Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hidden Gems

Hidden gems from the Fife coastline, brought out and exposed on a lovely sunny afternoon.

     "Zhuangzi's wife died. When Huizi went to convey his condolences, he found Zhuangzi sitting with his legs sprawled out, pounding on a tub and singing. 'You lived with her, she brought up your children and grew old,' said Huizi. 'It should be enough simply not to weep at her death. But pounding on a tub and singing – this is going too far, isn't it?'
     Zhuangzi said, 'You're wrong. When she first died, do you think I didn't grieve like anyone else? But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a spirit. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a spirit. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there's been another change and she's dead. It's just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, winter.
     Now she's going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. If I were to follow after her bawling and sobbing, it would show that I don't understand anything about fate. So I stopped.'"

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Peace in our time

Practical tips on how to be middle aged, happy and avoid an untimely death.

Living long  and feeling good is pretty easy really. Firstly it's about avoiding an early, untimely and unexpected death. You do this by taking care, becoming wary (but not paranoid), just developing the right instincts and a good working level of confidence about when to stay and when to go. You can allow yourself some calculated recklessness, so as to allow adrenalin to flow and endorphins to rise, then reproduce and migrate etc. but don't over indulge the reckless behaviour (it can become addictive in it's own right and turn destructive). 

Avoid diets and regimented exercise, avoid working out just be sensible in how you use your body. Burn up any excess, store up a little fat for winter and keep the nasal hair trimmed so that nose breathing is clear and well maintained. Adopt a sincere, honest “I don't give a fuck” attitude. That's not to say that you become selfish, pompous or detached. No, you care but you don't get over involved. That breeds worry, stress and a truck load of negatives that will bring you down. Do what you like and, even before you do what you like actually understand what you like so that you are sure you are doing the right thing. Don't therefore do what other people like or expect (unless in some perverse way you get pleasure out of that). Recognise what drives you and swop places, you drive that thing. If you don't it will exhaust you and you'll dry up like prune.

Eat sensibly; try to eat different foods everyday. Try things you don't like but avoid things you know that your body doesn't process well. Learn to recognise these things by checking your performance. Anything that bungs you up, makes you unwell or gives you bad breath or acid reflux is best avoided. Mediterranean food has the best reputation for health, follow that model if you can, green, oily, fishy and well seasoned. Don't be a sourpuss scoffing at meats, spices or preparation. Enjoy food and eat it the way you'd want to make love. Make decisions quickly but thoughtfully and avoid procrastination, that is a life force drainer.

Avoid organised religion, trade unions, political parties and noble causes. These are human constructs with mainly negative outcomes for the participants and victims. You could  be both. These things really fuck you up because they want to to compress and control you so they can spread their ideology. If you do well in them (and that won't make you happy) you'll just end up as a controller of others on the same sad path. You'll only spawn misery and carbon copies of your sorry self that will go on to rebel and cause further chaos that could really get out of hand. 

Don't be swayed by health scares, hyped stories, miracle products and shortcuts. These things create a confused and unfocused mind. Keep a diary or run a blog, note how you feel using simple terms or scores, look for commonality and success, look for positives and then try to repeat the circumstances or the environment. Live in a happy place and don't compare yourself to others. If you judge on superficial things then you are judging incorrectly and anyway, who are you to judge? Better to not get involved  and stay a safe distance  in the “don't give a fuck” place. Don't hang out with people who don't see or respect your space.

Be playful, don't stay serious too long, don't reflect on what might have been, don't try to change the world, enjoy the moment you are in. Sure things can deteriorate but learn to appreciate the cycles, natural and universal that you move in, in whatever direction. Your mind and body are always rotating in some unscripted ways that you often fail to recognise, try to go with that rather than resist (unless it's some stupid or dangerous impulse). Yes you can be impulsive but don't dance naked on somebody else's lawn. That will only end badly. Get drunk now and then, get stimulated but learn to lay off when you can. Get to know your own mind and attitudes. Best of all give yourself to someone else, live with them, love them, sleep with them. If you can get that right (and they can too) you'll be happy but you will have to tolerate or accept their own ways of happiness. Strangely, with the right person, these things expressed by another can often make you happy too.

