Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Slave to Fib Sunday

Hey, lady! Put your hands where I can see them!

Lordy, who can you trust these days?

Money is everything.

If you don't know what's going on or indeed what Fib Sunday is, click
here to read the original instructions. Go on, you know you want to.

Go on!

In brief:

1) I take the topic as given in last week's final entry, write a Fib and give a new topic.
2) Your reply to the topic is in the form of a Fib in the comment section.
3) You then supply the next topic.
4) The next visitor replies with a Fib on the newly given topic and then provides a new topic and so on...

A Fib is a six line, twenty syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8. The only restriction on a Fib is that the syllable count follow the Fibonacci sequence. An example of a classic fib:

One
Small,
Precise,
Poetic,
Spiraling mixture:
Math plus poetry yields the Fib.

Last time, Krafty Bitch left us with the topic of migratory waterfowl. My drippy response:

Bang!
Bang!
That goose,
that pintail
shoots across the sky -
as does my rifle; killing's fun.

Next topic:

The rhythm!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Haiku Saturday




Saturday is usually known for only one thing - Haiku Saturday. Sadly, this saturday is also Funeral Saturday.

Ian's former primary school teacher passed away last Tuesday. He'd kept in touch with her ever since those days and to all intents and purposes they were friends. She was a very interesting lady, but the kind of interesting lady who hid her light under a bushel.

Don't hide your light, dear reader. Shine.

Someone definitely shining today is XWiz. Exciting news about Rumours Of Whores, I have, Yoda. You'll need to check out the latest Haikus to really get that, my lamb. Thanks, Krafty Bitch.

Friday, January 26, 2007

1142

This is blog entry #1142, dear reader.

Numbers are strange things. Simplistically, they aid us to plot events and give us a sense of volume. Like time, they do not exist, but are purely labels.

My beautiful boyfriend and I saw Stranger Than Fiction earlier this week. Marketed as a comedy, I found it more a pensive and philosophical piece about life, time, brilliance and mediocrity. I didn't laugh once, but I did find myself welling up two or three times.

Harold Crick hears a voice, narrating his every move. It turns out, the narrator is Kay Eiffel, a novelist. When the narrator reveals Harold will die, our protagonist decides he must do something to ensure the finale of Kay's tale is changed. Harold wants to live.

Kay's book is called Death And Taxes. Apparently, the two things we human beings cannot escape from. We can't escape death, that's for sure, but we can escape taxes, as Harold's love interest, Ana, proves. So what's behind the death/taxes facade? I think the concepts of death and taxes ask us if our lives have been worthwhile. Did the tax we paid to central government feed a starving baby or kill school children on a bus? When we are laid upon our deathbeds, will we look back on our lives with regret and horror or with pleasure, approval and a sense of celebration? Or could it possibly be that only our death, our act of dying makes our lives something special? And is that more important than having a happy and fulfilling life? If so, does that make us selfish?

Which is better, dear reader?

A hero dies, but the story lives on.

I don't want to die. I have so much I want to do, so many things I want to say, so many places I'd like to visit. I want fulfilment. Death, for me, now, would come too soon. But I do fear it and wonder how I'd cope. I know my life, so far, has not been something I'd look back on with joy, but I'd like it to be. That's why I want it to carry on a bit more. I need to fix it. And I'm sure my death will not be something special, nothing for which a posthumous medal might be awarded. So I have to live, you see, dear reader, to change things, to make my life something worthwhile.

Existentialism aside, in the void bereft of time and numbers, I'd like a had a good life label, please.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Burns

Eurovision fever starts here! Andorra have selected a cute teen skate punk band, Anonymous. Imagine Busted meets Blink 182. Vile.

I'm just back from a day trip to China, dear reader. Chinese state television asked me to discuss Burns Night on a talk show.

I was flown, first class, lady, to Beijing (via Frankfurt, Cape Town, Dubai, Paris, Baltimore, LA and Ulan Bator) with Monarch Airlines. They weren't very friendly, but I did get a free lipstick.

Beijing is a riot and there are Chinese people everywhere! And none of them can speak English! Can you believe that? What kind of a world are we living in?

