Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dead people

Dead people on mountain tops

The cremated ash of dead people scattered or piled on top of mountains, so where better to be? Part of somebody else's' good idea? So when you expire and capsize, roll off the top, roll and shuffle from this mortal coil to a higher physical plane. Under the big blue sky as your ashes become part of the hill, part of a mountain range, an eternal piece of the bigger picture, caressed by gentle clouds in a heavenly illusion. Few people (if any) are born on top of mountains. Some will never get to the top of any mountain either dead or alive. So it remains that romantic, hill minded outdoor people could at least in death escape to somewhere where their heart can lie at peace (sic). For others, life spent in board or management or production meetings, on the shop floor, in a cab or in a kitchen. Here is a final lone grasp at the elusive, abstract truth that is freedom. Jeremy spoke in class today. Jeremy spoke in class today.

Poor people will not bother. They stay in the clay in the graves of paupers or will squirm as their ash is squirted over some ugly rose bush in a "garden" of obscurity and forget. Rich people will fight death as long as they can afford to and then lose the battle quietly. They may go to the football stadium or penalty spot or mantelpieces or cupboards or into the sea. They may be laid out in a cardboard box and interred at the correct depth to have a tree grow from their stomach. One day that tree will be cut down. But those purple mountains call one and all in a strange way.

Ash stifles the growth, the healthy alpines starve, the grass dries and browns and petrifies, as all their roots fail, the ash chokes the life from them and they give up their grasp of the summit. Winds and frosts, snows and teaming rain, weak sun and blistered mist hack at this tired rock. Black rain has fallen. Your ash has brought about the end; your ash has cracked the strength of the peak, your years now gone are at the heart of this personal rot.

Scientists from the University of Bavarian Soil Design Team have (thanks to EU funding) established all that has ever been said on the matter (of all the above) is completely true and examples can be seen on 1177 European peaks and hilltops. Pope Gregory is of course to be thanked for all of this and the subsequent chanting in the corridor. Dead people's remains’s remaining on mountaintops is not sustainable. Bring your dead back down to earth, to their former battlefields and golf courses, to their back gardens and mausoleums, to their allotments and friendly carrot patches. To the pure all thought is pure, to the impure it is a lottery scratch card.

Some say that Jesus left earth from the Mount of Olives - but he was not made of any kind of ash at this time.

Cryogenics and the Antarctic call out as possible options or places, even just your DNA reflected in a mirror, someday could be regenerated into your actual DNA on this side of the mirror. If the mirror can be preserved and your DNA revitalised them perhaps we can make you into a small blob on a pilot dish. You will not be recognisable, your self-awareness will be very low and being ash on a mountain may seem very attractive but the processes are developing all the time. Come back and surprise your grand children in their own dotage. Think of how many times you could say, "I told your parents so.."

These are your precious atoms, divided and scattered like some lost tribe that has passed the pinnacle of it's civilisation and now runs afraid before the descent of a Dark Age.

No time for electricity or entropy or synergy: living in a modern life.
Not time for prematurity, for shadows or impurity: living in a modern life.
What's mine is mine is mine is mine, is mine is mine is mine is mine: living in a modern life.
Those ashes pass from peak to sea, the dust explores the atmosphere: living in a modern life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Middle aged mind

Check me out!

Go away, throw away

Go away; let’s just throw away.

Lookin’ after aging relatives

Wishin’ they’d take a little more of their sedatives

Making the mistake of holidaying down in Wales

But I'll be ok, I'll drink the local ale,

Being so far behind the times that you miss the January sales.

Feelin' less and less sympathy for dolphins and whales,

These are all, troubles of the middle aged mind

These are all, troubles of the middle aged mind.

Come back here, down to zero

Come back here, right down to some place close to zero.

Pin number fits right into the convenient slot

Bought some things, they’re in my trolley, not sure what I got,

Making the mistake of trying to make a plan,

Making the mistake of trying to understand,

Being in love, trying the best to be who I am.

These are all, troubles of the middle aged mind

These are all, troubles of the middle aged mind

If you think it’s funny, brother it's coming up, straight behind.

Credit card bills, just numbers on a page

Call the call centre, try to cap the rage

She’s on page three but can’t count up to the page

I’m livin’ life at that slightly awkward stage

These are the problems, this is middle age.

I’ve got no problems; I’m just middle aged.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

May all your rats turn out to be voles

Check me out!

May all your rats turn out to be voles

The detox week may be over but the effects go carry on. This Saturday I had about six cups of coffee and two glasses of wine during the day. The caffeine and alcohol rush made it impossible to sleep and impossible to think creatively. I found myself on the couch at one thirty in the morning flicking between Big Brother Live (tedious) and “A man called Horse” (annoying). I did eventually manage to sleep and decided to eat normally for all of today. The rest of the week has yet to happen.