P.S. The things you think will make you happy, things you look forward to, easy, peaceful things. Where are they and where do they belong? It should be an easy list to list but it's not. Too much material on the flip-side. Every A side comes with a dodgy B side (except for the double A side which isn't really because there always is/was a better side, the label's free expression can't change the quality). I gave myself a good shake at this point and started again.  So I sat for hours, staring into space making a long mental list of the things that made me happy. It was a long and varied list but with repeated themes, people and feelings. The long list was a short list once I stood back and looked at it but as deep as the Grand Canyon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Engine room of the engine room

I should've saved up all those crucial conversation notes and noted them, learned things, moved away from streams of blethering consciousness and restless twittering and consolidated. I should've got a decent job, ate a decent meal and walked a crooked mile in a stranger's shoes, given generously to charity, talked less and listened more. I should've looked out to sea and up into the sky pondering the distance, scale and shape of things and arrived at proper conclusions. But I ate, drank, made merry and pursued that strangest of goals; the sharpening of muscle memory and the memorization of abstract patterns. It was all working well until my memory failed. Now I stand in the engine room and dream of sitting down in another engine room, resting in a less complex and more reliable model.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I travel

Detail from the anti-Fascist mural in Shadwell London, found as a result of the Overground being shutdown and the requirement to use alternative bus services through various hazardous and unfamiliar areas of the city. 
I overheard an interesting conversation in Panopolis in London City Airport between two rather camp pilots, they were both talking about the aircraft they flew as if they owned it rather than just driving it for a bigger firm i.e. the owner being British Airways. Maybe that's just how pilots are; camp and a bit delusional. Maybe they adopt their aeroplanes and form strong and meaningful relationships. How can we, the great unwashed, bound to the ground and unable to fly so free ever know? 
Totally different kind of pub band set-up.
Hackney skyline #1.
Hackney skyline #2.
I quite like London, I really like my Oyster Card but despite it's slick operation  the weather was atrocious. There are some things it cannot quite do. So bad (was the weather) that it was double macchiatos all the way, warm beer, fat sausage rolls and whitebait. I may not know much but given the chance I think I know how to live. This actually makes sense to me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Engine room of the mind

Danny Alexander has pledged hard cash from the cash strapped Treasury (the Treasury being the pantomime  bad boy of today's coalition government) to rebuild the Glasgow School of Art. "Whatever it takes", like the demolition of homes in the East End to make way for all the ludicrous spectacle that comes with the Commonwealth Games? Only a cynic of the highest order would suspect that the good Danny's quick and heartfelt, open chequebook intervention wasn't really done with the best of intentions and for the common good of art lovers, students and the  attention deficit challenged citizens of the world. It's a fine time in Scottish history to make political capital out of an unrelated and random situation such as a building burning down. "Don't worry Glasgow, we do care about your...shit". I wonder how much the SNP will pledge? "Art Schools under the hammer" might be the next big thing.

As I ponder these cocked-up times and how it is that neither me or anyone else ever learn life's hard taught lessons, all a bit like the day that lightning struck York Minster or the pilgrims were killed on the road to Mecca...things just happen, some people try to put them right whilst others feed on the opportunity provided. Most folk will pass by looking the other way, their minds engrossed in survival techniques and the possible time of their next good meal. For Danny I see little in the way of redemption, of course he'll pick up a good job and well paid back room career after the next election but the reality is he's been ground up by the machine, an almost painless and invisible process and he doesn't even know it's happened.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

When conceptual art catches fire

When I heard about the fire at the Glasgow School or Art I felt a number of conflicting things; relieved that nobody was hurt, sorry for the students who've lost pieces of work and whatever else, sorry for the fire brigade and the taxpayers who will ultimately pay in different ways for the disaster, sorry in some vague historical way for the things that are gone and can't be replaced. I also thought that I've never really liked Charles Rennie Mackintosh's style or his signature pieces now turned into Chintzy mirrors and jewellery and the great red building itself. World famous, much lauded and loved as it is, it really means nothing to me so why should I care? Of course it's just not cool to say you don't like something that sits up there on some well established plateau, like a religion or an ideal or modern jazz or opera. So for me it's yet another historic building in Glasgow that I've never visited and probably never will and for the next 10 years it'll be covered in Heras Fence, scaffolding and Hi-viz workers. There will be a special, reverent programme on the BBC, media types with bad hair and strange clothes will mull over the consequences and a nice wee wuman in the street will give her views. 

