Ten past eight this evening (give or take a leap second or two) terra firma will be back where she was sixty two years ago when yours truly popped out of my mother's front bottom. With a fully-formed set of neuroses.
Who would have thought it?
Walking around town yesterday, watching the preparations for the world's most famous New Year party. (Called Hogmanay in these parts. No idea.) It's like something out of Gaza, I tell you.
MIDDLE EAST. A STATEMENT
I have no idea about the Middle East.
I've no idea why Arabs and Jews have to hate each other, so not knowing that makes the rest somewhat imponderable. I'm tempted to the "let them get on with it" viewpoint. (After offering homes to those who want to leave.) It seems analagous to "the troubles" in Northern Ireland.
NEW TEETH AND HAIR
Yes, walking around town yesterday (in a deep freeze, incidentally) featured my new partial denture (the condom with teeth) and a brand new Hogmananay haircut. (Janet has sold Traditional Barber Shop in Leith Walk, and is going on to work part time in Hirsute in Easter Road. She's expecting.) I told her it was the end of an era. I told her I thought my hair was getting patchy again, but she assured me it wasn't.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
There I was in Gamestation Princes Street, looking at Warcraft books, when an assistant approached. After the mandatory "are you all right?" he immediately told me his rank in Warcraft, at which I was clearly meant to be impressed. He told me he was an elf mage level 70, and he'd killed the store manager ten times. I told him I was an undead warrior 11. This game is taking over. The other day I helped a level 12 priest quite a bit, then had to give him/her an unholy ticking off for not saying thank you. (ty). Manners cost nothing, even for the undead.
I sensed the shop assistant was itching to get out of real world and back in to WOW. Scary.
I simply don't have the words to thank so many people. People in real life. People on the phone and email. (Which I can't at present open.) And of course, people here on Naked Blog. I am not worthy of such love. Just not.
Twenty four hours and it will all be over. 24.
May 2009 bring all your heart desires.
"It's gonna be fine in 2009!"
And let me leave the last word to Danny in Illinois, one of my most faithful visitors, with his insightful song about cyberworld, Beyond The E Horizon.
Right. Thank you Danny. Me, I'm off to try to call the bingo all day with an extraction socket (upper right five - good riddance) and my new partial denture. It's oral hell in there, I tellsya. Thank God I'm not Monica Lewinsky.
Well, that's the shortest day and the happiest day coped with.
Still to come: birthday, mother's deathday, and the end of the calendar year. But these (conveniently) all coincide on the thirty-first. So that's all right then. Be a doddle. December. Doncha just luvvit!
Yesterday began a slow news day. They were even bleating on about something that happened in Hull last Christmas. Last Christmas. Pictures of the Queen at church last Christmas - as if we'd forgotten what HM looked like. Oh, and talking of looks, doesn't William look awful in that silly beard? Just like his kraut ancestors. Someone should have told him. And he's going bald.
So, clearly the royal pinup will forever be Harry Pothead. What a charmed life that Harry does have. All that public dosh, and the onlything he has to do is hope his older brother remains alive. The highest-paid understudy since showbiz was invented.
Back to the news. Then some BREAKING NEWS came in. Shooting in London. But then it turned out it was a yesterday shooting. And the victim was a "blick", as they say in South Africa. So not much news there.
And then Harold Pinter died. Things looking up now. Classy death, but so classy most of the viewers would never have heard of him.
And then Eartha Kitt died. Much more to the viewers' taste this one, especially the elderly and upwards. Even my dad used to fancy Eartha. "World's most exciting woman," my mother used to say, not realising she was quoting Orson Welles. Normally my dad hated the non-white, but clearly she was made an exception. He hated Shirley Bassey though. Said she was a cheap British imitation.
Well there ya go. Christmas will never be the same in those two households. Although Pinter was a Jew, which the BBC spectacularly omitted to mention. And Eartha was a gay icon (of a sort).
