Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
Happy BIRTHDAY dear Peeee Ter
Happy birthday to me!
There - the demon is laid to rest. Thank you all so very much for your kindness and cyberlove.
Now - what sort of weather can we expect today? With us in the weather studio is... (Looks) Fuck! She's away having a wee.
Well - I'll tell you myself. It's sunny and blue, a construction I owe to the fabulous Kevin of Kebabylon, who drinks about one hundred yards (if that) away from moi's watering holes, but yet we've never met. And who could blame him? Anyway - he does lovely inventive things with words sometimes.
Watched that Alaska movie, Insomnia, yesterday. Great sound - thought I'd listen in DTS for a change instead of Dolby. Wow! It gave me tinnitus, but that's starting to fade. Got to watch these new surroundsound volumes, obviously. Sometimes the movie's jogging along nice and medium when suddenly BANG! BLAM! CRASH! THUMP! ricochets round the living room, enough to take your breath away.
Two rules for avoiding deafness are (a) if you can feel it in your chest, it's damaging your ears, and (b) if your ears are ringing or hissing, then it's already damaged your ears.
Back in the nineties I went to one and one only of those "clubs" that young people frequent. Ecstasy, speed and a million megawatts of music. But never, ever again. Ears hissing so loud when I came out I could hardly hear the traffic. And youngsters do it all the time - while local authorities are happy to turn a deaf ear.
Incidentally, there are no reported mass animal killings in this week's tsunami disaster. They took warning and escaped. We too could have a sixth sense, except we pollute our bodies with alcohol and nicotine and then clamp iPods on our ears. Not much chance of sensing trouble after that lot, eh?
The Guardian and Observer wax on for pages about Insomnia as if it were the greatest thing since sliced bread. But it isn't. It's just a forties B-movie with a budget. (Including Pacino and Williams - both of whose parts could be played by any competent character actor.) It's just that it's so rare these days to find an old-fashioned exciting story.
Now let me wax like that blogger in London who's always copying lists out. December 31 gets a very bad press - it's the calendar equivalent of Alaska - the one that nobody ever thinks about. (Saw some great Alaska stuff in Insomnia, btw, Josh. Feel I know it much better now. Even Portland got a mention. Is that where all the Alaskans go?)
Events of December 31
1911 Marie Curie received her (then unprecedented) second Nobel Prize.
1932 Big Ben's chimes were broadcast by the BBC for the first time.
1935 Charles Darrow patented his board game Monopoly.
1938 Dr R N Harger's "Drunkometer" was officially used to breathalyse drivers by the Indianapolis Police Department.
Nothing of significance seems to have happened on December 31 since 1938.
Except these birthdays!
Sir Alex Ferguson, football manager, 63
Sir Anthony Hopkins, actor, 67 (I was watching Hannibal just yesterday. What a coincidence. What a silly movie, but fun.)
Ben Kingsley, 61
Donna Summer ("Gays are evil, and Aids is God's revenge on them."), 56
Look how old everybody is! Miss Summer's career plummeted spectacularly after the above utterance back in the eighties, as until then she'd had a big gay following. I hate her of course, but not as much as I hate Kelvin McKenzie, the then editor of the Sun newspaper.
However, this is a day for sunshine, not for hate. I've promised my bingo ladies that if my new age comes up for a House! then I'll tell them how old I am! Chances are about evens, I would say.
Have a lovely New Year, however you celebrate it. Me, I'll be alone of course, but I'm well used to that. Goes with the territory. And at least we never fall out.
Thank you for your company and comments here over the course of 2004 - and even before that for one or two of you. Using the particular to illustrate the general is what we're about, and if even one of you "gets the point", then it hasn't been wasted time. The mass democratisation of publishing will in future be seen as one of humankind's landmarks. Very special thanks also to my guest bloggers way back in the summer. Those damn t-shirts could still happen!
It'll be summer again before you know it. Time flies when you're getting on!
Solstice, Christmas, tsunami, arthritis, radio station, constipation, work, last day of being 57, mother dies tomorrow... etc, etc. I'm sure you get the drift.
Rainy and grey. But we're nearly through. Less than 48 hours and it's over.
They loved New Year's Eve, when I was a kid. They kept the Christmas cake back till the thirty-first, so it could be my birthday cake as well. Always I had to cut it, in the evening, round about eight, and they would sing "Happy Birthday dear Peter".
Then I grew up and moved away, but not very much, and not very far. Still though, we were united in thought on that evening, despite my guilt at not being with them. It's not as if I had a "life" or anything - I just didn't want to be their "kid" any more - not in my thirties and forties. So I spent it - like so much of my life - alone. Sometimes drunk, sometimes drugged, but always in my heart, that little boy getting Happy Birthday sung to me.
Until that December 31 some years back when the phone rang. Eight or nine years. Who counts these things? It was my sister. "Are you sitting down, Peter?" she said. "Our mother is dead."
Natural causes. At eight in the evening. Cake time. My birth time. Her best time.
And you call me the drama queen?
Have a nice thirty-first tomorrow, in case I don't see you.
There! I've gone and done it. And I promised I wouldn't be miserable this time. Now I'm having to fight back the tears again. Too emotional. Far too much. Why does writing a thing revive such memories? Create such validation?
Well - how're you all today? Me, I feel like I've done ten rounds with a feather duster. Heavens - I'd forgotten how much drink makes you drunk!
Fun and games in the Port last night, as you'll see from the moonshot below, and associated comments. My abiding memory was good friend Sandra grinding her toosh into me old man as we kissed goodbye. Push, grind, thrust, she went - with all the delicacy of a jackhammer. Round and round in circles. See if anything came up. (Is that a bit shocking for a family publication?)
(Little) Alex turned up with some bird of 32. "How long have you two known each other?" I asked, sweetly, but already knowing the answer. "Ten hours," he answered. We laughed. Everything's got to start somewhere.
Sandra then proceeded to take over their lives, as she does. And Karen. They'll never be the same again. "I want you to look after Alex," I instructed Sandra. "Be like a mother to him, but remember he's already got one." She promised she would, doubtless cursing me inside at the very suggestion.
Big Al wasn't impressed at my three days reclusion. Says he regularly does five. We agreed solitude is important training for old age.
In my pursuit of the ultimate "sound movie", I last night watched Cabin Fever. It's quite good fun - quotes from just about everywhere. You might find it too derivative. But the interview with director Eli Roth is really interesting. (My God - aren't directors getting younger these days!) Here's a man genuinely in love with horror movies, having got hooked on The Exorcist when he was eight. Spent his entire childhood watching them and then throwing up with the adrenalin. Running out of "theaters" projectile vomiting.
Worth a look when there's nothing better to rent. Plus a couple of the characters might have got more response than Sandra down below.
I had to go out of course - the alternative would have been to add agoraphobia to my list. Strange, so strange to leave the safe confines and face the wintry breeze. Brrr!
Isobar first - as it's almost always civilised. Two pints down the throttle to get up confidence for the Port, the Holy Mother Pub.
Woolly Dave was there, and Big Al. I told Dave he was completely out of order barging in to my broadcast last Friday about some matter that could have waited ten minutes till the end. However, Dave didn't acknowledge my ideas, but instead kept re-iterating his own. This is called community.
Alex came in and asked for this URL. Naked Blog. He said everyone at work reads it avidly. I gave him the URL. Said I'd upgraded him from "Little Alex" to just "Alex". Told him the only reason I write about him and no-one else is because of the Port. When you embrace the Port you abandon your privacy. It's a well known fact.
Stewart came in - my radio co-presenter from Friday. "Our broadcast on Friday was really good," I said to him. "I've had lots of enthusiastic feedback."
"Yes - I'll be sending it off," he replied. "Get me some paid work."
I was pleased for him - I've had similar ideas myself. "Go and get me a copy of the show as well," I said. "I fancy doing that a bit myself."
"That'll be ten pounds," he replied. "Instructions from the Board."
I gasped at ten pounds, after all I've done for them. "Then tell the Board to shove their fucking station up their asses," I replied, sweetly. "That's the last time I darken their fucking microphones. Stick them where the sun don't shine."
This terrible disaster will be used for TV News training and dissection for aeons to come.
Phase 1 is over now - geology and hydrology. Everyone on the planet with access to electricity now knows what happened, where and when. The WHY? element doesn't apply to this one, unlike 9/11, where it was paramount. The tektonic plate theory has held for most of my life, although I do actually remember Mr W. my geography teacher rubbishing it when I was about 14. We called him "Natchie" because he taught Natural Regions. He said it was ridiculous to suggest that South America once fitted into Africa. We believed him, until we met greater brains.
So what we are left with now is WHO? And WHO's best friend, HOW MANY DEAD?
Today there are people returning to Britain. Arriving dazed and confused, with little more than they're standing in, they often burst into tears. Zoom to big closeup. Tears will keep people watching for at least two more days, now that we're becoming a little jaded by wave shots. News controllers and producers run around their executive suites, clutching yesterday's viewing figures, and cracking the champagne!
More death! Aftershocks!! How about a plane crash full of tsunami survivors!!!
