The sky continues to oppress and depress in equal measure. Although the shade of the day is light grey, rather than the previous lowering darkness, you sense there's still no chance, no glimpse of blue to be had either this morning or afters.
Waxing literary? Well yes. And it's all in aid of mike's fabulous writing competition. Today is the closing day, so pin them back. What you have to do is write a post in the style of troubled diva with the title Gay, Gayer, Gayest. The great unwashed will then assess the stories, and decided which one is by mike himself. (One of them will be.) It's to be a reminiscence of mike's gayest ever day. All are welcome to enter, even the un-gay. (They have to pretend.)
Me, I dashed mine off after work last night, in a spirit of why not? Although I did successfully resist the urge to feature myself in the story, the discerning reader might yet detect a hint of naked blogness thereabouts. You choose. So you get writing now! (Only takes 45 mins. Closing date today.)
Cor Blimey, That was Quick!
Readers who pay attention (and there are a couple) will have stumbled across a reference last Thursday to a fifties TV show called The Quatermass Experiment. This was probably the scariest thing on telly ever, being as it was the only scary thing on telly up to that point.
"My young sister was as terrified of Doctor Who as I'd been ten years earlier watching Quatermass in full body tremor."
Well - you could have knocked me down with a feather when I spotted that the BBC are this Saturday putting on an entire Quatermass night! Now I know Naked Blog is constantly trawled by all the movers and shakers, but hey - help yourselves, guys! Any time you want more ideas just drop me a cheque.
Governments too roam freely through our work, sensing and assessing the mood of the vox populi. (And they don't get much more populi than this!)
A replacement is needed, and now is your chance to make yourself heard. The BBC do read Naked Blog avidly, as explained above, so vote, vote, vote in my fabulous new poll. (Coming in a couple of minutes...)
(Haven't had a poll for ages. Must sack my web people and get in some new blood. If they're not interacting, they're just not interested these days.)
Poll News There isn't one. Time has marched on, my chickadees, and the clock will ere strike noon. So drop your nominations for the new doctor in the comment box. Already under consideration are Sean Penn, Sean Bean, Paul McGann, Bruce Willis, Madonna, Jude Law, Natasha Kaplinsky, Paul O'Grady - even Jona*than K*ing... the list is endless. Matt le Blanc would be particularly suited to the role, demanding as it does no acting talent whatever.
Right. It's only ten of the hour, and at last my knackered old body is adjusting to Summer Time a little. Work yesterday was weird, suddenly thrust behind a microphone again after not speaking one single word for three days. Boy did my larynx feel queer! The staff are changing faster than a bus route roller. I had to write out a list of the new names - all of them late teens, early twenties. It's like being a college lecturer in communication studies. (But much less pay.) Plus I'm training so many callers these days I'm planning on calling it Fame Academy.
But sometimes I do wonder if the old dears wouldn't prefer staff a little older.
Today I have a hill to climb. Exercise brings more wellbeing than anything else.
One week today exactly since alcohol touched my lips. And I think we'll make that last a little longer. Hate the stuff anyway. Intoxication is an affront to Consciousness.
Thoughts to those poor people in wherever it is who've had their lives so blighted by natural disaster once again.
Lost their loved ones.
Will Yellowstone Park go off with the ultimate gangbang?
Hopefully not in my lifetime, as the old folks say.
Like Michael Howard.
Not quite so grey today. (But I think that's looking on the bright side.) Rain no more than lightest of drizzle. So I might go out - mingle wit' da species. Glass screens have their limitations, but they can do much.
Far better than nothing. Particularly computers. Cheaper and cheaper. Once a smallish luxury - now loads of folk could buy one every month. Easily.
What's to become of J*o*n*a*t*h*a*n K*i*n*g? (Released from prison today.) Una Paloma Blanca? Or flight to Thailand to live among the G*l*i*t*t*e*r*s and tsunamis? He'll find there's no escaping the might of Murdoch wherever he goes. You can run, but you just can't hide.
Once again yesterday brought (literally) breaking news to the forefront, in the period after the earthquake but before any possible tsunami. Me, I chose the Murdoch option, as the BBC find it hard to drag themselves away from cricket and share prices at such times.
The magnitude was described as 8.2 or 8.5. But you could sense the cry of, "More decimal! Gimme more decimal! More tsunami! Why the fuck is it dark? How we gonna get footage in the dark? Crying mothers! Gimme crying mothers! Old ladies! Gimme old ladies in handcarts!"
The sole purpose of television is to shift product. It has no other function whatever.
Right. I'm off to shift some luncheon product down my throat. Try one of Fifi la Wok's creations at The Village. They say she's very good. Although now I recall she's got herself a fab new cooking job in Bermuda where she's hoping to meet a rich man. Well - a girl's gotta eat.
Almost my whole life is a holiday, as some of you know. This comes from a combination of...
(a) being very old, in blogging terms, and
(b) being prepared to live on very little money
So words like Easter and Christmas, which to many of you mean precious days off work, for me are just labels for my time off anyway.
And the label for this long weekend is Easter. And what an Easter turkey it's been - as I look out my rain-lashed windows and see no-one at all, front or back. It's a meteorological nightmare: here in Leith the forecast is two rain drops and six degrees, every three hours, constantly.
Frankly, my dear - it's pissing down. So amn't I glad I invested all those hundreds of pounds in state of the art audio and visual equipment! This morning it was Please Don't Eat the Daisies, with Ms D Day and Mr D Niven - both acting themselves to perfection. (D Day! I never thought of that! What a victory! All we need now is Big Boy Goes To Town, by Hiro Shima.) How sick, Peter. Get on with the plot, please.
PDETD is a fine film. It offers what Hollywood used at one time to do quite often, and that is intelligent dialogue. In later decades the words took a very distant third place to the pictures... (quote me one line from Alien...) - until the arrival of Mr Tarantino and his Burgers Royale et al.
"All that jazz" I noted in PDETD, and one I'd not heard before - "The full Minghella". (Or Migella, or Mighella, or summat.) I could look it up, but for sure someone will kindly enlighten me in the comment box. New technology.
The guttering above my study window is broken a bit, so lots of rain comes straight down onto the window sill, staining the stonework and doubtless making rot. I could easily get the Council to fix it as a "common repair", but that would mean picking up the phone, and that takes a year or two to work up to. Really hate phones. Try never to use one.
Tons of phoning in all Hollywood flicks of the period we're addressing. They were the height of technology and chic - especially if white. No woman worth dating would be seen dead with a black phone.
Talking of periods, did any of you see BBC 4 last night, and their "which decade is tops for TV" project? Last night it was the fifties, and representing that was Life With The Lyons, starring the Americans Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels, later followed by the first ever episode of Double Your Money, starring the Canadian Hughie Green. There was a "women's magazine" programme, and a cop show called Fabian of the Yard. The commentators were Roy Hattersley and Kathryn Flett, but they didn't contribute anything of note.
My dad loved all those fifties US-type shows, as he'd already seen them in the USA before the war. Popeye, I Love Lucy... all those things I guess linked him from the austerity of postwar Britain to a place he knew and loved much better. Me - it was early-teen hormone time, and I sat glued to anyone under twenty with an Elvis-style hairdo. The more grease and the higher the quiff the more my young heart melted. Kookie (Edd Byrnes) in 77 Sunset Strip was a rock-solid favourite down below.
But I reminisce. Public holidays do that to a man. I used to go to church a lot as well in those days - especially at Easter - but looking back I think it was mostly teenage guilt. God is not to be found in any building. He's got the Universe.
TV Highlights:Sixties TV tonight on BBC 4. Steptoe and Coronation Street are there. Plus the unbelievably good Jamie's School Dinners starts its rerun on Channel Four. All this and Doctor Who too, and wtf cares about rain?
I've mentioned it already, but this one's so good it's worth a second remark. Don't miss zoe's son todd and his new blog. And remember he's only aged whatever and writing in his second language. What a start! Especially funny are mum zoe's comments.
Current topic is eating easter eggs and being sick. Already covered are what a cow his mother is, but he loves her. Unmissable. You couldn't make it up. (I hope.)
I've just lunched on a frozen meal. No big surprise there, then - except for the longevity of the product. It was called Sausage Meal, by Headland Foods of Flintshire, and described as BEST BEFORE FEB 06 5045.
But if I were He, and the weather was as horrible as this, I'd crawl right back into my cave again.