So - that was Christmas 2008. Two funerals and no wedding. And the Iceland Prawn Platter was awful. But who cares? It's for the kids, innit?
Sorry not to visit your blog yesterday. I tried really hard to, but simply couldn't, so abandoned myself to the warm and fuzzy embrace of World Of Warcraft, which passed time bigtime. Does what it says on the box. WOW is really just a prettier form of IRC, but that's a theme I'll be developing some time in the future. Unless the Grauny nicks it first.
Darling Zoe and I have decided not to bother with turkey this year, as it's usually too much for just the two of us, so we've plumped instead for Iceland Prawn Platter. (The shop, not the country.) You get six different sorts of prawn treat, and dip, for just five quid. A meal for sharing with your loved one.
I see old "Ratty" Ratzinger has been shooting his mouth off again, angering gay and lesbian groups. And transgender. His Holiness didn't actually mention gay and lesbian groups, or transgender, but they have, rather stupidly, risen to the bait.
We've said it here before, and will say it till our dying breath: there is no place for the Wild Side in the Christian Church. (Or any other church I can presently think of.) They don't want you. So don't you go where you're not wanted. Secular life is not that bad. Or you could form your own relation with the Divine, independent of priests. Check out yoga and Buddhism.
Just under thirteen stones one pound today (183 lb) a GAIN of two pounds over Christmas 2007.
That's right. I have climbed one thousand hills, mixed a swimming pool of fruity smoothies, and shoved entire fields of sprouts and broccoli down my retching throat - only to gain two pounds in a year. I do despair.
But I know where this battle of the bulge has come from. I've got it totally sussed. It's PUB CHRISTMAS LUNCHES. These days I can't pass a pub without having a Christmas lunch. I could write a guide to pub Christmas lunches of Edinburgh and Leith.
And that habit ended - yesterday. Or mebbe today, in some hotels.
Oh, and talking of which... do bear a thought for all the low-paid people who will be serving you over this holiday season. They would rather be with their friends and family, but present day employment demands that instead they have to slave over you. Usually for no extra wages.
Just a thought, from the horse's mouth, as it were. A little "thank you" goes a long way.
Right. Off to play some World of Warcraft, and hang out a washing. Have a great time. Mebbe today I'll be able to read your blogs and emails. Or possibly not for a while longer. Love you anyway. Especially you.
Yes, less than 24 hours to the Solstice. It's at midday tomorrow - while you're making lunch, for those who make that sort of thing on Sundays.
Teatime here in Depression Mansions - after a reasonably successful afternoon at work. Well - it was very successful. Lovely to see them all again, but a bit embarrassed at the gifts, seeing as I'd bought none at all, due to self-centredness.
To be honest, I'd forgotten Christmas completely. Always do.
But let's take things one day at a time, eh? Still time for me to get some nice gifts.
Thank you so much to all the lovely people in yesterday's comment box. And all the other comment boxes. Without a word of a lie you are the pick of humankind. Human kindness. Pick of.
Times like this I'm reminded of my late mother, who said that the reason she had to be hospitalised every now and then was just to get people to notice she was there.
So that was my little hospitalisation, my electro-convulsive therapy. Except doctors make you worse, and blogging makes you better.
Dry as a bone today - all that drink over the last several days can't have helped. There should be some pill you take on November 30 that knocks you out until January 1. Miss effing December altogether.
Work tomorrow, but just for one day, and then it's my three days off.
I know. But somebody's got to do it.
Just been watching the Peter Kay follow-up to the original. Watching it in the storm force winds. Today it's forecast at 68mph in the Pentlands. Never seen a forecast anything like that bad. You can hear this old building creaking and moaning - me hoping against hope this isn't the one where the roof peels off like in the TV clips.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT
Level 5 now. This game is totally class-conscious and you wear your levels like bling. To progress you have to kill things... picking on creatures at a lower level, coward-style.
