Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Thursday, August 31, 2006

FINISHED SYMPHONY



The venue formerly known as The Venue, Calton Road, Edinburgh.

It's not all about hills and clouds. And upon each a little rain must fall.

Will be away for some time, while I consider my position.


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BLOGGERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES!

We love it when our friends do well.

Mike and anna are literally all over the place at the moment.

Start with anna, on a "ladies first" basis. (But some would interpret that as misogyny.) There I go. Was just gonna write one paragraph max, and then cry "day off". But the moment my dancing fingers hit the keys there's just no stopping me, eh. Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!



Anna, then. She's on her blog, as ever. Scrumptious. She's in the Guardian on sex-blogging, very much a topic de jour. She's not for it. A bit agin it. And I quite agree. As one of her commenters says, Liam if I recall, there's only so much, "He put his hand inside me and I came," you can take before yawning yourself to sleep.

Sex-blogging is fine for those for whom it is fine. Writers and readers. The former female, and the latter overwhelmingly male and masturbatory. I expect. I cannot tell, being not of the vaginal persuasion due to genetic upbringing. Nowt so queer.

But back to anna. She's on the radio too. It's an hour, but well worth it. (Take the full interview, not the soundbite truncation.) Lovely voice. Much as I expected. The interviewer doesn't know how to set up microphones, however. (He's much too faint and distant.) Come to fabulous Leith FM for advanced instruction!

Zed's on next week, the radio, with Petite Anglaise, who lovingly refers to our zed as Zoe Twat. You couldn't make it up. Are there any men left in blogging, btw?

COJONES

Oh yes there are. Take mike. Well, everybody else.... (Ed: shut up. Finish and get out to the pub why doncha. Spare the world your gobshite. At least in the pub they can ignore you.)

Mike is not on his blog so much, as he apologises for today. Even steals our expression, although we never invented it, "clapped out old hasbeen". Mike is on podcast, I'm told it's glorious, and he absolutely DEFINES music criticism with this piece. Read it and weep! Look on my works ye mighty and click an ad!

Right. That's enough of other people. More than enough. Have I missed anyone out? Sarah of Not You The Other One, a seminal blog, is coming back to Edinburgh. Hurrah!

Not You The Other One was once that big it was referred to by initials alone. NYTOO. Like MBIAT is nowadays. Or TD. Or even, in some deranged cirles, NB.

BARE ESSENTIALS

Right. Again. Must get a haircut. See what Janet in Traditional Barbers can do wit' me alopecia areata. Thinking of getting a grey rinse, make it less obvious. All these years of boasting about never using shampoo and then your hair drops out. If I'm not careful I'll lose my USP. Stress, I tellsya. It's dog eat dog.

Little Alex was at my bingo yesterday. With Ashley, looking radiant with her bump. Alex was looking as hard as fuck with a wound in his head and two days of goatee. Professional confidentiality prevents me from saying how much they won. If, indeed anything. He said I should go to the Port and stop going to the Regent all the time.

Sandra is back from Turkey, where she insists she wasn't responsible for the bombing. She does have an explosive temper when she's riled though.


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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MITTWOCH

Stayed in yesterday, neurotically or hypochondriacally, depending on your preference, after being soaked and exhausted on Monday. Nobody said getting healthy was actually good for you. Took vitamin C, ate, and rested. Even forewent the writers' group, which was a shame.

So it was a day for screens, and closeness with Brad the Dellboy.

(Oh - but what about LOST! Aren't you glad you stayed with it now. Talk about cliffhanger!)

(Swipe for possible spoiler)

The one where at the end Michael shoots Anna Lucia, then Hurley's bird, then lets Henry go, then pretends to shoot himself, but you know not really. I'm gagging on the next episode already!

Gimme The Works!

Before that, toyed with my new Microsoft Works. What a creation! Got templates for everything except the thing I want, which is a record of weight. I've got circa 400 dated entries now. Want graphs, bar charts and averages.

Anyway - I'm nowhere near as stupid as I must often sound here. Already learned relative cells and absolute cells. SUM and AVG. Piece o' cake. Use it or lose it, dude.

So that was the evening. Aren't you just fascinated!



Earlier was surfboard time.

Play a nice free tetris. Then draw your own stereograms.

Stereograms were such fun back in the SX-25 days. There was a CD Rom called Magic Eye, which had an "art gallery" that you clicked on. Much fun and games in the Naked Mansions, as people sat and stared at the screen. "I get it!" Or, "I don't get it - it's shite!" Stereograms are ace. Very retro.

Anyone know anything about Digg? Anyone been dugg? (Sorry - their word, not mine!)

Old Friends And New

And finally. Been a while since we mentioned a new blog to you. This one came purely thorough referral, with no whoring whatever, so I'm delighted to return the favour. Froosh Bamboo. (Now don't feel pressured, Ms Froosh.) (And I quite like whoring also.)

Mike has a new podcast. Haven't had time yet, dearest (learning spreadsheets - it's what I do), but adored the last one. Zed and anna have both been on the real radio, allegedly, but I need LINKS, darlings. No time in my busy schedules for searching BBC web pages. Plus I always get distracted by nutty little snippets. "Keith Richard Can't Get It Up Any More. Blames Smoking."

Oh, and Scaryduck's book is out! Congratulations from all over here, Alistair. Introduced by Neil Gaiman, no less!

Right. Bingo calls. Have fun. I will. Put on another three-quarters of a pound overnight, but feeling flu-ey is no time for starvation, eh girls? Feed a cold.


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BHAJI IN THE BEALACH*

Sixty-six degrees today in my kitchen, down from seventy-six and even more only recently. This is a good temperature, using much less electricity for refrigeration, but not yet any for heating. Sixty-six is a good number. I like it. "Clickety-click!" the bingo callers say. Or rather, used to.

Soaking wet twice yesterday on my walk, as I stupidly believed Metcheck and took no waterproof. Ah well. At least for the second downpour I could shelter under a tree. A man and a woman joined me there. "Some country this for rain," the guy said. "That's why we have grass, and you have desert," I replied, drily. He was Australian.

They say getting wet doesn't give you a cold, but I do feel a bit "bunged-up" in the nasal departments today. Vitamin C.



Oh - nearly forgot. Was able to stay totally sociable yesterday, despite the exertions. No more hitting the wall. No more running on empty. Because on my hill walk I took two fifteen minute breaks. That's right. Sat down on a dry bit (stones) and ate mini Cornish pasties with mini onion bhajis, and drank hot coffee and warmish water here...



Later, apres hill, everything was just fine at the Regent Bar. Great chat with Dave and Drew about Mozart.

Dave said that the reason Mozart's music is preserved is that after he died Constanze had to tart up and organize his output to get it sold. Interesting theory. Then what should happen when I got home but a whole evening of Mozart Prom again on BBC something. Our cups runneth over. David's a big fan of the Magic Flute, but I said I'd seen it twice and that was enough. He's going to queue for tickets.

Avoirdupois

In order to avoid calorific collapse yesterday (hitting the wall), I did rather shovel it down. *Grin*
  • Breakfast of ham and chicken baguette with cherry muffin from Lucky's in Waterloo Place
  • Two mini Cornish pasties and three onion bhajis en route as mentioned
  • Five pints of lager just (no crisps - very fattening)
  • Then back home I got stuck into the fridge:
  • Gregg's Steak Bake left over from Saturday
  • Tin of tomato and three bean soup
  • Iceland meat stew with dumplings
  • All served with lashings of wholemeal bread
  • Oh, and don't forget one Bounty Bar and half an apple. (Too full to finish it.)
  • Do you know - I might have put on two and a quarter pounds (say it slowly), but I don't feel even slightly hungry!



    Fun and games in Scotland of late about a footballer crossing himself and getting a police caution for breach of the peace. Plus Keith Richard smoking at their concert on Friday. You couldn't make it up. Either of them. The whole world's daft except thee and me, and sometimes I wonder even about thee. As my late mother used to say.

    Gordon's organised a blogmeet for one hundred years in the future. Is there any point in blogmeets any more, now that everyone's a blogger? Could as well stick a pin in the phonebook and invite a bunch of strangers that way.

    I'm not talking about bloggers you read and love, of course. I'd adore meeting my sidebar. Adore it. Even pay for the buffet. But random bloggers? I mean, no-one has a biro-users meeting. Or do they? Or am I wrong? Or am I being provocative on purpose to get more comments than yesterday's paltry two?

    Wow. This is my first day off for a week, what with work and walk commitments. Work and walk. That's a great title. Or Walk with Wark. But she'd never lower herself.

    Right. That's more than enough for nothing. It's eleven o'clock and the cat's litter isn't done. This boy's gotta have some fun today. Burn off those bhajis bigtime.

    Who ya gonna call?

    *Bealach: Col or saddle between two hills.


