Wednesday, October 31

life in #balance

(I'm experimenting with hashtags in the post title. This blog auto-announces on Twitter.)

One reason I try not to have friends, is to avoid getting sidetracked. Even cyber friends can take over your life.

My northern hemisphere friend Hotters gave up the drink. Purely to balance things up and keep up the drinking averages, I've had to start going to the pub with Cap'n Kev. Last night after a couple of beers we went down to the basement where they make the stuff, and chatted with two of the brewers.

It was pure luck that I insisted on paying for one more round, and discovered my wallet had disappeared. This is why I shouldn't drink - I get careless. Eventually I found it in a dark corner behind my chair.

This morning I read that Hotters has undone all my good work, and gone back on the drink. To balance things up, he too lost his valuables in the pub. I wonder if he checked behind his chair.

Another northern visitor to this blog is a Brian Wilson addict. Yesterday I channelled him when I spotted an obscure Brian Wilson CD at a second-hand record stall. I had to buy it, even though Brian Wilson is about as much use to me as a meditation book.

Honestly! The things I do for my friends!

PS- a neighbour is selling his kayak.

Saturday, October 27

australian aboriginal art

I went with the cellmate to visit a guy who imports Australian aboriginal artworks direct from the outback. He's an art expert who visits certain communities and deals ethically with them. Apparently in the past, unscrupulous white Aussies would swap beer for art. Early death of the artist from alcohol abuse would increase the artworks' rarity value.

The cellmate wants a big painting for her living room, but we're both clueless about art, so we took along an art teacher chum.

The guy let us take home our four favourite paintings, to get to know them and decide which one to buy.

What do you think? The cellmate likes the second one best. It's also the most expensive:

Saturday, October 20

Dee's story continues

In a recent post we began Alec's story of sex, drugs, incest, madness and death. Today's instalment involves snooping, police, prosecution and punishment.

Just to recap, Alec was pretty sure that the person who sexually abused Dee was her brother 1, the marine commando.

In Alec's own words:


When I visited the old country, I hired a car and drove to Dee's grave, in a wee highland village.

Walking in the town, I passed a little art gallery, and the first thing I saw in the window was a picture by Brother 1, so I went in. Pretending to be an art buyer, I got a lot of information from the wee lady about Brother 1, including his address just round the corner.

Getting right into character now, I started haggling over the price, and beat the gallery down from £90 to £70. I was about to hand over the money, when I thought - what the hell am I doing? Why would I want to put money in the pocket of Dee's abuser? And then have a reminder of him in my home?

So I explained to the wee lady that I'm from the UnHeard Of Islands, and sadly wouldn't have room in my luggage. She said never mind, the artist would just be pleased to hear that someone from down there had been so interested in his work.

As I drove out of the town, I put my foot down and was immediately flashed by a speed camera. Damn!


To summarise: Alec saved £70 by not buying a picture; then immediately lost £60 on a speeding fine, paying for a picture of himself. Funny how things balance up.

Saturday, October 13

multinational meatball megastore

I'm a cheery, glass-half-full kind of person, unlike Albert. It all balances up. For instance, here's Albert's latest whingeing email:


I've been knee deep in a home renovation project for a couple of weeks, and this morning I'm in the meatball place to buy a plumbing fixture.

It started promisingly in the restaurant. There's free wifi!

But it's broken. I try connecting with a pod, a pad, and a phone - all are locked out, even though they worked here last week.

Still, there's free refills of tea and coffee!

But all four machines are out of order, with a queue of customers lined up behind the repair guy.

It's getting too noisy in the restaurant anyway. Flocks of mothers and toddlers like starlings.

Later at the main store checkout, there's a promotion on, and they deduct the price of my $20 breakfast from the stuff I've bought!

But then I still have to stand around in the Merchandise Pick-up area, where they have a dole-office type of queuing system, and even the same social security robot voice on the PA.

There's a TV screen on the wall, to show the changing Job Status of everyone's order. That's encouraging.

But I wait 15 minutes before my order number even makes it on to the bottom of the screen.

Eventually the display says my order is ready for collection, but the poor meatball guy is dealing with a queue of impatient customers. There's no way I'm going to join the end of yet another queue, so I walk into the warehouse and lift the item I want. I wave my receipt at the security camera on the way out. Self service to the max. I've used a similar technique before. In newsagents and chemists, if you have the right money but there's nobody to serve you, put the cash on the counter and walk out. Transaction complete. The only drawback is that you don't get a receipt.


Thanks to Albert's story, I know where to go if ever I want the sensation of a crèche, a dole office and a novelty shop all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 9

life getting better

Struggling through a 1000-page cultural history of Germany, (written by a Brit aware the war is over) I wandered into the chapter on Emanuel Kant. This guy is the real deal, a proper genius thinker. I'd like to tell you about some of his ideas - they went in one ear and out the other, but they made a lot of sense on the way.

One of the few advantages of being hemibavarian is that you get to correctly pronounce Kant in mixed company, and they can't touch you for it.

Last night I caught up with Cap'n Kevin. It was happy hour, in a pub where they brew their own weissbier. I got plastered too quickly and started to slur, making even less sense than usual. Fortunately Kev was equally incoherent, and we had a fun evening talking shite.

The day before, I spent the afternoon with one of the best conversationalists ever. A woman, naturally. We used to share an office until we fell out a few years back. There's been much water under the bridge, and now we're best chums again. We were in a cafe full of media celebs - we were almost the only normal people there.

One afternoon wasn't long enough to talk about everything, so we planned part two in a few weeks.

The cellmate's boy is staying here just now. Today was her birthday, so as a special treat she was allowed to cook a special birthday breakfast for the two men in her life. My brother rang on Skype, so he was able to watch the present-unwrapping on video. The cellmate likes puzzles, but even she had trouble deciphering some of the presents from Albert.

For example, this was cheapskate Albert's promise to take her out for a meal. Can you guess what's on the menu?

Saturday, October 6

Dee's story - family matters

Albert has given permission for me to tell you the first instalment of his story, as long as I change all the names. I'll let Albert, I mean Alec take up the story....

My name's Alec Bronson. Once upon a time I was crazy about someone, let's say her name was Dee. It lasted 2 or 3 years, in some ways the most loving years of my life.

Dee was the youngest of three siblings. Brother 1 joined the Marines and stayed single. Brother 2 was the only one who married and had a family. Dee was the baby of the family. All of them were alcoholics.

Dee's best friend called me with the news she had died (alone in middle age). "And by the way, did you know Dee was abused by her brother?"

Well no, I didn't know that. I thought back to the times when I stayed over at Dee's place, and Brother 1 would sometimes turn up at her door late at night. She would have to get out of bed and cook him a meal or whatever. At the time I thought - what a close loving family! Sometimes I would get dressed and go home, rather than just lie there till she was free again.

On a recent trip to Scotland, I visited Biffo, a chum from way back. His wife overheard us talking about Dee, and said "hang on - I recognise that name". She works in patient records at the psych hospital, and had dealt with the files on Dee. She says there was some debate about the cause of death. Apparently Dee wasted away to nothing, with no clear organic cause except multiple drug use (legal and otherwise) plus alcohol and mental illness.

Back in the day when Dee was in perfect shape, we were all getting out of a taxi after the pub, and Biffo fondled her bum on the way out. Which was more than I had ever done at that point. I went on the huff, even though Biffo was gay in those days.