Whilst trying to describe a road map of Switzerland this morning I could not remember the name of Jackson Pollock. I was trying to say that the map looked to me like one of his works, every other artists name (and a few authors were attempted) and we explored various theories about memory, recall and filing systems. I tried to think myself back to our visit to MOMA in New York to hook onto something but nothing came, then after half an hour and whilst frying two eggs the name popped back into by head. How the hell does that happen?

Every so often you come up against people who have never heard of Salvador Dali, or the House of Commons or existentialism or something. What makes them tick? Then I think how little I know about mathematics or soap operas or rugby and I realise none of it matters.

Today we cut the hedge (8 feet high x 100 feet long), it took two hours. After ten minutes we both realised how unfit we were and also what a devilish instrument a hedge trimmer can be. Ali cut the sides whilst I cut the top and also the part adjacent to the field. The field was of course a quagmire into which the stepladder and I sank numerous times. During the process we found one birds nest and a dead rat, which we decided on a politically correct basis to describe as a vole. “How do you think it died?” asked Ali, it seemed likely the cat had had a paw in it’s demise but we will of course never know. It started me thinking about Ratty in “Wind in the Willows” and how pleasant and friendly he seemed and of course the similarly named Ratty in “Tales of the Riverbank” (Jonny Morris voice over). Both these rats were champions for the rat cause but are not really associated with the more unpleasant sides of rat habits. We agreed that these rats were of course cleverly disguised voles; Mole and Vole would never have worked well as a named partnership nor been so popular so Ratty was not doubt born as result.

After the arm crushing hedge trimming we went out for a cycle, after half a mile and with only half the right amount of air in both my tyres and lungs we stopped. We did see either a grouse or a sparrow hawk (middle aged sight cannot be relied upon) and three deer that were very close by but over the wall in the deer park itself. We struggled back home, cycling up the muddy hill and collapsing onto the couch for lunch and an hour’s recovery coma.

On the creative side we’ve written two new songs from scratch this week; “Time of your life” and “Modern life” (maybe too much of a life thing going on there). Whatever it means we’re on target to demo a mixture on brand new and older songs prior to our next recording venture in Germany with Martin at the end of March. Good progress.

Original lyrics are not easy to write but we soldier on, anyway - but imagine if Frank Zappa had invented the George Foreman Grill it could have been the Frank Zappa Fat Zapper.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Detox diary (zzzzzzzz)

Detoxing the impossible

This detox thing hasn’t worked out the way I thought it would at all. I’ve (faithfully) stuck to a not unreasonable regime of fruit and veg and simple meat and fish and avoided caffeine and sugar and wheat and dairy. I’ve felt a little listless and always close to having a headache (though it has failed to materialise). My energy levels are low however and I feel like I have no huge appetite for life. This is not me. Is this how vegetarians are all the time, living life in slo-mo? I expected to have real headaches, brown urine, bright eyes and a clearer thinking mind than I’ve had for years. I thought that great clear beams of powerful ideas and inspiration would penetrate my frazzled mind as it fed and grew strong on the pure organic, clean unsalted fuel I was pushing it. I thought that cup after cup of clear water would flush my system, breaking down blockages like some evangelical message to all my deepest inner pipes and tubes. Blast after blast would drain me out and leave a jet washed system eager and ready to perform. All would shudder and judder with the pleasure of having not to break down all those complex molecules and fats and sugars that made up the junk (mixed with good stuff) that I ate. Well none of that happened.

Ok, it has hardly been a bad experience; it has just left me a little cynical about the “power” of eating the right things, whatever they may be. I know that a hangover sucks and that indigestion is horrible, any kind if suffering following over indulgence is bad, but what about the good time, the pleasure and the high that preceded it? There’s a whole big control thing going on in the way that food and eating habits are portrayed by the various media gods and by politicians. Do the right bloody thing but for what? It has to be about balance not the saintly and stupid bickering and badgering about food we are constantly subjected to. It’s good to eat simple ordinary food, vegetables and chicken cleanly cooked, but it’s good to eat fish and chips or KFC or drink six pints of Guinness if that’s what you feel like doing. As you may imagine after a week of bland food (not impressive I know), hot, sweet, spicy and tasty anything becomes very attractive.