Then I thought a bit more about art, it's value, it's meaning, it's importance, it's often exaggerated status and position and the many misunderstandings and arguments it can generate when coupled up with popular culture. I wondered the extent to which I was ever an artist, a charlatan or just an aspiring poseur with no real artistic education and (possibly) poor taste and no proper appreciation other than "knowing what I like". I guess I'm like a lot of people then; confused and conflicted by the world's imposed taste and standards. So what is the meaning of art when it's burning? More than a book bonfire or less? Does whatever it meant when conceived now change as it changes in the fire? Is it better now that it's gone, transformed and only living on as it was in memory or photo or filed in some USB device or hidden in the cloud? Of course it could be rebuilt, redone, repainted and fixed. More thought and time applied, it just might be a bit better and in the end it might have a bit more meaning.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Game of phones

Well phones are actually quite interesting and some people spend hours fiddling with them but as for me...I just use them to take the odd photo of cats lazing about on the top of bunk beds on a Friday evening post Chinese carryout (which the humans had but the cats were denied despite showing an unhealthy interest in it). Note the use of super hygienic bed top anti-cat blanket blanking devices.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Engine room of the soul

By "engine room of the soul"  I am of course referring to dreams, those wayward and inexplicable sleep driven things I seldom experience or actually write about. What are they anyway (apart from engine rooms for soul exploration)? Early this morning I was in a dream; on a cliff top, in a crowd. The atmosphere was like that of pop festival. It was a bright and sunny day, the sky a liquid electric blue. Suddenly way above my head I became  aware of some activity. High in the sky there was a boat, the bottom facing the earth. The only man on board seemed to be struggling to maintain control as it moved around from side to side. He was unsteady and then he lost whatever grip he had and fell. The crowd sighed. I looked further above and I could see through a haze that a helicopter was holding the boat, pulling it higher but the man was lost and he was falling, falling straight down on the crowd that I stood within. In a split second the fall was over and he landed right at my feet, just missing me. I had no time nor room to step aside. I was aware of the horrid noise made as his body hit the ground. He was killed instantly. Blood seemed to splatter everywhere but none hit me. I looked down at the body. He was no longer a man, the body, dead as dead can be, was that of a stag. The cold eyes were glazed and expressionless. For some reason the strange and sudden death now mattered to none of us, we moved on towards the edge of the cliff leaving the dead stag as if it was of no consequence. Then I awoke. Answers on a postcard please...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


The new chimney, taller than before thanks to the erection and successful installation of a second stage booster rocket with a new command module at the top. It's straight out of "Blows against the Empire" but with a wood burning twist. Weird Christmas dinner here we come as we all pray for a peaceful re-entry.
This evening was primarily spent cutting the grass. Long and succulent from many days of rain, it had to happen. I approached this as if it was some Zen exercise where the mower (a Flymo) neither moves nor flies but the grass, obedient as ever to the demands of so strange a universe slides silently under the punishing blades sacrificing itself in a selfless act so that the garden might be soft, serene, green and enjoyed by all the visiting birds and animals once again. We dance together as if in a trance. We dance that slow, green tinged eternal waltz and draw patterns, curves and spirals across the soothing, feverishly growing and now tamed world.The motor hums along to the lost bees' own tunes and flecks of fading sunshine and slivers of light cascade in a rainbow of celebration and managed harmony. Man, machine, nature and the late and warm spring evening, a perfect combination. Then I chuck the grass over the dyke and grab a cold beer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Breakfast: British Airways Style

Stock footage / photo.
I went to London today, on the way I had BA Breakfast ( I was sitting, innocent and upright in one of their aircraft at the time), so that's a British Airways breakfast. It was described by the Hispanic flight attendant as "full English" but in broken English, that seemed odd, plus no beans or black pudding were visible there in the super heated foil tray. Also no ketchup or brown sauce- who really cares? It's been years since I had a BAB along with a relaxing gin and tonic ( a drink they do so well) so I kind of enjoyed today's cramped and complex to handle feast. It's a breakfast that requires careful negotiation, elaborate suit and tie protecting and visible wariness shown with regard to the next seat passenger's elbows and the passing drinks trolley. I managed to get it chomped down before we entered the legendary Heathrow re-entry spiral; the sausage and bacon had to go last, watery eggs first with mushrooms and sliced tomato taking up the middle section. My plan worked and I had very few bits of estranged bacon stuck in my teeth by the time I disembarked the Heathrow Express at Paddington Platform 7. A job well done sir! (Never, ever drink the golden liquid either).

