It's all a bit final, today. End of a week, end of a month, and end of a half year, even. Don't get that every five minutes.
And of course for England, that last tobacco bastion in the Kingdom (Queendom), it's stub out yer fags after today. So smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette, as you ponder how old-fashioned, disgusting, and downright underclass you've become.
Make no mistake - smoking is now almost exclusively the habit of the lower orders. (To avoid embarrassment, I'll not list them out.) But you'll soon get used to seeing them standing outside pubs and bars, chilled and pinch-faced, as what little moving blood they've got struggles with the freezing temperatures.
Players please. Oh no they don't. Welcome to freezing country. Relax, let the iron lung take the strain. You're never alone in a cancer ward.
So, there we are. Soon your pubs and bars will be fragrant again. (It takes a few weeks for the lingering stench to go.) Fabrics, furnishings, carpets. But it's not all good news. Oh no. Because here in testbed Scotland, smokers have colonised the outdoors. That's right. All that beer garden furniture in pine green plastic - it's the exclusive preserve of the smoker these days. And hell mend any non-smokers straying out there to enjoy some sun. No longer, Jose. (Not that you'd really want to, to be honest - the words Nagasaki and Hiroshima spring to mind.)
That's the only downside - apart from having to negotiate your way past the Morlocks outside every pub. You get a clean inside - they get the outside. Funny old world.
Have fun! It IS a significant step. And don't let malign forces like publicans and bingo merchants try to dilute your ban, like they still do here. ALL ENCLOSED SPACES!
But do you know the really annoying thing? The smokers are having such a damn good time! Yes, you can see them outside - meeting new friends, laughing and chatting, while the non-smokers sit indoors in the sterile gloom, wondering when it all went wrong.
Snake oil salesmen will be rubbing their hands in positive glee today, after the admission by Mr Masculinity himself, Bruce (Wyncey) Willis, that nowadays he takes glucosamine for his joints. He said it on Jonathan Ross last night.
Here at NB we've been taking glucosamine sulphate with chondroitin for well over a year, and written about it here more than once. (The chondroitin part comes from shark cartilage, and you never hear of sharks with joint troubles.)
Good to see Brucey is reading our healthcare tips so keenly.
(Pete Doherty was on as well. Astonishingly he managed to sing a song, even if the interview concept proved a little beyond him.)
Went up Arthur's Seat yesterday, in what started as drizzle but ended more substantial. Oh it was glorious, lonely. (Yet strangely not deserted.) But you knew that anyone up there in those conditions (black sky at seven pm) was every bit as nuts as you.
Moral: Do not wear a waterproof top without waterproof trousers also. Otherwise, all the water not going on your chest goes on your thighs instead. Had to stand all the way home on the bus, as sitting would have been too wet. Fortunately the buses have adequate standing areas, providing no wheelchair or buggy passengers are around. I bought and ate a cheese baked potato in a tattie shop near the Southern Bar. Delicious, and I still lost half a pound.
(We seen to be getting trams after all. The new Scottish Government (that's Salmond, not Brown) has ordered that Edinburgh City Council will pick up the tab for any overspend. By Edinburgh City Council they of course mean me. And you, should this be your sweet abode.
Reviewing The Situation
Thanks to those of you who offered kind words yesterday in my distress. I've decided to withdraw that resignation notice pro tem, as my head is already spinning with this council tax nonsense. (To pay for a couple of overspent trams.) Much more horror and I feel I'd burst. But keep those fascinating job offers coming in!
In Sickness and The Other
Darling zoe looked well out of it this morning. So woozy, drowsy. With a bit of mucus in the corner of her eyes. I gave her loads of tlc, and then a pouch of ASDA salmon and trout with jelly. Times like this a girl needs a treat, not health food.
My friend Sandra said last week it was cruel to keep zoe locked up in the house. I was very hurt, and have been checking for signs of cruelty, but to no avail. She seems (until today) to be resolutely happy and well. (Zoe that is, not Sandra.) Would my life was so little cruel.
Must remember midge repellent for Sunday. Thinking of taking a Hill Walking Leader Course. Get a job with some Shady Pines setup. Be a pinup for the over seventies.
Interesting time at the Council Tax office yesterday. After reading a hillwalking book for half an hour in the waiting area I got Jocasta. Who asked if I minded a trainee sitting in on the interview. I said no, but it might get a bit heated. I was not a happy chappy, I explained.
We began. Progress was made, as payments I'd made years ago were discovered. I said that was good, because "... I write a blog, a big one, and also broadcast on Leith FM."
(In emergencies - and this sure is one - you clearly have to pull out the big guns. Lights, bushels, etc.) It's a spun world. Trick is not to play your aces too early.
Jocasta left quite quickly then, being replaced immediately by a guy of about thirty. "Hi," he said. "I'm Harry, the section manager." (Always a butch name, Harry.)