The most spectacular Easter Sunday I ever spent was in Barcelona in the early eighties. In which Las Ramblas (their exact equivalent of Leith Walk) suddenly became a heaving, baying mass of humanity all trying to idolise this candle-drenched tableau on a stretcher. (Do I mean tableau or portmanteau?) Anyway - it was the Madonna. (No, not that one - the talented one. Holy Mother of God.) Can't honestly remember if Jesus got a look-in or not. Plus there were hundreds of tiny kids in green surgical outfits, all wearing black Ku Klux Kan hoods.
Mass hysteria on a Hispanic scale. You couldn't make it up. My thoughts turned to Inquisition.
Not much today, dear Easter bunnies, as my mind and body are needing some rest. Some relief from the human race and its attitudes. So I think I'll stay in for three days, and just eat and watch telly. (No change there, then.)
Doctor Who yesterday was very average. Maybe Russell T Davies should have stuck to Queer as Folk. Perhaps trying to write drama for "all ages" is just too demanding a task, and he should have aimed it solidly at the 8 y/o range, and forgotten the adults. I'm thinking "Busted" in green monster outfits with lots of pink gloop. They could have done a song at the end, still in their outfits. "Smack Up Your Dalek."
The acting was in a class of its own though - the special needs class. The entire impression was of "I'm an actor mouthing these lines. It isn't real."
Maybe that's the new Method. Ecclestone was bad, and Piper worse.
So - not much sunshine in Leith today then, literally or metaphorically. The last few days have been unhelpful, to say the least. I'd give my right arm to live somewhere else. Anywhere. Pooburger was right. (And first.)
In Happier News!
Fans of Tony my IT Manager can see his and Louise's lovely new daughter Madeleine Rose, although they're planning on calling her Maddie. Hmmm.
And although I'm trying to keep today's post as depressing as possible, I must point out my joy yesterday on fastening my trousers (pants) and finding belt notch three rather than two. Only a year ago it was hole one, and all my pullovers hung like maternity smocks - yet I have no Madeleine Rose.
I would have made a good mother, if somewhat chaotic.
Spectacularly drunken afternoon and evening yesterday (even by my standards), in which I...
told Woolly Dave that he was very argumentative (well - he would ask)
told John Paul (not the Pope) that if he wanted to know about homosexuality he should get a book out the library
met a professor of poetry who was a complete and utter twat
got sexually assaulted by Big Creepy Guy, and complained to Mary about him. I should have called his bluff, and seen exactly how much of it was a pisstake. (I'm OK now, but was quite shaken at the time)
told Tony, Frank and John Paul that it was a full moon and we should all go up Arthur's Seat (they declined)
talked to one of my butchest bingo men, with lots of handshakes and cuddles. (I think he even kissed me at one point. nice.)
told Tina that having now been sexually assaulted for the first time ever, I understood how women felt
went in the newly-reopened Carrier's Quarters pub in Bernard Street. Amused to see a non-viable customer base of suits at one end and Port o Leith rejects at the other. All in a tiny bar smaller than most living rooms.
asked Mary if we might use her name and the Port o Leith name in the new radio serial Constitution Street (she said yes)
got my spring haircut!
And now I'm so hung over. What a lush! And my voice sounds like dehydrated shit. And my lungs are full of Port o Leith fagsmoke.
Ah well - some of us were put on earth to suffer. At least I'm not crucified. Have a nice Easter/spring holiday/whatever. House!
Out and About:
Blog dynasty! If you liked My Boyfriend Is a Twat, then you'll love Little Big Boy, in which zoe's son Todd gets his revenge after all these years of being written about. I predict that entire family will soon be communicating by blog alone.
Welcome to people arriving from Sweden today. Francis is at the bottom of this post, in the celebrity section.
Christopher Eccleston looks a bit of all right as the new Doctor Who, don't you think? "Come with me!" he orders from my new widescreen TV, and my inner queen reacts with, "your place or mine?" The whole show looks darker, more modern, more 3-D even. What an enormous responsibility - but I'm glad the BBC didn't shirk it. Doctor Who is a very real part of every under-sixty's inheritance. And even a bit above.
We were in the lower sixth, when it started, as it was called in those days. Spotty, smelly, and experimenting with cigarettes and the Laws of Motion. It was a boys' school, the educational fashion, and most of my classmates seemed also to be experimenting with girlfriends - a thought which never entered my head. I just assumed they made it all up to impress each other. Girls I classed along with football as something for others not me. My closest friends didn't talk about girls.
Woops. Honey. Ignorance is bliss - but only for a while.
But I digress. Doctor Who. William Hartnell, of course - and there was some genuine attempt at Sci-fi - a genre mostly ignored these days. Or if not ignored, then franchised out to Star Trek the umpteenth generation.
That was a much more Sci-fi time. We had John Wyndham churning them out, which we lapped up in between our Dennis Wheatleys. From the village library there was Isaac Asimov, A E van Vogt, Groff Conklin - the names as exotic as the stories. On telly there'd been The Lost Planet, and on radio the brilliant Journey Into Space. It seemed almost certain that well within my lifetime man would be living on other worlds. Almost certain. Even if in big glass domes.
Anyway - Doctor Who got a big thumbs-up from all at school. Me, I was a bit miffed that the Tardis moved in time and space, as I'd have preferred a history of that one spot. But no. That must have been thought too restrictive.
Now here the memory might not be 100 percent. (It wasn't yesterday.) My recollection is that the Daleks didn't appear until the second story. Daleks and Tharls - like those H G Wells' Morlocks.
You'll have heard of people watching Doctor Who from "behind the sofa". It's a part of British iconography. Well - dear reader - I can confirm that is a true story. On hearing those first tones.... da da da da... da da da da... duh duh duh duh... duh duh duh duh... my dear sister - roughly five at the time - would rush behind the sofa, later to tentatively rise, peeping at the screen through her fingers.
Poor girl was as terrified as ten years earlier I'd been myself, watching Quatermass 2 in full body tremor.
It was a great time for telly... Top of the Pops, which I saw from edition two (missed the first one... dammit!), Z Cars, Quatermass and the Pit. The boys at school were also talking about this new band who were all very dirty. Rolling Stones, I think they were called.
Couple of years later I was in London, where Mick was the talk of the gay scene there. Everybody claimed to know him! Me, I never met Mick, but did date one of the Z Cars actors - but honey, I'm telling you all the plot!
And that's enough nostalgia for today. Quite enough.
This is now
Don't miss mike's radio Nottingham interview! Far too short, darling... I bet you'd prepared screeds. Never mind - just think back in 2001 whether you would ever have imagined such a thing.
Prize news! In mike's radio feature my fabulous Prisoner Cell Block H Bloggie prize gets mentioned. The reality is that when I checked further, there was only a N American version available. (Region 1 encoding and NTSC television system.) So there was no point in sending that to winner Francis Strand in Sweden.
So I sent him a voucher to chose his own prize, with the strict instruction it had to be faithful to the spirit of the Bloggies! He's currently thinking of something by Almodovar, and of course you can never go wrong with Almodovar.
Mercy me! Yesterday started off good and got even better!
The first good bit was returning a DVD to Blockbuster and finding there was no late payment when you thought there was. "That's because I always take them out when I'm half-piddled," I confessed to the woman, but she didn't seem that amused.
Open Water (2003). Don't know what I think about it. (The one where a husband and wife are floating in the ocean. Musn't tell you all the plot.) The professional reviewers all rave... "independent cinema at its best... low, low, budget... better than Jaws for a fraction of the cost..." Whilst the forums are about 9 to 1 in hating it. "Worst movie I've ever seen... wanted my money back... the entire cinema booed at the end..." Some division there, then.
Me, I usually go with the crowd in these dilemmas. After all - they've paid money while the hacks haven't. Plus they've got no column to fill. "Shite. Hated it. Next."
Next bit was wandering into the Port and seeing Little Alex there when you expect him to be at work but he isn't. "You been sacked?" I asked - which amused his company quite a bit. No. It turned out to be the start of the Port o Leith Staff Night Out, and he'd got time off the bingo to attend.
Q. What do you think of our future Queen?
A. You don't think anything, because apart from the adultery you know next to nothing about her.
Q. Then why does everyone seem to hate her so much? It's a mystery to me.
Hills Are Alive
Fired and inspired by my intoxications I then got one of those overpowering urges to "do nature in the dark". And which bit of nature has been in my thoughts, words and deeds so much of late?
