Hi again. This blog is getting a bit intermittent, which will never do. Keep it legal, keep it interesting, but most of all keep it coming, as I say to my blog students. But more of that later. We're talking PhD, btw.
Yesterday was a day off, which often generates good blog. So here's hoping. I'd so much to do, so very much... duties and responsibilities stretching back even to last year, not to mention a leaking roof. So I decided to do none of them at all, and head off into the hills instead! Quelle surprise!
The downside was that it took the entire morning to grant myself permission to do that, so I didn't set foot in Bonaly (aka Stepford) at the south face of the city, until a little after twelve. Some German scouts were doing an orienteering task. "Gruppe" I saw on one of them's chest. So I knew they were German. Later I was taking a discreet pee on a tree when I suddenly noticed their chief scout (Gruppenfuhrer?) hiding behind another tree close by, clutching his Explorer map. I came that close to peeing on him. That close.
The higher I got, the windier it became. Three women came past my luncheon stile on horses. Last time, if you recall, it was two cyclists. I opened the gate for them. Very grateful. Men who're turned on by wicked leather boots on t-shirted women would have got a right stiffie I can tell you.
But I refuse to divulge what my eyes briefly landed on. Refuse.
Not a Painted Ship
Climbed Capelaw Hill as a starter for ten. So fucking windy, had to put my fleece on. Couldn't even place the trekking poles without them being blown. And that is windy. They've got almost no profile.
I decided the twin railway line sculpture I mentioned a week or so ago would double nicely as a lightning conductor, should one be caught out on the mesa-style mountain. All you would have to do would be to lie down beside it for complete safety. Not to say the best fuck-off view of a lightning strike you've ever had in your life, or would have again. Think about it. Ker-powwww!!!
My imagination will be the death of me, I truly do swear it.
Upon A Painted Ocean
Disappointed now - at the wind. Capelaw where I was is just a baby hill (454m). On top of Old Smokey it would be much, much windier, and I just wasn't sure I could be bothered struggling to stand up for the rest of the day. Decided to cut the losses and head off over Allermuir Hill and Caerketton Hill back to Hillend and the number 4 bus. Still get a wee bit ascent, and then something of an afternoon back in town. Mebbe go in the Port and get some hot gossip for you.
Fitness is an asset which quickly depreciates.
Well - none of the above came to pass. And the reason is I saw another walker coming down from Allermuir, and what did he do but set off on a whole new path I'd barely registered before. (West from the stile at NT223660) Well - I had to follow him, now didn't I? My ambition is to discover every last inch of pathway in this Park. Which task should nicely last until I die, and thus avoid doing anything reponsible at all.
I've had enough of responsibilities. Sick of the damn things. This day belongs to me.
Don't go there. The staff can be very rude.
Yes, I was extremely dismayed to be shouted at by a jobsworth young barman for merely eating a jam sandwich in the beer garden. I realise they sell food themselves, which in the past I've ordered and enjoyed with Stewart. But this was simply one mini pork pie (one bite), and half a jam sandwich (three bites max.) And at the time I was the only customer in the beer garden. And I was eating discreetly from my back pack on the seat beside me - not exactly a three course spread with candelabra.
Naughty. "Sorry about that. I won't be back," I declared, returning my undrunk drink, and sweeping towards the door.
"No problem," he said.
I should write to his boss, but why bother when the title of this segment will do far more damage on their Google page. Don't get mad, get even.
My God, I nearly forgot! Just before the unfortunate thing above, I was looking at the posters outside the Flotterstone Ranger Centre. (Another one.) Regular readers (and there are a couple), will be casting me as Ranger Centre Rita at this rate. But no! He spoke to me first!
Yes - it was another park Ranger. Tall, dark-haired, quite David Schwimmer-ish, but in a less Jewish way. And this time I was prepared. Not even slightly dumbstruck. We chatted about the wind, and how the forecast had got it so wrong. I told him of my new path. He hadn't been on it. I told him of my Black Hill day on Monday. He hadn't been up it. By now I was beginning to wonder which one of us was the Ranger!
His name was Martin, I ascertained. We shook hands. Two down. One to go.
Show Me The Way To Go Home
It was four thirty. I was outside the Flotterstone Inn, having vowed never to return, and the next bus homewards wasn't for one hour. Remember - we're on the edge of a bunch of hills. All directions demand significant climbing, and that young man in the pub had so disheartened me. Would I, could I, should I investigate my Holy Grail of the Pentlands - a low walk from Flotterstone to Hillend, missing out two significant ascents?
(Very quickly now, as I'm getting bored too.) It's Flotterstone to Castlelaw. Take the tractor path to the right, and stick close to the fence. Where the tractor veers left, you take the obvious footpath ahead. You cross a tiny muddy burn, and then go under (yes under) a gorse thicket. This is very prickly. There was some sheep shit, but no nettles.
Once through the gorse, strip down and divest of gorse needles. Skin, hair and clothes. Ascend due north. Descend, sticking to the left of the trees. Cross the burn and ascend, heading to the left of the radio mast. Ascend. You'll spot a stile at (NT242654). Take the unmarked path north-east, which is direct to Hillend.
Bob's your uncle. Ninety minutes to two hours. Tell them an old man showed you the way.
Oh yes! No probs with rude staff here. Straight off the bus to spend a fabbo couple of hours with David the off-duty barman and Meg the Lesbian Sandwich Lady. Then later Karina, who's doing a PhD in the poet W S Graham (1918 - 1986). I promised to check him out. She clearly adores him. I told her Naked Blog was more immediate, inasmuch as tomorrow she'd be in it.
Ok then. Karina's doing a PhD in a poet no-one there had ever hear of. Yet no-one was doing a PhD in Naked Blog, which they'd all heard of. Makes yer think. (The author is available to assist with your thesis for the cost of a modest dinner, preferably not at the Flotterstone Inn.)
Haha. Many a true word. Doctor of Blog. I can just see it.
Zoefans will be pleased to note that she's at last stopped shedding hair by the sackful. Now I no longer have to roller my clothes every time I pick her up. We still enjoy our daily grooming sessions of course, just there's not so much hair to pull off the comb.
I tried her with Felix Roasted Selection pouches. It smells so good you could spread it on toast and eat it. But she seems indifferent, preferring the stuff with more traditional "cat-smell". Why oh why do they persist in making food that appeals only to humans?
Anyway - best wishes for a fab weekend from Pentland Pete and zoe.
Wow, and that big ol' sun beats down again today - but this time for me only on my bingo hall. Shame. But never mind - we're more than availing us of its (un)healthy rays.
Being sixty later this year, I've decided to swap "unlined" for "rugged".
Or even "leathery", as my friend Sandra said yesterday. She can be such a cow, but I love her.
We were on Cramond foreshore, walking Cherry the dog. Poor thing has a bit of a limp (Cherry, not Sandra), but S gives her loads of cod liver oil. "Look how far the tide's out!" I said. "We could go on Cramond Island."
Cramond Island is a small uninhabited island in the River Forth. It's tidal, and there's a concrete causeway with safety posts to cling on to in case of drama. Tide tables are displayed there, and we had one and a half hours of safety left.
Gamely we set off across the causeway, me with one eye constantly on the watch, and after twenty mossy minutes we were clambering up the rocky banks. Ages since I've been on an island. Skye was possibly the last one, ages ago, in another life.
