Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unnatural lifestyles


There's probably a lot of negative things said about Romania and Romanians but today I had a marvelous chat with a young Romanian man at work. He told about his plan to return there once he'd saved up money, how he would work on his family's (small) farm, fix up the house and how he planned to set up a recycling business. Also how to roast a pig for Christmas, useful knowledge. He 's only twenty but full of energy and ambition. Maybe that comes from being born Romanian where it's criminally tough. 

He's a sharp contrast to most of the Scottish youngsters I've recently met (at the same work). They argue about how to stay on the edge of debt, how they might crack the benefits system (?) and seem to have no idea about handling money, saving or actually getting any further education or developing themselves. They're stuck in a rut by their early twenties and whilst I know times are awkward it's sad to hear our young talk as if it's all over for them. They seem to lack any self awareness, life is  a joke and despite all the technology at their fingertips they've no clue as to how to really use it. No business or creative dreams, no idea of using spreadsheets, Word, coding or planning tools, things that might allow them to progress. 

It's a long dark tunnel of life for working class kids in Scotland, a post industrial mess of nothing in particular and no urgency about fixing it. Of course they laugh at me when I suggest trying  different things, getting qualifications or moving on. Something has failed and continues to fail in education and providing aspiration and vision for our kids. Maybe Romania has it's  serious problems but we're not so smart back here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Kraftwerk Mums: 1965.
There's nothing quite like the slow dawning and realization that comes with a problem in the garden septic tank as it backs up into the house drainage system. Last night was spent mostly peering in the dark into an even darker foul drain that was full of unpleasant slurry. A few bucketfuls were removed and things looked to be improving, Alas by the morning it was clear that things were not improving. A thunderhead of material was building up, refusing to make the perilous journey from the house to the honey tank and, with complete disregard for the surrounding area, messing everything up. When the Dyno-rod guys arrived they effectively cleared the blockage in a brown explosion of air, water and sludge. However further investigations revealed that the tank's soak away bit may not be doing the business. Things are therefore not soaking away, they're just standing still, floating and slowly turning even more unpleasant. By now I'm on my third change of clothing and my fourth change of mind (as to what's best)...time, tides and a lot of murky H2O will tell.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Illustrative purposes

Another example of the common cat and dog thing. This time from a family canine point of view when encountering a strange and stubborn cat. A stand off ensued and after a while nothing really happened.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mini 4 Sale

The ultra reliable and long suffering Mini Cooper in my life is coming to the end of it's career in the exotic family car pool. Ownership has been a pretty good, funky, fun experience despite all the bad press and horror stories about these wee beasties. OK it's a bit hairdresser and not macho but it's nippy, reasonably economical, totally lacking in useful space and slightly silly. It's also been replaced by the quirky agricultural perfection that is a Suzuki Jimny. Not sure what the hell direction my car ownership is going in but frankly I'm past caring. Must be an age and weariness kind of thing; anything to avoid the homogeneous international hatch back monsters, dealers looking for safe pensioners and seven year warranty fishing lines. All I need is simple predictable unreliability, bugs all worked out and some kind of look that may cause the corners of my mouth to move upwards, even in sodium street lights. So now for a few nervous weeks plumbing the depths of Gumtree or where ever for a likely buyer for the old beast.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The truth about cats and dogs

Exactly what we all know already but put differently and rather eloquently. Lifted i.e. stolen with thanks from @TwistedDoodles on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hot Rats

This randomly appeared in my Twitter stream to remind me and the rest of the civilized world (not a huge area these days) that Hot Rats is 48 earth years old round about today. A somewhat challenging fact and of course there are now many similar "on this day" events that chime in the same worrying way. Amusing and disturbing.

