Wednesday, December 30

15 cigarettes is enough

It's traditional to give up a bad habit as a new year's resolution. I have no bad habits to start with, so my resolution is to help other people to give up smoking.

According to a study, one genetic mutation occurs on average for every 15 cigarettes that a typical lung-cancer patient smokes.

They studied a lung-cancer victim who had built up about 23,000 DNA mutations in his lung cells over his lifetime.

By that logic my own lungs must have several thousand mutations. But at least I've stopped mutating. Unlike some people, who are what doctors describe as "too dumb to aspirate".

Maybe Australia's first official saint could help them. A woman was miraculously cured from inoperable lung cancer after praying to Mary MacKillop, the former nun now set to become Australia's first saint.

The Pope confirmed Mother Mary's second miracle earlier this month, paving the way for her to become Australia's first ever saint.

It's mere concidence that the Pope owed the Aussies a favour. They hosted a jamboree for him in 2008, when 500,000 hyper young catholics from around the world gathered in Sydney to welcome Pope Benedict XVI and read his holy text messages.

fiction and reality

The writer guy took the opinionated review on the chin. The circumstances while reading the book were hardly conducive. I was suffering from cricket injuries and flea bites, and under verbal assault from my cellmate. I'll re-read it once the sex scenes have been outsourced to Bavaria. Germans make the dullest TV in the world, but the most imaginative porn. It balances up.

Back in New South Caledonia now. Umpteen things to be repaired, and a training course approaching. The joliday's over.

I could post my impressions of the NZ trip, but I can't be bothered. It's all just a load of old photons.

- Posted from iPod

Monday, December 28

ra remote review

I finished reading Remote, so here's my opinionated and unqualified attempt at a review.

First let me say I couldn't have written anything as good. The book is a few days inside the head of Jimmy, an Edinburgh drug person and reformed librarian. This book has everything - drugs, politics, sex, terrorism, and drugs.

Jimmy copes with multiple life stresses using a succession of uppers, downers and outers. As a result, his state of mind fluctuates wildly - one minute he's chewing his own face on speed, the next he's ultra-calm in the face of death. Sometimes he's unconscious.

While the continual mood swings are no doubt an authentic portrayal of druggie life, they make it hard for the reader to empathize. Just when you think "poor guy, having all those psychos freaking him out" he swallows and smokes a new combo of drugs and feels completely calm, cold and in control.

Heartbroken because his girlfriend has left him, he's again hard to empathize with, because I have no idea what was good about her. Perhaps some physical description would have helped. Or if I were told that she runs a soup kitchen for orphans, I could see why she was lovable.

Perhaps partly through senility, I lost track of the multiple bombs, detonators and remote controls, though the basic idea of double, or perhaps triple, crossing is good.

Whenever the hero takes another drug, there's a full description of the rolling or snorting or whatever. Some of this repetition could be streamlined in the second edition.

Some of the things I liked include the way that Jimmy is completely on his own in a menacing world. I also liked the similarities to the TV series Ideal - the doorbell is forever ringing at the drug dealer's flat, and we never know who's going to ring next but we suspect it's not going to be good news. The moments of paranoia are gripping. And when Jimmy has to hide various incriminating items, it seems realistically risky and burdensome.

If I had written this book, I would be pleased with myself. But the guy who wrote Remote has written better stuff. This one won't be his Pulitzer winner.

- Posted from iPod

Saturday, December 26

joyous tidings

Was thoroughly antisocial at the holy rellie chrissie party. Didn't even have the excuse of wanting to spend the time meditating. Managed to annoy everyone, even the partner who should be used to it. Dearie me!

Today things are looking up. A trip to the beach with the black sand and sharks. First we have to wait half the day tlll the whole congregation has assembled, but that gives me time to blog and read my advance copy of Remote.

- Posted from iPod

Thursday, December 24

the first beer review

There’s a 24-hour bottle shop round the corner from where I'm staying. When I asked the woman what time they close, she had to think for a while, nobody's ever asked such a stupid question. Here’s the beer review from the first two nights.

  • Steinlager 5% - the label says they use only the purest ingredients. Alcohol:5%, Hangover 100%

  • Amstel Lite : A Dutch brand, brewed in New Zealand. Alcohol 2.5%, so you can drink two cans.

first night dream in NZ

The doctors here were very interested to hear about my dream.

Jimmy and Susan from Remote were separating, so I had to intervene and counsel them. The solution to their conflict was obvious. The book says they were living in a wee single-bedroom Scottish flat, which is unfair punishment, even if you're Scottish and used to adversity. Even worse, the place was strewn with Jimmy's computer junk and cables.

So I explained to J and S that if they moved to a bigger place, they could each have a room, and they would stop wanting to bash each other.

Tuesday, December 22

2 jokes salvaged from a mass email

  • Why is a Laundromat a really bad place to pick up a woman? Because a woman who can't even afford a washing machine will probably never be able to support you.

  • Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a woman's sex drive by 90%. It's called a Wedding Cake.

Sunday, December 20

gardening as screening

The racketeers (the neighbours next door, where the whole family makes a racket in the garden) have cut down a lot of trees, so now I can see them as well as hear them. And I have to wear clothes in the garden.

So I'm working on an emergency screening strategy. I planted a whole lot of star jasmines, climbers that I can train up the wire fence, but that'll take years to mature.

Since then I've had a brainwave. I've got two old ornamental bamboos in big pots. They were pretty scraggy, but since I've begun looking after them they're exploding with life. Bright yellow and green, and about 6 foot high. So I'm going to stick them in the ground in front of the jasmines. They're an immediate semi-screen, and the jasmines will eventually fill in the gaps.

Now all I need is a big glass soundproof wall for the noise.

Tuesday, December 15

coming and going (in the biblical sense)

I've got to go to New Zealand for Xmas, to visit the holy outlaws. Never mind. At least when they head off to church, I can volunteer to stay home and look after their house. After all Xmas is peak season for burglars.

Then the mother outlaw comes back to stay with us for a couple of weeks, followed immediately by the niece for a month. Also, a ruffian from the past thinks he's coming to stay. He's a total deifheid, so I had to give him the false address on Douglas Hurd Island.

Monday, December 14

drinking class

At Benny Hill's for lunch yesterday, apart from me it was a crowd of perfectly nice, well-adjusted normal professional people without toilet training issues. Bloody awful it was.

Tonight I organised a gathering of effed-up riff-raff, at the pub with the brewery inside. There was Cap'n Kev, plus his cousin and her daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was the life of the party. Can't for the life of me work out why. Perhaps Prussian nobility just feel more comfortable among the troops.

We started on wheat beer, before a detour to black beer. After that it was downhill through pils, summer special, and red lager, before a repeat of the first two brews (which had lost some of their appeal in the meantime - the palate tends to blur out after too many different beers). Everyone agreed that black beer was number one, with wheat beer close behind.

After so much drink, the only reason I'm still able to type now is that I ate a precautionary dinner before getting to the pub. Whereas Kev, on an empty stomach, was well away.

Appendix A: Critical Assessment
  • wheat beer - smooth weissbier taste, but clear instead of cloudy
  • black beer - dark, smooth and very creamy, like a barley wine
  • pils - crisp German-style lager
  • summer special - light and citrus, a bit like that Mexican beer with the slice of lime
  • red lager - by this stage I was losing the plot a bit, so I can only remember that it tasted red

Saturday, December 12

the weekend so far

An interesting weekend so far.

I scored 471 at scrabble, including three seven-letter words in the same game. One was "flavine".

Later, a bit woozy after an afternoon nap, I walked naked into the living room to see what my partner was doing. That's when I realized she had two strange women sitting there. After giving them a full frontal eyeful, I turned on my heel and walked out, ensuring they had a rear view to balance things up.

When they had gone, I found out that they weren't mormons, they were a lesbian couple. Not sure if that makes it worse than Mormons.

For a moment I was resentful: a rare chance to expose myself to women, and they turn out to be gay!

Then I realised how lucky I had been. Hetero women would have had something to compare it with.

Sunday we're invited for lunch at the house of the only celebrity I know. He's the New Caledonian equivalent of Benny Hill meets Monty Python. Of course he's a deifhied, but with so many funny stories he's entitled to be.