They are the scum of the earth - vultures in the face of human heartache - and I despise them. Although on this occasion - so far - there've been some elements of restraint.
Because earthquakes and floods are simple, you see. There is no counter-argument. No-one to broadcast against the Great Satan on Al Jazeera TV. No backstory, no history, no Old Testament, no nothing. Just the relentless move, grind, push of the cooled and solidified part of the earth. The part on which we briefly live, like mould on the skin of your cooling coffee.
Sky News have incorporated a ticker across the bottom of their screen where people can email or text that they're safe. This is nothing short of genius.
WHO? WHO? WHO? You couldn't make it up. Got to hand it to them.
Now - how do I give money to help these surviving people? Are the big name charities to be trusted, or should the banks run their own collections at zero cost?
Do you know, cherubs, I haven't crossed the doorstep for three whole days. That's right. The longest I can remember without human contact.
So how do I feel?
Well, apart from some constipation (haven't decided whether to blog that or not. All seems more mobile now), it's been OK. Recluse rules. Haven't shaved or showered, naturally, so bound to be somewhat ripe. Ah well, work tomorrow, so the hygiene re-asserts. I swear without my job I'd stink to buggery.
This isn't a constipation story, although at 9.15 last night I was tempted to squirt some Fairy Liquid washing up stuff up there. Purple Herbal. Anything to get some movement around my Shit of Mass Destruction. It was just like being in labour! So I read some blogs instead - standing up of course. Zed's blog was quite helpful.
No - digital input is when you use a coaxial cable to connect your DVD player to your Home Theater (sic) system. It's quite awesome. It is another planet. Sadly I can't get my surround speakers behind me (without burrowing into Tom the actor's flat next door), but even so, the effects are mighty impressive. It's hard to believe that just one short month ago I was watching analogue fuzzyvision, and listening through a two inch mono speaker. Wtf didn't someone tell me? I would have paid attention.
So now of course it's upgrade fever. What can I do next to get the max effect for the min expenditure? I've identified the supplied speakers as being a little tinny, so they could be the first thing to get replaced.
Dare I connect up the Playstation? For half an hour just? Shouldn't fuck my hands up too much. I want to be in Vice City with Tommy Vercetti. I must do that before I die. Plus I need some DVD's with huge fuck-off sound on them.
"Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea..."
It was, as a News story, almost perfect. Lots of death. And at Christmas time, give or take a few hours. Lots of pictures. On-going pictures, as they came in. Plus that ever-present worry about aftershocks. It was, and still is, the biggest thing since 9/11.
Yet lacking, strangely lacking, in one key element.
There was no villain. Even a train crash has a range to choose from. Bad driver. Bad railtrack maintenance. Even a bad car driver with his vehicle on the track.
But here there was only Holy Mother Earth, having a wee shiver to herself. Ease those buit-up tensions. Have a wee stretch. That's better. (The planet's still "ringing" even as I write this. It's molten rock and iron, ye ken. Fluid. Only pretends to be solid so's people will build luxury apartments.)
Tragedies like this remind us of our feebleness in the face of the Universe, and our temporary, so tenuous place in the fiery scheme of things.
Because of abstinence and healthy living on Christmas Day, I was - unlike most of you - wide awake and alert as the first reports trickled in. As "many might be killed" escalated through "hundreds feared dead" up to "death toll in thousands", it was clear we were on to an alpha plus, A-list news event.
So who won? BBC News 24 or Sky News?
Well, even though it sticks in the craw to recommend or endorse any Murdoch product (gay men with moral sense boycott that organisation completely), I have to say that on this occasion, Sky did the biz.
They had two presenters, essential for such a huge event. Better maps. Important people in front of cameras, not just "on the line". Near constant rolling pictures, rather than studio shots.
Whilst the Beeb muddled along with one sleepyface presenter, and a seeming failure to recognise quite what they had on their hands. But of course the BBC has two tiers of News "anchors" - Channels 1 and 2 (Dermot, Natasha, Sophie, Jeremy, Kirsty and that nice black man) and the rest, on News 24, who are doomed forever to cable and Freeview. Sky could and did put their finest upfront, despite the December 26 date.
Yesterday illustrated that pretty damn good. And no, I'm not converting to Murdoch. I only look at it very occasionally, and it comes on Freeview so costs me nothing at all. (Naturally I would drink flaming petrol before I would buy any products advertised on the channel.)
Thought for the day
Thousands lose their lives to floods in Bangladesh every year. Yet this gets next to no coverage. Por qua? Because there are next to no white people in Bangladesh. Think about it. And think which town got more coverage yesterday than everywhere else put together. (Phuket) And then perhaps wonder why.
Naked Blog continues to wholeheartedly recommend the BBC and The Guardian newspaper as the nearest things to free speech we have in this country.
Thousands dead this morning. What can I say? Nothing.
(Although I confess that every time I heard Phuket mentioned, I kept thinking thank God mike's safely home, hair and shirts intact. But what his Holiday Buddhist Inn will be like now is anyone's guess.)
Quite dreadful. Why is there always a disaster at Christmas? Or is that just a myth?
Well, that's Christmas Day safely behind us again, the furthest away it ever gets. Praise the Lord, for He is merciful.
Words can't describe how much I hate and fear that day. Near terror. It colours all my year. That and what's left of this God-forsaken month, this asshole of all that should be sacred.
Me, I have more demons still to face on the 31st, but they are as nothing compared to what people in SE Asia are undergoing right now. If it came to a choice of childhood memories or a 10 metre wall of water racing towards me, I'd take the memories any time. But hurry on January, please.
Dolby Pro Logic II
I love it. (This is one of the settings of my new tv surroundsound system.) It's awesome. I'm even stopped muting the adverts, in case I get a buzz off the sound track. Become a total TV victim. Never knew what I was missing all these years. (But then again, who does?)
Sound highlights to date are
The Simpsons intro music
BBC News 24 Theme... (you know the one... beep, beep, beep, beep...), and (hopefully the first of many) a
Steven Soderburgh movie last night with George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. Out of Sight. It had genuine, actual music, as opposed to just blaring noise.
Later Jools Holland was on, but I didn't want to turn up the bands too much, out of consideration for my neighbours. (Old-fashioned, I know, but then you should never sink to their level. Plus there are other, quieter neighbours to think about. I haven't become a decibel terrorist.)
The whole shebang cost only 200 quid at Richer Sounds. Panasonic. I'm sure there are tons better sets, but they can wait. I don't think I can ever listen to telly from a point source again.
Next up has to be a TV table to hold all these proliferating gadgets. At the moment there's a soundbox controller, DVD, Freeview and centre speaker all stacked up on top of my ancient black Daewoo. (Remember when black was fashionable?) Four shiny grey things, like some Dante's electronic Christmas tree.
Sunny and blue
Set for the whole day. (Well, until it starts to get dark about three.) My phone's just rung, but I ignored it of course. Maybe it's someone who actually wants to meet me, rather than just being kind. We shall see. Or maybe we won't. No way am I spending one moment of the daylight inside a smoky beerdump.
On Friday night a small drunken lesbian at work grabbed my hand for a supposed handshake - but turned it into a major squeeze to show how "manly" she was. The idea was to impress her more "femme" (is that the word?) girlfriend who was watching. I yanked it back, but the damage was done, and all last night my hand was in rheumatic pain. Three aspirins. (She did apologise when I shouted at her.)
Then it spread to the right knee and ankle, left elbow and left hand (but not as much as the right). What's happening to my skeleton? Plus I've got a cold.
Next time she gets a kiss on the cheek like any other woman would. Take it or leave it, honey. (I thought trying to ape the hetties' roles was old hat these days.)
Right - that's all you're getting. I feel a bit better for being in touch again, but of course we can't forget - nor should we try to - the horror unfolding by the Asian seas. I'm glad my tax money can go there to provide help. That's called society.
"Come on all, lets have a singalong to get in the festive spirit...
On the 12th day of Chavmas, my true love sent to me:
12 chavvers chavvin'
11 prammers prammin'
10 lads joy-ridin'
9 slappers slurpin'
8 midriffs showin'
7 scallies stealin'
5 SOVVY RINGS!
4 stolen phones
3 navel studs
2 tracksuit tops
...and a pikey in Burberry!!
So very, very true. Someone in The Guardian was saying that the Beckhams' double Christening in a specially-made Chav Chapel was a style highlight of 2004.
Talking of Christ, I'm assuming you all caught His Holiness the Pope blethering on this morning. Holy spittle poured from his Holy mouth as he droned and drooled on. You felt he was a little past his best. You felt he might die at any moment, in fact.
Reactionary bastard. How much blood does that man have on his hands with this continued banning of the condom? One can only hope members of his "flock" ignore the old goat and get on with it. He started off so well - all that kissing of airport tarmacs. Could have done a lot. Could have dragged the Holy Mother Church kicking and screaming into modernity. But no.
Ah well. This is what happens when you allow men (or women) to come between you and God. Priests (of whatever denomination and cult) are an even bigger con-job than doctors and teachers.
Anyway - that's enough about religion on this holiday Saturday. More than enough. The sun is shining, and the imperative is out.
But today, for once, I'll probably stay in. Full freezer, new gadgets to play with... People, who needs em?
