Monday, March 31, 2014

High expectations and low tides

It came as some surprise to me to discover that eating a chilled pancake topped with caramel sauce was a rewarding experience. The cold pancake had a rubbery consistency but that wasn't a problem and the sauce despite suffering from a certain lack of viscosity from languishing in the back end of a cupboard in a squashy bottle was sweet, sticky and rich. I may well have another  accompanied by a milk bomb now  that University Challenge and two back to back episodes of Modern Family are done and dusted. Now to endure a long week filled with over-hype and anti-climax induced anxiety as we await the new series of Game of Thrones.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

High tides and low expectations

The faulty ring pull on the can of cat food meant I had to open the tin with a regular tin opener. A process that the can clearly was not designed for. It was near the end of the laborious opening revolution that the can began to distort. There then followed a slow explosion that left me and my shirt front covered in tasty and meaty morsels, served in a highly pungent gravy that, as far as my blocked up nose could tell owed a lot of it’s existence to fish based products of an unknown type, whale and dolphin maybe. Hungry cats were circling. Perhaps today was not to be my lucky day after all. Having said that it's Mother's day and I'm an interested  spectator as lots of supermarket flowers and chocs are entering circulation spreading Hallmark Happiness everywhere despite the gloomy weather and the changed clocks. That was Tesco at 1130.  Oh and the lost and baffled pigeon's back pecking and flapping at the window. No, our bedroom is not actually the Torryburn railway bridge. Probably a commonly made avian navigational error.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Nothing remarkable

Cat v pigeon.
This afternoon we've pigged out on pizza, salad and Vichyssoise. The couch, which had been beckoning from a distance finally captured us in it's leathery arms and we were won. Somewhere on wastelands of the BBC2 Saturday the Liberals were gaining more unwatchable coverage of their evolving car crash life cycle. Hard to watch, impossible to believe in. Time to fall back onto saved television experiences, "Shetland", a bit like the Bridge or Borgen but set on a strange wee island north of the Scottish mainland where grim faced characters are determined to murder one another in order to settle family scores and the many bitter disputes that rage over lands and development. The cliffs and the churning seas figure strongly, many long and winding roads and artificial looking pubs also appear and threats and opportunities from the oil and gas industry continually arise. Old Volvos chug around quietly in the background untouched by rust or repair work. Then there's the local knowledge and the unlikely coincidences. I think I'm saying that it looks good but there are problems with the script and the plotting. The actors are all fine Scottish examples of actors and the landscapes are suitably moody; fiddle music occurs now and then and whisky drinking always looks slow and civilised. The verdict: some dysfunctional and surly local did it, overall mark for the show 7/10. Then, TV off, in an unexpected moment of veterinary discovery I was able to learn how to remove ticks from cats. Remarkable.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where all the money goes

My granny's house, I owned this briefly in the 90's only to lose it over an ill considered hand in a Chinese card game. Typical. 
The pub and cafe where family funerals usually seem to end in a steady stream of sausage rolls, cheap white wine and dark brown beer. In the foreground the harbour seat where my grandma would sit and soak up the rays. To the left and out of shot is the new and discreet sewage works.
The Barclay family seat, owned by my dad and my true inheritance. Unfortunately it was sold for £1000 in 1970 as part of a shrewd business deal that didn't so much go wrong as didn't actually exist at all. Another feckin' financial disaster. How different things might have been we'll never know.
The stars and stripes fly over the Cellardyke war memorial (well close by). No idea why.
Random pics and more unsolved mysteries and memories from the East Neuk: The recurring "what is the meaning of life?" still haunts and irritates since as a troubled teen I first asked myself  the question down on the rocks at Cellardyke whilst puffing on an Embassy Regal. There is no answer of course, only the meaning that we give it ourselves and that can be quite significant and powerful. Once we are gone however life returns to it's regular meaningless state I suppose.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kirkcaldy and back to the wild

