Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A dead horse standing up

A bricked up room, a wooden bed and a wooden pillow, a pile of clothes, a horse's head split in two, dust and crumbs the mice refused to eat, the dry warm air of a hundred years - what's next?

Over the edge

It’s always good to know that you can rely upon politicians to bicker, cheat and exploit their positions just when you need them most. Industry is collapsing, property is cracking, every bank and building society is under unbearable stress and we’re fighting two wars and Spandua Ballet are reforming. Nightmare. So Gordon Brown chews more “doing everything possible” cud every time he talks, exercising that curious facial tick of his, Jackie Smith does a great job keeping law and order whilst her cuckolded husband downloads porn in the publicly paid for “family home” and Harriet Harman talks Hampstead Heath bollocks relentlessly. These guys entered office promising an end to sleaze, they are lucky, if there was a bit more Mediterranean blood flowing in British veins they be hanging from lampposts by now and whatever you may think none of them have the style, swagger or bullish colour of Mussolini.

Synchronicity, funnily enough I was walking down the road to Mandalay heading for Mumbai (Bombay) when along came a travelling circus. My pocket radio was switched on and what tune was playing? Jump by Van Halen.

“To Bombay a travelling circus came they brought an intelligent elephant and Nellie was her name One dark night she slipped her iron chain and off she ran to Hindustan and was never seen again”. This of course is the 1957 version as heard on Children’Hour not some cod pop version.

I think that it may be only a matter of time before I start to listen to and love the Decembrists, there is some inevitability about this. I also now know where the name Zooey comes from but I remain a little confused.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Zen and the art of driving backwards

The next time I go south I intend to register a strong protest against airport fortresses, clunky homeland security, plastic bags full of toothpaste, pish shopping malls, seats designed by and for the robot in I Robot and delayed, long lamented Flybe flights. My localised urban protest will take the form of driving instead of flying. A simple calculation done on the front of a yellow sticky (ever written on the back of one?) reveals that by avoiding brain dead airport time, queues, extensive thumb twiddling, waiting on things, rip-off car parking charges, waiting on bloody Hertz finding a car in a lot full of cars and various other random irritations I may be a little quicker and save time. Even better than that I'll be in complete contravention of all my own self made restrictive rules about travel, economy and common sense. Marvellous, I feel so free I might just break out into whistling Radar Love and some windmill guitar playing.

Once I've recovered from this euphoric state I'm drawing up the plans for an ironic eco-house made from the old tyres from wrecked gas guzzlers, body panels from Range Rovers, walnut trim from Jaguars and Granadas and the electric motors from their powered seats to operate the retro wind farm as back up in case of a still and calm day.

Today we ate two kinds of sausage, middle sized and small but presented artfully in a sea of baked beans and HP sauce - classy but nae spuds. Meanwhile I'm dreaming of planting potatoes and learning the ancient and hidden language needed to coax them up from the ground come the solstice. Until yesterday's illuminating session at the Chic Murray Garden Centre I didn't realise that potato whispering was still big in West Lothian, I think there may be an evening class running in Broxburn in the Lidl car park at dusk on Tuesdays.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You in your small corner

Another game another corner another goal and no the pitch in this photo is not maintained by Fife Council, you can tell because a) it has grass b) it is flat and c) the flag stays in place.
We had a nice meal with CBQ and Ann last night, Ali cooked and I got in the way. After a few wines and slurps I moaned a lot (as did some others) about modern life, airports, TV programmes and all the things that irritate folks of a certain age. For a few hours it was as if this blog and CBQ's (on the right) had come to life in some strange dimension where the 70s never ended and everybody was "fair and reasonable" - Utopia you might think, but for a brief time we all lived there until somebody switched off the lights due to some bill or other not getting paid.
Today the sun shone in spurts so after the customary Sunday AM football (almost thwarted by the need to alter time pieces the world over) it was out into the garden for some "green gymnastics". This involves thrusting a spade into the ground and then lifting out great clods of worms and muck and then putting them back in roughly the same place but upside down, not unlike trying to sort out your sock drawer I guess. Ali assures me that after a few weeks of this healthy exercise and some ritualistic bending over, we will encourage certain vegetables to grow and ultimately we will eat them or share them with friends. This theory flies in the face of a lifetime's experience spent obtaining vegetables (but not on a regular basis) from shops whilst buying useful things like wine, Kit Kats, super glue and newspapers. I'm sceptical but my curiosity has been aroused so on with the experiment and the growing as the new age of gardening and possible self sufficiency dawns.
Fantasy Formula 1 has started well following a brief panic yesterday, the threat of lost points and stalled text messages could have inflicted a critical blow on my campaign but they were cured by a late brunch and use of predictive text. Today I'm 4th, Ali is 1st and my blind faith in Brawn GP has been fully justified.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Economic Model Army

New Les Paul, needs a little work but plays well enough.