It used to upset me bigtime, being alone on Christmas day. Not for any valid or realistic reason, just that it seemed such a social and personal failure.
So I would accept invitations to Christmas Dinner. (Lunch is a wholly inappropriate word for the annual overeat. It's Dinner, and anyone who says Christmas Lunch is a poseur.) Didn't really matter whose invitation, so long as I was with people. Bah, humbug.
If you can tolerate your own company on the happiest, most sociable day of the year, then any other day is simply no contest.
So - to that end I've just Christmas dined on Pasta Carbonara from Iceland (four for three pounds), and later I'll microwave sprouts and cauliflower for that all-important vegetable contribution. Total cost one pound and ten pence; cooking time 12 minutes. Who says Christmas in an expensive chore?
Possessions don't bring happiness
Oh yes, they fucking well do. Last night partyboy downstairs rolled in around 2 am (as yer do), and immediately started with the BOOM BOOM BOOM of some currently-fashionable band. Calmly I reached for the remote, and turned up Haydn's Creation. (I was watching it on my new Freeview box, and listening on the even newer Panasonic Home Theater (sic) Sound System.)
And do you know? I'd only got halfway round the volume knob when the din below disappeared as fast as it had started. Haydn 1, Rockshite 0.
Nothing chav about this house! Merry Christmas to all our Naked readers. Sorry no emails looked at for some weeks, as we're by no means out of the woods yet - even though the bears are mostly sleeping.
Next peril is December 31, the anniversary of my mother's death. And of my birth, all those decades ago. Two down, two to go. It's a minefield.
(Forgive me, but I don't think I can even go round the comment boxes today. My love to all and you know who you are.)
Darlings. Just back from my radio show. Got a new Home Theater (sic) thingy yesterday. Fabulous. Can't wait till partyboy downstairs starts his teenage kicks again. I'll play them the entire Star Wars Trilogy through the floor.
It seems funny, now there's no longer anything to be miserable about. Yes, it's after the Solstice, and soon the days will be drawing out. By early to mid January you will notice the difference.
Yesterday, sadly although I can live with it, the sky stayed lightly clouded. No heavenly visions to be had at 12.41. So I didn't bother my ass getting up any hills. Stayed here, stayed old and read blogs a bit. Caught up, but not with everyone yet.
In fact I only just got out of the house in time for the big event, after nipping back for my most mini umbrella, just in case. Well - you never can tell.
Walking across Leith Links with the solsticial sun low above, I txted everyone in my address book who might be remotely interested. "Happy solstice!" I txted. Plain and to the point, like me.
Then I breezed into the Port for my first pint of the new Quarter, when who should be sitting there but three of my textees! Stevie Stix, Big Straight Al, and Scott. (This is called community. You would love it. Most of the time.)
Babs came in. She isn't working at Pats Taps any more, she said. Just functions and dos. We chatted a bit, and she kindly invited me to Christmas Dinner, as did Sandra last week. Thanks so much to both, but I think we'll meet up on the day anyway, in no doubt the usual place. I need to keep mobile. Having Christmas on a Saturday is a hugely good idea, as everywhere will be open (or should be), and it'll pass more or less like any other day. It means nothing to me. I just can't get my head round virgin births, and without that the whole damn thing's nada. Your views might differ.
Kinda reckon Christianity's dying on its feet these days. Look at the TV schedule. Needs to get up to date. Ditch that old-fashioned doctrine, and instead bring in loyalty cards, cut-price pastries after 8pm, and all day shopping on Sundays (with creche). And lose that pesky pound charge for a trolley! If you can't trust a Christian, who the hell can you? I mean look at George and Tony.
To work shortly (only got four days' graft for the entire rest of this month) and my annual review with Top Boss. This will doubtless contain elements of reprimand for costing them a hundred quid on Saturday. Ah well. I think my running total on that score is still in the acceptable range, though. Maybe I'll get a rise!!
If I can be bothered, I'll do some Naked Blog 2004 highlights in the days to come. Been a cracker!
Sicut erat in principio,
Et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.
Today I really should tell you about last night's radio show, as it was very, very funny. Not so much techno as technofear while one thing after another went wrong. Even I was not blameless, having taken along two Yello albums by mistake instead of one Yello and one Dylan.
But today is for one thing and one thing only, and that's the Winter (northern hemisphere) Solstice. It's a very emotional day for me, and this time not only is it during the brief spell of daylight, but the forecast is sunny. Just wondering which hill I should climb before 12.41
Pray I don't spend it in the Port, in good company, and in the warm.
When I was twenty, I would have laughed in your face if you'd told me I'd live this long. Or even want to.
Emotional, as I say. Love to you all and heartfelt thanks for your "company", which means more to me than you might realise. Two and a bit hours to the Solstice!
Search me, Guv!
We've just been searched for naked joan rivers. We're at number one for that. Wonder if it was joanie herself searching?
Congratulations to me pal Gwen, who has accepted an engagement. (Strictly speaking, you congratulate the man, not the woman, in these matters. The woman is meant to be so damn desirable that it's bleedin' obvious!) But I'm very old. Times change. O tempora, O mores!
So congratulations to her and to Craig, (it is him, isn't it?) whom I've known for many years. Fine man. Make an honest woman of you, etc.
People are recommending blogs all over the place. They're packed with visual style. More gizmos than you could shake a stick at. But where's the writing? Eh?
As a rule of thumb, I postulate today an inverse relation between look and quality of blogs. The more glamorous the initial "hit", the less the person has to say. And vice versa. These are generalisations, of course.
And this is henceforth to be known as Peter's Postulate.
It's more Aristotleian than old Ari himself. (You're laughing at my Greek reference. But like much on these pages, it's not totally in jest.) Many of history's so-called "great thinkers" only came up with a couple of interesting sentences in their entire lives. A good blogger does that every day. Think about it with your cornflakes, muchacho.
It's such a strange thing, not being depressed at a time when you're always depressed. Oh, there are limits of course. Such things as cards, presents, visits, accepting people's kind invitations... all these are simply undoable, and the "one minute at a time" mantra has to prevail until mid January. There's an awful lot of pitfalls still ahead. It's a nightmare.
This is a round about way of saying that if you've kindly sent me a card, well of course I love it, but can't actually open it yet. Same with emails. Must have over a thousand of the buggers backed up by now. But thank you so very much anyway, in a real not virtual sense. Same with weblogs. I'm hardly reading them.
Ah well. Never did claim to be perfect.
I've been invited on to Leith FM's flagship midnight show with Stevie and Robert tonight. I've promised them I won't be very gay, or very old, and I'll speak no faster than one word a minute. It's that sort of show. Dubious Tunes. This is honour indeed. They have an audience in two figures I could swear.
Now what music to take? Was thinking vinyl. Mr Tambourine man - the Dylan (full) version. Maybe some Stones. Yello. I think they're kinda hoping I'll be some sort of guru on Sixties tunes. Hmmm. Maybe I should dig out my Woollies "Best of 1967" CD.
Stevie is adoring his sudden radio fame. Although, to be honest, he has played T in the Park with his band Wayne Paycheck. (Luvvit!) And what's this I hear about Scotland's flagship Franz Ferdinand punching each other on tour? Bit girly, if you ask me.
Yesterday was transcendent. (Again! Yawn! I know - all this sublime experience must be getting a bit wearing for you.) It featured me, the sun, half of southern Scotland, and a full body workout.
Cardiovascular! Sunny and blue!
Yes - it was my ascent of the Radical Road, named after some bit of history. There's nothing radical about the road: that refers to people.
The road is the interface between the vertical part and the 45 degree part to the left of this photo. It's high. It's a fantastic place to grab the late afternoon sun. To stand there celebrating your late middle-aged fitness, breathing snow clouds out your mouth, while staring at the setting globe across the other side of the plain.
A plain filled with Edinburgh but you're not in it now; you're high, high above. Higher than the castle. Higher than the Scott monument. Higher than the big wheel, all these features ant-like beneath you.
Because for that time there it's just you and the sun - the only real star - creator and nourisher of you and all you see.
It's over the Pentland Hills, skimming but dwarfing the Hillend ski slope. It's three o' clock, and the city far below is dark. But you are not. You are alight, afire with hope and anticipation of the new regeneration... the times to come and the next great year to be experienced. With all your being and fibre. The sun. And me. Till death do us part and I return to the stardust whence I sprang.
Yes - it was that good! (But of course you had to be there!) The exercise bit was great too - nothing like a bit of the old in/out to get those adrenalins and endorphins flowing! Could hardly sleep last night because of the invigoration, and retreading the path in my mind. Eeek! The plummet!
And today, of course, it has to be again, again! (Whatever did happen to the tellytubbies, btw?) Again, again but more - I sense Arthur's Seat beckoning my rheumatic legs. Higher and higher! (That's not some sexual innuendo. Arthur's Seat is a volcanic plug.)
What's happening in the world? I hear Donald Rumsfeld didn't sign his condolence letters. Has Charles Clark(e) had his ears done yet? Never get to be PM looking like a garden gnome, if you ask me. (I really don't know these things, because the telly seems to have no interest greater than the Christmas Number One. And you wonder why I ignore pop music!)