I got to the studios where Zhang Today! is filmed (in front of a live audience) only to be confronted with ROW fans, desperate to hear our new song. I told them that they'd just have to wait. Costumes made by children in sweat shops aren't made over-night and Rome wasn't built in a fucking day!

The interview was soon under way. Poor Zhang must have thought we were taking part in some bizarre Wicker-Man-fest. I told her that Burns Night was a celebration of our infamous bard. No-one was doused with petrol and burned. Well, not usually.

The other guest was Rupert Everett. He'd come on to talk about fisting, leather, sex-pigs, masters and dogs, cock rings, his new single (a cover of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep) and how to be an ignominious cunt.

After the show, we were treated to stir fried noodles with deep fried dog's ears. I said I was vegetarian, so was offered cat instead.

On leaving, Zhang whispered in my ear, "Take me with you, bitch!"

I told her that I could not. She'd have to claim asylum through the proper channels like everyone else. It turned out that asylum was the last thing on her mind. She was tripping and needed assistance to the toilet.

The journey back to the UK was uneventful. Naomi Campbell was on the plane. I'm a quick thinker, dear reader, and hit her before she hit me. Now, if only everyone could think like Minge, the world would be a wilder place.

I'd divulge a lot more, but you know, the Chinese are a bunch of communists and I have Haggis (vegetarian, of course) to prepare. Those neeps and tatties won't peel themselves!

Before I go, will the Haggis turn out alright? I don't know because, you see, I'm not Mystic Meg. Other questions on my mind:

If Darwinism is true, how come there are still monkeys? And why is the plural of monkey not monkies?

Which US actor is keen to distance himself from his uber-spoiled character in Extras? Yet on his last movie he demanded three personal assistants (his equally famous co-star only needed one), insisted his trailer was cleaned every time he left it, with a fresh roll of toilet paper every time he used the bathroom, and had a hissy-fit about making sure all the jars in the fridge in his trailer were arranged with their labels facing outward?

If Tom Cruise is the "Christ" of Scientology, when can we arrange his crucifixion?

Which hard-partying songstress, booked back to the UK from her showcase at music industry piss-up Midem, got upset because she wasn't in first class? Her people had to explain that Easyjet has no first class.

TTFN, punters.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nara



On Thursday 21st September 2006, Phyllis and I decided to take a day trip from Kyoto to Nara. It wasn't far - and Japanese trains being what they are, it was a very comfortable journey.

On leaving the train in Nara, we headed straight for the Tourist Information Centre. Having been armed with maps and pamphlets by a delightful old lady, we took the temple route. Our first port of call was a mere five minute walk away. Every other, it seemed, were at similar intervals. Il y a beaucoup de temples in Nara, dear reader.



As well as lots of temples, there are lots of deer. And how tame! And yes, I did hear people use the word Bambi a few times. There must have been hundreds of these wonderful creatures, just freely roaming the parks, streets and alleys of Japan's ancient capital.



What could this be? Not another temple? Surely not! Todai-ji, where sits the Great Buddha in the largest wooden building in the whole wide world.



Before entering, we lit our rather fat incense sticks, wafting the smoke into our faces.



Here, the Great Buddha as seen with our own eyes, through the lens of the camera. Well, strictly speaking, that's not true, hen. How many people see life through a lens these days? The image, above, is as seen on the screen of my digital camera.

Do you think a time will come, my love, when people will drop the word digital when referring to their cameras?



One of the supporting posts in the Great Buddha Hall has a hole that has been cut through the base. Visitors try to pass through the hole which is said to be the same size as one of the Great Buddha's nostrils. Legend has it that those who pass through it will be blessed with enlightenment in their next life. Children usually have no trouble getting through but adults sometimes get stuck and need to be pulled out. The Chinese girl, above, was having a great deal of trouble. I didn't stay to see the next girl in the queue who was, let's say, big boned.

Racism is alive and well in Japan. Ian and I saw signs in quite a few locations, usually at the entrance to unspecified businesses, stating Japanese only. The Chinese don't have a good name for themselves. The Japanese label them thieves. This was quite evident in the temple shop. The ladies behind the counter were watching their Chinese guests like hawks.

