Sunday, September 30, 2007

Prawn day

impossible songs

impossible songs

Sunday we were up without hangovers at the crack of eight for football at Inverkeithing and the usual piddling around with restricted bridge traffic. We were well beaten by a Kirkcaldy side that had an appetite, passion and organisation you don’t see in many teams of twelve year olds. Joe wasn’t too disappointed as he hadn’t expected much in the first place, the team’s reputation saw to that. I also enjoyed my weekly does of exercise by helping dismantle and carry the goal posts after the game.

Not too much road rage today on the bridge either, a few duffers seemed to think cutting into the line 100 yards from the contra flow was clever and some people of questionable intellect braved the bus lane. I always wonder what inner justification these people have for their actions. Heading for ER with a bleeding artery, visiting an ailing relative with lifesaving drugs, delivering a quick frozen heart for transplant or are they just sociopaths with no life? Primary offenders are the pilots of Golf GTIs, Peugeot 307s and people carriers of different origins, generally the drivers are male, wearing shades, appear to be indifferent to their own actions and are chatting on the phone – why am I bothered?

Saturday was designated prawn day. The idea being that we would eat prawns for lunch – pretty simple and unspectacular really. We had some big fat ones with a hot dip sauce, some smaller Scottish ones, wedges and a large amount of salad and not quite enough wine. Prawns are not everybody’s cup of seafood of course so while Joe and I scoffed them happily, enjoying the entire messy experience of shells and spiny bits and the resultant sorting and sifting to strike meat, Liv and Ali took a slower and more measured eating route. Following the feast nobody suffered any serious after effects and we spent the afternoon grappling with a double dose of first year homework, War of the Worlds and the football results. Ali wisely avoided this by heading for Freuchie to tidy up after a month long let.

On Friday Ali returned from London where she had witnessed her father Tom Brown receiving a special honour from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology for his ground breaking work on ultrasound scanning. His main body of work was done back in the late 50s but he has retained an interest in its progress and not lost his appetite for all things in this area and engineering in general. Tom has finally gained a place in scientific history and is now highly regarded for his work in this field and for the many health benefits that have accrued from it all across the globe. Ali, Kate and Rhona were present and enjoyed basking in his reflected glory as the “Daughters of Tom Brown” (not forgetting Mrs Geira Brown either of course!).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Get your retrospective groove back

impossible songs

impossible songs

Sins (if you like) I am most guilty of:

Secretly enjoying hoovering.
Liking the music of the agnostic gospel choir.
Trying to figure out the best ways of recycling then giving up.
Dodging in and out of lanes on motorways.
Drinking coffee when I don’t really want to.
Putting a big pile of papers on my desk at work and never starting work on them.
Singing along with songs on the radio or cd and getting the words completely wrong.
Losing count of alcohol consumption.
Going to the supermarket and getting things but not the thing I went into get.
Thinking about gardening more than doing it.
Being early for things.
Ignoring phone calls.
Honking my horn at dummies who block the exits on roundabouts and junctions.
Forgetting to cut my toenails.

My better points:

Checking emails every day at home and at work (sometimes checking too quickly).
Always keeping on top of the laundry.
Generally being happy inside though not reflecting that on the outside.
I snore but am in denial.
A regular purchaser of a Saturday newspaper.
I’m actually proud to be Scottish.
I can cook rice.
My impulses are generally creative and positive.
I can detach myself from situations.
I don’t mind cooking breakfast at weekends.
My car has that comfortable lived in look and smell.
Feeding the birds.
Negotiating free Sky for a year.
Feeling sad when I hear about death in a family.
Keeping my fingernails short.
I usually have a contingency plan - somewhere.

Cats eye view.

I couldn’t help wonder what might be going through the little minds of the kittens as they watched me scooping out the **** from their litter tray and delicately putting it into a poly bag and then knotting the bag and then taking it outside. Human life must be a complete mystery to these tame but wild beasts.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Big log

impossible songs

impossible songs

Idiots guide to Progressive Rock

I think I’ve lost my way in music at the moment. I’ve been doing a lot of listening and background reading and web browsing but very little writing or playing. Of all our years of working together this one has been the least creative and productive. The good thing in all this is that I don’t feel too anxious about it nor have I the need to strive, wring my hands, sweat and kick and somehow produce something for the sake of it. It’s like a time of recharging or resting. I’m sure that the neurons and electrons and whatever buzzing things exist in the head are still in there spinning wildly but just making some different connections amongst themselves. The other thing is that we have a back catalogue of old half written, half baked songs that could be jacked up and worked on should some emergency occur but revisiting older material can be the hardest thing. Song writing needs to be generated from some place that is on an emotional edge, it can’t happen in a neutral or sanitised space or if lodged too deep in a comfort zone. Of course busyness and stress are creative killers if you let them reign and there’s been a lot of that this year so far. So what’s the next step? The darker autumn nights, the crack of the wood burning, the twist of the sobriety, the gate at the end of the garden, the sneak and scent of the hunt and chase, the closure and the openness, the pay off and the payout, the stretched perception and the withering backlog, some home cooking and a sharp frost on fingers and toes and the magic light in a loved ones eyes.

