Naked Blog

More famous than Susan Boyle!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TICK, DONE IT, GOT THE WHITEOUT

Best enjoyed after yesterday's post below



A selection of the colleagues on yesterday's successful charity hillclimb.

So exciting for the first-timers.

But we did it.

They did it.

I did something different and thrilling for me.

Together we done good. Very good. Story soon. Work beckons.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NAKED FEAR

The Pentland Hills are clearly visible from my back bedroom. Low, black and forbidding, they stretch darkly across the horizon - an ever-present invitation to grab a busride and browse their plangent mysteries. Pump that heart. Bellow those aged lungs. (No idea what "plangent" means, btw. Just felt like it. Waxing Walter Scottish. He loved the Pentlands too, our Walter, although I think he did them on a horse. The rich didn't exert themselves in those days.)



But this morning the word "clearly" is a misnomer. I looked across the city in the correct direction to check whether the tops were indeed wreathed in cloud, as per the Metcheck forecast. And voila! Nary a hill to be seen. They are completely cloud-shrouded. They are as if "not-there", as the Koan Masters might proclaim.



Then why does this matter? Why not pull the rocking chair a little closer to the fire and switch on daytime telly? Put those size nines up on the couch and stroke your pussy. You know what a hard day you had on Sunday... twelve miles horizontally mostly on open ground, and 1200m ascent. Tweedsmuir to the Grey Mare's Tail. (Very, very frightening.) Quite a bit for these old bones. In winds touching 100mph, said one of the walking group. Why not just rest some more?

Well, I can tell you. It's currently 7.30 of the am, and I've been up since 4.30 worrying. Because at ten I'm meeting a dozen colleagues and taking them on a Sponsored Hill Walk in those very Pentlands. Which you can't see. Which means we could be in a whiteout. And they won't know what to do. Get frightened. And wet. And the winds are 27 average, which means gusts of up to 50. Blow you over. Nowhere to sit for the picnic. In the possible rain. And they won't have warm enough clothes, even though I gave everyone an Information Sheet telling them what to wear.

It's for mobility aids for handicapped children. Wheelchairs. Whizz-Kidz it's called, although hereabouts whizz means one and only one thing and that is amphetamine. Unfortunate nomenclature if you ask me.



Then on Sunday coming I'm leading a group of up to 20 through the Argyll Forest Park. It's all go. Yesterday I had to spend 99 of my hard-earned pounds on new Raichle boots, as I've had nothing but problems with the Brashers. I think my footsies have got bigger. Anyway, I upped the size from eight and a half to ten no less. I know that's a big leap, but both 9 and 9.5 still felt dangerously snug.

So there we are. Size tens at last. And you know what they say about men with big feet...

Many thanks to the guys and gal in The Village, who very kindly sponsored today's walk to the tune of over thirty pounds. Children will whizz about bigtime thanks to your generosity.


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Friday, May 23, 2008

HARD TIMES IN CONSTITUTION STREET

As well as the spat between Little Alex and Big Eilidh (rhymes with daily) described below, I now learn that Robin (don't call me gay, I'm bisexual) is currently sporting a black eye too. This he earned by putting his romantic intentions where they sadly weren't welcomed, namely onto one of the osobutch guys digging up the roads for the trams.

These men stay at Eilidh's B and B called the Port Inn (as many of them as she can squeeze in, that is). Sam is her concierge cum chambermaid. And there's nothing like a luminous yellow jacket for giving a queen the wobblies.

Well, later that evening, the young tramlayer got somewhat over-emotional, and totally trashed his room - even to the extent of breaking one of Eilidh's lamps.

He had to go.

Sam bundled the hapless creature's worldlies into two plastic bags, and greeted him at the door.

"Where'ma gonnae stay the noo?" he beseeched.

"You could try Robin's," said Sam, sagely.

We don't have much money, etc.

GADGET CORNER

The section where we risk our money so you don't have to!

Lidl weather station, 4-LD1558. Bee's knees at fifteen quid. Far better than the 9.99 one I last told you about.

You get: Indoor and outdoor temp and humidity. Actual air pressure either in mb/hPa or mm Hg. Moon and tide phases. Radio controlled clock. Sunrise and sunset times. Eight hour forecast. Yummy. But if you've already got a weather station, you should first take the batteries out of its transmitter module, otherwise the signal will interfere with your new toy.


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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

AFTER A FASHION

Or - the day we got to the story before Reuters

I was sitting in the sun yesterday, sipping drinks with Sam, when who should join us but Claudia Escobar, the famous Chilean fashion designer.



Claudia, you may remember from Time Magazine and other publications, is the inventor of the salmon skin bikini, or skini. "Tomorrow I'm being interviewed by Reuters," she told us, excited. "So cool," I said. "Me, I write Scotland's leading personal weblog, and naturally would love to scoop Reuters!" (I was only teasing, of course. Other personal weblogs are available, just they're nowhere near as good as this one.)

