Thursday, February 28, 2019

Perpetual Storms of Jupiter

When the universe decides to do art then you just have to let it get on with it. PSoJ might be a good band or album name...

Downside up

I'm pleased with this photo. A clear rip-off from the Beach Boy's Holland album cover except set in Scotland on a balmy February day and no attached music. The gulls make it for me, desperately swimming along, bold in black and white, on the ceiling as it were. Nothing is what it seems.


A selection of slightly odd, aged, rusty, misshapen doors from my visit to Pittenweem. The ones with the bottom "barrier" pieces are interesting I suppose as these are sea front buildings, I assume that this is a basic form of flood/high tide protection. Being so close to the waterfront everything is weathered and rusty, any paint or refurbishment work will only last so long before the elements start to eat away again at the surfaces. Don't park a car out there for too long either.

When I was about fifteen I read "The doors of perception" and "Heaven and Hell" by Aldous Huxley*. I didn't really understand much of either's very short content (really just lengthy articles) but I did understand that there was a doorway of sorts within the conscious mind that, for most people remained closed for all of their life. Religions, chants, sparkly bright items and meditation might open those doors, a chink of light might get through but there always was a more direct route. That direct route does however contain numerous risks and hazards but people will go that way anyway, often without any guidance or advice as to how it might be once you cross over. In life experience remains the best but the most costly teacher. Understanding yourself and having a little grounding are good things to have achieved before you turn any strange door handles. I'm going the long way round in saying that I like doors and doorways, highly symbolic, highly significant things that also mark boundaries and provide security, oh and keep out drafts. So I enjoyed this wee set of pictures, there were so many odd doors to see and capture, so many thresholds I'll never cross, work for another day and another time. 

*I also didn't know then that the Doors (a once serious minded little rock band) took their name from the book title.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pittenweem Daily Photo

A small fishing boat chugs back into harbour.

Upside down harbour reflections on a glorious February day.

A warm but watery sun scrapes across the sky.

Rocks ooze green slime and tired sea weed in the lazy sunshine.
Another (bit of a) day spent working down in the East Neuk. Not too many visitors, just the local fishermen and builders going about their business. All strangely calm and peaceful, a healthy antidote to life's noise and the media irritations broadcast and suffered regularly elsewhere ... no phone signal in other words.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Powerful stuff

I'm not on Facebook all that often for all the obvious reasons however when I visited there today this image caught my eye so I've shamelessly harvested it because, whilst I'd rather it didn't have to exist and I know it cannot possibly cover all relevant situations and occurrences, it's a clever and effective graphic. Make what you will of it. The sad fact regarding this type of work is that it's unlikely to be seen or acted upon by those in power (of whatever kind) who most need to see it and react. Meanwhile we (the conflicted, affected and less powerful) can only shake our heads and perhaps boycott and/or grumble at the injustice, complexity and hypocrisy that we are all bound up in.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Lost signs

Fading away into history, manufacturing and trading concepts that seem hard to imagine today. Probably over 100 years old, hand painted onto the brickwork. The mills have gone, the looms and weaving machines are silent museum pieces. The people have gone too, the skills, the hard work, the illness and exploitation,  gone but replaced with other troubles in modern forms. Factories torn down or turned into highly modified flats and awkward homes ... but these gable ended bricks remain, stubborn on an empty old office building with no current use or purpose other than posting an historical footnote.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The earth dies freezing

Hoof marks from the Great Siberian Sabre Toothed Goat caught up in the remains of a melting ice flow recovered near the coast  where the sea and the land meet down by Pittenweem.

Moving on from Global Warming: The world will end not because of fire, fury and pestilence but because of the constant debate and argument centred around and by who/where in the world the best Spaghetti Bolognese is built or churned up. Turns out it's not even Italian, though Italians can take the credit for the invention. There's a lot of unreliable history and unreliable pasta and there's meat and sauce issues all unresolved. Tagliatelle gets the blame for the distortion of the base pasta, some say spaghetti some say tagliatelle. Then the controversy rages over ground beef or whole beef, cooked to destruction with various herbs and wines but always mushrooms. So battle lines have been drawn, it's everybody's (?) favourite meal but the variations and the developments spark fierce loyalties and strange beliefs. In my view it's just food but if the world must end over some thing ...

It was here, in Putney that the whole thing began, not sure who exactly is responsible.