Recording music is the greatest thing – and then hearing it, fresh some time later: I was listening to some of our older stuff in samples on the web. I loved the little random chopped up songs sailing in from some clunking American server miles away. Mp3s edited by chance and ordered in no particular order. Heartburst sounded great and evocative and pink and the memories of the sessions back in Germany came to me, bright as buttons. That was a good time. Maybe this dip is no dip at all but a slow climb to the surface.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Simplistic Things

impossible songs

impossible songs
In praise of the simple things in life and digestive biscuits.

House to house cat searching isn’t all bad and some information has been uncovered and sightings confirmed. This is a long drawn out process. This is a long game but we’re in it.

Don’t be afraid of doing Pink Floyd or Abba covers.

A decent bonfire cheers up the entire countryside and provides new and intriguing smoke odours with which to colour the garden at dusk and of course your clothes.

Why is the moon so small? (From here).

Disturbing the home of a large frog is an unkind thing to do.

The forgotten lottery ticket haunts me.

The night flight of the aircraft is noisier than the day flight.

Give a rabbit and a guinea pig a straw tunnel and in no time at all they will turn it into a toilet.

Cleaning out the shower isn’t so bad.

Firstly it’s stir fried chicken with peppers, the curried chick peas and carrots, rice, salad potatoes and egg noodles. That was tea. Secondly we all ate our chocolate in secret (with coffee or beer). Saturday night TV is nothing to speak of and probably never will be.

I just know that finding my way around Glenrothes to seek out a football pitch will be a pain. (It was and we got beat 4 – 2 but a double cheeseburger and some funny voice practices cheered us all up).

A laser toy for cats.

Dock leaves cannot travel two miles from the sight of their picking without expiring.

When you’re wandering around in fields and woods the sun comes out and it’s all pretty good.

I’ve forgotten how to do many things but I still remember how to iron (unfortunately).

Reflecting on last week’s wedding is currently my favourite pastime. Some days you wish a Groundhog Day thing would happen, just once, but I have the photographs.

In handbag fight between Bebo, Facebook and Myspace who would win and would anybody really care? Once you get stuck into these things they build up an irritating inertia that starts to govern little chunks of your life: but that’s true of anything you like doing. It’s pointless to analyse what it is that gives you pleasure and meaning and a sense of well being. Just sip the wine, stroke the cat, look around and enjoy the warmth, from whatever direction it comes, for as long as you can.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Planes, trains and weddings...

Big dress in a bigger car.

A long stretch looks likely for both.

Emma Smith and Ali Graham display their head wear.

impossible songs

impossible songs

Planes, trains, weddings and...

Yesterday was a grim day for the most part. It started of well with me attending a very positive meeting in the Midlands and then on the way home buying a very comfy pair of Timberland shoes at a retail outlet. I was happy. After a quiet bite at Birmingham airport I boarded one of Flybe’s finest little blue and white jets. It left the stand a trifle late and then half way down the runway a few seconds before the full take off speed might be achieved, braked sharply. This gave all the passengers and staff a nasty shock and a few minutes of deep breathing and revisiting aspects of past lives followed. The rest the story is long and tedious, it involves over heating aircraft brakes, confused avionic systems, being towed a mile back up the runway and then spending three hours sitting in a plane going nowhere. This was followed by an hour in the terminal and then the slow realisation that the night would be spent in a hotel and not at home. I checked into the hotel about midnight and was up again at five to get my revised flight back to Edinburgh. I finally got home to collect a clean shirt at about ten this morning and headed over to work. All in all I’ve had about four hours sleep in the past thirty six. Thinking about last weekend has however kept me sane.

Wedding snaps are fun, here above are some I like.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Wedding of the century

Guy and Erin - married at Culross Abbey.
impossible songs

impossible songs

Wedding of the century

Erin and Guy’s wedding took place on the 15th and it was quite simply a wonderful day. The bride was (is) beautiful and the groom as smart as a new pin. I was in every way the very proud dad and really enjoyed each part of the ceremony and celebrations. Erin and Guy both have big and boisterous families and the reception and the subsequent party, disco and the drinking and blethering went on well into the wee small hours. Next morning (after a comatosed kind of sleep) those of us who’d stayed over in the hotel breakfasted and lunched together, relaxing and chatting after the previous day’s excitement. Erin and Guy are now jetting away to Thailand for a few weeks...