The strangest thing happened on my first outing. There I was, totally and utterly lost, a stranger in a strange land. Guy turned up and started to chat. Invited me into a group with him. But I got killed by a flying bat. Don't you always?
Then a big white spirit appeared, who resurrects you for a fee. (Clearly you can't die permanently, or the company loses everything. This is a subscription game.) My new friend was telling me what to do, but missing an important bit. So I tried to ask him. But "You can't chat when you're dead" kept coming up.
What followed then was quite mind-blowing. Don't forget I'd only been in this virtual world for a few minutes. Both I and my character sat there gobsmacked while my new friend went out and got himself killed deliberately SO WE COULD TALK IN SPIRIT.
Maybe you had to be there. It was profoundly something. Xundead he was called. I still can't make up my mind whether he was a genuine player or member of staff looking after me. There is an entire roomful of paid staff who police the game 24/7. Anyone remember the IRCOPS?
BOX THAT SET
When exhausted by iPlayer and Warcraft, there's always spinning discs to while away the time.
HMV are doing a Hitchcock set at twenty quid down from ninety, and Friends (the lot) is down to 60 from 200. Well, with the VAT reduction it's 48 pounds something. Mebbe I've said this before. Forgive me while I bring out the Werther Originals.
Love you. More pics when I get my act together, which might be just a day or two. Including a pic of my WOW character, Seafield the Undead. Quite a dude. Six inch cockscomb hairdo and a mighty weapon. If you've got it, flaunt it, as I say to my bingo ladies.
"If I am rich, it is because I have taken my wages in people. YOU are my reward." Quentin Crisp
Hi. The great photo giveaway has ended due to lack of interest. Can't even give it away.
Thanks to zed in Belgium for her kind encouragement, and to others also at the beginning.
Clearly this weblog has run its course. Six readers on a good day.
Mood is odd. Near-constant panic, yet little despair. Life on hold. I know it'll soon be over - just can't meet my friends when they suggest it. Can't.
Meditate in the morning. Regent Bar in the afternoon. Friends (TV programme) in the evening, and what more could a man ask for? What, I say to you. People (some) would give their EYE TEETH for this life. Get a grip, man. Stop feeling so damn sorry for yourself. You know it's all your own fault anyway. Original Sin.
It's a BBC show. Series. Survivors. People who didn't get the virus. People like me. So few left. Chatting to a young gay man yesterday about TV shows. Simpsons. Up to date Simpsons on SKY. Felt like giving him the eighties Murdoch lecture, but didn't. Let him give his money to News International if he likes, and never mind that Rupert did his damnedest to annihilate us all, back then, in the holocaust early eighties.
Oh, loads of gay men and women give Rupert their money now. Sun. Sunday Times. Sky Telly. News Of The World. Because these things aren't taught. They only do hetero history in the schools and colleges.
The phone ding dings beside me, and I'm terrified to SHOW MESSAGE. Terrified. It'll be Sandra, offended cos I asked her not to suggest any more meetings this month. She'll think I'm being nasty, cos nobody believes. If you're not in a straitjacket then there's fuck all wrong with you as far I can see.
Strait jacket. Not straight jacket. Means tight. Straits of Gibraltar. Dire Straits. But try telling that to the illiterate scum who write stuff on the BBC screens.
Oh that's enough bleating.
This morning at six am I lost my virginity to World Of Warcraft. There will be my virtual home for a while. "But it just wastes your life..." people say. "Then what do you call all this hill-walking and sudoku?" I reply, with clinch.
In World of Warcraft you get a choice of characters to be. Me, I'm an UNDEAD. Male, Undead, although I toyed with the idea of female. You can see me in Azure Myst Realm, bigging it up wit da creatures of da night if you want. I'm already Level 2. Quick learner.
You know you want to. Know you do.
Less than 72 hours to the Winter Solstice. You are now in the darkest week of your life. God bless you and keep you.
