Monday, December 26, 2005

So clean

The range of things, the danger of things,

the persistence of the same, the remembering of the name..

Special effects, each more special than the next,

still you get it in the neck, eat your egg,

the protein's so clean, unlike the things that lie between ,

the blissful and the strange ……serene.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Scottish food

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Scottish food is the best.

Walked up to the village this morning in a bid to blow away a mild hangover and get a paper. Looked over stone dykes, across fields and fences, into woodland and gullies. When you drive you miss so much, you also stay warm, however I enjoyed the change. I’ll do it again sometime. At about 1130 a big family breakfast followed, eggy piece (French toast but Ali likes to call it this), toast, sausage, tomatoes, bacon, rolls, mushrooms and dumpling. Is there any other culture where food is cooked twice as it is in Scotland? Frying an already cooked dumpling, infact burning it until the fruit caramelizes and then eating it with brown sauce. Tastes magnificent, but you’d never expect it to, it should be dreadful but it’s not. It’s the deep fried Mars bar thing again, totally odd foodstuff rehashed and made into a work or culinary art. Those foodies on TV haven’t a clue, a bit like the Scottish Exec.

Yesterday was spent studying the effect of carrying shopping bags long distances (between shops) on my shoulder blades trying to reach equilibrium in their balance. I now know my safe loading limit and for how long it is safe to exceed it. I survived without long term damage and did feel just a little smug about getting a hutch load of Christmas presents in one visit to Edinburgh. Much of the success of this was down to Ali’s planning and navigation as we swept across the tarmac and chewing gum surfaces of the city. Favourite shop? Blackwell’s bookshop is great, the staff are helpful and we got a lot of what we were looking for. Worst shop? Well I don’t dislike the shop as much as I used to, but Habitat in the West End is looking a bit shabby – best sort it out folks.

The wild birds that we’ve started to feed are now relying upon us I think, two great tits, a sparrow and a robin. Not much compared to the summer’s Mangey bird fest in Glen Esk but a start. Trouble is round here (on a shooting estate) birds tend to get shot at so you can understand if they are less than trusting of human kind. They’re not so keen on pork scraps however; seeds and fatty bits are the most popular. The cat is of course confused by this activity – he is spending more time in the fields and getting muddy, then coming in and jumping onto your lap to share the mud.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

We paint the scenery

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Painting the Scenery

Convince yourself, you may be right,
The one to fix and tell the story,
Chosen to paint the scenery,
While this play unfolds before me.

The boards are sprung and steady trod,
The words are elementary,
Design and weave this make believe
The plots and flops break gently.

They say there is master plan
Somewhere beyond the bright blue
Out where the brave dare not explore
In spaces answers dance, delightful.

You carry on your wicked ways
Entranced by glitz and greenery
To stake the higher claim they always will
Remain to paint the scenery.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Chocolate sleeping fountain.

More sleeper types you may encounter:

Limpet. Clings to his or her partner all night very tightly. The more the partner tries to shake of the limpet the more he/she clings. Often the struggle will become territorial with the limpet clinging and pushing across to the other side of the bed. In serious cases the limpet may have either cold feet, claw like toenails, bad breath, hot breath or some other tricky or unsocial characteristic. There may be a deep-rooted emotional problem that sparks this behaviour. Take great care.

Shape shifter. These awkward sleepers try to almost get into your space by treating you as if you were the bed yourself. They try to dominate and control all bed space by continually spreading around and (in their terms) exploring the bed. In extreme cases shape shifters will lie directly upon you, taking up the exact space you are trying to sleep in.

Cryogenic Lab. A seasonal variation problem, the cryogenic lab involves sleeping in a cold and unheated bed. For whatever reason body heat appears not to be sufficient to warm the bed, the room is cold and the attempting sleeper remains cold throughout
the night. A thoroughly unpleasant sleeping experience follows which seems to extend the night unreasonably. A hot water bottle may cure this but only if applied early in the night.

Cryogenic Lab Assistant. Basically sleeping with a very cold person, one who cannot or will not warm up and who also has the ability to suck the heat from you and your space until you are both equally cold, unhappy and wide awake.

Vixen. Bringing out both the animal and maternal the vixen curls into a half crescent shape as if suckling cubs and offering protection. As the night progresses small foraging trips may take place, usually to the kitchen. The vixen at these times is looking primarily for chicken or chicken flavour snacks that are required to keep the cubs fed. The snacks will however be consumed in the kitchen, usually by fridge door light only and in great haste. The vixen suffers also from increased anxiety at this time and a fear of discovery whilst foraging. Some vixens can experience unexplained weight gains during the lunar cycle that prompts this behaviour.

