Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ultimate road trip

If they ever build this road (obviously not following these peculiar arcs) it will be the only truly cannonball way from East to West and back again.  Ideally you start from your home port and just batter your way through the undergrowth, pirates, disease and corruption whilst rating roadside cheeseburger quality all the way until you get to New York. Once there the car is sold as a curiosity or scrapped as a liability (or possibly stolen by groupies), then it's straight back across the Atlantic on some relaxing (?) airliner to the UK or whatever it is we call ourselves by that time. Cruise control is certainly a basic requirement regardless of the type of vehicle.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easyjet Easy Tiger

I started reading this (as above) monumental and painfully awkward new release on a Friday afternoon Easyjet flight, also known as an exercise in quiet pandemonium. Not much clear reading followed. The journey was superficially good humoured enough but featured two Welsh stag parties and one non-specific hen party; in full party swing at 13:00. I'm not sure why selling double vodkas and Red Bull on a flight isn't a crime yet, maybe the Tories will sort that one out or at £11.50 cause the market to crash. Maybe a total police state is called for. In terms of disturbing the usual business flight peace various tactics of harassment and chaos creation were used. In no particular order there's screaming out for no apparent reason, mocking the Scottish accent in what might be a racist or offensive manner, throwing ice cubes, wearing loud clothes, being dressed as a leprechaun, a dozen drunk (jabbering) women holding hands across the aisle, singing in Welsh bass tones and standing up and talking shit in a loud voice, all petty crimes to consider and stamp out. When you consider the grim security regime we all suffer to get on a plane how can it be acceptable to sell drink to a set of already drunk passengers all through an hour long domestic flight? OK, it was all good fun but at times close enough to a tipping point to make a grumpy old git like me to wonder (and envy ever so slightly).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

That didn't really work for me

Tonight's tea: Bombay Potatoes.

Music of the birds

Living as we do in the back of beyond there are regular, steady and recurring problems with inter web connection, hi-fi seizure, miscellaneous parking, feline geography, non log fluming, vicarious liability, badly behaved wildlife, dustbin confusion, TV pixelation syndrome, icy heat stroke, irritable laundry, badly bleached and beached mermaids and of course the persistent and sleep depriving pleasure of wild and avantgarde free form indiscriminate birdsong. The only solutions are large amounts of self mockery, spicy foods and alcohol.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Not sure where I've been

Ah, the highlands of lowland Scotland, just west of the the great divide, east of the lesser great Z and south/north of the meticulous and possibly short forrest. So I'm not sure where I've been today or what I've been doing but I think that in simple and unpretentious terms it's all been about...textures.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Beasts of burden

Carry around a big chunk of entitlement: Some time ago I started feeding the birds, occasional and thoughtlessly, long periods of time would pass before I’d replenish the feeders, I was careless. I blew hot and cold and some days I seemed to be feeding squirrels rather than birds. Then we moved house, still in a rural setting and slowly set up a few bird feeders. Due to the aspect of the house, the garden and the location I began to pay more attention to it. A stray robin almost befriended me, I watched the birds and I suppose they watched me. I bought more food, obtained other feeders and silently prided myself that I was attracting birds and feeding them. I felt like some kind of charitable benefactor. I started to feel a little bit of responsibility for the birds and took notice if the feeders ran out. I realised I was becoming a full blown feeder; I couldn’t let these little guys down. I need to keep the food topped up. So where did that come from? That obligation on my part and what I weirdly sensed as their birdy entitlement, I should be feeding them because I could.

Maybe that’s the big problem these grey days, a skewed sense of entitlement. People of my age expect rock solid pensions, superb health care, free buses, discounted holidays, superfast broadband, BBC excellence, global warming to become somehow  beneficial, good behaviour  and apologies from bankers, supermarkets to forever discount, unlimited cheap stuff to be on eBay and respect from those younger, brighter  and more agile. We did our bit. We think this because we think that we’ve worked for it and by a variety of enforced contributions and simply being there we paid for it all so it should be ours. That’s the way of things. It is our right but we also think human rights, religious and political freedoms are OK but only up to the point where they might impact on us and become scary. Nothing too close to the face please, hell is indeed other people. We want the young to work but we stick on our jobs too long and we want politicians to play straight, as if we would do things differently in their shoes, we want peace but we want to be defended. We want the guy in the garden to keep on administering the seed so we can fly about, brainlessly and carelessly and so stay fat and happy. What do you think you’re entitled to? Perhaps we should reflect on this and now and again just buy a few more packs of seeds to toss around.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tiny eclipse captured