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thoughts in a thunderstorm

The lovebirds, wet from a thunderstorm now experience some kind of tiff. Typical.
The loyal and vocal fans of Cowdenbeath who clearly wanted their club to stay up more than we wanted our club to go up. There's a lesson for you, the power of the mind versus the power of the mind does not really take into account how many minds you might have on your side. However it may be that size matters; tests are ongoing. See you in the play-off period next year.
This is what you get when you remove the kitchen wall.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dunfermline v Cowdenbeath

The atmosphere was building, the crowd has high, the anticipation levels off the scale. Then in the first minute Cowdenbeath scored a scrambled and opportunistic goal and it was as if a bullet had hit the heart of every DAFC fan in the stadium. We died, the team died. From death there is no recovery, whatever the major religions of the world may say or preach or try to convince you about. You are dead. The rolling cloud of doom smothered us even more and by the end we were three nil down and truly humiliated by our apparently lesser but clearly superior Fife neighbours from a few miles away across the motorway and tracts of industrial wasteland. They may as well have invaded us from Mars or North Korea with nukes and Brillo Pads. When you're fucked, you're well and truly fucked. Now we are resigned to a fate of lower league obscurity, abject poverty and media indifference for yet another year. I knew it was a bad day, even before half time the cafe in the main stand had run out of hot food. If you can't plan for that (catering for a hungry crowd of 8500 on a Sunday afternoon) you might as well give up.

  1. only a fool thinks he (she) can change the world.
  2. the greatest civilisation ever, founded by wolves.
  3. a crowd of 8500 but only 8000 pies :-(

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Engine room of the home

In every dream home a heart ache: Some say that it's the central heating boiler, some say the cooker, some say the TV and some say the toilet bowl -what is it makes the most significant contribution? Here or thereabouts it's this old and fractious fellow, the world's most irritable washing machine and power plant to all the surrounds and supports us with it's crazy leaping motions, incessant noise, thumping vibrations, erratic heat generation and disturbance. It's now been  ousted from it's regular place; here we see it naked and exposed, sink and worktop and window removed and plugged up like some bizarre and unreliable piece of medical life support system. A alien planted in the dark, brooding and almost evil but with practical applications; washing clothes and towels. Strangely it still works but it is clearly injured and uncomfortable in it's current state and position. I remain detached from it's sorry plight, nobody it seems loves and old and noisy appliance and the sad part of this my friends is that one day we will all know that same feeling. To put it another way...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mr Mojo Risin

Hmm...a good documentary about the Doors and the making of the album LA Woman and the unfortunate death of Jim Morrison, there on the BBC tonight.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Four years

We've been married for four These guys turned up and sat together on the scaffolding as a wee reminder.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Busy as sin

Fruit, onions and sweeties, seen as a type of debris. 
The final score, shown in a shortened version of English in Scottish.
Last night we moved all of our precious belongings into the new kitchen and so abandoned the old kitchen as if a plague of some sort was running wild. We were tired and so tonight settled for minced beef, chocolate cheesecake and a more TV themed evening whilst trying to overcome the fear of coming to terms with and operating multiple new appliances. I stuck mostly to the TV option; Modern Family, Fargo and Cowdenbeath v Dunfermline. That was enough along with some comfort inducing ironing, warm beer and the pleasing if incomprehensible Gaelic commentary that goes with BBC Alba's strange coverage.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Almost not

