I know some of you dear, loyal friends get a bit worried when we have a blog-silence, so this is just to let you know all is well in Naked Mansions. Sorry there's been none of your favourite blog for a while, due to incursion of real life. (And no - that's not been a seven day alcoholic binge after falling off the wagon so thoroughly last Thursday!)
No way, Rose.
Heavens, I've just noticed. We had a power blip an hour ago, and it's switched on Priscilla, Queen of the Back Bedroom. Must go and turn the old dear off, if I can. Strange. Determined to get in on the act.
(Running between two computers, just like the olden days...)
Saturday was brill. The instructor was every bit as alpha and gorgeous as I'd hoped, and that was definitely that. I really should have written up the day - it would have made a good post, but it was quite quickly succeeded by...
Sunday, which was a day out (rather wet one) with the walking group. Bog came up from below, and rain down from above. At one point I was convinced I'd lost my partial denture, but it was back in the bus all the time. Relief.
Had one pint of lager after the walk. This is significant, for reasons we might get on to.
Monday and Tuesday were industrial resting. Eat, sleep, sudoku, and the Alien Quadrilogy (they mean Tetralogy, but that word might put off the punters) which is currently just fifteen quid at HMV down from seventy. A couple of rather weak trips uptown... the first one on Monday driving me almost mad with urban irritation. Cars, smells, tobacco smoke... even conversation. The hills are not alive, but they are very quiet indeed.
Scuse while I pop through and peek at Priscilla. "Some tasks did not execute at their scheduled time," I saw. Which is not surprising as the old girl hasn't been switched on for several months. She's a goer. Roughly seventy percent of Naked Blog came through her hallowed circuits. Actually more. It was on Priscilla I migrated from Magnificat's Home Page to Naked Blog. NB was meant to be an add-on, but ended up taking over.
Ah, Magnificat's Home Page. Just been glancing. It's internet history. Summer 2001 it says on the front, but it'd already been going for several years. And that one started on a computer called Ian, which might well still go if I switch him on. SX50 was the processor, 8Mb RAM and 500Mb HDD. And still I have the happiest memories of that one. What's come since has really just been improvement. Glad I lived to see the dawn of the computer age.
Wednesday work, and yesterday the double roller coaster in the Pentlands. Then one pint in the Flotterstone. This is significant, for reasons we might get on to in my special edition on addictions and attachments soon.
OK. Sorry so short, as work calls in a few seconds. Pics should follow. Anna is going to San Francisco to live. I asked her to wear some flowers in her hair.
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. It's Friday morning, half past nine, and any minute now the Man From Virgin will be here to fix my phone. Taken eight days, but then the planes from Delhi can be unreliable. Did I mention I've completely gone off Virgin since this phone went out of order and the 0845 ripoff lines to report it.
Here's a great site you can use to get non-ripoff numbers.
But it's not just 0870, it's the whole damn lot of them. Hanging's too good for them. (Thanks to the almost anonymous M.)
Readers who keep up with this blog will have noticed the Beeb did that topic just the very day after we wrote it here. On the Breakfast News. But they got the emphasis wrong. They were accusing the mobile phone companies of extortion for the charges, but their attack should have really gone onto the companies which make you use those numbers. One guy said he had to use 0845 to do his telephone banking. My response: change yer damn bank. If we all got together we could end 0845 in a fortnight.
Amused by a piece in the Grauny education section, not normally the repository of fascinating facts. Helicopter parents are those who hover over their late teen kids, interfering all the way through university and even beyond. Apparently there are more parents than kids turn up at Freshers' Week these days.
"Thanks to the invention of the mobile phone, surely the longest umbilical chord in history, parents can now speak to their children on a daily, even hourly basis. And they do."
Another one you might have missed in the recent Grauny is this one by Julie Burchill. That's right - the queen of the opinion piece is back. And lang may her lum reek. (Long may her chimney smoke... a generalised Scottish goodwill message.)
La Burchill is writing about faith and atheism. Good stuff. Dawkins gets a good going over, as you would expect. I think the Grauny should re-employ her. (I can say that here, because I know they all read NB.)
Anyway. Must go. The Virgin plane from Delhi seems to be taking its time. Yesterday I fell off the wagon, but deliberately, not impulsively. And now I'm back on it. This evening I start a two day map reading course. You have to wonder how much more water there can be in the sky. Have great weekends. Think of me, damply outdoors all Saturday and Sunday. Well, somebody's got to do it.
