Friday, 29 June 2012

Following Nature's Law.

What can I say? I'm a man, an ordinary man. I have needs, wants, desires like any male. Sometimes I resist and sometimes the flesh is weak and I give in. Last week I was weak and although I tried to resist I couldn't and ultimately gave in to that demanding inner voice and did something I shouldn't. I should know better I agree. I confess. Mea culpa.

What did I do?  I bought one of these:

Nice and shiny and smooth - it's got knobs and twiddly things too!

Like I said above I'm an ordinary man. Therefore by extension, it's not my fault!

 A few years ago my lovely G bought me a good quality digital camera and since then she's encouraged me to become more interested in photography and, like any dutiful husband, I do what I'm told. The over the years she's kept telling me how good I am with the camera, what a good ‘eye’ I've got. For quite a while I just pottered along with the standard lens that came with the camera butts eventually I saved up and bought a better lens. Now I'm more experienced I really enjoy getting out into the landscape or into crowds. I could always see plenty of photographs I wanted to take but the equipment I had wasn't good enough. After a while I added another lens of better quality and with more of a zoom. Like most men, once addicted, things get a tad more expensive. Whether it's golf, or fishing, or photography (thank God I don't do all three!) It costs a lot of money if you want the right equipment. And of course, it's not our fault! Blame her not me!

There are any number of magazines out there encouraging us to compare one thing against another, to get into the detail and informing us on what it is we really need for our particular obsession. To get the best from anything you've got to have the best kit right? So it's a good job there are publications to help keep us up to date about what's best and where to get them at the best price. Let's face it, it's a good job we’re not nearly as easily influenced by advertising as our wives. We're not so lead by our emotions. We’re much more logical, objective, rational and impervious to the wiles of devious retailers and marketing people. Yes, thank goodness it's me and not The Lovely G who's into photography.

Or it would have cost me a lot more than the 600 quid it did! And thats 300 quid less than the normal price.

It is lovely though.....or will be once I get my eyes tested and get better glasses to cope with manual focus - or should that simply be 'if I live long enough to enjoy it!'

It's going to be a lean couple of months at least. And now I've got major sucking up to do.What's that? You want another cup of tea? Don't get up - I’ll get it for you darling ! Would you like a nice bit of cake with that too sweetheart?

See you later.

Listening to:

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Why you should read Indigo Roth.

Sometimes you come across a blog that just grabs your attention. If you're like me, you'll end up following them. I did just that a couple of years ago with fellow Brit Indigo Roth. His mind and his blog occupy a world that is convoluted, bizarre, fascinating, endearing and entertaining. Above all, it's entertaining. He's currently trying to reach a bigger audience. He deserves one.

His fictional (?) world contains amongst other things, a flat sharing lion with a penchant for regular showers and tie theft, engineering badgers, evil Genius (previously part-time) Dr Max Tunguska, Amy – a bare footed, blonde haired, summer-scented neighbour - and visits from fellow blogger and coffee addict Eloiste Petite. His escapades, japes and jaunts involve ancestors, time travel, gourmet coffee, talking animals and a multitude of scenarios and situations that quite frankly I couldn't imagine anyone else coming up with, written with that unique style of his that often leaves me with a grin on my face and plenty to think about across the day. He may be mad, he may be affected by a diet which seems to revolve around coffee and pizza but one thing is for sure; he's worth a visit.  And I have no idea what a 'fractal slacker' is........

Here's a wee sample, but whatever you do – don't blame me if you become addicted!

See you later.

