Friday, December 19, 2003

"I'm dancing like a Monkey!"

...which is another way of saying I'm happy and exited, and feel like dancing about in a happy excited manner much like this:

(image shamelessly lifted from here)

...'s all Liz's fault. well OK my mood isn't, that's probably sleep deprivation - I have been far too busy and excited for sleeping the past few days what with LOTR and the impending end of term and going away for the holidays and all, but the shape of the silliness is Liz's fault: on Wednesday, as well as seeing the film, I finally saw a couple of episodes of Invader Zim about which she has raved for some time, anyway its dark silliness really struck a chord, particularly G.I.R. (who's the little dancing guy up there and also Liz's favorite character, singer of The Doom Song, and the reason I heard about the program in the first place) so now my referencial little mind is spouting as much Zim-ish silliness as it can lay its hands on.

Hopefully I'll get some sleep on the train and calm down by the time I reach Doncaster.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

somewhat refreshing...

I'm lucky: I don't get much spam, and most of what little I get goes to a spam-sponge account I have on yahoo, to be filtered out by my clever email program. very little arrives here, but nobody is immune and my gaffe at including 'mailto' links in the last version of this site means that handles on average two or three spam messages a day - a nuisance but hardly an unbearable one, considering.

anyway, I just had my first piece of Japanese spam: a very polite version of the 'a sexy single woman (who does not exist) wants to meet you' hoax: "i have not yet married and still have no children. Maybe we can still be friends? or maybe more??" addressed to a non-existent account at this domain - I almost feel bad for the imaginary young lady in question, barking up the wrong (in this case rainbow-barked) tree like that, but at least, unlike her western (fictitious) counterparts, she's polite about it...

Return of the King

well I'm utterly shattered from a combination of end-of-term fatigue and being up far too late last night, but I'm happy!

The film last night was spellbinding! I went with 'nite, Keith, Liz, out to the big Ster Century cinema in Lieth (to mild protestations from Liz, who in true city-centre-dweller fashion seems to regard any journey she can't make on foot as a heroic undertaking, even if it doesn't actually involve leaving the city.) Since tomorrow is travelling south day for Patricks, and tonight is entirely taken up with the business of getting ready to travel south (like wrapping presents and then finding space in my miniscule luggage for all of them, oh and packing said luggage of course...) last night was my last night with my friends before New Year, and the film made it a memorable one.

I shan't attempt a review because a) I know there are certain people likely to read this before they've seen it, for whom I might spoil things and b) I am shattered (as I believe I mentioned,) and therefore my descriptive powers are somewhat diminished. I will however say that if you haven't already seen it you should go and do so as soon as possible if not sooner, and that I'd pretty much guarantee you'll enjoy it... unless you happen to be my mother in which case you'll thoroughly enjoy all of it except perhaps one of the battle sequences which I suspect might upset you, but I don't want to risk spoiling it by saying how.

Anyway the point is that it's great, and that I managed to see it before going away so I won't have to gag my entire family over christmas to keep them from telling me about it! Of course it did mean that I didn't get home until half past one and because I'm travelling tomorrow (not to mention being quite spectacularly disorganised as always,) I couldn't go straight to bed like a sane person, but instead had to do a bunch of laundry and other similarly exciting jobs before finally colapsing into bed much much later than is right or fair for a working night... don't care though. *big happy grin*

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


I'm in a bad bad mood, I keep telling myself to buck up, and there are all sorts of reasons for doing just that:

1: there are only one and a half more days of work left
2: of these I'll only be expected to actually do anything for a fraction of the time
3: I am going to see Return of the King this evening!

... and so on but every time I manage to gear-shift my mood back to anything approaching 'good', it only lasts about ten minutes before I find I'm fuming to myself again.

Mostly this is because my job entails babysitting concieted self-important spoilt-brats, and that they are more than usually unbearable this close to the end of term, but I think there are elements of a few other things in there too... job stuff mostly, like not having found a new one and such but this whole love-life fiasco that's been going on of late isn't helping either... ranting about it to the ether however seems to have ;) I feel much better, thanks. hopefully that'll buy me non-fume-time until closing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003


so OK, I've learned my lesson: the gods and their nasty sense of humour are watching and it's asking for trouble to 'blog about one's naissant relationships, fine. got it. can I get back to having a love-life now please? *sigh* I was enjoying it.

There's still no word whatsoever from the amazing disappearing man, which sucks and makes me think that while I'm ready to embark on that emotional adventure thingy, he, perhaps, is not.


Otherwise all's well, term finishes officially in a few short days and they're mostly just clock-watching since the kids all find ingenious ways of not having to do any work at this time of year, leaving me to get on with nice quiet un-taxing stuff, and the occasional entry on here :)

My tree arrived in the house (after a modestly heroic quest to find roof-bars for the car) on Saturday evening and we (Me, 'nite and my visiting friend Abby) had fun decorating it with lights and baubles - it looks very festive and more importantly it smells like a hundred happy memories... I think that buying the tree is perhaps my favourite part of the whole xmas thing, and this year I get to do it twice because (unlike last year) my family and I will all arrive at the house in France together, and so we'll get to do the tree shopping thing there too. yay!

I almost have this present thing sussed too... still a bit of the actual buying to be done, but I'm not as worried as I had been that I won't be able to think of enough things, now I'm just worried they'll be the wrong things but I always am and they always are the right things, so it's not a real worry, more like a holiday tradition really.

Hamish and Austin have gone back to their respective family homes across the Atlantic, but being here is still a very social experience. I've managed to catch up with my friends Jamie and Sarah over in Glasgow, and will be off with the remaining Edinburgh crowd to see Return of the King on Wednesday... all of which reminds me how good this year has been in terms of having really great friends around to spend time with... essentially life is good.

Friday, December 12, 2003

slightly overcast

It's raining again, I just got really quite wet going out in my lunch break to buy screenwash (because my car ran out of it this morning and the windscreen got all smeary, which I dislike) I come to think of it, should it continue to rain I won't really need to have gone out for the screenwash... rats... also something which sounded like a very long peal of thunder, but which was probably a jetliner just passed overhead.

All of the above is (quite appropriately) what you might describe as mundanely-moody: there's a certain atmosphere to it all and yet it's firmly rooted in the everyday and not remotely dramatic. This is fitting because that's exactly how I feel today.

Last night I was supposed to be going out on a date with this fella who (as I mentioned on Wednesday) I really like a lot, and with whom I feel there is definately some kind kind of emotional adventure to be had... I say 'supposed to' because (for the third time since I met him) he unexpectedly vanished yesterday afternoon, becoming uncontactable having given no indication behorehand that, or any reason why, this should happen. Needless to say it didn't make me happy, which is a shame because I really have been very happy all week up until that point, and expect I would have been even happier if I'd seen him as we'd planned.

I made all reasonable efforts to get in touch and find out what was or wasn't happening, without being drawn into frantically chasing about or becoiming the kind of sad limpit-person that past experience has made me a) aware that I can fall into being in relationships and b) firmly determined never to become again. So I made a few attempts at calling, left a good natured but puzzled message on one of his voicmail services and left it at that, until I hear anything back, which I expect I probably will at some point...

In the meantime I'm leaving it alone - anything I could make up in my head to explain what happened would just be the product of my own disapointment, and we all know how much fun those are. So I'm not doing that... but for now, all that bright optimistic adventuring fearlessness has quietly shifted into neutral: The engine's still ticking over but I'm not going anywhere with this for the time being, and that's a bit sad really - much like getting a puncture when you're setting off on holiday.