No jazz

A sign of the times or just a sign of a lack of challenging time signatures? No jazz, just blues apparently. All other genres, major and minor may well be blocked also, a management thing. More questions than answers but you'll know them by their limited appeal soundtrack. Photo by Andy Leggatt, taken in an Edinburgh pub.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Burn down the Mission

About forty five years ago I worked in this factory in Dalgety Bay when this part was known as Hillend Industrial Estate. It belonged to an American  company called Bournes (Trimpot), who manufactured potentiometers amongst other things. We were at the cutting edge of science but at the blunt edge of wages, conditions, health and safety, industrial relations and planning. The management were mostly drunken, sweary, self serving sexists but it was the hard living 70s and nobody knew any better or cared. My time there was brief and hardly covered in glory, I was a lazy eighteen year old with little interest in the job or even finding a career of any sort. I was someplace between drifting and free falling but not in any poetic sense. I did hit the ground a few years later. I'm not actually sure when Bournes closed down and production ceased, I left in 1974 and I understand the building has been empty for some time, one or two careful owners maybe. A few weeks ago some kid torched it thereby rendering it even harder to let or sell. It's now another sorry scar on a blot on the landscape. Scorched earth in Fife's industrial history.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Twelve Million Bees

There currently are twelve million bees employed on the Hopetoun Estate. I presume that most of them are busy working on honey production whilst a few deal with actual estate work, administration and grounds keeping. Good for the bees I say and I'm glad they've all found meaningful employment of this kind, far better than having unemployed and feckless bees hanging around on street corners annoying passers by and drinking cheap cider. There's a lesson to be learned here for all who wish to make a meaningful contribution to modern society, eat honey or simply build a career for themselves in the large network of farm shops and farmer's markets that's taking over the country. 

I also traveled back in time to when there was only one lamp post in South Queensferry to capture this Edwardian era shot of past times, low down  on the High Street. Before there were automated bookies, coffee shops and estate that's the days of gin palaces, rampant sinfulness, wooden lawyer's offices, stables for horse whipping and boys selling porter from crates on the cobbles.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Geese Warning

There are lots of noisy, agitated and possibly unruly geese loose in the area. Their anti social honking and blustering starts about 6.30am and then peters out when they head off to Canada for lunch. They also refuse to fly in a nice V formation for some reason, just  to confound watcher expectations and they  insist on squatting out on the foreshore for long periods thereby upsetting other local and more well established bird colonies. Once dead they also taste like chicken and their fat can be rubbed over roast potatoes to make them shine, a good food presentational tip. They have been known to bite the hand that feeds...

Friday, October 06, 2017

Glasgow daily photo

The sign for lap dancing club "Diamond Dolls", down a back street where an odd mixture of today's Scotland fans, Eastern European girls and swarthy characters of unknown origins congregate and presumably do some kind of business deals while they all take a smoke break from show-biz life and the not so bright lights.

Every window in the clothing store is filled with the dead carcasses of used and broken vintage hand sewing machines. Rather than glamour, honest industry and good tailoring, it suggests sweat shops, misery and cheapness. That's just my take on it. Perhaps the designer was being ironic.

Almost every tourist stops to take a shot of the iconic Duke statue and his traffic cone hat. At the moment he's dual hatted suggesting he actually has two jobs on the go, neither of which he enjoys.

The floor in this card and art materials shop is lit up by these colourful tiles as if they were part of a giant paint box but set in no particular coloured order.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Pin ups and downs

This old pin up photo of Raquel Welch popped into my feed the other day from some click bait site or possibly in the Guardian. I've not seen it for about 47 years. I'd like to say memories flooded back but I'm still a bit numb over my teenage passages of my years, not sure why. Desperate times, smokey, troubled and too distorted to be real maybe. 

At one time a large poster sized copy of Raquel hung on the back of my bedroom door along with other images designed to irritate parents; Easy Rider bikes, Jimmy Page, the Grateful Dead, Freak Bros cartoons and Bridget Bardot in black leather with the Velvet Underground droning in the background through 17 minutes of Sister Ray.  A blue bulb glowed up above giving out little actual light.

In those days having posters from Poster by Post was cool and the word cool wasn't even in my vocabulary. You paid by postal order and a grey tube arrived a fortnight later. I'm not sure I even had a vocabulary, just animal grunts and some internal conflicts raging here and there inspired by the latest LP I'd heard or paperback I'd read. Black and white telly and the John Peel show on a pitiful transistor radio accompanied by twenty Number 6 and some Nescafe from a tin. Glory days.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Cursed by Frida

Meanwhile in the human zoo and football match that is politics Theresa May is cursed by the ghost of Frida Kahlo, presumably for wearing the bracelet upside down, not being much of an artist type  and enduring as one of our worst ever Prime Ministers. Oh and obviously a vision free Tory. So don't mess with the commie creatives, not even the dead ones. All the other things that went wrong on the day were just down to security incompetence and the fact that all of our fine leaders can't organize much of anything these days. Just watch their frozen, fearful, stiff upper lip reactions to the P45 prank. Groan.

