The nights are fair drawing in, and it's time for some retail therapy.
Bluntly put: do I need an iPhone or a Nokia N95 ?
Interests: mobile blogging (not yet an interest, but it probably would become one) and photography.
Lack of interests: phoning. Music in my ears. (Except on the bus in the presence of schemies.)
If I were to blog mobilely, as opposed to blog sitting in this freezing kitchen, then there might be more stuff for you to enjoy.
But is this necessarily a good thing, in an age of cyber overkill?
Darling Zoe (the Belgian one) has overtaken Gunther Grass and Jean Genet to become European Writer of All Time! (Naturally I was invited, kindly, but sadly had to decline. To stay the night in her home, as well.) Oh dear. Well - there'll be more occasions. Hopefully.
Is The Simpsons Game worth 29.99 ? (PS2 version)
How are you all getting on? Me I lazed about for a few days after that mega-poke last Tuesday, but my insides seem to be coming together now. Monday was the double Pentland Rollercoaster, where afterwards I made a new friend. Adrian his name is.
The day got off to a bad start, with me leaving my wallet on the bus. Fortunately I had my mobile, and phoned the bus company, who phoned the driver, who captured the wallet, and handed it to the driver of a bus going the opposite way, who gave it to me at Flotterstone. Hardly dented my day.
Wells Fargo, these country buses. Everybody knows everybody, even me. The Scottish Government is thinking about removing the bus passes from under sixty-fives. My bingo ladies are up in arms over that, and I don't blame them. All Alex Salmond's fault, as I've said. Letting England know how marvellous it is up here. Although they say you die ten years earlier in Scotland, but I don't believe that.
Darling zoe (the cat one), has just jumped on to the table. She says miaow.
Iphone or Nokia N95 ? (The former is two hundred and sixty nine pounds, whereas the latter is free.) Both require 35 quid a month contracts, which is somewhat more than I pay at the moment. Like three and a half times as much. But you're worth it. You truly are.
Channel Four are doing double Frasier in the mornings, and then there's Friends on at five and eight. It's all about passing time. Passing time. Tomorrow is Brad Pitt day.
Yes, it's wall to wall sunshine this am, but sadly work calls. Well, not that sadly... something's got to pay the rent... although when I checked my bank statement for signs of fraud, as advised on Wednesday, what should I find but someone's put two hundred pounds IN!
(It was my old person's heating allowance.)
NEWS OF FRESH DISASTERS
HM Government isn't doing too well since Gordyboy took the cape. Foot and mouth, bird flu, Northern Rock, foot and mouth again, and now losing half the country's bank details. (I always knew nothing good would come out of computers.) But all these are eclipsed of course by England losing the World Cup on Wednesday, or whatever it was called. Not remotely Gordon's fault of course - but try telling Disgusted, Norfolk that. Talk about Black Wednesday. Tony Blair must be spinning with glee over his cocktails.
Well. Every silver lining has a cloud, and now we have to learn to live with diverticular disease. There's a quite ghastly picture I'll put up when there's a moment - but me I have to live with the memory of seeing the fuckers FROM THE INSIDE.
It just ain't natural, I tellsya. (I've made the authorial decision not to dwell on the state of my innards. Even without pictures, those impressions could be quite distressing. Such is the power of my words.)
PLUS CA CHANGE
Tried to go to the walking group's wine and cheese last night, but couldn't. Sat on the couch instead and watched the clock tick by till it was too late. So nothing new there, then. Ah well. Less than a month to the shortest day.
Watched The Talented Mr Ripley which was as you'd expect. No it wasn't - it was gloriously set, if averagely acted. Very Anthony Minghella. Then a strange thing called The Machinist, with Christian Bale. This promised much, but delivered surprisingly little. Again lusciously set - in a near monochrome way. A total contrast to the preceding.
Got to leave you now. Ta again for you know what. Turns out at least two of you have got the dreaded diverticular thingie. Daffers is gonna start a Facebook group, although so far I've resisted all Facebook blandishments. Never was one for moving with the times.
I saw the moon through binoculars last night. Mmmm. (Don't worry - I'm sure the lenses are plastic.)