Plus of course part of me can't help feeling that this just serves me right for tempting fate and blogging about this in the first place - daft eh?

It's not all drizzle and gloom in splat-land today however: it's Friday for starters and I'd have to be pretty determined to be miserable in the face of that! Friday means that in a couple of hours I'll be off out with my friends, a whole different adventure and one I can't help but smile about. The aparent demise of our Tapas cave the other week has left these Friday gatherings a little more nomadic than they had been, but I find change is usually a good thing, and this particular change has so far prompted some excellent explorations. I'm keen to find out where it'll take us all tonight, but wherever it is it should be fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003


One of the things I love about music is the way I don't always hear songs right away, but sometimes a lyric will jump out at me from behind the beat-bushes in a familiar track... the surprise of that is fun in itself, but often I find it also unlocks something for me - possibly because of the excellent sense of timing my subconscious has.

So this lunchtime I was off on my customary wander, accompanied by my iPod as I frequently am. Amongst the tunes it had pulled up to sing to me as I walked was this one, which I discovered I hadn't ever really listened to before, in spite of the fact that I've had the CD since my mate Iain bought it for me about three years ago.

The bit that really leaped out and went "boo" was:

Love, love is a verb
Love is a doing word

which suddenly clicked into place in my mind, twisted, and opened up a whole new room in there. The room it seems was full of pent-up thoughts that gleefully squeeled and ran about given the chance to come out and play in the open air of my conscious mind.

I've mentioned this obliquely a couple of times now, couching it in all sorts of careful-not-to-tempt-fate phrases, but at the risk of dancing on a hilltop with an umberella in a thunderstorm, I think I am in love, or rather I think I'm becoming involved in loving (vb) someone. That of course is the difference, and that's exactly what I hadn't fully articulated for myself, until I deciphered Liz Fraser's peculiar pronunciation, standing in line for the checkout at the Alldays with my packet of cheese and onion.

It's all too easy from the way love is presented to us (in the media mostly, but also in our own accute awareness-of-absence senses,) to fall into thinking of love as a thing, a state to be attained, or a static object to seek out and possess. We see it in terms of a goal, a target to aim at or even sometimes a pitfall to be avoided, when of course, it's none of those things: it's an activity and a process, a journey, or (to use a word recently reclaimed from the depths of cliche for me by my friend Liz) it's an adventure.

In my case it's a very new one, and beyond owning it as exactly that I don't have a great deal else to say on the matter right now. It is an activity which (for better or worse) I'm wholeheartedly engaged in right now, and that feels good to know how to say.

Monday, December 08, 2003

right up to the constructiveness

I built shelves! Yay me, mmm shelves, lovely shelves... I hadn't actually finished them by bed time yesterday (Sunday) so I have more to do when i get home and had to tidy all my toys away before I went to bed so that neither I nor 'nite tripped over them this morning, but I didn't mind because the shelves I've built so far are very very lovely and I was in a really good mood about it all.

I'm (finally) kitting out one of the three large walk-in cupboards that occupies one of the strange intersections of the walls in my odd-shaped house - it's known as the server cupboard because it's where our fileserver and other networking gubbins lives, but up until recently it was mostly occupied with Anita's old fridge. That finally vacated the premises on Saturday evening when her parents very kindly took it away. So now I have a whole big empty triangular cupboard and an intricate plan of shelving to play at building inside it, which makes me happy.

Meanwhile out in the rest of the world, winter has arrived with a vengence - it was a clear crisp morning when I got up today and has remained so, with the ground still frozen hard at almost 2pm which I guess means it's decided to stay that way for now. The sky has settled down from it's technicolour stretching this morning into the kind of bright wintry blue than makes your eyes hurt if you look at it too long, and my ears are just about defrosted from my lunchtime walk down by the frozen canal. Magic!

...might be time to buy a Christmas Tree this week I feel...

Saturday, December 06, 2003


had a great night tonight (Friday) the first attempt at a cave replacement was OK, we found good food and ate lots of it without spending a fortune... probably be trying somewhere else next week but it worked for the night.

After dinner we indulged Hamish's inner tourist by bimbling about the German market that occupies half of Princes Street Gardens this time of year

festive eh? it was actually a lot of fun - we hung around under the lights in the happy bustle feeling all fuzzy and full while Hamish and Keith enjoyed their Gluhwein, than we trundled back up the hill together and went to work with Liz which was exactly the right thing to do with the rest of Friday, we took up about half the bar (it's a very small pub) and chatted until closing when 'nite very kindly drove me and my belly full of Guiness home.

Friday, December 05, 2003

thank Crunchie...

wheeee! it's nearly time for the weekend again! Some of the regular Friday crowd are assembling tonight to try out a possible replacement for our dearly departed Tapas cave - short lived (and on the last visit smokey) though it was, the cave will be a tough act to follow.

That said I'm looking forward to just seeing everyone (well everyone who's coming) - with one thing and another I've been missing my Friday get-togethers recently and I've really felt it.

The weeks seem to have been sliding by at an alarming rate recently - and I don't just mean the acceleration that comes with age (proportional perception and all that) I think it could be a gravitational effect of the upcoming holiday, but whatever it is, it happily manages to ease off a little at the weekends so that my Saturdays and Sundays aren't hurtling past in a blur.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

a watched blog...

hm. Back in August after I visited Belfast I decided that adding a counter to these pages would be fun, I signed up with OneStat, got my free account set up and then completely forgot to actually implement the damned thing. typical.

Anyway observant readers may note that shortly after the overhaul, little OneStat logos appeared in the lower left corners of my pages - I put them there (together with all the clever javascript code that lies underneath them) last night, and now I can read all manner of interesting information about who visits and how often... turns out the answers (so far) are respectively 'nobody' and 'never' unless you count my own checks to see if a couple of minor tweaks (including the counters themselves) have taken OK.

I'm guessing that this is like watching the kettle - so long as it's new and I keep checking the logs, nobody will have been viewing the site, but once the novelty wears off and I stop compulsively clicking up little (empty) bar charts of my site traffic, there will actually be some... maybe.


what a great start to the day - a cake was delivered to my desk this morning, oh and it's actually light outside today too (sorry Mum and Dad - the good weather I ordered for last weekend arrived late)

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

winter migration

This morning as I drove out of the village the skies were filled with birds - Starlings perhaps, Dad would know... whatever they were they seethed across the surface of the sunrise soaked clouds like a re-enactment of a Hitchcock film, only not threatening: these birds were a joyous affirmation, a sign of life's shifting patterns of renewal not a gathering menace: Telephone lines to either side of the road were alive and thick with this teeming, feathered, excited mass of pent-up energy and optimism, and I remember feeling that this should be significant in some way - an augury perhaps, but at the time I didn't know of what.

This afternoon at the end of a long and absorbingly productive work-day (which is unusual) I grabbed a coffee (which is habitual) and checked in on a friend's weblog. There I found the page alive in the same way as those telephone lines were - my morning's sense of portent was bookended into clear and happy focus by an entry dated November 27th (but which I'd swear wasn't there two days ago,) where flocks of words and ideas crowd together, coalescing in swooping paragraphs - almost blocking out the sky with their clamouring mercurial message of movement, renewal and change.

Anyone who's been reading these pages for a while might remember an entry entitled Icarus (September 16th in the archives) and so might perhaps share a tiny fraction of my joy at the news that my friend has now spread his wings again.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

scwewy wabbit

In all the exciting redesign publishing fever last night I forgot about the stretch-o-vision bug that happens with some of the code in my blog page (it only seems to show up in IE on Windows machines, niether of of which I have access to) should be fixed now.