There's a lookout station on Cramond Island, facing down the Firth of Forth out to the North Sea, still standing remnant from WW2. We stood inside the concrete, amongst the modern graffiti, fantasising we were 1942 squaddies searching for German boats and planes. Chugging on a Woodbine. Slugging back a crafty bottle of Mackeson stout.
Left the lookout and ascended a small path to the tiny summit, which would be lucky to register 15 metres, and there were some more people. A guy with a bike. A middle-aged woman with a hundred dogs. A younger woman with another hundred.
One of them was really sniffing Cherry's bottom. I mean really. "Nothing like that ever happens to me these days," I mused. "Mebbe if you gave it a biscuit..." Sandra replied. She chased Cherry's suitor away, because, as she explained, they only jump on her back and that hurts her poorly leg.
Hmmm. Some things are worth a bit of discomfort.
Behind the summit the ground dropped away into a small wood. A thicket, you might say. Or copse. Spinney. English is so rich, nicht wahr? And of course I had to go and explore, now didn't I? Act your shoe size, bigtime.
Oh. My. God.
We're talking serious entertainment here. A deserted fireplace in the centre of a small clearing. Beer cans. Glue tubes. Even a Pot Noodle pot. Cramond vistors sure know how to party. Then there was a ruined house! And another one... Honestly, it was like a scene straight out of an Enid Blyton book. I was enchanted. Cherry came to find me, but Sandra stayed at the summit, outside above in the sun.
Oh, I could have stayed for hours, exploring the nooks - and then the crannies. But time and tide wait for no man, woman or dog, so off back to the mainland we set.
Glorious morning - one for the memory banks. Cramond Island. Go there.
Bus number 16 to Hunter's Tryst. Capelaw Hill, Harbour Hill, Bell's Hill, Black Hill. Distance 11.1 miles and 740 metres ascent. About seven hours. Did a wee poo on the top of Bell's Hill (501m).
Stunning views. Eye-aching greenness all around, except, paradoxically on the eponymous Black Hill, redolent with peat as it is and quite black. Or the darkest of green and heather.
Gorse flowers are almost finished now, but floxgloves are here - acre on acre of poisonous purple - humming with juicy bees. Buttercups too, in the less extreme meadows, and just the beginnings of that weedy Rose Bay Willow Herb.
Walked off to Balerno, past Harlaw Ranger Centre - where I met a Pentland Ranger! Oh yes I did! Tall and bronzed and about twenty-five to thirty... bit of stubble, perfect features, brownest of brown eyes, slightly curly hair... not as mad as Andy Murray's... khaki shirt with "Pentland Ranger" round the breast pocket...
Not that I was paying attention, you understand. In fact I took in all the above in just a one second sweep. Then I could barely talk, being so overcome with oomph. The love that dare not speak its name.
Well, don't be surprised if you read here soon about me having to get rescued off a perilous cliff - by Robbie, I've decided to call him. Robbie the Ranger. Kiss of life. I can just see it...
"Popeye - save me!!!!!"
We don't have much money, but etc.
...was Arthur's Seat, which nowadays barely registers on the legometer. But it's a starter for ten, an aperitif, and a fond place in my heart as the hill which got this old body going again - after a twenty year lay-off. So fit. So almost sixty. So not gonna live for ever, but hell - it's not the days of your life, it's the life in your days.
Peel me a grape. Robbie.
Back to yesterday
...and bigups to Little Alex who considerably cheered me up after the upset you can read about below, and add your opinion, s'il vous plait. Sorry I got a bit drunk and bit rude at one point, A. You are a gentleman.
And sorry also the usual photographics have disappeared pro tem. This is because of my new camera, which is so wonderful I can no longer bear to use the old one. Sadly though, the new one doesn't work on Priscilla, who can barely boil me an egg these days.
All these wonderful hilly sights, and all I can do is tell you about them. How writerly. If only I could.
At the top of the mountain I got chatting to this middle-aged couple. Well, I assumed they were a couple. Strange how you do that. I used to tease Stewart that people might think we were some Silver Sodomitic pair ourselves, but he didn't seem to mind. Or, if he did, he didn't let on. He truly is the most hetero man I think I can recall.
But back to my couple. I was pointing out the joys of the Pentland Hills, just over there... so clearly visible. I guessed from their accents they were on holiday. "Ja," the guy kept saying. "Ja, ja."
"Minnesota?" I asked, having just watched Fargo for the umpteenth time the night before. "No, Canada," they laughed. "Is that near Minnesota?" I asked then, genuinely interested. "No - Minnesota's in the United States." (Patiently.)
"But doesn't Canada adjoin the United States," I asked, with equal patience.
This line of enquiry was going nowhere. They said they ran lots of marathons, but the London one was better than the Edinburgh one. I asked their time. Four and a half hours, the woman said. I gave respect for that.
To the Regent then, for the first of what I knew would be many. Or at least several. But it was only two pints of lager, and no crisps. Christine the barlady served me, then stood patiently, chatting. I told her the Regent staff were too nice. That the more typical response elsewhere is, "I've served you, now fuck off." We laughed.
Cliff came in with Tracy his new bird. Well, at least I assumed they were a couple. She seemed very nice. She said she'd seen my face. I said I was quite famous. They said they were going to Mull next month for a holiday. I said be sure to hire some pushbikes, and watch out for the midges.
To the Port and Babs, who needed a quick double brandy to restore her nerves after cooking lunch for Edinburgh's finest firefighters. It's true. That's what she does.
We went to Diner 7 on Commercial Street, near the Cameo, for our own lunch.
Oh dear. Oh dearie dear.
Never in my life have I had such a sad salad as that one. Mozzarella. Four thin slices. About four cherry tomatoes, halved. Three red onion rings. And about half a ton of limp, anonymous greenery. Honestly, I could have done better myself, and I can barely boil an egg, as well you know.
Babs plumped for the lamb and mint sausages, but she came out in nettle rash above her tits. Kinda spoiled her day.
Diner 7 ? Cheap, and the wine was OK. Only fourteen quid for the pair of us, including one drink each. But oh, don't go there if you care about food. Walk on by.
OK - those who're following yesterday's plot will realise we're half way down the page. Mountain, tick. Lunch with Babs, tick.
Next task? Get drunk in the afternoon. Would I? Should I? Could I? Hehe. Especially after just blogging about that very thing earlier the same day.
So did I? Get drunk? Well, a bit. But not too much. We were currently standing at three pints of lager, and one glass of Aussie Sem/Chard. (No, not Jacob's!) Lunch was over, thank God, and the etiquette is that after being bought lunch the treated buys the treater a drink.
Four pints of lager and one glass of Aussie Sem/Chard.
A friend of Babs came in and kindly bought me a drink.
Five pints of lager and one glass of Aussie Sem/Chard.
So I had to buy the friend one back.
Five and a half pints of lager and one glass of Aussie Sem/Chard.
Didn't I do well? (For Scotland, these figures are absolutely typical, btw - even if they seem a bit shocking where you are.) And that was that. Nae mair bevvy.
Sat for a haircut in Junction Street, messages (means groceries) from Scotmid, and back to zoecat and The Birds on DVD.
