Sunday, January 30

free time and time running out

Last week I had to go to a concert.

This morning I was going to have to meet Cap'n Kev for coffee (at his suggestion), but after days of negotiation over time and venue, he has pulled out, so I can stay home.

My brother has been clearing out the old dear's place. He found some old photos, but otherwise nothing personal. Many cupboards and drawers were stuffed full of dictionaries, about 100 in total.

Yesterday we swam with the sharks again. We used to take the dog along, partly as a decoy, but she's on her last legs now, like the old dear and the former pension plan.

To balance things up, the only other female in my life is going from strength to strength, with her various exercise and yoga classes.

I'm somewhere in the middle, doing daily yoga, and walking. And housework. But we're all slowly dying of course.

The routine ultrasound was all clear, except they found a fatty liver. Normally you need to be overweight and an alcoholic or diabetic to get that. I've had none of the fun of drinking or over-eating, but I still get the ill effects! To balance things up, I've now started drinking every day.

Saturday, January 29

albert off the wagon and on the bus

Apparently Albert organized to go back last night to the same pub as last week, to show Kev the place and the beers. I quote from his email:

Kev's nursey cousin came along, with some delightful young rellies in tow. We sampled and discussed several beers, but as usual lost the place by beer number 5. The ones I remember were, in order of my preference:

White Rabbit White Ale. Superb again, though this time the socializing got in the way of a proper savouring.

Scharer Lager. Gentle.

Little Creatures Pale Ale, with a definite bouquet and gentle hoppy aftertaste. I've tasted the bottled version before, at a deifheid dinner (not the ideal venue), but it's much better on tap.

Fat Yak. OK.

Wheatsheaf Stout. Emetic, but everyone loved it except me and Ben (English, so knows about beer).

In the course of the conversation, the oldies compared aches and pains, and Cap'n Kev educated us with some picturesque country medical terminology, such as:

"your poison glands" = lymph nodes.

"your blood dropping its water in your ankles" = oedema.

We were sitting at a big table on the street, when a passing lass came over and chatted. It was almost like being young again, but with no drive. At my age the feelings become avuncular, and she was so charming that I heard myself saying to her "well you were well brought up, weren't you?"

On the way home, I got on the wrong bus, an express non-stop to the back blocks. Thank goodness I was merry enough not to care.

Next day I remembered the other stupid and annoying things I did. People like me become assholes when drunk. I've been told the way to go is either to get so pissed that I can't remember any of it, or to be teetotal. The way of balance is not an easy path to tread.

Sunday, January 23

white rabbit beer

Albert went out on Friday night, and bagged the last free table in the Australian Hotel. Apparently the idea was to have dinner there, but his partner was running late. It seems her bus got stuck in traffic (who would have thought there'd be heavy traffic on a Friday night?). Too late now for a pub meal, they had to go to plan B, but at least Albert had time first to down a couple of a local brew called White Rabbit at $4.60 for two thirds of a pint.

They ended up eating on the harbour at a mafia ripoff joint for tourists and tarts. Albert has no time for Italians, but even he raved about the dessert, a $7 doughnut stuffed with ricotta and cinnamon, called Panerotto. And apparently the english tea came in a large pot, very hot and very black.

The play/concert/opera has been reviewed elsewhere, so let's look instead at Albert's plagiarised review of White Rabbit White Ale:

wheat & spice, coriander, orange peel and other oddball additions, refreshing hints of juniper berry, with fruity aromas and only a gentle amount of bitterness. A touch of local honey naturally conditions the ale, with a final abv of 4.5%.

Saturday, January 22


Last weekend there were several concerts happening, and I had to go to one of them with the cellmate. Which would you choose, a short show of no interest, or a very long but possibly good one? To be in the safe side, I chose the shortest, just an hour and a half. But sometimes time seems to stretch, I expect Heisenberg could explain it, some kind of quantum observer effect. If only the other me could have been at home at the same time, it would only have been half bad.

