Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bye bye 2019

Farewell 2019: Best TV of the year? Possibly Succession, maybe Chernobyl, not GoT but it was OK and I'm glad it's wrapped up now. Can't really remember much more. Funny how a TV series can grip you for a time then just evaporate away into the ether like it was never really there. Just don't give into the fear of missing out, you're probably not missing much. Cheap, digestible entertainment, plenty more to come in 2020 to keep us all from thinking too seriously about the real problems out there. As for the worst TV, I don't watch enough to really have a proper opinion but BBC News and election coverage must be in there somewhere. Night night.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

When Christmas isn't white

No white Christmas here, just foggy sunshine beaming down to create the crisp and bright weather that was the order of the day. I also found myself in an unfamiliar part of the Lothians and managed to capture the Queensferry Crossing from a spot I've not used before (nor have many others I suspect). As a result I got some fairly satisfying shots as the mist rolled out across the river and the bridge structure emerged into sunlight.

Boxing Day

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve

I present a lovely and colourful Christmas tree I digitally knitted myself. Happy Christmas Eve and here's to fewer wordy word based things in 2020 (which is only a few days away and I'd like to think a reason to be cheerful).

Monday, December 23, 2019

Mealie Mince

Numerous possible spelling mistakes abound in the title but who cares? It's just a variation on an ongoing pie theme from the North where they know a thing or two.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Big headed cat

Another in  series of posts that contains a reasonable amount of the minimum of information: that's the minimum information in this minimalist statement.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Peat and Diesel

A Hebridean version of one of the most over exposed Christmas songs ever, a fact that's nobody's fault I suppose. Some babies grow up in peculiar ways. Anyway I cant dislike a band called Peat & Diesel despite their reliance on the awful tones of an accordion for the main part of their sound.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A day

A day for quiet mindfulness, if that's at all possible. Avoid the news, the media, reports of large election queues or a "good" turnout. Cute dogs at polling stations. Postal votes and the possible impact of any bad weather. Avoid hoping for the best. All recent elections and referendums have produced results that only brought disappointment and led to a worsening sense of doom and gloom. That's no way to live, under the pressure of being ruled and governed by ignorant and corrupt idiots and having a grinding, bitter sense and experience of how badly their current policies and practices are turning out. So I'm closing my eyes, thinking of better things and better days and hoping that we all wake up to a significant change of government and leadership tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Easily distracted

The reality TV world of bright, shiny, noisy things beckons; Fastest Car is a predictable but amusing diversion. Opium from the tube, Nirvana from Netflix, rest and be thankful and be amused. I suppose I should know better, be seeking higher things, have aspirational goals. But ...

I should add that I've only watched a bit of one episode as a result of a radio interview/review I heard, not sure there's a long term viewing pattern forming here. Bright, shiny things etc.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Diamond Head

Self commissioned x-ray self portrait: There are now many versions of this out on the wires but I'd like to ignore that fact and simply pay tribute to Damien Hirst, a man who is worth an estimated £215m these days making him quite a successful artist and human being, unlike me and I'm not even a proper artist but despite all that I'm up for copying and plagiarism because those things, along with love and inordinately long sentences are the things that not only make the world go round but lubricate it's cosmic wheels (in a manner of speaking) as we quietly turns in space. 

Monday, December 09, 2019

To do list

Leonardo Da Vinci's to do list from 1490.
[Calculate] the measurement of Milan and Suburbs
[Find] a book that treats of Milan and its churches, which is to be had at the stationer’s on the way to Cordusio
[Discover] the measurement of Corte Vecchio (the courtyard in the duke’s palace).
[Discover] the measurement of the castello (the duke’s palace itself)
Get the master of arithmetic to show you how to square a triangle.
Get Messer Fazio (a professor of medicine and law in Pavia) to show you about proportion.
Get the Brera Friar (at the Benedictine Monastery to Milan) to show you De Ponderibus (a medieval text on mechanics)
[Talk to] Giannino, the Bombardier, re. the means by which the tower of Ferrara is walled without loopholes (no one really knows what Da Vinci meant by this)
Ask Benedetto Potinari (A Florentine Merchant) by what means they go on ice in Flanders
Draw Milan
Ask Maestro Antonio how mortars are positioned on bastions by day or night.
[Examine] the Crossbow of Mastro Giannetto
Find a master of hydraulics and get him to tell you how to repair a lock, canal and mill in the Lombard manner
[Ask about] the measurement of the sun promised me by Maestro Giovanni Francese
Try to get Vitolone (the medieval author of a text on optics), which is in the Library at Pavia, which deals with the mathematic.

