Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The cat returns

After a mysterious four months absence our once regular "stray" cat, known a Twink, decided to return to us the other day. His motives for a visit seem pretty straightforward and honest. Food. He scoffed two tins of premium cat food, a bowl of cat cereal, some chicken breast and a handful of Dreamies. Not a bad score for a regular sized cat. So where has he been all summer? The last official sighting was some time in late June, then nothing till now. That's the way of things with cats. I imagine he's been reasonably happy in his self sufficiency wandering the fields and hedgerows effectively living on whatever game he could catch. Or maybe not, perhaps he's a resident at the nearest village (at least a mile away as the crow flies), reasonably looked after and all that but just likes to explore over a wide area from time to time. We'll never really know, he comes and then...he goes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Back to business

I've returned to the honourable profession of anonymous eBay seller/salesman. I'm putting my soul on the on-line line and my heart in an electronic box. There will be bids and questions, wrapping and excessive postal charges, waiting and more waiting and maybe nothing at all. It's all part of the grim charade of maintaining status and stars in the kick-ass world of on line selling. Not for the soft hearted or the clumsy user of a Stanley knife or large awkward pieces of cardboard. It also involves taking photographs and stringing meaningful and descriptive words together. Then more waiting, clock watching. There's a lot to learn and a bit to lose. I'm hoping to receive a decent offer for the carpet.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Naked blue machine

It's like some terrible Tory advert, a campaign message or a description of Glasgow Rangers fans on the march. It's a  until they investigate the outcomes. Blue isn't really a healthy colour, except for blueberries, grapes and blue cheese. Minority foodstuffs. God made them blue so we'd all just stop and think a little before scoffing them. Our instincts warn us against such folly. Blue is a poison. Today we're blue with the cold as the clocks change  and feeling blue because it's an easy status to describe. Nobody ever feels red, they just see it. Somewhere the hastily penned lyrics of "Axis, bold as love" are calling to my subconscious but I can't quite make out the detail. Nothing modern really makes any sense, not fashion nor fashionable eating. Never did I suppose. It's all been pushed through and processed via some naked blue machine operated and promoted by a Soviet based bot. In the brave new morning we'll jog around the block and beat those winter blues.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Looking for cars

Looking for cars can get complicated, too much choice but actually very little. Web sites and apps, lists of features. Hyped up and cramped up but all black and shiny with interiors and exteriors. Statistics and performance. Things that matter. Choice and toys and the complex but straight forward payment plans where no matter what you choose to do you will lose money. Every car points down a road. Every car promises a sweet free life except for the optional running costs that aren't. The extras and the externals. Top down price up. Price down smell a rat. Everybody wants to make some money from your innocent desire to just roll out there.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Black crow in a blue sky

I saw  black crow in a blue, blue sky. Watching and waiting. Possibly for me to take out my phone and snap a couple of pics, crows are clever for birds and very clever for humans. They see everything we do (that's outside). They like fast food waste, roadkill and worms recently turned up by plows. They refuse to socialize with seagulls and other less intelligent types of bird. They are brave, a little reckless but always alert and on the look out for an opportunity. They are bandits and heart breakers but... and that's about all I know on crows.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

East Neuk Daily etc.

Still life with bird, shells and salvaged cactus plants. No significant meanings deduced so far.

The Bill O'Ness or the Billowness or even the Billy Ness. I'm not sure. The scene of much childhood exploration on my part, now more or less paved over and padded up for safety and comfort by the local golf course.

Anstruther harbour seen from a safe distance close to the site of the former "Regal" cinema. A cinema so close to the water that life belts were issued to the audience during showings of the Cruel Sea and Exodus. My mum's ashes were also scattered here a few years ago. The water has done it's job and there are no traces left.

I inadvertently walked into an unsigned black and white zone specially created for older people. Yeah that's how life appears when you're looking backwards.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Lego Daily Photo

Niagara Falls - detail.

The Grand Canyon - detail.