Funny but when I'm  reading Knausgaard I feel compelled to check his facts. To google names and places, check up on Wikipedia as if I was a cheap, dried up detective. Verify and then trust, not trust and verify, that's too difficult and asks too much. I need to see that piece of photography, understand something of that place, or that view, know a bit about the person, the train or the tram. Weigh things up and apply some grading to description and exaggeration because... I don't really know why. Do they really look like that? Why don't they appear as mad, awkward or manic as he says they are? I'm struggling to know what to take, what to believe in and what to keep because I can still understand and I accept, peacefully and happily that I don't belong to that world at all. Well almost not.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Dreaming for something too beautiful can ruin you. When I heard that it seemed profound, then ridiculous, then apt, then just a bit awkward and then something I'd rather not consider; finally it came to have a bitter little ring of truth about it so I pushed it down. It seems to be that (basically for want of a better word) life is just an open banana  sandwich. That's just a mashed up banana squished onto a flat piece of sour dough bread. You can try to make more of it, explain it in greater depth, try to solve it's problems or understand it's hidden depths but really all you'll do in the process is ruin it. Of course I know that I'm just talking to myself, making no coherent sense in just trying to capture some elusive feeling, some mellow glow that came along on an unexpected, impulsive thought and almost made me smile with the absurd familiarity that a surprise brings. A random piece of electricity that I tried to catch and understand. How stupid an idea that was, how good humoured but  ill considered, how futile. So I just move on, turn another page in the book and see what happens, which words might catch a fire or what series of feelings and inklings might be generated from the random external influences that regularly crash, quite unexpectedly into by haphazard little orbit.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mass media + cat gifs

The BBC, home of all the things you can say and historically all the things you cannot say, a corporate mess of well meant but ignorant contradiction. Sound and fury signifying nothing much apart from some over inflated confusion. Such is the state of modern main stream media. “An exhilarating conclusion to the Premiership,” said the announcer. I just thought, no, not really, not for me and probably most of the population. You've lost your audience. People are not all hanging on these next few moments, they're not doing that. Despite what the media says, despite the portrait of normality and common experience it portray's, it fails to engage. It fails to mean something. Like all those Sky adverts that big up sports and films and programmes as magical, exciting and unmissable; we're not fooled. We know better, we've stopped believing, just like that. The hype, the blustery and the bullying just doesn't work. Look at how irrelevant Question Time has become. So please go away Mr Razzmatazz media man or give in and join us in the underground.

So today and just for once you get exactly what appears on the title.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A bit missing

Having been hoodwinked and done over by every political party that's operated in the UK since 1955 we've now decided to go it alone, off piste, off the radar, underground and all that sort of revolutionary stuff. Enough is enough. We'll live on, long after the phony arguments are dried up and beyond the imminent nuclear winter. We will survive. We'll be here, hidden in plain sight but lost someplace in the green wood. We'll live on root vegetables, autumnal fruits, roadkill and fine wines plus whatever we can pick up from the Coop and Stephen's bakery (both of which we expect to survive the soon to happen social decay, structural decay and rampant tooth decay that will follow the 18th September deadline and disappointment). In some Renaissance kind of post-Iron Age we'll rebuild the future in an exact but maybe slightly disappointing version of the past, without the technical mistakes. So we'll barbecue the planet, log by log and you wont even know we're here; apart from the burning smell, the smoke and the strange but haunting music of our eternally looping Buddha machine wafting across the fields and bye ways. It'll be just perfect once we get that wee extra bit for the chimney put in place.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Next day

Photo taken and tweeted by JBjnr earlier today. Then we cycled to the pub and cycled back, the wind behind us and the early evening before us. Then bits of The Trip on iPlayer and discussions about pyrography. Afterwards we relaxed with Cornish sardines, Spanish potatoes, mixed salad and other nice edibles and Ali mixed up strawberries and ice cream, all into a tasteful display. My recovery from yesterday's 19 hour day of travel and travail and the consumption of other fish based foodstuffs is nearly complete.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Enter the dragon

Enter the dragon's tail to be precise: here be/are the orphan necks of four Stratocasters, one Telecaster, a Telecaster Slimline and a highly significant and in no way derivative Shorty McHumbucker. Each one carries with it a carefully crafted dragon tail type design (no two are ever the same thanks to skill, artistic license, burned fingers and the vague but interesting properties of pyromania (burned on red hot, mad, flaming groovy, incinerated and smelly graphics)). I had a rare spell of artistic and creative outburst over the weekend in between ceremonial black pudding frying and long walks along the long coast, these fine bits of warped timber were the result. The next part of the challenge is of course to build something finished in finely burnished hardwood, strung up and electrified and playable and more importantly sellable. All in good time good people and can you see what it is yet?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Nursing a corpse