It's still dark. This is not right at all, I mean OK so by some measures I haven't really woken up yet, but I also haven't believed that the day and the night were determined by my own waking and sleeping since I was about two, and it's gone 10am local time! besides which I really don't live that far north these days...

At the weekend my parents came to visit, which was great fun (as it always is,) but it was also really very gloomy for almost their entire visit, which it also always is: we honestly do get nice weather here sometimes folks.

Saturday we started my long put-off xmas shopping by going to Glasgow, where the seemingly perpetual downfall central Scotland has been enjoying of late was approaching biblical proportions. Water welled up and sleuced about our feet from under paving slabs and out of manhole covers - the city's drainage system it seems had decided to try out life as a gigantic water feature... and this was Glasgow I mean it does occasionally rain there, west coast of Scotland and all that you'd expect the city to be designed with the rain in mind and I'm sure it is, it's just that there's so much of it at the moment.

The combination of the darkness (it ranged from being half-light, to being night time, in spite of our starting out before lunch and coming home mid-afternoon) the constant rain, and the seething hoardes of umbrella wielding pedestrians made me feel a little as if I were an extra on the set of Bladerunner at times.

Admittedly there is something quite atmospheric about all this "capital W" Weather we're having, and though it might not sound possible on the face of it (pre-xmas Saturday shopping in the rain) we had a thoroughly enjoyable (ableit soggy) afternoon, but just once when my parents are visiting, I'd like for them not to be reminded of one of the only two bits of the Doric I picked up in Aberdeen - it's always Driech.

new splat city!

woohoo, I made a shiny new and it all works!

This overhaul is essentially a complete demolish and rebuild, OK so I kept a few odds and ends, but I essentially wiped the slate clean and started over, impressed? I am! - the new graphical navigation will probably piss off a few people with slow connections but I feel bound to point out that I myself am stuck using a dial-up modem at home and the pages load fast enough - more importantly the content loads straight off on all pages (you just might have a few seconds wait for the navigation bar to catch up) and all the pages actually have stuff on them!

arguably best of all is the demise of one 'temporary' .gif that's cluttered my pages since the get-go... one last time, farewell little men-at-work sign, we knew you all too well!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Service Announcement

I realise things have been a tad tumbleweedish 'round here of late but there's a reason... actually there are several reasons some of which I'd have been blogging about if I weren't afraid of temping fate...

Anyway the one most pertinent to the site (and least likely to attract the attention of any malevolent meddling gods) is that I'm working on a full-site overhaul, so all the spare time I'd usually devote to tinkering with the site as is (yes, both minutes) is going on 'behind the scenes' stuff just now.

So expect a new and improved to emerge early next week, and normal service to be resumed here on the blog page after that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003


I'm not really much of a history person: I haven't studied it since I was about 13, and for the most part it leaves me cold but for all that, there are certain aspects of turn of the century history (meaning 19th-20th of course, not 20th-21st) which I find oddly compelling, specifically those relating to a sense of the time which I think is best described as 'early industrial optimism'.

At work I'm recataloguing our history section amongst other things, and I've reached 941.08 (which covers British history from the turn of the century) where we have a few texts on the impact of industrialisation. As per usual I'm spending as much time leafing through the books as I am cataloguing (it's hard to be surrounded by this much information all day and not want to soak some of it up!) and so found myself skimming an old Open University textbook called Industrialisation & Culture 1830-1914. Believe it or not there are some fascinating insights in it but in my whistle-stop tour of the topic the thing which struck me most was an image of this fine vessel*.

Why is it that we don't build things with any majesty to them these days? sure, by every reasonable measure the 300ft paddle steamer Columba is hugely inferior to her modern day descendents, but.. well ... look at them: squat functional uninspiring lumps. I'd bet good money that there's not a thing afloat with a fraction of Columba's poise and grace, which seems a shame to me.

*incidentally I'm quite tickled by the fact that in a few short seconds I could find an exhaustive online gallery of paddle steamers (why? why not!) containing several images of this relatively obscure old ship. Modern times might fall short in terms of awe inspiring industrial design, but when it comes to information we've got it licked!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003


I seem to be hearing this word everywhere lately, which could just be because I've had to walk across Edinburgh University's campus several times of late and perhaps there are exams and/or essay deadlines coming up, I don't know. The point is that I'm quite conflicted in my feelings about its spreading usage.

On the one hand the little Patrick inside me who used to be teased at school for having "swallowed a dictionary" is heartened to hear anyone else using words with more than three sylables! On the other hand I can't help but wonder if the popularity of this particular word is bad news: if everyone with a half decent vocabulary is busily procrastinating (is that an oxymoron?) then how is anything intelligent ever going to get done?

Friday, November 07, 2003

shallow? me?

last night MTV held their meaningless music awards here: my city was filled with puffed up pointless people that we're all supposed to believe are important and talented simply because that's what their marketing says... needless to say i was utterly unimpressed by it all...

... until this morning I learned that Vin Diesel was in town wearing a black leather kilt, and suddenly it all seems much more interesting! ;)

Thursday, November 06, 2003



I just heard in the staff room that someone was seriously burned by the falling firework last night, now I feel really really bad for laughing... all those god games I've played on the computer over the years must have warped my fragile little mind.

UPDATE: November 7th Liz has scoured the net for word of the meadowbank display and reassures me that the only mention she could find was in the last sentence of this (disturbing) BBC news story. One person had minor burns as a result of the falling firework, nothing too serious.


Last night I went to an organised fireworks display for the first time in my 26 years on the planet. For the benefit of anyone reading this who doesn't already know, November 5th is a minor national holiday here in the UK called Bonfire Night (or Guy Fawkes Night if you prefer, which I don't.) On Bonfire Night as a kid, I would wait eagerly for the skies to get dark, and then go out into the back garden with the rest of my family to stand around a Bonfire eating sausages, baked potatoes and treacle toffee (though not all at the same time you understand) whilst/before/after my Dad presented us all with a small fireworks display from a selection box bought earlier in the week from a local newsagents. The timing of the evening varied year to year, and when we lit the fireworks seemed dependant on a complex combination of the weather and my parents' collecive mood that year, but light them we always did, one at a time with a round of ground based fireworks, followed by some rockets, and finishing off with sparklers.

I knew that organised displays existed, but for me Bonfire Night was always a cozy family affair (even on the years when we got rained out!) Besides which we'd usually manage to time our own small observance of the failed attempt by a group early fifteenth century catholics to destroy parliament, so that it finished a short while before the big displays over toward town started. My parents' house sits on the top of what passes for a hill in that part of the country, so there's quite a good view out over the surrounding area. After we'd watched all our fireworks (my personal favorite being the Traffic Light) and safely sparkled our Sparklers until they fizzled out and were dropped in a bucket, my little sister and I would run upstairs to peer out of the darkened windows at all the fireworks going off over the nieghbouring larger villages. This way we got to see all the displays without the irritating necessity of being with a bunch of other people all evening. :)

For the past several years I've lived in Scotland. Since Bonfire Night is an essentially English event, I've not really done anything about it since moving north, but this year a bunch of us (me, Liz, Anita, Hamish, and Austin) none of whom are scottish, decided it'd be fun to go and see some pyrotechnics together. Anita asked about in town and found us an organised display to attend at Meadowbank football stadium. Two firsts in one night: me in a football stadium and me at an organised fireworks display!

