Because I climbed one yesterday. And the day before that. (Why isn't there a word for the day before yesterday? Useless damn language, English.)
On Sunday's climb I conquered a scary path that had given me nightmares all year.
Then yesterday I found out a new one. Fucking terrifying. Few scrawny clumps of gorse the only thing between me and splattered oblivion. Had nightmares all night again.
"Yer nose'll mebbe stop running if you vacuum the house a bit," Sandra said to me last week. "What's a vacuum?" I retorted, only half joking. Haven't seen it for three years. Must be there somewhere.
Anyway - there was that much cat hair on zoe's sleeping chair even she was beginning to avoid it. So much cat hair you could now only indistinctly see the rather eighties pattern underneath. Two tone brown checks, I ask you.
So I dug out the damn vacuum, attached some attachments, and set to.
Well, after five minutes the chair was looking not a hundred miles from pristine - but of course I couldn't breathe now, with all that catness in the air. Vacuum smell.
Had to go to the pub didn't I. Never expecting for one moment the story below...
Which is, for me, what personal weblogs are still about. No amount of faux journalism, which could and should be in print, will ever affect the essence of personal, as in my dead mother below. Which couldn't and shouldn't. Be in print.
Sometimes joy comes from whence you least expect it. It strikes you in the face like a gauntlet of love as you sit and ponder your fate, your ever-present fate. Because that's one thing we none of us go short of. Fate, I mean.
"Isn't there something about your mother today?" Gary the ex-army man asked me in the Port tonight. "I've got a Peter's mother feeling," he pressed on. "Or is it next month?"
"No - spot on, Gary, my man," I agreed. "Today's my dead mother's birthday - I didn't know you knew that - I never put it on the blog."
"Three tequilas, please, Alex!" I ordered - tequila being the short of choice. Of choice and of fashion, and nothing less than fashion would do for my mother today.
Alex poured the drinks, not knowing what was ahead.
"I want this toast to be to my mother," I told the two men. "And I want you to say... 'To Dora'. I know it's old-fashioned, but that's what you've got to say."
Alex and Gary were word perfect. Dora in heaven would have loved it.
How blessed I am. How fucking blessed.
To My Mother
PS: And if you're reading this, Ma - in some kind of Heaven Internet Cafe - then for Christ's sake stop blaming yourself for all that went wrong. You gave birth to a star. Nothing less. A stellar event.
And clearly a star is gonna hurt, coming out, a tiny bit.
We had some laughs, loads of laughs - just you and me, girl. There was a Princess Margaret drama on the telly last night. I know you would have loved it. Mebbe they've got it on - up there in Heavenly Freeview.
Two lives, so intertwined, so similar and yet so far away. The thing you did wrong, the only thing dear mother, was to limit yourself to what you saw around. That wasn't it. That wasn't even one quarter of it.
So much to offer you, to give you for your pride. But maybe born too soon. Too forties, should have been sixties. Who knows? Anyway ma - your blue-eyed boy is doing not too bad. Not too damn bad at all.
Love yer, honey. Hope you've got an angel or two chasing your tail.
Hiya. It's after eleven, and I really have to go out almost immediately. Drink, talk and climb. It's a hard life, but someone's got to do it.
Yesterday evening I bought pears from Scotmid co-op. Rocha. Pretty hard at the moment, but will eventually be soft, sweet and delicious. Except one, which is badly bruised with a large brown patch. "One bad apple," I thought. And then I thought, "How tf does that one finish?" So I wrote it myself. "One bad apple doesn't make that much difference."
"Hey this is fun! Not since the Sex Pistols with Bill Grundy has anyone been so anarchic!" (Guests on TV programmes should be carefully screened.)
So I went further, even daring to tamper with the greats....
"A stitch in time isn't as good as going shopping."
"It's no use crying over clinical depression."
Getting the idea? How very Reader's Digest.
So over to you, you inventive wordsmiths, you...
(Back tomorrow with more fascinating human interest news!)
Much interest for my new cat zoe this morning, as she gazed apparently fascinated at the snowflakes trickling languidly past the study window. Those of you watching BBC Breakfast will have seen the lovely Carol Kirkwood speaking from Braemar, with snow and jingle bells all around her. That's what Scotland is like, and the residents are reasonably used to it.
Although yesterday this particular resident was frozen stiff most of the day. Just couldn't seem to get a wee heat. Got as far as the Regent Bar for drinks with Babs, but abandoned the mountain idea after about three and a quarter minutes. Back to the pub and the warmth! Stovies and croissant.
Do you know what stovies are? The word is plural, but the dish is singularly delicious in these winter days. Mashed potato stirred up with chunks of either sausage or corned beef. A one-finger gesture to those who would exist on rocket leaves and cucumber in these chilly days. Puts hairs on yer chest!
This week's "three for a fiver for a week" from Blockbuster were The Accused,The Core, and Birth. In The Accused, Jodie Foster plays a downtown chick who gets gang-raped in a bar called The Mill. The movie concentrates on the after-effects and subsequent trials.
While I don't want to diminish the horror of being gang-raped in a bar, I do need to say this doesn't necessarily make good celluloid. Firstly because it's all too sadly been done a hundred times before, and secondly because la Jodie just isn't convincing as a shack-dweller with back-combed hair and chain smoking. For me, at least, Miss Foster will for ever be Clarice Starling, and there's nothing either she, me or Hollywood can do about that. It's why stars should never be in movies. Only unknowns can convince.
The Core is rip-roaring sci-fi hokum, full of unknowns, and borrowing heavily from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Best enjoyed with an entire river of Jacob's Creek.
Most interesting of the three is Nicole Kidman in Birth - a strange movie indeed, and in which she also plays alongside Lauren Bacall, a pairing later to be reprised in von Trier's Dogville.
The movie's premise is simple - if ridiculous to most - that a widow's dead husband is somehow reincarnated in the body of a ten year old boy. Who comes to her home and causes, understandably, considerable havoc. Some fine performances, not least from Kidman herself, who must surely be one of my favourite actresses. Interesting to wonder why she always convinces and suspends, whereas the vast majority simply don't. Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man? Do me a favour.
Tell me what you think.
I think also, but can't be sure, that one of my pieces is in Tim Worstall's Book, 2005: A Year In BlogArbeit Macht Frei, from January. It was controversial for a day.
