Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Ice Mallet

Having decided, by the tail end of last week, to buy a new computer, Ian popped into Scotsys in Glasgow on his way home from work last Friday and picked one up.
We are now the proud owners of a new iMac.  It works like a dream and has been no trouble at all.  Although it promises to whip some up.  New house, new baby; new computer, new virtual presence.  I've taken the plunge and invested in a .mac account.  I get an email address, the ability to instantly upload from iPhoto to the web and a huge chunk of web space...  I'm thinking of using it to blog.

On Saturday, Ian put together a highlights package from my niece's eighteenth birthday party.  Thankfully, my singing is unheard.  Without going too far down the philosophical road, reliving the experience of being a woman, if only for an evening, has me once more wondering what it feels like for a girl.

So, dear reader, that was Friday and Saturday.  Today is Sunday and time for The Sunday Mallet!  If you didn't know, it's a word association game played out in the comments section. For the original instructions, please click here.  For something vulgar, please click here.

Last week, Salty Sailor left us with vanilla.  The first word to pop into my mind: ice.  Now, my love, it's over to you...!

Girls

Friday, September 28, 2007

Lists

Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a fan of lists and am mad for constructing them. Not having done so in a while (I've resisted temptation so many times to avoid being predictable and boring) and being inspired to do so by this article, here is my current top ten most fabulous albums:

10 Cindy Lauper - The Body Acoustic
9 Bent - The Everlasting Blink
8 Amy Winehouse -
Frank
7 Sarah Brightman - Dive
6 Kate Bush - Aerial
5 Saint Etienne - So Tough
4 Sandra - My Favourites
3 Madonna - Confessions On A Dancefloor
2 Liza Minnelli - Results
1 Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour

I am a fickle person, though, dear reader. If asked to compile this lis
t yesterday or tomorrow, ten different entries might appear.

Radio 1 is soon to be forty years old. That's only a few years older than me! Scarey! Of course, with that in mind, it's no surprise to learn that the station has long since ceased to be my favourite. When tuning in now, usually by chance, I quickly spin the dial again on hearing nothing but a horrible racket. Queer. That's how my Mother used to describe it when it was the only station to which I'd listen back in the 1980s.

Actually, that's not quite true. I'd sit at the old hi-fi with my finger poised over the play and record buttons on the cassette deck with the tape wound to just the right place, where clear ended and brown began. Sing Something Simple would end and the Radio 2 continuity announcer would hand over to Radio 1 in FM. And the top 40 countdown would begin!

Once a good song began, I'd start recording and pause on a beat just before I thought Bruno Brookes was going to start speaking (talking over the music really cheesed me off). If something came on that I didn't know, I'd record it anyway. If, halfway into the song, I realised I didn't like it, I'd rewind the cassette and cue it up, again, right on a beat so that seamless playback was guaranteed. Usually, pause on, pause off, just to lose Bruno. How, now, I wish I'd kept him. And all those C90 cassettes.

Once the Network Chart programme began on 2CR, I'd sometimes flip between stations, just to see which station said my favourite son
g of the day was doing best. Pet Shop Boys often did better on the BBC resulting in me berating the Kid Jensen fans at school for their poor taste.

I wonder if anyone listens to any singles rundown programmes anymore. For me and other people of my age, such shows were the only place we could hear our favourite music in good quality sound. These days (There I go again, sounding like an old fart) the youngsters can find their favourite music at the drop of a hat on interactive television, You Tube, the internet in general, virtual jukeboxes and a myriad of different radio stations.

And I suppose, my glee in hearing the UK's forty top selling singles in crystal clear FM is comparable, now, with, well, nothing, only perhaps the omnipresence of music to any listener's ear where ten years ago we had to go into a shop, hand over money and take a CD home with us.

In the 1980s, I'd have to wait all week to hear the music I loved. In the 1990s, I had to wait as long as it took me to go into town and then back home again on the bus or on my motorbike. Now, gratification is instant. If I want something, I can click and have it.

No wonder, then, that we've all run out of patience and the world is an uglier, grumpier and less desirable place to live in.

How strange that a trip down memory lane over the way I listened to the radio could produce something vaguely philosophical.

Italian

I began the second day of my adult education programme yesterday, dear reader. At ten o'clock, Digital Imgage Editing for Apple Macintosh Computers kicked off with half the machines out of action. Of the machines that did work, half wouldn't allow a user to login. Of those that did allow a user to login, half failed to launch Photoshop elements. Meaning two people were able to take part in the class, fourteen were not. So our very impatient, joyless, stern and severe tutor sent us home.

I did not go home. I went to Henderson's for a lunch of vegetable curry with brown rice and then on to Costa opposite The Mound for a double espresso. While there, I switched on my mobile telephone and found I had a voicemail from Pat. I called her back. She'd been ill but no virus was able to squash the enthusiasm she has for her grandson's theatre career. She spoke to me about his appearance in Footloose with a vivacity rarely heard these days.

Shit. I know I'm old. Only old people say these days.

I'd have taken the opportunity to see him in Footloose while Ian and I are in London next week, though we're unable to. Our free time does not match the times he's on stage. So that's that. Traurig aber wahr.

From Costa, I walked across to the National Theatre of Scotland to begin my history of art course. I did wonder if we'd begin with cave paintings, but we did not. No, instead, our introduction was with medieval Italian art. We spent two hours looking at approximately six paintings. How, I'm not sure, but our delightful tutor had a lot to say. She was always interesting, insightful and brought a realism to the art as previously unseen. It was quite clear to me and to the other seventeen middle class ladies in my company that Agnes has a love for her work which most working people would be jealous of. Not only love but passion.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gunk

Guten tag, huren!

Did you see Tribe last night? It was fabulous. Just when I though biofuels might save the planet, I'm shown how they're actually wrecking it.

