Friday, October 22, 2021

Inspire yourself...

 ...with some memorable tango scenes. I was rewarded (?) with this odd message when waking up my laptop today. What kind of AI perversion thinks that I might be inspired by a "tango scene" whatever that might be? It strikes me that AI has a way to go before it gets to know me properly. I can't recall ever clicking on or browsing the world of tango or dance of any kind ever. Then again it may be a plot to recruit me into some shady place of physical exertion where tango and exotic dance moves of that type rule, and where my mind and bank account will be rapidly emptied as I shake and tremble in the hot, dark world of underground tango. Shouldn't take too long to do that. I break out into a sweat just seeing a Joe Wicks thumbnail on YouTube.

A memorable tango scene if ever there was one.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Etsy Shop Fire


I lit the blue tinged touchpaper for a self started arson attack when I burned down my Etsy guitar shop a few years ago. Nobody read the Riot Act either. I've nothing against Esty, they were fine, they were virtual, more just the hassle of dealing with members of the public understandably reticent about shelling out their money on the strength of a photo and some weasley words. I sold 8 guitars on Etsy and about 10 on eBay, mostly pyro'd Partscasters and the like. Some were good, some not so but my honest pricing strategy was supposed to reflect that. You don't get the level of feedback you expect either, people are funny.

There are a few leftovers but I'm done with selling (or my other avenue of giving them away to charity etc.) for the meantime. In a strange twist, mostly thanks to unexpected spacial circumstances, I'm actually getting those relics out of their gig bag and case deep hibernations and fiddling with them and even playing them. How bizarre. By the way there was never any danger of any it making a profit either. It was just love but love of a curious kind.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

66

In common with Adele and pretty much everyone else I have an "age" and I enjoy my annual birthday which just happens to fall on this day. My lovely wife, family and friends always make it nice, I've no birthday complaints or issues. So today I'm officially a UK pensioner, a status awarded for good conduct and long service (the state pension rate is one of the worst in Europe I believe) and staying alive. I'll simply carry on regardless and allow my thoughts to pass silently overhead in an invisible bubble. 


My Official Birthday Portrait - Free as a full colour pullout to all the lucky readers of today's Daily Mail and the South Queensferry and Linlithgow Evening Echo. Don't forget to recycle them in the handy green bins kindly provided by your local authority.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Nobody told Caravaggio


Martyrdom always makes for tricky death circumstances both for the martyr and those caught in the fallout. There can be no clear sense of the depth and meaning of it all at the time and the big award (?) can come way too quickly. Whether you're an innocent, a terrorist, a politician or a "legitimate" target doesn't really matter and being dead there's not much you can do about it. Other agencies take control. Man is not an honest beast.

They twist the facts: Tragedy strikes like a thief in the night but that doesn't mean reality, experience and truth need to be somehow re-calibrated to fit this unexpected twist in the narrative. You are what you were.

Lives lived in the spotlight are often distorted by untimely death. A golden glow can descend and the martyr is made up for the pretense that is eternity. "He was a man of the people", "one of us and a good sort", "resilient and honorable", "never had a bad word", "queen of hearts" etc. There's all that and then there are the actual records of deeds, good and not so. Then there's the uncensored persistence of memory.

Nothing and nobody is ever just black and white, there are shades of grey and beyond, family grief and knowledge being the most balanced measures, not the medias'. A life is a story, if other people write it, based on an emotional wave or some circumstantial colours, it's unlikely to be balanced or accurate.

I doubt Caravaggio was bothered by the reputation or status of his subjects or of his sponsors other than it allowed for a fee commensurate with whatever that might have been and whoever wanted to cough up for the spiritual and social cosmetic enhancements his paintings could provide once displayed. 

Then there's the thousands that have died of Covid in the UK ... martyrs of a different kind?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Inspirational Messages

 

When you've had enough of the horseshit served up by the media and politicians you might just want to go somewhere beyond the lies and arguments where a more educated overview of things might be taken. We are all a strange mixture of participants and spectators in our own lives; participation often consists of either taking or dodging punches and kicks coming our way from the depths of the mad shadows. So it could be that a bit more studious spectating can be helpful in order to get some clarity of thought and maybe apply a bit of a challenge to firmly held beliefs or opinions. Then you can happily drop into a quiet but uplifting despair and lose yourself in Netflix or whatever your poison is for however long it may take to get yourself fixed.