I am Chocolate. The sleeper believes that he or she is a bar of their favourite chocolate or sweet. They will remain still most of the night and in a rigid state wrapped in a sheet or duvet. Attempting to unwrap them will case confusion, distress and they will awake feeling disorientated. Problem cases may wrap themselves in t-shirts, astro or space blankets or zipped up sleeping bags at other times. Please take care.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sleep Observed

More sleep observations.

Positions and states – all variable, inconsistent and prone to morph from one to the other:

The Pixie. Usually a favourite of the younger female, socks should be worn to enhance the full effect. The position starts with the foetal curl but then gets tighter until the body becomes as small as possible with the knees tucked under the chin. Natural elasticity prevents permanent injury.

The Orang-utan. Mainly male but occasionally female this involves participating in a nightlong wrestling match with the duvet or in extreme case the duvet and pillows. In serious cases any sleeping partner is at great risk. The arms are used to amazing effect to twist and contort the bedclothes. Orang-utan sleepers often wake exhausted and will adopt the “tired basket weaver” for the remainder of the night.

The blacksmith. Accompanied by loud grunts and sighs “the blacksmith” slams the covers, palms down as if hammering hot metal or pumping imaginary bellows. Most of the movement is of the upper body and the spaces between the signs and arm spasms can be quite long. The individuals cheeks may go red and the eyes appear to bulge, don’t worry; these signs are perfectly normal in some one working with red-hot iron.

The tired basket weaver. Face down, arms so heavy they cannot move from the side, little or no movement from any part of the body. Occasionally the face and head will turn to left or right and some pillow drooling may occur. This position was named after a series of observations were made of the nocturnal habits of members of the basket weaving communities in Kaskakpest and Bravestia in the former Soviet Union.

Singer/songwriter. Many male and female participants, lots of elbow and wrist movement taking the form of strumming an invisible guitar or playing a keyboard but always under the duvet. Often accompanied by talking in the form of “cat on the mat” or “moon in June” rhyming couplets. Extreme cases will use phrases made famous by old blues men such as Robert Johnson or Muddy Waters, occasionally garbled Bob Dylan lyrics may also be expressed but in a pseudo American accent. Should they be recited backwards take great care not to wake the sleeper as they are in very deep and highly suggestible state at this time. Some sufferers may address their lyrical outpourings to cuddly toys or cats or dogs that may be sleeping nearby.

Dream script. A very steady state of sleep, little physical movement or activity but a during it a great deal of brainpower is expended. The sleeper will often believe they are working on a great movie script like “Apocalypse Now” or “Citizen Kane”. They then awake with an irrational desire to describe every remembered detail of the script to the first person they meet. Usually this is the person that they are in bed with, sometimes however it can be a stranger on a bus, the postman or someone in an early morning café or restaurant. They should be humoured and listened to, though avoid telling them that their “idea” for a movie is great, this may deepen their problem even further.

The Algonquin. A very stiff and intellectual position, on the back, hands by the groin, head straight back on the pillow with the eyes closed but staring at the ceiling. A hardback book or heavy magazine may sometimes be laid over the eyes. At the feet will be a quality Sunday newspaper (which may have been on the bed for weeks) left open at the arts or culture section. If pyjamas are worn glasses may be secreted in the left hand breast pocket. Algonquians always use hot water bottles irrespective of the season or who ever else is sharing the bed. They snore more than most sleepers and in a peculiar staccato style emanating from the rear of the throat. Should you confront an Algonquin with even the suggestion that they snore they will attack you.

Bambi after the death of his mother.
Legs and arms are folded under the body for long periods in this position, even when a bad case of pins and needles threatens. “Bambis” may imagine themselves to be covered either in leaves or snow during their sleep, they may also lick their own wrists or forearms and when in a deep sleep a “Bambi” may act as if their tongues have lives of their own. Partners of “Bambi” sleepers may find certain aspects of this endearing. They can however kick out powerfully at this time, possibly injuring those nearby. This usually takes place in the wee, small hours just before the cute and fluffy rabbits come out to graze in the moonlight.

Sex pest. Sex pests sleep face down, head to the right, right hand under left oxter, left hand on genitals. They smile a lot in their sleep and can become strangely agitated every fifteen minutes or so. Despite this they maintain this position until the alarm goes off. In the morning sex pests will usually shower longer than other sleepers. They also sing in the shower and seldom cook breakfast for others.

Gin Goblins. These people are delusional and think they need to be drunk in order to sleep, often partaking of a large gin or brandy prior to retiring for the night. Generally they have large ears, large ear lobes, hairy ears, purple ears, deaf ears, excess earwax and big red, pitted noses. They also have a lot of nostril hair, which can cause extreme breathing and snoring problems if it is not correctly maintained by a carer or their partner if either is still alive.