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    Monday, August 28, 2006

    COME ON BABY, LIGHT MY FIRE

    Hiya! Happy Monday. By the time you read this I'll be scampering over my beloved Pentlands again - as usual.

    Part of me says stop for a while, as by the end of last week there was near-industrial tiredness. Staggering into the Regent, straight off the bus after five hills, desperate for contact, and then unable to chat even when good company was at hand.

    We're moving into a new physical ballgame now, something I've never known before. A body of calm and purposeful rationality, often tingling with health - although that bit ain't necessarily good. The tingle. Can as easily mean catabolism, or muscular breakdown.

    What's New, Pussycat?

    But Peter - you've often written about running and cycling. Surely you're no stranger to shifting carcass?

    And of course you are right. It is a bit baffling, the difference. In the past - however much exercise was going on, I was then a heavy smoker and drinker. These things, particularly smoking, hugely limit the oxygenation.

    Nowadays that oxygenation is supreme. You're halfway up a steep face and you're at your limit. So you stop for a breather.

    Aaaaaaaaaaaa - phewwwwwwwwwww!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaa - phewwwwwwwwwww!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaa - phewwwwwwwwwww!
    Aaaaaaaaaaaa - phewwwwwwwwwww!

    About twenty of them - maybe thirty. Mouth wide open. Gasping for breath. Would suck in a passing plane. Hot breath over your face in the cold wind. Heart banging like a shithouse door.

    And then it happens - the brand new feeling! The tingle, the surge, the thrust of hyperventilation! Upwards, in the back of your head, like a stimulant drug. Amphetamine poker. Poke! Poke! Poke into your very brain.

    So you grab your hiking poles and set off up again... higher and higher... burn off that oxygen before it burns off you.

    In these small ways do we now do what our body was built for. For possibly the very first time. (I was never an active child. Too bookish. Had to be, to escape from my parents.) If they'd had Harry Potter I'm sure I'd have become him. But had to settle for Mrs Blyton's oeuvre instead. And Biggles, of course.



    So what do you do - with industrial tiredness?

    Well, you sleep lots. And eat, almost force-feeding at times. For someone who's spent a year losing weight it's a strange thing indeed to raid the freezer at night and defrost and cook mini Cornish pasties. So late - when you could easily get away with an apple, or even nothing at all. No, you micro that munchie and shovel it down. And still you lose a pound in a week.

    For today part of me says don't climb, just rest. Relax, have a lunchtime drink with Babs or Sandra. Caesar salad. You know you're neglecting your friends of late - all this solitary trekking. But then I check my Metcheck, and see the sky is dry though windy, and the decision makes itself. (I'd love them to come, but they never will.)

    Today I will eat more, I promise. And rest a little en route. Try to get to the pub post-trek without being raving incoherent. Never used to be this bad.


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    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    BLOGGING THE NIGHT AWAY!

    Bit restless during the night. Availed myself of Brad the new DellBoy to see what was happening in Blogworld.

    And it was loads!

    Started with The Friday Project, where I noted so many familiar names now in print, or going there. "Based on the hugely successful award-winning online diary!"
    But - as someone shrewdly observed later in my browsings, it's significant that we now regard success in blogging as getting out of blogging.
    To something called BritBlog roundup then, and there my eyes almost left my head.

    Bloggity, bloggity, blog. And do you what they had in common? That's right! I'd barely heard of any of them. What has happened to British blogorrhoea while we weren't looking? Who are these people? Do we know them? Do they know who we are? And do they even care?

    The Way We Were

    You see, for some years I'd assumed that everything blogwise was on my sidebar. Interesting blogs would come here, hang around the comment boxes till they got that all-important mention, and the little family would increase by one.

    Some are still excellent and thus still here. Some others turned out to be very nasty pieces of work indeed, and doubtless are still winging their nasty little lives about the place, real and virtual.

    In short: that little list was my personal encapsulation of all that really mattered.

    But look at these! Britblog roundup, supposedly, and this is the only one I've ever read. Heard of this, glanced at this because of the brouhaha, and after that it's the same lot over and over again. Nearly all London, incidentally.

    So, not wanting to drop completely out of the loop, I tried my hand at this one. Rubbishes the recent airport security thing. Loads of comments. Posits the startling idea that John Reid the Home Secretary was once engaged to LITERALLY beat up members of the Communist Party.

    Then this, which does the blog v papers thing, if you can stay awake till the end of it. She then moves on to a cat fight with her (I'm pretty sure, although she doesn't name her), which is a bit more fun. "I earn ten times what she does." Well, that must make you a better person, then. Sorted.

    DUDE, WHERE'S MY BLOGOSPHERE?

    Who ARE all these people? And what has happened to my little list? The only names which crop up in the brave blog world of newbies are MBIAT (almost everywhere), JonnyB somewhat less, mike, anna and Gordon a little less still - and that's it! Of my own little opus there is no sign. We have flushed down the plughole of progress. We are an ex-blog. We have ceased to be.

    And do you know? I don't give a fuck! What a load of bollocks I read during the night. Give me my blogroll any day - however retro it might be. There was some damn good stuff on 78s.


    And you say? (21)   Link to this


    Friday, August 25, 2006

    FEAR OF FLYING

    Predictable little show on Channel Four last night, where this quack guy "cures" people of so-called flying phobia.

    At one point he defines phobias as "fear of something with no perceived threat".

    Can I put him right on this before we go any further? To be afraid of some things is perfectly normal. That's why it's built in to our genes.



    Some snakes are poisonous. As are some spiders. Some people fall to their deaths from cliffs and other edges. Happened tragically here in Edinburgh last month. And of course many, many aeroplanes crash into the ground - where the passenger's last awareness is the smell of burning kerosene and roasting flesh.

    Fear of flying? Yes please. It's them sitting in a flimsy aluminium tube 20,000 feet in the air who are NOT terrified who need the "treatment". If you ask me.

    What rubbish.

    And don't get me started on carbon dioxide.


    And you say? (21)   Link to this



    WHAT'S IN A NAME?

    I might have started my first meme.

    Everyone's doing it!

    What's everybody doing?

    Googling their first name.

    Me, I was delighted to be at number 15, after Saint Peter, but above Peter Rabbit. (Since raised to 12.)

    But of course, others have quickly overtaken this tired old hasbeen, and the highest so far is zed at number 4. (Comments on yesterday's post.)

    You MUST use google.com.

    (But clearly, for local interest, you CAN use .co.uk, which puts anna at number 1, Gordon at 2 and me at a mighty 3, below Peter Gabriel and Blue Peter.)


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    Thursday, August 24, 2006

    NIGHTMARE ALL OVER THE PLACE

    Shit. It's only August 24 and the winter horrors are starting already.

    All was fine in the Pentlands this morning. Even plucked up enough courage to talk to someone under 70.

    Graham his name was. Works for Scottish National Heritage. Applied once to be a Pentland Ranger, but didn't make it. I told him about Yogi Bear and Jellystone Park in the sixties. We laughed. And unlike every straight man without exception you ever meet, he didn't once mention wife/girlfriend/children/grandchildren. Not once, even over two hills.

    So maybe not straight then. But it's purely academic. Young enough to be my son, at least.

    DUDE, WHERE'S MY CITY?

    No, the problems started on the bus home. A family got on. Then after a few minutes this guy opposite me starts yakking at them four rows ahead. In foreign.

    Assumed Polish, as you really, really do these days - but no... turned out to be Italian. Yak! Yak! Yak!

    I so felt like interrupting - shouting out! - and saying that IN SCOTLAND YOU DON'T USUALLY CHAT HALF THE LENGTH OF THE BUS!

    DUDE, WHERE'S MY PUB?

    To the Regent for some solace, after negotiating Regent Road, and every language put on God's earth. Twice I had to stop to let people behind me yak their way past. Yak! Yak! Yak!

    FUCK OFF!! Get out of my English Spoken Here ears, why doncha?

    David was at the Regent, and Drew, but I couldn't chat. Mixture of exhaustion and psychosis. I've now knocked a whole hour off my hill-walking time... that is twenty-five percent. Soon I will have to up the ante. Increase the task. Turn five hills into seven. Nothing succeeds like excess.

    The Regent - usually an oasis of calm - was a nightmare also, in keeping with the rest of the afternoon. Fled to the lavvy for a piss, when this guy comes in. Stands beside me. About my own age. Then he starts talking about some bus ticket or other. Wanderer, he kept calling it. Which bus from here to Leith Walk?

    "There's no bus from here to Leith Walk - " I said, slowly, " - and I've never heard of a Wanderer."

    "So you're not from here either?" he asked, Weegie-fied.

    "Lived here thirty years, pal, but I don't like talking with my cock out."