From Todai-ji, we took a walk through a wooded area to the top of a hill. More temples en route.



Bored with the gay ones, I decided to have a straight flash. I was desperate for it.

Do you think I should submit this to the Engrish website, my love? I emailed them with the Kac Shop photograph, but haven't heard a thing!



We were soon at the top. Quite a delightful view. A schoolboy offered to take a photograph of us. We were told to make these V signs with our fingers. Apparently, it makes the subject look cute. He departed our company asking us, "How are you?" We replied accordingly, only for the boy to run off, giggling.



On our way down, we bought some biscuits for the deer. They were ¥150 per pack. And more wafers than biscuits.

As I previously mentioned, the deer are quite tame. As soon as they see a pack of these treats, smell them or hear the unwrapping of the paper keeping them together, they surround their victim.



Patient, they are not. Take too long to unwrap the biscuits and be prepared for a wee nip! Nothing nasty, just a gentle reminder. And they don't particularly care where they bite, either, dear reader, if you catch my drift. Ouch!



Phyllis is the new Doctor Dolittle.



Heading back to the train station, we came upon this adorable young family. That beautiful deer simply did not mind being sat on at all.

We're heading back to Japan at the end of May for a short break. Sterling is really strong at the moment. We're tempted to buy our Yen now, but are not sure if it's the right time to take the plunge as it's suggested UK interest rates might rise another quarter of one per cent at some point within the next two or three months. This news story, although informative, isn't very helpful with our quandary. What would you do, dear reader?

Another man in a quandary is Tony Blair. Should he let the Catholics discriminate against homosexuals? His party faithful would surely advise him, no. However, the word on the street is that once he leaves office, he's going to convert to Catholicism, like his wife. Dare he upset the leaders of the gang he wants to join? His wife, acting as a QC has worked on behalf of gay people in the past, making accusations of discrimination, but she's never, to my knowledge, accused the Catholic Church of discrimination. Would she do so, dear reader, if this new legislation passes through the Commons and Lords without amendment?

Monday, January 22, 2007

1984

On this day in 1984...

The
Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous "1984" television commercial.

We've come a long way, baby. Without the mouse, the computer, the internet, you and I, dear reader, would not know one another. Reason enough to celebrate, I think.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lay all your love on Fib Sunday

Should you hear the air attack warning, please play Fib Sunday.

Either that, or do something equally as outrageous. Life is precious, dear reader. Don't waste it. Everything is you.

If you don't know what's going on or indeed what Fib Sunday is, click here to read the original instructions. Go on, you know you want to.

Go on!

In brief:

1) I take the topic as given in last week's final entry, write a Fib and give a new topic.
2) Your reply to the topic is in the form of a Fib in the comment section.
3) You then supply the next topic.
4) The next visitor replies with a Fib on the newly given topic and then provides a new topic and so on...

A Fib is a six line, twenty syllable poem with a syllable count by line of 1/1/2/3/5/8. The only restriction on a Fib is that the syllable count follow the Fibonacci sequence. An example of a classic fib:

One
Small,
Precise,
Poetic,
Spiraling mixture:
Math plus poetry yields the Fib.

Last time, an anonymous contributor left us with the topic of binary - my austere response:

Just
one
number
says nothing;
one and a zero
tells a tale like a thousand words!

Next topic:

Me

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hairkuhillaryday

What a day! Not only is it Haiku Saturday, dear reader, the highlight of my week, but it's the day a gay boy's hair-do got under my skin and it's the day the world realised a lesbian might soon have keys to the White house. Again.

I just found this on You Tube, dear reader - and wanted to share.

Why? Because it poses more questions than it gives answers to a myriad of WTFs I have floating around my empty head.

If you, my love, have any notion as to what might motivate someone to come up with something like this, please let me know. I'm not saying it's wrong or bad. I'm not saying it's fabulous, either, but I am saying I find myself losing grip on the stick of understanding.

One thing I do understand, though, is how great it is that people have such freedom of expression and that, in its own right, is fabulous and reason enough to enjoy such outrageousness. But, forget ye not, all life is outrageous. With no exceptions.

Have a look at William's website after you've looked at the video. Then, please, hen, report back with your musings. However, I will say now, if I do not see the word aghast at least once, I will be killing myself.

