Wednesday, February 28, 2007

War and compost fiction

impossible songs

impossible songs


The school project rumbles on in the form of PowerPoint presentations on “Families at war” in WW2. Hard work, imaginative leaps back into a world they can’t quite believe and quirky family research for the kids. It all acts as a reminder of how removed they are from armed conflict both in time and distance and how disconnected they are from long dead grandparents.

Science Fact.

In the future and in the grey: Warehouses full of unused, unclaimed avatars, all refugees from Second Life that never lived. Lists of made up names never spoken. Virtual land and unreal real estate bought out and up by the Chinese and revolutionary North Korean investors in a web based land rush. Real money is a thing of the past, the past is the memory of real money and real money has lost its voice. Big sheds racked out with registered blogsites and web names, unwanted and forgotten, graphics packages and a trillion MP3 files that nobody ever bothered listening to. You can’t buy a thrill or a moment’s peace and all everybody wants is a little space-sex tourism and a one way ticket.


A do it yourself (or let the worms and the action of vegetative decay do it) compost bin was left unannounced on the road by our house. The next door neighbor alerted me to this piece of green and pleasant flotsam. It turned out to be brand new and complete. Did it fall from the back of a lorry? From the cargo bay of a passing 737? From the trailer of the Lord of Linlithgow’s tractor? Who cares, now to read the instructions and start the long slow process – compost curry maybe. I’ve just found an instruction book to go with it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sneaky Preview

impossible songs try to travel back in time to the Middle Ages for some odd reason or other.

impossible songs

The slow torture of a move and the happy outcome.

Today we sneaked a visit to the new house - which is currently lying empty pending some minor works to improve it for us. The estate road is, at this time of year caked with mud, potholes and puddles and a warm mild dampness hung in the air as we approached the imposing looking hedge and garden. The house was clearly not being lived in so we peered in the windows and walked around the garden getting our bearings. Whatever the vague impression was that I had gathered on my first visit a few weeks ago it quickly changed and clarified as I viewed the cleared out rooms and the huge garden. The house is bigger and very different from our current one and the garden can only be described as a challenge but we both felt a little invigorated by the visit and encouraged that our plans for occupancy are not too far out. At the very least there is a place for all our garden furniture and loads of timber debris and concrete bases for barbeques and bonfires. The whole area has a slightly unkempt, primeval or Middle Ages feel about it that attracts me and I don’t quite know why. Stony, crusty old houses, unmade roads, an old church and graveyard, woods and fir trees, mud and high hedges and grim looking walls, it’s all here in an atmospheric little clump.

Oh, and quilt fairs are all very nice but not the correct places to buy quilts says Ali. Be warned quilt seekers everywhere.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The genius of shortsighted parking

impossible songs

impossible songs

Salty oil of the Rajah bread.

Rajah bread? Yes I’ve just invented / discovered it. There are many new and strange things to be found in the world when you read packaging without your glasses on. Rajah bread aka Rye bread is jolly good, particularly when spread with a little St Anvil Gild, go to the supermarket minus your glasses and get some. I’m currently enjoying some Stellar Artist and Steer Dye, it’s all caramelizing nicely.

Family Genius

In an unusual week for family press interest, Ali’s dad has featured in the Sun and the Daily Mail, neither of which we would usually read (Ali’s the FT and I’m the Scotsman) but the unexpected coverage has been very much appreciated. Anyway Tom Brown has been getting some recognition for his pioneering work with ultrasound in the early years of its development. Described as an unsung genius who has remained uncredited all these years (he’s 73) it’s great to see him receiving respect, attention and thanks. Without his efforts the baby scans and images that prospective parents and pediatric staff regard as commonplace would never have happened. Now he’s living humbly and quietly in Kinghorn Fife though still with a very active and enquiring mind and numerous projects on the go. He’s also the unsung engineering genius behind our vintage lawnmower keeping going so "mucho gracias" for that.

Furniture in Freuchie

We spent almost all of Saturday building and arranging bedroom furniture and assorted bits of household inventory in Freuchie. The crazy thing was that after all the assembly and maneuvering we were left with an enormous pile of cardboard and polystyrene wrapping. In volume there was more packaging than there was furniture – incredible. It took me two rainy trips to the recycling area in Ladybank to even make a dent on the pile. What is happening? There’s also a lot of territorial car parking goes on up there, as a “stranger” I was nicely sandwiched between a local pickup truck and a Honda. Nice to feel you don’t really belong somewhere when you can only get your car out of a space with the aid a tin opener.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lost Vegas & the cat scratch

impossible songs

Lost Vegas and the cat that scratched too much.