The Solstice is so close now I can almost snort it! Tomorrow at 12.41 GMT/Universal Time. That would be 13.41 Central European, 07.41 Eastern Standard, and 04.41 Pacific. Have a good one!
Sunny and blue! I know you won't want me to spend a moment longer than necessary indoors, so this has to be brief. Maybe later when it's dark.
Charles Kennedy, leader of Britain's third Party, was on Breakfast with Frost this morning, and his face spoke volumes. Volumes of fags and booze. Sorry pal, you've become a liability. Not the first. Churchill wouldn't have lasted five minutes nowadays, they say.
Last night at work there was a missed claim. All bingos have them. That's where there's a dispute as to whether a player shouted HOUSE! loud enough or quickly enough. (You have to get your oar in before the next number is called or even started.) It's a knife edge, and you only get three seconds to cut it.
So - did I speak first, or did she? And in a building so large there's a significant time lag for speech. Like a cathedral echo. Exactly like that.
Dearie me. Normally I'm very good at these, but this time the tape-recorded evidence was judged in favour of the player, and a three figure sum had to be paid. The dearest one I've ever missed.
Not good. And guess who has his annual review on Wednesday? You couldn't make it up. Briefly I considered resigning, but then thought... wtf! You're not even slightly depressed! Fucking get on with it, eh? Nothing else for it.
Sunny and blue! I sense Holyrood Park again, and the Radical Road. (This is essentially a mountain walk. Not every city has one. But this one does.)
Just back from my hour's stint on Leith FM 87.7 Loved it, of course, and Stewart was very easy to co-present with. We did three B's - bingo, blogging and Blunkett. (And yes, we did play Mr Blunkett out with Bye Bye Baby, Baby Goodbye.) Cruel or what?
"Well, Peter... have you enjoyed your hour's presenting?" Stewart asked. "Yes, loved it," I retorted. "When are you having me back? And how much are you gonna pay me?"
We laughed. Time passed. Frequencies modulated.
Yesterday I learned the sad news that one of my colleagues, who cannot be named, has been suspended for fighting. It was after our works night out in the Casino, so technically counts as work, apparently. Hmmm. Watch this space. Young men do fight. It's a form of bonding.
Lunch with Sandra in the Isobar, and it was truly awful. Now, I realise pubs and restaurants have to make a profit on their meals, but there are limits. And 6 quid for a tablespoon of chicken, some runny sauce, and a cupful of cheap white rice goes way beyond my limits. Sorry.
Sandra fared much better with the vegetable tortilla wrap. Two wraps, tons of chips and a good portion of salad. Kindly she gave me loads of her chips and salad. Sandra doesn't eat much, what with being so slim an all.
Meanwhile, back in the Port, Alex was chatting to a Russian sailor called Vladimir. Second engineer. "Scott's a first engineer," I told him, waving vaguely at Scott in the distance.
But Vladimir had eyes only for Sandra, who by now was having to work on remaining vertical. He was very, very smitten. "Tell him she's got a daughter and a boyfriend!" I hissed at Alex, who was simultaneously translating. (I was only looking after my friend's wellbeing. The last thing she'd need would be kidnapping and smuggling aboard some Russian ship.)
"How do you say 'she's only flirting with you' in Russian?" Alex said, looking somewhat bemused. (He left Russia while still a young teen. The finer adult vocabularies are maybe a little beyond him.) "I don't know," I said. "But for God's sake tell him something quick."
Vladimir was calling Alex "Sasha". "That's a girl's name!" Sandra declared. "You're a poof!"
"Sandra, you know I've asked you not to use the p - word in my presence," I snapped at her. This conversation was plummeting on every level. Time for a sharp exit, which happened the moment Sandra's pal Marylin from Debenhams came in, and Vladimir switched his radar onto her.
And Marylin was mercifully sober. So I safely left the three of them to their heterosexual merry-go-round, and had a quiet pint myself sitting back in the Isobar. In the window, surrounded by fairy lights, and looking like an ageing Amsterdam madam.
Thanks for all your wonderful suggestions re radio music. Twas a bit too late to action them this time, but there'll be plenty more opportunities. I will be back.
As part of my policy of denying myself nothing at this time of year, I've this week embraced the world of daytime TV. (Well, if it's good enough for Julie Burchill...)
Not totally embraced, you understand, as the following topics do nothing but raise my blood pressure...
other people's relationships
So what's left, I hear you asking. Surely that's the entire daytime TV oeuvre?
But there you would be wrong, mi amigo.
Immediately after Dermot and Natasha, the BBC have taken to slipping in a half hour show called Moneyspinners. This is seductive, as I'm tucked in nice and warm, and the alternative to watching Moneyspinners is to get up and draw the curtains back. To face the cold dark world.
So no. Instead I face Lorne Spicer, a young Estuary blonde woman, loosely based on Alison Steadman in Abigail's Party. Except she's real. And every bit as bossy. Lorne's job is to descend on hapless families and sort out their finances.
Now finances I can just about tolerate. It's people's bloody love lives make me want to throw a brick at the telly. Can we expect to see Blunkett on Jerry Springer in the near future, btw? Oh, he had to go. Shown himself to be a fecking idiot in too many ways. No sympathy. He's done very well out of the public purse for a very long time, and the gravy train's not left the station yet.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you're being paid by the public then behave how the public expect. In particular, keep yer knob zipped up apart from your wife. Can't put it clearer than that, guv.
But back to Moneyspinners. Yesterday it was a white trash family. (Smoked, drank, said *beep* a lot.) Revolting, except perhaps for the poor mother, the one who always ends up victim in these setups. No wonder she drank. In fact they all drank so much that Lorne took them into their local, where they'd poured and set out every single pint they would normally drink in one month. You couldn't move for pints of beer. They were visibly shocked, as was even I, I who am not immune to the charms of a pint or three.
Then today it was a middle class black family, whose main problem was buying things on interest-free credit and not paying it back in time. So their seven hundred quid fridge cost them 1700 quid and still rising. They had three freezers, three microwaves, two fridges and two dishwashers. They got rid of their NTL cable telly, which saved ninety quid a month. The teenage kids were upset at that, but reasonable about it, being middle class.
Fascinating unwitting contrast in family manners.
Moneyspinners. And no, of course we don't recommend you watch daytime TV. Write blogs instead. It's much more creative.
Today I have to return my new DAB radio to Dixons. It works just fine, but there's no proper OFF switch, only standby, and it's completely exhausted six Duracell batteries in just five days. Without even using the battery feature. Got to go. Like feeding an elephant on strawberries, as my late mother used to say.
Tomorrow from 10 to 11 am I'm on fabulous Leith FM 87.7 MHz, guesting on DJ Womble. (aka Stewart.) Dunno what to talk about. Mebbe bingo. Mebbe weblogging. Maybe the perils of high political life. My mind keeps adapting a certain Bay City Rollers hit - yes, you know the one...
Apart from that, I haven't a clue what tunes to play on Stewart's show. This ignorance of popular music might well hinder my progress to radio stardom. The last CD I bought was the Marshall Mathers Album. And before that, Brothers in Arms. Possibly a few gaps there, but don't even suggest I catch up on Oasis or Madonna. Just don't.
SIX Today brought to you in stunning traditional orthography!
Nice night, last night, although getting in there seemed like I was about to steal the crown jewels.
Yes - it was our works night oot. In a casino of all places, as they stay open very, very, very late. Six am, this one. Long past my bedtime. Cascades, just inside the dock gate, I can now exclusively reveal. Now that Hello magazine are off the scent.
And yes, it was chock a block with Chinese people playing mah jonng. The noise!!
Clatter! Clatter! Clatter! (And that's just the false teeth!)
"I dare anybody to shout chicken chow mein and fried rice!" I said, with cliched racism. (Can't recall ever claiming to be perfect, so stfu.)
"What're the odds of someone pulling out a gun and shooting somebody?" I mused to anybody listening. "Not gonna happen," someone replied. "But that always happens in the movies!" I concluded, not entirely wrongly.
Downstairs there was roulette. Fascinated I watched the punters putting tokens on the board, and the croupier (?) snatching them and shoving them down a chute. Some poor sod had to be underneath that chute to sort them all out. Ghastly. Cameras absolutely everywhere. Who needs all that shit?
Me, I just don't gamble. Don't even buy a lottery ticket, except in depression extremis. Then of course I forget and don't check it. Could have thrown away several fortunes.
Warum nicht? Because I spent my entire childhood watching my father and grandfather devote their lives to chasing that big win. Horses. Football pools. Premium Bonds, and then of course the National Lottery. Two lives - one cause. Thrown away to the great god gamble.
I hate it. I hate it almost as much as I hate cigarettes. The pernicious thing about gambling is that by dangling financial nirvana if you can just hit lucky, all motivation to actually do anything about your life disappears.
The only way to be rock solid certain that you won't come into a fortune is not to buy a lottery ticket. Ergo - whatever you then do achieve will be by your efforts alone.
