Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Friday, April 28, 2006

CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN




"I'm getting a bit bored with the Pentlands, Stew," I said to him yesterday as we descended Wesk Kip. Already we'd done Scald Law, which at 579m has not only a Trig Point, but GPS beacon also. It helps calibrate the planet, sort of thing. A text came from Scott in Hamburg. Thirty metres descent then only thirteen back up took us south to South Black Hill. (There are two Black Hills, and we're nowhere near Dakota.)



Gentle descent while I pummelled my brand new trekking poles enthusiastically and then a quite steep climb to East Kip - almost a scramble. My first taste of poled ascent, and it was ace. You stick those poles in and then pull on them like they were ropes. Makes it a four-limb experience, rather than the usual, long-suffering two.
I'm conscious in writing this that I could lose my every reader. I know that most of you do nothing more energetic than press the remote. I'm aware you come here purely to read my despair which makes your own life that bit more bearable. ("Well at least I'm not him.") And here I am glowing with actual health - doing more in a day than you could manage in a week. It's just not right, godammit. Some things should never change.)
Stretched out on the mossy grass, with the bluest of skies between me and God, inhaling that sweet aroma, I waited for Stewart to catch up. Then it was down a bit and up a bit to West Kip (551m). This one was a bit scary to the left, so I bore off right, while Stew (59) danced like a young thing on the peak. "I'm the king of the castle!" he sang. "I hate it," I replied, not looking. Never did like heights.

We found a nice gentle path back to the car then, parked all day in a layby. We passed sheep with their lambs, not seeming to gambol all that much. One went on to its mother's teat, but she flopped down on the grass on her stomach, denying him. So it climbed on her back instead. "That lamb will go far," I mused to Stewart.

Big Ben

And it was after a few refreshing pints in the Port that the idea struck. "We've essentially outgrown the Pentlands now," I said to him. "We need a proper Ben - a Munro." (Stewart is 60 next Thursday. We should really complete a Munro before then.)(Munros are Mountains in Scotland higher than 3000 feet.) The one we did last week, Ben Ledi, is 40m smaller, and classed as a Corbett, after Ronnie Corbett the diminutive Scottish comedian. There's also a class called Marylins, to chime with Munro. Scald Law is a Marylin, as is Arthur's Seat.

"Stuc a' Chroin," Stewart texted me later. ("Peak of Terror") But I don't fancy it. Too terrifying. Maybe I'll stick to my Pentlands.

More pics, starting with Mary the legendary landlady seen for the first time ever in a pinny.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

PAINT YOUR LOCAL

Yes, it's over now. The annual painting of the Port o Leith Bar. This involves taking down about 40 flags and washing them. Removing and storing the same number of pictures. Scrub, paint and replace. This is not for the faint-hearted, and certainly not for me, who is more than happy to hide until the whole thing is restored to its rightful chaos.

Traditionally the flags were managed by (original) John Macaulay, aided by Mark Torrance, but apparently he's back in Spain so this year's decorating dollies were Eilidh (rhymes with daily), Jill, Sandra and Little Alex. It's an overnight thing. Much bonding.



Alex was still there in mid afternoon when I breezed in with my Scholl Air Pillo Gel Insoles. (Buy two, get one free from Boots.) I gave the free one to Ashley, Alex's girlfriend. They're great for knees. Before I could say, "Hi, dudes," Alex jumped from his seat and plonked a smacker of a kiss right on my cheek. He really is such a tease that boy. And in very high spirits, I could see from his eyes. "Fuck them," he cried, pointing vaguely at some other queens, " - I'm gonna buy you a drink. Sit down there." Well, with that level of instruction it would be unhelpful to disagree, so sit there I duly did.

He told me of his exciting but unbloggable plans for the future. We talked loads. Ashley went outside for a fag, and came back with this woman from South Africa. Smokers really do make loads of new friends these days. Far more sociable. While us non-smokers are left alone at the bar, staring at our smoke-free pints. Honestly it's true. There you are chatting away, then suddenly they're up and off with barely a word.

Fissures of Men

Kinnon came in with Gus the dog. "How was college?" I asked him. "Never went," he replied. "Had to get my anal fissure looked at." I told him gay men get them all the time, but just grimace and get on with it. Straight men can be such wimps. Andy Lyon said this was a shocking conversation, but I said all I did was ask him about college.

