Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rocky Mountain Way

Back home from the Rockies...unforgettable and fantastic...and jet addled. Thanks to Air Canada for a nice job, free internet, nice noodles, drinks, Toy Story 3 and four episodes of "In the Loop".

Meanwhile Tony Curtis is gone and the Flintstones are 50, as is their baby elephant vacuum cleaner, my favourite stone age gadget of all time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Great Urinals: No 3

The last word and the last post from Canada and strictly speaking something that is a little more than an odd urinal. This is of course a bear proof dunny from high up in the Rockies, sheathed in it's own one person timber shed. Main feature is a disturbing 15' drop into the dry "black hole" area. The smell? Well it's designed to keep bears away. The technology? Primitive but effective. The justification? Well it is a lot better and safer than going behind a tree; smoking whilst on the can is not recommended.

Great Urinals: No 2

Still in Canada, this one is from a sports bar in Granville Island, Vancouver. It appears to work according to the same principles as the other but of course the object of the exercise is to score a field goal - per American Football, and get the tiny ball over the bar. Alternatively UK and lesser placed colonial visitors may well decide that precise peeing on this is in fact a perfect opportunity to practice some rugby moves.

Pacific Ocean Blue

Looking out west from Stanley Park, the ten oil tankers are parked up and the sun is warm, sea planes buzz past and the puddles are steaming and drying up. We're about to cycle 18 miles around the coast, drink cold beer, eat salad, shrimps and cheesecake and just wander the shore side markets doing nothing in particular apart from being tourists. A perfect day.

Great Urinals: No1

This footballing themed urinal is in the "Elephant and Castle" Pub in Vancouver. Housed strangely enough in the building used in the TV series "Smallville" as the Daily Planet's HQ. So to get maximum fun from this urinal you need to hit the dangling ball (?) and then get the (dangling) ball over the line. A couple of pints of strong ale may be required to power the apparatus and so get a result. Best used in solo mode, not advised (by me) as any kind of team sport.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Long Train Running.

Canadian Pacific Railways: The journey from Jasper to Vancouver was a strange but mostly enjoyable experience. The train carries an odd mix of passengers, mostly the cast from Cocoon, railway geeks and folks with a crippling fear of flying - and Japanese tourists. A cruise liner sense of community is fostered whereby everybody mingles except when you can make it back to the sanctuary of your own cabin. Four days of this would be unthinkable, a night is just enough. Meals are random affairs where you sit with incoherent grannies and Scottish lunatics whist enjoying decent food and very civilised table service from the railway attendants. The views and scenery are fantastic although a kind of “tree” madness descends on some as they respond to the millions of forest giants lining the route. I began counting trees when driving up from Calgary but quickly abandoned the count at the first set of traffic lights, others not so lucky have persisted with counting and teeter on the brink of some kind of tree mania.

In the late afternoon we finally got lucky with the wildlife. We were up in the iconic observation dome still mesmerised by blurred trees when the shout went up, “bear on the right!”. As we were at the rear of the 22 carriage train we had time to prepare and sure enough, five minutes later the bear was spotted. A little black fellow munching vegetation with his back to the tracks. A huge cheer broke out amongst the geriatrics and drunks and high fives were exchanged. Now we were a team. Some guy with a camera the size of a portable TV had captured the moment and email addresses were franticly swapped so that the precious pic might be shared. The bear meanwhile faded into the distance as we headed west and back to civilisation. Ali was however given her ceremonial Indian name “She who looks for bear” or “Chingachonk-Bana” as it is in the native Pawnee language.

There is no hurry with this train either, no fixed schedule, people are vague about timings and it stops and starts and crawls subject to the vagaries of the mountain and weather gods - as if they cared. This listless approach lulls passengers into a careless stupor which in our case was amplified by a liberal amount of alcohol, all at $7.00 a shot. Through the shiny panoramic glass I observe nameless and remote places I’ll never visit and am comforted by the thought that at least I’m not driving nor am I really affected. Canada rolls by like a pleasant film backdrop, replayed a hundred times over but still unrecognisable as anywhere in particular.

After the evening meal we returned to find our cabin had been transformed for night time use and bunks replaced the two reclining seats. Sleeping was easy for me, Ali chose to look out of the window all night and became both hypnotized and comatosed. Even the omelette, toast and honey that made up the early breakfast (6.30 Pacific Time) could not easily reinvigorate her.