This one's for you Indigo.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Coffee on the doorstep

I fill the cup with boiling water from the small urn on the kitchen worktop - a nod to our attempt at being economical with expensive power bills - and the smell of coffee wafts upwards. Although it's just freeze dried stuff it's decent enough and I'm almost drooling at the thought of that first sip of the day. I resist the temptation to take the hit now and pick up my book and head for the front door. The house faces South and catches any warmth the weather may give {not much this month - what IS going on with that? It's supposed to be summer!} and is a favourite spot for a quiet coffee and contemplation of life the universe and everything of a morning. Today I've already been outside with my bucket of seed and filled all the feeders front and back of the house, topped up the niger seed feeder which is a favourite of our local goldfinch population and I've dropped a few suet balls in the cage like affairs which hang from the shed at the rear of the house and the old pear tree at the front. The front of the house is the main feeding area for our local birds - it used to be the rear of the house but for some reason there is a much bigger variety now visiting the front, leaving the rear garden as the domain of sparrows, pigeons, starlings and jackdaws and a couple of pugnacious robins. The old pear tree here at the font of the house, left over from last century's orchard from which the house takes its name, has several feeders of various kinds hanging from it and already there are almost a dozen birds either feeding or hanging around on branches looking for the chance to jump in as I put my coffee cup down on the step and take a seat beside it while I start to rifle the books pages to find my place.

A few seconds later I smile in contentment with the first sip and settle down in the warmth of the early morning sun already starting to lose myself in the tale of a fictional Edinburgh detective inspector and his assorted ne'er do well adversaries. Although it's warm it's breezy and from around the garden there's the rustle of leaves and the movement of wind across my bare arms and face. Despite that it's comfortably warm -for a Scotsman at least! Several minutes pass and the coffee gets lower in the mug as I sometimes read and sometimes just watch the comings and goings on the tree in front of me. Around the corner, just out of sight, comes the sound of a wild squabble from the feeder attached to the window of the library where I sit when it's not so warm as this morning. Two juvenile starlings in their muted colours dart across from the window to the tree continuing their altercation as they go until seperate perches among the leaves end the dispute. A couple of jackdaws and an enormous crow pompously strut across the lawn beneath the feeders ready to lay claim to any dropped jewels from the small birds gorging above their heads. The two juvenile starlings are now both hanging from the suet ball feeder as they renew their squabble and become much more engrossed in this than the bounty at their toes. As I watch they clash together and are so involved they fall locked together out of the tree without seperating and land on the head of the enormous crow at which all three explode into started departure.

Peace reigns once more as I turn the page and reach for the coffee cup only to find the last dregs have gone cold. I head inside to get a refill and by the time I get back a moment later threatening clouds have rushed in and the wind has picked up. A startling rainbow juts from the hill in front of the house and I manage a photo or two in the few moments of its life.

That's hint enough for me as I collect my book and close the front door behind me. This coffee will be drunk inside in the comfort of my armchair in the library.

I think I feel a blog coming on.

See you later.

Listening to

The Sunday posts 2012/Isn't it strange

Isn't it strange that princes and kings,
And clowns that caper In sawdust rings,
And common people Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, A book of rules;
And each must make - Ere life is flown -
A stumbling block,
  Or a steppingstone.

By: R. L. Sharpe
Photo by Alistair.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012/Lesson

Respectfully dedicated to the aptly named blogger TSB who is definitely twisted and obviously Scottish. I couldn't possibly comment on the last part. A somewhat grizzled and most definitely curmudgeonly teacher in New Zealand, it's the political correctness, petty bureaucracy and spectacular mismanagement that gets him down rather than the students. Never the less I hope he appreciates this tongue in cheek offering

The Lesson

Chaos ruled OK in the classroom
as bravely the teacher walked in
the nooligans ignored him
hid voice was lost in the din

"The theme for today is violence
and homework will be set
I'm going to teach you a lesson
one that you'll never forget"

He picked on a boy who was shouting
and throttled him then and there
then garrotted the girl behind him
(the one with grotty hair)

Then sword in hand he hacked his way
between the chattering rows
"First come, first severed" he declared
"fingers, feet or toes"

He threw the sword at a latecomer
it struck with deadly aim
then pulling out a shotgun
he continued with his game

The first blast cleared the backrow
(where those who skive hang out)
they collapsed like rubber dinghies
when the plug's pulled out

"Please may I leave the room sir?"
a trembling vandal enquired
"Of course you may" said teacher
put the gun to his temple and fired

The Head popped a head round the doorway
to see why a din was being made
nodded understandingly
then tossed in a grenade

And when the ammo was well spent
with blood on every chair
Silence shuffled forward
with its hands up in the air

The teacher surveyed the carnage
the dying and the dead
He waggled a finger severely
"Now let that be a lesson" he said

Roger McGough

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

Poem: Edgar A Guest
Photo by Alistair,

Thursday, 7 June 2012

No thanks luv..........

