All rhinitis-ed up again today, in an exact replica of a fortnight ago to the day. Must be something strange going on on Saturdays to make me ill like this on Sundays. I've heard of sick building syndrome, but sick day syndrome? Strange.
Zoe is sitting in the window watching the birds fly past. She hates me sneezing, and always runs away. But my heart goes out that she's not out there stalking the wildlife instead of only staring. Got to do something about this. They should make pet ladders you can lower from upstairs flat windows. That's a great idea, isn't it? Now over to someone to invent it.
Talking of cats, just been watching Pet Sematary. It truly is gross. Had to switch off before the guy dug up his dead son. Eeek! Cube eventually got watched - yesterday in fact, but it wasn't any great shakes. You might like it. Certainly different - reminiscent of one of those SF short stories I used to devour as a kid. Tesserat, or summat.
So I see the Holy blood and the Holy Grail (The explosively controversial international bestseller) people are suing Dan Brown over The Da Vinci Code (The Number One New York Times Bestseller). And no wonder! Still - Brown has brought these truly ridiculous ideas to far more people than ever did Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln. They say it might hold up the movie. But would this be any great loss?
My own theory, which you may have for free, is that the Virgin Mary is really Mary the legendary landlady, and her daughter Eilidh (rhymes with daily) is in fact Jesus after a sex change op which he copped off the National Health. Health tourist, we call them.
Blasphemy! Blasphemy! Everybody's got it blasphemy!
Aren't these Iraqi people over-reacting just a tad over a blown-up building? That's what happens when you start to worship buildings. They can get blown up. Do we really want to risk the lives of any more of our boys to protect their silly superstitions? You know it's not that long ago we were losing innocent troops to Catholic and Protestant nutters in Ireland.
What happened to proper wars, with invasions and stuff?
Got to go now - got a nose like Niagara. Gonna eat an Iceland curry. Often helps.
Since I discovered cordless phones, I'm thinking a cordless laptop might be nice. Blog to you from all over the house. WiFi I think they call it. Broadband WiFi. How cool does that sound for an oldboy?
Yes, it's true. Sitting here after day three of my daily workouts on "Danny" my exercise bike. And the feeling is good, I can tell you. Fifteen to twenty minutes gentle pedalling is a great way to start your day - rather than just sitting sinking one cup of coffee after another. Or - shock horror - sucking on a cigarette or ten the way I so recently used to do.
Don't know how my body survived, I truly don't. Amazing powers of recovery we all must have.
Pair of Fit Queens
In yet another example of our fitness synchronicities, my blogbuddy mike has now acquired an exercise bike too. (We started with pedometers in the same week, then electronic bathroom scales, and now this. I do hope he's discovered Co-op Healthy Living soups. They're essential for my fitness programme.)
What has happened to the BBC Breakfast sofa? I could swear it was grape coloured (purple grape) on Tuesday, but now it's back to red. Am I on bad acid or what?
Sorry no Naked Blog yesterday. This was due to spending a day in the studio with Stewart (Studio Stewart - that's his new name I've just decided) with Studio Stewart earning a modest crust. So any day now I'll be able to afford one of Dell's finest new gadgets. Rootin-tootin-cyber-shootin! Can't wait. Priscilla and I have reached the end of the line, I swear it. Now I can't even play Freecell properly on her. You click on Select New Game, and it comes up, "Are you sure you want to exit this game?" Yes/No.
All this stems from the McAfee fiasco on Saturday, (McAfiasco), which put me in such a bad mood I couldn't go to the lovely blogmeet, which I gather was a huge success.
Then on Sunday Blogger screwed up, but of course I blamed myself, and that was an even further trip down into blackville. Wednesday was back at work though, and that fixes everything up sharpish. Reality check. House!
After yesterday's recording, bumped into Little Alex and Ashley his gf in the Port, so that was fun. Ashley is our newest reader, and she's devoured the archive from January 2004 to now in a single sitting. Even said she enjoyed it. Thanks, Ashley!
Many drinks later, drunk as a skunk, I rented three DVDs from Blockbuster. Eight Legged Freaks with the famous missing hyphen, Pet Semetary and The Cube.
Started on The Cube, but kept passing out so kinda lost the plot. So I switched to ELF which hasn't really got one. (It does have David Arquette though, who I've now decided is a dead ringer for one of the Italian boys in Pierino's Fish and Chip shop in Bernard Street. Dead.)
I realise most of you reading this won't have a clue what anyone looks like in Pierino's Fish and Chip shop. But a handful will.
Local blog for global people. Have lovely weekends.
There isn't one. But comments I don't like will simply be deleted. Comments without any genuine means of identification are more likely to go. And comments attacking or criticising valued contributors can kiss this page goodbye sharpish.
Thirteen stones exactly today (182lb) - the first time since December 31, and the lowest this year so far. Only people who live in a stones environment will understand the power of those figures. Just the tiniest push now, and we can kiss goodbye to thirteen. I don't even know if my scale contains a 12 figure.
