Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fly and become

They mean well, they try hard, they look good and they eventually get you there. Planes with propellers that is, real ones that make a turboprop noise and swirl their blades in defiance of the blue sky and anything daft enough to get too close. My regular runs with Flybe continue and in a new peak of reliability and punctuality they have not let me down since September. That dangerous thing known as confidence is starting to form, like ice on wing tips and control surfaces. I will be back some time shortly and hope to find the blades still turning on time.

Flybe have also opened a curious new cupboard known as the "executive lounge" down by Gate 15 in Edinburgh Airport. Simply key in a PIN number and find yourself greeted by a canteen atmosphere, a pile of crisp packets and snacks designed to tempt the tired traveller and a queer looking coffee machine. There is little in either style or ambiance to separate this haven from the rest of the terminal and it will never be any kind of travel Mecca as it only could cope with about 25 brave souls at any given time but it's a start - so where is the finish and why was the red wine uncorked at 6 o'clock this morning?

While I'm moaning about Edinburgh Airport it's time something was done about the huge cheesy pictures and crap quotations that tower over the long pedestrian travelator that takes you to the east end. Posed, awful and artificial, these photos suck like an Irn Bru lolly (just look at the clean cut he-men drinking whisky in what looks like a bar set up in an air brushed studio) - welcome to Scotland.

I'm not in love with motorways either or the behaviour that is exhibited there, it's like a stretched out wrestling bout with oddly matched competitors trying to beat you or scare you out of the safe place you want to sit in, which is left of a broken white line most of the time. Today I was passed on the inside by a speed camera van, the driver oblivious to his own under-taking and the fact that he was doing 85 while I queued in the fast lane at 71 or so. Aren't our policemen (on traffic duty anyway) some kind of wonderful thing?

impossible songs

impossible songs

One hundred days

You can always tell when I'm on a downward spiral, eating oily fish, drinking Southern Comfort and talking about survival.

The lowest bit you get, kicks in, the basement bits of the bass notes play on and drown the silence so you forget.

A hundred days without sleep and a hundred nights of sleep, a tonic for the soul and tea and biscuits for the priest.

This is the place where the rain gets in, it touches and travels every where, for the rain is so very thin.

impossible songs

impossible songs

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cat on high

This is a cat called Clint climbing up curtains, a practice he enjoys, however he seldom has a workable plan for returning back to earth from these high places.
impossible songs

impossible songs

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Toe, Knee, Hand, Cock.

impossible songs

impossible songs

The Blood Donor

Giving blood.
Not giving blood and feeling guilty.
Giving blood and getting a bruise or a sore arm.
Giving blood and eating two chocolate biscuits you don’t really want.
Forgetting to give blood.
Making polite conversation with fellow donors.
Wondering what the doctor is saying to those whose blood is turned down.
Being behind somebody you know in the blood donor queue but not talking to them.
Wanting to run away after the first bit when they prick your thumb.
Giving blood when you should be Christmas shopping.
Doing Christmas shopping on line but still not giving blood.
Being smug because you’ve given 47 pints.
Worrying that you might have dog poo on your shoe as you lie on the bed.
Being in conflict with yourself because you hate the idea of giving blood.
Having a sore arm but not because you gave blood.
Having a sore arm and still forgetting to give blood.
Having a sore arm because you fell from a ladder a month ago.
Ignoring the reminder letter (that was sent to the wrong address).
Getting a tired male nurse with bad breath.
Finding that it’s cold in the blood donor centre.
Parking badly whilst giving blood.
Just getting on and giving blood.

Angels passing by

impossible songs

impossible songs

Reports of clever things.