Oh, and the meal was fine. Companions too. It was nice to feel like an ordinary person for a change and not a neurotic wreck. Employer paid for every single bite and sip. And of course I didn't gamble. But oh - the lateness of the hour! Didn't get to bed till 1 am I could swear. Then fell asleep with all the lights on and the telly as well.
San Andreas is breaking everyone's Playstation 2. Too much information on one disk, sweetie. Burns out the laser. You saw it here first.
Dunno if y'all saw Days That Shook the World: Cold War Spies last night on BBC Four. (I get it on digital Freeview for nothing. That's free.) It was about Russians shooting down a US spy plane. High in the sky. That's how they used to behave in those days. Oh, and smoke.
Smoke, smoke, smoke. I dunno how the guy could sit in that plane at a million feet in the air for ten hours at a time without thinking of cigarettes and cigarettes alone.
There were numerous shots of the Russian missile base, and radar room. The younger of the two radar operators was played by my colleague Alex's brother, Euan/Ewan. Although I'm sure he spoke impeccable Russian for the part, his lines were all drowned out by the narrator, Peter Guinness. (I'm not making it up.) And they never even credited him at the end.
In these small ways are we not very connected to people who're not really all that famous.
Works "do" tonight at ten thirty. (Evening workers have to socialise at that sort of hour.) Me, I'll be ready for my bed. It's in a casino. I'm telling myself there's no point getting all worked up about meeting people I already know like the back of my hand. And vice versa. With any luck I'll make it along, but this week we live only from hour to hour. And sometimes minute.
If I don't go, they'll all talk about me unkindly, as I didn't make it last year due to depression and drunkenness. And of course I'm more interesting than all the rest of them put together.
Except maybe Alex, brother of the film star ingenue. "I've got salmon and mussels!" he announced yesterday in the Port. Straight down from the supermarket, but needing a pint before home. Gets you like that.
In no time flat Scott and Big Al were clucking around in attendance, with instructions for the cooking of this fishy treat. It was a dinner party for his brother and guests so's to watch the TV show above. How wonderful are the media these days that almost everyone's on something! And how do salmon live in both fresh water and sea? And are mussels really fish? "Don't serve them if they don't open," said Scott, sagely.
I'm sick of writing with spelling and punctuation. Boring. Yesterday's post could more accurately be labelled "Fun with a keyboard." The thing is, you see, I can type as fast as I can speak, mas o menos. But the keyboard can't keep up with the pace of the fingers, and it introducse transpositoins left right and centre. Honest, m'lud. I can really spell like buggery.
Seven days to the solstice. unbilievable. almost no depression at all. o htherels sumptoms... overbreathing and some tachycardia. but no despair. no anxiety no paraoia.
paranoia will destroy ya as babs always said. but how not to be? that is the question.
yesterday was no sun at all the bbc lied to me. didn't get out till half past two by which time it was getting dark. no point in even attempting anything gloria excelsis. so wen t str8 to port. str8 to wok with amoy.
big al was there. not big str8 al. another big al. but str8. confusing, eh? how are u i asked him as hes just had an operation for cancer. fragile he said. he said he was gonna call in everybodys lurve like i do. he said everybody in the place loves you i said dont be daft they all hate me.
he was waffling on a bit so i said i hope you aint gonna die in decmeber as i couldn't stand going to a funeral in december. he said hed hang on till january. but no longer, menacingly. norma came in . we said to her that everybody would go to her funeral. i put her onto scott and she did scotts head in and then he said he was going so i put her on to big al. control freak who. me i managed to dodge her all togfether for a change.
FUCK OFF NORMA! percy always used to shout at her angily but then he died and she didn't. goes to show. heart condition. fell off his bar stool tres dramatique. they still call it percys stoll. frightesn people that dinnae ken.
al said we'd bury norma in a cardboard coffin and wed all sign it. yes and not smoke i said, or the alcohol fumes would ignite. she laughed. love her to bits really. just she drinks a bit. i met her ex-husband once about ten years ago.
the cat and dog home rang up scott to say his cat wouldnt be ready for two more days till itd had a decent shit or summat. been poorly. digestive. hes gonna call it dave which i said is very gay. gonna get its balls cut off which is kinda gay also. untelsticled one. that cat has really landed on its feet as scott will absolutely shower it withh lurve, even as he removes its very manhood. manhood. cathood?
i just want some body to lurve
tuesday toady what to do. raing and grey not sunny and blue. should stay sober ish in view of latenight shenanigans at a casino. never been in a casino before. you got to have ID incase you do money laundering. you even got to get photod. sounds tres dramatique for duck pate turkey and all the trimmings and then i cant remember what for postre thats spahinhsh.
where was natasha this morning? whas she like robert over the rainbow? how many times can a girl take it off? before they call her unreliable? when shes there she can hardly get a line out without stumbling but who cares. makes it more like Leith FM wich is glorisous by the way.
its after eleven now and i should meditate. creepy not to be dpressed, all though looking at last year i see it didn't start till the neineteenth. bad enough. every year is a bit better though. as long as i can still walk and type. the alternative is beyond thought. o and talk.
maybe ill have an umbrella day. maybe ill do whatever the fuck i want because i deserve it. ciao, mis amigos.
Out and about
Pleased to see Jon Ronson joining the swelling ranks of professional writers who also do it for nothing. New blog - only one post so far. From Ronson.
Naked Blog: where you see the important things first.
Darlings. I know. Nothing since Friday. What a slacker am I?
Yesterday I got out of the house by 12.30 A bus came, so I had to get on it. Dice man. Took me to the Southern Bar again, and Hope Park Terrace, which is where last week's wonderwalk actually began. I thought I'd include that for completeness.
But this week's wonderwalk was in the opposite direction, Holyrood Park. Aghast I gasped at the brilliance of the crags, and the Radical Road. People high up there like ants.
I cleaned my glasses for the maximum analogue clarity, but later discarded them as they restricted the field of vision.
There was an elevated bit like a railway track. (How I lust for a camera to show you of what I speak. A thousand words would ne'er convey.) How many citises hjave a volcano bang in the middle, I ask myself, with constance.
Paths led up from my eartthly abode right into the sky, Steps hewn in the grass. Near vertical. (Not really.) AT one time, not that many decades ago, I'd have been right up there in a trice. Springbok, ya bass. But not of course now. Heart failure. Late middle age. Young old. That archair's gone and got me soon from arm to wheel at this rate.
Some day I'll do that. Ambition. Stop for a picnic half way up. With Sandra. I'll compliment her sandwiches. Got to get pics for this. Lost the camera in the mess. Won't know how to work it now, anyway. All those screens and menus. Memory like a gnat. Ddo gnats gtet arthritis? INsect joints. They're explosive in a flea's legs you know. That's how the fuckers can hop so fast so far.
Left Holyrood Park totally invigorated for the Holyrood Palace (Liz's Tartan hang-out) exit, and stopped in my tracks astonished.
Dude where's my country? What the fuck is this I'm looking at? Am I in Barcelona or what. Not one famililar sight. Scotsman Offices. Macdonald Holyrood. This thing, that thing. Glass, concrete, modernity in the midst of what should be historical tat. Where's the HOlyrood Tavern? The Palace? What the FUCK is that thing that looks like a circus tent?
Dynamic Earth, it says on the Poster. Come in and enjoy our cafe.
But I've spent five years thinking that was the Scottish Parliament. (Only seen it from a distance, mind.) That ten times over budget fiasco we rarely read any thing else.
Scottish Parliament, aka spend a fortune on an unnecessary building, fall in and out with each other, jobs for the boys, and girls, and ban smoking but not till 2006.
But wheretf is it?
In a distance, up a San Andreas alley, (my kinda place), I spot a stone staircase and a glimple of sixties High Street tat architecture thru a gap. I engulf it, wondering vaguely if gangs of muggers would be round the blind corners.
Not so. Old girl lives a nother day.
Bull's Close, for the sticklers for accuracy. I got down the Royal Mile to the foot. I see the Scottish Parliament building, for the first time ever in me puff. Andn do you know? They've built it on the site of a former public convenience. You couldn't make it up. The dearest lavvy in the discovered universe. I nearly go in. But no - inside is for posh people. I'm just a punter - a gentleman of the road. Maybe de la rue.
What's it like I hear you ask? Fake Gaudi would be one idea. And someone should have told them that wood feature is so utterly naff. They tried it on the car parks at Ocean Terminal, and it already looks like the slum it always was.
To the REgent GAYBAR, and sit looking out the window ignoreing all the punters. Backs to the crwod.
To Iceland and some frozen tat to tittilate the tongue.
To Leith then, after dorrpping off the chillies and some LIFE! Into the Port but too amny people too frightening str8 back out again. To Java and a scene with Ecstasy Gerry the barman. "Tell you what gerry i'll just leave!" I decalred, plopping my drink back on the counter. MTV you see. Too noisey. Too many channelds. Then he turned the light on right above my head. Exposed. Usual suspects. He said it was so I could read but by then I was half way flounced out the door no turning back This ladys not for turning.