This weekend, it's Albert's turn - he's taking his partner for dinner in a pub roof garden, then to see an unusual Mozart opera starring John Malkovich, in his local Opera House. I hope he has a good night, to balance things up. I may ask him to do a review.

Tuesday, January 18

deifheid delights

For the last few deifheid dinner invites I've been tragically unable to attend, but I could see this time I was going to have to make an appearance.

It wasn't actually as bad as usual. There were a number of reasons for this.

For one thing, they had an extra dog there, a real live-wire border collie, desperate to play, so I was able to spend a lot of the time in the garden with some decent animal company.

I took along half a dozen home brews but drank the expensive stuff that was offered. Never drink your own carry-out. I learned that trick from a Duneditin delegate.

After one of their designer beers I moved on to a sparkling Shiraz, which is a downmarket drop but I loved it.

The heid deifheid must have been spoken to, because he made a big effort to be less boorish than usual. And for my part I resisted the urge to disappear under the table.

His partner seems to have grown out of her taste-free cuisine, and the food was magnificent, culminating in a dessert frenzy of home-made ice cream and home made Xmas cake.

When it was time to leave I didn't have to fake my gratitude.

Of course overall it was a waste of an evening, but the good thing is, I won't have to go again for a while, now that I've done my bit.

PS - Here's a photo of Albert enjoying a teetotal social event.

Sunday, January 16

school dream

Last night I dreamt it was my first day at a conference/boarding school. Everyone had to wear regulation shoes and uniform. What I liked was the simplicity of having few possessions, and not having to be responsible for stuff.

Doc Bob points out that I've been feeling burdened recently by domestic responsibilities and general clutter. I reckon the reason many of us enjoy travel is to get away from the mess of daily life. Hotels as boarding schools for grown-ups.

In the dream, everyone had to wear a white tee shirt, but mine had been washed together with some red clothes, so it was slightly pink. I hoped it could pass as white.

Doc Bob said ... well I'm not going to tell you what he said. What does he know anyway! It'll all come out in the wash.

Friday, January 14

good moves in the down under department

Last century I set out alone on an expedition of discovery, to the southern hemisphere. I set up camp in the UnHeard Of Islands, and began several years of research on the inhabitants.

Aware of the need to cast my net wide, I had to join social groups, and attend social events, most of them awful. After some years, I had several women friends I was attracted to, but I held back from trying anything physical. My Glasgow relationship had been a mistake from the start, yet the breakup after four years had been painful, and the last thing I wanted was to blunder into a new one just for sex, and then discover it was going nowhere and making both people unhappy. Besides, one of the symptoms of elephant man complex is paralysing shyness.

So anyway, I reached the point where I had four female UnHeard Of Islander friends.

One had a sumo physique and bullying personality, but was very broadminded and shared my taste in music. One night I agreed to let her massage me. After about 15 minutes, she realised I really meant massage and not something else, and she walked out in a huff, leaving me naked on the floor. I never saw her again.

One was a charming Alexander therapist, who would have been a good partner. But on our first meeting she said she "just wanted to be friends", so I respected that, even when I occasionally slept over at her place. After several years of this, she cracked and exploded.

One was petite, charming and sexy, but an angry alcoholic. On New Years Eve when I didn't do something right, or did something wrong (I never found out), she exploded with rage. Kev eventually teamed up with her, and she made his life a misery.

The fourth woman was a glamorous space cadet whom I liked but there was something I couldn't quite trust. Cap'n Kev later told me she had "taken several husbands to the cleaners".

Anyway, after several years of dogged socialising, one night I met someone I knew I wanted to pursue all the way, and so I did.

It was the best decision I ever made, and she became my cellmate.

The second-best decision I made was to apply for the job ad that the cellmate pointed out to me in the newspaper. That's the job I'm doing now at the McDonald Institute.

And the third good decision I made was to buy a house together, even though I didn't want to, at the cellmate's suggestion.