What the hell must it be like if you really were cast away as in the TV series “Lost”. Nuts and berries and the odd bit of fish, never mind the brawling amongst survivors there would be over the scraps, mind boggling. Your energy levels would plummet and your brain workings descend into some kind of thick fog. I am therefore convinced that we need a variety of foods, hot, cold and effervescing to fully function. The lesson I’ve learned is that I’ll have days when I do eat five pieces of fruit and no bread and some nice lean meats, but there will also be days when I’ll eat a curry, a Big Mac, A Mars bar and drink a bottle of wine or two. Headaches? They always pass eventually don’t they?

I’m ranting a bit; I suppose some of it is an unjustified sense of disappointment and a naive sense of “I know best”. I expected more, more than I got, but that doesn’t mean that sometime, someday I wont do it again and maybe keep it going longer. There is both a Burns Supper and the BG dance coming up...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Detox time for me!

Check me out!

Night of the hunter.

A fair plague of serious hunter’s descended on the estate at the weekend all looking seriously like they were chasing after ET or some other mysterious alien prey. Many shiny 4x4s, lots of flat caps and discussions, time spent milling around and then walking around in a large group. Very interesting to observe. We also saw a young stag over in the paddock and three others just to the north of our house. I don’t think any deer were being shot this weekend and it probably was DeNiro’s finest hour and Walken’s most arduous. I never did like the bloody theme song mind you. Music in films is critical to getting the feel of the film right. We were talking about the music in “Garden State” and “The OC”, of course the best ever is “Easy Rider” where music, images and the whole time of life thing were welded together in a perfect combination, oh and Toni Basil’s in it, and then there is the movie “Oh Brother where art thou!”, I loved all that stuff.

I liked the Big Brother bit where they were in the cardboard boxes and some one (probably Pete Burns) quipped how much like a Yoko Ono exhibition it all was. Then as they spoke from inside the boxes the camera focused on their images pasted onto the outside of the box. An odd, clever, surreal piece of television. As for the rest..

Mouse Hunt

In the middle of the night the mouse hunter hunts mice, prints and paws, no time to pause, only hunt, eradicate, exterminate the vermin, terminate the rodents.

This should happen but it doesn’t, cats and mice play a long game of hide and seek when you happen to be in the right mood. If not in the right mood then sleep and ignore the little beasts, even if they are running across your nose.

What I didn’t know last week:

William Shatner recorded a version of Pulp’s “Common People”.

Detox is not really fun but..

I’m on full (for me) detox this week. No coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate or sweets or dairy products, no bread. This week my intake has consisted of:

a) Smoothies (fruity) of various kinds and fruit juice
b) Moroccan vegetable stew
c) Fruit (apples, bananas and grapes - no real imagination)
d) Chicken breast stir fry with vegetables
e) Water

So far apart from a slight headache, brought on I suspect by a lack of caffeine I feel ok. I’m surprised not to be missing hot drinks or chocolate snacks. I am thinking a bit about double cheeseburgers mind you and I feel a little slow in the thought and reaction department. Maybe I shouldn’t be driving? I'll eat some oily fish tomorrow.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

So that was Christmas

Check me out!

A day in pyjamas (but not today – an other day altogether)

Read a little, made a stack of pancakes on the portable gas stove, played Sponge Bob games, rattled around a little on the PC, thought of Meccano models, watched the Simpsons and Futurama, looked at Q’s top 100 album list (utterly predictable tosh for the most part, not even accurate track listing at times). Music exists in time, the Stones time, the Beatles time, the Zep time, the Floyd time, the Bowie time, even the Nico, Rush or Ramases times. Lists are pointless but fun and good for provoking even more pointless argument. That set me thinking about the play value to toys purchased as Christmas presents so I thought I’d produce a table: and I did but it's not here...I think Nintendo triumphed.

Birds v being God

Wild birds are eating all day at our suspended table and now extended pole and hanging device thingy. They expend so much energy just getting to the food, flying around it, picking some and flying away and returning that you wonder what the point is. Well I suppose it’s all part of the circle of life for small birds and we get the strange god like satisfaction of feeding them. (So if this is what it feels like to be god, does that mean god actually appreciates us or enjoys watching us? – not likely is it!)

We did observe the most unexpected bird yesterday, a “Tree creeper”. It skips and creeps and spirals up the trunk of a tree, then across to the next and so on. At first I thought it was a small woodpecker but Ali checked the bird’s bible and came up with its identity.

Pendulums of the sky, swinging and swaying to their silent inner songs, composed and thrown away in a stream of chatter somewhere beyond my hearing.


To those of you who are living in the clouds, where do you go on a sunny day?


To those of you living in sin, where are you living when you are good?

Cuckoo Land

To those of you living in Cuckoo Land, how did you actually get in there?


To those who find themselves ridiculous, sit down with me.

