Yes, it's a stage. Trolling around the corner at the foot of Easter Road yesterday, what should assault my senses but a large (green, naturally) railing canvas shouting, "PENSIONER PINT IN THE PERSEVERE! Tennents Lager or Seventy Shilling just ONE POUND EIGHTY-FIVE!"
Well, I had to go there, now didn't I? Even though the Easter Road pubs are very "footbally", for obvious reasons, I knew this place was semi-decent, in the afternoons at least.
So I showed my bus pass, in a frail, aged way, to the young barlady, but she didn't know what it was. (From Krakow or thereabouts, I later ascertained.) She went to the chef in the kitchen, who came out to eyeball me, discreetly but clearly not discreetly enough. Timidly young Magde re-approached. "I'm very sorry but we don't do discount cards," she said. "But you have at least four signs in the street saying 'Pensioner Pint,'" I explained. "And this card proves that I'm a pensioner."
She was overcome. Gutted. "Ow I'm sow sorry," Magde cried. "I wouldn't have thought you were sixty!" she declared. "You've made an old man very happy my dear!" I announced, to more or less general appreciation. Later the boss pulled her away, as he probably didn't want to encourage my sort in his pub.
After this I wasted no time in jumping on the Number 1 bus, and telling Alan the owner of the Regent all about this. But Alan seemed uneasy, somewhat reluctant to reduce his really quite princely two pounds ninety-five.
Drew was there, and PJ and Karina, but not Dave the Writer. It was nice to chew the fat a bit.
Many thanks for your comments to yesterday's post. Been a while since anybody's been interested in anything. Been a while since there's been anything that wasn't about me I guess. Food for thought. Seeya in the Percy. Bring yer bus pass.
Here are a couple of pics from Wanlockhead on Tuesday, where the people are forever high. What they must have got up to in the sixties I can only imagine.
Edinburgh Botanic Garden, where I went last week after my hospital poke.
Here's a friendly squirrel.
Some bloggers have removed their blogrolls. Is it justified in that case to drop them from one's own list? And is the blogroll just a historical oddity in this age of feeds? Shame. It was a spot of virtual community, of pioneering, now mostly gone - replaced by Big Business such as Facebook.
Yes, that's right. it's off to work we go today, the first time for two and a half weeks, and the longest break for many years. Normally I try to eke out my four weeks into four separate holidays, but this time I plumped for a fortnight, which bundled with my rather luxurious days off anyway, has stretched to two and a half.
And it's been a great time - a roller coaster of hillwalking, resting, socialising, not being depressed even once, and oh that hospital appointment.
Small hernia, small haemorrhoid. That would explain why it felt wrong in two different sites then. Two different things. Tests will happen for "the other thing", but I have no reason to worry unduly. And I will laugh in the face of death - when indeed he comes a-knocking. *Fade to refrain of "My Way"*
The Beckoning Silence
Just finished watching this TV show this morning, due to falling asleep on Monday when it was broadcast, and yesterday again on tape. This is Joe Simpson of Touching The Void, recalling and re-enacting the 1936 attempt on the then unclimbed North Face of The Eiger. Stunning is not the word. For Touching The Void either. If you have eyes that can see, and a heart that can pound, you must catch both of these films. Must.
Yesterday I had the final adventure of my holiday, when I ventured into unknown (for me) territory around Wanlockhead, Scotland's highest village. Deep in lead mining country, and other minerals including gold. There's even a street called Goldscaur Row, a name you wouldn't really expect to see outside the Klondike. (Klondyke? These dykes get everywhere.)
I would have had a refreshing pint in Scotland's highest pub after my reconnoitre, but sadly it was closed on a Tuesday afternoon, so I had to sit in a bus shelter for an hour eating my sandwiches and drinking delicious refreshing Nescafe. There's no mobile signal at all, due to the radar station on the top of Lowther Hill - cut off in winter because of snow, so the access road has yellow and red poles all alongside it.