That's right! It was time to climb Arthur's Seat by moonlight! I'm not making it up! Mental as anything. At my age.
Read on... (It's a bit long. It's a bit freestyle. Oh - what the fuck... if you don't know me by now...)
Today is Sunny and Blue! The first for ages, and I have to go to bingo and fagsmoke hell. But don't worry - the forecast for my day off tomorrow is back to cloud and rain. I must have done something very, very wrong in an earlier life.
Read on. "I want to walk the mountain path. And then - if it's within my range - I want you to walk it with me." (He knows what I'm talking about - as Shirley Ghostman would say.)
It's a very great joy sometimes just to sit here and do what at the end of the day it's really all about - and that is simply writing to you. Writing.
Tonight (it's ten thirty at night) was spectacular, beyond belief, not the first time, but the first for at least fifteen years.
Do you have any idea what it's like to walk under the moon with a mountain to your left and a huge rocky ridge to your right? Do you recall how glorious the stars are there - Orion and his belt... stars seeming to duck and dive but it's only the clouds after all - them brilliantly lit with the three quarter moon watching all, but judging none.
It began - like so many things - in the Port tonight. The staff were heading off for their staff night out, including of course Little Alex. Well - this transaction and that transaction happened, and soon, for the strangest of reasons, I got this overwhelming urge to climb Arthur's Seat - in the dark - under the clouds - and totally alone.
Well - maybe not quite alone. "Hi hon - it's me!" I coo-eed to Sandra from the park. (I'd taken a taxi so as to omit the tedious bits in Easter Road.) "I'm walking across the Royal Lawn, beside the Royal Tennis Courts," I said to her. "Fancy coming out to do Arthur's Seat in the dark with me?"
Sandra and Johnny are as mental as me. More mental. And she definitely didn't diss and dismiss me out of hand. "Where are you?" she asked. "And have you got a torch?"
"No way!" I replied - torch giving a realisation of the enormity of it all. "How likely do you think it is I'll get stabbed?"
"Most unlikely," Sandra replied. "It's a great idea, Peter - but I'm in my pyjamas." Now let's cut the social stuff and get to the chase!
Alone In The Dark
There's such a choice of paths - so many, but yet I know them mostly by now. How high to go? How much to risk my heart at my age and in this condition? How scary would the high part be - as opposed to the low road which would be amply startling enough? So I went a wee bit up, then chickened out downward on a rabbit path.
Here and there. Never been on this part before. Let's look at the sky! Look there's Orion's Belt! And wow - it's weaving in the clouds - oh no it can't be, that must be the clouds moving, but you can't see them move.
How alone am I? Have I ever been so alone? Alone in the dark. That last time in Wester Ross in the eighties - cutting across a peninsula in the dark and they nearly had to get the Mountain Rescue. Just the sun was setting them, and I remembered how to make a compass out of a watch. Remembered that after thirty odd years.
No compass tonight though. High granite rock - high, immovable against the moon and cloud riven sky. Some stars. Some rocky mass. Much awe and wonder from this boy.
How blessed I am to have this here - as you could too - yet you lot jet to foreign climes.
Me in the swamp - the night birds cawing - but what if they're vultures? But no they weren't, and I'm used to vast granitic solitude anyway.
So I phone Sandra again - in the middle of the valley between the mountain and the ridge, and I say, "Are you in bed yet hon? Are you still in your jamas?" And she says no and I say well I'm turning back now because I've got mountain, moon and aloneness - so very much aloneness and she says next time be sure to tell us a bit earlier than nine o' clock at night and we'll be there nae bother.
It's hot now, and Easter Road is like Spain a little bit - people looking happy and smells from take away restaurants - but it isn't really Spain - it's really Presbyterian Scotland, where no-one's ever happy unless they're pissed, and John Knox should really be exhumed and retried for crimes against humanity, cos he filled an entire nation with so much guilt.
But not tonight, just me and my mountain. Etched on the skyline a mile above - etched I tell you - a real "pass before your eyes before you die" sort of thing. That powerful. I wish you'd been there with me. You would not have been disappointed. Maybe some day. Who knows indeed?
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end, amen.
Packed Naked Blog for you today - starting on a tragedy in the USA. Yet another school shooting.
So how will the NRA and the right-wing gun lobby handle this one? I have no idea - but as sure as night follows day they'll think of something. Maybe Marylin Manson again - even if he was thousands of miles away at the time. Maybe a Rockstar computer game. And their answer as always will be more, not fewer guns.
Good News For Britain!
And it's coming to a (UK) street corner near you too, folks! Like this police shooting, earlier today. Particularly worrying are blog alliances like the one between a leading UK police blog and a self-confessed gun nutter in the US. (And no - I'm not doing links. Do you really think I want a bunch of homo-hating, gun-toting fundamentalists hanging around here?)
I hope I live long enough not to be shot, but you never can tell, the way Constitution Street's going these days.
So the tabloids have at last picked up on our exclusive revelation of over a month ago, that Camilla will eventually be Queen. The Queen by which all queens are judged. Frankly my dears, I couldn't give a damn whether she's Queen, Princess Consort or Giant Talking Head. (I do so love 3rd Rock From The Sun!) What I dislike is being lied to so callously and stupidly. It's me who's paying for this damn wedding, after all.
What is it about bagged salads? Do you partake? I'm talking about the pre-cut, pre-washed, mixed-leaf selections at a quid for 200g. You know - I'm getting to quite like them. Adds instant health to the fattiest, saltiest meal. (Shhh! Not that I would ever... :)
Plus you get two decent portions from one bag. Any recommendations as to brand and type? (Please don't tell me I could make it cheaper and fresher myself. Does this look like a face that wastes money for no good reason?)
Fans of pedometers and graphs should nip right over to the diva, who's started a cyber keep-fit club. Mike plans to do for bloggers what Jamie Oliver's done for schoolkids. Lovely to see a non-music project there again at last. Mike loves his projects, so get off your ass and support him!
Monday's pedometer: 7,954 But that includes 600 vertical feet, in both directions. See below.
Tackled for the first time a hill called Samson's Ribs yesterday, starting from the Commonwealth Pool roundabout. (This is Edinburgh's K2 - the second peak in the Park.) But half way up this virgin (to me) ascent, it all got a bit dizzying, a bit plummety, so I sat down on some rocks and tried to remain calm. As calm as you can when you've got a helicopter viewpoint and certain death is roughly two feet away. Why oh why do I keep putting myself through this? At least the nightmares seem to have stopped. For now.
A biker aged about 45 came striding up, drinking from a can of beer. Leather jacket - long, dirty blonde hair - heavily tattooed hands. "Hi!" I said cheerfully, which translated means "Please don't shove me over the edge." But he didn't reply.
When he'd passed I started back downwards, still a bit scared, and barely noting a group of a dozen or so coming up. "Peter - these people will all be watching you, but don't let that make you fall," I urged myself.
Long story short - they were looking for a route to the top of Arthur's Seat, and I showed them a path I'd discovered last month. Mountain ranger!
"Is there a sign?" their leader asked, and inwardly I laughed so hard at that. "We don't do signs in Scotland," I replied, somewhat smug. (Normally Americans are too frightened to speak, in case you shoot them or something.)
Today's forecast is sunny afternoon! So maybe I'll try that path again. At least I won't be scared till I get past where I was yesterday. Maybe three pints of Guinness would make a difference. Persevere.
As fast as we're scaling the heights of the Royal Park we seem to be ascending the list of top twenty Euroblogs. NB is currently number 20, directly under mike of troubled diva - a position I doubt either of us would find terribly aesthetic in real life.
If I can find the time from my script-writing and mountaineering, I'll glance at the blogs higher than NB and explain why they're such rubbish. (Apart from the divine zed at number two, of course.)
This spring's four week broadcast of Leith FM promises to be the best one yet, including as it does so much of moi. Brashly, perhaps rashly, I've signed up to
present a weekday show
write ads (I was boasting here just last week I could do it sitting on the pan), and... most startlingly of all...
write a five minute daily radio serial, Constitution Street.