Grey concrete abounds.
The new pool and health complex, looks nice; stark and Cubist.
Today my random journeys around Fife found me in Kirkcaldy. The truth is I was also there yesterday but failed to get any further than some well established NHS premises but today I explored a bit beyond the broad new roadways and housing estates of the north side. My impressions were not good, Kirkcaldy is definitely down at heel despite some courageous attempts to improve it. It's as if there is no reason for it to be there, like it is a parasite on itself, consuming it's own smoke and discarded chewing gum. History and geography have conspired against it, the inner political will looks feeble and the economy is clearly depressed. The High Street would make most Eastern European places look good, all newly paved and sorted but flanked by old and desolate buildings supporting dull shops, bleak pubs and fatty cafes that have run out of ideas and customers. Fife and the good people of Kirkcaldy deserve better.
In other news, heres a cat that catches mice and then drops them in the bath as some sort of playful torture. You'll be glad to hear that the mouse was rescued and set free; back into the wild.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

East Neuk again

Anstruther harbour entrance and Berwick Law.
The remains of the seawater pool at Cellardyke. 
Cellardyke harbour.
A journey through the past and a morning spent in Anstruther. Here in the East Neuk the bones and ashes of my family lie like a procession of frozen shadows. Every corner turned is a reminder of forgotten childhood episodes, family strife and misunderstandings, odd happy days of discovery and the painted over changes that mask true memory and experience. If this is where I come from why don't I feel at home? Where in the world is my connection to all this? I pass the houses, the homes of long gone relatives, where we all ate and slept, where coal fires burned and large fried breakfasts were consumed, sugary drinks were secretly taken and tumbledown garden ruins were explored. The once welcoming windows are now dark and blank. Strangers, incomers and ordinary people with their own better recorded stories live and breathe there as I wander past, aimless and observant. It's a perfect day. I sit in a cafe, dark smoked glass windows, young mums with noisy, excited children, I order a big breakfast (without beans or tomatoes, I don't want to appear to easily accept the stock menu, I am an individual) with flat coffee. In the window a sign reads “chef wanted”, I laugh to myself but enjoy the well presented food nonetheless. This fashionable cafe was at one time the Co-op and a centre for grocery supplies and commerce. Next door was a ship’s chandlers, now also a cafe. The pub is now a wine bar and “famous” and “prize winning” fish and chip shops are lined up around them, charity shops support some other economy model on the fringe of things. Across by the harbour small white double axle coaches from Edinburgh arrive and drop Asian tourists who stare in at the customers. On the walls are black and white photos in frames; herring drifters and waterfront scenes, a link with a glorious past that ended abruptly when the fish moved on and the war ended. Now everything is centred around ethereal pleasure, natural history, post industrial consumer development and different types of milky coffee. 

Looking out at the random patterns of ship's mast heads bobbing in the water, the sun glinting on metal, this could be France or Portugal, Skye or a quiet port in South America; but it's really some version of somebody's version of a modern and confused Scotland. Occasional hippy types with scarfs and boots pass by, refugees from the Fence Collective, there are rainbows on doors, freak flags and stained glass, stone painted fishes and advertisements for “Blues” evenings. Houses sell coloured eggs and artifacts and a strange Bohemian strain runs through this once tough and working class Fife backwater. Escapees from the city, St Andrews student types, hiking travellers and builders repairing all the tumbledown and  listed buildings. They are all polished up so as to be like another Tobermory or a film set or some coloured in reflection and recreation of the black and white past. That imagined place where no one actually lives but strangers and outsiders routinely  inhabit. 

It's as if the sun is too bright today, beyond what we deserve, we have no right to bathe in it's forbidden glow, we are the children of salt and storms and repression. God gave us all up a long time ago. All the heat and empty atmosphere bearing witness to the redundant town halls and old churches, each built with a frowning doorway and upturned smile to remind their users of the grim and Presbyterian past. The great and serious thinkers remembered with blue plaques seem to have outnumber the poor, the churchmen, sea captains, founders of schools and political nonentities, and so their imprint is the persistent and strong memory that unfairly lives on. 

The smiling waitress clears away my empty dishes, the breakfast was good and was good for me and I enjoyed this free and easy amble through my own slightly time-warped reflections. I like to stare out of windows. I look across at where the old men, the former harbour office, now a public toilet. There the old fishermen once sat and smoked pipes and spat on the ground. They wore flat caps and growled at thin dogs, played pitch and toss and looked out across the harbour wall to the sea and thought of the men that had gone out there and never returned. All for a basket of silver fish. Now a bus full of Eastern European tourists arrive, guttural Polish voices, anoraks and sunglasses. I've no idea what they make of this place but they are determined to have mid morning fish and chips and bask in the near 13 degrees freely supplied by the fickle weather. I get to my feet and square up the bill, the waitress moves on to another customer and I head out for the car and then the cemetery. 