    Zipped up and swept past him. Fuckin eejit. Two cocks pissing and he's talking about bus stops. Ladies, you have no idea. None. Why ever did they get rid of the cubicle?

    SHOCK THERAPY

    But that's not the end of it! Oh no.

    Back in my usual armchair seat, trying to read the New Scientist about what the universe is up to this week (my god that rag has dumbed down - any week now I'm expecting Victoria Beckham to feature), when what should happen but a load of mid-twenties arseholes sit at the large table beside me and start playing with some toy that gives you electric shocks.

    Scream! Holler! Ouch!! Yer bastard!!!

    Fled. No choice. Had a Daysaver bus ticket, so could have gone to the Ocean Terminal mall for some possible peace, but no. Back home. You know where you are with a cat.

    "Miaow." (Quietly.)

    Sorry, Dave.

    STAR IN NEW YORK!
    Cheering up somewhat, after quality time with the cat and a tin of mackerel fillet in tomato sauce. She's a wee sausage. The cat, that is. (This paragraph is so fucked.)
    Here's your task: Google for your first name. (Often called Christian name.)

    You'll be around number 1,234,987 I'm guessing. (On kosher google.com, not google.yourbackstreet.)

    But not me. Google for Peter and you'll find me currently at #15 !!

    That's right - four places below Saint Peter, but three above Peter Rabbit, and a massive 25 above that silly Peter Tatchell.

    Peter Mandelson doesn't even seem to register.

    Everybody loves being famous!


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    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    GANG OF FOUR

    Wow! The writers' group was totally brilliant last night.

    Karina wrote an "in seven days" piece, and we debated which day should be regarded as the first of the week. I said I thought Sunday, but Robert said that everything was to do with making money now, and so Monday was the official first day of the week. I said that on the seventh day God rested, so Sunday was the seventh anyway.

    But it's just occurred to me that God (the one who rested) was a Jew, and their Sabbath is on a Saturday, which would put the first day back to Monday, and oh my god wtf cares anyway?



    David had done another chapter for his novel, and sent it, but it was password-protected so we couldn't read it. Robert had done his piece too, but hadn't typed it out.

    We discussed gay adoption*, which was very interesting. Robert said that he was all against it, as children should be given every help, not hindrance, and that having gay "parents" would lead to horror from other children.

    We all agreed. I shook his hand. I said it was good to talk to a gay man with some sense. (I was thinking of that twat in England, who accused me once of being gay-hating because I didn't buy wholesale into his monomaniacal notions of "equality".)

    Here we are: a pretty bunch, I'm sure you'll agree. And intellectual, of course.




    Robert left to go to some Bruckner in the Festival, and then it was "revelation time" for us three. I told them about my early adventures with internet chat. Karina said 28.8 modem, and I raised her with my 14.4. Mightily impressed.

    Here's a story from my earlier site, probably 1998 or 1999. It's still one of my personal favourites.

    Internet Relay Splat!

    The net has since changed a lot, become darker, more dangerous. A place of ill-repute. Then it was all innocent fun between net-savvy adults. I miss those days, but it was time to move on. To what you're reading now. All things change: nothing stays the same.

    *Not "gay abortion", as appeared in some earlier editions.


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    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    PREDICTIVE TEXT

    Life can get a bit "ruttish". Stuck in a.

    Take me, for instance.

    Mondays I usually walk in the Pentlands. Getting there is no problem - my usual means is the 9.30 bus from Waterloo Place, which usually gets to Nine Mile Burn between 10.15 and 10.20.

    Then not much variation in the route, having discovered how pleasant it is. Usually the same five hills, in fact: West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law, Carnethy Hill, Turnhouse Hill, and then the mega-descent to Flotterstone. This used to take about four hours, but nowadays is usually just over three.

    In fact, I usually just miss the 1.30 bus back to Edinburgh, which means - surprise, surprise - time for a couple of pints in the pub! Most often Tennents, but occasionally Guinness.

    Before the pub though, I usually sit and enjoy my packed lunch at this seat.




    Penny-pinching I know, as the pub does sell food, usually quite good, but this way I spend less than a pound and still get quite full. Usually on mini Cornish pasties and mini Scotch Eggs, but at the moment I'm diversifying into onion bhajis, as the Scotch eggs are a bit tasteless after freezing. Freezing seems to preserve the goodness, but steal the taste somehow.

    IT'S NOT UNUSUAL

    Yesterday however, at this very bench, something most unusual happened. That's right! My watch strap broke and I almost, but not quite, lost the watch. And I'd probably never have found it again, amongst all the mud and plant life. To say nothing of animals.

    What was a boy to do? This meant a complete change to my routine, involving a visit to a watch shop for a new strap. (I'd already tried one shop in the environs of the Regent Bar, but he'd said to go to Princes Street.) And Princes Street during the Festival is usually a total no-no. No-go. Except for hee-haws from Oxford and Cambridge, up to "do Edinburgh." As if.



    The first shop was Ernest And Jones. I noted watches in the window for one and a half thousand pounds. These would be slightly beyond my budget, which most days goes no further than twenty quid, and yesterday was no exception. As David the writer said later in the Regent, what's the point of spending that much on a watch, when you can tell the time perfectly well from a watch costing a tenner.

    I said I totally agreed, except that rich people have to find ways to point out how rich they are, and they can't do that with a tenner watch, but a two grand one does the biz quite well.
    Oh, and talking of the Regent, I'm beginning to sense these people are not quite as ready and willing as the Port crowd to audition for my little weblog. I've already deleted Christophe's scene, as I estimated he wasn't pleased, and now no-one at all will pose for a snap. It's a publishing nightmare, I can tell you. Bet Janet Street Porter never has these problems. I told Karina I would wait till she was drunk, and get her permission for a snap then.
    Me, I rarely shop beyond charity shops, as well you know. It's good to help people with Chest, Heart and Stroke. Plus there you get true originals.



    The first watch shop was called Ernest and Jones. [Ed: you already said that. Get a grip you old lush.] The lady was very nice, as she pointed out that they don't actually stock Casio watches, but I could go to the St James Centre mall and look for the H Samuel shop which does.

    This I did, after dodging the usual street musicians at the end of Princes Street, and taking care not to put any money in their offertories, as if you ask me they should get proper jobs.
    Earlier there was this black guy in Rose Street, croaking along Old Man River style, completely a Capella, and yet people were flocking to stuff money in his Starbucks coffee cup.
    Novelty, I think they call it. They were all grinning. He'd brought some happiness into their office and shopping lives.

    Oh, this story's got even more boring than usual now. They hadn't got any straps, so I bought a new damn watch. Casio. Fourteen quid. Hate it cos it looks so cheap. Went to the Regent. As usual.



    I found all the stuff about Windows XP, by the way. You click on the task bar a couple of times, and there's Windows XP How-to Centre. Quite brill. But why didn't you tell me? That's what I keep you for, you know. You can have XP look or Classic look, which is chillingly old-fashioned. Almost 3.1. Don't miss Pornyboy's vasectomy. So real it hurts to read. (Start down a bit and work up.)

    PS: This cunning piece will double as my submission to the writers' group. Tonight's topic: festival. (It would be boring just to write about "festival", so I wrote about "usual" instead. That's called creativity. Thinking outside the loop.)


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    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    LATE SUMMER GIVE-AWAY!!

    To celebrate the passing of our millionth visitor last night (since records began, which was a bit arbitrary), to celebrate that and to thank you dear reader, Naked Blog is offering this souvenir picture as a background for your computer.

    Lovingly taken just last week, it shows a more typical Scottish outlook than Benidorm blue sky, which to be honest is a bit of a rarity. Although getting less so with global warming.




    The scene is from the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh. On your skyline are L to R, Carnethy Hill, Scald Law, and South Black Hill.

    Click the pic to get the large size, then right-click "Set As Background".

    Offer ends August 31, so HURRY!

    PS: The millionth visitor was from Louisiana, USA. Searching for "horny housewives". Must be between hurricanes over there, then.


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    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

    Hi.

    It's 7pm on Saturday.

    By the end of this evening my little blog will have attracted one million hits.

    (Well, actually it's millions more than that, as I only took up counters well into Naked Blog's run.)

    But never mind.

    One million.

    Say it quick, say it slow.

    Thank you one and all. (Even though most of you just wanted Natasha Kaplinsky naked.)
    The little counter thing is at the bottom of this page. Before that there was that one that looks like an acid tab, so I added the figures on. As you're supposed to do. Before that I truly can't remember. They suddenly started asking for two hundred quid a year, anyway.
    Why am I so underwhelmed?


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    Friday, August 18, 2006

    FOUR THOUSAND HOLES

    So what's happening in the world?

