Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cappielow pitch invasion

A beautiful afternoon in Greenock saw Morton and Dunfermline square up for a game the result of which could give the Pars the title a week early- and did. A goal in each half saw us emerge easy winners and League Champions after four years in Division 1. As the final whistle blew good humoured mayhem broke out in the form of a mass pitch invasion. Not often that all the results go well for us, the soap dodgers of Falkirk and Kirkcaldy both got beat and the swindling pretenders at Dundee won their game but got hee haw overall, a nice day's work.

Hot sun, no pies or bridies all afternoon, just two burger vans for 5000 fans, no wonder we were going nuts.

Wembley style goal post attack, almost.

Championship team photo with the Pars travelling fanbase as a backdrop.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding fever cools down

Buttons and the Overdressed Sisters await their cab now that the ceremonials are over and done.

Thankfully the wedding fever in West Lothian has died down and life is back to normal: chasing stray deer and cats, dishwasher sculpture and compost juggling have returned to their usual places and this temporary love affair with all things royal has passed. I didn't actually see the much of great event, I was detained in Asda Dunfermline and B&Q Hermiston Gate for most of the morning, such is the pattern of a typical public holiday for me. B&Q was fun, a brief argument with a fellow pension dodger over their inventory system saying one thing and she saying another resulted in a win for me but no apology from them. Never rely on hand written sheets for your system, rely on the machine, it's seldom wrong and "one set of numbers" should always prevail.

Back home and after a confetti like blizzard of witty and very funny wedding related tweets it was back to home recording efforts, revisiting the equipment's finer details and as is the custom entangling the entire area. Three hours work and I has three (very rough) demos done, ready for the perusal of the lead singer herself. It's hard work being a part-timer musician and a full time moaning consumer but at least I dodged the big wedding and all the sycophantic rhetoric that surrounds it, anyway I hope Wills and Kate have a nice life in and out of the spotlight.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Am I alone in thinking?

Grateful Dead: Funny how many of the famous people who have died recently are credited with “changing the direction of modern culture”. It struck that if artisans and luvvies of all sorts continue to die at such a furious rate (mostly due to bad lifestyle choices dating back to the 60s and 70s) and their unmanaged crediting continues, the direction of popular culture might end up going full circle. If these deaths increase, as is likely, then as the cloying and exaggerated obituaries are penned for the Telegraph, Times and Independent modern culture may indeed start to spin on it’s own axis. Eventually it may spin completely out of control and possibly (if all goes well) completely out of sight. It may eventually spin into some glorious cultural vacuum where, as they say, the sun don’t shine.

“There’s nothing as sad as the laughter of people who have lost their faith.” I wish that I understood that or do I mean I wish that I misunderstood that?

A pause for a Pot Noodle: I was bored I think, I wasn’t particularly hungry, I’d eaten mostly toast and various pieces of fruit that day and it was, or claimed to be sweet and sour. On opening the pot I was straightaway disappointed, like turning onto Radio 2 by mistake. The noodles were all far away, compressed into the bottom of the pot, hiding it seemed. I added the water, a lot less than the instructions demanded and left it to stand for what I imagined to be five minutes. I then returned to it and stirred it with a fork. I also added a little more water and stirred again and waited a few more minutes. Then it was time to add the sachet of sauce. I cut the pack open and squeezed, the contents dripped in like an alien blood sample. Sweet and sour, pot and noodle, wet and dry, fibre and plastic, hot and cold, two for £1.20, Asda Roll Back. I drank a pint of cold milk thereafter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Windows Pain

Slowly saying a not so fond farewell to this flag of inconvenience, it's stupid updates and adversarial attitude, I need an easier life, somewhere across yonder shimmering horizon. Will I miss it?...not really as I'm stuck with it at work and in various other places. Anyway after the false (but long lasting, still running) dawn that was/is UBUNTU it's back to the Mac.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Lego ship sails away

Well constructed Lego vessel plies trade in local bath.