Once up there, inland from the sea in the noise of wind and the council strimmers angrily cutting back the spring growth I walk in ever decreasing circles before encountering the various family gravestones. My name is repeated here and there, weathered and faded as the stone letters collapse and lose meaning and clarity. I take some photographs, it may be years before I return, if ever, this is no annual pilgrimage, more a rechecking and box ticking exercise. When did they all die? How old were they? My dutiful errand of respectful remembering  and sentimental meandering necessary  for the successful navigation of this part of the century. There they all are under the ground, right below my feet. I never can quite get that, standing six feet above the dear remains and forty years away from their breathing. Time to get back to another, more familiar and less distorted but painfully real world.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The illusion of control

I'm thinking that I'm in command of this laptop but truly it's soul was bought over and chained up long ago, it's still a slave to it's builder and what does that make me?  Some kind of twisted and sad Apple or Samsung employee? I'm the one who politely asks it to do things, those things that smiley families, confident mums and dopey dads do so easily in advertisements, glowing within their life enhancing stupor of technical ecstasy. All I want Mr Apple/Samsung/HP/whoever it is to upload files or print or just use this stuff you built. I hope in vain for a drift in the right direction. Yes that stuff with the multiple sets of functions and options I'll never use. All I want is to upload and print a few fecking files, maybe even connect wirelessly to another plastic box without error messages and gremlin induced complaints arising. I want to turn the key and the engine to start. That's what machines do but not you. You, you send me message I don't understand. You cannot communicate but you, Mr Machine are clearly smarter and more stubborn and more haughty than me and I cant help but notice you've developed a distinct dislike for me as you spew out ink cartridges as if they were an unfit meal, reject files and settings or mysteriously hang for long periods waiting on some teenager in trouble but unable to articulate their fuzzed up feelings. But while you control me and my sad life, you decide how I feel, when I win or lose, at least you offer me the pleasure and fragile inconsistency of on-line spell checking that may or may not guess correctly where I am in the world and what my reading age might be. Thank you for that small mercy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Little Features

Daydreaming is a peculiar habit to get into. On one hand it might seem creative and stimulating, an opportunity to get random thoughts in order, explore ideas and of course indulge yourself in a pleasurable way with imaginative stimulation. Flights of fancy lead into all manner of interesting thinking processes and the opening up of options and ultimately, as common sense and age induced boundaries will tend to prevail, the shelving or total  deletion of anything too far fetched. Anyway yesterday I found myself planning to start a “Little Feet” tribute band; they would be the “Little Features” of course. I was primarily tickled by the name, a shallow enough but persuasive start to anything. Most of the act centred around replaying the “Sailing Shoes” album, an album I’ve not listened to for thirty years (intense preparation required then) and I was there in the Lowell George slot. A charismatic and  talented figure. Short and dark, equally full of Latino fun and growling menace and master of the slide guitar. I think I was playing a cherry red SG as opposed to a Les Paul, I considered the Tokai options also for a while. There would be a big seventies amp for me – stage achieved presence in one fell swoop. I’d also allowed myself to grow extra facial hair here and there, mostly on my upper lip and around my ears. It was a curious look for me but I was confident that I could pull it off. I had some difficulty picturing my fellow band members however, a raggle taggle bunch of Edinburgh street musicians who would blindly follow my every move. The horn section would always be troublesome. I didn’t really understand any of that. Perhaps this band would have to be more stripped back and simple, no over complex arrangements. Drums, conga, bass, keys, rhythm guitar and two backing singers. 