My personal favourite is "Examine the crossbow of Mastro Giannetto", either a forensic mechanical and scientific process or some kind of weird euphemism. Just imagine what he'd have made of a smartphone.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Cat Interrupted

Cat Interrupted: Possibly dithering in that moment, caught between two distinct worlds, trapped in indecision, frozen in the presence of a clear choice, bamboozled quietly, in other words torn between the options of sniffing an empty IKEA bag or sniffing an Arnold Clark bag that is not empty but does not contain anything remotely interesting to cats.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Tough as

I'm not really sure what I'm referring to here. Not some kind of cooked meat, boiled cabbage or any serious aspect of life and toughness (yeah, life can be tough but...). I guess I saw my old boots loafing where I'd abandoned them and thought; just for a split second, maybe more, there were two actual thoughts I think. Though No.1. Those boots have seen some action along the way and then Thought No.2. They are sitting there like they don't really care, don't give a flying etc. etc. There was also a third more roguish thought that thought " I'll take a photo of my boots as that's something I never actually do". So that's my boots and my thoughts and today is Saturday the 7th of December.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Cold enough for soup

Cold enough for soup in an Alton Towers souvenir mug (and other expressions of complete nonsense):

See also: Mild enough for pickled herring.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Re-imagine the world

Probably not important but still nice to see old album covers re-imagined in a Blue-Note style. More things need this treatment.

Great Lives No. 22

Before he was famous he wasn't an artist at all. You can only be famous as an artist once you are famous. A vicious or maybe viscose circle. His father was also an artist but his work belonged in a different genre and he was tragically killed in a mysterious encounter with a railway train by which time he was a proud grandparent. A swift and sad end for a commercial artist but he had also made a small fortune from illustrations and book sales, so the family recovered. 

So junior continued his career in the beam of a comfortable spotlight. There was a kind of technical ecstasy and bewilderment when the soon to be fully famous artist revealed that he used eggs for his paintings, eggs  to make up the paint. This goes back to some other century but the eggs remained fresh if controversial. The yolk must be separated from the white before the pigment is added, a tricky start to the working day. He had the grace and habit of living in the countryside and leading what was described in a documentary as an idyllic life. It was an ongoing and privileged upbringing with food and sunshine and funny tricks and japes. Oh how they laughed. This did not go unnoticed. 

Once the eggs were ready to be used in anger it became more about bothering local farmers, hiding in barns and peeking through the weathered timbers of rustic doors. Often the wind would arrive from Ireland, far across the sea and disturb the curtains at a critical moment. All this went on for a while, there were marriages and families and artistic subjects were befriended in a kind of creepy way but they all went along with it because of a kind of strange fear. Some were unwell, unkempt or wrinkled but made good subject matter as this was still the dark ages before television. It was a business really and those boats and parties wouldn't pay for themselves and the farmers didn't mind as they were steady types, quaint and quiet and they accepted eccentric behaviour because it was common in most parts of the then USA. So lives and situations were captured in about twenty times the time it would have taken if a camera had simply been used but this is the sort of creative tactic that the critics love, that and the laborious repeated egg use and not taking easy shortcuts.

Then one day a lady called Helga arrived and nobody knew about her, not even the famous wife of the famous artist. She was exotic and sombre.  Over a period of time she was painted by him 267 times and in secret, it was all happening but in the margins in an attic room. The paintings were hidden in the loft but were eventually released like caged birds and everybody was shocked but they still paid $6m dollars for a good look and then resold them to people in Japan in a cynical sales move. Newspapers even caught on and so did the famous critics. Helga was made famous by egg paint just as Kodak was going out of business. If I had described this sequence of events more accurately it might be seen as quite ironic but that hardly matters now. Through all the rough and tumble they remained friends an even his wife forgave him after she saw the colour of the money coming in. About now they bought an island.