At school I read a lot of Huxley, I'm not sure if I ever recovered. Those varied, incoming early messages of revolution (in art, music and literature) tend to go deep.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Confidence

 


What product confidence looks like in Korean burger marketing.

I think that they may have a good point but, for numerous reasons, I am unable to prove it. As if that might matter.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

In My Own Personal Space


“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again”. (André Gide)

Friday, October 15, 2021

Not Neutral


Sometimes I worry that, despite what my thoughts seem to say, based on received messages and processing,  I just don't feel strongly enough about things that are clearly important. Having said that I probably feel too strongly about things that, in the great scheme are trivial but more personal. 

When it affects you personally it makes all the difference, when it doesn't you can be comfortably indifferent. At the same time some people are really being affected, ruined indeed by something you are indifferent to. Perhaps it's not you or me, just somebody else who we don't know or haven't even seen. Owning and keeping a wide ranging, accurate, operating empathy radar system is hard work.

The word "important"when applied to things in life is tricky to pin down in a relevant way because it's meaning really slides according to circumstances, well being, comfort and danger. Today in Scotland, we, the Scots are completely all over the place with "important" conflicting ideas, shifting beliefs and panic based priorities and that is one reason* why we're screwed and will continue to be so. We're a nation of frightened rabbits, mostly. Governments like that.

This also applies across the rest of humanity but the Scots have a bad case of it. Words to describe it might be a fuzzy, watery, self induced  schizophrenia of some sort - the Scotland Syndrome.

*The other reasons are both current and historical but I can't be arsed listing them.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Made in Govan


A thing of beauty: Made by Holland Coachcraft of Govan, Glasgow. Built at a time when Art Deco vehicles were in vogue, never mind actual ship building and the heavy engineering that went with it. Back in the days when knew how to design and manufacture, they being the Scots. The problem is of course that a lot of pain, grief and exploitation went with all that. We don't want to return to those days but some green, modern, Electric Vehicle like this would be fantastic to see on the roads.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Cats and Squids

The significance of small things: 

1. Today marks a calming down on what seems like an interminable struggle we've had with one of our cats having a bit of a bowel problem. When I say a bit of a problem I mean a nasty combination of diahorrea and vomiting that's been troubling him and us for weeks. After visiting the vets, a little too late probably, he was put on medication and we've pretty much revised both his diet and the portions he gets. 

For years, because we were both out for hours at a time working each day, we simply provided a running buffet for the cats and they grazed peacefully. Things have changed but we didn't change this. Now portions are small and regular and more varied. The meds seem to be working too and he's returning to his old self and seems a lot more at ease. 

At age 15 (a geriatric cat almost) you can't expect a quick recovery and habit changes to be easy but I'm hopeful we're through this now. Early morning bouts of his sickness etc. were hard to handle and the overwhelmingly bad smells a small cat can produce in a small space are hard to believe. I didn't enjoy collecting stool samples either and then dutifully handing them like illicit drugs packs into the Covid fortress that is the local surgery.

Mornings and evenings are med times for them both now and we thank the stars for Lick-e-Lix, a genius invention of the highest order. Anyway we now float in a calmer and less smelly sea for the time being, resting better with cat crisis stress down a notch but still knowing that at some point some other feline health problem is bound to happen.

2. Last night we reached the end of Squid Game after nine mind boggling episodes. For some reason this TV series really got to me and encroached into a lot of my head space, quite a large area I'll have you know. I find people on the edge (and over it) are fascinating, particularly when you're a bit back from the edge yourself. It's helpful if they are fictitious too. Never an easy watch, it jumped from terrifying and sudden violence to moments of tender care and pathos along with some forced and culturally stereotypical plot lines ... but it really worked for me. 

The Squid Game universe now exists and with Series 1's final episode over I can guess only a few of the numerous directions it could be all headed towards in S2. Of course it's raised a load of difficult social issues, mostly in Korean cities I imagine. Then there are the wider, common philosophical points, human dilemmas and actual problems it highlights, they remain quite fascinating but always unsolvable. Those and keeping up with the quickly scrolling sub-titles (an actual joy in my book) were a mindful exercise in themselves.

I wonder how different groups of real people would perform in their own versions of the game; academics, engineers, politicians etc. when placed in such circumstances? Also a more diverse group, not just Koreans but a mix of races and classes. Who would come out on top? It hardly matters. 