Today I opened e-mail for the first time this month. No particular depression, just didn't get round to it - plus with this choked-up computer we're talking a major part of a day on that one exercise. And as you've kind of gathered, every daylight moment not spent working or blogging has to be out of doors.
So thank you all for your kind communications! Danny in the US, asta in Canada, Francis in Sweden, and tom on the high seas. How global!
I'll answer all just as soon as I possibly can. As you know, emails I find quite difficult to handle, very one-to-one, a bit like the telephone, a modern invention I rarely use either.
I seem to be in a blogging book. I seem to be in a magazine leaflet. (Scotland only.) Things are changing, even if I'm not. Affairs of man.
Zoe weighs nine pounds exactly. Yesterday was the first day of her reduced intake, and she's much more active already. But it was horrible missing out two of the wee soul's meals, and watching her distress and confusion. "Where's me lunch? Where's me supper? Miaow!!"
Zoe and I together on the scale today came to 13 stones 11 pounds, the very weight at which I started my own diet. So I've lost a cat (weight), in four months. Doesn't seem much. Next aim: miniature Dachshund. Eventual dream: small pony.
Anyone suggesting hippopotamus may leave the party now :)
Oh, and talking of Lost, it's suddenly developed a numerology theme. Exactly like our numbers competition last month. (Must get those prizes out!) Where we lead, etc.
Incidentally, I've decided Locke is called Locke because he's the key.
Yesterday's stern weight lecture by vet Chris Ross - the guy with more letters after his name than in it - has certainly had some effect already. That's right. Today I weighed in at an almost buoyant 13 stones, 1.5 pounds.
Whenever I hit a new pound figure on the way down, I write wow! in my record. And this has been a two-wow week!
13st 3lb on Sunday, and now the thing above. Of zoe's weight I've no idea, and won't find out for another six months. What sort of weight-management is that, only getting weighed every six months?
(If you catch yesterday's post-vet update, you'll see the cat has increased her bodyweight by ten percent in just three weeks. Thanks to my care. Catastrophic.) Honestly, it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. They say fat mothers raise fat kids, and now it seems they were'nae wrong.
It's been a good old week, since recovering from suspected food-poisoning on Saturday. Mountain on Sunday, won fifty quid (shared with Lynda) at the bingo on Monday, and mountain again yesterday.
Meg, the lesbian sandwich woman was holding court in the Regent when I popped in for a quickie before tackling Arthur's Seat. (That is some fuck-off sentence, by the way.) (I get nervous near the cliff edges.) "I'm looking for a rich woman," Meg announced. "Try the queen!" said Wisconsin Tony as he breezed in cheerfully. I love that place. Really do. Shame it's at the wrong end of Easter Road. Never mind - the exercise does me good.
On the way back down the hill I got chatting to this nice guy with a really cool dog. Creamy grey, and oh so skinny. He was shouting for it. I said I could see it way up a slope, above a big expanse of gorse. "He's a lurcher," he said. "Cross between greyhound and deerhound." "Well, that was certainly fast," I said. "It would take a human twenty minutes to get up there."
Turned out the man was a writer as well. About forty, greying hair tied back into a small pony. We agreed that red indians would be better at dog-spotting than monitor-wallahs, and I told him it was a shame zoe couldn't exercise on the hill with me.
But a lurcher? Could I possibly cope with a dog? No. Way too cruel.
Eek! Hi ho. Got to go. Look at the time. Have a great day. See you the morn'.
Just got a mo to mention that this morning zoe and I are off to see Mrs Enderberg the vet once again. She has to get part two of her Feline panleuco-thingie injection. Hope it doesn't hurt the wee bairn.
Playing bingo yesterday, with my friend Lynda from the buffet. I shouted three times, amassing fifty pounds, duly shared with L. That's how it works. You agree in advance, and double your chances. Sometimes people have big single wins, multi-thousands, and immediately renege on their agreements. Even mothers and daughters. Bingo's a jungle, you mark my words. Please disregard any thoughts of sweet, dotty old ladies playing for hot water bottles.
Right. Must dash. Hope zoe doesn't freeze on the way to the vets. Maybe I should buy a car.
Diamond Geezer gives his views on blogvertising here. Soon we'll have something interesting to say on the topic ourselves.
Fat Cat Update:
The beautiful zoecat is about to be renamed Vanessa (Feltz). She's now 4.1 kg, from a previous 3.7. That's the equivalent of an average human putting on a stone. In two months. I am so guilty as charged. Bad dad.
Chris Ross it was at the vets this time, with more qualifications on his badge than letters in his name. Of Mrs Enderberg there was no sign. Maybe she's fucked off back to Sweden to treat Agnetha's cats.
I said I was feeding zoe Science Diet, but with added Felix Pouches for flavour and interest. He told me that was a recipe for obesity. He said I was now part of a huge consumer thrust, involving manufacturers and supermarkets. I didn't say, " - and veterinary medicine".
So she's to get Science Diet alone, twice a day, and no more Felix ever again. It is the very Class A of cat grub. He told me that cats don't put on weight over their ribs, but all on the abdomen. Bit like old men, I thought, but didn't say that either.
Michty me. Is there nothing I can do right in this world?
Good morning to you at your office. Time to pop the kettle on, and snuggle up with a Kit Kat with today's Naked Blog. Well, actually it's yesterday's, but unable to be read then due to technical consideration. (Non-payment of extortionate hosting bill.)
I've tried repeatedly to impress on these people that I'm not the Royal Bank, nor Scottish Power, and certainly not NHS Scotland, three entities which I'm sure spend far less on hosting than does this small, poor, retired blogger.
But to no avail. This power-up, that supplement, the other penalty. Fifty eight quid last month, and just moments ago a hundred and eleven. I'm not kidding. Next month it'll be at least thirty again.
We don't often do politics here, as you know. Basically the country has never been better since 1997, so if it ain't broke, don't etc.
Specifically we don't shove out opinions on matters of the day, or even year. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and they all stink. I can hear so many opinions in one evening's pubbing, that - frankly, my dears - I'm glad to sit down here and loosen up with you.
You know what's coming now, don't you? Hehe. You think I'm going to express an opinion - about something important, like Iraq. Escalating the chat from zoe's litter to America's detritus. (Fuck! that was good. Did I just think of that?)