Economics for the economic.

Buying things in batches is working nicely these days and, thanks to my recent PhD in economics is allowing me to develop a new purchasing strategy that I intend to use for the rest of my life or at least until the end of the month. Successful batches so far:

Meal for £10 from M&S - Wine, chips, sponge pud and cheesy meatballs.

Les Paul from Boffer, £40- Guitar, bag, electronic tuner, two sets of strings, lead, strap,plectrums and misc. booklets and cds. (guitar is a Gibson (?) has bolted maple neck, rosewood, humbucks and (after an hours worth of fiddling) easy action.)

Emergency bulb set from Halfords £16 - Loads of auto bulbs, set contained the bulb I needed which was £17.99 on it's own!

Laptop bag and funky mouse from Amazon £18 - HP bag and mouse that changes colour in a trippy way.

So bundles and batches are the way ahead and I think it could signal the end of the crunch if applied across a range of applications and situations.

The fantasy and the reality.

At last the FF1 has got going. A certain amount of parallel processing gave us team combination issues but that seems to have been sorted if a little after the deadline. I may well be deducted points for failing to pass on key text messages about changes and the fact that this was in the middle of the night is no excuse. The prize pot is £120, could get a nice Scaletrix bundle for that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Escaping the world of solutions

Chasing the fading bulbs.

They burn brightly, they light the darkness and show you the way. You switch them off and on and they burn and glow, they push the darkness in on itself and make you feel safe. You squeeze the switch and fall asleep, peace and a dark blanket overcomes you and smothers all around you in a warm void of dream and recovery. Then the day comes when they are burned out, dead and useless and replacement needed. You either stay in the dark or seek out a new one. It screws or clips or snaps into place and you are connected to the world of light once more. Light is good, bulbs show us the way but seeing all or thinking you see all isn’t everything, the ways of the dark carry hidden rewards and favours. Senses tingles as you step out, squeeze the switch to off, hear the click and explore these same surroundings for the first time.

Escaping the world of solutions.

For sport and world financial gain I need to attempt to write a long and twisting screenplay set in some future post apocalyptic society, all in a blasted landscape about a lost child who arrives as if from nowhere and is destined to bring peace and progress to the battered and struggling population. This can only happen once he/she has performed a series of elaborate trials that are to be revealed to him/her as he/she journeys across the remains of the surface of the world. Along the way encountering mutants, UFOs, villains, heroes and freaks, extreme weather, aliens, earthquakes and crossword puzzles but learning and overcoming in each trial until the final revelation is given in the form of a whispered phrase passed on by the tiny five toed frog (Bob) who lives at the foot of the Himalayas.

Once Bob has passed the secret on he rolls over and dies in the arms of his frog lover Bobette. She carries his body into a the warm waters of a deep pool , the ripples caused by her tongue touching the water carry him away and he floats into a fine mist and his body disappears. The child is distraught at this loss and cries uncontrollably, unable to reconcile the gift of the knowledge and the loss of a small frog. Time passes and the child recovers, grows and retains the revelation by writing it onto the inside of a small matchbox hidden in a deep pocket in a magic cloak that once belonged to an actual magician.

Now that the revelation has been given out, the information on the matchbox is then passed onto Abraham one frosty night in the foothills following a drunken game of arm wrestling and a spicy meal. Abraham is the lost monk of the East who has accompanied the child throughout the journey and shared in the hardship of the travel all the time carrying an old stick. Consumed in a fit of unusual jealousy Abraham then kills the child, steals the matchbox and armed with the new knowledge heads to the Middle East where, after gathering the remains of the three main races of man together he founds three new religions, one of which he bequests to each of the races, all whilst sitting under a golden palm tree drinking the holy milk of a coconut.

The three races start their religions well enough and separate but after ten years become exasperated by their differences (all of which are trivial though to them significant) and go to war against one another. Diplomatic solutions fail and Abraham is called in from the desert to help to resolve the conflict. Abraham tries to broker a fresh peace deal based around compromises in public transport, musical policies and the amount of “proper” chapters in their holy books but it all fails and the conflict continues. He retires to the desert to experiment on cosmetics and treacle whilst the religious wars rage on. Eventually the three races destroy each other thanks to their newly acquired weapons of mass destruction, mostly made from treacle and cosmetics. Into this post-post apocalyptic world a lost child arrives as if from nowhere, one destined to bring peace…

Listening to:

The Bees, the Byrds and the Honeycombs. Miles Davis, Camera Obscura and Sparks.


Variations on the theme of yoghurt and leftover pasta.
Small and disappointing muffins that were BOGOF, (always a mistake).
Gatorade still holding it’s own against stiff competition from tap water, ordinary Coke and blueberry Ribena.