Bathroom: Nice to get over the painting the bathroom ceiling, the mess, the mayhem and the mystique. The actual painting time is insignificant in the overall process, the majority of effort is removing all the bathroom street furniture, the bottles and paraphernalia to a place of relative safety and then, perched on ladders, toilet bowels and bath edges scrape the old and flaky paint from the walls and ceiling. The paint of course has long since ceased to be paint or to behave like paint. It has transformed itself into sticky flakes of a white unearthly substance that floats from above and then congeals neatly into itself and onto whatever surface it lands upon. Ideally this will be one of the many newspaper covered areas but more oftener than not the paint flakes wily aerodynamic design allows it to travel to all sorts of other places. Like a shoal of slippery floating fish the paint particles find new places to land and cement themselves., hiding from their catcher. For the enthusiastic painter the only option is to pursue each errant flake and harvest it into the black bag. This process takes and inordinately long time, causes major frustration and delays the painting but once done the fuller and more creative works begin.

White on white in bright sunlight is not a helpful effect to have to live with or work within. Like executing the portrait of a beloved but always twitching albino cat in a blizzard happening in an avalanche whilst sniffing cocaine. Paint snow blindness skews perception, spatial awareness and the sense of distance. White spots dance in front of other white spots set against an Artic background. Then you drop the brush, kick over the paint tin or rub your head against the wet ceiling. You alight from the moving ladder and walk around checking things only to realise that your new spirograph footprints are the result of steeping on that fresh white blob. Only Laurel and Hardy ever made more of a meal of this. In a year’s time where will we be with this? It only took a few short moments really.

Game of Thrones: Two episodes in and despite the familiar nonsense running through the whole genre that this represents , GoT is starting to accumulate a respectable score of “must watch points” and “jump moments” along with the usual “awful and lame dialogue” and “stupid name to give anybody” blooper counts. Also there is a strong and unexpected “attractive animal” content and attraction in there with the domesticated but spiritually aware wolf characters looking good. You can hardly go wrong with a healthy smattering of wolves in a fantasy plot in my view, unless it’s the Twilight series. The sex scenes are just plain silly however and look to become fairly tedious as the story unfolds, the Tudor‘s bedroom choreographer needs to be given a call for series 2.

As good as it gets: There are those perfect moments but none are ever as perfect as imagined perfection. They are something else, ideal, blindingly happy, maybe beyond any regular category but, like the rest of life floating in either a mediocre sea of lukewarm soup or framed perhaps by edgy disaster or acute discomfort. It doesn’t really matter too much, the simple trick s to recognise them when they come along and then maintain the memory and resource to recall them and feed on them when you need to.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Zombie Sunday

Birmingham Airport: Still life with chairs.

Another busy weekend burns out quite satisfactorily. Little bits of things almost accomplished, completely finished and done and dusted:

Back and forth to Aberdeen for the happy birthday of a grandson.
Lego challenges.
Western themed restaurants can be fun, have you tried an Apache bun?
Rain stops work but I read the Times in relative peace.
Giant eggs appear on a piano.
Said piano's life story is researched via a leaky shed in Inverkeithing. Guitar prices there remain a puzzle.
Macbook, macbook, macbook and more macbook.
Plants planted, mice caught, pots drenched.
Football matches both Saturday and Sunday return good results.
Paint scrapers come in sets of three and in perfect packaging.
Bikes and Karts at Knockhill. Irn-Bru and Coke, spring water and coffee.
The sun shines eventually.
A single fish, a fish supper, rhubarb and custard and Magner's pear cider.
A couch is definitely a sofa and should always be referred to as such, particularly by those who know what they know.
Holidays from blogs and the like.

Aberdeen: Still life with hot dog.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Game of Thrones week

Too many elections and voting choices resulting in too many fliers, supposedly personal letters, irritating party political broadcasts and predictable editorials in all the papers along with annoying comparative pieces about the party leaders and activists that try hard to make them sound interesting. May and all the games it provides is lurking around the corner. There will be blood.

Gripping new drama, scenes of a sexual nature, mild violence and half decent but fully acceptable (in the context) production values, not quite a stellar cast but familiar character chewed faces, some seasoning from the Tudors and the threat of monsters and magic somewhere over the horizon, the script has more mean looks and grunts in it than dialogue. Sounds like Game of Thrones, based on “A Song of Ice and Fire” chronicles the nobles and hangers on struggling to control the Iron Throne of Westeros. The first episode is over.

