Friday, September 19, 2014

Songs of despair, full of life

So for the time being we seem to be going through a mixed bag of shite as a nation (note small n), well Scotland's still a pretty beautiful place; best to concentrate on that for a few days.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Time for reflection

I stood with a reassuringly sweet cup of coffee watching the rain earlier today. The rain was light, gentle and warm, not the Scottish rain I'm used to. So I reflected on the big day and I thought about the vote I'd cast later  on. The reasons and arguments, the facts, fictions, deals and promises, all now damp in the rain and remote from me; now only looking inside. 

Then I thought about that rain and where it's been, caught up in distant  monochrome Scottish summers fighting occasional bursts of sunshine that lit up  the summertime galas of the early 60s. The typical Scottish day out. The working classes and school kids given a day to sit in the watery sun, march in a line, play games and eat sugary cakes and drink cheap orangeade. Then we'd go home early in a crowded bus.

Every year for the parade we were allowed flags and streamers as a treat. The streamers were rubbish but the flag on a splintery stick was wonder, a golden and wild thing. A sword, a war horse, a weapon, a flying machine, a battering ram and when the time came a flag to wave towards mum or dad who might just be looking on as we passed by in our glorious and tattered army. We had two clear choices when it came to flags back then, the Union Jack or the Lion Rampant, each for a Shilling from some corner shop. Strangely there was no blue and white Saltire to buy, it's day was still to come. 

Every year I picked the same flag, the Lion Rampant, I don't know why but it just seemed the natural choice, back then.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Eve of Destruction

Whatever happens tomorrow in these graffiti ruins there will remain the wild spirits of unrest, poison and recrimination. The great blame culture will kick in and progressively kick an assorted set of undeserving victims. There are you see no victimless crimes. When we vote, whatever way it goes, all those dead and misty souls hidden inside will arise, to prise out an extra dose of guilt, to make up the full and bitter measure and allow us to swallow whole a thousand years of pain and four hundred years of Calvinist lies. That's all we deserve, the scum of the earth ruled by the scum of the political classes and whatever road we choose there is no happy ending or redemption. There's just us, the people, a disjointed force for good and mediocrity, a forever raggle-taggle nation of chalky faced doubters, dreamers, jokers, refugees and artists, rusting steel men and carved out hollow women, cats, dogs and concrete housing schemes housing concrete and crumbling money grabbing schemes. Here we go, here we go, here we are...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Why of course, I will certainly vote NO now that I've seen the true and mighty pledge made by these three fine gentlemen safely and securely posted on mock parchment on the front page of the ever so reliable and well balanced Daily Record. 

It can't happen here

Some kind of song for the referendum 

It can't happen here
It can't happen here
I'm telling you, my dear
That it can't happen here
Because I been checkin' it out, baby
I checked it out a couple a times, hmmmmmmmm

And I'm telling you
It can't happen here
Oh darling, it's important that you believe me
(bop bop bop bop)
That it can't happen here

Who could imagine that they would freak out somewhere in Scotland...

Frank Zappa (edited and amended).

Read more: Frank Zappa - It Can't Happen Here Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Monday, September 15, 2014

The meaning of words

So let's just get a few risk parameters sorted out before anybody, anywhere starts wading into the odd contents of the Black Box of Guilty Pleasures (No2).

Common-Occurs almost hourly   

Routine-Occurs almost daily    

Frequent-Frequently occurs during the year, possibly several times a month   
Probable-Likely to be observed several times a year, possibly monthly   

Occasional-Likely to be observed once every year  

Remote-Likely to be observed of the order of once every 10 years
Improbable-Likely to be observed of the order of once every Century or the risk of dying from cancer or heart disease
Unlikely-As likely as being killed in a road traffic accident or a high risk industry such as deep sea fishing or commercial diving     

Very Unlikely-As likely as being killed at work in an office environment 
Extremely Unlikely-As likely as being killed by a vehicle as a pedestrian or by a clinical mistake during medical care    

Incredible-As likely as being killed in an air crash  
Inconceivable-As likely as been killed by being struck by lightning  

Negligible-As likely as being killed by being hit by a crashing airliner  

Monday, September 08, 2014

Right here, right now

There seems like a thousand almost abstract and angry reasons why, year after year I've struggled to believe in and support the Labour Party. Well I just can't do it anymore. There's a huge and painful guilt that's built up in me as they spout nothing meaningful whilst my parents and grandparents surely roll in their graves over the hopeless, inadequate and feeble excuse for a party that Labour has become. I'll never support this generation of well educated but ignorant toadies with their inability to see the obvious and their abject failure to rise to the true challenges of opposition and come the day actual government. Anyway Irvine Welsh puts it so much better than I could in his piece in  Bella Caledonia (and I don't necessarily agree with all the spin and black magic that they spin either).