Vanity Plates

Somehow modern online business still has the capacity to confuse me. The relatively simple task of moving one registration number from one car to another involves an on line process that is simple but lacking in logic and if you get it the wrong way fails (as you might expect). The confusing part is the numerous codes required and the fact that despite "owning" the number you still have to retain it and pay £80 for that retention, not for the actual transfer. Of course I had to call the DVLA at one point when I was told that my transaction couldn't be completed on line, though quite why wasn't explained. The DVLA lady, with a nice warm Welsh accent didn't really process the transaction, she simply pointed me towards a web area I had previously missed and there I was able to somehow make the transfer. In the end it's still all clear as mud glorious mud but hopefully, in a few days or so, the postman will bring me my updated documents and then all will be street legal and personal again.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Embedded via F***Book. I wasn't sure this embedding option would work. It seems that Facebook have changed or disabled the option to download photos...maybe. You can never really tell what's going on, nothing is clear, published or explained. But that's what you get with free social media that asks very little other than you put up with stupid and inappropriate adverts, links, click bait and suggestions as you trudge through what is basically ongoing spam content apart from the real posts from friends and family.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Small and interesting

Here's a small and interesting shop, gallery and studio down by the harbour in South Queensferry. Click here for more information and material than I can ever describe properly, that's the reason we have a www.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Zooming in

Here's a view of the Tay Bridge and the not so far away city of Dundee from the unusually sunny side of Fife and below we have the zoomed in  version showing three crows up a tree in detail (almost). Nothing remarkable here, I just happen to like crows,  provided that they remain at a safe and respectful distance and don't attempt to peck my dead eyes from their still warm and moist sockets and so corrupt my soul's passage on to the world of the Great Pumpkin.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mustn't Crumble

The golden glory that is apple crumble. That's apples, crumble and a few mysterious ingredients that I cannot list here for commercial, security and hygiene reasons. Here we see some examples, in foil tins, cooling ready for final packing and onward shipment to customers and end users.

Problem: Side one is side two and side two is side one. Not sure what to make of this. There is no side three.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Like a bird on a ladder

I now know how to draw a 3D ladder and I also know how to climb an ordinary ladder. At least two useful life skills there. I was up a ladder earlier today but not for the beauty of the view or the exhilaration of the fantastic climb and clean air or to see how things below looked like Matchbox cars or other toys. It was to remove a young upstart of a tree that had chosen to grow between two roof tiles on the house, the stubborn tree was duly removed from it's cheeky squat. I also lifted thick mud from the gutters and various unkempt weeds and grasses that had taken root or perhaps taken roost.

Heights never used to bother but now I'm not so sure. Quaysides and cliff edges make me feel peculiar, I'm drawn to their brittle edges, that gap between a hard surface and the empty air and the knowledge of a certain drop. It makes me dizzy and nauseous, sometimes ... sometimes excited but not to the point of giggling*. Tall buildings are OK, there's a strong illusion of safety and generally ladders are fine too, you have something to hang onto unless you're holding a paint brush and a pot of comedy paint. So as a leisure sport I guess ladders and tall monuments are fine clambering activities to pursue - but standing still by perpendicular drops set from edges are not.

*At what age is it that you lose the ability to just giggle at things? I used to find it easy but I've not giggled freely for a while. I miss the loss of this most human and attractive of (seemingly) childish gifts. Is there a drug on the market? Perhaps the giggle inducing material is no longer available, something to do with austerity?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Universally Challenged