Second shot at the Port and sho whould be there but sandra and jonny. fizzing bigtime. ya wantin half an eccie says sandra. nah hen ya wantin half an aspirin i just got them for me joints. she didn't believe they were aspririns but the were. how boring is that.
great half hours chat all rules suspended. time passed . warmtnh happened. then i could see they were sick of me so i left.
ociean terminal and filthy wood effect in the darnk. ocean erminal cos the t letter was missing. erminal erminal erminal. spent thirty quid in waterstones on arthritis books. there's loads of types of arthritis. i got elements of all of them. exkept the genital infactin sort.
what am i gonna do when i can't walk or use my hands
im not old enough for that shit not yet
got a freeview digital tv box its awesome i never seen such quality pics far better than dvd makes analogue look like prehistory i love it. nezxt thing will be a surround sound system for me telly.
but for arthritis u got to keep movin keep on truckin
sittin on the dock of the bay watchin the bbc all day
This morning the sky was yellow, sulphurous. Huge swathes of cloud billowing spacewards in their Satanic brimstone. Fab! It's God v Lucifer all right, and I don't care who's in the movie.
Startled to see Stephen Twigg MP on the telly this morning. (Tony's token gay.) He's a Schools Minister, and he isn't half piling on the weight, honey. He said that loads of schools have police in them now. And the army.
Dude, where's my country!
If the kids escape getting arrested by the cops or shot at by the soldiers - and go in for a bit of old-fashioned "bunking off" (truancy) instead, then Twiggy wants to use "modern technology" to keep track of them. Tagging, I presume.
Arrested, shot and tagged. And still only 13. All for not doing your French homework.
Changed days. One hundred lines or twenty minutes detention was all we had to fear in my time. And how do the teachers teach, what with armed cops and battle-hungry squaddies roaming the corridors? Terrifying. Is that a Weapon of Mass Destruction in yer pocket, or are yer just pleased ter see me? Put that Kalashnikov away, boy! I don't care if yer pa says you can have it.
Nowadays when I see "progress" I'm so often glad I won't live to see its completion.
OVER THE RAINBOW
The Stevie and Robert radio show last night was only 50 percent in evidence. "Robert's no turned up fer his work!" Stevie announced to the world, sadly, shortly after midnight. "Ah'm gettin lonely here - can I get some calls?"
I fell totally in love with Green Rosetta by Frank Zappa. Stevie and I agreed neither of us had a dinkies what it was on about, but we just loved it anyway.
Later, overnight, there was no programming on 87.7. Silenzia. I hope this wasn't related to Stewart's walkout from the Port during the evening. (Story below.) CAD has walked out also... Nobody can work with anybody... It's my kinda place!
(And what a cracker of a TV series this would make, btw.) Talking of which, aren't you just loving the latest Peter Kay thing? Comic genius, and the only person ever to "do" bingo comedically some time back. Forget transvestite imitations.
Yesterday was walk, bus, drink, shop. Did Morningside, one of Edinburgh's poshest areas. Hunted for ages for something so common as a Greggs Bakery. Pint in the Canny Man, which is so classy I felt like using the Tradesmen's Entrance. Got chatting to the manager. Think he was a queen.
Bought a Freeview box, but I think I'll get the Telewest digital package instead. Let's see if Dixons really will honour their refund policy! I'll keep you posted on Monday, if I'm physically able to do anything then. Trouble with Telewest is it'll mean letting a tradesman in. The last time anyone was in my home was in the spring for the fridge freezer. So disruptive. People in your home. Looking at the mess. So invasive.
Also bought a pair of Technics headphones to go with my new Fabby DAB radio. Glory. Near HiFi, and all for less than 70 quid total. (Radio and headphones.)
A man came into the Port selling fish. Mark bought peppered herring, and kindly gave me two of them. Some hours later, diarrhoea in excelsis deo.
(Better now.) Fart.
Work for two days! Adios, amigos y amigas!
Footnote: I knew there was something else on my mind. Yesterday at the Elm Row bus stop I saw a Sikh teenager wearing a Burberry turban. You couldn't make it up. But the bus driver wouldn't let him on because he was too cheeky.
"Religious and cheap. Excellent!" said Dolly, Leith's chief fashion policeman.
Lots and lots of drama, which for once we can't address here. "Don't get involved," is the mantra. I'm sure you've heard of it.
Stewart walked out of the Port because they weren't playing Leith FM. "We're constantly mentioning this pub on the radio," he said, quite rightly. "No - you're not - it's all the Village," countered Eilidh (rhymes with daily), Mary's daughter. "This is a business," Eilidh said, motioning towards the jukebox, into which a fashion-challenged doofer of my own vintage was eagerly stuffing pound coins. It would be difficult to conceive of a more monstrous creation than a jukebox.
Earlier, Stevie Sticks was at the bar, and we'd discussed his new-found radio fame on the midnight show, 12 to 1am, 87.7. Apparently his and Robert's show gets more calls than all the rest put together. How awesome is fame?
I offered to be their Brian Epstein, but few reading this will have a clue what that means.
Lovely couple of hours. Stupidly I'd earlier bought a Freeview set, but now I gather Telewest Cable can do all the TV stations without a box. We'll see. Their computair is currently down, a fact I don't believe for one moment. Thieving bastards, is a common description - to which obviously we can't comment.
Can cable provide digital TV and radio, and should I invest?
Just a very few minutes today, as it's nice out and I want to leave almost immediately.
Someone has written wanting to buy this domain, and asking for a price. Whaddya reckon? Remember - they'll almost certainly make it a porn site. (At least the Google people won't be so disappointed then.)
It's called Naked Blog in homage to The Naked Lunch, and the huge influence William Burroughs had on my young life. And later, much later, the divine Quentin Crisp and Naked Civil Servant. Double nakedness. It owes nothing to the Naked Chef, who pinched the idea from us.
Today I promised to "do" another blog impression, but I'm afraid I've neither the wit nor sufficient daylight.
Saturday 2pm at the Hub in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. All welcome, presumably, but sadly this old girl will be there in spirit only. We don't "do" real life. Would shatter all me mystique, n'est-ce pas? Plus what on earth do people find to chat about when they know every last detail about the person already?
"Loved your December 11 2003, old chap - thought you encapsulated the Bush/Blair dialectic in a way I'd not seen before." "Thanks - who did you say you were again?" "Oh really? I'm sorry I haven't heard of you."
And of course, we don't "do" December either. It's long vexed me that people insist on peak sociability in the most depressing month - por exemplo the works Christmas do.
Right - I'm starting to spiral downwards. Out of control if I don't stop. Have a fab blogmeet, guys and gals.
LEITH FM 87.7
Lindsay fae the Port has kindly listed Leith FM schedules here in The Leither. Managed to stay awake for most of Stevie and Robert last night.
"This is what will happen to you if you take heroin," said Stevie, putting on a cautionary record. "Somebody's phoned in to tell me to burn all my vinyl," he said later, quite sadly. "You won't get any Carpenters on this show," he announced.
Glorious day yesterday, in which I discover a winter "sun-walk".
Scottish cities are multi-storey. We invented "high living". Four storeys are the minimum - and many buildings stretch to five, six and more. In the Chambers Street/Grassmarket area, where they go down as well as up, you can be talking 10 or 11. The world's first skyscrapers, it's been said.
This is all well and good in summer, with its wall to wall sunshine, but in December, with the sun barely clearing the rooftops, these concrete canyons are a right bummer.
"Just direct your feet... to the sunny side of the street!" Except there isn't one.
Go high! is one solution, and certainly Calton Hill, Arthur's Seat and even the Castle Esplanade have transcendent views south west to the afternoon glory. As does the section of the Water of Leith Walkway around Murrayfield Stadium. Try it, if you haven't already.
But yesterday I discovered an entire hour's walk in the winter sun without climbing a single step.
Get to Nicolson Street near the Southsider Bar. There's a short road across to the Meadows. Go there. Take the footpath towards the rear of the old Royal Infirmary. (They're demolishing it, which is a bit of a pain, but forbear - it's worth it. Switch on your iPOD if you must.) You'll note the sun is way away to your left, a couple of inches above the horizon. (We're talking 2pm-ish) Follow this path right along, remembering to bask in the wintry rays. Me, I couldn't stop thinking of the Wicker Man. Gotta love that pagan mindset.
Ignore people and bicycles, as far as possible. There are no roads to cross for ages. Keep going, buildings to your right, sun to the left.
Until you get to the far side of the Meadows, at Tollcross, and Leven Terrace. Cross the main road there. Follow Leven Terrace sunward to what is now Bruntsfield Links. (Same idea, but the ground goes up and down more.)
When you round the end of Leven Terrace you'll stop in your tracks and gasp. Don't argue - you just will. Any residual depression instantly evaporates as you stand face to face with your Creator, the sun. It's two inches above the grassy horizon, beckoning to you. "Walk into me, and all will be well," it says. So you walk. Ignoring the paths, ignoring the people, heeding only the occasional road you have to cross, walking straight into the light.
There are no buildings. There are no people. You are not in a city. There is only sun, grass and you. You keep on walking. Up, and up again.
Eventually you get to Bruntsfield Terrace where once again the buildings start, and the openness is over for another day. You might note a small monument with wooden seats attached. "JG 1858 - 1934", it says. "He lived near and loved the links."
