Monday, April 30, 2012

Hair of an old man

I woke up this morning with old man's hair. It was mostly on my head and none of it was running the right way, it was old, badly behaved and cantankerous, it had lost it's elasticity and it's memory. It was like fake hair. Like straw or thread or some lifeless grey thing that had knitted it's way across the top of my head and was now travelling on it's, of it's own accord in some direction I couldn't quite fathom. Bitter and peppered with too much sunlight, car exhaust fumes, sugar and not enough hormones. Then the awful question, “does it have a funny smell, like old people do?” That's all you need first thing in a day destined to full of maps, computers, electric mirrors, biscuit fibres and packet soups, tales of time travel and desperation and remote examples of unproven food poisoning – none of it to do with me. On days like this, when you are thinking the thoughts of a young man or of a man at least a half of your age you don't want to be bogged down with the frizzled frustration of your old hair. At least the experience has given me a strategy, a way forward, a plan, a bit of revenge. I'll be there at the barbers on Friday afternoon, looking across the sunlit Firth of Forth and watching that old man's hair fall onto my shoulders and onto the floor as it's snipped away and swept up in a dustpan, punished like the regular and persistent offender it truly is and then stuffed into an imaginary cushion that's gifted to some care home or bit of imagined sheltered housing, there to hold a sleepy head, a tumbler of false teeth, a saucer of digestive biscuits and a rolled up copy of the Daily Express. I will go down of course but I will be fighting and I'll ignore, inhibit and ethnically cleanse the aspirations and false claims of this rebel hair. “£8? Keep the change!”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Curved dog on green grass

It was nice that whilst I was in Aberdeen yesterday wrestling with the young 'uns, eating birthday cake and walking dogs the Aberdeen football team were down in Dunfermline. There they were soundly beaten by the mighty Pars in what might be described as an upset or more accurately our first home win of the season. On the road home I celebrated the event with a double cheeseburger at the traveller's haven that is Forfar MacDonald's. Sitting in there with small children we were subjected to some more of the master strategy of Olympic marketing. Each happy meal now contains a stylish pedometer with which you can measure your fitness (or "rainbow points creation" according to the instructions). If you shake it rapidly above your head whilst sitting eating you also get a very good score. So cooped up then in a MacD's in Angus at nine o'clock on a Saturday night we can't escape the long bony finger of long bony fingerland promotion, a finger that, if sucked, would no doubt taste like chicken nuggets. At least we're all in this together, perhaps even willingly.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Big A marks the spot

Big A says "here's D&G Autocare's Inverkeithing branch!".
Being a person who thinks in straight lines I thought I'd use that peculiar skill to go home today via a motor car tyre emporium and thereby renew the worn tyres on my worn car. I did and my first point on that mental but not geographically straight line was Kwik-Fit Inverkeithing. They have tyres alright but  they only had one in the size I needed and it took them 50 precious minutes to find that out and tell me about it (lesson learned, phone first no matter how painful the concept of a motor car tyre sized conversation is). An hour later I'd bought that tyre but was still two black circles short. Happily just around the corner sits D&G Autocare, they're not as glossy and slick as Kwik-Fit but they had the correct tyres and they fitted them with the speed and precision of an F1 pit crew (well almost and not as inept as a Mercedes F1 pit crew either) despite being obviously busy. Three guys plugged in my new tyres in under 10 minutes, a really good and helpful service that I would dare to go out on a limb on and recommend  to one and all. Surely this proves that I'm not so grumpy, world weary and negative all the time and it's Friday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Dull Gothic Refuge

Interior brain shot - detail.
Give me strength: Somebody on Radio Scotland has been popping chemicals today in a big way, Drive-Time was filled with a selection of awful slow news filler items, each of which defied memorisation but each of which was delivered in such horrid, shouty and high frequency modulating tones that I was almost physically unwell whilst jogging home in the slow lane of the M90. These tedious stories were full of "amazings" and "fantastics", words that would be banned by any self respecting fascist state or tin pot news agency. It was like an acid fueled episode of Blue Peter in the nineties, all teeth, mascara, puppies and charity cardboard. They bodged up a bizarre item on dancing in the Barrowlands as part of the Cultural Olympics and then had surreal imported report from the inquest of the poor "death in a holdall spy" that sounded like some hyped up Enid Blyton story. All we need now are more of  the desperate slavers of Ali McCoist and the grizzled grumbled whispers of Walter Smith as they try to justify Glasgow Rangers' serially criminal business behaviour over the last twenty years. Perhaps of course I'm just a sad miserable soul and the chirpy sounds of radio friendly chit chat and trite current affairs are too much for the dark and gloomy Gothic innards of my brain's passages and my clogged up cynical consciousness. That and it being a wet Thursday as well.