Claudia was looking distinctly doubtful at this prospect from a total stranger, even though Sam weighed in with encouragement. Then I played my ace...

"A close friend of mine interviewed Liza Minelli - just last week," I purred.

At this, Claudia visibly softened.

"Piccy?" I pleaded. (She's even been on Richard and Judy.)

And piccy we got. Good luck with your interview this afternoon, Claudia.

Naked Blog: the one that gets there before Reuters!


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ANY STORM IN A PORT

Things have not been running too smoothly in the Port o Leith Bar of late. Oh no. Why only last week, Mary's daughter Eilidh (rhymes with daily), a not insubstantial lady herself, clocked Little Alex in the puss, leaving him with a black eye to his good name. They were - supposedly - toy-fighting.

At which Alex retorted by shoving Eilidh out into the nethers of Constitution Street, upon which she fell and banged her head and had to spend the night in hospital.

He's not barred.

We don't have much money, but we do see life.

By our pub reporter, McFly





NO MORE SHORE

Many locals reading this will have had the delight of meeting young Claire in her duties at the Shore Bar and Restaurant Over the years.

Well, Claire no more, as she's left.

Here she is in her working clothes for the very last time, after ceremonially burning her uniform tie. [Fashion Secret: I can exclusively reveal that the oh-so-snooty Shore dress their staff in 100 percent polyester. You can never go wrong with synthetics.]

She's with a white-haired old man though!

After Claire left, I somehow got dragged into a dreary and depressing hour with Barnaby. Never again.

BROKEBACK IV - I rest my case:

Don't miss this brilliant take on Brokeback, penned by Glitter For Brains in 2006. (Contains spoiler.) Now I know for sure I don't have to watch the damn thing...
HEATH LEDGER arrives into TOWN. He has a STOIC EXPRESSION on his face.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL:
Yee-haw, pardner. You looking for work on yonder Brokeback Mountain?

HEATH LEDGER (stoically glancing under the brim of his hat):
Mumble mumble mumble.

THE AUDIENCE:
What? Can you hear a word he's saying? And why the hell is Jake doing Yosemite Sam?

ANG LEE:
You will not need to hear a word they are saying. My story - it is told purely by glancings. Here a glance to see love blooming like the flower. There a glance to show dreams cruelly crushed. Ha! Glancing!

So HEATH and JAKE GLANCE at each other for a WHOLE HALF HOUR.
And so on...

Interesting (slightly) that the first thing this viewer noted too was the utter unintelligibility of the speech.

Right. Off to reprise lunch with Auntie Sam. Get the latest goss for ya! He's putting up curtains in the Port Inn. Is it just me, or is Will and Grace simply the best? But what happened to Stan? Why is Karen living in a hotel? Miss one episode and you're sunk.

Ta to mike for the Brokeback link


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Monday, May 19, 2008

PENTLAND PETE WILL GET 'EM HARD

Off to da Pentlands - mebbe for some hot Brokeback action.

Or mebbe not.

Heath is deid, and Jake far too cerebral. I see him more as Ross Geller than in my saddle, so to speak.

Even cowgirls get the blues.

Rawhide!


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

BROKEBACK COUNTDOWN

Just 24 minutes to the UK network TV premiere of Brokeback Mountain.

Should I/Shouldn't I?

Dilemma.

Dean in the Village says I absolutely must. He's got the DVD.

(Also please see the insight from sattvicwarrior in the comments to the post below.)
"BUT I gotta tell ya. Situations LIKE brokeback mountain DO indeed EXIST.
I come from an era and know that mentality of men very well where I have seen more than once that reality and MEN of that ilk
It’s a lot more “ non” fiction. than fiction. [ also considering that the original story was written by a [very talented ]woman and its only 11 pages long].
But there's more, much more on Channel 4 tonight. In fact there's a Heath Ledger double bill, Brokeback first, then Candy about heroin addiction, quickly followed by the utterly glorious Hilary and Jackie about the cellist Jacqueline du Pre who got MS and died. Emily Watson and the transcendent Rachel Griffiths.

Uplifting evening all round then. Gay tragedy, smack habits and multiple sclerosis. You couldn't make it up.

Even on a five hour videotape you'll have to set it onto LP, and that's just what ah'm a gonna do.

Round em up! Yee ha! Raw Hide! Get them wagons rollin'...

Is that a cock in yer pocket, or yer just gonna fuck me?
Technically I should liveblog this Brokeback, but (a) it's not new, and (b) I only have six (very valued) readers these days, nearly all str8, so not that great a point.
There was the time...