Gus loves getting his bottom jaw stroked, under the mouth. Just like the zoecat. I'm such a pet person these days. Tomorrow Stew and me are going up the Pentlands with Craig the barman. I got some trekking poles from Lidl. Fifteen quid a pair. Plus they had two-man tents for just a tenner, but I'd feel a bit odd in a two-man tent with Stew. Maybe Alex.


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Monday, April 24, 2006

BECAUSE WE CAN




Tons more pics on my flickr page. Try the slideshow. It's brilliant.
Ben Ledi
Ramblers' Association
Trekking Poles


Update Tuesday

Got many of the pics up now. The first face you will see is Tell, just because he was the last person snapped last night. He's a honey, as you can see. Then there's yesterday's Ben Ledi stunt, then last Monday's Pentlands. Not up yet is the first Pentlands trip, where Stew and I dodge the bullets of Troops in Training, and get chased by a field full of bored cows. You will, if you look out for it, see "looking down on rainbows", as well as some full Scottish reservoirs. No hosepipe bans here. Quite the reverse.

Today the body is pleasantly knackered, like having been run over by a steam-roller, or bathed in Class A's. We're doing intensive rest.


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Sunday, April 23, 2006

LONDON MARATHON - WHO GIVES A SHIT?

...well, apart from Paula Radcliffe, I guess. And she isn't even in it this year.

Perspective is all - maybe twenty minutes highlights would be acceptable. But five hours and twenty minutes non-stop of prime time BBC 1 TV, paid for by me, is surely some sort of joke. Shurely?

Running, as I coincidentally described in yesterday's post, is something you do, not watch. To watch running is terminally sad. Almost, but quite as, sad as watching football.

Tomorrow Stewart and I are walking/climbing Ben Ledi in the Trossachs. Doing, not watching on the telly. There is a difference, I can assure you. So why don't you join in? Get off your sweet derrieres and mingle with the universe.

(It's Bob Dylan night (repeated) on BBC 4 tonight. Now that is something you should watch, simply because you can't be Bob Dylan. Am I being a touch strident with this post? Like a fish-person?


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Friday, April 21, 2006

QUEEN AT 59 SHOCK!

"Hi this is Stewart," he phoned me on my mobile yesterday teatime. "How d'ya fancy the Trossachs tomorrow?" "Well, I fancy them loads, but I also fancy still being employed the day after," was my reluctant reply. Sadly Friday is bingo day bigtime. I don't do that much, but what little I do do I should really turn up for. Shame.



Stewart is taking to all this hill-walking like an H5 N1 virus to a Whooper Swan. Alldi's yesterday, where he purchased new boots, trekking pole and a compass, all with change from twenty quid. I tried to conceal my jealousy. My, "Why didn't you take me?" pleading, whining.

There was a plan, a kind of sketchmap of ambition, that yesterday we would do some more Pentland stuff. Tackle Scald Law, which at 579m is the crowned summit of the range. But no. My heart said yes, but the knees said rest a little more. My knees are my Achilles' Heel - always have been. Had to give up distance running because of knees. Took up cycling instead though, which is almost as good but not quite. You very rarely get a "high" from cycling, which is just as well, as there's the traffic to contend with. Pesky.

High As A Kite

Running highs are frequent and quite sublime though. Jogging along Portobello seafront in the sunset, the deserted part, sloshing the sweat around your front, silently singing, "Karma, Karma, Karma, Karma Karma... " (you know the one). And then it hits you. Sometimes. Usually when it does it's about the forty minute mark, as your effort suddenly becomes effortless. One with nature. All of creation. Mouth wide open "being breathed", rather than doing it yourself. Like a horse's mouth. Body gliding on air, ecstatic. Your problems on hold, as for the moment you realise just what and why this life is all about.

It can last some minutes, that moment, and then it goes again, and the run once more becomes you and the universe, separate but still on good terms.

That's why people run, for those of you who've often wondered why. And that's what I very much suspect will happen soon on the mountains. They're not called "peak experiences" for nothing.

Pour me another one quick

But back to earth, and the more typical less than healthy living. (You can't and shouldn't spend all of your life being healthy, you know. Many of the unhealthy things are very good fun indeed, and you shouldn't deny them. Balance is all.)

