Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rock Star Biographies

They are out there, on Amazon, in every bookshop (those that have survived the cull that is), in charity shops and on Rubbish biographies of rubbish rock stars, beware innocent and naive reader, you get less than what you pay for. Anyway these hairy, gaudily shirted chaps look OK and no doubt they have a decent tale to tell. I believe that they were all rather good at playing their instruments too, happy days.

Tea tonight: Cheesy pasta and football with a cheeky rocket and tomato selection on the side. Yum.

Halfords visit: Not one but two headlight bulbs blown today - £15.99 and a brace of screwdrivers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh for summer

Wearing winter clothes in August, plumbing the temperature depths, no European football, getting used to petrol prices being £1.32 a litre, mud, another day at work in Scotland, the best little drab country in the world. Write a song about it then.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Building character

It's assumed that real men do not eat it but neither do imaginary men either. Those of us marooned in the inconvenient space between those two diametrically opposed compass points, conflicted, bemused, deluded and just a little bit hungry would certainly consider it at a pinch. So it seems I've come to that point in my life where I can tolerate and even enjoy this form of food. So I ate some whilst my youngest grand daughter pasted herself and the surrounding area with the remains. In the end I feel that the overall experience has in some hard to fathom way built me up inside, something I'm sure many commentators would say is badly needed.

I don't quite know why I take some perverted pleasure in the Edinburgh Tram smash or the crisis in Scottish football's status and self confidence. I suppose it's a benchmarking thing, you know your gut feeling is right and that your opinion is sound. Then it's as if events stack up and prove to you that the awful truth you feared (but questioned your own judgement over) is indeed the truth. So what's wrong in these two completely separate areas?

Trams: a bad idea from the start, the railway system should have been used to create an airport station with a light railway from there connecting to the terminal - saving £500m at least. Bloody obvious. To make that happen a few councillors and politicians would need to admit that they got it wrong - not likely in my lifetime.

Football: At the roots the 11 a-side youth teams are often run by competitive dads who field a) their own kids first and/or b) tall kids who can punt a ball but lack skill c) pitches and facilities are poor and the weather kills enthusiasm stone dead. Skill is not developed because it's win at any cost, kid's are disillusioned and the risk of hypothermia haunts the touchline of every fixture - a lot of still born talent is the result. The fix, refresh structures, encourage skills, bring in trained and unbiased coaches and be prepared to wait ten years for results to show. The actual professional clubs need to reduce prices, allow standing and encourage families. Tricky.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Anstruther daily photo

Following the week's football fever to Bankie Park in Anstruther, a home from home of grassy untidiness. I'd a few minutes to check out the harbour, tranquil, quiet and all early evening weekday within minimum tourists present. The grey clouds and summer chill hanging over as expected. The clouds were soon to turn into two hours of relentless rain, built in hell on the hills and set to accompany the football. Meanwhile, all over Anstruther a flick of the nostril and all you smell are chips cooking in the distance and corn oil vapour hanging like smog as the two main chip emporiums battle over who is the greatest in the western world, kind of pointless really. I can remember there being at least eight chip shops in Anstruther at one time, the best ones have actually gone now, lost in a flurry of chrome counters, polystyrene cartons and food hygiene regulations. Shame.

My mum used to tell me a princess lived in the town once upon a time but I didn't really believe it, clearly I was wrong. She probably didn't come for the climate, the witty Fife banter or the culture. Must have been the chips, quite understandable really.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


A cat is locked in a pen made of fine wire mesh. Inside the cat is asleep, (the cat has been in the pen all day) beside the cat on the floor of the pen there is a dead mouse. How did that happen?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soul Breakfast & misunderstandings

An extract from “Doing the right thing at the right time and other random thoughts” by Kay Debenham:

Soul Breakfast

Today's attempt at a Soul Breakfast consisted of a lonely white coffee, a bottle of Tropicana orange juice with bits and a cherry Elevenses bar by McVities. To my mind this isn't a soul breakfast, this is an unsatisfactory, disappointing, makeshift, solitary, at your desk at work kind of breakfast conspicuously lacking a soul of any kind. The term “soul breakfast” needs to be defined and described in more accurate and creative terms. Firstly I generally don’t do breakfast, when I wake up I'm not really hungry normally, I'm happy to shower and go, start the day on the hoof and catch up later, maybe at eleven or so and generally speaking ignore the soul and breakfast thing altogether – but something tells me that they are both equally important and need to be catered for.

