Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in miniature

Some guitars were built.
Stones were moved to modify the house. 
Metal was stretched and hammered.
Jewels shone, they were polished and displayed.
Birthdays and celebrations were enjoyed.
Spring and summer moved across the face of the land. 
We all got a bit older.
Overhead things flew by whilst familiar music played.
France featured, wine was slurped. We travel.
Evergreens surround us. 
Old sounds and memories came back to haunt.
Artwork and electronics challenged us.
A lion's stone eye looked out from a new location. 
Interstellar fruit, close up and personal. Work in progress.
Somehow seeing into the future, staying wary.
We'll create 2015, brick by brick.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Capital: Something I don't have much of.

Capital in the Twenty First Century: A book I've not (yet) read. You can never tell, spare time may become available during the Revolution of 2015. You can of course just read reviews and supporting articles or listen to gossip and so get the gist of it. Is that really how you learn things and so go onto form worthwhile opinions?

I suspect that whilst this book may well hold the (or an) answer there are many of the great, grey rich and powerful who will vigorously ignore the message and that is because the "commanding heights of the economy are dominated not just by wealth but also by inherited wealth, in which birth matters more than effort or talent". Time to buy a lottery ticket methinks.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tis the season

Rethink your future...just what twists might be ahead?
To get home late
To be frustrated with shops, shopping and all consumer based activity of any kind.
Not to feel hungry, at all.
To wonder what day it is.
To drive here and there and get nowhere.
To be surprised by prompt delivery.
To throw out uneaten food.
To have a persistent cold and an empty head.
To be unfocused.
To have no routine.
Have people get in your way.
To think about the future and feel...afraid, well almost.
Wear comfy socks
To also wear a hat.
Get headaches.
Not watch TV.
To pay attention to the weather forecast as if it meant something new.
Pay the credit card bill.

That's about it.

Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 reflections

2014’s musical highlights?

Ali and I wrote at least one song
Various unstructured but fun garden jams.
Del Amtri, Alabama 3 at Wickerman. Missed Nick Harper though.
CSNY 1974, the longest running CD in the car CD player for 2014.
Dipping into and more frequently out of Radio 6
CBQ’s playlists - each one eclectic, alternative, surprising, disturbing and fun.
Royal Blood on Mp3
Raucous all night song covering at Bridge of Orchy ski lodge
Noodling on the finally (as opposed to finely) assembled but incomplete Smaug Strat.
Jazz scales unlearned
“Wee Country” by Tommy Mackay
The Life of Rock with Brian Pern
Fringe gigs by Norman L & co.
Elijah’s  playing of  “Let it Go”
The theme from House of Cards
Capital Models tribute / charity gig.
John Farrell's music to Ali's lyrics.

P.S. I'd like to say something good about music on (daytime and early evening) Radio Scotland but sadly I can’t – woeful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

Time marches on relentlessly towards another Christmas, I'm busy with few breaks for thinking or procrastinating...quite useful really. Any way here's a titbit gleaned from the Guardian, file under Confessions of a Toy Shop Owner: 

" I’ve become a connoisseur of tantrums, from the foot-stampers to the fling-self-to-the-ground-and-scream brigade. But this time of year a different generation chucks their toys out of the pram: the parents. We have sold out of singing Elsa dolls. Yes, it’s hard to accept, but it’s true: there is nothing I can do. We sold the last one weeks ago to a collector who will keep it in its cellophane box for ever. Every year is the same. A rush for the latest craze and the inevitable broken parents who haven’t managed to secure the ultimate must-have. I have seen grown men crying, knowing they will be a disappointment to their daughter on Christmas Day. At the other end of the parenting scale are the righteous ethical consumers, who buy only wooden bricks and ant farms when their children want guns and plastic tat. Their smug expressions as they put them in their hemp totes makes me want to slip in a couple of Nerf guns and a Barbie. Their children will be in therapy for years because their hessian loom bands were rubbish. But such thoughts are counterproductive. I am the jolly toy shop owner. Ignore the beads of sweat on my upper lip. I’m a little tense because Christmas is our only chance to make enough money to keep afloat the rest of the year. So roll up, deluded parents. Buy your tots the elaborate toys when they would much rather play with the wrapping paper. Roll up, the divorced fathers, who buy too much stuff to assuage their guilt. Roll up, grandparents who are hopelessly out of touch. And roll on the new year."