Good news: two days more work then holiday for a week and a half!
Bad news: will have to spend much of that on cleaning the house.
Good news: no mice last night. I'm trying to normalise the home, that is remind zoe how it used to be before she went on red alert over some meeses. So I sprayed catnip on her once favourite bed (close to mine) and she slept there for a while. Then she started charging about and my adrenaline hit the roof again. She was wanting out to the back of the house which is mouse central. But she quietened down and then at six in the morning, after a reasonable night for me, I saw her fast asleep on her bed again. Good.
Bad news: having to gut this house from top to bottom during my holiday. (But you've read that a dozen times and it never happens. Ho hum. We shall see.)
Good news: weight this morning at its lowest since records began, three years and eight weeks ago. 12 stones 8 pounds. (168 pounds.) Yes, I've weighed myself every single day - and written it down - for over three years. Just call me Monica Geller if you want. Data available for sale to any respectable university study. Probably not Slimfast.
Bad news: it's been at 12 stones 8 before, but never ever any lower. 12 stones 8 is my personal "four minute mile". This is the time which was thought impossible for years, till Roger Bannister did it and after that everybody did it. Any less - even 12 stones 7 and three quarters, would unlock the gate to eventual slimdom. I just know it. And it'll never, ever happen. Too scared of success, you see.
Bad news: my Virgin landline phone is farked. Rings but then silence. And you have NO IDEA how difficult it is to report this seemingly everyday occurrence. You can call free on 151 from any Virgin phone. Except your Virgin phone is broken, so of course you can't. So you're forced to call them on a rip-off 0845 number, with an amazing plethora of options. "OK, you now have four options". Then: "OK, you now have four more options". Then: "We're going to get you some help. You now have two options".
Then, and only then, after spending about a fiver, do you get a human. A human seemingly based in India. (I can state this with a reasonable degree of probablility, as I've had three of them, and all sounded Indian. The second one actually admitted to "being in another country".)
Oh for the old Telewest days, and those gorgeous-sounding scousers helping you with your broadband. When broadband was the western frontier, and almost no-one had it. But I digress into the past, and that way lies madness. And Telewest went down the tubes.
So a man is coming to fix it. But not for eight days. And if it turns out to be my fault then it's twenty quid.
Virgin Media is a money-grabbing ripoff facade. Plus as we all now know, their "Mother Of All Broadband" chugs along at a far from blistering 4.5 Mbps.
Good news: I don't really need their stupid landline, as I'm very fully connected on Vodafone. Mebbe ditch Virgin and move over to Voda completely, the way things are coming along with OTA broadband.
And that ends the news for this morning. Now you have a nice weekend, y'all. There's a shitload of Naked Blog underneath this if you've not been here for a day or so. Put the kettle on. My favourite part is the Scott McKenzie stuff on YouTube. He's still alive.
Well last night was certainly traumatic - all those horrible mouse tensions returning. Having to remove a mouse from your cat at three in the morning is not everyone's idea of a good night's sleep. And less than twelve hours earlier there was another one.
They're back, and I'm at my wit's end again.
Love to know what's going on. Why they disappeared so utterly when zoe moved in (after a far worse infestation) yet return now. Are they the new GM cat-unfearing generation?
It's certainly a mystery. Mebbe I'll keep her in the bedroom with me, and put something to block under the door.
It's not doing her any good either. She looks sad and needy. Won't stay on my knee for long, in case she's missing the action. Heaven only knows what's passiing through that kitty brain.
Scared. Again. Not only of the mice but of my new hair vanishing once again. How flimsy are the things which keep us going. How easily the rug is pulled out from the complacency.
Seen this about the place, so thought I'd have a go...
1. My uncle once: lived in another land far away and I never met him.
2. Never in my life: have I met any uncles.
3. When I was five: I had a big birthday party which I hated because everybody else won a prize except me.
4. High school was: called Grammar-Technical School. (The Technical part was because they let some thickos in.)
5. I will never forget: loads of things. Once you've forgotten everything I think they call it Alzheimer's.
6. Once I met: Jon Ronson. Next I want to meet Julie Burchill. I think I once met Paul McCartney in the sixties, but it was in a dodgy bar that he shouldn't really have been in, which made me wonder if the rumours were true. This person did actually try to "get off" with me.