Far away but  in some nearby piece of the universe two bodies lined up for a few brief moments. The clouds of Scotland chose to obscure a large part of this event but from time to time it was visible. I understand that in some parts this is the first time that the sun has been seen since 1999. A whole generation held it's breath. There were rumours of riots, people beating on saucepans with spoons and others tearing their clothes to pieces as the great event passed over and while the sun continued in it's distinguished orbit around our flat and deflated earth. Some built huge plywood screens to hide behind and held their smart phones  up, aimed at the sky as if at some  pop music event, film premier or bus shelter, others just wept openly and shared their fears and various sneering selfies on Facebook. As for the moon, perhaps it will return later this evening. Meanwhile experts are denying that the moon might be the arse side of the sun, that's just an ugly rumour that may have been generated either by UKIP or a breakaway faction within the Catholic Church. As for me, I'm keeping my head down, too many weird objects flying around up there showing no obvious respect for one another.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I wonder

Well that escalated quickly.
I was thinking about easy cover songs to play in an affected way. I think it was due to hearing about Andy Fraser's death the other day. Covering "Alright Now" in some slow, laconic style as a low-fi tribute and a nod to the invisible past. It might be a dirge, it might not but it's always been satisfying to play if you can ignore all the cock-rock urges  brought on by the Paul Rogers hairy hunk  image. Maybe a straight version of Rodriguez's "I Wonder" with some great booming bass and little or no strum, just repeating the first verse and snarling a bit. OK that's not me. Then it's back to the old play it in your sleep "All Along the Watchtower", a classic funeral song if only for it's meaningless lyric mixed with it's challenge and throw away profundity. That's Bob Dylan for you. I do add a few extra chords, smooth the melody and play this rolling lick that only comes to me in the second verse but everybody expects a Hendrix tone or two and that's not going to happen. Maybe it makes no sense, I wonder.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

John Wayne

I'd forgotten about John Wayne, here he is sharing cigarettes with Marilyn Dietrich. Things like that happened in the past.  Films seemed to mean something more and the stars were...interesting. Shame that I cant think of a film that either of these folks were in that I still like.

Today's tea was perfect, pasta with cheese, ham and peppers, nicely put together and grilled to perfection. I dished myself up and sprinkled a little salt on top, more out of ritualised habit than taste and habits are hard to break. Unfortunately the top of the salt container was loose and came away at the critical moment covering the dish in a thick, white blizzard of heavy salt crystals. That was that. From cooker to bin in about thirty seconds. My faith in yesterday's Karma Points is shattered, the bank of life drew in my line of credit, ugh! The laundry basket  and the Discovery Channel are calling.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Log fumes

Today the logs arrived after a tortuous journey from the middle of nowhere via a wood drying kiln and some serious cutting equipment to the road outside our house. The bad things I said, thought and almost emailed to Logsdirect where proven to be untrue. I'm actually very pleased with the quantity and quality of the consignment and have forgiven them over my minor upset and petulant inner outbursts. This generous act on my part will surely release lots of powerful Karma Points and I will move smoothly between the spheres once the logs are burnt up and my time on this fearsomely stupid planet is over. Thank you Great Pumpkin. On reflection having to unpick them from the pallet and put them away in a steady shower of fine Scottish drizzle was probably a part of my soul's ongoing purification ritual.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Street Art

Edinburgh. Indecisive little moves, whirls on the concrete, shapes and abandonment, scattered plastic from a chippy or a Chinese, stolen by a quick pickpocket, tripped up by some tuneless outburst from a smart phone, an accidental collision tottering on high heels, having a laugh, dropped from a great height, thrown down as an offering, taking the huff as toys fly from the pram, just not good enough, too tired to care, taxi turned up and there was no nearby bin, some passive aggressive attack (and you don't want that), a sign from a lost alien, instructions as to the location of the cult's HQ, code for "we missed you", some binary phone number in part, voodoo message, artificial intelligence; stalled, the world according to fast food,  Parkinson's Disease disturbance, training methods gone wrong, mugged and impolite. Six plastic forks, one piece of used gum, photo by AL.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Searching for Sixto

I'm later than most in picking up on the Sixto Rodriguez story and the Searching for Sugarman phenomenon.  Part of me considered it to be simple fiction, a cynical, commercial construct  or just that almost anything could happen in South Africa and how would anybody ever know? 

I was aware of and the songs and the myths but recently I found myself...humming the tunes, mouthing the words and in a highly unusual development actually thinking about the lyrics.  It made me wonder how I'd have regarded him if he'd had the same exposure as Neil Young or Bobby Dylan or James Taylor at the time, poisoning my 18 year old mind. His words belong in that era; drug anthems, street life and dodgy language, losing in love, the impending doom brought about by poor ecology and the belief that political systems could get no worse so something would change, soon. 

40 years later it's hard to say if things are worse but it's easy to see that most things in terms of power politics haven't changed. We're still fighting for our rights and lives...well almost fighting. If you call pressing the like button on Facebook fighting. We used to argue in pubs but you cant do that easily, the music's too loud and everybody else is playing with their phone. Rodriguez's use of words looks clunky now and so do so many from that time but frankly compared to that most of what passes for lyrical content today is pretty shallow and meaningless. He was a man of his time and that was the 70s and in his rediscovery he's been shown to be a fine and decent man. I am and man of my time and right now it's wine time so let's all sing... 