Brokeback Update 9.10 pm

Went through the agony of the damned to force myself to watch it - just one minute at a time, mind you - one minute at a time - but now I can say I've safely switched it off.

Two reasons: (a) I could barely make out a word anyone was saying, and (b) Ledger and Gyllenhaal look far more like college boys than cowboys. Clean, pale and middle class to the core. Exactly the same happened in Trainspotting, with tits like Ewan McGregor supposed to be Leith junkies.

So I'm saved. By the technicalities. Brokeback no more. (But I'll leave the video on, just in case.)


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Saturday, May 17, 2008

JUDGE NOT

Tonight I'll probably be guest judge for Post Of The Week.

I used to be a permanent judge there, but the tight timelines clashed with the Sunday outdoor commitments, so sadly that had to go. But guest again. That will be nice - seeing these young hopeful bloggers taking their early, faltering steps to stardom.

SCREEN GEMS

Brokeback Mountain is on telly tomorrow, but I don't think I'll watch it. Despite the glory of the two actors.

Por qua will you not watch a movie which after its TV airing promises to be an SGE? (Significant Gay Event?)

Because gay fiction has to end in tragedy. It's a dramatic rule. Gay characters have to be punished very severely. Rarely however does this spill into real life the way this one has - with the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger.

Interesting footnote Back in the days when you had to read your porn, rather than view it, there was a brilliant little paperback called Song Of The Loon. The cover picture was straight from Marlboro Country - two horsebacked cowboys sharing a light. And after just a couple of pages it was clear the author had created the gayest Wild West imaginable! Well, maybe not the gayest, but quite gay enough for the one-handed purpose.

And part of the reason the book shocked as well as stimulated, was that for gay men the Wild West was a no go area... like football. Those things just didn't happen in Dry Gulch or Jacob's Creek. And now - three decades later - comes Brokeback Mountain with its title so similar to something else. Brokeback. Bareback. Geddit? (Every gay man on the planet did in an instant, I can assure you.)

I still don't think I'll watch this movie though. Too sad, even without the poignancy of Ledger's real life death in every frame. Real life death. So much hatred in the world. So many stereotypes to live up to. No wonder some of us stop trying.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

FRIDAY'S SITE OF THE WEEK

Justice For Andy

My UK readers will vividly remember BSE. Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis. (Colloquially, Mad Cow Disease.) This happened during the Thatcher and Major dynasties, and sharply encapsulates the greed and corruption of the Conservative Party of the time.
"British Beef is entirely safe."
For who could ever forget the sight of John Selwyn Gummer trying to get his grand-daughter to bite on a burger for the cameras?



Well, it turns out that British Beef, far from being entirely safe, was quite horrifically dangerous. And - this bit you might not know - people are still dying from the effects today. The poisonous meat wasn't just eaten - which was bad enough - but it was actually made into vaccines for babies. Mechanically Recovered Meat becme a staple of school dinners. And all this done whilst the powers that be knew as clear as day how toxic the damn stuff was.

But they kept this knowledge to themselves for as long as they could, lest they damage the livelihoods of their Tory pals the farmers. And only eventually took action when the petfood manufacturers decided to ban it. You might well owe your damn life to Pedigree Chum.

Farmers before babies, in the Conservative worldview.



One such baby grew up to be a young man called Andy Black, who died aged 24 of vCJD, the human form of Mad Cow, in December of last year.

But Andy's mother isn't taking this lying down. She is a journalist. She was on the BBC Breakfast sofa yesterday morning. She has created this website, quite chilling in its openness and honesty. It names the guilty men. (And woman.) I urge you to take a moment to take a look and give a link.

And maybe you might think of Andy when it comes time to put your cross for Brown or for Cameron. Gordon or Dave. We the people or they the Tories' rich friends. This one will run and run.

Afterthought: Could there BE such a cover-up in these internetted and highly-blogged days? I like to think not. I like to hope the democracy of information we now enjoy would prevent such venality occurring ever again. But you never know.

Have great weekends y'all. Me I had a "zombie day" yesterday - never got off the couch. Only my second day off (working or walking) in ten, yes ten. At my age I should be thinking of slippers and a pipe.


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

IT'S ELECTRIFYING

Pictures from Sunday in the English Lake District are continuing to flood in to the Naked Blog office.

Remember I told you about the near lightning incident, which didn't in fact happen (narrowly)?

Well, here is Maureen's hair in evidence.



And here's a less electrifying picture of your hero clearly quite high up. Great legs, if I say so myself.



MORE FAME AT LAST

Following on from our recent triumph at Post Of The Week, we now find ourselves one of only a handful of UK blogs listed on the really quite pretty Pocket Cultures, in Category Blogs of The World.
"Accounts of walking the nearby hills feature prominently, accompanied by plenty of photos of the beautiful Scottish countryside.