Gladly none of this is real (yet), it's just what passes for entertainment now and to be honest I found it a lot more entertaining than most of the "world class" sporting events that are forced down our throats on a regular basis. It's finally come to this, back in the early seventies we were keen to "stamp out reality", looks like we actually did it or at least ground it down a bit. Now we just have the Squid Game Syndrome to deal with.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sgnos Elbissopmi

 

From the Greek: It's just a screen shot of a short video playlist so the buttons don't work, you need to look elsewhere i.e. YouTube Music. Then toggle on down to videos.

P.S From somebody called Simon Kuper who writes for the FT, "I now understand that Japanese wives refer to their retired husbands as "sodaigomi" (oversized rubbish) or "nure-achiba" (wet fallen leaf)." Hmm.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Houseplant of the Week


Not really any kind of competitive thing, just about recognition really. We all need a bit of that from time to time to help smooth out the bumps on life's poorly maintained, badly designed and underfunded roads. Why not nominate a family member, a colleague, a pet, a particular beverage or indeed a humble house plant? You will be rewarded eventually but it's not certain when.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Main Ingredient

 

I'm doubtful this is correct but if it is thank you very much, as I'm double vaxed I'll be doubly demonic I guess. What I need is an extra dose right now, to finish the job and the virus. As Jesus might have said, flesh and blood did not reveal this truth to me or you. 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Firth of Froth

 


Local brew, two and a half pints in. In the pub. Ferry Brewery with glassy fingerprints and beery overtones. We live at the dirty end of the river, where the silt is visible in the water as it travels downwards and outwards, the colour of cloudy beer mostly. Great brown particles and shoals of whatever silt is made of, passing our windows and litter bins with each tide. 

I often wonder when, after all these years of outpouring, Scotland's silt will run out and what may happen then. The waters of the Forth might be clear and drinkable for all, until that is they finally meet the rowdy and uncouth oily, salt and vinegar flavoured H20 of the North Sea. 

The silt exporting and processing industry* may no longer be a viable business and many jobs will be lost and once bustling waterfront communities will die. I may not live long enough to see that strange, unfortunate but sparkling day, but I can still imagine it because it's a common experience.

*For dyslexic folks: not to be confused with Scotland's slit industry.

Why has no pub or brewery around and along these coastal parts not used the title "Froth of Forth?" There probably are good reasons.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Sucker!

 

File under Old News: Always a sucker for a good, almost plausible conspiracy theory, that's me. This tale is about the fuel "shortage". Some say there isn't one. There's a fuel glut brought on by low sales during lockdown so the oil companies need to accelerate demand (petrol and diesel have a shelf life) to move static stocks. What better way to quickly empty the storage tanks than declare a mythical shortage (because of convenient HGV drivers issues) and so create panic buying in order to turn over stock that's aging? As a bonus you can up the price (supply v demand etc.) and make a tidy profit along the way. Nice.

Also raised are the regular questions about supermarket fuel quality against the quality of actual big oil petrol stations. Some say the supermarkets sell nearly out of life petrol in the same way that Wetherspoons buy/sell their (?) beer, nearing the end of it's life. Lots of anecdotes about vehicle fuel systems burping and coughing on recent Tesco/Asda/Sainsbury's petrol fill ups. Just watch for that little blip on your rev counter when the engine is idling, followed by poor performance no doubt.

Do I actually believe this? It certainly fits with the Tories jingoistic resetting history narrative. Well I've just been to the barbers and blah blah blah.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Cleanse Your Soul

1. Days away from the internet, ration style phone use.

2. Read any book, play a musical instrument, sing to yourself.

3. Wear comfortable and practical clothes.

4. Walk whenever possible.

5. Sleep without any alarm device nearby.

6. Eat yogurt, fruit, milk - lay off coffee.

7. Reflect on past decisions, take a journey in your mind.

8. Nap when you feel the need to.

9. Limit TV viewing, avoid newscasts and serials.

10. Spend time outside, watch the weather, study the sky.

(Then wake up from that pleasant enough dream and have a good moan to yourself about trivia or nothing really, get bored with Twitter and shouty headlines after thirty seconds exposure and then go out and step in some dog shit and sniff the pungent unpleasantness of a nearby blocked drain as some idiot growls past you in a Ricer modified Honda painted purple and a man standing in a bus queue spits into the gutter and throws down some litter.)

Time moves on as it must:

"When that fragile moment of cleansing finally arrived it was more spectacular and magical than I could have ever imagined."