Showering on the train was fun, I managed to find the compartment and get in as it gently rollicked along only to tip a bottle of what I thought was shower gel on my head. It was mouthwash. The water was warm and as the train was still moving slowly I felt safe enough - at 100 mph it would have been a different proposition. So now onwards to Vancouver and the West Coast.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Icefields Parkway Daily Photo

The weather around here is interesting and changeable to say the least. Somewhere in the foreground and the distance is an ice field the exact shape and size of Fife and as deep or deeper than Loch Fitty.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alberta daily photo

Funny how there is always something annoying to be found in any car. This Nissan Rogue has a loose number plate, the self tapper screw is stripped so it cannot be tightened; therefore it rattles. Complete niff-naff and trivia of course and well and truly compensated for by the warm weather (?), hot tubs, cocktails and spectacular scenery. That's me in the spotlight, that's me reflected in the chrome.

Banff daily photo

Tree shadows cross Bow River Falls at 1500hrs.

A triumph for Canadian Pacific and a surprisingly good place to shop.

Looking down on Banff from 7676ft on top of Sulphur Mountain - on a chilly morning.

A long way from Kansas and everywhere else.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Highway #1a Revisited

The last time I drove on a Highway #1 it was from Miami to Key West. This Highway 1 is a long, cold, desolate, strange and semi-industrial piece of winding road that passes Ghost Lake and assorted other ghost towns and abandoned pickup trucks until it opens up, the clouds part and you realise you are in the Rockies.

In Canada most things are made of wood or steak, a fact I like, however I've yet to find an iHop, 7/11, any Welch's Grape Juice or peanut butter M&Ms, the quest goes on.

Tip of the day: if you encounter an elk on the street (or anywhere else, maybe your hotel room or in a hot tub?) make sure you remain at least three bus lengths away from it. I will do my best.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Complicated relationships...

...exist between the sky and the earth. When you add a human factor to the relationship it gets quite interesting and can be dangerous. The other useful additional thing is of course a sheet of tough glass.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

More ridiculous

Who is more ridiculous, the Pope or the Dalai Lama? The Pope re-energises with each generation like James Bond or Dr Who in a puff of Papal white spoke - by that time too old to change or possibly even care. The Dalai Lama however reincarnates into some chosen small child once he reaches the end of life's long runway. The child will be brainwashed by lunatic monks into thinking he carries on the golden thread of the godhead and then parade around the world saying deep and not quite meaningful things for the chattering classes to consume. Meanwhile life on earth goes on...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bottle Bank Blues

Public spending cuts have now struck a devastating blow to the community that clings on to the edge of life (as we know it) at the Newton. The bottle bank has moved! This meant that the numerous wine and vinegar bottles rattling about in my boot had to endure 25 miles of speed bumps and cobbles and my bad red light driving around Edinburgh before I returned (full circle) to the Tesco talking bottle bank which was, conveniently NOT WORKING! How I hate this blabbering, electronic and pointless conveyor belt. So it was down to the faithful SQ Coop where the clinking mass was eventually deposited, thus leaving a nice beer, wine and balsamic vinegar cocktail swilling around in the car boot. Just don't ask about the Coop policy of closing all the checkouts after 20:00 so that all purchases have to be made at the lottery till.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Walter Kasper is wrong

Dear Walter the friendly ghost says that landing in Heathrow and visiting the UK is similar to experiencing life in a Third World Country. Wrong! It's more like landing in some Eastern European ex-Soviet State that is rusty from it's dimly lit core. Our economy is fucked (in certain key areas) and we are morally and spiritually bankrupt, led by lunatics and to make matters worse we persist on driving on the wrong side of our potholed roads.

Following in the footsteps of the Pope

Tomorrow Mr Pope comes to town and there will be some disruption and muted Catholic frenzy; some people will be happy, some disappointed, some will stay hurt, some will be indifferent, some will experience an experience and SuBo will sing. Most of us will get on with our lives and nod either way and watch the biased aftermath on the news. Fame, power and position are peculiar things, proven to be empty and strangely unfulfilling. I bet that much of the time the Pope and the Queen must just wish that they could just walk away from their assumed responsibilities and simply sit in a cafe somewhere and enjoy a cup of coffee whilst scanning the daily paper. Maybe, or maybe they are sadly delusional enough to believe that their duties are actually more important than the quality of their own precious lives.

Meanwhile on Sky Arts Jimi is still playing Berkeley 40 years on.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I've no idea

The remnants of a lost weekend following on from an explosion in a chutney factory, the ritual and unplanned squashing of toads and high level tree based fruit picking. As the weather closed in about us production intensified into a wide range of fruit based products, some liberally doctored and fortified with Leven's finest and Fife's national drink. These emulsified products will be released and cleared for general consumption in a few months, possibly by 2011.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chutney Diaries

Some raw materials, duly gathered.