I heard that somewhere some people had pleaded guilty to being innocent, the judge declared it all as mistrial but they appealed. Turns out they were all very appealing. Happenstance. Meanwhile in hospital the staff were very busy, there were more corpses than usual all requiring intensive care. In the gardens tight-fisted green fingered men and women waged war against the bugs that in some small way allowed the food and pollination chain to function efficiently and effectively. A progress report on their time management skills was prepared but unfortunately it was submitted too late to be considered. In the burger bar the vegetarian chef chopped up beef and sun-dried  onions. The beef cried whilst the onions just fell apart. It was nearly the end when the deep fat friar in the monastery was declared to be terminally shallow on account of the many chips resting on it's shoulder, then we all just pleaded guilty and that was that. The sentence was short and improper as it contained neither a verb nor an adverb.

Monday, May 05, 2014

The geeks shall inherit the earth

A lazy (you might say) post and a straight lift from yesterday's Glasgow Herald. Not a paper I read regularly and one that I believe to be in something of a decline. I doubt that the slow demise in paper based press metrics will ever stop and this piece wont change that but it does, in simple language set out a decent case for a YES vote. What will it take to convince a frightened and baffled electorate, geeks who know better, the risk averse, the traditionalists, the don't really cares, the stalwarts and the Blue Noses? What would it take to convince me? I've placed it here so that come the day I can look back on this and think*....

"ON September 18, Scotland must decide whether to remain within the United Kingdom or become an independent country.

No-one should find the decision easy. There is nothing simple, clean, or clinical about ending a union that has endured for better than three centuries. Nevertheless, having considered the arguments, the Sunday Herald sincerely and emphatically believes that the best outcome is a vote for independence.

We state our opinion not in an attempt to persuade our readers. That would be presumptuous and arrogant. We are well aware that there is good reason to assume the vote will be close. However, we are determined, as the debate enters its final, feverish stages, when emotions will doubtless run high, to make our position clear.

We believe that now is the time to roll up our sleeves and put our backs into creating the kind of society in which all Scots have a stake. Independence, this newspaper asserts, will put us in charge of our destiny. That being the case, Scots will have no-one to blame for their failings, no-one to condemn for perceived wrongs. We will, for the first time in three centuries, be responsible for our decisions, for better or worse.

The proposition is this: We believe independence offers Scotland an historic opportunity to choose the kind of country that might allow its people to prosper. Decisions affecting our lives will be made on our doorstep, by the people who live here. By us. A vote for independence says that a small country is not helpless in a big, troubling world.

At the Sunday Herald we want a Scotland that cares about others, everywhere, as much as it cares about its own. We believe in a society that is altruistic and compassionate, that looks after everyone in need irrespective of their ability to pay. But we also want a society that is meritocratic, that rewards work and encourages entrepreneurialism. Above all, we want a progressive, fair society in which the gulf between haves and have nots is no longer unbridgeable.

Come independence, the sky may still be blue (well, possibly not in Scotland in September) and the grass green, but there is no magic wand. Scotland will not overnight be transformed into a land flowing with milk and honey. A referendum cannot immediately wash away the legacy of the past. September's vote is not a straight choice between that past and an already-formed future. What is offered is the chance to alter course, to travel roads less taken, to define a destiny.

As for that future, much remains unknowable. We cannot be certain the pound will be retained, that existing terms will be easily forthcoming, that the price of oil will be higher tomorrow than it is today, that pensions will dwindle or increase in value, that businesses big and small will stay or go. We can never know the future.

Few saw the financial crash coming. You never know what is - good or bad - around the corner. The best we can do is take informed and educated guesses and create a stable, well-structured society that is able to weather whatever is thrown in its direction. Scotland has that opportunity.

We therefore believe that a currency union is probable. Likewise we are confident that Scotland will be a member of the European Union. Moreover, we are sure that Scotland, through the talent of its people and its natural resources, can not only survive economically but can thrive, bringing lasting benefits for the common good. We view the referendum not as a choice between the status quo and an uncertain future, but as between a bankrupt, political structure and the chance to remake our society in a more equal, inclusive, open and just way.