Saturday, February 23, 2019


Saturday / Caturday on Twitter. Due to the mild weather these guys actually ventured out into the wild. Well they followed us around in the garden for about twenty minutes, inspecting their occasional domain. That was enough, now they're back in their safer, warmer kingdom. A place they control and feel safe in, no squawking birds, squirrels, other cats and strange noises from the bushes. Just the odd visitor attempting photography and disturbing their feline dreams. Caturday.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Solution to pollution

Topical local news story: A major beach clean up operation is in progress at Limekilns, Fife. A mysterious (?) oil spillage has ruined a large part of the beach area and sea front. Heavy and extensive works are under way to remove contaminated sand and seaweed and to restore the once (reasonably) clean shoreline. Much of the often busy seafront, car parks and walkway areas are cordoned off whilst work is carried out. At the moment there's no unpleasant smell, no dead fish or injured seabirds, just a few puzzled onlookers and workers decked out in PPI and Hi-Viz. Hopefully a hefty fine awaits the culprit.

Roads at night

Last night on the Queensferry Crossing headed horth, hardly any traffic, usual futile looking roadworks, supermoon obscured by clouds, lights and lines.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Accurate drawings of actual mermaid sightings recently made in the North East. Probably something to do with the unseasonably mild weather. (Unseasonably appears to be a viable spell check alternative to unseasonal albeit neither of these words look quite right to me.)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Lost in the clouds

Waited patiently for the lights to change. Heard the news today, oh boy. Did a little work, cut back the garden undergrowth, a little. Then the rain started. Then I got temporarily caught in an electronic loop. Ate some odd snacky things. Ironed Trousers. Failed miserably to check my phone every twelve minutes. This is now the UK and industry standard and all loyal subjects of the Queen and Facebook are required to do this; except me. So I'm disappointed. Failed on eBay by a narrow margin. I understood the chance of precipitation today to be around 23% but that figure was clearly wrong or just made up by somebody. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Twas International Snowdrop Day all across the Lothians today. We celebrated by taking a short walk in their homeland. Now I know all sorts of things about snowdrops. The most important thing being that snowdrops, despite their innocent looks are full of a horrible poison. Never eat them either in a salad or in soup, they might look tasty but they are dangerous. Apart from that walking close beside a clump of them is actually quite safe and relaxing if you take proper precautions i.e. don't be tempted to eat any. They are not natural to these islands either so technically are invaders and an alien species. Follow the countryside code at all times and you'll be fine.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Life is sweet

Whisky flavoured chocolate sweets from something called a "pop up" shop. What a time to be alive.

Friday, February 15, 2019


For some inexplicable reason I seem to be having a bit of a Fitzcarraldo day. Not quite sure what to do with it other than go with the flow. It kind of opened up by chance via a random Twitter post. See how easily I'm led astray? The good thing is that it should pass shortly. The bad thing is that it will pass shortly. It's that kind of madness. No doubt tomorrow will bring something else in it's place, I just hope it's not tinnitus. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Photographs of food

Here's your 24 hour warning. An alert for a red alert. Some good taste that's described with bad taste. A simple click and an upload and it's done. The dirtiest deed of the century, blogged and digested on Instagram and all the rest. Social medicine, settles the stomach, easy on the eyes, gives bragging rights, stakes and claims, maybe steaks and clamsge. All to get likes and shares and hopefully generate a healthy level of envy. Is envy healthy? Is aspiration wrong? Are all our appetites now feebly exhausted so as to allow us just struggle on by the strength of will and memory. Only hungry people go to food banks. Only people who've been hungry donate to food banks. Half the world is hungry, the other half are taking photographs of their meals. Photographs they'll never look back on but they've been uploaded now and live forever in  vault in California.

I have to put these things out of my mind. I have to find a balance. I can't help where I find myself. Luck and chance have placed me here. The messiah of food, drink and various complications. I'll survive, I know how to follow. That's what we do best. Hear no evil, eat no evil, donate what you can when you can. That's the three wise primates for you. I'm going for white meat now, things that look sustainable, no farting cows or bull's cheeks or wild things pulled dead from some shooting moor. No exotic birds eggs or insects. I'm saying that now but I'm easily tempted. I can resist anything except the things I aspire to. They get me every time. I'm a wounded buffalo really, that's my explanation, my soul was tainted and now I'm trapped in the deja vu of a loop of deja vu about something that might have happened in past.

OK, there will be consequences, but they'll be sweet and in the morning, I'll be a better, more reasonable man. I may have a slightly upset tummy though.

