Monday, August 21, 2017

Herbal remedies from the 17th Century

In the old days painting the ceiling involved a bit more than a can of white emulsion and roller.

Strange views from tiny houses with tiny windows.

A stall of ancient remedies, thankfully I've no 17th century illnesses at the moment.

Quite impressed at the way this Smart has been adapted to act as a mobile coffee stall. Maybe the adaption isn't really permanent but it's an eye catching way to vend coffee.

Culross in Fife is mad about the TV show Outlander, I'm not but I get the importance of it for fans and locals. Crowds gathered yesterday to view the sights and locations and obviously get a little 17th century medicine in the process. We settled for soup and scones from more recent times. Anyway Culross is actually pretty cool, twas a grand day out and we arrived and departed with our haul from the farmer's market and craft staffs on bicycles.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another fabulous epiphany

Hell's own fiery gateway, designed to draw you into your doom.
It's been a while since I last bought something on Amazon, maybe a month. It was a book about photography that was intended as a gift and was duly given. I'm slowly slowing down in some reverse gear of entropy for browsing buying. I do have a few items languishing in the basket, that tatty receptacle for all double minded and doubtful potential purchases. Those stillborn goods that were never such a good idea or were explored and then shelved following an encounter with a bottle of red or two. The thrill of Amazon has gone (song title anyone?).

Right now eBay is also less of a magnet for uncontrolled shopping, it's still my go to for guitar parts or (?) bargains but some of the thrill of the chase has headed over the hill, auctions are just frustrating really and the sense of criminal competition takes the shine of any "won" item. So maybe, after all these years two things are coming together unexpectedly: (a) that I'm needing less stuff (b) and when I do need stuff I'm less likely to purchase it on line as my default position. 

At the moment the evidence for this is a bit sketchy as if emerging from a sketch. I'm easily led though,  I may lapse and binge at any moment instead of exploring the mean streets and shopping arcades of today's brave new world in all it's shabby and exploited finery, I don't know. The lure of bright shiny things is a hypnotic and insidious brain leveller that can overcome the strongest instinct. I can resist anything except temptation as Oscar Wilde once said, that day in an empty, smoky drawing room  when no one at all was listening.

Those groovy purple pickup covers and control knobs did not buy themselves you know, nor were they gifts from Santa. Twas eBay that found me them via some industrious people in China.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sunday Post on a Saturday

Sometime back in the day, in the early sixties, my old mum used to bundle up three or four weeks worth of Sunday Post papers (that's about 3 or 4 papers I guess) and wrap them in brown paper and take them to the Post Office where they'd be sent off to Tasmania. My mum had an old friend in Tasmania she said, but they never wrote to each other, never visited nor telephoned. It struck me as a strange relationship and one I couldn't understand and still don't. It was as if my mum had taken on some obligation, possibly after the war when folks were moving all over the place, to provide these papers to somebody who maybe wasn't really much of a friend or all that interesting, anyway she did it faithfully just the same. 

By return we'd get a single Christmas Card type "Tasmanian Photo" calendar every year, hardly fair exchange in my view, one calendar featuring numerous photos of the Hobart Bridge for fifty two used Sunday Posts. Not a good deal. Still the Sunday Post was my first proper paper to read, filled will prim, parochial and superficial stories and opinions, some news, some kirk propaganda, some sport and of course the Broons and Oor Wullie. It was a strange old fashioned beast in those days, it may be still, I've hardly seen one in years. It almost smelt of a care home or an old lady's sitting room.

Anyway the practice of sending the Post ceased one fine day. A cousin of the lady recipient wrote to say she'd passed away a few months ago, no need to send copies anymore, the dead don't read. And that was that. No hording the papers, no brown paper, no calendar at Christmas. I imagined a huge pile of papers sitting there by her cold fireside in Tasmania, who would claim them now? 

A subtle change had taken place, that paper, with all it's tittle tattle and homespun wisdom suddenly seemed less meaningful. It still came into the house but now it was bundled with the other papers, the Daily Express and the Sunday People, they were rough and shouty, hardly appropriate bin fellows. I just read the centre page comics now, I seldom laughed at them but I studied the characters and the way the strip moved along. I liked the black and white inking and the brutal little Scottish world they exposed. Dudley D Watkins became a kind of quiet hero, one you wouldn't ever brag about. But as for the copies of paper itself, no more international travel across the wide world, sending it's news and sports results to Tasmania a month or two late for some ex-Pat to snooze over. No more backwards time travel or over a blue ocean in a mail sack to an upside down island, no secondhand news, it was over. 

The Sunday Post, as right on as ever.