The Hoover Dam - detail.
Pretty much anything and everything has been converted to Lego by now so these worlds are easily recognizable and familiar. Despite that they are still (for me) highly engaging and fun and I admire the skill, dexterity and imagination that creates them. Nice to get up close to these exhibits, three of many currently on display in the ancient heart of Stirling Castle oddly enough.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Wood, Iron, Stone

I suppose Instagram was really invented for photos like these but due to my quirky and unbalanced relationship with social media I'm posting them here where ... they'll do no harm and be relatively unseen and they wont compete for likes and comments with better, more exotic shots.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


It's my birthday today. Shame the weather's a bit gloomy but it's October and I'm having a nice day so far. Another milestone except it's not strictly a milestone birthday but I can confirm that the milestone above is an actual milestone complete with real miles and fractions of miles. Also made of cast iron.

Friday, October 19, 2018

East Neuk Daily Photo

I've been working in the East Neuk villages of Fife for the last few days. In the autumnal sunshine it's been great to take a break now and then and just wander around snapping scenes and odd things stacked against the new. There's too much to share in a single post, so many stone, timber and iron items and places that have rotted, rusted or weathered into wonderful shapes and textures. It's a treasure trove of old and modern oddities and cast off pieces. Strange how the whole "artisan" labelling has caught on too, every coffee shop, bakery and food emporium now has that tousled, shabby-chic look to it and of course the tourists lap it up (so it seems). I'm ambivalent about the changes, much of my childhood was spent here when things were less rosy, fishing was in a sharp decline and there was a hard and genuinely poor feel to these communities. Life was rough. It's all changed now and has become some frozen and preserved showpiece for the distant past and tougher times (?). Yes the old fishing and mining communities struggled and scraped and just about survived back then, when herring money built the piers and harbours in a quiet gold rush,  now all gone . Now they woo the visitors (like me, no longer local) with fish and chips, coffee and scones, lobsters and shellfish, pottery and the hard stones and wreckage of yesterday cemented back into place. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Spy mode

There in the distance is the USNS Robert R Peary berthed at the MoD base next door to us (well a few miles away), photographed from the beach in the early morning light. She's a large logistical support (cargo) ship obviously visiting these parts for a short while. I did hear the hydraulic thunder of what I imagine to be her cargo hold covers' opening system yesterday but dismissed it as another weird sound coming up from the river on a still morning. Today I sauntered down to the shore an saw her tied up and loading cargo. What's she doing here? Probably engaged in some support work for the UK's new aircraft carrier as none of the UK's current supply ships can actually support it at the moment. That's down to the thumbnail size of today's RN and a direct consequence of some strange and stupid governmental decisions. Nothing new there then. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Local wanderings: Defiantly shining brightly in the October sunshine, the strangely fresh and clear carvings on a headstone that's over 200 years old. Browgh is an old Scottish name, probably of Viking origins. Whoever F, K and D were remains a mystery, 1797 wasn't a great year for them I guess but their memorial has remained undamaged and unmarked over the centuries. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Cloud dog

When I took this picture of a cloud it looked like a dog. Now I've processed it by downloading it etc. it just about looks like a dog but really is more like just another cloud with odd features (though normal for a cloud). Looking at it again, with a fresh and indoor perspective it kind of looks more like a sheep, that's pretty normal for a cloud, white and fluffy etc. When I say a sheep I mean the head of a sheep, if you look at it carefully anyway. So in the end I'm now less likely to bother to take any further photos of individual clouds that seem to look like something at the time because despite all that "camera never lies" stuff that you hear over and over again, they do, or at the very least they tend to mislead in and irritating way.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The funny smell of agriculture

Normally I quite like the (preferably faint) smell of dung on the fields. It's a pleasant, familiar, evocative odour that's strangely enjoyable. It says countryside and promotes a sense of wholesomeness even if it's only cow shit sprayed across a field. Anyway these days our local fields are smelling like they've been burned, trampled and raised by rampaging Vikings. Fields of fire. Fields of fracking maybe. Deep beneath the tranquil Fife countryside, there's a raging fire ... and the mice are escaping and heading in our direction.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