Well, you'd be wrong. Haha. What I am gonna do is describe Brian Eno's opinions, as voiced on Andrew Marr this morning. Of Mr Eno I know little, except for always adoring his daft little name. Wasn't there once a thing called Eno's Salts?
Oh, and talking of patent remedies, you'll never guess who had to come home from work yesterday. Yes, that's right. But it wasn't my cold for once. It was something quite new - food poisoning. (Or is that the dramatic term for indigestion?) Anyway - there was no risk of standing on any stages awaiting explosive eruptions from either end. Came home and watched ultra comfort telly with zoe. Murder At the Vicarage. It was that bad.
Strange to get digestive upset. Normally, living in squalor provides excellent inoculation against bugs which would dismay me. Must have been real Ninja bacteria. Sore, anyway. Haven't felt pain other than dental and mild goutiness for many a decade. Wanted my mammy, but she's dead.
However, as I say, a few hours of Agatha and Chris Tarrant and today I'm Hunky D again. Parkinson was especially dull. Three Brits: Chris Evans, Ian Hislop and Dawn French. Stars on Sofas. Puppets doing their "I really need this exposure" routine. Performances on a Postcard please. Is there actual life away form the cathode rays?
Well yes, said Brian Eno, this morning on Andrew Marr. He's anti-war. Very. Does concerts about it. He said that while Britain only has 8,000 troops there, compared to 140,000 from the US and 30,000 mercenaries, our presence (morally) validates the American occupation.
He said that previous to the invasion, Iraq was the most-studied country in the world, and rather than being a danger, it in fact posed the least threat of any Middle East country, which was why the United States were keen to establish an occupying presence there.
There was a wonderful moment when Andrew Marr, feeling it was time he said something, even though Mr Eno is more than capable of speaking unaided, Andrew Marr said, "What is your authority for speaking like this?", to which Eno replied, "My authority comes from people constantly sticking microphones in front of me. People like you."
Was good. Much better than Parky, who's so intellectually deficient (gaga) now he's become parodic.
Hi Ho Silver Lining
Did I ever tell you that the guy who sang that song has been in my house? Can't remember his name now. Jim something.
A couple of days ago I was speculating whether or not my bathroom scale goes down as far as 13 stones 3 pounds, as I'd never caught glimpses of any pounds figure smaller than four. Well, it does. Today, after yesterday's gastric upset, we weighed in at a featherweight 13 stones and 3 pounds exactly (185 pounds), the lightest since records began 18 weeks ago now.
Bodies continues immense on BBC. Those doctors and nurses are awash with drink, sex, and even Class A drugs. Yet they're all desperately unhappy. The programme is even shot in a constant blue/grey aura, with only a bit of red showing yesterday when a doctor's own abortion trickled out of the bottom of her ward trousers (pants.) Yes, it's that gritty. Later you saw a 20-week foetus pop out of a deluded young woman. It wriggled a bit in the hero-doctor's hands, then you saw it die. Although "created by" Jed Mercurio, last night's episode was written by Rachel Pole. This is serious, Class A telly, as described here already. Unmissable, and extremely hard to fault. Me, I only came to it part way through the second series. But isn't that just the glory of DVD?
And where next do we go for our entertainment?
Well, today it's Arthur's Seat, obviously. Gotta continue my health programme, lest I end up looking like Dawn French. (Tres fat.) And I'm worried how little the beautiful zoecat moves. All that sleeping can't be good. I think she's bored. I think I should maybe let her out.
*But thinks* Must not ascribe human feelings/emotions to a feline. "Bored" might not be in a cat dictionary, unlike feed, breed, shit and sleep, which surely are. As also seems to be: "interact with your significant human now and again".
That's yer lot, NB-fans. It's midday now, and the light doesn't go on for ever these days.
Good morning world, from Sunny Leith. The anticyclone continues uninterrupted, bringing much sunny delight by day and Jack Frost by night. Well, that is, it would bring much delight, were your correspondent not still suffering from acute nasal catastrophe. But it's getting better. Most of the time at least one nostril is in operating mode. Work should be not too ghastly today and tomorrow, plus of course there's all the Brownie points for showing up so clearly unwell.
It was nice to see Mary back at work in her beloved Port o Leith Bar yesterday, after so recently becoming a widow. She stood tall, proud, a giant among women, surveying the very special domain she has created. What will life be like post-Mary, we ask ourselves, but with no particular answer. No-one truly goes on for ever, but there are those you come to imagine somehow will.
Al a Carte
Babs was there, and Big Al, and Andy just back from Australia. Thirty five degrees to zero. But he's a tough-guy. Ex-army, I think I once heard. Scott has stayed on in Oz for a while, and is busily buying up all the latest gadgets, especially, but not restricted to, a radio transmitter for his iPOD. I questioned the usefulness or desirability of broadcasting the contents of your playlist to the hapless world, but got no particular answer. Sill - I don't care. I've got Leith FM to broadcast on December and January. So many opinions, so few listeners. But who cares? Everybody's gotta start somewhere.
Talking of starting somewhere, what should my digits settle on last night than that new-fangled More 4 TV Channel, and the latest episode in Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days franchise. It was the gay one, and I was disappointed. I wanted la divine himself, Morgan with the gayest moustache in the discovered universe, to do the gay thang, but no - 'twas some poor sap from the boondocks.
Ryan, his name was. Mid-twenties, resonably appealing, nothing special to look at or to listen to. So to the Castro District of SF with him, to mix with the (God Hates) Fags. To live with Big Gay Ed for 30 days, and make Mr Spurlock lots of lolly, for little more than writing the narration and doing the voice-overs. (Although MS is very good at both of those. As with John Malkovich further down this page, I could listen to him reading from the phone book. Or, preferably, a list of things he was going to do to me once he got me into bed!) The fantasies!
There've been, over the years, various British versions of this kind of stunt, some with rather odd consequences, even fights. The pattern is now quite traditional. First night - where am I gonna sleep/Don't you faggots touch my straight ass. Next day gay shopping and gay dinner. Next day something intellectual, maybe a lecture. Next day gay bar and cabaret/drag act. Last day, tearful farewells as each party can't wait to get rid of the other.
Well - not to disappoint, Mr Spurlock's show was almost exactly to the formula, but with one huge difference. God.