Shaving (the face): The eternal conflict remains, do it in the shower, save time and water but risk cuts and missed bits or in the wash basin through a steamy mirror whilst dripping in the cold bathroom air.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


It's no secret that I like history and I like geography. Not sure which one would win in a straight fight, history would have depth and experience, geography would have space and natural resource. It would be a good and gory punch up. So I spent time today checking on the locations of ship wrecks in the Forth Estuary, there are a few, some nearby and some way out there where the sea blue and sky blue connect and blur.

Wreckage is interesting even when it can't be seen, just knowing it's buried or sunken under your feet or deep in far away water protected by the mist of it's elusiveness. Lost and unobtainable after all the effort expended to build, launch and travel only to end abruptly and tragically when least expected. So now I know that the first surface ship ever torpedoed by a submarine (in 1914) was sunk in the Forth and the last ship sunk in WW2 also went down in the Forth, in 1945. Secrets and hidden depth, all around and inside.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some brains and a little...


Will my gamble work? The Fantasy F1 League (link on right) is almost ready to run and my winning strategy is now ready to be revealed. First get the two top drivers and then get the cheapest but fastest car, if you can believe the hype. As for drivers it's the best or biggest cheats : Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, what could possibly go wrong? The team name, ethos and make-up is still forming but likely to be "The New Caledonian F1 Church of the Kamikaze League of Flying Cougars", or something perhaps a little less serious and a little longer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Would you buy a used car from this bear?

Funny how brushing up ashes and soot from the fireplace (there are many scattered around this house) leads me to think about the little puppet that is Sooty himself. I did think about the Soot Spiders in Spirited Away and coal miners, cleaning the chimney and air shafts and fossil fuels first but then it was Sooty. I never really liked him, imagine, as a child Sooty visiting your house, he'd be like some awful cousin or nephew with a dumb Tourette's Syndrome, out of control, whispering obscenities and playing stupid pranks. He'd break up your best Airfix kits, knock down your Lego village and then squirt you with a red plastic water pistol while throwing custard. He'd make a mess with jelly and ice cream at the tea table, tear up comics and photos and then your parents would blame you for the mess. Then there's the problem of his magic wand and "Izzy Wizzy let's get busy" all running wildly out of control. I can't recall much about his actual powers, not really Harry Potter standard either more like some drunken seaside conjurer pulling hankies and feather dusters out of hats and pockets. So I'm glad he's gone (not sure where) though he's still lurking somewhere on the edge of my consciousness like a golden, furry and muted Stephen King villain.

For people like me who fiddle around taking photographs of trees, dandelions, litter blowing in the wind and bus stops this kind of advert is a little disturbing. We all know that there are extremists and criminals out there and they are active no doubt but...

Monday, March 23, 2009

We seed the green planet

It was just a normal day, one like any other, when a space ship crash landed in the back garden spilling out it's precious cargo of seeds and young plants, each ready to burst and grow and recolonise the planet. Did I say space ship? No it was the postman, easy to mix them up. From another planet? Well not really but they looked kind of far out and "engineered" in their shiny vacuum packs and if left to grow and spread who knows where they will end. Things like to grow and spread, think of thistles, litter, dandelions, the BNP, Islam and nationalism. Then there's optimism, mass consciousness, vacuous fashion addictions and shopping, R&B and bad behaviour in the streets after midnight.

We shall spread this growth as if the world depended on it, as it might. The rain forest failed us in 2004 or there abouts when it accidentally produced more Co2 than it took in, a bit like Grangemouth. A few more years of this and we'll all be wearing face masks, anti-bee sting hats and our eyes will be gritty. In the mean time I refuse to support the various groups of professional and career anarchists that threaten to disrupt the city next week. Why don't they just get jobs in the city and bring the whole thing down from the inside or has that already been tried?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wild Bean Cafe no more

I'm intrigued and impressed by Neil Young and his mission to rid the world of roadside refueling. That is a wild and radical concept that as a petrol head disturbs me but as an almost sane person makes a pickup truck full of sense. Just imagine no more glossy overpriced forecourt shops, grumpy assistants (BP South Queensferry you suck!) and queues to fill up at the mere hint of a tanker strike. Instead just plop a kettle of water in the tank and charge your fuel cell over night on the kitchen worktop. I'm loving this already though I probably wont see it in my life time unless I can summon up a healthy dose of doubt and a flux capacitor for Mr Cougar's innards.

While he's at it I'd like Neil to take similar stance over airports (not air travel), shut the shopping mall aspect down, make the flights run on time and stop charging 65p for a Whispa and £2.99 for a medium latte that would be a small latte anywhere else. Sell bits of BAA? You bet, sell it to MacDonald's or IKEA please and get some proper throughput and economies organised, then nationalize it.