Drunk? I wouldn't have cared to drive or pilot a Jumbo. But was far from bouncing off the lamposts. Didn't even think about closing Naked Blog, rather sat almost in tears of pure lager at the kindness of some of the people who read this rubbish.
Profoundly, thank you.
And now it's Hi Ho, which is usually, but not always, a positive thing. Ciao. Have lovely weekends. Days of our lives.
Today I'm climbing a small mountain in the morning, lunching with Babs at midday, geting drunk in the afternoon, and closing Naked Blog in the evening.
Well - in truth I don't know if I'm doing any or all of the above. Life is never certain, is it?
I'd estimate the mountain (Arthur's Seat) at 90 percent. (I'll be setting off just as soon as I put down my pen.) Lunch with Babs at 60 percent. (She might cancel, but I won't.) Drinking in the afternoon at close to 100 percent. If I don't drink, I don't talk. Simple as that. And that is the biggest flaw in my life.
Even in the Pentland Hills days I find myself drawn to an Inn on the edge, the Flotterstone Inn. Not because the body or mind needs booze - no, not at all, after that level of exercise. But just to speak to another human, even briefly, even the young bar staff.
Isolation kills my soul. And zoe just doesn't really cut it: although I adore her, the relationship is so unequal.
That's why I occasionally "shut down" the blog. I come in from the pub, raging at the world and how it's treated me, hating the loneliness which has dominated my life, and take one look at Naked Blog and the shimmering lines of glass people, however lovely, stretching across the world, however lovely, yet not here to talk to me or hold my hand.
So I get mad and close it down. And sleep very badly. And re-open it in the morning, shamefacedly, except there's no-one to see my shamed face. Only zoe, and she just goes Miaow feed me you fat bastard, or I'll die and then the mice will come back.
That's why your favourite organ sometimes goes AWOL in the night.
Now let us have no more talk of that. The probability is less than one percent.
Regular readers, and there are a couple, will recall last Tuesday we featured the new Polish community in Edinburgh and Leith. We talked about shops called Polski Smak, and a young Polish woman called Magda.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a Smak when I opened yesterday's Edinburgh Evening News, to find... guess what... that's right!... a feature about the new Polish community in Edinburgh and Leith. There was a photo, as newspapers are wont to include, and guess what was on the photo? That's right! A shop called Polski Smak, and a young Polish woman called Magdalena.
Talk about rubbing it in.
Brian Hennigan, you are not strictly a plagiarist, but you are sailing close to the wind. Steal your ideas from elsewhere, you thieving twat. I don't normally read your esteemed organ, as it's barely fit to wipe arses, but I'm sure one or two NB readers will do so, from time to time.
Iron Curtain News
Little Alex came bounding into the Port last night. The good news is that he's back in Leith, and working full time in the Port, but the not so good is that he failed his British Citizenship Test.
That's right. You never knew there was such a thing as a British Citizen, did you? Well, neither did I, being of the distinct impression we were subjects, not citizens. (Thanks to Tony Benn and his many discourses over the years.)
I have here in my hand a set of Practice Questions. Would you like to see a couple?
Number 50. If you visit the House of Commons you may find few MPs in the main debating chamber. That is because
(a) there is much absenteeism in the Parliament (b) many MPs do not consider it important to debate (c) most work is done in committees (d) the work of MPs is very hard and many of them are often ill
Number 57. What are the key features of the civil service?
(a) political partisanship and efficiency (b) political neutrality and professionalism (c) corruption and favouritism (d) independence and efficiency
As you can see, many if not most Brits would have a hard time answering guff like those.
Here's my own example of a British Subject Test, rather than some mythical Citizenship:
The Queen's real surname is
(a) Saxe (b) Coburg (c) Gotha (d) All of the above
And so on. The Practice questions are provided by Maklai Media, from South Africa. So they must have their finger on the pulse. More questions...
Those who pay close attention will have noticed their favourite organ going AWOL overnight. This is because of psychological damage. Thanks for kind commentage to mike, who's seen it so many times before, and to David, who hasn't. (I thought I'd disabled the comment system.)
Drink will be the ruination of me, I truly do swear it.
[Ed: there's no "will be" about it.]
Yes - it's that time of the year again. At 12.26 Universal Time, which is 13.26 BST and 14.26 in Central Europe. Readers in other continents will have to make their own calculations. Readers in other hemispheres will be having their winter solstice - all snow and robins and holly and mistletoe. Fabulous, darlings. Have a mulled wine on me.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Hiya. Sorry no updates for a while. Having fun, which of course is no fun for you.
However, dramas could resume at any moment, as always. (People were even nice to me yesterday in the Port. What can I have done?)
Don't forget the Summer Solstice, tomorrow at 12.26 UT. That is, 13.26 BST. Probably 14.26 in Belgium. Isn't it exciting having friends all over the world - even though you've got none in Britain!
Yesterday in the Pentland Hills I chickened out of the final summit. Only did Caerketton, Allermuir and Turnhouse - feeling too knackered to manage Carnethy...its sides scarred rotten with path erosion. But I did discover a path from the bealach down to Logan Burn. Exciting, very exciting, exploring a whole new path, not on the map, especially on your own. Steep, too. Trekking poles set to max again. Plus I noticed earlier a new one down from Allermuir, probably towards Swanston.
Practised lots of map and compass. Setting the map. Identifying features. Naming farmhouses.
Sorry - of course I realise this means absolutely nothing to almost all of you. Mea culpa. But it's all I ever seem to do these days.
*Thinks hard for interesting topic*
KIT E KAT
Zoe woke me at 4.15 this morning, the minx. I refused to feed her then. Just refused. Got to draw the line somewhere, or she'd have me up at 2 am. Can't wait till it's winter and dark all the time. Mebbe get some rest then.
So she cried on and off till 6.15 when I gave in. Even then she was far from settled, and it was hard for me to get a wink really between 4.15 and 8.15. Like a zombie, I can tell you. Night Of The Living Dead.
Talking of movies, which we really weren't, I saw an unusual offering from Blockbuster in their three for a fiver for a week section. Funny Games, by Michael Haneke. I don't want to say much, as any critique will really ruin it. You'll see after five minutes that it's a scary movie, yet I found it difficult to be properly scared in subtitles.
Anyone seen this care to comment?
OK - it's 2 o'clock now, and I've had a busy old morning. Wiped the top of the washing machine. Wiped the edge of the kitchen sink. Washed zoe's bed blanket, as she's started preferring the floor.
And what is my reward for this sudden outbreak of cleanliness? A great big albatross-sized shit on my study window, that's what. The Lord giveth.
Smashing day yesterday, in which I climbed an old hill (Arthur's Seat), chatted to an old friend (Babs), and met maybe even a new friend (Sandra), even though she's very young.
By the wonders of the modern age, Sandra and I have communicated for some time via these pages, which are the hottest thing in teaching circles, apparently. She declined to be snapped for you yesterday, but I'm sure we can work on that natural shyness. It's part of her charm, I do swear it.
More about Sandra in the post below, which also doubles as a slightly drunken rant about my organ being banned from Scottish schools. (I think it's extremely educashunal, to be honest...) Who are the banners? We need no Salem here!
But what about my old friends? Do I really toss then aside with such gay abandon? Well, no of course not.
