Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Weekend

There's no doubt that when the early Christians (?) were hijacking Spring Break and calling it Easter a whole raft of odd heathen bits of baggage were added in along the way. Religious holidays were no doubt a profitable income stream for churches, bring in the poor, oppress them a little more, add some guilt, spice up the misery and shake the collection platter. Today we live and move in the debris and aftershock of these troubled times thus rendering Easter almost as daft as Christmas but less daft than Halloween and the August Bank Holiday. I like the surreal (that's extra real but actually unreal) twists that it brings; The Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs and the death and alleged resurrection of Jesus (a possible Palestinian guerrilla fighter and teacher). So no Easter would be complete without the revolutionary Easter Pineapple and the Easter Egg Pineapple (with Pina Colada truffles), it's the best time of year ever.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Horses on Mars

Good Friday? One of those rainy and drizzly kind of days when your car battery decides to die in the Aldi car park and the AA have to rescue you but the repairman happens to have the correct battery on board which you can buy's my third AA emergency sourced car battery in three years for three different cars. God and the universe are telling me to buy newer cars but I'm stubborn and I kind of like clunkers because running any clunker  these days is a bit like owning a horse on Mars. Take what you will from that. I guess that I'm a little odd in some respects and so everyday I pay the price.

In other news the cats are getting on quite well right now, catching up it seems. Missy's just back from a long chemically induced sleep at the vets involving some routine dental work and a small amount of trauma. I also went to the dentist today and whilst there was trauma it was all bearable. Small talk, already forgotten advice, a tiny filling, a scale and polish and "see you in six months". Thankfully I didn't have to be put to sleep, get carried around in a basket or have my chest shaved. Sometimes, despite the costs, it's a lot better being human (or is it?).

Thursday, March 29, 2018


"Has anyone seen that confounded bridge?" 45 Years ago today that phrase was released upon and unsuspecting world apparently. 
If it's Thursday then that must be the day you capture an unwilling cat and take it to the vets to have it's teeth cleaned. Teeth cleaning for cats is an actual operation whereby the cat is knocked out (humanely) and then gets a dental "once over". Poor beast, a traumatic experience but it's the only way. On handing over the cat for treatment I found out that cat tooth extraction is a fiddly business and one that is not done lightly, it's £52 per tooth. In human terms that's about £1660 for a full mouth clearing session, ugh!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Great Doughnuts

Today has mostly been about discovering the next level in doughtnut building. Firstly deconstructing the donut so it's not too sweet, as might be said of your average Crispy Creme offering. Tantrum Donuts seems to have removed the sugar to some extent but added a rare and unique texture coupled with great flavours that are not saturated with sugar. Alas I scoffed my wonderful Creme Brulee special before I even had the thought or desire to take it's photo. Now it's just a happy memory and a lesson in knowing that doughnuts do not have to exist at the far right of the taste spectrum. These are doughnuts for grownups. Now that's a strap line you could use.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Immune to advertising

I am that's for sure, strong in mind, body and spirit and unaffected by mass media interventions* but despite that I am still wondering where the yellow went since I brushed my teeth with Pepsodent.

*When I say mass media I'm also referring, in part to any type of advertising that might appear quite innocently or by chance in some of my on-line encounters. If it's just popping up here and there. I hardly notice it at all. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Staying put

I have a healthy respect for tomatoes, as a former grower and an actual consumer I have a well rounded perspective. A bit like these tomatoes, rounded and  all up close and personal.

Yesterday we stayed put, we cleared the decks, we lubricated the hinges, dusted down the moss and glazed the glorious perpetual piece of pork or lamb or something. In all I felt well fed by the end of that great day of staying put. Today (as it now is) has been different. I took Mr Stuttgart for a longish run through some of the finest motorways in Scotland. It's a rewarding pastime. The sun arranged to meet us too. All in the name of ensuring full lubrication and a healthy battery system and blood supply. The wind in your hair etc. By the time I returned home and supped a small pot of soup I was quite ready for a short session with Stormy Daniels. Turns out that was a bit of non-event though she seems to be a reasonable person. Then the eBay alarm clock sounded and it was all bubble wrap and sticky tape and a tiny bit of relisting. What a day!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Latest victims

