Saturday, June 30, 2012

Buzzed by swifts

So wildlife photography, or any kind of proper photography clearly isn't my thing. Anyway here's a quivering shot of the tiny swift that's nested up and bedded down in our 19th century coal cellar (there isn't much call for coal at the moment around here, even in the current damp climate). The tiny bird stays up in there most of the day defying the cats outside on a lazy sentry duty, the puzzled toads, scurrying rodents and the army of snails - there are also a few rubber necked humans who blunder around and occasionally get neatly buzzed in a confined space on those rare moments when the bird actually leaves the nest. You'll notice the bird does have something of a glint in his/her eye, clearly a plan is forming.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Waiting from the rain to stop so that I can surgically probe the MX5's roof and water management systems.  I have two special tools devised and modified from curtain rods and coat hanger origins that I intend to insert and thrust into the tiny drain and so remove what appears to be a significant blockage. This blockage has resulted in a wet footwell and carpets, a problem already encountered and lived with in the old long lamented Cougar. However until the rain stops this life saving  procedure cannot be undertaken. It's tough at times like these to be both mechanical and medically minded as well as cack-handed and clumsy. Maybe it'd be for the best if it kept on raining.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Go and chill

This (otherwise very good) week has been blighted by things out there, in the wild woods, wider worlds and media that for some reason have got to me. It's mostly the Tories, they are easy to hate, Cameron and Osborne - setting up Chloe Smith with Paxo, pushing and pulling, U turns and talking bollocks, they have no idea. Barclays Bank and it's clearly criminal activities. RBS with their bungled outsourcing backfire and we'll just "blame it on the poor Indian staff" routine. Rangers Football Club, cheating for twenty years, not a shred of honesty or integrity about them, swindling fans and the game and no sign of an apology or acknowledgment of any error. Alex Salmond for being a smug and unfunny human being,  Alistair Darling for being a big wet kipper and then the never ending incessant June rain. OK, said it all - now to just sit under this here mystical tree and drift away.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Actual photo of our actual glasses, actual ice and actual bottle.
Nice to relax with a Scottish Liqueur , watching the football, discussing life with all it's layers and complexity. No time for all this blogging nonsense really.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Five Stones of Wisdom

The Five Great Stones of Scottish Wisdom. These stones are between 3500 and 2000 years old, their meaning and use has been lost somewhere in the deep mists of time. They are the true representation of history captured in stone, ancient, rough and elemental, fashioned with primitive care by unknown hands and forces, mysterious and signifying long gone ways and wisdom. Times past, never to be recalled, never to be reenacted, from the blue flames of the occult and from the early pre-Celtic light  of new knowledge acquired. I found them at the bottom of my wardrobe next to a vinyl copy of Big Country "The Crossing".

Monday, June 25, 2012

A door in Edinburgh

What can be on the other side?

Getting the most out of life

Traditional pot (showing tear-off ragged edge)
The classic corner model
The swirling but irritating artisan
Part #1. A big part of getting the most out of life involves getting the maximum benefit from your hourly, daily, weekly, (delete as applicable) carton of lovely, creamy, fruity, nourishing yogurt. Failure to choose and partake of the most efficient spooning carton can have serious consequences and render you unable to "get the most" out of your yogurt and therefore life itself. You may be crushed and rendered as an outcast from popular society by a poor selection of outer dairy carton. Careful research into the design of  the yogurt carton and levels of spooning satisfaction are therefore essential to avoid disappointment and a low or negative score in "getting the most". The actual spoon also plays a part, make sure it's clean and not too big, a nicely shaped teaspoon works best. Then pick the carton - I don't want to damn any major brands here (for fear of litigation) so I'll just go for basic shapes, here are my findings:

Traditional cylinder pot - performs well but it's hard work to clear the (non) corners,  7 out of 10.

Swirling artisan pot - usually has good or exotic flavours but inner geometry is flawed allowing contents to stick, hard for effective spoon action also, 6 out of 10.

Corner tri-pot - excellent dump function and clean and open spoon area. Generally satisfying on a number of levels with user choice and mix ratios well indulged, 9 out of 10.

Pump action tubes - messy, awful, bad even for kids, best ignored, 1 out of 10. Not even worth posting a picture of the messy gunk either.