BT have provided a special phone box where you can phone any UK landline for 20 mins for 40p. Bit unfortunate if a queue builds up, I would have thought. Anyone remember phonebox queues? Nowadays they're only used for drug deals.
Darling zoe has been having a bit trouble with her waterworks. Frequent visits to the pit, followed by licking her private part. (Her, of course, not me.) So I've changed her food to a moister flavour. The Indoor Cat stuff is a bit arid, I would have thought. You can get electric fountain things that encourage them to drink more.
Next month I'm leading a walking group in those Wanlockhead hills. (Just low ones.) How scary. Just call me Joe Simpson.
I could retire now. Previous holidays have always collapsed into alcohol-fuelled depressions where I do nothing but bewail the fact I've nowhere to go, and nobody to go there with. These self-pity fests are alleviated only by return to work. But not this time. This one has been just right, and I have woken each day with joy and anticipation. Watch this space. You might soon be buying my masterpiece too.
First off, sorry for yesterday's bijou stropette. There was actually a much worse one, which only survived for about 30 mins, but doubtless some of my critics will have chanced upon it.
I'm not a good patient. Illness pisses me off, and I'm scared fucking shitless of dying. Hence all the recent "health" activities. If truth be told, it's just trying to postpone the inevitable. But three years of good practice can never undo the decades of bad... smoking, drinking, atrocious diet and sloth. Sloth interspersed with fitness though. There's always been fitness a few years away, just like there was always smoking and drinking. Look at Allen Carr. Cigs got him in the end, decades after he'd quit. Take That.
Hence the somewhat heightened emotions at present, when every consultation has a fair to middling chance of ending up with the Big C, as they used to call it. And we're still in limbo, awaiting more tests.
But hey - I'm telling you all the plot! (Never was one for "making ofs". Destroys all the illusion.) Oh, and talking of plot and illusion... in our recent poll three people voted for Frasier for every one who voted for Friends. Which just goes to show how wrong three people can be. Friends wins on every dramatic and comedic level. Just it's that touch more old-fashioned now. (Big chunky phones.) And the characters aren't rich and posh. And because it was (and still is) such a global phenomenon, there's no "cult status" attachable.
Frasier is a superb comedy series: Friends defined a decade. Nothing before or since has had such an impact. And we don't even live in New York.
OK then: so you'll be wanting a little story? Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.
Oh, but first. This weblog isn't all about me you know. I hear Ming Campbell has resigned because he's too ancient. Well... ancient looking. Well, not even that, but ancient-looking and rock bottom in the polls.
Me, I can hardly contain my indifference. I mean, does anyone actually care about Liberal Democrats? I find it hard to distinguish even one thing amongst the parties these days.
Oh and second. If you retune your Freeview (again!) you'll find not only Setanta Sports (all that boxing and football... gotta love it), but a weird new channel just called Dave. That's right. Not Dave TV, or The Dave Channel, but simply "Dave". It shows ancient episodes of comedy series (Buzzcocks with Lamarr, for instance), then repeats its schedule after two hours. Even UK History manages five or six hours.
So - will we soon see yet another channel called "Gordon"? And have plans for the "Ming channel" been shelved? You read it here first, folks.
As you did about Mount Everest. Last week. But that didn't stop the Grauny from doing three pages on it just yesterday. Naked Blog clearly not barred in their offices, then. (Thanks to mike for pointing out just how difficult it is to read NB in the office these days. Well, more than difficult - impossible.) In your own hands, dudes. Get on to that geek in IT and gently point out the literary history of the N word. Mention Burroughs. And Crisp. Or even Oliver, if he's under twenty-five as seems most likely.
Twats. Gits. Even though I couldn't in my wildest dreams call what people do in offices "work", I do recognise a lot of you are lucky enough to have such "jobs". For now. Until you're replaced by that thing you're currently eyeballing. And people such as you NEED your Naked Blog. Get onto the geek. Remember - he's still got access to the porn. Grass him up.
Now - where was I? Oh that's right. Still sitting comfortably? Then I'll definitely begin.
