Sunday, November 27, 2005

Finavon Doocot, Fife and paths of glory.

Finavon Doocot, Fife and paths of glory.

A weekend mixed up between family, fun and downright hardwork. Saturday saw us journeying up to the world’s end (as it seems) - Macduff in Moray. The waves crash incessantly on it’s permanently twilight shores, as a rolling thunder review of cloud antics pepper a grim and moody sky – oh and you can visit the Spotty Bag shop in Banff that sells just about everything and nothing. En-route we passed the legendary Finavon Doocot, resting place and mausoleum to the gifted but tragic Deke, the George Best of pigeon racing so brilliantly immortalised by Scott Renton. A moments silence followed for us all, Nintendo DS’s quite, KT Tunstill paused and the Financial Times shaken to the floor of our speeding car as we thought of both George and Deke.

The 1st birthday party of my first grandson followed, a fun but chaotic affair. Small children and assorted parents everywhere, presents, paper, party bags and a blinding array of video and digital cameras. Both my grandsons were there and in fine form, a third grandchild is on the way also (still in the early stages of production). We had a fascinating conversation with a friend of my son who manages the local football team. He was telling us that one team member has recently purchased a tattoo gun and now needs to practice a) on himself and b) on volunteers. You would have thought that tattoo guinea pigs would be hard to come by, but not up there in Moray. The younger lads (?) seem especially keen to have a (improving each time) version of the team crest cut into their legs (for life). I naively thought also that to be able to draw might be a pre-requisite of the fledgling tattoo artist but no, none of that. A steady hand, good enough to follow a template or stencil and the ability to pump the ink with your right foot at the same time is all you need. The ability to run quickly or own a fast car might also be useful. The unbelievable news that Dunfermline had beaten Celtic at Parkhead also filtered in during the afternoon; at 16 to 1 I wished I’d stuck a few quid on them.

We returned home late in the evening – more heavy rain and (as the road signs kept saying) extreme weather followed us. We did have a good game of “10 minutes from Fife” in the car. The game starts at Kinross just as you enter Fife; you have to imagine Fife is going to explode in 10 minutes so you have to be out of it by then i.e. half way across the Forth Bridge. An unexpected amount of roadworks at Inverkeithing meant we blew up in a violent, fiery mass just before the bridge.

Back for overdone pizza, wine and “I’m a celeb” for the kids. I slept like a smouldering log.

Sunday started with a late breakfast and ended with me making daal and vegetable soup. In between Ali and I constructed a new path at the front of the house and erected a bird feeder. The path looks great, I’d expected it to take two days to lay and we did it in an afternoon, how smug we both felt.

We also got a feedback email from the judges at the Emergenza gig a few weeks ago. It was all pretty good and constructive, they liked our songs, said we needed a drummer (hmmm…) and few other little details. Even if it was all bull it made me happy, (despite the dodgy Sunday gig the other OOTBer’s described) our Thursday night experience now seems to have been worthwhile. Having said that I may have beer glasses on a the moment and they could be affecting my mind and body…

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fire and Mouse Hunts

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Monthly mouse Hunt #2

Less ice this morning, this means that the previously frozen tundra that makes up the car parking area has turned back to plain mud. A simple turn of the steering wheel is enough to create a ploughed field effect and a series of tsunami mud waves under the car. This mud should be packaged and sold as glue as it sticks to all it touches, cars, shoes, houses, fluffy white slippers, rugs and carpets and so on. The solution is simple: buy a big builder's size bag of bottoming stones and then, with the appropriate physical effort spread them to cover forever the November Somme like surface. Must get round to it..

