Sunday, October 31

following the first violin

Last night the cellmate took me out to a Mozart concert. I love the music but I find concerts difficult to relax into. And not only because of my studies in misanthropology.

I'm always aware of sitting up tall and possibly blocking the view of the people behind. So I've a subconscious tendency to pull my head in and/or slouch my spine. Usual result: shagged back and screaming neck pain. The alternative is to mentally keep reminding myself "eff the basturns, let them sit up straight too". Either way, it gets in the way of the music.

Last night our seats were side-on, so everyone had their necks twisted to one side. Except me. I decided to close my eyes and look straight ahead; focus on breathing and sitting straight. That didn't leave much attention free for listening or holding in the bum explosions.

On the occasions when I opened my eyes, it was to look at the first violin, who not only had a cute bottom but held her spine beautifully straight.

I wonder if I unintentionally strayed into a spot of meditation last night. Certainly there was an immense spring in my step on the dog walk this morning.

I came home and did 2000 steps on the machine, then half an hour on the weights machine without spraining a single muscle. Went to bed in the afternoon of course. It all balances up.

Thursday, October 28


Our local library is a wonderful place, much used by me and the cellmate. Of course, it's run by New South Caledonians, yet it works. I should take some photos inside it, and post them. If it isn't the best local authority library in the world, surely it's "the best in the southern hemisphere" (a much-abused local mantra). Makes you happy to hand over the cash when the rates bill arrives.

Thanks to them I've just finished reading William Boyd's latest (pretty good but relying on too many coincidences) and the new Jonathan Franzen (just wonderful if you're interested in relationships, character development, family history and dynamics).

And I've begun Alan Warner's 2006 novel The Worms Can Carry Me To Heaven. The disengaged contemptuous hero reminds me of books by e.g. Houellebecq (not sure about the spelling) or Easton Ellis. The first-person character is handed the black spot by his doc at the start of the book, but from there on there's no other mention of it. There's no emotion except for the anger implied by his disdain for humankind. If the guy was a bit concerned or introspective, I might care what happened to him. As it is, I'm wishing he would just hurry up and eff somebody before he dies.

But the author can really write well, and that's what's stopping me giving up on it. For a while I thought I had lost the book and would have to pay the library for a new copy. That would be adding insult to injury. I'm reminded of Woody Allen's whinging old lady in a restaurant: "The food's horrible ... and they give you such small portions!"

Anyway, thanks to the wonderful ratepayers of New South Caledonia, our library's got enough great books to keep me reading till I die and beyond. Now if only the library offered some decent ebooks, not just the usual free out-of-copyright stuff like Wilkie Collins and De Sade.

PS - thanks to their DVD section, I have just borrowed American Psycho, to save me having to read the book by said Easton Ellis. Also Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Evil Dead (1982). Not a single chick flick amongst them, so I think I'll have to watch them alone.

Saturday, October 23

toilet help

There's a new iPod/iPhone app called Toilet Time. It uses state of the art techniques to help busy people spend less time daydreaming during their daily dump.


It's ideal for people (not me) who tend to get too immersed in iPod games on the pan, and forget all about time.

(Posted from iPod)

Friday, October 22

toilet cleaning and training

After the long day's work into night yesterday, this morning I blobbed out with a book.

Then I hit the black tea for a run up to the cleaning job for Alec's partner, who pays me the going rate to clean her rooms. After a three-hour blitz that included toilet work and leaf clearing, now I'm knackered again. It all balances up.

Tomorrow I've to meet Cap'n Kev for coffee.

I spoke to the old dear in the Royal Vic again. She seems to be settling in to her third hospital now. I read her the riot act about cooperating more with the physiotherapist - otherwise they'll shunt her off to a ward for the hopeless cases.

For once, she was happy to just natter. I feel for her, but not excessively. At last, I can see a benefit of the Teutonic toilet training - it sets you up not to be too attached to your parents.

Thursday, October 21

progress in education

I'm indebted to Albert for drawing my attention to an article headed "Handwriting proves a stretch for computer-savvy students", from the Southern Highland News.

It seems that kids are leaving school with advanced interpersonal skills and terrific keyboard skills, but without knowing how to write with a pen.

Some schools are having to employ occupational therapists to teach 17-year-old school kids to use a pen, so that they'll be able to write the exam papers for their school leaving certificate. There are different opinions on whether writing by hand will or should become extinct.

Wednesday, October 20

thin lizzie

Recently, the dog was suddenly very keen to spend the evening out in the garden, doing a lot of barking. I went out there and discovered the reason for all the noise: there was a magnificent lizard living out there, nearly half a metre long, and the dog was trying to build up the courage to bite it. The lizard was making a deathly noise and inflating itself to look scary. So I started keeping the dog indoors, to give the poor lizard some peace.

About a week later, we saw the lizard again on the road outside the house.

Sunday, October 17

more about the waiter incident

I've had some more time to reflect on last week's waiter incident. I've realised that part of the reason for the guy's insulting demeanour and arrogance, may be that I was dressed like a bum. And due to the fascist heel, I was also wearing a pair of ten year old Brooks trainers, which are still very comfortable but look as if they've been pulled out of a swamp.