A pointless punishment. Croatia v England last night, no goals, no spectators, no point. Souvenir programs were still produced but bought by nobody on the night, collectors wring their hands in anticipation of some turning up on eBay. The game went ahead with all the regular features, anthems and handshakes but little or no drama or passion was visible.  Like a concert or a play without an audience, a football match with no fans or atmosphere is like some grand Zen problem being acted out but without any context either spiritual or physical. This sporting life in some deferential and determined vacuum, wasting resources and time to prove a point that doesn't need to be proven. Modern life is rubbish sometimes.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Lobster pots

I typed this out (below) the other day whist suffering from the distorted belief that I had something to say. Now none of the earworm words will go away. It followed a brief visit to the village of Crail, where the ice cream shop is closed but the toilets are open. Where the roads are narrow and the sea is rough (wide?) and the expected "tourist" types wander here and there sipping coffee, peering through sunglasses, adjusting their scarves and pullovers, squinting into the wind and consider the prospect of retiring to a place like this one day (assuming they don't already live in one). 

That's not to say I'm critical of these folks, they belong wherever they want to belong. They do seem however to take their style and mannerisms from elsewhere, as if they've learned it rather than earned it. They arrive and then they exhibit. Maybe they've seen too many French films from the 60's or read certain arty magazines, maybe they've just slipped through from another dimension and are trying to fit in and just quietly live their own unobtrusive but alien lives. I'm not sure of anything...

The pots that trap the jet black lobster, 
laid out here by come Crail based mobster.
Not for him the simple, juicy oyster,
 just chilled, unwilling North Sea lobster, 
for the eating pleasure of some punter.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

North Sea

To whom it may concern: I can confirm that the North Sea is still pretty much in it's proper place. A large part of it is stuck onto the right hand side of Scotland as you might expect. It has not moved elsewhere and it's whereabouts remain fairly accurately depicted on various maps, globes and google earth. Some of the actual water, flotsam and jetsam may have moved around a bit. I don't quite know, this material is difficult to track without sophisticated equipment and guesswork. As for fish, whales, crabs etc. I have no accurate information. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The way we were

Our house as a ruin or a bit more of a ruin, fifty years ago (approx). A few things have changed, that tree has gone and so has most of the grass frontage. There have also been other events elsewhere in the world as well as locally, all too numerous to mention here, best to check Wikipedia or something.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Mushroom alert

It's only the 9th of October but there a clear and present signs that the wild mushroom season is upon us early this year. Take care out there. Trip hazards abound. I blame the moist air and the unseasonal warmth and general clammy dampness.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Grumpy old men

A night at the museum. Well somehow we won the Rip It Up pop quiz in Edinburgh last night. We actually beat 59 other teams and collected a golden trophy and a goodie bag each. I contributed very little in the way of substantial answers but it was fun being in the team and I enjoyed the exercise of wracking my brain and testing my limp memory. So our highly knowledgeable captain James deservedly picked up the trophy for us from Phil Jupitus at the end of the evening, much of which is now a blur.  Tommy's "Fall" anthology also got some major advertising as we waved it around for the cameras. Now back to normal life...

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Jesus's autograph

Following an unexpected sequence of events that would rival an Indiana Jones plot I've come to possess an actual autograph penned by Jesus Christ himself. It's not even in Hebrew or Aramaic either but in English. I didn't know he could write (at all) far less use a Sharpie. Pretty sure it's not a fake and I've not heard of fakes circulating around these parts. I reckon that it's a bit of a collector's item. Might get a good price on eBay although I am tempted (?) to try to set up a deal with the Catholic Church. They do like relics and tat of that sort. Decisions decisions. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

World's greatest coffee and dangerous books

This coffee may or may not be worth £100 in bonus money to the barista who mixed it and poured it. There's clearly {?} a hidden world behind the froth and steam of coffee making establishments. Will this be a prize winner in the staff room and across the counter? We'll never really know.
Dangerous books in safe places No1. This book is on sale in the V&A Dundee and it might be considered dangerous by some readers and those of a nervous disposition. It's full of drawings, scribbles and swearing and promotes ideas (of a kind). I'm assuming the V&A is a safe place in as much as it's a new building and therefore must have passed various fire, health and safety tests or it would not be open to the general public i.e. you and me.