It turns out that once the organisers shut up and the fireworks start, an organised display is quite something: the fireworks seemed to go on forever! Admittedly not quite as long as the Hogmanay displays on Princes Street but almost, and it was easier to see too because you weren't being jostled by hoardes of drunken revelers singing Auld Lang Sine. Anita had got tickets for everyone (you can just turn up for free and watch the display side-on from in the grounds, but four quid gets you a seat in the stands facing the action,) but of course everyone except Anita (myself included) was late, so that we ended up sitting rather higher in the stands than intended, with the roof obscuring the higher explosions from view.

That said we still had an impressive show and when a stray rocket veered off course and landed in the middle of the crowd over in the grounds, we were all very glad we'd paid not to have incendiaries dropped on us! ...We also laughed quite a lot I have to confess, because from our vantage point way up there the little people in the grounds didn't look real, and the sight of tiny people standing about looking dumbstruck for a few seconds at the flaming white ball of explosives that had just landed in the middle of them, and then all running away was just too video-game comic for us not to laugh at... I'm pretty sure nobody got seriously hurt, and I certainly felt suitably bad for laughing when I remembered that they were in fact real people over there and not cartoons.

After the display was over and we'd had our completely unseasonal chinese meal, it was really nice to walk back to the car through the slightly smokey autumn air: There's something quite comfortably autumnal about that smell which I think I'd missed without realising in recent years.

Next year new legislation will come into force, limiting the type of fireworks on sale to private individuals, and banning the really loud ones. For my part I'm happy about that: I've never been a fan of the rowdier fireworks (my fondly remembered Traffic Light for example simply changed colour from green to amber to red and fired a quietly whooshing orb up into the night at each colour change.) Another friend, Kieth, didn't join us last night and has written an elloquent explanation of why. I remember that part of Bonfire Night too: cuddling the confused quivering wreck of our dog Jet while bangs and whistles went off overhead from down the street, usually before it was dark enough for the 'real' fireworks to start... Where's the fun in making the place sound like a war zone anyway? give me a Sparkler and some treacle toffee over that any day.

Friday, October 31, 2003

bygone postal?

With the effects of the Royal Mail strikes starting to spread beyond the confines of London (or "the center of the known Universe" as the British media would have it,) it's occured to me just how irrelevant the postal service is to me these days.

Like most people I know, any transactions I don't make in person are either handled over the phone or the internet. Most of them are automatic too so I don't really need to see the paper bills which form the majority of my post each month, (not including junk mail of course) all of which I can get virtual copies of one way or another anyway. Deliveries to or from me of anything substantial are usually handled by any one of a handful of private courier companies, and now I come to think of it, all of my personal correspondence over the last six months has been electronic, as has the vast majority of the rest for a long time before that.

Is it possible I wonder, that the spreading industrial action by the members of the Communication Workers' Union will only serve to highlight the waning relevance of the service in most people's daily lives? or am I the exception that proves the rule?

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

counter-top-trol freak

last night I re-organised my kitchen: I moved the all contents of the cupboards, and the stuff on shelves and worktops about, because they were all messed up and it was annoying me (I'm told that it's a Virgo thing but since I think horoscopes are horse-shit I'll freely admit to it being a Patrick thing instead and let you judge me rather than my birth date.)

For the first time it feels like my kitchen is being used the way it was designed to be... which is odd really considering that I designed and built it... you'd think I'd have been using it properly from the start really wouldn't you? well OK probably not if you actually know me but you see my point.

All the same there's something very satisfying about 'getting it right'... it's good to take control of the things that you can sometimes. Perhaps just to remind yourself that life isn't all some elaborate game cooked up by some screwball higher power (or the alignments of gigantic balls of exploding gas and huge rocks in an unimaginably large vacum for that matter) I'm in control: I decide where the tinned tomatoes are kept. OK so it's a relatively small power but you have to work with what you've got.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Sometimes it's easy...

Sometimes it can get hard to smile. It's been one of those days: it's been hard. Sometimes things just seem like they're never going to come together no matter how many breaks you get, or how many chances fall into place... and sometimes it's easy: sometimes, all it takes is the right song, a stray thought, and a memory.

I was just feeling low. I decided to put on a CD, found an old lighter left behind by a long gone love, set the oil burner diffusing the scent of Bergamot through my house, sat back in my sofa, and smiled like I haven't done all day.

Friday, October 17, 2003

flaming shoe box?

Among other things on my way in this morning, the iPod threw out shoe box by the Barenaked Ladies, which is a really good bouncy morning song, but as I listened I couldn't help thinking that if (as the song says) you put all the lies you ever told into a box somewhere, it would have to be a pretty damned big box! I mean I used to keep my photos in shoe boxes, and I don't really take that many but by the age of 26 there are far too many for a single shoe box!

So a shoe box of lies? all of them? If they were all written down, little ones and big ones, and put in a box? I think we're probably talking about a sizable suitcase at least, if not a tea-chest! Which is not to say personally that it's customary for my pants to be on fire, just that when you stop and think about it in the every day business of living we seem to lie an awful lot.

As an interesting side note, my friend Hamish and I have what you could call a total disclosure friendship. This hasn't arisen out of any high minded ideals you understand, it's just that we're each the sort of person you might say 'thinks too much' (I don't think that it's possible to think too much, but it's an expression I've heard used to describe both of us) and over the years we've just worked out that it's ultimately easier if we each just tell the other what we're thinking feeling and doing in an unvarnished and upfront way.

That's often a lot harder than it sounds, but it's also well worth it, even if only to keep from using up all the available storage in your mental attic ;)

Thursday, October 16, 2003

low sun, mist and frost

I love Autumn. Have I mentioned that yet? ;)

There was frost on my car this morning, the kind that's formed by freezing fast after it settles as dew, leaving little glass droplets all over the surface of the metal - Bags (that's the car) is pretty clean for a change too, and so the over all effect was really very lovely, almost enough to make me not mind having to stand outside in the cold with the scrapey thing... almost.

Like most frosty mornings the sky was mostly clear. There were just a few light fast moving clouds reflecting the last of the sunrise as they scudded overhead. Happily the roads seemed to be free of ice because there's no sign of any gritters as yet and I have to leave early enough as it is to beat the traffic in town without adding a speed drop into the equation.

The best bit of today's Autumn-morning-magic came as I reached the very outskirts of Edinburgh: just before the first outer suburban edges of the city I drive through a small wooded area broken by fields, and in one of the smaller ones shaded by a small bluff and the surrounding trees there was a sleeping cloud. I only caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye as I sped past to the appropriately soulful strains of Shawn Colvin's monopoly, but a mist swirled over the frosted grass, shifting and catching in the light and shadow through the vivid yellow orange leaves as if it were stretching and rubbing its eyes having woken up late.

Monday, October 13, 2003

cleared for take off

I am in such a good place just now, the past couple of weeks I've just felt things clicking into place, as if the last three years I've been in a holding pattern here, turning circles on the runway, and now I've finally got clearance for take off: that's what it feels like: I've been trying to put my finger on this all day and it just this second struck me - the silly scared excited happy feeling I'm carrying about inside is almost exactly the same rush I get in an aeroplane just before take off... my soul's pressed back against the seat back with its stomach in its mouth... I know I'm speeding off somewhere, but not where: I didn't buy the ticket.

Thursday, October 09, 2003


hmph. I'm in a contradictory mood today, I'm feeling simultaneously content and restive, bright and downcast... a whole heap of opposites all crammed into one little heart and it's most... well i can't use an emotive adjective because it isn't just any one thing, that's the whole point, so I'll borrow a made up one and say it's making me floopy.