Cats not crashing down from atop curtain poles but waiting for rescue and then offering mild scratchy resistance.
Driving in the dark, in the rain and in the cold.
Sleeping on the couch.
Forgetting to eat, missing meals, eating snacks and losing track of time.
Stopping and looking over hedges and noticing how much rubbish people throw out from their cars.
Pedal carts and self propelled diggers.
Medallions of bacon three thick upon a roll topped with salsa.
A cruise liner sinks in the Antarctic, the news reports that those rescued were cold.
25 million records are missing – they are held on 2 CDs. That makes the UK population worth about 4.5 CDs. A sobering thought.
Channel hopping.
The rain is slowly washing away our elaborate network of roads.
Being in Morrison’s in Aberdeen is like being in Latvia.
A car boot full of random objects and things purchased without any clear plan being in place.
Thinking about WC Fields love of the way words sound rather than what they may mean.
Listening to the Bing Crosby story on the radio.
Dreaming of lost keys and having to close down and lock up an amusement park - alone.
The sea crashing onto the land like neither ever learns.
Following a blue Ford Focus with an L plate and finding that another blue Ford Focus with an L plate has squeezed in between us. How strange.


Wistful disapproval
Penance there to pay
Look at the world through binoculars
And try to find a way

Distance pushed between us
Battle plans are drawn
Drums will rumble and curtains tear
The peace just rages on

Spies and notes and subterfuge
Sorcery and device
Hell and heaven will dance alone
With angels passing by.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday and futile musings

impossible songs - thinking of Tuesday.

impossible songs

Tuesday is the day of the week where time runs along very quickly in some uncontrolled stream that cannot ever be controlled. Work is a friendly or unfriendly flurry of other things and reasons and clock watching. Hurry to the school to collect the kids and join the traffic in dangerous, rainy places where only headlights penetrate. Tea is planned well in advance and eaten by the warming glow of the television with added juice as we wait on the heating cutting in. The cats clamber deliberately over every unnecessary obstacle that is not in front of them as if they were exploring the moon. Homework may be Algebra or English or a project or a geographic exploration. Usually Wikipedia provides the answer and ice creams are consumed all round. Pack up the belongings and check for missing links and think of things that need passed on like last weeks laundry. Hammer a piano or gently roll across the keyboard and tune the guitar and teach a chord or two. E4 and Sky One and don’t forget to record Ugly Betty then a final sweet or chocolate. Back in the back seat and count the raindrops over the bridge, passing a tenner to the lady in the toll booth. The road home is via Stuart Maconi and Mark Radcliffe and misunderstood explanations about REM, Radiohead and unknown special guests. Tired as you may be tomorrow is another day but not one like Tuesday.

Futile Musings

The end of the spiritual world is at hand.
House prices are rising too quickly but not around here.
Bacon sandwiches and breathing in peanut dust will be the death of us.
In ten years time the sea will have risen by .75 metres.
If China and USA don’t wind their necks in...
Pay here to reduce your carbon footprint.
Road pricing is the answer to all our traffic problems.
God is Brazilian – if he wants to be.
You need a new couch this Christmas.
Railway lines don’t go to farmyards as a rule.
Drink wisely.
Education is the answer - but what is the question?
Believe what you read in the press.
There’s always change at Agnews in St Andrews.
At £5999 the Renault Clio is a great buy.
A Mars a day helps you...
Blue Ray is the future of DVD technology and marine life.
Tonic whine.
Keep you brain fit with Nintendo and running on the spot.
For a peaceful holiday come to Ireland.
Why are the white lines painted in the wrong places on the road?
Glitter pens in a set.
The cure for hangovers is Coca Cola.
A living legend died today.
I don’t want a goat for Christmas unless it’s a real one.
Mystic comics.
Use words that sound nice rather than those that mean something.
Pixie Dust that is free from the Disney Store may prove to be a disappointment.
The distant plop of a jumping kitten in the night.
Pizza and ravioli form a balanced meal but not a balanced diet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Simple things are...

impossible songs

impossible songs

A week of unexpected shelves.

This weeks CD & DVD play list:

1000 years of Popular Song by Richard Thompson.
Remember that Night by David Gilmour.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The Movie by Clare and the Reasons.
Unknown album by Josh Ritter.
Dirt Farmer by Levon Helm.
Presence by Led Zeppelin.