Won't ya hurry
Coz I'm tired of these scenes
For a blue coin
Won't ya bring back
All those colours to my dreams
Silver majik ships, you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet MaryJane...

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Sunset hits the trees at the foot of the garden, Friday 13th March 2015.

How happy

From time to time I ask my self how happy am I, do I feel happy? Most of the time I'm happy but when I'm not I'm mostly anxious. Anxiety robs you of happiness and steals away clear and logical thought replacing it with a slow, dumb  and often baseless panic. That's anxiety. So I order a pallet of logs on line, I expect a simple delivery drop. I come home one evening and there they are sitting on the cobbles outside of the house. That's what I want. What do I get? Phone calls, messages, special offers and emails asking for times (even though they can't commit to precise times), there's an irritating level of contact and detail I don't want and I've no intention of being in when the pallet arrives. I don't even want to think about this. I just want an anonymous delivery of logs and once done I'll put them away. Logs direct? More like Logs by the most indirect route possible. a week or more later One thing's for sure when the consignment finally arrives I'll be happy because I know I wont be using them again.

Friday, March 13, 2015


When I was a child my father told me that if I continued digging in the sand eventually I'd get to Australia. Well I stopped digging shortly after that and guess what? I never did get to Australia.

As a young man my mother told me that if I wore the wrong glasses then I'd lose my sight and go blind. Well I've not worn the wrong glasses and I can still see. 

A friend told me that a vegetarian diet keeps you healthy and you live longer and avoid cancers and all that. I ignored that and here I am, years later, alive.

Religious people say that it's by faith that you are saved, not works, not deeds but faith. OK, I don't buy it but I can't prove anything just yet.

BMWs are no good in the snow. Tell that to the Germans.

Hangover? Try the hair of the don't bother with that one.

For an American president Lincoln was a bit of an odd looking bloke really.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A secret shared

You know that feeling that you get when your suddenly conscious that you are looking for something but you can't quite be sure what it is that you're looking for but for some irrational reason you believe that when you find it you'll recognise it and all will be well in your tiny world? Well the answer to that frustrating set of searches and processes is quite simple. Chickpea Dahl. There no philosophical or religious answer, no change regime or rights or workable political solution. No debate, bribery or piece of ceremonial action that comes close. The answer to every problem is chickpea dahl (lentil dahl comes a close second). Joint the cult now if you will. No rules but just so we're clear there is no escape. Dahl, a word as yet totally unrecognised by western spell checkers; yes while we sit here watching our flat screens and consider ourselves to be civilised and dare I say sophisticated. It's never too late to change.

Bread is optional.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Everyday Cosplay

I'm not sure that I understand the current fascination for sporting hair that's the colour of beetroot. Of course I like beetroot and I like hair but I fail to see any relevant fashion connection. Possibly vegetarian Goths or Proto-punks may consider it as some statement that might promote the consumption of a healthy root vegetable. Maybe it's just to shock but then who even notices far less gets shocked but looks today? (Well unless you're a doofer like me that is bent on noting the odd fashion aberration that comes my way or crosses my zig zagging path headed into oblivion). So in conclusion I say, eat beetroot all you want but please don't wear it on your head. Well not if you're middle aged and you're still trying to look like some cartoon character. You should know better. Actually whilst googling this (randomly sourced) picture I did come across a busy looking shopping site called Everyday Cosplay, I failed to explore it but felt a little despondent when I realised that here was yet another clever term that I had not coined.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Undiscovered landscapes of the heart

Life is a precious thing that I don't really understand. Around and inside as we experience it, old, not so wise and often cynical. Life is senseless and unfathomable. Sometimes the only thing that has any proper meaning is family; birthdays, children and seeing their happiness, their creative innocence and a desire to know and grow that appears to be perfect and without corruption. I applaud childhood, may it never diminish, grow cold or cease to amaze and may I enjoy it's unpredictability first hand. Reading this back to myself I am guessing that today wasn't so great a day at work (and that's not real life anyway) but a good day otherwise so I must be experiencing happiness in some form. To cap that a hurried late tea consisted of a sardine sandwich salad and no supporting alcohol, my head was almost clear and the cats were there, waiting on my late arrival home. Amen.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Nescafe 2 in 1

Well it certainly wasn't me or my dear dad either back in 1977.
The true root of all evil and strife are of course those twin curses and blights on humankind, Nescafe 2 in 1 and the pure evil of  Nescafe 3 in 1. What is it that resides in these sealed and secret little brown tubes, bought innocently over the counter and then shared in rooms and offices across the land by people who in the words of Heinrich Himmler "should know a damn site better and just get on and take responsibility for their own pathetic existences". Now that I've typed this I've really don't know where the actual question mark (which the sentence is crying out for in painful and plaintive language) should actually sit within the sentence. I need at least a 2 in 1 or maybe even a sugary 3 to see it all a bit more clearly.