Only the other day my favorite doctor said to me, "We need to talk about those types of odd shopping choices you make and the subsequent serial hoarding tendencies exhibited." I had no idea what he meant, so I thought for a bit and then a pale light became to appear faintly, somewhere deep in my subconscious. Sometimes we buy soft drinks, we keep them for years, in dark places, chilled but unopened. Then one day we open them, just to see what they might taste like but sometimes, other times,  bleaker times, we just forget about them altogether. These two are our latest victims.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Stop Working

Everybody STFU. Here in the UK we're isolated in the nether regions of a popular and possibly corrupt graph. The UK is going it alone, like some mad and erratic asteroid headed for outer reaches of the solar system. We wave goodbye to the cruel outside world safe in the knowledge that our economy is somehow growing whilst our workers are paid less. I doubt that this is healthy or sustainable but then again that's probably the no nonsense British way.  So workers, just stop, what's the point? All you're doing is digging a bigger hole for yourselves whilst propping up an unfair regime, same as it ever was. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Band Pics and Lark's Tongues

 From last night's CD launch in Edinburgh's Voodoo Rooms, Norman Lamont and the Heaven Sent. Very Good.

You might well say that I have god awful taste in music and you might well be right. Many people are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the release of King Crimson's Lark's Tongues in Aspic. To be honest it's not really my cup of biscuits (and I am re-listening to it now just to confirm my loosely assembled and possibly unpopular opinions) but I quite like the art work. I might try again on the 50th anniversary but at the moment  it's still sounding just a bit like a few people trying to be too clever.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Somebody lives here

Interesting looking residence, up at the top of a hill.
Public transport is one of my new things, well buses and travelling on them are. Turns out they are interconnected. You can step off one and almost straight onto another and just journey on. During the step off part you can pop into any handy hospital, buy a Costa style coffee and just chill out a bit, then move on. Eventually you will arrive somewhere and then all you do is walk for about mile and you're home. If you're over 60 in the principality of Scotland you can experience all this for nothing. Quite pleasant really. I'm sure Iggy Pop could write a decent and rather raucous song about this if he had to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tomorrow Night

These folks are launching their album tomorrow night at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh (where voodoo may be practiced occasionally). They are Norman Lamont and the Heaven Sent. The album is called "End of Tears". I'm looking forward to it and I'm particularly excited about hearing the enormous piano that they have.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Essentials done

Without any filters other than the Springtime sunlight.

With filters added without me asking, done by the kindly little Google robots that live and work quietly in my laptop.

So I found a tiny clump of purple flowers in the middle of nowhere, they've been Googled hi-jacked much like everything else. Now that Spring is here you can go for a wee wander once all the essentials of the day are done and dusted. Far away from the world of Cambridge Analytic's truth perversions and the Brexit tangles and traumas. No news, no rattling speakers or flashes from the archives, just a strange and enjoyable warmth. A soft kind of glow even. Nobody seems irate about anything, birds sing, other's hum if they don't know the words, it can be this simple or even that simple. On the old pier (below) as strange and unworldly pile of seaweed has washed up blocking the way, that's an odd phenomenon. Must be the time of year.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Book of Gibberish

First few entries:

That moment when the golden cube of golden brown cane sugar slowly sinks below the surface of your eagerly anticipated flat white. Gone forever into a milky morass from which it can never return. Then you sip it until you're forced to gulp the final few centimeters. Normally I don't bother with sugar either. Those are badly constructed sentences: some easy examples. I could go on.

I was out walking and noticed this: It seems that the more watery parts of the River Tay have disappeared and been replaced with sand or some similar material. A seasonal blip I presume.