God was everywhere in this progaramme, and this really did get quite tedious. It's from small observations like this, one can postulate the quite large differences between our two countries. Only a very few gay (or straight) people in Britain give a monkey's what the Bible says - about anything, really.
And as we've said here often before, there is no place in Christianity for gay people. And no amount of liberal-voiced San Francisco Priestesses are going to change that. I do feel genuinely sorry for gay people who wish to take Christian Communion, as was evidenced here.
Oh - and the entire programme was awash with money and middle class. I don't think Poor Gay Trash like me get very far in Ed's world-view. Or Spurlock's. Or maybe the entire Castro District.
San Francisco is one of the three places I would love to see before I go to Blog-Heaven, you know. That and New York. And Mount Everest, but only from the bottom.
Zoe has gone quite mental. It's worrying. Yesterday she didn't even cover her faeces, which I'm led to understand is sine qua non for cats. In the late evening she kept going on the litter, then jumping off after a moment and leaping into the bath and licking her private parts.
Q: Why do cats lick their fannies?
A: Because they can.
Oh - you can't beat the oldies!
Gimme the Moonlight
There's been vivid moonlight for three nights now, courtesy of the full moon and cloudless nights. Maybe it's that. Or maybe she's "coming in to season" as I keep hearing about. Anyways - if I'd thought she'd read yesterday's post and was angling for a percentage I'd have understood.
Later, in my own bed, I had the most vivid heterosexual dream, with a woman who hardly ever features here. "I think I'm turning straight," I said to her, proudly but shyly showing the tackle. "If you were straight you'd have been in there ten minutes ago," she replied.
Strange. Very strange. Answers on a postcard, please.
Zoe is a very patient cat. She spends the entire night hoping I'll wake up and feed her, which I resolutely refuse to do until it's light.
So far I've trained her not to sharpen her claws on the bed, not jump on to it, and especially not to jump on it and put her face on mine while I sleep. This happened only once, and I nearly collapsed. (I'd briefly forgotten I owned a cat, and thought it was a large invading rodent sniffing hot breakfast.)
So she sits there all night, sleeping a bit and hungering a bit, the appliances her only light. Yes, of course I do love her, in a trans-species, limited intellectual way - but if she had her wish I'd be getting up at 2 am to give her breakfast, and that's just not on. Don't give me guilt. I'm full of cold.
(Although let's not go too far down the "limited intellectual" route. She does pick up things rather more quickly than some people I could name. And does what she's told.)
This morning my arm fell out of the side of the sleeping-couch. Horizontal but comfortable. Sleepy but awake, I knew that would be a red rag to the cat.
True enough, she was there real quick, sensing breakfast if she played her cards right. No beds, no faces, but here was a living invitation.
She escalated her approach, beginning with whiskers gently stroking the hand. Then nose, gently too. "Nosy, nosy, I'm a-gonna sniff you!" After that came the tail, so langorous in its brushing yet pushing. I've had that tail in my face more than once! She's a total minx when it comes to waking me. Feline cunning.
Still I pretended to sleep, my hand seeming lifeless but warm. Then came the "head on" assault - headbutting my hand bigtime. Butt! Butt! Butt! Wake up and give me some fucking Science Diet!
I put life in my fingers. Stroked her between the ears, the way I was instructed by another zoe, her namesake. Glanced at the clock on the video. Five-oh-five am. No way, Jose. Got up, pissed and went back to bed. Night zoe. Come back in three hours.
I want to understand the human/cat interface, but without totally falling for it. This true story above demonstrates a pretty high level of feline learned approach to maximise her chances, and all in just about six weeks together, the two of us.
My party days are clearly over. Guess the best I can look forward to now is "survivor". That's it. I'm a rock and roll survivor.
What am I talking about? Not being able to breathe for three days would be a start. Totally blocked nose, once again preventing me from meeting my beloved Sandra for lunch yesterday. Those whom the Gods would drive insane they first give blocked up noses to. And mice. JonnyB has now adopted a mouse story line, and - as he does - is doing it tons better than I offered here. With millions more comments. Just as well I haven't got one jealous bone in my body.
I could watch John Malkovich just reading the News. And that voice - so controlled, laid back, aristocratic (for the USA), even purring a bit. Great movie too, Ripley's Game. It's all Patricia Highsmith, with posh people getting dragged into the underworld. Tres stylish.
28 Days later is by Danny Boyle. (Has he ever made one decent movie?) It's about an escaped virus, which is hardly new. And contains "the infected" who act just like Romero zombies, and you have to kill them. But just when I was thinking there wasn't a novel idea in the whole thing, then it does get a bit interesting in the last third. Christopher Eccleston turns up, but you don't recognise him without Billie Piper or his Doctor Who leather jacket.
Saving possible the best till last (although it isn't really viable to contrast three totally different genres), last night I was bowled over by the acting in 21 grams. It's independent, and the sort of movie Sean Penn excels in. He really is very good, you know. Underrated. Madonna effect. Melissa Leo's in it too - the redhead from Homicide: Life on The Streets. (Surely that's overdue for a retro re-release?) But Penn has to share the plaudits also with Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro - among others. Bravura performances, which at times intrude a little into the fiction with their sheer incandescence.
Definitely see Ripley's Game and 21 grams. The other you might cope with if you enjoyed that Kevin McKidd wolf thing. Let me know your verdicts.
To work now, and I still can't speak properly. I'm gonna kill Little Alex when I see him.
Should have stuck to lager last night. Should have stuck to alcohol, in fact. Spangled like a Smartie. All Little Alex's fault.
It was a totally fab night in the Port, surrounded by both company and talent, the two being separate entities but with overlap. Company was in the form of Sam, possibly my oldest-serving gay friend. Sam is an outrage!
Last night he was sitting proudly shoving off his new baby, a six-week old Great Dane. Talk about size queen! His other dog Shane was there too, trying not to feel jealous as Deacon the Dane got all the attention. It's a dog's life.
Sandra's Johnny came over, and I swear his face was as close to mine as yours is now. What a cock-tease! I just wanted to lick him all over. Such a pet person I've become. Of Sandra herself there was neither sight nor sound, and I do hope he hasn't murdered her and put the body in the freezer. Stranger things happen around here. Saturday night they tell me Willie had a shotgun put to his head outside the Port. "The place was crawling with cops after that," Sam slurred.