I went to see Dr Bermingham (not Birmingham) this morning. We discussed my ongoing chest/coughing/mucus problems. I told him that I've a notion I'm allergic to dairy. Or at least, I have an intolerance. Or maybe wheat. My ever fabulous GP told me there's only one way to find out. I have to consume some and see what happens. But in a controlled experiment, of course. The only trouble is, I don't want to. I've avoided wheat and dairy since yesterday and to be frank, I'm fine. Well, not perfectly fine, there's still a wee something up, but nothing like twenty four hours ago. At its worst, I feel like I'm drowning in gunk, my throat is killing me and I feel more depressed than a lesbian with super-long fingernails.

I'm not too worried about this. Dr Bermingham (I think his name is Mark) told me the symptoms of such allergies/intolerances usually manifest themselves pretty quickly. They can dissipate over a period of hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks. It all depends on what my body doesn't like and how it's reacting to it.

Of course, it's still not a given fact that I am allergic to a certain foodstuff or group. To be sure of this, I have to have an allergy/intolerance test which I will arrange soon (it's not available on the NHS).

And he also explained that the unusually high number of sinus and chest infections I've suffered with this year can all be explained away by the disgracefully large amount of mucus I'm producing because of this allergy. It's a perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. The nasty airborne cunts fly into my nose and throat when I breathe in and immediately find a nice home for themselves, somewhere wet, warm and full of food. Then, I suppose, they start having it off and having babies. Yuck.

At least I now know it's not all in my head. I was beginning to wonder. No, seriously. A cough can irritate the back of the mouth and throat. And an irritation can make for a sore throat. And a sore throat can make the best of us cough. See how my mind works, dear reader?

I'm to go back and see Mark in a few weeks. He told me he'd be interested to know how this develops. How kind.

And his likeness to Salty Sailor is as deliciously disturbing as ever. It's uncanny. Incidentally, you should click here for his very interesting article on air transport and taxation. And while I'm on the subject of blogs, my comedy partner has just begun a new one: Broken Chalk.

I thank you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

£50.00

I earned a rather tasty fifty pounds today. And for only forty five minutes work. Well, I say work, it actually wasn't.

I've been many things to many people, dear reader, but never a guinea pig to a professor. Until today. Within the confines of Edinburgh University's King's Buildings Campus, I pretended to be three people, all with a desire to interact with automated telephone based services!

One of my alter egos got to muck about with a voice recognition service, another with a push button system and a third with a combination of them both*. My telephone conversations were highly entertaining, both for myself and the operator I sometimes spoke with on the other end of the line who was barely able to stifle his hysterical laughter!

I felt like an actor, it must be said, and a bad one. In a soap opera. A daytime soap opera. I pretended to be three different people. The guy with whom I interacted pretended to be three people. Pure farce. Still, farce or no farce, I got paid for it. I never thought I could have so much fun prostituting myself.

The money almost covers the price of my Wicked ticket which I shall see on the weekend after next. I'm so excited, dear reader, I could... Yes, you know the rest.

*I know it's not strictly possible to have three alter egos, but I don't care frankly.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Education

I began two adult education classes today, dear reader, courtesy of Edinburgh City Council. They're a kind bunch of people.

The morning commenced, for me at any rate, at five minutes to eight. The radio-alarm kicked in, right on cue, with the ugly voice of a Today presenter. I was immediately flustered. I continued to be flustered while getting washed, dressed and ready for my day of erudition.

Where's my flask? Have I got a spare pen in case my favourite runs out? Which apron shall I sacrifice to clay?

I suppose I should be grateful for a hurried morning of agitation. With time on my hands, I'd have been able to think and to ponder. Thinking is no good for a stressed Minge. No. I usually end up in a right state. The best way to avoid turmoil is to be swamped; a full plate.

I could feel my heartbeat getting harder and louder once I was ready at my front door, though. For the first time in a long time, I thought of a cigarette. But it was only a brief thought after rubbing my tongue over my teeth.

I hate meeting people. I hate to be the centre of attention. I hate introductions.

Meeting people and introductions were surely the order of the day and with my camera still in the hands of its manufacturer for repair, I would surely be the centre of attention turning up to a photography class without a camera. I think Ian could see all this flooding through my tiny mind so did his best throughout the car journey to keep me chatting about our ongoing detox. Yes, I had a headache. Yes, I was hungry. Yes, I needed a coffee.

Scared, sweating like a paedophile in a schoolyard, I entered the South Bridge Resource Centre and immediately made my way for the toilets. I was desperate for a waz and to wipe my face. I managed to do both rather quickly and then returned to the main reception area to find out where to go and how, if the need came, to escape as quickly and as easily as possible.

Hurrah! Only a few metres away: Computer suite 1. And two old women and a very old man entering before me.

Old people. I'm not scared of old people. I quite like old people, actually. I suppose, in that respect, I'm ageist. I can't help it. It's just the way I am, my lamb. Old people have never been a threat to me. And in circumstances where I have been threatened, there were old people
coming to the rescue. One could even argue, actually, that a very old person saved my life. Thursday. Pension day in a post office I once worked at. An armed robbery. But lets not go there. It was a long time ago.

My first class of the day. Digital photography. A daytime class, so I expected middle aged housewives and pensioners. I was right to do so. I was the youngest person there. Two other women in their forties or fifties. The rest (one man and a handful of women) were very old. The tutor, Neil, was nearer my age than any other member of the class, though the distance was still considerable.

I was immediately at ease. As much as I hate clichés, I often use them, and I wonder now what all the fuss was about.

It was a fabulous class. My worry over not having my camera soon vanished once that wee matter was aired. The tutor had enough to deal with. Many of my fellow students had never taken a single photograph with their digital cameras. One woman didn't even know how to switch it on.

What fun.

Yes, my fears were allayed with the presence of the elderly but my heart skipped a beat on realising I was surrounded by the middle classes and one or two people who thought they were or would like to be! I adore middle class people. I find them exciting and interesting. I was not disappointed. The first hour of the two hour class was basically a question and answer session; a free-for-all. Hilarious. Sentences began with my very expensive camera or my husband and I or mine is much bigger than that. In the room, I was smiling, in my mind, I was giggling.