Monday, October 06, 2003


I was going to write a mardy blog entry about my really spectacularly bad morning: events in the small space from getting up until getting to work were many, and serially bad in the kind of way I probably wouldn't have believed possible outside of a farce if I hadn't been living them... however shortly after I got to work good things started happening: a new toy I hadn't been expecting for another week arrived early and better still Hamish emailed out the latest chapter of his new book.

So this has lifted me from feeling really grumpy to being decidedly happy in a rubber-ball-esque kind of mood bounce.


PS my old phone broke down last week, hence the new one.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

RIP Holly Golightly: 1990-2003

My sister lost her first car today :( Holly the little Puegot 205 has spluttered her last. She passed away peacfully at the garage from a terminally expensive engine fault. No flowers.

... yeah yeah I know: I'm a sentimental old bugger, and don't worry I am hamming it up a little for effect here, but seriously first cars are special things! Partly that's because they're usually old and therefore tend to have what we euphemistically like to call "character"... but they're special too because they're usually the first really tangible signs of our own adult independence, the first milestones on our journey as a grown up.

My first car, Boo (a bright red 1990 FIAT Panda) lived an unusually long life as my first car, I learned to drive behind that wheel and we were pretty mch insepparable for the next seven years or so! Happily Boo is still running about up in Fife somewhere: when he became too expensive for me to keep on the road I gave him to a friend who likes mucking about with mechanical stuff even more than I (and is far better at it!) but before then that little red biscuit tin and I must have covered almost every inch of the country on our thousands of journeys together, so that when the time came to say goodbye, there were so many memories clocked up on the odometer that it was a real wrench to let go.

My little sis is saved some of that trauma by the fact that she (unlike me) doesn't really like driving very much, and so while Holly's mileage was pretty astronomical, most of it (roughly to the moon and back from memory) was travelled with a previous owner. Al is also much less of a fool than I, and is (I expect) far more concerned about the practical and financial impacts of Holly's demise than any emotional attachment... and quite rightly so: this is part of why I often call her my big sister even though she's two years younger than me, but all the same I know she'll be sad to be parting ways with her powder blue Pug, after all a journey isn't always measured in miles.

Saturday, September 27, 2003


I had such a good night last night. After work a bunch of us (new friends and old friends) met up at this new Tapas place that Anita spotted during the week...

Ever since I left Aberdeen I've been trying to find a regular haunt to replace the excellent 'Estaminet' I and my Aberdeen crowd used to meet at in fourth year, and until last night I've been repeatedly amazed and dismayed that a city three times the size has nothing to compare. This place (which I won't tell you too much about because it's very small and I want to be able to get a table again next week!) was pretty much perfect: it's tiny and cave-like but in a really comfy way and the food is both superb and cheap! seven of us ate our fill of fine Tapas for the princely sum of a fiver a head (including corkage, a generous tip and several drinks) and all in this unhurried comfortable little den: The perfect place for shrugging off the week, and (on this occasion) getting to know some new faces.

After dinner we shifted location for the combined reasons that a) this little place only has a BYOB licence and we'd exhausted the wine as well as b) their having run out of regular Coke. A limited remaining range of sft drinks was facing Liz with the unbearable choice between caffiene or sugar ("it's like choosing between children!")

I don't think I'd previously been to any of the places we visited after dinner, but all of them were great, especially the labrythine pub/clublet whose name I forget but which had a kind of secret corridor off the main lounge leading to all manner of hidden gems including a dancefloor, an utterly deserted underground room decorated in flourescent stoner cave paintings, and a tiny cinema showwing 'Fight Club'...

What really made the night however was the company: new faces and familiar friends orbited around each other in a patchwork of intersecting conversations all night, we talked about everything and nothing, and I can't wait to do it again next week.

Friday, September 26, 2003


excuse me while I have a Vince moment folks

oh. my. god.

not only are the BBC finally resurrecting the Dr. Who franchise but they've got Russell T. Davies writing it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

"haircut, haircu-ut!"

yesterday I had my noggin shawn: it needs that fairly frequently if I am to avoid resembling an upturned broom. Since I moved to Edinburgh (and still now, even though now I only work here) I've been getting my trims at the same place: like most men I know I am a creature of habit when it comes to my hair, and I distrust all hairdressers and barbers except my own... I don't know what exactly it is about all the others that is wrong but I'm confident that I don't want to risk finding out.

anyway yesterday was the first time ever (well OK, in a little over three years) that I arrived there to find the place empty of customers! it's a first come first served kinda place, no appointments or anything, and since I have to go after work it's usually heaving (by which I mean there are as many as seven other people waiting ahead of me and all three of the hair-cutty people are busy) It even looked for a while during my trim as if "are-you-keeping-your-sideburns?" lady (whose turn it was to cut my hair this time) was going to finish up without asking me as she always does (with a subtle inflection which turns a simple question into a fashion judgement) ... (and yes I always do keep them: I like them, and two of the three hair-cutty people there agree with me, so there) I'm not sure but I think if that had happened on top of the emptiness of the place I might have expected the sun to go out. All was well though: she asked me, I answered, and the world continued turning.

funny how you get into a routine isn't it?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Tonight I lost my temper with one of my oldest and dearest friends, and worse: I did it in an internet chat room where your tone of voice is entirely dependent on your listener's mood... his mood was part of what I lost my temper with, and the resulting interpreted tone of voice is not something I'm happy about having been a part of... let me attempt an explanation, and an apology.

This man was, no *is* the man who made me realise who I could be if I made the effort, and more: made me realise how small that seemingly impossible effort is, once it is made. As an example, he's the man who (quietly and matter-of-factly) took me to WH Smiths in the St. Nicholas Center one afternoon in 1998 to buy my first ever gay men's magazine. Nothing smutty you understand, just attitude but the fact I can say "just" is entirely down to him: until that day the idea of owning my own sexuality in public like that filled me with a kind of fear I can only describe as soul-numbing, and in the few short seconds when he handed me the magazine and gestured self-confidently toward the till, that fear evaporated forever. His quiet grin that afternoon is branded on the hide of my memory, and is always the first image that comes to mind when someone says his name.

He's not been in such a good way the past couple of years: Life dealt this friend a series of really shitty hands over the years, cards he was bluffing with even back then, and eventually the dealer shut him out of the game. I know, and anyone who really knows him knows, that he'll get back to the table some day soon, and that his luck will change, but he doesn't know it. He fears his own life, in much the same way I once feared a newsagent check-out, and instead of gesturing at the right time, and grining quietly as he finds his own way through that fear, I get impatient and angry. I miss the confident companion who I grew wings to fly beside, and instead of raging at the sun which singed his feathers and sent him (temporarily) tumbling to earth, I mistakenly rage at him.

I know that this is his stuff, and that he has to find his own way through it at his own pace, but I'm impatient, and angry at myself for not knowing how to return the unreturnable favour, or give my grounded friend back the sky. That impatience broke through my fingers and onto the keyboard this evening, and for a few short seconds it spilled through the tenuous technological connection between us: an exasperated sigh at this end of the connection amplifed to hurricane force at the other.

I'm sorry. Take all the time you need: the sky isn't going anywhere, and niether am I.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Belleville Rendez-vous

this is the best film I've seen this year, if you haven't already, then go and see it...