7. Thereís this girl I know: only on my computer screen. Yet somehow it feels real.
8. Once, at a bar: I was interested in what the guy next to me was saying.
9. By noon, Iím usually: stepping out of the shower if it's a work day, meditating if it's not.
10. Last night: I was woken by the cat playing with a live mouse.
11. If only I had: no mice.
12. Next time I go to church: will be somewhere over the rainbow.
13. What worries me most: is dying and rotting away like you see on the telly.
14. When I turn my head left I see: a picture a friend gave me as a housewarming thirty years ago. It's probably got thirty years of dust on the top. The friend is actually still alive, which startled me when I bumped into him in The Regent. You kind of assume that all the gay men you knew are dead.
15. When I turn my head right I see: Calton Hill and those funny monuments and observatories.
16. You know Iím lying when: you read the sentence above, because to see that view I have to move closer to the window. But it sounds more classy than the truth.
17. What I miss most about the Eighties is: Abba. (Or were they seventies? So hard to keep up.) Also being younger and thus having a sex life.
18. If I were a character in Shakespeare Iíd be: probably Portia. I actually was Julius Caesar in the play once, so it might be fun to be his wife to get the complete picture.
19. By this time next year: I'll hopefully be alive.
20. A better name for me would be: Brad, Bruce, Butch... lots of things beginning with B. Nothing with a J or Q, even if more appropriate.
21. I have a hard time understanding: women. Men are much easier, possibly simpler, some would say. Tell them they've got a nice cock and they'll do anything.
22. If I ever go back to school, Iíll: tell them not to listen to a word the teachers say.
23. You know I like you if: I ask you a question and listen to your answer.
24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be: myself for my excellence.
25. Take my advice, never: start to smoke. Start anything else but not that.
26. My ideal breakfast is: zero calorie.
27. A song I love but do not have is:San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) Heavens I've just found that on YouTube and am enthralled. Had no idea what he looked like. (For younger readers, this song was possibly the biggest hit of the entire sixties.)
28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest you: meet me.
29. Why wonít people: realise how wonderful I am.
30. If you spend a night at my house: you'd need medical treatment.
31. Iíd stop my wedding for: a gun to shoot myself with.
32. The world could do without: cars
33. Iíd rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: listen to Madonna.
34. My favourite blonde(s) is/are: Brad Pitt and David Beckham (ish)
35. Paper clips are more useful than: Victoria Beckham.
36. If I do anything well itís: moan.
37. I canít help but: feel sorry for myself.
38. I usually cry: when I think how much better things could have been.
39. My advice to my child/nephew/niece: See 1 above.
40. And by the way: Others have it worse. Far worse, and you never hear them moan.
Students discussing their A Levels, just five minutes ago.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm no racist, me. But I AM a statistician, and I DO understand random sampling, and so I can say without fear of rebuttal that the BBC routinely and deliberately overstate the number of young blacks in the capital. I've lost count of the texts I've sent saying "No young white people in London today, I see."
So there we are. I'm just saying. And if I were a white Londoner I'd understandably be getting more than a bit sick of it.
Bit of an atmosphere in Naked Mansions this evening. It's almost midnight; I'm up on the couch typing to you with the new keyboard; someone's tearing Michael Barrymore to bits on the telly but I haven't got the sound on; and it would appear a picture of rural idyll.
But where is zoe?
Well, zoe is pacing the floors like something demented. Her nerves are shot to pieces, and mine aren't far behind. It's mice. Stupid stupid mice that come into a cat flat. Talk about survival of the fittest!
Because at teatime I was awakened from my nap by her charging away at a pile of clothes accumulated at the end of my couch. She was desperate to get into those clothes, miaowing for help. Sneezing as she dived deeper into the dust. Poor zoe! It's just a moth, I prayed... but no - in a few minutes I saw that it was indeed a mouse. Another. Making three in total in the last month.
So, putting thoughts of going back to work on hold, I set about liberating the mouse from her mouth and from my home.
It's hard, taking a mouse from a cat. They don't give them up easily. Zoe seems to adore mice, but the trouble is she just plays with them. Constantly letting it escape, then chasing again. Me I have to come between non-predator and playful prey.