I would have missed out on all this, if I had got into something with one of the four other women. Or if I hadn't gone through the breakup in Glasgow, I wouldn't even have been able to move to the UnHeard Ofs. No pain no gain.

Tuesday, January 11

taking sides in the coming conflict

It was unsettling to read in the computer papers about the looming battle between Dougal and Dr. Finlay's Casebook. One of them's a wonder of discreet design, innovation and quality services, all free so that you don't begrudge their discreet advertising. The other one is utter sh*te, used only by NPD sufferers, the attention-deficient, and sociable folk.

To try and keep on expanding, Casebook allegedly wants to siphon consumers away from Dougal Mail, presumably by offering some more immediate means of staying in touch, as an alternative to email. As if knee-jerk communication of trivia needs any encouragement.

As a first step they've poached some of Dougal's top technical staff.

Then I suppose Dougal will respond by offering some kind of Casebook-like features, although they tried that before and failed.

Normally I ignore or boycott corporate products, but I make an exception for Dougal (and Apple) because their gear is so good. And because they're likely to be around for a long time, so I won't have to keep moving on to the next big thing.

I don't take sides in football, but this is more important than sport. To start with, I've persuaded Alec and Albert to close down their Casebook pages. But their efforts may turn out to be unnecessary. Pubs, corporations, films and consumer products all have their own Casebook pages now, which I think is stretching the whole friend metaphor beyond breaking point, and the whole thing could implode.

A Wall Street merchant bank recently paid $500 million to buy just a small share of Casebook. No comment, but you might want to pause before placing the call to your broker.

- Posted using Apple hardware, and Dougal software and web resources.

Monday, January 10

new year resos

This year I'll try to drink some beer every day. Life's too short not to.

And every day until I go back to work, I'm doing a bit of weeding, so by the end of the month the garden will be weedless. Crawling around on all fours is actually great for a sore back; it's also very humbling. Those Muslim chaps may be on to something.

This year I'm going to get on top of my photo collection. Not because they're particularly beautiful, but they're an archive of people and relationships. Also, there's research showing that looking at old photos helps retard the aging process.

Every day I'm going to do some yoga. Makes much more sense than only stretching/exercising single body parts as they become injured.

Even dumb animals stay healthy with yoga. Here's a polar bear in a downward-facing dog pose. Or vice versa.

In this picture, an over-enthusiastic yogi attempts a combined headstand and downward-facing dog, while drinking urine.

An athlete unwinding in downward-facing dog:

Wednesday, January 5

bellshill dream

Last night I dreamt I had to go to a party, where fortunately I met up with Hotters, who listened in fascination to my thoroughly boring stories (mostly about my dreams of Denny, a post-modern touch).

Later we were in Bellshill, where he used his library card to get us into a country park, reserved for trade union types and other proletarian aristocracy. It was in New Lanark, and because it was members-only, they were able to let in decent proletarians (and their guests like me) and exclude the riff raff.

There were ornamental gardens, swimming pools, cafes and libraries, and everywhere there were crowds of the nicest people imaginable. Everything was in working order (no vandals).

The park rangers drove around in land rovers, checking people's membership.

It was a great system, and the working class went up in my estimation. I could see the benefit of being proletarian. What a pity it was only a dream. I must ask Doc Bob what it means.

- Posted from iPod

Monday, January 3

new year celebrations

A happy new year to both our readers.

When the fireworks went off at midnight, I woke the cellmate to thank her for putting up with me for another year.

A day before New Year, I had phoned the old dear in the bonkers unit. She sounded quite compos mentis, and I was getting my hopes up. Maybe the delusions had stopped. But then she tried to tell me that they were celebrating New Year days early in Edinburgh, parading around with flaming torches, setting fire to things. As if! She kept going on about it, so I humoured her.

As soon as I got off the phone, I saw a TV news report from Edinburgh about the days of celebrations building up to New Year. People dressed as Vikings or Druids or something, parading around with burning torches, setting fire to things. It probably helps take their minds off the reality of living there.