Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good Grace

Whatever you might think there is no actual requirement for anybody to post actual facts on the internet. Maybe it's best that way, then everything is quite simply unbelievable. I hope that's clear. Just trying to manage expectations.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A sign

This has appeared in our downstairs loo propped up against the wall and on the cistern. It speaks volumes at this daft and costly time of year. Everywhere grim shoppers queue or rush or push trolleys, lines are long and slow, offers dazzle and everything in the shops has been moved to create seasonal displays and extra space for all the tinsel and tat that we seem to want to buy. I'm caught in this curious rapture, I'm going with it, I'm making lists and bad choices. I hear that inner voice telling me that whatever it is it's not enough, I need some extra gift, I need to try harder. Actually I just need to stop and watch an episode of House of Cards.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Extrapolated art

To coin a rather tedious phrase...this website is pretty cool. New pieces are regularly added it would seem. Strangely and rather unexpectedly there's a piece from Howl's Moving Castle amongst all the fine examples, not one you'd expect in this company. I didn't see many Dali works in there however, possibly too much of a challenge for the software.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


The long, winding, flooded in places, potholed and blocked by a tree road that leads to your home.

This must mean something

"Do not go gentle into that good night; Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

"We've always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we've just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we've barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us."

Life? It's all just some big cosmic mash up really, built up from component parts from SpongeBob's Party, Springfield Retirement Castle, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Woodstock, Easy Rider, 2001 and Interstellar. It'll all settle down and be fine eventually. Let's just live in peace and get to 2015, a step at a time. Next.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Eat your heart out

When it's cold and you're of a certain age then you really need a hat. This Cookie Monster one isn't mine however, it's the property of one of my grand bairns, maybe one day I'll own some respectable headgear. My other simple and  less funky one is currently keeping the car's headrest warm and almost frost free.

So what's with the bird man geek in the fleece top on TV saying that seeds rolled and bound together in lard and cemented into a dead coconut shell  are a bad thing for our wild birds to feast upon? On a freezing night like tonight that precious lard acts like a little electric blanket warming them under their pale and thin feathers, it's the perfect food parcel. You just ask any little spuggie or robin the next time they stop by for a wee chat. It's what the butcher's trade is all about; byproducts from byproducts.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Knowing what to think

A nice photo of the Orion cigarette pack launch doing the same thing that NASA did some 40 years ago. I guess most of  us of a certain age thought that by now we'd have moved further on with space technology and that big heavy rockets, smoke and flame and ocean splashdowns would be a thing of the past by 2014. Technology is strange the way it moves; forwards, backwards and sometimes jumps away altogether at unpredictable tangents.

Sometimes I just don't know what to think, I genuinely cannot tell the top from the bottom or my posterior from my elbow tip. Yet out there in the big bad world so many people know exactly what to think and they also know what you should be thinking and, given the chance will tell you. Today, scanning the news it's breastfeeding mothers v UKIP, who should lead Labour, austerity cuts, this shameful thing and that shameful thing. dumb celebs. In the war or words very little of this really adds up to anything, most of it is biased opinion and too much of it is hysterical and without reason.  Where's the rational and the objective view? There is no truth or if it's there is it's hard for the uniformed and disconnected folks like me to recognise it. Truth should hit you in the face like a wet kipper, not dumb you down and gum you up like some soporific or shouty editorial that has been contract written by the London Illuminati. So why am I bothered about reading it at all, sucking it in and so being influenced and ultimately told what to think? Maybe it does save me thinking and I just kind of like that.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Grandad Hobo

On reflection, if I had been born ten years earlier as opposed to ten years after, would I have somehow gravitated towards sixties London and been caught up in the first blues boom? Might I have crossed swords and fretboards with John Mayall and Alexis Korner and tried out for the Bluesbreakers or the Yardbirds? (And then been kicked out quite unceremoniously). If had had known then the four note licks I know now, smoked the right fags, hung around, if my behaviour had been different, if I truly came from Pittenweem and could perform mighty deeds even under the influence of alcohol, where would I be now? There's also lottery numbers and great inventions and scandals to consider.