There you have it. Many thanks to the Scottish Government, Muller, the National Lottery and "The Fifty Shades of Grey" Specialist Barbershop South Queensferry for sponsoring my ongoing research. More news soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Home studio

Just spent the last seven hours in the err...home studio (or dining room filled with miscellaneous cables and boxes to be precise) playing guitar, this is how I feel, not quite how I sounded however. I'm also pretty tired and my fingers are sore. I need some cheese, some tomatoes, olives, wine and French bread.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Doing something brilliant

Starting. For all the days when you should be doing something better, something brilliant, finishing writing that song, drawing up that design, making a start on your short story, practicing those difficult chords, taking photographs and editing them, planning and scheming how you can get more publicity for your work, taking notes and making observations, working out costs, meeting and talking, doing the busy, scribbling like mad as if a demon had a hold of your hand, trying to get that musical problem straightened out, capturing an idea and developing it, starting something, finishing something. Finishing.

Zombie. Meanwhile the zombies and time bandits are there, inside and outside your head, thieves and ragamuffins, clad in the uniform of doubt, thumbs busy on phones and applications, skipping and spinning in other people's wake, eyes glazed and dim, focused on a technological horizon that's running away, lazy and idle...and all the while, with each unnoticed, undocumented moment the time just slips away as if it never existed, ever at all. Apocalypse.

Nothing is wrong. There is nothing wrong, all is well, the economists are just taking a break from thinking straight, from putting all the numbers in the right place, there's nothing really wrong. But this crisis just goes on and on and on until it's normalised and we are institutionalised, like banks. Big banks that cannot fail because they are too big to fail because failure is unthinkable because we all want stability and things like that so we can all sleep at night. Sleep in peace. Sleep.

Good morning, good afternoon, good night.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

40 shades of blue

Art: The blues and greens of some undersea world, corked and captured in an artistic window sill piece that uses the sky and the northern rain as a backcloth and the warmth and fun of a family room as a context.

Football: The tribal pulling power of football is a hard magnet to resist. I get pulled in all the time, whether it's laughing at the hapless and criminal efforts of Glasgow Rangers squirming on their self inflicted hook or watching Spain, Italy or England struggle or triumph in Euro 2012. The primal need to support and feel superior, the heartless disregard for the loser or the pain and empty innards that come with loss and defeat. Concentration comes and goes, stars shine and dim, sweat gives way to a cold fear and the long walk back – from the TV to the couch to the kitchen to the couch as the second half loads up and runs. I make my own substitutes, send myself off, get fouled and kicked and then forget it all as if none of it had ever happened. Futile and pointless entertainment, skill, comedy and blind passion on display and pundits who talk like discarded newspaper back pages or angry drunks phoning in. Football in 2012, no better or worse than it ever was and no more relevant. At least nobody has to run around the country with a golden torch in a golden convoy in order to try to connect the spectacle with the common man, all you need are a coach load of young millionaires and an eager sponsor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We're not brave we're just...

The lovely Nicola Sturgeon about to take revenge on her critics before she morphs into Rebecca Brooks thanks to the magic of CGI / PMS. Meanwhile Wee Eck looks after their fearsome offspring while the lassie from Capercaillie sings a sweet Scottish folk lament about dead kittens, the Clearances and serial poverty. A typical Scottish scene that tourists will expect to see upon alighting at Glasgow Airport. Thanks to Tommy Mackay for the pic.

Brave: Will American tourists be inspired to visit Scotland when they see a well rendered but clearly unreal cartoon version who's central character appears to be an exaggerated replica of Rebecca Brooks? Perhaps they will, in the same way I've always wanted to visit Bedrock to call upon Fred Flintstone, Springfield to share a beer and some wise cracks with Homer and of course Gotham City to attend a cocktail party hosted by Bruce Wayne. Such is the power of illusion and fantasy created by the silvery trails of cinema legend, mind bending drugs and artistic visual fantasy. People (that's you and me) can't resist the urge to explore these brave new virtual worlds presented so faithfully and convincingly via high end artists and computer generated graphics, it's all just like the real thing, only better, it's not real.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Diddley Bo

Why is it that after 44 years – for some a little more than a lifetime, the Rolling Stones “Let it Bleed” still works so well as an album? It's a curious mixture of cornball rubbish, bad playing, bad singing, poor songwriting and a ramshackle production ( Exile on Main Street is worse), yet despite this it's a great album and strangely for me and my single figure attention span I never get bored with it, I fact it gives me goosebumps. The whole thing must be proof of the existence and the success of chaos theory and that music that is pristine and polished seldom cuts as deep as the rusty blade the Stones used then.