We progressed further. "Can you prove to me that the payments you claim have actually been made?" asked Harry. "Yes," I said, assertively. (That's "yes" in the special and unusual sense meaning "no".) Well, not easily, at least. My "throw nothing away for 35 years" policy does at least result in everything still being here. Trick of course is to find it. Boxes are even worse. I've still got the boxes for appliances long since broken and gone. Throwing out a box gives me actual, physical anxiety.
That's enough about Council Tax. I've got their statements now since 2001, which is all I ever asked for. So I can analyse them, forensically. Plus I got eight weeks' grace to do it in.
Oh boy, was I relieved! Celebrated with a nice Chicken Caesar at The Tun in Holyrood Road, just up from the Scottish Parliament. Still haven't spotted Wee Fat Eck the First Minister though.
DING! DING! ALL CHANGE FOR DOWNING STREET!
So it's sayonara, "Trust Me I'm Tony". And hello big boy to "Fat Gordon".
It doesn't bode well, sadly. I'm a big Tony fan, me. Always have been, and said so here repeatedly. Under Tone we've enjoyed the most stable and productive governance I can remember in my sixty short years. (Ace cards again. Geddit?) Others will disagree, citing Iraq. Citing US President Bush, and a poodle relationship. And citing the Blairs' showbiz and richbitch fascinations.
To which I say yes, yes and yes again. But who reading this is perfect? Has never made a mistake? Wouldn't go back and do at least some things differently if given a chance? Could run a country for ten minutes even?
And as well as fiscal matters, this government with its offices has given the final step in my people's progress. From the perception of gay people as mentally ill criminals - as it was when I was growing up - through the pandemic horrors of the eighties, to our present day full membership of civil society.
Oh yes. Gays should fall at Mr Blair's feet. But of course they do no such thing. Too young, you see. All are too young. They see no further than the next music video and Big Brother show.
Oh yes. You buy a house in a flood plain, and then complain when it floods. How silly. Of course rivers flood. That's why the land around them is called flood plain.
"But I didn't know that!" I hear you bleat. "My house sales-lady never mentioned it."
I rest my case. Doubtless there are those blaming Mr Blair. Right now.
On the increasingly risible BBC Breakfast this morning they were getting ready to chat about Sarah Brown, the future Prime Minister's new wife. "She's not really the First Lady," droned Top Shop Dermot... " - under our constitution the First Lady is the Queen."
Eek! No!! Silly man. Under our constitution the Queen is (ahem) the Queen. Can't really top that one. Of course in the UK we don't have a First Lady. It's a US expression, but I doubt if it has any legal or constitutional meaning even there. Handy though. Gets your credit cards accepted quite quickly.
Apologies for not responding to comments much these last few days. Truth is, my head was a bit fucked with the tax worries, and the imminence of jail and loss of home. Things might well improve now. Might well.
Yes, it's Hi Ho, and off we go. Back to the microphone and tarnished stardust of the bingo in just one hour. This has been a remarkable, unforgettable holiday... walks, weather, radio, council tax... but whether for good or bad reasons, only time will tell! Love you all loads.
(I've a sneaky feeling I might have been upstaged in my absence by a younger, heterosexual model. With nice hair.) But does this look like a face that cares?
I'm fucked. And not in a nice way. Unless I can find in excess of sixteen hundred pounds before tomorrow, then those lovely people at the council, people whose generous wages I pay, whose lovely new offices I built, will
Sell my house from under my feet
Put darling zoe back in the dog and cat home
Throw me in the debtors' prison beside tinkers and common prostitutes
And I owe them nothing. Nada. Probably quite the reverse. But try proving that, when banks charge twenty quid a page for archive statements. Heads you lose, and tails you don't win.
This has been one humdinger of a holiday. Truly. Think I'll join almost everybody I know, and start living off the dole. Get your bills paid for you by suckers who're moral enough to work. Free you up to spend all day, every day in the boozer.
I'm not in a good place, mentally. Not a good place. Live long and prosper.
(Oh, and please send no money now. This is not a begging letter. I haven't the slightest intention of paying these charlatans, because if I did that then they'd bill me for fairytale amounts every year till my decease.) I already pay ninety quid a month council tax, which is the correct amount for my hovel.
So it's into battle with the Empire! Thank gawd it's June and not December.
Think I'll move to Rio and become a gangsta. Read on...
It's famous for crime. And the causes of crime. Widely accepted as one of the world's most dangerous cities.
But worry not, my fellow Leithers. You can have notoriety and danger too, for Leith is now TWINNED with Rio. Oh yes it is. While you slept.
Sailing Down To Rio
Earlier today I approached Mary Moriarty, Scotland's most legendary landlady, and until recently the force behind all that happens in these pairts. The uncrowned Queen of Leith.
"It's not me," she said, squirting tomato ketchup on to her chips. (We were dining in the Port Inn, Constitution Street's most fashionable eatery.) "It's Sandy Campbell. And the twinning with Rio de Janeiro is because his mother comes from there," Mary explained. "If it was up to me, I'd have picked somewhere nice in France, where they make nice wine."