Not being a royalist I had to avoid TV for most of the last week as it was completely dominated by programming around royals, royalty and diamond jubilee’s as the BBC and politicians tried to whip everyone into a patriotic frenzy and remind everyone of the ‘stiff upper lip’ kind of ethos that makes this country great. {aye right} It seemed like every minor member of the royal family was on telly, being interviewed about how great it is to have a royal family doing all that very important work for us plebs and what great value for money they all are and what a wonderful woman HMTQ is or presenting programmes about how great it is to have a royal family doing lots of very important work and being very good value for money and not forgetting what a wonderful woman HMTQ is.  News, weather, current affairs, history and even bloomin cookery programmes across BBC TV and radio aligned themselves to the jubilee and strained themselves to make connections at every level no matter how obscure or ridiculous as ‘the whole nation went into countdown for The Queens jubilee’.

Not me.

Surprisingly lots of people who should frankly IMHO know better got sucked in {or had to toe the line} to the extent that I couldn’t bear to switch on the TV to even try and watch any British orientated programming unless they were repeats – which is I suppose quite easy these days where stuff is constantly re-run ad nauseam regardless of quality. {Jings I’m jaded!} Unable to listen to my normal radio station in the car as it got to such a state of jubilee hysteria that anyone being interviewed or phoning in to request a song was asked what they were doing to celebrate the occasion I drove in silence for days in case I burst a blood vessel.

Country in crisis? Jobless at highest for decades? Hopelessly incompetent multi-millionaire politicians running the country bent on maintaining a corrupt capitalist economy and hierarchical class system where those who have get more and those who haven’t can pay up and shut up?

Stick up some bunting and have a party!  God bless Queen Liz! {for conveniently having an anniversary to deflect attention for us.}

{sings- in Dick Van Dyke-Mary Poppins-esque 'gawd bless ya Guv' kind of way } Pack up yer tru-bbles in yer oold kit baag and smile, smile, smiiiile................

No thanks luv. No offence, I'm sure you're a perfectly nice wee woman who works hard and feels that what you're doing is important 'n that. I'm sure you're glad that your {extended} family have a p{a}lace to live and food to eat and that their future and income is secure.

But you're not for me. I can't support what you stand for. Frankly I'd send you all back where you came from. {first class of course}

And my jubilee moment of the week -  a comment in a German newspaper who said that they 'wished that Germany had a royal family like the British' 


See you later. 

Listening to:

The smell of bees

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”

Dandelion wine. {1957}

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”

Farenheit 451. {1953}

Quotes from the work of Ray Bradbury who died on Tuesday.  Reading his book Farenheit 451 in class when I was about 13 was an eye opening experience that I'll always be grateful for - even though we were made to do it.

He was a gardener. I hope his words continue to grow.

See you later.

Listening to:

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Sunday Posts 2012.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Poem: Maya Angelou
Photo; The yett at Greenknowe Tower, by Alistair.


Saturday, 2 June 2012

In an Edinburgh cafe.

I looked up as she was coming in through the door. She moved in that careful way old women do with slow gentle steps deliberately taken. She walked along the unmanned counter of café Camino with quiet dignity, past the display case with its ready-made sandwiches and rolls, salads and little dishes of olives and feta in oil, stopping just beside the till where she put down two bags of shopping with that same kind of deliberation, not giving the impression the bags were heavy or that they were light. She rang a silver bell {that I hadn’t noticed while I waited for a staff member to come from the kitchen to get me my coffee} and waited patiently but no one came so after a few moments she rang the bell again – twice.