Cat of the day: Clint for scratching this laptop.
Corner of the day: Joe's leading to a 2 - 1 victory.
Soup of the day: Veg and tomato by Ali.
Song of the day: "Like a hurricane" by Neil Young.
Alarm of the day: 7.25 to get up and set up the goal posts.
Firelighter of the day: Zip.
News story of the day : UFOs over Pitlochry.
Chicken of the day : Sainsbury's herb and garlic.
Building Society of the day: Dunfermline, in the shit like the rest of them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I'm convinced that doubt is better than certainty, of that I have no doubt. Not to be sure, to have vague ideas or hunches coupled with a mind as open as a mind can be is the best way to lead a balanced life. Certainty breeds extremism based on a belief in the certain possibility of certainty. That's too dangerous and the more you think about it unworkable but people plainly try to make it work. Naw!
The sun led us out into the garden from early this morning. Old Sparky the lawn mower burst into life after a fair bit of blood and sweat and the gardening year began. Ali pruned and trimmed hedges and trees and bushes and anything else that showed any desire to grow. I cut grass and built a bonfire from clippings and branches. Lunch was outside, salami rolls and salad and the greatest drink in the world (some doubt here?) Gatorade. After all the trimming and some forking new seed beds, paths were cut, an arch erected and puzzled over (where should it go?) and then we were suddenly tired and hungry again. We left the garden to it's own devices and retired indoors, more work to do there but less likely to induce back ache
An arch window, but not like the one in our garden.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Soft top

The secret life of traffic.

A large part of the afternoon was spent sitting in a traffic jam on the A90 heading home from a vibrant few hours shopping in Craigleith's sunny environs. A fairly serious looking shunt had occurred where the A90 meets the M9 and the usual grumpy queues formed up behind. What struck me was that there were many convertibles in the line with their tops down all carrying large items in the back, things that would never fit in with the top up. Do convertible owners wait until the sun shines and in this uncertain climate rush out to buy the huge flat screen TVs, bikes, plants and wooden front doors (in a Saab) that I saw today? I guess they must, I salute their bravery, their deference to the weather the rest of the year and their courage in withstanding the aerodynamic stresses that these ungainly loads must place on their cars and their foreheads.

Things that are not true:

Dogs can sniff out cancer - though many seem well practiced enough in checking for the testicular variety.

The angle at which a car driver's seat sits at does not correspond to his/her IQ.

Maggots are a useful way to cure a festering wound.

A bargain is a bargain at any price.

Things that are good for you are not what you fancy eating.

Obama can speak without an autocue but not quite so eloquently.

I'm going to win the Trumper/Barclay Fantasy Formula 1 tournament for 2009/2010.

New drink in town.

Why not try M&S's wild strawberry and clotted cream milk drink? It kept me alive and almost sane during the above mentioned jam, caught the attention of three young ladies in an Audi, was nearly stolen by a passing motorcyclist and there is no number four.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Future Buildings

Just back from Birmingham, a bit tired but Bones is on TV as is Grey's Anatomy a little later, bedtime will be late and the progress of our mortal souls into the glorious after life that awaits may be slowed down as a result. As an antidote I must drink copious amounts of apple juice and avoid fatty foods. This is part of Ali's Fuzzy Religion thinking and I'm trusting in it.

The house in the picture is Pittencrieff House, the upper floors are closed thanks to DDA and probably a lack of local funding. I can't imagine the house designer thinking some 300 years ago that access would ever pose a problem. That made me think about today's current crop of modern buildings. I don't believe that many of today's buildings will be around in 300 years either, they'll be stumps, brown earth or at worst slums. If you imagine the future to be a cross between Blade Runner, Star Wars, the Jetsons and Woody Allen's "Sleeper" then our gift to the future will be a deadly mess and getting up and down stairs or into working lifts will be the least of the tomorrow people's problems. I guess that Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the New Town will survive but the Parliament will have long rotted away along with vast swathes of housing schemes , IKEA/ASDA sheds and the plastic and concrete flats that have stalled on the Forth waterfront. My descendants will be wearing tin foil clothes, eating protein pills and hovering in their Chinese hover boots all along the remains of those hateful tram tracks that famously brought the city to it's knees and resulted in revolution, a mass exodus to Fife and the colonisation of the great northern wilderness. I also hope that the wolves will have established themselves by this time, picking off the town planning refugees one by one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Passing time in Dunfermline while the car undergoes a service which hopefully will be routine and inexpensive. The local Starbucks is my refuge for a few hours, a bright and polished canteen in a half vacant mall that belongs in some other town. Travel agents still full of offers call out to sell two weeks in Turkey or fly-drives in Florida. None of them are attractive or inspiring or busy. The shops open their mouths, hungry for customers who only want to sit this one out munching muffins and grasping cardboard latte cups while the holiday business holds it’s breath and prepares more handwritten discount cards to display in their windows. Meanwhile I need to form holiday plans for the summer.