Of course the problem is that therm soul has been hijacked by charlatans, religions, quarks and other unscrupulous groups becoming a debased airy-fairy way to describe the indescribable ghost that allegedly lurks in the centre of our skulls and eventually passes on either to heaven or hell or moves on in reincarnation or some other altered state. It also describes an intense musical culture and performances filled with heart and emotion that cross over at times into a clearly religious territory of some sort. Then there is actual soul food: Cajun cooking, catfish, red beans and rice, chicken, corn bread, garlic, eggs, bacon and various herbs and spices. Good as this food is it's not what I want from a soul breakfast, I want something else. Something that will nourish me and those I share it with, in a complete, holistic if you will, way. No religion or belief systems, prayer, meditation, Tamala Motown or fried chicken then please.

So what should a soul breakfast have?

  1. Sunshine – that's important, hard to come by round here but a basic part of the set up. At a pinch daylight might have to do.

  2. Company – you can't soul breakfast alone, loved ones, guests, friends are necessary.

  3. Set up table – comfortable, pleasant but uncluttered.

  4. Oven – on and whirring in the background, keeping the food warm so time can stretch.

  5. Conversation – easy, tough, doesn't really matter, it should ebb and flow and rise and fall.

  6. Smile – if you can, better to start the day that way. Laughter good if possible.

  7. Dress code – isn't one.

  8. Music – again keep it light, let it gather in the background.

  9. Chef – somebody has to take this on, it can be shared which may be better, lend a hand if you can.

  10. Food – whatever you like, whatever is available, simple as that. It's good to eat but it's better to get together.

Misunderstood lyrics: I heard an earnest sounding Christian lady on a religious radio programme pick Bob Marley's Redemption Song as a favourite. I don't think she could get beyond the title, that's always a problem with songs, taking the first available message and misunderstanding it without bothering to check. Of course Redemption Song isn't about any Christian redemption or “payback”. It's about singing songs of freedom instead of singing the old missionary redemption songs. Redemption Songs was in fact the title of the deep red songbook passed out by Christian missionaries containing the old hymns and standards that formed the basis of the strict European worship passed to and imposed on confused children and “converts” across the Great British Empire for over a hundred years. Some publisher must have made millions from it as it was handed out as a foundation and anchor for church services across the globe. I guess Bob Marley and his generation must have come to hate it and see it as a piece of the relentless propaganda trotted out by generations of oppressors, teachers and overlords to indoctrinate the masses and keep them occupied on a Sunday.

“Wont you help me sing, these songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have: Redemption Songs, Redemption Songs, Redemption Songs.”

The bigger hope clouded by the years of frustration, despair and disappointment is clear in the lyric and in the delivery, this isn't about Christian redemption but about the opposite albeit Bob M get's the Almighty in there for a quick mention, but on his own terms. It's his defiance that still resonates, even after all these years and as we all know defiance, regardless of the cause, always strikes a chord. People sing, hum along and buy into all sorts of things set in lyrics sometimes quite unwittingly. You've all heard the church choir having a poke at Lennon's “Imagine'. I suppose that once it gets out there, you have to let it go.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Traveling backwards in time

I'm quite enjoying the time travel experience. I've just arrived and it's 1971, various things are happening - so thank you for the days but they are moving across my field of vision very quickly. That's time for you, here today, gone tomorrow.

Diary of silence.