The cat has the very annoying habit of trying to gain your attention by digging his claws into a) your legs b) your thighs and if he is truly desperate to engage with you c) your groin. Having a cat hang onto your groin by the claws is not fun and despite his (good but misguided I presume) intentions not quite as endearing as he’d wish. Right now as I type he is fastened onto my lap and is trying to bite my thumb. I think he may want more food or that his current bout of cat “cabin fever” (having been in, out of the rain all day) has tripped his little mind.

The blinking blue outline of the local Lost Vegas Dakota Hotel now dominates the murkier edges of the South Queensferry skyline. At first glance it appears in its cold cobalt blue warmth like some dimmed out spacecraft from Close Encounters or a set piece from a failed Audi commercial. Then you realize that it is a glowing building, and one that mischievously and stubbornly refuses to show any exterior soul. Clearly a mysterious mechanical heart beats inside in some special shielded room close to its Tardis heart. Of course it won’t go away and will continue to glow like a giant alarm clock beside the village’s bed for the rest of the century.

We now have a post code for the new house – once we get there. Despite having stood for around one hundred and thirty years it has been ignored by the Royal Mail and so has avoided a specific entry in that endless enigma, the Post Code database. Ali has struck now, raised the alarm and inserted the houses’ particulars in the system. A tirade of junk mail, credit cards, catalogues and pamphlets will follow in due course but at least we will be legitimate for web based ordering and purchases and Google earth.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Top conspiracy suicide

impossible songs

impossible songs

TV Threesome

Well I don’t watch too much TV so it was kind of strange last night to watch almost 3 hours (the programmes lasted longer than that but 3 hours is my current attention span maxed out) of the stuff and now write about it.

Firstly Top Gear, a bizarre, funny exercise in mad superlatives, gloating and politically incorrect pantomime humour (as the audience plays along nicely). I like cars but this programme is like a silly exaggeration of anything to do with motoring and statistics and figures and jargon. If Top Gear was a rock band it’d be Spinal Tap.

Then a show documenting various shades of 9/11 conspiracy theories. At first I was intrigued at the amount of CT activity on the go and the amount of money and commercialism that backs it up. Sadly not much of it stacks up to anything and of course it’s difficult for Middle America to do anything without relying upon tele-evangelist rhetoric and posturing or some Wayne’s World suburban basement to carry the message forth. “4000 Jews stayed home on 9/11 because MOSAD told them to?” I don’t buy that any more than the theory that it wasn’t an airliner that hit the Pentagon; it was a pilot less drone. As for the Twin Towers being demolished by explosive charges...c’mon. If this show was a rock band it’d be Kiss.

Finally a documentary about Kurt Cobain’s last (miserable) days before being found dead in his greenhouse by an electrical contractor. A bleak, rainy Washington State didn’t look too attractive but the truth doesn’t matter now as young Kurt’s home life and lifestyle is already romanticized and distorted beyond belief, in 13 short years or so. A selection of overweight, podgy, unhealthy looking ex-friends were lined up to tell their tales about the boy wonder, I’m sure they regularly dine out on the strained associations and tall tales they have now spun into some new form of reality. Nothing distorts the memory like empty ambition and a need to impress – particularly now that this wafer thin slice of history can be retold any way you damn well like. In the end I felt truly sorry for Cobain, never quite crawling out of his own wreckage, a butterfly killed on a wheel and a guy with a real raw talent well wasted in a few years. I also felt sorry for his grandfather who seemed a simple enough guy, still living in a brown veneered trailer in Kurt’s home town of Aberdeen. It looked like none of the Nirvana millions had trickled down his way, though you can never tell. I’m bound to empathize with grandparents these days any how, so I don’t need any excuses. If this was a rock band (and it was) it’d be the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Several small creatures...