And what's more: Ah yes (as above), it's that lamentable Ewan McGregor / Tom Kitchin / Dennis Lawson Scottish pretentious twerp accent and brogue. These guys live their lives in a perpetual mist of "amazing" and "wonderful" experiences, they must be knackered by it all really. You can just  imagine them exiting the privy and sharing the truth about their "incredible" daily bowel movement and "marvellous" bog roll wipe with their "gorgeous" wives and "brilliant" children...still a wet Thursday then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Flying Saucer for sale etc.

For Sale. Flying Saucer, 1 careful owner, currently parked on a Bulgarian mountain top, $1,000,000 ono. Not in use at present but has potential, possible restoration project. No time wasters please. Use comments box if interested.

Still on the theme of flying:

 Skyscanner has concluded that the most sought-after spot on a standard aeroplane is seat 6A.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Down on the windfarm

Industrial monstrosities. I don’t much care for wind farms and I don’t much care for Donald Trump. Renewable energy needs a bit more work and less of a Heath Robinson approach, too much of it seems like bad science and awkward political desperation – so any idea is better than no idea. Let's (in Scotland) try and be good at something, let's recover a little national pride now that we produce hew-haw in the way of manufacturing so let's catch the wind via Chinese engineering and Korean investment. That'll restore our stubborn tartan pride all right. So we'll just get behind the first thing to come along that looks like a free lunch (no respectable Fifer would miss out on that), so it has to be renewables but we'll invest in them before they are actually proven or fully understood, we'll either be at the cutting edge or the cliff edge. It's not a great modus operandi and it's an impulsive ploy that panders to the assumed will of a baffled and to some extent absent electorate and a hungry for green anything media. I'm not saying we should play it safe but what are we really good at? What's significant in our history? We need to capitalise on three things in this geologically stable, wet and tsunami proof little land; Steam (burn our crap), hydro (seize the rain) and atomic (have a fallback).

Sunday, April 22, 2012


No way to treat a Danelectro. (Caution! Excessive audio experimentation can lead to anxiety,  neurosis, disappointment and remorse before any exhilaration or satisfaction actually kicks in).
Just on the cusp of the edge of the periphery of the beginning of the early planning stages of the conception of the storming of the exploration of doing the scoping for the first tranche of the start of figuring out, sussing out, checking out, understanding and then getting my head around another noise making app and deciding what exactly to do with it. The big boys call it Audio Sauna. I'll call it hard work.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Not another cat related post!

The spoils go to the victor.

Missie's Diary: Sympathy for the rabbit.

“Jesus, these people are stupid, they don't even understand the basic game of small animal juggling. It's a Friday night, they're all drinking red stuff and sitting on couches in the warm room looking half dead. Why wouldn't I do them a favour and try to liven things up? So all I do is bring in a baby rabbit and drop it on the kitchen floor. You'd have thought I'd brought in an improvised explosives device, talk about over react, I was just giving them the opportunity to play some indoor sports and socialise a bit. So what do they do? They shout at each other, chase me out of the house and then corner the poor rabbit, attacking it with kitchen implements, broom handles and mops. No wonder it dives under the cupboard and refuses to come out, that's a nice welcome to give a visitor. It's like some scene from a Frankenstein movie with the ignorant peasants going nuts with torches and pitchforks. They seem to have only two settings, asleep and angry mob, pathetic really, I don’t think they'll ever amount to much. Anyway I don't know what happened next I went back out and enjoyed some night time smells, overheard owl tales and did some strutting. I wonder when they'll jack up the nerve to try to apply some more of that Savlon stuff to me again?”

Clint's Diary: WTF.