Only on Tuesday I was chatting on the phone to Stewart. You might remember me saying that I was told he'd been taken ill on Saturday and rushed to hospital. Well, little ol' drama queen me had him all stretched out in his shroud, didn't I? Scared to answer the phone, in case it was that call. You know the call I mean.
But no - when I did eventually get round to answering one from Babs, while I was on the top of Caerketton (478m), eating tinned mackerel on wholemeal (God I'm so fat today again - that's three days now. Three days which have undone the last four months of progress...), and Penguin biscuit and apple, and scared to phone her back in case it was the "biggie", I eventually plucked up the wherewithal and gave her a dog and bone.
But he's only broken his ankle. Two dogs pushed him over at the Fair, and something snapped inside him.
Talk about relief beyond belief!
Anyway, Stewart is holed up in his flat, with his foot in a moonboot, being nursed by daughter Jo (19). (A son's a son till he gets a wife - a daughter's a daughter all her life!)
Stewart - even my bingo ladies are asking after you - such a radio star you've become.
And what of Sandra - original Sandra - of whom you've read many happy hours in here?
Well, Sandra is living with her family and working hard on her new ceramic business. It's a couple of weeks since we've met up, and that was but briefly. Obviously I miss her to bits, and who knows what the future might hold? Some of our times together were amongst the happiest and most memorable of my life.
Because I am rich in love.
The post below should have a "pint of lager" symbol, but it does make a valid point, I think. It seems that certain weblogs, including but not only this one, are banned from use in school. Yet modern English in books is welcomed with open arms. (Trainspotting is the most obvious Scottish example, but there will be others.)
One rule for dead trees, another for the web. Makes yer think. I haven't finished with this one yet.
Hi to Daphne Wayne-Bough, who's in Belgium. (I think the name might be made up.) Is Belgium big enough for two bloggers?
And not just here on Naked Blog. Oh no, Jose. Blogs are the new Dickens. Yes really - my blog-colleague and one-time protege JonnyB has learned that he's now on some A-Level syllabus in England. How exciting is that!
Example of modern English literature: David Beckham, on hearing that Wayne Rooney's been given a cortisone injection: "If that fat bastard's got a car, then I want one too..."
Well, this is all well and good, and rightly so - it would be hard to find a better source of modern English than on Jonny's blog.
Hard, but not impossible.
For today I met my biggest ever fan, Miss Scott from the English Department. (Her name is Sandra.) And I can now exclusively reveal the tragic news that she and Big Straight Al are no more. They are an ex-item. They have ceased to be. Their love has died, even though the friendship is very much alive.
Isn't it such a bitch when that happens! Wouldn't you just rather hate the fuckers - and grab the next shag that turns up?
Sandra and I got to chatting, even though she said she was very scared. We talked about teaching English amongst other things, and JonnyB's Private, Secret Diary. "I'm so glad that Naked Blog is also on the list of approved teaching blogs," I said to her. "Oh, no it's not," Sandra replied. "It's totally banned."
"But that's shocking!" I retorted. "What about Trainspotting? That's got tons of swear words in it - yet don't tell me that's not on every Scottish syllabus."
Sandra had to agree about Trainspotting.
Then who tells the schools what blogs they can look at, I asked her.
It's the Children and Family comittee.
Censorship is alive and well in Scotland it seems. It's called the Children and Family committee. And English teachers - the only people who should be setting the syllabus - don't seem to have any say in this.
Garbage in, garbage out.
For the record: Naked Blog is Guardian-listed. It is BBC broadcast. It was a finalist in the Bloggies 2006 global awards. It is certainly Scotland's leading independent daily publication.
But it is quite banned.
I can almost see the Children and Family committee. Bet they're based in Bonaly.
Clearly we don't set out to compare this little work with either Trainspotting or JonnyB's Private, Secret Diary - arguably the UK's leading daily weblog. But two questions do arise and niggle:
Who is doing this censoring - for that is the only word... and
What is so wrong with the title Naked Blog - especially when you consider little ditties such as The Naked Civil Servant, and The Naked Lunch?
Yes, it's back to work properly today. Sunday evening was just my starter for ten.
So how was it for me?
Well, certainly surprising. I think the last two weeks can best be summed up as, "never a dull moment". Talk about action-packed - emotionally and with sheer physicality. What you've read here is only a sample of the various activities. And highly edited versions of the dramas, to protect the guilty.
OK then - maybe more later. I have a cat to clean up after, and a body to wash. Heaven only knows how the voice will be today, with lungs packed full of cat dust and nowadays pollen also. We shall see. Cough! Cough!
Weight today is appalling at thirteen stones, two and three quarters, (184.75lb), the heaviest since May 10. I blame Co-op quiches at two for three pounds and a million calories a mouthful. Cos once you bite into one, you just got to finish it.
These are summer days, my chickadees. Days of our lives. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, for tomorrow the house might fall down.
Great thanks to all who've been kind, both at home and away. You are diamonds of the soul.
Leith has lots of new residents. Bright-faced, shiny young people aged 20 to 30, chatting away in a strange new tongue. Yes! It's the Poles!
There are at least two new shops also. Polski Sklep, which means "Polish Shop", and Polski Smak, which means "Polish Taste", or, presumably, "Taste of Poland".
(I know what these words mean because of the new Polish staff at my bingo.) At one time there were three, Magda, Marek and Piotr. But the first two of those have already left. I sense the pattern will be to kick off in bingo, but quite quickly become neurosurgeons.
Tit For Tat
And so much more interesting and refreshing than the mutants smoking outside the Malt And Hops yesterday... small woman with a big mouth lecturing a band of disciples about my sexuality and mountain habits. (Her theories thereof. Clearly she has no actual knowledge of either.) I was wearing my new Tiso daysack with trekking poles attached - hence the mountain interest.* Presumably.
My advice dear: stick to what you're trained in, which is wiping elderly asses. Leave "human behaviour" to those with the occasional (sober) braincell. It's a complex topic. (You know you've arrived when they can't even wait till you've passed the table to get tore into you!)
But in general don't you just hate tablefuls of smokers destroying the pleasant outside atmosphere? The entire Shore area has plummeted since the smokeban, if you ask me. Strangely, I've not noticed the Polish people smoking at all.
*Having just come off the hill, silly! Another Pentland day in which I discover a hot new footpath from Hillend to Boghall. I would have extended to Flotterstone, which is my Holy Grail, but there were cows in the fields, and we just don't do cattle.
I know I said I wasn't going to write about my walks, that that would be linguistically demanding at the very times I was trying to forget words in favour of sights, smell and sounds... I know I said all that, but heck - today's a rest day, and Friday's jaunt was fun... and it's my blog and I'll write if I want to... write if etc.
Just be aware that this one's for me, not you. (And it's long.)
Chapter One: Out of the house
Great to get a late start, rather than the seven am of many previous. Lazed about in a, "will I, won't I" mood until about eleven, then oot the hoose clutching my new Tiso backpack in moss and black. Took three slices of wholemeal, one tin of mackerel fillets, three apples and three Penguin biscuits. Took one litre of black coffee in a flask, and three half litre bottles of tap water.
Memo to self: the litre flask is really too big for one. Check out something smaller. It uses up too much bagspace.
The forecast was misty and sunny. Certainly it was misty here on the coast, but I imagined it'd be better inland and higher. In this I was both right and wrong, as we shall see.