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Rainbows all over your blues


The daily rainbow: I remember rainbows, invented by Noah, then  hijacked by LGBT flags or whatever groups, My Little Pony, unicorn arty stuff and cheap Chinese toys, pop festival types, questionable woolly jumper choices and so on. We reached peak rainbow saturation point some time ago but still there is no clear sign of the once heavenly sign receding in popularity and over use. Poor exhausted, misunderstood rainbows. 

Mr Roy G Biv has a lot to answer for with his pre-rain messages. His pelting downpours brought via global warming with their flash floods will lead to a plague of malignant rainbows eventually. Instead of signifying God's fairly dodgy covenant with man it'll become a sign of warning, imminent danger and destruction with the possibility of drowning in fast flowing muddy waters. Or not as the case may be but I'm pretty sure Jackson Browne said the planet would be washed clean one of these days.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

South Specific


Evidence of ongoing rotten leadership whatever happens next: Down there in the beautiful south* you can be sure the Metropolitan Police Force will prevail, untouched and unchanged in their attitudes and behaviours. Institutional misogyny, racial prejudice, corruption, cover ups, it's all in there somewhere, festering away nicely. The reasons the Met is safe are simple, they hold a lot of information, dossiers, accounts of historical abuses of power and have first hand experience of the antics of the so called "elite". 

All of Boris Johnson's lies, indiscretions, violent outbursts, exploits and crimes (petty and otherwise) are known and recorded. Along with his grubby history, information on all the creeps, paedophiles, fraudsters and gangsters in the House of Lords, Parliament, the Royal Family, the ruling classes and media controllers is in the same soup pot there. 

This is how things stay in balance, how the wheels are greased, how the machine sustains itself. Always has, always will. So calm down and choose your battles carefully.

*May also apply in Scotland and elsewhere within these septic isles.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Squid Game v Bake Off

 


Back to back TV watching creates a consciousness confusing genre mash-up that's both entertaining and thought provoking. The juxtaposition of competition, games and challenges with real or imagined circumstances and effects. Some people fail to bake a good cake and are eliminated, others fail at a Korean kid's street game and are eliminated. Some succeed in life, other's struggle.  Actors playing realistic parts, real people acting. Whatever the mix there is always drama and consequences. Destruction is always entertaining. Which reality is real I wonder?

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Accidental Kitchen Flowers


Flowers in transit. Stopping by in the kitchen for a short time. A staging post and watering hole. Soon they will move on. Placed in a space in a vase and regarded, positioned, watered and in the sunlight. Maybe far away from this grey kitchen. And then what? ... Chill time.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

Pasteis de Nata


I made these myself ... heated them up myself. There, from the middle of Lidl, the mythical, strange, fantastic place where nothing is quite what it seems or is ever quite the same again. A portal once crossed and uncrossed it can never be returned to in the way that it was first explored or entered. Thins appear, shape shift and vanish. I hope this makes sense. Abandon hope all ye who enter here. I'm assuming hope well might be abandoned should you forget or omit to purchase some handy fresh frozen pasteis de nata (in a six pack) when visiting this legendary and shimmering market place.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Uptown Top Cat Funk


It's the 1st of October! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you possibly the greatest piece of written/choral music ever, along with some of the best lyrical content, with the added bonus of some old school hand drafted animation artistry coupled with brilliant characterization. 

Top Cat!
The most effectual!
Top Cat!
Who's intellectual!
Close friends get to call him "T.C.,"
Providing it's with dignity!

Top Cat!
The indisputable leader of the gang.
He's the boss, he's a VIP, he's a championship.
He's the most tip top,
Top Cat.

Yes, he's the chief, he's a king,
But above everything,
He's the most tip top,
Top Cat!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Lichen and Stone


Looking out into the west, over the stone wall of the cemetery across the dark loch's troubled surface. Already the waters are eroding the old wall, the rock barrier between the graves and the cold blue/black of the loch. The waves lap, they pound, they hold back and then they pull forward. The graves and their hidden, ruined bodies can do nothing, they are simply there, old and overgrown, weathered and stuck down in the clay and dead among the boulders. The long tussle for power goes on daily. When will the wall tumble and wash away as the loch finally passes over and across?

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Underwater


My thoughts on an aspect of climate change: When the whole world is underwater* in 2121 there will be no need for publicly operated trains, 3D printers or privet hedges. I imagine that fish and rainwater will figure quite highly in our diet and that the newly water based primitive peoples will find solace and comfort in the story of Noah and other flood based accounts of early civilizations. Our clothes will be made by harvesting floating plastic bottles from the sea and recycling them into opaque robot suits using cable ties. We shall live and float on artificial islands where we will hope for the best and urinate gingerly over the side. After a while some people will develop gills. We'll be able to eat them as they can be legally classified as fish according to the UN charter, so it's not all bad then.