Radio controlled hamster. A particularly strange form of nocturnal activity, the “hamster” will begin to rotate in the bed. Starting slowly they will gradually increase in speed until they reach approximately one revolution per minute. Usually the cold night air on their feet awakes them and they return to normal sleep for the remainder of the night. Should their revolution cease at a point at the foot of the bed (the six o’clock position) they may begin to suck their partner’s toes. Should their revolution cease at the six o’clock position when the time is in fact six o’clock they ought to get up and make a nice pot of tea for their partner and have some sunflower seeds themselves.

Regressive Shepherd. These people still believe that counting sheep will get you to sleep, God knows why as there is no scientific proof of this whatsoever. It is just another daft thing that your parents told you along with:

a) The Black and White Minstrels are great – if only we could see them in colour.
b) George Formby is funny.
c) Boiled sweets are good for you and humbugs keep you warm.
d) If you dig on any beach you will eventually get to Australia.
e) The Rolling Stones will all die young (well one did).
f) Curry is bad and not natural.
g) The Sunday People is a good, truthful newspaper.
h) People who don’t cut their hedges are bad.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Sleep Techniques

Two major sleep induction techniques currently prevail within our household. The “paddle your fluffy canoe into the oncoming mist” (PyourC) method and “explore the forest until you find a suitable dark cave and then go inside” (EtheF). Of the two PyourC seems the most successful, not only does this method work quickly, it is highly adaptable and can be used in a number of locations and situations:

a) When horizontal.
b) When in a moving (safely driven) car.
c) When on a train.
d) Possibly after partaking of one bottle of red wine or any combination of gin and champagne.

Basically the individual puts themselves into some appropriate position from which the PyourC can be used. Once in this position a deep and satisfying sleep generally follows.

EtheF is more complex and relies upon a series of seemingly insignificant tasks being carried out within the forest. These amounts to simple exercises of exploration, some map imagining, avoiding wild animals, some orientation by sunlight or moonlight and of course looking out for caves. Caves can take time to find, particularly if the forest is thick, or flat or there are none of the right type of caves (deep and dark) about (terrain problems. Too much time searching for a cave can cause a mild sense of panic and worthlessness in the individual and that can make the search all the more tricky. When this happens a sound sleep can be hard to come by and the individual may begin to feel angry and frustrated. Don’t give way to these feelings, persist and sleep will follow eventually – on finding the cave naturally. If a good cave is found quickly, simply enter, allow the dark of the inner cave to envelope you and in no time you will be asleep.

Other sleep induction methods exist and depending on circumstances will work equally well:

1. Strange Hotel. This only works if you have drunk and eaten a great deal and are somewhere in the Midlands. A feeling of unfamiliarity is brought on by a number of powerful intoxicant drinks, some disorientation and the sound of an expelair humming in the background, these all generally assist. Some golden car park lighting or disturbing noises may also help.

2. Sexed out. A heavy feeling of fatigue, exhaustion, warmth and smugness overcomes the individual. In some ways this is a rapid or express version of PyourC.

3. Jetlag. Not a popular method as it can creep up on you at anytime after a long flight (or even during one). Usually a pain in the neck develops if not used horizontally, Jetlag sleep does not last long as a rule.

4. IanM. “In a Meeting” rarely happens; when it does it can be both disastrous and embarrassing. Best kept to be used in the cinema (as a variation) or possibly when watching a long special edition DVD in a friend’s home after a Chinese meal.

5. Coma. Usually self inflicted and can be brought on by the sum of all the sleep methods kicking in simultaneously. Best not sought after as it can be dangerous, it relies upon a series of unfortunate and tiring events running on together over a long period and finally ending as if a Boeing 737 had hit a concrete bunker (which happened to be flying in the opposite direction).

6. Artic. Pretend to be an Artic fox snuggled in a snowdrift deep in the cold wilderness. A strange feeling of mixed chill and warmth descend and overcomes you. A nice warm hot water bottle also helps set the scene. Also helpful and recommended is eating a small imaginary seal or polar bear pup early in the Artic experience.

7. Horlicks. A subtle variation on Artic, in this scenario the location is not important and the imaginary seal or polar bear consumption is replaced by a real cup of Horlicks taken prior to going to bed.

Please feel free to experiment in the privacy of your own home with all or any of these suggested methods. The list is not exhaustive. Bon voyage.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chocolate Fountain

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Chocolate Fountain

A number of things arrived this weekend, each one shifting the tone control a degree or two further towards Christmas, parties, birthdays and the spending of money on odd, amusing and generally useless things. The second hand Nintendo Donkey Konga was the first surprise, bought in Livingstone* by means of a brilliant pocket money scam (two weeks in advance). This deadly device forces you into self mutilation on the electronic bongos as you attempt to clap, beat and boogie along with a variety of monkeys who are following a selection of sanitised tunes. It’s weird to try to keep up a rhythm to “99 Red Balloons”, Supergrass’s “Alright” and “Tubthumping” (kissin’ the night away?) and difficult not to fall into the trap of being a dumb dad who is totally unable to keep time. Is this true of our “Impossible Songs” tracks also? The Sims paid a short visit, they however will need a truckload of extra memory in order to work, bring back Lego towns and Tri-ang trains.