Friday, September 05, 2014

Masterpiece of the selfie

So Volume 3 arrived today courtesy of the various minimum wages slaves and elves that push out the output at the unscrupulous but strangely convenient Amazon online facility. I dislike giving these people money but I am fully aware that in logistical terms I am one with them in some distorted spirit fashion. That's the problem you get living and working in the real world, where boxes are kicked and shifted and blankets are stacked. If you don't understand by now then you never will. All I need now is some handy haven of peace in which to relax.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Sweet song of youth

It's hard to believe that 1974 is now forty years ago, even harder to believe that my summer 2014 soundtrack has been the newly released CSNY 1974 40 track live tour bonanza. The truth is even by 1974 and at nineteen years of age I was bored with CSNY and the great explosion of West Coast cheesy soundalikes they spawned. I drifted away from that music and cut my hair and avoided these guys for quite a few years albeit Neil Young remained a curious guilty pleasure for shock factor and short term listening. No commitment required just keep up with the payments and you'll be fine. Now I'm back again, full circle, not much hair and it's 1970 or something like it. 

This album, like most live recordings is a challenge, truly awful in places, truly...memorable in others. The politics and issues remain hot, strangely relevant but the rough edged protests and howls of derision have achieved ... well not much really. The streets of the USA are no safer, the world is no kinder, there are too many guns and CSNY just become more swollen, unhealthier and grumpy. Where did it all go wrong and why are so many "good" things, well meant things, proven by time and the relentless recordings of history to be utterly futile? We don't really learn from our mistakes. So lets take it a name at a time:

Crosby - he comes out fighting on this, a better singer and performer than I thought but buried by the twin guitar peaks and background hollerings of Stills and Young.

Stills - the good looking poster boy could really play then, his singing however is a madcap set of growls, swoops and relentless repeated nonsense words but he silences Young with his thoughtful and busy guitar work (not high enough in the mix for some reason). A real talent but not much staying power as it turned out.

Nash - always irritating with that nasal Northern whine, the weakest contributor and someone who seems a thoroughly boring but nice guy  in real life. How did he ever get off with Joni Mitchell?

Young - Already in 1974 the old head of the band , steady, confident  and full of tricks. He must've hated Stills for showing up his haphazard guitar work but he played a long game and came away as the ultimate survivor.

Best live tracks -  Love the one you're with, Wooden ships, Black Queen, Long may you run, Old Man, Deja Vu and Ohio. 

That's it, summer's over.

Monday, September 01, 2014

I wish

I wish that I'd have been part of this fabulously patronising "No" campaign mailshot. Surely the most over egged and puerile example of the school of "we know best and do what yer feckin' telt." Best left there then. Of course another excuse for a rant are those pesky, sunny afternoon, pleasure sucking wasps that live nowhere and inhabit everywhere. I've reached the point when I can no longer see them as grumpy bees with other Tshirts on or with a hangover. Now they just seem like the Devil's spawn sent hot and angry over the border to destabilise the otherwise peaceful and relaxed parts of Scotland. A cold beer in peace is a thing of the past/pest. Pest infestation promoted by the good and anxious people of Better Together.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thought for the minute

'Good men and bad men alike are capable of weakness. The difference is simply that a bad man will be proud all his life of one good deed - while an honest man is hardly aware of his good acts, but remembers a single sin for years on end. '

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New breeks

The politicians we get are not the politicians we deserve. Paul Simon was right; “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest...lah lah lah”. From that I take the scores and the opinions as being pretty meaningless over the so called Salmond and Darling “debating” effort last night, it wasn’t impressive, in fact it was embarrassing, cringe worthy even. Really they should just have had a punch up or a good scuffle, now that might generate proper interest, even put some passion into the fray – there is a great swathe of dopey indifference out there despite whatever high levels of  “engagement” Wee Eck might like to prattle on about. It all proves once again that being Scottish is, as was famously said in Trainspotting “shite” and the full, unfunny, unlovable televised circus isn’t a good advertisement for Scotland.

Meanwhile on the sidelines the Twitter frenzy was as bad, the punch drunk critics cheering on whatever bully boy seemed to be on top of the mire for a few lucid seconds. Nukes, oil, money, NHS, big bad business and toffs made headlines like failing soap stars out on the sauce with no proper answers ever appearing in the land of the outraged sound bite. Meanwhile on TV the two champions stuttered on as if in some  woolly pub argument without the alcohol, the humour, the wit or the swearing, chasing each other around the snug. No clever one-liners just relentless wagging fingers, crowing, cackling, shrill laughing and courtship displays of awkward body language and posturing. It confirmed what I already knew, neither of these guys have it nor have they any of the answers despite their experience and lofty status. You wouldn’t really want them coming round for the evening unless strong drink was involved. It really is just all sound and fury (of a kind) that doesn’t add up to much and signifies even less. I felt sorry for the poor BBC guy; a useless playground referee, no red cards or warnings, no positive intervention and no goals scored.

I do wonder quite what happens in the brains of politicians, how they must check themselves constantly as if their flies were open to the world, nervous and worried about any slip or double meaning, any unintended compliment or just sliding too far on some point or stance and so headed fatally off message and into the frequently mis-quoted world of shocking media headlines. If this is democracy in action then…there must be something else out there that works better. My simple take on this; do I want my life and my country to be ruled by either of these two unfortunates (and their obnoxious cronies)? Not really, count me out. (YES!).