    Switched the News on yesterday at seven, for no better reason than I hadn't switched the News on for two months and there was nothing else to do. (Since Natasha Kaplinsky left there's just no fun in it any more.)
    Now call me parochial and uncaring all you want, but I know I speak for Mr and Mrs Britain when I say that what we want is a roof over our heads, food in the cupboard, and safety to walk the streets. What they Jews and Arabs get up to is up to them. Let them get on with it, if you ask me.
    Strange really, all this blowing each other to buggery. Used to be such cultured peoples. Arabs invented mathematics, you know, and Jews violin playing.

    It's a shame.

    FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES




    My new walking acquaintances did something of a gelling act yesterday. It happened like this:
    You'll recall my mentioning two new pals I've been chatting to in and around the Pentland Hills. John I walked with a couple of weeks ago (and again this morning, except I was faster this time, but we get out of order), and Claire my hip replacement lady at the bus stop.
    Well, to both parties I'd been singing the praises of the Flotterstone Inn. (I should be getting money from those people, the publicity I give them!) And yesterday who should turn up at the Inn, quite independently, but Claire and John! I introduced them and we chatted loads. All the way back on the bus.

    This time Claire asked me what I did. She's going to get some better boots, she said, and then she and I are gonna do a "full circuit". (Eleven hills.) But I sense it might be a wee while yet before Claire is quite ready for that. Strange being the youngster in a group! Strange watching them forget even more things than I do!

    BASE CAMP

    Back at the Regent for victuals and debriefing, I made a complete arse of myself by sounding off about benefit scroungers to a man who is on benefit for genuine health reasons. You couldn't make it up.

    PENSE

    I remember this from my Aunt Jessie's living rooom wall:
    "If you would keep your lips from slips,
    Five things observe with care.
    To whom you speak,
    Of whom you speak,
    And how and when and where."
    Great advice, which I've spent a lifetime not following. No wonder I have no friends.

    Well, maybe a couple...


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    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    IN CONCERTANTE

    Just watched a very lovely Mozart Prom concert on BBC, the highlight being the Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola. Oh how it took me back!

    That piece was on the first ever LP (as they were called then) I owned - kindly and generously given to me by some distant relatives as we visited them. Our house was not a musical one, however, and there were no means to play records at all. There was radio, and the new-fangled thing called TV, and that was it.

    So what music I could hear more or less had to be on the telly, as the radio was perma-tuned to the Light Programme, and my mother's adored Housewives' Choice.



    It was not a house of high culture. Although there was hugely more serious music on the telly than nowadays (this being well before Big Brother and even Top of The Pops), to watch/hear any of it meant riding my father's scorn and derision.

    For my father suspected any and all creative people of being "queer" as it was then called. This wasn't enunciated as such, but looking back I can see all the signs. Serious/classical music had him all of a quiver as he sneeringly "air conducted" his way through it, whilst "Come Dancing" wasn't even allowed in the house.

    Strange tonight, watching the violinist and violist, seeing the funny faces all musicians pull at times, and just knowing how my father would have scoffed. I stopped looking quite soon, and listened as if to radio. Music was never designed to look pretty. It is an aural experience. High music can live better without close-ups.

    Nicola Benedetti looked nice though, introducing the works. Imagine Kirsty Wark but with a discernible talent.



    This performance of the Sinfonia Concertante was adequate without being spectacular. For that I would still hark back to that LP recording of my teens, by David and Igor Oistrakh - David Oistrakh being a colossus of mid twentieth century violin playing.

    I saw him play at the Albert Hall in the summer of 69, with Bob my then lover. But I've never told you about Bob, and now maybe isn't the best time to start. If ever there would be a good time. (He was Scottish, but it wasn't him in the horsebox.)

    We haven't met for nigh on twenty years, and you always wonder... you know... with the curse. Strange old life, when you tend to assume that anyone you've not seen for a while is dead - and here we are still just in our fifties. But sometimes they're alive. There are alive ones in the Regent - gay guys of my near exact age. And we grasp and greet: "So you made it too!" Strangers, I'm meaning. Not friends. They've all long since died or moved away.

    So there we are. Two big memories in one post.



    Work today was extraordinary. Although bingo calling is quite definitely the "end of the pier" of showbiz, the poor man's Graham Norton, it nevertheless is show business. Does qualify. And this means emotional exposure and a level of risk. It also means teamwork support from the stewards and claim-checkers, who tend to be barely out of their teens, if even that. And you can't put old heads on young shoulders, and sometimes things become unsatisfactory, and sometimes it needs a sterner voice than mine to make it better, and all of that happened today, and thank you Boss, very much, for seeing the need and doing the biz.


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    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME

    Yesterday on my walk I met two handsome men - the first time I've ever felt that oomph in the hills.

    Incidentally, despite requests from mike and zed yesterday for some Naked Bonkmemoires, I feel this isn't quite the place. As I'm about as far from anonymity as it's possible to be on the interschneckle, I hardly see my career advancing overnight were I to "drop everything" on these pages. Oh no.

    Oh, and equally incidentally, after reading Belle's guide to remaining anonymous, I really have to ask, was it worth it? "Trust no-one, ever, for your whole life." Not my idea of happiness, hon. I'd rather be poor and make mistakes just like most people do.
    No - we haven't always embraced celibacy with the present eagerness. I would say there was about a quarter century of reasonably "hot action", which is about all one can really ask for or expect. I won't die wondering. About most things. The most surprising place was probably in a horsebox.



    I was sitting on the stile between Scald Law and Carnethy Hill when they came up from Loganlea reservoir. Two men and a dog. Talking of which, they looked not unlike that one in Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. The tasty one. Turned out they were brothers. One was on leave from the army. I forgot to ask Afghanistan or Iraq. Or what he thought of Tony Blair. Or Stop The War. How useless a blogger am I. But I did warn them of the wasps on top of Carnethy.

    Wasps were everywhere, on every summit. And bees, quite intermingling on each others' territories. It was a humming, buzzing sting-o-rama. Couldn't sit, couldn't eat, couldn't drink. Keep on runnin'. Eventually on Turnhouse Hill there was a little break, but here were flying ants. It was like something out of the Amityville Horror.

    Wildlife! Doncha just love it!?!

    The grouse-shooting season has begun, but so far only on Hare Hill. You could hear the intermittent "Pop! Pop! Pop!" Shooting grouse is fucking cruel. I'm sure far more birds get maimed than killed. They should just ban it, like fox hunting. Or protesters should send up a few cats to get the birds to escape. Zoe could do that. Animals, those shooters. Hanging's too good for them.



    The men wore matching camouflage trousers, and both had sweaters on, despite the sun and the exertion. Strange. I think the army one got wind of my fantasies, and a couple of hills later, when I was on another stile, muttered something about "that guy's after my ass". Or maybe it was something entirely different. I get paranoid like that.

    A very fat man and woman came down to the stile. He was giving her a barometric reading from a gadget on his wrist. It was 950 hectapascals. Most impressive. I asked him if it was different from the tops of hills to the bottom, but he said not. I said I found that hard to believe. He said that was barometric pressure. I said well then what's hectapascals? The woman said she knew nothing. She had truly enormous tits, and I felt sorry for her. Her natural place would be beside a cool pool with an icy drink and sun oil, not hefting her mammaries around the place hoping to shed a pascal or two.

    But if I can lose weight at my age, then truly anyone can.

    FLY ME TO THE MOON

    At the Flotterstone Inn I read the Daily Express, as there was nothing else. Topic de jour was airport profiling. Someone called Lord Stevens had said there was no point in searching him at airports because he was clearly not a suicide bomber. Similarly the mother with tots, the gay couple, the rugby supporters. The only people who needed to be searched were young Muslim males, he said.

    This topic appeared on just about every page of yesterday's Daily Express, in one form or another. They said it would be "disingenuous" to disagree with Lord Stevens, who is a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

    And now it's in Naked Blog, for your thoughts. Me, I know nothing, like the lady with the pneumatic tits and barometric man. One thing I do know however is that no-one - no-one - HAS to get into aeroplanes. It is ALWAYS their choice. You pays yer money, and you takes yer chance.

    Back at the Regent, Drew said that Stevens was wrong, and they should search everybody. I can't remember what David the writer said, except that he was finding it a bit weird being a character in a blog. I said you just have to get used to it, but I apply very strict self-censorship.

    I JOIN THE MODERN AGE

    Passed out in the evening with zoe on my chest. Wide-awaked about eleven, and did something very strange indeed. I listened to my first ever podcast. Yes really. And who better to listen to than me old mate mike of troubled diva. he'd said he had an appointment with Her Royal Madgeness, by which one assumed he was interviewing Madonna for the local press. But no! He was only going to the concert. Ah well. A fascinating hour in any case, which as a side effect allowed me to read a hundred and one new blogs. It's a blog-jungle out there!