Well - noo ye ken. I told her the media would have a field day with this. Beginning here.
Quite, quite amazing. Now I'm offski to get you a wee snap of this outrage.
No I'm not, as you can see it here. Plus some feckin' gobshite from an ad agency.
When You Walk, Through The Storm...
Today's hill walk was cancelled when I got to Nine Mile Burn. Freezing, horizontal rain and gales. I waited fifty minutes for a bus back home, rather than step outside that bus shelter. December, January, February, I've walked those Pentlands. Today June defeated me.
Not only has the world gone mad, but the weather too. Phone your councillor quick, and get us untwinned, fer gawd's sake. Mebbe pick Benidorm, seeing as the place gets more like it every day.
No, not me, silly - Meg my co-star on yesterday's radio. Wonderful, warm, witty - how many more words starting with w can I think of?
(Oh, and I wasn't bad either.) All in all, I think we done good, considering the rates of pay. Although I did (kindly) give Meg a bottle of Cranberry and Mandarin water, and a Caramel Aero at half time. Keep up the energy levels. Then afterwards a pub lunch.
It was terrifying, the morning leading to the show. Guts heaving, why am I doing it, I can't do it, I can't get out of it, I'm a rat in a trap. Then at 11 am what should pop through the door but a letter from the disgraced former council demanding one thousand six hundred pounds back Council tax. That's right. Payment in full within seven days or they enforce the warrant.
Just what you need before you go on the wireless for the first time in over a year, doncha think? The good news is that I don't owe it. The bad is convincing them, and possibly ultimately the sheriff, of this fact. Watch this space. (I'm not anti-council tax. Just anti paying it twice, because of their chaos.)
So, there I am at the studio half an hour later, getting instructed by a nice man called Dave in how to work the deck. Cart, they've taken to calling it. Fluffing my lines. Losing the plot. When suddenly I heard the divine Meg The Lesbian Sandwich Lady in the office outside. Stewart brought her in. "How ya feelin, hen?" I asked. "Awful," she said. "I think I'm gonna throw up."
From then on, things could only get better. I was now in charge. Had to lead and inspire, not be terrified. And we made it. Made it good.
NO BUSINESS LIKE
A show is born! Leith FM's answer to Richard and Judy! (If only to satisfy the station's LGBT obligations.) Or at least the first two letters. For B and T you'd have to think about Robin (DCMGIB) and R from the Village.
(Talking of television, did you see Russell Brand on Jonathan Ross last night?) And Wossie's terror as he stared at his replacement right in the face? A consummate, bravura performance, by the man I've flagged here since the first gasp. If the Beeb don't snatch him away from Channel Four, instead of spending millions on the "so over" Graham Norton, then I'm withholding my licence. Give it to the Council instead.
Stuart of A Scandal and a Disgrace (who was unable to guest on the radio yesterday) does a hilarious take on the "Leith Media Mafia" here.
Very droll, Stuart, but in the case of Leith FM at least, only fractionally true. (Precise fraction to be debated.) There is plenty of home-grown presence, non-graduate, and from people who have led and continue to lead quite colourful lives.
Also I don't agree with those (not necessarily you) who say that community radio should exclusively be by and for people born here. Or there. Or wherever. We live at a time of much population movement, and seaports have always had at least their share.
Talking of population movement, in my "post show glow" (what a fuck-off adrenalin hit!) I passed an impossibly handsome young man in the High Street, selling Big Issue, a magazine to assist the homeless. It was just over a pound. I offered a two pound coin.
"I'm sorry sir, I have no change," he said, showing perfect teeth, and sounding "Polish but not quite".
"Oh that's OK," I announced, munificently in my renewed status as media star. "Where are you from, sir?"
"I am from Romania, sir," he replied.
"Why haven't you got a nice home?" I enquired, waving my hands vaguely and pointlessly round the ultra-expensive Royal Mile.
"Because I have no National Insurance number, sir," he replied.
With no home to offer, I felt my usefulness was now at an end. I toyed with the idea of slipping him a tenner, but that might have been thought of as some kind of prostitution, so didn't. Much food for thought. If he were to hawk his Romanian ass over to Broughton Street and the "gay triangle" he'd get a home - of sorts - within an hour.
CLIFF AND THE SHADOWS
I'm still on holiday! It's still the worst June weather since June was invented! Tomorrow Sandra and I are doing the Pentlands then lunching in the Flotterstone. Hmmm. Rain, rain, go away.
Thanks for all your kindnesses here and in other media about the radio show. I truly don't know why I do these things. (I think I'm a bit hooked on terror, to be honest.) Controlled terror. Kiddy-on terror.
The affair started half an hour ago at the back entrance to Waverley Station. (Stop sniggering! Meg actually said "back entrance" on the wireless yesterday while publicising this event. I had to suppress a wee snigger myself.)