Dawn of the moleskin trousers: In other news I’ve discovered the world’s best trousers - M&S Moleskins. I feel sad that so many moles had to die but comfort always does come at a price.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Grass cut at last

The famous local robin (possibly some reincarnated friend or family member) visits the garden and sets up an observation post on top of the time lapse camera. 
The paw marks of various known and unknown cats set in concrete on the back door steps, a nice finishing touch.  Meanwhile we got the grass cut, the roses pruned and popped out to see the mighty Graeme Mearns at the Jazz Bar. A good day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Over the high side

I first heard this expression in 1971 (OTHS), today it came back to me as if from the lips of some grievous angel via the breath of the Devil himself. It's a place I've never visited but I understand that many others have.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cat food omelette

I seem to have gone on for most of July and much of August, the long summer months in some sort of denial of writing or producing or creating anything other than those bad, half formed early morning ideas you get (or the drunken ones you get and quickly forget). Yes that is how it has been, unforgivable and reprehensible...but fun, followed by those three pretentious and hopefully meaningful full stops. You see I've been away, in France, in England, here and there. I've been lazy too and too lazy, obstinate, preoccupied and busy with things that are counter productive. The stats have all of course gone haywire, history has repeated and I've slept away the rain, fog and misty days in a haze of, well just about nothing. Excuse me please.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anchovies and cheese

The assumption that is made (in my imagination) that eating and appearing to enjoy certain types of food makes you look sophisticated or assume the mantle of being  knowledgeable and cultured dogs me like some badly behaved and sociable dog that I’ve encouraged with pats, praise and tit-bits. I can’t shake it off, it has adopted me. Top of the list is the anchovy and/or white bait eating experience. Scoffing the whole, strong salty fish with it's oily texture and mouth stinging pickled flavours is more of a trial of strength than any kind of measure of social mobility and worldly wisdom, it’s pain. The culinary equivalent of swimming with jelly fish whilst urinating. Perversely it’s a pain I’ve come to enjoy. The challenge that lies beyond the bland, the easy or dare I say it the pleasant. The strange experimental pact that you may from time to time (when bored with modern life) make with yourself just to test your limits (and when you are of a certain age it’s not about American motorcycles, parachutes or bungee chords), it’s just about consumption, pain and pushing against some stubborn physical tolerance. It’s taking a risk, often a stupid one. I know where I am in this now in this universe of botulism and I am comfortable peering over the event horizon and into the black hole, even if the trip is powered by a tasty but fatal dose of scallops rather than a pristine bit of Cheddar.

It’s the same as voting yes in the referendum. A yes vote equals a revolutionary outlook; a no vote equals a reactionary view. The issues on both sides are totally irrelevant; there is no proper debate, no meaningful information, nothing found in those exhausting sound bites or repetitive tweets matters. There is no credible evidence for a certain future outcome either way. It’s just risky v risk averse; and there is nothing wrong with that. All people want is some validation for their cherished views and, when the majority look they always find what they want to find nothing changes the dark/sepia human heart easily, not even sea-food dislikes. Had both sides realised that a while ago they could’ve done away with the flyers, films and trumped up publicity and donated the money to worthwhile charities and noble causes and just left us all to vote from the heart. This is exactly what we will all do on the 18th, albeit most folks will completely deny it if asked. Put it to the test, think of the Yes and No people you now know – how do they measure up? Anchovies or cheese?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Water everywhere

A handy and informative sign discovered in a Shell Station portaloo.
The Lake District contains a lot of water, most of not in the lakes but in that awkward space between the sky and the earth, where people often walk. Wet for 24 hours is an interesting experience only made pleasant by food, large amounts of alcohol and good company - so I survived. I did wonder about life and common sense and things in general when I saw some gentleman swimming naked, in the rain in Lake Windermere early in the morning. I think it was the swimming in the cold rain part that puzzled me, it seemed crazy. Then I thought about all the water, everywhere, descending on us. It still seemed crazy. Naked? That's pretty crazy too.

A money tree (detail), found near one of the very many houses by Windermere where William Wordsworth apparently slept. I've come to the conclusion that he was either a burglar or that he had a thing for farmer's wives, apart from all the poem writing business that made him so famous.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Handful of time

only a handful of time
here today
here in mind
with our secret thoughts and whispers
running low across the dawn

maybe I saw you there
perhaps you were just moving on
or you were already gone

my hands are open
palms empty and up
pushing hard on the sky
my eyes see the horizon
passing by

my time in handfuls
drains all ways
these wasted hours
fill up my days

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Turns to toffee

They warned us that it would happen but we ignored them, what did they know? We carried on, we just piled the stuff in. All the junk, the selfies, the comments, the butt shots, the music uploads, pathetic games, the streams, dreams and things better unseen. News, views, screws and nothing to really lose. Now it's full, the Internet is full, like some cupboard under the stairs or those problem bedroom drawers or the garage. It's happening tonight, look around, all your things have just turned into slowly setting, congealing toffee. Yum. The world has finally stopped.