Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Journey to the Centre of Nowhere

We loaded up the instructional words directly from the Book of the Gatekeeper: 

"All I'll ever ask is the honest answering of these three simple questions."

1. Are you human enough to take a first step through the ever shifting doorways on this incredible journey? 

2. Is it important to you to remain fully dust free or is a modicum of dust on your cuffs or lapels something you can tolerate? 

3. Do you suffer at all from travel or motion sickness if you are restrained by a device of some sort?

Monday, November 29, 2021

Bake Off Legacy

Four Pollywood crusty rolls, £1 from Tesco, a review: These were not as good as they might have been but neither were they as bad as they could've been. We actually managed to accidentally grill them at 220 degrees in contravention of the clearly written instructions. Swift action was required to save the day/breakfast. The bacon, also cooking in the same oven but being grilled unbeknownst to us, also suffered some carbon damage and was blackened. We just ate the lot anyway. No PH handshakes were earned however. Next season maybe.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Tesla Bubbles

I reckon I'd probably be able to afford a 2019 Tesla in 2029. Not sure how solid a purchase one might be by then. Who would want a ten year old iPhone with bunged up software? The same marketing and engineering principles apply to both of these consumer items so no purchase of this type is ever in any sense future proof. Maybe I should revise my goals. Having said that I'm lucky enough to own two of the marques listed on the right, neither of which I regret buying but a Tesla, for whatever reasons always seems like some bright, shiny (but poorly constructed), tantalizing and elusive thing. 

Maybe a few more of them need to gravitate to taxi use and so lower their aspirational image a bit, as happened to the Prius (a once desirable car nobody really wants anymore). A local driving school already has a Tesla, the rot may be slowly setting in. In any event I'll just sit here and watch what happens - but who really needs a Tesla when you have a free bus pass anyway?

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Ovation and the Frippian Arm Position

I live in the hope of a better world so I just felt that these paragraphs and notably the "Frippian Arm Position" needs to be read and understood by as many folks as possible.

While it was produced, Ovation's super-shallow 1867 Legend was the recommended guitar in Robert Fripp's Guitar Class as the acoustic 1867 Legend has "a gently rounded super-shallow body design that may be about as close to the shape and depth of an electric guitar as is possible without an intolerable loss of tone quality." 

Fripp liked the way the Ovation 1867 fitted against his body, which made it possible for him to assume the right-arm picking position he had developed using electric guitars over the years on deeper-bodied guitars. The Frippian arm position is impossible without uncomfortable contortions*.

Intolerable loss of tone quality becomes a thing of the past.
No more uncomfortable contortions* either.

*I may well compose a scathing article about this whole thing when I get some time to myself.

Friday, November 26, 2021

World's Smallest Fridge

A large picture of the world's smallest fridge. In the future we plan to consume a lot less, mostly for altruistic and economic reasons. Large, vulgar fridges (you know the ghastly American style wardrobe sized type that could swallow a Tesco van loaded with perishables) are a thing of the past and not cool (?). The future will be fashionably tiny as will be the enhanced food and drink - and the people and their minds.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Not Christmas, Just November

Unseen eyes, uneyed scenes. There are eyes everywhere. The eyes have it. The non-eyes have not. And our little light flickers bravely in the dark for the time being. Everybody needs to know their place in the food chain and act accordingly. Did I say food chain? I meant life in general. Though you will be eaten, regardless of what you say or do. Those racked with unhealthy seasonal guilt may not taste particularly good, it sours the blood apparently.

Strange night time events are commonplace around here; Liberal Democrats smashing the Police Station windows, English tourists flocking to the sewage outfall, young fascists driving recklessly on Chinese electric mopeds, drunks shouting at invisible dogs, bus (stop) wankers and the odd alien abduction from the Co-op car park.

But as it's the season of lights, the Council have erected Christmas flickering things all across the way. The prime contractor was a firm aptly named Marx Bros. A festooning of temporary traffic lights, redundant street furniture and assorted pavement trip hazards are awaiting all the regular and unsuspecting funeral attendees. All as a practical means of spreading joy and reducing crime as we bask in the wind generated glow of flashing neon that scares both demons and folks prone to epilepsy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Old Masters in the World of Glue

I imagine that the Egyptians and Romans knew a thing or two about glue, mixing it up using the boiled bones of horses, dead relatives and added honey for viscosity. It worked well enough on the pyramids and the various aqueducts and temples that have all passed the test of time and violent conflict. Who can ever forget their first sight of the robustly constructed wooden bicycle and straw helicopter they found in the garage by Tutankamun's tomb?