When I'm on my own, or omo as it's known, I hardly make any noise. I creep and slink and pad around the house and behave as if noise, either generated by me or in the background is to be avoided at all costs. To make noise sometimes feels like smashing a mirror or attacking a piano with a sledgehammer, crazy and unacceptable behaviour. Occasionally the radio might be on or some music may be played but always set to the low end of the sonic spectrum. Changed days from rocking out and constant noise pollution, screaming guitars and vocals, pounding drums and out of tune singalongs. When did the golden silence start, when did it first descend? I guess it goes back to the early days of “baby in the house”, now some 30 odd years ago. At that point all my learned and adopted behaviours began to change and as the little tikes exerted their right to sleep the volume control came down like a slow turning guillotine of parental, self induced pressure. In turn they are given licence to bawl, shout and play games and watch TV at whatever level, parents rights erode into the vapour. Now there is truly only the occasional need for me to be quiet but despite that quiet remains the default. I listen on head phones, I strum the guitar gently, the amplifiers languish in a cupboard and cats sleep on top of them unaware of their potential as unexploded bombs. So I'm here, trapped and oddly guilty, stuck behind a wall of habitual silence that cloaks and chokes. This isn't the way I planned things but it is the way things are. A science fiction reality, breathing through tubes in noiseless cocoons avoiding ASBOs and not allowing the outside world to eavesdrop on my life, shutting in and shutting out. Paradoxically it's the opposite in the car, a noisy speeding coffin filled with spewing speakers and karaoke banter and ranting. Baffling really.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tiny robots

He is in there somewhere.

I was thinking about writing a short story describing the social and domestic adventures of Hamish and Fiona. They live in a Wimpy house in Bishopbriggs, drive a Renault Clio, holiday in Tenerife and have cat called Simon. Fiona is a social worker and Hamish is an excavator operator but he's currently on sick leave with back pain and vibration white finger following a spell on the tools. Fiona would like to travel more but worries about budgets and bank accounts, her job keeps her interested but she's sure there is something more fulfilling for her just around the corner. Hamish's ambition is to rescue abused and abandoned greyhounds and then find them decent homes with stable families. Anyway I was thinking about starting on this, naturally adding in few bizarre twists and strange events along the way. Then, as usually happens I completely forgot about the whole thing.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Steampunk

Yes it is Jessica Rabbit. It's a good design but maybe not appropriate for a T shirt. Click the link to buy via Red Bubble if you will, a useful site where I occasionally dump photos myself.

In other news I've been traveling back in time with more living zombie members of the Rolling Stones, this time to the existential Exile period, memories are made of this (and also electrical brain sparks and connections). I just can't quite fathom where the time has gone. Back here in the wild west the neighbours are showing the film Super 8 in the garden, unfortunately the weather has closed in and picnics will be on the damp side of soggy, not a great year for outdoor events apart from the miraculous day we spent at Wickerman. A distant but very pleasant memory (currently being relived on the August credit card bill) which must have used up all my available Karma Points for the summer. Total eggs eaten this week = 9. Yogurts = 7. Bananas =4. Cereal bars = 6. Vimto = 1 can. Yogurt goes on to meet eggs in the final tomorrow, who will be the champ?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Would you credit it?

Wednesday: A day without grace or favour it seems, sunk in a whirlpool of worky, testy types of things and relentless bad weather. I decided to wash the curtains to cheer myself up and despite being temporarily beaten back by a large spider I managed to remove them from the rail. Then it was a mad dash to the machine and a carefully chosen programme - lowest temperature but maximum disinfectant. I celebrated this triumph with knifeful of Nuttella and accepted the full sugar rush as a down payment on inconvenience and years of recurring back troubles. The drive backwards was uneventful enough and for a few brief seconds feelings of euphoria and unexpected holiness flooded over me. At that point the sky seemed to darken and I momentarily took my eyes away from the road, you know how it is, next thing I see ...

Monday, August 15, 2011

History of the Stones Part 99

My ongoing research into the history and adventures of the Rolling Stones continues and occasionally surprises. An extensive search of papers, files, records and shoe boxes has turned out the old letter shown above. Funny the things that you discover hidden under beds and at the back of closets.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Person of restricted growth

This Lego DV lookalike is taking up valuable sales space in the John Lewis Emporium in the fair enough city of Edinburgh. The trouble is that he's slightly out of scale, complete with a full size head but only three feet worth of height. He looks like the kid in the VW ad or an Ewok in disguise, maybe I'm just missing the joke as usual. Tidy piece of work though.

