Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 was ...

... whatever it was. Now it's nearly time to move onto 2019 and face up to the future, something that's always just around the corner but still manages to arrive quite unexpectedly. I wish I could say more but the future is notoriously tough to predict, people have died and/or lost vast sums of money trying to do just that. Best to let it happen, relax and allow the soothing magic of time's oozing and passing to wash over you like some woolly, warm, soft and flexible blanket. Welcome to 2019, a year devoted to the void, to reflection, clumsy social interaction, moved goalposts and a degree of bearable frustration. There will be change and changes, pages flicked over and storybooks thumbed through. We'll tell ourselves different things, often they're script will refuse to line up with the obvious world of reality but when all else fails just stare into the soft glow of the imagined light that's straight ahead of you and point yourself towards it.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Farewell Big A

That's my final day as a sweaty minion in the Big A over for the foreseeable future. I've returned to civvy street and feel like a combat soldier who's just done a stint in Afghanistan. Maybe that's a bit of exaggeration. The thing is that this year's sojourn into the purchasing mind of the British public hasn't been so bad. The Big A seemed almost human at times and the staff and managers were genuinely working hard to give the customer what they want, mainly a load of Chinese crap as it happens i.e. phone cases and covers, awful toy games, electronic oddities, cook books and a smattering (?) of lurid sex toys. It seems that's what Santa brings us all and then, for good measure we buy even more of it when the sale comes. As a barometer of taste and appetites it's worrying but then so are the TV schedules, the pop charts and the wayward political opinions trotted out all over the place. As a country and a society we're mostly fucked and fucked up but at least the good people of "A" retain a sense of humour and dignity in the face of Brexit and economic adversity and plow on. "It's all right for them" you may say, "what about our high streets and the retail sector?" Yup, totally fucked, blame that one on your town councils and chamber of commerce jokers. Those without any vision or flexibility will, I'm afraid, perish. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

More Cold War

I've been following Coldwar Steve on Twitter before it was cool or fashionable. Well that's my claim. The output has been patchy on occasions but this top deck shot shows him at the peak of his form. Just a pity nobody is sneaking a fag in memory of the old days and the smokey, early morning mist of the upstairs passenger compartment. The 0655 to Donibristle Industrial Estate was my ride, humming "a day in the life" and probably (but I'm not sure about this) not having a care in the world. It was 1973 and the world was truly a different place, unrecognizable and strange, austere and tough. I'm glad that it's over. None of the punters depicted have shared my experience, they've done other things but still ended up in the same place.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Some time in Fifeshire

Earthbound now for nearly 64 years, finally found a reasonable hat, still something of a tooth problem going on in that squint smile but at least I'm smiling, Christmas and the remains of all things must have been good to me this year. Sunglasses are of course vital in December, all that glow and haze going on above the fog. Having a lovely loving wife and a wonderful (if bat-shit crazy) family also helps me stay sane. Reasonable amounts of exposure to animals (dogs, cats, alpacas etc.) does no obvious harm either. I'm back at work today and I've eaten three Christmas dinners this week. Roll on 2019ish.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Picturesque Fife corners

Looking west in Limekilns. Fife.

Further west.

East, in the blurry distance.

Emergency Kitten

Boxing day: If the holidays, vacuous TV broadcasting and hollow religious festivals are getting to you then here's an emergency kitten to study and thereby calm you down. His name is Kylo, he's about eight weeks and he's currently residing in Dundee and in this pic he's having a wee nap. You're welcome.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Daily Truffle

We started out with twelve, that's slowly reducing. They're rather good. HN no less.