“Things are getting worse, I'm upstairs, trying to sleep on my bed, the one they sometimes borrow and she comes running in and picks up that annoying plastic hair dryer thing. Then she goes downstairs, so I follow, just to take a peek. God Almighty, she's firing it off at a poor stunned baby rabbit that's hiding under a cupboard like she's Dog the Bounty Hunter, WTF? How's the rabbit supposed to react to that? Don't humans understand the innocent fun of animal blood sports and the related normal social niceties? This place is screwy, I'm going back to bed.”

Anna's Diary: Stoned again.

“I fell off that bloody couch arm again or did that bitch push me? No zero tolerance around here. I don't remember much about anything really, those drugs they keep slipping me in the prawns are really messing with my head but they've got me well hooked now. Still it's five star bed and board with endless narcotics for free and those other two dummies keep them distracted most of the time bringing in their little furries and feathers. It means I can enjoy my sweet dreams, sniff the radiator and silently dribble anywhere I like. Nice.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Everyone and everything

Note to self: Thinking about something and forming it up into either a complaint, an observation, a comment or a criticism or any kind of stream of words inside your head is not actually the same things as using those words in confronting somebody, having a conversation, preparing a written draft or recording a vocal or any other outside thing. Left alone thoughts stay firmly inside your head, your own space, deep  in your brain, invisible and silent. They have to be verbalised, spoken or written down (possibly mimed?) if they are to be shared with anybody - they have no proper existence until you put them out there, somehow. That applies to everyone and everything - except for cats that is, they of course can easily read human minds.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No need to say too much

Bits of Dollytown.

The All Bran Biscuit Breakfast regime and disposable trousers. You may be surprised to read that these two things are not in any way related. The breakfast biscuits are a conundrum, they of course pose a (healthy) threat to the lower man but at the same time are almost pleasant and are also suitable for a good yoghurt dunking. I've now trialled and risk assessed them to the point where I can comfortably eat one a day. Should you be tempted to eat healthy these are worth the effort but you must first take the test. The disposable trousers are the M&S variety, foolishly worn while (double foolishly) wandering into a thorny thicket in a work related escapade. Those thorny thickets play havoc with % mixes of wool, polyester and whatever else is in there – at least the price makes their immanent disposal seem a little less painful.

Radical Prick. The term “radical cleric” is used to describe Mr Abu Qatada. His real name is however Omar Othman but he is also a scholar, a refugee, a key figure in al-Qaeda and he doesn't much care for despots and foreign invaders because they are enemies of Islam. He is also an active supporter of terrorism and extreme Islamic objectives. Fair enough then, he does seem to have a meaning to his life and a whole lot of well supported human rights that apply to him apparently - but he really needs to lighten up a bit.

Wind Forms. Alex Salmond duped the great unwashed Scottish electorate by failing to tell us that a Korean wind farm company, Doosan, were no longer coming here to take advantage of our desperate economic plight, subsidised factory sites and cheap labour and free wind. Their plan to open a research facility and a factory has gone for a ball of chalk until the right economic conditions prevail, the SNP stop crawing about renewables like they'd discovered the idea or until Donald Trump shuts up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Loch Lomond Daily Photo

I know I moan about Scotland (mainly the politicians) a lot but I still love the place and think it's a beautiful country to visit (as I live here I visit it quite often). Even on a simple working drive, you get just a few miles from Glasgow and the traffic and all the rest of it and find yourself by Loch Lomond. Full of quirky casual surprises, snow on the hills, sun glinting on the water, a fresh breeze to clear your head, clouds forming swirling shapes, sheep and cattle, birds twittering and...there's a MacDonald's just five miles down the road if you're at all peckish. We have everything here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Things - part 99

TV: Jules Holland is probably a really nice guy and a great musician but his TV show is as dull as ditch water and Paul Weller or somebody like him is on it every week. I like the fact that if appears to be live (is it?) but as a way to enjoy music it seldom works for me. Back to Radio 6 or Game of Thrones or Modern Family I think.

Awards and Award Shows: Who gives a stuff really?

Cookery: I made a fish pie today that was tasty but as heavy as lead, I now realise that it's possible to put too much fish in a fish pie, something I'd not have considered possible, but it is. Next thing I'm trying will be to put too much chicken in a chicken pie.