The writing is highly readable and astutely observed."
Well thank you kindly.

HI HO

It's off to work we go now, with no time to tell you about Stewart's and my ten - yes ten - hours in the Peebles hills yesterday. In which I discover Stewie's quite noticeable fear of boggy ground. Bogophobia, I've named it.

I put on three and a half pounds in one day. Who says exercise is good for the weight?


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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ATMOSPHERIC

Sunday's trip to the English Lake District was notable mostly for the ever-present thunder.

Rumble, rumble, rumble it went - but all afternoon, not just half an hour.

At one point, on a high spur, everybody's hair stood on end, and the air started to glow.

Plasma.

"Down!" I shouted. "Get the fuck out of here!"

We were that close to being struck by lightning.

Mostly it was cloud to cloud, but just when we descended to the road at Threlkeld we saw a mighty spark hit the hill behind us where we'd just been.

Dangerous place, England, if you ask me.

There's a photo of the hair, which Bob the owner is going to email. You will be the first to see it. We had a very lucky escape.

This one is Derwent Water from Blencathra. (I think.)



More pretty pics.


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Monday, May 12, 2008

Post of the Week

Thanks to the judges at Post Of The Week for giving this week's award to my little effort "Pistol Pete Will Hang 'Em High". (With title by Chav Gav.)

Peer recommendation, and praise indeed.
"A master-class in effective story-telling, with not a word wasted. You’ll feel like you were there."
How kind. But remember, anyone who can't make a readable drama out of something as startling as a courtroom should possibly be finding some other hobby.

It's making the tiny, the everyday, fascinating which is the great bloggers' art.


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Saturday, May 10, 2008

CARRY ON IN COURT

PREVIOUSLY ON NAKED BLOG: On Tuesday, Peter our hero was summoned to the Sheriff Court for possible service as juror. Although not required on that day, he still had to suffer the proximity of a somewhat disturbing young man with a phone and an attitude.

The second salient point was that one of the jurors who WAS selected turned out to know the accused, and thus got let off.

The week has moved on to Friday now, which is where our tale resumes...


Court buildings are horrible, you know. Full of ghastly young people - even worse than those on the 21 bus. Scum, but more concentrated. I passed this painted teenage girl, shouting to a blinged up youth in compulsory tracksuit: "What you doin here, gadgie?"

"I'm up for assault!" he replied, showing all the remorse of a vulture. He kicked her on her butt then, playfully, and you sensed they'd soon be mating, producing lots of hapless offspring for you and I to pay for. Heterosexuality can be very expensive. But I digress.

One floor up I trotted with heavy heart, and there what did I see but another tracksuited youth shouting down to his pals over the banister, soon to be restrained by a Security guy. And - mardi gras - it was schemietwat with the phone I'd had the misfortune of sitting beside last time. Let's call this young man "Wayne".

Into the courtroom, where someone was getting sentenced, but this time I didn't bother watching. The man sitting next to me was sniffing, which I detest. Then he started talking football to the guy on the other side of him. Me I did some su doku.

Well, somehow I wasn't that surprised when Wayne wandered into the courtroom too, followed by a couple of youths I presumed were his fan club. And THEN - the Sheriff called him into the dock. Good gracious! I was so correct in my estimation on Tuesday - he was a felon all right.

The clerk called the register, and then the jury ballot began.

Not me, not me, not me, not me... etc, until the penultimate selection.

Moi.

On the jury! To try young Wayne of all people.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD

"I can see why Peter called this 'You couldn't make it up,'" I hear you thinking. But you'd be wrong. We've barely started.

Because Wayne wasn't the only repeat from Tuesday. The man who was excused jury then, for knowing that day's accused, was selected again and sitting right next to me. I'm going to call him Michael, as he vaguely resembled a straight Michael Barrymore. Lean and manic.

Wayne sat impassive, seemingly sans phone, while the clerk read out his charges and the trial began. The first witness was called.

Suddenly, Michael the juror on my left started whispering urgently. "Ah dinnae fuckin believe it!" he hissed. "Ah ken her tae - twice in wan week that makes."

That's right. Michael, who'd been excused jury for knowing the accused on Tuesday, today was acquainted with the first witness in a totally different case. "Ah dinnae believe it!" he kept going on. "Dinnae believe it..."

"You'll have to tell the sheriff - quickly" I said. And tell him he did. Michael was, once again, dismissed from the jury, and we remaining were sent to the jury room.

TWELVE ANGRY MEN

It was a pleasant enough space, light and airy despite the hot day. Air conditioned, I think they call that. The only features were a water cooler, coffee machine, toilets and - most important of all - in the centre a large oval table for fifteen. Me I chose the middle of one of the large sides, for maximum visibility and for my words to have greatest effect. I began to study my peers, whilst making my own pitch.