Morning. As a complete contrast to yesterday's snowpic below, here's a shot of North Esk reservoir. It's very calendar, really quite Constable.
Large version here. Right-click and choose Set To Wallpaper.
This mini-reservoir used to provide a head of water for the mills further downstream at Carlops. What sort of mills I'm not sure. Flour, presumably.
"There's an old mill by the stream, Nellie Dean..."
I shouldn't be sitting here, writing to you like this. But it's rainy grey today, so it'll be pub and grub, methinks. I've just topped 13 stones this morning, the heaviest since mid June. This means I've starved myself for six months for nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. But does this look like a face that cares?
PENSIONER BUS TRIP
Yesterday I trucked off to Peebles for a bus trip. Nice jaunt down the way, but coming home was in the dark, and it was one of those buses with full inside lighting. Sometimes they've got faint purple lights, so you can see the dark and mysterious farmland whizzing past. But not last night. But not to worry.
Had lunch in the County Inn. Steak Pie with new potatoes and vegetables. Tasty. Enjoyable chat to a young woman who I think might have been the owner or manager. She said her gran was 62. I said I was startled to be old enough to be her grandmother. She said she was a very young gran. I said that's very sweet of you.
Before that I tried a joint called the Bridge Bar, or possibly Bridge Inn. It was at the bridge. And when I entered it was like something out of American Werewolf In London. Everybody stopped talking. Everybody. But I brass-necked it out, thinking what would Stewart do in this situation. Well, Stewart would have them all captivated in less than five minutes, but me I just sat down and drank as fast as I could. Didn't even go to the lavvy, though I was desperate. I was the youngest person there. Coq au vin
It was the Borders Pub Of The Year, 2005 and 2006, apparently.
Then the County, as I said, and after lunch the Cross Keys, where I'd been told Robert Louis Stevenson used to bevvy. But that was wrong. It was Sir Walter Scott. He even ripped off a barmaid and made her a character. The woman told me all the details, but by then I was beyond remembering.
To the Regent, but Drew and Dave had gone. Had Bockwurst und red cabbage und black bread und a couple more pints. (Does this sound like too much to drink, by the way? This is Scotland, you must remember, and it's five days to the Solstice. Whatever gets you through, if you ask me.)
THE WRITE STUFF
Drew and Dave the Writer had been and gone as I say, so when I got home I looked up one of Dave's stories on da interweb. Dogmatika. It's called You Paranoid Ya C**t? I loved it. Haven't read anything substantial of Dave before, and this was even more than I'd hoped for. But I won't do a Newsnight Review, just invite ya to get over there and read him. It's a tale about loss of loyalty points leading to poultry theft and self-harm. A modern comedy. Lots of fun with language.
Have a lovely Tuesday. Don't forget the new snowpics below.
Ok, Ok - I realise it's actually Monday today, but gie's a break, Jimmie. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story...
Brilliant day yesterday, quite awesome in the highest Pentlands in the snow. There was also fog. You saw nothing but white and grey for three hours, meaning that when you did come down, all the earthy colours were so rich, richer than you've ever seen them. Sensory deprivation.
The greens were soft and yellow, like a Constable hayfield, and the red soil of Turnhouse the reddest rock you've seen. Splendid. I chatted to everyone. There's something about adversity that binds people together. "Great day," I said to this foxy-looking guy. "Would be if you could see anything," he replied, across the fog. We laughed.
Then I met a walking group. Well, actually met it for the second time, as I'd overtaken them going up Turnhouse right at the start. This is not unusual for your part-gazelle correspondent. Then, three hours later, I was returning whilst they were still striding out. Hours behind me now, I thought. We greeted in passing, and I asked the name of the group. The woman told me, and already I've forgotten it. But it was a Christian walking and holiday group, she informed. So I was careful not to use the Lord's name as an expletive. Shame. But you've got to allow people their own clubs. I've heard Christians can even get married these days.