Meanwhile I've recovered from yesterday's brief dose of the Tram City Festival which seems to consist of great crowds of mixed up European tourists milling around, queues of Australians around cash points, miscellaneous opportunist beggars and various kinds of street theatre with magic tricks using thick and quite attractive pieces of knotted white cord. Somebody somewhere is making millions from this annual charade and general Tom-foolery, the local economy is clearly over stimulated and rampant. The feeding frenzy is strangely infectious and also disturbing; everybody is trying hard to have a good time/cultural experience/spot the celeb/talk it all up/get out of it/get into it or just survive. It's what people do best I guess and a life without festivals would be exactly that.

Today the rain almost relented and I relaxed into primitive gardening mode, hot, sweaty and all cut back to number two on the imperial lawnmower scale after three weeks of green and swirling anarchy. I feel fulfilled.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Edinburgh Daily Photo

Lots of tracks, not too many trains. Framed by foliage the mighty rail terminal that is the Waverley, constantly being repaired and upgraded, redesigned and renovated. The problem is that despite all these efforts and grand schemes it hasn't really improved in 50 years, apart from the end of steam and smoke and you cant get a car anywhere near it. Outside confused tourists stand bewildered as great tides of people stream by, shoppers and junkies mix, police and traffic wardens look for new customers, somewhere over the horizon and in some secret streets a festival of some kind is taking place.

Wandering along George Street to experience a little of the mud and the blood of the Book Festival drinking coffee, cream and carmel and avoiding the rain. Book lovers gather and stare at great piles of books, authors sign copies, sup on lattes and try hard to look cool and interested. It's that time of year again, hoping for big sales and decent returns and a break in the weather.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Deep blue nowhere

At times that's just the way you see things, for an alternative view see below:

The best advice you'll ever receive: "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Not the opposite:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blowing up bridges and sleeping on a bed of money

There are many things going on, in and around in people's heads, even now, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. One from Bob Servant on Twitter:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ghost Hotel

Ghost hotel: a cool new chain, available all over the world in many fantastic and exotic locations. Just make sure that your expectations are ready and set at low. This one hasn't seen much action for quite a few years, access available by road (just) but arrival by sea, in daylight is advisable. Beware camping hippies, wild dogs, poor sanitation, infestations of various kinds and the sludge at the deep end of the swimming pool. I also hear that the catering standards and the staff conduct leaves quite a lot to be desired. Avoid the all inclusive package if you can. On the plus side the weather is great and so are the views and if you survive the first night you may well get most of the beach to yourself.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

July (Turkey)

Turkey's own version of ASDA, quite unspectacular really. Much of Turkey's infrastructure and structure could be best described as ramshackle or verging on the pleasantly chaotic. The rest of it is unfinished, unsafe and absent. Interesting place to visit.

At night orphan cats come out and sit on the roofs of still warm parked cars, then they check out the tourists and the passing lizards and chickens. It's a life I suppose.

From a boat deck strange islands float past in a deep blue and deeply salty ocean or sea or some kind of body of water. Sunflakes sparkle across the water and it's time to relax, lie back and enjoy a cool drink. Turkey is OK.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

July (Greece)

In Greece when you ask for a large beer you get a litre of the stuff in a glass boot. As a tourist this makes you feel a little exploited at first. You get over that feeling once you've finished supping the beer. Funny the effects you get with alcohol.

On a tree in a car park somebody has painted a cat chasing a mouse down the tree trunk, an unlikely scenario. Of course this image may have it's own deep meaning and significance in Greek society. Probably belongs to some political party or anarchist group.

In a cafe a stuffed and dressed hare armed with a shotgun welcomes all customers - except me. I didn't find the prospect of being help up at gun point by a large animal particularly attractive.

Friday, August 05, 2011

July (Wickerman)

It's been a very busy July, too busy to blog or stop and think, however these are some catch up photos from the Wickerman Festival in the South West of Scotland.

Wickerman awaits his fiery fate, in the distance.

Incredibly blue skies meet and greet at the arena entrance. Between the two stages we saw a number of decent bands; Feeder, the Coral, the Pigeon Detectives. The best bands however were on the second stage - two ska outfits, tight, loud and a lot of fun, oh and a Johnny Cash tribute, you never know what you're going to get and, best of all you never know what you're going to like.

Festival domestics are interesting and colourful at times, wish I'd thought of this as a company name.