Apologies to anyone who tuned into ERI (Edinburgh Royal Infirmary) to see Big Straight Al's inside. He wasn't on it. I feel his pain.
(Wartime Austerity Edition: Priscilla has just gobbled the post, and Recover Post hasn't recovered it. Then I got to dash to work again - the toil!)
Talking of toil, just been on the new exercise bike for the first mini-workout. Seems good. Chose 5km, as that didn't appear too threatening for the cold, early-morning muscles and joints.
This took 16 mins at a leisurely pace, pulse between 100 and 120, but mostly 100. Calories used were 112.5, which is amazingly equal to half a tin of Co-op "Healthy Living" Tomato and Three Bean soup. The Lord giveth... I think I'm going to like this machine. (I used to cycle loads in my younger day, mostly thirties, but it fell by the wayside, as fortunately I rarely did.)
That Eurobloggie compo then. Thanks for all your votes, which put us into a respectable fifth I think it was in Lifetime Achievement, but only second last in Personal Weblog. So this is the second worst personal weblog in Europe, which is something I've long suspected.
Interested to note that the winner in several of the categories was a Harper Collins publication. Miaow! Beaten by the Dirty Digger at last!
Brett writes lovely comments from Florida. Here is the latest, about his cats and a stray opossum.
"HEAVY OBJECT! Two person handling!"
This is what we call here, "risk management", or covering your ass.
Does it come with a meter telling you how far you would have ridden had you been on a bicycle?
If my observation of a neighbor up the street is any evidence, pedaling is a good thing. Every day I see him whizzing by on his bicycle. A year ago, he had a real pot-belly. Now he is looking trim.
Reference librarians walk a lot. I noticed when I joined the department how skinny they were as a rule, though some are genetically, um, "rubenesque". My desk-bound wife complains that I dawdle when I join her on walks. I am not brisk enough.
Mild, overcast and rainy here in North Florida. Fog tonight. Clouds of birds fleeing south from a mid-western cold-front.
Miss Cleo went out, as I was at home with the day off. I heard loud meows in the distance, as of cats in confrontation, and called to her. She didn't come, but later I found her reclined on the bench on our front porch. She is a magical cat. We have no idea what she gets up to.
We had to zap all three of them with anti-flea ointment this week. The mild winter has bedeviled them with fleas. They were so grateful.
Mr. Opossum has vanished. I haven't seen him dead by the roadside, so I guess he is all right. There is a municipal golf-course a couple of blocks away, encompassing a large piece of land here in the center of Tallahassee. I know that foxes live there. Our Opossum must live there as well.
Thanks, Brett. Drop me an email.
Some months ago we shared with you the shocking pictures of Big Straight Al's knee and leg surgery. See the whole thing tonight on the hospital documentary ERI. Might be Scotland only. Thanks to Chav Gav.
Zoe stalks this large intrusion into what is her home now. She sniffs the cardboard, then retreats to her Master for some comforting strokes.
Soon she might see the Master with a spanner in his hand, pretending to be a real man, instead of that nasal hair trimmer she finds just a touch... Bohemian.
HEAVY OBJECT! Two person handling! it says on the stickers. But delivery men are hard in Scotland, and one tough Weegie teen has it all under control himself. "Sign here pal," he says, semi-menacingly.
Excited I sign, wishing for one wistful moment I were back to my teens myself, when I'd probably have invited him in to put it up for me.
More soon, when I'm exercised.
*With apologies to JonnyB, who can be flattered but never truly imitated.
It's a result! Our local community radio station, fabulous Leith FM, has been awarded its five year licence! (As opposed to the fortnight twice a year they've been restricted to so far.)
This to be announced by OFCOM within the hour, but I knew you'd want to read about it here first.
Leith FM as of this morning is now a commercial entity, losing all traces of hippiedom. It'll be interesting to watch and of course report how much loyalty is shown to those who worked so hard to put it where it is. And no I don't mean me.
Batteries and Exercise Bikes
Wow those exercise bikes aren't cheap! Babs' fella had pointed me to John Lewis, but oh dear me, they seem to start at 199 pounds. So, to Argos then on North Bridge, chav-o-rama (queue here for ecstasy, here for methadone), where they range from a much more affordable 49 pounds. Decisions, decisions. And the Which Online service waxes all the way up to nearly a thousand. (It'd be much cheaper just to starve for a few days. Much.) Tighten that belt. It's what it's for.
In my desire to do more than drink and get depressed in my winter holiday, last night I determined to reset all the LCD clocks to the correct time. What is the correct time, btw? The BBC is good at flashing out beepy time signals on the hour, but when the DAB radio is about two seconds adrift from Freeview radio, just which one are you meant to believe? Follow the yellow brick beep.
Anyway, not one but two of the clocks simply gave up the ghost when I attempted to adjust them. I'm assuming battery exhaustion, but just where do you buy those flat hearing aid type batteries?