So with no camera, I had to team up with someone else once we were invited to used the computers to experiment with editing software. This was doubly hilarious for me. The tutor, who seemed an open, honest and broad-minded man, didn't consider that a bunch of people who, in most circumstances, hadn't moved on from inserting batteries into their cameras, might know how to switch a computer on. I added naïvety to my list of Neil's attributes.

My team mate was a middle aged lady with a strong French accent though for whom, it seemed, English had become her first language. As luck would have it, the computers we were using were Apple Macs. eMacs, to be precise. We were busy uploading photographs of her very Morningside (and very beautiful)
garden. On changing seats to enable my new found friend better access to the mouse, we noticed no-one else had proceeded beyond the login screen. Oops. Were we going to be branded the class swots? It seemed not. What I love about the middle classes is their observance of all things polite. They may hate you, dear reader, but they will smile at you and tell you how well you're doing. But take them too far and it will all come spilling out.

Should I worry? Will it all come spilling out? Or can these people stand me for ten hours over five weeks?

My lunch break lasted an hour, during which I ended my detox. The headache was just too much. Some people might like the feeling of having their head in a vice. I do not. At the top of Infirmary Street, I found Caffé Nero and indulged in a double espresso. Within moments, my headache was nothing but a memory.

And so to the afternoon. And pottery.

Still slightly anxious and nervous, yes, but by now I'm feeling relatively buoyed up by my matin confidence boost.

I was the second person to arrive at the pottery room. Waiting for me was a lady in her mid to late fifties. I was delighted in finding her, also to be middle class. Though my delight was short lived. She was not the stereotypical middle class person I'd come to love. She told me how she remembered coming to the building we were in when she was a child to wash for it had formerly been a public bath. No, not a swimming pool, dear reader, but a place for people to come to take a bath and wash themselves when such facilities were not present in their own homes.

Throughout the pottery class, my new friend continued to feed me more morsels from her very interesting life story as we built coil pots. She'd lived all over the world and seen many different changes to her life. Just as Ian had earlier kept me from having a panic attack, my pottery partner kept me calm with her fabulous stories.

So, I suppose she was middle class. She bought her knickers in Marks and Spencer, went to a salon to have her hair coloured and owned neither a screwdriver, spanner nor hammer. But there was no air of snootiness about her. She did not read the Daily Mail. She did not choose her friends on the basis of their age, race, religion or nationality.

Opposite me, though, once the class had begun, was a bored middle class wannabe who'd come along with her hen-pecked husband. I could tell, quite early on, that they'd bought their council house, went on holiday to Egypt and liked to be seen in Sainsbury's. Her dress jewellery was large and ostentatious. Her sulphurous perfume filled the room in seconds.

But they were harmless. And dull.

Other potters were a mentally and physically disabled man in a wheel chair with his carer, a young single woman, an older man (and a possible mary) and continuing from last year: a Japanese girl who was obsessed with the potter's wheel and an Earth Mother who was warm and talkative.

Our tutor, Sheena, reminded me of an art teacher I'd once had in senior (comprehensive) school. She was flamboyant, attentive, interesting and interested in her pupils. Her hair was tied back with a cheap clip, she wore a man's shirt and had embroidered flowers on the back pocket of her black denim jeans.

I ache for my classes to continue. Sadly, they may not. We've not crossed a threshold in either class for an acceptable number of students. Unless another photographer and three potters turn up next week, it's over for all over us.

I've my art class/gallery tours and Photograph editing for Macintosh classes starting on Thursday. The good news is that my camera is fixed and is now on it's way back to me. The bad news is that I fear my Thursday classes might be under subscribed, too and my confidence boost will be all too brief.

On my return home from the city, I met up with Ian on the bus. He told me he'd been asked to start working for yet another consultancy. To celebrate, we ordered a take-away from Rick Shaw's and drank the champagne which Robin so kindly gave us while he was here in August.

I went to bed in a drunken stupor.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Milk Mallet

Bonjour!

We hope you feel at home with us.

Do you have a blue tongue?

Last night, my beau and I went out to a band concert in Innerleithen. On offer were St Ronan's Silver Band, St Ronan's Future Band, Stephen Mead and The Kirkintilloch Band. The music was good and there were a lot of hot men blowing horns.

Excellent, peachy, fabulous, wonderful!

But that was yesterday and this is today - and welcome to The Sunday Mallet! It's a word association game played out in the comments section of this post. For the original post and instructions, please click here. Click with caution, though, dear reader. I say it's a link to the original instructions. It might not be. It might be a site all about Rainbow Brite!

Or one of those rating sites!

Who knows?

Last week, David left us with cereal. The first word to pop into my tiny mind was milk. Now, my love, it's over to you...!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Granddad

May the light of this flickering candle illuminate the night the way your spirit illuminates my soul. Granddad, can you hear me?

My Grandfather died in 1981. Twenty six years ago. That's a long time. It would be a very long time for a child, it's long enough for a man.

The only benefit of growing old myself, I think, is that time passes through my hands ever faster. As time speeds up, the pains and heartaches of the past seem ever further away. Back, back, further back in time.

Strange, how when I was an eight year old boy, the six weeks of Summer holiday, of no schoool, well, seemed like an eternity. Now, as a man in his mid thirties, the children seem to have next to no rest from the place I waited years to leave. They may have it bad now, and, a cliché, I know, but life gets worse. As one gets older, the threats become more severe, the possibilities more deadly and the pain more bloody. The only saving grace is that as the quantity of shit builds up and the frequency of its delivery increases, the space between shitty events seems ever larger. Thank the Lord.

And time is a great healer. I don't know how I'd have coped if my Grandfather died while I'm in adulthood. Or, indeed, if it happened recently. And as horrible as the possibility was real, each time I imagine it, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces, my stomach ties itself into a knot and breathing is laboured.