Pics & Words: Here's a handy link to a book that Fraser Drummond has just created - fine photos and lyrics, the Sound of Confushion.

Monday, April 16, 2012

First apply some Savlon to the cat

Myths about Savlon: It's true, Savlon does no harm to cats, in fact it's a useful healing medium for those awkward cuts, scrapes  and scabs your average mouser suffers when plunging through hedges, fences and exploring the wild spaces out there. All you have to do is capture the injured cat and apply the magic liniment to the damaged area. You may also wish to apply a little of it to your own injuries, those suffered or sustained as a small part of the wider healing and welfare process.

Things that don't really work in Scotland: Next time it's a sunny day and you're out and about in your motor car, try driving around superstore car parks with the windows down  playing excerpts from the Grateful Dead's 40 year musical career very loudly on your stereo. This is unlikely to produce a reciprocal wave of love and peace or add much to the deeper musical education of the general public. Just park up, go into the shop, get your fishcakes and wine and leave quietly.

Respectable Pirates: Speaking of education you may be interested in learning a little about the beliefs and aspirations of the Pirate Party. If, like me you are somewhat disillusioned with main stream politics but still naively and unrealistically hopeful of some kind of general political renaissance happening (or at least a slight improvement in standards taking place) here in the cash-strapped UK, then this may give you a little hope.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Old Punks & Zen

Sad Society with nice Les Paul Jnr and enthusiastic dancer.
Rosie Bell and friendly piano (the link to Rosie's highly readable blog is on the right) .
Memorial flyer & poster, nice work.
A pot of magical Zen based slate with artistic potential.
A busy day in and out. Out being mostly in gardens, our own on a chilly morning with a grand wean and Fraser Drummond's award winning city plot of green heaven on a slightly warmer afternoon. Tea and cakes were served up by the Drummond clan, plant and wildlife wisdom shared, artworks discussed and a substantial amount of money raised for charity. We followed this up with a brief trip (this is "in") to the shadowy innards of Bannermans for the Fritz VH memorial marathon gig and punkfest. I'd forgotten how loud and tonally restricted live punk can be but you cant help but admire the energy and enthusiasm summoned up by Scotland's finest middle aged punks when indulging in their chosen music. A very mixed audience of Morningside mums, young Goths, leather Punks and balding Mods took time out to remember a real stalwart of the Edinburgh music scene and have a bit of fun. For once I regretted being far too old for punk, I was firmly stuck in the hippie ideals by '77 and apart from tapping my foot and whistling to the Damned and the Buzzcocks missed out on most of it. I hope Fritz would've forgiven me the obvious musical omissions of my own misspent youth.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Best BBC caption ever?

Staying with the media theme this has to be one of the best little labels given to anybody anywhere. I hope it's real.


I haven't even read the article(s) but already I'm bristling in that about to be insulted way you sometimes get when some incomprehensible physical threat or piece of abuse looks to be headed your way. Of course I can't be bothered with the Nationalists nor can I stand the current Tory Coalition and to top that I've little or no respect for much of the spin and toadying that comes from the written and broadcast media sludge factory. It all sucks too much and the truth, if it's out there, somewhere beyond mindless rhetoric and twisted opinion is pretty hard to find. I'm not alone in feeling this I'm sure, it's the constant frustration of the "common man" and it can't quite be articulated without the use of some choice swear words none of which seem crude or dirty enough to describe the pathetic posturing and misrepresentation that represents so much of politics and power broking. The squeezed middle isn't just getting squeezed financially, it's an emotional, intellectual  and cultural rollering and bashing we're in for.

A clear voice, ringing with just a little vision and common sense and a smattering of balance would make a welcome change - so only a matter of time before some extreme lunatic and simplistic party fills the void I reckon otherwise it'll be riots and petrol bombs.  But be of good cheer for Wee Fat Eck has already launched a broadside in return and the slippery slope towards the referendum and it's consequences is now steeper and greasier than ever. Things are going to get pretty messy. As for me I'm finding some solace in humming the tune "with or without you", it's the only way I can even begin to try to understand our dysfunctional, conflicted, awkward but rightful place within the UK

Alex Salmond: Economist will rue 'Skintland' jibe at Scotland

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clear and present danger

Numerous black cats - looking North.