The spring fogs that hang across the Forth Valley like badly parked clouds are a joy to behold. These irreverent plumes of lost vapour sit on the river like a frigid blanket, sent to dampen down the twin bridge’s spirits and test the light bulbs on the cars and signs. The patches are never quite strong enough though, never deep enough to smother all the daylight allowing the sun to meekly smile through it all, glowing with the smug knowledge of the coming summer as the fog rolls away, far out to sea set to rejoin the vapours and powers that we on land never see or appreciate. Home.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back home

Nice to get home after a couple of days working in the balmy temperatures of the south; unbroken sunshine and 23 degrees of April warmth. The weather god smiles on our English cousins. Arriving back tired and hungry it was (almost) straight into the fridge to rediscover a few choice leftovers from Sunday's epic roast dinner. Creamed parsnip, garlic rolled roast beef, broccoli and deep green peas, all scooped onto a plate and microwaved back to life. A meal fit for Lazarus and a hungry traveler.

Next it was a review of Fraser's TV debut on the Beechgove Garden, miscellaneous other media, catch up on Facebook and Twitter news and a load of washing swirling around in the washing machine and of course that dreaming cat fast asleep on the stairs, completely uninterested in any of our pointless comings and goings. What are our travels and our trials? Mere feathers in the wind.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Garden open day

A beautiful day for opening your garden up to the public for charity. Fraser and Karen hosted this event and raised £660 in the process. See more on BBC1 Scotland Beachgrove Garden: 1930 18th April.

Plant expert Fraser Drummond explains the history of the plant known as "Mary's Tears".

The garden, or at least a small part of it. Magnificent.

Tadpoles, busy being tadpoles.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vet school

Missy the cat keeps herself hidden as we bop along to the vets for some cat maintenance. A sunny pleasant morning today, Edinburgh looking almost good, traffic light and a huge stock of daily newspapers awash in the car. Thoughts turned to far away fish pies, gardens and pathways of great stubborn weeds and occasional sun spots probing the clouds. Saturday mornings don't really last long enough.

On a wall by the vet's surgery this strange graffiti exists, a cartoon warning or celebration or something completely unrelated. Who can every get into any artist's mind and (looking at most modern art) who would really want to? I'm lazy about understanding and appreciating most things but about art I'm more ambivalent than anything, let it just wash over. Nice to have something to say but it's better if you can articulate your basic message enough to allow it to be understood. Then again it may all be some kind of code, not meant for the like of you...and you just don't get it. As for the chattering classes...(three dots in a row will do).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Castle for sale

Somewhere in Belgium apparently, needs a little work, serious offers only please.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No good science fiction left

Daily sandwich photo: Part of the ongoing lite-bite regime and the ritual avoidance of elaborate preparations and washing up = a late in the day salad sandwich. This is because today's food intake strategy involved avoidance, firstly the free muffins and cookies in the Flybe Lounge, then a stodgy business lunch and finally a Wetherspoon's greasy tea at the airport - all well and truly dodged. So it was the alternative and golden (healthy) path that I took. Five bits of fruit, some nuts and cranberries, smoothies and then more nuts. Now I feel full of nuts and fruit; trouble is none of this slowly digesting food really feels particularly healthy at the moment.

Birmingham daily photo(s): Observed today at the Midland's premier airport. The use of supposed anti-terrorist bollards (why else are they there?) as advertising space. Odd to see these suicide bomber deterrents all set out in a massive line and festooned with adverts for Estee Lauder products. A strange juxtaposition of measures that compliments neither thing; the chronic need to sell anything and everything at airports and the manic need to defend airports against unknown madmen in bomb carrying trucks. If, like me none of this makes any sense to you then perhaps I can feel a little less alone tonight.

Estee Lauder's product placement devices march away to some vanishing point in the short stay car park.