Tina "Turntable" the DJ was on sparkling form in the Port yesterday. She told me that she and Jill the barmaid are going on a bike rally with Scott and Andy. "I think it's the first time they've taken girls," she said, smiling as she passed by for an outside fag. "I guess Little Alex has got bumped," I joked.

Norrie the fireman was there, and he berated me for taking a week off from Naked Blog. I know, I said. And it's hit my pocket really hard. Pisstake. I give my great organ away fer nowt, you know that. I mean, who would buy it anyway?

He told me his son wants to be a movie director and I said he should encourage him. He said he'd prefer it if he got a regular job. I said phooey to that. If you don't have a dream.



Sandra's daughter Laura, meanwhile, has formed a band and they've made their first self-penned record. Still barely into High School, they've already got a gig opening this year's Leith Festival in Ocean Terminal Mall. Today a Mall, tomorrow Shea Stadium. I mean, look at the Beatles. I told Laura to keep up the song-writing, as that's where the dosh resides.

Sandra and I had drinks and coffee in the Ocean Bar, but she would sit outside to smoke, and it was effing freezing. I lent her my gloves, but then I saw smoke going on them, so demanded them back. Later we went to Au Naturale and then Marks and Spencer Simply Food. I looked for the cheap sushi to share with her, but the cheapest one was three pounds twenty five, and you could get a pint for less than that. Maybe I came over as a bit cheapskate, but I really am pretty poor most of the time. People just think I'm loaded for some reason. Dunno why. Can't be the clothes. Just because you can speak grammatically doesn't guarantee riches.

(Zoe's just jumped on my knee for a kiss and a cuddle. She really is a wee sausage.) I got her a very large toothed rubber brush and she hated it. Yet the fine-tooth flea comb she adores. Comb! Comb! Purr! Purr! (I stress that Madame doesn't possess even one flea. It's just a handy comb for getting rid of that pesky hair.) I mean, would you like to be swallowing hairballs as you shower?

Yesterday I bought her some new type of food. Ocean Fresh, by Whiskas. "Sixty percent real fish!" To be honest, it looks and smells a bit like that old-fashioned stinky red Kit-e-Kat in tins. And she's being a bit picky over the Tuna (55%) with Salmon (5%) variety already. Usually hunger kicks in and she eventually gobbles it off though. You've got to try new things, or life would be very dull indeed, n'est-ce pas?

Found My Bearings

Yesterday I did a complete course in map and compass navigation. (My magnetic declination is four degrees and fourteen minutes West, incidentally.) Then right at the end of the book it said that a GPS would replace map and compass and be even better. Scott's got one already. Wonder how much they cost.

Stewart's talking about Ben Ledi in the Trossachs for Monday. He was up Arthur's Seat yesterday. Texted me from the top, as you do. I told him not to overstretch his body, as he's sixty next month. Got dodgy toes.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED

So every day I say to myself, "Must do some blog today," and every day recently I don't.

Por qua non?

Haven't a scoobies. Or, rather, hadn't until today. Four in the morning - and then it hit me like a cliche. Almost rushed through to pour myself out on to paper, but foreswore, in case of any mice.

So what did you think in the night, Enlightened Master?



Well, I can tell you. And there is a clue, a big clue which no-one apparently got - in the previous but one post. The one where I tell you my life increased by a notch or two that day. Because that day - that day - Stewart and I walked in the Pentland Hills. And that is something I can never share with you.

Por qua non?

Here's one of mike's fave quotes from my organ.
"I want to walk the forest path, and then, if it's within my range, I want you to walk it with me."
You can think of Naked Blog as one long forest path, if that will help you understand. Metaphorically.

But now, in the space of less than a fortnight, the metaphoric has become all too literal. I truly am walking on hills, ducking through thickets, climbing barbed wire fences, watching the dippers bouncing on the streams, counting how many lambs each ewe has got, dodging the storms and hoping there's no lightning. And looking down on rainbows from my earned and rightful place.

Mmmm. Sounds brill. Tell us more, tell us more!