- Posted from iPod

Thursday, December 10

news in brief

  • Been working every bloody day - the novelty has worn off. If I had wanted to work hard, I would have chosen a career, and at least made some money out of it.

  • Finished reading a good book. I don't want to identify the book, in case I prejudice my trial. The hero seemed a lot like me, and I grew to identify with him. But then near the end of the story you realise he's a homocidal maniac.

  • Beer-related injury - opening a bottle of Freedom Ale, I was unscrewing the twist-off cap (a useful Aussie invention - no comment). The cap was stuck, so I had to really wrench it. The whole neck broke off, and I glassed myself in the hand. I must be too strong for my own good. Unlike the beer. Now I have to do everything left-handed, including changing the bandage on the dud hand.

  • I've been saving the video tape with the last few episodes of Ideal, because I didn't want it ever to end. It's my social life. A drug circle by proxy. And these people have become my friends. Moz has a chance of happiness with the daft girl, her name's Denny I think. I hope he doesn't blow it, like Albert.

  • But I found out there's a new series on the way, so I won't need to say goodbye. I'm going to watch the last episode now.


  • I just watched the last episode. Disappointingly, there's a new character now, played by the woman from Nighty Night. She was good in that, but she's destroyed Ideal's credibility for me now.

  • The Christmas craziness has started. There's been an invite to dinner at the deifheids' place. Dearie me. The too dumb to medicate would benefit from drugs, any sort would help.

Friday, December 4

several firsts

I went to the pub to farewell a group of clients who have been with me for years. This must have been the first time in ages that I was in a pub with other people. And it was quite good.

The people I was with were young, and undamaged by toilet training, so they were completely natural and open. And I realised we've come to like each other over the years.

The babe didn't show, but the jerk was there and I bought him a drink. In fact I bought the first round. Another first.

I was introduced to a fascinating pale ale, completely cloudy like weissbier. It was so good, I had another one.

The lovely young thing whom I have known the longest, was cold on the walk home, so I gave her my jacket to wear. It was a reflex, I didn't even stop to think that I would be cold as a result. The gesture was well received and made both of us happy. At my age chivalry is all one has to offer. Well chivalry or cash, but I think an offer of money might have been unwise.

Next day one of them sent an email.
Great to see you at the pub. Thanks for the beer!

Just wanted to say that in my opinion you are an awesome professional. It seemed to me that you were someone who truly cares about our learning and welfare.

Wishing you all the best & hope you have a great Xmas!


Tuesday, December 1

the joy of giving up giving up

I had become an addict. Tea - green, white, black, whatever. Some days I was up to 5 or 6 cups, almost as much as the Pollok Halls days, and the edginess was starting to cancel out the bliss pills. All the joy had gone out of it.

So I gave up three days ago. Cold turkey. And life settled down again, though now it was hardly worth living.

This morning I gave up giving up. After the second cup, it kicked in. Oh the joy! Oh the ablutions! I think at one point I may have abluterated as a deity.

I'm advising Albert to lay off the tea right up until the day of his upcoming big walk. Then slug down several cups at the starting line. They're bound to have toilets along the course.

Saturday, November 28

local political fixers

I was reading a post at the hotblog about a Bellshill political fixer. My uncle who founded the Piddledorf Pension Plan (now in liquidation) was the man people went to for solutions, probably amassing a bit of good fortune for himself in the process.

I miss the way he used to treat me like an equal (when he wasn't badmouthing me behind my back). I remember when I was about twenty odd, him saying "what do you think of Pol Pot?" and "that Lon Nol's a basturn, eh?" Later, it was "what do you think of this new guy Clinton?" Politicians spend a lot of time assessing other politicians. It's only as I approach the age he was then, that I'm developing some ability to see straight to the core of a man (and judge him). The concept of deifheidism has been a great help in that respect.

Speaking of politicians, I just heard on the radio that the coalition of Aussie pollies who have been meeting all day to stitch together a vote to impose an emissions trading scheme, is perhaps falling apart as we speak. Albert will be so relieved. Australians are the world's worst polluters, but also the most heavily taxed, by the most incompetent politicians. Three world firsts in one.

I found a photo of Catherine de Léan, that French-Canadian actress. I'm French-Caledonian myself, which is almost the same thing, but I don't normally look like that.

For me this photo is powerful eye candy (but not willy candy). If blissism ever develops to the point where it uses mandalas like that, count me in.

Just in case she Googles herself and lands here, and wants to make contact, here's my address:

Île Plate,

Tuesday, November 24

reasons to be cheerful

How fortunate one is, to have several things going well. My life has turned out nothing like what I imagined, but it's pretty fine.

I swam this morning, for the first time in months. Managed the customary mile no bother. Thanks partly to drinking the green tea and the extra lung in a can.

Weekend weather was 40 degrees, too hot to do anything more adventurous than scrabble (scored two 7-letter words in the one game).

Booked the mercy visit to the old dear in Old Caledonia next April. Hope she lasts till then, but even if not, I've been calling her several times a week, and we both get much more out of it than the always-fraught face to face meets. The best part of these trips is usually the weissbier on the Bavarian leg.

Yesterday the temperature dropped by 20 degrees, so I made the best apple crumble yet, with magic ingredients like blueberries, nutmeg, and a weird Chinese pear thing. Oats and butter for the topping.

Emailing the niece, I suddenly realized I'm actually almost looking forward to having her to stay in the new year.

I'm being sent on a week-long training course in a new language. I insist on going for one day a week, spread over 5 weeks. When you do all 5 days in one stretch, by day 3 the brain's full to overflowing and you end up hating the whole topic.

Watched a French-Canadian film, with surely the most gorgeous woman alive (Denny being dead). I'm on the iPod now, or else I would google the actress and insert a photo here, and you'd see what I mean. Update:

I hope your life is going nicely too. I'm not one of these subscribers to the zero-sum view, as if your happiness is at the expense of mine.

- Posted from iPod

Saturday, November 21

taking the heat

Over in Australia, officially it's still only spring, but already the bush fire warning level has been raised to catastrophic. The only thing that can save them now is if the arsonists stay home. Home is where the air conditioning is.

The hot winds are making things worse, but it's an ill wind etc, and their government is now even more likely to pass their list of climate change measures, before Copenhagen. Australia wants to lead the world for a change, even if only in yet another sporting event - shooting yourself in the foot.

Here in NSC, we're not usually prone to conspiracy theorising, but we did read that Mr Gore, whose consortium allegedly stands to make a killing in the area of emissions permit trading, has allegedly just bought a big house on the waterfront.

Balanced people like me don't care one way or the other, but I do feel sorry for the Aussie punters who will be paying an extra tax scheme for ever more. Even when the scheme proves futile, there's never yet been an instance of a tax being repealed.

I remember when I lived there, there was a government brainwave called the 3 x 3 tax - a temporary three percent surcharge, just for three years, allegedly to fix the roads. Of course after 3 years, the scheme was quietly renamed, and is running still.

That's one of the reasons I left - Aussies pay world-champion levels of taxes and other inposts. Where else does a phone company charge you an extra fee for issuing your phone bill?

And don't get me started on their banks - they charge a fee when you want to deposit your own money with them.

I seem to have wandered off topic. Anyway, we're on the same latitude as Australia, and I can confirm that the heat is stifling. Even with the air conditioning fired up for the first time, the doggy's still panting and my pants are soggy.

It's enough to make you wonder if there's something in this climate change thing after all. If so, our loss will be Old Caledonia's gain. Oh to be in Edinburgh in January, walking down the bridges in my tee shirt.

- Posted from iPod

Tuesday, November 17

ladder balance

Cutting a hedge up a ladder on Sunday, I felt my back go out. It's the first time in years, so I'm not complaining. And at least I didn't fall off the ladder.

Fortunately I had already bottled the home brew before the injury. And there's a plentiful supply of bliss pills and illegal painkillers, so it's not getting me down. I'm recovering steadily, and can already wipe my own arse again. What a fortunate creature I am.