An outbreak of “Christmas Trees This Way!” signs has taken place on the road outside. Hardly a shock as there are Christmas trees all around us, most of which remain fixed to the ground by their own roots with no immediate plans to move. These others however, refered to by the seasonal signage will be lying like dead soldiers in the yard of the nearby sawmill. Once a healthy fall of snow has descended, at least a foot deep, we’ll don our duffle coats and squirrel skin scarves and visit the accursed spot, hand over a tenner or so and drag the fallen giant back across the snowy wastes and back to our house. Then as if in some mad transvestite ceremony devised by Prince Albert and Charles Dickens we’ll dress the dead tree up in fairy lights, tinsel and assorted tat. It’s quite fun actually – but we will wait until the week before Christmas and the tree will probably come from B&Q and I’ll have to dig the decorations out of the garage and it’ll be raining.

Mud: Sunday football a Saughton Park was a muddy affair, every time I park a huge puddle appears beneath the car so I’ve now lost all interest in cleaning it, though it now blends in with the Hopetoun / Saughton (any muddy place) battlefield landscapes like some camouflaged armoured personnel carrier. At least the boys won 6 – 3 over their Tynecastle rivals, only snag was that my little man of the match was not best pleased with his own performance. At least he did well at Donkey Konga.

I returned to find the DHL had delivered the CF, a very pleasant surprise, and an unexpected Sunday delivery of the right thing. This will form part of a big prezzie needed for next weekend as another of my offspring reaches a milestone birthday. Let’s hope that can get their act together before the 25th. I celebrated by burning a load of OOTB CDs, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while as the back catalogue was running worryingly low. Now I’ve a boxful to sell on Thursday.

Next a hike through the impossible songs folder of forgotten songs. We’ve started to plan our next recording venture and now need to wade through miles of half baked ideas and lyrics in order to demo some material for our friend Martin to start work on. We sat for an hour and two decent songs emerged, “God Bless the Witch” and “Holy Men” (there isn’t a theme here, just a tight little ball of anger rolled up in our respective chests). The other songs are ones we’ve played and gigged around for a bit, though they’ll need makeovers, hopefully more good material will emerge.

* What kind of place is Livingstone, Ned capital of Scotland? Brainless and tasteless appetites given new depths? No apparent design or plan, strewn with roundabouts, big sheds, Matalans, Currys, Carpet Drivel.. .a God awful white dome housing “designer” crap and a food court (I quite like Harry Ramsden’s mind you), impossible and confusing car parking layouts and people already in a shopping frenzy. A bit like the centre of Edinburgh I guess.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Monthly Mouse Hunts Without Mice

New York NewYork

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Monthly Mouse Hunts by moonlight.

The cat disappeared for most of last night. We were in late having been at a John Byrne talk-in (John talked, we listened, Ali dozed, John talked more and a few slides of his art work appeared out of order as some kind of disconnected backdrop). We collected a Chinese carry out on the way home, ate it whilst phoning around and sitting through the vacuum that is the 9 to 10 spot on TV. The cat returned at 3am. It made me wonder whether cats have any concept of day and night or even inside and outside. They really don’t seem to care about either. Staying tense, hunting and sleeping are their main occupations. So why has Tutti Frutti never appeared on DVD or video? An ideal dad’s Chrissy present if ever there was one. Come back Big Jazza and the Majestics.

Random kinds of Actress.

Tilda Swinton (the wife of John Byrne) is playing the Snow Queen in the Lion, the Witch etc. How do you get a gig like that? I saw her daughter also last night, a dead ringer for her mum and a lot better looking than her dad. The feisty, red haired, misty and wonderful painting JB did of Tilda is however one of our favourites.

New York.

The credit card bill for the NY extravaganza arrived, what on earth did I buy at the Museum of Modern Art that cost £89 and how come I only bought £13 worth of chocolate at the Hershey’s shop in Time Square? As for the helicopter flight…

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Finavon Doocot, Fife and paths of glory.

Finavon Doocot, Fife and paths of glory.

A weekend mixed up between family, fun and downright hardwork. Saturday saw us journeying up to the world’s end (as it seems) - Macduff in Moray. The waves crash incessantly on it’s permanently twilight shores, as a rolling thunder review of cloud antics pepper a grim and moody sky – oh and you can visit the Spotty Bag shop in Banff that sells just about everything and nothing. En-route we passed the legendary Finavon Doocot, resting place and mausoleum to the gifted but tragic Deke, the George Best of pigeon racing so brilliantly immortalised by Scott Renton. A moments silence followed for us all, Nintendo DS’s quite, KT Tunstill paused and the Financial Times shaken to the floor of our speeding car as we thought of both George and Deke.