    You could never have done all that on Priscilla. Never. She'd have thrown a bluey after mike's first sentence. Sometimes I wonder what else Brad can do. I vaguely remember he makes Cds and DVDs, but I haven't tried it out. Far too modern. No good will come of it. Copyright theft.

    So far I've treated Brad just as if he had Windows 98 on an ancient system. There's nothing I've found in XP Home Edition that shows any new functionality. Maybe home computing really has reached its zenith. At least when you changed from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 you knew you were getting something very different.

    Maybe I'll buy some blank discs and record something. Do you know, that was the first time ever on mike's podcast I've listened to downloaded music. First. Time. Ever. Now that really is crossing some Rubicon. (I always felt how could I claim copyright on my own work if I was stealing other people's with gay abandon.) Although having said that I have popped the odd pic up here, but only from entities I already pay for, like the BBC.

    Fahrenheit game continues to engross and infuriate me. It really is the dog's bollocks. Recommended. Got to work tonight which is shitty. But at least I'll be sober for Lost.


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    Monday, August 14, 2006

    ABBY NATIONAL

    On the "outing" of yet another blogger.

    Indebted to PornyBoy for putting me on the trail of this week's blog shock horror - Girl With A One Track Mind.

    Apparently it's a bonkblog that made it into bonkbook. And what's wrong with that?

    Well, nothing at all. The last thing we have around here is prudishness.



    Well, that's not strictly true. The last thing we have around here is sex. (Must be fifteen years now, and not counting.) Strange idea that. That you're busy humping away, totally unaware it's the last ever time. You'd think you'd want to note it, somehow. With Milk Tray, or a Two For One Meal at Wetherspoons.
    "Honey, you were very average. I can come better on my own, and frequently have done. But seeing as you're the last punter I'll ever ever pull, how's about a fish supper and a can of lager each? I'll pay."

    I can just see it.
    (Readers can detect from this my very humble origins, which never fully went. More working class than Julie Burchill, despite the patina of sophistication this weblog sometimes affects.)



    So Girl With A One Track Mind pretended to be by Abby Lee, who turns out to be Zoe Margolis from Hampstead. My God, my pussy has a bloggable name.
    There was a time when writers could hide behind a nome-de-plume, but I guess those days are long gone.

    Maybe fiction will make a comeback. Get rid of all this messy reality.

    Blogging just doesn't seem such fun any more. Tainted. Thinking of getting rid of the ads. Scruples.
    Anyway! Enuf. It's seven in the morning and the big ol' sun is shining down His killer rays. I'm off to the hills - see what Mother Nature's up to this week. The heather should be in full bloom any day now, and you'll be the first to see it. Sorry we don't have much in the way of bonks, but I've a feeling you're above that sort of thing.

    Girl With A One Track Mind


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    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    SUICIDE BOMBER

    Continuing yesterday's waspish theme, here is one that didn't get away.



    But what a way to go.

    Wider Still And Wider

    Congratulations to the mighty zed for yet another gizmo - this time the MSN best thirty blogs list. When zed set out (I remember it well), she said she intended "to continue till she'd conquered blogland."

    Must be getting close...

    (We love it when our friends do well!)


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    Friday, August 11, 2006

    TERROR IN THE SKIES!

    Last week I wrote to you about a dangerous wasps' nest in the cairn on top of Carnethy Hill in the Pentlands. I said I'd phoned the Pentland Rangers, who could do nothing, as wasps are wildlife. And then I phoned the Edinburgh Evening News, who prefer to fill their paper with Tommy Sheridan and festivalshite.



    So imagine my horror on approaching the summit again yesterday to see a man, woman and dog sheltering from the 30mph blast. In the stones, just inches from buzzy disaster. (The only thing stopping them from being stung to death already was that very wind. It's probably impossible for wasps to fly in that.)



    "Wasps!" I shouted at them, pointing my stick at the cairn.

    No response. Blank stares.

    "There are wasps in those stones!" I elaborated, quite slowly now, in case they were foreign.

    No response. Alarmed stares at the old man waving a pointed stick at them. So I was forced to resort to mime.

    "BZZZZZZZZ!" I went at them, my fingers imitating small flight, then landing on my cheek and pecking. (It is near impossible to mime the stinging action.)

    Comprehension sank in, I could see. So I waved at the cairn again. "BZZZZZZ!"

    "Thank you very much," the lady said.

    I left, as my work there was done.

    JOINT ACCOUNT

    An hour later, and three hundred metres lower, mas o menos, I got to chatting again to my hip replacement lady at the Flotterstone bus stop. Her name is Claire. I think we are becoming friends. This time we sat together on the bus for half an hour, but our friendship was already wearing a bit thin, due to Claire's excessive verbiage. Chat is meant to go a little bit both ways. I sense she's maybe a tad lonely. She was a little bit interested in zoecat I could tell, but she's not what you'd call a cat person.

    REGENT AFFAIRS

    "Where's my money all gone?" I wailed later at David the writer in the Regent Bar. I think we are becoming friends. "Started off with three brownbacks (thirty pounds), and now look!" There was one crumpled fiver and a few miserable coins on the bar in front of me. I searched my more distant pockets in the vain hope of finding some more paperwork, but nada. My goose was cooked. My cheap day in the hills had once again turned into an Executive Sauna.

    It must be possible to come down off the Pentlands and go straight home to the cat. Must be. Imagine how much weight you would lose as well, instead of drowning inside a keg of Tennents. I'll let you know if it ever happens.

    Wakey Wakey!

    So, "Who are all these people?" I demanded of David then. Loads of Regent customers in black outfits. "Funeral," he said. "Or rather, a wake."

    "Nah, not a wake," I replied, safe on one of my hobby horses. "A wake is the night before a funeral, when you keep watch on the body to deter grave-robbers. What we have here is a Funeral Party."

    "Well, it's a wake by popular usage," David declared. "Like gay, fit and wicked?" I interjected. "That's right," he agreed. "And how are you today, anyway, Peter?"

    "Me - I'm gay, fit and wicked!" We laughed. Murdo came in, but he'd been to a different funeral.

    FAHRENHEIT

    Remember I told you I'd found a PC game I thought I might like? Fahrenheit. It's an interactive movie, where you take different characters. Fine until last night when some gameplay started which I can't complete, even on the EASY setting. So, once again we're on to five percent of a game. The money I've wasted doing just five percent of games. Not even bothering to INSTALL Vice City, as I know I'll get no further than on the PlayStation. Pisses me off. When you've spent all that money there should be some option that just completes bits you can't do for you. Wouldn't take a moment to include that feature.

    Corrections and Clarifications

    The Friday Project. Last time I was casually mentioning that I never did get a copy of 2005: A year in Blog. (One of the featured articles is from Naked Blog.)

    Let me point out in no uncertain terms that the fault was entirely my own, in not replying to the offer of a copy. I can go weeks, months even, without looking at email, as well you all know.

    Thanks to Clare and to Paul for appearing so promptly in my comment box, and even repeating the offer. I sense a hand from Norfolk in all of this!

    Must get some of these volumes dusted down and shaped in to some sort of saleable collection. Some pure wheat amongst the chaff. Just needs selection, rather than much editing. Gay sells worldwide, even old gay. It's a lingua franca.


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    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    CONGRATULATIONS! WE HAVE A WINNER!

    As something of a local celebrity, from my radio work, bingo, and of course this masterpiece you're currently reading, as a local lunchtime sleb, I do from time to time get asked to do a PA. (That's Personal Appearance, for you plebs.)

    Here's a pic of me drawing the winner from some beer promotion stunt in the Regent Bar earlier this week. (If you're thinking of phoning up and offering me money, btw, I do usually dress a little more grandly than this. It was impromptu to say the least.)



    From left to right are moi, (of course), Alan Joy the owner, and Fiona the new winner of a fabulous Karaoke Set. I've heard she's already had an ASBO from her long-suffering neighbours, due to excess of "I Will Survive".

    As ever, due to popular demand, my submission to last night's Writers' Group is here for you below. Read it and weep. (It's that bad.) *Grin*


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    PENIS MIGHTIER

    Last night's writing group was a bit subdued, as Karina has left to concentrate on her work. Sadly missed. The topic was "rainbow" and Robert wrote a poem, and David did a chapter towards his novel. Me, I was about to not do it and drop out myself, when just literally one hour before the meeting I got this piece below. Because things were so rushed, there wasn't time to fix the typos.

    Next week: "festival". Suggested by me.




    RAINBOW 8 August 2006 Peter

    Rainbow. Doncha just love it? isn't it just the very Judy Garland of memes, of ideas, of tropes?

    And doncha just love trope.

    Isn't it justthe very acme of words people never heard of. Zoetrope. American zoetrope.

    My cat is called zoe. Must call the next one trope, btw.

    But back to rainbow. Or Regenbogen as the Krauts are wont to say.