Yes, it starts in Market Street at 1 pm, and ends up in Pilrig Park Gardens at presumably some later time.
Best wishes for a nice, if damp, day. Normally I don't mention such a thing as Gay Pride here, as being gay is nothing to be proud of. Nor is it anything to be ashamed of. In fact it is something to be precisely neutral to.
But I can see "Gay Precise Neutrality" not rolling off the tongue quite that easily. So for the first time evah on NB, dahling, I'll get off me semantic high-horse and announce it's GAY PRIDE SCOTIA!
"The Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service will be holding some demonstrations so look out for those hoses."
Was it in Glasgow last year that firemen were disciplined for refusing to attend some gay effort? Presumably it'll be only sexual services on display today, with such un-incendiary weather.
If I were to list those men who've done most for gay people in my lifetime, it wouldn't be people blowing whistles on marches. In no particular order I'd say Quentin Crisp, Boy George, Peter Mandelson, Stephen Fry.
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. In just one hour and forty minutes I'll be sitting somewhere not one hundred miles away, but with the difference of microphone as weapon, rather than keyboard.
Which targets to aim for? The venal and corrupt (former) council? But what about the libel laws? The ridiculous tram notion? Should be OK on that one. Only 600 million quid wasted so far, I recall. (Trouble with me is I don't have any facts. Just half-baked notions.) Ah well. Nobody listens anyway.
Meg (TLSL) is coming at 12.30, by which time I'll hopefully ken whit ah'm dae'n
Don't tune in. It'll be too awful.
How was your Solstice? Did the earth move? Me I was atop Arthur's Seat after a sudden notion in the Regent. Only made it with seconds to spare. Told the few people up there, and they had no idea of the significance.
Strange how the rubbish BBC and other media totally plug mothers' day and fathers' day - inventions of the greeting card industry - yet UTTERLY IGNORE what should be the prime festival of the year. Because there's no money to be made out of the Solstice. No kickbacks in respect for the universe. Gits.
The Solstice will be well mentioned on my show.
Must go. Sitting here I'm avoiding (literally) the ishoos.
So I went in to the radio station at ten to two yesterday, partly to promo my show today, and partly to get over the "nerves" aspect. It's been more than a year.
Well the nerves took no hostages. You simply open your mouth and talk, and you've no concept of it being on a dozen radios. Maybe one hundred. Tops. So I chatted a bit of nonsense, and that was that. Stew made to demonstrate the new desk to me (it gets better every time) but I said I hadn't a clue.
Three mike faders, he droned. Red, blue and green. Then there's CD 1 and CD 2 faders. Cannae go wrong. A Ha! That's what he thinks.
There was no attempt at demonstrating the new Jazler. (A Jazler is a jingle and ad machine, and - crucially - the repository of the station's music.) No attempt. I've worked the previous incarnations, but this one looked different. "I can't do it!" I declared. "Just can't. Will there be anyone else in here with me?"
"I'll be here," Stew said. "For the first hour. Then I have to go to the funeral."
Hmmm. We shall see. Stewart knows I can't, simply can't walk this time - after last summer. So I'm in his hands for what could be torture and humiliation. We shall definitely see.
To the Port o Leith then, chatting to Big Dave and Little Alex. Alex was in his element, training some waif behind the bar called Amanda. She's small and skinny, just his type. Mary came in.
To the Port Inn, next door, where who should I meet but Chav Gav. I introduced him to Evergreen Norma. Told them both they'd read about each other. It felt just like Corrie.
Then to the Regent. They were lined up like spuggies on a wire. "Which one of youse lovely people wants to be on my radio show tomorrow?" I slurred. "I'll do it," said Meg the lesbian sandwich lady. And so it came to pass. And the Lord saw that it was good. Meg is big in SOOT. (Save Our Old Town. From the venal and corrupt council.) I swear to God that Edinburgh must be the only town on the planet which the elected representatives seek to destroy rather than protect.
Be sure to listen in, to me and Meg saving the city. 12 to 2 today. 98.8 FM or online details below.
Solstice at June 21, 18 06 UTC. This is 6 minutes past 7, BST. Various earlier times than that, scattered across the US and Canadian time zones. Me, I'm happy at only three degrees West.
Yes, it's that time of the year again! Don your prettiest frock, and get dancing round the maypole. Ignore that funny man in the bushes watching you and looking shifty. It's only midsummer madness.
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.
How will you be celebrating? Me, I'll be sitting home terrified about my appearance on the wireless tomorrow. (Which you can read about below.)
I bought some anti-histamine cream for my midge bites. Although as you know I normally avoid medication like the plague, I had got a bit sick of looking like something out of a horror movie. Big red lumps, covered in pinky white calamine lotion. So I've turned to drugs. Big deal. Shoot me. Up.