I write this from a safe place set behind the flood defence systems. More tomorrow.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Headed for the Highlands

I'm just not ready for heading to the highlands, another easy way out and into the wilderness yet. There's no escaping local history and the five to fifteen minutes of fame and notoriety that it may generate. Today though, as the irregular March weather coats the paths by the steps from the door with unwelcome snow, what are we to think? Stay cozy.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Overhead crane pulley

1917 was a great year for overhead crane pulleys as I'm sure you know. Powered by human muscle using chains or ropes, these iron gantries allowed heavy items to be moved around in stores and workshops before decent electrical motors and reliable hydraulics were developed. I stumbled on this obviously removed and restored piece standing outside in the boatyard in South Queensferry. Most likely an ex-MoD machine rescued from the remains of the old Naval Yard that closed down in the late seventies. With a SWL of only 2 tons and a test load of 3 it's not exactly a heavy metal beast but it's nice to see it remaining in good condition. The question is where on earth and in what building and with what supports would it ever be set up and run?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Power flowers

My intention was to write a long reflective piece about "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac following on from a chance remark I picked up at a dinner party (?) a few weeks ago. Then there was some kind of review or non-spoiler alert for Ed Byrne's "Spoiler Alert" tour that we saw and laughed a lot at last night. Then there was a piece on the Russians and some kind of return to the sixties whereby subterfuge and spy killings all seemed quite normal. That's three ideas and none of them are about food, the weather or my advancing years and how best to spend them. I thought they were all OK(ish). Anyway then I decided to head out into the rain and leave these on the shelf and just go with some flowery pics.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Eight hungry pheasants

A procession of pheasants. I've been up in Aberdeen for a couple of nights so the regular bird feeding routine has been broken. I came home, opened up the garage door to put away some trash and these guys turned up, hungry it would appear. Nice to be missed I guess.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Artificial Incompetence

You just can't afford to drop your concentration at any time, stare at the screen and quietly ruminate. Well I did burn my tongue slightly on an over heated steak pie. The burn and the overheated inner pie parts being my own fault. I was distracted but I saw the steam. A lack of self discipline whilst under pressure. It was planned to be a quick lunch in the middle of some regular Ebay activity. A moment of calm amid the hustle and bustle that sellers, buyers, bidders and watchers create in the final moments of cataclysmic or non-existent sales, yes there are only the two kinds. I may even have scalded a little bit of lip on some hot coffee at the same time, such are the routine but largely undocumented dangers of the careless side of internet auctions. I should add that it's all about selling these days, nothing out there worth buying.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Iron Giant

Here's an iron giant we recently met, it's not actually made wholly of iron but incorporates lots of other interesting materials that are a similar kind of thing. I'm saying "it" as the giant's gender isn't clear to me, please don't take offence. Maybe it's not all that important.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Imaginary cat

Here's an imaginary cat that I actually saw lurking in the foyer of the local Tesco store eyeing up the customers and staying warm and comfortable on a pile of bargain Astro Turf. Every supermarket should have a cat or two on the premises, a bit like the feral cats of Disneyland or No.10 Downing Street. A cat presence keeps things in order and brings a sense of calm to otherwise awkward public spaces. Just ask any Buddhist. 

Friday, March 09, 2018

Lost Aeroplanes

I think that it was the Lockheed Electra that I really liked. It just looked like proper aeroplane. It was up there with the Ford Tri-Motor and the Fokker Tri-Motor in terms of design (minus an engine) and some other odd engineering quirks I liked. There's a timelessness there I wish had been just suspended so they might fly and work on today but with updated equipment. Imagine those classics regularly flying about instead of looking like curious engineering markers that are as lost in history as hot rivets, radio valves and full cream milk (forget the cancers and infections for the time being). Planes had deadly and short lives as a rule, you fall out of the sky once and that's pretty much it, hence the ghosts and the turmoil. Aviation of course enjoyed constant development... engines, streamlining, reliability, security and safety, that's all important.  A world where development stops at some key point might be pretty interesting and artistically attractive but a bit dangerous but we might also get proper golden eggs and creamy milk back. Then there was the Joni Mitchell song, all sadness and blue skies and steel guitars:

 "747s over geometric farms, I tell Amelia, it was just a false alarm. A ghost of aviation, she was swallowed by the sky or by the sea..." 