Modern glues are a bit less exotic, cooked up with mysterious chemicals that you dare not inhale and with a potency that will stick your flesh to zips, pockets and any passing cats quite without warning. "Great care is required" or words to that effect are there on the container's impossibly small print you've now obscured with the equally sticky paint from your dirty thumb print. The pain of DIY multi-tasking.

My technical secret, once the glue is applied and I'm unstuck from whatever I've stuck myself to, is to utilize handy nearby objects to complete the task and accelerate the drying process. As illustrated above.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Subterranean Lyrics

Words, spaces, more words, some words missed out, some misspelled. You can read them backwards, bottom to top, right to left.  You may be homesick, you may be blue. It's up to you. If you're young enough to remember the 60s then you're clearly not dead yet.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Black Monday

Black Friday deals on a Monday: I clicked on a Black Friday offer email from one of the main online guitar retailers just to see what they were offering - as you do. I know full well it's just click bait of a sort but I considered it to be worthwhile research. The promising selection button said that there were 31 "guitar deals" running. Wow! 

I was somewhat disappointed to discover that 26 of the 31 guitars on offer were in fact ukuleles. Clearly the precise definition of "guitar" has been changed by market forces one rainy afternoon, as I lay sleeping on the couch no doubt. Thankfully I've caught up with the revised terminology now and somehow resisted the serious temptation (?) to spend £49.99 on one of these tidy but tiny guitar shaped objects.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Fibonacci Mushroom Cloud

I'm a slow learner, whether it's PI, the Golden Ratio, Fibonacci or Calculus, I'm bound to struggle with squiggles. One of my grandsons was riffing comfortably on maths, adding cubed numbers to cubed numbers as we watched endless episodes of "Young Sheldon". I was catching up and nodding uncomfortably with the series and the emerging digits. Numbers are the centre of everything but to me sometimes they are just like blinking lights or strange anagrams without any letters. 

Perhaps I suffer from an undiagnosed condition; a bizarre mixture of lack of attention, self pity and generational ignorance? It's quite the fashion these days and it often excuses you from all kinds of socially tricky situations where happy chat and vacuous smiling are required. I'm no Einstein but I am just about as crazy as he was.

Now that I'm over 66 and finding myself in fairly regular contact with medics and the like I could just throw myself on their mercy and ask for an assessment of my brain's processing power. Then as the results appear and the fickle finger points, my whole life will make sense and they'll prescribe a course of non-nuclear statins, some dietary moderation and one of those Zen colouring books.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

McDonald and Giles

Bandwagon jumping: Today's picture is the hard to find CD copy of McDonald and Giles from 1970, remastered in the same way everything else has been by now (kitchen safety dagger inserted for scale). It's always a labour of love on someone's part. They were all the rage back then too. Well no they weren't but they make an interesting footnote in the sprawling King Crimson landscape, not a piece of territory I'm wholly familiar with either. Too complicated in every sense. I was just a lad at the time and didn't know any better. And there they are, McDonald and Giles, all hair, ties and girl friends.

It's odd listening to this ancient album without any actual contemporary memory or references to go with it.  Like digging up a stranger's time capsule. A magazine with no photos (that's called a book). There's nothing to hang it all onto, no events or pain or a friend's half baked opinions. Progressive rock happened in a bubble that has no ending. It floats on it's own unexplored sea as if it had never existed until I heard it today. If it didn't then there's only a philosophical paradox of sorts to either cling to or run from. So would I have liked it at time? I'll never know.

P.S. Despite the criminal retrospection that plagues this blog I'm fortunate enough to have grandchildren who keep me posted on current music and, as is the family tradition, a lot of what they listen to isn't just the mainstream pap, it's actually pretty good.

Friday, November 19, 2021


Recurring but ancient pub conversations: I may be covering familiar ground here but just to confirm, for what may be the final time (as boredom sets in), that there is indeed a bear on every Toblerone box/packet. It's not well hidden either.

This may be the last time these pipes are seen, for a while I hope. After a few small failures with my design brief I've successfully fabricated the main parts required to box in the underbelly of the boiler. Next stages are to slap on a second coat of paint and the actual gluey installation. All being well you'll hear no more on this other than some mild swearing on my part.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Dodgy Skip/Cosmic Debris

Another day, another badly loaded skip. At some point in the near future I will face the righteous anger of the skip-motor driver as he refuses (quite rightly) to uplift this small but poorly put together collection of building debris. I am to all the world innocent in this matter but clearly guilty by association. The great injustices of the universe strike again and my head hangs in sorrow. Inside my triggered consciousness a faraway, determined, ghostly Frank Zappa voice is quietly chanting: 

"But I said, look here brother who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris? Now who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris? Look here brother, don't you waste your time on me."