Eventually got a plant pot over the damn mouse, but couldn't find a suitable stiff card to slide underneath it. Used a place mat. But as I was trying to tip the whole contraption into a carrier bag, the mouse made a lunge for freedom and ran behind a rather large box in the hall.
Which is exactly where darling zoe was, when I returned from work four hours later. Pacing from one end of this box to the other. Anyway - long story short... I pulled the box away from the wall a bit, so she could get at the prey, and in five minutes or so I had it out of the bathroom window. Oh dear I'm not cut out for this.
NEWS OF FRESH DISASTERS
But mouse is only the last in a longish line of incidents over these last two days. Hopefully more tales tomorrow, but it's a nice day and I should do the Pentlands. Not that many nice days about, if you ask me. But I also should do the Village and report on Sandra's exhibition. As well as sort out the new wireless router. Oh it'll be fine on the new laptop, which I haven't bought yet. Draft N standard. But the sad fact, which I should have checked, is that the Nokia only supports G and B standards. So I'm not really that far forward. Bit faster. Bit stronger signal - but nothing like "blistering" or any other such adjective.
Oh I hope zoe and I can get some decent sleep tonight. Needing it. Last night's fun and games have quite tired me. But oh I need those hills tomorrow too. How's a man meant to clean his house? How?
Shock Update 3am
Another one. Such a tiny, tiny thing. . . Zoe playing with it like a long lost friend. I wish she'd realise those teeth I spent a hundred quid on do have a certain purpose.
Now she's through the house (ben the hoose) waiting for the next one. This is drearily familiar. Wonder if my hair will fall out. Tomorrow I'm gutting this place.
Dinner at Sam's was a treat. No wine flowed, although there was a certain whiff of herbal tobacco here and there. And yet we three managed just fine. This must be the first temperance dinner in the whole of queendom. Cigarettes and whisky and wild, wild women.
Sandra was the wild woman. Still recovering from her opening at The Village, she was on fine form, attempting to order me about while I artfully resisted.
Sam had cooked chicken breast with haggis inside it, wrapped with bacon. Well, man does not live by smoothies alone. It was gorgeous, once you got over the notion that the oozing haggis made it look like it was having a shite.
Oh we tore the world apart. Not one person we know was left with a name to themselves. And honey we know loads. Little happens in EH6 that escapes the gaydar radar. "I'm going to blog every word of this!" I declared at one point, soberly. But I'm not of course. Quite fabuloso. And Sandra kindly gave me a lift all the way home, although I could have got a number 16. She said that now the boozing days are gone I should get my licence back and take up motoring once again. I said I hadn't thought of that, but it sounds expensive. We shall see.
Coming soon: my battles with technology... new router, broken Virgin landline, and Sam's far from virgin DVDs. Plus photos from the dinner featuring Deacon the horse-sized dog.
Yes, your favourite blogger is out to dinner tonight! At Sam's, with famous artist Sandra in attendance also. Can't remember last time I was thusly out. Excited. Strangely, not one drop of booze will be there. Not one. Let's see if it can be done. Enjoyment without intoxication. Dry eleven weeks now.
SPEND, SPEND, SPEND
This month's non-boozing treat will be a more powerful wireless LAN. The present one which works at a g rating keeps cutting out and is dreadfully slow. So now that I'm browsing more and more with the Nokia it's a good idea to upgrade my signal, as it were. Netgear RangeMax NEXT Wireless N. Ninety nine quid from PC World, or just sixty nine for simply printing out an order form and collecting. Thirty quid saving. Seems unbelievable. But that's enough free advertising for PC World - this blog is a business, not charity.
And doubtless after a month of N signal I'll need a nice new laptop to use it all up properly. Then my ass can weld to the sofa permanently. AND I CAN READ ALL YOUR BLOGS. So get scribbling. Some of the recent offerings have not enthralled me. And some of you still don't browse properly with Symbian 6. (I've seen the future and it's not Microsoft.)
Enough tech talk. This blog is all things to all men. And women of course. That's because I have such catholic interests. Except sport. And especially football. And politics, except for the human bits like what a shame it is for Gordon.