Then I thought about customer demand and engagement for the Little Features here in Central Scotland. Where was the appeal, where was the audience? Weddings and wakes, political fundraisers, club nights; none of it looked promising, we’d truly be a niche outfit, but we’d also do the odd Zappa or even Beefheart numbers, just to keep us all interested and focused. Rehearsals might be tough and my game would have to be raised by numerous unknown notches, a steady left hand on the bottleneck and noisy practice sessions that would bring on headaches and stress. I was doubting myself already. There would be fights between members, it would like the Commitments but high on tequila and Sol beer, scrapping and walking out but all based in Edinburgh. At that point, as a film script started to materialise deep within my right brain’s blue and sparking innards I got back to watching the football. Dunfermline 1, East Fife 2.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bad news

Unexpected bad news puts everything else into perspective, all your moans, all your imagined  fears, all your petty dislikes and bundles of anxiety. They don't mean much in comparison to real and tragic events. Very sadly Jamie Frain aka James Jamieson, a popular and talented Edinburgh musician passed away very suddenly on Friday. Dave Reilly writes very movingly about him here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nature's Secret

When I was small I'd hold my bare arm up above my head, clench in my fist and hide my fist and fingers and pretend that my arm was the branch of a tree. A winter tree. I (and I deliberately and definitely saw myself as the real and unique me) was deep in the ground, down below, far within myself and amongst the imagined tree roots. Some strange buried spirit looking up through the ground to observe this tree from a vantage point in the soil. Sometimes I'd slip down into the darkness but still the tree stood straight, hardly moving, creaking if a strong wind passed otherwise steady all of the time. But me, now I was hanging by my shoulder from the trunk of this tree, hanging in the earth. Dark brown and crumbling earth that hardly seemed strong enough to support me or all the other trees that I imagined were there, rooted and firm on this unreliable ground. I'd peer down through the dark to see where my feet might be, where in or on earth were they? Was there support? 

Of course there was none, I was hanging from my own tree arm and the particles of earth and soil were orbiting around me, swirling in a mass like starlings or blackbirds and somehow holding firm. A motion of perpetual stillness frozen into an illusion. These pieces oozing together to hold the woodland and grass and habitat and walkers and wild flowers altogether above. They lived there on my surface in complete peace while it wrestled and squirmed in this black and moving quicksand. No one knew that I was struggling. My hand and arm were still a tree. There was no waving or waggling fingers, no sign language. Just a tree standing there while, all the while, I drowned below. The voices of the passers by were heard, the polite or rough conversations but I stayed silent. I couldn't give the game away. What would they do if they should ever discover the true nature of the trees in the forest and how unreliable the earth below their thoughtless feet might be? Nature's secret was always safe with me. One day I shall be rewarded.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thanks George

Does anything ever really change? Thanks to the Tories for recognising that all that the hardworking families of the UK really need is Beer and Bingo and maybe the hope of a little value being added to pensions and if you can gather them,  savings. We are all equally patronised and ignored by this system, by politicians that can see not good in the actions of their rivals and nothing bad in their own. This strange, monochrome world does not exist in any real sense but in politics and power it does. Sad but true. So pointless debates will rage, young people will be drawn in, old people will be chewed up and spat out and poor people will be blamed for everything. 

In other non-budget news our rock collection has grown. We always had it really but it formed part of the house, now it's slowly being removed and moved elsewhere; now the collection is visible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shocking and compulsive

"This book is about leaving your wife and everything you know. It's about fresh starts, about love, about friendship. It is also about the earth-shattering experience of becoming a father, the mundane struggles of family life, the ridiculously unsuccessful holidays, humiliating antenatal music classes, fights with quarrelsome neighbours, the emotional strains of children's birthday parties and pushing a pram around Stockholm when all you really want to do is write. This book is about one man's life but everyone else's too."

How hard can it be to copy a straight piece of text from the back of a book? Eight mistypes and five spelling mistakes. To stay fit and alert in the mind and body I need to walk two miles a day every day. In a week I'll be fourteen miles away (what good is that?).

Monday, March 17, 2014

The meaning of life

Car Trouble

I awake from the warm and familiar deep pit of weekend sleep. There may have been revelatory dreams happening somewhere but they escaped with the daylight and the alarm and a hundred early morning intrusive  thoughts that flash like limping chunks of electricity across my waking brain. Eventually along comes the realisation that today trouble. On Friday the car started to make odd noises, painful animal sounds coming from under my feet as we moved across different road surfaces. All the handling and performance (?) stayed happy but clearly there was a fault, a broken thing lurking below. The kind of fault that might just throw us into a bush or the path of an oncoming HGV or perhaps might cause the car to limp to a sorry standstill beside the M90's traffic cone defined edges. Travel over the weekend was curtailed, very little having actually been planned. A quick run to Tesco and the big shed where all manner of floor, wall and worktop coverings are housed. That was it, everything else was taxi-centric. 