Fortunate too, that I've been here before, so I know the ropes. This is just what works for me, but it might not work for you. I ignore the old-fashioned advice to lie flat until everything's okay again. But I don't go to the other extreme of premature yoga. Better to move just enough to stop muscles losing tone. Tease the knots to release their grip, but if you move too much you encourage more muscle spasm. Achieving that fine balance is what I'm good at. I'm off work, and I'm alternating walking about the place doing chores, and lying down to read a great book. And occasionally sitting at the PC for a different posture.

The book I'm enjoying is Iain Banks' Dead Air, and I've just opened the second-last bottle of my all-time favourite Bliss Piss, the 2005 vintage brewed soon after the death of Nobis RIP. That all seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened and yet so little, perfect balance.

Friday, November 13

great white things

I'll be bottling my 20th home brew at the weekend. In the last 4 or 5 years, I've made almost every kind of beer, but the one prize that has always eluded me is the Moby Dick of brewing, the great white beer, weissbier.

Meantime, I made tapioca last night, with coconut cream, vanilla, and pulped mango. Quite a sensory experience. Sadly, it's probably too late in life to have the ultimate experience - licking tapioca off a naked nubile. Or doing anything with a naked nubile.

Sunday, November 8

toilet developments

This is a picture of a public toilet in Houston, Texas.

The lady is getting ready to enter.

Now that you've seen the outside view, take a look at the inside view.

It's made entirely of one-way glass. No one can see you from the outside, but when you are inside it's like sitting in a clear glass box. Would You use it?

Saturday, November 7

friday night

Walked out of the McDonald Institute on Friday night into an eerie winter light. Sunsets here don't last long. I got these snaps within about 5 minutes.

I don't recall why I was Googling "assaults in Kilmarnock", but anyway in amongst all the court transcripts and reports, I stumbled on the official Kilmarnock Academy website where, amongst all the usual self-congratulation and window-dressing for parents, it said

Once again we fielded a strong team of prosecutors, defenders, accused and witnesses. We were relieved to have our Head Boy acquitted on a serious assault charge, despite his very obvious guilt. The positive impact of a smart suit was noted.

Sounds like they stacked the courtroom with old school stooges and the guy wore his Sunday best. What is Britain coming to? In my day, I never got any advantage, even with allegedly the best school tie in Glasgow.

Saturday, October 31

noise cancelling

You know those noise-cancelling headphones, the ones that counter an external noise by playing back the opposite sounds into your ear, and the two sounds cancel each other? Perfect balance.

The trouble is, they're only effective against continuous noises - planes, car engines, that sort of thing. They're no help at all against intermittent racket, like the human voice.

I need to invent a way of neutralising the noise pollution from the garden next door. During the day it's the loudmouth kiddies, usually just as you're about to take a well-earned nap. I used to live next to a primary school playground and that wasn't too bad, but this is something different, two wee shites bawling at full volume across the neighbourhood. It's like the nyaff in The Tin Drum, doubled.

I almost feel sorry for the parents, having to live with that 24/7. But the parents are the same - if they're not revving up their power-boat in the front drive, they're making all their phone calls in the back garden outside my room. I know I should be more forgiving - they're actually Australians so how could they know any better?

I know what you're thinking: why don't I just ask them to consider using their phone indoors like everyone else. Well for one thing they don't seem like people who are into self-control. And besides, supposing I asked them and then nothing changed? I'd have to just seethe.

No, I've stumbled on a better noise-cancelling idea, and if it works I may patent it, like Marlon Brando's drumscrew.

Tonight when I got home from work, the father was shouting down the mobile phone as usual. When I got a call from the Piddledorf Pension Plan, I saw my chance. I took the phone out to the garden. It was perfect - the pension fund is deaf as a post, so I had to shout, and repeat everything several exasperating times.

When I hung up, there was silence next door. I think they must have been stunned to think that anyone else could be as thoughtless as them.

They might get the message, but even if they don't, eff them! I'm getting a taste for the loudmouth way of being. I'm going to do all my phoning outdoors, switching at random into Bavarian, which is even more irritating than Australian.

Saturday, October 24

surrounded by basturns

Poor Albert reurned to work after his holidays to find that the union had made a mess of the pay negotiations. They accepted a 5% pay rise (hooray) but with a 13% increase in working hours. Apparently this came about because on the one hand his employers are a shower of basturns and on the other hand the union are incompetent twats. It all balances out.

On my advice, he turned the situation to some slight advantage, by maintaining the rage. During a dog-walk the murderous impulses are worth as much as two extra cups of tea.

Thursday, October 22

mango net update

The neighbour was right - a kookaburra in fact chased a giant dragonfly into the net. Carnage ensued, but those birds are smart, so when I walked up it dropped to the ground and flew out. The Mark 2 net is bird-proof.

Reading Slaughterhouse 5 at the moment, and loving it. I read it when I was a kid, but it was wasted on me then.

Monday, October 19

second half plans

I wrote this half way through the hols, but forgot to hit publish.

So what am I going to do with the second week of the holidays?

I keep saying I'm going to swim, but since winter has returned the finger skin is all cracked again, and chlorine water gets in and opens up the cracks. But what am I, a man or a mouse? I'll swim today.

Some more walking - I'm in training for the big walk with Albert, and yesterday I did another 3-hour power walk. The partner has had to bow out due to injury, so on the day it may be just me and Albert (plus Albert's dog).

I need to revisit the site called, to research graduation photos of some bloggers and other folk I know.

At the start of the hols I promised myself I would do all those little work-related jobs that are not mandatory but would make my life (and the clients' lives) more interesting. Of course, that resolution lasted just one day, but I hereby resolve to get back into it.

Using an old hula hoop and several long straight limbs chopped from the trees last month, I've built a netting cage around the mango tree. The neighbour calls it my bird cage - he thinks the birds will get in at the bottom.

Sunday, October 18

up and down in oz and nsc

Visiting Albert for the mass walk round the harbour today.

Lost the will to live yesterday. Must have been a dodgy batch of pills. To show you how bad things were - the best part of the day was the three hours I spent helping Cap'n Kev fix up his laptop. I had to develop inner calm as there were no heavy blunt objects to hand.

But today things will surely look up, with Albert's conversational skills and his dog. And there will be cups of life-giving tea, to spur on the heart to the finishing line.

Wednesday, October 14

death and axes

An email from Dances Etc. Thanks to friendsreuntied he's back in contact with Harry, who told him:

Martin who lived with me in Edinbrough unfortunately he experienced an acute psychotic schizophrenia and attacked his parents with an axe very sad and I lost contact with him many years ago. I am still meeting with Ossie from Glasgow/Edinbrough he lives in Kew.

And it appears Harry has forgiven Albert's brother for deliberately freaking him out when we were all working in Germany. Harry was tripping and the brother chased him around the place with a large glass bowl full of lentil soup.

Monday, October 12

halfway point

Half way through the 2-week holidays, what have I done with the time?

Well it's birthday time here, and much time has been spent on that. The partner's side of the family manages to drag its birthdays out over several weeks. On the first weekend of the hols, I took the partner to the cinema for an advance birthday treat (because the actual birthday would be too chock full of social events) and a birthday meal a deux.

Then during the week I had to do birthday shopping for several presents, including an industrial-size roll of those blue and white synthetic cloths that she so loves.

Mid-week, there was a gathering of the usual deifheids for a birthday dinner, where the great food was spoilt only by the incessant conversation. Fortunately, after the first 3 hours I was able to lie on the floor and stroke the dog. I had agreed to drive home afterwards so that the partner could get blootered, but that meant I didn't even have the option of enjoying a shandy.

The Saturday just gone, there was the partner's birthday lunch with the boy of the family, and his girlfriend. That was actually great, because of the waves of Chinese food and the absence of adults. Most young folk have yet to learn deifheid skills. Afterwards, I picked up a box of 20 mangoes at the market, and retired a deux for an "nap" with mangoes. The sheets were due to be changed anyway.

Then we had the shopping expedition to get the boy a present for his birthday tomorrow (yet another party).

I'm not sure that work could be any busier than this holiday.

Wednesday, October 7

tea bliss

Ah, I just had my first tea in two days. You take your first sip and .. oh the joy!

I used to be a green teaheid, now I’ve discovered white tea as well. In hot drink terms, I'm a Celtic supporter. I never usually take sides, so when they invent blue tea, I'll try that too.