Most prominent was a guy opposite me. About fifty, with greying and vanishing hair, cheeky chappy type. He said he delivered Chinese meals, but you could tell from his intelligence he was probably a PhD. On my right was a woman who worked for the Inland Revenue, a friend of someone on my walking group, it turned out. At one end of the table was a girl from university. She was studying Spanish and Mandarin.

Chinese meal guy said Mandarin was up and coming. I said they'd said that about the Russian language in the sixties, and look at Russia now. But China was probably different, I demurred.

The chat went on. And on. "What on earth's taking so long?" I asked. "Can't be that unusual.

They agreed.



Student girl said she hoped the case wouldn't stretch into next week, as it was the last two weeks of her course, and she wanted to be there. Revenue lady said she should have been at a retirement do this afternoon, but obviously not now. We all agreed that Wayne was intrinsicially unpleasant, and that it was actually intimidating having him and his associates knowing our names and faces. We also agreed that this was a very unsatisfactory jury system. I refrained from mentioning that movie where a juror gets her child kidnapped, but I did tell them about Wayne cavorting and shouting outside the court.

More coffee. Another wee.

Ken, our court official, eventually returned, and shepherded us back. Sheriff looked at us earnestly, almost sorrowfully, I sensed. His grey curly wig looked just so right on his head. You wondered if he wore women's knickers, like judges are reputed to enjoy.

He told us there were strict rules about what a jury can and cannot hear, and whilst sometimes you can continue with fourteen jurors, in this case he felt it safer to discharge us, and we were free to go.

HONOURABLE DISCHARGE

Outside in the unblinking sun we said our goodbyes. "Nice chatting," I offererd round. And then back into the street through the scum and scumettes at the gates, smoking.

Wayne the accused was no doubt set free until another trial date. Michael the badly connected juror was negotiating his book rights. Me I wandered aimlessly back through the touristy streets to the bingo. Justice was done - or at least my contribution.


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Friday, May 09, 2008

AND THE HEAT GOES ON

Isn't this weather absolutely gorgeous? It's rare that summer starts so spectacularly, for everyone, on exactly the same day. Which was Monday of this week, and of course the May Bank Holiday.

"But we had a smashing May!" you can almost hear the cries, from the wet and cloudy future which is sure to come, this being Scotland not Spain.

But that is then, and this is now. Enjoy. You have my full permission.

GRUPPENFUHRER RULES OK

Being a group leader has its perks. You get taken to beauty spots, with petrol paid by the club, there to suss out a pretty walk and afterwards driven right back home. I could take a lot of punishment like that. Methinks the investment in GPS and Memory Map was money well spent!



Purists are snooty at GPS. They feel map and compass should be all that's required. That you navigate from feature to feature, completely ignoring the assistance in the sky kindly provided by my US readers. And now I learn that still purer purists don't even like compasses. They feel you should manage with map and terrain alone. Sense the lie of the land. Doubtless the purest purists of all would eschew even maps, and by reverting to the cave days simply guess and hope for the best. Trial and error.



That's fine if you live all your life within ten square miles, like people used to. Community. But being dropped off at Lochgoilhead and asked to make a pretty walk across the Argyll Forest Park to Loch Long, in hopefully a single figure number of hours, requires all that technology can offer. Methinks.

My Garmin GPS has opened a whole world for me. It is as simple and as truthful as that. (But still you take your compass, just in case. They don't need batteries and never break down.)



So yesterday was fabulous, alone in the sun and the forest with my feelings and thoughts. How blessed I am. And how I wished you were there alongside to share my joy.

GUILTY AS CHARGED

Yes, it's back to the Sheriff Court in an hour or so, to reprise the story below, give or take a detail. Will I get selected (balloted) this time? Watch this space to find out. Now that this week's walking duties are completed, a nice case could be quite interesting. Nothing sordid or unpleasant though. Give me a victimless crime.

Lots of pics from yesterday, but they're on the phone camera, and I've not yet mastered how to get them to you without the email feature, which continues to be farked. But there must be a way. There always is.

Later

And now I have mastered it.

A tree in springtime.


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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

PISTOL PETE WILL HANG 'EM HIGH

On yesterday's attendance at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for jury duty.

I arrived at the Court with only minutes to spare, having forced down a Cheddar Cheese Salad baguette from the Co-op. (Well - jury lunch wasn't until 1pm and I didn't want low blood sugar clouding my vital judgement.)

Find a seat, said the cop just inside the door.

Panic. Row after row of people, with no empty seats. Rather I saw a judge-looking man right at the front of the court with grey wig, and various other minions in black gowns. Oh boy I must be late!