And I face the future, knowing how bad the past is and was, contemplating the death of my Mother. It's a reality I find impossible to face. I simply cannot. I know her end will mean some kind of ending for me, but what that exactly might be, I cannot say. I cannot guess the outcome of something I cannot face. Yet I rush headlong into the future, the unknown and the undiscovered.

Granddad would have known what to do, what might lie in wait around the proverbial corner and how to face it.

I think he'd tell me not to worry; that worry never changed anything. He'd tell me that I need a new philosophy. How people with empty lives need the drama of theatre, cinema and sombre music - and how I need an empty life, achievable, in no small part, by categorising everything in life, even the meaningful, as rubbish.

Buddhism, it would seem, dear reader, is the way ahead. Great truths and no desire. No desire to live a long and happy life, no desire to be loved and no desire to love. When it all falls apart, there's no reason to be upset; it was never desired in the first place. In a world where I want for nothing and nothing is all I have, I am happy.

So, as I go further into life, further towards death, I see that a philosophy of pessimism is not only desirable, but undesirable, too.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dannii!

Dannii Minogue has been beaten by rivals Rumours Of Whores in the stand-off to claim the best-selling album in the United States of America! Rumours Of Whores' No Album shifted 957,000 copies in its first week of sales while Dannii's album, Not Available For Fucking, only sold 691,000, according to Billboard.

Before the albums went on sale Dannii vowed that she would retire from making solo albums if she was outsold by Rumours Of Whores.

She has now axed her European tour and a performance at London Mobo Awards.

'Historic moment'

Speaking to the Associated Press, XWiz said: "It feels overwhelming. Everyone is coming up to me and telling me how proud they are of me. We're going to celebrate by indulging in huge portions of tiramisu."

"To be a champion, you've got to take out a champion," he added.

Dannii Minogue, who is planning a world tour for her album, said: "I am very excited to have participated in one of the biggest album release weeks in the last two years.

"Collectively, we have sold hundreds of thousands of units in our debut week. This marks a great moment for EBM, one that will go down in history."

Earlier this week her spokeswoman said "unforeseen circumstances" had led to the temporary postponement of her post-X Factor tour, but refused to comment on any retirement plans. The singer was also due to perform at the Vodafone Live Music Awards in London, as well as at an MTV show in Germany on Friday. Those appearances have also been scrapped.

On Sunday it was announced that Rumours Of Whores had also beaten Dannii in the UK album charts.

Rumours Of Whores and Dannii Minogue, whose real name is Danielle Jane Minogue, both released their most critically acclaimed albums last week. Dannii threw down the gauntlet last month in an interview with EBM website Electric Tremor.

"If Rumours Of Whores sell more records than me on September 11, I'll no longer write music," she said.

"I'll write music and work with my sister, but I won't put out any more solo albums. Those bastards should have let me sing on Schizophrenic."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Spunk Mallet

Ian and I indulged in our three most ardent passions last night, dear reader:

Reality television
Chocolate
and
Friendship

After lunch, we made a Russian Forest Gateau. By late afternoon, it was cool enough to add the cherry jam and topping, which we did and then headed over to Armadale to watch The X Factor with Alan!

What a fabulous experience. I so adore watching people make fools of themselves which X Factor would-be contestants seem to do with gay abandon. The reasonable to good singers aside, are the other wannabes mad or are there actually people out in the world telling these idiots that they can sing? I don't really care, to be frank - it does make fantastic television.

Not only did Alan furnish us with party food and copious amounts of booze, but also with a Fisher original! Yes, the most fabulous watercolour. A nautical scene, as one might expect from one so salty, executed with flair and resulting in an amazing art work which I shall treasure for the rest of my life.

Last night was so much better than the night before. My neighbour from hell, at gone one o'clock in the morning, was playing loud music, shouting and screaming. At eight minutes past the hour, after lying in bed for well over an hour, I got up, put my dressing gown on and knocked on her front door. After my third attempt, she opened the door.

"Would you mind turning the music down please? I can't sleep for the noise."
"That's your fucking problem."
"I'm sorry?"
"Ah, fuck off you English bastard."
"Listen, you! It's gone one in the morning and I can't sleep for all the noise that you're making."
"Aye, like I say. Your problem."
"It'll be your problem when I call the police, and I shall if you don't pipe down."

At which point, my lady's friend comes to the door and raises her hand to thump me! The only reason for the hand staying aloft and not landing upon my face: my vile neighbour grabbed her pal's arm, saying, "Hang on."

Indeed.

I've never lived next to such a shower of retards, anti-social chavs and inconsiderate cunts. And I've lived in a lot of places.

It was viewing time next door today. I felt like putting a CD on at full volume. I didn't, though. I'd never sink to her very low level and I want that house sold as soon as is humanly possible. The sooner they've moved to Tranent the better. There are a lot of schemies there (they once pelted a visiting Father Christmas with stones and dog shit) who will welcome the family from the sewer with open arms.

From the sublime, my lamb, to the ridiculous and welcome to The Sunday Mallet! It's a word association game played out in the comments section of this post. For the original post and instructions, please click here. Click with caution, though, my love. I say it's a link to the original instructions. It might not be. It might be hardcore porn.

Last week, Salty Sailor left us with the topic of Monica. The first word that popped into my tiny mind: spunk. It's over to you, my love.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Open

I like to think I'm open minded and plan on proving the point in this brief post about Scotland.

This evening, Ian and I were discussing how Scotland would be better off as a sovereign state within the European Union. We'd have the Euro, we'd not have to worry a
bout having a Conservative government and the road signs would display distances and speeds in kilometres. We'd more than likely be a republic, too. Fabulous? Yes, for Scotland.

