Naked Blog

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Friday, March 31, 2006

DREICH

Means rainy and grey. Again. If this is global warming, I'm outta here.

Sorry no Naked Blog yesterday. This was due to imminent bronchitis, which I treated with rest, food, warmth and the continuing absence of tobacco smoke. The days since Saturday have been the least tobacco-riddled of my entire life. Going back to before conception even. Oh yes - don't kid yourself - that sperm and that ovum had a forty a day habit each before they even met. And don't even mention the womb. And as for being born on New Year's Eve in 1946 - well... let's just say my eyes were streaming before I was two hours old.

Funeral Rites

Al's funeral is at Seafield Crematorium on April 4 at 2pm. I'm imagining it'll be pretty big. Scott texted to ask if I would make the introductory speech, but after much deliberation I had to decline. Enormous responsibility and at a time of your own grief. That's why most funerals "get someone in". I'm imagining it'll be a Jesus-free affair, but then you never know. The last State Funeral was Mary's husband Jim Moriarty, who was on that Dougal Haston programme last night. Taped it but haven't watched it yet. And that was in a Roman Catholic church. Where everyone nearly froze to death. No sign of any Vatican millions in their electricty bill. At least a crematorium should be warmer than that, eh?
The last sentence amply indicates my unsuitability for funeral work. If I hadn't got them rollling in the aisles after thirty seconds I'd be starting to panic.
Doctor's Orders

Fascinated by a programme called The Last Word on More 4 last night. This was a broom cupboard discussion show, led by Clive Anderson, and featuring Dr Phil Hammond, Matthew Parris, and Marina Warner, I think she was called. Hardly said a word, anyway.

They were talking about the NHS missing billions, which seems to be a topic du jour. Dr Hammond, a GP himself, freely admitted that GPs "over-treat and over-investigate", because "that's where the money comes from". In a wonderful acknowledgement of what we do here on Naked Blog, he said that people should just "stop using the NHS." They don't need it. Instead they should simply "walk up a hill till they're out of breath, and eat a radish."

Splendid. My kind of doctor.
They kept giving Al chemotherapy almost till the day he died - long after his imminent death was obvious to a blind man. What was that all about? Too cowardly to tell him the truth - which he would clearly already know himself? Or was it just that "that's where the money comes from"?
And don't get me started on the medicalisation of the elderly. There's hardly one of my bingo ladies isn't "under the doctor" for some colluded ailment or other. Fucking preposterous. (You can tell the ones who aren't by the sprightly way they dot about the place.)


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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

AFTERMATH

Of course it hasn't sunk in yet. Will take days. So sad that because of circumstances we think Al died alone. But he'd have been very drugged. And maybe hospitals have people who do that kind of thing. Hold your hand till there's no more point in holding your hand. Sad that a man who gave so much should slip away - missed by half an hour.

Blaming myself badly, of course. I think we all thought we'd visit during the next day - say our fond farewells and go. Or mebbe stay. I don't think anyone expected him to leave us in the night. One thirty a.m. The dying time. And the birthing time.



The Port was understandably sombre. Babs was there, and Pam the barmaid - huddled in the doorway sooking on fags with two strange men. This smoke-ban is going to throw up all sorts of new relationships. Can't keep away from people in a two foot square space, now can you? Oh - it was pissing down all day. Forgot that bit. Didn't take my brolly because the BBC 24 hour Forecast (Press Red) was showing sun for 6pm. Mebbe. In Australia mebbe, but damn well not here.

Various pubs have installed canvas awnings over their frontages, to protect the smokers from some of the weather, but as far as I'm concerned they just damn well keep the precious light away. "Non-smokers never satisfied, eh?" I joked with Chris, the barman in the Isobar, and another ex-smoker. We're impossibly smug these days, ex-smokers. (I was in the Isobar getting some Dutch courage before facing the Port crew.)



Babs had to leave the Port to meet her son after school, and Scott, Andy and Pam went off to Al's house with his uncle who'd turned up. We all agreed we'd have been in visiting him the next day. We talked about who needed to be informed. Maggie McQuaid, Jimmy McKinsley... faces and graces from the past. SMS "Send To Many" has become the telegram of the age. It is a fearsome communication in its power and simplicity.

Just me and Jill the barmaid then, for a while. Stevie Sticks the drummer came in. He's looking forward to his six months in rehab shortly. Get his brain together, he reckons. Rock and Roll survivor. Then Little Alex, all the way up from Peebles. Me, I had to leave, as by now I'd had about five pints in an hour it seemed like, on a near-empty stomach. Just one Co-op Caulifower Cheese (Three for three pounds.) I sensed Alex was disappointed, but I was beyond speech. If you can't be a help, don't be a drunkard.



Walked in that pissing rain - hides the tears bigtime - walked along to the Ocean Terminal. Wanted to smell what the Ocean Bar was like now it's smoke free. Nice. Quite nice. Looked at some specs in Vision Express. Smart pair for about 130 quid. Gant. Must check them out at Boots who're doing buy one pair get one free. We shall see. We shall clearly see, thanks to sphere, cyl and axis.

Went to get a bus home, and remembered they were on strike. National strike of public service workers, in protest at being told to work to 65 like everybody else, rather than the present system of full pension at 60. Wish that was me. I'm sixty in nine months. Ah well - at least I'll get my pensioner bus pass. For the days there's some buses.

Before that, bought some luxury grub at Marks and Spencer Simply Food. Buggers don't do late night reductions. Rather bin it than lower the price. Got some "Sushi To Snack". Five pieces for a pound. 1 tuna californian roll, 2 cucumber maki, 1 red pepper maki, 1 yellow pepper maki. First ever sushi. My sushi virginity, there in the Ocean Terminal. Mike of troubled diva lost 9 pounds in 5 weeks (or the other way round) by dining on Executive Sushi Boxes. How classy is that? And is that why the Japs never have an ounce on them? Apart from Sumo wrestlers. Mebbe they get pizza.



Walked home in the still-pissing rain, but Al was still dead.

Here's a prison blog you might like. (Seems to have absconded.) Is it real, or is it Memorex? (An ex-con I know very well, who's often in these pages, tells me the author's definitely been there.)

Thank you for all your kind comments yesterday. Al would have been touched.


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Monday, March 27, 2006

ALAN RANKIN (Big Al) 1953 - 2006

There we were in the Port tonight, discussing nothing more significant than smoke-bans, when Scott suddenly gets this phone call. From a doctor at the Western General Hospital. Seems our friend Al is there and is "very ill".

Al, younger than me by a tad, has prostate cancer, but we all knew that already.

The Lord giveth.

Your prayers please for him, because hospitals don't lightly phone like that.

And he is glorious.

And the Lord taketh away

Tuesday: Text from Babs this a.m. to say that Big Al died in hospital in the night. It can only have been a release. Something of an obituary will follow here, because that is what we do.

So he never got to smoke outside the pub.

I have to go there now, and meet my people - his people - and drink and doubtless cry some. For he was glorious, a warrior.

"An adventurer, a wiseman and a priest - worthy of a Viking's send-off." (Kriss Robb)
You can read Al's own stuff on his blog here. I can only assume the title of the final post was left like that on purpose. Class.