The source of numerous family breakdowns, Christmas arguments, tears and tantrums. It's that time of year when some (not all) turn off the TV and play games like Monopoly. Surely this year of all years there should have been a Brexit Special Edition to go with all the other variations. "Go to jail" or be sent back to wherever you came from, "Chance" they're be no food or movement of goods, "Community Chest" whereby we destroy local communities and industries, Utilities get little or no investment and you can forget your tiny green houses and red hotels, they'll all be sold off to Saudi as their prices collapse. As for the railways, they're fucked anyway. Never mind finding proper sensible political or economic solutions either, just roll the dice and see whatever deal or no deal comes up. Good seasonal family entertainment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Daily Reindeer

Traditional Bambi burgers. One of two hungry reindeer that popped into work for a visit. Neither were called Rudolph though they did have names that I didn't quite get. Their own actual reindeer names, the ones they gave themselves will however never be known to us. I'd guess they'd be quite complex, possibly Finnish sounding or in some similar Scandinavian language, tongue twisters for the likes of me. That's the thing with reindeer, you never really know what they are about. They probably taste alright though. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Waves and winds

Classic Japanese art morphs into GIF territory. I quite like the unnatural way the volcano (Fuji?) moves up and down. There's a lot of turmoil in this world.

Typical Fife countryside scene, an idealized winter time.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Wonderful etc.

A sobering thought. Paul McCartney's highest earning tune i.e. the one that pays him the most royalties is in fact "Wonderful Christmas Time". Indeed I have heard it about 18 times today and that snyth part is starting to get to me, never mind the rest of it. Paul is a musical genius no doubt but it must be strange for a tune like that to at the top of your earnings considering all the others bangers he's come up with. Life and art are not fair.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gilets Jaunes

Christmas Card No1: The three wise angels of the Fairport Convention.
I sometimes think that whatever is going on in France right now, the yellow jacket protest etc. would be a bit useful here, now and again, just for a change. Something just to shake us and our friends in the political elite out of our/their complacency. The "will of the people" could be misunderstood. Careful what you wish for I know but it seems that the UK's "strength of feeling" is seldom easily articulated. We sit back and hope for the best because we're British, not foreign and not likely to get over emotional or excited. So we get ourselves rolled over and, as in the case of Brexit, led by stupid and greedy donkeys into likely disaster. Gilets jaunes just means yellow hi-vis jacket, and here was I thinking that a gilet was a really classy and expensive waist coat thing that country types wore when out gathering up blackberries and stray ponies in the winter months. Riots in the UK, civil disobedience over Brexit? Hmm.


Pickle of the day is Beetroot: Superfood, alternative Christmas dinner, snack material, sandwich filler or simply salad.

Friday, December 14, 2018

And relax

It's illogical to get stressed out when you know what you know. OK when you don't know.

Fed up with Brexit, politics, economics, Westminster, national bickering, the BBC and Christmas tunes? Relax. Another busy week ends in a busy Friday and possibly a busy weekend but I had a colourful Social Bite lunch and the bus wasn't too crowded. Extreme weather (but normal for winter) is promised and the Christmas bug and the panic it exudes is biting legs and the back of necks. Wild alpacas are loose all over Scotland. It's just fluff really. Keep that seasonal stress in check by simply staying busy, it's the only antidote and alternative. Refuse to jump from the speeding merry go round, stare at the ground, breathe in and decide not to get dizzy. All things must pass eventually. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Daily Alpaca

I met some alpacas today at work and I'm not even working on a farm. I didn't realise that alpacas were a part of the Christmas story and that they belong in there with the various cows, sheep and donkeys (and presumably camels) mentioned in what is often loosely described as "God's Word" the much edited, redacted and distorted Holy Bible. Anyway nice to see that our progressive and modern society has now included the humble alpacas into the Christmas menagerie. Next year I've no doubt dinosaurs or even mammoths may well make an appearance. So much of the fabric of our society and our belief systems are based on very little, or nothing in particular or just plain old fiction ... but you might get imprisoned or worse for saying such things in certain places, Northern Ireland would be one I'd imagine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Half a banana

Rare version of Andy Warhol's half banana, created as a prototype before he'd considered adding the other half. Trial and error, that's how you do art. The musical part of it ... well it is an acquired taste. There's no sign of it here but I recall being beat up by it at the time.