Decided just to get on the first bus south that turned up. It was the 10, to Bonaly - and I knew that portion from Stew's and my first ever Pentland day.
Chapter Two: Bonaly to Capelaw
Bonaly in no time. (About an hour.) Crossed the bridge, went up the country road, and right at the Park entrance got chatting to this oldboy of about eighty. Gleaming white false teeth and two dogs. "This mist can stretch from Norfolk to Aberdeen," he declared. "But it's so sunny on the top of Capelaw Hill. Sunny and blue." "Which way to Capelaw Hill?" I asked. "Just follow this road, and go through another of these farm gates." (They have an automatic self-closing mechanism.)
I thanked him and set off, even though the mist was swirling across my path like something out of the Hound of The Baskervilles. Higher and higher. A jeep was ahead, not SUV, real jeep. Guy was sitting there at the corner of Bonaly Reservoir, having his breakfast. Young, fit, stripped to the waist in the by now sun. I didn't speak. Far too attractive. He would think I had intentions.
Past the corner of the reservoir was a gate and stile. Sat and had coffee and an apple. Just getting up to leave when two cyclists turned up behind me. Having come the exact same path. "Which way yer headed?" I asked. "Groundward," replied one, and collapsed in a puddle of sweat. Whenever cyclists stop they immediately start gushing. Until then they're wind-cooled.
I wasn't that impressed with their fitness, to be honest. It really wasn't that much of a climb, and a modern bike weighs about the same as the flab around my waist I'm forced to transport. Everywhere I go. But it's gettting less.
Plus they were about thirty, and meant to be at their peak. Ah well. Musn't gloat. It's not becoming.
We chatted some more. I said I was ascending Capelaw. We vaguely pointed up it. I found a tiny path and set off - being metres above them in no time. Occasionally looked back and down. The summit is concealed, and practically flat. It is a table mountain. Mesa, as they say in Spain. Someone's erected a pair of railway lines in the form of a rusty sculpture, presumably at the highest bit. And that is all.
Chapter Three: Lost on the moor
I peed on the statue, as you do, then sat and had another bite and sup. Paths were all around, but I got this mad notion that I'd try to go pathless. To head off with just the map and compass into the void.
Oh - I forgot the key thing about this day. Only the hilltops were in the sun. All the rest - the valleys - were in thick cloud. The cloud was especially thick over Glencorse Reservoir, presumably because of the cool water. Like God, I looked down on the cloud.
Set off vaguely south east, boldy going etc.
Not scared. Yet.
I could see the dotted line of a path on the map, and knew it almost certainly was one I'd walked before. In these small ways do you pick up the entire grasp of a Regional Park.
Steepness. Lengthen the trekking poles. Greenness. Don't recognise the plant beneath my boots.
Still no real worry. Still can go back up and easily find the summit again. But no. Cinderella shall go to the ball. Suddenly there was a skeleton! (Here we need the twang of a Robert Rodrigo guitar chord!) Skeleton picked bare to the bone, gleaming white - in two halves. It was either a sheep (most likely, as the living version was all over the place), or a person of about three with a funny head, in which case a call to the cops would be on the cards.
Decided againt the cops, probably wisely.
I descended a gully and jumped across a burn. (Streamlet.) Where tf was my path? Not one sign of it, and we were lower now, and fingers of mist were starting to swirl again. To be lost on the moor, with a map I couldn't read, and a compass I had only the slightest notion of, surrounded by sheep skeletons, was not quite the walk I'd had in mind.
Be aware, this was only the second time I'd ever been "off path", and the first one of those was with Stewart, who's fairly good with maps. I kept my cool, and almost walked into a wall. Shit! That's what straight lines mean on maps - wall or fence. It was a double construction - drystane wall and barbed wire fence beside it.
Could I, would I, should I risk climbing the barbed wire, in an attempt to find the path which was totally invisble, and might not even be there, while the mist came closer and closer? I followed the fence, hopefully in the correct direction, after a bit of ad hoc compass work.
And then the wall/fence duo went right down a very steep gully - trekking poles set to max - and up the other side. This was easy to locate on the map, by compression of countour lines. I could almost kiss that gully. I went down and back up, climbed the barbed wire quite gingerly, and set off for this mythical path which the map showed to be at its closest point.
Chapter Four: Eat, Drink and be Merry
And it was there. Faint, overgrown, les than one foot in width - but definitely there. I almost kissed it too. Soon it widened and I looked back to see, with amazement, my two cyclists hefting their machines over that very same barbed wire fence. Talk about setting trends!
I kept walking on, not waving in case it was different cyclists. Sat down for lunch at a small quarry. Co-op tinned mackerel fillet on wholemeal. Using my Co-op plastic Kids Lunchbox as a little table.
My cyclists came by. "Hi again!" the leading one said. "Hi. What took you two so long?" (Laughing.) "Hey man - we lost the way a bit I think," the other one said. "You've made good time," the first one said to me. "Well, actually," I confided, " - I think half that time's been spent staring at a map thinking 'where the fuck am I?'" We all laughed then, and they split. "Enjoy your lunch," one of them said, to the old man they met on the track. What nice people you meet when you're out.
Uneventful circuit of Castlelaw Hill to the Flotterstone Inn, for three pints of Guinness. The garden was empty. The air was quite misty. No sun.
I'd checked out the times of the McEwan's buses past Flotterstone - they were 1610 and 1735. Could have got either, but determined instead to return to Hillend the hard way, via Allermuir and Caerketton Hill.
Chapter Five: Homeward Bound
It took two and a half hours, but I wasn't really noticing the time, as once I got to the top of Allermuir the cloud really was starting to bubble up. It was like looking into a vast cauldron full of liquid nitrogen, but the size of the earth. You would see the invisibility advancing a few hundred yards, then retreat again. God was stirring the soup.
But the most amazing sight, and part of the reason I'm writing this so as not to forget, was the view South from the top of Allermuir. You could see in the distance the southern ranges, Moorfoots, Cheviots, whatever. But you were seeing them above this blanket of cloud. So between you and the next hills there was nothing human visible. Not one road, not one car, not one house. You were the only person on the planet.
My mood was a combination of excitement at the unusual conditions, regret there was no camera, and sheer fear at my predicament and potential for drama if the cloud rose another hundred feet.
It didn't, and I descended Hillend and got the Number 4 bus swiftly and efficiently home.
Felt I deserved a fish supper from the Mermaid, so treated myself. Four pounds fifty. The first fish supper since I started on weight loss last summer. And it went down without touching the sides!
Glory day. And now I'm on the second of two rest days. Tomorrow will hopefully be back on the hill.
Chapter Six: Cardiovascular
This is the fittest I've been since my late thirties and the cycling period. Could be even fitter than that, as I was a heavy smoker then. Maybe you yourself have some idea how glorious it is to "tingle" all over. To start up a hill, and soon be that far up you didn't even think of stopping to look back. The mouth wide open, the body "being breathed", the legs and arms and trekking poles in rhythmic unity.
The entire organism doing what it was designed to do, rather than the ridiculous contraints of modernity. Oh yes. Oh very yes.
Sad note: I've just this minute learned from a comment box that Stewart my former walking companion was taken ill yesterday and rushed to hospital. I'm sure all who've enjoyed our adventures together in these pages will wish him well for a speedy recovery.