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CATATONIC
(Written of course before the sad news above.)


What a miserable old day weatherwise! Below are yesterday's and Saturday's posts about the new Scottish smoking ban. Very suitable for my health and wellbeing. And yours.

But there are some doubts, some negativities over this move, so here to cheer you up are a bunch of zoepics. She's such a total poser. In the spring there will be growth. Plus Priscilla the computer is behaving a bit better these days. Bit.

Cat-haters should simply scroll down a screen or two to much fascinating, cat-free material.



And my personal favourite of late, which I think wonderfully captures her innocence and curiosity...


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Sunday, March 26, 2006

SUMMER TIME, AND THE BREATHING IS EASY

Busy old night, one way and another.

At midnight, Mothers' Day kicked in. (In this country it's still OK call your female parent "mother".) Another hour, and British Summer Time made its annual, much-welcomed return. And at 6am BST it became illegal to smoke in these Scottish premises...
1. Restaurants.

2. Bars and public houses.

3. Shops and shopping centres.

4. Hotels.

5. Libraries, archives, museums and galleries.

6. Cinemas, concert halls, theatres, bingo halls, gaming and amusement arcades, casinos, dance halls, discotheques and other premises used for the entertainment of members of the public.

7. Premises used as a broadcasting studio or film studio or for the recording of a performance with a view to its use in a programme service or in a film intended for public exhibition.

8. Halls and any other premises used for the assembly of members of the public for social or recreational purposes.

9. Conference centres, public halls and exhibition halls.

10. Public toilets.

11. Club premises.

12. Offices, factories and other premises that are non-domestic premises in which one or more persons work.

13. Offshore installations.

14. Educational institution premises.

15. Premises providing care home services, sheltered housing or secure accommodation services and premises that are non-domestic premises which provide offender accommodation services.

16. Hospitals, hospices, psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units and health care premises.

17. Creches, day nurseries, day centres and other premises used for the day care of children or adults.

18. Premises used for, or in connection with, public worship or religious instruction, or the social or recreational activities of a religious body.

19. Sports centres.

20. Airport passenger terminals and any other public transportation facilities.

21. Public transportation vehicles.

22. Vehicles which one or more persons use for work.

23. Public telephone kiosks.
Quite an impressive list, I'm sure you'll agree. Oh, we don't do things by halves up here!



The Scottish Executive are quite upfront about this: although lip service is given to non-smokers' rights, the main thrust is to get people to stop smoking, because of the inconvenience to them of harbouring an addiction they can now barely ever feed.

Better and less painful to stop once, and get it over with. (Stopping is fun, and it's much easier than you've been deliberately misled to believe.) In this the Executive are one hundred percent, absolutely right, and as we've said here before, this one act alone is worth the squillions of public money the Scottish Parliament and its already-falling-down building have cost.

Coming to Northern Ireland, Wales and England very, very soon!!

(But until then, truckers and van drivers from England will just have to throw their fags oot the windae when they cross the Scottish border. Seriously. And it'll now be impossible to have smoking in any Scottish-made movie or TV play. Even if it's about the forties.) Injecting heroin should still be OK though.



Right. It's 11am now, and in just over an hour pubs and other recreation places will be opening their new, de-nicotined doors for Sunday business. What will happen to the nation? Watch this space and find out.

Last night, many, many pubs, clubs and hotels in Scotland held "smoking parties". I was invited to one at The Regent by one of my bingo men. (I think it might have been a "date", to be honest, the way he put it.) But naturally I didn't go. An ex-smoker at one of those would be as welcome as a pork pie at a bar mitzvah.

Hated and reviled. At least I'm used to it. :) Oh, and happy Mothers' Day to all my mothers! (If your children seem like ungrateful little shits, just blame society, not yourself. Definitely not that.)

Update

Some raw (ie untreated) pictures from this historic first afternoon. So far Mary has been interviewed by Sky News, BBC Scotland, Radio Scotland, Sunday and Daily Telegraph, and so on. Naked Blog clearly eclipses such publications of course, and here is her reward.







Descriptions to follow after I call the bingo to 400 non-smokers. Eeek! (This story is by no means over.)


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Saturday, March 25, 2006

END OF AN ERA

For how long have people sat in ale-houses and drunk and smoked? Pipes, cigars, and latterly cigarettes. At first all men, but now of course women too.

One hundred years? Two hundred? More than that?

Who knows? Who cares? Because in just 21 hours that will be literally history.



For me it'll be the beginning of truly healthy living, as I'm no longer swathed in fagsmoke both at work and at (drinking) play.

But it'll be the end of something too. The end of chatting over a relaxed drink with my friends. Because nearly all of them smoke. Nearly all of them will be trooping outside ever half hour for a cigarette. Until they realise the futility of that, and decide to stay home and smoke in comfort.

All of the people you read about here are real, of course, and almost all of them smoke.

Smokers

Babs, Sandra, Big Straight Al, Scott, Robin, Kevin, John, another John, Mary the landlady, Eilidh her daughter (rhymes with daily), Little Alex, other Big Al, Canadian Ian, Robocop, Chav Gav, Jacks, Ally, Dolly, Dean, Brian, all the Port o Leith staff, all except one of the Regent staff, all the Village staff, all except five of my colleagues.

Non-smokers

Stewart, Tony my IT Manager, Rex, Johnny, all of my managers, five of my colleagues.



You can see clearly on which side the coin is weighted. Hmmm. Watch this space for a full report.

(Apologies to anyone I've omitted. I done it quick.)


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Friday, March 24, 2006

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER LIVER CELL

The trouble with being so fit now is that I can sink even more of a bucket than previously. And still remain standing. And - more dangerously - continue talking shite. It's astonishing to step down from Arthur's Seat mini-mountain and mingle with the hunched, drawn smokers in the Port. Sook! Sook!



People have complained about my use of the term "stupid nicotine addicts" in a previous post. They say I should be sympathetic, rather than laughing. But I will say this to them. (My detractors.) Over the years I've been addicted to just about everything addictive there is. If it grows, or comes in a test tube, or both, then I've done it. And how much sympathy did I get or expect? Why, none at all. Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice. I used to hate ex-smokers, but then I became one.

But - to provide some balance - here's a nice article from chav gav in my comment box. It's his maiden post.
Shock smoking update:

I've just been out for a ciggie to the smoking shelter in my work only to find some hooligan with a toolbelt dismantling it.
"What do you think you're doing" I asked suspiciously.
"I've been told to remove the entire front and half of each side so that it complies with the new smoking laws. But I've to leave the entire rear wall, the roof and half of each side intact though."
"That's some fucking consolation then, eh?" I snorted, and lit my ciggie in defiance.

But I then realised two things. This is the first real physical evidence I've seen of the impending legislation in action, the first time it's affected me personally, and it kind of hit home that it's actually upon us.
But I also realised that I'm a smoker and regardless of the ban I'm not going to stop, simply because I don't want to. I even found myself leaning my elbow on the frame from where the window had just been removed, and very comfortable it was as well, almost exactly the same way I (used to) lean on the bar.

Adapt and survive my fellow smokers.