That last one has got me hopping with excitement! Hopping! All your favourite characters, but on the radio!!! (Oh - don't sit there and mope that you'll never hear it.) It'll be the work of just a momento to pop it on CD and flog it to eager NB readers for a token something. Awesome. I'm so happy at that. All thanks to Lindsay for suggesting it and for commissioning me. (Although the original idea of Constitution Street was formed - by me - a decade ago in the kitchen period.)
It was a very great joy meeting some of the key radio personalities from last time. I didn't get round to telling you this, but the standard of advertising on Leith FM is high indeed. Very high. Maybe even made high. Who cares, eh? It easily eclipses much commercial radio, and all for one millionth of the budget.
One in particular in December, for the Overseas Immigration Service, began with a broad Ozzie twang and the words, "Sun, beach and barbie...?"
Well, that phrase instantly became a Leith favourite, and everyone was going around the place "doing it" in their best 'Strine accent. So - imagine my joy in the Village yesterday when suddenly I heard not those exact words, but almost certainly the throat from which they'd sprung.
Yes - it was him! Sitting in the corner - Mr Sun, Beach and Barbie himself! I can only imagine his shock when I bounded across the bar, pumped his hand, and declared myself his biggest fan. Shock. His name is Rowan. From outside Adelaide. Just won 500 quid in an Irish stand-up competition.
And then you meet Brandy, who says are you that guy that does Naked Blog, and you say yes and he smiles and says he has to get his latest album to me, and you wonder why but you just say yes and you're sure it's wonderful but isn't one of the tracks a bit anti-English, and he says no just anti-British.
Everyone's wonderful to me, and it's not just the Guinness, but maybe it is that a little, and life's very good to live again.
Drama serial. Five minutes times five days a week times four weeks equals 100 minutes of material, methinks. Eeek! But then methinks further and realises that at least one minute of each episode will be "Previously on Constitution Street...", and half a minute will be, "Don't miss tomorrow's episode to find out...", and the five minutes is just a suggestion anyway.
At the weekends we could have an omnibus. Now who is willing to play Mary Moriarty? (Lightly disguised, of course.) Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? How about if we only write the first week, and then get the listeners to phone in their plotlines? But what if they don't? And how chaotic might that be?
Later it was a quieter joy to meet Tony my IT Manager, and congratulate him on his recent new fatherhood. Our love to wife Louise and new daughter, temporarily named Button. It's good that nice people have lots of children. But how will big sister Alice adapt to being co-star? Tune in tomorrow to find out...
Thinks... must get Alice (7) (website seems to have gone) into Constitution Street... she loves performing... last time she was a jingle and an ad... we really need this script like yesterday... I think it's time for a co-writer already... but who, out of the so many?
Ecstasy. The emotion, not the drug. Bliss thrusting upwards inside my head. Must climb Arthur's Seat quickly to work it off but it's a bit misty right now.
Pedometer ratings are:
Friday 9,500 steps
Saturday 14,712 (way over the 10k min, and computing up to 8.48 km distance, and 559.8 kcal burned off)
Yesterday a more modest 8310, just by wandering from pub to pub.
This 10k daily target is easily achievable.
Talking of healthy, how long will it be before Sir Jamie Oliver arises? Dead cert for the next Honours List, unless Tony's lost the plot completely.
Bought a PS2 snowboarding game which is ace, and doesn't hurt your thumbs at all. Tons of fun for just six pounds 99. Whoooooosh!!! Boooooooosh!!! (Bit lonely on the slopes, though - just you and the snow.)
Happy vernal equinox! The sun is ours now - even if there isn't that much beach and barbie hereabouts.
Here's that review of the Port o Leith Bar I promised you yesterday! (In case you thought I was making it up all this time!)
It's a midweek afternoon, you're in Leith and you have an hour to kill. You buy a newspaper and wander into the 'Port o' Leith' for a quiet pint. Right? Wrong - you've just walked into a lunatic asylum, albeit a friendly one. It's like a bar from a soap opera - everybody knows each other and after ten minutes trying to remain inconspicuous, they all know you.
Officially a Sailor's Pub, the Port O' Leith boasts a cracking juke box, cheap bevvy and an atmosphere that would put a mass drink handout at an Irish prison to shame - there simply isn't (sic) enough of these places in the world. Noise magazine
Interesting review in that it's the first of dozens I've seen which doesn't use the phrase "Star Wars Bar" - an observation first made by myself, but borrowed by Scott and handed on a plate to someone from the Sunday Times, I think it was.
Anyway - there I was in the lunatic asylum yesterday with Sandra, one of my favourite lunatics. But she wasn't in that good a mood, so we didn't dally long. She's totally in the middle of getting printing quotes and stuff, and frankly my dear...
I told her it wasn't necessary to have her entire business plan incorporated in the logo design. Then I told her to get a design student to do it for her on the cheap. What's the point in having friends if you can't say what you feel, eh? Within reason?
Bumped into Peter Curwen who's taken over the Carrier's Quarters in Bernard Street and opening next week. He's desperate to stop smoking, but I said maybe now isn't the ideal time. But he said it was. I asked him if I could have my Six Feet Under Series one back, as Tony wishes to borrow it. We're meeting on Sunday.
Hymie was there, and he was recommending nicotine chewing gum. But Peter's been reading Allen Carr, who totally disses nic replacement. "How do you get someone off a drug by giving them the drug?" As an Allen Carr success story myself I naturally took that side. Hymie was unconvinced though, and launched into how he would lodge a bit of nic gum in his cheek overnight.
Me, I spent hundreds maybe thousands of pounds on nicotine gum, and all I got was fat. Useless. And that's what the NHS hands out wholesale to hapless smokers. At my considerable expense. And possibly yours. Nice little earner if you can get it.
Only 3136 yesterday, but then most of it was spent on my ass. As I said to Gordon, who launched the craze some weeks ago, you don't have to do 10,000 every day. I'm sure some averaging out will be in order. Plus I'm going to regard uphill steps as worth two flat ones at least. Determined to get into five figures soon!
Thanks for your many kind and interesting comments lately, which I've at last got round to replying to. Don't think I've missed anyone out for the last week or so.
Now, before exhaustion sets in, I must try and buy Francis's Bloggie prize online and send it to him in Sweden. Never used Amazon before. Quite a scary prospect.
Home news: Leith's new covered market starts tomorrow on Commercial Quay at 9am. It's being officially opened at 2pm by Her Serene Highness herself, "Dame" Mary Moriarty from the Port o Leith Bar. I talked to Mary yesterday, and could sense her nervousness at the prospect. Food, fashion, crafts, blah, blah.
Not That Way - This Way
This weekend I have to train not one but two new recruits into the subtle and not-so-subtle skills of bingo calling. (Or bingo presenting as we like to think of it nowadays.) Let's hope they remain suitably subordinate and don't attempt any take-overs.
There are times I could almost cry, looking back at the things I could have achieved, and life I could have made, if I'd known way back then what I know now.
Go where your dreams lead you. It's not a dress rehearsal.
Noticed a new magazine in the Port last time. Noise, it's called. Scotland's new arts and entertainments magazine. I caught up with it on Issue 4.
It's clearly by and for under-thirties, but that didn't halt my practised eye approving what it saw. Starting with a plea for more festivals. "Why is it so hard to get tickets? Why aren't there more events?"
My answer, dear chap or chappess, would be that if it was easy to get to them then people would lose interest. Look at Graham Norton.
"I feel your pain, I feel your shame, but you're not to blame." Amazing. What an astonishing bingo caller he would make.
However, like Chris Morris and Ali G before it, the whole comedic edifice depends on the subjects not realising it's a spoof. You'd think they'd be getting a bit suspicious by now though. "He knows what I'm on about!" Brilliant.
Here's what Noise Magazine says about the Port o Leith Bar - a hostelry never far from these pages...
[HELL, DAMNATION AND BUGGERY! My copy's missing the middle two pages. You'll have to tune in later. That's the entire focus of today's post up the Swannee. Now what... ?]
[Ed: you can't call it that, you stupid twat - that's the American spelling of... you know... those nasty men...
Me: (Shocked) But it's about pedometers. We were talking about them yesterday, and everyone told me their results in the comment box. Most interest there's been in anything for ages.
Ed: Lose it baby. Or you'll be in court faster than Gary Arv*iso sells his movie rights.]
Don't you just think that Gary A*rviso is having the time of his life, btw? First of all he gets fawned over by the rich if freaky Michael son of Jack - then now he's the most famous 15 year-old in the US, with magazine and movie deals up there for the grabbing. Nice work if you can get it. Shame he'll be dead from drink and drugs before he's twenty. I blame the parents, but then I said that all along.