The artwork shown above is conveniently titled "Underwater" and draws much of it's inspiration from a long and soggy meditation taken whilst considering mankind's impending watery doom. 

*Don't mention the movie "Waterworld".

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Inner Voices

An inner voice whispers: “There is no internet. No phone signals. No shops or pubs or amenities for 14 miles. We’re at the road’s own craggy end. Whatever you do don’t get into an emergency situation of any kind.”

The roads are narrow, clogged with errant sheep, confused pheasants and the occasional brooding stag. The sun, moon, the glacial, battered landscape and the clear, warm unseasonal breeze are magnificent. We are in “the Glen”.  A short period of minor adjustment to the new reality will be required.

“My Jaguar is in the workshop” said our landlord as he apologized for leaving us alone, whilst driving away in an inferior but clearly more reliable car. Jaguars eh? Dusk was descending so I made friends with the birds. There are a lot of them here, always quite angry with each other as they bicker at the various overflowing feeders. We’re not the only stupid things on the planet it seems. Red squirrels eventually pick up the confidence to raid the feeders too, they’re a bit more violent, they wrestle with the tops and poke at the nuts and seeds or bend the wire frames with tough buck teeth that I presume are worth risking to attack the metal larder.

We wake up early. The garden is full of sheep, well four sheep, two ewes and their faithful, fatty lambs. We’re concerned but there are sheep in all the fields so this is probably normal, so long as they don’t eat the plants or the chicken food and so on. The next day there are twenty seven sheep in the garden.

At night the skies are dark with no light pollution, there is no one nearby, no vehicles or streetlights. We can see into space. There’s the moon and Jupiter and some other blingy things. Wispy clouds allow the celestial fairy lights to peep through at us. We’re alone. Like Joni and Graham we light the log fire. This is our house now.

Out in the glen we hear the sounds of dogs and quad bikes. The shepherds are at work, driving the flocks down from the hills. Then a darker shadow grows across the glen. It’s 8AM, there’s a large blue HGV parked down on the single track road, it’s engine running. We hear the sheep bleating as they are led towards the wagon. They are quickly scuttled inside and so off to wherever. They won’t see the glen again, that’s for sure. Today there are no sheep in the garden. As I grow older, I’m mostly ambivalent than ever about Indian food.

At times we will crack and seek out civilisation, there, shining at the end of a forested tunnel way down the potholed and beaten track. Blinded by the sun going out, blinded by the sun coming back. A pheasant ricocheted across the windscreen, thankfully unharmed and we live on to eat a canteen breakfast in a garden centre. It’s surprisingly good complete with an almost perfect fried egg. Like the rest of the clientele we are of a certain age and attitude, killing time before we take in the final backwards view from the bottom of a shallow grave or inside a plastic urn. (I don’t really think about these things often, just at garden centres). We will be the last of the boomers one fine day, they’ll all miss our purchasing power and wit and wisdom then.

The weather is always just outside, we try to ignore it as we walk into the hills. It comes and goes. Today we are in the footsteps of Queen Victoria. Not my favourite queen, royalty being something of a peculiar human invention albeit leadership of some type is always needed. It’s the lack of “qualifications” and the family connections I object to, that and the abuse of privilege and rank.  The walk is unplanned, we leave the house and turn right and trek onwards, already we’ve broken all the rules by being unprepared and vague in our intentions. We do however have an extra, older walking companion who has planned all this but simply forgotten to tell us about the details. 

We move up the glen through a variety of conditions and surfaces. There are trees, stones, and the sounds of rushing waters as time ticks down slowly in God’s own country. It’s a “there and back again” kind of trek so we’re back before the dinner burns up, down from the hills and eating shepherd’s pie in the cottage.

At night, when the books are exhausted and the keyboards are quiet, we take refuge in a grainy TV signal’s output, looking much as it might have done in the 1960’s but with washed out colours. For some reason the volume is also governed down so a high level of concentration and focus is required just to get through regular, pastoral TV otherwise it’s just another blurred experience. Any bodily creak from a stray bone or couch can render the program narrative quickly incomprehensible. I find a few glasses of red wine apply the necessary numbing quality needed to adjust to this pace of broadcasting and so enjoy the variable and distorted content. Misheard dialogue and blurred vision is always entertaining.

Alone.