You see, I don't even know how shocking it is that Russia invaded wherever they did. The only bit I notice is the game, set and match of them doing it on Olympic day - possibly the biggest upstage since stages were first put up. Foreign affairs are just so foreign. And most people who comment haven't the faintest idea really, they just like making their mouths go. That's why I don't miss pubs that much - sitting stony-faced while the guy at the next barstool tells you things you never even asked about in the first place. Yawn. Do shut up. Even Madonna's better than you. Does this face have MUG written on it?
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN, AFFORD EVERY PINT
Sunday's stint with the walking group was from Glenmore to Nethy Bridge, via Meall a' Bhuachaille (810m). (Hill of the herdsman.) At Nethy Bridge I was almost too nervous to go into the bar for the mandatory post-walk libations. Terrified pushing the door open, would rather just sit alone on the bus, but had to go in to wash the salt and midge stuff off. Spoke one sentence to one person then fled. Much more of this and they'll start to talk: "See that Peter's an unfriendly sort. Never mixes with us. So stand-offish." But forty years of using booze to converse can't be shed in an instant. Nor would I really want to.
Some of the ladies have tea and scones. Maybe I'd be better joining them. Become a scone lady.
In this the second episode, entitled The Fifth Ape, Richard Dawkins moved on from evolution in general to delve deeper into the theory as it affects our own species.
There were two strands to the show - our common ancestry with chimpanzees, beautifully highlighted with an example, and then moving on closer to Selfish Gene territory, Social Darwinism and the roots of altruism. Heady stuff.
Last night's "killer app" was an illustration of how recently humans and chimpanzees diverged. He spoke of some creature in the past who had two babies - one of which was the progenitor of the chimpanzee species, and the other of the human. He wondered how far back that creature lived. In answer he said that if he held his mother's hand, and she joined hands with her mother, and so on back through the generations to the shared ancestor, then that line would be only 300 miles long.
BLACK BISHOP, WHITE KNIGHT
Dawkins went to Kenya and spoke to a bishop. Asked him if he was an ape. No, replied the bishop, I am a human being. Nothing too suprising there, then. Apparently some Kenyan Christians are trying to suppress a display of human and early human fossils.
LET ME HELP YOU
Altruism has often been used to attack the natural selection theory, which postulates that creatures at all times would fight selfishly for survival. Dawkins got round this in some fascinating ways.
One of those rejoinders was the notion of "breeding selection by females". That females determine the success of male characteristics, by choosing which males to breed with. He showed the peacock, with its huge, heavy "anti-survival" tail, but a tail which peahens apparently love, and fuck with gay abandon. The hens chase the tail, and thus the hens breed the tail. Go girls!
Similarly, human females will select mates who possess the trait of kindness, even though strictly speaking, cruelty might be a better survival strategy.
And the final point, again elegantly made, was that humans have reached such an advanced state of consciousness that our humanity overrules the ferocity of the genes. So we feel sad at others' distress. Build asylums, provide welfare, and pay taxes. The selfish genes have generated a less selfish creature.
This series is so splendid that we have to ask why the BBC, who spend fortunes on Attenborough's rubbish, seem to have turned it down. Feared of the anti-scientists?
It's true. Degas, Whistler et al might well be strutting their old-fashioned stuff at the National Gallery of Scotland... but for the true connoisseur there's only one exhibition worth going to this month, and that is me mate Sandra's.
Grand opening tonight. The Village, South Fort Street, Edinburgh. (I hesitate to give that concern any more free publicity than the acres I already have, for reasons they will well understand, but on this occasion...)
Sadly your scribe cannot be in attendance at the opening due to pressures of employment, so I will miss my free glass of plonk and selection of Madonna's greatest hits generously interspersed with highlights from Mamma Mia! (the movie). But do look along and tell them I sent you. 0131 478 7810
News, reviews and pics of course at the earliest opportunity.
Sandra Brown. It's the one the critics are queueing up for.
Yes, I've gone and got one yesterday. Freedom Bluetooth Keyboard. PC World 49.99 if you order it online and collect from store, as opposed to 69.99 if you don't. (Seems totally unfair, but I didn't argue with the twenty quid reduction for simply printing out an order.)
I'd planned on a folding keyboard right from the start of my Nokia N95 8Gb experience, as the phonepad is of limited use, especially for a touch typist. Yes, I love QWERTY, me. Child of the typewriter age. I treat my keyboard as a pianist treats a fine piano. Can even close my eyes and keep typing, if I want to.