Or perhaps not. I want to live to see Hillary Clinton become the first female President of the USA! Alors, c'est magnifique, non? I'm so excited... Yes, you know the rest. You go girl! And this news is fabulous, not only for its own sake, but because it's kept Jade Goody from being the main headline in the news all afternoon. And that can't be a bad thing, can it, dear reader?

Oh. Before signing off... The photograph in the top left hand corner of this article is of my Grandfather and his Mother, my Great Grandmother. Do you think I look like either, dear reader?

Whatever happened to Boy George?

Charlie

Prince Charles. What a fabulous individual. He's fightin' for the planet, ladies! Yes!

The greenest man in Britain has cancelled a trip to Klosters in an attempt to reduce his carbon footprint. Isn't that good of him?

Sadly, he's being forced to go to the USA soon to collect an award for being such a green fella. By aeroplane. Taking a huge entourage of twenty with him. Costing the country an estimated £116,000.00. The poor man. Such hardships.

Perhaps, though, he needs to take a lot of people to carry the award? It might be heavy. And he'll have at least one suitcase to be carried. And he needs the Wiper-Of-The-Royal-Arse to go, too. He can't be expected to wipe his own bottom. Oh, and someone to unpack said suitcase. And someone to take the Royal toilet paper. He can't be expected to use something produced in one of the lowly colonies, surely? I suppose he'll need a few body guards, too, just in case someone throws a cabbage at him. Strange, I thought he'd welcome a cabbage, it being green and all. You know, dear reader, how he likes to talk to plants. And cabbages are plants, you know. But here we highlight his darker side, dearest. Yes, he might like to talk to these poor fellows, but then he cuts them down, in their prime, with an axe! Yes! And then eats them! He makes Sawney Bean look tame! So I suppose, with such behaviour taken into account, he'll need to take his psychologist along, too. Do all these people add up to twenty?

Poor Charles. It's a hard life.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bone

He's on the bone...

Notorious nymphomaniac Sarah Cracknell and sex-mad Marc Almond have teamed up to record a version of Dusty Springfield's I close my eyes and count to ten.

Exciting! Nice to release a cover version!

Drag

Take That, dear reader, are back in the limelight. Not to be outdone, Robbie Williams is back with his irrepressible personality in the form of a new single and a bizarre in drag appearance on You Tube.

Jason Donovan was once loved by the gays. They turned on him after the The Face fisco. Robbie might have worried we'd turn on him, as well, after suing a newspaper for suggesting he sucked off a bloke in Manchester. Don't worry, Rob, you're not Jason and history isn't about to repeat itself.

We fell out of love with Jason because he thought his sexuality (and affair with Philip Schofield) was a big deal. Robbie's never thought it important. It's refreshing.

What's also refreshing is his new album, Rudebox. Although some claim the songs are hit or miss, a stand out track is She's Madonna, the new single. When I first saw his drag video, I hoped it would be just a teaser of what was to come to accompany the single. I wasn't disappointed. You can view it here, hen.

It's undoubtedly the best track on the album. He not only manages to quote Madonna's song titles and lyrics, but parodies them. And with lines like We're having drinks with Kate and Stella, Gwyneth's here, she's brought her fella and She's got to be obscene to be believed - Robbie certainly has a hit on his hands.

But why a song about Madonna?

Robbie used to date Tania Strecker. Before dating Robbie, Tania was seeing Guy Ritchie. He broke up with her on meeting Our Glorious Leader. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, dear reader, but, apparently, Tania told Robbie that Guy's parting words to her were, "Look, you know I really love you, but she's Madonna."

Oh, and can you hear Neil Tennant doing back-up? And can you hear Pet Shop Boys influence in the production? That'll be because they produced it (along with another track on the album, We're The Pet Shop Boys). Isn't it fabulous? Pet Shop Boys, Madonna and Robbie Williams, all rolled into one. Any gay man's (wet) dream.

PS/Saturday 20th January 2007 09:18

EMI demanded You Tube take down the video I'd originally linked. I've found another, here, but be quick, as EMI are bound to ask the same. If they do, just do a search on You Tube. Someone else will have surely uploaded it. I can't understand EMI. Do they not want publicity for Rob?