Muffins aren’t all they are cracked up to be, they give too much on the first bite, no resistance, no fight back, then a sweet taste that turns to dry and then a further aftertaste that milky coffee cant seem to neutralise and all for £4.00, the rough price of a rough fish supper out in the colonies. I know all the prices but I don’t get the values these days. All freshly baked in some barn on an anonymous industrial estate and run over to a common loading dock with all the other supplies in mud spattered white trucks while we all sleep and dream of holidays.

The play park in the picture brought back some memories, I walked past it today on the way to the music shop (string buying). A number of years ago my access to my younger kids was severely restricted due to a marital dispute, not a happy season. When I did see them we often spent time in this playground, glossing over the background troubles and trying to play, chase, hide and seek and be normal for a few minutes in between the collection and the partings. Some lines have been drawn under all that now I’m glad to say but I still choked a little when passing by.

The Glen is full of plaques on trees and benches placed out in the weather in memory of dead relatives. It’s strange how you can envy the dead, considering the step ahead they’ve inadvertently but inevitably taken, no longer trying to fathom life or fighting to hang onto it. Now their place is to be some where but nowhere and the subject of a family conference about the price of a bench and how many appropriate words can be fitted along the top. Trying to make sense of life and find meaning is a life long and generally pointless practice, whilst it demonstrates and tests all the higher aspirations that most people would naturally applaud it also shows a certain lack of consideration for the hard facts and the laws of science and nature which whilst arguably flexible and developing are also, in most cases fixed and time critical. Make the most of the space between the forceps and the stone, don’t ask too many clever but unanswerable questions and don’t waste what you have.

The Scottish Organic pile that is Pittencrief House sits in the middle, a ground floor museum is all that occupies it, the swish and spacious upper floors are closed thanks to the DDA regulations and a stone spiral staircase, a marvellous piece of twisted legislation that helps some and hinders others in the name of equality and against all common sense. The ECC may fund some ugly lift or means of access in 2017 or thereabouts. Meanwhile the building is rendered pointless and a frustrating example of laws that are unworkable in the real world.

I did have a pleasant wander around the rest of the Glen and the Abbey, bright and glistening in the still March sunshine, noting one great and economical gravestone, “Thomson, Tailor, Two Rooms”. Life, occupation and occupancy in stone as some immortal memory and message in four Spartan words. Mine could read “Barclay, Bullshitter, No Room(s)”.

As usual once I’m back in a shopping mall I realise I’ve forgotten all the useful things I need to make the trip worthwhile and useful, the watch that needs the strap and battery, the M&S vouchers that need spending, the phone that needs unblocked, the bent key that needs copied, the measurements for the fence timber - all elsewhere. Maybe that would be a better epitaph: “Barclay, Absent minded, Elsewhere.”

Where does my look come from you ask? How can I get it?
Jumper from Ali (Christmas), jeans from Primark (yes), shoes from New York, pants and socks from Tesco, Umbro T shirt from JJB, combat jacket from Next., HP bag from Amazon. Total cost? No earthly idea or interest.

Listening to:

Sam Stone - John Prine.
Kingdom of rust - the Doves.
Jeremy - Pearl Jam.
Solitude Standing - Susanne Vega.
Various unknown tracks - St Etienne.

Not the one in the blurb, this guy had 3 rooms.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tesco daily washroom photo

A Dyson family dryer so tough that it takes the paint from the wall as it takes the water from your hands.
Rock not Grunge.
Not sure quite how many years it is but Pearl Jam's "Ten" is being reissued soon. Surely one of the most underrated albums ever and the real bridge between the heavy rock of the seventies and the insipid junk that much of today's stuff is. Quite why nobody successfully picked up the PJ model beats me, maybe it should've been me. "Jeremy" still makes the hair on the neck tingle and is truly scary, "Even Flow" would eat most of the current rock scene's show-gazing ting ting for breakfast and still have room for a double cheeseburger. Might need to make a rare attempt at a music purchase.
They're selling postcards of the hanging.
Choosing a lyric as a poem to help the kids homework was never going to be easy, first thoughts were mostly early Dylan based, "Desolation Row", "It's alright Ma" etc. then I relented. "What do you like at the moment?" Lyrics and poems are awkward subjects for 14 year olds, Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, Keane, Doves? We settled on U2's Beautiful Day, not bad when printed up and read out and even better sung in the car or dancing around the kitchen.

Tonight's tea was mostly a fish based affair but not for me, thanks to a glut of leftovers and freezer management initiatives over the weekend I am the recurring theme of food and drink certainly for the next few days or until I succumb to the hotel food option that will catch me sooner or later.
Another strange cat is crossing our boundaries and sniffing our flap, hmmm. Lights are blinking off and on and their are traces of disturbed food and disturbed adults (normal enough round here), it is only the beginning I believe.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saxo Neds

Of course all generalisations are wrong so please forgive me for generalising over chav twats driving stupidly modified Saxos and then littering the roadway as if in some traditional and necessary bad-boy process. The junction by our local MacDonald's by the Forth Road Bridge seems to spawn convoys of these feral litter-bugs, twittering out of the drive-thru onto the main road discarding fast food debris in their wake. I followed once such dullard today and was considering ramming him, luckily my machine guns jammed just as he was in my sights, then he sped away for some other cerebral rendezvous in the nearby Burger King car park no doubt. Thankfully I was headed to Fife where I believe under certain ancient Kingdom laws you can still be birched for looking sideways at Saxos and have a much beloved finger removed for possession of a wide exhaust pipe.