There, the cop pointed, unsmiling. And there was next to some young man you'd hesitate to sit beside even on a bus. Slouched right down in the seat, be-jeaned legs wide apart (no smart clothing here), intruding on to my part of the seating. Horrible. I really hoped he wouldn't get picked.

IN THE DOCK

Another cop rose from a basement in front of us, handcuffed to the accused. (I presume.) They sat in what I imagined was the dock. The dock! A blond legal chick with open necked sweat-shirt under her black gown started talking to the judge. Sheriff, I should say from now on. This was a Sheriff Court. She called him Your Honour. She said the accused was sorry for what he'd done, and had been on a college course in film production. He'd already spent several months in jail, and it upset him, as he was more educated than the prisoners.

"Speak up m'dear!" I felt like shouting. "And wtf's he supposed to have done?" I could find no easy way of judging this case. Around me were one hundred potential jurors. You could hear a pin drop. You could even hear the schemietwat next to me using his MOBILE PHONE! There he sat, legs apart, going text, text, text. I tried to catch the policeman's eye, but he blanked me. Seemed I was sitting next to a felon rather than a potential juror.

Counsel kept bleating on. Accused was up for assault on his partner, I had ascertained, even despite my continuing unease at the young man beside me. Text, text, text he bashed on, making no attempt to hide his Nokia. Outrage.

Long story short: the Sheriff sentenced the dude to twelve months, and he left, looking distinctly unhappy. On the point of tears, to be honest. And then it sank in. This was not my case. This was not the jury. At that stage we were simply sitting in the public gallery while ordinary court business happened. And that's why I can report these proceedings. Public. Gallery. Not juror. Yet.



Another hapless young man came and went, and then on to the main business. Me.

The Clerk Of The Court came over and gave a spiel. He called the register. We all had a slip of paper. People present went in to a ballot jar, and those absent were put to one side. To be tried and fined in the near future, I would hope. No public duty, if you ask me.

All rise, and the Sheriff returned. The accused (my accused) was brought in by a different cop. Didn't notice if he was cuffed or not. Too busy watching his face. "Are you (let's call him Andy) Andy?" the Sheriff demanded.

Andy agreed.

The Clerk Of The Court then read out Andy's charges.
Here I'm stuck, blogwise, and here I have to say that I wasn't eventually balloted for this case, so am technically free - as a person in the public gallery - to report what happened. Technically. I think. But I might be wrong, in which case the consequences could be catastrophic.
It was to do with the charge of supplying drugs. No victim was to be seen. Generally having a good time then, you might say.

Clerk started pulling fifteen names out of the hat. "Number sixty-nine, John Smith..." Full names. Andy the accused watched them with interest as they filed into the jury seats one by one. Me I sat trembling with excitement. And then the fifteen were complete.

DEAL OR NO DEAL

The Sheriff leant forward and spoke to them. "Do any of you know any reason why you can't try this case?"

Dude raised his hand. "I think I know the accused."

"THINK you know?" echoed the Sheriff, with just a hint of sarcasm. "You are excused from this jury. Please speak to the official outside."

Andy the accused was watching all this and smiling effusively. Then they picked a replacement for the excusee and it was a young girl sitting right in front of me. Lots of make-up, bright red lipstick, nose-piercings and forties curly hair. Brunette.

Brunette was over the moon! Waltzed down the aisle beaming, and the accused beamed right on back at her. His counsel came over then and spoke in his accused earhole. "Stop grinning at the jurors," I could swear were his words, although of course I couldn't hear.

Then the Sheriff spoke over the court to me and the others not picked. "Thank you for attending. You can all leave now, but phone on Wednesday (that's now today) after five for more instructions."

Now - Thursday's court, if indeed there is one, will be drawn from fewer people, so there's a higher chance moi will get picked. But sadly I've important plans tomorrow, to reconnoitre another walk for the group in the Loch Lomond National Park. Getting a lift, starting a six am. Will be infinitely harder if I have to cancel to try some other dude or dudette.

Mixed feelings.

Ta to Chav Gav for today's title.

Another strange spike, this time almost 1.8k on Monday, trailed over 1k on Sunday. Just like the olden days. Take a look and tell me wtf.


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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

...AND THE LAW WON

Yes, that's right. I've passed (if that is the correct verb) the first stage of the jury selection process, the pre-recorded phone message. Jurors 1 to 100 (moi)have to attend court at eleven this morning, whereas jurors 101 to 200 need not.

It's so exciting! Surely I can discuss the personalities here, if not the actual case? Surely. Even the election of the jury spokesman would fill several blog pages if I had half a chance. You get lunch from 1 to 2, but you're not allowed to leave the building. You have to dress comfortably but smartly to reflect the seriousness of what you're doing. If you're threatened by look or by gesture then you have to report that immediately. There will be several police officers (cops) in the court.