What a difference a week makes. One week ago almost to the minute, Stewart and I were sitting in Ben Lawers Visitor Centre, somewhere in the Scottish sticks, watching his car engine do a passable Hiroshima.
Today, after such an unbelievably short, if action-packed span, I'm minus a broadcasting career, minus two former friends and penniless to boot.
You gotta laugh.
No, I mean it. What's the point in crying? And who needs people, anyway? They always let you down. Stick to cats. The sun continues to shine, and zoe still seems to like getting fed. And the hills are very alive - throbbing verdant in the short time before autumn brown sets in. They never let you down.
I've ascended 2,230 metres since that car explosion - that's equivalent in height to the top of Ben Nevis - from sea level - one and a half times in the space of a week. Not bad for fifty-nine and a half years. That does make me feel just a touch... how can I put it... superior.
It's back to work tonight. Back to the real Leith, after more than a week's holiday leave. Do I regret what's happened? Yes and no. Unpleasant though some of it was, at least it should prove pretty memorable. Great thanks to Lindsay - and only Lindsay - for her kindness, understanding and practical help with the broadcasts. You are a lady.
My departure from local media now allows for independent critical comment thereof. But that can wait, seeing as almost no-one reading this can actually hear Leith FM.
Instead a wee look at the Heaven and Earth show this morning, which under its new stewardship of Gloria Hunniford has turned into little more than a Sunday morning church service.
Football she was banging her gums about to day. (Is there anywhere football doesn't get?) Some players turn to religion, she said, while others prefer superstition and ritual.
But what's the difference, Gloria honey? What is religion but ritual and superstition?
Called To The Bar
To the Regent yesterday teatime, escape from the din of Leith Gala Day, and the ever-present threat of football on pub TVs. Such a civilised bar. Meg the lesbian sandwich lady was there, and David the psychiatric nurse - a keen NB reader. David looked at me very professionally after last week's chaotic bloggage, but I tried to look healthy and sane. "It's all made up," I think I blurted out. "Don't Section me, guv!"
Now that it's quarter of a century since Karma Chameleon, it might be nice if the LGBT community had been allowed just one tiny square inch of the multi-cultural demonstrations yesterday at the Gala. We're only 5 percent of the population. But I just don't see it ever happening with the present local administration, which is further to the right than President Bush.
Woops - I forgot! There are four square inches of a gay man on the front of the Festival brochure. Well - that's OK then. Sorted. Silly me.
An occasional series where we showcase people and organisations who come in to get rich off Leith and Leith people. Carpetbaggers, as we say here.
See what you think about this one. The jury is out. Certainly the title, People's Republic of Leith, was the idea of (original) John Macaulay, way back in the nineties. Not sure just how profit-oriented they are.
Writers, they're looking for. Unpaid, by the sound of things. So if unpaid's your idea of fun...
Naked Blog readers will be delighted to know that in keeping with tradition here, there won't be one single word about this current football competition.
To play football is probably very pleasant - for those who can do that thing.
To go to a match and watch it as it's meant to be watched is less useful, but borderline understandable.
But to watch football on television is simply moronic. Shouting at television sets is especially moronic, yet you see grown men doing that. Not women, not children, always grown men. What is it about men that makes them so stupid?
Me, I'll have to find a pub without TV for the duration. Regent sounds very hopeful. The new Nobles is promising also, with the added bonus of having absolutely no other customers at all. Plus you get a complimentary mini-bowl of crisps.
I think pubs without tellies will do a roaring trade for the next five weeks.
Leith Gala Day today. Shame about the clash with the England match.(Woops! I said no mention!) Me, I'm on the sofa resting, after another Pentlands extravaganza yesterday. That's Trossachs last Sunday, Arthur's Seat Tuesday, Pentlands Wednesday and Pentlands Friday. That would tax many 19 year-old legs, let alone 59.
Zoe's just jumped on my old lap for a sneak preview of Naked Blog. Oh - off she goes, and now she's doing her nails on an old chair. (All my chairs are old.) It's cat heaven here, I tells ya.
Wasn't George Galloway great on Question Time last night? Love him or loathe him, you just can't deny his presence. With a voice that could slice icebergs. "Booosh and Blairrrr arre the two biggest murrderrerrs on the globe!"
("Murderer" is much more laborious to say in Scotland, where "r's" are always vocalised. In England it's simply "muh duh ruh". But here endeth the elocution.)
He had plenty of scorn too for Liam Fox and David Lammy, two fellow MPs on the panel. Called them donkeys. To which the previously idiotic Lammy did get in one great reply: "I'd rather be a donkey than a pussycat." (Referring of course to GG's recent Big Brother debacle.) George had no reply. Nil point.
Talking of French, or rather in French, it was a treat again to chat to zed of MBIAT last night. Merci beaucoup cheri. (Woops - makes her sound like Mrs Blairrr.)
Little Alex and Ashley came into the bar. "Some blog, man," he said. (Alex often puts "man" at the end of his sentences. Cool, man.) "Yeah - I think I've had another nervous breakdown," I replied. "Guessed that!" he said, grinning.
Poor Ashley had to flee outdoors to the safety of a cigarette. She was wearing this incredible top that showed her bosoms off to perfection. And frankly, I just couldn't stop staring. Couldn't stop, even while I was apologising profusely. Sorry again, hon. "Two fish fillets," said Pamela the barmaid. Big Dave made some reference to Pam's endowments then, but she slapped him down.
Me, I'd only gone in for one pint, but with Dave turning up it quickly turned into five. He was born within the sound of Bow Bells, he told me, which makes him a true Cockney. Alex has to go to some camp to prove he can speak English, before they let him in to the army. (We don't have much money, but we do see life.)
Got jeans at BHS, just ten quid. Then a new rucksack and waterproof jacket at Tiso. Hi to Eilidh (rhymes with daily), and John - my serving people. Tiso truly is a remarkable store. You should take a gander, if there's one near you. And soon you might be as fit as me! Yesterday I found myself slavering over some 250 quid boots. "One day these might be on a real mountain," I thought, aware of my age and limitations, but not regretting a thing.
You'll see from those items above that hillwalking need not be an expensive hobby. Although, you should spend around a hundred quid on your boots, for max comfort, and fifty to a hundred on a 3-in-1 jacket. (Shell, or fleece, or shell and fleece zipped together.) It is not essential to get a label. (Berghaus, North Face).
And that's it! See you on the hills!
Comments are welcomed about the topics in Naked Blog, or anything else within reason. They should be pleasant, interesting, and life-affirming. Rudeness of whatever nature is simply removed.
SCHEDULED OUTAGE AT 8.23 PST (Blogger announcement)
It's the PST that does it. Reminds me of the early days of the net, when we were so much more in touch with the US of A. Had to be, as here in Britvic there was next to no net presence. How we laughed and joked with our new Yankee friends! Mighty Geek in NYC, Hoopty Loops from the Bay Area and Barbara Fletcher in Canada. Toronto if I recall. Geek came all the way from New York to the Port o Leith Bar. Wouldn't take no for an answer.
Vividly I remember it! The Port on a Saturday night is terrifying, and I live here. What they must have been thinking I can only imagine. Mary came over and did the hostess thing. Kindly. Me, I couldn't wait to get out the place.
