Friday, December 29, 2006


impossible songs

impossible songs

Christmas Blur

This week has been a complete blur of the usual confused and meaningless but well meaning Christmas celebrations. We’ve had a crowded house with small, excited children running everywhere whilst their adult minders occupy couches, drink and play video games and watch DVDs. No snow, no frost, no real seasonal weather hints or reminders whatsoever, just tasteful plastic holly on the door and a fridge full of food that must be eaten by the 29th. The poor cat, confused by the activity and normally warm and comatosed 20 hours a day, has taken flight and stayed outside for long periods, narrowly avoiding the attention of the holiday hunter’s shooting parties in the nearby woods.

This morning I was up at 6ish preparing a chicken and sweet potato curry amid baby bottles, burnt toast and kettle steam, then away to work. It’s been a similar pattern all week, a mad mix of holiday, work and feeding the family non-stop.

Bob Dylan on the radio

His Bobness on Radio 2: The recent themed radio shows by BD have been a great mix of music and Bob Dylan’s rolling, irritating and engaging chat, a relief from the usual mid-evening fodder. Listening to him and his wide choices of music made me ask myself, what music do I really like and want to listen to these days? Whether it’s the chart videos running endlessly on free view TV, Beatles re-mixes, Frank Sinatra’s Christmas tunes, some unknown singer live in the Cannons’ Gait, random button presses on the car radio, I don’t know. The stuff comes in from all directions and I feel incapable of filtering it all in any way. So what would I choose to listen to if I was sitting down, alone, simply listening for pleasure? A Bob Dylan themed selection? It might just work.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Obvious Trees

impossible songs

impossible songs

Trees in the woods,
Wood in the tree,
Stones on the ground,
Stone all around.
Twigs and scrapes and mud misshapes,
Walking and looking,
Bending and picking,
And turning your back,
For a quiet moment.

Friday: Got up early and decided to eat something – boiled eggs and toast. I was tempted to eat some leftover Christmas Pud and cream but decided against it. Ali and Paul left an hour ago to drive to Manchester to attend an imminent birth no less, so I have an hour or so to kill before leaving for work. Hopefully a healthy new niece or nephew will appear today for the first time in some bright and clean Mancunian Hospital. I just noticed that the eggs had a sell by date of 5th December on them. Funnily they tasted great and I feel strangely invigorated by this eating experience, what else is lurking in the fridge?

Work sucks more than usual at the moment, I’ve been handed some crappy tasks with deadlines like 5th January and to add insult to injury every time I email somebody for help I get an “out of office – back on the 8th” message. Lucky for some. This kind of thing didn’t used to happen or am I even more deluded than I think? Whatever, by 5.00pm tonight I’ll be well and truly switched off to the world of work, for four days anyway.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Building a better tattie scone

impossible songs

impossible songs

Baked Alaska V the Tower of Tattie Scones.

In a straight fight which one would win? The internally cool, glaciated, raspberry beret desert sauce and mysteriously crustational BA, (as served up by Henry from Detroit at the Hawes Inn, South Queensferry – who’d just bought an 1815 copy of Dumas’s the Count of Monte Christo). OR, The Central Scotland traditional, tattie scone sandwich and architectural folly of thick cheese sauce/blackest of black fest puddings/three scones triangulated by a Stanley Knife and piled high as a tyre stack, (as served up by a pleasant waitress wearing a little too much eye liner at the Bay Inn). In a height contest the BA wins by about 1cm. The width of them both looked about the same. Of course one is a starter, the other a desert. In a competition it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Wednesday: Various things turned up via the post, lunch at the Hawes (hence the Baked Alaska), a puzzling episode of the Simpson’s, a lost cardigan, a gift from a secret Santa, lighting the coal fire for the first time in months. I also discovered that I’m the only person on the planet who hadn’t realised that Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who, a reality check there. The spectre of Christmas getting closer but not seeming perhaps quite as daunting as it did last week – arrangements are coming together and I’m coming to terms with the inevitable. If there was no Christmas we’d just invent something else, possibly even more expensive, artificial and tacky to fill the solstice gap. We’re stuck with it, make the best of it.