Our oil supply is running low. Oil, once hidden in a tank is hard to measure if there is no dipstick. We are supposed to check the level by viewing it through an opaque tube that is discoloured, dirty and frozen. In the end a wild guess is made and we decide the oil is indeed running low, so Ali phones the oil company. The oil is used to heat the boiler and so is the coal fire (different boiler). These dual systems seem to dislike one another and despite their ability to produce heat cannot easily coexist without conflict. This seems to defy a few of the laws of physics. The oil system needs to be on when the fire is on so the pump will run and power the hot water round the pipes. However the oil boiler stays on when the coal fire is on still burning up fuel as vigorously as the coal fire. Then after a short time a strange fossil fuelled climax occurs, the pipes and water tanks vibrate violently and then spew a torrent of hot water out onto the patio from a pipe in the roof conveniently located directly above a security light and our garden furniture. Of course for this to happen the fire has to be alight. My technique for fire lighting is clumsy. Paper, sticks, firelighters, coal and the occasional log are placed in the fireplace. You would think that a lighted match applied to this incendiary heap would produce a roaring fire in no time. Well no, you get smoke, flash, red glow, smoke and then a serene stillness descends on these defiant materials as they refuse to burn. Few things make you feel less manly than being unable to light a decent fire – I stare at cold black coal and dream of sharpening pencils with my Swiss Army knife.

We are also planning a tree management expedition, to be set in the small bit of woodland north of the house. The main idea is that a few inconveniently growing trees will be removed with a few swift axe blows in order to give us a clearer view of the silvery Forth. There are some snags, firstly the trees are on the wrong side of a wall (six foot drop), they are wild with surrounding vegetation and there is mud and no doubt some animal life hidden in this tiny jungle. The trees also belong to someone else, not us, never good. Of course we don’t propose to fell any of the giants of the forest, we only want to carry out some simple pruning of otherwise untended braches and growths so that we may honestly adjust the viewing gaps between these trees. On an earlier expedition I did succeed, without specialist tools and using brute force only, in snapping of a few annoying branches. The more radical surgery will have to wait until the time is right, maybe some moon lit night or Sunday afternoon – preferably when the wood can be seen for the trees..

Recycling is complicated. Waste streams are not obvious; they do not flow in straight lines. Paper, light cardboard and magazines can be mixed but not with envelopes (?) Is somebody taking the piss? What are modern envelopes made of? Is it the glue, the sticky glue substitute, the ink? What can the problem be? If this country is ever to embrace any serious recycling work then envelopes must be included amongst normal waste paper.

An unbelievable headline in the redtops: “Garry Glitter faces a firing squad” - if only it was for musical crimes and not the sad reality of his unhealthy appetites. So it set me thinking about appropriate punishments for music crimes: “A hung, drawn and quartered farewell planned for Stock, Aitken and Waterman", “Roasted on a spit verdict for Katie Melua (and Mike Batt for that bicycle song), “Ten years in Barlinnie for Axl Rose” (for everything), “Bono sentenced to 140 hours of community service” (for nothing in particular), “Enya fined fifty quid” (I don’t need to explain).

Somerfield till receipts: “Your manger is, you were served by, you saved £3.49 (because you got a free battery). The date, the time, the phone number of the store are all there, why?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monthly Mouse Hunt

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Monthly Mouse Hunt.

Country life is full of surprises. Living close to a Blair Witch wood, a pond, a happy hunting ground and a dog-walking track, the local wildlife of all sorts enjoys a cosy, claustrophobic and unpredictable relationship with us.

Last week the cat woke us a five by making a peculiar tapping sound on the bedroom floor, about two feet from my head. The tapping sound was made by the rhythmic tossing of a mouse against the laminate floor. That was followed by the cracking and crunching noises he made as he devoured it under the bed. In circumstances like this the hair drier comes into it’s own. This weapon of mass cat annoyance was very effectively used to get the cat and his mouse meal out of the house. So far it has been three mice in as many days. The cat is on a roll.

I was wondering if those scientists who are speculating about life on the Blue Moon (Earth’s fictional but likely twin) had thought about eating any of the creatures they had invented. A Blue Moon cookbook might go down well (?). Science Fiction dining and gastronomy: “Skywhale pie, skywhale fillets, skywhale risotto”. Probably best not explored.

On Sunday I was a true gentleman of the road however, managing to warn on coming vehicles of two horses meandering up our road towards a blind summit. All the smiles and waves of gratitude made the effort worthwhile. People do generally slow down for horses. It was a day of mixed fortune as this happened just after the bathroom cabinet fell on Ali’s head trapping her in the room while I chattered on the phone blissfully unaware. Her plaintive cries eventually made it down the corridor and I mounted a full scale rescue operation. A large gin was required to ease the pain. We also found the abandoned mouse nest on Sunday afternoon, obviously belonging to the now digested 5am visitor. The mouse nest was under the fridge and seemed to be in the early stages of construction, our vigilance and respect towards visiting rodents and their creativity is now set at a higher level.