The correct term is cell, btw, but wtf ever says cell?
Cell means Abu Ghraib. Cell means to the victor the torture. Cell means an army out of control. Some day they'll make the movie, like Platoon. But it'll be brown instead of green. They've already made the computer game. "Iraqi down! Iraqi down!"
So I'm clockless but not cockless. On Monday it was worse when we had a complete power failure. Strange sorting out the things you still can do. Poo and flush, but not with the light on. Cold water but no coffee. Fruit but no veg. Me I gave up and went to the pub. Why are all these sentences exactly the same length? It's no wonder I never get a Best Writing award for prolixity.
Skyward! Yes, that's right. Stewart, Canadian Ian and me are ascending the East Face of Arthur's Seat this very morning. Must rush and wash the wee hairy bits. Tata the noo! Byee!
Hearty congratulations to my readers in England who will soon be able to enjoy the clean air in their pubs and workplaces that we in Scotland will be enjoying a whole lot sooner. (Next month.) Good that the MPs set prolixity aside and went for the simple ban. Straight to the jugular. And the nation will thank them for it. There is no place for tobacco in a modern, healthy world.
Or rather it isn't. Very healthy. People spend all day long on their arses staring at screens. Never mind. Rome wasn't built in a day. Removing tobacco is a great first step.
Me, I'm off to buy an exercise bike this week. Although climbing Arthur's Seat (a local steep hill) twice a week is better than nothing, it is only cardiovascular for about half an hour each time. The rest comprises the bliss of the outdoors, which is important too, but doesn't take off any weight.
And weight is what I'm not taking off any longer. It's totally flattened for the last three months. Haven't lost an ounce.
Now, as I can't realistically eat and drink much less or much healthier than I'm already doing, then we'll just have to ramp up the cellular fitness a few more notches. Watch this space and I'll keep you posted. I can assure you there are no, absolutely no, signs of anorexia setting in. Or with zoe either. Like father, like pussy.
Have a lovely day, wherever you are. And remember - do vote Peter according to your conscience on my sidebar. So far I'm only third in lifetime achievement, and about third last in best personal. Eeek! (But at least I didn't duck out of the competition, which has been known in the past.) Personal growth...
...which means the end of Little Alex's house-sitting for Scott. Plus last night was his last shift in the Port. It was very emotional. I bought him a drink and we swapped new mobile numbers. A pattern, a routine, of the age.
Babs had been there earlier too. Poor thing's been poorly. Kidneys. Runs in the family. While we were chatting she got a text from her brother reminding her that it was the anniversary of their mother's death.
"I've still got her in the wardrobe," Babs confessed.
"Let me photo her, for the blog - make her famous - pretty please..." I wheedled, but Babs was adamant not. So we discussed places to scatter the remains. Scotland's more popular mountain tops are awash with human ashes and plastic flowers, so I'm told.
Oh, and talking of poorly, I'm tons better today, all thanks to your good wishes yesterday. Strange that - catastrophic rhinitis coming and going in a day. Funny things, bodies. I went in to Boots the Chemists to discuss homeopathic remedies for the nasal runs, but nobody there had a scoobies. Pusillata was one possibility, but I wasn't preapred to invest three pounds eighty nine without at least some informed advice.
I do remember decades ago popping one of those "Combinations" on my tongue, Combination K, I think, and it drying the sneezes in moments. Maybe I'll nip into a proper herbalists. Get something for my alopecia too. I've still got a patch the size of an egg missing on my left temple - stress from the mouse period last year. Never had alopecia before that - but at the peak of the mouse invasion I knew, I could tell, that grave harm was happening. Let's hope it stuck at a bit hair loss, but to be honest that's the sort of time when cancer sets in.
As Babs was leaving with G her partner, we had our traditional kiss, and then I puckered my lips and turned to G, but he declined, horrified. I knew he would of course, and was just being mischievous. "G doesn't do kisses," Babs quickly explained. "Everybody does kisses in this pub, " I think I replied. "Isn't that right, girls?" to Sam and Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now). They nodded sagely. "Go on yersel, hen," Sam laughed.
Everyone's very interested in the Bloggie awards. When do you find out, they ask.
In March, I reply, but I really don't expect to win. Nevertheless, Sam announced he wants to come to Texas with me to collect my prize in the event. Steers and queers, I informed him. Steers and queers. You should be doubly at home, I said. What a cow I can be.
So imagine my surprise when what should pop into my yesterday comment box but news of yet another compo - this time closer than Texas - in which we're a finalist in not one but two categories. That's right - Lifetime Achievement AND Best Personal.
So nip over to A Fistful of Euros and vote, vote, vote Peter as your conscience dictates. Just like Patricia Hewitt the Health Secretary who proudly declared this morning that she wasn't voting for a complete ban on smoking. (This BBC page is wrong.) Lots of our lovely blogfriends are there in the compo too, but clearly you should only vote for them if it doesn't mean missing a vote for this one. (Oh, and I have had heterosexual relationships in the past, but never with an "escort". So that's all right then. Liberally Democratic.)