Thankfully amid the current chaos I’m not travelling anywhere, but some loved ones are. Fog and cold paralyse the nation easily it seems, or is it all just jacked up a little more these days?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Christmas Angels are bored

impossible songs

impossible songs

Short diary of unrelated events

Saturday: Bought large Christmas tree and erected it in the lounge. Ali festooned the crippled fir tree with numerous flashing lights and bright shiny things. Meanwhile I poked a cable through the toilet window and nailed a series of Star Trekky light strips outside. From the outside the house now looks like a pizza shop on the Costa del Sol, but that’s ok. In the evening we snuck into the Priory to hear Norman L perform some fine new songs, a Robert Fripp guitar solo piece (really for a quartet!) and a Geordie folk song. We then were invited up and did an impromptu and polite version of our song “Rainbow” and also cleaned up some red wine that was spilled upon the floor by Santa Claus. Then it was a late night run up to Freuchie to view the new gas fire in all its glory.

Sunday: Awoken by an early morning phone call from work (I reacted to it at about 4pm). Visited Abercorn Church and the surrounding woods to forage for materials for Ali’s latest art project. A quiet evening in with the kids watching Mr H Potter.

Monday: Up sharp to take the kids to school, all on a light pop tart and tea breakfast. In the evening some frantic Christmas shopping at Craig Leith then down to Easter Road for an OOTB meeting at Scott Renton’s place. After a decent chat with the rest of the committee it was back home to help out with Ali’s artwork – which had moved on a pace. Will it be ready for Christmas?

Tuesday: Christmas lunch in Dalgety Bay with some colleagues from my office. A party seated next to us were from the “Angina Club”, that got me a bit worried. Then I thought, well it’s better than being next to the “Irritable Bowel Club” or the “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Club”. The tattie scone and black pudding tower, over which I had fantasised for a few days, was only just ok. I had visions of a real tower of tattie scones (ideally topped with a fried egg), a bit like an American pancake stack. What I got was not quite that, it was three tattie scones sandwiching black puddings with cheese. I guess it’s just the half hearted way we do things here in Scotland that bothers me. I recall visiting a series of pubs in the midlands in the 90’s called Mad O’Rouke's Pie Shops. Their speciality was an actual cow pie complete with horns, (a la Desperate Dan) and the traditional starter of Black Pudding Thermadore and the Pogue’s music thundering in the background – they knew how to please a punter. Hmmm...Home again for more wrapping, a cool Baileys and an invigorating spot of ironing.

Friday, December 15, 2006


impossible songs

impossible songs

I flew in a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty one sweet and silver lunchtime. Strapped and trapped in a whirling Volvo above this welcoming lady. The blue islands and city scapes beat out their heart's rhythm way down below. They were crying for some Indian braves or French refugees, some Scottish clansmen from the clearances or pilgrims running from unbelief. Calling out for them to come, pass through and go away. The brave Indians built these skyscrapers and looked out for buffalo ghosts, down deep from the girders. Perhaps all were built a little too short to catch that horizon. Now Donald Trump gazes down at herds of yellow cabs and vendors, pavements strewn with gum and cigar butts and yesterday’s lottery tickets. Our crashing Volvo of the skies veers between these pillared canyons and Art Deco buttresses, glassy walls and a storm of cell phone signals, heaving and circling as we look down to study the carrion. We flew in a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty, something changed and something changed me.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Polish Violins

Impossible Songs

impossible songs

impossible songs

Wednesday night: Played a short set at the Jazz Bar in Chambers Street Edinburgh as part of the Emergenza festival. It turned out to be an unexpectedly good night with Confushion (Fraser and John) taking the honours, though overall the standard with all the acts was pretty good. It was certainly much better than last year with a better sound system, a quieter and attentive audience and more even performances from all the bands. I really liked a duo called “The Radar” who really deserve a bit more exposure and recognition. We had a drink and chatted with friends Norman, Fraser, John and Karen afterwards whilst a Polish violin quartet closed the evening. I’ve no idea quite why they came to be there, music nights in Edinburgh can be strange at times. Ali was reluctant to leave mid-way through their set (about 11.45) but I’d had enough so we hit the road.