Feb 14th

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Theresa and Jeremy's

Breakfasted in Bob & Bert's cafe yesterday (or maybe today depending on how I adjusted the flux-capacitor in the car), poached eggs on toast, a side of bacon and a flat white; all for a reasonable price plus good conversation (mostly about Muriel Spark and birthdays) with my daughter. I do get confused of course (?) when referring to Bob & Bert (who don't seem to actually exist). My many attempts at describing them range from, Ben & Jerry to Bert & Ernie to Slash and Axl to Pinky and Perky and eventually, almost relentlessly to Theresa & Jeremy. If ever there was a cafe or eatery name just waiting to explode onto the unsuspecting British public, that has to be it. You're welcome.

The slippery slope of sleep

To sleep, perchance to dream. Over dosing on cheese that comes with it's own formidable streams of bacteria and mould, as it was designed to be by years of food science. Built to interrupt sleep with lurid visions of past, present and future worlds. None that make sense but all are strangely recognizable and familiar. I move through this peculiar world as if it was my home and it may well be but I simply cannot be sure. It has a life. All references are understood though they jar and disturb, but on a nightly basis I volunteer to enter this wild and unregulated domain where Dali meets Warhol meets Dante and Bosch. Each one battles for supremacy and influence and I awake, slowly, blinking, memories of cheese and bright colours, or monochrome, film noir and blank spaces. 

There's a broken narrative, a series of senseless jump cuts, great panoramas and vistas and a falling away of reason. Things I see that I cannot touch, all trapped on the edge of place I can never return to in the same way, not ever, though it might yet happen one day. My head clears, I have a cup of tea and take account of my surroundings, stable and hazy in the early morning's winter gloom. There will be news of Brexit, celebrity deaths and adventures, sports results, economic changes and predictions, wars, crimes and misery. Something happy or light weight might make it through as a temporary antidote. They'll all be as real and as sensible as my dreams and most as quickly forgotten as another juggernaut of information passes my way on whatever side of darkness I reside. 

This is overload but I have my filter, my touch stone, that manufactured fungus on the cheese that opens up the doorway to those other places. Should all of that dissolve and decay and become lost to me then I may well discover some purer fungus on the jam as I twist and pop the lid and use it for my own little taste experiments. The jam underneath will be fine, no doubt.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


Today I enjoyed the privileges of being privileged. By that I mean I was out, talking to neighbours, buying coffee, doing a few hours work, shopping for groceries and driving home. None of these things were done whilst in a state of fear, without any money our without any sense of being an outsider or not belonging. The truth is I don't really know how being an "outsider" really feels, I might have some outlaw type of romantic concept in my mind, some idea of that being a kind of freedom but I don't know diddly squat. I'm nothing more than (as most are) a curious observer, a passer by, a number on a list and most importantly for the modern world - a consumer. A fairly reliable payer-upper and contributor. I'm not on the edge (but I know the routes that might get a person there), I'm just sauntering down life's highway paying the toll money like a good, compliant little chap. Inside I have my rants, my precious little issues that boil away and soak the flannel but in the end I can be relied upon to get back in my box ... maybe I need to feed my curiosity a little more.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Been bad

I suspect that my weekend's food consumption wasn't the best for me: Two carry outs, two cafe snacks, random sugary treats and not much fruit. It started well enough with a buttered egg breakfast and toast on Saturday then, though remaining consistently tasty went a little more down hill as the days progressed. Afternoon tea was a milky coffee and a Malteser slice, yum. Saturday's tea was a Chinese in Aberdeen, naturally I wolfed down the chicken, S&S sauce, shoveled on the rice and munched along with the prawn crackers and sesame toast. I also hoovered up various other bits (as you do). Then it was an M&S hot chocolate cookie desert with ice cream. Suddenly I was feeling happy but bloated. Nature will of course take it's course.

Sunday found me in a cafe in Aberdeen starting the day with a fried egg and black pudding combo on a roll with brown sauce (and an extra sausage my grandson failed to eat). A good start. The rest of the day I was careful but still fell foul of various chocolate things and sweets. Tea was an Indian take away in Dundee; Korma, rice, nan, pakora ... all too tasty and easy to eat. Just not what my delicate internals were used to. Actually I felt, well a bit bloated again, but pretty much fine. What I did suffer from was guilt rather than stomach ache. The 21st century curse fed by a) too much food and b) too much information and speculation and about the adverse effects of over indulgence. If you read or watch TV then the fun can be sucked out of just about anything.