That seems to us to be a more exciting, imaginative and inspiring proposition than the alternative proposed by the No campaign. That it has been remorselessly negative need not detain us here. Its leaders have told us constantly what we can't do, aren't able to do, must avoid doing at all costs. Scotland removed from the Union, they insist, will be a poorer, parochial, rather pathetic place, with no voice in the corridors of power.

These tactics have given the media much fat on which to chew. While polls have consistently shown there to be strong support for independence - albeit not enough yet for a majority - this has not been reflected in the press. Some newspapers are against independence, others merely unsympathetic to the notion. We do not believe this to be healthy. Scotland's media should reflect the diversity of opinion within the country. We believe that in a real democracy the public should have access to a wide range of views and opinions. The media should not speak with one voice.

Diversity of opinion is reflected within the Sunday Herald's staff. Some of our team support independence, some do not, and others are still considering the arguments. Some are unconvinced by the merits of supporting a Yes vote. Far from regarding this as a weakness, we welcome it. The Sunday Herald has always been a broad church. We consider the fact a strength which we will always protect.

Nevertheless, this newspaper's view is that independence is the right course for the country to take. Another auld song, 300 years in the singing, has come to its end. The stratagems of Better Together seem only to confirm that the United Kingdom has too little to say for itself, and too little to say to Scotland. We can manage matters better on our own account, and make a future for ourselves. The prize is a better country. It is, truly, as simple as that.

That the Sunday Herald has decided to lend its support to independence does not mean that its sister papers, the daily Herald and the Evening Times, will do likewise. That is a decision for their editors to make. Nor does our decision reflect the position of our owners, the Herald and Times group. Tim Blott, managing director of the Herald and Times group, says: "Our policy is to give individual editors the freedom to decide their own newspaper's position on this hugely important constitutional issue but our own official company stance will remain non-political and neutral in the independence debate."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald's advocacy of independence does not mean it will support unquestioningly the Scottish National Party or its allies. We have in the past published stories and views critical of both the SNP and the Yes campaign. We will continue to do so, and to break stories and report the news, whether or not it touches on our opinion. As a newspaper, we too are proud of our independence.

And we will continue to seek the views of Better Together to maintain balance in our news stories. Clearly we do not share the views of the No campaign but we respect their right to their opinion and believe that they are as passionate about Scotland's future as we are. This is not an argument which should be mired in personal hatred.

Scotland is an ancient nation and a modern society. We understand the past, as best we can, and guess at the future. But history is as nothing to the lives of the children being born now, this morning, in the cities, towns and villages of this country. On their behalf, we assert a claim to a better, more decent, more just future in which a country's governments will be ruled always by the decisions of its citizens.

Scots have never been afraid to astonish the world. A small country has made a habit of producing big thinkers. The Sunday Herald says that it is time to think big once again. And to think for ourselves."

*Apropos nothing: #Fargo "absolve us of any serious dip-shittery" best line of the week.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Fife Coastal Past

The petrified remains of the Great Caledonian Forest reach down to the muddy northern shores of the Forth. Not many people know that. (Note petrified dug out canoes emerging from the silt and sand by the waterline).
Petrified remains: in petrified detail. 
Apart from inventing the text message, BT engineers also have devised a special code they've now launched. It works  by branding telephone poles with coded information and strange runes. The method allows those with the knowledge to navigate across the UK using only the sun's position in the sky, the pole number, an OS map and a copy of the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle page.
Clumps of the rare and very tasty Forth Marsh Grass. This is used in Sunday lunches as a local delicacy and often served hot with  lumpy Bisto, spare ribs and great flowing spoonfuls of steamed cabbage. I am told that the digestive effects of this treat are "electric". Also available at all good BP Wild Bean Cafes  within a 10 mile radius of the M90 - subject to availability.
A long awaited shipment of Korean smart phones heads up to Grangemouth to be unloaded and distributed around the high streets, opium dens and old people's homes of Central Scotland. Previous shipments have been subject to U-Boat attacks in the English Channel; a situation that currently has a news blackout running, believed to be enforced by Apple and the English wing of the provisional BBC.