Earlier in the day I trekked across to the Gyle to collect the kid’s new laptop from a courier firm, I missed the home delivery on Monday so naturally had to queue in the rain to pick it up. Next a trawl of Christmas shopping venues and then back home to spend the afternoon setting up the laptop and generally fiddling with it. I also ate a strange tea consisting of six bits of haggis cooked in the George Foreman. Sometimes being home alone is not so good.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nothing in particular

Impossible Songs

impossible songs

impossible songs

List of nothing in particular.

Knowing lava lamps are uncool and not caring.
The familiar sound of rain.
French cafes.
Losing it.
Getting it back.
Living your own life.
Sitting in the dark.
Milk and brandy.
Thinking Sandy Denny isn’t dead, (I heard her on the radio).
A song about Scientology.
The mystery of radio.
Being at peace in a mad world.
Not bothering about the consequences.
Playing at the Jazz bar tonight.
Fiddling around with guitars, tunings and capos.
Boiling eggs and not counting the minutes.
The silence of the countryside in the early morning.

Podcast update. We got a nice mention and a “top of the set” play on Independent Music’s Podcast from somewhere in the deep American Midwest. He described us as “mysterious” – happy overall but a bit puzzled over that description.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lava Lamp

impossible songs

impossible songs

Far away birthdays

Saturday: Another long run up to Aberdeen for my daughter’s birthday lunch. Still with quite a few months to go until her wedding next year she is currently looking fantastic. The air, ambience and lifestyle offered in Aberdeen is clearly doing her good, as is having her fiancé close at hand also. Best present? Well from my point of view the lava lamp is hard to beat. Those red and purple globules of oily stuff ascending and descending like strange malformed plum tomatoes and surreal hot air balloons. It was great to have my three sons, three grandsons and two daughters all together in the one place, something that, due our busy lives and commitments seldom happens.

Music of the day: Should have been the Beatles “Love” album but I forgot to put the disc in the sleeve so it ended up being The Feeling and the Story of Punk on Radio 2 (how weird a phrase is that?).

Meal of the day: Chinese carryout minus rice – we forgot to order it.

Purchase of the day (almost): I was going to buy my daughter a copy of “Asian Brides” magazine – stupidly I didn’t realise these niche/cultural markets existed. In the end it was a routine wedding mag with a free music CD and loads of tips and flyers – Ali stepped in to administer the usual good sense.

Purchase of the day: Tiny, naff Christmas tree sprayed in sliver, £3.99 from Tesco.

Shock of the day: Well not for me really but the long haired guy in the X Factor getting the bump was a minor surprise to most of my family.

Parallel Universe of the day: Probably the one where William Wallace marches through England conquering all in his wake and eventually stopping at the Mediterranean settles down to rule over the new “Auld Alliance”. What’s modern Europe like today as a result of that? Would there be a Franz Ferdinand, a John Logie Baird, a Claire Grogan or a John Byrne?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Working Lunch

impossible songs

impossible songs

Secret Eye

Once again I met with the Secret Eye in a small Chinese restaurant in the port of Rosyth. Thankfully the rain had stopped. At first I listened intently to his opening tales, there was light and there was new colour, but as lunch progressed they became increasingly far fetched and my interest waned. My attention span has never been particularly strong – as I’m sure you must know. I munched through Crispy Wan Tan as he began to bore me with details I didn’t need to hear, I trawled the fork around the dry plate of my main course, (Red-neck of chicken) and felt myself stumble into one fuzzy day dream after another. It was becoming a long meal.

Finally when we reached the banana fritter stage, the Secret Eye began to share with me some of his more relevant and up to date information. He had inside knowledge (he believed), he said he had contacts, he had capability and he had taken notes. His jigsaw puzzle description fell from its open box and was scattered across the patterned table cloth. I recognised many of the pieces and though I had not seen them for a long time I could still make sense of their shapes and place them accurately together. The Secret Eye said, “This is what I have seen, you have it and now my work is over, what you do now with these pieces is your affair.” I thanked the Secret Eye and passed across the customary forty pieces of silver, a fair wage for a job well done. “So what do you plan to do next?” he asked me. I just laughed and took a sip from my orange juice. “There is no next, there are no actions to take, these puzzle pieces don’t belong here with me or with you,” I said. “Take your money and spend it for the good of your lifestyle, then take your information and hide it away forever, like dogs bury bones and postmen lose letters. Think of how climbers hang from ropes and petals float and how the woodpecker feeds from the tree bark. Swing a little in some warm summer breeze and relax about life.”