He was really on one. Didn't even buy me a drink when Deacon the Dane knocked me Tennents all over me Debenham's jeans. Boy was I wet! Had to stand at the bar till they dried out. But that was no great penalty, as I was able to gaze over Little Alex, his brother Ewan the film star (just appeared in some Kursk rescue flick) and Ewan's pal Matthew the joiner who is a honey, and very gay friendly. Well, they all are. Just as well, cos when Sam and me are together, the sum of the queenliness is greater than the whole of the parts. Or summat. You get my drift.
Lindsay the Leith FM Station manager was there, with new boyfriend Alan. Boy was she pissed! Alan too. They were practically making out at the bar. "Why do Scots hate the English so much?" Alan asked Tony my IT Manager. "They just do," Tony replied, in his Luton accent. "Cope." "You should try being homosexual for a day," I said to him. "See what that feels like." They nodded agreement, clearly suppressing any witty comebacks. "But I've got style darlings," I Quentined, crisply.
Sam gave me another drunken kiss, then Deacon the Dane to hold again. "Watch he doesn't pee on your breeks, hen" Sam advised. Deacon cost five hundred pounds. Johnny drove him up to the breeder in Perth on Saturday.
What fun we all do have.
Tony my IT Manager is increasing the commenting window to five days. I told him that 48 hours was a bit restrictive, and darlings, you know how much I adore reading your feedback.
This week I will, not might, will send off all the prizes I owe everyone. What a delay. But then last week I was a bit ill with a heavy cold. Forgive me.
Steve Wright the shite BBC radio guy was on Breakfast this morning. "Don't call me a DJ, darlin'," he said to the unfortunately-named Michelle Hussein, "I'm a broadcaster."
It sounded like "broadcaster", but I'm sure he was meaning to say "wanker." Yellow glasses. How fucking ridiculous.
Zoe is doing just fine, although in the evenings she goes a bit Ninja. There she is sitting on her kitty litter, when suddenly WHOOOOSH!!! as she darts the entire length of the flat, crashing into whatever's in the way and sending everything flying. I'm sure she's totally re-arranging the piles of mess.
Fifty grammes of Science Diet wouldn't feed a mouse. So she gets a squeeze or two of Felix pouch as well. And sometimes even some Go-Kat pellets, although she turns her nose up at those a bit. Musn't be as tasty as the Science Diet. It's food as love substitute.
Quote of The Evening
Sam puts Deacon the puppy on my lap. "I'll be smelling of cat," I said to him. "Well, it certainly won't be pussy, hen," he replied, drolly.
The Village has been sold. Alastair and Dolly wanted out before the smoking ban in March, as they felt business might dip too far and affect the price. I wish them every success in their next venture. What will happen to the Village People, like Chav Gav?
Oh, my nose is just so sneezing today. I think I fancy lunch with a friend, although this morning's weight was 13 stones 6 pounds, which is a pound and a bit up on the minimum. My ambition this week is to hit 13 stones 3 and a fraction. Any fraction will do, but the figure three hasn't ever appeared yet.
There's been no measurable loss for four weeks, and to confess the truth, it's even increased by 5 ounces. So I've totally stocked up on apples, pears and tomatoes, although last night there was (understandably) a mega-munchie, when I scoffed not one but two Iceland ready meals. Cauliflower cheese for health, then Chicken Rogan Josh for flay-va. What a pig. Maybe I should try zoe's Science Diet, but the pellets look just like rabbit shit.
Strange things, faces. Did you know that human recognition of faces is almost one hundred percent accurate? That and paths through woods. Both essential survival qualities, in the way that mobile phone numbers and Freeview Channels have not (yet) evolved to be. As is the need to kill anyone who doesn't look like you. But that's another story for another day.
Interesting demonstration on the BBC Breakfast sofa this morning. (I've completely abandoned news, as you might have noticed. Couldn't give a shit who wins the Tory leadership. But the young one is a dead ringer for Michael Howard, btw.)
Just before nine there was a jobbing TV soap actor on the show. Guy about forty, immaculate hair and teeth, clothes that had taken a week to look so "just tossed on". Sorry - I didn't even notice his name, so uninterested am I in British telly. (With the odd exception such as the remarkable Iannucci/Capaldi politics thing.)
Then after the nine o'clock summary comes on Kevin Bacon. He looked a heap. Scruffy, collar-length hair... shirt, jeans and glasses. Yet I swear there was something star-like, some aura about the guy the other fellow couldn't conjure up with an entire boulevard of style consultants.
Or is it just recognition? That you know it's Kevin Bacon, so you peer through the spectacle lenses to catch those unforgettable eyes? Strange sensation, anyway.
Don't miss my thrilling late-night story yesterday, in which I confess to being a secret novelist all these years! It's true! You couldn't make it up.
And now off to da bingo for a couple of days. Still not feeling one hundred percent. Generalised malaise, from the time of the year I guess. But, "It's called acting, baby!" as Kevin said to Sian on the sofa. Have lovely weekends. Organise me a book deal. You know you want to read it.
That was the title BBC Horizon chose to alert Great Britain to the Aids pandemic, back in the very early eighties. Or not even Aids at that time - the name was still to be chosen...doubtless round some Californian dinner party table, as the great and the gifted assured themselves it could never happen to them.
Here in Britain it hit hardest, loudest and most viciously right here in Leith. And soon after that, Edinburgh, Leith's big sister, was quickly and inaccurately labelled the "Aids Capital of Europe." Quite false. It was all here. It was all outside my window as I drew the curtains each morning, but was spared the sight of my gay friends, my junkie friends and my prostitute friends dying in the street.
They built a hospice. Milestone House. The parents said not in our backyard, but the schoolkids showed them up and said it was cool. How brave they were. How very enlightened.
The papers hustled our holocaust downfall. They rallied the people to kill us off... Mr Murdoch's press... the Sun (Kelvin McKenzie) and the News of the World. With the Sunday Times (Andrew Neil) not far behind. And they ask me why to this day I don't buy Sky. I tell them they are Judas. We were that close to getting burnt on the stake.
Sun, News of The World. Sunday Times.
Don't Just Sit Back
Something had to be done. Had to be. Doing nothing was not an option.
So I started my novel, my life's work. Uniquely selected, me. Time, manner and place. Early eighties - long before Trainspotting, long before Rebus, there I was plotting and planning the "seedier" side of life in this town. So shocking - not Miss Brodie any more. But for me it was just so everyday, so banal, so ordinary except now everyone was dead or dying.