Pippa and Mylo on holiday catching a few February rays.

impossible songs

Pippa and Mylo

Two new guests have been staying with us this week, the rabbit and guinea pig that belong to my oldest daughter. They traveled happily down from Aberdeen in the back seat of a Grande Punto and have set up home in our garden, in a hutch of course. It’s a bit like having another two kids for a week (as if we needed any more) except that you can get away with throwing them a few carrots and a fistful of greens everyday. Human children generally need a bit more care and attention. Syrus the cat has remained indifferent and distant towards these new domesticated rodent visitors; however as if to demonstrate his full feline superiority and orphan bad boy history, he killed a wild rabbit and ate it on our door step the evening after Pippa and Mylo arrived.

80 boxes.

Eighty boxes have been delivered, flat packed they somehow they don’t take up as much space as I’d expected. They are deflated and we’ll have to open them up and fill them with our odd belongings over the next few weeks – some kind of clear out will also occur. Moving house is such a cathartic experience.

Italian food & seasoning.

What is with Italian restaurants and the big deal they make about black pepper? They dish it out like it was some kind of rare and expensive spice, shipped over from the orient on a three masted clipper and landed fresh in Dundee this very morning. Then they stick it in a pepper mill the size of a double bass and the poor waiter needs a course in manual handling and a risk assessment signed by the Pope to get it between the tables. Ok the food’s generally good but relax about the pepper thing. One final point, though the food is fine, the descriptions tend not to match the content of the meal – a little poetic license stretched a little too far perhaps?

P.S. The lesson for today is that if you put out a big fat worm (even accidentally); you can catch a big fat fish. Here endeth the sermon.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Season of the which?

"Impossible, gently, fingery twitch on the wah wah pedal and the volume switch, gets you high and makes you tick tick tick, like a bomb with a melody and a bullet with an itch... /music."

impossible songs play.. kerplunk!

impossible songs

Slash music I’m not.

After doing nothing musical for about a month I started messing around late last night on the guitar whilst Ali continued her weekend long “sort”. It’s been a kind of dull weekend for me, mostly working and lounging apart from the Friday night dance. So for no particular reason I picked up my old resonator semi-acoustic, detuned it (E to D) and started messing with a slide guitar piece I wrote years ago called “Mother Russia”.

As my rusty technique became a little more lubricated I added some wah pedal and less slide and more finger. This led me to plugging into a proper amp and turning on the reverb, delay and chorus effects until I got what sounded like a decent mix. By this time I was playing an elongated version of “Twin Song” from the “Scapes CD” which eventually morphed into a new “Russian Twin Song”.

Anyway the spacey bedroom sound was pretty good I thought and got me back into at least doing some music after weeks of floundering, flapping and not much else. The thing is now the countdown to our ecstatic move to the primeval village of stony retreat has now begun and we still have 88 boxes to fill and a trampoline to dismantle. I think I may be entering a season of rare creativity…

Build a better beast

Designs for life, leaving, staying, coming back, moving on, beating control freaks, taking a break, getting yourself "over the rainbow" without tears.

impossible songs

The idiots guide to starting your own cult.

First be wise, charismatic but flawed in a likeable way.
Have a warm house with lots of tea and plain biscuits on the go.
Have a pretty wife.
Have very strong views and refuse to compromise them.
Call other people idiots, but not to their faces.
Develop difficult belief systems that appeal to people.
Make people think it’s tough to join and stay.
Befriend odd balls and weirdos and misfits.
Ask them for money to help the cause.
Ask them for more money to help the cause.
Tell people that the outside world is corrupt but you can escape from it here.
Make up flyers and leaflets that tease people and provoke enquiries.
Always use emotional blackmail in your dealings with people.
Have secret knowledge but hold it back.
Tell half the story.
Tell kids that their parents are beyond help.
Quote from a worthy book of quotations.
Make it seem exclusive (because it is).
Run meetings where only you get to speak.
Control, control, control…

The idiots guide to joining a cult.

Follow your friends who have already joined.
Don’t have any ideas of your own.
Have ideas of your own but you don’t feel sure about them.
Take pride in thinking that you are open to anything.
Be on the lookout for answers and certainty.
Be lonely.
Be easily led.
Be fed up with your life.
Be on a downer.
Wander into a meeting drunk and broke.
Join so that you can gather material and write a book exposing them.
Do it for a laugh, but then the laugh never comes along.
Have a desire to change the world but don’t know how to.
Fancy somebody who already goes…

The idiots guide to leaving a cult.