7436 steps yesterday, seeing as you ask! That's practically three quarters of a healthy lifestyle.
Who makes up this stuff about walking 10,000 steps a day being good for you? Me, I read it in the Guardian. No doubt somebody's get-rich-quick scheme - like nicotine patches. I really really object to my tax pounds being scattered like confetti on those useless things, by the way. More auditing of the NHS, if you ask me. More accountability with the public purse. And watch those freebies from Big Pharmy.
Sad ending (for now) to Jamie's School Dinners. They'd just about got Charles Clarke the former Education Secretary convinced to "do something" about schoolchildren's diets when Blunkett goes into meltdown. Twat. So Clarke's replaced by Ruth Kelly, who does nothing. Refuses to ban junk food. You can't buck the market, as Thatcher said before her.
But we shall see what we can buck, my chickadees - now the TV series has created such a furore. We shall see.
Incidentally, the way this country treats our young is nothing short of scandalous. Unless they're rich, they can't read, write or add up. That's been the case for decades. Educationalists. Then they can't breathe, due to the oil companies' profits. And now we learn they can't even shit properly, so that General Foods et al can prosper.
Am I the only one who notices these things? Does nobody else fucking care apart from me and Mr Oliver?
There is no society any more. Just containment. The rich will always survive.
(Oh - and talking of rich, what on earth is the President of the United States of America doing with those Belfast women? What the fuck is going on?)
Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all our readers. St Paddy's is very celebrated in Scotland because it's vaguely anti-English. Scots love Wales and Ireland. It's the national neurosis.
Yesterday was the Ides of March, apparently. Did you beware them? Equinox soon, in just five days. Doesn't time fly when you're getting on and having fun?
Sandra and I had lots of that yesterday. Well - I certainly did. Sandra doesn't drink in the afternoons, as she doesn't like to greet her daughter pissed from school. Me, I was still feeling grotty from cold number three in a row, but reasoned that a nice, nourishing freshly-cooked pub lunch would be just the thing, rather than freezer food. All that freezing and microwaving seems to rob it of life and energy, doncha think? The Indians have a word for it. Prana.
I've spoken before about the glory of the Eggs Benedict at Cameo in Commercial Street. Glory. And there's a whole range of variations... Eggs West Coast (I'm guessing they mean San Francisco rather than Dunoon), Eggs Florida... you name it, the Cameo has made a dish out of it. That's what I call not putting all your eggs in one basket!
Then we waddled along to the Ocean Terminal shopping mall, stopping on the way at a ceramic centre opposite the Holiday Inn. Sandra's about to launch her own ceramic business, and more of that later. In this one you get to paint and glaze the pieces of your choice. They bake them - you paint them. There were cups, plates, bowls, and figurines to choose from. The shop is decorated in the most violent yellow colour I've ever seen - maybe to get you in a painting mood.
Through British Home Stores into the cavernous Mall, with its galleries and escalators. Cathedral of conspicuous consumption. Sandra taking the piss out of BHS nighties. "Don't let me go into the Gadget Shop or HMV!" I hissed at her. "I'm totally borassic till payday."
Then - "Look - there's 20 percent off all prices in the Gadget Shop, Sandra! We have to go in!"
Well... you'll be pleased to hear I bought probably the cheapest thing in the shop, a pedometer with no less than 40 percent off. Value bitch.
By now, after a couple of pints of Guinness with the Eggs Benedict (Eggs Liffey Water?) I was in expansive, chatty mood, so we both started teasing the two hapless young men shop assistants. (Here I'm going to be kind rather than waspish, as I did promise them they'd be on Naked Blog today. Hi guys! The pedometer's still working!)
Sandra seemed dismissive of my pedometer purchase - said it was a load of nonsense - but I assured her you only have to walk 10,000 steps a day for perfect health. "Look - here's a Body Fat Analyzer!" she shouted. "And here's a Forehead Thermometer!" She was taking the piss bigtime. "Shove yer thermometer up yer fanny," I said to her.
Walking back to Leith, with big red ships to the left and the lovely Scottish Executive building on the right, I was as happy as a kid after Santa Claus. Counting my steps, checking my pedometer. And yes - there was a rough correlation between fact and calibration. It only does steps of one leg or the other, not both, which would double the score, obviously.
Later, in the Shore Bar, I renamed Sandra's fledgling business for her, and spewed out an A4 page of copy for her promotional literature. "That'd be at least seven thousand quid from an agency," I advised her. "But for you, no charge, my dearest."
People actually get paid good money for doing that. Me, I can write adverts having a poo. Nice job if you can get it.
Mike is unmissable today about his radio and newspaper stuff. (And Bloggies, and IRC.) Zed appears to have totally lost it - in the nicest way. Ah well. Look at Elton John.
Just to add to the tedium I'll incorporate an occasional feature about how many steps I've taken. Bet you can't wait! (Seventy four since I got up two hours ago. But I think it misses out little house steps.)
In the Port, after Sandra had gone, we fantasised about Drinkometers and Wankometers, but I'll draw a curtain over those, to spare your delicate feelings.
Work today. Feeling tons better already. Quite looking forward to it. Have a lovely Wednesday yourself!
Nice to go out a bit yesterday, even though the weather was nowhere near as warm as the forecast had promised.
(Why is the BBCi weather forecast (Press red) so wildly optimistic? Is the guy on ecstasy or something?) Yesterday it showed full sun over my home for the daylight hours - full yellow spider - yet in reality there was total - and I mean total - cloud all day. With light sprinklings of rain.
It's a meteorological mystery, and I'm sick of it. I plan my day according to the sky, don't you know?.
Babs was in the Port. She thinks she's starting the menopause. I asked her if she had white hairs sprouting on her face. She said that's old age, not menopause.
Evergreen Norma was there, but I told her to fuck off. Sick of having my few social hours dominated by a drunk. She's fine when she's sober, but that's only about 5 percent of the time. Rumour is she's down to her last liver cell.
Little Alex was there, reading that new magazine called Nuts. You'll have seen it on the telly. Sitting beside Norma was a hefty Weegie road-mender type guy, complete with fluorescent jacket. He looked through Alex's Nuts, then showed me a pic of two naked women pressing their fronts against each other. Lifted it up and showed it across the bar to Babs and me.
"That's every man's fantasy," he said. "Not mine, pal," I felt like replying, but discretion got the better of my valour. Alex laughed, anyway. Thirty years ago I'd have been right round there beside him, pretending to look at the photos, but these days I just cannae be bothered, pal. Plus he smoked, which is pretty disgusting.
Tony my IT Manager came in, and promised to do the NB feeds soon. His wife Louise was across the road about to give birth any second. (Literally any second - I'm not making it up.) I had to leave because I started sneezing a lot. Think I've got another cold. That's three in a row with barely a break.
Got home to the phone scam below, and missed Day 2 of the Yellowstone Park volcano stuff on BBC. Sick of sneezing. Sick of winter. It's time for spring now, eh?
Phoned zed about her fabulous Bloggie win. Best European. Would have phoned mike, but haven't got his number. I hope all his media stardom this week makes up for not winning. As a sponsor for that section (LGBT) I shouldn't really comment on the results, other than to congratulate Francis of How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons. Now how do I get his Prisoner Cell Block H DVD all the way to Sweden? Do they have people in Sweden who might enjoy a bunch of Ozzie dykes in jail?
I also owe a book to Moveable Type. I can't imagine for one minute they'll want it. It was actually a different section I was wanting to sponsor, but Nikolai got it mixed up.
Today is Bloggie day of course, and more - much more - of that later.
But first let me alert you to a Voicemail Spam that hit me yesterday. This shows up on your mobile as New Voice Message, and when you listen there's a website and a number to text. So far not so totally dreadful, but the thing is when you End the call, it immediately comes back at you again.
So your phone constantly shows the Voicemail symbol.
I phoned my provider, Virgin Mobile, and the guy was less than helpful. "It's not coming from us," he said straight away.
"I'm not claiming it is," I agreed. "I just want you to stop it."
Couldn't do that. No interest. Can't stop people phoning me if they want to.