Meanwhile: I was in Edinburgh today for work. The grubby, grey Athens of the North. Litter, mess, gunge everywhere (seems to me), tacky markets and billboards, funfairs looking dismal in the morning light, public space hi-jacked for a quick quid and wandering tourists gaping as they wheel their cases across the bumpy pavements. Christmas in Scotland, we've not really done our homework.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Don't start believing

When you don't believe in anything (?) Christmas preparations can sometimes take a back seat, but not this year. It's only the 10th but I've uprooted the Christmas tree from it's seasonal garden refuge and brought it kicking and screaming into the house. I've untangled a great mass of fairy lights and then tangled them up again (in a slightly different formation) around the house. There's a wreath on the front door but nobody has died so far and I've been to the shops and Amazon for gifts. I've also made a firm financial spending plan to take me up to the dawn of 2019 and I've even thought briefly about far away things like January. There's been an outbreak of common sense and morality despite my regular bouts of absent mindedness and my lack of any moral absolute in my belief system. Perhaps it's just duty or a sense of fun or a decision at some subconscious level to avoid last minute panics. Maybe, unlike politicians I'm now able to learn from history and mistakes and so prepare for the impending attack of everything Christmas. I could be just desperate and eager to "get it over with" or maybe I'm enjoying myself in some perverse way that's nothing to do with the time of year, just my time of life. Still got to start the wrapping though.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Big Sky

Actually the sky is the same size today as it was yesterday but for a brief period in the afternoon it seemed rather large. That's the sky for you, always up to odd tricks, bigging itself up and generally showing a tendency for exaggeration. Perhaps it's a seasonal thing or a reminder of how things are as we approach the shortest day and prepare for our pagan dance rituals and back slapping. The phenomenon of big sky was first recognized in the 60's (of some century or other) when people dropped acid and lay down on the grass for long periods. They suffered from strange illness and became confused, now they practice all the things they didn't preach but still wonder about the sky and all that might be hidden on the other side. It's a bit of a winter thing here in the northern hemisphere. 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Peace of mind

It's still under test but I'm already excited about this new tool. Hopefully it'll keep one aging German sports car in fine fettle during the winter months. Peace of mind for me for only £30. Too good to be true maybe but worth a shot. It's all no nonsense, straight forward and even an idiot could use it. Hmm.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Tesco cat: Night duty.

Although he's not looking particularly energetic here, sitting amongst the fire lighters, I did see @Tescocat bounding across the tops of various pallets of winter goodies before settling on this spot. From here he surveys all the various comings and goings and random acts of shoplifting, all in a days work for the superstore feline. Also seems to be working a night shift this week. Any extra Christmas money is always useful.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Lost specs

There's nothing quite like the sense of loss and panic that combines and plummets you into some black abyss of despair when you misplace your glasses. I say misplace because you can never truly lose something, it's just in a place you can't quite get to or locate. Some smoky, misty, isolated outpost of a cracked reality where certain items tend to gather ... unexpectedly. There they sit, waiting to be found, perhaps even slightly anxious themselves while all the time fate whispers, "not yet, not yet, keep them hanging on, all anxiety, scratching, sniffing, fumbling and moaning." Eyes bulging in the cruel sport of the frantic search and still no sign until that blessed moment of wild illumination occurs, all the usual places, pockets, shelves and cupboards turned over and now there they are, hidden in plain sight sitting on some back lit surface and recovered. Fully.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Some cats

Some cats have all the luck, some cats get all the pain, some cats get all the breaks, some cats do nothing expect get themselves immortalized in crayon on old envelopes and then posted on some mediocre blog site.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Vegetable Curry

Back to getting in shape and conquering the winter demons with a diet made up entirely of food. Some of it is quiet healthy, so a bit more so so. Not drinking too much either now that the birthday booze is used up, a long dry run till Christmas should purge the system and reset the points. Everyday is an endless stream of two bananas, an apple, some cereal bars, coconut water and whatever else is available for foraging or formatting into some kind of meal. On top of that I'm rising earlier and briskly walking oodles of miles in order to fulfill the Christmas wishes of a many people I'll never know. Strangely I'm also fulfilling various DIY, sexual, appetite, reading, viewing and clothing choice wishes all at the same time. Suddenly life has a new if slightly abstract purpose to it as I revolve around with all the other cogs in a slowly grinding and quite probably insane machine. (Other machines are also available but they're no less insane). 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Moaning about nothing really