Numerous black cats - looking South.

This is a pretty good site if you like old photos, almost makes you wish you'd been born in the fifties even if, like me you were born in the fifties. Perhaps that means it makes you wish you were adult in the fifties which maybe isn't so good because that would make you about seventy now. No, best not to think about that. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dear Doctor Laptop,

For over a year now my old HP laptop has been giving me dire warnings of critical hard disk failure every time I switch it on. I both acknowledge and ignore this worrying message by pressing the F1 key and thereby allow it to fully start up. Apart from occasional little "capacity" messages (way down there on the right) and a stubborn refusal by Norton's products to clear up the hard disk not much actually ever happens - certainly nothing bad. I have tried various back ups, re-squidding, post hoot vamp, fox busting, melanomic castrations and demi-hazardisation (all fresh out of the box) but none of these things make any difference or solve my problem. In desperation I switched it on and off repeatedly for an hour but I got pretty bored with that. So my question is how long can this go on for without there being any damage done to my precious data and is this all just a cunning plot by the dastardly world of the technocrats to get poor people to buy more of these Chinese built laptops?


A well wisher

P.S. Heaven forbid but I may well just carry on regardless and also ignore the upgrades.

P.P.S. I am also an occasional Mac and cheese user, which local bank and political party should I support?

Monday, April 09, 2012


It tuns out that recipes can be searched for on the Internet, there may well be other things there. It might never rain again now that I've painted the garden furniture. I was so impressed with the possibilities suggested by the Alabama Shakes that I immediately looked them up on Wikipedia, then I promptly dismissed them as yet another hype. Sweet and sour and chicken and mushrooms and pepper and onions and rice contains at least seven ands. First I was on the couch then the floor then the couch then the kitchen then upstairs then downstairs then I went to work. Listening to music the radio is an ok experience but you will hear a lot of rubbish before you hit some thing good. I thought about Humphrey Bogart films but I could only think of about four or so, so I stopped. There will be birthdays and parties and at times those two things come together and you get party birthdays. Today's newspaper was something of a disappointment, it also cost £1. I was kept busy trying to use my imagination, can you imagine that? Somebody sang that love is a “velvet noose”, they turned those words into a song, added a tune, wrote more lyrics, added instruments and recorded it, “fantastic” according to an expert but I wont ever bother buying it. I was just wondering what the hell is going on in Scotland and who could sort it all out. The word pretentious gets used from time to time, I hear it. The pursuit of perpetual motion systems remains popular, as Tesla said, “one day man will connect his apparatus to the very wheel work of the universe...and the very forces that motivate the planets in their orbits and cause them to rotate will rotate his own machinery.” The chords that you mix up are the ones that give you the best results i.e. Gm7, Cm7, Dm7, Edmaj7, F, G. Very satisfying.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Slightly peckish games

An actual Hunger Games wedding cake - not featured in the film.
Scoring a movie hat-trick this week, tonight it was Hunger Games at an actual living, breathing and coughing cinema. Probably the best of the three I've recently seen and one that proves that even with Dr Who level production values and a design concept looking like Tim Burton on a bad day you can make a watchable film that makes $s. Having dodged the book (along with many others) I'd no idea what to expect but quickly understood the numerous allegorical, feminist and social commentary points that have been made. They are all there clearly enough if you want to get bogged down it them, I don't, I like to be entertained and I was  and I did get a proper fright at one action packed moment as well, that's unusual.

A brief history of French cinema

John & Ali happy at the cinema and in our best clothes and new blue contacts.
After Thursday's great cinematic and ice cream (Baked Alaska no less) experience I followed it up yesterday with a view of Hugo (on DVD), a film I've been looking forward to seeing. Well it wasn't quite what I expected, I'd forgotten just how odd and self indulgent Martin Scorsese can be and how irritatingly American he can be in his interpretation and portrayal of things European. I was also distracted by the feeling that I was watching a lengthy Keystone Cops pantomime chase featuring a young Noel Fielding trying to get away from the comic French policeman from 'Allo Allo. It was that kind of abstracted and badly translated France he had created. Here and mostly there well placed cultural icons Salvador Dali and Django Reinhardt  turned up in the background; there to bring credibility over at the  edges of  a convoluted film that was really about George Melies and the birth and death of the special effect. So it really was all a big tribute piece with not quite enough Steampunk ingenuity for me - I should've checked the book first. I fell asleep twice but  I did so want to like Hugo, maybe I'll watch it again in a more receptive state of mind and my hard automaton heart will be all melted away.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Best Marigold Odeon