The 1st birthday party of my first grandson followed, a fun but chaotic affair. Small children and assorted parents everywhere, presents, paper, party bags and a blinding array of video and digital cameras. Both my grandsons were there and in fine form, a third grandchild is on the way also (still in the early stages of production). We had a fascinating conversation with a friend of my son who manages the local football team. He was telling us that one team member has recently purchased a tattoo gun and now needs to practice a) on himself and b) on volunteers. You would have thought that tattoo guinea pigs would be hard to come by, but not up there in Moray. The younger lads (?) seem especially keen to have a (improving each time) version of the team crest cut into their legs (for life). I naively thought also that to be able to draw might be a pre-requisite of the fledgling tattoo artist but no, none of that. A steady hand, good enough to follow a template or stencil and the ability to pump the ink with your right foot at the same time is all you need. The ability to run quickly or own a fast car might also be useful. The unbelievable news that Dunfermline had beaten Celtic at Parkhead also filtered in during the afternoon; at 16 to 1 I wished I’d stuck a few quid on them.

We returned home late in the evening – more heavy rain and (as the road signs kept saying) extreme weather followed us. We did have a good game of “10 minutes from Fife” in the car. The game starts at Kinross just as you enter Fife; you have to imagine Fife is going to explode in 10 minutes so you have to be out of it by then i.e. half way across the Forth Bridge. An unexpected amount of roadworks at Inverkeithing meant we blew up in a violent, fiery mass just before the bridge.

Back for overdone pizza, wine and “I’m a celeb” for the kids. I slept like a smouldering log.

Sunday started with a late breakfast and ended with me making daal and vegetable soup. In between Ali and I constructed a new path at the front of the house and erected a bird feeder. The path looks great, I’d expected it to take two days to lay and we did it in an afternoon, how smug we both felt.

We also got a feedback email from the judges at the Emergenza gig a few weeks ago. It was all pretty good and constructive, they liked our songs, said we needed a drummer (hmmm…) and few other little details. Even if it was all bull it made me happy, (despite the dodgy Sunday gig the other OOTBer’s described) our Thursday night experience now seems to have been worthwhile. Having said that I may have beer glasses on a the moment and they could be affecting my mind and body…

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fire and Mouse Hunts

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Monthly mouse Hunt #2

Less ice this morning, this means that the previously frozen tundra that makes up the car parking area has turned back to plain mud. A simple turn of the steering wheel is enough to create a ploughed field effect and a series of tsunami mud waves under the car. This mud should be packaged and sold as glue as it sticks to all it touches, cars, shoes, houses, fluffy white slippers, rugs and carpets and so on. The solution is simple: buy a big builder's size bag of bottoming stones and then, with the appropriate physical effort spread them to cover forever the November Somme like surface. Must get round to it..

Our oil supply is running low. Oil, once hidden in a tank is hard to measure if there is no dipstick. We are supposed to check the level by viewing it through an opaque tube that is discoloured, dirty and frozen. In the end a wild guess is made and we decide the oil is indeed running low, so Ali phones the oil company. The oil is used to heat the boiler and so is the coal fire (different boiler). These dual systems seem to dislike one another and despite their ability to produce heat cannot easily coexist without conflict. This seems to defy a few of the laws of physics. The oil system needs to be on when the fire is on so the pump will run and power the hot water round the pipes. However the oil boiler stays on when the coal fire is on still burning up fuel as vigorously as the coal fire. Then after a short time a strange fossil fuelled climax occurs, the pipes and water tanks vibrate violently and then spew a torrent of hot water out onto the patio from a pipe in the roof conveniently located directly above a security light and our garden furniture. Of course for this to happen the fire has to be alight. My technique for fire lighting is clumsy. Paper, sticks, firelighters, coal and the occasional log are placed in the fireplace. You would think that a lighted match applied to this incendiary heap would produce a roaring fire in no time. Well no, you get smoke, flash, red glow, smoke and then a serene stillness descends on these defiant materials as they refuse to burn. Few things make you feel less manly than being unable to light a decent fire – I stare at cold black coal and dream of sharpening pencils with my Swiss Army knife.