"I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me."
As the rain batters against the house, the traffic snarls along in lines of blinkered darkness and the wind howls and pushes like a belligerent drunkard it's hard not to have thoughts of Christmas...generally good thoughts but with tinges of WTF also in there. Black Friday, Intermittent Monday, Zombie Tuesday, the grim countdown continues until we're all suitably bowled over and left begging for 2019 to dawn. At the Big A they're already going mad with fake generosity, free tat and piped music. We like the lab rats we resemble respond predictably as we scuttle across the laser guided landscape to gather up our gifts. Next week it'll be next month and next month it'll almost be next year. Whatever then? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Ignoring some of what I said yesterday about TV and it's generally average content I'm sorry to hear that Steve Hillenburg, the creator of the whole crazy cartoon world of SpongeBob Squarepants has died. He had ALS apparently, a horrible and deadly condition. SpongeBob was/is a brilliant, funny, stupid, abstract creation that adults and kids could watch together and laugh at (though often over different things) and enjoy. Thanks for your weird and wonderful take on life and the ocean's depths Mr Steve.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What's on the box?

Another weekend passed quietly (?) but still no Doctor Who viewing has taken place. Science fiction and time travel seem to be old hat, exhausted subjects, tired formats. The TV set stands forlorn, a single red light blinking in some small corner. We may turn it on once in while, check the news or weather, maybe go for a quick giggle from a reliable comedy show, one with a well chosen format and familiar presenters. Then there's University Challenge and the wealth and depth of iPlayer, Amazon and Channel 4. Sometimes. There is Sci-fi there but it's avoided now like hospital programs, sport or rigid political discussion set-ups where hosts and guests talk around subjects and dodge awkward topics. So who lost their way in this, TV or me? I'll never know, I'm not seriously asking the question, there are other things apart from habitual and repetitive TV viewing, it's a drug of choice and I've moved on, I'm away now, far of in some stellar space where other shiny lights and substances beckon... with my coconut water and a book.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Colour my world

Above: Nice piece of artwork from a messy Manchester Sunday morning. Far nicer and sunnier than the regular news ... if we were in France there would be riots, burning cars and a procession of tractors blocking every motorway junction. But we're here and we get by on furrowed brows, shrugging shoulders and sharp intakes of breath. So very basic freedoms and rights are being slowly taken from us but...hey it'll soon be Christmas and perhaps it'll all sort itself out. Not so sure.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Slack Friday

Black Friday: No I didn't rush out (or stay in) and buy a load of clobber or drums or amps or guitars at rock bottom prices. No. No reasonably priced books, CDs or early Christmas presents of any desperate kind. I was stationed in the BF nerve centre where things were ... calm actually. Just another day at the office there (a bit sweaty) and I suspect at most other places in that line of work. The world has changed, a bit. Everybody can calm down, except the people at Aldi.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Intrusive thoughts

Turns out that other people also have intrusive thoughts, mostly different to mine but that's hardly a problem.

Peak 18

Peak 18 is (not) the secret code word for something you may know of called Black Friday. A day I usually spending ignoring the numerous offers and emails that bots everywhere seem to be generating. I sometimes gnash and grind my teeth and may even make unsavoury utterances. Tomorrow it will be different for me though, I'll be at the heart of the matter, in the eye of the hurricane and actually will be helping this stupid event take place. Having taken up some temporary and seasonal employment with the big A, tomorrow will find me as busy as a middle aged bee in November; delivering smiles and making dreams come true. That is assuming that a cheap Chinese rucksack, some floating solar lights and a new (express) coffee machine will generate happiness in your life. I hope they do. My bonus may depend on it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Introducing to Blogger the strange, disturbing and remarkably accurate artwork of the Twitter legend known to his legions of loyal fans as Cold War Steve. His earlier works have sold out on eBay, he's being exhibited across London and Liverpool (?) and no doubt a Turner nomination awaits in 2019. Either that or a hyped and mismanaged Trump/Johnston/Kim Jong firing squad of some sort out in the backwoods. These are the precious and weird times in which we live and struggle to survive. Humour welded with surrealism is all that's left to us.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A famous actress