Easter Road Scotmid are doing 12 packets of McCoys crisps (chips) for one pound 45. Me, I never eat them, due to excess fat and salt. Well - after a hefty walk mebbe one packet of cheese and onion. When you've sweated a bit.
Now WHAT MUSIC am I going to play on this damn show?
In these (not so) small ways do we try to make a difference.
Gutenberg had the right idea.
This is Stewart and me yesterday in the Pentlands. I was going to write it, but - once again - I can't be bothered. Sorry - today's news is, as ever, more interesting. (You do get reasonable value here, doncha just?) Maybe some day...
How times have changed since those early, lifetime blogdays. When I'd sit here after the pub and bash out masterpiece after masterpiece - never thinking about anybody else. Anybody. Confident that no-one - no-one would ever read it. Ever. Haha.
Today Stewart my former walking companion and I are doing the Pentlands. It was he who first drove me there - then again, again - and thus to him I owe so much. Those who've hung in for the long haul will recall the early tales.
But things are a little different now, fitness speaking, and this time it'll be me who knows where we're going. Me whose legs are stronger, and - crucially - me who's got the GPS.
Funny old world. We add up to 120.
And now I have to take some chicken out of the freezer for the sandwiches. And Cornish pasties. Darling zoe loves chicken. Such a shame she can't come on the walks.
I'll print Stewart out some maps. He likes maps and stuff.
"Hurry along, please! We're getting eaten alive back here."
It was yesterday. We the walking group were threading our way, single file, through waist-high ferns. From which arose clouds of midges, who, after a brief pause to study the menu, pounced on their luscious victims... us the walking group.
Midges were in my ears and on my hands. On my face of course, and when I wiped my hand over my sweaty bald head, a myriad black specks marked my nippy new friends.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a midge is a tiny Scottish biting fly. It is minute, weighing little more than a molecule, yet its bite is bigger than a penny. Grotesque. My theory is that God made the Highlands so beautiful, then for balance added midges. Them and a freaky, Sabbath-worshipping, fun-hating Christianity.
Eventually we cleared the fern patch, but still the buggers persisted. We'd only just begun, as Karen used to sing, but already I was thinking of quitting. I inhaled a midge, and pulled one out of my eye.
"Maybe they'll be clear higher up, " someone suggested, in a spirit of team morale. "Yes, mebbe," we decided. I began to run up the hill at that point - not to show off, but just to try and escape.
And it worked. Contour line by contour line they dropped off, leaving the rest of the day mercifully free. (Until a later descent through a forest, but by then we were forewarned.)
SCENE 2 Cut to 6am this morning, and I'm waking up, clawing at the backs of my hands. My ears are electric hot, needing an icepack each. The face is suspiciously warm... yes, you've guessed. I'm fucked. Smallpox got nothing on this. I must stay in and hide from the world. Got more than a dozen big red weals, dotted randomly over the face and head. Ring a bell as I pass in the street! The left eyelid is bitten, but thankfully not the right also. Oh my god this is itchy! I will hie me to Boots and purchase some Calamine lotion.
Details: Arrivain (NN269307), Meall Garbh, Beinn Udlaidh (840m), Beinn Bheag, Tyndrum. Distance: 12.6 km Time: 5 hours Total ascent: 935m/3060ft. Conditions: Insectile. Above that, dry with cloud then fair.
Geology Class. Pay Attention
You know you've arrived when you're a rhyming slang. The latest hereabouts is "Sausage Roll" for Pole. (Geddit?) Guess what an Avril Lavigne is...
Scotland can proudly boast possibly the most civilised and citizen-friendly land use rights in the world. Yet this Gloag ruling puts all of that at risk, now seeming to permit landowners to fence off their land at will. Not just the odd castle that only daytime TV weirdos would want to look at anyway, but entire mountain ranges.
Well - the people of Scotland (and others - oh yes please others) can strike back!
Boycott Stagecoach Buses
Don't get on her Stagecoach buses. No walkie, no bussie. Tit for tat. Simple as that.
Silly, silly Ann. We'll hit you in your pocket, which is the only place that really matters to business people.
"Darlink, eet ees all to do with zat global warming from your 'orrible Mr Blair and Mr Bush," she declared, pouring a generous slug of Jacob's into a Sainsbury's Executive Range goblet. "So much of ze hot air comes out of zair silly mouths that it has melted all ze ice caps. My newts are having zair worst summer ever."
"Really? How come?"
"All ze time zay - ow you say - boink, boink, boink... but zair are no little newts coming to replace ze old ones. Soon zay will ave boinked their last."
A man appeared, clutching what looked like synoptic weather charts. It was Q, the handyman. "Quarsan darlink - do not confuse our guest with science. Eet ees me he 'as come to see, not your silly - ow you say - isobars. What's your name, honey?"
I told her.
"Peet-air," she said, taking my hand. "I can tell by your eyes you ave ad lots of troubles in your life. Much pain and sadness. Peet-air."