We are also planning a tree management expedition, to be set in the small bit of woodland north of the house. The main idea is that a few inconveniently growing trees will be removed with a few swift axe blows in order to give us a clearer view of the silvery Forth. There are some snags, firstly the trees are on the wrong side of a wall (six foot drop), they are wild with surrounding vegetation and there is mud and no doubt some animal life hidden in this tiny jungle. The trees also belong to someone else, not us, never good. Of course we don’t propose to fell any of the giants of the forest, we only want to carry out some simple pruning of otherwise untended braches and growths so that we may honestly adjust the viewing gaps between these trees. On an earlier expedition I did succeed, without specialist tools and using brute force only, in snapping of a few annoying branches. The more radical surgery will have to wait until the time is right, maybe some moon lit night or Sunday afternoon – preferably when the wood can be seen for the trees..

Recycling is complicated. Waste streams are not obvious; they do not flow in straight lines. Paper, light cardboard and magazines can be mixed but not with envelopes (?) Is somebody taking the piss? What are modern envelopes made of? Is it the glue, the sticky glue substitute, the ink? What can the problem be? If this country is ever to embrace any serious recycling work then envelopes must be included amongst normal waste paper.

An unbelievable headline in the redtops: “Garry Glitter faces a firing squad” - if only it was for musical crimes and not the sad reality of his unhealthy appetites. So it set me thinking about appropriate punishments for music crimes: “A hung, drawn and quartered farewell planned for Stock, Aitken and Waterman", “Roasted on a spit verdict for Katie Melua (and Mike Batt for that bicycle song), “Ten years in Barlinnie for Axl Rose” (for everything), “Bono sentenced to 140 hours of community service” (for nothing in particular), “Enya fined fifty quid” (I don’t need to explain).

Somerfield till receipts: “Your manger is, you were served by, you saved £3.49 (because you got a free battery). The date, the time, the phone number of the store are all there, why?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monthly Mouse Hunt

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Monthly Mouse Hunt.

Country life is full of surprises. Living close to a Blair Witch wood, a pond, a happy hunting ground and a dog-walking track, the local wildlife of all sorts enjoys a cosy, claustrophobic and unpredictable relationship with us.

Last week the cat woke us a five by making a peculiar tapping sound on the bedroom floor, about two feet from my head. The tapping sound was made by the rhythmic tossing of a mouse against the laminate floor. That was followed by the cracking and crunching noises he made as he devoured it under the bed. In circumstances like this the hair drier comes into it’s own. This weapon of mass cat annoyance was very effectively used to get the cat and his mouse meal out of the house. So far it has been three mice in as many days. The cat is on a roll.

I was wondering if those scientists who are speculating about life on the Blue Moon (Earth’s fictional but likely twin) had thought about eating any of the creatures they had invented. A Blue Moon cookbook might go down well (?). Science Fiction dining and gastronomy: “Skywhale pie, skywhale fillets, skywhale risotto”. Probably best not explored.

On Sunday I was a true gentleman of the road however, managing to warn on coming vehicles of two horses meandering up our road towards a blind summit. All the smiles and waves of gratitude made the effort worthwhile. People do generally slow down for horses. It was a day of mixed fortune as this happened just after the bathroom cabinet fell on Ali’s head trapping her in the room while I chattered on the phone blissfully unaware. Her plaintive cries eventually made it down the corridor and I mounted a full scale rescue operation. A large gin was required to ease the pain. We also found the abandoned mouse nest on Sunday afternoon, obviously belonging to the now digested 5am visitor. The mouse nest was under the fridge and seemed to be in the early stages of construction, our vigilance and respect towards visiting rodents and their creativity is now set at a higher level.

The rabbits in the garden are of course oblivious to everything apart from their own determined eating. Each night they set of the security lights and bask in a floodlit arena of green as they munch their way across what we hope one day will be a lawn. The cat peers at them out of the window and flicks his tail in a kind of concentrated and focused way we assume reflects his thoughts of hunting. So far no rabbits have arrived at the door, unlike at Inchgarvie where a steady stream of rabbits fell victim of our little tiger.

Today I nearly got an Alsatian (and owner) as a result of a half iced windscreen, a murky lane and a slight hangover. I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

The pheasants are just plain stupid and have no road sense or sense of their own mortality; they get hunted by the folks from the estate. We think that hunter’s are out tonight (Ali heard a pheasant impersonator in the hedge) so the cat was brought in early. As Erin had brought her tame but wild rabbit around it was important to keep them in separate rooms, not easy. The rabbit liked the cat’s bed; the cat remained imprisoned in the kitchen munching his tea from an ashtray. The rabbit was surprisingly agile and liked to jump onto the couch and eat portions of one of Ali’s suits or a cushion. It also hid under the TV and enjoyed being rolled up in the cat’s blanket. I accidentally dropped it into its food dish after it had scratched me, after that it seemed to avoid me and did a lot less jumping. She (Pippa) has returned home to her warm hutch and some more Marks and Spenser sliced cabbage, a particular favourite I am told.

So getting back to where I started a monthly mouse hunt looks like being the new thing – for next month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sorry about the lack..