But, you see, dear reader, I'm a unionist at heart. Without a left-leaning Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland would lurch even further to the right. The voice of the Daily Mail reader, although a minority, would have no reasoned socialist viewpoint with which to argue and it would all go horribly wrong South of the border. But why should I worry if I'm living in the Republic Of Scotland? Because I care about the rest of my country, I suppose. Just as any Scottish nationalist worth his or her salt would worry about something dreadful happening in Edinburgh, even if he or she lived in Aberdeen and never left the granite city.

Although I'm far from patriotic, I still find the very idea of having my country broken up into several parts as upsetting as any Scottish nationalist might balk at Scotland breaking up into Pictland/Kingdom of Alba, Strathclyde, Northumbria and giving the islands back to the Norwegians.

Yes, Scotland might be more progressive and better off leaving it's English yoke behind, but it just feels selfish to me. Like a lottery winner leaving his or her spouse on finding they've hit the jackpot.

"I'm leaving you, now. I don't need you any more."

If we did leave the union and be the cause of its break up, I'd hope the reasons were plucked from a higher branch of the intelligence tree. I'm thinking of the time the Baltic states left the USSR and played their part in its break-up.

Yesterday, the EU announced it had given up on the UK and will no longer force us to use metric measurements. Great. So now our children can be taught to measure in feet, inches, yards and miles; in fluid ounces, pints quarts and gallons.

How many yards are there in a mile, again?

I'm being pulled in two directions, dear reader. The Euro lies ahead of me, LSD behind me. Which is the best way to go?

So, the EU might well have given up on the UK. But they'd not, I'm sure, give up on Scotland. Perhaps it's time Scotland gave up on England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Did I really say that?

Facebook

Facebook was in the news this morning. It seems their loyal band of subscribers (me included) are worried (me excluded) about their personal details being banded about the internet. Click here if you'd like to read the story.

Personally, I don't care who sees my photograph (it's one of very few good ones), finds out how old I am or even knows the size of my enormous cock. I really couldn't care less.

What I do care about, though, is the two hours I wasted there today playing a word association game and answering a series of ridiculous questions. Surely, there are better things to spend two hours on than sitting, staring at a computer screen, clicking a mouse. Still, in those two hours I also managed to track down an old friend from school. So I suppose it wasn't a total waste of time. And then I thought about old school chums from the 1980s and set about finding them, too.

Oh, and after that, I got to thinking. What was I really doing on the Facebook website?

Social networking sites may be places where some people hook up, arrange to meet or gossip, but with telephony and public transport on offer, what's the real reason for most people coming to this website? I can only speak for myself, of course, but I feel it's the last refuge for the lonely, the bored and the friendless. I can log on to Facebook at any time of the day or night and be in touch with people I can call a friend, many of whom I've never even met and wouldn't recognise if I passed them on the street. I (along with other geeks and sociophobes) can pretend that I care about them and they can pretend that they care about me. In a world where we are either too lazy or don't care enough about our friends to pick up the telephone, make a visit or invite people over to our own homes, there's a mirage in the friendship desert called Facebook.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yesterday/today

I can't believe there's so little in the news today about the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001. Next to nothing.

I watched a rerun of Fahrenheit 9/11 on television last night, there's a documentary on Channel 4 this evening about the World Trade Center and after a good dig, I found a story about 9/11 on the BBC news site.

Has the whole thing been forgotten already?

Perhaps it has. Perhaps the mess we've made in Iraq and the mess we're about to start with Iran are more important issues.

Ian and I went to Culross yesterday. It's a wee town over the water in Fife. More a villiage, actually, although Wikipedia describes it as a city.

I wouldn't say we were bored, we've never been that, but we did spend the morning wondering what we'd do in the afternoon
. A wee surf of the internet and the National Trust for Scotland website was all we needed, throwing ideas at us left, right and centre.

The journey was quite short, certainly less than an hour, though not by much. My first port of call was the public toilet. I was desperate for a waz. But I couldn't go in! No! It was ghastly! Dark, stinking and wet. Instead, I did my business in the bushes, eyes darting all around the place to see if someone was coming. I hate doing a tiddle out in the open or, at least, not in a toilet. The reason? There's no way of washing my hands afterwards! So guess what came next? A picnic of sandwiches, Ryvita Minis and fruit! All finger food.

Still, at least I was putting bacteria from my own body back into my mouth and not germs from someone else.

Culross is a beautiful place, almost preserved in time. The only giveaways being the odd car and a bus stop. Being members of the NTS, we got in to Culross Palace for free. Not only that, we were entitled to a guided tour of the town, too (highlights: Town House, Captain's cottage and The Study)! Our escort was a wonderful and charming young lady who was a mine of historical knowledge. I commented to her that Culross is like a living outdoor museum. Indeed it is and I shall return to it as soon as I have someone here to whom I might show it off!

The palace was fully equipped with period furniture, fixtures and fittings and a functioning kitchen garden! And how enlightening that was! There were enormous thistles, herbs and vegetables growing rampant. Back inside the palace, we came upon a herbal remedy exhibition. One exhibit was advice on how to cure diarrhoea. With an egg. And the advice wasn't to eat it. Edna was shocked and made a note in the comments book.

We made our way to Fife over the Kincardine bridge. Our return home was made, firstly, in an Easterly direction and then south over the Forth road bridge. Before going home, we popped in to a Nissan Garage near Ikea in Midlothian and had a look at a peculiarly named vehicle. It was quite nice, actually. I was given the impression we'd get a lot of car for our money. We might buy it. Either that, the Honda Civic or an Audi A3.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Nipple Mallet

My camera was sent back to Canon last week to be repaired. Initially, I thought that there was a hair on the lens. I couldn't get rid of it. For advice, I went into Jessops in Newcraighall. The guy there told me to get it cleaned professionally, which I did.

I collected my camera from Camerabase in Morningside (didn't see JK) on Thursday and was told that the lens, body and sensor were as clean as a whistle. However, there was a scratch on the sensor, hence the curious mark on all images produced.