Unrelated comment: Ali says "there's no good science fiction left", perhaps she's right.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Good advice comes in many forms but is seldom seen on motorway signage. The makers and authors of the signs clearly don't see that their signs are in themselves a distraction, that their puerile and patronising messages are a source of frustration and that they contribute to road rage and (excuse the previous blog) unhappiness. Today on the rocky road to Livingstone the signs proclaim "Avoid distractions when driving", what the hell does that mean? Every drive involves distraction, all round observation, judgement and concentration, juggled in the mix and changing by the second. The trick is knowing when the distractions are turning into dangerous situations or actual opportunities. Save us from big, stupid, patronising brother and his desire to spread the word by any available means.


Website overwhelmed apparently. Happiness can be pretty strange. Happiness can be addictive but what if they make it compulsory?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Watkins Electric Music

The Watkins logo

For all the old timers out there, this is the valve driven, battleship quality stuff we grew up with. Very potted history can be found here. I recall the wonders of the ER40, PA40, ER100 and the Dominator, never did have a copy cat however.

Pre shower blog

First Honeysuckle breaks through.

Not working until the afternoon today so a new and strange AM behaviour pattern emerges. Mostly revolving around getting up later, having a later shower and having a later breakfast, that and fiddling around on the laptop for half an hour insulting people on Twitter and absorbing the news. Nice to be comfortably middle-aged, suffer mild post gardening pains, hangover free and be in no particular hurry for a change. Next - SHOWER.

Irrelevant historical detail: As you can see the exploitation of religious icons is nothing new, as a fifteenth century T shirt vendor hawks Jesus designs by the side of the M4 near Windsor. She ran low on inventory when demand outstripped supply and shortly thereafter she was taken away and ritually sheep dipped - according to the artist's notes on the rear of the canvas.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I still like this, it's better than many of the actual exhibits in the Gallery of MA. What a Luddite and cynic I am (am I?).

Beautiful day to today. A stay at home and do the garden day if there ever was one and I did stay at home and gardened as if I was gardening for Scotland. So I cut more grass, pulled more weeds, pruned some shrubs back (but not too far) and then mended the fence that forever needs mending. Cooling quantities of beer were required at about 1500 and then as working related hand blisters persisted I hung up my spade, fork and rake at 1730 or thereabouts. I'd also run out of petrol for the mower and the (2) brown bins are full of cuttings. Home brewed curry for tea and Ali brought in an apple pie and Malteser cake from Dobbies so those two extra treats finished me completed, zonked by the TV, wined out and Modern Family et all by 2000.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Jeff Koons

On a strangely sunny April day we visited the Jeff Koons exhibition currently running in Edinburgh. The verdict? A bit disappointed with the depth and range of material on display, the steely caterpillar being the most striking piece with the millionaire shortbread and an espresso in the cafe coming in a close second. Art for art's sake, coffee for God's sake.

Meanwhile Ali's back from China (as per the reunion inspired sculpture above), the grass has been cut, M&S foodstuffs prevail and for once the BP station at Echline is cheaper than at Murco, bizarre and unpredictable oil related economics.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Is Neil Oliver really an arse?

Neil Oliver, not altogether happy with his chicken nuggets. The question is who is currently the biggest irritant in Scotland? Neil or Ian Gray or even the perpetually howling, spitting firebrand that is Alex Salmond. The truth is that I'm just jealous of Neil's luxuriant hair, Ian's status as a world traveler and Alex's ability to pick a winner at the gee gees.

Try as I might I cannot stand to watch this hairy historian guy on BBC2, Mr Neil Oliver you are too much. His enthusiasm and enunciation and the irritating use of grand visuals and evocative but irrelevant locations have almost killed my love of history (yes I like old, exaggerated stories and fictional facts made up by people who should know better). What is it a) about Scots presenters on TV and b) the Scots like me who are irritated by their own kind?
Since January and thanks to an inspiration moment watching Alex James (ex Blur) discussing the power of dairy products to remove body fat (in a basic way) I’ve lost a stone. I’m happy with that but I do wonder where that 8% of me has gone. Presumably much of it down the drain as waste, some as sweat or other fluid, some ingested somewhere (defying my understanding of physics), some just staying still and wearing away other weaker parts (?), some sticking to my clothes and ending up in the tumble dryer filter, some burned away as energy as I avoid lifts, escalators, short cuts and run up stairs or carry supermarket baskets full of juice and washing up tablets around err…supermarkets.
M&S smoothie - vanilla bean & maple syrup. The package looks healthy, the taste is great but I’m not sure.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Knitted art and cartoon of the day