God's holding power and good clean justice prevailed however. Many a young man stayed stuck in the shipyards and the fishing, cutting wood or working in the area of parks and recreation, drawing the dole, never getting round to spanking the plank of finding yourself, lost without a trace in the parallel universe that is the great grey turning mass of Central Scotland. Fate calls you and you follow...up to a point.

So that space ship was never launched and the time travellers have so far failed to kill me, no blows were ever struck against the evil empire and that gives me some hope for the future; true enlightenment, greatness and recognition are always (all ways) somewhere just around the corner. So if we're headed into these vast unknown landscapes of time and cosmic elasticity as careless passengers, sightseers and advocates and purveyors of blues and roots music then relax and listen to this album...still to be written, played and recorded of course. The future is what you make it.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Potato scones

There's probably nothing worse than the sense of loss that you experience when you buy something, walk out of the shop, head home and when you get there you discover one of the items you bought is missing. You go over the misty and always hurried details in your mind; at the till or check out, packed bags, walked to car, put bags in boot, (returned shopping trolley, was there a one pound coin return?), met upset lady who has scraped your car as she tried to reverse out of the parking bay, items in boot (but distracted by the lady and the actual zero damage done to the car), drove home, unloaded car in the dark, discovered item missing. Actually no, I didn't realise that the potato scones were missing till much later...about midnight. This quickly becomes an irritating thought that wont easily remove itself; at the checkout, left in the trolley, on the ground, on the roof of the car? Some whisky needs to be administered. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Different day

An unfamiliar and cold morning, ice all across the old Volvo and no wind at all.  I scraped the frozen car clean and we headed out in the early morning gloom to drop Ali off at hospital. Cold breath and slippy feet everywhere, we're all born slippy it seems. On the way home I weighed up my options and thought of what I had to do and the best way of working things out; cash machine, grocery shop, painting, a pile of laundry, Amazon parcel and then heading back to the hospital. I turned into a gloomy half lit Sainsburys  and bought bread, fruit and vegetables, I'd be making soup. Soup is always required to promote good health and somehow compensate for the lack of Mediterranean diet and Mediterranean sun we suffer. It might just work. 

Home and on with Radio 6, Neil Young songs were being played and I set about painting the fireplace and sorting out the logs and the stove. The painting was fiddly, I needed four sizes of brush and then lay down on cardboard so as to avoid spilling paint on the newly cleaned and treated fire bricks. I took a break and ate two boiled eggs and a toasted bagel, then I chopped up the vegetables and made soup. Then back to the fireplace for a second coat and a tidy up. Not too many splashes and the edges came up reasonably clean as I removed the stubborn masking tape. Stir the soup a bit so the lentils don't stick; my one soup recipe, done to death but at least done.

Then I took another break, this time with coffee, a snowball and the last few pages of Knausgaard's third volume.  It's not as strong as the first two and I was struggling to finish it but I did; will I carry on when number four comes out in English? Probably, his long rambling childhood tales are not what really interests me however readable they might be, the tortured adult life is much more appealing and deeper somehow. 

Steely Dan were playing when Radio 6 eventually stopped pumping it's music mix and turned on to a new Nick Drake book, forty years after he died. His sister talked about him and the book in rich, plummy tones. Forty years is a long time to be dead and a long time to be remembered. I wondered how much his estate was worth now.

"Memory is not a reliable quantity in life...
It is sly and artful...
It does everything it can to keep it's host satisfied."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

You'll know them by...

...their use and the swoosh of the newly launched Swiss Army Knife Light Sabre (SAKLS), it's on every young and black hearted Jedi's Christmas wish list this year.

Capital Models: Last night we saw at least a third of a spirited performance by the Capital Models (for one night only) trio. In a good humoured and packed Kilted pig pub in Colinton they rocked on relentlessly for charity and in memory of main man Jamie Frain who passed away earlier in the year. Details are here...