Next person was equally unhelpful, but number three calmed me down a bit. He said he knew of the scam (500 free texts offered - don't go there), that it was on a few networks, and they were trying to get it ended. He suggested Telephone Preference Service. He said not to answer the voicemail, and it would go away after three days. All this is extremely irritating.
So this morning I signed up to Telephone Preference Service, but that process involves receiving an email, which of course means wading through dozens of letters about drugs and sex.
Dude, where's my internet? What's happened to the brave new world we imagined back in the nineties? How can we look at the stars a bit more and the gutter a bit less?
Spamming operator: Iona Publications Their phone: 40677952902267 Website: www.07781428378.com (Don't click it. Deluge of popups and God knows what.) Scam number to text: 07781482378 (Don't text it.) Telephone Preference Service: www.tpsonline.org.uk (Takes 28 days, after which you can report people.) Did you know that it's already an offence to send unsolicited text messages?
Lots of reaction around the place to that unpleasant, irrelevant little ditty about Scottish blogging in yesterday's Murdoch press. (Post below.)
It's pretty much a given that the entire might of News International will come down on blogging and other internet vehicles, as collectively they pose the biggest threat yet to Murdoch's dream of world thought-dominance.
And free. "Where's the financial model, Lachlan? Fair dinkum, sport."
Fox News will never dominate American views so long as there's a healthy alternative. Whilst he can buy out just about everything except the BBC (so far), the proliferation of free speech - however "marmalade-making" some of it is - is a wholly unexpected development. One which I'll possibly not live to see through to its full fruition.
Tony says: A classic case of pot-kettle if you ask me. That article is duller than even the blandest blog. And he gets paid to write.
Tom Reynolds says: What a wonderfully dismissive article. I love the way the writer dismisses islanders as people who 'still sniff mobile phones'. I'm just glad that the journalist knows the true "One Way" to intelligent, interesting writing.
mike says: Sheesh. Look, Mister Serious Journo, if you REALLY want to be snidey and sneery and horrible about our sad little world, then at least make your snidey sneerings vaguely interesting, Burchill-style, rather than just aimlessly copy/pasting your way up to the alloted word-count. (More about mike later!)
Stuart Dickson says: Lordy. And some journalists wonder why they are widely considered to be the rejected spermatozoa of Satan. Bye bye Sunday Times Scotland. When dead-tree media do finally choke on their own expulsions I will not be greetin at the burial.
graham says: I think that the journos are maybe just a wee bit scared of the bloggers; gazing into their own demise.
And doubtless much more throughout the length and breadth.
Me - I'd happily go head to head with Allan Brown in a writing contest. Happily.
One hour... five hundred publishable words... topic by mutual agreement... no spellchecks... no researchers or fact-checkers... no bother, pal. Then we'll have a rethink about benign monotony. (The main criticism of your yesterday opus was just how boring it was.) And that from experienced daily writers - the cream of the crop.
He's in the Observer blog about the comic relief project, which sadly I missed this year due to non-blogging for a while - and he's reviewing for an online music magazine! Cup runneth over. Everything happens in what? Half dozens?
Naked Blog has helped promote many, many promising weblogs over the years, but it'd be hard to think of one which has turned out more successful than TD.
Move over Beethoven - and tell Julie Burchill the news!
Snide, nasty little piece about blogging in today's Sunday Times (Scotland). Frankly, it's a relief not to be in it. The obvious quality here at Naked Blog would have invalidated crap such as, "Unconstrained by the need to be interesting in any way whatsoever, blogs are the background radiation of the intellectual realm, the white noise of the collective unconscious, scrolling out their narratives whether anybody wishes to read them or not."
Gordon sticks up for the side with Scottish Blogs: "Last year I tried to arrange a meeting of Scottish bloggers in Edinburgh," says McLean, "but it was badly organised and only one other blogger made it. Scottish bloggers are a little behind our southern counterparts but they have the advantage that so many of them are so close together. The social side of blogging is coming on in Scotland, though the tipping point, where blogging becomes part of the mainstream, is still way off in Scotland. But we're getting there."
The article writer then segues into yet another cheap jibe, this time unrelated to blogging: "Testifying, perhaps, to the proliferation of telecottaging, there are at least 10 bloggers in the Highlands and Islands, a surprising number given that most people are still suspiciously sniffing mobile phones up there." (My emphasis.)
Nasty. Plain nasty. But what else would you expect from the Sunday Times - a corpulent and rotting dinosaur of legacy media. (Woops, sorry - maybe some people enjoyed that sentence.)
There aren't any. Just answer as few or as many as you please. The numbers are just for guidance. Feel free to rabbit on. I'm not paying you.
1. Do you think the queen ever fancies nipping out to a restaurant?
2. Would you like to be the queen?
3. What about fifty years ago?
4. Campbell has kindly lent me some Charles Bukowski. Will I enjoy it?
5. Why is my copy of Blogger degraded? (The buttons just appear as rectangles, and only show the button name on mouseover.) I think this is connected to my atom feed going wrong. How can I fix it and make life wonderful again?
6. Did you notice Jamie's School Dinners was a Guardian leader yesterday? A dietician on last night's show said that children's food is so bad these days they're actually vomiting faeces.
7. Why do we do this to our children?
8. Can you buck the market?
9. How many governments does McDonalds own?
10. Is Charles Kennedy an alkie?
11. Will Tony rule for the next five years?
12. Does blogging make a difference?
13. Does being happy yourself make a happier world?
14. Why is Natasha Kaplinsky the most searched person on this website?
15. Is Michael Howard the best Tory leader since Thatcher?
Went up again yesterday. Arthur's Seat. Well, almost. One of the paths started to freak me a bit, so I bottled (or made a mature decision - you choose) the final summit, which is where it does get a bit plummety all over the place. My workout was completed in any case. The boy done good, for nearly sixty.
I'm still tickled by a point on the way up when two things happened. A teen whom I hadn't really noticed behind me sailed effortlessly past, barely drawing breath whilst I huffed and puffed up a tornado. Poor boy had been trapped behind my heaving and sweating arse for several minutes.
Then as I plopped down on the grass for a breather, two oldboys in their sixties themselves strolled by, smiling. "Now you're giving the game away!" one of them laughed, clearly feeling my sitdown wasn't necessary. "Beat yer to the top anyway, pal!" I joked back. And I didn't. But who's caring?
I've spent most of my adult life in the top ten (at times even five) percent of human fitness, and am determined to get it back this year. Twice a week up that hill should do it, with suitable timings. (So I need never bore you with it again.) The top is not essential. But gymnasia are for wimps. Muscle Marys.
Although, having said all that, I've now got my beady eye on another ascent, this time of the neighbouring hill K2 Samson's Ribs, which you get to from the Commonwealth Pool end. It looks completely terrifying from the bottom looking up. Spent ten minutes yesterday watching them milling about up there like ants in the spring sun. One guy was even running up.
Terror is the only way of knowing that you're fully alive. It even beats depression. Me, I do terror for a living. (Well - you surely don't think I go there for the money? :)
Back to Basics
Left the Royal Park by an obscure gate in the middle of a large brown housing estate. The sort you felt the Neighbourhood Watch people would have you on six cameras before you'd even looked at anyone's front door.
To The Maltings then in St Leonard's Street, where Stephen the owner jumped up from his rough trade to to buy me a drink. (Or maybe they were neurosurgeons. It's so difficult to tell with the young these days.) Never has a garment had the power to create an entire "look" more than a ball cap. They are the black leather jacket of the day, just far, far cheaper. I would wear one myself if it wouldn't look so ridiculous.
Stephen I've mentioned before as the former owner of Bar Java in Constitution Street. He asked how it was doing. I said from what I've heard the foot of Constitution Street is getting quite violent these days. Port, Java, Nobles. He agreed, and shook his head sadly. "After all the work I put into that place, Peter," he said, then regaled me about his new venture, the Commplex.
(That is the first ever free pint that Naked Blog has earned me, by the way.) Not the quickest route to riches, methinks. More about Stephen's enterprises another day. That's yer pint's worth, pal.
You'll be delighted to learn your favourite blog is now bubbling under the twenty in this list of leading Euroblogs. Me, I rarely read blogs these days - far too busy having a life, darlings - but I did check out the one just above me, which is a Euroblog in the special and unusual sense that it's written in New York and is all about America. Ah well. It's not my list anyway. But show me a chart and I want to be in it.