And what if I fall in love with the accused? It's not impossible. Just as for that much greater gay writer Jean Genet, handsome criminals do have their appeal. Leith's full of them. It's a legal minefield. Mebbe I'll take my glasses - study the accused more clearly. We don't have much money but...

WOTTA SCORCHA!!!

Oh yes. High pressure all over the damn place has released the hot and angry May sun from its wintry pallor. Yesterday was the Pentland double roller coaster, and thank gawd I remembered a hat! Even so, my face, neck and the ninety minutes of head exposure have got me looking like a broiled chicken! Be so handsome when it goes brown though.

Just a fortnight ago I was walking through snow flecks on that same walk.

Walking in the heat! Oh dear. Must wear cotton from now on. Cotton quickly soaks with sweat and cools you down. Technical dry clothing, which is what I had on, has no cooling function at all. Wear it for long, and you'd completely desiccate I truly swear. Fortunately I'd a litre of water and half litre of coffee.

People everywhere on the hills. Like Princes Street. Fun having lunch on the top of West Kip and watching macho fat guys passing out on their way up to me. "You done good," I would say. "It's a hard pull up that face. A hard pull."

Haha. You don't need to teach an old dog new tricks.

Missed the Flotterstone, as it was a bank holiday and I knew it'd be heaving. Instead I got chatting to a nice young couple (mixed) at the bus stop. They were new to Edinburgh, they said. It was wonderful to have all of this so close to a city, they went on. I had to agree of course, glossing over the fact I didn't discover it myself till age 59.

Better late than never, and other assorted cliches. I gave them a short course on Scotland's outdoors. They were particularly interested in islands and midges. I mentioned Mull, Skye and Avon Skin So Soft, which is the repellent of choice.

EMAIL ME

My vodafone email is still farked. Four calls to their help centre, which I now realise is useless. They're just like: well it works on the website. Of course it works on the damn website - I want it to work on my PHONE. PCs I've been happily emailing from since nineteen canteen. It's phone I want. Phone. So I can blog pretty pictures for you.

Anyways - I stumbled upon a Welcome email from the System Administrator, from way back in February. (Seems like a lifetime.) I will write to him/her and get proper advice.

GOOD DAY SUNSHINE

Now youse all have a fabulous Ruby Tuesday. Take the day off. Life's too short to be cooped up in front of a computer all day. Or in a courtroom staring at the sexy accused.

Well - I told you the weather was hot |:)


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Sunday, May 04, 2008

NEXT TO GODLINESS

Since I stopped drinking on Wednesday, I find much more time on my hands. Already I've cleaned one of the shower walls, and just this minute felt suddenly impelled to clean the toilet.

Houses suck. I hate them. Be happy in a cubicle.

You do nothing especially dirty, and yet dirty is what your house doth get.
This morning on the Gadget Show (Channel 5) they were testing robot floor cleaners. Household. Now that's my kind of gadget! And I can't imagine what Darling Zoe would make of one. Kitty ecstasy. But of course, Zoe is really a woman trapped in a cat's body, and women like cleaning. It's genetic.
This all came about because some time back I spotted a Mr Muscle thing called Shower Bright - No Need To Scrub Ever Again.

Well.

I bought the largest bottle, immediately. And only when I got home spied the horrible instruction, "Start With A Clean Shower". Fuck's sake! If I had a clean shower to start with, I wouldn't be spending good beer money on their violet-smelling gunk, now would I?

We shall see how things progress. But as I say, it's so disheartening. I've lived in this house thirty five years, and in those I must have cleaned the shower at least half a dozen times. Yet always - always - after six months or so the tiles are black and mossy again. Not fair. Not.

NO-ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

But toilets and showers are not the only items. Oh no.

In cyberspace things get dirty too. So I pay good beer money to McAfee to keep the nasties at bay, and top that up with Ad-Aware and Spybot - Search and Destroy. (Love that name! So Schwarzenegger! So Van Damme! And whatever happened to the gorgeous Dolph?)

Ad-Aware SE was straight to the point when I clicked on it.
"Your definitions have not been updated for 193 days. Update now?"
Well, yes, of course. Mais oui. But they wouldn't. Update. Ad-Aware SE is as finished as the Twist, it would appear. But you can get Ad-Aware 2007 Free, which is, as the name suggests, free. I'd take it like a shot, but not sure whether you have to uninstall the SE first.

There was an almost identical situation with Spybot, where version 1.4 is also over. Good news here is that as you switch the application off, there's a panel inviting you to update to Ver 1.5.2. Which is free, and now with added RootAlyzer. And which catches stuff even as it arrives, which the other blighter didn't.

Already caught one monster when I went on to some phone site to find the cost of 0870 calls. They're 10p a minute, as it turns out, and I'd been on one to Vodafone for half an hour.