I'm not best pleased, then, with Jessops. I get a thirty quid cleaning bill. All because the guy behind the counter was too lazy to take a wee look at my camera.

I intend to write a stinking letter. I'm quite good at them. I got a £10.00 gift voucher from Waitrose last week. Their Belgian chocolate selection tasted like it had been developed in Kazakhstan.

Armed with my trusty old Sony Cybershot; Ian, the dogs and I enjoyed a couple of hours south of Edinburgh (just North of Innerleithen) yesterday in what could strictly be called our Summer. Having said that, the day wasn't Summer. Don't be ridiculous! No, just an hour...! I've never known a sixty minute Summer before!

We set ourselves down, ate our picnic, read a few lines from our books - and then the black clouds came rolling by.

We were then soon speeding off back to Edinburgh with nought but The Sunday Mallet on our minds. It's a word association game, you see, dear reader, played out in the comments section of this post. For the original post and instructions, please click here. You might find it so exciting, though, that you hyperventilate, so be careful where you click that mouse!

By the way, James IV of Scotland died on this day in 1513. He was the so-called Grandfather of the British state (The Kingdom of Great Britain), all thanks to his marriage to Margaret Tudor, their offspring, the union of the crowns and the Act of Union, 1707. Actually, though, if Britain's the Garden of Eden, Jimmy may well be Grandfather, but the Mother Superior simply has to be ol' Marj. Liz is one of her direct descendants.

Last week, another famous (or maybe infamous?) Scot, the delicious Alan, left us with Diddies. The first word that sprag to mind: NIPPLE.

Over to you, dear reader.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Imperfect

I spent a great deal of the Summer out of Edinburgh, indeed, out of Scotland. I should, of course, being a gay, be able to liken that to Meryl Streep and Out of Africa, but I can't. I'm a gay, yes, but a bad gay. Most gays know which style of top is hot this week and last, which band should be top of anyone's playlist and how to bitch. The best I can do is bake muffins. I'm sorry, it's true.

And I'm waffling. Again. And sorry for that, too.

So yes, I've spent much of the Summer away from home. For a myriad of reasons; to try and rescue my sanity, to spend time with my Mum and to see some sunshine. I'm not sure if I managed any of that, to be frank, but I tried and if I'd not even tried, I'd feel more of a failure now than I actually am.

On the sanity front - spending much of my time here alone with not much to do afforded me hours of tongue examination and my mind went a wondering. Without given facts bu
t plenty on which to ponder, I'd frighten myself in imagining my imminent death on a daily basis. Anyone might imagine I had too much time on my hands. Perhaps they were right.

There's never a dull mom
ent in Bournemouth. Mum's a very lively personality. She likes to push buttons and surround herself with something of a royal court. I've often wondered if she was a queen in a former life and if, perhaps, that's why her son turned out to be a queen, too.

I certainly did not have too much time on my hands in Bournemouth. In fact, I had no time to spare. Mum woke me up, most mornings, quite early. There was always a plan; people to see, things to do, bingo to play. There was no time to worry about what might or might not be.

It was great seeing Mum. When I initially left Bournemouth in 2000, I planned on going back down to Dorset about once a month. I've never actually managed that. Mum's either been too busy to see me or things hav
e been happening up here. Of course, I have been down to England quite often, sometimes for extended periods and Mum's been here. I'm sure it averages out to about as much time as my planned one weekend in four. So I don't feel too guilty over it. Of course, such statistics, as used by many a government, paper over many a crack. I think I've convinced myself that I'm ok with this. I can be positive about it. Indeed, my eldest sister only lives a five minute car journey away from Mum. I see her much more often than my sister does, the bitch.

If 2007 had abeen a better Summer, I'd have been able to fulfil my other desire - to see some sunshine! Get a wee tan, even. No, not possible. Most days were
dull. Overcast skies were the norm and there were as many wet days as there were dry.

But still, there was the bingo! And we won quite a bit. We never left out of pocket, even if we only broke even. One afternoon, Mum, Pat (her wee pal) and I left with just over one hundred pounds. We have a sharing pact, though. If my memory serves me well, we each came away with £34.33 each. Who got the extra penny, I can't say.

Those, I suppose, dear reader, are the bar bones of my Summe
r trip to England.

In my degenerating mind,
it was somewhat different.

Loyal readers of this vile blog may know how my brother's wedding in West Virgina a few years back was a hotbed of hate and homophobia. My Mum still refuses to face facts and accept that her daughter is an evil and twisted bitch with opinions that would make Adolf Hitler look liberal.

I tried, on many occasions, to let sly comments go by the wayside, but once or twice, I did take the bate and debate the point with Mum. Why, I'm not too sure.

I don't have children. I imagine how a woman might feel torn when her children are fighting, but I do imagine and do hope that I'd be able to see right from wrong. No matter how old my children were, I'd like to think I'd intervene and punish where punishments were due, even if said punishment was just a tirade of verbal abuse.

But I'm not a parent. So I don't really know. I cannot judge my Mother. I don't have the ability to walk a mile in her moccasins.

All I am able to take from the Summer is that I don't want to fight with my Mother, I don't want to argue and I don't want another sibling to come between us. I have to accept that Mum isn't perfect. Mum has to accept that her children aren't perfect either. Both sons and daughters.

I love my Mother dearly, even if she is a right wing xenephobe. She's going to be seventy seven years old in November. I don't know how much longer I'll have here with her but certainly intend to treasure whatever time I do have. Quite a poignant statement, actually, especially considering that it's two years ago today that Ian's Mum passed away after a short illness.

There are still some bones I'd like to pick over and contentious subjects I'd like addressed, but I won't let them get in the way of my relationship with Mum. All h
ealth scares taken into account, we might not have that long together. No-one knows what's around the corner. And a cliché, I know, but she or I could get run over by a bus tomorrow.