A famous actress clutches a not so famous white cat on a rainy day in black and white whilst looking wistfully into the near distance. My only small part in the creation of this admirable art work was to add the rain. So there's very little here that I can take credit for. In my defence I've been mostly working with more mundane things today and only took a short break in which to create soup and browse Twitter. This (and a pot of carrot and parsnip soup) is the end result and proves that today has not been a complete waste of time and/or energy. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The return of Tesco cat

Slowly sizzling in the November sun, Tesco cat snoozes on top of sale goods surrounded by Dreamies and the crumbs of Dreamies. Perhaps the idea cat life, there and on display but distant and disconnected all at the same time ... and with a supply of reasonably attractive snacks on tap. The cat probably gets more attention than the regular Big-Issue seller or the odd beggar who might turn up for a short time. It's easy to interact with cats, even if they are snoozing and aloof. The poor are a bit tougher, nobody knows what to do with them, particularly the government who, for some strange reason we'd expect better of. It's become normal for us to assume that the State will not look after the weak and the vulnerable, in fact they will be blamed and vilified, tramped on and ignored. Brexit and whatever shit storm follows the cruel world of "Austerity" will together make matters worse. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, just more tunnel. So in the mean time maybe the best thing to do is pet any available cats, help any available poor people and hope that some currently unseen and unplanned miracle frees us from the shambolic and uncaring political vice we're stuck in.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Hazy shades of Lego

It's not art, it's not even an art project, it's not even proper Lego building, it's just shapes of plastic put together thoughtlessly. So it just might be art after all. The more I look at it the more qualified I feel feel to chair the daily workings of the Glasgow School of Art or even to design and build a practical but sympathetic alternative new school on a very different location using non-traditional materials and techniques. Just putting it out there.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Couch Potato

I was wandering through the corridors of Dundee University's Tower Building yesterday when I saw this humble, burst and expanding in all the wrong directions couch. It's seen better days. It's really a perfect illustration of Brexit Britain today; used up, worn out, bereft of decent ideas, coming apart at the seems and abandoned by anybody remotely sensible. A couch without a potato. The toxic political landscape seems full of cast off puerile comment, embarrassments and idiotic and spineless individuals who, thanks to a polarized and toffee nosed education system have no idea how anything actually works. Perhaps I'm being tough on this poor couch, all it did was sit there and over time it became the victim. Maybe the couch better illustrates the dreams of Empire that Brexiteers cherish ... a torn, bloated and corrupt idea that's just dead in the water (or the corridor).

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Fife in B&W

In a pleasant enough, non threatening, guerrilla way this black and white sign has been erected at the west end of Dunfermline. The way you might come if, let's say you were travelling from Falkirk. It's a mild form of territorial pissing so that arriving football fans can marvel at and also be warned at the wonders of what might be achieved not only in signage but in choices made over location and loyalty. I've not yet heard of Dunfermline being referred to as Parsland as if it were some Banksy related artistic venture but I kind of like the idea. No doubt the local fun police will remove it soon enough or it will be vandalized and roundly mocked by rival fans or those who just don't get it. The  choice of location is also interesting, a stones through away from the Carnegie funded "Glen", on waste ground adjacent to a burger van, a car dealership (Kia), a few white vans and some small and semi-permanent business units. Parsland in all it's slightly dysfunctional but proud glory sums up the Fife zeitgeist whilst sporting a custom, hand painted font that owes loyalty to nothing in particular. The artist remains anonymous. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dangerous lifeboat

