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.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Regulations as seen

A real and untouched photo: This sign, of unknown age and origin has been placed high up on the wall of a building but not quite as high as the hydrant symbol and guide. It's located in the popular theme park known as Edinburgh, just outside of Scotland. Presumably the excessive height positioning is necessary to allow the sign to be viewed by all and sundry in the event of a heavy fall of snow, at least 10 feet would be required. This is how the powers that be remind us that they are the powers that are in charge of such things as regulations. I've no real objection to this other than it's small and halfway up a building so looks a bit daft. Perhaps the regulators are just quietly reminding us that they can be a bit daft from time to time. Human even. Anyway nobody passing by can say they've not been told. Including you now.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


Some things were vague and badly edited. There was veiled criticism and a chilly breeze from the west.
Yesterday was a day of extensive nationwide noodling. From the far reaches of Scotland to the balmy shores and lakeside temples of the rain forests of Watford. On the way wildlife was spotted and exotic food partaken. Travel was by golden chariot both in a southerly and northerly direction with odd spells of east and west thrown in. Two bananas were eaten with little or no fuss and then there was the Land-Rover coffee with a tiny biscuit. The day was not just about food and drink. There was radio, music, chatter, laughter and opinion. There were great feats of engineering and quick but key conversations with vendors and partakers. The weather was also kind if predictable, a key note in the behaviour of British weather. Truly nobody cares about any of that. When I got home I was very tired but pretended to myself that this was not the case. My relaxed attitude fooled no one and soon I was asleep. Another adventurous day in the can, firmly.

Some things were too close and detailed to really matter or be understood as they lacked depth and context.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Hi-vis in low lighting situations

A badly distorted bonfire was the centre of attraction at the Hopetoun House fireworks extravaganza yesterday. The flames could barely contain their enthusiasm and jumped across the black sky to greet us.  Nice woody / carbon smell and safety cordons everywhere, people often behave in a silly manner when confronted by fire. The fireworks, set to a modern pop soundtrack were impressive and not affected by various weather warnings. I concentrated on watching them rather than take even more poor photographs.
In the distance are the various bridges that span the Forth. The darkness reduces them to abstract pin points of light that glow and flicker out and across the water. The water is milky and solid looking, hardly moving and reflecting the cars and buses that pass us by. We trekked in and out by the waterside, very therapeutic. 

Selfies in extreme conditions of darkness seldom turn out well. This one being no exception, Ali is smiley fine, I'm more of an awkward walrus. A decent enough band name if I ever needed to use it which I wont.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Chips, cheese and gravy

Cactus in a Cafe.
Poutine is a fancy term/word/what have you for chips, cheese and gravy: in a Canadian style. The dish is of French origin and is popular in Quebec (apparently). The cheese is actually cheese curds, how different they are from actual cheese I don't know, just a bit more buttery and bland than cheese. Perhaps it's actually just natural stuff rather than the processed cheese I'm used to. Now it seems it's slowly taking Scotland by storm despite the many well established local variations on chips (with just about anything else for a topping) that currently obsess the feeble and fickle Scottish mindset. Gentrification by poutine, a social equalizer and the cheesy answer to all our polarized streets and housing schemes, who ever saw that coming?