For those who only dip in here occasionally - this afternoon I underwent a life-threatening medical examination. Did I or did I not have colorectal cancer? Full story in posts stretching down this page.
But oh yes! Here I'm going to abandon dramatic mystery - because you deserve so much better. Oh yes you do.
Fact is: I have NO CANCER up my bottom. NONE. According to Pearl. (Pearl's an endoscopist.)
What I do have, and what's been causing these signs and smptoms, is Severe Diverticular Disease. Yes, that's true. I saw the actual diverticular thingies - live on colour screen as Pearl shoved it up. Two fucking feet of shove-up camera - a TV special of my predicated future.
Imagine, if you can dear reader, what your own feelings would be as inch follows television inch of potentially deadly tissue. Your body turning against you bigtime.
But no - it's all too much! I'm going to live! Much more tomorrow!
I'M GONNA FUCKING LIVE! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE?
I'm sure some of you do. My great love to you.
AND TO MY INTERNET FRIENDS I'VE NOT YET MET...
Yes I love you and yes I thank you for your great support, from the bottom of my heart. (And from the heart of my bottom.) Woops - once an entertainer...
YIPPEE!! I'M GONNA FUCKING LIVE!!!
Full story tomorrow! This is not available in any shop!
Reasonably chipper, considering what's ahead later on. Took my bowel evacuant yesterday as detailed in the letter from the clinic. Not three bad - pleasant citrus flavour, but you knew it was probably artificial. This is not really a time to go organic.
Carr v Carr
I was well impressed by the Carrs, Jimmy and Alan last night, live from the Apollo in London. "Live" meaning, "highlights with the bad bits cut out". Jimmy Carr's headline, with Alan Carr as guest.
Jimmy Carr: people were getting us confused, so I stopped sucking men's dicks.
Jimmy Carr (again): I'm the one you didn't meet in a toilet in the park.
So far so good. I had some trepidation about Alan. Would he do OK, or let down the gayz in a lightweight, flimsy, Craig Hill sort of way? But no. The boy done good.
Alan Carr: I was in Accident and Emergency one Friday night recently. It was like a bomb had gone off in Lidl's.
Alan Carr (again): I passed this Big Issue seller, but didn't buy one. "Faggot," he said. "Faggot with a home," I replied.
A good set, spoiled somewhat (unbelievably) by the sound system.
Viagra? More like Niagara!
All this time my insides were gurgling bigtime after the bowel evacuant. It takes no hostages, that one. Wooooooooosh!! I'd always wondered what having your waters break must feel like, and now I surely know. You have to drink lots of fluids. At least two pints, twice, the leaflet screams at you. You can have water, various juices, sieved broth or clear soup, or even stock cube - which is what I plumped for after tiring of black coffee. Knorr Beef Stock Cube. All that salt and fat! But you gotta have it, because your entire body empties down the pan every half hour. I didn't know humans contained that much water.
I Fought The Law
Last Monday - eight days a week - was the double rollercoaster in the Pentlands, and then on Wednesday something completely different. I'd bought some binoculars - entry level, nothing swanky till I get the hang of them - and boy have I learned some things! My skyline is positively buzzing with interesting places. All those fuzzy black bits turn out to be hills. Or woods. Corstorphine Hill, for one. But it was when I turned the glass east that I got the biggest shock. There were misty masts near Haddington. And then - a huge conical lump. Must be artificial... spoil heap of some sort. But no - when I got out the map it was clearly called North Berwick Law. (Law means conical hill, although they don't stick religiously to the conical part.)
Couple of days later I saw it from Arthur's Seat. North Berwick Law, with Bass Rock to the left of it, rising sheer from the sea. These and other matters I had to check out! So off I trotted, just three pounds forty-five with my Senior Railcard.
Nice town to retire to, to die in, North Berwick, I decided. Friendly bar owners and restaurateurs. Great view from the top of the conical lump, too. At a mere 180 metres it has the monopoly of high ground. In the land of the flat, then less than two hundred is king.
I met a man going up. He said he goes up a lot, and in fact holds the record for going up. I asked what number this ascent would be. "Two thousand, two hundred and seventy-nine," he said, " - if I make it." He was 82 years old. I said I thought he'd definitely make it.