Fruit torturing equipment for the S&M fans.

Early stages of the elaborate stewing process.

Hot and steamy as the definition of simmering is discussed.

From pan to pickle jar in one simple and slick movement.

Leave to cool and ferment for at least three months (first batch).

It was later in my life when I was introduced to chutney as both a consumer and a manufacturer. I use the term manufacturer loosely, it was more as willing Munchkin. My duties were simple enough, shake trees and gather fruit (plums, apples), climb trees and gather fruit (plums, apples), gather fallen fruit (plums, apples), bag fruit (plums, apples), sort and wash fruit (plums, apples) and peel/core and stone fruit (plums, apples). Awful sharp cutting devices were employed on these production duties, huge spinning blades, sharp and ruthless knives, ice cold water and hot metal implements. To soften the physical pain numbing amounts of alcohol were consumed as we danced in a mashed up fruit cocktail of pickling frenzy. I was bloodied and bound but strangely ecstatic, somehow lifted by the experience, the raw process of creation, the boiling and simmering, the temperature plateaus and then the joy of bottling or compressing the rich mixture with a final twist of the lid.

Somewhere in the background wild and ragged conversations raged, “Was Jesus a contemporary of Elvis?”, “Who does the Pope think he is?”, “Why are there not more Masonic Lodges in Scotland?”, “What kind of business is Google really in?”, “What does Felicity Kendall apply to her face and bottom every night?”, “What exactly would you do if you had a fully stocked cellar full of handy spices, vital ingredients and useful groceries?” , "Has the cat got a mouse in her mouth?“. There are of course no clear answers to any of these.

Later I was granted a bit of a day off and spent it wisely but used less time than allocated. I had a few loose, straggly and grey thoughts and then read the Sunday Times from cover to cover, very little of it made sense but I did make friends with black eyed Miliband Brothers (creepy), swooned at the apologists for the Papal visit and then was puzzled by the condensed diaries of Christopher Isherwood. Soon it was time for a coffee and a warm Kit Kat as lap 18 sped past my glazed stare - at Monza.

I am careful not to overeat except for those periods of fulsome and healthy gluttony that I occasionally allow myself, having said that I no current chutney fantasies at all. Once made and secured ready to ferment chutney represents little danger to the general public, it’s explosive phase having passed. It can therefore be stored in crowded cupboards, pantries or in some other cool dark place that is seldom vacuumed or disturbed such as under the stairs. Once mature and of the correct viscosity it may be given away as additions to already complex Christmas presents, as a social gift or as a spontaneous treat for workplace colleagues.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lifetime continuity explored

Still life with cat and fresh fruit.

Sitting in the crowd at East End Park today (4037 certified attendance) I realised that in terms of lifetime continuity it's here that I have the most ongoing lifetime history. I first arrived here with my dad in the early sixties when everything was literally black and white, one of the few places we regularly visited together and in fits and starts I've always kept coming back. As a teenager, then as dad, as a puzzled fan and as a dad and grandad, again and again. So sitting up in the West (Norrie M) Stand (?), where there once was just sleepers and dirt and looking around I see many weathered familiar faces and bald heads, ex-Dockies from Rosyth now wider in the waist, Toon people from the Kingsgate, ASDA and Park Road School, the same wheel chair folks, Hurley from LOST, old retired gits, boys from the local football teams and Sammy the Tammy. Half time means pointless banter, daft raffles and penalty kick competitions and of course a Stephen's Bridie, steak naturally, never the mince and onion variety. Final Score: Dunfermline 3 Dundee (City of Discovery, Desperation and Despair) 1. That'll do nicely.

Friday, September 10, 2010

£445? Kidding?

Odd, unseen and interesting photos: Recording sessions for the second album...

Shepton Mallet in 1970 - but £445 for a photography book? Not for me.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Right to be wrong?

The problem with making sensible decisions is that so is everyone else.
Why do we strive for excellence when mediocrity is required?
Don't try to please the client.
Have you noticed how the cleverest people at school are not those who make it in life?
If you can't solve a problem it's because you're playing by the rules.
You don't have to be creative to be creative.
You don't have to be able to write to be able to write.
Don't seek praise, seek criticism.
Sometimes it's good to be fired.
There is no right point of view.
It's right to be wrong.