Moving from this we have the holy grail of rough cut music, here's a Diddley Bo carefully handcrafted from 2 x 4, a whisky bottle, a spare hum-bucker and a string and some nails by my son-in-law Guy. Does it make proper music? Of course and it's also strangely satisfying and challenging to play.

Monday, June 18, 2012

No longer at your convenience

For sale in Rosyth, behind a bookies and a corner shop and near the Police Station; a fine development opportunity.
Near the beach in Aberdeen, shut and blank while hundreds of folks play on the grass or sand and use the nearby McDs for their McPees.
As pieces of social and sanitary history these public cludgie places are slowly disappearing; a good thing some may say but if you're older with prostrate troubles, have a chill, you just happen to need or out with young kids then their closure is anything but convenient. These two specimens are hardly worthy examples of the cream of public toilet design and they were no doubt built in and for different times, before rampant cuts and confusing public folklore. Now they are closed, broken and ugly reminders of how we can't quite function or relieve ourselves easily in today's so-called civilised society.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Euro 2012 prediction

So who played the right handed Fender bass?
I gaze down at my printed competitive predictions for Euro 2012, none of them looking good at the moment, most reminiscent of a used lucky dip Lottery Ticket with two correct numbers on it. That's the problem with trying to predict the future, it changes all the time and then it changes again when things actually happen. This is because people are not robots and the unexpected has to be expected and then when it arrives it's still different from what you thought. Life is best lived in the moment and with a few slugs of wine, a curry and good, loving company. I'm not complaining.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cyclists - lighten up

A respectful toast is partaken as we take custody of an exact replica of some magical Olympic Flame or other.  Meanwhile out in the crowded streets of Scotland and on BBC TV the existence of the Emperor's New Clothes Syndrome is proven beyond any doubt.
Nothing like an unexpected cycle to remind you of your chronic and untreatable mortality, currently I'm on the couch, re-hydrating with warm beer via an intravenous drip. Actually the bike riding isn't so bad, it's the weather and the amount of gloomy cyclists I seem to encounter. I nodded a cheery hello to at least eight fellow peddlers crossing the Forth Bridge today and despite my bright IKEA hi-vis vest and curious technique was ignored by each. Perhaps they were all in some kind of physical pain or maybe their helmets or Lycra pants were taped on a little too tight or they've just had a scary encounter with a juggernaut at some narrow road junction. Anyway I'm well puggled.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Something that works

It's great when something actually works well. These guys are on the ball, ordered yesterday, arrived today and apart from an incorrect measurement on my part everything was just right - two James Bond monkey suits, two shirts, one tie and a carrier - delivered (or so I estimate) in less than 16 hours. Perhaps they have a unit manned by elves and fairies over the hedge in Broxburn. Try it here .

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus revisited

That Space Jockey moment.
It's been a source of irritation since I saw it two weeks ago. I've read reviews, had discussions, revised my opinions and tried to think through the story, the hype and the resultant media activity and make some sense of it. Firstly, this film is crap and a major disappointment but despite that it merits four stars from me. That's because it looks so good and it had the potential to be fantastic and it is by Ridley Scott. It's the old Jimi Hendrix illustration, most people playing well are not as good as he is playing badly. Secondly the film is not only crap but a perfect illustration of how producers, directors and screen writers don't really know their audiences nor do they really understand what it is that the public likes about their films. Thirdly - why bother with rip-off 3D? Nobody really likes it.

Alien is/was a case in point, low budget, grubby, a bit scary but with a good central idea and most importantly the promise and mystery of some back story that is never revealed in the film (this also applies to the Matrix, Easy Rider, True Grit and so on). The big mistake in Prometheus is that they (the guy who wrote the Lost scripts must take a load of blame) failed to understand that fans don't want a whole, bigger picture Von Daniken 70s trip shoved down their throats like a face hugger's tentacle, all they want is bit more on the back story as a tease and not so much actual full blown explanation.

Explanations in Sci-fi and horror are as useful as Penn & Teller pulling the curtain open away halfway through the trick. Cinema goers want to stay where they are, in the dark spooning ice cream and be allowed the fun and latitude to speculate on a story's outcome and to use their own imaginations - the spaces are very important. It certainly worked for God and Jesus when they left us to write the Bible's back and front story ourselves.