Funny sitting here, writing to you like this, unable to decide if I'm right to take this afternoon's endoscopy seriously, or am I just being the world's second biggest drama queen. (I think we have to give Elton John the number one slot. Or maybe George Michael.) Strange to think how one person's interpretation of what they see and snip could so utterly shape the rest of my life. And predict how long that life might be.
Why bowel cancer? Why prostate? Breast? Why never muscle cancer or kidney cancer or heart cancer? What is it about certain bits that makes them turn against you - to bite the very hand that feeds them. For when you go down the tubes, the cancer quite surely goes with you.
And then I think of all the times the bowels were hot and inflamed with the booze I've shoved down me, and I begin to understand. Plus the rancid fat of ten thousand portions of chips. We have erred and strayed from thy ways.
Telegram From The Queen
Did you see Queenie and Philip at Westminster Abbey yesterday? It was quite a hoot - especially the Archbish bleating on about faithfulness in marriage, whilst the cameras tried to avoid Charles and Camilla. He did go on about faithfulness a lot, the Archbishop. Highly amusing.
The Richard Rodney Bennett anthem took even less time to forget than it did to compose, I'm sure, and the Andrew Motion poem was just risible. You could almost hear Dame Judi's wheels clicking: "And I'm not even getting paid to read this shite..."
The BBC put on some Ella Fitzgerald or similar over the end credits, and that really was the best bit. We do have to ask, after sixty years of marriage, if a near-identical set-up of choir, organ and trumpets is the best the modern age can come up with. But at least we spared Candle In My Arse. I didn't even see him there. And what an outfit the Prime Minister's wife had on! Even my bingo ladies would do themselves better than that. Oh dear, Sarah.
You'd have thought the whole list of PMs would be there... there are only four of them... but no. My guess is that poor Margaret is past it now. Alex Salmond the First Minister for Scotland was conspicuous by his absence also, unless my eyes are as dodgy as my bum. We are not independent yet, young man. (Although the first of the God-squad to read out was in fact the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. A woman. We do tend to set trends up here, you know.)
Couldn't find my Crazy Taxi game last night. Had to settle for Simpson's Hit and Run, but I don't care for all those driving races. Pointless. Should be some way to skip them if you lose enough times. I'm so sick of buying games and only managing about five percent.
Yea Though I Walk
Sunday was me leading one of the three walking groups. The easiest one, to practise on. I think it went reasonably well, although there'd been a weather alert for rain over the previous 24 hours, and thus the rivers were swollen. Part of our route was across a flood plain, and I thought it might have lived up to its name, but no. We done fine. Ours was the only walk to have any visibility, as it was dense cloud above about 500 metres for the other groups.
Much butch helping of the elderly, followed by strutting when we got back to the pub in Wanlockhead. It's a man's life you know, in the outdoors.
Thank you so very much for you kind comments. Old friends and new. The next time we meet, I'll know if this man's life is to be measured in months, years or (hopefully) decades. Colostomy bags are next year's must-have.
Well, that was a nice hour chatting to you. Three more to go. Can I make it to the supermarket to stock up on bog roll? Without an "accident"? The Grauny is so hard on the delicate membranes.
OK then - guess it'll have to be about moi. For a change.
Just been watching Will and Grace. Last episode. So sad. Don't want last episodes. Lovely finale when they all clinked glasses. But then, after you'd got over it, you realise they're really actors, and probably hate each other's guts. Really. In real life. It's all about money, entertainment. Guess it always was.
Will and Grace was unusual, and good, in that it puts gay writing into gay characters, rather than the usual Hollywood cop-outs such as Niles Crane or Cybill's friend Mary Ann. And what glorious gay writing the USA does give us. Here there's been nothing since Round The Horne. Nothing. The entire British Queendom rests in the hands of a one-tune Irishman, a Scouse drag queen, and a hysterical warbling cokehead. Here in Scotland it's even bleaker. Arguably the only gay writer worth reading is the one you're looking at right now. How tragic is that.
THE FINAL CURTAIN?
But on to lighter stuff. Tuesday I get my bottom photoed to see how much cancer there's up there. If indeed any. With an endoscope. It's called an endoscope because it's a scope that goes up your end. Various of my bingo ladies have described the procedure to me.