Friday, August 18, 2017


The informal commemorative plaque reminding us that a cash machine once operated here adjacent to the Post Office that also no longer resides within these fine stones. All built and put together with good intentions but obsolete now.

Dunfermline and the structural decay of the Scottish town, a brief non-history and shallow critique lacking both depth and vision: 

Scottish town centres are headed the way of the dinosaur, they are quickly becoming irrelevant and will soon become extinct. The slow death rattle of the phone shop, charity shop, pound shop, too many competing cafes and paid parking spaces is deafening and the social decay has  become a sad cancer in these once busy and bustling centres. Reinvention is required, space needs to be reclaimed for public use and the zoning policies and blood sucking of rates and values require some kind of amnesty. 

My honest reaction towards being in a medium sized Scottish town centre is wanting to get the feck out as quickly as possible, being there is not a pleasant experience. Buy a birthday card, get a haircut, get home, even the coffee shops are homogenized lumps of dead air and sanitised brownie you wouldn't really want to sit too long in. Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Leven, Alloa, Glenrothes, Cumbernauld once thumping, beating hearts have become dead zones. The blood and energy seeped away a long time ago as we all started to live lives that no longer matched the 1950s town plan or concept. We, the public have been let down by planners and councils who've failed to see the social change, the revised stratification of customers and the on-line retail revolution that now defines how we do things and get our stuff. So the town becomes a haunt for the poor, the disaffected and the oldies. Each group there for their own valid reasons but none being well served by the graffiti walls, crumbling structures and creaking template that holds them. So who, with the right amount of clout, has a plan?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Scenes from a relatively untroubled garden

It's the late part of summer when the fun slows down! The tranquility of the garden is something I find quite difficult to spell and that's very annoying when the Blogger spell checker goes on the fritz, a thing it does regularly. It's a perverse sort of three (or two on a bad day) strikes and you're out rule. I often have to resort to Google for tricky words or proper names or tangential references. Just as well I don't write too much, otherwise I'd be creating files in Word and cutting and pasting and generally faffing in some intense way and building up misspelled clutter. Of course the no faff solution is to type less and use more photos (or four motos if I mistype) and so fill the daily evil peril that is the huge empty white space I see before my weeping eyes that tortures me or is it just those dry and barren contents of my withered soul silently screaming as they writhe in their pit?  The great, deep and  invisible one that I still refuse to acknowledge. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sad about the USA

This cartoon from today's Guardian pretty much sums up how the White House looks to the rest of the world (well maybe not all of it) under Trump's pathetic regime. Sad.

Ways of Seeing

I saw this scary flying pig's head on a wheelie bin today (aka a Devon Pig or a Cornwall Black for those of you who know you're pigs). That's about it really (the side of an industrial bin), I snapped a photo of it and promptly forgot about until I checked my phone back home. Says a lot about digital images and their worth and my levels of concentration. Looking at the image again I'm also starting to see a Cyberman, some kind of Zulu Warrior Mask and the Man in the Iron Mask (by Alexandre Dumas) not to mention a 1920's cartoon character drawn in the style of Little Orphan Annie, not sure of the artist. There's also a bit of Fritz Lang's Metropolis...I could go on.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Garden like a jungle?

Is your garden like a jungle? If it is then I presume you live some where along or very near to the Equator. Good for you. I hope you've got the various creepy crawlies under control too. Bye for now!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Kingdom of Fife: Daily Photo

A hole in the heavens, seen from the foreshore at Limekilns, Fife.
There was a certain air of tranquility about the Forth Estuary (we never really call it that) last night, the water was a milky smooth creamy kind of liquid and the air was still, no biting, sharp winds from the west, no hypnotic drizzle or heavy cloud. Just floaty woolly cotton and the rays of the sun's end of day run sprayed out across the sky. Peace in our time, unlike so many other places touched by the same rays.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Thin man standing

Just some self help books and articles I'm planning to write any day soon:

Why you're watering your house plants all wrong.
Why you're clipping your toe nails way too much.
Why you need to eat more French Toast and change your breakfasting life.
How to succeed in the business world of Bubble Tea.
How to detect the odour of a damaged Samsung phone in a crowded shopping mall (emergency method).
Why you're continually backsliding in your chosen religion and/or philosophical viewpoint but still getting somewhere.
Why you need to review your laundry methodology, frequency and regularity.
Why you can't eat that shit anymore.
What your hot breath and your general demeanor says about you.
Eleven things that they don't tell you about in lists of ten things they don't tell you about.
Ten reasons why you're not a lizard.
How to hold an adult conversation that'll move disputed mountains.
Why you're using Google Maps all wrong.
How to conduct a dignified exit from a room full of trouble.
Why you're second best at most things and terrible at the rest.
Why you laugh like a horse and engage in animal antics.
One hundred ways to correctly hang up a sporting  jacket.
Why you can eat fat but conduct yourself in a completely thin manner.
What your choice of cocktail colour says about you.
You and your best friend's height problem.
The history of why nobody learns anything from history except other people.
The complete works of Harpo Marx and Smirnoff explained in the language of a child.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bubble Tea