By Sunday night I was starting to panic, what if that dry and persistent clunking meant the imminent death of the car?  An insult to all my planning after having just got a new timing belt fitted and the arrival of the blue and white note from the DVLA reminding me that the tax was due. Bugger and bugger my indecision and lack of...decision making. So a quick foray into Autotrader and Gumtree followed, just to check what is on or in the market, just in case the car's condition is truly a) terminal or b) unaffordable. Both look likely. There are plenty of cars on offer, the whole world's a vast and irritating marketplace. All you need is cash.

I looked for a while, selected a few and banked them in my memory; all sitting within my slim budget (unless I visited a proper bank first) so I have a list. There's a BMW, an Audi, a SAAB and as rank outsider but coming in strong due to price, miles covered and a sunroof is a Lexus. These are my rolling fallbacks should the old car be a goner.

So I'm up and out and gingerly trundling to the garage, my syncopated clunks from the nether regions of the car rising and falling like the performance of  a badly conducted orchestra for the mentally handicapped. This drive has all the makings of a percussionist’s funeral procession; I squirm around potholes and schoolchildren and avoid jumping lights. I am riding on a wounded buffalo that at any moment could turn nasty and throw me. It doesn't though and I crash land like a B25 Flying Fortress and slowly hobble outside the garage entrance just as the owner arrives to open up. I explain the problem in fairly general but butch mechanical terms. I hope for Brownie Points for choosing a few techy names as conversational seasoning. Even though they know me well I don't want to appear like some dumb blonde non-blonde non-female. It is now that I'm at my most vulnerable, all of today, all of this week, perhaps all of the year hangs on the outcome of his quick diagnosis. He puts it up on the ramp and I go for a walk around the block. As I leave numerous other customers are throwing their car keys onto the counter like it was a Dalgety Bay Saturday night. It's a busy Monday morning elsewhere and here.

Twenty minute later I'm back; it's an anti-roll bar problem (of course, just as I suspected), a bit like a dislocated shoulder or tennis elbow and, workshop time permitting, repairable. It needs Volvo bits and bolts though and those bastards don't come cheap but the job might scrape in a £100 or so (it will be more). OK, no need now to continue with the anxiety of searching for a replacement car. I can day dream on some other more worthy theme until the next motoring crisis. The car is therefore abandoned pending the surgery and so mentally exhausted I get a grey taxi home. I recognise that the taxi driver is of course is an ex-professional footballer so we have good chat about cup finals, crowd humour and football finance on my return leg. I may have no car temporarily but I have some kind of short term peace of mind, priceless.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

...then the taxi ran over the Ray-Bans

Seafood is both fun and risky, that interesting tension between the succulent meat, texture and taste and sauce and all the mysterious ingredients coming up against the inner workings of your body, unknown, unseen and all with an added dash of fine wine (house wine generally), mix it with good conversation and the ambiance, amour and ambivalence of just dining out in the wider world. Along some stormy coast we watch the lights through safe windows and allow ourselves to be sucked into the warm restaurant room. In the beginning it seems like it should never end, private pleasure with no consequences or route into the future. This is forever now.

There on show are the families, the romantic couples, the old in-laws being taken out, the lesbian pair winning the meat raffle, loud voices, steaming plates and surprise treats and muzak and us. The recognition factor, the people you know, the strings of knowledge and attachments, the common connections, stuff from the past you've forgotten and the "oh, I saw that they did that on Facebook" bit that inevitably comes up now and the baby based tales  with all their relentless growing and behaviour and pressure, all like they were new and fresh and different (which they are every time in their own way). 

On the waiting room table red electric guitars are for sale, violins and peculiar items washed ashore from local history and then placed on the wall as if to explain how we all came to be here. My evening ends with Irish Coffee, a tradition I've invented for myself but never quite adhered to. Perhaps I'm trying to say something about who I might be, where I might come from or be going but I really don't know.  It nicely fills the awkward "anything else?" gap. Meals and deals and after it all I remain steady on my feet and home, perpetually puzzled but satisfied... then the taxi runs over the Ray-Bans, the friendly driver completely unaware and heading for his next pickup, not the way every evening ends. We stand in the dark, out side in our pyjamas and bare feet looking for the lost lens, as if it finding it would make any difference. 