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Permission from the Ghost King

"The days of the Ghost King may be numbered. The numbering system used may however be one you are unfamiliar with. You can't just assume that any normal measures or ways of being might apply here. This is no place like any other, in fact this is no place. Kings can be cruel, they can be charitable, they just might be ghosts. What would you want to be dealing with here? The power, the holding on to power, the  wielding of the weapons of war? Supernatural conflict is not for the faint hearted and this is not some kind of written warning or a set of simple instructions. No. It's just my ramble, my ragged account as I ponder my up and coming encounter with the King and my eventual fate. It may all happen as I would wish, should he grant me his permission."

I read the note again, mouthing the words. I thought I recognized the hand. From a time past (though that is hardly an adequate explanation) and I could not quite be sure when. A lot of time had passed too quickly for me to provide a clear account of any kind. It was like being swept away in some river or flood. For some it was still happening, for others it was over a long time ago, for me it was just about to strike and I don't mind saying that I was afraid.

The crunched up parchment began to tear it at the edges. Open, ragged lines up and down appeared as I ripped across the page and squeezed it in my fist till it was like a dull grey cricket ball. I imagined any good ghost would still be able to read it, even now, and still read the signature.

Across the courtyard there was the main gate and entrance to the site. Two guards stood on either side, up on the walkway. I could see them pointing out into the distance as I waited. There was someone approaching and they became animated by the sight. They signaled the guard house for assistance, or so I thought. The gate opened and the riders were met with no challenge.

The whole thing was a trap ... but not for me. They rode past me without a nod or word of recognition. They were pale, tired but determined looking. Hardy types dressed in the style of the East. The five horsemen heading into the heart of the complex were after a far higher quarry than me. I could only assume that it was the Ghost King himself. How do you kill a ghost?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Randoms From the Desktop

A battered shop front in Charlotte Street, Edinburgh. Naturally I accidentally read the first name as Bedlam but then realized I'd got it completely wrong. The story in my head fizzled out at that point.

Part of a French style breakfast and hangover cure that my daughter in Aberdeen kindly put together for us. A happy memory.

A strange piece of Gerald Scarfe memorabilia from a 1974 Usher Hall gig/tour that I attended.

My desktop tends to be littered with "useful" images and docs that I fully intend to explore or utilize some fine day. In my head these are harvested and stored away in the hope that they will "really come to mean something". These are a few examples.

Monday, November 15, 2021

No Law Against Love

Quite pleased with this simple video version of "no law" that we cobbled together recently. Been trying, with limited resources, to put together a video to go with the song for a while (last Tuesday). Done it at last.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Food Coffee Cake

The overarching high level set of food contains within it the subsets of both coffee and cake who both contain various other subsets. This is not quite as it's shown on this sign (nearby to our billet)  - or is it? Perhaps they are all equals in the opinion of the proprietor but I doubt that. It may just be the lack of punctuation or the use of a regular font suggests a certain order or not. The sign's job is of course to attract customers with some basic, bright information. It does that. I doubt it bothers anyone.

P.S. Until quite recently I thought local anaesthetic was an anaesthetic using local "ingredients". Maybe just sourced locally by some larger medical supply chain. Seems reasonable.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Early Onset Serenity

Peace of mind and the achievement of total serenity is often defined by academics as the simple pleasure of gaining easy access to a handy private portaloo in a convenient location set in your own garden grounds. We, as of today, may well have reached peak serenity by having now taken ownership of this pristine shrine to all things personal. Life is truly complete albeit in a kind of fractured way.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Screen Shot

If someone were to ask me if we were still plugging away with the same old material I'd answer with a hearty and upbeat YES! That is what everyone, even those only remotely involved in the music industry do, particularly the people who consider themselves to be highly original and at the cutting edge or wherever. They're all plugging away in some supreme fashion and to some extent pissing into the same cold wind that the rest of us are. What an uplifting and joyous situation. Anyway I still like our stuff and remain fully occupied in the area of insufferable plugging .

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Understanding Autos

A big thanks to the Automobile Association (AA) man for explaining to me the difference in car battery charging rates between the actual alternator of the car and a trickle charge system direct to the battery. The alternator is about 20 times more effective than the trickle charger, that's 20 amps v 1 amp at a time or 20:1. There is some time related calculation I could do on this to get an even clearer picture but I'm going easy on myself. I'm 66 and only now learning this basic stuff.