I wasn't totally sure if I'd be served in the Port, after a recent to-do with one of Mary's staff. And when I saw La Mary herself behind the bar, my healthy little off-the-mountain heart skipped just one beat amongst the fagsmoke. Would I face the utter ignominy and irony of being barred just three days before the smoke ban? But no. Mary didn't turn a hair. She's a lady.

I complimented her on her nice cream jacket. She said it was pink. I said it must be the dark lights. A bunch of homos were in the corner, so I sat at the fringe, next to Kevin the Shop Girl. Then there was John Macaulay. (The Lewis one. Other John Macaulay has been barred for punching Sam with the ears.) And finally Scott, who was most solicitous about zoe. (Earlier, in a lonely pub in Rose Street, I'd texted to many about the near cat-escape below.) We don't have much money but we do see life.

I showed them the DVDs I'd bought at the record shop we never mention because of staff rudeness. Ultimate Matrix with forty pounds off. Pedro Almodovar collection with ten pounds off. And Tales of The City - the Olympia Dukakis TV series.

Diethylamide

Vividly I remember that show coming on Channel Four I think it must have been. Back in the early nineties when I was just starting to tinker with recreationals, and my brain unsullied enough to still register things. Acid I was on for the first episode, and still etched in my mind are the fairy lights twinkling in the Barbary Lane garden. Magical. Magical acid.

I bought the book once, Tales of The City, but it's unreadable rubbish. Maupin is so lazy he just shoves whole swathes of dialogue in with not the slightest clue as to who's saying each line. As a book it makes a good script, I'm sure. No way am I counting lines to see who's speaking.

In The Soup

Last night, pissed as a rat, I decided that Tomato and Three Bean soup would offer a full stomach with minimal calories. Thick and delicious, like my favourite men. But would the soup come out of the tin? Would it as 'eck.

I shook the tin. I shook it some more. This was can constipation on a massive scale. Much too drunk to think of using a spoon, I gave one last almighty shake.

SPLAT!

Soup was in my eyes. It was in my hair. It was all over my new mountain jacket.

But that's not all. This morning I see that it's on the kitchen wall. It's on the vertical blinds. It almost reaches the ceiling.

But the soup tasted jest fine last night, what was left of it. Thirteen stones, two and a half pounds.

Don't miss last night's thrilling episode of Top Cat below! And hi to David, barman at The Regent. He should give lessons.


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

TERROR IN THE BACK GARDEN!!

(This post will only be of interest to cat people. Cat people know who they are.)

Those who follow the plot will remember that some months ago I took a cat into my home to deal with a persistent mouse stuation.

This all worked really well.

EXCEPT...

That I'm now living with a wild creature denied the company of that very wild.

Until today. Gorgeous spring day. Had to let her out. For the first time since we met.

(This post will only be of interest to people who understand Scottish tenements and stairs. And back greens.)

So timid at first, she was... "Zoe - come on zoe... see what's out here... psssss.... psssss... psssss.."

Eventually I got her out. Oh boy was she happy! The first thing that grabbed her was a bunch of twigs and branches in a corner. "Sniff! Sniff" Sniff""

So lovely to watch, after her incarceration for six months or so. So I took her in my arms and lifted her up those few steps to the main garden... oooo la la...

Birds flew just over her head. Caw! Caw!

Why doesn't she jump for them? Tooth and claw I can understand. But no... zoe contents herself with sniff... sniff... sniff....

A discarded chair was in the garden - the sort of wooden thing you'd see in a church hall in 1951. That sort of chair. So I sat on it. Zoe now had got as far as the fence separating our garden from next door. And of course - like every fence since Hadrian's Wall - she was under it in a trice.

So now she's in next door's garden, isn't she, and I'm starting to panic just a little. Realising that no power on earth can now get zoe back onto my house - our house - without her wish and consent.

I watch her parading in next door's garden. I think of phoning Sandra. I look over the fence and realise how very much nicer that garden is than our own. So I resolve to do something about this too. So scary. Zoe is all but out of sight.

Shit I'm terrified now! I shout and shout, but there's no reaction, and of course I understand. Six months of my flat, smelly carpet and stupid toys, and now she has the universe. Cat universe. Yet still she ignores the big swathe of bird life just2 above her head. Strange. Let her hear anything remotely like a mouse in the house, and she's there with bat ears a-flapping.

Ignores the birds in the garden, then.

(It's late now. After ten, so forgive me if I stop. I got her back eventually. Thanks for all your texted good wishes.)


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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ENVIRONMENTAL WARDENS

Yesterday I saw my first Environmental Wardens. Previously it was the job of these people to troll round the streets and spot people putting their rubbish out on the wrong days. Now they've taken on a whole new importance as the people who put out your fags.

Yes, that's right. Scotland goes smoke-free on Sunday.

Environmental Wardens, judging from this sample of two, are tank-sized women driving tank-sized white vans, with ENVIRONMENTAL WARDENS written on the side in tank-sized letters. Lest anyone think they're florists. I await with eagerness the one law I know I'll never, ever break.



Fab day yesterday with Stewart, climbing Arthur's Seat from Duddingston Village. Very posh. Malcolm Rifkind lives there. And Lord Ancram or whatever. After the climb we had a restorative pint or three in the Sheep Heid Inn. Real SUV country that. Even Kirsty Wark would seem a bit common. So we chatted about internet entrepeneurship so no-one would understand. Stewart can be a bit deaf and a bit loud in a quiet place. All those years of DJ-ing.

Then back to his place for delicious home-made vegetable soup in the new gaff in the Banana Flats. First time I've been in a Banana Flat*. Most impressive. I like the way the small size would prevent me accumulating too much clutter.

*(The nickname universally used for a 60's housing development built in a curved design.) See if I can find an article. Can't.

Sneering and arrogant

Later, apres soup, some rudeness from an off-duty Port O Leith barkeep only slightly marred an excellent day. (Mary has hired some bar staff cuckoos in her time, but this one takes the biscuit. Some people just shouldn't work with customers. Civility is often expected by people who're spending their money.)

Hi Ho. Off to da bingo. Sandra rang me earlier this morning, and she wants me to publish her daughter's singing CD. I said I'd be delighted to, if someone tells me how it's done. Could she be the new Cilla Black? Or - more to the point - Lena Zavaroni? A nation holds its breath.

Arrogant and smug

"So what are you doing on Sunday, Peter?" asked Michael, a smoker, at work.

"Gonna go round pubs and laugh at all the stupid nicotine addicts!" I replied, eagerly.

There truly is nothing worse than an ex-smoker.

Four days. 6am on Sunday. Pray that I'm spared.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

VETTING MY CALLS

So there I was just now in my 'jamas making coffee when the phone goes off. I use the term "goes off" quite accurately, as the new cordless setup is quite a cacophony - what with the handset and the base all ringing out of synch.
Bleep blurp bloop bleep blurp bloop....
Zoecat looked a bit baffled, as - truth be told - I don't get that many calls. Happens when you're old. Grabbed the handset while I stroked her back. "Hello Peter, this is zoe," said a voice, and then I freaked, I totally freaked. Just been watching a horror DVD during the night about alien mind experiments, haven't I, and here was the freakin' cat talking to me on the cordless.

