Friday, August 29, 2014

Thought for the minute

'Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end. '

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New breeks

The politicians we get are not the politicians we deserve. Paul Simon was right; “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest...lah lah lah”. From that I take the scores and the opinions as being pretty meaningless over the so called Salmond and Darling “debating” effort last night, it wasn’t impressive, in fact it was embarrassing, cringe worthy even. Really they should just have had a punch up or a good scuffle, now that might generate proper interest, even put some passion into the fray – there is a great swathe of dopey indifference out there despite whatever high levels of  “engagement” Wee Eck might like to prattle on about. It all proves once again that being Scottish is, as was famously said in Trainspotting “shite” and the full, unfunny, unlovable televised circus isn’t a good advertisement for Scotland.

Meanwhile on the sidelines the Twitter frenzy was as bad, the punch drunk critics cheering on whatever bully boy seemed to be on top of the mire for a few lucid seconds. Nukes, oil, money, NHS, big bad business and toffs made headlines like failing soap stars out on the sauce with no proper answers ever appearing in the land of the outraged sound bite. Meanwhile on TV the two champions stuttered on as if in some  woolly pub argument without the alcohol, the humour, the wit or the swearing, chasing each other around the snug. No clever one-liners just relentless wagging fingers, crowing, cackling, shrill laughing and courtship displays of awkward body language and posturing. It confirmed what I already knew, neither of these guys have it nor have they any of the answers despite their experience and lofty status. You wouldn’t really want them coming round for the evening unless strong drink was involved. It really is just all sound and fury (of a kind) that doesn’t add up to much and signifies even less. I felt sorry for the poor BBC guy; a useless playground referee, no red cards or warnings, no positive intervention and no goals scored.

I do wonder quite what happens in the brains of politicians, how they must check themselves constantly as if their flies were open to the world, nervous and worried about any slip or double meaning, any unintended compliment or just sliding too far on some point or stance and so headed fatally off message and into the frequently mis-quoted world of shocking media headlines. If this is democracy in action then…there must be something else out there that works better. My simple take on this; do I want my life and my country to be ruled by either of these two unfortunates (and their obnoxious cronies)? Not really, count me out. (YES!).

Dawn of the moleskin trousers: In other news I’ve discovered the world’s best trousers - M&S Moleskins. I feel sad that so many moles had to die but comfort always does come at a price.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grass cut at last

The famous local robin (possibly some reincarnated friend or family member) visits the garden and sets up an observation post on top of the time lapse camera. 
The paw marks of various known and unknown cats set in concrete on the back door steps, a nice finishing touch.  Meanwhile we got the grass cut, the roses pruned and popped out to see the mighty Graeme Mearns at the Jazz Bar. A good day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Over the high side

I first heard this expression in 1971 (OTHS), today it came back to me as if from the lips of some grievous angel via the breath of the Devil himself. It's a place I've never visited but I understand that many others have.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cat food omelette

I seem to have gone on for most of July and much of August, the long summer months in some sort of denial of writing or producing or creating anything other than those bad, half formed early morning ideas you get (or the drunken ones you get and quickly forget). Yes that is how it has been, unforgivable and reprehensible...but fun, followed by those three pretentious and hopefully meaningful full stops. You see I've been away, in France, in England, here and there. I've been lazy too and too lazy, obstinate, preoccupied and busy with things that are counter productive. The stats have all of course gone haywire, history has repeated and I've slept away the rain, fog and misty days in a haze of, well just about nothing. Excuse me please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anchovies and cheese

The assumption that is made (in my imagination) that eating and appearing to enjoy certain types of food makes you look sophisticated or assume the mantle of being  knowledgeable and cultured dogs me like some badly behaved and sociable dog that I’ve encouraged with pats, praise and tit-bits. I can’t shake it off, it has adopted me. Top of the list is the anchovy and/or white bait eating experience. Scoffing the whole, strong salty fish with it's oily texture and mouth stinging pickled flavours is more of a trial of strength than any kind of measure of social mobility and worldly wisdom, it’s pain. The culinary equivalent of swimming with jelly fish whilst urinating. Perversely it’s a pain I’ve come to enjoy. The challenge that lies beyond the bland, the easy or dare I say it the pleasant. The strange experimental pact that you may from time to time (when bored with modern life) make with yourself just to test your limits (and when you are of a certain age it’s not about American motorcycles, parachutes or bungee chords), it’s just about consumption, pain and pushing against some stubborn physical tolerance. It’s taking a risk, often a stupid one. I know where I am in this now in this universe of botulism and I am comfortable peering over the event horizon and into the black hole, even if the trip is powered by a tasty but fatal dose of scallops rather than a pristine bit of Cheddar.

It’s the same as voting yes in the referendum. A yes vote equals a revolutionary outlook; a no vote equals a reactionary view. The issues on both sides are totally irrelevant; there is no proper debate, no meaningful information, nothing found in those exhausting sound bites or repetitive tweets matters. There is no credible evidence for a certain future outcome either way. It’s just risky v risk averse; and there is nothing wrong with that. All people want is some validation for their cherished views and, when the majority look they always find what they want to find nothing changes the dark/sepia human heart easily, not even sea-food dislikes. Had both sides realised that a while ago they could’ve done away with the flyers, films and trumped up publicity and donated the money to worthwhile charities and noble causes and just left us all to vote from the heart. This is exactly what we will all do on the 18th, albeit most folks will completely deny it if asked. Put it to the test, think of the Yes and No people you now know – how do they measure up? Anchovies or cheese?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Water everywhere

A handy and informative sign discovered in a Shell Station portaloo.
The Lake District contains a lot of water, most of not in the lakes but in that awkward space between the sky and the earth, where people often walk. Wet for 24 hours is an interesting experience only made pleasant by food, large amounts of alcohol and good company - so I survived. I did wonder about life and common sense and things in general when I saw some gentleman swimming naked, in the rain in Lake Windermere early in the morning. I think it was the swimming in the cold rain part that puzzled me, it seemed crazy. Then I thought about all the water, everywhere, descending on us. It still seemed crazy. Naked? That's pretty crazy too.