So I sat on JG's kindly-provided seat, and thought of him dying in 1934, and then 12 years later me being born - eventually to see his dedication there. Nice. Thank you.
To the Port then in the four o' clock darkness. Babs, Big Straight Al, Big Dave fae Baltic Street, Scott (still with his electronic picture viewer) and Kevin. I was babbling on a bit, so told myself to slow down. Babs and I argued about Mr Blunkett. Babs said the woman was as much to blame as he was. I said she didn't matter cos she wasn't the Home Secretary. Later an obnoxious shit came in and tried to start some verbal, but we gave him short shrift.
Out and about
Mike of troubled diva returns, with one of his justly-famed holiday accounts...
"...taking two hours to dress for dinner (The Issey shirt with the Boss trousers, or the Yohji with the linen, do we think?)"
Did they charter a separate plane for the wardrobes, I wonder? Elton would have, you know.
It was a joy to bump into Scott again yesterday, just back from his holiday in Gibraltar and Tangier. The rock of Gibraltar is completely hollow, he said, and full of grottos where you can have concerts. The houses all have Union Jacks hanging but there's a strong Spanish influence also.
In Tangier his guide took him to a carpet shop but the carpets were 13 thousand euros. Bit dear. He thought the shop belonged to the guide's brother.
Poor Scott. Sometimes it seems just everyone's after his money. Except me. He had a little Sony viewer for electronic pictures. I explained DAB radio to him (which I'm getting quite fond of, now I've got the hang of it.)
The trick is to avoid autotune, as that always goes straight to BBC NATIONAL DAB - being the strongest signal, presumably. Rather you should manually run through the DAB channels one at a time, when all sorts of things pop up. Score DUNDEE. Score EDINBURGH. Switch SCOTLAND. He asked if it would work in his bathroom.
Babs was there too, looking well, and she sends her regards and thanks for all the good wishes about her poorly mother. Then Alex came in, and I introduced Scott to him as my oldest friend. Alex is probably my youngest.
Home to listen to Gwen's Grooves from seven to eight on Leith FM 87.7 Ally of the Village was her guest. But in real life he's her boss, so it was an interesting switch of dominances. You have to take your own playlist and talk to Gwen about the records. Ally had lots of black ladies on the lines of Billie Holliday. He said it was a shame Jack Vettriano wasn't dead. (Or something like that. No lawyers' letters, please. I never open mail in December.)
Gwen also threw our choon story back to the listening audience. Thanks for the mention, hen!
It's glorious beyond belief to have BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM in the house. Call me a snob all you want, but it's hard to convey the sheer joy of having genuine music in my ears again, rather than what nowadays goes by that name. I often don't know or care what's being performed, only that it restoreth my soul. Why on earth was my home so silent for so long? (You'll have to wait for the book to find out, I'm afraid.) Not desperately sure myself, but for a publisher's advance I'm sure I could dream something up.
Anthea Turner Prize
This year goes to Jeremy Deller, who can't draw, paint or sculpt. The Times art critic was on with Natasha, telling her that those things were ossified, and images came from many more media these days. She didn't sound convinced. Neither am I, nor I sense will be 99 percent of the public. Why do you think Jack Vettriano is laughing all the way to the bank?
Thanks for all your input into yesterday's little piece about cultural icons. Goes to show that nicking other people's stuff is a way to get interest! I know some bloggers do little else, but here we always try to keep things original.
Now I'm off to check out the DAB signal in Scott's bathroom, before he rushes out and buys the most expensive radio in the shop. (It's his hobby, buying expensive things.) He once famously bought the dearest computer in PC World, just two weeks before Intel released MMX technology. (Remember MMX?) So then he was stuck with a two thousand quid white elephant. I'm trying to sound sympathetic here!
Today it's glorious outside already, and set to get even better. Two weeks to the Solstice. No depression to speak of, but I'm not even thinking about it. It's not good to wallow. (The usual onset is December 8, 9 or 10.) Holy Seroxat!
One of my favourite parts of the Saturday Guardian (especially now there's sadly no more Burchill to be seen) has to be the weekly Guide. Not just TV, but loads of stuff, and great articles too. Articles sometimes even better than Naked Blog. Yes - I know that's a hard idea to get your head around, but - let's face it - they do have all week to write them.
Imagine la dolce vita in exchange for a mere three hundred words a week! Fast cars, girls, house in Martha's Vineyard, ski-ing in Aspen! Nice job, if you can get it.
This weekend I loved their demolition jobs on the great and good of received brilliance. We're not talking easy targets like Ritchie and Beckham, but A-listers on the same shelf as the Beatles, Stones, Elvis.
My faves were...
Pet Sounds ... basically a series of finicky arrangements hunting for a song. Hardly anyone bought it when it came out and you can't dance to it.
Neil Young ... Like the poor and Pauline Fowler, Neil Young is always with us, a reminder of the drearier things of life. Venerated by paunchy Mojo-reading types. (I once read Mojo!)
David Bowie ... Bowie is essentially a mildly amusing purveyor of novelty pop who has struck lucky more than most. Less Ziggy Stardust, more Alvin.
Elvis ... is basically Shakin' Stevens writ large. ...making a series of God-awful movies before prostituting himself for Vegas...
Bob Marley ... rhyming-dictionary tosh unrivalled until the advent of Dolores O'Riordan
Lost in Translation ... mopey, self-pitying drivel...
Blade Runner ... nobody wants to admit they don't get it...
Und so weiter. Some of the above we've already written of here, as when it comes to "icons" we take no hostages. It's my firm belief that the reason Milligan suffered so much depression was because he knew deep down he was far more fraud than genius.
Tons more in the full article. Beatles, Stones, Withnail, Monty Python - you name it. They must have thought it was too soon after John Peel's death for his bit.
FABULOUS LEITH FM 87.7
The standards just keep on rising, and a huge NB well done to one and all! Sadly I'll have to stop listening now though, as I just can't get my head round so much pop music. Frying my brain. No offence - I hardly ever listen to the BBC either. Not a radio person. Nor would I thank you for an iPOD. Prefer thinking - it's been around for ages and doesn't need batteries.
Now - if they were to bring out a CD with the records deleted and featuring just the presenters, who are the real reason I tune in!
Oh - and talking of tune, that word is the absolute hottest you'll hear this side of 2005. Forget track, song, number, record... these days it's TUNE or it's nothing.
I first heard it on Stevie and Robert's Midnight Show... "What's the next tune, then, Stevie?"
Nice, I thought. Individual.
But no - only hours later someone was playing "ecstasy music", and calling his stuff tunes also. Then my cup totally ranneth over on yesterday's Sunday Sport afternoon, when the footie-fan DJ said, "Right, Dougie... time for another tune."
(I just thought those readers with aspirations to style should be aware of this linguistic flourish.)
And like so much of modern culture, you saw it here first. Hot from the streets, via radio and weblog, straight into your own, somewhat mundane life. But that's not your fault. Here at Naked Blog we live and listen for you.
"The government's drugs regulator has concluded that GPs are prescribing far too many pills for people who do not have a serious clinical condition.
They will warn doctors they need to think 'long and hard' before putting patients on the medication.
I'm not even going to say it...
(That's why I'm not rushing to the quack about my recent aches and pains. Almost every anti-rheumatic pill created has ended up catastrophic - usually to the heart.) Yesterday the twinges spread to my knees. 2004 has been the year of the joint for me, that's for sure. Imagine not being able to walk. I thought when I stopped smoking that things could only get better.
Talking of which, did you see Neil Kinnock on Have I Got News For You on Friday? The panel were rude to him almost beyond belief. More destruction than I've seen of any guest host - even Boris. Maybe they were right to be. I'm not qualified to say. And, I suspect, neither are they. Oh, and Will Self has departed the planet. Grotesque. I think he must be back on the smack.
My own view? I expect those who would offer themselves to "govern" me to lead exemplary lives, thank you. Otherwise get the fuck out of it and start drinking in Constitution Street. It's a clear choice - and one I made myself quite some time ago. When it comes to morals there's no middle way. Sorry. Either get married or learn how to wank.
(There's no hypocrisy here, and my own life has certainly had its colourful moments. The differences are (a) I don't live off the public purse, and (b) I can't recall ever, ever telling people how they should live their lives.) Go now.
There's some glorious stuff going down on Leith FM 87.7. The standard is never below acceptable, and some of it really flies quite high. (I know 99 percent of you can't get it, so I won't bang on for long.)
But just to say that after our glowing Stevie and Robert review (post below), the lads got dragged back kicking and screaming for an extra show on Friday night. Great stuff. And we got the first mention!
Presenter Sister Semtex (aka Lindsay fae the Port) writes today on the Leither.net. Also Gwen (whose voice was the first to come out of my new radio when I plugged it in - how creepy is that?) writes about her presenting here. You have to guess Gwen's bra size to win a fifty quid bar tab in The Village. I guessed 33B, but I don't know much about bras. I'm getting the impression that wasn't a very close guess.
Yes, it's true! Yesterday I felt it incumbent - at last - to invest a two-figure sum in an FM radio, the better to listen to ma wee pals on Leith FM 87.7. Less than a couple of weeks' cigarette money.