Why doesn't this rag ever get to Best Writing? Me I think it's fabby, and you shouldn't be misled by the simplistic surface. There are more layers here than in the Da Vinci Code, it's just that only I ever seem to get them.
I'll miss Little Alex, and I suspect so will some of you. You know, as you age, you expect people only to leave your life, not ever to enter it. But for a while Alex bucked that trend. I wish him huge blessings and boons. Very, very few people in their twenties have time for folk in their late fifties. For giving that time I thank you, sir.
And now the sun is coming out for the first time for days, and I'm off to climb a small mountain.
Yesterday I soaked four t-shirts with snot. Well, not so much snot as practically clear water. Disappointing, as I'd thought the purchase of an air filter/ioniser would mark the end of all that - but clearly no. My nose runneth over. I sneeze in green meadows.
On holiday, too. What a bummer, eh?
(For a couple of minutes there I forgot the HTML for line divider. Trying to write something like [a="hrule"] Auld age disnae come itsel', as my bingo ladies say.)
By teatime I couldn't stand it any longer, and had to get out, to see if it was zoe causing the problem. Poor thing would hardly be helping. Easter Road was OK, but then it was a bit Baltic out there, so the air kinda shocked the membranes into silence. But the Regent Bar brought it all back on, despite the purchase of two pints of lager and two packets of crisps, both quite dehydrating in their ways.
David the new barman is a student nurse, and looked very concerned. But specialising in mental illness, rather than nasal. He has my every sympathy.
Holidays. I really hate them. Had thought vaguely of going to London or somewhere, anywhere, but of course zoe makes that impossible from now on. Kinda forgot about zoe while I was daydreaming. This is the first holiday I've had since she moved in. Well, I don't care. You can always see other places on the telly. Travel is hugely overrated. Who cares what buildings look like? They're still only buildings. Blogs are full of people, real people.
Life's Not a Dress Rehearsal
Today I just want to get drunk, so drunk I haven't a molecule of water left in me to dribble, then wake up as a handsome prince. (But not William - please not William. Much too wholesome.)
Fat chance anyway. I've probably got pneumonia already from passing out in front of the air purifier set to max. And I think it's gonna rain today. And I bought a new kettle to cheer me up, but I'm convinced it doesn't boil the water as hot as the last one did, but it leaked.
It's cordless. So fucking cool. Wish I was. Cordless.
The story below is the product of a deranged and fevered mind, and due to its pornographic and violent nature should not be read by anyone. Happy fucking Valentine's when it comes. Please do share your joy. Let me wallow in your nuclear happiness.
I wonder whether they went on to sodomise them. This would always have happened in history. To the victor the anus. (Ad victorem anum.)
Quote of the Week
"I was chatting to Bill Gates last week and..." Chancellor Gordon Brown on Andrew Marr this morning.
(What happened next was lost because of Andrew Marr interrupting him. He really is over-exciteable. Take a pill, Andy.) (I know he reads Naked Blog, because of a clue he gave me just this morning - "speechifying". He was looking right at me when he said it.)
You've probably heard of bingo, but have you heard of link games? This is where lots of clubs join up telephonically and one club calls while thousands of players listen and play. (For much larger prizes. Typically many thousands of pounds.)
Yesterday, the calling club was mine, and the caller me. How scary was that? Very. I thrive on fear, I truly do. Got a round of applause from my own punters, at the end, when we'd disconnected. No-one in my club won anything though, so the victory was a bit Pyrrhic.
Would Smell as Sweet
Fun and games in Greggs bakers yesterday, when a woman in front of me asked for a chicken sandwich.
"I've got chicken this, chicken that, and Chicken New Orleans," the girl intoned. "Don't get Chicken New Orleans," I interjected. "It'll be too damp."
One woman sniggered in the queue. But only one. The guy serving me - a hefty six-footer - just looked down as he took my money with an " - I'm not paid enough to laugh at your crap, pal," expression.
Back at work, we all got to thinking of chicken sandwiches. "Chicken Hiroshima - it's explosive!" (The possibilities are endless.)
Another brilliant day, today - the third of blue skies in a row. Cold, cold, cold at night, but wtf cares about that? The heather is in bud, about to burst, and the chromium gorse is already there, patchy but promising in its springtime splendour.
Holyrood Park was brilliant also yesterday - despite the grassy banks hard like icy card. An odd slip here, a tiny one there, but nothing my new Swiss boots couldn't manage - keeping Peter on his feet after a delicious pint or three in The Regent.
Meg the lesbian sandwich lady had been in the bar, and we chatted about the mystery gas smell which had swept the city on Wednesday. All the gas providers deny it was theirs, claiming rather the city must be in the grip of some Mercury Theatre hallucination. But no - 'twas definitely gassy - I smelled it myself, as did my bingo ladies, concerned.