Apologies to all regular visitors to this blog (and our other web ventures) about the lack of new material here or there. We are having huge problems getting broadband set up at our new address. Hard to believe that the provision of BB could be so tricky and that our BB host cares so little...but that's how it is. Even our dial up option is flakey...moan, moan!

Please don't abandon us! The creative juices are still flowing, infact I've just written a tune for Mazda, though they don't know about it yet.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Apples and Currents

Apple to the core

Took a few days away from work
Ended up on the sidewalks of New York
Looking out upon the Empire State
New Jersey seems so cold and grey
Had some coffee and some toast in Saks
Froze on a bus but tried to relax
Buy a bagel pay 8% local tax
Eat a breakfast and some fast food snacks
Helicopter squeeze and an Indian hood
Something in the heart of this city is good
Something in the people misunderstood.

Here’s the spot where Lennon was shot
Bob Dylan walked there and some say even talked
The Algonquin’s toilets are so clean and small
The biggest thrill is seeing and feeling it all.

The Apollo theatre and the Fifty cents
The ladies big hats and the Frankincense
Donald Trump never looked so attractive
Time Warner stays so interactive
Ground Zero means zero ground
What goes around can confound
In the neon and the aftermath
In the traffic and the ghetto blast.

We sit in some executive lounge
Drinking wine and sucking crackers
We stay in where the coins and corners are round
And move when the tannoy tells us
We all try to be like Elvis
Be as big as Elvis
They want to buy and sell us.
In some hotel or parking lot
The elevator that time forgot
A TV memory is all we’ve got.

Current situation.

Moved to the country
But BT and Wandoo don’t want to hear
We’ve had a month of disconnection
Blogs and websites get no attention
So we put up curtains and shelves (and build)
And settle in this place we've hid
And try to kid ourselves we might be kids
And have a party and big sleepover
And then some fish pie and a huge hangover.

News Update!

Check me out!

News Update!

Impossible Songs – Emergenza Acoustic Showcase 10th November

Impossible songs will be playing a 25 minute set at The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, Edinburgh at 7.30 on the 10th November, (also on the bill is the powerful acoustic legend Lee Paterson). Other acts will also be featured in what will be a great night of varied acoustic styles of music – don’t miss it.

Tickets are available from us, at the reduced rate of £4.00. Contact and we’ll do the rest.

John & Ali

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Arts festival over...

The South Queensferry Arts Festival 2005 is over as of this afternoon. I spent a (fairly) quiet afternoon in the Priory Arts Centre, chatting to visitors, tidying up, searching for keys, and playing selections of OOTB tracks from the “Out of Bounds” compilation to unsuspecting punters. Tracks that seemed to work best in the large and echoey space were:

Lindsay West – Newcastle
Meursault – A small stretch of land
Colin Donati – Klingons
Impossible Songs – Rainy Friday
Big Jim – I found love
The Clevelands – Miles of clear
Jill Hepburn – Groovy enough for two
Lisa Paton – Here come the Vampires
Lindsay Sudgen – My disgrace
CBQ – Very small
Norman Lamont – Anywhere but here.

Popular Artworks (based on my observations):

Alison Hutton – Evolution
Fiona Graham – numerous small and interesting pieces (wire & paper)
Mike Spring – Spanner Man
Carrie Thomas – Worlds

There were many events running throughout the week, film, music, walks, displays and exhibitions – I’m looking forward to next year. It will be bigger and better.

I enjoyed Saturday the 10th the best: Tommy Mackay, Norman Lamont and the Innocents and impossible songs played in an unusual evening of music and (short) art films. The mixed media idea is great – the films and our eclectic music and differing styles really worked well.

Songs we played were:

That’s my baby
All the vows
How I hate
I miss that boy
Happy like
Rainy Friday
She’s a waitress
Twin song

The hugely talented Nelson Wright (from Flowers for Algernon) joined us on djembe and the hugely prolific (songwriter & sound scapemeister) Norman Lamont played bass on a couple of songs. Dave O’Hara twiddled the knobs and made it sound good and did some early Christmas shopping.

Highlights? Tommy’s “Zoinks! a tenner”, easily the best first line of any song and of course the “Rock critic who swallowed McFly”. Norman’s “Callback/Fallback” and “Ballad of Bob Dylan”. Impossible songs? Well I like battering out “how I hate” and the wah wah on “Twin song” and Ali’s vocals on “I miss that boy” are pretty spine tingling. Next time who knows what?

Of course there would be no festival without the hard work and commitment of Gary Smith at Common Ground Arts (and the rest of the committee). Contact Gary at

Saturday, September 17, 2005

You were in the gallery

You were in the gallery

I brought you a cup of tea

In the SETI Institute thermal mug

Not many customers had turned up.