Voices could be heard from the kitchen, conversations in Spanish and English between two or maybe three people. Still no one came. The bell was rung again – four sharp taps demanding attention and at this a stunning beauty came from the kitchen and beamed a glorious smile at the old woman. "Good morning - the usual?" she asked. The lady smiled and nodded and as the girl turned away to begin preparing her order she picked up her bags as carefully as she had put them down and moved over towards me with that same measured, careful step, choosing a seat at an empty table for two nearby. The bags were again put down and she removed her jacket, a pale off –white affair and hung it across the back of the wooden chair before pulling it out and taking her seat.

I don’t know what it was about her but somehow - like a ray of light on a dark day - this outwardly unremarkable old woman captivated me as she reached down into a handbag and removed a book, its bookmark showing perhaps a third of the way in. She handled her book like a treasure as she laid it on the table, delicately opening the pages and setting aside the bookmark as she began to read. Words popped into my head; fastidious; prim; studious; schoolteacherly {is that even a word?}; serene. Everything about her was a performance, beautifully understated but definitely theatrical. From her pale apparently undyed dark hair cut in a boyish hairstyle and the aged but well cared for skin beneath, to the immaculate but clearly not new black trainers on her feet everything seemed somehow worthy of notice. Her features initially seemed unremarkable yet as I looked closer it seemed like this was an oversight. Closer scrutiny showed she had a face that echoed a youthful beauty, an intelligence and strength of personality impervious to time. Her lilac sweat top with collar and cuffs was a size too large, almost but not quite swamping her and therefore just failing to make her look unkempt. The incongruous Disney Eeyore badge boldly embroidered on her left breast took my attention as I noticed the blue body, black hair of the mane and tail and its cream face turned to look over its shoulder apparently directly at me. I wondered idly if the oversized top had been a gift from a grandchild perhaps.

The dusky senorita from the kitchen reappeared and as her coffee and filled roll arrived the old lady laid out a knife, fork and a napkin, positioning each with practiced precision. The waitress leaned in  to say a few words and smiled, getting a smile in return and laid a hand gently on the old woman’s shoulder as she turned to leave, a tender, intimate gesture that made me wonder about the connection there clearly was. I realised that despite the departing beauty I was still only looking at this old woman as she opened two sachets of sugar one at a time with thin fingers, pouring both into her cup and stirring carefully before tapping the edge of the spoon three times on the rim and placing it back on the saucer. Every action had poise; every movement had its own pace. Everything was exact. It was utterly fascinating, utterly mesmerising and my coffee lay ignored, my own book lying forgotten in front of me.

Who was this woman? What was her story? Did she live alone or did she have people who mattered; who loved her and were loved in return? Where had she come from with her bags of shopping? What had she been like as a young girl, or a woman in her prime?  Who had felt pride to have danced with her, to have walked at her side, held her hand or shared a kiss? Was it many or a select few? How many down the years had found her fascinating like I did now? Did she break hearts or had her own broken?

She lifted the cup and held it beneath her nose, enjoying the smell of her coffee with closed eyes and the creep of a smile on her lips. She sipped and smiled again as she laid the cup down and returned to her book, apparently oblivious to the world. I watched and wondered another ten minutes or so, draining my own by now cold coffee before she returned the book to her bag in an equally careful way to get up to put on her jacket. She returned the chair to its place tucked in against her table using two hands and a push from her hip on its back and doing so looked across at me and smiled, an unexpected moment that made me smile in reply. I saw something beyond merely form or physicality: timeless beauty in the soul of a smile.  A wonderful realisation that made my heart skip a beat and left me smiling long after she'd gone.

She leant down, picked up her bags and made her way through the tables once more heading for the exit. From behind the counter a voice called across the room, “Goodbye Grace, see you again tomorrow!”  An old but still clear voice came back, “Yes Isabel, see you tomorrow sweetheart - if I'm spared!”

The glass door closed behind her. 
Of course: Grace. ......... 

See you later.
Listening to

Friday, 1 June 2012

Late night Listening.......

Some music, writing a blog for tomorrow - and a single malt.

Time for bed.

See you later.

The Sunday Posts 2017/Mince and Tatties.

Mince and Tatties I dinna like hail tatties Pit on my plate o mince For when I tak my denner I eat them baith at yince. Sae mash ...