That said, my sister really should do something about the widening rift she's caused within my family. I've never been one for being buddies with a person simply because we're related, but I do care on some level for my bitch of a sister. If I didn't, all this wouldn't bother me. And I know it bothers Mum. So if that bus did come for Mum or I tomorrow, my sister would have to live out the rest of her life with no opportunity to repair the damage she's done.

And what a lot of damage.

To add insult to homophobic injury, she's forbidden her daughter from telling my Mum (her Gran) that she's a lesbian. My sister's story varies from source to source. She's either blantantly vague on the matter, can't bring herself to tell Mummy, indifferent or insisting Mum doesn't know the truth because she's ashamed of her daughter's lesbianism.

But Mum will find out. It's not a question of if but when. Practically every member of the family knows about my niece. The only person who doesn't seem to know is Mum. Whether it's a slip of the tongue or intentional, she will be told at some point. The only question then remaining will be my Mother's: how come everyone else knew and not me?

I'd really hoped, even in taking the brunt of my sister's hatred, she'd learn something from that American episode. No. She hasn't. She's still a homophobic cunt. I pity her, I really do. But I can't help loving her. I'm some kind of glutton for punishment, I think.

Hey, ho. As Sylvia Mason-James once said to me, live for today, hen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fringe

My pal Robin was up here in Edinburgh back in August. He dazzles Scotland with his presence every year and absorbs the absurdities of the festival fringe with gay abandon.

I try to join him in this frivolit
y as much as is humanly possible.

One of the first th
ings we saw, if not the first was Choon-Hyang: True Love. A youth theatre company brought Korea's most adored traditional love story from Seoul to Edinburgh and joy to my heart. The lovers were sweet, the Mother was the epitome of campery and the teen boys adored drag. Perfect fringe!

In the same venue, a few days later, we saw Kenmac Productions' Company. My favourite piece of the 2007 season. A minimalist stage was all
that was required as the actors knew how to fill it with presence, glamour and beautiful voices. Wonderful. My favourite segment? I've never had a song from musical theatre sung to me before, especially not from the stage, but after Joanne demanding not to be stared at, she stared at me as she launched herself into The ladies who lunch - and continued staring at me throughout.

A magical experience and one I long to repeat.

If Company was my favourite, Seriously was my second favourite. I've written about it before, dear reader, so click here if you'd like to know what I had to say.

Eurobeat - almost Eurovision! The talk of the fringe, apparently, and deservedly so. Indeed, it was almost Eurovision. As kitch and addictive as the real thing. How pleased was I to find my home (for the evening) country of Estonia was the winning entry with Together Again that night in the phone vote (for, yes, the audience is invited to text in their favourite entries)? Very pleased! And very pleased with Estonia myself! What a shame I couldn't have voted for them (no-one can vote for their own country). They were hot, had huge packages and their song was pure Eurovision. Bad english, sentimental and strange. Utterly fabulous.

Mel Giedroyc shone. But not as much as the sparkly costumes. And what costumes! A lycra fiesta! All the gays love lycra, especially on hot men. It all so often leaves nothing to the imagination.

Splendid.

Guilds was an original piece cut from the Gilbert and Sullivan tree and brought to us by Edinburgh Unive
rsity Savoy Opera Group. It was Robin's highlight, I think, though can't be sure. For me, it failed on several fronts. The humour was horribly middle class, some of the actors can only do hammy and everyone about me seemed to be a toff - which I find intimidating. It was especially marred for me by one of the actors sporting a vile and bushy beard. Like Father Christmas after buying too much Just For Men. I hate beards. I really, really do. When I'm Prime Minister, I shall ban them.

Jesus Christ superstar was performed by Marlborough school with enthusiasm, though it lacked depth. The vocals were drowned out by the band and the acting was mediocre to poor. There were some hot teens, yes, if that's your thing. One of the female leads was extremely slutty looking and could have done with a hair wash, but she had a brilliant vocal range. I just loved her voice.

I wanted to
see Orgasm - the musical, but was afraid. I had come to imagine that the whole audience might be encouraged to masturbate inside the venue. This is all very well and I might have been tempted to take part in my teens, but not now, not now that I'm old, bald and fat.

So I didn't go.

Snowflake (100 words for snow, one for sorrow) was the masterpiece I'd come to expect from Castoffs Youth Theatre Group. I thought it would be impossible to top last year's The it boy, but they did. Bringing a range of issues to the attention of the audience with a wild mix of comedy, tragedy and musical theatre could go horribly wrong, but Castoffs pulled it off. Neither silly nor pointless, the cast brought a tear to my eye with a story about anorexia, self-harm and climate change delivered with humour and original songs. The band rocked, literally - and Aisha Iqbal stole the show as Ekoomak, an Inuit Mother with a sad story to tell. Last year, Aisha stole my heart as the hijra. A crush has turned to love!

Castoffs is a theatre group put together by Rotherham Young People's Services. It's a great way of fixing society's ills in some kind of one pot cooking exercise. However, they need seasoning and this would come in the form of professional assistance from someone in the world of theatre. I hope there's someone out there with a charitable heart and the desire to help these youngsters go from strength to strength.

This year, the American High School Theatre Festival was very much a hit and miss affair for Robin and I. Sadly, far more misses than hits. Of the hits (the only one?), Urinetown came top of the pile. The narrator of the piece is a policeman. He was easily the star of the show; a great actor, a beautiful singing voice and hot to boot. Also, he shared some rather touching moments of romance and homoerotica with a fellow police officer, which, to be frank, made the show what it was for me: splendid. A four and a half star performance. I'd have given it five, but the copper kept his clothes on.

Baby with the bathwater, also part of the American High School Theatre Festival was a mockumentary about parenthood, excess and transgenderism. It failed on all three counts, mainly because the actors didn't take the piece seriously. What could have been interesting and fun came across as simply ridiculous.

Still within the AHSTF, Chicken bones for the teenage soup. A comedy without any laughs. Apart from those eminating inappropriately from the actors who, by the looks on their faeces (is that a Freudian slip?), thought themselves idiots to be appearing in this trite nonsense.

