stir crazy is not an option.

For one thing I've now learned some baking facts regarding the various white powders you might use. It has come to pass that mostly by trial and error I now know that baking soda, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar though similar are not the same. I did not learn this by baking but by purchasing, one of my shakier lifetime skills that I'm now eager to develop, that and listening properly. Those small pieces of key knowledge should see me through until the end of January anyway. After that I'll try to focus on learning something else.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Crisp white snow on frozen fields

1. The Met Office have issued an amber warming that the recent fall of slushy and watery snow has resulted in a highly dangerous amount of "Wintry Scene" Instagram, Facebook and Blog posts. Please take great care when entering this area and try to limit your usage and exposure. You risk being duped into believing that some of your friends as well as random App users actually have perfect lives. Ultimately the weather's own honesty will put paid to this exercise as the cold rains wash the planet clean again. Thank you.

2. Over in sunny Italy the following diagram has been widely circulated amongst the general public. It's being held up as describing the great plan to inject 5G chips and tracers into unwitting humans as part of the Covid vaccination program. Bill Gates is, quite naturally blamed for the entire ruse. The sad truth is that it's a circuit drawing for a guitar "metal tone" boost pedal.

3. It's also been established that our friends (?) in the Luftwaffe were planning to bomb our house back in 1939, even before it was planned or built. How's that for forward thinking?

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Know your socks

If you don't already know your socks then you really should start to know your socks. Start by noting nomenclature, design, size, type and manufacturer. This knowledge could, during a period of instability, social breakdown or temporary insanity save your life. You know that knowing this sort of thing makes a shed load of sense. For reference the socks pictured* are "Nordic Socks" in the style of "Ragnar". Size 6 - 11. Other makes and styles are available on request.

For best effect please imagine that this instruction is being bellowed into your left ear by a shrill male voice on an icy cold military parade ground at 6.30 AM.  

*Not all the information displayed is correct and we take no responsibility for any unfortunate consequences following on from your stupidity.