Scene: A hospital bed in a universe far, far away. (The Western General.) Your hero is lying on his side, knees up to chest, whilst a big black man shoves his finger up me jacksie. Also attending is a nurse chaperone.)
Doctor: "Breathe. Keep breathing."
Me (eventually): "I've no intention of stopping breathing. I've got a lot of living to do yet."
Nurse laughs generously. I can't ascertain the doctor's reaction. It takes a genuine trouper to joke at a time like this.
Doctor: "Now I'm going to look up you with a little telescope."
Me (thinks): "Mmm. Been a long time since one of those."
And that was my examination. Later, redressed, I watched him like a hawk as he wrote on my notes. My entire being was tuned to spotting lies and evasion. I was as Darling Zoe on hearing a mouse in the skirting.
He lifted his African eyes from the folder and gazed at me across the NHS desk.
Yesterday, as if to prove to both him and myself that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH ME, I did a world record day in the Pentlands. The Skyline Tour, it's called. Eleven hills, 22.6km, and 2025m ascent. Eight hours and twenty minutes. Oh, that's metres not feet, sweetie. One quarter of Mount Everest - from sea level, as if.
Oh yes. For years I tried this diet and that one... but nothing seemed to work for long. Then just yesterday I hit on a long-lost secret of primitive peoples that promises to cut through that flab EVERY TIME!
Interested? You should be, fatso! Let me share my weight loss secrets with you, absolutely FREE OF CHARGE. Send no money now. This exciting new programme is not available in any book. Even Belgian ones.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
This is what you do...
(a) Tramp over heather and bog in the Pentland Hills for eight hours, whilst ascending over 800 metres. The Pentlands are not essential - any boggy wasteland will do.
(b) Do NOT go to the pub after your hill walk.
(c) Instead, GO HOME, where you can stuff yourself with fruit and soup to your heart's content. Vegetables would probably also work, but I was in a fruity mood. Hell - I even allowed myself a crust of bread and jam in the middle of the night when feeling death was just five minutes away. How many diets have THAT as a treat, eh?
(d) Weigh yourself the next morning and bask in your achievement. Me, I've calculated that in just sixty short days I'll have COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED! Eat yer heart out, Victoria Beckham!
Take care not to ignore step (b) above. Otherwise you will come home glowing like a low energy bulb and suffer a massive munchie making you eat half the fridge. Whilst microwaving half the freezer. You get my drift, boyo? Oh yes - we've all been there bigtime. Booze is for losers. And of course gainers.
Write and let me know how you get on. I can guarantee you WON'T be disappointed!
Well, not really, but it's such a great title for a blogger I almost wished I had one. Yes, that's right. It's still only nine of the am, and I've already put in a full day's work. Washed, cleaned teeth, meditated, pooed, fed the cat, changed her litter, done a grocery shopping, checked the weather for today and tomorrow (better tomorrow) and - oh I nearly forgot... had an appointment with Doctor Spock.
Spock is my real doctor. The finger-fuck lady was the emergency one.
We wasted some time due to my pussyfooting around. I said I'd "injured myself on the toilet". (Polite way of putting "straining at stool" I thought.) He thought I meant I'd fallen on the toilet and injured myself. He checked my notes on his LCD screen, looking doubtful turning desperate. Then asked if I was the correct person. I said yes and where's my blood results. He said the nurse has got them but they're all normal. I said well that's a bit brief.
Stand up and lift your shirt he said. Shirtlifter. Cough he said, so I turned my head away and coughed into my hand. Gently he stroked the stomach, then POKE! right into my belly button. Boy did I recoil and shout! That's it he said, looking victorious. Hernia!
Having a diagnosis is such a relief you know, even if it turns out to be the wrong one. He said hernias usually get better themselves, but sometimes they don't. So he's sending me to a surgeon anyway but it'll take a couple of months. Just as well I thought, as everybody who goes into Edinburgh hospitals either gets the wrong leg cut off or dies from MRSA. It's never out of the papers.