But radio's changed! The last one I bought, some time in the seventies, had a new-fangled thing on it called FM. (And medium wave. And even long wave... oh yes, you never know when you might need long wave.) And - this was the killer app - some of it was in STEREO!
Radios 2 and 3 were stereo, definitely. Radio 1 was only on medium wave, hence mono. Four I can't remember, but I sense mono only, being mostly talking. But, the brand new thing - the one everyone raved about - was Radio Forth on 96.8 FM
Studio in Forth Street, transmitter in Fife for max coverage, and we sat glued to it. Glued. As you can see, I can still remember the frequency after two decades.
This was the first breakdown in the BBC's total domination of the airwaves since they'd successfully closed down the pirate ships a decade earlier. There was a similar set-up in Glasgow called Radio Clyde, so now the entire Central Belt of Scotland was covered by commercial radio. Adverts on the radio! In wizzy fizzy stereo! We were entranced, of course.
Atomic! (Just had Slade's Merry Christmas, Kylie, some Dusty, a ghastly Abba cover by Westlife (there should be a law against covering some songs), and even a cover of Father and Son. In the name of Allah...)
It's Stuart on just now. DJ Womble. The guy who made my prize-winning video for that ghastly compo.
Dexy's Midnight Runners!
So imagine my shock and horror when on glancing round the Dixon's shelves, I could see they'd now got rid of FM almost as effectively as they'd seen off VHS machines last week. 2004 and it's DAB! DAB! DAB!
(I didn't dare ask about medium and long waves, in case the guy called for security. And wtf is DAB?)
Santana! (But now I really must switch off and return to essential silence. Only in silence does anything half-decent occur.)
Silence. Computer fan and click of keys only.
Yesterday was right good all in all, with achingly strong sun and near cloudless skies all day. Unfortunately I didn't get uptown till after two, by which time most of the streets were in shadow. Chased el Sol up as far as the top of Lothian Road and Morrison Street, but just that wee bit too late.
It was cold then, in the shade. Pulled me hoody up to look more gangsterish, and tied the bow at the neck. Don't mess with me, punk! Had a couple of pints with Babs in the Regent. Mostly gays. Three in their early twenties giggling and answering mobile calls. Me and another guy frankly well past it. And two just getting to the end... trying to cling on with bikerette jackets and ridiculous facial hair. Three ages of queen.
So far I've discovered two DAB thingies. One's called Digital1 DAB and the other BBC National DAB. But they both seem to have exactly the same stations. Strange. Strange too to have scrolling text telling you what's playing.
Last night Stevie Sticks and Robert co-presented the midnight show. Splendid, even if it did take them forty minutes before they dared chat to each other on air.
"What yer been doin tonight, Robert?"
"Waitin ter come on here, Stevie. What bout you?"
"Same. Here's some Frank Zappa."
That show will electrify, once the boys get their confidence. Years of smoking this and that have given them voices like melted chocolate. I would love you to hear them for yourself.
That's enough about radio for today. There's loads I have to explore, after a near twenty year gap. But for starters, please tell me in the comment box which songs it would be criminal to cover. I've named two further up the post. (Plus any DAB stuff I should know about.)
Bremner, Bird and Misfortune
Thanks to Jonny of JonnyB's Private Secret Diary for being such a good sport over yesterday's feeble imitation. Sincerest form of flattery. You know you've made it when they start to "do" you. Now, who can be next for the naked treatment? Tune in on Thursday to find out. (If I remember, of course.)
Hi! It's a lovely sunny day, and once again I can't think of a thing to write about. Then it occurred to me - exactly the same happened on a Thursday almost exactly a month ago, and you were kind enough to suggest lots of topics. They're at the bottom of this post.
Here is the first one completed. Your job is to spot which topic it is, and then address the subsequent question.
The phone is ringing!!!
I jump up at this sign of possible new friendship, but my jump is maybe a little too eager, and I snag my leg on the corner of the desk, much to the amusement of LTLP.
She stayed home today to annoy me on purpose. Can't think of any other reason, and it's especially annoying as I'd baked some cheesecake (don't laugh) for Vegetable Delivery Lady.
No hanky-panky, you understand (LTLP would kill me - literally), but maybe just invite her in for a small mulled wine and a chat about the new Nativity Tableau on the Village Green. It cost the Council six hundred and forty pounds, but Cheerful Builder said he could have done it in five minutes with one hand behind his back.
Mr Tawse the Headmaster in the Slaughtered Lamb last week said his pupils had also been eager to make a Nativity Tableau. He said he strongly suspected a little corruption abroad - talk of a certain councillor and his artistic but impoverished girlfriend. (Wink! Wink!)
I get to the phone just in time to see LTLP snatch it up and then turn her back on me, talking very quietly. Later she leaves, without saying where she's headed.
Mysterious. And why did she leave a bundle of ten pound notes on the brand new kitchen worktop? (It's genuine Norfolk slate, you know.)
How about the US blogger Queen of the Sky getting sacked because of her blog? Nobody seems to have said much about that. I would warn against posting provocative photos of yourself draped over the bingo equipment. IT Tony
Oooh, two diverse topics already. Maybe I shouldn't make it too blogging focused, but we value your opinion.
"Political blogs - the sixth-form debating society of the 21st Century. Discuss." JonnyB
I think I'm too brain-zonked to think up a topic, but I would like to see you blog something in the style of a fellow blogger. Vanessa
The return of Sarah at NYTOO! mike
school days andre
Discuss religion and politics - and in particular about how the separation of church and state, as defined in the US constitution, clearly does not happen. Compare and contrast with the mostly secular society in the UK, which would frown upon any British politician infering that he/she was doing Opus Dei (God's work). Include liberal sprinkling of latin phases as required. Richard
Andre did three! Andre did three!
And zed thought of a good one. Booo. JonnyB
Sarah is back?!? Patricia
Good news re Sarah. Don't write about Queen of the Sky. Please don't. Alan
Shoes. Always a favourite, that one. Stuff your fancy political topics.... MissMish
I'm with the shoe girl. World is a bit too serious at the moment. Lets lighten it up this evening with tales of poppers and pints of vodka and then tomorrow we'll tackle Bush and the christian right. gdayscott
Unicorns and cannonballs
Palaces and Piers
Trumpets, towers, and tenaments
Wide oceans full of tears
Flags, rags, ferryboats
Scimitars and scarves
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars Steve
i agree with alan - NOT q of the S - puhlease ? i'll send you waffles ? zed
Anything but QoftheS would be just fine.
(I suspect that being requested not to write about something is like waving the red in front of the bull.)
Resist the temptation and tell me about your favorite vacation. asta
you already know the one i want to see..."semen as a health elixer"...or something like that...i hope you write it someday 'cause zed sould be horrified and that would make me smile! d. burr
danny - is it that bad ?? zed
i popped in again to say "i've got nothing. still nothing. despite having slept on it." and then saw the comments.
Always a favourite, that one. Stuff your fancy political topics....
I'm with the shoe girl. World is a bit too serious at the moment. Lets lighten it up
here bloody here. (or is it hear hear? bloody homophones. not that i'm homophonbic myself or anything)
"on the gentle gradation of slope of the dust upon my window sill"
"pineapples and edinborough-- musings on the collapse of scotland's tropicalfruit industry since 1750" (true)
"electrical cheese" Saltation
semen as health elix[i]r
what every semen user should know Saltation
my visit to the new scottish parliament building martin
write us a poem peter! d. burr
My first ever entanglement with the super-rich last night. Interesting, but not a thing I would rush to repeat. (Prudence prevents further revelations.) From now until I feel better - some time in January - there must be nothing more even remotely strenuous. Darkness and depression will be my familiar friends. From the gutter there's just no place to fall.
What's happening in the real world? Is Blunkett sacked? Is Blair impeached? Has Bush bombed anywhere else? (Note the letter 'B' commencing each of those names. Could that be a sign?)
To the Port last night, after my entanglement with the super-rich. Now, you know me - alcohol would never usually touch my lips after 7pm. But right then I felt like a pint or six. Alex was there, and Mary, Chav Gav, Jacks, Dolly's brother Phil, and Massage Mark (who's mortified about Sunday btw). Although I was grateful for their friendliness, they were yakking so much I couldn't get a swig of me drink. So I told them all to fuck off and I'd joint them* later. This went down OK.
Got an awful pain in my left hand, from the base of the thumb to the wrist. It's like stabbing electricity. Maybe it's a trapped nerve. Maybe carpal tunnel. Probably it's time for the knacker's yard.
Leith FM 87.7 started up at midnight, with some dreary singing and guitar. Hopefully it'll have improved by now. I'll link to the website as and when it comes. Poor Tony should rename himself Pro Bono!
Work today. Yawn. Hope my left hand doesn't get worse.
Out and about
Say hello to mike of troubled diva once again, with his iPod news and holiday tales of Thailand. Me, I never get much further than Princes Street, as you know. But that does fine, at my age.
Just noticed! Robin of Speaking As A Parent is back also! Two new posts. It's just like the olden days. All we need now is Swish Cottage...
I'm sure I meant "join them" rather than what was written...