    Regenbogen. Regent Boggin! Not really, just in my madness of word association.

    Associatetd words. Ass Ociated. Doctor i got an Ociated Ass.

    Well bend over and lets have a look.

    Muy got that ass is oicated. It is the most ociated ass I can ever remember. That will be twenty five dollars. Put this cream on, or up if you can bear it.

    Rainbow. Some. Where.

    When we were kids we used to chase them. Not for pots of gold, because we just werren't that daft. But to see what the grorund lookekd where they were. Looked like up close. Touch that rainbow before it's ociated. It was my biggest dream to find the end of the rainbow.

    Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain.

    Whoever heard dof damn indigo. And what's the difference between that and violet. And how do you divide a continuos field into seven discrete things. Whwat's between Red and Orange, for instance. Rorange. Orange and dyellow. Orlow.

    Wnhen we were kids we used to mix our upaints together. Make new colours. Taste the rainbow of furit falvours. Had to get that in.

    What was ig for , the rainbow of fruit flaovurs? Well i can tell you. It was Skittles. The key colour we tried to make was brown. "I got a great brown!" we would cry. Somehow the teacher, Mr Gowland never minded. I'm sure he was secretly reading nporn for two yh0urs while we maixed brown. "What's in your brown?" "I got blue and yellow and green."

    We used to put thick black lines round our objects. Especially ships. Ships were a great favourite - pointed at the front, and rounded at the bacck. People were damn hard to draw. We had to draw Long John Sivler once, and that wass fucking hard, I'm telling ya. Still can't do feet to this day. Mr Gowland said my painting ahd tow left feet. Well that's better than no fujcking feet I'm sure. AT least with twow left feet you can go left as much as you want. Look at Tony and Gordon. To say nothing of John Prescott.

    Rainbow alliance. Rainbow warrior. I was on that once, in Leith. Fell head over heels in love with the guy giving the presentation. it was the day of the last eclipse. Big Al came with me but he died earlier this year. Prostate. Just in his fiftiess too.

    On saturday the thebans* were celebrating things thebanish in the Regent. Butchly. So strange to see a whole bunch of butchness, not one screaming queen, yet all as bent as nine bob notes. i told David about this. He's very patient with me when I'm drunk which I usually am. Tjhe thebans have got a pciture of a bus and a man waving a rainbow flag. It's in the John. The REgent Johnm. that's enough about raingbows.



    *Thebans: a gay men's rugby team. Whilst I'm not usually in favour of segregation, I can see a place for this. It was a genuinely strange experience, in The Regent on Saturday, seeing all these men not looking or acting the tiniest bit gay. If I had hormones left to flood...


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    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    BLOGS V PAPERS: THE FAT LADY SINGS

    Indebted to Urban Chick in my recent comment box for this piece in the Friday Project. Blog Envy. Does much the same as I wrote on Sunday, just longer and better. Tears into Street Porter. Leaves Alibhai Brown without a leg to stand on. Others too.

    Brill!

    Must check out The Friday Project. Weren't they the ones who published me in a book last year? Never did get a copy. Shucks.

    I think 2006 will be the year it becomes accepted and agreed that apart from a minute number of deadtree columnists (eg Burchill, Ronson), the principal source of comment is now from blogs. Newspapers will continue to have their place in reporting.


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    CHEMICAL WEAPONS
    Another long and rambling one, as I'm hungover, and sitting here with you beats doing anything sensible!
    Although I've tried to spare you the ghastly details to date, I have now got the time and space to bring you a report from the war-torn stairways of Naked Towers. Motto: why be peaceful when you can have a drama?

    It's a Dettol disinfectant drama. Or, to be honest, something much stronger than Dettol - something you would think twice about putting even into a plague pit - and certain neighbours are splashing it around the shared stair with gay abandon.
    We have had a bit of trouble with the rear drains, to be honest. And yes, there was a bit of whiff wafting up from them. Drain smell. Not nice. But - as it didn't percolate as far as my own hallowed entrance, I left it to the people further down to deal with. One phone call to the council. Sorted. Why should it be me who has to do everything?
    I Put A Smell On You

    And then, a few days ago, what should greet me on my boozy return home but not drains any more - rather a nose-burning blast of powerful carbolic. Horrible caustic chemicals had invaded our stairway. Who had put them there? And how could we get rid of them without starting WW3 ? (I felt sure, but wrongly as it transpired, that it was one particular mad neighbour responsible.) But we're getting out of order.

    I washed the rear passage (don't faint), the basement passage that leads to the shared garden. (Here I'm searching for ways to avoid writing "washed the back passage".) Left the front and back doors open. Blocked my letterbox with toilet paper to get some slight relief. Eyes burning. Nose streaming. Poor zoe coughing and wheezing. These people are fucking terrorists.

    Camel's Back

    Well, yesterday coming in from the lovely Regent, what should greet me but even more of the stuff, lying in puddles, its horrible grey-white chemicalness staring up at me, taunting. "What ya gonna do about this, gayboy?" So I filled a bucket. Another one. Grabbed a broom. Descended to the basement, dumped my gear, and started banging on people's doors. The very first one I banged opened up. It was a woman of about forty. Never seen her before. That flat had been unoccupied for some time.
    "Do you know who is putting disinfectant in the rear passage?" I asked, perhaps not at my calmest after the bevvy.

    "Yes, it was me."

    "You must stop doing that, or I'll have to call the council and the police. You are poisoning everybody's homes."
    I figured that if it was tainting my house, and I'm the furthest away, then others would be faring even worse. I could even smell carbolic on my clothes after three hours in the Pentlands yesterday. I'm smelling carbolic wherever I turn. I'm getting carbolic psychosis, I truly swear it.

    At that her man came to the door, belligerent. "I'm calling the police because of your threatening behaviour," he shouted. "Shut the fuck up!" I shouted back, and ignored him and kept talking to the woman. She seemed to be the force of rationality in the relationship. I felt she and I could do business.

    The guy kept running away out of sight, then darting back with yet more aggression. I held firm. I said I'm going down there to swill it and brush it away, and if there's one more drop I'm reporting you for anti-social behaviour.

    And the result?

    Well, today there is none. Plenty of lingering smell, but no new carbolic I can see. The rear door remains propped open where I left it.

    And that was my introduction to my new neighbours. Lovely to meet you.

    Crazy World of Arthur's Seat

    Yes, it was on fire yesterday. Or rather it wasn't. It was the neighbouring hill, Whin Hill, the very K2 to Arthur's summit, which was ablaze. Two thousand square metres. But no big deal. Vegetation needs fires now and again. Makes stuff germinate or summat. I've got photos and video, but it's kinda yesterday's story now.




    As is the wasps-in-a-cairn drama I told you about a couple of posts below. They're still there, Evening News. Still poised to sting to death any passing child eating an orange. (But it is a bit of a Drop the Dead Donkey, I quite realise. What with Tommy Sheridan and "The Festival".) This town is awash with Festival for a few weeks. Princes Street is a no-go area.

    One show I won't be going to. That five thousand years of gay culture should be reduced to two old queens with their mouths open. I mean, Michelangelo it ain't.

    Or am I missing something? (Wouldn't be the first time.)


    The People You Meet On The Hills

    There were four principals yesterday. First up was a chatty guy on the top of West Kip. Sitting having a rest, as I posed on the highest bit of rock and checked my time. Nine minutes twenty seconds from the no-cycling post at the foot of the western approach. Last time was eight minutes thirty-eight. Getting worse Peter, not better. But I blame the jeans. Too restrictive. But the former, slacker ones have sprung a big hole in the arse. Overuse.

    We chatted quite loads. He told me he lectures in IT at Napier University. I said I could remember when it was a Polytechnic. He said he could remember further than that when it was a College of Commerce. Nice guy. Ages with me I could see when he divested of hat and shades. I told him to read about himself today here on the bleurg.

    Next up was this guy about forty who was really interested in the trekking poles. He said he was getting hip and knee pain. I said the poles are ace. Just fifteen quid a pair from Lidl. Apparently Tesco sell them too. Strange what you can get in a supermarket these days.



    Number three was this lady again my age or even a little older. Shades but no hat. Family group - six to sixties kinda thing. We chatted about path erosion. She told me it had been so lovely till the mountain bikes came and dug everything up. We chatted for really quite a while.

    Then suddenly - completely out of the blue: "Are you [MY FULL NAME]?" she asked. "Why yes," I answered, intrigued. "Which begs the question, who are you?" She'd taken off her shades now, but still I wasn't registering. (She was about fifteen feet above me.) She named a school in the city. "Why yes - Mrs Surname!"

    Turned out she was a colleague of oh - must be quarter of a century ago. She said I hadn't changed. I said neither had she. She said but you didn't recognise me. I said nor did you for ten minutes! We laughed. So nice and warm. Old times. One of our number is dead, she said.