I listened to that a thousand times, cricking my neck up to see the imagined jet trails leaving their sad, passing autographs on the bright blue paper thin universe of broken flight plans. Turns out Amelia Earhart was swallowed by the beach, that's if the bones are telling a true story. Experts have subjected them to rigorous testing says a headline today. Another lost aeroplane that didn't make it. Another historical footnote. Being famous for aviation achievements but being even more famous for being lost is a strange legacy to leave. Then there's all the other others, the non-celebrities, pilots, crew and passengers who just fell to earth and vanished into nowhere. Somebody somewhere is still searching for someone. We like a good mystery. 

Thursday, March 08, 2018

These are not the problems

Business is tough. Life is tough. Well not really, all my problems are first world and to a large extent self inflicted or self imposed and some of them are not even problems i.e. keeping myself amused to death, frittering and meandering . Frittering doesn't involve any golden, deep fried foodstuffs. It's more about behaving like some poorly disciplined butterfly zig-zagging across their garden universe picking things up and then putting them down. Finding faults, fixing faults, then deciding that the fault was better than the fix and then not being sure. Earlier in the week all was good, there was a mountain of snow, roads were blocked, stout 4x4s were confounded and shovels and sweat were the order of the day. 

Then came the thaw and the farmer's tractor and the great cloud of noodling descended like a Russian nerve-agent, numbing brains and slowing down movements. Aerobic challenges are a bother in the cold weather so I fell back on or into guitar twiddling, testing the dexterity of fingers like pork sausages and hot soldering irons melting trial and error electronics. That's a frustrating afternoon for anybody, slow and messy, leading to one reasonable success and one static state stuck in the equilibrium of getting nowhere in particular, apart from becoming heavier with solder. Hmm, tomorrow I might try baking or rearranging the bird feeders.

Not fixed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Fife Oyster

Yesterday it was 80% milky coffee (and that's still a current theme in refreshments), today it's the fateful return of the much misunderstood Fifeshire Oyster; a local delicacy. Excuse the blurry image, I'm suffering from blurry eyes today and the early onset of early onset Easter Egg withdrawal. A kind of seasonal condition unrecognized by the medical profession. So now that the snow has gone it's as if a gloomy burden has lifted. Phew! Well that feeling lasted all of five minutes before the familiar leaden weight of existential angst returned with it's good buddy languid procrastination. 

To reverse this unfortunate behavioural  trend a fresh dietary boost was required to kick start the ailing system. This is best achieved by using the random shopping method known as "dipping into the whatever's scattered about in the Tesco reduced/end of use buy date corner of the universe". Today, in a glorious coincidence it was none other than a selection of unpurchased and unloved pies and pasties that lay in wait like sad orphans after a rainy picnic. As a result the daily menu with all it's plodding conformity was scratched and today's speciality turned out to be the oyster piece pictured above. 

Sadly it didn't work. Metabolism and mind remain disconnected, despite the fact that they claim otherwise.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Milky Coffee

Now that the Scotland wide shortage of milk and break has ended, possibly before it ever begun I'm using up the surplus. This is despite my disciplined non-participation in any panic buying hysteria whatsoever. I'll leave that to the townies. You can't panic buy when you cant get anywhere to shop. Anyway milky coffee hits the soothing spot sweetly. That illusive spot needs hitting following on from a couple of days shoveling snow (well not continuous tough shoveling, just spells or feeble shoveling) in the hope of snow clearing the blocked up road out of here. I've a few aches and pains but also an unusually  smug feeling of achievement at having tried to something rather than sit and do nothing. Of course the problem was solved properly when the farmer arrived with his heavy machinery. Now to deal with the muddy brown flood water from the field drains.

Monday, March 05, 2018

My first reading is not always accurate

I do misread things quite often, I go too fast, I make assumptions. I fill in the gaps, those that my speed has created (or is it my lack of care?). Lazily I skip words and passages. I often do this with hilarious or catastrophic results, none of which I can recall at the moment. I have a sort of vague memory or recollection that something like that may have happened a few times but I can't be precise. So today is eBay day. I have carefully choreographed my life as a seller so that auctions end on a Monday or a Sunday or maybe a Tuesday, if I'm forgetful over creating listings and sales dates. It was part of my early strategy, perhaps less so now. 