Monday, October 5

near death experience

I nearly fell over the side of an escalator yesterday, in one of these shopping malls. The drop would have been several floors. I was doing my usual trick of squeezing past stationary folk who stand to one side of the escalator, when a thick-set woman (though it could have been any weight and gender) stepped out into my path and the inadvertent shoulder-charge nearly sent me over the side. I was wearing a backpack, which helped move my center of gravity upwards.

So next time you're overtaking on the escalator, I recommend bending your knees like Groucho, or you could try ringing a bell to warn them someone's coming through.

Saturday, October 3

gratuitous balance

For no good reason at all, this is a picture of a fit young person saying something. I can't lip-read as well as I used to, but I think she's saying "it's balancing me up".

On the other hand, staring at this picture is definitely unbalancing me. It all balances up.

Wednesday, September 30

another useful site

My colleagues in the Social History department have informed me about a research site called, where you can see what you would have looked like if you had graduated from a U.S. high school in various periods through history.

The first one is Cap'n Kev in 1966, followed by Albert in several eras. I'll be doing other people in future posts, or you can yearbook yourself.

Tuesday, September 29

career success avoidance 1

Following the success of my post on career success, certain commenters jumped to conclusions. They were assuming that it's an advantage in life to come from the ranks of the management classes. If anything one deserves sympathy, after having to grow up alongside these future captains of industry, at knob school.

The few career opportunities that ever came my way (so far) were of my own making, and I was able to mess them up all by myself.

The only respectable job I ever consented to was when someone talked me into taking a university research post.

I used to keep the blackboard in my office covered in meaningless scribbles, just in case the professor dropped in. It was a cover for what I was really doing with the grant money - writing software to print index labels for all my jazz radio tapes. I was able to maintain the pretence for several years, just long enough to last until I got the black spot, the perfect excuse for shelving the jazz research.

If I remember my sunday school lessons correctly, to him who hath shall be given. And so it came to pass that I received other offers, on the strength of the research job ...

Monday, September 28

way too cool

After the cold winter, I was just getting into the swing of spring. I took the woollen blankets off the bed, washed them and packed them away, along with the woolly jumpers.

That night, a cold front came through and it's been Siberian since, with a biting wind. I came to NSC to get away from all that. Walking to work along the jocko bridges in January used to nearly kill what remained of my spirit, though at the same time it must have been character building. Everything balances up.

So one minute we were enjoying spring, the season when an old man's fancy turns to thoughts of whatever. Then suddenly it's all chapped lips and split finger-ends again. And freezing in bed, but too cold to get up and find a blanket. My organs don't know if they're coming or going.

Meanwhile, Albert is keeping warm by training for the annual 17 mile walk, only three weeks away. He'll probably manage the full distance, but his dog won't.

It used to be that his dog could walk all day without flagging. It's an Aussie Collie, same as mine, bred to chase sheep all day in the outback. A few years back, Cap'n Kev took the dog for an overnight expedition into the bush, walking all day through waist-high grass and scrub. While Kev could step over the undergrowth, the dog had to leap each time. It kept going for a magnificent 6 hours, before it finally lay down and refused to move. But nowadays it's an old dame, and Albert says he's going to have to drop it off half-way through the big walk.

Sunday, September 27

emotional reunion

The Ipod went missing in action yesterday.

A credit card company had offered me 100 NSC dollars if I applied for a card, so last week I decided to blow the money - I went walkabout during a break at work, and bought myself a decent pair of earphones. As I returned to the office, I noticed my ipod had disappeared from where it's always clipped on my belt. It must have fallen off when I was shopping. Before I could even try out the new earphones. Which I now no longer needed.

I was cursing myself and the world in general. Losing not just the ipod, but all the data that was on it too.

Later, I saw it on the floor under my desk, where it must have fallen just as I got back to the office. The reunion was pretty emotional.

Friday, September 25

accidental anal intercourse

A colleague in the anatomy department referred me to yet another interesting abstract from a professional journal.

"A postal survey was conducted of members of the Association of Forensic Physicians (UK) to determine whether accidental anal intercourse occurs in heterosexual relationships and, if so, whether intoxication by alcohol or drugs and sexual inexperience were likely to be causative factors. ....

... Amongst those with a history of accidental anal intercourse, 79% reported that they were sexually experienced at the time and 83% reported that their partners were sexually experienced. Personal intoxication by alcohol or drugs at the time of accidental anal intercourse was reported by 43%, with 41% reporting that their partners were intoxicated."
These findings concur with my own research, in which both participants were indeed 100% blootered. In my study the subject sadly died - there is no evidence of a causal relationship. Or even a caudal relationship.

Tuesday, September 22

family matters apparently

The old dear's getting worse, and on top of the back pain she's now torn a ligament. I phoned her doc in Stockbridge, who says she's better off staying at home than going to hospital or a home.

I phoned her yesterday. She sounded very low. Then I got a call from the Piddledorf Pension Plan, in tears and full of idiotic ideas. Did I think she should send her some bottles of beetroot juice to make her better? I said that's a nice idea, but remember your sister won't take anything that hasn't been personally prescribed by a man in a white coat.

At least the PPP didn't start up with the emotional blackmail "you should get the next plane out of New South Caledonia and go see your old dear." That'll be her next move. Conveniently forgetting that the old dear chucks you out after half an hour - it's all too much trouble for her.

I'm finding it all a bit distressing too, but luckily I've had my whole life to get used to the idea that there's nothing I can do where the old dear's concerned. If she was ever actually in such a bad way that she'd accept any advice or help from me, that's when she would be truly be in serious need of medical intervention.

I called the old dear again just now, and this time she was happy as Larry. Her hubby's health visitor had just come in the door so she asked me to phone back in half an hour. Her sudden chirpiness is encouraging in itself, and also suggests that she's able to snap out of it when strangers call. That's good.

For years we've all been asking why she doesn't get a home help, but she just says she doesn't think she's entitled to anything like that. Presumably because she's not sick enough or poor enough. But in the last phone call I found out that she was indeed offered a home help some time ago, and she knocked it back. Of course now she's desperate enough to ask them for one, they've told her there's none available.

If the roles were reversed, she'd say to me "serves you right."

What a family!

It's been half an hour so I'll call back now. Tally ho.

Update: The old dear was much too happy/busy to talk to me this time, another good sign. But she was able to tell me the health visitor is going to get them a home help, as well as somebody to come and help them shower and dress. It'll take up to 2 months to organise it, but at least something's going to happen.

New drugs the white coat guys have given her: Zopiclone for sleeping or for recreation if you're certain folk. And Ditropan for going to the pan of course.

Sunday, September 20

who's this?

Who is this a picture of?

A clue: it's someone I know from when I was younger.

Thursday, September 10

such music be the food of love

Albert tells me the romance betwen the cleavage client and the jerk is progressing. Albert's using the time-honoured strategy for dealing with his ambivalent feelings - completely ignoring her so she doesn't notice he thinks she's special.

She was overheard telling her mates about an all-night dance they had been to. All that doof-doof music. He's had a lucky escape.

Monday, September 7

the effectiveness of multi-tasking

My colleagues in the psychology department drew my attention to some interesting research, which proves that Buddhists and couch potatoes were right all along - the world would be a better place if everyone tried to do just one thing at a time.

In a society that encourages more and more multitasking, researchers at Stanford University had assumed that people who do a lot of multitasking would be better at it.

"But they're not. They're worse. They're much worse," said Clifford Nass, a professor at Stanford. "They couldn't ignore stuff that doesn't matter. They love stuff that doesn't matter," he said.

So perhaps the multitaskers can take in the information and organize it better? But no. "They are worse at that, too," Nass said.

Finally, they tested ability to switch from one task to another. The high multitaskers actually took longer to make the switch from one task to the other.

So, all those young people who multitask more are worse at everything, even at multi-tasking. Another reason for old people (not me) to feel smug.