Whatever happened to Sinéad O'Connor?

Kobe



From Himeji, on Wednesday 20th September 2006, we took a train on to Kobe.

I was unsure how I'd feel about Kobe. A pre-internet pen pal from Yokohama had died in the earthquake of 1995 whilst visiting family. I felt an inert sense of reservation the whole time and had some strange fears to confront, like worrying I'll laugh at a funeral.



Our first port of call was the port area. After a morning of history, it seemed fitting to have an afternoon of amusement, although Makiko, my old pen pal was a constant thought.



The above roller-coaster, dear reader, is intended for children. Phyllis and I are, thankfully, young at heart, so decided to take a ride.

It was fabulous. I'm sure our screams and laughter could be heard for miles around. The men in charge of the ride certainly seemed to find a certain joy, by the looks on their faces when passing them, at our hilarity.



Next was the big wheel. I hate big wheels, but buoyed up by the thrill of the roller-coaster, I decided to take the plunge.



Ian enjoyed it.



I was a mess.



From the amusement park, we walked on further around the port area. The above boat filled me with delight. I couldn't find out much about it as the vast majority of information provided was in Japanese, but I could work out that it was a prototype for something fast on the oceans! And very Thunderbirds.



The above image, dear reader, was taken at the Earthquake Memorial Park - a section of the port area left untouched after the earthquake. Very moving. I thought of Makiko. Having no idea how, I pondered the end of her life.

Isn't life cruel and simply a series of shitty messes? It begins with strife and always ends the same way.



I took a photograph of this bizarre tower. I've no idea what it is.



And also have no idea what this drink is or why I photographed it. Life, dear reader, is a mystery. Everyone must stand alone.

Civil


John Barrowman and his partner, Scott Gill, recently entered into a civil partnership.

Click here to see the full OK! article, including lots of fabulous pictures.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Madonna

Our Glorious Leader is collaborating on her new album with Pharrell Williams, Andre 3000 from Outkast and Snoop Dogg. Really.

Sick




I woke up this morning, about 06:30, when the radio-alarm clock launched James Naughtie into our bedroom. I felt like I'd only just got off to sleep and was somewhat annoyed. Ian was laying close with his back to me, my arm draped over him. I believe this is called spooning. He was warm and soft. I knew he'd turn the radio off very soon and that would mean he'd get up. It indeed did happen. All of this, I suppose, happened in just a few seconds, but on waking, seconds sometimes feel like hours. This is good when you're feeling funky, but this morning, dear reader, I was not.

I've been poorly for an absolute age, since Christmas, I suppose, and am getting a bit sick of it, now. Still, my throat is somewhat better this morning. Sadly, throat is replaced by bottom - I've got the shits.

Before leaving for work, Ian brought me a glass of apple juice and some pain killers. I popped the pills and drank down the juice. They soon kicked in. But I was restless. I couldn't get comfortable in bed, so went downstairs to watch the telly.

After ten minutes of morning trash, fatigue seemed to overtake me. Laying on the sofa, I felt myself drifting off to sleep. No good! I knew I shouldn't be sleeping. Sleeping in the day makes for an unpredicatble night. I went upstairs, took a picture of the snow, uploaded it to my blog, answered some emails, took a book from my chest of drawers and read a few pages. Discomfort. Short attention span. Put book down.

I'm still in my pyjamas and goonie, dear reader. Ian took the dogs for a quick trot this morning, but that's all the walking they've done today. I feel terrible about this, but there's not much I can do about it. I'm so tired. Lacklustre is my word of the day.

The poor dogs. They still need to do a yellow and/or brown! All I could do was to let them out into the front garden. And I've taken pictures to prove that they've made toilet.

The snow is turning to slush now. I think it will melt within twenty four hours. Such a shame. But perhaps better that way than snow that lasts for weeks and weeks. It turns a horrid, dirty colour. It gets compacted. It turns to ice. Ice is only good in a gin and tonic. It's not good on the ground.

I may well sleep this afternoon (knowing full-well that I'll be paying the price tonight). I've only got apple juice and a custard slice in my belly to sustain me. I'm fading, now.