What else is wrong with this?

a) The basic premise - a team in space that don't know each other, are belligerent and have no regard for their own safety or understanding of the mission; how real is that?
b) A script that is stilted, laugh out loud awful, pathetic, inane and actually unhelpful in the storyline.
c) Jump cuts and badly timed edits that leave the viewer dizzy and confused as action and huge wedges of plot motion are crammed in to fit the running time.
d) A mystery central character already outed in the hype but hidden from the rest of the cast, why?
e) A supposedly intelligent back story that makes little or no proper sense because it plays on muddled myths that are too weak to sustain a plot.
f) Wild assumptions about the durability of a feeble human body - after highly intrusive surgery.
g) Unless you're Clint Eastwood or Woody Allan you should probably stop making films after the age of 70, or get some younger help.
h) I still give it as many as four stars - that's clearly wrong but the look, design and production are too good to ignore.

All very frustrating.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Three o'clock shadow

I don't mind the shape I'm in.
Every afternoon there is a three o'clock moment. Today was no exception. Out in the wide open spaces here and there in Fife, the sun peacefully on my back with no young 'uns to consider.  It was nice. As we got home I reflected on the moment and the past  and picked up on a list of random things that you might, as a new parent suddenly find yourself doing (grandparents may also do them from time to time but with a little less relish and more regret):

Here's the list.
  1. Butter a piece of toast while peeing.
  2. Brush someone's teeth against their will.
  3. Blow on food while it's in someone else's mouth.
  4. Help someone else blow on food while it's in someone else's mouth.
  5. Eat food that's fallen out of someone else's mouth.
  6. Eat food you found on the floor.
  7. Eat food you found on the mantle.
  8. Eat a sweet you found in a shoe.
  9. Turn on the TV at 5am.
  10. Wipe somebody's nose with your bare hand.
  11. Let somebody barf in your bare hand.
  12. Eat baby food.
  13. Blame a fart on a child.
  14. Blame a child's fart on your spouse.
  15. Get someone dressed while you're in the shower.
  16. Pass out from blowing up a kiddie pool/balloon.
  17. Cut up a grape.
  18. Almost agree to cut up a raisin.
  19. Pretend to enjoy the flavour of a prune.
  20. Ask someone why their hair smells like yogurt.
  21. Ask someone why their hair smells like your antiperspirant.
  22. Put someone else's toenail clippings in your pocket.
  23. Let someone watch you crap while they stare blankly eating an iced lolly.
  24. Have someone think you're amazing at frisbee/football/drawing.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Social media and the death of song writing

Turns out that snails and insects enjoy stale sweet corn more than the birds do.
Cat falling asleep #1. 
Cat falling asleep #2 
Cat falling asleep #3.
Cat now asleep.
So who knows where the time goes? I've been wondering about that since the seventies, now I know, it mainly goes on the trivial and whimsical effort that's caught up in the spider's web of those twin evils; social media and weeding the garden. Both are demanding and never ending pots of pain and pleasure, filled with annoying and frustrating paradoxes, each strangely addictive and both devoid of any true sense of completeness or closure as they are by their very definitions destined to run and run.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Looks like chicken

Compost heap padding materials.

50% rhubarb, 50% apple, 50% crumble - it just doesn't add up.

It looks like chicken but it tastes like a magical and romantic evening in Tuscany.
For what was supposed to be a short week, dominated by sixty glorious types of public spectacle, Venus crashing into the sun and excessive and wasteful holidays it's been a long one, so as the Olympic torch burns down Scotland and people look on amused, inspired and detached it's a relief to finally reach Friday afternoon (no brave young ned has  so far has used it to light a fag or burn a copy of the Daily Record yet, a bit of a disappointment). Most of this wet afternoon has been spent in domestic goddess guise (god doesn't really sound right) fiddling with vegetables and smoke alarms, peeling tomatoes and getting into the correct mental state for Euro 12. What have I learned? Well bruschetta is something to do with basil, tomatoes and oil and when you add that to toasted/hot bread you have the same thing on toast (but crucially without any cheese).  I'm also realising that our annual rhubarb crop, whilst still there, resolutely sprouting amongst the weeds and slugs is somewhat stunted this year. I just managed to get enough raw materials for a crumble which was then fortified with apple and honey. I blame the weather, the media and the government. The good news is that Ali baked a big fish pie that contains actual fish, so totally eclipsing my efforts in both taste and volume.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Last word on the Jube

Live coverage from the Beeb features Fearne Cotton and Paloma Faith discussing the merits of the Jubilee themed sick bag, not really possible to make this kind of item up.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Deep Fried Art

You would imagine that the home of the school of deep fried art would be somewhere in Scotland's central belt. Right at the buckle bit with the extra hole that's been carved out with a pen knife to accomodate middle-age spread and the results of our other national pastimes. Anyway it's not, it's more star spangled and we probably wouldn't start with our precious electronic devices either.