As we rose from the table and settled the bill an ambulance sped past on the road outside. Its siren was blaring and its blue lights were flashing. “We don’t know who is in there,” said the Secret Eye. I looked at him directly and whispered, “I know, but you need not worry, for it is just another lost angel that you can never now know”.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We love the BBC

impossible songs

impossible songs


I arrived late at Out of the Bedroom (in the cellar of the Cannons’ Gait Bar, Edinburgh) on Thursday night to find sweetly organised musical chaos taking place. The BBC were filming three “sponsored” musicians for a slot in a new BBC2 Gaelic arts show due to be screened in the new year. Of course the very scent of a TV camera crew had produced numerous wanabees and OOTB strangers all hoping for their five minutes of fame. In many ways it was interesting to consider all of the OOTB regulars (and supporters) who didn’t show on the night compared to those who did. Anyway the place was heaving and all available open mike slots were unusually swallowed up by about 7.30. From what I saw and later heard about, a few good performances did take place despite the evil eye of the camera. Some lucky people were also interviewed by the TV crew. Of course there were highs and lows and mild terminal boredom at times but certainly it was all worth while. It was curious also to see how some optimistic and naive individuals had equated the presence of a camera crew with the opportunity to “do an X Factor”, imagine thinking the Beeb would film a whole night at OOTB and then screen it? I’m pretty sure that when the show gets an airing OOTB will only really feature in a small fraction. Anyway Ali and I took some belated satisfaction from selling the BBC producer four CDs. I’m just thinking that the next time the numbers are a little down how effective it would be to start a “the BBC’ll be in again on Thursday” rumour.

Clear air turbulance

impossible songs

impossible songs

Air travel is really ok most of the time.

Things – performance issues that you don’t know about or understand the details of, in aircraft handling shouldn’t really worry you (or you shouldn’t let them worry you).
The old airbus doesn’t perform so well going into a 45 knot wind, or does it? Thursday evening coming into Edinburgh courtesy of Easyjet was bumpy to say the least. I suppose you could certainly argue that if it doesn’t crash and you land in one piece at the correct airport then it’s a pretty good aeroplane. I think, that I’ll decide that it is a good aeroplane and that despite having had a slightly awkward flight based on this experience I’ll not worry the next time I’m in one. It is no doubt a lot better than an Islander, a BAC111 (ah memories), a Dash or one of the early 737s. Then of course there was the Tri-Star with that enormous engine in the tail and the weird “condensation” problem inside.

Never better.

Getting older and losing energy, anybody up for that? Older isn’t better but it is tolerable, less things fit into the time he way they used to and reactions and processes no longer flash across and spark as they once did, and I tend to forget things. But losing energy? Well yes and no. Time flies by and there are always things to do to fill it even the smallest gap. When was there ever a slow time? Was there ever decent thinking time? Probably not, so much of my perception of things now is a confused mixture of illusional and delusional blurred by my need to keeping up contacts and the spinning of the plates. Anyway after a few glasses of wine and weighing up the pros and cons the truth is; things were never better.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Henley and the Beatles

impossible songs

impossible songs

Get your Bentley down to Henley.

I spent most of last week at the Henley Business College being wined and dined by a rather large UK contractor and “reflecting” on a number of issues and challenges (so the usual kind of training course things prevailed!). Once I’d recovered from my luggage getting lost in Heathrow (Mo had it somewhere under Carousel 5 for about 45 minutes apparently) and a fevered and frantic drive along the M4 to Henley, everything settled down nicely and I had quite a good time. The highlight of the week (apart from the Celtic game viewed on the college cinema screen) was a booze cruise up the Thames, in the dark and at times in differing sizes of circles - followed by despatching a crate of wine in the college bar. They also have the best ever coffee machines there and a riverside location to die for. Education? Well just ask me about the adventures of Trafalgar House, BP or Budweiser.

The Beatles are back on my stereo.

