Sunday, October 31, 2021
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Friday, October 29, 2021
Music in the mass media and the strangulation of unfamiliar sounds: The problem ... with (most) old school radio DJs and music TV presenters is/was that they always like/loved every bloody thing they played, even if it was rubbish, as was/is often the case. As if we didn't/don't know that it's all play-listed anyway and they are just spouting vacuous enthusiasm and curating nothing original.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
A few of you must have gone through that stage in life where you somehow thinks it's OK to just go out onto the street and whistle in a tuneless, shrill and erratic manner like a dutiful postman out on his rounds wearing shorts might do. If you haven't yet reached this milestone in life then I am here to tell you that it's probably just around the corner. The good news is that it doesn't last long as a phase but you may find you lose a few friends and some credibility afterwards. No need to worry about it, until it happens. Then it's too late.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
In his book "And Away" Bob Mortimer talks about how as a child there always was at least one nominated witch's house* in his street. As I recall in my street (Selvage Place, Rosyth) there were at least two, albeit the witchy evidence was shaky and vague but nonetheless these houses were assumed to be inhabited by witches of a sort (none kept miniature Shetland ponies* indoors watching a flickering black and white TV however). Naturally they were older ladies, on their own and considered to be strange, as far as we (the street's ragged arsed children) knew.
60 years ago these once "Dockyard" houses didn't look as they do now (via Google), they were even a bit more rundown and overgrown then. I guess the great sell off encouraged some DIY. Various historical changes in culture and ownership have altered things but it (above) was the best photo I could err... manipulate.
The house on the left was my mum and dad's, the house on the right was occupied by Miss Erskine, AKA the Witch. I knew she was a witch because I and most of the other street children were afraid of her. That seemed a good reason for her be considered an actual witch. She lived alone, seldom appeared in public but when she did it was usually to screech or shout at us for making a noise, touching her rickety garden gate or kicking a ball into her garden. Balls that entered her garden were never seen again or returned so there was a general sense of apprehension that this might also apply to children.
My parents also said she should be avoided; she was a bit "odd" they said and I know that my dad had a few arguments with her regarding the clipping of a shared hedge. Unkempt hedges were usually a sign of either a poor or dysfunctional family or a witch's residence as far as I was concerned. When the grocer's horse and cart came to the street we all stood well back from her while she was buying her provisions. The horse snorted, rattled his reins and clipped his hooves, clearly disturbed. A couple of times when my father was taken ill an ambulance was needed, all the street turned out to spectate and offer help but she didn't stir.
Another witch lived across the road in the house opposite us. With an overgrown garden and high hedges it was the home of Miss Nye. The thick beech hedge formed a dark archway over her gate, shielding her windows and front door; very sinister. She too was alone and old but seemed a little more kindly, a better way to attract fresh victims. She always wore a black beret, thick glasses and a large dark coat. She seldom emerged from the house other than to go to the shops twice a week carrying a large and mysterious black leather bag. I assumed there were potions and spells inside it and perhaps the dead fingers of naughty children.
There was a third witch, a few streets away in "DollyTown". Like a kind of elderly Kate Bush with crazy long dark hair, voluminous black skirts and an overcoat way too big for her. I have a (possibly false) memory of her dancing in a tribal fashion around in her unfenced, unhedged garden and children cat-calling her as she silently moved across the grass to her inner music. No one ever ever made eye contact with her either as she rushed between her home and the Co-op collecting her sliced pan bread wrapped in wax paper.
My dad may have told me that her husband died in the war or that there was some other family tragedy. As it was the late fifties/early sixties then, then that might have explained something on the origins of these sad, eccentric pseudo witches. Just broken people really, trapped behind closed curtains, unhappy in their austerity and taunted by stupid kids and the complexity of a Cold War life. I'll never know their back stories but they left strong if now cloudy impressions.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
The building also contains rooms frescoed by the baroque painter Guercino, who was commissioned by the Ludovisi family, a noble family with close ties to the papacy who bought the property from Del Monte.
Monday, October 25, 2021
I'm quite fond of my new, blue lawnmower but I've made a deep and serious pact with myself that I will not use it in anger until the first spring cut of 2022 comes along. I'm not ready for it to be bumped across the garden and sprayed with messy green grass, mud, leaves and the rest just yet. Look at those sleek and easy on the eye lines, high quality plastic and superb Korean engineering. I hope it's OK. A keeper. A blue green keeper even.
Sunday, October 24, 2021
Yesterday's late, great Down the Hatch Canadian breakfast. A meal that lasts quite a while. I'm still full up from it 24 hours later. Rib sticking, tickling, tummy stretching maple syrup and eggy bacon, sausage from the great prairie state of Midlothian. Down by the hatch, by the sea and under the bridges. With this supreme culinary self sacrifice I dedicate myself to another full and fuzzy year but mostly feeling thankful my birthday week is almost over and done with and normal life can resume.
Friday, October 22, 2021
...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.
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
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.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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.
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
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
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Friday, October 15, 2021
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
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".
Monday, October 04, 2021
Sunday, October 03, 2021
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