And The Result?
Rejected by Mainstream. Rejected by Canongate. Rejected by a couple of London agents. The disappointment that only those of you who've ever written a novel will understand. It's losing a baby, not quite, of course.
My gay friends went skeletal and died off, my junkie pals turned yellow, and people crossed the street. Me, I had test after fucking test and stayed wickedly, resolutely healthy, despite all the things I'd stuck in all of the places for all of the time.
Delta 32 mutation they call it now. The same thing that kept some alive during the Bubonic.
And after each night's writing I'd sit with my new HiFi, state of the art, and listen to CDs which were a novelty too then. Bryan Adams Reckless was a favourite... Heaven, Summer of Sixty-Nine... you name it. Wine box, fine music and poppers. Calm the creations in my mind.
Tonight Bryan Adams somehow came on the DVD player and surround-sound TV thing. Crap quality of course, but it all came flooding back.
I want that book to get read, even though the holocaust didn't happen in the way the Murdoch press planned. And I've decided I have to study cosmology. Have to. Nothing less than the structure of the universe is enough to occupy my brain. All the rest is chatter. Earth to earth. Guess my cat's weight.
I daren't read my novel, in case it's crap. It's in a Minnie Mouse ring-binder. Mouse, how fitting. Minnie and me went through a lot together, back in the summer of eighty two.
Thanks for all your comments yesterday on my new way of cooking sprouts with mustard. There are obviously many mustard-lovers out there, not least new mum Gwen who is already feeding it to her two month old baby on toast. Scots are hard wee fuckers, ye ken.
More seriously, you'll find much mustard stuff here and here, including the manufacture of liquid mustards from mustard flour, for the absolute mustard purist. (Not me, by the way.) What I say is that home cooking puts low paid workers out of jobs.
Not really, unless zoe has melded with my genes already. Human flu, rather. Off work today with Upper Resp Inf, following on from yesterday's marathon sneeze-in. Poor zoe didn't know what was hitting her, as cloud upon cloud of my droplets fell on her coat. Eventually personal safety overcame her curiosity and she turned her face away for relief.
Me, I just sat there shivering and miserable - stuffing my face with whatever I felt like, predicting (accurately) that not one ounce of weight would go on. And it didn't. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Same with the mouse invasion. Night after night of lying in adrenalin-soaked terror, as they (literally) ate the floorboards all around me. But this sure knocked the pounds off bigtime. Two pounds, to be precise. And I haven't lost one single ounce since zoe moved in and the mice fucked off back into the woodwork whence they came.
Fascinating show last night about what really happened to Brian Jones. For readers under 40 let me point out that Mr Jones was the founder and leader of a band called the Rolling Stones, which you probably have heard of. I'm told they still perform, by conference call video link from their different retirement homes. Technology, I ask you.
They didn't get on to Jones' death until minute 57 out of 60, declaring that it was the builder in the swimming pool wot done it. But there again, it maybe wasn't. So not much info there, then. But what there was in abundance was early Stones footage. Which for those who've only seen the current geriatric versions might have been quite an eye-opener.
A near-contemporary of the Stones, I along with my university mates watched BJ's decline with fascination. I swear his drug-ravaged face kept us off substances for life. Or decades at least.
Oh - michty me - the Stones were pioneers of so much more than a few songs! Survivors before there were survivors. (Except Jones, who wasn't - didn't.) What can our parents have wondered as they watched the sixties progress wilder and wilder?
(There was more here, much more. About Donovan, Maharishi, and all of flower power. But it got swallowed, and for once Recover Post let me down too. How I was put on this earth to suffer.)
All this recent excitement has given me a cold. So I'm stuck in the damn house, having already turned down what promised to be a fun luncheon engagement with Sandra, Johnny, and the glamorous Rena who is Big Straight Al's former fiancee.
Alone, apart from the cat, I start to think.
And I think... what if... ?
What if I add some mustard to my Brussels sprouts? Surely this will enhance their already health-giving manna with new, spicy, anti-cold properties?
So, without further ado - I give you...
Mustard-Glazed Sprouts (Choux et Moutard)
Ingredients: Sprouts, mustard
Time: Six and a half minutes
Method: Cook the sprouts in your favourite way. Me I microwave them from frozen for six minutes then drain. (You should always, always cook with frozen vegetables - from a quality shop such as Iceland. That way someone else, quite low-paid, does all that tedious chopping, peeling and washing, leaving you free for the creative part.)
Take an ample tablespoon of your favourite mustard. Me, I chose today Dijon, as they seem to be having fewer riots there. It's my reward to them.
Drain the sprouts, introduce the mustard into the casserole dish, and shake about till the sprouts are uniformly covered. Serve either alone, or as an accompaniment to your favourite meat.
Cheap and delicious!
(Sadly my nose is still streaming, but at least the underbelly is full.) What is an underbelly, by the way? How does it differ from an ordinary belly, or indeed an overbelly?
So let me know how you get on with mustard-glazed sprouts. (Cookbook writers may freely take this recipe. It's my gift to the exciting and well paid world of cuisine.)
Next week: Clean your home the Naked Blog way. (I'm so proud of this recipe!)
Just back from Jim Moriarty's funeral at Mary, Star of the Sea. Such churches used to be called Stella Maris, before Latin got such a bad press, for no reason I could ever ascertain.
Stella Maris. The Priest was Irish, he told us during the proceedings, but I'd already guessed. "There goes an Oirish face!" I whispered to Babs beside me.
Eagerly we gazed around while the church filled up. Babs was the lookout, all the time pretending to talk to me. "Look! There's so-and-so," she would say.
"Oh, and there's such and such - " I would repy, "- I thought he had leukaemia."
"Nah - it's that other thing... " Babs diagnosed. "Motor Neurone Disease?" I suggested.
Brrr! That church was chilly, with not even a cremation for the body to look forward to. The Priest divided the time up fairly equally between Jesus the living God and Jim the dead husband, which was good. But as so often with funerals these days - he'd never met the guy in life.
Eat Your Saviour
There was a Mass. Requiem Mass. Really seriously creepy as the Priest elevated the "Host" as they call it, while someone in the wings rang the scary bell. Ring-a-ding-a-ding-a-ding-a.... Pure Exorcist, if you ask me. Shivery.