Refusing to let this hernia restrict my life any further, I did a full day in the sunny Pentlands yesterday. Rollercoaster and back again. 1100 metres ascent, more than a Munro. Met loads of fascinating folk, most especially a number 37 bus driver on top of West Kip. He had Brasher boots also. He said this was only his second pair since 1994 and they were great. He said Chris Brasher had sadly died. I said it didn't sadden me even slightly as I never knew him.
He said then lots of immigrants use the buses, as they're too smart to buy a car when they can get unlimited travel for one pound fifteen a day. European immigrants, he kept saying, carefully avoiding the "P-word". I'm sensing the "P-word" might be becoming a tad racist already, if you get my dzien dobre.
Couple of pintas (my favourite P-word) in the Flotterstone, which was plagued by unseasonal wee flies we thought weren't midges as their wings were too big. To the Village then. Babs and a guy and Reuben and Chav Gav and Richard the trannie were there but I was too neurotic to talk to anyone and fled to a corner with a magazine. Babs eventually made me come and join them and that was good.
It was Chav Gav's fortieth birthday on Tuesday but I'd forgotten. He was quite cool, but I'm very old and old people forget things all the time. Nothing to do with being self-centred. Nothing at all. Imagine forgetting yer pals' fortieth birthday. I'm a truly hateful person, a scourge of the planet and a waste of good protein.
Gav told me that sacked football manager Jose Mourinho has gone home to Portugal to disappear for a while. The McCanns have offered to help.
The very lovely local blogger Alan Sharp has invited me to join a Base Camp expedition next year. Yes - THE Base Camp. Not in the Pentlands. Not Arthur's Seat. But Big Fucking Base Camp. Get over to this post and revel in those pictures. Could they include moi before too long?
A book inspired by the famous weblog of the same name.
This is the first blog to book conversion (I refuse to write, or even think, blook) that I've encountered. Hardly surprising, in such a young medium, and so I have to confess some nervousness in the approach. A blog is nothing if not of "now"; old tales, flashbacks and memoires rarely work. So how did (the gorgeous) zoe tackle the task? How do you get the punters to fork out hard cash for something they would seemingly be able to get fer nowt?
And it turns out this book is an object lesson in how to do exactly that. Read and learn at the feet of a master, chickadees.
Blog To Book Strategy
Zoe has done two main things. First she's concentrated purely on "the Twat", and ditched - or at least drastically reduced - most everything else. Nothing unusual there, given the book's title. So - out go most blogpeople and blogthings, leaving the Twat in pole position. Which is just what it says on the cover, so no disappointments there.
Second, the author has grouped the Twat tales into categories to form natural chapters...The Twat at Home, The Twat at Play, Twat Health, Twat Social Skills and so on.
OK - that's enough tech talk. What's the damn thing like?
Well, it's very, very funny indeed. Blogfans will enjoy at times spotting the familiar: "Oh yes - I remember that one... lovely to see it again. And look how she's subtly changed it..." Whilst newbies to Zoe's life will laugh their twatty little socks off. I swear it.
A splendid book. I don't want to spoil it for you by quoting all the best bits - and believe me there are myriads to choose from - but we should let Zoe have a few words here:
TWAT FASHION AND GROOMING
Dressing for the occasion does not mean getting out your designer-label clothes, but it does involve a little insight as to what would be appropriate, especially on a first date. A pair of twenty-year-old, second-hand tracksuit bottoms is unlikely to make a good impression especially when accompanied by a pair of third-hand hiking boots that have seen the Damavand in Iran, the fells in Cumbria, the Simyen mountains in Ethiopia and so on. Top that with a six-year-old T-shirt and you could find yourself looking at an utter twat.
And in a later section...
DIY AND A TWAT
This chapter could basically be left totally empty as the two just do not get on together. Unless you call bleeding a radiator 'DIY' and, even then, it can be so difficult to get a twat to learn the basics of bleeding a radiator that you will find yourself more or less stuffed. It is best to either start learning the joys of the use of power drills or get the telephone number of a good handyman.