Comic Relief was harrowing and not comic or funny. The clips are of course moving and provocative, the comedy and posturing that surrounds them is mostly banal, predictable and dull, proof that many of our revered comedy geniuses are simply not funny anymore. Shame, at least the cash was raised, what would they get if they were funny?

Yesterday's birthday party in the Play Planet in Dalgety Bay was good fun. My one year old grand daughter being the star of the show, resplendent in a Princess Leia outfit - see Facebook for a visual feast if you're a pal of mine.

Missie the cat gave me an unpleasant surprise this morning as she carried out a series of feline reprisal attacks for being (accidentally) locked in the spare bedroom for 12 hours. Of course I thought she was away catting or mousing or some such but no she was doing what cats do best on the bed and on the sheepskin rug. What joy when I opened the door this morning and she ran out and I surveyed the scene and the smell.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hangover TV

I woke up this morning thinking of how I'd never seen a dog stealing sausages from a butcher's shop. Even when butcher's shops had sawdust on the floor and that big red meat slicer thing in the window it would have been impossible. What about sausages in brown paper bags? Will those days ever return?

Hangover TV is best defined as being Soccer AM on Sky 1 on a Saturday morning. Brainless, trivial and worse than reading the Sun but OK with a coffee and a sausage sandwich.

Friday, March 13, 2009

At the Academey of Speling Mistackes

No 69 in the series "Pointless Vehicles parked on grass".

Crow conflict

I'm puzzled by the apparent current popularity of crows amongst the rich and famous. It seems Imelda May had a pet crow that she raised from a chick, but couldn't look after so she gave it to Jeff Beck. Eh? What did he do with it, put it in his hair? I feel my old crow paranoia returning following on from the last skirmish in the legendary "Crow Wars of Parkhead". Then again perhaps I should be out looking for rejected crowlings and offering them sanctuary as some kind of Karmic gesture. It's all possible.

Pointless lists of non-vehicles

More confessions: I've watched Citizen Kane at least four times but I just cannot like it, the plot, the corny backdrops, the dialogue or anything. I still prefer Viva Maria or Easy Rider but I've still happily argued that CK was the best film ever for many years whether drunk or sober.

I've never seen "Love Story", "Mama Mia" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

Over the years I've listened to and owned four Bob Dylan albums and I liked them all but that was quite enough thank you. I do like his theme time radio.

When my dad said that Jimi Hendrix was an "ugly, noisy, long-haired idiot" when he first appeared in 1967 I agreed with him. About a week before Jimi died I changed my mind and bought Electric Ladyland for £1.00 (my mum collected it for me from a record shop in Dunfermline).

I didn't bother watching Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon. I was at Army Cadet camp and thought the space race thing was all a bit dull. I lay on a bunk smoking a fag and reading a dirty paperback instead.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trumpton riots revisited

Song of the day: HMHB Trumpton Riots.

Do you ever think of how difficult it is to keep up with films and books and music? How can you stay in touch with what's out there? The easy answer is not to really care and avoid all the pressure or even more easily lie about what you've read/heard/seen and form an opinion based on nothing in particular or a quick gander into Wikipedia.

Of course every so often you feel the need to tell the truth about what your views and actual experiences really are, ahem:

I've never listened to a single Leonard Cohen album in my life.
I've never listened to the Beatles "White Album" but I can't stand it.
I've only ever heard about 20% of Neil Young's work but would consider myself a fan.
I've not seen Trainspotting.
I've read half of a Jack Kerouac book and no William Burroughs.
I've not seen Slumdog Millionaire and don't fancy it much.
I've only listened to "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen and none of his other stuff.
I've never purchased a Beatles or Rolling Stones record in my life.
I only started listening to the Grateful Dead about two years ago.
I've read one Shakespeare play and about two lines of Burns.
I avoid Coldplay whenever I can.

Now I feel a bit better.

Power Walkers

What's up with these people? They walk around at nights in odd shaped groups, over dressed in sports apparel and acting like walking was some special treat, how do they get about normally from A to B? Walking is a normal, everyday activity: couch to TV, TV to fridge, fridge to couch, couch to garage, garage to garden and so on. You don't need a special costume or a set of pals, just move freely in a chosen direction using your feet and legs.

Power walkers staring at a passing toy helicopter.