From the top of Arthur's Seat I could see easily over to Fife, where Labour were busily losing their seat to the Libdems.
Why should this be? I think a few things in combination. But not, definitely not Tony's precious school reforms, as one daft BBC reporter posited half an hour ago. Westminster has no power over Scottish education. Never has had - even long before devolution. No, I think it was a combination of a sympathy vote for Charlie (Jack Daniels) Kennedy, plus the standard mid-term need to punch the sitting government in the face. Remind them who puts them in power, sort of thing.
But how embarrassing for Gordon Brown, as this lost constituency is where he actually lives! (The Tories came fourth, as they usually do in this sensible country.)
Coming off the hill I chose Southside again, a change from Easter Road, and even by-passed the Southern Bar, where I've been customising for a week or two. Nice, but usually empty by day. Try somewhere new. Even newer. Well, my little feet soon took me dancing into the William McEwan Bar, and I realised immediately from the stares that this was a mistake. The barman came over and lifted his head an inch. That means, "What would you like, sir?"
A pint would take too long. Any second they might all turn into werewolves or zombies. "Bottle of Becks, please. And a packet of ready salted." (Never ask for a half pint in a drinking den. Very gay. Aim for "tourist strayed in by mistake". That's OK so long as you drink up and get out quick.)
There were about a dozen men, middle-aged upwards, and one woman. No-one at all was talking, rather they all sat pulling on their drinks and fags. The air was thick and heavy with smoke, rolling in waves across the ceiling, with no even attempt at filtration. And the atmosphere seemed of desperation - desperation as every last one of them knew that there's only days to go to the smoking ban, and that will mark the end of their lives as they know them.
A handsome-ish guy came and sat right alongside me. Lit a cigarette and put it in the ashtray and the smoke all wafted in my direction. I was about ready to go now, anyway, so nae probs and I left without speaking. "Repeal the Smoke Ban," a dismal sign said on a door on the way to the gents in the basement. "Phone this number..."
Sweets For My Sweet
But the ill-health wasn't over when I got ouside. No way, Jose. The next thing my little eye spied was a baker/confectioner with a window full of these new chocolate/cake/pie combos. "Mars Bar Muffin," I saw. And then, a few inches away, "Creme Egg Muffin." It had a standard-looking chocolatey cake in a paper case, with two cracked-open and melted creme eggs on top. Heart attack special - unless you're a student of course, in which case it might well be the answer to the munchies.
But then - and I kid you not - then a few shops further down I had my Kodak moment, without the Kodak. An unprepossessing looking shop had this sign hanging tatty in the window. "Deep Fried Crunchie Bars. Deep Fried Mars Bars." So it's true. I'd thought that was all a big con all this time.
Nicholson Street and/or South Clerk Street. (Does anyone know where one ends and the other begins?) Next time I'll take along the trusty Finepix for you, of course.
Quite fancied the Port when I got off the number seven bus at the Foot of the Walk, but decided against. I'd already had lots of lungfuls of tobacco smoke, and really - when it's only 43 or so days to the ban, it's not that very hard just to postpone. After even a couple of hours in the Port my chest hurts like fuck the next day. Mary should pop a little radiotherapy unit in the broom cupboard. Pound for five minutes, with free Robbie Williams track thrown in. Or Madonna.
Oh - there's nothing worse than an ex-smoker! You betcha! I fucking love it, pal!
After a quarter hour of quality goldfish-on-a-string time with zoe, I idly picked up "Everything Bad is Good For You", by Steven Johnson, specially flown in from the USA. (The book, not the author.)
Johnson doesn't use one word when several hundred will do. Really it's a pamphlet made into a book. What he says is...
TV drama is much more complex than it used to be. He compares 24 with Dallas. Draws character network diagrams.
Film drama is a little more complex than it used to be, but not as much as television. That's because film only has 2 hours.
Computer games make you smarter not dumber. This is because of the learning demands they make.
There - you've read the book. From the words "everything bad" I was hoping to read about Creme Egg Muffins and amphetamine sulphate perhaps, or even sticking it up the jacksie without a condominium, but no - Johnson's idea of what's bad is rather tame by Leith standards.
The universe comprises about one eighth stuff that you can see, and that stuff is made from atoms. There's about one quarter stuff you can't see, and that stuff is called dark matter. No-one has found even one tiny speck of dark matter, ever in the world. Even in the deepest mine in Europe. And the rest of the universe - more than a half - is called dark energy. Not only has no-one ever seen dark energy, but nobody's got a Scooby's what it even is.
So there you are. The universe, or rather four percent of it, in just fifty minutes. (What they really mean is nobody's got a fucking clue.) But the BBC have at least taken my manifold hints and turned the music down. Even one bar of Zarathustra and I'd have thrown something at the telly, I truly swear it.
...to my many commenters yesterday, on the topic of Gaelic versus English language education. An interesting spread of views, and everyone seemed to keep their cool. Slainte!