This weeks TV shows:

The Simpsons (various episodes but particularly the “Plough King” one).
The X Factor (I’ve no idea why).
I’m a Celebrity get me out of this banal TV programme.
Scotland V Italy.
Pop Junior and CBBC (whilst babysitting a 3 year old).

The family that eats together...

...performs other miscellaneous activities.

Most of this weekend has been spent cooking, doing homework (or helping with it in a feeble way), laundry, pottering and for once successfully putting up shelves in the kitchen. These shelves are up, level, secure and populated with colourful items that formerly had no place to go. These hitherto ignored items now look down upon us all from a new and elevated position as we go about our humble daily duties. Despite the pressure they place upon us we refuse to worship them in their lofty, cloudy and near perfect retreat (as false gods or anything else) and we simply enjoy them for what they are – random odd items now with a decent home.

Discoveries of the week.

Morrison’s at the Gyle are selling jam donuts, 10 for one pound Sterling. Nothing odd there you may think, but in fact these are the best donuts ever (as far as my extensive research can now reveal), firm, sweet, very jammy (jam in the middle, not on the edge Asda!), they don’t go damp; they are coated in icing sugar. As proof of their excellence even the totally carnivorous kittens were strangely drawn to them and smitten, this resulted in various emergency security measures being quickly taken to protect and preserve.

The kittens have now been outside in the garden a few times and are exploring very small parts of the big bad world with a great deal of nervous trepidation. Wet grass seems to be a particular problem, this hostile surface cannot be crossed by them and they view it like the Flat Earth Society would a trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Their use of the cat flap is a success however, it must seem to them like a portal to a new dimension, a bit like Stargate or the Time Tunnel, except it leads to the wide lands of the wet grass, the sharp edge of the world and eventually, as they will discover - tasty rabbits. Heaven is out there, in other words.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Always more

impossible songs

impossible songs

Always more brilliant ideas and the end of Christmas.

Every year the ideas just get better, the gifts more useful, attractive and shiny and you wonder how lived so long without these marvellous things. Then there are parties and meals and friends, things to say, things to do, jokes to hear and conversations to listen in to. Attractive couches on which to rest after eating too much and drinking too heavily and sleeping too late. Perhaps there will be something good on the telly. Drip, drip, drop and the damp and frozen postman brings more cards and seasonal flyers, all day and night Indian take aways, taxis to the airport, gas services and double glazing and teaser promotions for the summer holidays (just around the corner). Then comes the one and only ever, greatest Dixons, Currys, Argos sale and the two tone couch adverts mouthed by a familiar face from the seventies as the leggy girls relax in studio sized lounges. Looking forward to getting back to work and being surly and deadpan in the morning, if only for a break from the hollow celebrations that truly add up to nothing because we are all celebrating nothing much in particular. Avoidance of the cold and seeking out the vital warmth. Perhaps at this point the real world will intrude: a real wedding, a real birthday or two, being happy - that’s more like it. And the sparklers will sparkle, the wine will fizz and pop, the stars will shine and the many crooked paths to heaven will be strewn with leaves of green and it’s only still November fifteen.

And your toe nails wont hurt any more because they've now recovered from their vicious pruning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blade Runner & Buzz

impossible songs

Endless Flight.

Ever been on a flight and thought that horrible thought “There’s something not quite right here” or “What’s that squeaking sound? That’s not normal” or worst of all “why is the plane shuddering like that?” These were some of the unwanted notions that crossed my mind flying up from Bristol tonight, however I didn’t panic or even sweat, I just had a bad feeling that thankfully was completely unfounded and irrational as we ploughed into 150mph headwinds at 27000ft. Of course if the “vague notion that is God” had wanted us to fly he’d have given us rubber bands and propellers on our heads, doesn't help either, but it would have been an interesting evolutionary step.

Blade Runner.