Friday, September 14, 2007


impossible songs

impossible songs

Things are getting complicated. At the moment in order to get out of the house we have to check and feed the rabbit and guinea pig, feed the kittens, catch them and then put them in their pen (something that is getting increasingly difficult) as well as all the normal everyday early morning things you do. At all times, whatever we are doing we have to be careful not to let the kittens out. On the way home in the evening a Syrus search is carried out, generally at some local countryside spot. This involves dish clanging and a lot of trudging across fields and listening intently. Then once home the kittens need fed and cleaned out and the squeaky rodents need a salad prepared and laid out before them. Then they scratch you and the kittens eat your shoes.

Today is the day before my daughter’s wedding (gulp). Yesterday we had the rehearsal, which was fun; today some kilts were picked up, house and car cleaning done, a rodent pen constructed, shopping attempted and various odd jobs tackled. I also managed to complete my father of the bride speech; hopefully this short speech will come across as funny, neutral and sincere. I dare not however underestimate my own strange ability to be misunderstood by friends and family alike. I’m looking forward to the wedding the way that you’d look forward to a parachute jump, it’s going to be scary, exhilarating, great to look at, quick and (for the mean time) a once in a life time experience. The weather forecast is a bit iffy also, we shall see.

Why do nettle stings hurt for so long these days? I just need to look at a nettle now and red poppy mark appears on me and lasts half a day. Perhaps in my lifetime I had built up a high level of resistance to the native Fife nettle which does not now work in the strange sub-tropical landscapes and wide open spaces of West Lothian. I actually hate nettles, if they were insects they’d be wasps.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Four Symbols

impossible songs

impossible songs

Four Symbols

The truth is that I’ve never grown up, nor have I really wanted to. Despite my rather serious day job, my responsibilities, my relationships and my goals, a large part of me is still a stupid kid. I quite like the fact that I have this overage and under developed relationship with myself (which is not really unusual). I’ve had all the crisis times and questions, I’ve lost and ultimately gained, I’ve forgotten things and I’ve learned things. I’ve realised that most of life doesn’t really mean a whole lot, other than the moment that is now and how you feel and who you are with.

So I’m happy in where I currently am and with most of the things that are going on around me but I had to smile and extra smile when I heard today that Led Zeppelin will get together for a final (?) gig on 26th November. It’s that sweet song of youth, it’s memories and experiences you can still touch and feel, it’s reaching back to when everything is possible but nothing is quite ready. It’s 1970 again all the mystery of living still is just that. So what will you get for your £150? (As if money mattered). The broad and burnt out bridge back to yesterday, to a time when wrongs can be righted, vitality is natural and flowing, the sun is brighter and you could take a few strings of winning lottery numbers back as you travel in the Zeppelin time machine. Catch a glance through a glinting crack in space and time, a few minutes looking into a shattered mirror but with eyes part closed and tears misting the edges.

So will it just be some old guys strutting around on a stage stirring up a nostalgic storm and an audience believing for once everything they see? Well I’m sure it will (and that’s not bad) but for a few short hours it would be the best place to be in, whatever time the clock in your heart is stuck at.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The slugs don't work

The House of the Evil Eyes, Culross, Fife - the ladder is
not always parked in that position I presume. The Crisp Hut
is located in the nearby car park, it promises and delivers gourmet
crisps cooked before your eyes and salted or dusted in a variety
of unexpected flavours.

impossible songs

impossible songs

The slugs don’t work.

Last Monday we spent a few hours searching for the cat in fields (in fact a series of fields) over by Winchburgh. The search was of course fruitless and during the trudge across the badlands I picked up a healthy splodge of dog shit on my boot. I only noticed this on my return a left the boots outside to mature or at least dry out. Then the next evening I spotted a clump of slugs all engaged on boot soul cleaning, a natural and no-pain solution to soiled footwear, or so I thought. After a few days however I realised that even slugs have their limit and now it looks like the lollipop stick solution will be required. Perhaps, while I gather my thoughts together the local frogs, squirrels or rodents might care to take a shot at the cleaning up operation.

Saturday night alive.

We had a pleasantly crowded house for Saturday supper this week: Ann and David (CBQ), Erin and Guy, Paul, Joe and Liv and us. There was a shed load of good food on the go prepared by Ali, we picked at it till two in the morning: crusty breads, herby oils, fish casserole, fresh vegetables, plum crumble and nice wine – and a wee drop shandy. The kittens stole the show by exhibiting a worrying amount of cuteness and remained aloof to the visit of a rabbit and guinea pig (Pippa and Milo) who are to be staying with us for the next three weeks. The meal was disturbed by the visit of another neighbour who has lost his cat and was looking for assistance; the Bermuda Triangle of cat disappearances in this area is getting wider and deeper and there are other more sinister overtones.