Armed with this knowledge my winter motoring behavior will change, a bit. I was also able to view all the relevant figures on the screen of some magic AA device or other. With the money I've saved I'll likely go to a nearby music festival or perhaps purchase some high quality take-away foodstuffs. In weaker moments like this I'm always tempted by the prospect of banjo ownership but thankfully not this time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Unhelpful Generalizations

The world's shortest (the review not the book) and least relevant book review: so, "boil the soup, spoil the soup" is suggested as being good advice. In cookery terms (not just heating up a tin or a carton of soup) this may well be inaccurate or misleading information when applied to the many soup recipes available. Otherwise all fine bookwise, in my opinion.

In other unrelated news I have decided against applying a coat of  Turtle Wax to the large mirror in the bathroom until the plumber has been and installed the new boiler. The delayed timing of this minor task makes perfect sense to me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

A Touch of Poultry

From a nearby field: The supply chain failed to fail over Halloween this year resulting in a plague of slowly rotting surplus pumpkins. A triumph for Brexit some might say albeit it's hardly a British tradition. Anyway Scotland's awkward relationship with this new world fruit continues. What is the actual point of it, other than as a dumb cash crop for farms? (A fairly valid point you may say if you are a farmer). I presume that as an act of environmental clearance chickens or possibly sheep or goats might be tempted to scoff some of the leftovers. Then there are the crows.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Luxury Bones


Today my 6 monthly MOT and service is due for the 32 once white but now more of a dappled grey horses living downstairs in my head. Regular dental health doesn't come cheap and I'm a dismal failure at flossing and the other dental acrobatics required by common oral law (?), a regular problem with all humanity. I'll be getting the waggy finger treatment from a dental professional.

Going against various loosely held principles I moved into the private sector many years ago because my dentist moved there - so I followed as I quite pathetically felt safe there. I wonder what would have happened if she had moved to Key West. It was take it or leave it. Peace of mind can be bought you know. Somebody once described teeth as luxury bones, an essential luxury that I intend to continue holding onto, if only by the skin of my teeth.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Out and About in the Kitchen


Roaming freely in the kitchen I see there are many sights and I hear that there are many sounds. I have decided to capture at least two today. I've failed to record any sounds because apart from the hissing of the almost defunct boiler and the sinister gurgle of the dishwasher there aren't that many sounds at the moment (cookery sounds are in there I suppose but they are not generally long lasting). 

As you can see I'm more focusing on detail here rather than display the visually stunning grand vista that the kitchen normally might present to the casual if slightly stunned visitor (try not to forget the "safe" words or "safe" statements please). These are simple, muted visual details I've stumbled upon when exploring the kitchen's finer points. There are more, many hidden behind cupboard doors, deep in the waste bin or inside the actual fridge, but enough is enough for one day. That's yer lot for the indoors.

Roaming freely in the Lothians: Out beyond the relative safety of the kitchen, in the wider world are the big sheds where we go to get the chemicals that make us resistant to mutant diseases injected directly into our bodies. Once inside us they form a magic barrier and we are (almost) safe. It's a good feeling. The procedure takes but a few minutes but like most things in life involves standing in a long queue made up of old people, mostly younger than me. Old people like this are at a stage in life where they have forgotten how to walk, stand or remain a safe distance from others.  I have committed all the evidence to memory.

This shuffling and bemused queue of the ancients can take up to 90 minutes to snake it's way to the registration booths. If you are unlucky enough to attend on a bad day anyway. In general the staff and the recipients are stoically stuck in a good kind of humour and forbearance, each one thankful for their comfortable Chinese training shoes. I looked upon the whole experience as a nostalgic throw-back to the halcyon days of airports and football matches and busy shopping malls. Back then life was a pasty shade of post-war monochrome, dull and slightly less polluted. 

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Pastor of Muppets

I'm comfortable with being behind the curve, possibly many years behind the curve. There's just too much happening out there and my connections can be wonky at times. Plus I don't actively seek things out, they have to fall into my lap. So it turns out that this turn of phrase is also a font, or is it the other way round? I find it a useful term to use to categorize certain things based on my life experience and so I quite like it. If only this wasn't true of most established and respected (by some) religious groups and their leaders. It's also a rather cruel reflection on Muppets who by and large are quite genuine and amusing characters. I was also going to insert a noisy Metallica video here but thought better of it.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Human Sized Life


All thoughts are born in the simple act of waking up: 

"I think that whatever you think you can only ever live a human sized life. This applies to everyone; rich, poor, billionaires and politicians, superstars and members of the elite. You are human. Even if technology moves on you'll be human even if you are inhuman or by surgery some kind of hybrid or cyborg. The life you live will always have human proportions. Big, little, fat or skinny ones."