A money tree (detail), found near one of the very many houses by Windermere where William Wordsworth apparently slept. I've come to the conclusion that he was either a burglar or that he had a thing for farmer's wives, apart from all the poem writing business that made him so famous.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Handful of time

only a handful of time
here today
here in mind
with our secret thoughts and whispers
running low across the dawn

maybe I saw you there
perhaps you were just moving on
or you were already gone

my hands are open
palms empty and up
pushing hard on the sky
my eyes see the horizon
passing by

my time in handfuls
drains all ways
these wasted hours
fill up my days

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turns to toffee

They warned us that it would happen but we ignored them, what did they know? We carried on, we just piled the stuff in. All the junk, the selfies, the comments, the butt shots, the music uploads, pathetic games, the streams, dreams and things better unseen. News, views, screws and nothing to really lose. Now it's full, the Internet is full, like some cupboard under the stairs or those problem bedroom drawers or the garage. It's happening tonight, look around, all your things have just turned into slowly setting, congealing toffee. Yum. The world has finally stopped.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The spiral path

Following on from yesterday's despairing but low key rant I remain convinced that mankind is not progressing up some mystical spiral path to Valhalla and enlightenment but is in fact headed to Hell on a rotten and rusty handcart. We just do not learn from history or experience. Our Government commemorates 100 years since the War to end all Wars but by it's actions (or lack) proves we've learned nothing by either supporting, condoning or more likely being indifferent towards conflicts in Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Ukraine and god knows where else. We stand by and shake our heads but...

Having said that I still can't figure what direction (on said spiral path) a Yes or No vote will take us here in the bosom of supposed civilisation. Pity help the poor media dazzled person caught in the crossfire of confusing rhetoric...then I heard someone say "what other country in the world would not vote for Independence if given the opportunity? The rest of the world must think we're all daft." Hmm.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The redistribution of wealth

What with holidays in France, rubbish pay rises, wine goggles and the collapse of modern politics I've been giving this subject (wealth and it's various forms, norms and problems) some deep and penetrating thought. It seems to me that the idealistic redistribution of wealth, as called for by various socialist and revolutionary voices cannot be made to work. All that happens is that the state tax the wealthy thereby destroying the aspirational model and so bankrupting the free market. This leads to further exploitation of the masses and various shit dinners and shortages. The poor stay poor (but are rewarded in the Christian Heaven eventually). Then the state, fat on tax it lacks the vision to spend wisely, squanders it all on vanity projects and ill considered public spending. Everything ends up in another black/brown hole like this one that opened up in Nairn today. I really need more of a cheese intake so I can dream better, more positive dreams and so save the NHS and the transport infrastructure.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chinese Crackers

Big score of International Karma points coming our way: Arriving back in Scotland late last night into a desolate and deconstructed Edinburgh Airport (no Festival Ticket pickup points or any signs of life open after 2200 it appears) we trudged up to Level 42 of the car park to start the final leg of the journey home. We were hailed by a bewildered young Chinese couple with a dead Audi A4. We tried a jump start but not only was the battery flat, the starter motor was also jammed and the disc brakes were seized - four weeks of sitting in a multi-storey does bad things to a car . A call to the AA was then made, costly but hopefully helpful after some frantic English/Chinese translation; I'd like to think they got back to Glasgow one way or another. Our reward for a futile jump start session and calling the AA for advice - a pack of Chinese Crackers handed over by the girl, "they're from China!" she said. That was sweet. I also felt my stubborn A4 envy slip away quite nicely, what they say just isn't true.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Some time in Paris

Here's some relentless photo-blogging from the city of Paris, France (as an American might say). A city full of glamour, rats running free, people sleeping rough, crazy cyclists and roller blade folks, thunder and rain, pavement cracks, good food, wine and graffiti. Funnily I missed most of the towers, arcs, artworks and palaces that normally are associated with the place; next time maybe.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Let the soil decide

Lessons in life: when lost in the vineyards of Burgundy, at a crossroads in life or unsure about anything in general then you plant something and see how it the earth decides for you. Whatever does grow you use, it may not be to your taste of course but I might just suit somebody else. I'm ok with this as one kind of way ahead.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sunday Lunch

Bread, wine, loaves and fishes, served up as nature intended. Some minor details omitted for illustrative purposes by the stringent editorial processes currently running around here.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Nature Abhors

The wise men and monks  of Cambuskenneth Abbey often remarked that the good and benign force of nature, whoever, wherever she may be abhors a vacuum. That and cold Chicken Tikka leftovers, flat beer and Hollyoaks. In order to prove nothing in particular I spent most of this evening vacuum packing eleven shirts and two suits and squeezing them into tiny bags. After all I'm soon to be trekking in Patagonia or some such exotic and remote place and you can never tell when an uncreased and fresh lavender scented shirt might come to your rescue. The ancient technique was passed onto me by a old Chinese man living in a place known as YouTube. Sir, I salute you and all of your brave countrymen working in the tailoring and folding of garments industries. If you could only sort out some major human rights and environmental issues all could once again be well in our small, airless little worlds.