Monday, March 09, 2009


This is about something that is taking place somewhere else and it involves many things but mostly lost words. I am an expert.

Thank you all for the snowdrop medley of reminders, threats and other random feedback, particularly via Facebook and the odd burning envelope shoved through the letter box. Tricky to read and have you no sense of common decency? If I go silent for a short while it's only because I'm thinking about the length of time it can take to boil pasta or I'm recollecting the whereabouts of the many potholes and bits of broken road surface that have annoyed me today.

Fell asleep on the couch last night not watching Elizabethtown whilst somebody else was. I thought those days were over, nice that they're not.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

My Snowdrop friend

Snowdrops dropping in actual snow: 08/03/09.

I'm grateful to our correspondents at the Daily Reckless for some updates on the current local values being speculated upon for this season's snowdrops, the top pic's crop would probably be worth about £100. I'd say that these bottom beauties would get at least a grand on the open market, maybe more from an ice cream van offering them to eager schemies and the upwardly mobile. As they are residing on our property (as far as you can ever have property or ownership) I'm now feeling the unfamiliar light headedness and intoxication that comes with a sudden unearned increase in wealth. If you are in the Mafia and reading this then please put the suitcase full of money somewhere in the snow by a fence post near to Fargo. I'll find it eventually come the spring and your consignment of snowdrops will be in the trunk of the black Lincoln Town Car in space 37.

Notwithstanding any of those arrangements I'd be happy to broker a deal with any ex-bankers or lottery winners who may have some spare cash they'd like to convert into something more organic, stable and with real growth potential over the next few years.

The Mars Bar sweet mentioned previously was an unexpected if exhausting treat. I ate it all and slept like a bloated chocolate log.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Work, rest and played out

It does look a tad more peely-wally than I recall.

OK they are not what they used to be, the recipe has changed, the food police have neutered them by removing their sugar balls and great thrusting, pulsing chocolate veins but they remain an iconic snack and have conditioned a generation into believing in the work, rest and play ethic. I love them still, particularly straight from the fridge or microwave. Confused by the sizes though.

Why not try this gravity defying trick at home?

Ali sees them as sinful but necessary, Castro said they were decadent, Marianne Faithful never did do what they said she did with them, Bowie wrote"Life on Mars" about them, Johnston fired them frozen at the Vietcong, they were given the freedom of Slough (no-more), they are deep-fried in religious ceremonies in Fife, they've been to the top of Mt Everest and the moon, Obama keeps one under his pillow and one in his jacket pocket but Gordon Brown hasn't tried one yet.

Tonight we're melting them with cream and floating Maltesers in the resultant sweet and sticky soup. I canna wait!

Friday, March 06, 2009

My work on Earth is done...

...or so I thought, like the mythical Gort because in a small way I have brought peace, prosperity and some quaint wisdom to an area of West Lothian the size of an Argentinian postage stamp. Having thought about it though, I now realise that I've still to make the path in the back garden a bit more "wiggly", there's a spot of ironing to do and those cats won't feed themselves. Ho Hum.

I'm very sorry to hear that a number of innocent diners have been poisoned at Mr Heston Blumethal's restaurant, more victims are coming forward every day it seems. I consider myself lucky, I've never eaten his actual food but I have also felt a little unwell when seeing it shown on TV or even hearing people describe it. Whatever the overall toxic effect I hope he survives to concoct more surreal foods, as long as they are not eaten by anyone young, feeble-minded or hungry. The world needs cooks, that much is obvious but it needs good pies a little more.

We're catering for guests this weekend so I adjourned to the shops (avoiding the petrol stations) for supplies. Once inside our big blue shed I was overcome by a strange compulsion to buy things that were labelled £1, whether or not they were worth it. I also wondered about "stocking up" on things we don't actually need or in some cases use, I managed to resist. Must be age related.

The blues is on the radio tonight - incessantly hammering in my ears; bends, wails and hollers, misery and failure and turnaround phrases, trills and excessive use of the word "baby". It's all Gary Moore's fault apparently.

We've a complicated regime in place just now to control the cats when in the house. It involves a) knowing where cats are and b) not opening doors thoughtlessly. So as one door closes another opens and a cat escapes, so my work on Earth continues.

I've no idea what's going on in this picture, I just quite liked it. The man is Justin Timberwolfmother and the girl is too thin and tall for anybody but she has a small dancer on her head.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A short history of ready meals

What old people should eat to remain well preserved like me.

In the news today, which frankly you either read out of boredom or the need to leer at the misfortune of others: Old people are living on ready meals these days it seems, sorry don't see the problem. Well some people would dream of living on ready meals, particularly if they were the £10 specials from M&S. In fact I'm already forming a retirement plan centred around eating, drinking and doing Christmas shopping from local petrol stations where bright multi-coloured ready meals dominate the shelves along with rugged torches and obscure DVDs. Great value, great selections and no need to endure public transport and tedious journey's into part bombed city centres resembling Prussian battlefields and tram graveyards.