And there's not much going on this afternoon to keep me interested. Though this evening, there's Celebrity Big Brother to look forward to. I say look forward with a sense of S&M. I've grown to like watching CBB in the same way that I like to watch horror movies. Jade Goodey is both scary and horrific. The Lost Boy has some interesting thoughts on that particular programme. Click here to read them. As does China Blue. Read her musings on that particular shower of cunts here.

Enjoy.

Curious. Although CBB is full of the most vile and stupid creatures on earth, people love watching it and love talking about it. I'd like to know why. Do you know why, dear reader? If you do, please tell me.

Snowing!


Look what Minge woke up to!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winner

Please pray, if that's your thing, for Michael Winner.

He's been taken ill and there are rumours flying about that he might have to have a leg amputated.

Click here for the full news story.

Go on, you know you want to.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tubes

My top ten French and Saunders sketches as found on You Tube this afternoon (in no particular order):

1

2

3

4

5

6

7


8

9

10

I would have included the Misery rip off, but could only find it in two parts - and this would mess up my list. You know the perfectionist I am when it comes to lists, dear reader! Anyway, you can find part one here and part two here. I've also failed to include Lucky Bitches and I Should Be So Opera Lucky as I uploaded them earlier today. So, more of a top forteen than a top ten. Enjoy.

Which was your favourite? Sonia? Baywatch? Vera Drake?

My all time favourite simply has to be Lucky Bitches. It means so much to my sister and I. We'd pretend to be Joanie and Jackie all the time, whenever we had a few spare minutes, quick as a flash, the leopard print jump suits would come out.

Lucky

Bitches

Tony

Blair loses touch with the people shocker!

Click here for the story.

Then either laugh or cry. The choice, my dear reader, is up to you. The sooner we're rid of Bambi, the better. And to think, I used to adore this man.

Mark

I'm Helen Stevens!

I'm having a party and the other tenants are there and a few friends. We'd like you to join us!

Holiday

Monday was Martin Luther King Day in the USA.

He had a dream - and although black people no longer have to sit at the back of the bus, there's still a lot to be done. Sadly, in our selfish society, righting the many wrongs left undone isn't such an easy task. An example? It took a veto-proof majority vote in Congress before Ronald Reagan would sign the legislation creating the holiday in 1983.

Click here to read more on Rand's fabulous blog.

Wireless

LIVING PROOF THAT THE SCOTS ARE THE MASTER RACE

Article from New Scientist:

After having dug to a depth of 1000 metres last year in a field in County Cork, Irish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 1000 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Irish, in the weeks that followed, English scientists dug to a depth of 2000 metres in Essex, and shortly thereafter headlines in the English newspapers read, "English archaeologists have found traces of 2000 year old fibre-optic cable and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech digital communications network a thousand years earlier than the Irish".

One week later, Scottish newspapers reported the following: "After digging as deep as 5000 metres in a peat bog on Rannoch Moor, Scottish scientists have found absolutely nothing. They, therefore, have concluded that 5000 years ago, Scotland's inhabitants were already using wireless technology."

Resolve



In the year 2007 I resolve to:
Wank as often as possible.



Get your resolution here.

Unity


Edinburgh belongs to me.

Weegies tend not to live in Edinburgh. There's a pride in their hearts that would make them feel stupid in admitting that their postcode had changed from G to EH. But there are lots of people from all over the world who've come to live and work in Edinburgh who have apride in turning the world inside out. Walking from my house into the city centre, I walk through Cape Town, Porto, Harare, São Paolo, Margate, Taipei, Osaka, Kraków, Casablanca, Tel Aviv, Marseille, Louisville, Cancun, Melbourne, Mumbai, Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Ottawa, Willemstad and Lima.

Therein lies my pride.

I'm not Scottish, I'm not British, I'm not even a European. In my heart, I'm an internationalist - and that's why Edinburgh belongs to me.

Alex Salmond is everything I am not. He is a nationalist. Instead of looking out, he looks in. It's my opinion that his view is inward looking and not outward because of the heavy burden of greed, hate, jealousy and lust for power.