And that, dear NB fan, is where the story ends. I can't. It's beyond my range, and beyond this medium in any case. The correct - the only - medium for Pentland walks is the moving camera and the microphone. All else is gaslight... the chapter on chapter of tedious gurge that Walter Scott churned out with gay abandon. Or the penshite "Country File" that provincial newspapers are so besotted with, beside the crossword and sudoku. No - there may well be those who can convey the majesty of the universe in Times New Roman, but this dude isn't one of them. This is a people blog. Other stuff you can, and do, get elsewhere.

And what do you mean by "people blog", great scribe?

I mean the motley crew I'm blessed with every day. Port people. Village people. Work people. My bingo ladies. You don't need to be a writer to serve up that stuff - they write the column for you. All you have to do is select, highlight, contextualise and type it up. They write Naked Blog. You're just the typist.

So which one features the most? Who is the star?

Me! Me! Me!

Well - me of course. And that's not because I'm any more interesting - far from it - just that I know myself better than any of those, and true knowledge leads to good writing. And hopefully good reading. Plus - and this is key - with my own life I can judge what to include and what to omit. Or leave for another time. With friends and colleagues you're constantly guessing what's acceptable and what's just plain intrusive. That's why you get here people's "dailies", but almost never their backstories. Their lives are their own. If they wish to tell you they'll get their own blogs, I'm sure.

What's all that got to do with the Pentlands? Sounds a bit odd to me.

Well, you see - because I've been writing "people" for so long now, I can say without too much false modesty that I've become fairly good at it. Depression is a wonderful source also. "There's no torment in my life right now," I said to Stewart at the summit of Cairketton last week. "And torment makes great blog." Plus it's really quite easy. Nature however, is a different kettle of fish. The hills are sadly not alive. They don't give good quote. They're not a bunch of extroverts hoping to get picked. You - you the writer - have to do all the work yourself.

There may well be geniuses of pen who can take you on that wonderland with them. Sharing their joy at the ten thousand things. There may be those. But this isn't one of them. I don't think. And I'm not sure at my time of life I want to tackle a whole new genre, when I'm already quite comfortable in the one I've got. So no - NB hasn't gone, not yet, at least. Just so sad I can't share this great bliss with you.

Thank you for those answers, Great Master. Now off you go and play with your new Silva compass. Life might depend on it some day soon.


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Monday, April 17, 2006

WHAT'S THE POINT?

Nine years you beaver away like a ferret, and all you end up with is arseholes trying to use your comment box to flog cigarettes. And other arseholes telling you you're lying about your weight.

La dolce vita?

La A list?

La red sofa?

I don't think so.

What's the point?


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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

FACES AND PLACES

Tam Dean Burn was in the Port last night, Stewart told me, pointing surreptitiously.

Who he?

Scottish sleb, currently in River City, which you probably haven't seen either. River City here means Glasgow, but that's a bit confusing, as almost all cities have rivers.

Fiona Macaulay was chatting to him (with his pointy bald head he looks not unlike that one in Star Trek). Then she chatted to me. We kissed. Normally when we kiss she grabs either my cock or my nipples - but this time she licked the inside of my lips with her tongue. Nice move. Left me speechless as she swished into the ladies. Julie Duffield was there too. All our yesterdays. Well, early nineties, to be honest. "You're looking good," I said to her, truthfully. "So are you," Julie replied, less so, but kindly meant.

Chapter and Worse

Bought a book to go with my new reading glasses. Something by Christopher Brookmyre - Be My Enemy.
Daily Express: "The most mischievous white-knuckle writer on the bookshelf."
Observer: "Hiaasen is one of America's finest satirists. Brookmyre is Britain's."
Arena: "Brookmyer segues from comedy to thriller without missing a beat."
Naked Blog: "I have now read thirty six pages of Mr Brookmyre, and am unlikely to read a thirty-seventh."
Honestly - I kid you not - Brookmyre is unreadable shite.



Take this:
Vale laughed, a sonorous, chesty cackle that was part tormentor and part amused parent. It rattled round the inside of the Land Rover like a trapped bat.
Not sure which is worse - his metaphors or his similes.

The entire Chapter One was a conversation. Stilted, banal, about as lifelike as Tellytubbies. People speaking in half-page chunks. In Chapter two a dude escapes from his prison ship. Should have taken half a page - took instead a whole chapter. Then, our hero, a journalist, appears and is given an asssignment by his editor. How long does this simple instruction last? That's right - an entire chapter.