Yesterday we (the kids and I) headed up to McDuff for my grandson’s birthday party – something I never dreamt could be so much fun or so rewarding. On the way up we stopped at Tesco in Dundee and I bought a copy of the “new” Beatles CD “Love”. Only once I’d popped it into the car stereo did I realise that in all my 52 years I’d never bought a single Beatles record, tape or CD. Now I’ve always loved the Beatle’s music, God knows I grew up with them and like most of my generation was shocked, embarrassed, confused, in love and blown away by so many of their activities that not having bought any of their material seems like a huge sin and omission. Looking back I must have been the one buying Cream or Jimi Hendrix records and then swopping them on for furtive and prolonged listens to Abbey Road or Sergeant Pepper. Anyway “Love” is an interesting mix of familiar tracks, a soundscape based on a Las Vegas circus show, remixed and at times bled together with samples from their best songs. Strangely it’s Ringo’s drums that in my opinion come out best as they pound through every track. Of course the songs are far beyond criticism or comment other than to say that the George Harrison material stands up pretty well against those other two song writing powerhouses. Funny how time slips way... and a pity they didn’t remix in a little more of the second side of Abbey Road.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Podcast explanations

impossible songs podcast


The Gcast Podcast currently playing on this page (and also on the Fairytale Management Blog and on Impossible Songs Garageband page) is made up as follows:

Hunter (Remix) - from the “Roughboys” CD. “Yes! This (Hunter) is like Belle and Sebastian with a Casio keyboard - that’s a good thing because I love Belle and Sebastian and I love Casio keyboards, nice melody, nice voice. I love the simplicity - so not overwhelming in any way. I think this is a well crafted tune and kicks a bit of ass. – sergius gregory from Homer, Alaska on 30 Oct2006” Well this how Gregory reviewed the track a few weeks ago, one thing’s for sure there is no Casio keyboard anywhere on it, to my knowledge but I’m glad he liked the track.

Let’s make Pearls - from “Scapes”. Described as “sublime alt-pop reminiscent of Electrum” by Podcaster Threefromleith. Who am I to argue?

Butterfly on the Moon - From "Hearburst", the song and title are really nothing to do with one another, it was just a great title to use (we thought). I love Ali's double tracked vocals and the whispy guitar.

White and Red (Remix) - from the “Roughboys CD”. The raspy, underlying guitar sound in the middle passages was my desperate attempt to copy Jimmy Page’s sound used on the album “Houses...”.

Bite the Baby - a bonus track from “Sneakin’ out”. The tune (?) came about from my kids and I making up a song about a Nintendo game we used to play regularly, strangely this song is currently our second best selling download!

On Nonsense - instrumental guitar stramash from “Social Enterprise”. Two separate tracks mixed together for no particular reason. Kind of an ongoing riff on “Whole Lotta Love”.

Silence – remix of a never properly released track firstly done on “Early Eurosongs” and then in this form on “Sneakin’ out”. Recorded only on DAT tape and in a hurry one Sunday afternoon in Germany. A heavier guitar was added and remastering done about a year later.

Nobody Jones – original mix from “Border Crossing”. This song gestated for about two years before we finished it and recorded it, then it got remixed, voices were added, extra guitars and synths were added and so it was lengthened by about a minute and was finally put out on “Roughboys”. Nobody Jones is a brilliant singer/songwriter currently living and performing in Edinburgh, the song is nothing to do with him; it was just that the name scanned in really well.

East of Z – East African and exotic sounding track from “Social Enterprise”.

Tokyo Skyline – from the CD “Heartburst”. Occasionally blamed on the film “Lost in Translation” but to be honest I can’t remember what came first, I think the song may have been Pittenweem or Baltimore Skyline at some point.

All songs are Barclay/Hutton compositions for Impossible Songs; production is mostly the work of Martin Freitag except when the Roughboys get involved. Martin also plays bass and has done most of the drum programmes. Siggi Richter is also in there on keyboards. Ali Hutton of course provides the main vocals and most of the lyrics; John Barclay plays a variety of guitars and twiddles with sliders and buttons on the desk. Impossible Songs’ use Cubase software and Zoom equipment to record and mix and from time to time I contribute a pot of home made vegetable soup and Ali arranges flowers. There is something quite soothing and reassuring at times in the way we choose to exhibit our muso, stereotypical patterns of behaviour.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All your secrets