(Readers who surf the cyber will have a clue by now. Yes! It was zoe the blogger, not zoe the cat!)

What a nice chat. Zoe truly is gorgeous, you know - every bit as lovely as her blog would indicate. That's why I named my cat after her. Thanks hon. No, I'm not stopping blogging - just spending a little time and thought on "What's It All About?"

She won the Best European Bloggie for the second year running, so it (MBIAT) must be quite good, and was featured along with a bunch of top women bloggers in yesterday's Independent.



So - what have I been up to, apart from resigning, that is?

Well - got my eyes tested last week, for free, on a special offer from Boots Opticians. (Readers from other countries must find my various reference to the Boots company somewhat confusing. Boots do not sell shoes. They are the UK's leading pharmacy chain, and these days franchise out into sight, hearing and other such senses. A tentative toe is dipped into herbs and homeopathy, but it is so far quite tentative. Alles klar the noo? Gut.) I really shouldn't give free ads for the Boots company.
Stewart my other Grumpy Old Man has just texted for a hill walk. Totally fab day today - the first for absolutely ages. Sometimes there's so much cloud for so many days, you forget there's blue up there. But they say water is the new oil, so I guess we shouldn't complain. Not much chance of a water shortage here in Scotland. The trick will be not to give it all to England. Sell, yes - but give no way.
So where was I? Oh yes - my optician said I'll be able to read when I'm ninety.

As statements go, that one is pretty cheering. I'm just glad to know I'm gonna live till ninety! Fuck reading. They'll have much better things on the go by then. Virtual sex where you're twenty-one again and all the men have foot-long dongs. I can just see it. Feel it.

Right that's two movie pitches I've given you for free today already. Quite enough. Genug. So I got two pairs of specs, one pair for reading and one for that modern contraption called a screen. Yes - the one you're lapping up atm. Got them on now and don't know how I ever managed without all these years, I really don't. Talk about monocular.



Zoe's at my feet now, legs round her ears and licking her bottom. I gave her Duck and Turkey Pate for breakfast, so maybe that makes it taste nice. Now she's looking up at me, licking her lips, and angling for a jump on my knee. That would be one thing, but she will insist on trying to type, which might kinda fuck up the post as she's not that good at it yet.

I'll try a save first.

(A few bars later.) Didn't get time. But I kept her paws off the keyboard. She offered a kiss, but I declined in view of the above.


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Saturday, March 18, 2006

LEAN TIMES AHEAD ?

Twelve stones, thirteen and a half pounds!*

Nine months it's taken to crack that thirteen stones barrier. Nine patient months. Gestation.

But I done it.

Now I can do anything.

Yesterday I resigned from the bingo, but that is all you should learn of that here.

In the spring there will be growth.

Gizza job, mate.


(*181.5 pounds. How very skinny!)


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Friday, March 17, 2006

ALL BLOGGED TO BUGGERY

This is becoming less of a journal and more of a Weekly News. My blogging bug has got somewhat squished of late, I can see.

What was once a periodic write-up of things which caught my fancy has grown into bit of a monster - with global competitions, searingly frank and personal revelations, feelings of obligation to others, and so on. And the comforting blanket of anonymity has all but been whisked completely away.



Friends, families, employers, people from the dim and distant - all tuning in to see what the old girl's coming up with now. And what do I get from this? Well clearly sweet f. a.

Privacies, once relinquished, are pretty much gone for ever. Sunday's post was thirty-eight years in the coming, and should either be an end, or a beginning. But the beginning of something different. Not here. This is not the place. I have my old age to think about. Hopefully.

Don't you yourself sometimes think blogging's all a bit pointless? I mean - wtf cares what I thought of the Kenneth Williams evening? Or how much I weigh. Or is zoe still a fatcat. Or what Sandra said when we were in a shop.



And let's not forget the Bloggies. TM. That recent finalism almost certainly represents the peak of achievement I'll ever have. Baby we were born to lose. So with no money, and only a fleeting, fast-vanishing glimpse of glory (who ever remembers losers?), I sometimes get the urge of late that life is for living, not for writing about.

But then there's you. You're so lovely. So many of you. And I know that - even though only a handful of us have ever met. These relationships are not insubstantial - mediated by the technology of the age. But then also - how many people over the centuries have fallen in love by letter? And photograph. Oh yes they have.

So - this is not a cry for bloghelp. Or a veiled threat. And it's one hundred miles from toys out of the pram. Tick, been there, done the lot of them.

I don't think I've commented this year on more than one of the blogs on my sidebar. Just all seems so strange, so fake these days. Have we pushed too far? Has the bubble really burst, and we're just too busy blogging to notice it? If Chantelle Houghton were ever to say one sentence on television, just one, that sentence would reach more people in a moment than all of my words have done in their lifetimes. The medium is the message, and some media pack a lot more message than others.



Congratulations to all the winners in this year's Bloggie 2006. Especially to Tokyo Girl, and thanks for the kind mention, which I confess I haven't seen but zed told me about. Have I missed anyone out?

We've come a long way. But was it worth it? And what is next? The one thing certain is change.

Who will surf the cyber most skilfully? And who will leave with nothing?

That's your homework for the weekend.


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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

HARD AS FUCK

Three colours of tarmac are having an argument in the Port o Leith Bar. Black, red and green. They're discussing who's the hardest.
Black tarmac says: I'm the hardest because I cover the M25, and cars and lorries go over me every day.

Red tarmac says: Fuck off pal that's nothing. I'm in every city in Britain, and big buses full of people run on me all day long.

Green tarmac says: Fuck off pal that's nothing. I'm a cycle path.
Thanks to Sandra for that one.


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Monday, March 13, 2006

PRELUDE AND FUGUE

OK - I've been and gone and done it at last. Blogged yesterday's chart show in real time for ya. 1968.

Thank you for all your kind encouragements of late. In the spring there will be growth. More of the same could follow, depending on the year of the chart. This wasn't an especially auspicious one for the purpose, holding only one vivid memory for me. There are no Righteous Brothers, no Scott McKenzie any more.

We don't know it at the time, but last summer, 1967, was the peak for the whole world, and it's downhill all the way now until the early nineties.

This is quite a long piece. Have a Happy Monday!


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Sunday, March 12, 2006

SO MANY SONGS HAD TO BE SUNG...

Some random jottings during Dale Winton's March 1968 Chart Show. He begins with climbers:

Cilla Black: Step Inside Love

Cilla shows she's no flash in the pan. Although she never fully reprises the glory of Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World.

It's four years since the 1964 top twenty I wrote for you on Friday, below. Then, I was a schoolboy of 17, but now in 1968 am a 21 year-old young man.

For straights that is quite a step. For gay people it's seismic, cataclysmic, as everything they thought about their future goes up in smoke, and a whole new paradigm comes in to play. They learn to live with stigma, hatred and discrimination along with the discarded Kleenexes and scribbled phone numbers in the damp and dark.

Oh well - it was a long time ago. You get over it eventually. And things are in some ways much better now. Others not.