The new roof in detail.
This morning I braved the gales and the wobbles in the scaffolding and headed up to highest level. There now is a solid place in space where no solid space existed before, nor will again, so I'm kind of hovering in that spot and taking in and recording the view for posterity and just liking the feeling of being up there.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A useful use for a useless item

Inside we are all pretty much the same; unless of course you happen to be an artist.
Smart Phone: The most useful part of the smart phone? The alarm clock. Other things that are tolerable, the phone and texting part, Twitter...that's about it. None of that prevents their relentless march onwards, what is a Samsung Account anyway?

Currys/Dixons/PCWorld are all the same thing, one big retail blob. They provide nice products, probably give good value but the customer service and the connections needed to make that work are ironically quite clumsy. I say this because despite the high tech and joined up products they peddle, their own systems fail to join up, messages don't get passed, updates aren't provided, clarity in operations (which with their technology  should be easier than ever to achieve) is as much of a struggle as it ever was. "Same as it ever was" you might say.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Dull as a house brick

At one time there was a place that made bricks in the exotic location known as Hill of Beath in Fifeshire. I don't think that happens there anymore. This was found on the beach, I presume that it was washed ashore from some tragic and long forgotten shipwreck, like the Irish Rover. I'm sure that she was carrying a cargo of bricks from somewhere to New York. Of course it might have just fallen from the clear and empty sky and failed to break up on impact. They made good bricks in those days.
Good coffee gone bad: When you read lengthy Scandinavian books about how tedious, depressing and vital real life can be you cant help but reflect upon your own life and ask yourself, "once I'm gone (hopefully after a very short and pain free illness that does not result in the loss of either faculties or dignity) how will I be remembered?" It's a real teaser that could either keep you awake at night or put you to sleep or keep you awake all day, like a heavy sticky doughnut in the early morning belly. I'll probably be remembered as a person who was mostly around and then wasn't and between times blogged and generally fibbed a bit. I'm just not seeing the wide Scandinavian interest or the Nordic richness shining through here in the banality of it all and I lack the gift of total recall and self indulgent imagination. There is no great piece of over arching philosophical brilliance or clear insights into the human condition with all of it's joy and pain. The word dull just springs to mind. Dull as a house brick (but useful from time to time). As I reflect on these heavy issues I realise that coffee starts to turn nasty once you get halfway down the jar and that the older you get the more the soles of your feet become itchy in the evening. Why?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Post Industrial

From a Distance: The world we look out on every day presents us with the same, steady and simple puzzles. We ask the same wordless questions. Where is this? What is that? Why is it so? Who are they? And so on. We pose these inner and incestuous questions to ourselves as we stare into our own immediate space and into the wider reaches of what passes for some geographical and social construct that we mindlessly inhabit; civilisation. Every part of the earth has been altered and tainted, touched by the indian sandals, military boot heels, tyre tracks, evil poison gasses and the rolling tides of plastics and pollution that flow out in all directions. The fierce and terrible byproducts and excrement from the systems that ooze tired options to give us a quality of life and scientific capability that exceeds all that ever came before. Here it is, on our doorstep and we hardly know a thing about it's deep and dark inner workings, it's thoughts or it's soft underbelly that awaits the fatal knife wound borne out of too much progress in too little time with too little consideration. Did I ever mention that I'm buying a Porsche 911 and going on a sacred pilgrimage to every drive through Macdonalds within the Arctic Circle?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting rid of the smell