A visit to an Eastern/Asian Supermarket is always fun if slightly expensive and possibly results in filling cupboards and shelves with inedible food that will gather dust and rot away over many years...but not this time. You see Bubble Tea has been discovered, tea that has morphed from bubble cocktails (or maybe the other way round), one of them must have come first but I've no idea which. The tea is a mixture/powder that you add boiling water to like a Pot Noodle, then you add/stir in the bubbles from a sachet. Pretty simple really, all you have to do is decipher the simple Korean script. 

The bubbles of course aren't bubbles at all, they are pea sized beads of...tapioca. I've noticed that use of the word tapioca often results in a violent reaction from the listener. It seems tapioca is not cool and is viewed as a kind of school dinner poison and torture device administered by totalitarian regimes that has traumatised generations, apart from me that is. Get over your past folks it's just a weird cereal thingy in a cup. Once brewed (?) you slowly sip the tea and bubble mix through a wide and squeezy straw via a punched out hole in the lid. The taste is basically like tea made with condensed milk, very sweet and milky, the tapioca adds a strange and slightly unsettling consistency that is strangely pleasant...after a while. 

OK I'd concede it's an acquired taste but if, like me you're a little fed up of milky lattes and bitter flat whites and frothy froth that's dressed up as a volcanic Cappuccino  then perhaps it's time to experiment with the other non-bubble bubbles. The teas appear to come in a variety of flavours, none of which I can translate or properly describe but it's still worth a tasty try, particularly when topped of with a green tea filled Panda Chocy Biscuit.

I seems that there are gods who are lonely, who knew? They also make noodle pots and crisps.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday's Optical Illusion

No good day is complete without experiencing a wild and crazy (?) optical illusion of some sort; unending stairways, gravity defying elephants, faces in things etc. Here's one that contains sixteen circles, that's round things in case you're unclear on what you're going to experience. Their eventual discovery (which happens quite quickly) will not change your life in any significant way.

Generally I find the best illusions are those that we have about ourselves: looking clever by putting on spectacles, appearing witty with razor sharp one liners, freedom from underarm BO and sweat, measuring yourself as slightly successful in life because you can drive, having fresh breath an hour after brushing your teeth and being slightly taller than you actually are when in a crowd at a supermarket checkout. The list is not exhaustive. Sometimes I truly wonder where the time goes.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

One happy banana

This little fellow is really happy because today he was not eaten at the prescribed time. He was given a respite of a quite a few hours because I finished work early and so did not eat him at about 1200 as I had planned. His date with my mouth, stomach and intestines was therefore moved forward to around 1600 when he was finally eaten along with a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer and a cup of coffee containing milk that frankly was slightly on the turn but I stubbornly made it OK to drink as I couldn't be arsed cooking up another. I grimaced a little whist sipping it though but I survived (which is more than can be said for the banana) and I was distracted  by a cat. P.S. For the squeamish amongst you at least one banana was harmed quite seriously in the writing of this blog piece. 

Trees:from last evening.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

After long years of searching the lost treasure has finally arrived, in the post, from the USA. I could have used Europe or even the UK but this new imaginary trade agreement means that if you thoughtlessly click on anything on the internet and fail to think through what you're doing then surely stuff will arrive at your home before you can cancel the order or even recall making it. 

By the way when I say "lost" I mean not found easily by somebody like me and when I say "long years" I mean a few moments and when I say "finally arrived" I mean it turned up in three days thanks to the superb US Postal System. This kind of prompt service is so unexpected and peculiar that I wrote it in a song (no it was a blog) but then again #unexpected and #peculiar  are the hashtags that fit best with most of my routine thinking processes. But is it really treasure? Yes it is, of a kind, because it's a rare type of motor car medicine designed to stop the noise of virtual chalk screaming against an unreal blackboard.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Is that...?

Famous historically doubtful uses of the word "fuck" No.99. If you failed to view Game of Thrones this week then this will mean nothing to you. If you did then know exactly what happened next though you will not know the actual outcome or the consequences. That'll all be revealed eventually as it's basically and adult fantasy piece that runs on and on and (famously) contains dragons and ...