impossible songs

impossible songs

All your secrets are out there, you just don’t know about it yet, like the flowers in a Gypsy garden, like a tree hanging over your sleepy head, like a shadow hiding in a corner. All so unguarded and unremembered. Secrets that float and talk, that takes no encouragement. Grave and static, hollow and dangerous, creeping in and around the edges. Wherever you live you are seen when you think you are unseen and followed when you think the road is clear. Lights shine in your rear view mirror, occupants grow uneasy, and somebody sits on your back bumper for miles and then is gone, quickly. A phone rings in a room and then stops as you pick it up, a curtain wafts in the breeze, a door closes by itself, a dog barks. Where did the lipstick on the coffee cup rim come from? How is that paper in the bin? Where is the loose change I put down on the table? Who sent that letter? Where am I really going? All your secrets are out there, fighting for a place and fighting for space in a drowned pool. You think you are a hunter, but then you are hunted, you think you are on top of things but then you find yourself far behind the pack. Wolves and sheep meet and hold long conversations, sticks and stones build structures, names are written on walls in graffiti islands and public ruins. Posters are torn down or plastered over boarded up windows. Decay is structural and steady; truth is at the end of a tunnel that you never can reach. All your secrets are out there, all your secrets are mine...for I saw them first.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A few days

impossible songs

impossible songs


The never ending busy-ness continues with no breather for Ali or poor old me. Tonight it’s a quick trip into OOTB to view the new fold back on the PA and see the latest additions to the Cannons’ Gait furnishings. Then via the back streets of Edinburgh up to the Baby Tiger Night at the Café Royal, where we play a half hour set through their frankly magnificent PA. Also on the bill are Lindsay Sugden and friends, Son of Thom and the Elegy. It’s a pretty good night all round and CDs are exchanged; our set is a mixture of the flawed and the perfect, whilst everyone else concentrates on cellos and tuneful guitar thumping. Thanks to Baby Tiger for putting the night on anyway.


A day at work and then recovering at home and with a full house, football practice, various neds on Buckie, visit a grandchild (and a son and daughter in law), discuss Ice Age II, eat a quick pizza, make exotic toasties, struggle with the automated tills in ASDA, “Have I got news” etc..Nice to get a few hours sleep.


Lazy sleep in at last, stay in all morning and make detailed observations on a great deal of rain, some serious chat around family business, a sick cat at the vets, then in the evening visiting some very old friends in Fife. The kids say theirs is the best home made pizza in the world, tiddlywinks, bathing a baby and getting home late. Some time spent thinking about the various consequences of loads of things and a few glasses of red wine to finish the day. Try to ignore the football results.


Bacon rolls and straight out the door and across the bridge for full on football action in not so sunny Inverkeithing. We win 3 – 2 and my boy gets number two and lays on number three. It doesn’t get better than this even if the weather is crap. Then up to the holiday cottage for a little pond forking i.e. draining the pond without falling in, whilst Ali Hoovers. The artful pond forking does seem to work though only time will tell – wait till the levels drop. The cottage’s heating isn’t working however and so despite numerous attempts at programming and cajoling the system we just give up and depart for West Lothian and a cosy stir fry (no lunch today), (Ali and I also lift the lounge carpet and leave it there). Last gasp at the OOTB accounts – we know now where we stand: Singer/songwriters in Edinburgh – we stand with you - I think! What next? A spot of extreme ironing maybe or do I try on my tux in readiness for the 007 film premiere we’re heading for on Thursday? Can't wait!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Big Time

impossible songs

impossible songs

The wedding presents we didn’t get,
The passage of thought but I still forget,
The practiced pain and the false regret.
Here is the place where time slips away.

The fish hook eyes and the pointed stare,
The glimpse or touch of your underwear,
The cement and concrete tyre track trail,
This is a place where time slipped away.

A casual glance and the journey south,
The twist in my smile, the curve of your mouth,
The splash of water to end the drought,
There in that place where time slipped away.

This is place where time slipped away,
And we’re living here still, even today,
You can visit us here but you can’t stay,
In the precious place where time slipped away.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Kids with guns

impossible songs

impossible songs

Call of the mild.