(Zoe goes on to bewail the Twat's smoking and drinking with the various handymen who turn up.)
Would I buy the book? Well - I just did, stupid. Should you buy it? Yes - by the caseload, for all those Christmas stockings. Just six little quid from Amazon.
Zoe - you've pulled off a masterstroke hon. And you're still talking to your friends from before you were famous :) We love it when our friends do well. Blogworld can be very nice, you know.
Better known to some of you as "zed" in my comment box, and one of my closest online friends.
I got it from Waterstones for 9.99, and so can you. Or from Amazon, who have already slashed the price to 5.99. Not bad for a hardback! Full review when I've finished, of course - but so far I'm adoring it. Full of zoe's inimitable (literally) style, but with loads of new material. Yet somehow you never forget there's a blog there in the background.
AFC, or some such modern riff. There are days I just can't bear to switch the thing on. It seems like a phase, somehow... something I once did (nay, obsessed) back then in the naughty nineties, but now seems pointless, unhelpful. No-one ever got healthy or fit sitting in front of a screen.
Clearly these attitudes don't bode well for the continuing success of my organ. You wonder if there's really much more point in pouring it all out, when there are so many more outlets for opinions. Dozens of telly stations. Hundreds of radio. Myriad magazines and newspapers.
"Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and they all stink."
Jon Snow certainly had plenty in his Dispatches show about immigration. Poles do best when they come here. Well - quelle surprise. Here in Edinburgh they're rapidly moving up from nightclub doorkeepers to running drugs and prostitution. Well, somebody's got to do it. Portuguese fare worst of the European immigrants. Some primary schools have a quarter of their intake unable to speak one word of English.
EU immigration we can do nothing about. But perhaps with asylum we can. Asylum people not only cost a fortune to keep, but are seemingly riddled with TB and HIV, all for you and me to pay for. One Somali woman got 33 thousand a year in benefits for her and the five kids she'd had since she came here. Mardi gras! And in Leith the pensioners are scared to put on another bar on the electric fire.
Talking of HIV, that brings us to another interesting programme, this time hosted by the ubiquitous Stephen Fry. It set gay rights and progress back by about a quarter of a century, I would say. Yes, everybody (except Stephen, apparently) knows that some people deliberately infect themselves with this virus. That way they get quite a huge slice of the benefit cake straight away. And you and I will pay for their very expensive medicines seemingly for ever. Everybody knows that - but you had to see Stephen's face as this Manchester queen described the process to him.
Sick fuckers. Me, I'd let them rot. Cheaper, and reduces further spread.
Talking of sick fuckers, it was ace to see Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer on again last night. Ooo la la. It's lost none of its punch in the intervening. Banned here for some years, if I recall, it only really surfaced during the kitchen period I refer to in the post below. (Thank you for your comments there. Much appreciated.)
Granny is a man. It is his nickname. He was my closest friend for some years after the events below, until he left to live in Auchtermuchty (yes, there really is such a place) with his widowed mother. Yesterday he was fifty. I sent him what I thought was a nice text, as I don't know the address, but he didn't reply. Maybe never got it. Times change, as do phone numbers. Probably there was some sort of "do" in the Village. I didn't enquire.
I wrote about "Granny" extensively on my earlier site. He was a very good sport.
My insides are still not right. By the time I'm allowed to see a doctor capable of finding out what's wrong, far less doing anything about it, I'll either have died or got better. This is good. Leaves more NHS capacity for the poor people from abroad. Oh and people who infect themselves with lethal conditions on purpose. Oh and smokers of course. Musn't forget the smokers. They get a terrible press these days.
Back To The Polls
Ages since we've had a poll here. This one arose from a discussion in the friendly and welcoming Regent yesterday, over the relative merits of Frasier and Friends. Top of the sidebar. Vote now!
I'm not a doc-botherer, me. Was, once, way back in the salaried days. Stress, stress, stress. This tablet, that tablet, mostly from the azepam range, which were that decade's wonder drugs.
Plus bevvy. Poppers. Mindless sex.