Jubilee - day whatever

Sir Tom, a bloke who can actually sing and gets better with age.
It's been a long haul this weekend trying to ignore / remain indifferent to the Jubilee, particularly when you don't really feel grumpy or anti, just disconnected from it. The weather, decent conversation, a remote control helicopter and a certain amount of alcohol have all helped over these festive days. Last night however, after a few sweet wines I was stuck to the couch observing a panoply of mock and rock and genuine royalty passing across our punctured flat screen. Glum and awkward VIPs watched a stream of token performances that was at least entertaining, the sum total trying hard and of course failing in representing sixty years of a corrupt business with some palatable music and lame comedy - a cavalcade of things that the Brits do or by volume of sales and headlines are thought to like. Well at least we're past this point without terrorists or protesters taking pot shots at the great and the good or some other embarrassing incident; the Queen must be really tense knowing she's surrounded by such duffers. In the end only the rain reigns on British parades.

Helicopter video No1 here

Sunday, June 03, 2012


The TV is off, tortured with apparent choice but silent now, the radio is dead, no buzzes, swishes or chattering sounds. The web sticks on e-trading pages, wiki sites about films and cartoonists or obscure people who may or may not be dead. The world is temporarily flat, quiet and pleasant, all things are in their rightful place. Outside the weather is threatening like a glum fist, rain will pour on the Jubilee celebrations, on Wimbledon, on the Olympics, running down the backs of the corporate sponsors and participants equally. We're famous round the world for being grey and damp and exploitative. Sooner than now under red, white and blue canvas performers of yesteryear are to be trotted out, greased up as family favourites to sing the songs that backtracked the decline of a muddled Empire, the bloody annoying sixties, the Three Day Week, the Miner's Strike, the Troubles, British Leyland, the pointless wars here and there, the capitulation to European ideals and imported values, industrial decay and financial ruin - sponsored by RBS. This is the unfairly represented culture of tacky compilation CDs, cheap and facile documentaries, art and theatre luvvies spouting pointed and esoteric wisdom, things that weren't really there or truly important but happened to be filmed, time and tragedy re-imagined and history rewritten not by the victors or participants but by the media- all owned and edited by somebody else, not us. Some parallel version of Britain that never actually existed is now celebrated to death with swirling bunting and a hanging mentality of contradicted misunderstanding. Once it's recorded it's like a tattoo, it can never be erased or forgotten unless that is you're Simon Dee, Gary Glitter or Alf Garnet.

I don't mind the Queen or the Royals or the yelping corgis, I'm not for beheading them or even cutting their income - poor sods. Years of inbreeding, hair loss, phone taps, hypocritical and sycophantic press coverage and politician's stupidity have damaged them enough, let them be. It's the forced marching, grinning, cheering, torch relays and flag waving I can't take, the pomp, pimp and circumcision of this backwards island. Here floating alone out in the North Sea, led by a coalition of buffoons who lie and manipulate as if they were doing nothing more than plotting to hide a stash of fags and beer behind the bike sheds out of sight of their parents and the headmaster. God, Britain is both a terrific and awful place to be; Union Jack cakes, chocolate and souvenirs, tomorrow’s trash and tat served up today. Red top messages penned by idiots and mercenaries that we cant believe in, no jolly swaggering victorious Army or significant Navy presence, no fuel for the RAF's aeroplanes and the BBC smugly reporting the finest detail for the common man/woman/child, looking straight into the camera like a dog caught licking it's balls as the great British public and sundry ethnic components observe it all, licence fees duly paid and tea sweetened and stirred from some safe and weatherbeaten distance. You've never had it so good you lucky bastards, ASDA's petrol's down to £1.31 you know, Muller are doing a range of Best of British yogurts and they've rescued some folks from the clutches of the Taliban.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Forthside daily photo

Two swans idly paddle around in the waters of the Forth, in the background a huge steel structure waits to be floated in position downstream. This heavy metal lump will form part of the tower foundations for the new crossing.