Straight back to earth and pasta today via Interstellar and oil changes, then setting the log fires burning. Mourning the end of November and the watery sunlight and the mixed curse that is Christmas in the First World. Buying a Tickle me Elmo and marvelling at the mechanical idiosyncrasies of the Smart car. It's all here, real life and otherwise.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

There's no law against it

I quite like Mark's film critic style.
I went to the car wash today, £7 to make your pride and joy sparkle for a few brief winter moments. I was last in the queue and once there the attendant put out a sign behind my car saying "Closed for Maintenance".  I presume he thought that the heavy layer of grime on my car was going to prove too much of a challenge for the equipment. It all seemed to be working well enough as I sailed through foam and brushes in what is the cheapest psychedelic experience you'll get since mirco-dot left the marketplace. 

Yesterday I made a large pot of chicken, leeks, butternut squash and sweet potato, a hot pot of sorts. The left overs are now in fridge, slowly mutating into something else, some great creamy concoction that will never taste good at breakfast but may make a decent supper. Food is sometimes not all it's cracked up to be; there's plenty of it in the world but sadly it's in all the wrong places and controlled by all the wrong people. 

And so it came to be that I wrote a song, well I added some guitar chords to Ali's lyrics. There was no blinding light, the touch of an angel's wing didn't happen nor did any strange overheard whispered or whistled melody dancing upon the wind come to me. It was more of a fumbling about with Cmj to Am7 and mouthing the words a little tunelessly. It is in it's own way magical and strange but also very natural and formalistic; but it makes me happy.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday? Low profile!

The press are making a lot of capital out of people fighting over TVs in Tesco as the so called Black Friday deals are rolled out. I don’t know why we’ve felt obliged to adopt the American BF custom but it has already become a normalised term and 24 hour panic is expected. It may be bigger than Christmas one day. It’s a cheap retail trick, some more opium for the masses, some artificial hysteria and free publicity, something to deflect attention from real issues – that’s what it’s all about. Let the Plebs square up over discounted tablets and appliances; get granny’s Christmas sorted quick and then put your feet up. Have a good riot, crash a website or two, stretch out the police, do it at midnight, create some fake demand, after a while people lose a grip of what they’re spending anyway and they can always fall back on the pay day lenders or if they’re lucky stick it on credit for 28 days and make it all just another January hangover symptom and unpleasant memory. 

The whole thing is a vain and obscene piece of construction and manipulation and it makes a mockery of whatever Christmas / Thanksgiving / normal human dignity ever meant. I can imagine Cameron and Osborne giggling like school kids at the sight of "poor people on benefits" clawing for bargains. Anyway, I’m going back to Aldi, they don’t do riots there apparently, it's all cheap as chips everyday.

Rather than debate child abuse they've all fucked off to check what's the latest deal on Amazon.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

They want songs with choruses

Well that's religious people for you I suppose, the avant garde and ambient never will cut it with them, just a good tune, a catchy melody and something meaty to believe in and fight for.

Holding onto obscurity

No.1 in the series "Led Zeppelin covers that didn't quite make it."
Scottish independence didn't happen in September, clearly it was against God's will and I for one accept that. Actually I don't. I've come to the conclusion that no matter what my own petty dislikes and feelings are towards the SNP and home grown politicians in general, the Holyrood lot remain a better bet than the Westminster lot. Westminster now only seems to represent a complete, false establishment front made up of posh toffs and chinless wonders and the North London set of well educated would be but will never be socialist types. These people (?) have no real understanding of the everyday lives the over 50 million of their countrymen/women. They are caricatures and an embarrassment and they cannot function properly because they blindly suffer from their own inbred dysfunctionality. So whilst it's true that Holyrood is made up of a fair selection of dweebs and no hopers, they don't suffer from the same self serving afflictions as their Westminster colleagues who are determined, at all costs to prop up the establishment (whatever that may mean) and suck vainly onto it for the invisible rewards they can get for themselves. Well that feels better. So the grinning Lord Smith of bananaland and his cronies may not have delivered much (and never will) in the out working of the Daily Record Pledge but their existence and impotence clearly illustrate and remind us of the panic and incompetence that set them up in the first place. Ding! Round One ended.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