Then what's the verdict?
Nine out of ten. Overall excellent, with a good feel to the keys, which are about 95 percent of the size of my Dell PC keyboard. (Which is a bit pants, btw, but that's another story.) I'm deducting half a point for flimsiness, (inevitable you might say to achieve such low weight), and another half for something quite wrong, which is the arrow keys function.
You'd naturally expect to move your on-screen cursor with the arrows, but it turns out you have to use Shift at the same time. Shift/arrow to move your cursor. If you just touch the naked arrow, then it goes to hard left, hard right, top or bottom. Unstoppably. This is a fine feature, but it should be the shift function, not the default. I'm sure that's just a driver error, and will be updated.
Otherwise you get fine typing, lots of shortcut keys, some built-in like Messaging, Calendar and Web, and nine user-defined Function keys. So far I've typed texts (glorious, no more fiddling with PQRS keys or predictive errors) and the blogpost below. I've also discovered Quickoffice Notes on the Nokia, which types up lovely, and then you can cut and paste. I didn't know you could do that until yesterday. Yer lives and larns.
There's a nice pull-out easel to rest your phone or Blackberry on. This Freedom Bluetooth keyboard works with Blackberry, Winmob and Symbian 6, but not seemingly iPhone, which I'm sure has something even more wonderful and three times as expensive.
Obviously the functionality of a phone/keyboard combo is nowhere near as good as a laptop. But just try slipping a laptop into two jacket pockets, as you easily can with these. Folded, the keyboard is the same length as a spectacle case, and twice as broad. Seven ounces. There's a nice leatherette case.
And hi to all my reader. This is an historic post - the first from my new Bluetooth keyboard (collapsible). The poor man's laptop!
And what a difference a bluetooth makes! I could get to like this I'm sure... blogging atcha from the comfort of my sofa, rather than the strictures of the kitchen table.
(Sorry - just had to break off for a blast of Dusty... I just can't make it on my own... bizarre indeed sticking a lead into the side of the thing you're blogging on.)
Vividly I remember the first time I heard it, way back in the seventies. With a gay friend, doubtless both of us tipsy, as you do. (Did.) And when she got to the line, "Please help me..." we just shrieked and clutched each other.
Memories, eh? We've all got them.
Symbian 6, the browser for both Nokia and Sony Ericsson, doesn't render the Blogger page quite perfectly. Once the writing gets to the bottom of the box it kind of half disappears under the lower frame, if you see what I mean. Don't know how to correct for that.
A friend of mine has had the domain she was about to purchase hijacked by a rival who is holding it to ransom. Any ideas?
My this keyboard is grand. Only seven ounces. Fifty quid from PC World. Weird not having to use the Nokia keypad. Not having to worry whether the dictionary will predict the text correctly. To be in full control.
What would my grandad have made of it all, I wonder.
Apologies for the late publication of this piece, due to Blogger's indisposition.
Oh dear. The washout continues, and if anything intensifies. This is not good for the national psyche, and even less so for my own.
Wall to wall cloud. Whilst my dear Florida readers escape from the heat to North Carolina. Personally I blame Gordon Brown. Always had good weather with Tony.
Monday was the Pentlands, and for possibly the first time I began to question my last few years' exercise regime. There was the faint stirring of heretical thoughts: "Peter, you don't need to do this. Other people are perfectly healthy and they do nothing but sit on their arses all day. And a lot of them are thinner than you. And younger-looking."
The sun beat down on my unprotected head but I didn't care. Sitting sipping on a stile in the pass or bealach between Turnhouse and Carnethy. One hill down, four to go. Carnethy looming in front of me, big, black and pointless. Then back again. Every week. Compulsory, yet no weight loss for two years. It's me hormones, I think. Haven't got any. None of those vigorous youngman hormones that tear your emotions and your fat apart. All gone. Time for Tubby bye bye. Peace in our time. Capon.
Anyway. I put those devilish ideas to one side of course, and - never the rebel - did eight more ascents like a good boy. Best ever time. Lost a pound and a half. Chatted to various. Visitors, some. Which hill is this? How hard is the next one? Why don't you have sex with me?
Yesterday was the dentist then barber. Different rates of pay. Before the dentist was the hygienist, but I had to tell her to stop because she was burning my mouth with her gadget. Really hot. Turned out it was her first day and she wasn't working it right. Not enough water for cooling. So I was right. Doctors make you worse. Hygienists burn your gums.