Sunday, September 6

looking up

Things continue to look up. I was kindly invited to a concert on Sunday night, of Bach and other goodies, and I discovered there was a jazz band performing a couple of hours earlier, at a pub that brews its own weissbier. To thank the person paying for the Bach tickets, I insisted on taking her for pre-concert refreshments. It transpired that they didn't serve weissbier in the jazz lounge, so I'll have to go back another day. I should have known jazz with weissbier was too much to hope for.

Actually, I first heard the Bach piece as a teenager, when I went to a concert with Mary Hopkin. Her wee sister (who deserves to be trouser blogged, though sadly not in the biblical sense) was singing in the choir.

Friday, September 4

epoxy resin: a case report

A colleague in the anatomy department referred me to a most interesting abstract from a professional journal.

We describe a unique case of a patient presenting with rectal impaction following self-administration of a liquid used as masonry adhesive for anal sexual gratification. The solidified matter required laparotomy for its removal. Strategies for removing rectal foreign bodies are discussed as well as other consequences of inserting foreign material per rectum.
If only I had stuck in at my medical studies, I could have specialised in cases like this.

Wednesday, September 2

unprofessional thoughts

One of the drawbacks of my job at the McDonald Institute is that occasionally one of the clientele may be excessively fit. There's one at the moment who's particularly gorgeous, and it takes an effort not to tumble head first into her cleavage. Well-groomed, beautiful, compact without being delicate, with physical and social graces. Intelligent but not as clever as me. We're a perfect match!

I'd throw away everything and follow her in an instant if she just made me an offer. I'd only need a few cast-iron guarantees. Over the years while I would mature further, she mustn't ever change. She'd have to keep working, and be prepared eventually to push a wheelchair. She could only have kids if it didn't interfere with changing my nappies. In return I would share all my home brew supplies and other worldly fluids.

Update: last week I had to sit close to her on a matter of work, and I happened to take a deep breath through my nose. I inhaled her essence. It was strong and feminine, but not the bouquet I had visualised. Not sure how to say this. It was in the trouser department, right?

Flesh and blood, scared me off. I think I may be cured.

Further Update: this week she fell prey to the inexplicable charms of the most assholey of the other clients. I see them giggling and whispering together. Why do the nice ones always go for the biggest jerks? Only very occasionally has a nice one ever landed in my life. Or even a not nice one.

Anyway, I've gone right off her if her taste's that bad. I withdraw my offer. She'll never make the trouser press.

Tuesday, September 1

giving up and giving up giving up

In recent weeks, the energy levels were so low that even the green bliss tea was having no effect. Actually it was having an effect - the bastard tinnitus levels were at screaming pitch, and the crabbit levels were abnormally high, even given that I had plenty to be crabbit about.

Caffeine is known to aggravate tinnitus and probably crabbitus too, so I decided to give up the green tea, to give my system a rest from the all that invigoration.

Pretty soon the levels dropped nicely, but there's no such thing as a free lunch or free tea, and so the tiredness levels rose to balance things up. Work was torture - I kept needing to lie down on the floor and rest or sleep. At home, I couldn't be bothered doing stuff. And in the community, I said goodbye to my volunteer relief work in the prostate health area and the Ching Release Programme.

Life was in a downward spiral, and I couldn't see a way of getting out of it, not while I'm having to work full-time at the institute (thank the Piddledorf Pension Fund for that).

As a well-brought up bavarian bourgeois, I am fortunate to have strong willpower and deferred gratification skills, so giving things up comes naturally to me. But as I patrol the blogosphere I notice that, for some people, giving up things is closely followed by giving up giving up.

So to try to fit in, I finally decided to try that.

This morning I gave up giving up tea. I had a double dose of the green stuff, and every cell of my body thanked me for that, starting with the lining of the large intestine. After abluting, I went for a 90-minute power walk through the bush track with dog and pod. What a fortunate person I was!

The sun is out, and there's trees to be lopped. Against safety regulations, I am going up a ladder with a chainsaw, and I may be some time. Here come the adrenalin levels!

Saturday, August 29

tips for blissheids

If you're a blissheid, it helps to have some advice on techniques that can make your life a bit easier.

So here's a trick that allows you to tune out anywhere and any time, without anyone noticing.

Secondly, when you're doing yoga don't attempt this position, unless you want to walk around like a flatheid with your heid up your own bottom.

Sunday, August 23

alma mater and crime and punishment

In postmodern fashion I'm reading two books at the same time on the ipod. The Real Alma Mater and Crime And Punishment.

Thanks to the wonders of intertextuality, it has become a unique moral tale about a desperate Edinburgh student, McKolnikov, who murders the bourgeois Hendersovich by pushing him off Salisbury Crags. Consumed by guilt, he subjects himself to drink, drugs, meditation and other punishments, but the deities catch up with him in the end.

Wednesday, August 19

autobiography of a crackhead writer

I know some of the people who visit here have wild lives, but then I read about this guy who just published his memoir, The Night of the Gun, about his time as a crack addicted fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke.

Some quotes:
I do not have a good memory, having recklessly sautéed my brain in fistfuls of pharmaceutical spices.
I subsisted on Pop-Tarts and Mountain Dew, along with LSD, peyote, pot, mushrooms, mescaline, amphetamines, quaaludes, valium, opium, hash and liquor of all kinds. Total garbage head.

Friday, August 7

too nice to be successful

Being sympathetic, kind, co-operative and warm may lower men’s likelihood of becoming bosses, according to a study which found a strong link between personality type and jobs.

One of the authors of the research concluded that "people who aren't very nice are more likely to become managers."

We all knew this, but it's nice to have it scientifically confirmed. And it explains why Dances Etc and myself are the only folk from our school who managed to avoid success, with the result that we could spend yesterday morning at a museum, and all yesterday afternoon at the pool. For a while, we had the whole indoor and outdoor pools to ourselves. There were just a few folk loafing in the sauna and the scalding in the steam room.

A few hours later, well knackered from swimming and poached from the sauna, we sat at the poolside cafe and had hot drinks and handmade cookies, gassing while the pool filled up with mums, kids and office workers. After his second coffee, Dances's natural talkativeness went right off the scale, like speeding. At one point he was explaining, with mimed actions, the merits of different ways of killing yourself. I noticed people staring, at the point where he was describing how to slit your own throat and how far the blood would spurt.

Dances trying to stand upright after the steam room

Tuesday, August 4

another day off in paradise

The day so far.

Walked dog. Went back to sleep for an hour.

Even in winter here, the cold is made bearable by bright sunshine. So I painted the window outside, while listening to Brian Keenan's book called, I think, An Evil Cradling. I had read it before, but this is him reading the audiobook.

Caught up on blogs. Now it's off to the city to support the partner at her meeting with a financial adviser, maybe head him off if he's thinking of advising her to dump me as a liability.

Then I may take myself to see Harry Potter. I avoided all the others in the series but this one looks like it might be enjoyable by grown-ups.

Tomorrow will be a long day at work, like yesterday, but the days off inbetween always help balance things out.

Thursday, July 30

leading misanthropologist's reputation threatened

Walked for 2 and a half hours yesterday through the New South Caledonian forest with Dances Etc. and the dog. To the bottle shop and back. The return journey was harder, uphill and with a backpack full of bottles.

Click it to big it:

Dances Etc. was in better form than for a long time, having recovered well from a break-up, a kneecap-shattering motorbike spill, and pouring boiling water on his head. Possibly this is the happiest/strongest I've seen him in 45 years, no doubt buoyed up by his visit last week to Albert in Australia.

harbour animation

Next week he goes to Scotland, so I'm wondering if I should put him on the mailing list for Duneditin.

I hardly believe I'm saying this, but his visit is the second I've enjoyed in the past few weeks. Having the outlaw couple here was a real joy too. Before now, I had only ever seen them in the company of their weans, harassed or distracted.

That's three visitors I've enjoyed this month. If this gets out I'll get the sack from the Misanthropology Faculty.

Dances Etc. is an endless source of interesting information. Like the fact that, Michael Jackson, who never complained when black militants vilified him for turning white, quietly donated huge sums to charities, some of them black. Over his career, he gave away $300 million to worthy causes.

Even more interestingly, Dances Etc. told me about the elephants who paint pictures of themselves. Here's just one of the videos:

Saturday, July 25

trois têtes aujourd'hui

Têtes de félicité free-lance, plate et sourde, aujourd'hui en Île Plate, Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Les deux hommes sont garçons de la même école publique.