"Oh yes, Madame Zoe," I murmured, perking up now it was about me all of a sudden. "So much pain. So much sadness. Sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop."
Doctor Zoe sipped thoughtfully from her glass, and looked around her extensive garden with its acacias and scarlet-blossomed rhododendrons... leading in the distance onto an enormous swimming pool. Three teenagers played there, splashing and laughing - all under the watchful eye of a tough security guard. "You can never be too careful with ze kids," she hissed. "Once people 'ear how reech I am, zay all want to kidnap my children. Eet's a nightmare."
"I too used to ave pain, ave sadness," she went on, leaning forward and stroking my hand, confidentially. "Ze sadness and pain, zay kept me awake at night. But then I wrote my best selling book, and now I am rich beyond - ow you say - reech beyond avarice!"
She leant back then, contented I could see. A woman at peace with her bank balance at last. But what about the weather?
"You go back to your freezing Escotland," she said. "And read my book on ow to get reech quick. Eet will transform your meeserable leetle life - Peet-air - and 'opefully you will never get ze shivers again. Eat lots of - ow you say - porridge. I 'ear it gives ze Scotsmen ze big stiffies."
She laughed, more of a cackle really, then started to choke on her Jacob's Creek. Q the handyman rushed forward with a hankie. I made hasty apologies and left.
Now where next might I find some meteorological advice?
I'd heard there was this couple near Sherwood Forest who hung a mean piece of seaweed...
I use my mobile phone principally as a calculator... metres to feet, kilometres to miles sort of thing. (Nobody phones you much when you're old.) But yesterday, sitting in the Village hoping maybe Chav Gav would be there, I chanced upon it in my bag and switched on. Beep! Beep! Vibrate! Vibrate! I nearly jumped out of my skin.
It was Stewart, my former walking companion and radio co-star. He's having a couple of days off his show, apparently, and wondered if I fancied a walk. Is the Pope a German!?! But due to my telephonic tardiness, it was now three in the afternoon on the day after he'd texted. I offered to chum him up Arthur's Seat, but he declined.
"Soon," we both said.
Little things like that can mean so much. We did have such a splendid period early last year - walk on walk - but times change.
There should be a bar where lonely losers can go and meet each other and chat. Oh wait - there already is!! It's the... [Ed: you can't say that! Get a grip, man.]
Up The Junction
Yesterday I determined to take my library books back, and not get out any more. (Sadly my Stephen King period seems to have come to an end, halfway through Dreamcatcher. If you leave it for too long, then re-starting is the only option.) I'm so out of practice with reading. So I walked along Great Junction Street, Leith's answer to Princes Street. But. Oh. My. God.
The people are just so poor and derelict. Where's the life? The joie de vivre? Just one sullen chain-smoking face after another. Dreadful. So depressing. Then later, returning on the number seven bus, I saw this guy passed out cold on the pavement outside Woolworth's, but nobody bothered their asses. Just kept munching burgers from that revolting burger stand. He could have died there.
What did I do? Did I jump off the bus, Samaritan-like, to help this soul? You bet your sweet ass I didn't. Rather I computed whether there was time to get the camera and switch it on. Make a nice shot for the Edinburgh Forthside brochure. "Meet Your Fascinating New Neighbours!"
(Incidentally, Edinburgh Forthside, the outfit formerly known as Gregor Shore Builders, might well have bought off Leith FM and Leith Festival, but they'll never own Naked Blog. Oh no. Nor Stuart either, I'm betting.)
Regeneration is what they call it. Well, they can damn well regenerate Great Junction Street. But of course they never will. Because it's exploitation they really want. Benidorm-isation. And the public are meant to provide a tram service for their wealthy punters - so they'll whizz past the junkies and jaikies on the pavement more quickly. "Look - Jocasta! Common people!" I don't think so, Jose.
Talking of which, thanks to Edvard Moonke for his Spanish pronunciations. Hymie is of course no such thing, but actually Jaime. I verified it with the young man just yesterday, in a visit which was otherwise quite unsatisfactory.
How's yer iPod for Podcasts? Quite dreary, I'd imagine. UNLESS you've a copy of the wonderful, all talking SHAGGY BLOG PODCAST. Oh yes. It' only two quid, which is less than a pint, and - I'M ON IT! (Don't let that put you off, though. You can easily fast forward, I'm sure.) I even tried to buy one myself last night, to hear how wonderful I am, but they wouldn't take my order. Reminds me, I still haven't ordered my copy of the book. I vaguely recall being in that as well. That's two books I'm in but don't possess. Mebbe I'll wait till there's one with only me in.
Much drinking and revelry at the Regent yesterday, where I went after I decided that staying in to eat fruit and vegetables was not a realistic proposition. Particularly as my boozing has been very good of late. (I should say "had" rather than "has", as yesterday we seemed to be going for gold once again.)