*Stop reading here if you're of a delicate disposition*
And in order to get properly endoscoped, you have to be fully "evacuated" as they call it. To that end (sorry!) they sent me a letter containing two large sachets of chunder powder which I have to take on Monday, and then just drink fluids. Should lose some weight at least.
Cancer. Ho hum.
It would have been nice to get a few more of these happy years, after so many decades of horror, but there ya go. Whit's fer ye, and all of that.
Day before that I'm leading, yes leading, my first ever walking group. Hopefully not the last. It's from Elvanfoot to Wanlockhead in lead and gold country. The hills have eyes.
Day before that I'm working, and day before that is today. So there ya go. Never a dull moment. SADly I haven't read any blogs, nor opened any emails for weeks.
Friends, Will and Grace and Frasier are freely available on Channel Four for your depression therapy. Then you can watch them again on Channel Four Plus One. That's if you're REALLY sad. The new Simpson's Game is 29.99 for PS2 (all that gorgeous yellow), but me I haven't got much further than five percent of Simpson's Hit and Run. HMV are doing Homicide Life on The Streets at fifteen quid a series for the first three series. I loved that show. But that was then. Not always good to go back.
I saw Darling Zoe's book in Princes Street Waterstone's yesterday, but there was only one copy. So I pulled it out and put it face outwards for greater impact.
My closest friend Colin Russell died of bowel cancer with liver secondaries, but I never write about him out of respect. It was decades ago. He was only thirty something. Everybody said it was such a shame, cos he was that nice. For ten months he knew he was going to die. The funeral was packed to the doors.
...being last week's adventures in serial form. Best enjoyed after reading the post below, as then it'll be in order. So far we've reached Monday last week.
Well, after the excitements of North Queensferry and Deep Sea World I trolled the steep climb back up to the railway station. Think of the height of the rail bridge above the sea, and that's EXACTLY how high you have to climb. (But as an elderly fit person it was fun to overtake some teenagers puffing and panting. The young are all destined for early graves, it seems, but more on obesity later.)
My train was delayed 10 minutes. Then it was cancelled, to be replaced by another one. Idly I shoved the earplugs in, to be informed if not exactly entertained by "Pope Of The Century" on Radio Four. I think they'd reached the sixteenth. Equally idly I popped the camera onto the station bench beside me, intending to bask in my day's vigorous snapping. And that was the big mistake.
Along clanked an eventual train, and then halfway across the (big red famous) Forth Bridge I reached into my pocket for the camera.
Not in the pocket. Woops.
So, into the backpack, slightly frantic now.
Not in the backpack.
The only hard things in the backpack were two spectacle cases (comes to all of us, dears) and a Sure roll-on deodorant for those sweaty apres-hill pub visits. Synthetic fibres have their place, but it's a smelly place.
Distraught. No camera. Left it behind.
I just NEVER lose things, me. Haven't got the money to. Then a handsome if somewhat balding young train guard appeared, and I poured out the plight. Asked him if he could phone the station master back at North Queensferry to retrieve my camera. There is no station master. The only option was to contact the duty officer when I eventually reached Edinburgh, and get him to ask the guard on the next available train to hop off and get the camera. "Frankly it's a bit of a guddle," he confessed. "Do you know what?" he continued. "Why not just get off yourself at the next stop and go back to North Queensferry, and I bet you it'll still be there. Quiet place - probably lie there all day."
I thanked him for this faint glimmer, but still cursing my carelessness. Outdoor people are for ever unpacking and repacking, leaving sites never to return, thus checking they've got everything that's theirs. But not today. Clearly.
I'd already passed Dalmeny, on the south side of the bridge. Next was South Gyle in the Edinburgh 'burbs. Jumped off there. Crossed the line. Jumped on the next train north again, which was a blessed mere ten minutes. Got back to North Queeny. Crossed the line. (Running this time.) Got to my bench. No camera on it. Shit. But I'd prepared myself by now. Estimated I could probably replace it for little more than seventy quid, as six million pixels is getting a bit entry level these days. Yes - I'd replace it soon as, and some day replicate my lovely snaps.