Poetry night

We attended a poetry reading evening last night, it lasted for about 65 minutes. There were three readers/poets/players. There was a full house albeit the house was small but that's better than no house at all. So after a slow bus journey home and a cheese and fruit bread supper I wrote a poem about it. It seemed like the right/write thing to do.

(I actually composed a few other versions in my head, in bed, but they're now  forgotten and so will remain unsaid):

The Poetry Evening.

When poets get together, gathered in their upper rooms, shielded from the damp world and caustic criticism, they operate, safe for now and untarnished.

Not always easy to understand quite what they're talking about, the sound is almost ...  varnished.

There's wine and civility, chatter and no rush for seats, expectation too. 

Words out loud that are used differently, cut up and misplaced.

Quotes and dropped names, a low level of fame, in the quite circles.

This is not the common speech.
 This is difficult to reach.

Is it some snobby club, some sect or private thing?

Nobody outside of the imagined circle crashes the night and everybody is polite and we all conform to useful stereotypes. 

It seems.

I'm some lone outside listener.
A temporary visitor.
In poet's land.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Valuable and Attractive

For a time in my life (in the 1970s) I worked for the Royal Navy Supply and Transport Service (the RNSTS). In those days V&A meant only one thing "Valuable and Attractive". This term applied to all the stores items that were likely to be pilfered so they required special care regimes and security. Watches, clocks, precious metals etc. V&A now means something different to me (Victoria and Albert) but the eclectic stockpiles and the inventory values may be similarly labeled. So we have a load of mostly old Scottish stuff laid out in a purpose built new museum on the banks of the murky River Tay.

It's OK. Dundee's new V&A building is impressive, it's big on the outside, seems big on the inside but once explored isn't really so big at all - but it remains impressive for other reasons. Perched on the river bank, challenging and fun to walk through and giving up impressive river views and vistas form unexpected angles, it's a unique space. It's a strange mix of striking form but fuzzy function and there's an obvious conflict between the two. The great halls of older museums with long and winding displays, galleries like mazes and rows of cabinets stuffed with exhaustive examples of inventoried history are not in here. It's all very tight. This is a modern puzzle that questions how we observe and how much we might actually retain. In that it's honest, most people don't study very much nor care either. We pass through. So it's a big box full of Polaroid snaps of the past, quick sound bites and snippets, stuff that the good people can quickly browse over and then forget with an over priced coffee and a wander around the gift shop. There's room for the past but not much, not as much as you think and as for the future, it's here but trapped and hidden in the quirky design. 

I'm imagining the newly deposited bus loads of tourists and pensioners exploring the site are all thinking something along the lines of "is that all there is?" That's not because the building is a disappointment it's more because it's main but understated theme is gathering in people rather than displaying things. I'm judging this based on the comparative space given to people over artifacts. Visitors have more free space than things do. I was struck by how many people were just standing about on the common stairways, cafes and spaces looking at...other people doing the same thing. We are the museum pieces in this modern hall.

The main display (a pay as you go one) is based around ocean liners, I'm not sure what his has to do with Dundee, seems an odd opening exhibition choice. The main (free) display gallery looks at Scottish design. It's a hotch potch of Oor Wullie, Alexander McQueen, the Forth Bridges, CRM and so on. A quick canter and scatter-gun of types with no real insights given. A bit like the curator's are mumbling  "this is what we in Scotland all got up to on our weekend design course when nobody else was looking, sorry to bother you, nothing much to see here".

Once the opening "busy spell" is over a further visit may be beneficial, just to see it less crowded and in a more measured way, with less expectation. I do like it but it's very much a marvelous jaggy jigsaw with a few bits missing.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Perception test

On the left I can clearly see a dog, on the right a cat. That's it.