... what are you still doing here? shoo! cinema! now! ;)

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


Been feeling a bit deflated about the whole love thing of late - you might remember a while back there was mention of a possible someone? well that never really went anywhere... which although it sucks, is I suppose probably for the best. I won't go into it because it's really not any of your business (whoever you are,) but there were complications, and not having things complicated is probably a good thing, even if it might have been a nice kind of complicated.

anyway the point is that I've been spinning my wheels relationship-wise of late: I'm meeting quite a few new people one way and another, and I really like some of them but so far nothing's happening with anyone, and to make matters worse it's the same story for most of my close friends. The whole thing is getting amplified by association: my emotional engine revving alone would be destracting enough but it's like the starting line at Brans Hatch around here lately!

The rest of my life is going fine: it feels like I've got some real traction in all the other aspects of my life just now, so on balance I'm in a pretty good mood, plus it's Autumn of course... As well as bringing birthdays, red leaves and crisp air (all of which are good things) Autumn brings low sun which as well as being a splendid Chicane track, is my favorite kind of daylight.

This morning in the light traffic of the first (and only) small town before Edinburgh on my cross country commute, the sun was particularly low, one might even say it was sneaky. It was a particularly beautiful morning (for that matter it still is) and said sneaky gas-ball was glinting off the dew on the golf course, and generally making a big show out of the start of a new day. I like when it does that because I'm really not a morning person, so it helps to be reminded that a new day is not just the evil thing which dragged me away from my bed.

By the time I'd reached the town, the sun's broad spectrum optimism had thoroughly warmed through both me and the car: I'd even shaken off the last of my daily duvet-withdrawal and was quietly smiling to myself. At about this point a van passed me going the opposite direction - pretty mundane stuff, except that our mischevious morning star chose this moment to highlight the driver's jawline and right shoulder in quite startlingly sculptural relief. The guy was/is probably quite unremarkable in normal light, but for that one split second it was as if the epitome of all that I don't have in my life (namely a boyfriend) was shining out at me through grubby glass.

It's little things like that which can really put the wrong spin on your whole day, but happily the sun is not the only inanimate object with a keen sense of timing: a fraction of a second later this song emerged from my iPod and turned the whole stomach churning, engine revving, sense of absence thing on its head.

Monday, September 01, 2003

any old iron...

This weekend I was supposed to be fitting new gutters at the back of the house - it's pretty much the last of the really important jobs that were left undone by the previous owner: the building's original rusty old iron guttering was left on the back wall. Between the decades of rust and the damage and disruption from all the work that was done converting the place from its former life as a shop, essentially what I had were three large metal rain collectors which each deposited water into the yard in Niagra-esque torrents whenever it rained.

Having finally laid hands on a lader recently, and being in what my mother calls a "pulling up trees" mood, I climbed up onto the garden wall on Thursday evening and pulled the first of these hated things down, on Friday I came home via Wickes with a car full of timber and plastic guttering, and the other two old gutters came down on Saturday morning with a little help from my housemate. Once the scrap metal was all neatly piled in a corner all that was left up there were some equally rusty support brackets, two of which came off in my hand but the remaining six weren't budging so after puzzling on these obstructions for a while, I went out on Sunday and bought a reconditioned angle grinder for twenty quid...

Angle grinders are fun: it is a little scary being perched atop a ladder whith this thing in my hands making that squealling wrenching metalwork sound... you know the one - it sounds as if I've opened a small factory up at my roofline, and apparently it sounds even worse inside the house - but it's really fun seeing this spinning disc chew through these manky old bits of irnomongery until there's only a little bit left and I can just twist 'em off the wall and clang them down into the yard below (being careful not to hit whoever's holding the ladder at the time of course)

Between the delay caused by the brackets and an unexpected visit from my friend Lora who's on her way to live in Paris for six months (it's a hard life being a language student!) I didn't get anywhere near as far as I wanted to with it this weekend but so long as it doesn't rain too hard (stop laughing: I know this is Scotland but it's been pretty dry recently) the house should be fine until I can get back to it later this week... if I get a good evening after work I should get it done then, but just the knowledge that I will never again be kept awake by the sound of large quantities of water hitting concrete right outside my bedroom window is definately something to smile about on this gloomy Monday morning.

Friday, August 29, 2003


I had my first rejection of the current job-hunt this afternoon: an automated response from a recruitment agency telling me thank you for the email I sent them detailing how precisely my skills match those for a job they're advertising, but that my skills don't match their clients specifications. I'm miffed 'cus it's a job with prospects that I could do in my sleep, and my skills really are a perfect match with what they've advertised for.

Three possibilities exist:
1) I'm over qualified/looking for too much money - I currently earn marginally more than this pays but it's a pretty wide jump away from what I do now (in the right direction) so I'd be OK with earning a smidge less for a year or so
2) They mis-advertised the post
3) the recruitment agent didn't actually read my cover letter and only briefly scanned my CV before sending the pro-forma rejection.

I'm guessing it's most likely 3 and will be ringing her this afternoon to check. It's worth a shot at least.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

splatblog != splatblog

I just noticed (with the help of Google) that there exists another splatblog! and that worse yet it pre-dates mine :(

I find myself driven to point out that splatblog is most emphatically not in any way connected with splatblog (which for those of you unfamiliar with logical notation is what the oddball punctuation in the title of this post means)

It turns out my namesake site is a "slash fiction" forum, something I've stumbled accross in the past because my (otherwise entirely lovely) housemate indulges in this particular vice: slash (in this context) is a kind of "creative" writing which essentially involves writing down one's erotic fantasies about characters from someone else's original work (usually Sci-Fi TV shows). I won't get into what I think about that: to each their own, but suffice it to say there won't ever be any such content appearing on here.

Magic Mountains

There's something magical about my commute into work - each morning I drive thirty miles or so over the Pentland Hills into Edinburgh, it's an isolated road that really just passes through open countryside for most of the trip and in about 18 months of driving it regularly I don't think I've ever seen it look the same twice.

This morning it rained which seems about right for the end of August here, but there was a quality of light I'd never seen before. Not the dramatic postcard scene variety (although I expect we'll have plenty of that as Autumn settles in) but a kind of cool softness, as if the sky knew the kind of hurried morning I'd had so far (almost overslept: left the house within fifteen minutes of getting out of bed) and was letting the day in gently so as not to dazzle me.

I'm looking forward to the colours changing and the nights drawing in: it's been an exceptionally good summer and I'm confident there are a fair few good sunny days left in the year (the clouds parted about half past nine and it's warm and sunny again outside now) but Autumn is my season and I've missed it. Yesterday I caught sight of a few leaves beginning to turn and had to smile: There's a sense of movement and change to Autumn that sits well with me right now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003


I have a confession to make: I have a huge and incapacitatingly awful crush on one of my colleagues. He first crossed my consciousness way back when I started here in 2001: in amongst a bunch of the usual settling in stuff I found myself having a conversation with this particular guy and finding it difficult to think straight (pardon the pun) or form complete sentences, or even breathe. Standing accross from this engaging friendly bloke with his warm grin and aircraft carrier shoulders I found myself physically stunned: as if he were emitting some kind of strong magnetic field and screwing up all my instruments...

In the usual course of things he and I never cross paths, let alone have any context for talking - that conversation was a short one off thing entirely to do with my being new to the place, but it burned itself into my memory with a sodium flare intensity that still leaves me just a little dazed every time I think of it. I doubt I made any kind of impression on him at all, and as I said he and I are rarely in the same building and never really have any occasion to talk... all in all the chances are that he has no idea who I am.