40 years

Alan Partridge inspirational quotation poster.
Almost every day I discover that its now 40 years since something happened; a celebrity death, an album, a classic film, some great political event, assassination, three/four/five day week, invasion or brave new awkward fashion statement.  What a life I must have had as a nineteen year old, so many earth shattering events that all failed to shatter the earth and are now rising up as news stories in the Guardian and the Independent. So many amazing (back then you could use that word fearlessly) things tumbling one into another and you could get twenty Embassy Regal and a pint of Skol for 25p and still have change for a decent bag of chips all salted and supported in a high quality newspaper page. All our yesterdays...did I ever mention my magnificent sideburns and pale green loon pants?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kids Jokes and Band Aid

First of all a couple of jokes written by small children, there are more but I'm sparing you...

More Band Aid reflections and no real conclusion. The furore (real or imagined or ignored) over the Band Aid single resurrected with new squeaky clean pop stars and truculent and untalented old timers has at least taught and reminded me on one thing, the world has changed a whole lot in 30 years. The first Band Aid single was a welcome jolt to the government and the charity establishment which saw an angry and motivated few actually try in a very rough and naive way to generate and to place a need onto the world stage. For a time there was that fine bubble of heady optimism that we all bought into; music and media in the first world could somehow reach out and help those in the third and so trump those bureaucrats and do gooders who had clearly failed us and them (always an important distinction to make). It was like some cheap sixties pop-horror-musical film in terms of planning and plotting, Summer Holiday meets the Killing Fields. 

That was then and of course some good was done and lives were saved and awareness was raised and we survived the later Live Aid pantomime. That period, however disorganised, enabled us all to take a different view on “Africa, one that wasnt forever holding up a begging bowl. The rich but poverty stricken, complex and conflicted and continually let down Africa we now know slowly emerged.  The one we  know well enough to understand that we, with our own failed models of so called democracy cant fix. We no longer occupy the higher ground, were all in this global mess together and sadly a regurgitated pop idea resung however sincerely by a set of vapid X Factor faces won’t fix that. Peace and good government needs to come to Africa, I cant fathom how that has not happened, it is the cradle of most of our modern civilisation and  when it does finally wake up then it may well feed the world- and we might just need that to happen.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not on Band Aid this decade

Lily Allen, sometimes she swears during interviews.
Once again it seems rejection from Band Aid has come our way, we wont make it there this decade.  I'm not treating it as a snub maybe more a badge of honour. Not belonging to the "privilege club" is at first disappointing but then, on reflection probably a good thing. We're in decent company and remain in the well worn "Groucho box" of club membership rejection and all it's pitfalls. Perhaps my critique of the condescending lyrics was too much or maybe just the BBC fueled overblown hype or that the old "Empire strikes back" in a charity formula is just...old. At least they'll make some money and that'll go into a pile somewhere and various well meaning agencies will squabble about it and err... the British public will move on. 

Old Damon put it rather well “There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost and it starts to feel like it’s a process where, if you give money, you solve the problem, and really sometimes giving money creates another problem.” 

Perhaps next year we'll write our own howling and tuneless twelve bar rendition based around fighting global injustice, where sick and grossly powerful banks and corporations elbow all and sundry in their path and the great terror created by the cycles of fear and ignorance all governments used to control the masses roll relentless on propping up their kid-on democracy. Might call it "Do they know it's just a farce."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Who we are and who we are not

I vow to thee my country.
If you want to drape some non controversial and shabby flags across your house then that's fine by me and driving a white van is acceptable; tweeting a picture of it when encountered? I might even do that myself and so place it in some simple social context or to make a feeble social comment or  just a little piece of public art, but stereotypes? That was then, surely it's a joke that's past the point of being a joke. Sadly Labour don't seem to know that they are the joke in UK politics right now... and bowling along there with the Cons, Libs and UKIP. 

Back in Scotland Nicola has her boys, girls and stormtroopers in order. Gender is on the agenda and she's got that right alright; not so sure about the racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation aspects of it. Tough to call and it may well end in tears.