Oh - it's not meant to be mindless. Of course not. Every lifetime love affair begins with a one-night stand, you tell yourself, between grunts. (That's grunts as vocal effects, not the US Army. Although I've been between them as well.) But in reality most one-night stands remain exactly that. Some people are frighteningly hard to love.
Like patching the Titanic with duct tape.
Sometimes you need root and branch. Surgery.
So that's what I did. Like the burning pyres of foot and mouth cattle, I torched "him", the Peter of old. Stopped work, started to party, and did that till the dosh ran dry. Which was about three years. Three years of daily recreation. (I nearly wrote "ecstasy"!) Ooo la la.
Everybody should do that, for a while. Party hard. Get it out of your system while the body can still take the punishment. Recommended. Self-medication. You'll never need a doctor with that lot inside you. Wouldn't dare go.
But I'm reminiscing again, instead of telling you about the Wellbeing Clinic. Nurse Catherine was a homely biddy, kind and putting me at ease, which at first I wasn't. She asked me my ethnic origin, and whether English was my first language. She asked if I had any difficulty in communicating. I thought probably not.
Well, not that sort of communicating. Nor either the sort I'm doing now. But mebbe the real sort - the communication of held hand and whispered thanks in your loved one's ear... maybe I had some difficulty with that. But I get out of step. I've got this one planned a little.
She asked about chips, and portions of fruit. About exercise and smoking and drinking. Did I want to see a financial adviser? No, not unless they were going to give me money. Did I want to see an employment adviser? No, not unless they were going to give me a well paid job. She measured my height, weight, waist, blood pressure. She took two vials of blood to send away to test with modern machines. I have an appointment for a bottom consultant to examine my bottom thoroughly and expertly.
But the three most important matters she never got on to. She didn't ask about the relationship with my job, or even if I had one. What I thought of it. Did it nourish me. A job is quite crucial.
She didn't ask about my roof and four walls - how happy I was there, its long term security, how clean and dry and warm it is. A home is quite crucial.
And - most tellingly of all for a Wellbeing Clinic - she didn't ask if I loved anyone, or if anyone loved me. Who loves ya, baby? Love is quite crucial for wellbeing.
Missed opportunities? Or doing a good job if not complete? Interesting times.
But - I MUST NOT BECOME A "PATIENT"!
Doctors make you worse. Blood tests are not the whole picture. A political map does not tell you everything. Surgeons gotta eat. Your life in YOUR OWN hands. The medicalisation of society.
Zoe tells me that she and "The Twat" will NOT now be appearing on "This Morning" this morning, having been replaced by an item on those ubiquitous McCanns. Apologies for this change of scheduling, which is of course beyond our control.
Great day here in Bonnie Scotland! My bottom seems a little better, so I might venture forth up a couple of tiny hills, just to see if I still can. The man from the Central Heating came on Friday, even though I'd phoned the day before to cancel, but I couldn't let him in. He said I'd now be way back in the system. I thought I'm not going to beat myself up, as I really did do some cleaning - not just look at it and cry.
Sadly, exposing all this manky carpet to the light has made me ill in my nose. I'm cracking up. How Darling Zoe is coping, with her nose just inches from the stour, defeats me, but she is. I guess cats are designed to live in dirt and catch vermin. I certainly haven't seen any beetles since she moved in.
A woman won a hundred thousand quid at the bingo. Last week a different wifie won a million at one of our Glasgow clubs. You might have read about it. I'm on holiday after this week, but I feel I've subtly changed from a person to a patient, having just dropped off blood and urine samples for analysis.
BP read again. I took my own ten quid model in for comparison, and there was no significant difference in its readings compared to the nurse's professional one. Lloyds Pharmacy.
I've just watched the intro to This Morning, and can see no sign of either the McCanns or My Boyfriend Is A Twat. Strange. So I'm off out now, having not the slightest interest in Ross Kemp or the Diana inquest. At least they're avoiding the Tory Party conference, although I did see Ann Widdecombe in an ad for pasta.