    That was really spectacular. I told you a few weeks ago about a former pupil ascending Carnethy, but pupils happen quite a bit. This was very special. A lovely lady.

    I was descending Turnhouse Hill now, towards Flotterstone. The final descent. It's really fuck-off steep. Knee-killer without poles. Here's a pic of the Flotterstone Inn where I often slake my thirst. Bijou or what?



    Joint Account

    At the bus stop was a solitary woman, again a little older than oneself.
    You know, one of the very great joys of my new hobby is its widespread enjoyment by the frankly elderly. Previous to this, the only elderly people I saw were in pubs or in my world-famous bingo. Nothing wrong with either practice, but perhaps not the highest of health indicators, many would say.
    I asked her if she'd enjoyed her walk. She said yes. She said she had a very different body now, as she'd had a hip replaced, and other things done. I didn't ask, fearing mastectomy. Once started, my new acquaintance was unstoppable. She had in her day clearly been supremely fit.
    (Here at NB when we write "fit" we alwaysmean pneumocardiovascular. We imply no "attractive" connotations at all.) Language! I ask you!
    And this lady from her descriptions of former activity was up there with the Gods of fitness. Until, as she told me, she could no longer walk or even stand for the pain. She blamed marathons. Not the races themselves, but the daily pounding the roads in between races just to keep your body in the right place. I said I understood. Gods of fitness, and this is her reward.

    She said it was much more a problem with women's hormonal changes than with men. Her whole talk was beginning to revolve around joints, but then the bus came and we parted. Nice woman. Hope to chat some more.

    JUST DESERTS

    Thanks for all your lovely banana and cottage cheese recipe ideas yesterday. Our team of crack chefs are hard at work realising your suggestions.

    Strange how disappointing the two items were together. Kind of tasteless mush.

    Yet banana is so awesome with both ice cream and chocolate! Anyone remember BANANA SPLIT? Of course you do. It was the dessert of the seventies! And what about KNICKERBOCKER GLORY! As sixties as Twiggy and Mary Quant. Oh, the sweet memories. You can keep your damn sushi.

    (The sixties was the decade also when spaghetti bolognese came out of the Heinz tin and became a fashion icon.)

    GAME FOR ANYTHING

    Bought GTA Vice City to play on Brad. Don't know why, as on PS2 I never got past Waste The Wife. Also bought Fahrenheit, which someone told me was good. Different.

    And that was edited highlights of a busy day in the life of a hillwalker. Glorious. Until the neighbours from carbolic hell.

    OUT AND ABOUT AT THE FESTIVAL

    Mel Smith submits to Scottish smoke-ban and doesn't smoke his Churchill cigar. Here.

    Festival of blogging. Here.


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    Monday, August 07, 2006

    DISH OF THE DAY

    I've just created my first original dessert! It's very exciting, so I've called it "Fromage de Banane". (Gordon Ramsay would be swearing by now. He's repellent. Give me Jamie Oliver any day. Or night, even better.)
    Ingredients:
    One banana (ripe)

    Four spoonfuls of Cottage Cheese. Or any number of spoonfuls you fancy.
    Method:
    Mash the banana, then stir in the cottage cheese. Mash some more, till it's pretty well mashed.

    Eat. (It's very ordinary, actually. Doesn't taste of much in particular. Maybe if you microwave it.)

    Serves one.
    Tell me how you got on.


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    Sunday, August 06, 2006

    SUNDAY STIR-FRY

    So MSP Tommy Sheridan wins his libel suit against the News Of The World. This can only be good, as basically everybody loves a stud, and most decent people hate the NOTW. The verdict logically implies that eighteen of the witnesses, some of them MSPs also, are perjurers.

    NOTW are appealing, claiming a perverse verdict. This is a new one to me. I've heard of Guilty verdicts, Not Guilty verdicts and in Scotland there's a legal oddity called Not Proven verdict. But not perverse verdict. We shall see.

    Blog Play in the Festival

    Anna's sister Meg, the Grande Dame of British blogging, kindly writes to remind me of a "personal blogging play" on at the Festival. Bloggers: Real Internet Diaries.
    "An agoraphobic sex chat-line operator. A nymphomaniac mum of three. A predatory queen. Writer-director Oliver Mann has sifted through hundreds of blogs to compile the most darkly comic, engaging personal diaries into a rapidly-paced play."
    (Note not one straight male in that list, btw. Everybody must get fucked, to adapt a Dylan title.)

    As Scotland's top personal blogger I really must pop along to see what can be gleaned from this. All the bloggers gave permissions apparently, and some names have been changed. Well, they would have to be, now wouldn't they?

    Without Punch

    But look! On page two of the play's website, who should pop up but our zed, the Grand Dame of Euroblogging. Zed is also in evidence in this ghastly piece by the equally ghastly Janet Street Porter.
    "The verbal diarrhoea of the under-educated and the banal... Blogs are for anoraks who couldn't get published any other way..."
    It drones on and on. Re her second point: this could well be true. But rather than bewail that fact let's just rejoice that because of blogs we're no longer restricted to the newsprint harridans of the past. As Jack Vettriano memorably said on David Frost once... "What exactly is a 'real critic'? One who's got a job?"

    Come off it Janet, honey. Your time is up. Blogs go from strength to strength, while newspapers are flushing down the toilet. Find another job quick. Elocution teacher? Toothpaste model?

    Oh, and you my dear reader have to spot the MBIAT reference in Street Porter's silly piece. (Zed is disqualified from entering.) God that woman's so famous. In the Blog Play blurb they write
    "thousands check in with blogger Zoe McCarthy on My Boyfriend is a Twat just to laugh at the latest from her unremarkable, though dysfunctional, family life."
    Here they mean "dysfunctional" in the same sense everybody calls The Simpsons dysfunctional, that is - not dysfunctional at all.

    BRAD NEWS

    Brad continues to behave impeccably, with so far not one single crash or bluey. And I should think not. (He's yet to invite me out on a date, but I'm biding my time. Losing weight steadily and packing hard meat on to my fuck-me thighs.) Gluteus maximus.

    Couple of days ago David Simpson phoned from the Dell Computer Company's Glasgow office. Enquiring kindly about Brad's comings and goings. Fine on all counts, I replied - does exactly what it says on the box. What slight problems there've been been have stemmed from the pre-loaded McAfee Security Center. He said they were thinking of Norton. I said why not think of none at all, and let the punter make his/her own mind up.

    Anyway, after the politesse was wearing a bit thin, I asked Mr Simpson what was the point of his call. He said it was service. I said I'd got the cheapest package available, and with the saving I could invest in my own service from local repairers. (The three year on-site package was about a hundred and seventy quid.) But David had an ace up his sleeve. He asked if I'd be interested in that same package for just eighty-four quid. I said yes. He blethered on some more. I said shut up I'll have it.

    And that was that. Moral: if you're buying a Dell computer, reject the service deal in the ad or online, and wait just two weeks till they phone you. That'll be three clicks on my ads, please, spread out.

    Cook Those Books

    Incidentally, Naked Blog (Inc.) whilst not yet in the Microsoft or Google class, looks like it might just earn enough moolah to cover my extortionate hosting, which is fine. More interesting ads are turning up now, as the bots get the hang of the site.

    Me, I'm still mulling over a couple of commercial blog ideas. Well - why not? Put near ten years' experience to profitable use. Just think of it as working for Channel Four. You wouldn't feel soiled by having advertisers pay your meeja wages, now would you? And every newspaper in the land is funded more by ads than by sales.

    Yes - it sure pays to blogvertise. (Readers who pay attention might already have some inkling just where my commercial ideas are headed.)

    Fifteen Years Of The Web

    Nice BBCi timeline here.

    Anybody know any PC games that don't involve shooting? My god how things have changed. For the worse.

    (Thanks to Petite Anglaise for hosting the Janet piece. I'll kill the link in a day or two. Tried the Indy on Sunday, but it's not listed.)


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    Friday, August 04, 2006

    THE WASP FACTORY

    Got a bit of a fright yesterday, in the Pentlands for my now-frankly-autumn walk. (That's right. Gold is in the Scottish leaves already, and the SAD people sense the party's almost over.)



    Many Scottish hills are crowned with a small pile of stones, called a cairn. Here's me on one of them. Although that one doubles as a wind-shelter too.



    So as I say, yesterday there was I, summit-hopping and ridge-striding like a spring lamb. Just looking forward to a wee seat and mini Cornish pasty on top of Carnethy Hill, the fourth in my set of five. Sit on the sun-warmed stones and rest my weary. Pour a nice cup of steaming Nescafe Gold Blend. God's in His garden, and all is right with the world. Or whatever.