Michty me! Am I missing something about Mr Brookmyre? If there's some Observer-praised satire then it sure flies right over my head. No, Christopher Brookmyre can't write to save himself, and so far has got away with it. Sadly Waterstones don't do refunds, but I can always give it to Chest, Stroke and Heart. One of which I'm bound to suffer if I attempt to continue.

Silly Moo

Looked at Pentland Hills Maps also, my main reason for going to Waterstones. Ordnance Survey Pathfinder: Two and a Half Inches to the Mile. Shit! It was just like being back at school geography. All those contours! Couldn't for the life of me trace where Stew and me got lost on Monday though, so didn't buy the map. I'll get something simpler, preferably depicting barbed wire fences and cows. Stew's even thinking around a compass. How outdoorsy is that? Next thing we'll be on the front of Saga magazine.

Little Alex said cows don't bite - they just give your hand a real good suck if you put it in their mouth. He said they've got tongues a foot long. Andy Lyon told him you're just wanting to be in Naked Blog tomorrow. Alex always gives good copy. Christopher Brookmyre should meet him.

Pentland photos soon. They rock!


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Monday, April 10, 2006

TWO GO MAD IN THE PENTLANDS

Brilliant day today - absolutely fucking spectacular. Transcendent. Walking in the Pentlands with Stewart. Dodging fields full of cows. Clambering over barbed wire fences like there was no tomorrow. Mixing it up later in the Port with Alex and Scott and Andy and Ashley - Alex's girlfriend who at last consents to appear in my organ.

More tomorrow of course - complete with loads of photo-roman.

A picture speaks a thousand words, they say. And they weren't wrong. But oh how nice to have some interesting words between the pictures!

Love you all to fragments and tiny portions. Wasn't that a great Dusty Springfield show last night on the South Bank?



Today I upgraded my life by a notch. Maybe two. The outdoors always put you in your place, which is very small. You should try it. Seriously, you should. Pics tomorrow.


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Sunday, April 09, 2006

PHOTO DUMP ROMAN

Here are the long-promised and much-awaited pics of Stewart's and my trip to Rosslyn Chapel last week, as featured in the Da Vinci Code book and movie. Rosslyn Chapel is outside the village of Roslin, which in turn is outside Edinburgh. Roslin's most famous son is Big Straight Al. There's also Roslin Glen featuring the River Esk. Enjoy. Adore, even. Your mouse pointer will give the commentary.






























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Friday, April 07, 2006

BIRD FLU SPECIAL! SCOTLAND GOES APE!!

Oh yes. In the seventies it was the Bay City Rollers. Eighties brought nothing less than Taggart on TV! Nineties were all about Trainspotting and Naked Blog. And now the latest thing to come out of Scotland - the all-singing, all-dancing H5N1 (Need to think of a better name that that, btw.) McVirus?



Yesterday started well and got better. Pure, dead brilliant. After dashing off some Naked Blog for you...

...Oh, and thanks to starry commenter Astrophysics for this, straight from the streets of viral Cellardyke. (Cellar dyke? Can't even give them away...)
LETTER FROM CELLARDYKE

I loved how the national news descibes Cellardyke as "a beauty spot".
I have been there; my father lives there, and a beauty spot it is not. Instead, a wasteland village with every second home owned as a 'holiday home' or 'second home' it most definitely is. The local population are outnumbered by the foreigners in their midst. A great shame really.
Thanks to Astrophysics. Naked Blog, as ever, bringing you the news other agencies just don't get.



...after dashing off yesterday's NB, Sandra, Cherry and I trotted up Arthur's Seat for some rest and recreation. It was very windy, however, and Sandra didn't want to go right to the top. When I say very windy, I mean so windy you could (and I did) stretch your arms out and get a shove up the hill from behind. Act your shoe size. It's the only way.

Later I discovered a new path, and lo and behold we walked right into the arms of a Park Ranger, Heather. We told her about our rescue by Hebe last year, and she was most impressed. Hebe is on six month's leave, she told us. "My God - did we do that to her!?!" I merrily quipped.



Couple of pints in The Regent, where I explained about Delta 32 mutation to Alan the owner. Then Stewart, fresh from his gig at Al's funeral on Tuesday.