Talking of which, all this fuss about the Olympic logo is so unnecessary. "Wasted 400k on useless logo!" is all over the place. WHAT ON EARTH DID THEY EXPECT? This entire London Olympics will cost you the taxpayer over and over again. Graft. Corruption. Vanity Fair. And at the end of the day, it's all just to suck Lord Coe's once-speedy dick. With your money.
If you'd done what we did here, and attempted to campaign AGAINST this ridiculous brouhaha, then of course you wouldn't be bleating now.
But I digress. And it's boring to be so consistently right.
There's a new barman in the Regent, called Hymie. He pronounces it with the Spanish "J" as in Jose. That's probably because he's from Madrid. (Not Barcelona.) Some debate from the drinkers about whether Hymie is of the Jewish race, but I can't imagine there are many Spanish Jews. Surely the Inquisition would have long since burned them at the stake for baby Jesus. Credo in unum deum.
Adam the other barman has a first class degree in English and a novel seeking publication. Yet he loves Kylie and Madonna. How bizarre. Demonstrating that even a fine mind is no defence against dross. Or vice versa.
I think I'll meditate, then eat some vegetables, then go back to say hello again. It was fun seeing them yesterday, and there's more to life than healthy living, you know.
Thinking hard about changing my job. Been at this for half a lifetime it seems. I only meant to work at the bingo for a few weeks to pay off some electricity and phone bills. That was ten years ago.
When you stand anywhere on the Pentlands rollercoaster and look west you will see a mountain stark in the distance. Bleak, erect, aloof - like a castle out of a Scott novel. "Some day I will stand on that," I breathed to Stewart, more than a year ago. And yesterday (you can guess what's coming) I almost did.
Almost? Por qua almost?
Because, dear reader - I got lost in the cloud in the sky. Took a wrong turning. Cliffs all over but you couldn't see where. Just me and the map and the GPS. (Don't fucking let me down now, you bastard!)
It was THAT exciting, at over sixty, alone on the desolate hilltop, thinking of Big Straight Al getting his leg shagged by Geouff the canine columnist. He snapped at him, "I hate it when you dig your claws in like that!" (You had to be there. It was hilarious.) Big Straight Al's got chicken pox. Bless. I told him not to cuddle me.
I thought of Big Straight Al and Geouff the Shaver's Weekly columnist as I turned left to follow a little path on the triple peaked hill, but I really should have gone straight on. Why oh why do hills have THREE peaks?
Cloud looks fucking terrifying when it's below you, you know. Where is the Cauldstane Slap? I have to see it. Walk the Thieves Road, with the ghosts of sheep and cattle rustlers over the centuries. The illegal Covenants of non-Roman prayer. The immensity of me and nature and history. So alive. So fucking alive.
And now I have to stop writing. Work calls, but if ever there was a day for skiving and writing it all out before it fades, then this would be it. But there are moral responsibilities and reliabilities. I'll bung up a few photos at teatime break. The hill was East Cairn. The body is deliciously tingly today, and I lost two and three quarter pounds. You should try it. You really should. I'll take you, hold your hand.
FIVE THOUSAND WORDS...
STILL TO COME ON NAKED BLOG...
The handsome bus driver. The one-legged man who built the fence in the above picture. Yes, I met him yesterday. The shepherd's widow. The bus driver again.
Why oh why is the most respected newspaper in the land taking the oil shilling to such a degree? Yes, I'm talking about the entire back page of the Grauny, which - since forever it seems - has been rented out to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, to bleat about his 10 billion dollar foundation. A foundation "to facilitate and promote knowledge creation and dissemination". Yer what, yer highness? (He's the ruler of Dubai, apparently.) And with a name like Mohammed I just don't see his foundation promoting the rights of women, or civil partnerships for same-sex couples. I just don't see it.
Bad news, Grauny. People buy your paper expecting something better than a rich man's paid-for ideas all over the joint. They want Guardian attitudes, not Islamic. But then I don't buy it anyway, preferring to read it for zilch on the interweb. Goes around, comes around. You don't see me charging for my own quite glorious organ, do you? (Which contains two, very small, ads. Neither of them from Sheiks.)
All of which kind of indicates there's nothing much to talk about. That I can report here, anyway. More and more people are going "off the record" with their comings and goings. Soon I'll have adverts from Sheikhs and nothing else. Mebbe I should start a REAL scandal sheet, on the lines of Hello! One where you don't get to keep out of it, unless you pay me shitloads of oil dollars.
Forty Years Ago Last Week
Apparently Sgt. Pepper is forty.
Two of the Beatles are dead.
Shit-shit. But at least the Stones keep rolling along. Three of them, anyway.
On this site, the guy writes at great length about the Sergeant Pepper "event" as he calls it. (Surprisingly, really, as he freely admits he wasn't born then - anywhere near - and he's more of an Oasis man.) Pisses me off when people try to compare the Beatles to Oasis. There is no comparison. You DID HAVE to be born then. There HAS BEEN NO comparable showbiz phenomenon since the Beatles/Stones "duarchy".