Anyway, just now, for (as far as I know) the first time since I started here, he came into the library. Not to borrow anything, or ask anything, oh no! the Gods aren't kind enough to give any kind of an opening like that: he just came in to sit somewhere quiet for a while and get on with something or other. If it had been anyone else I probably wouldn't even have registered their presence, and there wasn't any kind of interaction - he wasn't even in my line of sight for more than a few seconds - not even any way I could have engineered a casual "hello", or offered a smile, no, he was just sitting in the same room totally unconscious of this inexplicably powerful disruptive effect he was having... He's left now, I'm closing up ready to leave for the day and my insides feel like they've been turned inside out... it's awful in the archaic sense of the word in that (as an experience) it inspires awe. I couldn't say if it feels good or bad, just that it feels: as if every single fibre of me has been set vibrating slightly, and each at a different pitch.

Rationally I know It's all kinda pathetic: I mean I'll be 26 in a couple of weeks - this kind of thing is not supposed to happen past adolescence, is it? That said part of me can't help wondering if there's something I'm supposed to do about it... I mean if all goes well I won't be working here much longer and I don't want to leave regretting anything, but then again what could I do? Walk up to the guy some time and say "hey there, how's things? you almost certainly have no idea who I am, or that I even exist, but your very presence in a room scrambles my soul" It's hardly acceptable socialised behaviour now is it? Nope. I think I just have to take a deep breath, lock up, and go home.

Monday, August 25, 2003

fruit machine

What a weekend! myself and a few friends spent the last couple of days down in Manchester catching up with other friends and soaking up the closing weekend of europride 2003. Since (unlike almost all the friends I spent the weekend with) I don't get bank holidays off work, I had to drag myself out of bed and back to reality with a bleary eyed bump this morning.

Friday afternoon four of us (me , Anita, Philp and Graham) set out from Edinburgh under a brilliant blue sky which happily stayed with us for the duration. By about 10pm we'd navigated our way safely to the student halls we were staying in, convinced them that we really did have a reservation, settled into some remarkably comfy rooms (which we had to trade for more modest, but still comfy accommodation the next morning when they'd finished sorting out the mess of our booking) freshened up and hit the town.

For the duration of europride Canal Street and the surrounding environs (which make up the Manchester scene, or 'the Village') have been cordoned off much like Princes Street here is at Hogmanay, we handed in our tickets and got our embarrasingly spangly gold writsbands which acted as our passes into the festival for the whole weekend. I took a few pictures of the street which will be going up soon, until then if you can picture a pretty cobbled street by a canal, under a warm summer night sky, trees festooned with lights, and then fill that picture with thousands of people, you'll get some idea of where I spent the weekend.

The atmosphere of the place is hard to describe: I've been to Manchester for the weekend before and the city as a whole, and the Village in particular, has a wonderfully relaxed and diverse feel to it. This weekend it was very much like that but with the volume turned up. Friday night after we'd wandered about a bit, the four of us settled in at Via Fossa and spent a happy evening talking and drinking and dancing until the small hours came and we variously disentangled ourselves from the place and the people and made our ways back to our beds. Saturday was spent in and around the city, This was Anita's first time down there so we had lots of exploring to do before we met up with the Manchester crowd in the afternoon.

At about 2ish we made our way to the edge of the parade route and watched a bewildering array of floats and marchers trundle past - probably the most lasting image was the two enormously long rainbow banners which flowed down the street like a multicoloured silk river at the start and end of the parade. Sadly I'd left the camera behind, but I expect that photos wouldn't have done it justice anyway

All in all it was a great weekend, Saturday evening we returned to the Village en masse. Since most of our friends in Manchester come in pairs I enjoyed the dubious honour of being the conspicous single: couples seem to have a need for vicarious single-dom and whenever I've been out with this lot they seem to spend the whole night trying to set me up with people, which is fun even if it's invariably fruitless (pardon the pun)

Sunday was spent basking in the sun and the scene again: I scoured the stalls for a tee-shirt in my size: amazingly the Pride tee-shirts came in yellow as well as the obligatory white and black, but all the smalls were long since gone (almost certainly to be stretched over bulkier frames than mine judging from the number of well used gym memberships in evidence!) so I had to settle for a slightly baggy medium, which is still yellow so I'm happy. Then at about 4pm we wrenched ourselves away and drove our tired and happy selves back home to Scotland leaving the rest of them standing by the canal in the sunshine where I expect they're standing as I type... I don't hope it's raining on them, really I don't ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

holly crap...

... where did August go?

OK, a quick update, job-hunting continues apace, (online CV coming soon) it's official now since I've had the conversation with my boss (who's being wonderfully supportive about it all, which is great) now all I need is the job to move to! fingers all crossed please.

The weekend away camping with Hamish was great, he's put up a photo album of the trip which is mostly an excercise in proving to sceptical canadians that there really is blue sky and white sand to be had here in Scotland... albeit not often.

My house has had a coat of much needed paint which took forever but looks stunning, look for an update to the house pictures album before the end of the week.

Term has resumed at work, reminding me of all the reasons I want to leave, but actually not being as insuferable as I'd feared... I can cope with wearing a tie again and there are things about term time that I enjoy, like catching up with friends on the teaching staff and having time to myself during the day...

um. that's about it I think, I should be back to posting fairly regularly again.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

... oh yeah

nearly forgot, the archives are finally working!


I just finished my lunch break, a quiet part of a very quiet working day, but a part which was all mine. Me and a fork messily attacked a large Pot Noodle (leave me alone: sometimes I feel like being grotty) while I read a friend's work and laughed and listened to "Blind" by the Sundays.

Outside the sun is shining in that after-a-thunderstorm way it does this time of year. The Library is a bit vault like really, with the only windows being at least ten feet up the walls, but today that filtered contact with things kind of works for me. There's almost nobody else here and the school feels vast and empty. Being by myself in a closed in corner of all that emptiness feels comfortable, although I'm glad that it's only until Friday because I expect it would wear on me after a while.

Next week is a little escape: my friend Hamish and I are heading off for a brief camping trip at the weekend, and then I have the whole week off work with no plans. The timing couldn't be better - my vague feeling of late that I should be moving on (career wise) has coalesced into active job hunting this week (with a little circumstantial prodding) and I think me and this place need a Time-Out if we're going to get along for however long remains of our time together.

Monday, August 04, 2003

time marches on

I'm stuck with archival cataloguing at work at the moment: it's one of my least favorite jobs and one I don't see the immediate value of given the raft of other things that need doing about the place before term starts again, but ours is not to reason why and all that.

Anyway, right now I'm archiving a bunch of old school photographs from the middle of the last century, starting in the 30s and going through to the 70s, there is an endless procession of Rugby 1st XV, Prefects, Athletic Team and Cricket 1st XI group photograps, each with a different group of kids staring out from under the silver oxide.

The Cricket photos have taken on an odd quality for me here and now archiving them: back in the mid 40s the school seems to have appointed a professional to come and coach the team, and he stayed, appearing in each photo, each successive year looking a little older and a little more faded until finally in the 66-67 he's aged himself out of existence.

Working on the archives is a constant reminder that this place, the school I work for, swallows people sometimes: the archives are full of 'lifers' - names that crop up again and again for decades before disapearing suddenly...