Just for balance, these are normal classmates at a recent reunion. If you've never been to one, this might persuade you.

Thursday, July 23


Here is the news.

Item 1 - A distant relative is coming to stay for a whole month or more.

Item 2 - The Maisel's Weisse has successfully completed a battery of black-box tests, and now goes forward to the acceptance testing phase. Early results have been most encouraging, showing bliss levels almost off the scale.

I stumbled across this new wheat beer last weekend during a 4-hour harbour walk in the winter sunshine with the partner. The bottle shop had no Erdinger, and I couldn't remember whether I like Weihenstephaner, but then I noticed this Maisel stuff.

I told the guy behind the counter that if I liked it I'd be back. I asked what discount he could offer on a bulk buy. 10% on a six pack, and even more on a box! It's still three times the cost of New South Caledonian beer, but you can't put a price on happiness.

I've suggested to the partner that we do a repeat harbour walk this weekend. It shouldn't be hard to get her to park near the bottle shop, and I'll smuggle the box into the boot while she's not looking. What heights of bliss I'm going to achieve if I don't do my back in!

Item 3 - Dances With Men is back in the country and we may pick him up after the walk. Note to self - don't let him get a look in the boot.

Tuesday, July 21

i'm not a heidist but ...

I had to go to a birthday party at the end of last week. Four whole hours of my life wasted listening to a bunch of deifheids competing to show off their stories about themselves. First topic was how many numbers you got right in that week's jackpot lottery. Apparently one person won their stake back. Other themes included how much you paid in the sale for that bargain pair of trousers.

After a couple of hours of this, attention turned to food, and a pizza delivery menu was passed around so we could order by phone. Everyone got to choose what colour of food scraps they wanted sprinkled on their overpriced Italian toasted cheese. When the delivery man showed up an hour later, there was a whip-round among the guests to pay for it. The partner coughed up happily, but there was no way I was paying towards shite food I would only give to a dog.

I would cook something decent if and when we ever got home. Meanwhile, because I had agreed to drive home, I couldn't even numb the pain with a shandy!

The worst phrase you can hear at a birthday party is "you can't leave now - they haven't had the birthday cake yet, and the song." Sometimes I almost wish I was a blissheid on indefinite retreat.

My patience nearly blew when I realised I had a sick dog at home with pneumonia, while I was wasting my time among deifheids. Incidentally, I'm not a racist, but I did notice that several of the deifheids were Australian. If I hadn't had to consider the partner, I would have walked out and never gone back. I could have caught the next plane back to Scotland, where there are no deifheids and the conversation is sparkling and inclusive. And if you're lucky enough to end up at a conference, the catering is splendid.

Wednesday, July 15

knowing when to stop

I have always, well not always but for many years, prided myself on knowing when to stop.

Everyone knows that the first beer of the night is the best one, so I have always, well not always, been able to stop after one beer.

And it's the same with bonkage. The first bonk is always the best one, so why bother with another?

Tonight though, after downing a whole bottle of Paulaner, I immediately had the notion to go down to the cellar and open another two.

Obviously I didn't give in to the urge, but it was a near thing. Dearie me!

Sunday, June 28

they're back!

The murderous impulses are back. Several times I caught myself, while walking along the street, muttering four-letter courses, mostly under my breath. I discovered a new understanding of people who run amok with guns.

The doctors tell me to try and make sense of the sudden spike in rage levels. Listing the reasons might help:

  1. I had dropped the blissage levels down to a quarter of a pill every two days. Everyone else seemed to giving things up, so I thought I would join in. Stupid stupid idea.

  2. The computer system at work decided to lose three weeks' worth of files. And to make things worse, the useless admin people kept saying they were working on recovering my files, but that was just code for "we're doing nothing about it - eventually you'll give up hope and just do the work all over again".

  3. I'm feeling unsettled because I have to leave my dog in the care of other people for a week, none of whom is as trustworthy as me. And it's all because I have to go away to somewhere sunny, to keep the partner happy. If it was up to me, I would stay home and turn the heating up. But no, we have to join the throngs of people in a hotel.

  4. A tooth nerve is dying, slowly and increasingly painfully. I rang the dentist, but it seems he's already away on holiday, for a month! So I had to see the partner's dentist, a guy with the appearance and demeanour of a Japanese POW guard. I was so appalled by his manner that I asked him to do a different tooth, a relatively healthy one that just needed a wee filling. The guy's a butcher! He drilled away ferociously for what seemed like 20 minutes, then told me proudly that he'd taken away two thirds of the tooth. It made me think - dentists pass one set of exams at age 20, and it gives them the right to do what they like to people for a lifetime. As long the guy never fiddles with the female patients' undies, nobody checks!

Unless I can find a dentist to drill the nerves out in the next few days, I'm going to be holidaying on painkillers and/or spending half the time with a resort dentist. Nothing good ever comes from stepping outside your nice comfortable blissful home life.

Saturday, June 20

slap on back

This is a video of the discussion Albert recently went to see. It's the Aussie writer Christos Tsiolkas, reading from and talking about his latest book The Slap, which Albert enjoyed immensely but he reckons it might not work so well outside Australia. A bit like when you take a bottle of Ouzo home after a Greek holiday, to find it tastes rank in a cold climate.

I haven't had a chance to view the video yet, to see if there are any audience reaction shots of Albert himself. He'd be easy to spot - the only person in the auditorium not sitting down. Shaggers back.

Thursday, June 18

on deifheidism and new work methods

Hotboy's flatheid problem is akin to the deifheid problem here in New South Caledonia.

Of all the indigenes of Jockoland I knew, I can't recall a single deifheid, yet almost everyone here is a deifheid. Does that mean there were no deifheids over there? More likely, I was smart enough when younger not to befriend anyone who couldn't listen.

Yesterday at work, things went well. A few students dribbled in over the course of the morning, and got on with their work with little intervention from me. So I was able to spend the time on the PC exploring some of the new skills I want to be able to cover next semester.

The afternoon class went even better - no students turned up. And the same thing happened at the evening class. Does that mean I didn't work? No. Does it mean I was all alone? No. Thanks to the internet, I was in touch with say about 30 students, reviewing their emailed work, fielding their questions, providing feedback, negotiating late submissions etc.

It was a cold rainy day, but because students were attending virtually, they were able to do it from home or from the bus, or for all I know from the pub. And I was able to listen to the pod, and occasionally lie down on the classroom floor for some yoga. The arrangement suits everyone. What a great way to work!

Of course, if the managers had walked in they would have complained, but I had my arguments marshalled and ready. And I'm upfront about my methods when I record each student's attendance as "10 minutes email" or "5 minutes phone" or "personal contact". If you document everything, you're covered.

Oh dear, that last bit sounds a bit blackshirt.

Talking about people interested only in covering their own asses, I'm relieved that Albert's no longer having to rely on his managers for security, now thatthe psychostalker has been banged up for life.

Tuesday, June 16


I've been entertained by recent posts by my unfortunate blog pals, who have to lead more interesting lives than mine. After work on Friday I had to go for cocktails (in my case fruit juice) to the flat of some deifheids. On the plus side:

  • they're actually hardly deif at all

  • there were only a handful of other people there

  • only one of the guests was a profound deifheid

  • there were lots of interesting pictures to look at on the walls

  • it was all over within a couple of hours, so I still had the rest of the evening to play with the ipod on the 3-bus trip home, while the partner went to the theatre.

deifheids (pronounced deef-heeds) - people who are unable to listen to anyone else, because they're too busy talking about themselves. [from the Scots deif=deaf, heid=head]

Thursday, June 11

delusions of fitness

What a fantastic Thursday morning! After charging up on green tea and porridge, I did the one-hour dog bushwalk in record time. On the way back, I stopped to buy a 4-kilogram pumpkin, and picked up a chair by the side of the road. One of these adjustable gas-filled kneeling chairs, they cost about $500 new. I carried it home. At home I got the scales out, and worked out I had carried 14 kilograms for about half a mile, without doing my back in at all!