But look! What is that small black object beneath the station bench? Why yes! It's Peter's trusy camera... fallen off between the slats, and thus a bit less in the public gaze.
Rarely in the history of mankind has a man been quite so happy. Elated. Wasted no time in sharing my joy with some people sitting at another bench. Mardi Gras. You have no IDEA how many times I checked I'd got the camera before boarding the next train home.
Moral: (Two morals in fact.)
Just because you're stone cold sober, it doesn't mean you can't still lose things.
Sometimes an encouraging word from a kind stranger can make a complete change to the outcome.
I reported the guard's good doings when I got back to Edinburgh.
Oft times a blogger runs quiet due to lack of bloggable things. We've all been there... that slow metaphorical or even literal scratch of the head as we think WTF HAVE I GOT TO SAY THAT WOULD INTEREST A GNAT?
Yes, dear fellow blogger and others - I'm sure you've been there too. Convinced. Would eat any of the various millineries scattered louchly around the domestics.
But not this week, o no. Not since I last put pen to paper here. For it has been a veritable CORNUCOPIA of doings, sayings and seeings. So much that in my mind the dozen posts I've planned have disappeared, sunk beneath the urgent morass of the next dawning as next day will.
And that - once again - illustrates so well the blogging paradox, as I've now decided to call it.
Because if half your life is spent sitting at the tippy-tappy and photo albums, eyes drawn fitfully to the blue of the winter sky outside the bird-spattered window... if half your life is on that, then how much less is there to do, to experience, to share with you? For in truth there is no joy in computers - the very spawn of Old Nick I swear it at times. And that is the blogging paradox. The more you blog, the less there is to blog about. And vice versa.
But enough of the preamble. I'll try to share this astonishing week, day by day as it unfolded since last Saturday. Because that is what we do here. And no - it's not all about me.
Thank you, as ever, for your lovely comments. Perhaps especially this time from NB reader sattvic warrior, who has compared me to a middle-aged Californian porn star. A comparison I quite like, and would indeed be up for an audition, if anyone cares to arrange it. Look out George Clooney, I say!
Saturday was a miserable day at work, with increasing irritation at unhelpful colleagues and in the evening a fucked sound system. So we will draw a veil thereover. Needs must.
Sunday dawned promising, with a walk thourh the West Lothian countryside, taking in Bathgate, Torphichen, a couple of hills, and ending in Linlithgow. West Lothian reminds me always of the "West Lothian Question", and that in turn alerts me to the sad fact that England has caught on to just how much Scotland takes from the National Purse. English MPs are asking why their constituents should fund free prescriptions for Scots. And free care for the elderly. And no top-up fees for university. And free central heating. And bus passes, and so on.
They are right to ask. Sandra reckons it's hush money because of the oil. But soon of course we'll have the only sources of drinkable water, so don't mess, eh? Stick to your night clubs and wine-bars, your Barnabies and Nigels, and we'll kindly sell you a few tanker loads of H2O now and again. Mebbe. (Just kidding of course. We love our English friends. And their generous taxes.)
Anyway. I blame one man and one man only - Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland. It is he, through opening his fat stupid ugly mouth, who has alerted the English to our fiscal advantage. Until him, everything jogged along quite nicely, and what the English didn't know didn't upset them. I'll never get my free central heating now, I swear it.
Monday dawned full of possibilities, so I took my little body off to North Queensferry, to the Deep Sea World. I'd heard there was a big tunnel out into the sea, and had in fact seen such a drama in Jaws 3 I think it was.
North Queensferry is beautiful almost beyond belief, thanks to the presence of the two bridges. Stunning would be the word.
Deep Sea World was a bit of a fish slum, to be honest, and I would almost suggest that those two poor seals were being kept in conditions of actual cruelty, due to lack of stimulation. (Like the polar bear at Edinburgh zoo, if you've ever seen such a thing.)
Update: I've just received a text from Chav Gav saying that the aforementioned A Salmond has presided over a ballsup with the CIS Insurance Cup league draw. Thanks Gav. And they're wanting independence.
And there our tale must go on hold for the time being, due to the pressing needs of an honest day's work. Tune in soon for the next thrilling episode, describing what happened after I left my beloved camera on the station platform at North Queensferry.