Life here is not without it’s drudgery. The regular filling of the bird feeders being an essential task. Sometimes also removing struggling birds trapped in the feeders is required. They just get lost in some feeding frenzy at times. Sunflower seeds are their favourite, even though it takes time and technique to split them open and consume them, the birds don’t mind. Peanuts are more run of the mill, pecked at and eventually destroyed with the hammer action of the bill, pulverised and gone. I scatter random nuts and seeds on the ground, the squirrels, chickens and Guinea fowls don’t seem to mind. Everyone gets fed.

It’s been a mostly sunny and blue skyed break; the strong September sun is unexpectedly bright and strangely warming. The house faces south so we bask in it all as the friendly clouds allow. I’m reading a book about young arty types on Hydra in Greece, a historical work of fiction. At times the alien heat almost works and some slight transportation takes place if you just close an eye for a moment and forget about Brexit and fashion anxiety. The glen, but on a Greek island; perhaps not quite yet and no Leonard Cohen striding around, making conquests, stringing along fickle muses, buying houses and then carelessly warbling off into the sunset. No. We are firmly in Scotland and the dead grey churches are out there as a stiff reminder; empty, standing like some strange presbyterian theological litter, comatosed now but once intent on chewing up all the green grass at the edges of the fields.

Eventually I finished the book, a bit later on in the week. It was both profound and flimsy. A lazy holiday read so as you might expect mildly irritating, those Bohemian types are hard work, but that’s just my take on it. Over time I’ll reflect, I’m less than good in the moment, I need space for my thoughts to either ferment or mature. I’m not sure what they do naturally and they can’t be left alone for too long, they only turn on themselves and become feral.

By Friday I’m back to having a second attack on actually reading the final book in the Knausgaard saga, part 6 of My Struggle. I’m struggling with this one. It’s heavier and more reflective and I feel it strangling every thought in my mind at times. I’m blinded by the tirade of words, like some verbalized Mozart or shredded guitar figure. I’d planned to finish it sometime during lockdown last year but didn’t even bother. I decided to allow myself to coast over those unreal months.  Now we’re on the sunny uplands of further self-inflicted austerity I might as well try, there may be some comfort in his bleak but busy with the minutest detail, elongated prose and self-exploration.

I'm still reading...

We made it home safely, fuel shortages and a stupidity surplus all failing to slow us down. Thanks to the weather gods and my lovely wife for making it a very enjoyable and peaceful week. Our first break away since everything went crazy last year. The glen leaves it's mark once again.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Until Today

“Her mind is Tiffany twisted. She’s got the Mercedes bends.” 

Posting this in as large a font as is reasonably possible because until I saw this in black and white on FB the other day I did not know this was the correct lyric and it does somewhat elevate the overall lyrical quality of the song in my opinion (whatever you may think of it and the rest of the tune).

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Mint and Clissie


Clint and Missie caught by the cattery CCTV (That would be CCCTV). The all seeing eye that never sleeps. Shame about the dead sheep that they are sharing the room with but it'll be worth a discount I imagine.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Figure on the hill

 


As I'm just making this up as I go along it would be a shame not share my concern with regard to what might be going on in the background of this mysterious and indistinct image. So who is the strange, dark figure on the hill* in the distance? A black cat, a hermit, a wise old owl, a spirit guide? To guess, to speculate, to imagine more I dare not dare (as breathing is my life).

Perhaps it's just me, haunting myself.

*When I say hill I may be really meaning a tree top.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Whitedicks

They were called the "Whitedicks", Jane and Bobby Whitedick. Their's was an old European name, they'd traced it back to France where it seemed they were descended from the Blanc-Ricard family. A noble house that had done quite well for itself up until Napoleonic times. Somewhere along the line, they suspected when a great, great grandfather had landed in New York, the name changed to Whitedick. No one knew why it had been changed or clumsily translated. The English derivative would be Whytdyke, or so they understood, it was the old Saxon version. Family history was patchy, records had been lost and there was a bit of here-say in the detail. 

When a TV producer friend was chatting to them a few years ago he seemed keen for them to star in their own reality show, "At home with the Whitedicks!" That was the proposed title. It never happened. They were all quite drunk at the time and in the end settled for obscurity.

A coin of the realm.