Quick Tennants lager in the Flot, and then to the Regent for a session with Dave the Writer and NickB. Nick was telling us about his new kitchen with built-in coffee machine that cost seven and a half thousand pounds. Or maybe it was fifteen thousand. Once things get much dearer than a hundred quid I tend to glaze over. Still, money only brings problems. I mean look at Elton John.
Yesterday featured a picture postcard at every turn, but unfortunately the Nokia phone camera decided to act up and not focus. I really do think it must be the cold, as it's fine again this morning. But help is at hand, as I also possess a Fuji compact, which seems impervious to those pesky temperature drops. So today's wallpaper is "one I prepared earlier".
In fact today's wallpaper is strictly for the catfans among you... a revealing and up-close portrait of Darling Zoe, styled with natural hair extensions, and protected with Pantene Pro-V. (I'm kidding!)
Did you see the Peter Kay thing last night? What did you make of it? Me I adored it the first time, but yesterday I'd remembered most of the jokes, so there wasn't quite the punch. This morning I texted the BBC, telling them not to call Mr Bush, "President Bush". He is not my president, nor theirs. But they completely ignored me, and the next time the guy was throwing shoes at him they called him President Bush again.
Today is nice again, light cloud but forecast dry. Gonna go on a bus trip. Mebbe Peebles. Got to set out RIGHT NOW. Ta-ra.
Hi. How are you this evening? Been a bit rainy here today, but the forecast is to dry up at 6 tomorrow morning. We shall see. If it does, then it's to the Pentlands once again, hopefully for paths you can walk on without slipping and breaking a leg for a change.
Today I promised you some more frozen pics, but none of the recent ones are sharp enough. Dunno why. Mebbe the cold. Plus I set the camera onto Medium quality, which I guess I'll have to reverse for these big screen shots.
So here is our lovely local dockside, as viewed from the Ocean Bar. (No comment!)
From left to right you can see a flour mill, a cable-laying vessel, and some "luxury flats".
Here's one from a couple of summers ago, when Stewart and I had a day out at Ben Lawers. This sign caught my fancy - made me think of Rumblefish by that woman starring Matt Dillon. The scene is on the A something or other, probably near Dunblane, home of Andy Murray and a massacre.
It's quite cheered me up looking at these happy pics. Today was a bit gloomy to tell the truth. Hardly got light at all. Ate an entire block of cheese in small slices while watching the Simpsons. Have put on six pounds in the last couple of weeks. Eat, drink and get fat.
Bought a party pack of prawn snacks for Christmas. Fiver from Iceland. Never bought Christmas food before, ever. I'll give some to Darling Zoe.
Here's the photo in large. Right click and choose "set as wallpaper". Enjoy. Tomorrow probably back to freezing pics. Well, it is December.
Hi there. To celebrate once again not being depressed in December, this year's Solstice countdown will consist of free screensaver photos for you. Think of it as Woollies, but not quite so desperate.
The picture above was taken around eleven this morning in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh. The small pile of stones is called a "cairn", and the summit is of Turnhouse Hill, the first one on the "rollercoaster". You will note the wintry appearance of the sun, and its low position in the sky. In Scotland in December it only really looks like normal daylight between 11 and 1. After 1pm the mood is more and more like evening, until the sunset today at 3.38
The downloadable picture is here. Right click and choose "set as wallpaper".
More tomorrow, hopefully. God bless you and keep you.
Off work today, tragically. Been a while. Heavy cold. I'm blaming Sunday's sub-zero hiking, but that is ridiculous of course. Colds come from germs.
Anyone remember germs? Fifties term. Nowadays we tend to say either bacteria (not always used in the plural which it is), or viruses. But there's something about germs that takes you back!
Plus I was very well wrapped up on Sunday. Here's me in my new trapper hat, in genuine polyester coonskin. Telling a friend yesterday about Davy Crockett. Now there's a memory!