I particularly like the references to divorced fathers, ethical consumers and out of touch grandparents, all sad but funny and from my own experience true.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Please wait to be seated

These fine seats (if we're doing a seat theme here) are in a Fife based  Bank of Scotland branch, not bad boys RBS by the way. They know their seats. I slept here for an hour today without causing any disturbance to anyone.
There's something wrong in the running of a cafe where you can't choose your own seat. WTF. Imagine going into a Tesco cafe only to be "seated" by the well meaning if inexperienced staff. It's a cafe pretending to be a restaurant and as such it's doomed. (This is in the new Dunfermline Tesco, a shop that is also doomed both by location, layout and staff - mark my gibberish like and disconnected words). Their sandwiches come in odd shapes with Christmas twists and mustard; overall score 5/10.

Tonight's tea; a colourful chicken stir fry. None of the fine ingredients were purchased in Tesco. Tasty.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good Grace

Whatever you might think there is no actual requirement for anybody to post actual facts on the internet. Maybe it's best that way, then everything is quite simply unbelievable. I hope that's clear. Just trying to manage expectations.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A sign

This has appeared in our downstairs loo propped up against the wall and on the cistern. It speaks volumes at this daft and costly time of year. Everywhere grim shoppers queue or rush or push trolleys, lines are long and slow, offers dazzle and everything in the shops has been moved to create seasonal displays and extra space for all the tinsel and tat that we seem to want to buy. I'm caught in this curious rapture, I'm going with it, I'm making lists and bad choices. I hear that inner voice telling me that whatever it is it's not enough, I need some extra gift, I need to try harder. Actually I just need to stop and watch an episode of House of Cards.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Extrapolated art

To coin a rather tedious phrase...this website is pretty cool. New pieces are regularly added it would seem. Strangely and rather unexpectedly there's a piece from Howl's Moving Castle amongst all the fine examples, not one you'd expect in this company. I didn't see many Dali works in there however, possibly too much of a challenge for the software.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


The long, winding, flooded in places, potholed and blocked by a tree road that leads to your home.

This must mean something

"Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

"We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we've barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us."

Life? It's all just some big cosmic mash up really, built up from component parts from SpongeBob's Party, Springfield Retirement Castle, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Woodstock, Easy Rider, 2001 and Interstellar. It'll all settle down and be fine eventually. Let's just live in peace and get to 2015, a step at a time. Next.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Eat your heart out

When it's cold and you're of a certain age then you really need a hat. This Cookie Monster one isn't mine however, it's the property of one of my grand bairns, maybe one day I'll own some respectable headgear. My other simple and  less funky one is currently keeping the car's headrest warm and almost frost free.

So what's with the bird man geek in the fleece top on TV saying that seeds rolled and bound together in lard and cemented into a dead coconut shell  are a bad thing for our wild birds to feast upon? On a freezing night like tonight that precious lard acts like a little electric blanket warming them under their pale and thin feathers, it's the perfect food parcel. You just ask any little spuggie or robin the next time they stop by for a wee chat. It's what the butcher's trade is all about; byproducts from byproducts.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Knowing what to think

A nice photo of the Orion cigarette pack launch doing the same thing that NASA did some 40 years ago. I guess most of  us of a certain age thought that by now we'd have moved further on with space technology and that big heavy rockets, smoke and flame and ocean splashdowns would be a thing of the past by 2014. Technology is strange the way it moves; forwards, backwards and sometimes jumps away altogether at unpredictable tangents.

Sometimes I just don't know what to think, I genuinely cannot tell the top from the bottom or my posterior from my elbow tip. Yet out there in the big bad world so many people know exactly what to think and they also know what you should be thinking and, given the chance will tell you. Today, scanning the news it's breastfeeding mothers v UKIP, who should lead Labour, austerity cuts, this shameful thing and that shameful thing. dumb celebs. In the war or words very little of this really adds up to anything, most of it is biased opinion and too much of it is hysterical and without reason.  Where's the rational and the objective view? There is no truth or if it's there is it's hard for the uniformed and disconnected folks like me to recognise it. Truth should hit you in the face like a wet kipper, not dumb you down and gum you up like some soporific or shouty editorial that has been contract written by the London Illuminati. So why am I bothered about reading it at all, sucking it in and so being influenced and ultimately told what to think? Maybe it does save me thinking and I just kind of like that.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Grandad Hobo