"In no currently surviving art works, Charles Blanc-Ricard is portrayed as a shadowy figure, lost in the passing of history. He may have been an agent operating between kings, queens and red-cardinals. Passing messages, arranging meetings, sealing contracts and trade agreements with Australia and Darien. Today he would have been a spin-doctor and/or a special advisor. Born into the then upper-class Blanc-Ricard family, minor noblemen with lands west of the Loire Valley and up into the Vendee,  he was a sharp tongued and ruthless operator up to his neck in cheese. No biscuits. His wheeling and dealing eventually led him to the court of the King, Louis XII in about 1490. His career progressed via both complaints about his behaviour and compliments about his shrewdness. He made enemies easily but he also created alliances and dependencies. Common wisdom says that's how it works."

"Charles, via influence and factional bribery eventually caught the eye of the King and bit by bit became a leading advisor. He assisted with the King's "Pragmatic Sanction" ( The Pragmatic Sanction excluded the papacy from the process of appointing bishops and abbots in France. Instead, these positions would be filled by appointment made by the cathedrals and the monastic Hell's Angels chapters themselves). He also produced a devotional "Book of Hours" which the King grew to rely upon for his spiritual welfare and as an aid to his meditation and prayer."

"After a short but violent courtship, Charles married the Countess of Forte, they had two sons and two daughters, all of whom survived their parents. The Countess died of embarrassment in 1501."

"When the King Louis died in 1514, Charles found himself out of favour with the new King, Francis I. Charles returned to his estate and effectively retired from life at the court. As a gambler and confident card player he frittered away his remaining years. He passed on in 1527 following a strange incident where, after a night of normal medieval feasting, he hit his head on a low stone lintel and fell backwards onto the head of a pig that was being carried from the feast by a servant. The pig's head was on a spike and as Charles fell he landed upon the spike and was cleanly skewered from the buttocks through to his groin. The swift cut removed his genitals with almost surgical precision and he bled to death."

"Legend has it that the hounds of the household were quickly on the scene due to the smell of blood and instinctively picked up the genitals and ate them in front of the dying Charles while the servants stood back aghast. The offending  and indeed fatal pig's head was used to make a large pot of broth that formed part of the funeral buffet and was enjoyed by the many mourners who traveled from far and wide to attend."

"There are no records of any further peculiar events involving the Blanc-Ricard family until at least 1550. Something else almost as bad as Charles' fate  happened about then but it is unrecorded apparently."

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Nov 74


Thanks to Iain Mackinnon who posted this old photo on Twitter the other day. Strangely I immediately recognised it as an actual Pink Floyd gig I'd attended a few years(?) ago in Edinburgh's Usher Hall, November 1974 as it turns out. They played all of Dark Side of the Moon, One of These Days and Echoes as I recall.

Little did I know that in the next year or so I'd have lost my job, get barred from pubs, move to Glasgow, move to Jersey, live in a barn, get a brand new Telecaster, see my band start up and break up, watch my father die, become a rubbish "Christian", join two cults, get a dog, stop smoking fags and weed, meet my first wife, meet my current wife ... phew!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

If you're feeling ecstatic

 

... please just calm the fuck down, it'll only end in tears. We all know this. True happiness is found in the mid-range of a golden glow, not the cold blue of the thin stratospheric heights.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Secondhand Ideas

"It's probably best for all that you should consider everything you write to be, in that moment, the most important thing you've ever written."

Here in our reality based community nothing is new. Every TV show is a rerun, every meal is leftovers, clothing and fashion is on a design loop, every plot and policy is a carbon copy, every tune has a familiar melody, all our friends look like us now, warranties and patents have run out. Cats and dogs have grey faces. That was just before the machine stopped ...


From an old diary page with worn corners: "Some people feel sorry for those who lived in the past, as if they missed out on something; the higher standards, the education, the developments and the security we  now enjoy. But there are days when I'm not sure what I really enjoy because maybe it's only what I've been trained and conditioned to enjoy and so maybe deep down I'm not really enjoying it. It's just a learned bit of behaviour without heart. Trouble is I know I wont enjoy it at all when the machine stops ..."

"I saw a farmhouse burning down, right there, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. We rolled right past that tragedy until we came up on the roadhouse lights".  

We were travelling and that quirky old-school music was playing, all sounds and visually stimulating words. I could have been asleep. The dials flickered as the beat and volume changed. I hadn't been out for a while or tuned in much. I didn't really understand that nobody travels very far these days, "there's no need" say the government. It's too risky, you no longer should take such a chance, now that the machine has stopped.

In those occasional conversations you share over a meal, someone is slowly chewing their food. While I speak I cannot help but read their jaw and head movements as a nodding confirmation of whatever point I'm trying to make. As the evening progresses I slowly realize that we really agree about very little regarding anything that actually matters to me. (It was always my choice not to use brackets in this final paragraph).