It was an old school TV watching evening yesterday, almost. First up University Challenge, well the last ten minutes but Strathclyde won out so that was a strangely rewarding view. Then "Impossible Planet" from the C4 Phillip Dick series via Sky Planner, not quite a classic electric dream, more a mish-mashy short story but with some eerie effects and an almost satisfying story line. Sci-Fi adaptions usually disappoint for some reason but I've grown used to that and don't expect much. Like some YouTube Dark 5 piece of non-revelation with twisted fiction and lies.  Then back in real time some BBC doc about brains and stem cells and scary beating hearts in laboratory jars. The research work seemed to to be leading to some of the Impossible Planet scenario where people live too long, get too tired and yearn for a simple ending to their days. Finally as fatigue started to set in it was W1A, the Beeb laughing at itself by retelling the same joke in numerous ways, mostly via the medium of bungled meetings and a desperate need for all things PC and inclusive. A kind of comedy wallpaper that's so clever it seems stupid until you remember that it's actually realistic way beyond the BBC's own excesses. Non ironic workplace comedy is the new normal.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Just spotted the problem

Oppenheimer: The geeks shall inherit the earth, or at least what's left of it.

First rule of writing

Stunning BLT roll combo, only hours old but already eaten up.

These are of course toy mice, cat toy mice to be exact. They kind of freak out the cats, which is fun in a cruel way. They've now been given early retirement, the toy mice that is.

Note: Never confuse the first rule of writing with the first rule of spelling, or grammar or punctuation or sentence structure etc. The first rule of writing, in my book (?) is of course know your subject or topic. How well then do I know BLTs? Pretty well, I've eaten a few albeit they remain in second place behind rocket and crayfish in the league table which are hard to come by unless you visit a Pret (none round here) and the crayfish portion isn't quite enough but it still is a great combo. Anyway  Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato is a fine filling for rolls or actual bread sandwiches. It also helps if the bacon is warm or even hot, this provides a better taste and texture and overall eating experience. Mayo, a decent slurp is also required for lubrication, the tomato may be juicy but it's doubtful that it'll do the same job as mayo. There you have it. The first rule of writing applied to the BLT.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rusty tunelessness

Thinking of going off road anytime soon? You need the tools. Ready for the snows, the next ice age and the petrol revolution? Not me either but everyday it draws closer, probably, as we happen to live off road, or at least about a mile away from any recognizable roadway, functional street lamps or up to date services and signs. The trappings of civilization are few and far between apart from the whirring of dishwashers and the instagram alert beeps, a bit like things in the Oval Office right now or in Theresa May's Beetlejuice style Cabinet, signs of intelligent life exist but they are at a low level and only functioning in part. It's the end of the road and a terminus for Western civilization, the sun sets in the west but only because it has to and that's only because of our earthbound homo sapien perspective, one we are unlikely to move on from. Restringing guitars will always seem tiresome but somebody has to do it or we'd descend into rusty tunelessness.

Pull up your socks

Nearing the time for that awkward mid-year staff performance review? Never an easy interview for those on either side of the desk. Quickly gather up a few water tight excuses, remember how your sick/holiday record looks and how well you did in training/forums/presentations and other sucky uppy things. Glad it's all a distant memory for me. I never really did pull my socks up (the most meaningless instruction ever given ) and I may have been economical with the truth at times. However I was never properly mad.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Strange effects

I could say that I was experimenting but as it happened I just took a few random pics as I was taking out the trash or some other meaningful/less task the other day. Accidental, industrial photography. It was a sunny day, unusual around here and the light nicely caked everything it touched with...more light. Even the lights were light and some of the darks were light and then here were reflections, here, there and in my mind. Such a 60s thing to say.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This what you get

...when you mess with a wooden pallet and chop it up into the necessary kindling to crank up the log burner during the long days of winter. You also get a bit sweaty and a sore back but thankfully there were no major injuries during an hour or so of meticulous axe handling and wood splitting. I was revived later with soup, corn bread, tap water and plain dark chocolate covered with pictures of the Queen or Audrey Hepburn dressed as a cat, (hard to tell) a common meal for lumberjacks and axe murderers in these troubled times.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Well not exactly...

...though sometimes it seems like you may have just missed the point but nonetheless you are still travelling in some direction in a wide eternal and unpredictable arc. Perhaps food, water and oxygen are over rated, in the context of having actually made up into space and (briefly) being amongst the stars. 