Today is the anniversary of the Act Of Union. Well, the act didn't actually take effect until 1st May 1707, but it was three hundred years ago today when the treaty was accepted by the Scottish Parliament. Today should be celebrated, certainly not mourned.

Elections take place, here in Scotland, this coming May. It looks as though the Act Of Union will be a hot topic in the run up to this election. Some polls suggest independence is likely for Scotland, some polls suggest the SNP might take power in Scotland, some polls suggest opposite outcomes for both questions.

It seems identity plays a large part in the debate. Are we Scottish or British? Most Scots, it seems, would call themselves Scottish. I'd call myself Scottish, but I'd also call myself British, European and, as I said before, an internationalist. I can call myself any number of things. Calling myself a brown-eyed man does not stop me from also being a 5'10" man. I am both. But I am neither. I am a man. And furthermore, I am a man of the world. I may call myself Scottish, but I am an internationalist. There is a very big difference. What I call myself and what I am can be two different things, or the same thing. That's pluralism.

The Act Of Union brought peace and prosperity to this island, albeit for a Catholic blip, united people in a common cause and added to the strength of Scotland and England in The Kingdom Of Great Britain.

With the real possibility that England and Scotland, after the death of Anne, could each have a different monarch, war on this island seemed almost inevitable. After the failure of The Darién Project, Scotland's bankruptcy also seemed inevitable. The Act of Union saved all British islanders from death and starvation. This is a point that should not be ignored.

The Act Of Union, I think, has been a successful experiment. I see no reason to end it. We share risks, rewards and resources.

The SNP claim independence would be good for Scotland. They talk of North Sea oil. Scotland, without union, would have had no mney to drill for oil in the North Sea. Does Alex Salmond intend to repay the Darién debt to the British government? With interest? It, clearly, is ridiculous. We'd have had no access to oil in the North Sea without union. One clear example of how union has worked.

Leaving the union may well be good for Scotland (though I can't see it myself) but the reasons for doing so are entirely selfish. The SNP claim we'd be better off without England. We'd keep all the North Sea oil revenue for ourselves. Great! Well, ok, let's call for Pictish independence. We'd keep all the North Sea oil for ourselves and Glasgow would go to pot.

Ridiculous and silly.

It's not a good time in the story of the world to cut ourselves off from others, stand alone or act selfishly. It's time to continue to hold hands with our friends and join hands with others, making friends with others.

Sure, the Scottish economy is different to the English. But the Edinburgh economy is different to the Glasgow economy. The Morningside economy is different to the Niddrie economy. Does Alex Salmond think that Niddrie should have independence?

Independence means peril and chaos. It's time to come together, join with others and work as a unit. As much as our union with En
gland has been a resounding success, the European Union has been a success. The SNP recognise this and would adopt the Euro at some point. Hypocrisy is not a good trait in a political party and I believe this is where the SNP falls down.

Why and how, within the EU, would independence do Scotland any favours?

Strength is in unity. It's time to go forwards, not backwards.

This is a happy day.

For more information, click here to watch a piece about union and independence. Click here to listen to a short radio broadcast about bribery in the discussions for the Act Of Union. Click here for a BBC news article about the anniversary and here for a fabulous wee quiz.

Of course, the UK is far from perfect. Northern Ireland has an assembly, as does Wales. Scotland has its own parliament. But England has no parliament, no assembly. No equality. No justice. Federalism is the only answer. But that's a whole other kettle of fish and perhaps something for another day.

Is time running out for the United Kingdom? Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Where?


Where is it? Any ideas, dear reader?

No prize for the first person to get it right, but they can claim to be a shining star in the black sky of intelligence.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a very important day. Be sure, dear reader, I'll be blogging about it, that subject which is very close to my cold, black heart.

For a teaser, click here to listen to a segment from today's radio and prepare for 明日!

In other news:

I'm about to turn word verification back on. Some anonymous spammer seems obsessed with my Donnie Darko post from many moons ago and advertises filth there at least once a day. I've religiously gone in, day in, day out and deleted said marketing, but am a bit tired of it now, so will rely on electronic measures for a while.

I'll turn word verification off again sometime soon. When the spammer's given up. And I hope they do. What's attracting them to my Donnie Darko musings is beyond me.