Four Tops: If I Were a Carpenter

In 1964 I was still at home with my parents and young sister. Still in those quite splendid last years at school, ruling the roost. Cock of the Walk. Now, in '68 I've left my mining village, have been in London for three years, and am almost finished my degree at Imperial College. Finals looming in just a couple of months.

Friday, in 1964, was possibly the happiest time of my life. Today, '68, I'm in literal torment. Studies are all over the place, as I try to juggle the Coleherne, the Boltons and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in to Very Advanced Mathematics Indeed. I estimate, then in 1968, I probably know ten times more stuff than most people learn in their lifetimes, and can pretty much remember every thing I've ever said and done.

The News of The World of my parents is now firmly replaced by The Observer and Sunday Times, and these lovely new-fangled Sunday Colour Supplements. Previouly, papers had been strictly black and white. A thing called Barclaycard appears in adverts. America is at war with Vietnam. I've had my first real "love" (ie lust) with a GI I met in the Coleherne, I think it was, and later in 68 I'm to meet my first "significant other" who was to have the most profound effects.

Bob Dylan: I'll be your baby tonight.

The world was split into two camps over Dylan, you either loved him or loathed. I was firmly in the latter. But Ms Baez now, she was a different kettle of fish. Unqualifed worship.

Imperial College, for all its fearsome Ivy League reputation, is really just a jumped-up technical college. Because of the ultra-expensive address (South Kensington), there was almost no student life. Oh, there were a couple of Halls of Residence, but you practically had to have slept with Camilla Parker Bowles to stand a chance. Ninety-nine point nine percent of undergraduates were left to fend totally for themselves. In grotty bedsits, usually. Can there really be wholesome and helpful life in Mysore Road, Battersea? Strangely, that was just when Up The Junction came out. Funny how the style has always followed me around.

Love Affair: Everlasting Love.

Amazing! I remember that coming on the radio the first morning I woke in grotty bedsit number 23 it must have been. "Radio" then was your autochange record player with a "portable tranny" plugged in to it. Mine was a Bush. Record player. Could convert it to stereo by plugging an extra module in. But it didn't matter, as there were hardly any stereo LPs. And those there were had a reputation for scratching easily. No - real men had mono and just got on with it. Love Affair got slagged rotten for not playing their instruments on this, so for their second hit they had a Public Notary there. It bombed, being exactly like Everlasting Love.

Engelbert Humperdinck: Am I that easy to forget?

As well as all the "new sounds" of the sixties, there were still the stalwarts belting out "standards". Humperdinck, Bassey, Munro, and - perhaps surprisingly - Ken Dodd. Humperdinck was previously called Gerry Dorsey, and before that even somebody else, if I recall. Much hair. They say The Last Waltz was written and recorded in twenty minutes, at the fag end of a session when they'd paid for a few more minutes. It made zillions.

Brenton Wood: Gimme a Little Sign.

Amazing how Everlasting Love has fixed this chart so exactly. Wish like hell I could remember which address it was at though. I once calculated that by age 25 I'd had something like 25 addresses. Move on, move on. Then I bought this dump and never moved once more. When I came here, I could fit my every possession in a small hired van. I'm pleased to report I still can.

Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World. Hmmm. He also had a biggie with Hello Dolly round about now.

You know why people love cats? Because they're like furry babies.

And would pop have taken off in the spectacular way it did without Top of The Pops?

Tremeloes: Suddenly You Love Me

Oh yes. This is as far from Engelbert as you can get. What a track. How very much we owe to those pioneers of vinyl. They have lightened our lives, even sometimes at such personal cost. My own allegiances then are of course to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. I try to model myself on Mick Jagger in every way.

In Earl's Court Road there was a basement cafe called Le Sous Sol.

Bee Gees: Words.

Bee Gees always set themselves up as "real" musicians, rather than merely a group or band. They were one of the earlier ones to appear on telly with an orchestra - something which always added cachet. In those days, the camera would linger on the singer sometimes for several lines at a time - there wasn't the constant cutting they do in these modern MTV days - lest the feeble-brained lose interest. Plus songs were songs, and not dance routines.

Amen Corner: Bend Me, Shake Me

Note almost all British so far. We really did rule for a while.

In Le Sous Sol you could buy tonno y rizzo (tuna and rice) for seven and sixpence. (38p) My live-in girlfriend (how shocking - living in sin) and I would go there late and get one tonno y rizzo with two forks. The owner was a grand dame, used to complain that her gaff was no longer fashionable. "Used to get the Stones in here," she said one day. "And Long John Baldry". It was kind of like the Port o Leith of its day. Or rather, the Port in the early Mary days.

Status Quo: Pictures of Matchstick Men.

My main memory of this was seeing it on Top of The Pops. Must have been home then. Must have been Easter Vacation. Home visits were a sheer pure unadulterated nightmare, because of my mother's mental illness, coupled with my own inability to stand up to her. She saved her madness up till I got there, and then threw it at me - blasted me with all she had, so that not only was I in desperation over my own horrified adolescence - but had also to put up with her suicide stunts, emotional backmail and so on.

Jonathan King: She Wears my Ring. (Dale mentioned this, but didn't play it. Thought King had done his time now? Guess the Beeb doesn't favour ex-cons.)

Beach Boys: Darling. This is utterly awful. Time for more coffee.

Lulu: Me, the Peaceful Heart. Me, about to vomit.

Otis Redding: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.

Transcendent. Aren't charts amazing with their juxtapositions? This song has shaped my life, shaped the world. How could anyone ever forget it? And it has even more resonance now than it did then. Round about forty five I learned - belatedly - to let go of ambition. To let it flush down the lavatory pan with all the other detritus of the near half century.

Manfred Mann: Mighty Quinn

We never knew what it was about. Mighty "quim" was postulated, that being adolescent slang for a ladies "private parts." I think their first hit was 5,4,3,2,1. Strange that the singer was Paul Jones while Manfred Mann just played keyboard. MM had a letter published in The Times, which we all thought very intellectual. It was about drugs. He said that...

Lemon Pipers: Green Tambourine.

...distinction should be made between "hard" and "soft" drugs. Nowadays we wouldn't be that startled at a pop singer being in a paper, but then that was new. Like "living in sin" on a wholesale scale. It was William Rees Mogg of The (pre-Murdoch) Times who essentially got Mick Jagger "off" for his ridiculous one year jail sentence. "Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?" In return, Jagger gave his only post-jail interview to The Times. They referred to him throughout as Mr Jagger, which was quite funny.

Tom Jones: Delilah

Guess I left him out of the list some screens above. Huge star.

It'd be wrong to omit Cliff Richard, who just kept churning 'em out also. But Cliff was different. He seemed somehow in a different "class". Remember Brosettes? Bit like that. A love for Cliff was never easily shed. In a year's time I was to meet a gay pal who adored Cliff. Fetishised, almost. It was because when he'd been a gay adolescent himself he'd heard that Cliff was gay - and this made him think in the dark hours of his lonely childhood bed that maybe he wasn't the only one.

And you think I make it up?

Donovan: Jennifer Juniper.

This is not a startling chart. Apart form Otis there's little so far that has remained.

Don Partridge: Rosie.