Monday, August 07, 2017

Ena was real

When I was a child I was pretty sure that Ena Sharples of Coronation Street was real and not a fictional character. That set me thinking about other folks we encounter as children who may be other than real and indeed other characters, fictional or otherwise(?) who have come to be regarded as real and that can happen at any age. It's the thin edge of a large and unreal wedge. Come to think of it my old granny thought Ena and the rest of the cast were real (or at least she kept up that pretense from the start of the show till she died in 1980 or thereabouts). Perhaps my subconscious was too alert as a nipper but my sense of real life more blunted ... so Martha Longhurst, Minnie Caldwell and that lovable scoundrel Len Fairclough were just ordinary, everyday working folks who participated in an early version of reality TV. The only one who wasn't real of course was Elsie Tanner as she was the fictional mother in law of that fictional Tony Blair fellow.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Credit Card Plectrums

Attention all you dwindling numbers of washed out guitar gods and would be princes or princesses of the silver fret board. OK, so you've no money and no worthwhile plastic, no pay as you go or pay as you play or proximity swiping possibilities. If this is your fate and even more sorry state then simply take those plastic fantastics and mince them away into chip and pin plectrums that are easy to use, easy to lose and a bit on the thin side but useful for some nice jangle pop or lazy Sunday strumming. Cash used to be king and Jonny Cash used to be hurt but these bad boys will soothe your cotton picking blues with their recycled shape shifting and vulnerable edgy easy bend qualities. End of message.

Friday, August 04, 2017


I can neither confirm nor deny that I may require some long lasting, short staying, high quality sleep over the next few days or so. My outputs may be low, my input may be less, my senses may be dulled and I might fail to pickup on any reasonable requests. None of this means I'm dead or lazy or in a long and long lasing sulk. I'm just elsewhere.


A lot has been said about how rubbish a summer we've had here and that's true but there have been some days when you just catch a glimpse of how good it might all be, then the mist descends and it's back to normal. I'm here behind the lens  and badly in need of an ice cream, it never did arrive.
A washed up, washed out telegraph pole (section). Somebody's broadband is down somewhere.
From a certain angle this log could easily be mistaken for a crocodile, the angle I used here is not that one however.

Over there is Fife Ness and St Andrews, over here is Barry Buddon coast and some sandy beaches.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Incomplete strike

In some kind of a dream an airstrike was ordered, perhaps from the east, maybe the west. Whatever direction it hit us but not with bombs or bullets but with some mind altering agent that (surprisingly) altered our minds as we slept. We just snored and snuffled it in through the night, me, you, everybody. When we came around the world seemed the same and mostly was the same but the way we perceived it was subtly different. Some things were OK, almost normal but others, well... I kept seeing this model starship but it was so detailed that it was filled with earlier model, failed starships. I felt that I had to build it but first I had to make peace, peace with people that I couldn't quite recall, nor them me. I tried to explain about the starship and about what I might have done but mostly they ignored me or offered new versions of pizza dough recipes or just handed me money. None of the money was real and I wasn't really so keen on pizza anymore. I may have been vegan or at least headed that way. But maybe pizza would be OK under certain circumstances. Then the car crashes started to happen but all the trains ran on time, they just stopped at all the wrong stations. Even animals were affected, they could talk now but they made little sense. Perhaps they understood each other and ignored us. I watched TV programmes from the unpolluted parts of the world. How clean and warp free they were and the adverts were honest in as much they promised very little from the products and so we were all free to be ourselves and buy but without guilt. I saw the folly in this and returned to the starship questions and the building dilemmas. They were real and so was the airstrike. Now it was all history but leaving the planet and starting anew made sense to the minority of the population, the rest were greedy and preoccupied, just like the prisons and prisoners. All I need now is a good booster and a plan for the logistics division and a sharp knife. Am I building a model model or a real model or a real starship? Can't figure it out.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Jeanne Moreau

One half of the Viva Maria team and the stellar line up passed on today. That was French screen icon Jeanne Moreau of course, Bridget remains with us, stubborn and old. Her role in that funny, sad, sexy, surreal and daft movie was memorable and taught me ... something, well it did open my eyes a bit more to a range of odd possibilities and it made me laugh and squirm and stare way back in 1970 or thereabouts when it popped up late one night on BBC2. Back in the days when any subtitled film was both a challenge and somehow highly sophisticated, those regular  night time movies on World Cinema set in glorious black and white were a treat and a guilty pleasure. Jeanne featured in a few of the best offerings as the slow seasons passed and the medium moved from monochrome to colour and life caught up. RIP.