Today is a day off day, yesterday was a half day off day. We celebrated yesterday with the black pudding affair and various pieces of Fife based explorations - the ideas just don't stop. The recurring theme however was one of dreams, planning and living out the rest of (your) life as positively as possible. The long day ended with us making a rare visit to the cinema for a late night showing of the Best Marigold Hotel. With a cast of luvvies all acting like real people acting like actors it was an amusing diversion, it also confirmed a long held belief that despite the colour, noise and spectacle a visit to India isn't really necessary at the moment. The best bit was sitting there amongst the actual (smallish) cinema audience, not soul under 50, all looking a bit like the one or other of the characters in the film and crammed in a line in the non-Premier seating area, oldies always want to get good value for their cash. As the show ended and we all crippled and shuffled out, blinking into the midnight street lights it was like the film had, for a brief moment come to life. We giggled all the way back to the err...Volvo.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Stornoway Black Microdot (large)

"So it's like Easter nearly man you know and we like went out for the day to two or maybe three garden centres man to hang out with all those old hippies and folks who dig gardens and stuff and we really liked everything we saw man and hey we spent some money and got some cool stuff man and then when we got back home like we found we had two of these here far out Stornoway Black Puddings, way to shop man!"

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Steal like an Artist

More about steal like an artist here

Snowy white hills sing away in the distance
Troubled weather map pours out across this central belt
Sun makes an occasional passing manoeuvre
Teases and reminds its supposed to be April
And I wonder and tense up at the thought of what the cold wind will feel like
As if I didnt know
I know
I have a million words inside me, some picked out by pen or pencil,
Some spoken and carried away, some typed up or texted
Blogged and parked up in website oblivion
Most are stuck stubbornly inside my head like lazy pupils
Unaccustomed to work or study, happy to relax, feral children of mine
Hard to get at, to understand, they show no apparent desire to escape
I look out at those hills, far away with their coverings, dog walkers and ramblers
Keep my thoughts to myself, reluctantly, safe and personal
Maybe turn them into a shopping list:

Grated cheese
Stornoway Black Pudding
Cider or something
Morning rolls
Easter eggs for the bairns

On a yellow sticky, where that poem should be.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Back from Spring

South Bank, London, last weekend: A premonition.
Thankfully spring has been canceled for the time being, we've retired backwards to the more familiar conditions of Norwegian winter or something very similar to it. Time to break out the cheesecake, stir fry chicken and peppers and red wine. Comfort, coal fires, couches and the fine art of booking holidays elsewhere.

Monday, April 02, 2012

John Barrow-wheel

It's new, it's red, it's solid so it won't collapse under a half ton of slabs, chips or compost. The great garden tool that is the B&Q barrow has now been refurbished and revamped and is ready to go for summer. The old pneumatic tyre is flat and in the bin and this rigid sustainable model has been fully tested and installed.  Also ready for those back breaking, speedy and dangerous trips around the garden with the grand kids on board. That's really why I fixed it of course.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Return of the floating head

Nightcap - large White Russian.
New stadium at Stratford, a fun and strangely emotional experience as well as a family triumph, Emma passing Sally Gunnel and numerous other famous athletes as the race progressed.
The London Eye, scene of my most recent "floating head" encounter.
Just back from a full on weekend in the UK's alternative capital city. We camped out in the City with a capital C and a tough financial heart, drank fine wine and cocktails, marveled at the heavy weight stones and carvings, were squashed in packed tube stations, wandered in never ending malls and attended the opening and first ever event at the new Olympic Stadium. In contrast to what you often hear taxi drivers were friendly, waiting staff chatty, some prices were almost sensible and the weather was pretty chilly. London's OK. It is a real place after all.