Lack of attention brings chaos to your life and unintended comedy and frustration. Perhaps I need to be more consistent, like knowing the correct time to tweet to maximize your audience, the best times to visit supermarkets for a) bargains and b) less queues at tills, the golden moments in which to speak your mind safely or remain silent and stunted. They are out there, for some as clear as burning beacons  but for others indistinct and hard to read and if you read them too quickly you might well... 

The snow is slowly slipping from our media consciousness, except around here. New news happens a lot. There's still snow blocking our favoured exits, entrances and the pathways ahead. Like a great white metaphor discouraging eBay selling because the trip to the Post Office as well as the timing of that trip are going to be tough to get right and legions of faithful buyers may be disappointed and so go on to generate negative feedback I might well read too quickly.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Day 4 "in the Arctic"

Midwinter in the Spring of the dark soul: Under the snow lies the road that leads to what we imagine to be civilisation. Unfortunately the snow is over 6' deep and stubborn. The road is not useful right now and civilisation may be a cruel and unforgiving space. Our memories grow dim. We're so far from the beaten track that we are already beaten and there is no immediate hope of escape. Having said that there is a curious kind of freedom in this type of enforced but not truly total incarceration. Supplies are holding up, there's been a minor outbreak of community spirit and best of all there's a kind of "no obligations" situation here and least till Sunday. It's as if time has stopped, it's there running in the background but for us marooned in this cols and glowing wilderness times and timing don't really matter. Eat when hungry, sleep when tired, have a shower when you start to scratch and shovel your quota of snow from a) to b) and then back again. Then some more snow falls and now understand the 19th Century Yukon way of life and the survival mindset a little better.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Having a bad day?

Day three of shitty conditions: The weather is everywhere and has become an annoying distraction that's getting in the way of doing anything remotely reasonable. For one thing people seem to have given up driving and are now walking long distances across snowy terrain and then eventually talking to other people (about the weather it has to be said) in clipped and complaining tones. Once this ritual is over they ransack the local shop and go home to their couches to eat pots of weedy olives, creme freche and macaroon cookies that are just a few months beyond their sell by date. It's not really how I imagined the last days to be. We just peacefully settle for what we can find, no looting or hanging baddies from lamp posts here, third rate snacks and left on the shelf cheeses will do fine.

Society is slowly unraveling. You can hear it, packet tearing  by ring pull crack to the accompaniment of a Jordan Peterson commentary as we pop cans of Pringles and suck on cheesy straws. Theresa May speaks but it's little more than oral wallpaper, the BBC present the stewed news to a dumb audience, meanwhile the hip guys on social media are zipping around in 4x4s rescuing badly weathered victims like white knights as the traffic policing  establishment look on bemused. There's a new order out there emerging from the snow drifts, they're the people that don't respect the old order, so you better get out of their way.  So if you're having a bad day it's because you're using the wrong approach. Try operating in the underground.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Road to nowhere

Somewhere in the lower white areas is road, unfortunately you can't see it. It's currently sitting under about six feet of snow that's drifted there from the nearby fields. Steadily and almost casually it has blocked the road and now any chance of driving in or out of here has gone, even in a 4 x 4. I did ponder over attacking it all with a snow shovel but that's hardly realistic so we await the arrival of either a rapid thaw or a large snow eating machine.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

The last broadcast

Being a practicing Buddhist I'm reluctant to let anything die other than my self esteem or the occasional cow  (to supplement my diet of course). I was therefore challenged by the sight of the first wasp of 2018 (or the last one of 2017), an unwell and tired out example, so sadly it had to die. I must stress that I'm not a wasp Nazi. In truth it was always on the way out, like some exhausted Arctic explorer plodding through snowfields, there was no way this wasp could survive and go on to lead a productive or meaningful life. Well that was my take on it. It was causing a mild panic possibly leading to hysteria, in any totalitarian state that is grounds for ... retribution. 

Summing up: it seems to me that the wasp had made a bad decision to enter our kitchen uninvited and shamelessly flaunt itself on the window and so paid the ultimate price. Meanwhile it's still too cold and snowy to do anything apart from moan about the snow and last night's episode of Shetland, bread and milk are running out, morale is low,  this may be the last broadcast, signing off then.