On reflection, if I had been born ten years earlier as opposed to ten years after, would I have somehow gravitated towards sixties London and been caught up in the first blues boom? Might I have crossed swords and fretboards with John Mayall and Alexis Korner and tried out for the Bluesbreakers or the Yardbirds? (And then been kicked out quite unceremoniously). If had had known then the four note licks I know now, smoked the right fags, hung around, if my behaviour had been different, if I truly came from Pittenweem and could perform mighty deeds even under the influence of alcohol, where would I be now? There's also lottery numbers and great inventions and scandals to consider.

God's holding power and good clean justice prevailed however. Many a young man stayed stuck in the shipyards and the fishing, cutting wood or working in the area of parks and recreation, drawing the dole, never getting round to spanking the plank of finding yourself, lost without a trace in the parallel universe that is the great grey turning mass of Central Scotland. Fate calls you and you follow...up to a point.

So that space ship was never launched and the time travellers have so far failed to kill me, no blows were ever struck against the evil empire and that gives me some hope for the future; true enlightenment, greatness and recognition are always (all ways) somewhere just around the corner. So if we're headed into these vast unknown landscapes of time and cosmic elasticity as careless passengers, sightseers and advocates and purveyors of blues and roots music then relax and listen to this album...still to be written, played and recorded of course. The future is what you make it.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Potato scones

There's probably nothing worse than the sense of loss that you experience when you buy something, walk out of the shop, head home and when you get there you discover one of the items you bought is missing. You go over the misty and always hurried details in your mind; at the till or check out, packed bags, walked to car, put bags in boot, (returned shopping trolley, was there a one pound coin return?), met upset lady who has scraped your car as she tried to reverse out of the parking bay, items in boot (but distracted by the lady and the actual zero damage done to the car), drove home, unloaded car in the dark, discovered item missing. Actually no, I didn't realise that the potato scones were missing till much later...about midnight. This quickly becomes an irritating thought that wont easily remove itself; at the checkout, left in the trolley, on the ground, on the roof of the car? Some whisky needs to be administered. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Different day

An unfamiliar and cold morning, ice all across the old Volvo and no wind at all.  I scraped the frozen car clean and we headed out in the early morning gloom to drop Ali off at hospital. Cold breath and slippy feet everywhere, we're all born slippy it seems. On the way home I weighed up my options and thought of what I had to do and the best way of working things out; cash machine, grocery shop, painting, a pile of laundry, Amazon parcel and then heading back to the hospital. I turned into a gloomy half lit Sainsburys  and bought bread, fruit and vegetables, I'd be making soup. Soup is always required to promote good health and somehow compensate for the lack of Mediterranean diet and Mediterranean sun we suffer. It might just work. 

Home and on with Radio 6, Neil Young songs were being played and I set about painting the fireplace and sorting out the logs and the stove. The painting was fiddly, I needed four sizes of brush and then lay down on cardboard so as to avoid spilling paint on the newly cleaned and treated fire bricks. I took a break and ate two boiled eggs and a toasted bagel, then I chopped up the vegetables and made soup. Then back to the fireplace for a second coat and a tidy up. Not too many splashes and the edges came up reasonably clean as I removed the stubborn masking tape. Stir the soup a bit so the lentils don't stick; my one soup recipe, done to death but at least done.

Then I took another break, this time with coffee, a snowball and the last few pages of Knausgaard's third volume.  It's not as strong as the first two and I was struggling to finish it but I did; will I carry on when number four comes out in English? Probably, his long rambling childhood tales are not what really interests me however readable they might be, the tortured adult life is much more appealing and deeper somehow. 

Steely Dan were playing when Radio 6 eventually stopped pumping it's music mix and turned on to a new Nick Drake book, forty years after he died. His sister talked about him and the book in rich, plummy tones. Forty years is a long time to be dead and a long time to be remembered. I wondered how much his estate was worth now.

"Memory is not a reliable quantity in life...
It is sly and artful...
It does everything it can to keep it's host satisfied."