Why are so many people fixated with Blade Runner and the Rick Deckard character? It’s a film about chain smoking robots and set in a dingy, dripping LA that probably looks a lot like the current LA and that has only taken 25 years. So why are there no Replicants out on the streets by now, driving cabs, directing traffic and flipping burgers? The answer is that it is pointless to develop robots to do really basic human tasks (as opposed to repetitive factory work) when cheap, desperate and exploited labour pours into the West and the US on a daily basis to plug the gaps. Cyber punk, science fiction, science fact and the wider world’s free market economy have failed to deliver the new reality that was promised and the bright and shining robots have not risen up to free mankind from the slavery of hard labour and polishing car windscreens.

Buzz gets easy bucks.

When Buzz Aldrin came back from the moon on Apollo 11 he filed an expenses claim for $33.31. Hard to imagine quite what it was for but if I was the clerk who processed it I’d have framed the form and paid him myself.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remember Fife

impossible songs

impossible songs

A Guide to Fife.

Would Fife survive as an independent nation? This ancient Kingdom is surrounded on three sides by deep, sometimes slivery and often murky waters, connected by bridges and potential borders, steeped in a royal history and drunken left wing politics it has all the background and X-Factor. In economic terms it is rich in (well hidden) coal, tourism, has a golfing heritage, petro-chemical processing, remnants of heavy industry, distilling and farming not to mention having its own motor racing circuit and Deep Sea World: Fife has the resources and potential. It could be the Monaco of the North, the San Marino of Caledonia, and the Lichtenstein of the Lomonds or even the Falkland Islands of Falkland. It might just work with a little fortitude, brainwashing, back-stabbing and imagination. What would Mr Ecky Salmond say? “It is quite correct for every region/nation to aspire towards self reliance and self governance!” I think that’s on record as being his own spirited view and of course if all else fails Fife has the Singing Kettle, Burntisland Shipyard, Freuchie and the Fence Collective.


Today at my son’s football match in Glenrothes the referee called for a minutes silence before the game. The two young teams and officials stood in a silent circle on the pitch as the November sun burnt low and bright behind some bare trees, the sun bathed them in a warm glow silhouetting their forms and contrasted with the bitter cold of the North wind. I’m not sure many of the boys grasped the significance of the event or understood the meaning; they all complied however making it a strangely magical and silent moment. I was double minded about pulling out my camera and snapping the event, so strong was the image, in the end however out of respect I decided against it and committed it all to memory. Somehow now, every 11/11 I think of my own father and recall how he always had a tear in his eye during remembrance services. His best friend died on HMS Hood along with hundreds of others and the loss, along with other unspoken war-time memories seemed to haunt him, now it has all been passed over and haunts me in a vicarious way I can’t understand at all.

Friday, November 09, 2007

This is not here

impossible songs

impossible songs

The middle of nowhere.

This is the most recent place we have been to in the ongoing (since August) search for Syrus our lost cat. Ten thirty last Tuesday evening found us in “the middle of nowhere” near a remote cottage on a hill top overlooking the Forth. According to a reliable source Syrus had been sighted crossing over the cottage’s garden a few hours previously. We spent an hour in the cold, dark and wet calling, stumbling and dish thumping in the wild and dark woodland outside the house whilst the sympathetic but bemused inhabitants looked on. Sadly the search proved fruitless, wherever he is, he is not wishing to be found just yet.

The Stag

Another QF Arts Festival sponsored open mike night took place at the Stags Head in the village last night. Norman, Tommy, Ali and I set up the PA and then sat around chatting for an hour whilst nothing happened and nobody crossed the threshold. Then on the stroke of nine a plethora of performers arrived including guitar superstars and journeymen Fraser and John (aka Confushion). Some of the other willing participants were complete strangers (always nice), with original material which was an added bonus. Thereafter the night fairly got going and we had a good, lively two hour session of songs, music and jamming that would have lasted much longer if not for closing time and the organisers well established early morning routines. Nice when things work out.