Monday morning and normality have now arrived. I have survived and am home. No serious side effects, no pain or discomfort, just a nagging inner voice and the need to exorcise my indulgence and appetites by this blunt and generally ignored medium. I feel better for it all already and I know I'll do it again.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Aberdeen daily photo

A broken, outdated sign and two neglected street signs all within 100 metres of one another in Aberdeen.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Reasonable IT

I understand that there are some IT problems. All across the world, with real and digital consequences. Everything has been switch off and on again. I also checked the date. Dates are important, if you happen to get the date wrong then you're stuck with the wrong date and that just doesn't work. But it wasn't the date. Did I say there were IT problems all across the world? I did but I really just meant with me, on my laptop. The laptop I use for work. Other people's IT problems are theirs and I'm eager not to become involved. So mine has a fault. I blamed the touch screen, I never did trust that, so I cleaned it. Then I cleaned it again between switching things off and on. Then I touched the screen in different places, just to test, just to understand the consequences. Nothing changed, I still couldn't/can't access the bit that I can normally access but can't now access. I tried the touch screen using a stylus instead of fingers. It was very accurate. I looked for key-stroke short cuts. I looked at the IT helpline number on the list of useful numbers. That was tempting but would involve a phone call, a wait and then retrying the things I'd tried. Then the cat started clawing me. Purring and clawing at my thigh. The rain fell and turned into water where it landed. Then I had an idea. Maybe I didn't really save yesterday's work? Maybe I didn't even enter it? Maybe the things that I though I had done I didn't actually do and so when I touch the touch screen and it opens in the wrong place it's because it's the correct place because I didn't do what I thought I did. That was possible I thought. I need to retrace my steps. A step at a time. At first I took baby steps, retrieved data. The papers are in the car, I just put them there when the rain stopped, to save time I thought. Now there's rain but I'll have to get those papers. I got the papers. Reentered a date. Yesterday. Checked dates. Turns out that dates matter and it turns out that if you don't complete what you did on the day, on the day then the day disappears and you have to start again but there's no warning of this. It all just disappears. Apart from the stuff that was elsewhere (elsewhere is an important place), it somehow isn't lost it's just "elsewhere" (a place that eventually ties up  nicely with places that are not elsewhere but I can't explain that). So I recreated the past using archive and elsewhere and ended up somewhere and the touch screen suddenly yielded to my painful, plaintive prods and the lost and invisible became slowly visible and for a short while I was happy as I uploaded my work and the integrity and accuracy of it all seemed, well, reasonable. Pretty reasonable. We have reasonable IT. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Dennis Hopper daily photo

The great (?) man looking baffled at the Monterey pop festival in 1967, flanked by Judy Collins, Nico and Brian Jones. In the long lost days when the gods and demons walked amongst us, I suppose some might say, perhaps even me. Now we have processed cheese, musical tittle-tattle and something called "reality" which in no way resembles any reality I recognize. I was also guilty of going to the wrong parties, joining the worst cults and being in the wrong place at the wrong time much of the time. However if you get it wrong often enough but learn from mistakes you'll surely be right eventually. Interesting to see an old picture like this that randomly captures distinct aspects of my past (tastes, culture, distortion and heroes) in a previously unseen way. I'm sure the German language has a word for it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Mystery Mud

Mystery Mud is my new favourite term, coined by NASA scientists it refers to "mysterious mud" on a new and as yet unnamed volcanic island near Tonga.


Thanks to GB for the photo.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

A nation's capital

We were at large in the nation's capital for a few hours. There were things everywhere. The weather also turned out and people hurried by as I hurried in other directions. There was the usual dawdling quest for reasonable coffee and convenient toilets, interesting shapes and graffiti. I have a collection. Some were of course better than others, some were recorded. 

The night before we were wined, dined and danced out, it was a late one. I awoke in unfamiliar circumstances without a cat on my chest and then ate some salmon and scrambled eggs whilst spilling the coffee. Once in the fresh air a series of craft markets and stalls beckoned (it's the sweet smell of warm food) as did a record fair. By the time I'd scoffed my coffee and cake in the Film House cafe it was time for a rendezvous at the Poetry Library (which I think needs to be urgently renamed the Poetry Laboratory or "Poetry Lab" for short).  So we did the poetry thing and the reconnection thing for a bit and then ran back to Fife to unravel various domestic issues as the great freeze of 2nd February covered and blanketed us with it's weekend gloom. I lit a log fire and then we watched Sully on Amazon Prime (it's a film about an air crash you know). I suppose we sound civilized and bit lazy but that's just how it is. Glad to be home and not going out. There are winter showers today.