Richard Dawkins, the universe's most famous atheist, was on Channel Four banging his gums about Darwin on Monday. Fascinating show, and would have been better if he'd managed NOT to go on about God so much. Grow up, Richard. We're all OVER God by now. It's the post-God age, and yes - partly due to you. But much more to Charles Darwin. More of him, and less God from now on, please.
Did you know that Darwin got his ideas from observing animal-breeding? That is, as in dog show type breeding, for characteristics. He wondered how nature did the same as human breeders of pigeons. Became quite a pigeon fancier. Went to pigeon shows. Then he decided it was natural selection.
But don't get me wrong. It was a superb show, despite the God-obsession, and there are more episodes to come. Chilling to the bone to see Dawkins in Kenya, talking about the natural world. "In the time it takes me to complete this sentence, thousands of animals will feel the bite of teeth on their throats. Or die of starvation. Or feel the rasp of a parasite gnawing from within." (Clock that awesome sentence!)
He said that natural selection was taking place in humans right now, bigtime. Just as all present day Europeans are descended from those resistant to the plague, future generations will be the issue of people now resistant to HIV.
It was somewhere in the nineties I discovered the anti-depressant properties of the Friends series. Every December, January... glued to the box for that magical half hour of New York fun, laughter, and - crucially - companionship. As opposed to Leith analysis, hatred and - quite crucially - loneliness.
Now of course, this effect is universally recognised. "LIFT YOUR MOOD WITH RADOX AND FRIENDS." (Radox is a brand of bath salts. But watching telly in the bath could have an unfortunate and life-curtailing outcome.)
Very High Frequency
Then it was on for only half an hour a week. But here, until recently, it was AN HOUR A DAY on the E4 Channel. And now... realising what a good thing they're on to... they've upped the fix to three shows a day. Almost an hour and a half of mind numb. On at four thirty and repeated at seven thirty. Three hours. Or six if you take in the Plus 1 feature. (I don't. Mercifully I can still get by on three shows a day. But who knows what the future will hold?)
Right now they're all looking at their youthful bests, as last Tuesday it finished, only to rise again, phoenix-like, twenty-four hours later. Or thirteen years later, if you're unfortunate enough to have your eye light on the bit that says "Copyright 1995". That's true - I'm getting off on something that's been over for thirteen years. But who really gaf when you look at last night's classic moments...
Rachel: What's a WENUS?
Chandler: Week Ending Network Usage Statistic
Rachel: Oh, that WENUS...
A Shakespeare for the age. Even Shylock would have sniggered.
Then there was the boyfriend bonfire where the firemen had to come. Joey's dad's mistress and his mother telling him she didn't mind. Monica's potential new boss turning up stoned with a munchie on. "Look! Macaroni cheese! We gotta MAKE IT!" You've seen them so many times they've become engrained, like Rocky Horror but longer.
And what is it about that song? Never can such a nasal one-liner ("I'll be there for yeeeuuuwww") have hit paydirt with so much aplomb. Laughing all the way to the private island. But it's indecipherable!
"Looks like your life is stuck in second gear... When that happened in your day We'd throw up in your ear...
BUT I'll be there for yeeeeuuuuuwwww When the rain starts to Fall-I'll be there for yeeeeuuuuuwwww Cos-I've bin there be Fore-I'll be there for YOU!" (Jang jangle to end.)
It is the musical equivalent of Madonna, and yet I've heard it LITERALLY thousands of times. And still can barely make out a word. Oh, I know it would take only two clicks to get it all listed out on the internet. But that would spoil the fun.
Friends. Is there a rehab?
Today's green slime is broccoli and carrot on a base of grapefruit juice. Nice, if a bit tart. And today's pink slime is beetroot, apple and pear which is exquisite. A whole rainbow of sugars exploding in your head. You're supposed to put honey in too, but fortunately I didn't have any, or might not be here to tell the tale. So more-ish. Lift your mood with smoothies and Friends.
Coming soon: beetroot, apple and yoghurt. But today is the Pentlands! Double roller coaster or I will die in the attempt. Last time was OK, in an exploratory way, but exploring never took off much weight. Back to the tried and tested. And there might not be any more sun for ages to ripen the newly-blossomed heather.