Lions etc...

impossible songs

impossible songs

Lions for Lambs

A cynical piece of Oscar angling, an honest wake up call, superstars reminding on and revisiting past glories, a left wing punch on the chin or Robert Redford playing god?

This film could be any of these things and more. It’s a rare thing in that it’s a film that leaves the viewer cold, hot, affected and dry-mouthed at the end – there are no cheap laughs or worthwhile thrills left these days. There is however hope out there, but not as we know or would like it to be. It’s a bleak and fragile hope and a reminder that all the “Eve of Destruction” rhetoric and posturing of the Cold War and the 60s hasn’t really changed much other than in image and location evolution. The stellar cast and their bright eyed intensity beguile the viewer and scratch the surface of memory, as if attempting a return to their halcyon days but are all ultimately, slightly beyond belief.

Robert Redford’s character, a caring yet detached college professor, is the most annoying and significantly thumbnail sketched portrayal within the film. The professor’s role in life seems to be to cherry pick and anoint his chosen movers and shares “for the best”. Redford plays the part like a flightless god, an observer and reluctant participant who’ll change the world through the longest game, a game he knows can’t ever be won.

Meryl Streep is the deeply concerned and conflicted journalist working for a news agency owned by a soap/hygiene company. She feels trapped in the narrow band of peak time news gathering and despairs over the lost integrity and shifting interests of both her employers and her audience. She also needs the money. For her any engagement with and spooning medicine out to the great American public is a daunting task, not even Mary Poppins could handle it these days. In the end she is just another butterfly broken on the wheel as the news story escapes her clutches.

Tom Cruise is the presidential wanabee, the slick grin and the language and the intensity are all picture perfect. His master military plan is clear, simple enough and to some believable, but as previous similar conflicts have proven, tragically flawed. People and circumstances quickly conspire to reduce a strategy that looks good on paper to yet another gung-ho military failure, the tracks of which will be covered by a blizzard in a few hours. Cruise’s character reels from the blow of the sharp reality of failure, but you know he’ll recover quickly. In payment an Afro/American and a Hispanic are the offered up to the mountain as sacrifices whilst the white middle classes ponder the future before scuttling back to their respective East and West Coast hideouts. Middle America is significantly missing in action in its lack of voice, opinion and representation here.

As a film it’s worth a watch, we caught it on preview earlier this week and it has held my attention since.

Monday, November 05, 2007

November Rain

impossible songs

Small cats caught on camera being cute while trapped on a window ledge by a cruel owner.

impossible songs

Bonfire night and I’m not, despite my love of bonfires, going out bonfire spotting or ogling. This is for a number of good reasons as below:

a) I’m tired and aching a bit thanks to last week’s ladder incident in the garden.
b) I’ve just spent a frustrating hour trying to install new Sony Ericsson phone software on the PC.
c) I’ve eaten one bowl of lentil soup too many.
d) I’m washing my good woolly jumpers on a delicate session and I want to be there when things, as I expect they will, go wrong.
e) I have a number of photos to sort out now that item b. has finally been achieved.
f) I’m determined to munch my way through the large bag of pretzels we opened the other day.
g) Ali is doing a cottage turn-around so I’m alone right now.
h) I have things on my mind and things I ought to be doing.
i) It’s been bloody cold outside and I don’t fancy standing in it.
j) We’re a long way away from the nearest bonfire and I’m not building any more in the garden until we host some appropriate bonfire type of event.
k) There is an N in the month and I have a fear of this letter.
l) I am ambivalent about fireworks and their users' motives.
m) The cats are being mildly amusing.
n) Going out would involve putting on shoes and I’ve had shoes on all day.
o) I need to look up a book, the name of which I’ve forgotten but it was mentioned in a conversation I had last night at a friend’s house.
p) I need a cup of coffee but I’m waiting for the right moment to arrive.
q) I’m fiddling with cables.
r) I have comfy trousers on that are not designed to stand the November blasts.
s) I’ve to check emails and accounts.
t) I’ve a slow burning, smouldering, almost going out but there just the same desire to do a set up quiz on Facebook, the result of which, if I get it wrong may land me in trouble.
u) My car is 25 feet from the house, too far to walk on an evening like this.
v) I’m holding out for Christmas and a holiday in Portugal.
w) Tomorrow none of this will matter.
x) I recorded some TV programmes and though I’ve no intention of watching them (probably ever) I should be making sure they are there.
y) I’d have to clean my teeth (again).
z) It’s not big nor is it, when you think about it, particularly clever.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Golden Dawn