We went to Rosslyn Chapel in the village of Roslin just outside Edinburgh. We went there because the Da Vinci movie comes out this month, and after that the place will be booked a year ahead. But we missed it by one hour. They were closing an hour early to allow the access road to get newly tarmaced, to accommodate masses of visitors.

My first trip to Rosslyn Chapel was all of fifteen years ago, with a couple of colleagues of the time. That church is seriously, utterly and totally freaky. It's full of non-Christian symbolism, pagan and masonic especially, and bears about as much relation to Christianity as I do. That is, very little. Even the name, Rosslyn, is thought to mean "Rose Line", which is in turn said by some to be the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. (Shit - I'm telling you all the plot.)



A few months ago, Tom Hanks was there filming the Da Vinci movie. "Ooh - Tom Hanks will have drivien along this very road!" I gasped at Stewart, starstruck. "Yes, and soon your bottom might be on a pub seat that he sat on," Stew replied, alcohol never far from his mind. He told me later about achieving Zen through alcohol. "That's not Zen," I said, " - that's a booze habit."

We do have fun.

So - the church was all but closed, but by force of assertiveness (and cheek) we managed to get a couple of stills and some video.

Wee Bit Hill and Glen

To Roslin Glen, then, and much steepness and cliff edge terror. I'd been led to believe that no birds sing in Roslin Glen, because of advanced creepiness of the Chapel, but this is a lie. There was a definite chorus of
"Only fat birds get Avian Flu,
And we're so skinny, skinny dum-doo!"
coming from the tree tops. Most cheering and endearing. Stewarts's worried about pigeon shit on his balcony. "It's fresh very day," he said. "You'll need to get a bio-suit", I replied.

(I have to stress that this Cellardykes joint is only about ten miles from our homes, as the crow flies. Swan flew over the cuckoo's nest.)

Port in a Storm

Port in the evening - only my second visit since Big Al left the planet. Kevin argued vociferously with me about bird flu. "Humans can't catch it," he kept repeating like a mantra. "They said exactly that about mad cow disease," I volleyed every time, but to no avail. Kevin was beyond that reason. A drunken old hippie shouted I was wrong to be cynical about the government. I told him to fuck off. Duncan from the Newtown brought in some homemade cake. I chatted about cats with Glen. Gary D is now in some bar at Portobello seafront. I've booked a kitten for zoe from Trevor's cat. She isn't actually pregnant yet, but she's intact and goes out at night. Party girl, and why not? Tooth and claw.

Betcha a fiver to a brick shithouse that H5N1 spreads to cats and rats. Betcha.

(Photos here at some point. I got twenty. Need a secretary, really truly I do.)


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Thursday, April 06, 2006

SWANNING ABOUT

Yes, it's true. From the people who brought the UK all-day drinking, Sunday shopping, the Poll Tax, and now the smoking ban - we serve up today a new Scottish first. BIRD FLU. Yes - it's in Fife. In Cellardyke swans, which later today Sandra and I will be gazing at from the top of Arthur's Seat.

Just across the water.

Swan Lake

These pictures illustrate the devastating effect this infection could cause in the indigenous swan population.

Here are fine Scottish swans gambolling in the spring sun recently. Soon this pond could be as empty as my social diary.

Government scientists on BBC Breakfast this morning assured the nation that it's "perfectly safe" to continue to eat eggs and chicken.

This of course means, "You fuckers eat them, but me I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole." Those of us with functioning memories will recall exactly the same being said about mad cow meat. Different government; same scientists. One O-level in biology and they think they can tell us what to do.



What's the world coming to, I ask? Here's Brett from Florida with his latest newsletter. It's about cats and the Scottish influence in Florida:
LETTER FROM AMERICA #3

We have got cat treats here called WHISKAS TEMPTATIONS TREATS.

"Tasty crunchy outside, and an irresistible soft centre. 'Shake' the pouch, and watch your cat come running. FEEDING INSTRUCTIONS: "Feed WHISKAS TEMPTATIONS anytime to your cat or kitten. Provide fresh water at all times." They come in several "flavours", but that doesn't seem to make a difference. There is some kind of cat crack in them that drives my felines wild.