Did I ever tell you about the time I met Donny Munro...
GET OUT YOUR BLOGS, CLASS
Yes, that's right. It had to come. Indebted to Saltation (great blog, btw) for alerting the world that Blogging Is Now a Proper Subject. In Scotland of course - with the finest education system in the world.
Sal also tells me they've had to ban (IP-block) the United States Congress from editing Wikipedia, to prevent them from constantly attempting to re-write reality! You couldn't make it up! (But they apparently tried to.)
A community on Skye, a Scottish island, definitely part of the United Kingdom, is attempting to have a primary school made into a "Gaelic only" institution. (Gaelic is a vanishing language propped up at my considerable expense as taxpayer.) This means that between ages 5 and 12, the pupils will be taught entirely in a language almost no-one outside the West of Scotland understands. Nice one.
There are only two words for those people, words which wouldn't get into The Guardian, and those words are "fucking nutters". Fanaticism isn't restricted to faith-based religions, it seems. And yet, perhaps not coincidentally for such monomaniacs, the far north-west of Scotland has some of the most obscure and fundamentalist religion in Europe. Although they nod the head at Jesus, their true veneration is not for any deity, but rather a day. That's right - Sunday. "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy." It's true. I've been there. You wouldn't believe it.
These are the aspects, the shadowy but lurking fringes, that the Visit Scotland people try to hush hush, concentrating instead on the truly wonderful Highland scenery. The Lord giveth, and the Lord turns mad. We're talking Wicker Man, we're talking Breaking The Waves, and we're almost at The Hills Have Eyes. Eeek! Makes me shiver just thinking about it.
So there ya go. Avoid Skye unless you'd like to seriously handicap your children.
Indebted to me old mucker Gordon McLean for this pic of our double recognition in yesterday's Grauny. (About eight screens down from here: Scotland something, France something less.)
Ironic that on one of my "Friends, Romans and Countrymen" days (Bunch of Nutters, Really) I should be quoted for a simple rugby throwaway. (Or is it really that simple? Hehe.) We don't have much money but we do see life.
All you literary agents and editors from Wardour Street should nip on to your nearest Virgin Express and wend your eager ways north, chequebooks with lots of zeros at the slant.
You know you want my stuff for your publication. I feel your need. So don't fight it any longer. And of course I write for cash. (Done worse than that in my time, if truth be told.)
Coming tomorrow: Round and about the blogs, which I've been criminally neglecting this year due to lack of daylight and other excuses. What's really going on in Belgium? What's this new feature on troubled diva I'm hearing rumours about? And which dirty diggers pick up on my anti-advertising thoughts and grab all the comments for themselves? Blogging? I'd rather run naked through snakes.
(Yesterday I had a "house day" to lose some weight, which had been at a dangerously high 13 stones 5 for not one but two days.) But a strict regimen of fruit, bread and vegetable soup took off a hefty three and a half pounds. (From 10pm through to this morning I was pissing what seemed like a pint an hour!) I did allow myself one small tin of mackerel in tomato sauce for that vital oily fish requirement. Strangely, zoe won't touch it... must be the sauce too sweet for her.
And no lager. Not one molecule of Al k'hol. Aren't you proud of me? Booze is a double killer for dieting - not only calorie-packed in itself, but doesn't it just bring on that, "Fuck it - I'm starving and I'm gonna EAT!" scenario. And yes - you theoretically can eat fruit when you're pissed, but omygod chips or a nice pizza (vampire cross!) are so much more tempting. Pizza is death. Can put on three pounds in a onner.
But back to the point, which today is,
"Where does blogging fit in today's media melange? Specifically, just how starry is a blogstar?"
(For this I'm indebted to Tina, one of the DJ team at the Port o Leith Bar.)
Background: At the end of yesterday's post, I mentioned how novel it was for two people in a bar to meet and greet for the first time, after both featuring heavily in a weblog. The men in question were Chav Gav and Little Alex.
Well, that would have been that, end of story, except for this comment from Tina:
"I saw Alex after he met Gav and he was totally star-struck. 'THE Chav Gav' was all he could say. Fame just doesn't have the value it used to."
Wow. Rarely have so few words said so much, opened up so many avenues. So this is what I replied:
"Hi Tina and thanks for your "debut" comment. Good point, to which there are many possible answers, but none definite.
CG is a highly charismatic and memorable man in his own right.
Alex might have been pulling your plonker.
Blogs aren't what they used to be, either. CG has been seen, discussed, and had his own words read by many thousands of people, globally. Tens of thousands, maybe more. As has Alex.
Neither of them are quite at the Chantelle Houghton level, but then wtf has heard of her in Tokyo or Toronto? And her fame will soon be just a memory, whereas (if I'm spared), Gav and Alex will still be being read and read about for years to come. Naked Blog is not the first diary of named, real individuals, (Pepys for one) but it's possibly the most prominent currently in the UK."