I also heard that a school in the garden city of Falkirk has abandoned the subject formerly known as history. Normally this would anger me and I would rant in some unstructured way without making any clear point. Now, clothed, washed and in my right mind I see some fine irony in history in effect being history itself. A perfect day spent listening to Neil Young, MGMT and the Groundhogs whilst eating a ready meal that was more surprised than ready.

History no more, education no more, sense of belonging no more, understanding the complexities behind the Italian civil wars of the nineteenth century - no more.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The restless...

Tricks of the light and weather dominate the days, uncharacteristic measures and relying upon toasted segments of dried bread to sustain the softening machine. It was chilly in the backwoods but the floors looked marvelous. I remain your faithful, confused correspondent.

Fixing mobile phones is never easy. I'd suggest going to a professional every time and, once you've understood the Polish accent and the low volume of the speech, secure your in-house repair. A new screen was duly added with much snappy plastic sounds and clinky noises and switching off and on repeatedly. Now it works and I am £35 the poorer but family communications are restored so we can relax again.
The snow froze like concrete snow this morning despite not registering as being below freezing - odd, and so late in the winter and early in the spring. The little birds and rodents compose their letters of complaint and post them for onward transit on a ladybird's back to Mother Nature and her board of eager helpers.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Any given Tuesdayish

Impossibles early incarnation on a beach by Lake Constance and I am not really that shape. It's a trick of the lens.

Today was a rubbish day at work so I'm glad to be home and at 2030 starting to relax and thinking about the work we need to do for our next trip to Germany to record to succeed. There's a fair bit to do and time is running away with work, rest and play getting all confused - nicely.

The design of airports leaves me puzzled. Instead of getting you quickly onto the plane and on with your journey they want you to spend more and more time shopping , strolling in Betjeman's canteens and not travelling. That's not what we want, we want airports to be like bus stops, you step up, step on and go. All this in built delay and dead time needs to be tackled and killed not exploited and stretched out. Once the airports are fixed can we please start on cut in bus stops on busy roads? This tedious rant was inspired by two trips to Edinburgh airport and a queue of traffic on the A8.

Food today was a divine combination of Limekilns pie based business lunch and toasted cheese avec salami and mango chutney once I had returned home to the couch along with Ali, our laptops now interconnected in a lavish and mysterious wireless connection that that makes all other forms of coupling seem clumsy and primitive.

On TV the baffling and pointless Mistresses, where a series of actors feign shock and surprise with painted on expressions, mockney good looks and suburban animal indifference. Not sure I see the point but then I've been hooked by Lost and no TV seems the same anymore.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Aberdeen Daily photo

The local authorities' financial crisis has had a devastating effect on civic amenities in Aberdeen.

A bright and warm day in Aberdeen, but not for me today. Back home to discuss the always engaging and entertaining topic of mobile phones with cracked screens in the good company of the staff in Carphone Warehouse. Oh how they laughed, oh how we thought, bollocks, what can we get on Amazon that's a cheaper solution?

Funny how things like DVD players and CD players get cheaper whilst the stuff you really need/want/lack doesn't. Of course it's down to the triple curses of product life cycle, recouping R&D costs and economies of scale in the Eastern markets except for...

We can now print without wires, an Ali solution to the tangled wire problems that have plagued us and tripped us up for ages. You can print whilst stirring the beans on the hob, toasting your toes by the fire or struggling to escape the clutches of a warm duvet and all for £69 from Pee Wee World. What was I saying about things not being cheap enough? This is a ridiculous bargain and every home should have one, Peter Mandleson are you listening?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Laughter from a passing car

Whilst I struggled to carry an enormous bag of coal on the streets of Aberdour (not sure of the bag's exact contents mind you), the two shadowy figures in this car had a good laugh at my expense. I allowed myself a small chortle at their reverse parking thereafter.

Busy weekend mostly spent falling backwards into mud in an Aberdeen park, driving in rain, grandchild sitting (ancient Scottish sport and pastime), watching football in Inverkeithing, cat calming, Alfred Hitchcock musing and putting up shelves and pictures in the hail-stone hit Fife resort of Aberdour.

I am back to normal now and sitting at the news desk appalled by the cheap and ludicrous rhetoric employed by Harriet H. If there's anything worse than greedy bankers it's ignorant and arrogant politicians who have failed to grasp the basic concepts of democracy. Of course this isn't really a democracy, once the votes are cast and counted the manifestos are burned, and then policy is made up as we go along to suit a whole other set of agendas.

Domino's Pizza should be good for the price but isn't. Could it be some of the taste is diluted and bases shrink as a result of that long truck journey up from Penrith?

Quote of the weekend from an Aberdeen pub: "A bottle of Magners, and four glasses please". I kid you not.