The congregation and the Priest were bouncing incantations back and forth, all seeming to know every word of the script. We infidel could just sit back and gape. Watch as the Catholics trouped forward to eat the body of Christ, and drink his blood. (For make no mistake, in Catholic churches that wafer and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. It's called transsubstantiation. It's a (technical) Mystery. "I'm gaggin on a fag," Babs whispered to me. Big Al was sitting on my other side, a smoker too. I felt justifiably smug.
Then to the Cameo Bar in Commercial Street, where Mary had laid on a splendid spread and loads of free bevvy. Thanks, Doll. I got a brief audience with her, the First Lady now First Widow. After a couple of hours though, it was time to go. Circulating and chatting. But sadly that's what I do for a living. Why I never, ever go to parties.
Bye Jim Moriarty. You worked hard, lived hard and doubtless loved hard too. Climbed mountains. The funeral party had a slide show of old photos. Microsoft Powerpoint. It's really easy, said Dave Morrison the snapper.
Then moving gently on to bleaker still, before regrowth and green. "In the spring there will be growth." (Which movie was that featured in, then?)
Damn. There I was planning a bit real writing, something warm and chocolatey for your elevenses, when my innner blogger bursts out with a pointless question. Gotta involve the readers. Plain text they can get anywhere.
Clock change. How long does it take to adapt? My window says mid-morning, but my clock says only 9.30. Unsettling. For a while - then just when you get used to it we have it all again in reverse. Turn, turn, turn. It's quite glorious these days. Till tea time when it's dark but so far that hasn't frightened me.
Will zoe deliver that oft-heard promise of pet-owners being more fabulous than those with sterile homes? That they live longer, have less mental illness, and enjoy general wonderfulness? We shall see. Already I detect - not that I'm self-obsessed, of course - already I detect more openness and outgoingness in my interpersonals. We shall surely see. Zoe has already completed her part of the bargain, anyway. Anything else will be a lovely bonus.
In the Village yesterday afternoon, seeing various (nice) odds and sods... Brian the Barman, Dolly the owner, Babs the former chef. (I was the only customer at first.) Had a long cat talk with Dolly, and I explained my conversion. He seemed to understand. Dean the bar manager (I think) has got mice.
They're having an art fair soon, a big one, sponsored by Tennents Brewery. The pixie-like photographer Reuben Paris has been to London (the metropolis!) to scoop up various artworks and artists. "It'll be a big do," Brian the barman predicted. "Press and everything." Chav Gav didn't come in, which was a shame, but Babs' fella did, but I was a bit drunk by then. Must be a whole swathe of people who only know me as a bit drunk. Funny. Yet others, mostly at work, never see me have one drop.
I like drinking, I do admit. Of all the recreationals it does what it says on the tin, the only danger being if you open the tin too often. But I've done that, been there, got the Port o' Leith t-shirt. (Alcoholics are a publican's best friend, by the way.) Forget all that stuff about the booze industry being "responsible". Just forget it.
They're breathing one huge collective sigh of relief now that the youngsters are safely (?) back on booze, after the nineties flirtations with the big four illegals. (Ecstasy, dope, acid and speed.) How did they get them back? By ditching fuddy-duddy things like whisky and gin, and aiming straight for the teen mentality with alco-pops. With full government approval, of course.
Blogging. Isn't it wonderful? Ten minutes ago I hadn't the slightest intention of writing the above two paragraphs. So free a form. (But only because we give it away, I think.)
Gobs on Sofas
Four who don't give it away are Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo, Diane Abbot and yesterday joined by Piers Morgan the editor. (BBC TV political chatshow called This Week.) They said Blair hangs on to people like Mandy and Blunkett because they're loyal Blairites and there aren't many left.
Blunkett is a total tosser, don't you think? They said he only gets away with being further to the right than Attilla The Hun because he's blind. Portillo is letting himself go grey, which is a shame. His flowing barnet was always one of his attractions, I thought - as well as the "come to bed" eyes and "you know what" lips.
Waxing homosexualist right onto your desktop! I couldn't ever do it with a Tory, to be honest. Being the son of a rabid Thatcherite was bad enough. Further to the right than Blunkett. And he wasn't even British.
Wonder if Portillo has a cat.
Lost DVD is at Asda for thirty quid. Tempted. Get rid of those effing ads. Been told that at the end of series one you still don't know what it's all about. (No spoilers in the comments, please.)
Third comes teresa with 8 pounds on the button, too light by two and a half ounces. But therein lies a tale. What only I and zoe know is that on weigh-day she was definitely a touch constipated, having pooped zero the day before. (Trust me, I empty her litter.) So, had things been different teresa, more mobile, you could well have been wearing that t-shirt in a week or so.
Second is Gwen at 8 pounds 4 oz. Close, missing by one and a half ounces. But I sense Gwen probably wouldn't want a Port o' Leith Bar t-shirt as (a) she used to work there and probably has one already. And (b) having just delivered a kitten of her own, it would soon get covered in milk stains. Black's just not the colour for new mothers, is it girls?
So the winner is...
...in one of those "couldn't make it up if you tried" scenarios, the actual winner of the Port o' Leith Bar t-shirt is a sailor! I know!
Well done tom - a man who's been popping in to Naked Blog off and on for some years now. At 8 pounds 2 oz you miss the actualite by just a cat's whisker. Tell me your size and give me an address, and soon you could be pulling in exotic foreign bars bigtime.
That was exciting. I mean it. Many thanks to all who entered, and we'll have the next competition once I get the prizes delivered for the last two.
My condolences to Mary, Scotland's legendary landlady, on the death this week of her husband Jim Moriarty. And also to Eilidh (rhymes with daily), his daughter, and Niall his stepson. He will be missed by many, not least the climbing community, where he too was once apparently legendary.
Me, I barely knew him, despite the quarter century of "hi Jim". But I do know Mary quite well, and it's with her my thoughts are fixed.
You too, dear regular reader, have read many exploits of "Mary the landlady" here. Well, now she's Mary the widow. Earth to earth.
In yesterday's rush to get zoe to the vet I clean forgot to mention a couple of good bits of telly on Monday. Bit late now, but better late than whenever. Hang on while I top up me coffee...