No Show Without Peter
Grabbed a number seven bus from the Southside, which amusingly was packed with MY bingo ladies. They'd been two-timing for the afternoon at a competing company called Empire Bingo. So that's what happens on Peter's days off, obviously. Guess I'm more of an asset to my employer than I'd realised.
After the spectacularities of Sunday, yesterday couldn't possibly come close. So it didn't even try.
Stayed in resting till about four. Meditation was full of cliff edges and falls in my mind. (Sunday had more than its share of scary bits, but one of the most frightening was a guy deliberately running down a near vertical face. Near vertical. I mean - how terrifying is that?) It's one of those sights that can never be unseen. And what if it changed from near vertical to the real thing? He'd be well fucked, I can tell you. Eeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!! Splat.
Village. Almost no-one spoke. Read the Guardian for two pints. Mostly about High Definition TV. Next year, but only on BSkyB.
Iso-bar. No-one spoke. A group of women were obviously on a massive shared bender, and shrieking the place down. Deafening.
Port. Tony my IT manager came in, and I thanked him for the new spam filter on NB comments. Then I started pestering about the feed situation, or lack of. He's kindly gonna put it all up here. Atom, RSS, Pal Meat for Dogs... you name it. I bravely sat at his table with some of his posh friends, but bottled after about 90 seconds and fled. The middle classes quite scare me. It's the way they look down on you. (Not Tony's friends - I mean in general.) Life is one long precipice, if you ask me.
Left the Port in a huff after being deliberately passed over and ignored for the bridge game. Fuck them. Decided I would never darken Mary's door again, but on reflection that might be a 'cutting nose off to spite face' scenario. But it'll definitely affect my future purchasing decisions.
Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mo....
Sandra's just phoned and she's mad at me because I'm not doing a walk she suggested. I told her it was hill time again - flat is no good today. This body is a Stradivarius violin. Must get a life that doesn't revolve around booze so much. Middle class. Respect.
"Sandra - after all I've been through to get here - could you at least answer your fucking phone?"
I got a laugh from the crowd for that... not at the bingo, no not that at all... but at the top of Arthur's Seat yesterday. The very summit itself. Yes... been and gone and done it. My clever.
So aren't you proud of me? No spring chicken these days, but nevertheless bounding up those paths like a mountain goat. Embrace your inner ibis!
Those who've been paying attention for the last couple of months will know of my previous failed attempts. The preparatory skirmishes, abandoned due to loss of nerve. The "ooh I can't walk on that path in case I fall off... " (There were lots of those.) And so on, und so weiter.
I kept in touch with Sandra telephonically throughout, as she and Johnny are my mountain trainers. "I've just ascended the front of the second ridge. I'm now at the junction of that and the rear path we came up with Cherry last month. Not too scary. I'm now about to attempt the final push I bottled out of last time." And then, just in case... "This could be the last time you ever hear from me."
(If that sounds like more of an answerphone than a conversation, then you're right it was. Sandra had purchased a new phone the day before which rather oddly wouldn't take phone calls. So advanced they are, these days. So all my chats were onto tape. She did phone me back now and again.)
Ten minutes later. "I've now done that mega-scary bit and it was fine. There's a couple ahead whose ages must total 140. If they can do it, then surely I can too!" I'd been chatting to them on the way up, when we stopped for breathers.
"I'm at the base of the chain fenced staircase we were at last time, looking down on Dunsapie Loch." And then, again... "This could be the last time you ever hear from me."
By now the views are both breathtaking and giddying, so I don't look at them much. All the concentration is on the ascent. This is part man-made rocky stair for ease (although there's a more dangerous, more natural alternative I'll surely try some day), and part granity rock. You just clamber. Hands and feet, preferring the middle way to the edges. Edges bad. Edges scary. Then - almost at the top, which is so unbelievable an achievement - the scrapy rock gives way to stuff like hardened toffee - solidified lava. And then you're in a volcanic crater and you're there!
"Is this the top?" I gasp to the dozen or so gathered. Teens, twenties and thirties... some kids, no dogs, no cigarettes. I swear it's like Mount Everest without the snow. (Although - technically - we're above the snow-line. Frost is in the little holes in the mud.)
Hooks are embedded in some of the rock, doubtless for emergency descents. Also there are rather dramatically-hewn gullies for stretchers. It's all a bit scary. The views are wonderful, dramatic, awe-inspiring, just like being in a helicopter - but of course I have no camera for you. It's resolutely refusing to surface from under the mess. (But I've a couple of clues.)
At the very, very, very top there's a man-made block with a triangulation thing in it. I wait till three Indian people complete the Bollywood movie they seem to be making - and then it's my turn - and that's where our story began.
Later, back at base, Sandra and I lauched into a pub crawl round the High Street and Holyrood Road, ending up with lunch at the Cafe Royal. (Yes - we've got one too - Princess Margaret used to go there when she was fashionable.) Very nice. Sandra had a sandwich of sun-dried tomatoes, while I plumped for the Caesar Salad. Haven't had one of those for ages. Delicious, for six quid. Had some small fishes in it for added interest.
I find the only time I can eat with a totally clear conscience is just after major exercise. You know - a mountain or two... or maybe a thirty mile cycle. That sort of thing.
After lunch Sandra announced that she had a tablet of ecstasy from three weeks ago, and did I want half?
Is the Pope on his last legs?
She said we would split it outside the toilets; I said don't be so silly. We're the most respectable-looking couple in the joint, and our combined ages top 100. Who on earth would take us for eccie-heads?
"I've got quite a headache," I suddenly said, lying. Sandra started to look shifty. "Stop looking shifty, and give it to me," I told her. "I've got something just for a headache," she said then, handing over the goodies.
I split it. It was hard to split. I made sure the crumbs went on my trousers (pants) to avoid waste. Both the halves felt about the same size, but I was acting much too nonchalant to look. Long practice.
By the time we got to the Port the rushes were starting. Oooo oooo oooo. Loved up as fuck. Little Alex came in, and stood as close to me as you are now. Yes, really. "I'm so wasted," I slurred at him. "What you been drinking?" he asked, his Russian eyes twinkling innocently. Sandra's Johnny came in. Then Robin (with the attractive penis) and his entourage. Thalidomide Brian. Kevin the shop girl. Cock everywhere. What a day.
The minute I walked in the joint I knew yesterday was gonna be a mad sort of day. Port o Leith Bar. Kisses and hugs from Karen and bf Paul (no prizes for guessing which felt more familiar), and then mucho ditto from Evergreen Norma, who was on the cusp. That is, on her last glass of wine before sinking into oblivion and starting to speak in tongues.
(Norma's son was my lodger here for a couple of years - did I ever tell you that? Now he lives with his mother, but she's always plotting to get rid of him.) She's a sort of semi-mother-in-law.
Mary the owner was chatting to this sunken old geezer who turned out to be Evening News Columnist John Gibson. "This is Peter - he used to write articles for The Scotsman," she introduced. We shook hands. There was a potentially interesting conversation ahead, but Norma kept barging in bigtime. Totally pissed me off. Even squeezed her scrawny body, complete with cigarette, right in between me and Mr Gibson. Ah well.
But he gave me his card nevertheless. Reminders to be sure to phone him if anything interesting happens. "Interesting to me," he emphasised. I left, cursing Norma silently.
To the Iso-bar for a rest and simmer down, where this rich-sounding dude at the bar was declaiming about property investments. "Don't buy new; don't buy in Leith," he said loudly. "The money's in the New Town, because it can't ever be replaced." (For strangers to these parts I should point out that Edinburgh's New Town was built in 1768 or some such time. New is such a relative term. People like Scott (Sir Walter), Stevenson (Robert Louis) and Bell (Alexander Graham) have all graced its elegant portals.)
But that got quite boring quite quickly, so back to the Port for some more intense emotional action.
Thalidomide Brian came in. (Take that JonnyB!) Yes, really. Although he's been hanging around Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now) and Robin's sidekick John Macaulay for ages, yesterday was the first time we'd spoken.
And what a conversation. "Could I ask you to put your hand in my trouser pocket and bring out my change?" Brian said. (He has vestigial hands due to the effect of thalidomide in the womb. Older readers will remember of what I speak. Medicine makes you worse.)