A million times

Today I crossed the Forth Road Bridge for the millionth time (approx), it looked just like it does in this picture but less purple (I added the purple to signify the deep anger that resides in the inner steel soul of the great bridge - I sense it at times). It was Simon Mayo who said nothing particularly interesting on the radio but he did play a nice Neil Young tune the other night as I waited so he can be forgiven. I do a lot of waiting and forgiving, two of my best skills. For a period I undertook the right hand lane traffic and felt smug, then they all accelerated past me and had their turn at smugness or maybe they were largely unaware and focused on their own simple progress. That's how you get when crossing bridges. A large silver Nissan chugged past me "too big for his own good" I thought and then decided to continue to keep left and to follow a furniture van and some other vehicle. Soon I was at the other side and had completely forgotten any of the elements that made up the short but numerically significant journey up until now. Tomorrow it will be my lifetime millionth mile on the A904.

A local tree does an impression of a weekend mind map.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


...and when I come home cold, grumpy and tired from work and a parent's night with a spot inside my left nostril, it's good to know you've made me a fish finger sandwich and that I don't have to bother with the egg, mackerel and noodle concoction (or nipping into MacDonald's) that I was hastily planning and considering when sitting at the red traffic lights at the Echline Roundabout listening to Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 talking about the way you get your 1st Test cricketer name formula as opposed to your porn star or rock star name formula: American president from the year when you were born and the last British seaside resort you visited = in my case Eisenhower Nairn.

Burn the Koran

Burn the Koran if you like but that probably wont stop people reading it, believing it and interpreting it in their own special way - it will also contribute to global warming; naughty and some might say sinful.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Google v Religion

The Google Priests confuse the world with their gravity defying ball display. Heresy, arrogance and catastrophe some might say.

Time etc.

You could have said that it was like ticking away those moments that when put together make up a dull day. Looking deeper into things I could have been accused of frittering away the hours in an offhand or casual way, not the way I normally go about business. In a desperate attempt to do something I took a bus over to Fife to meander further, kicking around on a piece of ground (ground of all types is always available) in my home town and waiting. There is the interminable waiting for someone or even some thing to come along and show you the way. So, irrespective of the effort expended, no matter how long you live and all being well how high you fly, metaphorically speaking life goes on for a while anyway. You will continue to give smiles freely and there are tears you will likely cry, basically the whole gamut of emotions are on display as part of this process. Should you have the skills you might find that quite unexpectedly you are balanced on the perfect wave (how cool would that be), the downside of this bizarre journey is that you are ultimately headed for an early grave (not a major surprise but you’re stuck with it) , not sure why, these things just happen. Time passes.

Eating bear.

The ancient and indigenous peoples of the Canadian Rockies used to say: "If you can kill a bear and then you eat the bear in a salad or prepare a bear pie or fry a simple bear steak you are then consuming the soul of the bear and you then have dominion over the great bear kingdom." Quite a powerful and attractive position to hold some would argue. One of the region's most powerful meals is a bear rump steak topped with an eagle fried egg served in a basket of sweet potato chips, or so I am told.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sweet mystery of urine

I'm fed up with urine. There is too much of it in the world. People are drinking lots of useless fluids only to have to pee them straight back out again. It's time to stop all the drinking, socialising and peeing madness and find something better to do - until the weekend.

  • The majority of fluid output occurs via the urine, approximately 1500 ml/day (approx 1.59 qt/day) in the normal adult resting state.[3][2]
  • Some fluid is lost through perspiration (part of the body's temperature control mechanism) and as water vapor in expired air. These are termed "insensible fluid losses" as they cannot be easily measured. Some sources say insensible losses account for 500 to 650 ml/day (0.5 to 0.6 qt.) of water in adults,[2][4] while other sources put the minimum value at 800 ml (0.8 qt.).[5] In children, one calculation used for insensible fluid loss is 400ml/m2 body surface area.
  • In addition, an adult loses approximately 100ml/day of fluid through feces.[2][6]
  • For females, an additional 50 ml/day is lost through vaginal secretions.

These outputs are in balance with the input of ~2500 ml/day[2].

One of those things

A spokesperson said that it was just one of those things, just one of those fabulous things, a bit like a trip to the moon on gossamer (or some other similar substance) wings, just, as it were one of those things. Our regional correspondent then called to say that it had in fact been just one of those nights, just one of those magical nights, unfortunately like most nights it had been followed by a morning type of experience and in the process some of that magic had perhaps rubbed off. There were though a number of happy memories remaining and there were other perhaps less tangible benefits that had also been accrued, just one of those things once again. Then as it happened another correspondent mentioned that it was another of those things, in fact a crazy fling some had said, apparently not dissimilar to one of those bells that now and again for no particular reason rings like another one of those as yet unnamed things. A sweet simple pleasures. So don’t quote me on this but I heard that had we thought of it when we started it (the royal we?) then we may not in fact have undertaken to paint the town - unclear on the colour scheme here folks. After that it all becomes a bit garbled and thermal energy and it’s quick release is discussed (yawn), anyway the general consensus is that it was fun for the most part but didn‘t add up to the sum total of it‘s parts if that is possible.