That would explain why he deliberately seated us at the darkest, most out-of-the-way table: to hide us from the other clientele. But even bums like me are entitled to politeness, when they're paying an arm and a leg for tea and a few tiny cakes.

The food looked exquisite, much better than it tasted. One of the cakes had an edible portrait of Marie Antoinette. The spoon is a teaspoon - you can see how petite the cakes were.

Friday, October 15

only fools and whores

Back at work after a fortnight's holiday, during which I read several books, cooled my heels, and collected some new strains of athlete's foot at the pool.

It's just downhill from here. The government should have send-off centres for people of my age, before we fall apart and burden the health system. Surely the taxpayer would come out ahead, even after paying for the Thai whore massage, the amuse bouches and the Brompton's Cocktail. It's a win-win arrangement.

Which reminds me. A couple of nights before Duneditin 2008, I was sharing an Edinburgh bedsit with the cellmate. Too lazy to run a bath in the bathroom along the corridor, I washed my tackle in the basin in the room. The cellmate said "I see you're having a horse bath". I laughed at her quaint expression. Presumably it had some obscure New Zealand origin. Maybe they used to drench their horses' pubes in a trough of tick poison or something.

I told her this week, how often I have used her expression in conversations since then. It was her turn to laugh. I had misheard her originally. The term is "whore's bath" not "horse bath". It makes sense.

Thursday, October 14


I was on friendsreunited, and I went to look up the year I left the uni, and who's at the top of the list but Mingers! Not sure if that's a fluke, or if friendsreuntied has somehow got its hands on my gmail address book (even though I only ever gave them an old hotmail account).

I also took a peep at Albert's old school. Most of the people there went on to be even more socially useful than Albert himself. But can they or can they not do the bliss pills?

Here are recent pictures of two of them, taken in the course of their work. Each photo contains an oblique clue to the subject's profession.

Monday, October 11

edinburgh news

Albert has read an article in the Aussie press, about the best British food. He didn't say if it was a very long article, but what interested me was that the best haggis comes from a butcher in Stockbridge. Imagine being able to pop out for offal whenever you want!

Using friendsreunited, I have tracked down my room mate from first year. He came from Larkhall, and taught me how to play basic bass guitar. The guy was in the room on the night I lost my virginity. All I remember is that I kept up a running commentary so he wouldn't feel excluded. If I can contact him, maybe he can tell me how it was for me.

Sunday, October 10

re-evaluating the over-reaction

The murderous urges from the previous post are dissipating.

As usual with these incidents, there's a history involving memory. I now realise the guy reminded me of two imperious bosses I had about three years ago. Same manner, similar appearance. And all of them were equally incompetent.

If there's one thing I react badly to, it's being demeaned by an idiot. Fortunately the people who insult me online are at least good at what they do.

Going further back in memory, I can see that much childhood was about being pushed around by morons. Mainly parents. If only I had had kids of my own, I would have had a shot at being one of those morons. That might have balanced me up.

Saturday, October 9

false sense of self

Once in a while you take an instant dislike to someone you've only just met. You'd like to kill the person, and if you had a 100% guarantee that you'd never be caught, you'd probably do it.

Today I was briefly at the mercy of someone so insulting (possibly inadvertently) that I reacted very badly, and insulted them back (deliberately and childishly).

If it had been up to me, I would just have said eff you and left. But I was compromised, and for the sake of my companion's birthday treat I had to sit it out for a whole hour and make a big effort to calm down and act nice to this twat.

What made it really stick in my throat was that I was paying this person. At the end, I decided to try and be magnanimous, so I tipped them, but they didn't even acknowledge the tip. What a freaking currant.

I'm still figuring out how my false sense of self might have played a part. "This SHOULDN'T be happening to me. HOW DARE they treat me this way. I can't BEAR this. What a #%@$ this person is. I deserve, even NEED, to have everything in life go well."

The only positive thing about it? For the rest of the day my companion, okay cellmate if you must know, showed huge gratitude for my restraint.

I have to sleep now. I hope the murderous urges have dispersed. I don't want to have nightmares.

- (bed)posted from iPod

Tuesday, October 5


There was a lunch at the deifheid place at the weekend. They kindly extended the invitation to me. Probably the idea was for me to lie under the table with the dog. Sadly I had to decline as I had a prior engagement with the book I'm reading.

The psychological model derived from Carl Rogers maintains that when you dislike someone, it's often because they remind you of someone else in your past. I've just worked out who the heid deifheid reminds me of.

There was a guy in halls of residence called John H. He was so transparently disinterested in anyone other than himself, you almost felt sorry for him. Desperately trying to impress fit young babes, he came across as slimy. In his room, he had an expensive stereo, though he didn't like music. It was intended as a seduction aid.

Anyway, the deifheid guy here is equally disinterested in other people, except as conversational targets for his tales about himself. Desperate to impress (himself). I wouldn't mind so much if he didn't just recycle the same stories every time.

I knew an old Viking who died recently, a very funny and good hearted man. RIP.

Things are getting serious. People are dropping around me, and I haven't even finished growing up yet.