It was a strange feeling, putting my hand in a man's trouser pocket for innocent reasons. "I'm taking care not to touch your wee willy," I said to him, which was maybe ill-advised to a thalidomide man - but too late... there I'd gone and said it. "Robin quite enjoys going in there," Brian remarked. "Why does that not surprise me?" I murmured, successfully retrieving his change. From which he kindly bought me a drink, after offering his right finger to shake.
Plied with drink also from the other side - a guy called Matthew who'd seen me in The Regent, but assured me he was straight. "That's no problem, Matthew," I said. "Most of my friends are straight - I'm quite familiar with the condition. Plus I have no sexual feelings due to old age, so you needn't worry on that account. Plus you're as ugly as fuck anyway." After that we got on like a house on fire. It just occurred to me this morning that we chatted for two whole hours without me once asking him "what he did". But he did mention his girlfriend was coming out of jail in a fortnight. "Drugs?" I asked. "Yes," he said.
It's the real thing
Oh - talking of which... what should I see in Mary's gents toilet but a Scottish Executive poster saying that cocaine makes you 24 times more likely to have a heart attack. Talk about point of sale advertising! There's a TV ad to go with it too, where this cool, suited-up dude aged about thirty snorts a line in a pub gents and then gets really really wired.
My entire reaction was to want to join in, but I don't know if that's what the Scottish Executive intended. Matthew and I agreed it was a very ill-advised campaign - yet another waste of millions of public money. Maybe John Gibson should write an article about it.
Stewart (DJ Womble) came in, and so did John Paul. (Not the Pope.) We chatted about my upcoming radio slot on fabulous Leith FM, which they're both quite important in.
But I think by now I was being a bit prima donna due to alcoholic consumptions. Over the cusp. In fact I told Stewart to shove his radio station up his arse, and that I would never darken their microphones again, and that it was all his fault. I also said the station had the shitest engineering in the world, and half the time no-one could make out a word anyone was saying. I do hope neither of them was offended.
The Jamie's School Dinners series is difficult to praise sufficiently without resorting to Monsieur Cliche. So I won't. It's utterly different from anything you've ever seen before - different in that it depicts someone on television telling the truth. (Either that or Mister Oliver is in line for the Oscar of the millennium, and I doubt it.) He really wants to improve the diet of the nation's children.
Think about that. Just think about the enormity of that, before you move on. And then pause to think of the millions being made by organisations paid to shove worthless salt, fat and addititives down our children's throats. And the local authorities who pay them. "You can't buck the market." M Thatcher.
Think also about the present government which has had eight years to recognise this, but has failed to do so, leaving it rather to one man's dream - a man who probably earns less for this entire series than for one 30 second Sainsbury's ad. And there's the rub - without supermarket ads there would be no Jamie Oliver. Does the end justify the means? I think in this case it possibly does.
So - Mr Oliver with his celebrity might - just might - be able to pull it off. (Compare and contrast most other slebs, whose fame is only ever a vehicle for continued personal aggrandisement. More celebrity, in other words.) As Oliver says - "My own kids are never going to go to state school... they're just not. I really want to do this for the country's children."
As remarked here last week - this is jaw-dropping television, with awards stamped all over it. And why not? (He even refused - on camera - to meet Mr President Clinton, who'd come to his restaurant with a party of thirty. Said he was going home to his wife.) You couldn't make it up. I feel humbled. Why is TV one trillion times more useful than blogging?
Really nice to see them all again yesterday. Got called in for a chat with da boss, where he discussed certain aspects. Timings, technicalities we need not detain you with here. But sadly I was less than adequate in presenting my own case, I've since decided. However I'm sure he'll hear me out next time we meet. He's very, very good to work for - and that's not just because he sometimes reads this.
Not fair. Must stop now.
Plus they're going to hire someone else as caller - on the (admittedly several) days I have off. Hmmm. This will probably end up in a virtual if not actual demotion for moi. Anyone with one milligramme of pushiness could and often has walked all over me. Plus the customers will probably lap up the new man, and drop me like a hot brick. They can be that fickle. Plus I bet he'll be young and slim and straight. See if I care.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
After my recent enjoyment of Touching The Void, what should pop into my sight in Blockbuster recently but Vertical Limit. This is a mountain fiction, rather than the strict mountain fact of "Void".
Fun nevertheless, with lots of terrifying drops, rope cutting, avalanches etc etc. It's set on K2, which is played by a New Zealand Alp. As Roger Ebert asked, "Why does nitro-glycerine only ever go off at the perfect plot moment?"
Great 5.1 surround-sound, possibly the best I've yet heard. Wind. Helicopter blades. Ice sheets cracking. Yummy.
Yet despite all the above I still managed to doze off. You could quite easily make it up.
Yes - it's back to the bingo in three hours time. Heaven only knows when there'll be a break next. Just as well I quite like it, eh?
So how was my ten day Sabbatical? Nice of you to ask. But in case you're merely being polite, I'll keep it short. Ten days in which I...
drank alcohol on only three of them
smoked no cigarettes
initiated not one but two social get-togethers, and
did two substantial physical work-outs.
But it wasn't all good. Ten days in which I...
sat on my arse a lot
watched far too much telly and DVD
answered no emails
re-started my Playstation habit, in direct violation of my self-imposed ban, and
read almost nothing, including blogs.
So there you have the fascinating and variegated life of Scotland's champion bingo-caller and leading Euro-blogger.
Better late than never. I know I slagged if off when I saw it in the cinema, but this was for reasons of drunkenness coupled with that traditional movie bladder. Watched it on DVD yesterday and loved it. (I've decided that the cinema is possibly the worst place scenario to see movies. Home is much better.) You can drink coffee, snack, wee - whatever. In the middle of Minority Report I even had an hour's nap! Try that in the cinema and see the looks you would get!
The double DVD is OK but the extras are nothing to write home about. I have to force myself, when looking at men my own age ( eg Spielberg ), not to start bleating that he's achieved so much, and me vice versa.
Do you ever do that one? And then of course you fall back on the old chestnut - "But is he really happy?" You bet your sweet arse he is. And am I? That's more to the point.
New Kids On The Blog
A couple of days ago I brought you Jane of Lady Muck. (Or Jane de Madame Muck as Google French would have her.) Someone else who's come to my comment box lately is Mad Becka aka Rainex. Try them both, s'il vous plait. My - this blog is getting so intellectual these days.
More blogging about blogging
What kind of blogger are you? Do you
plan out your piece for that day and write it? Maybe even you sketch things out a week ahead? Or do you
sit down at your desk and take a dump?
Me - I incline more to that latter, although I do try to have at least one idea first. But how do you try to have an idea? Naked Blog typically is sold by the minute rather than the topic.
Stuck in a rut
It occurs to me that I could easily go on exactly like this until I die. Could you? Will you?
I need some inspirational ideas by people in their sixties. People still climbing mountains, whether physical or virtual. You lot are lovely in your way - but all a decade or two too young. Maybe taking up the internet was a bad idea. It's a young medium.
Bingo is fine for cheerfulness laced with folk wisdom, but the fact remains that smoking and dying are the two things they do most.
Hmmm. Haven't had a "must do something about my life" day for ages. Sehr interessant.
Last day of my late winter/early spring holiday. Not been good, although - perversely - both weather and health are picking up now it's almost hi-ho time again.
Lunch with Sandra yesterday in the Omni Centre (large glassy Mall at the top of Leith Walk, sporting pubs, restaurants, cinema etc.) - although to be honest it was more of a liquid lunch. (Sorry Chav Gav - I came perilously close to lying when we chatted later.)
Across the road then to John Lewis where Sandra was buying a purse. Sensible, practical, much like Sandra herself. (I'm lying again. In a sense.) But also there was the loveliest, flimsiest pink and white spotty creation - a tiny purse, just perfect for her daughter L. So I got it for her. Embrace your inner schoolgirl! (Later L sent me a kind "thank you" text.) O tempora!
Guinness in The Village, bridge in the Port. Me and Black Tony against Mary and Cad. (Cad is his adopted name. Secretly people think it's really Charles.) And we won for a change. Probably because Tony kept me as dummy most of the night, to minimise the damage.
(By then - after four or five pubs, I was feeling more than a little bit Brahms and Liszt.) But I do recall entertaining the entire Port o Leith by declaiming, "Robin - I hear you have a very attractive penis!" (Sandra had told me that earlier: although she'd heard it from someone else.) Robin blushed, but I think was secretly delighted. "There's not much gets past you!" he laughed. Spread the love.