Due to an unexpected bout of spring fatigue and over indulgence in homemade soup and fudge (curse you fudge) the creative juices appear to be running low or at the very least are running at about £1.32 per litre therefore rendering them unaffordable. That's my excuse and I'm seriously considering sticking to it. The problem is that I never stick to anything (in creative terms) for too long. A lifetime of untreated span of attention problems are now coming home to roost albeit they are taking their time. That's due to their own inability to concentrate I suppose.

You may well recognise the woman represented here in colored wool. It seems that there is a lot of knitted art about these days unlike in the Renaissance when mostly oil paints, donkey urine, burnt umber, Biblical inspiration and fossilised cheese were used by the old and derelict masters. After that there was a complete descent into insanity followed by periods of war and depravity, this led to the ultra modern modernism and the rest is history. Nowadays artists get arrested just for being Chinese.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A plague of frog

Nice swimming technique.

It is written that in the last days there will be all manner of signs and great portents in the skies, floods, wars and turmoil and possibly the odd, isolated plague of frog, often turning up in plant pots surrounded by large expanses of relatively dry land. Signs and wonders indeed and there are still at least two toads in the coal cellar.

Meanwhile a group known as the EBible Fellowship believe that judgement day will fall on may 21st this year. Oh well. The oxygen of publicity is a great thing.

Big Pink etc

It's probably true to say that the best music is simple, at least simple in it's construction and the concepts it describes. The thing is that it is really difficult to write songs that work on a number of levels, pack a punch and describe and illustrate the basic issues that we humans grapple with. Songs that say something about common experiences and problems in a few short minutes and stick with the listener in a memorable way. Big Pink, after all these years still works, still communicates, still sounds good. I wish I knew why and how.

According to songwriter Robbie Robertson, "The Weight" was inspired by the films of Luis Buñuel, about which Robertson once said:

(Buñuel) did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood. People trying to be good in Viridiana and Nazarin, people trying to do their thing. In ‘The Weight’ it’s the same thing. People like Buñuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn’t necessarily a religious meaning. In Buñuel there were these people trying to be good and it’s impossible to be good. In "The Weight" it was this very simple thing. Someone says, "Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say 'hello' to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You’re going to Nazareth , that’s where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you’re there." This is what it’s all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like "Holy Shit, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say 'hello' for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament." It was very Buñuelish to me at the time.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

West Lothian ruins

Many a good meal cooked on the old range, but not for quite a while. More West Lothian ruins explored and hastily documented before the new season's growth obliterates them. Nice to see nature fighting back here and there.

After a quick hop across to a blustery Fifeshire to watch the usual Sunday morning football experience it was back to the Lothians for a brief return to gardening. The garden has a weary look about it, the debris from last year persists, odd and unknown things are sprouting, bulbs poke through and into bloom and the grass is stretching. Dead material needs collected and burned or brown binned if there is room. Next weekend should see the years first cut take place (the ancient mower will roar and spit fire once again I hope) if I can remember to refill the petrol tank, then the long roll out of garden maintenance can begin. As the eternal optimist I may even plant some seed spuds and hope against hope for a decent crop.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Stone skimming

Funny how skimming stones can all be used up on a beach and then a few weeks later a fine crop of them returns. So whilst the conditions were far from perfect we did manage a few decent skims, into the wind and across the waves maxing at 6 or so. Then there are the swings, rope swings that appear and are maintained by we know not whom, I'll call them the "swing gypsies" for the want of a better name. I imagine that they arrive at dead of night with their knives, ropes and sticks and set up swings, testing and approving them and then disappearing back into the mist. I only ever made up rope swings once, when we lived in the rambling Inchgarvie House I set up two tyre swings on a tree in the garden, not sure if the swing gypsies have adopted them and are still keeping them right, I hope so.

Ruins by the shores of the Forth, there are a few.