Plus you could email people in those days. Now I never email. Never open it from one month to the next. It's all that spam. Hate it.
Exciting days, but gone now. No class any more. Used to be a nice class of people on the net. Times change. Interactivity is a two-edged sword.
Hills Are Alive
Yesterday I determined to get myself well away from all the crap that's being going on in the last few days. Off to the Pentlands on the 16 bus. Hunter's Tryst, bridge over troubled bypass, Castlelaw Path, troops in training, two reservoirs and three steep hills. Then there was a long hot sunny walk to a tiny village called Carlops and a two hour wait for the Edinburgh bus back. Fourteen miles and 700m ascent, mas o menos. 29,932 steps, anyway, for those of you struggling to reach your 10,000. (Musn't gloat at the unfit - they can be rescued from their sloth!)
Had Stilton and chutney on warm ciabatta in the Allan Ramsay hotel there - with a very tasty salad of mostly peppers and tiny tomatoes. (I'd not eaten since ten, and it was now six. Taste sensation!) Plus Guinness of course - for the fluids. Sweaty walkers don't seem that welcome, though.
About ten hours. Was great. Would do it again today like a shot, but after all the above you have to rest the joints for at least one day. Well, at my age you do. Maybe not if you're seventeen!
Yes, that's right. Twelve stones twelve (168lb) today, a new world record! Plus I'm that tanned I almost fancy myself. Hill-walking! I thoroughly recommend it. Do some today!
The title says it all. This is what Leith has become, and all other comment is superfluous. The restauranteurs, the publicans, the property developers, the magazine proprietors, the land-buyers, the house-buyers, the arty-farties, the housing associations...
Carpetbaggers to a man. And woman.
And why not?
All I ask is that you spare us the piety and cant, and agree that you're here purely to milk the place.
Then everyone can sleep happily, and my bingo ladies - who are the real Leith - can still enjoy their little game.
Whilst the yah-yahs sit in The Compass sipping Chardonnay, laughing at Billy's wit, as the occasional Leither passes the window on the way to his concrete home.
That's it then. Because of Stewart's deliberately provocative and trouble-making behaviour on the radio this morning, we have severed our personal connections as well as our climbing partnership.
Huge sense of relief. And, just for the record, it was I, me, moi, who obtained the kind sponsorship from The Regent Bar. For my show, Russell In The Afternoon, on Leith FM5. Fuck all to do with Two Grumpy Old Men, or any other elderly twats.
There. At least here I can get a word in without interruption. A word which will be read by those who matter.
Aren't blogs wonderful. Three more radio shows to go. Counting the moments.
It's a bad omen. I must exorcise neuroses from my pathetic life. Stop being devilled by the vicissitudes of others not fit to fasten my shoes.
The last three days have seen a catalogue of disasters possibly unequalled since catalogues were invented. Here we go, in chron approx...
9am Sunday: 1400 feet: After driving for two hours to one of the remotest bits of Scotland, the Ben Lawers Visitor Centre, Stewart's car broke a hose going over a cattle grid. This particular cattle grid contained so much mud that sheep were able to skip across it with gay abandon. It seemed its sole purpose was to break Stewart's car - it had no animal husbandry features whatsoever. It was a fucker, to put it bluntly.
"This'll shorten our day," Stew said, clouds of steam billowing around him while vile brown water gushed onto the Jurassic mud. So he got his movie camera out and made a film. Stewart was to repeat this lots during the day. And somehow I always seem to be the film star, whether I want to or not.
11am Sunday: 2800 feet: After ascending on foot to the bealach ("There's always wind in a bealach") between Meall Corranaich and some other Scottish lump, we paused for a bite and a sup. Whilst I contemplated the steepest hill I've ever been sat at the bottom of.
"I'm just not doing it," I said to Stewart, pointing into the sky. "That's not the way." Well, it turned out I was right on the first point, and wrong(-ish) on the second. It was a way. It was the hardest way. There were easier routes to the top, as later researches pointed out.
Oh, I'm not bitter.
A handsome young man came along in a blue headscarf. Fit in every sense. He took a rare snap of the both of us, but you can't see it, cos the new 6 Megapixel camera doesn't run on Priscilla. I took 83 HQ photos and three videos during the course of the day. You might possibly see them in November when I've saved up. Naked Blog is very expensive to host, but takes no outside finance whatever.
11.30am Sunday: 3150 feet (est): I'm clinging on to a grassy face which looks almost vertical both up and down. Two sheep are watching my antics with bored, seen-it-all-before looks on their white faces. Mother and child reunion. Stewart is appprox 50 feet above me, trying to be helpful. Me, I'm making quite a profound decision: do I go on and up into the unknown, which might be worse? Which might be so much worse that I freeze and all hell breaks out with Mountain Rescue and who knows what?
Or do I admit defeat, and descend to the certain end of my mountain walking hobby? (This latter choice has the bundled extras of self-hatred and depression at no extra cost.) So I chose it of course. Went down the grassy hill - on my sweet ass. It was far too steep to walk. Rolling stones set off for the bottom, bouncing and bounding with ever-increasing leaps. Minute. Two minute. More. "That could have been me," I mused, trying to keep some control over gravity, grass and friction.
Stewart, conversely, did achieve the summit, and I must applaud him. We then had the rest of the day to cope with, him strutting like cock o' the walk (just a bit, understandably), and me trying not to sulk. "I'll do Munros with my brother from now on," he said. Then, " - watch that bit, it might be steep," at every three foot hump. But we coped. Had to. Gay men are used to failure. Used to coming last. Used to not being able to do what the big boys do.
Yet somehow we did get through the day, with its now tricky emotions and irrevocably-changed dynamic. Carwise, after Stew paid fifty two quid to get the hose fixed, the exhaust fell off. You couldn't make it up. Anybody got any ideas for new hobbies? Ones that don't kill you if your foot slips?
Yesterday my dentist told me I might lose Upper Right Four because of infection. She said to rinse with hot salty water. This advice cost eighteen pounds. Then she said she wasn't doing National Health any more, so I could pay 18.51 pounds a month on a Dental Plan. Or I could pay her per treatment. I chose the plan. It's only money. Just spend it on drink, otherwise. Might as well go to Sonja, eh?
Private medicine. Isn't there just something un-British about that? Something American, to be brutal to my two valued US readers. Something we of the forties thought would never happen, in an egalitarian, Cradle To The Grave, Labour country.
Me, I'm past caring. Just wish I was a dentist instead of a bingo caller.
But I am rich in lurve. Well, mebbe not even that. Everybody seems to hate me at the moment. Not turn up for guest spots they'd promised. Make snide remarks about being "dumped" by Stewart on the radio. So I got drunk and came that close to resigning.
Mary chatted to me in the Port. Craig the barman said he would come on the show today. I am rich in love.
Below is last night's drunken pour-out. Just skip it. Garbage in, garbage out.
Life on the edge. Bet yours isn't as exciting as mine though. Betcha, betcha.
So close to resigning from the radio show today. So close. I really, really feel I've more to offer the world than just putting on Dusty tracks and reading snippets from the Edinburgh Evening News.
Both today's guests no-showed.