Getting too cold for my liking, we now are experiencing the two duvet and one cat nights, how long will this go on for? Experts seem to think that a prolonged cold spell (known as winter in some parts of the world) is about to break forth on us. It appears that as the Gulf Stream decays out in the North Atlantic we are no longer protected from the icy, deep water currents that prevail, or come from the North Polo (or Pole as National Geographic might put it). These big black deepwater beasts are going to cause our heating costs to soar and give us a few miserable weeks leading up to the early days of 2007. Already a white icy substance has been forming on my car windscreen every morning. No matter what I try or how often I run and rev the engine it’s back the next morning. To make matters worse I’ve just heard that all fish will die when I am 102. This means I can’t even look forward to a decent fish supper high tea for my birthday treat. The only good news seems to be that if you eat and drink like a Frenchman (or woman) your overall health will improve or at least stabilise. Hopefully it won’t go as far as having to learn the language properly. God bless the Auld Alliance I say and pass me another bottle of Tesco’s finest red plonk.


Some people want privacy and peace and enjoy building big walls around themselves, while others spend hours on the web, writing books, filming films or just blethering about everything they’ve said, done, eaten or thought about. Now the curse of the common touch of progress has blown into that utterly pointless, tacky dwelling somewhere in Edinburgh known as Bute House, as if any of us cared.

We are all bankrupt.

Well at least we had some fun spending it, though we’ve no idea what we spent it on. Perhaps a few nice lunches, some shoes that didn’t quite fit, a crap CD or DVD, a new exhaust from Kwik-fit, some golf lessons or a weekend in Paris. Money just goes, money doesn’t talk, it swears and now more Scots than ever are broke and probably staring into wardrobes full of shirts or dresses they don’t really like the look of. At least the Clydesdale Bank, HBOS and RBS are doing alright as are the acres of shopping big sheds and malls that munch on the carcasses of once vibrant towns. Whatever the plight of the chattering classes, financial bankruptcy isn’t the worst kind of debt to be in. It’s when you lose your soul you’ve got the real problems and there is no helpline in the Indian sub-continent or a bureau or a website that can get that back for you – it’s other people you have to look to then.


The drug of choice for the rich and famous that has left a bloody and despairing legacy in Columbia. Every year the FARC Marxists guerrilla group earns about £2 billion from the trade while snooty white kids snort it through £20 notes in the hope that they’ll get high and get feted and glamorised like Kate Moss or some other pretty air-head. I’d imagine that these good people make sure they drink fair trade coffee, eat dolphin free tuna, use eco friendly detergents and want to “make poverty history”. It’s a shame they don’t get the connection between their cocaine and the misery meted out to the peasants of South America who survive by growing the stuff while looking down the barrel of an AK47.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Win Zippy

impossible zippy songs

impossible songs

Win Zippy

A whirlwind visit to McDuff and Aberdeen to check on the grown up children and their progress. I received a late bottle of a Glenfiddich liqueur and a DVD of the Da Vinci Code and the unexpected removal of the rear part of the car’s exhaust to add to the fun of a few days out. In a northern mix of rain and sun we braved Codona’s funfair by the beach in Aberdeen and were somewhere between being fleeced and rewarded by the various attractions and arcades. Grabbing a gift from those “crane” machines is a popular family obsession (on the last visit we salvaged two large cuddly Disney toys); this time it was just one, but a giant Zippy no less. I dread to think of what its actual cost to us must have been but who cares?

We were just finishing lunching on mince, skirlie and salad (this is Aberdeen!) and listening to a Freddy Mercury impersonator doing his sound check whilst the football results rolled up on Sky sports. Then we wandered over to the arcade where the kids were still pummelling the “crane” thing just in time to see a giant Zippy hover across the booth and into the hopper that was set to give him freedom. A great and rare moment to savour after two hours of struggling with these crap machines – much cheering and air punching followed.

After three glasses of wine, some fajitas, chocolate and Glenfiddich the Da Vinci Code doesn’t seem so bad a movie, apart from the last quarter and the whole ridiculous Roslin guardian thing. It’s very hard not to think of the retail park, Costco, Ikea and all the Swedish meatballs and Chelsea Tractors just a few minutes away from one of Mary Magdalene’s temporary resting places. One piece (?) of Scottish history they’ve managed to miss out of the vague and patchy Scottish curriculum, next year perhaps? After all history is “just one thing after another” and who really knows what happened when?