    Hills Are Alive

    I know I write that one quite a lot, due to endemic laziness, but yesterday the damn thing came true! Yes, that's right. Carnethy Hill cairn was humming with wasps. Buzzing, crawling, throbbing with wasps. Hundreds of wasps. I felt quite threatened just counting those wasps.

    But of course it all makes perfect sense. Everybody knows this global warming is giving insects an absolute field day this year. Ants! On every pavement! You never used to see ants unless you went to the third world, like Spain. Or Belgium.

    So what finer place for a swarm of wasps than a sun-heated pile of rocks on top of a (fairly) remote hill? Des res. Good address. Easy to stumble home, even in the dark after a pint or six with the boys.

    I was scared, I can tell you. Almost too scared to put my trekking poles and bag down to get the obligatory photo-shoot. But not quite that scared. Already I had the Edinburgh Evening News in mind. Medium shot. Snap! Establishing shot. Snap! Close up shot. "EEEK! Deep breath, Peter." Gently and quietly closer. (You had them in your roof all last summer.) Zoom to max. Never see insects on the camera LCD screen, so point and hope.

    And they are good. Quite stingy and scary. Currently on offer to that very paper.

    Pictures witheld pending hopeful sale. Soon, darlings, soon. A boy has to eat.)



    However, they did wasps' nests last week, so I won't be fussed if they decline. That's showbiz. And you come first, anyway.

    Pleased To Meet You

    Nine Mile Burn, near Penicuik, is a favourite starting place for the main Pentland walk. Nearly always, when I alight from the early bus, there's at least one more dude setting off too. Usually retired, like I'd love to be if I could only afford it.

    And usually considerably faster than this fat scribe you're currently reading.

    Yesterday's new friend was called John. He said he was doing five hills to Flotterstone. I said it takes four hours. He said it only takes him three. He looked closer to seventy than sixty. Well, there ya go. Some day soon that could be me.

    He asked if I wanted to walk with him a while. (Me, I've always been too shy to suggest that, as well you know. Rather sit in a bar in silence with a magazine than risk rejection.) I jumped at the offer, of course. Nice guy. Married. Got grandchildren. Don't they nearly all?

    John and I walked for nearly an hour, until we were running dry of chat. Plus he was faster anyway, so I stopped at some Monk's Fount by the path, and we shook hands and au revoired. But not before he invited me to join his walking club - which is just exactly how I hoped things would pan out soon. What's for ye will no go by ye, as we say in Scotland.

    Update:

    Evening News picture desk just phoned for wasp pics. Watch this space!

    And talking of the press, don't miss Mike's piece about Period Living. What a star! You know I really wish someone would start a magazine called Bad Housekeeping. I'd never be out of it!

    Here's a gratuitous ram. (1 Gigabyte.)


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    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    AFTERMATH

    The hay fever seems to have gone as quickly as it came, but there lingers a huge hangover from the anti-histamine tablet. Only one, but still I feel as if bathed in Class A's for a day.

    Nearly didn't go to the writers' group due to the above, but decided to drag my weary bones along. Cabin fever otherwise - just me and zoe.

    It was very good. Discussions at the highest levels - the levels which interest me most. I said I seemed to have swapped unemployed down-and-outs for potential PhDs with alacrity.

    The topic was silhouette, and David had written a piece fusing silhouette with shadow with shadow-leaving-his-body-at-night and roaming the town getting up to naughty tricks. Great reading.

    Robert wrote a poem referring to the earlier practice of cutting out black paper silhouettes and sticking them on a lighter background.

    Very lovely. I apologised for my own lack of content, due to snotty indisposition and anti-histamine. They were understanding. Next week: rainbow. Had a really nice talk with Robert after K and D had gone. Robert is another gay man in his fifties, but not nearly as far into them as moi.

    Click-o-Matic

    Thank you for all your clicks on my ads, which have generated a modest income so far. (The rules prevent me from disclosing the amount.) But - I still tear my hair out at those ads. The ones on the archive pages tend to be much better, but best of all for my searchers, would be ones like these. (I would only need two, not two dozen.)

    But would my discerning lady readers desert in droves? Zed I sense is already disappointed in me.

    We had a bowl of hot popcorn at the group last night, "...courtesy of the Google company". They were most impressed, I could really tell. We don't have much money, but we quite definitely see life.


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    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    SNOT FUNNY

    No, it certainly isn't. Here I am - drugged, I tellsya - the only thing keeping me from dissolving into a fizzy blob on the carpet being Boots Hay Fever Treatment. (Take one a day.)

    You know how much I hate to take medicine. Medicine makes you worse. Or gives you something else. Or both. But two this morning there I was, scratting through the mess on the living room floor, gagging on an anti-histamine like it was a line of fine Kate Moss.

    Zoe joined in, trying to be helpful, but I was beyond affection for the fat-arsed hairball. "Fuck off zoe! Just looking at yer's making me sneeze!"



    Anyway, the tablets got found. Whole one or half of one? Fuck it! Take a whole one. Got to get some sleep. And I slept, exhausted from a day's sneezing.

    Couldn't leave the house yesterday of course. Not a hope. At the peak I just stopped dabbing my nose, and let the stream run straight onto the belly. Wiped the belly indifferently now and again. How elegant. How now. Now very fucking not to win friends and influence people.

    And tonight it's the writers' group. Silhouette. Haven't a scoobies. Think of silhouette, and all I think is:
    I see a little silhouetto of a man
    Scaramouch, scaramouch will you do the fandango?
    Can't get past that. Nice enough line, but I can't imagine passing it off as my own.




    AD AWARE

    The ads have arrived, and what a sorry bunch. Free blogs for teens, I ask you. What self-respecting teen would give this page a second look, dude. I mean it's not like I didn't drop hints.
    "Hot chick waits for your call! Let her fingers do the walking!"
    Or...
    "She's naked in the kitchen and hotter than a microwave!"
    Anything like that would make me rich almost overnight. Well, literally overnight. I'm already thinking of changing agencies.



    Anyway. It beats working. You gotta laugh. And yes - I have already earned a (small)sum of dollars. Cheap painted whores R us now, and that Rubicon is for ever crossed. I never thought I'd see the day. Never. That we should sink to this. Doing it for money. We don't serve rent boys here.

    Anybody else got hay fever? Feel free to sound off. Later today I'm ascending Arthur's Seat, to get with the long pollen-grass. Total immersion. It's the healthy alternative to Boots poison.

    TWO FROM THE BEEB

    Amanda Farnsworth gives a mini-lecture on Tommy Sheridan for our readers south of the border.

    Who he?

    MSP and former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, currently suing the estimable News of The World over allegations about his private life. Nothing too shocking. Adult women. Consenting. Just rather a lot of them, and him being a married man.

    There's been quite a media frenzy up here, with headline writers vying to outdo each other. It quite quickly escalated from "romps with a woman", to "two women" and then climaxed with "five women AND COCAINE!"

    He sacked his defence. "Tommy drops his briefs!" the papers screamed. Are you getting the picture?

    Anyway - I can't remember the point of the BBC woman's piece, but I laid a thoughtful comment, as you do, when you're in business, sort of thing. Haha.

    DUMB AND DUMBER

    Rivetting piece from Melanie Reid in The Herald today, Scotland's top paper. Here Ms Reid bemoans and bewails the "Fergalisation" of the BBC News, saying - quite rightly - that it's got more theatrics than the Student Union at RADA. (Well, that was me said that. Melanie Reid said something not quite so good.) She especially lays into Fergal Sharkey Keane, and does a tasty skit on his over-acted and inappropriate style.

    You don't need my gloss. Enjoy the article as the discerning reader you are.

    Discerning. Hotter than a microwave. It's like Chinese plates around here, I tellsya. I am forbidden in the rules to suggest that you click on my ads. But does this look like a face that cares?


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    ALLERGIC RHINITIS

    Sneezing for Scotland. Not a pretty sight. How I was put on this earth to suffer.

    At least I can still stroke the cat!

    Great start to the new month.


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    ALLEN CARR HAS LUNG CANCER

    Allen Carr is a world authority on stopping smoking.

    BBC News

    I'm saddened. No matter how smug we might come across as (and you few remaining smokers are so quick to tell us that we do), no matter how smug, we all know that it could be us any day who walks trembling out of the doctor's surgery with that big C diagnosis. Knowing we brought it on ourselves.

    Allen Carr, my personal saviour, hasn't smoked for 23 years.

    Me, I stopped only 3 years ago.

    But even if I were diagnosed tomorrow, these last three years have seemed the healthiest of my life. And no diagnosis can take that away.

    Best wishes to Mr Carr. Love to ex's everywhere. And heart-felt pity to those still enslaved. Words can't describe my hatred of cigarettes, the companies which manufacture them, and the governments which collect the taxes to spend on bombs.


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