The rabbits in the garden are of course oblivious to everything apart from their own determined eating. Each night they set of the security lights and bask in a floodlit arena of green as they munch their way across what we hope one day will be a lawn. The cat peers at them out of the window and flicks his tail in a kind of concentrated and focused way we assume reflects his thoughts of hunting. So far no rabbits have arrived at the door, unlike at Inchgarvie where a steady stream of rabbits fell victim of our little tiger.

Today I nearly got an Alsatian (and owner) as a result of a half iced windscreen, a murky lane and a slight hangover. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

The pheasants are just plain stupid and have no road sense or sense of their own mortality; they get hunted by the folks from the estate. We think that hunter’s are out tonight (Ali heard a pheasant impersonator in the hedge) so the cat was brought in early. As Erin had brought her tame but wild rabbit around it was important to keep them in separate rooms, not easy. The rabbit liked the cat’s bed; the cat remained imprisoned in the kitchen munching his tea from an ashtray. The rabbit was surprisingly agile and liked to jump onto the couch and eat portions of one of Ali’s suits or a cushion. It also hid under the TV and enjoyed being rolled up in the cat’s blanket. I accidentally dropped it into its food dish after it had scratched me, after that it seemed to avoid me and did a lot less jumping. She (Pippa) has returned home to her warm hutch and some more Marks and Spenser sliced cabbage, a particular favourite I am told.

So getting back to where I started a monthly mouse hunt looks like being the new thing – for next month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sorry about the lack..

Apologies to all regular visitors to this blog (and our other web ventures) about the lack of new material here or there. We are having huge problems getting broadband set up at our new address. Hard to believe that the provision of BB could be so tricky and that our BB host cares so little...but that's how it is. Even our dial up option is flakey...moan, moan!

Please don't abandon us! The creative juices are still flowing, infact I've just written a tune for Mazda, though they don't know about it yet.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Apples and Currents

Apple to the core

Took a few days away from work
Ended up on the sidewalks of New York
Looking out upon the Empire State
New Jersey seems so cold and grey
Had some coffee and some toast in Saks
Froze on a bus but tried to relax
Buy a bagel pay 8% local tax
Eat a breakfast and some fast food snacks
Helicopter squeeze and an Indian hood
Something in the heart of this city is good
Something in the people misunderstood.

Here’s the spot where Lennon was shot
Bob Dylan walked there and some say even talked
The Algonquin’s toilets are so clean and small
The biggest thrill is seeing and feeling it all.

The Apollo theatre and the Fifty cents
The ladies big hats and the Frankincense
Donald Trump never looked so attractive
Time Warner stays so interactive
Ground Zero means zero ground
What goes around can confound
In the neon and the aftermath
In the traffic and the ghetto blast.

We sit in some executive lounge
Drinking wine and sucking crackers
We stay in where the coins and corners are round
And move when the tannoy tells us
We all try to be like Elvis
Be as big as Elvis
They want to buy and sell us.
In some hotel or parking lot
The elevator that time forgot
A TV memory is all we’ve got.

Current situation.

Moved to the country
But BT and Wandoo don’t want to hear
We’ve had a month of disconnection
Blogs and websites get no attention
So we put up curtains and shelves (and build)
And settle in this place we've hid
And try to kid ourselves we might be kids
And have a party and big sleepover
And then some fish pie and a huge hangover.

News Update!

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News Update!

Impossible Songs – Emergenza Acoustic Showcase 10th November

Impossible songs will be playing a 25 minute set at The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, Edinburgh at 7.30 on the 10th November, (also on the bill is the powerful acoustic legend Lee Paterson). Other acts will also be featured in what will be a great night of varied acoustic styles of music – don’t miss it.

Tickets are available from us, at the reduced rate of £4.00. Contact and we’ll do the rest.

John & Ali