Hofner Shorty travel guitar, purchased on eBay for £60. Surprisingly playable and complete with a powerful humbucker jet engine and solid controls. Why didn't I get one of these years ago? Easyjet charge £50 for a musical instrument case going in the hold. This thing could fit nicely in your back pocket or up the sleeve of your puffy anorak.
Krispy-Kreme doughnuts are unhealthy, delicious, irresistible and come in boxes of a dozen for £10.45. They are an unhealthy plague and will be the ruin of our civilisation if we let them. The SNP nannies should ban them along with fags and Irn-Bru. So they remain legal here in Fife but still act as fatally horrid drugs that could be made illegal as soon as I die happy from that  sweet, slow sugar and jam flavoured poisoning.
In Scotland there appears to be little or no classy or pretentious graffiti, we're proud of just writing our names with the letters in the correct order and doing basic street-wise tagging. "We were here" in other words, now we're someplace else. Quite profound really. Eat your anonymous and multifunctional heart out Mr Banksy.
Abandoned HGV trailer in the woods. How did it ever get there?
A big mouse, or a family of mice or some great and once proud other type of rodent brethren have expired in the great dark void that exists under the great dark central heating boiler. As a result the kitchen stinks and I wish the kitchen would also sink without trace. I'm lighting little tea lights that smell of orange meadows, bubblegum and strawberry shortcake in order to address this intolerable situation. I may well move onwards to some friendly Travelodge or even the refuge of the living room until nature takes it's long winded and stinking course. Double Ugh! (Ugh!).

Monday, March 10, 2014

Slam Bam, thank you for the chips Mam

A poetry slams can be fun. You can get chips, wine and endless amusement from a variety of witty, clever and mesmerising performing poets. It's not a young persons game though, a long and sharp memory is required, clear or at least interesting diction, endless creative powers and the ability to jump up on stage quickly when summoned. I was reminded of those fantasy contests between thin and creepy lead guitarists; who can be the fastest and most colourful performer, "show us your licks man!" and so on. Thrashing and straining and metaphorically punching the air, every trick in the book or on the virtual clipboard. It's not for the faint hearted, the feeble minded or anybody aligned in any way to the political right. Right? Loud Poets. Draw your own conclusions, write them down, commit them to memory and enter on the night.

This clever and quick girl won, so this is what you're up against.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Why is this true?

I've never in my life verbally rejected a haircut, they are all fine, 100%. I've never heard anyone in the barber shop argue with the hairdresser in a "no it's not, yes it is way." No blows are struck, payment refused to be made or tantrums taken. All that must happen later, much later, in the cold dark place where the folks with the bad haircuts go...for at least three days, like Jesus I suppose. Then it's ok to return to the world of the average haircut and move freely once again. All publicly taken haircuts are good then and barbers must never receive proper criticism because it never comes; unlike women's hairdressers, dentists, chefs, police officers etc. The thing is you're stuck with your own head (and stuck inside it), it probably looks dumb from any angle and the shape of the hair growing on it (bizarre in itself if you detach from it) can do little to alter your own head's tottering place in an absurd universe. For those blokes with no hair, I guess that's a better situation to be in as the eager years pass, posted missing and well out of the barber's tyranny and loop. There are of course woolly hats with their criminal like dignity, so essential in today's divided Scotland. 

Also featuring odd hair, my favourite recent movie scene, the "science oven".

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Karl Ove Knausgaard

I'm finding this black hole of a book difficult to put down right now. Funny how things come in from nowhere and start to grind their way into your life and thinking. I'm suddenly finding myself lined up with random Scandinavian observation and detail and the recurring dream to heading up to the Arctic Circle. Must be Spring.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Polish Movie Poster

This one for "The Birds" doesn't hold back, I don't recall this actual scene either.
Anyway, too busy with life, travel, work and upset tummies; typical. Just a single thought from KD:

If you say I am then I must be,
If you say I'm not, I'll talk, talk, talk.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Non specific rant

A potent mixture of soup and Puddledub chicken and haggis.
Call any vegetable: So rather than spend time grappling with travel and technology I've taken time to being with some vegetables (in a fairly honest and non sexual way). Usually I turn them into a primitive soup. I admire their dirty honesty and peculiar shapes and names, how they are mostly non poisonous and how they appear year after year from the muddy, soaking and unforgiving ground. A mysterious and dark breeding ground of dishonest minerals, creepy crawlies and dead bodies. It makes little sense but thankfully it occurs regularly. The planet like some great groaning and growing machine pushes them up from under it's skin like pimples and acne and onto the chopping board. Chefs will swoon and croon about freshness and flavour and frantically slice technicolor pieces taking precise times and salted butter and cast iron pots to fuse them into abstract constructions. Then animal muscles and flesh are added in and it goes on and on via exclusive menus and reviews into eager diners bellys, or into ladles and  industrial packages and distribution systems. Sadly the sophisticated distribution that gets a lettuce from Kenya to  here in 8 hours can't quite work in reverse with food, clean water and medicine. Feeding the world from the world is an honest (thanks to labels and packaging) but corrupted industry. I imagine there would be enough vegetables in the world right now to give everybody who needs one a decent bowl of soup. I don't quite know why but despite having over forty billionaires in the UK and many more willing cheaper hands we can't manage that yet.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The teacher who gave me a good belting