I think, but can't be sure that he was that one-man-band novelty act. Wonder what he'd doing now? Big Issue? Ba Gishoo?

Again this makes me think I must have been at my parents' this particular week, as there he was on Top of The Pops, that black hole of novelty.

Move: Fire Brigade.

It'd be strange for a chart to have none of Beatles, Stones, Dusty or Supremes. "Super-premes" we used to call them at university. We worshipped Miss Ross in a similar way to Miss Baez.

Despite the decade, I took no drugs whatever, and hardly drank. Drugs were everywhere, but really quite terrifying to me. In fact, if truth be told, I just didn't have the bottle. I think my lack of bottle in that case probably saved my bacon.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch: Xanadu.

Esther and Abi Ofarim: Cinderella Rockafella My mother loved this one. They used to boast about the longevity of their marriage, but divorced a year later. Vaguely reminiscent of the earlier Paul and Paula.

Off to the bingo now. Who would have thought, way back then, I'd one day be doing that? Legendary, I tell you.


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Friday, March 10, 2006

TURNING TO SLEET OR SNOW ON HIGH GROUND

Today is what Scots call dreich. That's a lovely word, which really needs no explanation. But if it does, then the clues are... damp, grey, cloudy, no visible promise.

But machts nicht, as it's bingo, bingo all the way today anyway. What a week it's been! Too much for a white lady. Don't honestly know how much I can remember. Seemed to finish work last Saturday teatime, bumped into Rex at the cash machine at the foot of Leith Walk, and the rest, as they say, kinda just blends in.

Drink Is The Answer

We started at Wetherspoons on Duke and Constitution. What a dive! But Rex likes drinking in dives... cheap beer. Sadly you get all the neds of the day also, and yes, there they were at a table - Port o Leith rejects... all white supremacy and homophobia. Bastards. Made my bad mood if anything worse. (It'd been a helluva shift. Technical problems and a drunk.)

Cameo Bar on Commercial and Admiralty was OK for one, but then they turned the music up so 'twas time for tubby bye bye. So we ended up parking our arses in the Old Dock Tavern in - not surprisingly - Dock Street. Or is it Place? Surprsingly good, and quiet for a Saturday. I hate pubs with crowds. I was on Tennents and Rex was drinking something called Latitude. Good name for a pint, really. "Give him some more Latitude, please, Landlord!"

Would smell as sweet

Love words, me. Wednesday at work there was a customer showing me a poem - photocopied poem on tatty paper. It was about race, benefit cheating, re-patriation, and I'm sure you get the picture. Bernard Manning in doggerel. So what to do? Tell the customers - two sweet-looking ladies - that I think their poem stinks? (Which would cause genuine upset, and don't forget these are customers. Paying my wages at just one small step removed.) Or smile and hand it back and move on? I think you can guess my choice.

Andy, a young colleague, was passing their seat. "Show Andy your poem," I suggested wickedly, leaving their area. And from a distance I watched his reaction as he read. Later I nailed him with, "What did you think of the poem then, Andy?" His reaction was a masterpiece. "It was atrocious," he began. "But quite funny," he quickly corrected.

This tells me two things. "Atrocious" as a word is back in. And Andy will go far, giving such a please-all answer so off the top of his head like that. Far, indeed.

Sharp Response

Sunday had a musical theme. No less a luminary than Joan Baez was on Andy Marr's Breakfast show. She gives great interview. And I see she's got the Dylan responses off to a fine art. Marr asked the Dylan question. (Any question - they're all the same.) She answered. He started another Dylan question. She interrupted. "Now would be a good time to move on to the next subject," she snapped at him, unsmiling. Icebergs jumped back onto their glaciers. Sheer, total, exquisite class.

(Younger readers won't have a clue about any of this, and that's a shame. But they do know a lot about iPods and Playstation, so all isn't totally lost.)

Revived Forty-five

But that's not all! Oh no, Jose! Teatime I'm lying back browsing a book on how to live a wonderful life when what should come on my Sunday radio but the top twenty from 1964. That's right! When I was young myself! Oh, the memories...
Roy Orbison, Dusty, Ronettes, Freddie and the Dreamers, Rolling Stones (with their first ever top twenty entry, Not Fade Away).

It was a clashing of eras, really, as Brenda Lee with her perfectly-formed three-verser, As Usual, gave way to the might of the Stones and the Beatles. There were other Liverpool bands, but they were not significant. Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, Searchers, Merseybeats - all were there on Sunday, and doubtless will be this Sunday too. (Unless they change decades.)

Ending with the sublime Cilla Black at number one with "Anyone Who Had A Heart." The reason Cilla was such a smash hit was her two vocal registers. She has the breathy girly voice, and then the belter voice. We'd not had that before, us young'uns. Seemed so new. Sunday, Radio Two, Fourish.
Young was a theme at work also on Wednesday, when I was chatting with one of the newstarts, aged 19 if he's a day. "I love being 59," I said to him, without a word of a lie. Bob was aghast. "How can you love that?" he asked, a puzzled frown crossing his unmarked forehead, and leaving no trace of its passing. "Because I've seen everything before," I explained. "Everything new in your life we've already experienced," I told him. "But it's fun to watch the young discovering things for what seems like the first time."

"That goes for clothes and music," Charlie (40) chipped in. "Been there, done it, all of it." "I love the Beatles," said David, also nineteen. "Computing is the only genuinely new thing," I conceded. "But I'm not too bad at that either, for my advanced age." We got back to counting the company's money.

Ford Every Stream

Monday dawned glorious. It was a text to many day - round up a mountain posse of those without conventional working hours. It was a small posse though. Big Dave was a-painting his bathroom, and Stewart was in Bristol with his daughter. But Canadian Ian turned up, and we sank a few in The Regent then started the ascent. But not before passing Saint Margaret's Loch, still deep frozen. "Got to walk on the ice, Ian!" I declared in the brilliant, aching sun. "Got to." We scrambled down a small muddy bank, in my case not sliding on my ass, and I pressed one foot down on the crystal surface, listening for those tell-tale crackles. The memories!

They say you should act your shoe size, and boy I've taken that one to heart! No crackles! Put foot number two on the ice! And both of them fell right through! Ah well - at least the Swiss boots kept me wee footsies dry. Ian's ass was covered in mud, but hey - that's what you get when you act your shoe size. These jeans were made for washing.

It was a good, good climb, once again warm as toast at the summit in the sun, wildly contrasting with the mini-floes we'd just left. Bizarro. We lay and basked, soaking up the March rays.

Retail Therapy

Tuesday was Sandra. We went to TK Maxx, a superstore selling cheap household tat. Sandra was buying knickers for herself and her daughter, so she shooed me off to the household department, where I purchased two arrangements of silk plants. One is three fake hyaciths in a fake basket, and the other a kind of pretend climbing thing with red and white trumpety flowers. "You should get real plants," Sandra was about to say, but I cut her dead. "This is the first interest I've shown in my house for twenty-five years, so don't knock it, girl." We laughed. Later I gave her a phone. No, I mean I literally gave her a phone. I wanted her to experience my new cordless liberty in her own new home. Housewarming.