Sunday morning was spent in the chilly, stony and possibly ancient surroundings of Culross Abbey checking out the scene of next Saturday’ wedding and also confirming the “House of the Evil Eyes” actually did exist. I was trying to explain my childhood fascination with this strangely ocular building (featured in the Sunday Post, forty years ago I recall), at last night’s meal and not astoundingly nobody believed me. The proof is on this page somewhere.

Fighting couples and couplings:

Who would win a fight between...?

Fred Flintstone and Scooby Doo.
Marlyn Manson and Ozzie Osborne.
The Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges.
Predator and Optimus Prime.
The Shake and Vac lady and the Bisto mum.
Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein.
Bananarama and the Shangri-La’s.
Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Warhol steak bake

impossible songs

impossible songs

Andy Warhol’s plagiarant material steals the show every time, fame is a fragile game that must be played to the very end but I’m bored with it now.

Thursday and I’m at OOTB reviewing and slowly expiring in the heat of the cellar bar of the Cannons’ Gait. On a fairly average night the best and probably most shambolic were “Withered Hand” a boy/girl cello and guitar duo who stumbled through their songs, pulling in different directions and seeming quite under rehearsed but pleasantly unconcerned. I liked their extra indie style, their humour and lyrics and their attack, it beats the hell out of the introspective Nick Drake show and tell parade that many performers participate in. Sparrowhawk aka Spambourski were in fine and fully atmospheric form, they’ve cottoned onto something. Filthy Pedro was also fun, a refugee from Anglesey and the inventor of “Rock and Roll Points”, a bit like credit card points but awarded for mindless, bad and inappropriate behaviour. Rock on Pedro.

The week grinds to a halt with a visit to Livingstone to buy trainers for my daughter and a housecoat each. The sun is high in the sky and we munch a Gregg’s steak bake al fresco. A Brain Training Wii game is also purchased by Joe and we head back via the back roads doing our “find the cat, bowl clanging” routine and pushing “lost” posters through miscellaneous letter boxes. You always expect to see or meet some one when you do this but really it’s as if you are invisible, like H G Wells’ postman.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hope in Mid Hope

impossible songs

Mid Hope - where are all the residents these days?

impossible songs

The search for Syrus carries on sporadically, determinedly, on the web and across the wide open and closed up spaces of West Lothian. We’ve had a sighting in the south over past Winchburgh; we’ve plodded across fields and down country lanes but found nothing. We’ve re-explored Mid Hope (as in the picture) and leafleted the scattered the dwellings that run across the estate. Now we know how big a place this is and how small a cat is in comparison. We also know a lot about the other cats lost in the area, many more than you’d think. Some disappear altogether, some return after a few days sporting and injury or two, some saunter back in and plop themselves on the couch as if nothing had happened. In our case it’s been one fruitless and frustrating search after another with no sign of the cat returning so far.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

An alien finger in my Peri Peri

impossible songs

impossible songs

The Captain Beefheart mysteries

Hit that long lunar note and let it float, they say, others just freak out in a moon age day dream, oh yeah. I approve of both opposing positions and dead artists. Van Gogh’s art is in a weird style, to the uninitiated anyway. Meanwhile and coincidently an art exhibition takes place next door in the village hall, wine and Pringles flow freely and across the stained wooden floor; none of the artists present had a bandaged ear but we are in the strange position of having a village hall but not a village. The exhibit’s titles are many and various, some are more meaningful than others, some titles are better than the paintings.


History is all around, as is geography generally. Picasso breathes the same oxygen as all the others and his work is quite popular in Hollywood I understand. Perhaps his technique was more focused. Monet was an enigma and a skilled and popular gardener. Potato scones are also well liked around here, eaten raw with a little butter (?) or fried or grilled. My favourite chord sequence is Am, G, F, Em, G, Am, it can be played for hours without being boring for the player though not the listener I’m afraid.

Kittens attack innocent trees masquerading as house plants. Occasionally a dwarf giant is felled by their mighty claws. Squeals of surprise and stilted pain follow but the hard lesson is never learned. In the morning I shall vacuum up the fallen and part chewed leaves without ceremony but with silent respect, apart from the drone of the hoover.

Happiness is easy for Clive James to define but that is nothing to do with his nationality. Meanwhile I continue to empty the dishwasher and rub down the George Foreman in order to seek out my own tortuous route to happiness and self actualisation.

An alien finger in my Peri Peri (yawn!)

A bottle of Peri Peri sauce, purchased locally but we suspect it may contain a severed human finger in its darkest, secret heart. The question is, or should be, “at what point do we stop using the product?” Some might say use the sauce until the upright, rigid, dead digit appears in full view. Others may beg to differ and reject the sauce without any further ado, quite naturally. Some might enjoy, in a way they can’t explain, some subtle new aspect of the sauce’s flavour. Others may drain the bottle only to find small slivers of broken glass down at the bottom and wonder what the fuss was about but worry about consuming glass (a modern practice that many world religions are now against).