The writer also points up something I hadn't considered, which was the role of the BBC in determining what music would "make it". With their post-pirate monopoly and rigid playlists, they could ensure there was ample Ken Dodd and Matt Monro, while efficiently stamping out anything "druggy" or experimental. What power! What abuse of it!
Now, with the internet, no organisation anywhere in the world can prevent you hearing whatever music you wish. Reading what opinion you choose. Murdoch tries, but it's too, too late. Media studies. Peace be upon him.
One of my (lesbian) bingo ladies asked me on Saturday if I had cancer. This is what happens when you're a star - people discuss you. I pointed out to her that there's somewhat more to cancer than losing your hair. Like being very ill, which one manifestly isn't. (Touch wood.) I do despair. Thinking of getting a nice nylon wig, in russet brown, with waves.
The replacement GPS is faulty already. I took it on a minor pub crawl yesterday tea time, where it promply dumped me in Iceland or thereabouts - way off any known map - and logged my trip as 1048 kilometres. Some pub crawl that. Even George Best would have struggled. Do not buy a Garmin eTrex Summit. Now I'll have to go through that entire "sending back" drama again. Damn! I HATE Post Offices. Full of common people.
Q: What do you say to that good-looking, healthy young couple walking down Easter Road, holding hands and laughing?
A: Dzien dobry*
Our new Polish citizens put the indigenous totally to shame, being as they are so slim, healthy and full of life. Rather than borderline obese, pram-faced and full of drugs. I'd completely forgotten what a healthy young person looks like. You just don't get them hereabouts. Things can only get worse under New Labour, apparently.
However - after a decade of fish suppers and White Lightning, Embassy Regal and the NHS, ecstasy and the dole, I'm sure the new Scots will be indistinguishable from the old. Shame.
Will Wee Fat Eck our new First Meenister have the cojones to get rid of the wholly unnecessary and unwanted trams? Or will he bow to pressure from everybody except the taxpayers and continue this ridiculous project? Watch this space. With bated breath. (Probably not.)
Whatever The Weather
It was "take your pick" over weather forecasts for today. Ranging from white cloud with sunbeams, through black cloud, to black cloud with one raindrop. (That one raindrop can fucking drench you at 600m, by the way.) I chose discretion. Probably get wrecked in a pub, Scottish-style.
Fascinating commentary in the post below this one. It's always good when the characters add their own words. Lets you know I don't make it up. (Don't need to darlings. What you get is only 5 percent of what actually happens. It's the other 95 that would make your hair stand on end. Assuming, of course, that you had some to stand. Everybody tells me I suit bald. Hmmm.)
Yes - it's that time of the month again! Once again my lifetime of experience will come to the fore as I judge your submissions for Post Of The Week.
You have till midnight tonight to declare your nominations. Usual terms and conditions apply, and this week it's Sexual Favours which will swing my vote the most. (I've got enough money and gadgets for now, TYVM.) These of course you can only supply if you already float my boat, light my candle, and other such euphemisms for Give Me a Big Stiffie.
(Sorry. I was drinking in Constitution Street last night, having been driven screaming out of the Village by excessive racket. (They call it "music".)) Drinking in Constitution Street meant listening to Kevin TSG regaling me with all manner of slutty gay tales involving your favourite NB characters. Oh yes. You better believe it. Only the libel laws prevent me from pouring it all out for you. And of course the truth is a sure defence against libel actions. (Ask Lord Archer.)
But just in case Kevin was exaggerating a little, I will haud ma whist, as we say in these parts. However I did hear that some new queen on the block has been barred from the Port for calling Little Alex an immigrant. Alex barred him on the spot. And as the Shore bars operate a pubwatch scheme, that means the hapless wee thing is barred from everywhere. Do NOT call Little Alex an immigrant.
Other tales Kevin told me would make your hair stand on end. But only your hair. Vile behaviours, and there's me devoted half my life to gay/straight integration, and these over-hormoned harlots throw it all away in their selfishness and lack of consideration. Sluts is too good a word for them.
(Incidentally, the new baby clothes are a little too big, but Chloe will grow into them. Alex is going to take a pic of her in her Russian Army outfit, as and when.)
The new Garmin GPS has arrived, and seems much like the old one. Couple of spikes already, in its trial run yesterday. Home - Village - Port Inn - Scotmid - Home. What a rich and varied life I do live for you!
Met a nice woman in the Port Inn called Anne. She's middle class, but I coped. She seemed to spot I was gay even before I told her, but I forgave her with a gentle warning. Told her you're supposed to ask, not presume. She exports Scottish fashion. But I'm not very fashionable these days. Glen came in, and he's still an obnoxious wee shite. I told Eilidh (rhymes with daily) to bar him, but she didn't.
Two days' work. Cannae be bothered. Just wanna have fun.