Sir Alex Ferguson was happy to be regularly beaten at school by an aggressive teacher and a Lochgelly Tawse, so he says. Well so was I and I'm pretty sure that the teachers don't regret it even now and neither do I. When I was at school I was a troublesome little shit and my regular misbehaviour asked in pretty clear language for a good hammering now and again, it was that kind of world and I kind of miss it. In the end it was the only way I could express myself however clumsily but it ultimately ended in me progressing onwards to the clear light and then towards to a happy and well balanced present day. So there. That's not to say I'd want to travel back in time etc.

I did meet an ex-teacher (who belted me a few times for not reading my George Orwell on time) the other day, he was quite right in his judgement and we locked eyes and shook hands firmly on the matter. Done and dusted.
The past makes so much more sense when rendered in black and blue and white.

All mankind are like grass

The most powerful people in the world take a selfie and in so doing bring down the evil empire, marginalise a large section of occupied Crimea and then stall Twitter. Little do they care for their near end time bids on eBay or any of that that claptrap. They just want to win prizes and so become a distorted version of their true selves. In the great scheme of things who really cares? Good photo just the same. Meanwhile an alien film company from Alpha Centauri is making a sci-fi film about life on earth. Set in the present day it may well offer a lively and new perspective on the current situation of our planet. It should be out next year just in time to win an Oscar  category or two and destabilise the global political and economic systems provided that  it can get a good distribution deal.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Ongoing Volvo Anxiety

Cars: Looking out of the window and seeing my ageing Volvo with it's broken hand brake cable and moon distance miles of the clock I wondered what kind of metaphor might be hidden deep in my dysfunctional relationship with this battered machine. How might it describe it's unreliable owner and occasional, via fuel, repairs and servicing, distant benefactor.  Me there sitting in the dirty drivers seat, never anywhere else, squinting through the mist and bird shit cracked up on the screen. Fumbling with the knobs and switches like a bad and careless lover. Forcing speed when it clearly wants to maintain it's own wilful pace, happier to just plod across the desert like a worn camel or a loose cavalry horse left over from some rout or massacre. There's me in the middle, an occupant and soldier in life's petty wars. A grey ghost in a Volvo, as unfunky as a man can become complete with wooly jumper and odd socks and Steely Dan on the stereo.

There is no credible statement I can hope to make in this flak-magnet position so I cruise the roadways and potholes, as invisible as the postman or a Liberal activist. I am here, taking up some valuable space, possibly moving forward whilst all you others fly past with more important things to do. Me, alone but happy, trapped in a Zen spaceship that orbits my own head like it's own mission control had just given up and gone home and the umbilical's been finally cut. My mission, should I choose to accept it; to boldly go and get a space quite near to the deserted main door at  Tesco but avoiding puddles and not venturing into spaces allocated to the disabled or those with young families for they are highly valued consumers within our well structured but imaginary society (but are pretty sparse in numbers at 21:30 on a Saturday night I might say).

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Careful with that axe JB

Today I spent a happy afternoon, diverted from eBay, feeding wild birds, life's cares and the vague weather chopping up guitar bodies. There's at least an N4, a PRS, and two SGs in this pile and half a thin line Telecaster. What do the general public see in these things? I feel so much better and this perfect recycling model means that a fire will one day be lit, toes will be warmed, snoozes snoozed, cats slowly basted and baked and some marshmallows will be lightly toasted once the sun goes down. After that it was a spot of ironing and connecting the TV up to the Internet via the dishwasher, the door bell and the earthing system that quietly trickles lots of little pieces of earth all around the house from 13 amp plug to 13 amp plug. Electricity is wonderful and we can now enjoy a full series of Jonathan Creek episodes and Grey's Anatomy as soon as I find out what the Sky PIN is. I involves at least four numbers between 0 and 9, no problem then.