Big heavy lifesaving boaty thing about to get blasted into the sea in an non-emergency situation solely for training purposes. Good people and the general public need to stay well clear, unplanned events may occur. You passers by and bemused day trippers (sucking on your flat whites and unseasonal ice-creams) have been warned.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Wobbly lines


Another day spent in the East Neuk of Fife working, wandering and slurping coffee. Work was slow so I stopped off to visit my father's grave. Not a thing I do very often, I've not been there for a few years. It was Saturday the 10th so I spent a few solemn  moments standing at the spot reflecting on his and his generation's sacrifice in WW2. Moments like these help to put things into perspective. It also opened up a kind of memory valve whereby my childhood exploits and the (many) deceased members of my family were also remembered. Strange little funny stories, minor scandals, family disputes and me, standing here on a blustery November day thumbing through those back pages. I've forgotten so much, the trivia, the trauma and the toffee apples. Faces and voices that are now hard to picture and hear, funny how the evidence decays away. My emotions remained firmly in check however, the subject matter, now viewed backwards over 60 odd years seemed maybe less significant. The tone is duller, time's filter is pretty effective.  Important though it all was it's all a very long time ago and everything has moved on, so I might as well too.
Wobbly lines.

Friday, November 09, 2018

...and another thing

OK, I spilled my red wine on the new carpet, big mistake.

As a result somebody is pretty unhappy about the carpet situation. I admit I'm clumsy.

Still she gets me every time, the only way it should be. It must be love.

Guitar guitar

It's a lot easier than making furniture or running a hot coffee spot but probably a lot less profitable. The other thing is, pretty much any guitar I put together has a series of what I'd call interesting imperfections. That's the "one of a kind" excuse. It's not a proper business, to be one it would have to make actual money, recoup costs that reflect time spent or resources consumed. I know about as much about business as your average Conservative Cabinet Minister...(actually I know a lot more) but that hardly matters. I'm in it for the artistic flourishes I can achieve and technical brilliance I can narrowly miss and of course for the ruinous fun of it all. 

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Dog fiction

Sir David Labrador in his study in Ontario (1946)
Sad to hear of the passing of Sir David Labrador of Bath & Wells. David was a recognized expert in the invention of dogs and world renowned authority on canine genetics, breeding and anthropology. David's ground breaking work in these fields (and in the woods, along riverbanks and across random football pitches) led to numerous breakthroughs in understanding dog communications and the complex patterns of social interaction that exist within dog societies. David's big breakthrough came when he invented the Labrador in 1939 just after the outbreak of WW2. His "black on black" Lab variant proved to a highly reliable and dependable model for sitting and farting under the desks of alcoholic Army Officers for over 50 years. A commendable achievement. His other notable work was to prove the linkage between Winalot and (what he termed as) a reasonably good dietary balance and the promotion of spiffing behaviour for dogs on a limited budget. David and his family settled in Canada after the war "just see what it was all about" where he held a wooden post in the University of Ontario Kennel Club. They eventually returned to the UK in 1955 in order to reheat their noses. For a short period in the sixties he was Managing Director of Marks & Spencer's clothing division.

David was happily married to Bessie, a chocolate Lab/Collie from Somerset whom he often described as a complete bitch or as he preferred to describe her "an almost complete bitch and canine dictator". They had 16 puppies together, 96 great grand puppies and a whole lot more offspring too numerous to list. David credited the invention of TV and numerous Fanny Craddock cookery programs as the main reason for the curbing of his family numbers and his short spell in therapy at doggy day care. 

In his later years Sir David rested from the complexities of dog breeding and retail and retired to become the Conservative MP for Bristol South West. He served as a junior minister for "Treats and Taxation" as part of Margaret Thatcher's Government. He was outspoken over the issue of electronic chipping and voluntary lobotomies for his breed that nearly brought down the government following the Bonio Crisis. He was also credited as a major contributor to the 1985 Act that once again allowed Cock and Dog fights to be held in Victorian basements all across London provided that flaming torches were used to light the arena. He is survived by a whole breed of reasonably natured dogs and various members of the present UK Cabinet.