So since I was warmed-up, it seemed like a smart time to try running again, so I put on the old jogging shoes and went out. There was probably only 5 minutes of actual running in it, but that's more than I've run in the last ten years. I really felt the difference between walking and running - I can walk fast for hours on end, but the wee bit of jogging left me puffed.

But no joggers knee at the end of it!

Finally, I went to the gym in the back room. I've been doing regular gentle weights for weeks now. Of course it's hard to resist the temptation to pile on the bigger weights and end up tearing or spraining something, but the cautious build-up has paid off. I was able to do 3 sets of everything:
  • First set on silly easy settings.
  • Second set near my various injury thresholds (I keep a log).
  • And the third set just above my previous limit.
And there were no twanging or ripping sounds at all, and no pain. Oh the joy of not hurting! And it's still not even lunchtime.

I must ask hotters if he tends to feel cold too, about half an hour after a jog, or if it's just me. As you'd expect, it's balanced up by a rush of blood to the, well to the area formerly known as the fungal zone.

I'm going for a lie-down with a hot water bottle and some porn, and I may be quite some time. And to think that most people have to work today!

Wednesday, June 10


What are those Brits doing? Just at the point when they need to get organised for the pig epidemic, they're shredding their government. Dearie me! Is this really the time to be going all honourable over petty cash?

Here in New South Caledonia, politicians have no need to fiddle their expenses, since they're already doing nicely on fat salaries and back-handers from developers. And even when they get caught out fiddling something or diddling their secretary, no politician would ever dream of resigning.

And there's never any pretence that our politicians have any competence. If circumstances ever force them to do actually something, they just copy whatever Britain did 10 years before. So far this has worked well, letting Britain work the bugs out of each new initiative, before we eventually copy whatever works.

Unfortunately that won't work with the pig flu: it's summer in Britain, so they only have a few hundred cases as yet, whereas it's the flu season down here and we're awash with it. At last, something we can beat Britain at.

Friday, June 5

caledonian balance

The brother's boy is playing for Old North Caledonia in the Rugby Junior World Cup, being held in Japan. They narrowly lost the opening match against Samoa. I watched it live over the web. The Samoan team are living proof that you can be a fat basturn at the same time as a fit one.

New South Caledonia are in the tournament too, but in a different group. If they both do well, both Caledonias could end up meeting in the quarters or semis, in a moment of extreme balance that would test my loyalty, never my strong point.

Tuesday, June 2

dog art

I have been persuaded to start giving away all my possessions. To begin with I have donated a picture of the dog to the Art Gallery of New South Caledonia.

I was off work yesterday with a mega-cold. What a waste of a sickie! But it's my first cold since I went on the bliss pill programme, and I've quite enjoyed observing myself having the cold. It's what we in the pharmaceutical bliss community call detachment.

Another benefit of being off work sick is I've managed to kick the tea habit completely. Of course that means that on my first day back, I'll overdose on a single cup, and be gibbering. Everything balances up.

Wednesday, May 27

advanced education

Great day at work today. Not a single student turned up for the afternoon class. Presumably because I had encouraged them to email their work instead of coming in. The same thing happened at this evening's class.

All classes will be run like this if the pig flu takes off and everyone's under house arrest. Bring it on. Over in Australia, it's spreading fast in the winter weather, and they're expecting 2 million people to get it. I may have to resort to hanging out with sailors down at the harbour to try and get infected while it's still benign. And if I can time it for July when we're supposed to be going on holiday, I might not have to go away at all.

Monday, May 25

life and art

Yesterday I finished reading Jock Tampon. All blog life is there in a one-act play. Guns, money-making schemes, non-sequiturs, idiocy, there's even an allotment and a hut.

REMO: They've taken my house. And my car. I'll have to rationalise, McGuffin. Make tough decisions. That's it! You're sacked!

GUFFIE: You can't sack me!

REMO: Get off my property! Get off it, or you'll get my toe up your arse!

GUFFIE: Keep away from me, you mad bastard! I've a good mind to set fire to your hut!

REMO: I was pretending to get drunk and go mad, but I'm as mad as a hatter. If I don't get help soon, I'm going to hurt someone, or hurt myself, or hurt the hut.

But is art imitating life or the other way round? And it's not obvious which character matches which blogger. At first I thought albert was Guffie, because he's a hut manager and he actually does stuff and has a pocket full of money, despite being owed back-pay by Remo. So hotters would be Remo which makes psychological sense too. But on the other hand, Remo is a Tory or even a fascist like me, so how could Remo be based on hotters? So could albert perhaps be Agnes, because of the dog, but then Remo would have to represent mingers, and I don't think there was any cricket in the play at all. Besides, Agnes is the only female character, so the obvious thought is that she is ion.

So I'm back to square one. But I've had an idea. If we look at the sanity levels of the four people in the play, we should be able to work out who is based on who.

The maddest character is clearly Remo. So here's a suggestion. We appoint an independent panel of judges to decide which blogger is the most genuinely insane, between albert, hotters, mingers and ion. Whoever wins is clearly Remo.

I'm willing to put up my share of the prize money. I'm donating my entire back-pay from hut management and the taxi job.

Friday, May 22

from the diary - age 21

I found an old diary.
Monday night. Drank in both union bars with Vinnie and his moll. Played cards till 4 a.m. Next morning Moll burnt the black pudding.

Friday night. Met Mac at Yellow Carvel. Then Wester Hailes party with Vinnie and Moll.

Saturday night. Mac reminds me of the time we drank at Vinnie's and I threw buckets of water over Vinnie and Neil, then made fried Cream Crackers with onions. How does he remember things like that?

It didn't seem to occur to me to wonder what I was doing to my brain cells in those days that meant I had no memory of my own actions.

I have been researching Scottish fiction, by uploading it to a private web-page then downloading it from there into the ipod, for reading under the covers.

So far, I've loaded Alma Mater and Jock Tampon. Like Guffie in the book, I've had one of my brilliant ideas. Get the writer's permission to make one of his books publicly downloadable on the ebook site, then if enough people seem to be downloading it onto their ipods, make the other titles available for money. We'll clean up!

Monday, May 18

thoughts of a dirty old man

This post title should bring in the customers. Last year I included the phrase "elephant sexual position" quite innocently in a post, and the blog stats went through the roof.

I've just come in from hanging out the washing, a job that takes hours these days, ever since the tropical jock-rot took hold and I started changing my drawers daily. And sometimes even more often than that.

I'm typing this on the toilet, thanks to the wifi ipod. The wee screen is beautiful, but since I'm now getting increasingly long-sighted to balance up the short-sightedness, I need to wear a cheap pair of old person's reading specs from the chemist. As myopia and the opposite -opia converge to blur distant and close objects, eventually I'll only be able to see things that are about 3 feet away. I feel I'm being squeezed at both ends and not in the biblical sense. Dearie me!

Tuesday, May 12

a porker lips now

Whatever happened to the swine panic? In Australia where onan lives, the media feeding frenzy has moved on to the next big issue, about a rugby league player involved in group sex 7 years ago. According to onan, there's saturation coverage on TV, radio and newspapers, and about 26,000 posts have materialised in the last few days. Who says nothing ever happens in Australia?

Thursday, May 7

Darwin and I

Charles Darwin and I both dropped out of medicine in Edinburgh before roaming foreign lands to observe unusual biological specimens.

This creature is clearly dead. If there was any life in it, the dog would have taken an interest in it. It may have been electrocuted while running along overhead power cables, but the dog is wearing a protective muzzle in case it may have been possum flu.

Tuesday, May 5

the road

I've just finished reading The Road. I didn't dare mention it while I was still reading it. Some people can't help spoiling a film or a book. "I've just got to tell you about this one bit, it won't spoil it for you ... you know the bit where he discovers that she's really his sister? No? Well now you might as well know, the butler did it."

People like that need a few sessions with Doctor Robert.

But what a great book! For the first half, I was freaking out with the tension. What would happen when they met someone? Then towards the end, I was dreading that things would just carry on like that, with them just disappearing into the sunset (sunless).

The occasionally-archaic language didn't work for me. I had to look up words like windrow. And the number of times he said "in the floor" meaning "on the floor".

But what a fantastic story, and the man was a brilliant father. Makes me think of my own father.