Life isn't fair but looking up is a lot better than looking down or keeping your eyes closed. My advice to the young, confused and restless would be to invest in a bicycle, regularly eat a porridge and banana breakfast and learn a bit more about modern economics and how you can work around them to your own advantage. Oh, and sometimes to move forwards you must move sideways a little.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Best sentence ever?

There's a lot of debate out there (?) about the length of sentences here, there and mostly in the works of James Joyce. This isn't Joyce but it'll do. I'll leave you to consider who it might be all about.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Daily Spacecraft

Spacecraft of the day: Nicely understated (and of it's time of course) illustration that went along with Jules Verne's "Captain Nemo's Undersea Journey to the Centre of the Moon via Green Ray". Well worth the read(s) or alternatively they can be viewed by various cinematic and televisual interpretations.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Safety shoes doing their own form of damage. I never was a big fan of drum solos but I still have a soft spot for Cream and Ginger Baker's "Toad" performance, or was it Towed, or Toe'd, or even Toed. It matters little, these toes, clearly not at all like mine have been enjoying the delightful pleasure of breaking in not one but two pairs of working/safety shoes in the past few weeks. It seems that different toes hurt on different days and of course the ball of the foot (sounding like some attractive cut of meat there) hurts now and again too. Hard not to feel sorry for feet, they put up with a lot and get little thanks but when they hurt, they really hurt. Rest and a generous slap of Savlon is the best answer and hopefully those stubborn shoes will, like some wild and unbroken horse, come around to my way of thinking and doing and being i.e. happy and pain free. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fiends and Aliens

  A word to the wise: Fiends and aliens are taking over, (actually they always have been in charge) they are walking amongst you, hidden in plain sight. Peculiar souls hell-bent on destroying our wonderful heritage of self obsessed art, progressive music, dietary eccentricity, chain smoking and being envious of our neighbours and betters. The fabric of Scottish culture is under attack and being torn up, like some cheesy 70s carpet glued to a damp bathroom floor. They have infiltrated our great institutions; the bloody BBC, the Queensferry Crossing Traffic Planners, Sky Atlantic, various toon cooncils, ice cream vans and those who organize the annual potato and beetroot harvest in Farmlandshire. 

Once we were run by bold, noble Europeans of royal blood and the Gnomes of Zurich but those halcyon days are gone, now we are being run by butter-fingered, wet nosed, sweaty armpit, humourless Brexiteering reactionaries who cannot even pilot a simple spacecraft, even when moderately sober. These people are now telling us that previously useful diesel engine emissions are staining white handkerchiefs and that spicy foreign food is bad for us, refugees don't belong here and we're now encouraged to eat tinned whales and pickled puffins by daytime TV hosts and watch the puerile gunk on new apple phones the size of a pulp fiction novelette and woe betide anybody caught wearing T shirts or underwear from George at asda. 

It's a rum do and no mistake, a quiet and slow revolution is (probably) the only answer. It'll be easy because the real truth about our lying, badly organised and scheming politicians and controllers is that they just don't tell the truth about how little power and influence they really have (thanks to Will Self and of course the Wizard of Oz for the illustration).

They are only exercising the powers we give them...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

You can't run from what's inside of you

So the dust, ice and dragon fire has settled on Game of Thrones for the mean time, we can all sleep peacefully knowing that the Wall has been breached, the undead are on the march and that they have a big, scary dragon on their side. Times are hard in Westeros. Kind of like the rise of the alt-right in our feeble dimension but with a bit more purpose and intelligence. Of course there is no happy ever after ending headed any body's way, it's way too grim up north for any of that, it'll be tough or worse than tough and sweary. I've really no idea why I'm writing this now, I watched the final episode a while ago but every time I turn to YouTube my feed is filled with various fan theories, unseen clues and Easter eggs, GoT actors' salaries, heights, fall outs, bloopers etc. etc. This will never end, ever.

Closer to home, what kind of Game of Thrones character do you get when a cat pads along a newly painted windowsill and then zig-zags across the floor? A White Walker! (Boom, Tish!).

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wind and Wuthering

Though it doesn't look to wild in this picture it was at the time, you see the smartphone does lie and covers it all up with some kind of enhanced effect. That was all done yesterday, today's special visual effects are yet to be revealed. In the future all history will be one step further away from the reality it tries to portray (which always has been the problem with history). So what's the problem?