You know, I think there's some sort of threshhold going on at the moment. It's an exciting time to be blogging.
One thing I dislike (amongst several) is the way the BBC repeatedly refers to "the pro*phet Muh*ammad". "Prophet" has no meaning for me. It is an absurd mediaeval superstition. As is also having a Secretary of State for Education who literally believes she eats the "body of Christ" when she goes to her Catholic Church.
As Richard Dawkins said in his recent excellent TV series, The Root Of All Evil, 'the three major world religions depend utterly on "faith", and faith is the absence of thought'.
Ann Hath A Way
Interested to see the divine Miss Widdecombe on TV yesterday, putting in her pitch for Christianity. "What about us?" she wailed, the only thing missing being the Dawn French dog collar. "Christianity gets maligned on a near daily basis, and nothing's ever done about that," she intoned, eyes rolling into the back of her head as she so brilliantly can do.
No response came from the BBC reporter, but me, I would refer her saintliness to the not that long ago private prosecution of "Whitehouse versus Lemon and Gay News". Blasphemy was the charge, and Whitehouse won.
Bunch Of Nutters, Really
Faith-based religions are the last resort of the terminally unthinking, and I have no time for them or for their devotees. What was done, said and thought in another time in another country might have been fine for those people in that place, but times change, they truly do. Pigmeat is as nutritious as steer beef. Fish is not morally superior to meat, on Friday or any other day. Women are as important as men. The internet has replaced tablets of stone. You can always phone a friend, if you've got credit. And wine truly never becomes blood, except in horror flicks. Which is just about what these ridiculous cults amount to.
Practical spirituality though, is a different kettle of fish. Buddhism, Sufism and of course Yoga can be life-changing in their meditative practices. It would be a far better world if everyone learned how to meditate. It's not that hard. Pretty easy, in fact. Nip out and do it today.
Scotland something, France something less
YESSSSS! It's a result! The Port was rocking and a-reeling when I entered yesterday teatime. Por qua? Well, Scotland had just won the first match of the Six Nations Rugby thingie. These tribal and racial ball-games are the modern equivalent of the Old Testament, where you have to slay the infidel.
"Do you want to squeeze my balls?" Robin (don't call me bisexual, I'm a screaming queen now) asked, the minute I walked in the Port. A French company called Ricard had (somewhat unwisely, as it turned out) kindly donated a bunch of mini rugby balls for the men to play with. I tried a couple of them down my sweater, but not that flattering a profile emerged.
It was a regular Naked Blog gathering. As well as Robin there was Eilidh (rhymes with daily) behind the bar, JC the nice one from the Charity Shop (who said a little sadly that I don't write about him very much), Andrea, a former hunk of the week, Big Straight Al, (the first ever Hunk of The Week), who was a little intense, and Robin's former squeeze Tel, who was never a hunk of the week, but certainly should be. I must confess I could hardly keep my eyes off him. (It's OK - I already told him that to his handsome face.) Wot a Stunna. Must revive the HOTW if only for Tel alone. Then Pam the barmaid came in fresh from Murrayfield, where Andy her fella had taken her for a surprise birthday gift. They were glowing at the result. I could only imagine what lay ahead in the evening.
Norrie the fireman came up and said he hadn't realised how important NB was, and I said well now you do. And then lo and behold, what should drop into my Nokia this morning but this text from Chav Gav...(For some reason it's not in the Inbox, so I'll reconstruct from memory. I know CG won't mind.)
"Just spent a drugged and drunken night in your hoose, aka the Port. Had a great time. Met your mate Alex, and introduced myself as a Naked Blog regular."
Now, at first sight this text doesn't appear that out of the ordinary. Just a normal "how ya gettin on, me I'm fine" sort of thing. (In Leith, 'drugged and drunken' means 'fine'. It's sudden sobriety we worry about.)
But on a little further thought it says something quite unusual - something that could never have happened in those long-gone times BB (Before Blog). What happened was that Chav Gav and Alex, both Naked Blog regulars, met for the first time - without the author even being there.
We have become a force in the land. This writing doesn't sell as much as Rankin, but it sure as hell depicts real life. Toon Army.
Hiya! How's yer bum for cartoons today? I turn my back for two days and all hell breaks out. Or am I not allowed to say "hell" these days? It was good that a variety of newspapers (none British, incidentally) stood solid with the original publisher, but now that has all disintegrated in the face of threats and boycotts. Government Ministers are apologising to masked gunmen for a cartoon. What would my grandad have said, eh?
Rattle and Roll
So there I was on Arthur's Seat yesterday, descending, when I spies this guy in a bright yellow jacket hacking and coughing enough to shake the very rocks themselves.
"Some hill this," he says to me, as his dog noseyed around his feet.
"That's some smoker's cough you got there pal," I replies, laughing. He was about forty, glasses, really quite healthy complexion. Didn't have that "death-pallor" that smokers all tend to exhibit.