We are here today, brushing the leaves.

Sweeping the silence, that I still believe

You came home with cakes

And hot chicken and bran flakes.

Heating up food and cooling it down

Saturday rain, Sunday comes round.

We do family duties,

We love so far and wide

We plan our time

We delete all the cookies

Sniggering at the angels in the snow

Turning round to see how far to go.

I’ll be standing in the gallery

Will you bring warm coffee to me?

In the friendly mug of your choosing

Through this space that we are using.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Outside there is the sea and ground
There are lots of things that can be found
There is the sun and moon that make day and night
And big fat spiders that give me a fright
There are birds that fly in the sky
And chocolate and sweets and blueberry pies
There are animals that live on the ground
Doing what they do as the world spins round
Houses and farms as you’ll see
Bushes and very tall trees
There are boats and cars
That takes you quite far
Cats and dogs we keep as pets
And when they’re ill we take them to the vets.

By Olivia

(Probably inspired by the view across Fife and the River Forth, as seen from Inchgarvie House)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

my space

Impossible songs have opened up a small gold and butterfly mining operation on a tiny plot of cyber-land somewhere floating out on a miles away cloudy cyber-sea. We call it our little fluffy, toughy, cool and considerate, musical and mystical, heretical and political, fanatical and fantastic space.

As Jimi Hendrix once said “It’s very far away, takes about a half a day to get there, if we travel by my dragonfly, no it’s not in Spain, but just the same you know it’s a groovy name, and the wind’s just right…”

The space is

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Interesting places..

Interesting places where you sometimes find yourself #1

In this particular case a church in the lovely village of South Queensferry. This is where much of the South Queensferry Arts Festival will take place. All sorts of events are on offer, music, exhibitions, films, family activities; dance etc. has much more detail. It is likely most events will be free or pretty close. We’re on from 0730 on Saturday the 10th along with Norman L and Tommy M – the first ever SQ Songwriter’s Concert in the venue pictured above. The start of something…

Lots of (well a few) pubs, decent restaurants etc. A grand day out (if the weather’s fine).

So back to interesting places where you sometimes find yourself, churches, bus stops, in a queue at a supermarket, waiting on service in a bar, at the traffic lights, in the shower, standing beside a tree, tripping over a fallen bicycle, walking through leaves, Leith, the top of the Eiffel Tower, asleep in bed, asleep on a bench, Newton, the fast lane, in a shed, locked out, in fog, in a rowing boat, Disneyland, at a Todd Rundgren concert, staring into a CD player, at the waste bins, charity shop, OOTB, a drive-thru, under a conker tree, cat’s home, hospital, Pictish village, a stranger’s house, a tent, a duty free shop that isn’t one anymore, beside a pie van…zzzzzzz

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Impossible stuff - South Queensferry Arts

From the top : Birthday Balloon, Yellow , Alba Iron II, Alba Hardware 1.

These and more will be on view at the South Queensferry Arts Festival from 9th Sept.

For a full catalogue of "impossible stuff " please use the email/comment facility.

South Queensferry Arts Festival

Impossibles in the Dark - Photo by Big Jim.

Impossible Songs will be playing in the South Queensferry Arts Festival: Saturday 10th September at 7.30pm in St Mary’s Hall. It promises to be a good night of varied music and styles as also playing are Tommy Mackay and Norman Lamont & the Innocents. Three short films are included in the evening’s programme, art works will be on display and wine (hospitality?) is on tap. PA is by OOTB, hopefully manned by the ubiquitous David O’Hara.

The Arts Festival runs for a week and we are participating in this “songwriters concert” and in the Arts Exhibition at St Mary's. A number of our pieces will be exhibited and up for sale. More details to follow...

My kids think I look like this dog.

Some kind of an unkind pug of a dog of a beanie baby of a freak-show of a Chinese toy in a plastic bag with a plastic tag and a cold black nose and funny eyes and a tiny body and squashed in face that was in a Happy Meal of chicken strips, carrot pieces served with a vanilla shake and bought at the South Queensferry Drive-through on 3rd September at 1435 - and it looks like me they say...

Is this better than the Virgin Mary's image on toast? Jesus in a pizza crust? Winston Churchill in a maternity wing? John Lennon on the head of a pin? Gerry Garcia on a T-shirt? Or even the shadow of a street lamp on Mars?

The dog is called "Pug".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Live at Lamb's

Photo by Norman Lamont - Sunday 21st August.

Impossible songs playing live at Leith as our part of the OOTB "out of bounds" Fringe week.

We are having a serious amount of fun and hearing a great deal of good music with well over 30 Scottish and international acts playing original music every night this week. If you can please join us at Venue 237. has all the details.

If you can't manage down ask us about the double CD "out of bounds" that is currently on sale and features many of the OOTB acts.