After a while he befriended some townspeople and painted them while they were asleep or eating dinner or leaning out of windows. He would sneak in at all hours and sneak out at all other hours and often cause a disturbance that everybody said was humorous. Because he was a famous artist the police or the social workers were never called and the tittle tattle was welcomed by the locals. It made the town seem interesting. Sometimes he'd work and lose track of time because despite being strong in the interpretation of light and colours he failed to notice that daylight was fading or that his subjects were bored and tired. This is dangerous and obsessive behaviour in anybody's book in my opinion, but was never called out as it should have been.

It seems that being good at painting allows you to be an acceptable social deviant and the local weirdo and that people will make allowances because you have a talent. People are often kind and surprising in that way even if somebody isn't all that likeable or their manner is disturbing. We all just put up with stuff now and again to over indulge spikes of genius. Anyway there are lot of his paintings left and most of them hang in fine museums and purpose built whiter than white galleries. Some are prints now, displayed in fine homes or on coasters and have become geeky talking points in the background of scenes in Simpson's episodes. That is a true measure of fame and acceptance and it's all fine because society has been enriched (according to academics) and we now see ourselves as we really are.

When he died at a ripe old age many people were understandably sad so they buried him by the famouus farm. Once the cold stone was carved with as few words as possible life just carried on and the paintings remained popular and most folks agreed that it had all be worthwhile if at times a little unconventional and unsettling. This is one of the primary jobs of artists; to unsettle people as you record the dullness of their grey and futile lives, their deterioration into old age and juxtapose all that with the corresponding beauty of their natural surroundings. Time has at last passed and a retrospective view is possible and of course you can't please all of the people all of the time and you can't easily get a dairy cow to stand still for a portrait but you can always try. Dead black crows hanging in a feather black barn are easier meat.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Time capsule

To all archaeologists of the future: Please note that this wonderful tiled/ceramic Romanesque rendition of a friendly and playful dolphin may be found in the wreckage of our house if you carefully dig up the bathroom floor following whatever cataclysmic disaster finally wipes most of us from the face of the earth. The current leadership team in charge of the planet seem determined to achieve this sooner or later (sooner most likely) either by war, climate crisis or general stupidity and I'd hate for this treasure to be lost forever. As yet unborn and unsullied generations of scholars and mosaic fetishists will thank you and maybe even thank me. And as for the original artist? Hmm, perhaps it's best left as an anonymous piece I think. Here's another version of the mighty and (by the time it's found) long extinct example of the once proud sea mammal, seen below in fashionable monochrome.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019


Some objects are hidden in this image because I distorted it. It was a photograph once. No human, animal or plant was knowingly hurt in the process. In some ways it's a space odyssey but in others it's not even close. There once was a working title but I chose to forget about it.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Download bin

I found this image in the lower basement storage area of my download folder. It remains nameless. It's into this folder I download things. Virtual spider webs and dust abound. Often I forget about these items, you see the download folder is like some weird spaceport where things just land. Unexpectedly and without warning with strange names and serial numbers. Anonymously forgettable. Possibly without the correct clearance or paperwork, refugees from the wider web, arty websites, cheap photo distortion software, twitter and the like. It's never a safe place or space and there have been some horrors. Arty projects that are not even projects, just digital scribbles and doodles. I pretend to myself that I take care and spend valuable time but I'm always looking out for a shortcut. Perhaps this is one example of absent minded twaddle unearthed like some ancient artifact and valued ... reluctantly. I'm no judge of taste, decency and the correct use of the keyboard shortcuts.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Three photos on the 1st.

Cafe: There were serious problems, namely that an alien spacecraft attacked our establishment. At first we thought that they were simply after a couple of tasty Eggs Benedict breakfasts but things deteriorated rapidly. We think the release of the spores may have caused the most damage to the facilities rendering the full use of our toilets difficult or at least harmful to life. In a nutshell we have been compromised and have been forced to remove all Vegan options from the specials menu. Send help.

As a young man I took a morbid and unhealthy interest in oil painting. I didn't bother with canvas or sketches. I just covered everything I came upon with lashings of oil paint, trees, skies, grass etc. It was costly and messy but ultimately very fulfilling, like a robustly made cheeseburger. Sadly only a few examples of my work (from that halcyon period) have survived. They were banned by both the John Major and Tony Blair governments and my career faltered. Only this piece remains.
Some people watch the river flow by. It has therapeutic, poetic quality, moving slowly drawing down the colours, risky things to meddle with. Some say that the ship was lost with all hands, some say fingers and toes, some others dabble in substance abuse.