And yes, still a part o
f the AHSTF - Is this a test? It certaily tested my patience. A piece about daydreaming during a test. Not very entertaining and leaving nothing for an audience member to take away.

Apollo/Dionysus - Part 1: wine/water & part 2: order/chaos
was
a very strange piece indeed. Of the four cast members, two were nude from the start, one undressed completely halfway through and the fourth member drank wine dribbled from the mouth of one of the original nudes.

I'd like to tell you what it was all about, but I can't. This leaves me with a two fold problem. I'm either stupid and it went over my head or it was utter jibberish. Which do you suppose, dear reader, is most likely?

If this piece was a philosophical stab in the dark, the knife ended up in the heart, not in the brain. Nudity always draws a crowd on the fringe but in a piece about Greek philosophy, our eyes should have been darting all about the space and not fixed on the actors' cocks. I must add, here, that the masturbation scenes were quite disturbing.

I'm not sure what I was supposed to make of the piece or what greater understanding of life it afforded me, but it is clear that getting drunk every day is a bad thing, but just as bad as being a dull, uninterested and bland old git.

Remember: everything in moderation and shit happens. Analyze that.

The Changeling, here presented by Eyeball Theatre could have been a compelling piece about murder and sex. Ultimately, no-one in the audience seemed to have a clue as to what was going on. The worst part for me was the guy with the beard. not only did he wear a mass of loathesome facial hair but he sweated throughout and profusely. He mad
e me feel physically sick. Be sure, if I were alone, I'd have left before the end. It was poor. It's only redeeming feature, as, sadly, was the case with many pieces, was a hot man. I can't recall, now, the characters he played, but he put me in mind of a young Peter Duncan with the voice of Matt Lucas.

Frank and Dolly, for me, was an hour of campery, fun, intrigue and heartbreak. For Rob, sadly, it was an hour of shouting. Frank and Dolly are dancing partners. They enter the stage with Dolly's ballgown covered in vomit. Frank passes through a doorway. Although the audience sees both characters throughout, Frank and Dolly do not see one another.

Is Frank a drag king? A transgendered person? Or a fake? We soon find out, along with a myriad of other things.

Dillie Keane, as ever, triumphs. I adore her.

Gay slave handbook was
, sadly, a piece with promise which went on for far too long and tried to be something it never could be: poignant. Instead, it invited the audience to dive headlong into the depths of depression, sadness and suicide, all thanks to a closeted Mormon and his quest to be normal. For a gay piece, there were surprisingly few mentions of male homosexuality and far too many flashes of the lady's tits. I should have taken Dannii Minogue along. It would have been more her thing than mine.

Into the hoods. If hip-hop and hoodies make you smile, you'd have loved this modern take on Into the woods. For me, Sondheim's masterpiece was ruined by a bunch of chavs who thought they were something special.

Is this about sex? was a very special play about love, romance, cross-dressing and yes, sex. A psychologist's wet dream, for sure, the piece explored sexual identity and sexual politics. I enjoyed it very much and hope Rough Magic return to the fringe next year. Professional and perfectly executed.

Jean Jacques, a pie
ce about M Rousseau was pretentious nonsense. I left before the end, as did two others, leaving an audience of just three. After leaving, I began to wonder, if everyone had left (and they might have after I'd gone), would the piece have continued without an audience?

My filthy hunt was a piece about thrill-seekers. If any thrill-seekers were in the audience, they'd have left disappointed.

The discotivity could have been my favourite piece this year, but I felt utterly cheated as it under-ran by twenty five minutes. A piece that should have lasted an hour ended after ju
st thirty five minutes. Still, Michelle McmAnus was there to entertain, as were the three hot boy dancers with hot bodies and full packets. Oh, what was it about? Yes, the story of the nativity set to old disco hits frm the 1970s and 1980s. It's transferring to the West End (of London) at the end of the year. If I can make it, I'll go and see it again in the hope that the piece I saw was simply an edit of what's to come.

Scarborough. We join the players, quite literally, in a hotel room, cheap and shabby, the sink falling off of the wall along with peeling wallpaper and dodgy Charles and Di memorabilia. He's fifteen. She's his teacher. They've come for a dirty weekend in Scarborough. Everything falls apart before our eyes. Wonderful, moving and ingenious.

Being in the room with the players instead of watching them perform on a stage from a seat in a theatre was a strange experience. Even stranger was having the curtains drawn over my face and James Baxter's crotch pressed up against my mouth and nose. I could actually smell his flesh.

Stonewall. Drag queens riot in 1960s New York. Below the surface, we find the stories behind the tragedies and
triumphs. Rikki Beadle Blair never fails to whip his audience up into a state of euphoria. The lip-synching (in honour of the old-time drag acts, I think), the glitter and the hot men made for an hour of unforgettable theatre.

Do I have a thing about hot men?

I adore the works of Joe Orton and I especially loved About Turn's production of What the butler saw. Absolutley hilarious, the audience were in hysterics from start to end. A saucy seaside postcard made flesh by actors who seemed to be RADA trained.

The only negative thing I'd have to say about the piece was that the company were either not used to or didn't know how to handle the rapturous applause and praise given in whooping and cheering come the end. To be frank, this smacked of arrogance. Perhaps they should be shown how to seem more appreciative and gracious.

I saw other things, besides these here mentioned, though, to be frank, I've forgotten them. The reason? There was just so much and in such circumstances, one tends to remember the good and the bad but forget all that falls between, like pennies in between the cusions on the sofa.

I miss Robin endlessly. He is one of the better friends I've had the good luck to have in my life. It's just so sad that he lives hundreds of miles away in London. Still, Ian and I are heading his way in October. We're hoping to see Wicked, Avenue Q and All about my mother while we're there. Exciting! Nice to see actors in the flesh!

I wonder if any of them will be hot men?