"Been stopped four years," he announced.
"Great," I said, with that camaraderie that only ex-smokers enjoy. "Been two and a half years meself."
Then the show-stopper: "But I've still got lung cancer," he said.
We ended up chatting for a few mintues. I stressed to him how well he looked. Kept stressing it. He said he was in remission. His name was Colin. The dog is Lou. I wished him well.
Some people recover from lung cancer. Not many, I agree. It's hard to find the words to describe my hatred of cigarettes, and the governments and corporations which profit from them.
Sometimes I think I should do volunteer work in smoke-quitting, but I don't think I'd be very patient with any relapses. Kevin in the Port said I've got a reputation for outspokenness. "Moi?" I replied. "I'm the quietest, shyest thing." Plus the TV-advertised "nicotine replacement" racket has got its dabs firmly on every aspect of quitting, and I know from my own experience and dozens of others' that it simply doesn't work. That it's a money chute straight from the taxpayer direct to Big Pharmy.
Just because Glaxo or whoever can shove a few thousand bucks at some obscure PhD wallah in some even more obscure university - bucks that finance a report distorting the quit rate, then the NHS happily shells out taxpayers' cash by the truckload. For ever, it would seem. Or till some more widely-read organ than this one exposes it. (Hint.)
Bought a nasal hair clipper yesterday from my barber. Rotary. Oh boy does my nose look young now! Almost, but quite, as young as your pubes do if you ever shave them. Ears too - those pesky faint white ones that spring up all over the place. Gone, gone, gone. My young colleagues list extraneous hair as possibly the most off-putting aspect of ageing. Not in my nose, now.
Isn't it odd having the most powerful man on the planet unable to pronounce "nuclear"? Makes yer think.
Chariots of Fire
And staying across the Atlantic, there was a reasonably interesting programme on last night about the Challenger Shuttle disaster. Remember Christa McAuliffe, the astronaut teacher? Poor thing was only an astronaut for 73 seconds before the contraption exploded so spectacularly.
Turns out NASA knew fine the rockets were likely to explode, told exactly that by the manufacturer, just the evening before, but went ahead anyway. Interesting to see old Ronnie in action, speechifying to the US nation. "When we aim for the stars we sometimes fall short," he intoned, gravely.
They say in Ronnie's later, Alzheimer, days he could rise from his dinner seat, deliver a pause-perfect speech, then sit down again, still unable to recognise anyone he was seated with. I think, but can't be sure - possibly because of the same condition in myself - that RR could correctly pronounce "nuclear". Ronnie and Margaret - what fine leaders we all did have. Fingers on buttons. Fastest finger first.
Which of course leads us nicely to Iran, that most nucular of nations. It's going to reported to the UN Security Council, apparently. What I want to know is, how come the UN doesn't know about this already? Don't they watch the news?
The voting in The Bloggies (TM) has finished now. Thank you for your vote, if indeed you did. And if you chose any of the other fine competitors that's just fine and dandy too. And if you haven't an effing clue what I'm on about, then that's probably finest of all.
F is for Fun!
Because that's what blogging really has to be. Me, I find sudden large "exposures" a bit of a strain. Maybe it's because this weblog is quite personal and honest... sometimes I feel I'm writing it for just six people - friends. I try for some closeness, some intimacy that you mightn't find in print, even with the most skilful hack.
Resolutions: now that December with its awful memories, and January this time with the daft Bloggie compo (how do you find material to attract the new reader, yet not bore the existing?), now that January's over too, there are still a couple of outstanding blogtasks from the back end of last year. Prizes, in fact. I'm due books and t-shirts to a few people. This must be done. Neither neurosis nor hysteria can intervene. Sorry, folks, for the delay. Sunshine delay.
I was at Sandra's last night, in Granton. (In the San Andreas game this elides to Ganton.) Molly her cat turned up and posed on the back of the settee. She's a total stunner - black with white feet and part-white face. The sort of cat they put on tins of cat food, looking happy. "Look how good her teeth are!" cried Sandra, showing me Molly's teeth. They looked very good teeth, I have to say. White needles of destruction. I picked Molly up. Light as a feather. "She's so light!" I cried to Sandra. "I'm going to steal her - keep her instead of fat old zoe. Nobody loves you when you're old and fat!" We laughed.
The Scottish Parliament has launched a five-point charter for keeping domestic pets. The first one is about cats. I wish I could link to The Scotsman piece, but they've started charging to see their stories, so no way Jose.
My memory's vague, as I read it in a pub, but there's stuff about feeding, and stimulation, and letting your cat enjoy a natural habitat, but not putting it out all night. Damn! (But I'm betting at least one NB reader will have a copy of that paper, and might pop the five points in the comment box.) Goes around, comes around. Scotsman doesn't own copyright to a government charter.
And that's it for now, pop-pickers! (Arctic Monkeys are very good, btw. I plugged them on my radio show in December. "Acne Rock", I described it.)