Fall out with the leader(s).
Get your own ideas.
Fall out with the members.
Do something absolutely unspeakable.
Steal from them.
Run very fast in the opposite direction and change your name.
Move house.
Publish an expose.
Stop fancying the person you fancied.
Run and when they come after you foam at the mouth.
Run and when they come after you just smile.
Start a whispering campaign.
Tell everybody that you have a big knife.
Tell them that you want the money you gave them back.
Join a martial arts club.
Become a heretic, a witch or an intellectual.
Get them to leave you.
Join a rival cult.
Start your own cult…. (Oops).

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Tinkering with a toffee ES335

You will be glad to hear that those deadly rivals (well that’s not quite how it was) the lion and the zebra are now the best of friends and have found a nice place to share together: an Australian tinny-cooler.

impossible songs

Tinkering with life.

A great plan is spread before us, a fine scheme, a drawing of ornate and complex designs, turns and twists, facades and windows, entrances and exits. Such is life, hidden and open, a thousand things passing through the eye of a needle all at one time. It was noodles last week and perhaps they raised my blood pressure or gave me cold sweats, I don’t know, life goes on and this week it’s chicken salad today, and is it another week anyway?

Dancing to a Gibson ES 335.

The old ES 335 sunburst is great guitar; from time to time I really wish I had one. It was one of the first guitar styles I was aware of as a youngster and it still looks great and business like today. Anyway I was at the company do at the weekend and the cabaret band contained a fine example of the six stringed beast. Dancing in amongst the fine ladies in their best bling and party frocks and the men in their tuxedos and kilts, I loved hearing this really nice guitar chewing away at some old sixties covers. A pal of mine had a red one (without Humbucker pick ups) in the 70s, I played it a few times and it was remarkably ordinary, no frills, no nice touches or inlays, perhaps that’s what I liked about it, unpretentious quality.

Not for toffee.

As you get older eating toffee becomes quite a challenge, not I hasten to add because I have dentures or tooth problems (apart from my errant crown) it’s more a jaw ache that I get. After two or three bits of Thornton’ s mulled wine toffee my jaw begins to go numb, as if it was wearing shoes two sizes too small or had just run a half marathon, the exercise is just more than the poor muscles can handle, they hurt. Where will this end, will my jaw need physiotherapy or special training or will it be case of safe soft cheese and medical strength rice pudding only as the years pass?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tired Ikea house

impossible songs

These are in our kitchen and are growing like Triffids and are every new day lying at more oddly acute angles than ever. What are you supposed to do with such errant bulbs at this time of year?

impossible songs


A visit to the great blue and yellow cavern, home of the cheap, the nasty, the tasteful , the bizarre and the bargain was today’s centerpiece. The highlight of any IKEA outing is the strange experience of eating a large hot dog, lined with their special non-flavoured mustard and washed down with the bleached brown coffee in some kind of recycled cup. The kids always enjoy coming here and love all the shortcuts through the store, many of which they seem to have memorized. The main purpose of the visit was to buy tot-sized furniture for the grandchildren, which after wandering aimlessly around the warehouse for half an hour I eventually managed to do. Oh and we bought a cat shaped cushion for the cat, (would you buy a people shaped cushion for a person?) but why the fizz do they charge you 70p to use a credit card?


I also bought two tyres today; sadly this meant bidding a fond farewell to my faithful nearside rear tyre. This long suffering tyre has had a slow puncture since around late 2004 due to a small unwanted nail embedding itself in it at some unknown point in the past. We’ve twice been to France with this as well as racking up 20000 miles in the UK on that poor, unwell, imperfect rubber circle. I hope it burns for a long time in some contractor’s furnace or is recycled as some useful rubber implement (?).


Way out on the A71 there is a place called Currie, why it bears that name I’ve no idea as it is neither warm, spicy or meaty. Anyway I looked at house there today to see if it might suit us. Apart from being near the main road and somewhat hazardous for cats and children and being adjacent to some industrial sheds and mysterious processes, but it was clean looking, spacious and handy for the city and the by-pass and even IKEA. If ever we ran out of pickled herring, meatballs, couches or fancied a hot dog there would be no problem. Oh Brother where art thou?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Can blue men sing?

Can blue men sing the whites? Can Mr Bump ever be well again? Well at least he looks happy enough for the time being.
impossible songs

impossible songs
What is happiness?