Time passes. Sunset at 3.43 today, according to my weather station. Minus two this morning, not as cold as on Sunday which was mega. The puddle ice is thick, but no frost on the grass. I'm blessed with lovely parkland to look out at.
Queen's speech (the other one) today, which clashes with the Speaker's statement about the recent police raids on Damian Green MP.
I should point out to my lovely overseas readers that the Queen's Speech is different from the Queen's Christmas Broadcast. In the former she just reads what the government of the day tells her. It's the plan for the future, although why they're doing that on December 3 when they're about to close for the longest holidays short of schoolteachers' is anyone's guess.
Well, that's all for now. Keep well and keep warm, wherever you are. The world is full of tragedies, but it does no good to dwell on them. No good at all.
... as pronounced in Scotland and written in Deutschland. Uber alles. There's a German market in Princes Street Gardens these days, adjoining the Highland Market. Bratwurst und Orkney Beefburgers. Strudel und tablet. Lothian and Borders Police have a couple of tin sheds there, making a mini police station. Some cheek, seeing as you would search the world over for a cop all the rest of the year.
Louis Theroux was incandescent last night, with the Philadelphia police (some quite fanciable, btw) interviewing "corner boys". Corner boys sell drugs on corners, but make less than Macdonalds boys, a cop said. This was awesome television, and you thought all he could so was interview the Hamiltons. iPlayer for those who have it.
Followed by trhe remake of Assault on Precinct 13, this time with a commendable Ethan Hawke. Recommended.
As was Blow, starring J Depp, Esq, and not in his best performance. Emailed in, to be honest, with sixties blonde wigs to laugh at. But no mind. The story, from the book by top dealer George Jung, was so engrossing you didn't need Oscar acting. Today I got the DVD from HMV. Just five quid. Loads of extras, but I didn't notice any free drugs on offer. Haha.
Rock solid blogging royalty in the comment box to the post below this one. Where in the world, apart from possibly in the USA, could you find comments from the Sunshine State and the Icy State in the same box? That's right. Josh, the second most famous Alaskan, drops in again for a few words.
Those of you who weren't around in the early blogdays won't know of Josh's huge contribution. This boy (now man) was so big that girls would flock to his comment box and ask to marry him! I'm not making it up. Glory days. Josh, now a married man, pursues other interests these days, but nothing can take away the work, which some day he might hopefully re-publish.
Yesterday was, if not Alaskan, at least pretty damn cold by Scottish standards. The thermometer on my bathroom windowsill was showing minus three in the pre-dawn, and it stayed well below freezing all day. Me I spent five hours or so in the Pentlands, but was quite warm with my new trapper hat. Makes me look like something out of the Coen Brothers movie Fargo. (Brilliant for the winter depressions, btw. All that snow.) Frances McDormand.
Snow covered the Pentlands, yet not quite snow. More an accumulation of frost, yet so deep as to be mistaken for snow. Exhilarating. The entire walking world was on a high due to the sun and brilliant ground. You could tell it as you passed people and chatted to them. Global high. The markets are rising, the juke box blowing a fuse.
Must go really. Nothing much to say. Just wanted to get something down on paper for the first of December. The white-knuckle month. Tomorrow Stewart comes back from England, where he's been intermittently holed up. Not a good idea, if you ask me. Bought some lovely new outdoor shoes from Tiso. Hi-Tec. Which I realise is not exactly the Rolls Royce of brands, but the previous pair lasted eight years, and were possibly the most comfortable shoes I've ever had. If these do as well I'll be seventy when I chuck them out. Makes yer think.
Thanks to all in that comment box. Will reply better tomorrow. Just had to get a quick word in now. There's stuff I've forgotten, including the girl with the long legs and mini-skirt in Leith Walk at minus a million, but mebbe tomorrow. Had my first fitting for the condom with teeth, but it was a bit slack. Darling zoe's rustling about in the box bedroom. Hope she doesn't come out with a mouse. Don't think I could cope. Have a lovely Dezember. I will. I'll follow the sun.