August is here and it's wet, wet, wet. So wet that a thoughtful neighbour across the landing has placed a red plastic bucket to catch drips from the roof. Yes, our roof is still leaky and damaged. We should of course fix it, but that would mean all of us talking to each other, and that ain't ever gonna happen.
Gatherings like that are called "stair meetings", the "stair" being the not only a physical staircase to our flatted homes, but also the set of people who inhabit it. "Oh, it's a nice stair I live in..." or "Such a noisy stair I don't know how I can stand it..."
Scottish urban lore.
HOT TIN ROOF
Darling zoe is cruisin' for a bruisin'. Not only does she wake me at five for feeding, which I can sort of understand, but the deal is that after I've fed her she leaves me alone. Didn't happen today though. There she was, launching her head at mine and miaowing. Sometimes I think a loving punch on the nose might be just what the doctor ordered.
Wee creature was at the vet on Tuesday, getting her Program flea injection. She's a living fly paper, poor thing. And when I told the vet there'd been a mice invasion she recommended a worm tablet. But zoe had other recommendations in mind, and twice spat it out. Eventually I had to hold her front legs while the vet shoved the pill back in. How she struggled! We've never been in a conflict situation before. Seemed a bit nasty, domineering, I'm bigger than you.
Sales are upon us - well almost over. On Monday I got a nice pinstripe suit from Marks and Spencer, just fifty nine quid down from two hundred. Next day I went back and got some gorgeous black shoes with leather Velcro straps across the instep. Not in the sale, but I couldn't say no. Just forty five pounds. I'm needing comfy shoes as my feet are still not one hundred percent. Mebbe see a podiatrist. Stewart used to see one of those, but he kept not turning up.
I just hate anything medical. The whole world's a "patient" these days. No you're not! You're a person! You're you!
HEAD WHICH WEARS THE CROWN
Apropos of which, Monday was mental dental. Private. I pay twenty-one a month for my few remaining teeth to get looked after. At the vet I pay only seven for zoe's entire body. I'd not been for almost two years, but as it turned out that was probably the right thing, as there was nothing wrong. Well, one tiny bit of decay which she's fixing next week. Bit of gum inflammation which she told me to rinse with hot salty water. It's amazing how nice they are to you when you're private.
Later, back home, the most amazing thing happened. A crown came off while I was eating some Co-op mature cheddar. That's right - great big crunchy bit in me cheese. So I beetled back along and got it fixed on. Rebonded, in the parlance. Nothing for two years, then twice in one day! We laughed.
British politics, both London and Edinburgh, are like something out of Shakespeare. Miliband and Megamouth. In Scotland we have no Labour leader at all, after the resignation of the hapless "Bendy" Wendy Richard or whatever she was called. (I really must keep up.) Glasgow East was one huge kick in Gordon's balls from his own people. Scary. How he must long for the olden days, when everybody hated Tony, not him.
Still, nobody makes them do it. Showbiz for ugly people, as one greater wit than moi called it. Alan Carr was back on last night, but it was repeats of Celebrity Ding Dong.
Been up Arthur's Seat a couple of times lately. Starting with the secondary peak beside it, Whinny Hill. That's actually nicer than the main drag, which is nothing far short of the Tower of Babel these days. But almost no-one bothers about Whinny Hill. Such is the fate of number two's the world over.
Me, I like it. Deserted where Arthur is like an anthill. Large flat mesa on the top, rather than the head of a rocky pin. You feel you could kick a ball about, or put up a tent. And of course that park is where my third age began. Geomorphic resonance.
And that park is where you first notice the grass has gone to seed already. Bigtime. I'm sure they must fertilise it.
Oh summer 2008 where art thou? You know you've got to shine a bit soon, or Gordon really will go down the pan this winter. But a bit nice sun cheers everybody up.
"Oh this is smashing, isn't it?". "No need to go abroad with weather like this!" "Where did you get your fabulous tan, Peter?"
Gordon's praying for it.
Have nice weekends, y'all. We're now at number nine in the discovered universe for Dr Alice Roberts. Ahead of sky, guardian, and other lesser rags. (In the olden days I was for ever writing sentences like that!)
PRETTY AUTUMN PIC
Whinny Hill, long grass and fabby views. My home is somewhere in that bunch to the left.