It's true. They come running. Mr. Henry can be sacked out at the back of the house, and if I try to quietly slip some to Miss Cleo, the slightest crinkling noise of the pouch being opened alerts Mr. Henry. And the pouch is very crinkly, probably designed that way.

Being the head of our cat household, he feels he is entitled to a share of any issue of cat rations, and he jealously guards this privilege.



I had occasion to visit your fair land today in my researches. Someone wanted to know the origin of a local street name, "Blairstone Road". Blair, as you will know, is a Scottish surname, and I located a place called Blairstone or Blairston Mains over near Ayr. (OED: Mains = demesne land. Probably cognate with manse.)

After we were thrashed by the Yankees in our Civil War, great numbers of northerners and immigrants from the British Isles came to Florida, lured by the sunny climate and the opportunity to be gentleman planters growing oranges. The notorious Aleister Crowley recorded a dismal stay with relations in Florida on such a plantation in his memoirs, I recall.

Anyway, whether it was due to nostalgia or a desire to give their raw settlements a manorial dignity, we have in Florida many Scottish place-names. We have our own Inverness, our own Dunedin.

And then there is golf. No more would golfers have to slog across the Scottish heath for their sport. In Florida, golf found its Arcadia, or I should say, its Valencia. We stayed once, for the sake of a family celebration, in an atrocious golf resort called the Mission Inn. All stucco and barrel-tiled roofs, with tartan curtains in the rooms. Spanish Colonial meets Lochnagar. Amazing.
Thanks, Brett


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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

GOOD MORNING WORLD!

Fun and games this morning already, as you'll see from the postlet below.

Here's the jackanory. At 7.20am (zoe had woken me, the minx) Declan Curry on BBC Breakfast did a blog feature. A dude came on and set up live a Blogger blog for him.

Well, I thought. BBC is normally tighter than a nun's private part over letting the public loose on its publications - so what will happen with this? I trolled through to the study, didn't I, stopping only to give zoe her breakfast of Whiskas Hake and Trout with Felix Crisps as a side. (Felix Crisps are little crunchy biscuits that mimic mouse bones. You mix them with the meat. Cats go ape. Crunch! Crunch! You couldn't make it up.)

And lo! There was Declan's blog, and it was accepting comments. So would it accept mine? They'd disabled the "comment as other user" feature, which puts your URL behind your name, so I had to resort to blunt HTML to get my message across. The message being simply, "read Naked Blog; it's the dog's bollocks". Whoring. No other word for it. Belle's got nothing on me when I'm in the mood.

And that is about that. And now Declan's blog will have dropped right off the radar, without the Beeb to push it. Fun, nevertheless. And hi Declan if you're reading. You might enjoy this story, from last August. It's about you and Bill.

Hi Ho

Readers who pay attention will recall my resigning some time back. They might legitimately wonder what's happened since. Am I still at the bingo, or have I accepted a position more suited to my talents now? Chairman of the BBC, sort of thing?

Well, my chickadees - you'll just have to remain in suspenders. For a while. Clearly reality blogging can only go so far. Life and death are one thing (two actually), but work is something else. You ask that Alan Sugar.

I could kill for a nice haircut.


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BBC BREAKFAST

Welcome to readers of Declan's new blog! What you've just experienced is a nifty bit of advanced blog technique called comment-box whoring. (Sorry if the word offends, but that really is what it's called.)

Comment-box whoring is dropping comments on high traffic blogs, in order to attract some readers to yourself. Now - the blog you're currently looking at is one of the top blogs on the planet - BBC broadcast, Guardian-listed, and a finalist in this year's Bloggies, the Weblog Oscars.

So I don't need to whore around comment boxes. But this morning I just fancied doing that... (a) to see if I'd get away with it, and (b) for a laugh.

Read on, s'il vous plait. You join us yesterday at the funeral of a good friend in Leith, near Edinburgh, Scotland...


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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

ALMOST THERE

I'm shattered. Can't take any more death. Yesterday I climbed Arthur's Seat, but didn't eat a radish. Seem to have put on weight, nevertheless. Regent Bar was glorious, smoke-free, but a small lesbian thought it was dreadful. She said she was still gagging on one even after just smoking outside. I pretended slight sympathy.