Life, like history is just one thing after another. Time spent searching for something that continually escapes your grasp, isn’t accurately clearly defined and means different things to different people. We don’t understand the perspective of others as we are all so entrenched in out own positions and so seemingly focused on our own ends. The best solution and the likely secret and meaning of the universe is, as far as I can tell a bowl of Japanese style poor man’s noodles. If there is a heaven, if there is bliss, if there is ever a time of deep satisfaction to be had, the noodle bowl can never be very far away.

Pretty Flamingo.

What a great song this is, sing it in the bath, in the shower, in the car. Hope and expectation, beauty and love, aspiration and realization – it is all there and it also has a mournful, soulful side to it that provides a deeper satisfaction. All those who feel down, bored with themselves or the victims of buzz word culture and pop’s apparent inability to satisfy at the moment should hum this tune for a few minutes everyday.

Twelve monkeys.

That’s about twelve too many of these over exposed, under-understood creatures for me, I don’t know why I don’t like them, well real ones, but I quite like cartoon ones, particularly the mischievous and deadly (I presume) radioactive monkeys that appear in the Simpson’s from time to time and the ones in Madagascar (the feature length cartoon). I think I like the droll Home Counties accents and the world weary attitude that these monkeys display. By comparison real monkeys are inevitably both a threat and a disappointment at the same time.

Knocking the dottle out of your pipe.

Grandpa Broon was always doing this before smoking his Rougy Bowl (or was it Bogey Roll?). I don’t know much about pipes and their constituent parts or how you maintain them but I do like the phrase “knocking the dottle out” (or oot). I guess it must be the ash or carbon that remains in the pipe’s bowl once it has burned out. Sadly there are few if any of Grandpa Broon’s generation around now to explain or demonstrate this lost technique – hmm…

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A house is not a fallout shelter

impossible songs

Our house is a very, very, very fine house (very fine house), with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy ‘cos of you…

(Graham Nash & CS&N 1969.)

impossible songs

Running to stand still

Something resembling a rather awkward and trying seven day week has finally passed in five days. A new and unexpected requirement to move house has rather fragmented and unfocused our thoughts over the last few days. Then of course, in full “flight or fight” mode our thoughts re-fragmented and focused (a bit). Mine firstly focused onto a South African apricot and mustard sauce, into which I added and cooked some chicken, then they focused on Dunfermline’s win over Hearts in the cup and then on how best I could lay claim to being the individual responsible for unleashing “Dark Side of the Rainbow” onto an unsuspecting and innocent world some twenty years ago. Ali’s thoughts of course focused onto finding somewhere for us to stay and getting her car washed.

Monster House

The world is full of many safe havens and sheltered harbors; we are now sailing onwards, searching the blank horizon for such a place – for habitation for a short time. One possibility is an idyllic, run down, battered but soulful property about a mile away in the heart of the estate. Engineered straight out of an Enid Bylton book or some CS Lewis allegorical story this rambling pile, complete with about an acre of neglected and desecrated gardens (abandoned chicken coops, mysterious concrete bases, rotting timber poles and assorted bits of woodland) impressed the kids and I (and a grandchild). The surrounding history, latent ghosts and stony memories, village bonfires and rites are a further attraction. A significant amount of minor works and negotiations will be necessary for a proper move however, so the jury is out at present.

Imagine a very small amount of possessions

So our nomadic phase has come around again and we realize that really you should never settle for settling anywhere, sooner or later you need to make sure that all your best possessions will fit neatly into a normal sized shoe box. I do feel truly sorry for the mad, shopping fixated masses (usually female and in the age bracket 25 -35) upon whom this truth has not dawned as they stuff cupboards, wardrobes and houses full with impulse purchases that have just been containered across the world from the Far East. (Having said all that, what is wrong with a little fun and retail therapy now and again? I think I’ve flipped out a little at the prospect of another house move, although the opportunity to revisit a few basic inventory control measures on my stuff always has a certain abstract attraction for me.)

Extra long broccoli raises etiquette issues

For some a nightmare, for me a marvel, broccoli you can pick up and suck and dip and (err...) crunch. From the far away green fields of Mozambique or Malawi or Tesco comes a versatile vegetable that cannot ever be acceptable in any high class eatery due to the amount of personal involvement that the consumer must enjoy. Pick it up and bite it, suck it – if it flies it’s ok to pick it up, flying broccoli? Well I can’t imagine it making it to the UK by boat.