(Nescafe Gold Blend - the power that fuels Naked Blog. That'll be one hundred dollars.)
Channel 4 Dispatches: The Hurricane that Shamed America was quite excellent, showing (if it is to be believed) what really happened after Katrina. And what didn't. Everyone in the USA should see that programme. (Repeated here in the UK at 4.05 am on Thursday.)
The second show I'm recommending follows naturally from my fascination - some would say obsession - with BBC Breakfast News. It's called Broken News, and aired for the first time on Monday also. A spoof of "rolling news" shows, it divides roughly 50 - 50 between here and across the Atlantic. You really will spot so many of your favourite types being gently lampooned. And that's what it is. Gentle.
That was the first of six episodes, which is possibly a bit much, as it seems to me they'd just about covered all the bases in episode one. Mondays on BBC 2 at nine.
Holy Devil-worshipper! I've just noticed there was an hour on Dennis Wheatley on BBC 4 last night. Missed it. That's what drink does to a man. Ah well. Hopefully it'll come round again.
That competition result, then. How much does zoe weigh?
Well - I could tell you the result right now, but first you have to suffer through the story.
She's very well, the vet said. She was a woman of about thirty with an unplaceable Swedish/Finnish accent. Good claws. No fleas. Teeth getting a bit tartared. (That's zoe of course, not the Swedish vet.) I'm getting senile, I truly do swear it.
Do you know what a vet's appointment is? It's a sales pitch. I ended up spending ninety three quid on a healthy cat who's not gonna catch any catty illnesses due to me, her only contact, being human. She's vaccinated against cat flu and enteritis, although that one almost didn't happen.
"Atchoo!" went zoe, then again. "Atchoo!" I felt the guilt of one thousand mothers as their kids fall ill. "How often does she sneeze?" the vet demanded. "Now and again," I replied. "For how long?" "Oh - about a week."
"Well, how can I give her a cat flu vaccination if she's already got cat flu?" This seeemed a reasonable question. However, after further examination of zoe's eyes and nose, the vet pronounced her not to have cat flu, or indeed anything else. Good.
"My house is a bit, erm, dusty", I told Mrs Enderberg or whatever. "I can smell the dust!" she cried, sniffing zoe's back. "Have you been smowking?" "No - I never smowke - I mean, smoke," I replied, back on safe ground. "Maybe it was her previous owner."
So she stuck the needle in. Five seconds and forty five of my pounds later, zoe was vaccinated against cat flu and enteritis. Then fleas.
"Here is the flea cycle!" Mrs Enderberg delcared, pointing at a circular flea diagram on the wall. "You do it two ways," she lectured me. "You can use one remedy which renders the fleas sterile if they bite her. Or you can use Program, which kills them dead the moment they bite her."
"Oh - I'll take the drop dead version," I said, thinking partly of my own safety. I'd rather zoe's blood was full of flea poison than mine, if it came to the crunch.
So she stuck the needle in again. Five more seconds, and this time just twenty six pounds.
Teeth. Her teeth are all there, but getting a bit covered in tartar. So I have to brush them, with my finger. (I'm not making it up. I have to put my finger in a miniature tiger's mouth.) Mrs Enderberg squeezed some fish-flavoured toothpaste on her own fingers, and spread it over zoe's teeth. She did seem to enjoy the taste. You have do do it daily, and then in six months start her on a toothbrush.
And forget Felix pouches - there's nothing for the teeth to work on. Better with Hill's Science Diet. Yep - and a dear sight more expensive, I thought. Nine quid for Science Diet. Two pounds forty six for fish-flavoured toothpaste from Germany. (For veterinary use only.)
Get to the point, Peter. What does the damn cat weigh?
Well, I could tell you right now. But I did say the competition closes at midday, by which time I'll be at work. So why don't we leave it till tomorrow morning, eh? Give me time to convert all your Imperial pounds and ounces.
Clue: her weight was good, but she shouldn't get any bigger than that.. Oh - and she's middle-aged, just like her owner. How fitting.
Try as I might to get a nice lie-in, the gods conspire to distress me. The last two days it's been zoe the cat, who just can't get her head round the clocks being changed, and that now you're meant to lie there till it's light a bit. Nae idea. Nudge, nudge, feed my catty gob please. I need to impress on that cat the huge disparity in our sizes. That she might have teeth and claws, but I control the grub, bigtime.
Today however, 'twas me myself at fault. Set the alarm on the mobile phone for eight, didn't I, and sighed rotten just now when the wee fucker went off at seven. Ring! Ring! Shake! Shake! Still dark!
Seven. (I'd forgotten to change the phone clock to GMT.) Then to compound the insult, along pops zoecat and starts to stroke herself on the mobile phone, still hanging limply in my incomprehending hand. Recognizing a flashing ally. Another crazy start. Just as well I don't have to work very hard for a living.
Climb Every Mountain
Went up Arthur's Seat with Canadian Ian yesterday, only the second time I've had a companion there. It was fab, but whereas I was expecting to be lording it over him in the fitness stakes, it ended up with me doing all the huffing and puffing, while he breathed silently throughout. Maybe he's trained on the Canadian Rockies.
Ian's degree is in English, so we discussed metatextual analysis on the way down. He likes Rankin and the Da Vinci Code, but all of Dan Brown's books are the same. Why do people with American and Canadian accents always sound like stars?
Lovely couple of hours, anyway, and Ian said that was the first time anyone in the Port (o' Leith Bar) had included him in an out-of-Port experience. I said that's not unusual - it just takes time.
In an hour and a bit zoe has her first (since I got her) vet's appointment. I've only ever been in a veterinary surgery once, when my parents' dog got its claws trimmed and anal glands squeezed. All very quick, firm and professional. I'm expecting them to look at her claws, coat and teeth. Then I need to know her approximate age and exact reproductive status. Not sure how I'll cope with a horny female around the joint. Yet neutering surgery sounds so cruel. I mean - would you have it, unless to save your life, of course?
Then of course - that magic weight! Who will win the t-shirt? See my competition on the sidebar, and you've still got time to enter! At the moment, like Schrodinger, there is no weight.
Well done to JonnyB on his excellent mention in yesterday's Grauny. "Celebrity blogger with a reach of thousands!" It's been great watching Jonny's progress upwards and beyond - yet he's still stayed in touch, both on and off the blog. A gentleman. Not everyone is.