Six

Bethany would have been six years old today.

You might remember my previous post about her, how Mum came across an old copy of Best magazine...? Well, you can read the actual article here.
Have tissues at the ready. It's very sad indeed. To read Dan's post about that very strange story, click here.

Alan and I have both sobbed over wee Bethany's story in the past, it's broken our hearts, so goodness only knows how Jo and Dan get by. But get by, they do, somehow.

Click here and here to see birthday tributes to Bethany from her amazing Parents.

Wigs

Which dandy-esque yet surprisingly straight holiday-maker-cum-designer and which heavenly, earthly, dancing Ulsterwoman both wear wigs? Good ones, I'll grant you, made by the same woman in West London. Her prices start at an incredible two thousand pounds for a simple hairpiece and average a maximum of fifteen thousand pounds for a full syrup.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Whatever happened to Me & My?

Marmalade



I managed to get hold of some Seville oranges a few days back, Monday or Tuesday, not sure, so, yesterday, Phyllis and I set about making some of Paddington Bear's favourite sandwich filling: marmalade.



Take 1kg of seville oranges. Halve them and juice them. Then, with a dessert spoon, scoop out the pith and pips, leaving something of an empty shell. You don't need to be too meticulous about that, though, dear reader. Any remaining pith attached to the skin will be dissolved during boiling.



Meanwhile, slice the orange peel into strips; thick, thin or medium - the choice is yours.



These strips are medium.



Place the pith and pips in a medium saucepan with one litre of water. Place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Once this is achieved, turn the heat down to as low a point as you can get it, simmering, with the lid on at a tilt (allowing a little steam to escape) for an hour.



After the hour, pass the contents of the pan through a sieve, forcing as much as you can through with a spoon. Get as much as you can as this divine mess contains copious amounts of pectin - and it's the pectin that makes the marmalade set, dear.



While the pith and seeds are cooking, dear reader, place the shards of peel, the juice from the oranges and the juice from one large and juicy lemon in a large and roomy jam pan along with one and a half litres of water and your messy pectin-rich mixture.

Pop the pan onto a high heat and bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about two hours. The peel should be soft enough come the end of the cooking time to easily break apart between your thumb and finger.



Once the two hours are up, add 2kg of sugar. I used jam sugar with added pectin. This means less boiling time, a clearer/brighter marmalade and a better set.



Keep the heat very low at this point. The marmalade must not begin to boil or even bubble before all the sugar has completely dissoved. If the marmalade boils too soon, crystals of sugar will appear in the end product. This won't be very nice. In fact, it will be vile.

Keep stirring with a wooden spoon. You don't want your marmalade to catch, doll.



Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan up to a rolling boil on a very high heat. A rolling boil means a bubbling pan that won't be stirred down.

Pop two or three saucers in the freezer or ice compartment of your fridge, hen. You'll need these to test for a set, later.

If you've used sugar with added pectin, you'll probably only need to boil the marmalade for one or two minutes to reach setting point. If you've used ordinary sugar, you'll probably need about fifteen minutes of boiling time.

For a rough idea, take a wooden spoon, stir it around in the marmalade. Hold it off and let the drips run off. If the final drip simply drops into the pan, your marmalade is not ready. However, if the final drop hangs from the spoon, either refusing to fall or taking a very long time indeed, your marmalade is probably set.



If you think the marmalade might be set, turn out the heat and pop a wee spoonful onto a cold saucer retrieved from the freezer, then return it. After a minute or two, take it out again and have a look. You can tell if you've got a set by pushing the mixture with your finger. If it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, re-light the pan and return it to a rolling boil for another couple of minutes.



Once you're confident of a set, decant your jam into jars which have been sterilised with boiling water and pop a lid on straight away. You'll then get a lovely vacuum seal which will aid the preservation of your delicious home made marmalade, of which you should have about three kilos.



I sometimes make wee variations to my recipe. While the peel is cooking in the water, I sometimes add a tea-bag, sometimes a split vanilla pod, sometimes a cinnamon stick or sometimes a shot of whisky. Another variation I like it to replace 250g of the sugar with dark brown sugar. The end result is quite fabulous.