Thieving bastards!

BLOG THE MOMENT

This is because my Vodafone email has gone wonky on me, and I need it for moblogging - those pics of Sam and me and the dildos, for instance were on your screen only moments after being captured. Photos (I REFUSE to say "images") and stories, hot off the press.

But now Donald Ducked.

They're phoning me back within 24 hours.

And 24 hours from right now I'll know whether or not to attend the Sheriff Court for sentencing jury service on Tuesday.

"Guilty as Charged! Off with his head!"

I've got a little scab on the inside rim of my nose which I can't help picking. Bound to be cancer.

Please note the links above are to pages offering free downloads. Only in the rarest of circumstances would we give linkage to wholly commercial sites such as McAfee, Vodafone and Mr Muscle.


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Friday, May 02, 2008

JUST TIME FOR A QUICKIE

Seems Labour have done badly in some elections yesterday. There's no surprise. Me I know SFA about politics, but lots about people, and I'm betting Tony Blair is sitting in the Bahamas or some such place laughing his socks off. Socks off. Mingling with the Tories he always was himself, really.

In politics, showbiz is everything. It is the start and it is the finish, not overlooking anything in between. Television has reduced us to a nation of sleb-hunting voyeurs, unable to focus on anything deeper than the skin. Say the word "actor" to almost any woman or gay man and they will respond with either Brad Pitt or George Clooney.

And in 1997 Tony was the nearest thing we'd seen to a Pitt or a Clooney. And sadly but inevitably, Gordon Brown's pin-up days are long behind him, never to return. And the one thing he did seem to have, economic competence, now seems to have vanished faster than a bout of SAD in the springtime.

Shame, as I think he's a good man.

Beyond our Ken - London Mayoral Election

Outside of London people think of that place mostly in terms of the forthcoming Olympics. Which they will pay for, whilst Lord Coe and the IOC take the glory. Local blogger Alan Sharp, the one who kindly invited me to Mount Everest, wins POTW for his Olympic post here.

Zoe Williams in a recent Guardian tears mayoral candidate Boris Johnson to bits. And then gets mightily savaged herself in the comments. Internet newspapers? Things have come a long way.

Synchronicity

Yesterday I at last got round to plugging the new Nokia mobile device (phone) into Brad the PC. You get a CD with Nokia PC Suite on it. With that you can synchronise contacts and music. But the last thing I want on my Nokia is the email of every single person Brad has auto-saved over the two years. There are email people and there are phone people. Rarely the twain do meet. And me I never email or phone people anyway.

So I managed to avert this synchronous mess by ticking "One way Sync", an oxymoron if ever I heard of it. Now my phone directory is duplicated on Brad. Brill.

Then you can synchronise your music. On Brad the PC there's almost none, as I've no real wish to listen to decent music through my crappy PC speakers. But I got the hang of it in the end. There's a thing called Nokia Music Manager which shunts it from the PC onto the phone fairly easily.

I chose "optimise music for mobile device", which more or less reduces the songs to voice and drum track. The sort of thing you hear out of schemie earplugs on buses. I'll redo it NOT optimised that way. Quality. Class act.

Funeral Rites

Didn't make it to Jackie's funeral yesterday, as Babs my regular funeral partner has broken her foot and was in hospital. Plus I hardly knew the guy, as mentioned.

Do you ever wonder how many will come to your send-off?


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Thursday, May 01, 2008

OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE

State funeral out of the Port o Leith Bar today.

Old Jackie, a "guy at the end of the bar" character.

Every bar has one - or more. Or else it's not a place I wish to be.

I don't know Jackie's second name. Even on the Port noticeboard it just said "Jackie Sodjer".

Let me explain. Jackie greeted just about everyone with the expression: "Howzitgaunsodjer?" ("How's it going, soldier?") So that is how he came to be known. He was so good at expressions they even made him into a jingle on Leith FM.

Maybe he'll be doing jingles in Heaven.

I'm sure Jackie had one hundred stories to tell, but now we'll never hear them.

Rest well, Jackie. I never really knew you.

THE BECKHAMS OF GRIEF

...was how someone once described the McCanns. Who were on BBC Breakfast this morning, after the screening of their ITV documentary last night. More here.

Why oh why do I watch them and still think, "liars"? Why do I do that? I'm not a nasty person. (If I thought there was the slightest chance they would actually see this then I wouldn't write it. Unlike the Daily Express.) But what is it about them which is so suspicious?

THE FAMILY WAY

Those Austrian children fathered by their grandfather were described on BBC Breakfast this morning as being "relatively well". Ouch!

So I quickly texted my opinion of this fox's paw, and it was corrected by the next bulletin. Well done, Aunty Beeb. For money I would work for you more regularly. There aren't many of us left who still understand the English language.


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