Later still, Babs was in the Port, and Big Straight Al, two stories below. I'm getting out of synch! Babs is full of cold now. I bumped in to her just yesterday in The Village, having a restorative brandy or three. "It dries up the secretions," she said. "Yes - that's why you're not supposed to have it," I replied. I was a bit pissed by now.

Ally was there, one of the former owners. He's bored now, and he and his partner are looking for a new business. All suggestions in my comment box, please. We chatted about some bad blog of a few months ago, when I'd written something which displeased him about the business. However - all that was moons ago, and I think we put it behind us. Hope so. Good blood is better than bad. Bought each other a drink. Peacemaker. I asked him what it was like to be a mere customer in the place where for so long he'd been the star.

Even more pissed. Sometimes I wonder if I drink a little too much. In reality it barely exceeds the government's guidelines of 24 units per week - and I do do more than most people's share of exercise. But then, if people are starting to comment...

"Hello, I'm Peter and I'm an alcoholic blogger..."

Nah. No way Jose. I've done problem drinking. Got the t-shirt. Nowdays I just enjoy gettting drunk. My critics don't see the many stone cold sober days every week. (Unless they're bingo fans.)

On Mouseover

Tony my IT Manager is getting a cat for his mice. Or rather he's not at the moment, as the outfit he's dealing with seem to take more care in placing a cat than in placing a child. They even visit your home, to see if it's suitable. He said it'll be dead of old age before he gets it. He went first to Seafield Cat and Dog Home, on our recommendation, but they didn't have any, so he's landed with the PDSA, I think. Sandra got Cherry the black part-Labrador from them.

Guess I was very lucky to get zoe so quickly and easily. But then I had Sandra with me, and she's a fantastic negotiator. I hope zoe feels lucky also. I gave her a sardine yesterday. She loved it. All that crunchy backbone. Lip-smackin!

Right then - let's tidy up me typos then off to da bingo for much of the weekend, on and off. I do like working when other people are resting. It saves you the bother of thinking you should be joining in.

Those of you with more conventional lives should make every effort to enjoy themselves this weekend. Heavy snow is forecast, but the sun might shine next Thursday.


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Thursday, March 09, 2006

GET YER EYES TESTED

OK then, seeing as Boots Opticians are kindly offering me a free eye test (Offer closes March 31) then that is what I've got earmarked for today. You have to buy glasses from them, clearly, to qualify for the offer. It's not turned into charity week.

However, as the leaflet offers a range of specs starting at just thirty pounds, then I can surely afford to splash out. It's only for reading. No-one ever sees me read. When I'm with people I pretend to be outgoing, rather than the world's most legendary introvert. And real men don't read books.

Coming soon: What do you do when a customer shows you a racist poem?

The Things They Say...

Bear and chicken are chatting in the Port o' Leith Bar, over a pint or several. Topic comes round to hardness. Who is the hardest? (Last century's grammar dictates harder at this point - but wtf cares? Hardest. It's 2006, fer fuck's sake.)
"I know I'm the hardest," says the bear, " - because I just have to growl and a whole forest shakes."

"Fuck off pal that's nothing," cheeps in the chicken. "I just have to sneeze and a whole fucking country shites itself."
Laugh? I nearly started.

Hello to Sandra fae Gracie.


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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

AS PART OF MY OWN LUNCHTIME

Once again I'm forced to apologise for insufficent naked blog. This is due to too much content in my real life.

Tomorrow, come rain, hail or - much worse - shine, I'll bring you up to speed on all the minutiae of life here in East Central Scotland.

But for now let me thank Big Straight Al, with whom I had the pleasure of an hour's chat yesterday. Al is currently dating a High School Teacher, as you do, and by one of those bizarre coincidences with which this blog is peppered - nay, fully seasoned - the lucky lady teaches at the very school in which I myself taught for all those happy years.

And what is the verdict at this High School? What traces have we left in the sand? Well - it appears that one has become a legend. Yes, really. Everyone heard Al saying it, so it must be true. She's dying to meet me. The pleasure will be all mine, Sandra. (No - not that Sandra - she's Ceramic Sandra. This one's Eng Lit. Sandra.)

So - to my current list of
  • legendary blogger
  • legendary bingo caller of the year, 2004...
  • We now must add...
  • legendary educator
  • So many legends in one small frame.

    More, much more tomorrow, when we range from getting pissed with Rex, to walking on water with Canadian Ian (it was frozen), to the top Twenty of 1964 with Dale Winton. It'a a man's life, in blogworld. Legendary.


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    Monday, March 06, 2006

    SUSPICIOUS MINDS

    Thanks to a couple of commenters for alerting me to Microsoft's latest wheeze-in-making. It's a browser.

    Browsers have a short but undistinguished career. They serve up webpages. Good, bad, indifferent, legal, barely legal, utterly illegal webpages, and that is what they do. Serve them up. End of story. Well, not for much longer is it.

    Because the latest (soon-to-be) incarnation, MSIE7, has taken on itself the duty of judging the sites it's asked to browse. And guess how it judges this one. Yes - this Guardian-listed, BBC-listed, BBC-broadcast, 2006 Bloggie finalist - yes, this page you're loving right now, is classed as... suspicious!

    It's an outrage, I can tell you chum. I'd sue if I thought they had any money.

    Infamy! Infamy! Everybody's got it in for me!

    Tell me more, tell me more...


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    Friday, March 03, 2006

    SNOW BUSINESS

    It's snowing! First time this winter, if I recall right, which I confess I don't always do. Zoe sits in the window entranced of course, while I just curse the haircut I got yesterday. Almost to the wood. Scary. Well, mebbe not.

    Such a change from yesterday, atop my beloved mountain in the beating sun, gentle breezes warmed on the volcanic rock. Three good-looking Ozzie guys were behind me, drinking from tinnies and chatting, educated. God was in both hemispheres.



    "It's not winter up here," I texted to many. "Spring is in the air." But winter it was. Saint Margaret's Loch was half frozen over, with the water birds arranged around the edge of a floe, huddling together, the better to escape avian flu. "Atchoo!"

    Yes, winter it truly was. Earlier, there were even those little snow pellets that all climbers know, pellets like hail that gather in the grassy pockets, marking the snow line, getting more and more frequent the higher you go.

    Earlier still, there'd been drinkies with Babs in the Regent. How we laughed and joked! Meg the lesbian sandwich lady came over, and said she was jealous of me chatting up another female.

    Disnae come itsel'

    Gracious! This is quite a heavy snowfall - for a town on the coast. It'll hit today's business, as my bingo ladies are understandably nervous of slipsliding away. Broken hip all too often means death, even in these modern times.

    And slipping isn't all. Crime is an all too present fear in their lives. Only last week one dear, dear soul in her late seventies got her handbag snatched by some youth. Fortunately he didn't actually attack her, but still she's staying with her daughter now, in another town, afraid to cross the threshhold, her life in ruins for a hundred quid.

    Last summer I had the displeasure to attend a meeting of Leith's "great and good" in the Ocean Terminal mall. Sponsored by Gregor Shore builders, rapists of the environment. And chaired by Lesley Riddoch, a minor showbiz sleb of these parts, to give a veneer of authenticity. I won't bore you with the entire evening's cant, but one part I especially disliked was some Lothian and Borders Police wallah bragging about how crime figures were down.