An "ex" of mine turned up in the Port o Leith Bar today. (Yes - bet that surprised you.) Our "affair" was twenty years ago, and now Andy - for it is he - is 67. Whilst I of course am 59, as well you know. Big Straight Al found this all very amusing. Wrinkly lurve. Me, I just hoped the guy thought I was now with Big Straight Al. (Memo to Miss Scott: I'm not after yer fella, hon. Seriously, I'm not. Even though I did play him Leader Of The Pack.)
Went to the Leith Debate, hoping they'd refuse me entry so I could make a scene about it. But no - there was no-one on the door. And almost no-one in the seats. Must have been the lack of free booze. People will only hang about so long for a ham sandwich.
Left after the first question, because it was shite.
David Morrison says I've got a victimhood complex.
Me, I just am so sick of having my work and ideas ripped off.
To Lindsay, Station Manager: if you think my show is losing us listeners then I'm more than happy - ecstatic - to hang up me headphones as of now. Holiday this week, and the hills are alive. But I'll continue my agreed commitment till Friday if you prefer. Never let it be said I'm unreliable.
Quite enjoying my one hour solitary spot on Leith FM. An hour is nothing. By the time you've read out the phone and text numbers, told them what's coming next, and done the weather (you just look out the window - it's that local), by the time you've done all of those, it's up and off and leave the place tidy for the Community Radio people on next.
Yesterday they were doing the proposed new trams (do we really need them. Answer of course not - it's just a scam) with Mark Lazarowicz the MP. Stewart and I already did that on Wednesday of course. If you're not fast, you're last.
I'm detecting a slight case of "looking down the nose" from certain elements - possibly because I'm "light" and they're "heavy". Hehe. (But it could be paranoia.)
It was fun yesterday to play "Leader of The Pack" for Big Straight Al, who phoned in. Followed by "You Sexy Thing" for dad-to-be Little Alex, who texted. (Although that last one was shared with Trevor and Bindi the gay cat.)
Light you want? I'll give you light. Bindi is meant to be providing a kitten for zoe to love, incidentally. But will she get preggers? Will she heck. Maybe she's a dog. All of this and more was discussed on the show. Back on Monday for my last week's broadcasting, ever. It's been fun.
Health and Fitness
Just rejoice. Although we've dropped below that mythical thirteen stone barrier on occasional days in the past, last week was the first time ever the weekly average was that low. Yay me. Now I just need a monthly average below thirteen, and I'll finally believe it. Maybe June will be the breakthrough month.
I got Corsodyl from the chemist which seems to have sorted my gums pretty pronto. Chlohexidine digluconate, for any oral health professionals watching. Medicine sometimes makes you better, apparently.
So, how did yesterday's broadcast go, sans Stewart?
Well, I have to say, not suprisingly. (I've done it before. Loads.) There were two key things: one... would Stew slag me off on his first hour? And two... would we remain friends? The answers seem to be no and yes, in that order. Which is good. He used my term "artistic differences", but I didn't mind. It gives the listener something to talk about.
Clean As A Whistle!
After the show I almost ran home, to the luxury of a nice hot shower in my own bathroom. Bliss. And worth every penny of the by now well-into-three-figures bill. (But as Brett in Florida pointed out, it'lll save on fuel bills in the long term.) Not to say global warming. All those icebergs.
Robin's stepson and business partner, Pep, returned the house keys, live on air. He did a short interview.
After the shower my mood seemed to slump a little. Mebbe when you've had nothing else seriously on your mind but plumbing for ten days, and then it's suddenly over. Sat in the Port not speaking to anyone. "Are you not along at the reception?" Eilidh (rhymes with daily) asked. (This was a Festival-opener at the Ocean Terminal. Invitation-only, but I did possess one, came by post, no less.)
"Nah. Cannae be bothered. Be all hee-haws with canapes and little fingers." Plus I was dressed like a farmer's wife - navy fleece and cathairs. This would be a jacket job at least - even though ties seem to have fallen off the barometer for the fashionable.
But then, strangely, my curiosity got the better of me a little. Do no harm just to peep in, now would it? Trolled along to Ocean Terminal. White shirt security on the door. Showed them my letter. "That's OK, sir, you can come in." "Yeah - but do I want to?" I breathed, gazing around at a sea of jackets - first and foremost Tony My IT Manager. And owner of Leith FM, it would now seem. "Don't let him in," he said, but I could tell he was joking. We chatted. There was a sea of wine in see-through plastic cups. Tasty. Chardonnay, but not the cheapest.
Alone In A Crowd
After leaving Tony, I determined not to speak to anyone at all. (I've an innate revulsion from small-talk. Never ever got to parties. Just can't do it. I don't care what anyone else thinks about anything. Truthfully.) Young women and men trotted around bearing canapes. I got stuck in to them as well. (The food, not the young women and men.) I had mini sausage roll, spinach bhaji, cheese parcel, but best of all was battered onion ring in cucumber dip. Hot. Yum! I can see your mouth watering! Yes I can!
"Coo-ee!" goes Sandra, and there she was at a table with her parents. Hi Alex and Jean. (God - this blog is getting like a radio show.) This was the big night. The chance for her daughter Laura to excel at the opening concert. Foundation Crew. And they were excellent. What a night to remember all their lives. I don't know quite how to describe the main song... two girls in the centre singing chorus, flanked by two boys rapping, but maybe hip-hopping... short of half sung, half spoken.
Oh, who cares what it's called! It was good, really good. If I had tears to shed. Well, I did shed one or two, but I think by then they were pure Chardonnay. Thanks for the hospitality to Gregor Shore, purveyors of fine oceanside apartments. (Oh yes - I can usually be bought with enough alcohol.) Everyone has a price.
So what did I feel, being at a jacketed (partly) reception, surrounded by the town's great and good? (Mary Moriarty and Douglas the fishman.) "Nice do," I said to Liam Rudden, Ents editor for the Edinburgh Evening News. "Hi, Peter - I see you're like me, standing back and taking it all in."
It was good, but I wouldn't want to make a habit of it. The bingo is much more real.
Much love to mike, and partner K, on this so-sad day for them. There are no words, except maybe these: time does make a difference - even if today you don't want it to.
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. In just one hour, Robin (Don't call me anything till I've put your new tank in), might turn up to put my new tank in. On the other hand, he might follow the pattern of Tuesday and Wednesday, and not do that. We shall see. I'm getting used to cold showers, anyway. Very economical.
Yesterday's radio show was not good. I'm just about to text Stewart and say that we should revert to separate hours like last time, rather than two hours locked in together. That studio just isn't big enough for the both of us. This is entirely as I privately predicted. In December we didn't even achieve the first hour.
Fascinated by a programme on Gail Porter yesterday, a previously ubiquitous tellychick I had no time for. But Gail and I have something in common now. That's right - alopecia. I felt really sorry for her as she sat in front of this mop-haired doctor who revelled in telling her it probably would never grow back. Talk about taking away your hope, eh?
He said the chance of regrowth depended on the amount of loss (which in my case is the size of an egg.) He said it typically takes twelve to eighteen months (so I shouldn't worry too much yet.) In the spring there will be growth. Unsightly, though - but at least I've never been a pin-up girl, like la Porter.
Right. Off to compose a text to Stewart. And then worry about my plumbers. Stress - I can tell you everything about stress. It's a wonder I've got any hair at all.