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Travelling with Charlie

Charlie was their oldest child. He was 6 going on 7. The oldest of three. Charlie had never been what you might call an easy child. He was very bright. He didn't ask, he made demands. He bullied his younger sister and brother. He bullied his parents, teachers and other children who got in the way. He was never pleased with anything, there was always a problem. He was disagreeable.

Today they are driving home from a visit to the park. A largely uneventful visit and Charlie has behaved himself. He has agreed to sit in the back seat of the car with his siblings but has refused to use the booster. He is reading, or at least looking at a book about film about a computer game. Mum and dad are up front, enjoying the journey home silently. They think about the up coming evening meal. They imagine Charlie will be displeased with it. Traditional meat loaf that granny made. It's in wrapped in tinfoil on Mum's lap.

From the back seat a strange noise is heard. It is like air escaping. Like a vacuum cleaner hose pumping suction.  Dad is squinting into his mirror and slowing the car down. Charlie is making a peculiar noise. An animal noise. The car is pulling over and stopping. Brother and sister are both asleep in their child seats, oblivious. 

Mum and Dad are turning around. The noise is building. They see Charlie, who is still engrossed in his book. Charlie looks up at them as they look at him. Then in an instant Charlie is sucked suddenly into the gap between the the seat back and the seat bottom. All is silent. Then Mum screams. Dad jumps out to check the back seats. The other two children remain sound asleep. Dad is pulling at the seat, stretching open the gap. The gap that Charlie has just disappeared into. There's a lot of desperate shouting and searching going on. The other children awake and instinctively begin to cry.

By the side of the road, parked up, all doors, windows and tailgate open. The car is surrounded by police and ambulance staff. Blue lights flash and it's starting to get dark. There's a pale glow on the horizon as the sun goes down. It seems to be pulsing slowly.

Mum and Dad are waking up, they are home but everything is beyond peculiar now. A policewoman is on the couch taking a phone call. Charlie hasn't made it. He's gone. He's travelling. Very fast and very far. Nobody knows anything and the questions won't stop. The meatloaf sits on a kitchen work surface. Still in the tinfoil. Meanwhile the earth is spinning on it's axis at close to 1000 miles per hour and orbiting the sun at 66,660 miles per hour.

"Whatever we may say or do", says Dad, "sometimes I think the universe just knows best". He opens up the meatloaf from the foil, places it on a plate and begins cutting it into neat slices. He puts the greasy foil into the recycling bin. "Charlie is a beautiful boy but also a very disagreeable child".

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Death of a Dyson


The Dyson died yesterday, like some alien lost and battered and left for dead in an intergalactic battle. Some say it was the cat fluff, the odd screws sucked up, unfair wear and tear or just old age. It fought to the last, always resisting getting into the cupboard with an angry flick of a hose and refusing to release it's precious dust to the confines of the inner bin unless poked with a sharp stick. We'll never know the truth of it's demise but there was a smell of burning and an odd, sharp, plaintive sound - the death rattle. Bought well before Brexit and before the Dyson fella came out as a buffoon. It's replacement is a no-brander from Screw-fix. Take that you economic pirates!

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

COP 26


I feel I need to mention the peculiar circus that is COP 26: What can you do to help? I really don't know how we stop doing the things that create further bad things with grim consequences when those things have become almost essential and common parts of our lives and when the global industries and governments that preach better practice are clearly unable to deliver any kind of meaningful and honest program of change and recovery that will be equally beneficial to all regardless of status and location. 

Monday, November 01, 2021

Cats Growing Old in Space

Always difficult explaining to a cat that now they are getting older there might be a few medical and dietary troubles ahead. In fact both our cats, whilst passing their MOTs reasonably well do still have a number of advisories that require ongoing treatment. Morning and evening routines now involve dolling our drugs of various kinds, steroids and special food pellets; the cats requirements are even worse. 

Ailments include arthritis, digestive issues, possible cancer, thyroid trouble, heart murmurs, dental decay and all the awkward symptoms and manifestations that go with these. This generates ongoing dramas whereby top and bottom end events are regularly monitored and managed, food is rationed and carefully prepared and often rejected and middle of the night unplanned events are common. 

Back in the day the cats lived a "wild woodland" kind of existence and we hardly saw them some days, just the bloody and broken evidence of their regular murdering sprees. Now, and through a perpetual lockdown, we're all like fellow travelers in some cat/human space ship mash up, heading to colonize a planet troubled by belligerent mice and cute but dangerous spiders made of soot. 

Packed into our tiny crew quarters we've never quite managed to provide a clear brief to the cats that this is in fact a space craft and that different rules must apply if we want to succeed i.e. the sardine paste is definitely not for sharing nor are the sleeping spaces. In the end the mission, like all missions, is just about survival, anything else being a bonus ... so on we travel.