Now that I've finished reading the books on my list, at last there's time for some other enjoyment. Today I found time to make an apple cake from a recipe I had months ago badgered a student to give me. Tomorrow I'll be able to tell her I baked it.

And I might even have time for another trouser post, before the next book, a Kate Atkinson, arrives.

Saturday, May 2

developments around the world

One of the reasons my friend Albert says he likes living in Australia, is that he can ignore the rest of the world. Australian media only report local news. Well Albert's blissful ignorance has now been shattered. The Aussie newspapers have published an item of world news, and even a second one.

And there's been a health warning for all the people planning to be intimate with Albert this weekend - if you notice herpes-like symptoms, stay indoors and keep quiet about it. It's swine herpes.

Meanwhile here in New South Caledonia, there have been developments. This morning I skipped porridge, and the dog forcibly skipped her biscuits. I re-routed the walk through an area of bush adjoining the freeway, where there's a branch of McUnHeardOfs. I scheduled it so that I would arrive there famished and in need of a jolt to rev me up for the rest of the expedition. I would order a repeat of Thursday's breakfast menu. Then with raisin toast, hot butter, and black tea inside me, I'd be able to walk for hours.

When I gave my order, the guy said the tea was off, and they no longer offer raisin toast. There's no demand for it. The dog was more fortunate, finding an abandoned half-eaten burger and chips, but I had to walk all the way home without fuel.

Thursday, April 30

joyous weekend ahead

When will they ever learn? When they're not running death camps for chickens and breeding bird viruses, they're abusing pigs on an industrial scale in Mexico, just so Americans can eat more hot dogs. "Factory farming" sounds more ethical than what it really is, and no wonder nature bites back. You can't escape natural balance.

There's been some hysterical web commentary about the flu, and my mate Alec McClochendichter contributed helpfully to the debate at The Independent.

Classroom conversation at work last night:
Student: Sir, what's going to happen with this flu, are we all going to die?

Me: Not at all, we're not all going to die. Just some of us. But if you're really worried, spend next weekend at the airport - catch it while it's still benign.

Wouldn't that be a buzz? Once you've got your immunity, you could spend the next year or two walking fearlessly through public places, blessing the sick and the fearful.

Actually, I've been doing something like that for decades, blessing all the black spot virgins. "I've been there and it's not so bad."

Right now though, I've got a mammoth trouser outbreak of swine herpes, but I'm too much of a gentleman to identify the swine I caught it from.

Anyway, I got up before dawn to drive the bliss partner to the airport in her car, with a stop-off for an hour at the NSC stadium where she does her exercise class.

I filled in time by walking the dog somewhere completely new, and she was happy as a pig in shit. And when she saw the ducks on the pond, she ran at them, straight across the layer of solid-looking green pond scum. Her spluttering face as she sank straight through what she thought was grass!

On the drive back, the traffic was so heavy that it made sense to stop off and have breakfast at McUnHeardOfs. I left the dog in the car, which is illegal, but fortunately when you live in NSC, compliance with the law is optional.

Looking at the menu board: what kind of breakfast could I order that wouldn't half kill me and support torture of pigs and chickens? The safest thing was also the tastiest: a great slab of raisin toast, soaked in hot salty butter, with a cup of real black tea. And a free read of the newspapers. Oh the bliss!

I had told myself I would only eat half the toast, and take the rest out to the car for the dog, but the willpower deserted me, and the dog had to make do with a couple of free tubs of butter.

Even if the raging herpes means I have to cancel the weekend house party, it's going to be a good few days. For once I've got wheels.

Today will be a tea buzz, and tonight I'm going to binge on a whole bottle of weissbier. How fortunate to have the two best addictions you could possibly hope for.

I'm going out now to lie down in the sun. I may be quite some time.

Sunday, April 26

blissheidism and hotheidism

On Sunday I splashed out on a month's supply of Paulaner, a six-pack. This could help me turn into a blissheid, but it's a distraction from the main goal - getting through the 200 bottles of Peerless before the mexican killer flu arrives at the door.

The bliss partner flies to New Zealand at the weekend, so as a quarantine measure I'll have to brick up my bedroom door while she's away. I've told her I'll pass pills and water to her through the window but only one of us has to get sick at a time.

Actually, I reckon it could be a good move to hang around airports, hugging passengers arriving from hot spots. Catch the flu early, and gain immunity before it mutates into something worse. Also getting in early before antiviral stocks run out.

Every morning I take life-giving pills, the heat-raising ones against fried thyroid. If I ever stop taking them, it's curtains within days. On Sunday I stupidly forgot to take them, and this coincided with a sudden cold spell. Overnight it was only 12 degrees, which is nice if you're in Scotland but here it's a freezer. You know how it is - you wake up shivering but you're too cold to get up and do anything about it. At 4 a.m. I summoned up the courage to get out of bed and fill a hot water bottle. So at least I got an hour's blissful warm sleep until the alarm went off at 5.30.

Then the first day back at work was a scunner. I was too chilled to eat lunch, and so I just got colder and more bad tempered. Monday night I went to bed with 2 hot water bottles and an extra quilt. Overnight I thawed out. Oh the bliss of raising heat again!

Friday, April 24

stout sans pareil

I'm most happy to report that I have now sampled the first half of the extra bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen. I saved it for myself instead of sending it as a present to whatever his name is. Onan or Albie or Doctor Bob, it gets confusing when all your friends have birthdays at the same time. The verdict: fantastic! Possibly even as good as Erdinger. I didn't think I would ever say that, but it's true. After sinking a whole glass, I lay back to savour the joy coursing through the veins. This stuff should be illegal.

The guy in the beer shop offered a 10% discount if I bought the whole case, but that wouldn't help me get through the 200-odd bottles of Peerless lager, brown ale, canadian blonde, real ale and bitter under the house.

And the Peerless Stout that I brewed a couple of years ago has matured nicely in the meanwhile, and may get even better in the future, though of course there's no bliss effect in it. There's still about 50 bottles of that. For once, one of my investments has paid off.

I've just heard that DUNEDITIN this year is taking place on Skye, with a side trip to DUNVEGAN for blissheids trying to get back on to a meat diet.

Thursday, April 23

spud's blissheid brother

Spud's self-taught blissheid brother has set up a YOGA NIDRA blog. Of course in New South Caledonian, he is known as a tête de félicité. Here he is running a yoga nidra session:

Yoga Nidra Session Led by Usuff Omar, Laughter Yoga Instructor

Tuesday, April 21

st. onan's day

Yesterday was onan's birthday, so we broke out a double ration of bliss pills. He got a couple of books from his partner and then she took him out for lunch.

The mother outlaw sent him a CD called The Sounds Of Scotland. Artists include Jimmy Shand, Moira Anderson, and the pipes and drums of the 1st battalion black watch. Onan says it's no worse than the current Australian radio, TV, and newspaper assault on his musical sensibilities. I think he's referring to the Susan Boyle phenomenon. For a generation brought up to believe that musicianship is about having a fit body and a video where your bits hang out, who would have thought that a middle-aged frump with a moustache would be able to hold a tune! What next?

Next thing they'll be trying to tell us that young people can cope with disappointment, without the services of a trauma counsellor! That wouldn't help Doctor Trish (she who got me to write for 20 minutes at a time without censoring). She works nights as the studio shrink on the set of Grand Frère (the New South Cal version of Big Brother). It's her job to counsel people when they get expelled from the house. I wonder if they get to wear the electrodes on their heads, just like me.

I gave Onan a bottle of Weihenstephaner, which neither of us have ever tried before. I hope it turns out less disappointing than the last weissbier I bought him (I've forgotten the name of it but you can be sure it wasn't Erdinger or Lidl's own brand).

His mother marked the day in time-honoured fashion, by opening an old greeting-card on the phone, and letting the tinny synthesiser play several verses of Happy Birthday down the line. It was mildly amusing on the first occasion some decades ago.

The PPP marked the occasion by getting him to phone the hospital room on the day, so she could provide a live update on the fund's losses.

It's a consolation to everyone that Onan has a wonderful bliss partner to make a fuss of him once a year, otherwise what would he have to live for?

The partner's lunch.

PS - the trousers are open again.