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Friday, September 17, 2021

Non-relic SG


I've never really been a fan of Gibson SGs but this one, a 1971 (SG Deluxe) model, has lived a life and in all it's battered, road worn finery still looks the business. When I think of the faked up relic style guitars out there, there really is no comparison with the surviving original models. Trouble is it's priced at (all things considered it's reasonable I suppose) £2249. Not the right guitar for me but if you're interested you can get more details here. This old campaigner has been up for sale in a shop a few miles from here for a while, so who knows? It comes with a suitably beat up hard case and just needs a good home.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Deja Vu all over again

Some of these people were here and there and involved, others are missing.

Far away in time: Late in the day I know but I was just thinking about CSNY's Deja Vu being 50 years old, turns out that it's actually 51 or so. I missed out on the party as usual. I was humming a bit of "Country Girl" thoughtlessly whilst stirring my morning coffee the other day. It came flooding back like a slow mudslide, that's how it goes, the lyrics came later like some missed phone call. Tempus fugit I guess. 

I saw that there was some special rip off box set to exploit the anniversary, aimed at the "collectors". Outtakes and curios, happy photographs and things only for true fans. A position I could never hold on to due to my life long chronic ambivalence.

I imagine some people of my generation, until CSNY named that album, had no idea what deja vu meant even though they'd felt it a few times. That was me.  Suddenly it existed as some common experience, now there was now even a song that kind of tried to describe such an abstract concept. 

I still like the music, the feel and the album's images, they cut it well. It's simple really, I'm old enough now to have been there and here before, but I was pretty young and dumb at the time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Flats & Hookland

 

Sometimes you hear the people above moving about, appliances making sounds and vibrations. Outside vehicles pull up in the middle on the night and workmen being excavation work. A dog barks. There's the smell of cookery in the air. Footsteps. Traffic noise creeps in through open windows. Streetlights. The sounds and effects of weather. The hot water boiler. TV reception. The postman's footsteps and the people who clean the stairway and common areas. Flat living. It's mostly OK.

One thing I've quickly realized is that, based on the use of communal rubbish and recycling bins around here, most people have no clue. Our area is reasonably civilized, in my opinion, but I can't help but notice that people just don't understand or care about recycling. They won't flatten out cardboard boxes, they don't wash out cans or containers, they think that you can recycle polystyrene, food waste appears in the recycling and so on. They are either ignorant, confused or careless to the point of not bothering at all. Unless everyone takes some responsibility and follows guidance (?) we're screwed.

Not quite sure what to make of Hookland yet ...

Curtains hiding Faery, dragging their hems in the dust of lanes. Gates to the Underneath and St. Martin’s Land edged in wildflowers on the sides of hills. To walk Hookland is to navigate the invisible and enfolding. To climb a stile is to risk disappearance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Universal Amphetamines

 

The world of horticulture is rife with long and crazy names for everything. I never can remember the names of plants or flowers, pretty sure that these aren't Amphetamines either. Peat Worriers, Dingleberries or Beckhampstead's Glory, interesting but for me they form a barrier to deeper understanding. The other barrier being laziness. 

Weeds are tricky to identify too, seems a shame to pull them up when the bees and other buzzing, flying things are clearly enjoying the flowers or buds and they just look ... greenish with tinges of yellows. It's like taking away a kid's popcorn halfway through a gaming session. I need a plan.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Devil Drives a Peugeot

 


Not the actual car or the actual Devil.

From our motoring correspondent: The Devil was sighted a few evenings ago, during the evening rush, heading out of Edinburgh, along Queensferry Road, travelling north towards the A90/M90. He was in a small black, sporty *Peugeot with no visible number plates. As you might expect he was moving quite quickly for the conditions, tail-gating, jumping lanes, being noisy and most likely on his phone, the pesky scamp. Has he not done enough damage to the world without inflicting himself on the already groaning and fractured Edinburgh transport system? Does the Council or DVLA know about this and are there any special measures being taken to apprehend him? 

*Apparently when the Devil was being allocated fleet vehicles by God he chose Peugeot over a range of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes cars. He knew full well that nothing empties a mechanic's workshop quicker than the sight of a sickly Peugeot coming in, steaming ominously due to a broken cooling system glistening with broken hoses writhing as if part of the snake pit in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. BMW was his second choice but that was by quite a wide margin.