Celebrity Big Brother

To those of you who now find yourselves in the Celebrity Big Brother House, what were you thinking?

On a prayer

To those of you living on a prayer, amen.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It's not a Fender Tweed Deluxe..

Mini Amp

Packing all the pent up power of a pent up puny amp, the mini-Marshall is joy to behold and a fun piece of kit. Stick it on your belt, down your trousers, on a worktop or a couch, the dash board of your car and just tootle away on your chosen guitar. The overdrive is fuzzy and louder than you’d expect. Still to try it with a wah pedal. (It’s not a Fender Tweed Deluxe, it only cost me a couple of bucks*). Yahoo!

*Actually my son gave it to me.

Gas guzzler and sausage deprivation

Gas Guzzler.

The kids arrived this morning along with an enormous 4x4 RC Jeep. A prize for dancing (?) musical bumps over the New Year. Rough as a badger and noisy as Guns n’ Roses it cruised around the lounge for a while, grunting and groaning and oozing menace. Once the novelty had worn down a little it retired to a windowsill – whilst the first-aid super glue set.

The quest for sausage.

We have a new George Formby (not made by Hornby sadly) Grill. It cooks sausages in 8 minutes, or 10 if you are particular, or 12 if you want them actually cooked. My sausage fantasy ran on for a few hours this morning. I finally tracked some down (it’s a public holiday) in the Co-op at Rosyth, along with a newspaper and a bottle of HP sauce. When I got home nobody was much interested in sausages for breakfast. Pop tarts, breadsticks, crisps, cola and other left over snacks were much more popular. Feeling rejected I did nothing for a few hours, then at about twelve thirty I cracked and ate four of the big fat boys on two rolls. The GF does look a little like a nineteen fifties flying saucer (see above), could that be the real reason I like it?

A Nintendog is just for Christmas...

A Nintendog is just for Christmas..

Virtual creatures,
Juvenile teachers,
We have reached that critical stage
Where we are no longer engaged
Now all is calm and training complete
Now that your life is tied up and neat
No need to be discrete
We forgive insensibility
We can end it all so painlessly
Without responsibility
“Touch the bottom screen to delete”.

Virtual Complicity

Spoiled the cat’s fun by pining down the loose kitchen board that led to mouse land / Narnia. I reasoned that the mice will now need to find an alternative route into the house, hopefully via the garden, so not “in” at all, at that point they should encounter the scourge of all Hopetoun mice, “Syrus” our confused, nervous but at times deadly cat. Goodnight mice!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Is this a road?

Is this a road?

For no particular reason Ali and I agreed to go for a walk today. We decided at about one thirty, but it was three before we left the house. Despite having lived here since September this is the first walk we’ve taken together. (No it’s not, we walked to the gamekeeper’s house when we first visited the area and last night, New Years Eve, we walked and drunkenly stumbled a little up the hill to see the fireworks of Fife and Edinburgh. As a bonus we heard numerous ship horns from the river Forth and startled a lot of local wildlife).

We walked through the woods to the hidden pond, large, overgrown and frozen over. Pheasants and partridges flew out of the trees in all directions and at heart stopping short notice. We walked across the moss covered concrete dam that holds the pond in check and via an old rotted gate found the road again. We followed it back around the houses and out towards the deer park. Here we saw about ten deer and one stag all staring back at us from about 400yds. They looked us up and down for a few moments and then headed for the crest of the hill as if to get a better look at us, then they vanished.

Returning to the road we met some fellow New Year strollers and then saw across the potholes and puddles of the road a red Porsche heading towards us, slowly. As he approached the driver of the 911 slowed down even more, rolled down his window and said, “Is this a road?” Clearly not all Porsche drivers have grasped some of the basics of driving and possibly reality and geography. We set him right with some reassuring advice and returned to the warmth of the cottage.

It’s been a rather sedimentary new year so far despite the two walks. Eating, drinking and couching over TV programmes and DVDs. During last night’s cooking we did manage to instigate a minor monthly mouse hunt. I thoughtlessly removed a segment from the bottom of a kitchen unit and Syrus the cat immediately moved into the underside of the unit and disappeared into the strange and confined space I had opened up. A moments panic ensued, the beef stir-fry was halted as Ali and I peered via torchlight into the gloom to try to locate the cat. The torchlight revealed shadows, fluff and mouse poo but no cat. Ali was speculating about calling the fire brigade or chopping up the kitchen floor with an axe, thankfully neither was necessary as Syrus appeared as we tapped on his food dish and dangled scraps of raw meet in front of the gap. No mice appeared to have been injured during the incident.

Oh, and over brunch we planned how best to conquer the world in 2006, happy new year!