impossible songs are at peace most of the time

impossible songs

The other Golden Dawn

The syndrome caused by broadband/sales/insurance/credit card call centre delays and looping, patronising programme advice, never getting a call-back, never talking to a supervisor, operators working to a script they cannot deviate from, operators with a poor command of English, being told to unplug and switch of and on, not being able to voice a complaint, getting put through to other numbers and departments having to start from scratch, not getting a fault number that can be used as a common thread on the complaint, not getting an engineer to visit etc. has no name as yet. If it did have a name (and it would end in –STRESS) more people in the Western world would suffer from it than flu, cancer, obesity or the thing that makes you want to throw bricks at your TV. Sadly this is, the modern world, how business is done, how margins are shaved, costs reduced and the customer is not king but merely a dot in a cynically mapped out process. Previous generations had words for these practices: Piracy, highway robbery and more recently fraud. Sadly the machine does not easily allow complaints or criticism; you have get underneath and attack the soft underbelly by subversion, trickery and the justifiable use of purposeful deceit. It may take time but the golden dawn is approaching when enlightenment comes and the downtrodden rise and start to fight back, just look at the recent Wispa example.

Need a polite insult or just fancy spamming an old adversary?

Some examples at http://www.someecards.com/

I’d like to be able to offer moral support on this but I have questionable morals.

Let’s catch up by asking mutual friends about each other.

It’s great seeing you a few times each year.

I’ve enjoyed this conversation - up to a point.

I really enjoyed waving at you whilst feeling slightly awkward.

Wanted to get in touch, in case you get rich.

Sugar Puffs

Probably the king of breakfast cereals and today I suspect a little unfashionable but consider their not so insignificant properties:

They can be eaten when fresh and crunchy.
They can be eaten when unfresh – they become chewy.
They are easy to eat if; due to logistics problems milk is not available.
They taste like honey but without the bother of sticky drips, jar rims and spoons.
They have their own monster.
They can be eaten on a sandwich or bread roll as a substitute for some other filling.

That’s about it...

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Search for the Grail

impossible songs on a virtual pilgrimage to Legoland

impossible songs

There’s nothing wrong with Bulgaria.

Thursday night and I’m at OOTB, my hip pain and various bruises not quite so acute and I’m hoping that a few hours of eclectic singer-songwriter mumbo jumbo will prove an adequate distraction. It’s a fair enough night with some older participants popping in: Fiona Thom, Roddy Renfrew, the driven Davie Watson and Ben Young to name but a few. Ben played a song called “Battle of the Bands” that stuck with me. One part of the lyric was spot on in its incisive observation “there’s no one here who’s going to remember what you played, singers singing with nothing to say”. The irony and pathos in that line and hopefully hovering it over the heads of the OOTB audience of songwriters, burn-outs, hopefuls, merry pranksters and me (I'm all of those and more a various times) was a magic little moment.

Ben's song did make me reflect again on modern music, entertainment, re-made films, covered songs, tribute acts, re-released albums and packages of work that are blown up to be “classic” when they are little more than regurgitated crap that was never really any good anyway. Wouldn’t we all give everything to just find something new to say, something in a fresh, unexplored part of the spectrum and then express it neatly, articulately and all balanced up on a good tune? That is like digging up the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth and the lost Ark and then getting them rolled up into a golden three minutes forty seconds of timeless performance. Better to live in hope than die in Bulgaria.