Me, I've had bronchitis all week, after walking in the rain so much last Tuesday. Thinking about Al. Think I've got lung cancer, to be honest. Shouldn't have that residual soreness that it has.



Chatted gaily in the Regent. Mostly to Murdo who is straight. Gay men dislike me because of advanced years. Too scary for them. Wrinkles. "Who do you have to fuck to get a drink?" I asked the surrounding men, but I think the bar-girl heard me. Grandmama.

Top of the hill I texted to no-one, and thought about Al. The sun is far further round to the right now. Light almost for ever. Scotland the Brave.

Met a lovely woman called Fiona in the Southern Bar. This smoke-ban is a great ice-breaker. She's got sinusitis. She showed me her book by somebody who used to be in Upstairs Downstairs. Iris. The book, not the writer. I said I'd never seen Upstairs Downstairs, but I did once have a neighbour called Mrs Bridges. Nice she was, but she took a stroke.



To The Village then, as I seemed to be on a number Se7en bus. Dean said how are you and I said I'm going to Al's funeral tomorrow and I said I'm here because I'm not there. There being the Port. His place. His people. Not my place. Not my people. Semper solo. Black Ron came in and we chatted about cats. Cats are a great ice-breaker. For the first time in my life I feel I've got an interest that other people have too.

Back home Babs kindly texted to ask if I wanted to go to the funeral with her, but she wanted to meet in the Port and I just can't do that. Don't know if I'll ever be able to go in there again, to be honest.

Too much death, you see. Gordon, Bob Rennie, Percy, Eley, Shawnie, Al, Ju, and others too numerous to mention. Dead, dead, deader than dead. All known germs. You've lost that Bloated feeling. Wo-oh that Bloated feeling.

Had to switch my phone off, as I was beyond text. Hope Babs wasn't thingmied. This promises to be totally hellish. Oh fuck.

Update: 2.30pm

Well, that's it then. Over.

The funeral was very lovely, as funerals go. Stewart my other Grumpy Old Man started, then it was Scott, and then Andy Lyon. All very butch. There was laughing and clapping.

There was also a sound clip from Al's radio interview on Leith FM, where he talked about "Leithiopia", which I could swear was invented by (original) John Macaulay, but then wtf cares when you're dead?

Babs and I met up by chance outside, so I wasn't totally alone. There were loads of faces from the past twenty years, but I couldn't speak to anyone. Home now. Avoided the pub. Keep having to telling myself that pubs are never smoky any more. Think I'll go to the Regent and then walk in the park with Al - for one last time.

Loved you, man.
Thank you for all your kind comments here over this last week. The funeral topic isn't finished, just biding its time.


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Monday, April 03, 2006

FUNERALS MAKE YOU WORSE

This was a post about the role and place of the funeral ceremony, in general, in the modern world.

I've decided to withdraw it till a less sensitive time.

In the meantime, you can entertain yourself here. It's a godsend for those like me whose Microsoft Freecell is fucked. Yesterday I got into the daily top fifty! (It's my latest bad habit!)

Fascinated by an ad for Activia yoghurt, I think it is, which gets rid of that Bloated feeling. (Their capital.) Me, I've lived for fifty nine years now, and have never met one person who's got that Bloated feeling. Talk about creating a market!

Priscilla Presley was on Breakfast this morning. Poor thing's reduced to flogging bedlinen. Seems Elvis met her when she was fourteen. Met. Now if she'd been a boy, and he'd been called Michael, then what a to-do that would all have been!


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Saturday, April 01, 2006

FOR MARY AND EILIDH

My heart went out to Mary Moriarty yesterday morning, while I watched Thursday's TV film about Dougal Haston. And why was that? Because of all the footage of her late husband, Jim "Eley" Moriarty, schoolfriend and early climbing companion of Haston, the legendary Scottish climber.

What it must be like, seeing and hearing your husband, dead not one year, so vividly displayed on the telly I can only imagine. And all in the week of her friend Al's death also.

These are tricky times. And all of the above also in spades for Eilidh (rhymes with daily) Moriarty, his daughter.

Really, really wish I'd known all that about Jim while he was still alive. Mountains hold a great fascination for many armchair mountaineers like myself. You can read Jim's obits on the wall of the Port o Leith Bar.


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