Meanwhile the psycho path man says that there is still four weeks of work to do - and the trees are falling down and the roads are rising up and the rain is lashing down and the peanut butter has odd lumps in it.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fife Diet

Some inhabitants of Fife.

Good to see the Fife Diet is still going strong, generating healthy publicity and presumably helping a few fragile souls in Fife live longer and feel better. It may well keep some nasty 18 wheelers away from the B roads and claw back some sales from the big 4 supermarkets. If only then: a) I was in Fife and b) on a diet. Unlikely.

Papal Visit

After the great invasion of geeky Scientologists comes the great September Papal invasion. The reluctant young Nazi himself will visit these shores and bless his many followers as he steps on UK soil and kisses the airport tarmac, lets hope he also blesses a few potholes on the way north. His blessing (whatever a blessing actually is, who really knows?) will cost our struggling economy £12m but sales of Papal tat and nonsense will be around £17m, so that's ok then. The bus companies, vendors of shite and motorway policemen on overtime will do best out of this ridiculous State Visit while sensible folks, as ever, look the other way. To add to the spectacle Tony Blair will no doubt get a private audience and an impression of the Pope's ring somewhere on the cover of his latest book . The Queen may also pocket a few quid in complimentary backhanders and the BBC will provide full and sycophantic coverage in HD of course.

This whole affair both intrigues and annoys me as it would any middle-aged, jaundiced sceptic. The Catholic Church, a simmering mound of pyramidal corruption, founded on a piece of misquoted scripture, battered murderously into shape by politics and planted in the gilded city of Rome from where it has been ruling and exploiting, ruthlessly sucking up to itself for nearly two thousand years without a proper challenge to it's ludicrous existence ever being made. So now, as before we bow to this glittering Roman drag queen and his minders as he visits, holds masses and generally gets in the way of buses; repugnant, almost as repugnant as Islam and err...Scientology, so back to where I started then. You are the masses? Open wide, here is your dose of opium.

Big Cat

I happened upon this fine fellow whilst out for a stroll yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Cocktails & Cats

These are the cocktails...yum (and me a confirmed, working class, socialist, beer swilling, real ale drinking, chip dunking yob (and a cocktail virgin at 54.95).

This is a cat...sorry no multiple cat type creatures were readily available at the point of taking the photo.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Man made natural disasters

Despite their naturally cheery disposition and various endearing Irish associations I'm finding that the mass farming of potatoes is a most disappointing activity. These cheeky chips rise in plant form like green marble giants suggesting a rich and bulky crop of pure, golden tubers that will feed us all through the long cold winter months so avoiding costly trips to some tin supermarket or other. Then the vigour dies, a mid life crisis occurs in the dark soil and they fizzle and fade like forgotten fireworks in a damp shed. So as I sweat, swear and arch my weary back digging up the expected harvest I find that there is a 51% failure rate in those that have spawned and in that 51% at least 17.5% have worm holes - not the good kind either. Why didn't I apply some dung? That leaves just the plums and apples to come.

As if the tattie crop catastrophe wasn't enough I find that the Psycho engineers and their great earth moving machines have created a veritable dust bowl out front. Four days of unseasonal dry weather and numerous 20 tonne vehicles have agitated mother earth causing great choking clouds of particles to rise high into the atmosphere and then fall on our local community. We are covered in disturbed material or if you will a thin and dirty film - a bit like Naked Lunch. Meanwhile the debris strewn causeway to Fife is still heading out over the sea and into the distance and does the pudding headed control freak Uncle Eck Salmond know about this alternative Forth crossing and if so who is underwriting the funding?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Ghost of John Bonham

His ghost does not haunt this blog or anywhere else, as far as I know, so please remain calm.

Under Construction

Enjoying the evolutionary construction and release of CBQ's latest work..."Splinterheart" out now.


I ventured out into Scotland's capital city to see the sights and hear the sounds. Some of sights and sounds came along in the form of the tight, jokey, warm and highly skilled musicianship of the trio known as Townhouse . Should you get the opportunity to see or hear them then take it. They are: Lisa Rigby - vocals, guitar, mandolin, percussion; Stuart Clark - vocals, guitar, cajon, percussion; John Farrell - bass, guitar. So there.