    Oh yes, they're down, I thought. Down because no-one over sixty dares venture out after dark. We have a society of the elderly trapped in their homes because of fear of walking the streets.

    Homicide: Life on The Streets

    Listen. The main street in Leith is called Great Junction Street. To walk that after ten at night is a seriously scary business. A third of the street lights are broken, and your chance of spotting a cop, either on foot or in a car is about the same as me seeing the Yeti in my back garden amongst the snow today.

    And this is the "up and coming Leith" that Council and Executive dickheads bleat on about. Terrifying streets and a walled up generation. Arseholes.

    Right. That's got that off my chest. Sorry! (But it had to be said, and better late than never.) Leith FM certainly won't allow such talk, lest we offend our "superiors". Shock Jock it ain't, and I doubt never will.

    Avoirdupois

    Isn't it funny how some days you drink nothing, and eat almost that too, yet put on two pounds - whereas yesterday was a total pigout and I took three quarters of a pound off. Vividly I remember sitting last night, nibbling at a Cumberland Pie, after wolfing an entire Quiche topped up with wholemeal bread and lashings of fruit. Do you know what I thought? I thought, "My God - this is the first time I've felt full for nearly eight months."

    It was a good feeling, full, but of course the downside was that I'd have to face the scale this morning. How I was put on this planet to suffer, I tell you. But it was good. Alles gut.

    Strange sort of night, really. I stayed a little longer and later in the Port, inhaling more litres than usual of passive smoke, and this really went for my tubes overnight. "The pipes the pipes are calling..." Abba's greatest hits from some bronchi near you! (Those of you still old-fashioned enough to smoke will know of what I speak.)

    Twenty two days to the ban. My entire focus is not to catch lung cancer in the next three weeks, which of course would be just my luck. House!

    Have lovely weekends, all. I hope to too. Snow! Who would have thought it?


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    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

    Oh go on then. Five minutes. I'm too good to you people, do you know that?

    Today is achingly gorgeous. Sunny and blue! And of course that means only one thing. But I've also got to fit in lunch wit me homegirls Babs and Sandra. Busy me. Busy little bee.

    Did I ever tell you how good it is to be alive?

    Sniffing Around Waterstones

    On Tuesday I went book shopping. I wanted something on exercise bikes. Ideally, something called "Exercise Bikes for the Over Fifties". But no. There were no exercise bike books. Not for any age. Clearly I will have to write one.

    Then I looked for a book on cat psychology, the better that I might understand zoe's behaviour, but nada on that front either. Miaow. (Did you know they have two completely different languages - one for humans and one for other cats? How fascinating is that?)

    Atchoooo!

    Oh - I never told you about my latest allergy cure. Readers who've been around for the medium haul will know that last summer I discovered and patented a cure for grass pollen allergy.

    And what is that cure?

    Well, I can tell you. It's total immersion. If you go into the longest and most pollen-drenched grass you can find, your nose will dry up like a faucet with a brand new washer. Guaranteed.
    "That to treat your hay fever you have to do nothing more than simply walk in long grass. This will protect for three to four days, and then you repeat as required." Full article
    Again on Tuesday, after I came in from the Port, I decided to put my recent allergic rhinitis in the test lab again. Suspecting it was from zoe, this is what I did...

    SNIFFIN' PUSSY

    When I picked her up for the baby cuddles which she loves (for ninety seconds - awwwwwww), this time I tried something different, something extra and very scary. I took my nose and buried it deep in her back And then inhaled. Snnniiiiffffffffffff. Just like Bill Clinton never did with the marijuana. You have no idea how much courage it took to do that.

    And the results of this gross and grotesque example of fur abuse?

    Well, my nose was certainly tingly for a while. Overnight, in fact. But no, I didn't sneeze at all. Not once. And now I hope I've got it sussed.

    Total immersion. Consult your GP before attempting any remedies you read on this website. Doctors make you worse. Pity I was never allergic to sex.

    Letter From America

    This just in from Brett in Florida:
    Never heard of saying "white rabbits" over here, and it's after midnight now, so I guess I missed it. But you can bet that on March fifteenth I will hear someone say, "the ides of March". Julius, I hardly knew ye.

    Went to see an Irish Variety Show at the local parish hall last night. It was like when a circus comes to town. You are amazed that they still exist in these days of wall-sized televisions.

    We had a silver-haired comedian telling Irish drunk jokes, a harmonica player doing "Danny Boy" and "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", a Welsh harpist, (who did remind us about St. David's day), a lone young female step-dancer, and a balladeer who sang about prison ships and Botany Bay, (aargh, effing Brits! :)). I had to admire them. They managed to get our somewhat geriatric audience to clap and sing.

    The azaleas decided to go ahead and bloom. Though I have seen a cold snap in March before, I don't think we will get one now. If the daffodils come up, Spring will have come. Our tabbies, Henry and Serena, are excited, and dash outside to enjoy the remains of the day when we get home from work.
    Thanks, Brett.


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    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    WHITE RABBITS!

    Vividly I remember being tucked up in bed with my mother (I was very young) and her suddenly saying white rabbits. "You have to say it on the first of March," she explained. "Brings good luck."

    Another day she said, "It's budget day today." "What's budgie day?" I asked. "No, not budgie, budget," she corrected. "It's when things go up."

    To this day I can't hear the phrase "budget day", without recalling those words.

    And that is everything I remember of my mother's bed sayings.



    Happy St David's Day to all my Welsh readers! (Oh - we're much more global now. It's unlikely my mother would have had much more than the slightest notion of Wales, back then in the grimy black forties.) Apparently the Queen is going to open some building or other, but from the News this morning it didn't look even half way finished. Gonna have to rush.

    Paucity of Post

    Sorry no Naked Blog much lately. Just two since last Wednesday, which is pretty damn shocking when you think about it. You didn't pay those hefty annual subs just to get two posts a week, I truly swear it.

    So what have I been up to? Where has the NB eye been roaming? Well - everywhere and nowhere, baby. The acute rhinitis of Sunday went just as quickly as it came, and yesterday my dancing feet twinkled their way up the icy grass to the top of Arthur's Seat again, to relish that Arctic blast uninterrupted. Clear line of sight to the North pole. But me, I had on my mountain jacket and the new Swiss boots, plus I know every nook and cranny which gives the best shelter. It was certainly bracing though, I will say that.

    One young woman just had a cardigan on. She was turning blue in front of my face. In a (heterosexual) novel I'm sure I'd have rescued her or summat, lived happily ever after, but instead I just told her which way to descend for maximum warmth. In the by now quite powerful sun. I know - just three weeks to the spring equinox! Seems like yesterday it was the solstice.

    Must rush now - work beckons. If you get there in time there's delicious cooked breakfasts at just 30p per item. Was in Dixons looking at laptops yeterday. Been on the Dell site too. Watch this space. Dixons had a telly for just 7,999 pounds. Size of a living room wall. Times like that I wish I'd stuck in at school.

    Oh, silly me. I did.


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