I have colleagues approaching retirement who were pupils here once, and the thought, today, here in this empty library, rings out like a warning bell over an empty sea: The time is fast approaching for me to come ashore from this part of my own voyage and begin a new part somewhere else, somewhere that people don't get washed away into history with their old school tie still firmly round their neck.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

renewal and fulfilment

Anita bought me a present yesterday, for no particular reason other than that she's a lovely friend. It's a rune stone engraved with two norse runes which are apparently the 'cattle' and 'wagon' runes: "Foeh" (which looks a bit like an angular capital F) "attracts wealth and the good things in life, but includes a responsibility. It also represents the fulfilment of ambitions and love" and "Rad" (a pointy capital R shape) is the "symbol of a safe journey, physical or spiritual, and invokes a change in the wearer's ideas or ways of doing things. A sign of coming renewal"

I guess this is as open to interpretation as horoscopes, but I like the timing and context all the same: right now there are a lot of new things on the horizon in various senses... the last year has been all about building a place to be, making a home, and now that it's (mostly) made it feels like time for some 'journeying', having a talisman to take along with me is comforting.

thanks again 'nite

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

a break in the cloud.

My observations on the weather this morning were closely linked to my mood: see I met someone on Thursday night, someone who might just possibly maybe be someone... it's very very early days yet and there are complications (aren't there always?) but to say that my first impressions of him are impressive would be an understatement: I haven't met anyone I've felt this comfortable with, and excited by at the same time, in far too long.

anyway, we'd arranged to go for lunch today, loosely arranged that is, and when I called to confirm on Monday night he didn't pick up... hm. most of my head thought (quite naturally) that something had come up, but a tiny speck of emotional cumulo nimbus appeared all the same: condensation from the little dark lakes of self-doubt that sit out of sight in the shadow of the large still peaks of a quietly confident self-sufficiency. (why strain a good metaphor when you can break it eh?)

by the time I was driving into work this morning it was decidedly overcast both inside and outside the car but in both skies there was a discernable scrap of blue. The cloud inside broke about 11 o'clock with an appologetic text message and a reschedule, and right now the sun is shining brightly even though it's well past sunset.

"Under the Arctic fire, Over the seas of silence"

a great description of this little island of ours that. I noticed it lurking in a song lyric on my way to work this morning, while I was peering out through my rain-splattered windscreen at the Pentlands racing by. The sky here has reverted to its customary grey and Anita tells me that we've exceeded July's quota of sunshine, but in amongst the gloom up there there was a little fragment of blue which I needed to see this morning...

Thursday, July 24, 2003

this is *so* not what I meant...

Sometimes when my job comes up in conversation I end up explaining my view of how the traditional image of librarianship is dated and that in the 21st century librarian is (at least potentially) quite a cool thing to be.

Between the dynamic fictional librarians created by people like Pratchett and Whedon and the real-life metamorphosis of the profession being driven by the "Information Revolution" it can all make you feel quite good about an intimate day-to-day relationship with dewey decimal... and then something like this comes along!

reportedly the five inch tall plastic model is made with the intention of redressing the ballance of kids toys toward "under-appreciated occupations" but did she really have to have a swooshing "shh!" arm?


since I still can't get the archives to work (or rather haven't had time to sit down and fathom it out) I've changed them to monthly so that content isn't disapearing so often. hopefully I'll have them running soon

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


my doorbell woke me this morning: recorded delivery post. The letter turned out to be a delayed notice that a piece of paper I thought I'd dealt with months ago, somehow hadn't in fact been dealt with at all, and that as a consequence I was in a legally and financially messy situation. Since customer service phone lines don't open until 8am I had to drive all the way to work stewing about this on top of the queasy morning feeling that comes from any such rude awakening.

It's all sorted now, but that was a really horrid start to the day and I didn't get any breakfast: can I go back to bed now please? :(

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Computers (like many other things) in my house have names, one of them is Gossamer who is the aged PowerMac G3 that lives in a cupboard and acts as the central fileserver for our home network, last night her flakey old main hard drive gave up the ghost. No back-ups so it all just blinked out of existence :(

We mostly just use Goss for holding backups of the two PowerBooks (Sparky and Artemis) anyway and since they're both running fine *knocks on wood* nothing from that was actually lost, however the house's central mp3 library was stored on that drive with no back-up - oops.

Replacements are on their way from as I type and happily hard drives have grown both bigger and cheaper since I set up the network meaning that for less than I spent first time 'round, I can afford to but two drives (each half as big again as the one they'll replace) to make a RAID array so that when this happens again I won't lose anything.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

normal service...

note: normal service will hopefully be resumed soon, but in the meantime (while blogger's posting is on the fritz) I've found a third party app called Kung-Log to post with - it doesn't seem to be too good with titles though :/

anyway Belfast has been great fun in a relaxed sort of way. In a rare fit of activity last night Pete and I sampled the delights of the city's gay scene in the shape of a club called the Kremlin. I'm not much for the scene as a whole but the Kremlin turned out to be a really enjoyable bit of escapism: the place itself was fun and (generally) so were the people, although I did once find myself being addressed with that most infuriating of gay club clichés: "go on, smile!" which always seems to come from someone with no apparent smile-worthy characteristics, and which frankly, pissed me off more than it usually does because I was smiling at the time!

Pete got tired by about midnight and left (after checking that I did in fact know how to get home without him) I wasn't remotely tired however and stayed on, dancing and chatting with complete strangers in that strange top-of-your-lungs way you have to in a club. I couldn't honestly say I met anyone but I enjoyed myself nonetheless.

I left at the end of the night (shortly after 3am) feeling a curious mixture of relaxed satisfaction and sadness: satisfaction at having spent the evening enjoying myself on my own terms as well as a sort of drunken self-satisfied smugness at being able to do that these days: I remember distinctly, being the younger me who used to go to clubs in Aberdeen looking for something I felt was missing... and I remember even more distinctly the Morrisey-esque feeling of coming home at the end of the night not having found it.

I couldn't quite put my finger on the source of this faint edge of sadness as I walked through empty night time Belfast trying to find a cab (all of which it transpires leave their lights on whether they have a fare or not here, frustratingly) but with my head cleared and the help of hindsight I think what made me a little sad was that, even though I can now go out to a club and just enjoy it for the uncomplicated distraction that it is, there's still a small part of me that would like to prove myself wrong by stumbling into whatever it was I was looking for back at University.

Saturday, July 19, 2003


Today (amongst other things) I visited the Belfast Botanical Gardens and the Ulster Museum. The day being marginally cooler than it has been recently lent itself almost perfectly to our chosen purpose of wandering aimlessly from the city in the morning, through to the elegant victorian streets and squares surrounding Queen's University Campus, and on to the gardens and the museum, while still putting on a full display of July sunshine for us to enjoy when we got there.

The museum is set into one side of the garden and most of it sits among peacefully formal city greenery, with one face pointing out into the red-brick elegance of this part of the city - this half of the building looks exactly as you'd expect a museum in a city largely constructed on the back of the industrial revolution to look: the usual nineteenth century grandeur of columns and cornicing enclose galleries of vaulted ceilings divided by arched doorways. However approaching (as we did today) from within the gardens, you see a quite different side of the museum.

Rising out of the leafy tranquility stands one of the most startling examples of brutal mid twentieth century architecture I've ever seen. Geometric slabs of untreated concrete appear to have collided first with each other and then with the rest of the museum. Among them are oddly placed balconies, peering clusters of narrow windows and, over the entrance, a surging up-turned wave of naked concrete which (like the rest of the structure) has taken on a strangely organic texture with the passing of years and rainwater.

Inside, we walked through airy display spaces and exhibits that knitted the two conflicting halves of the building to a point where it very quickly became impossible to discern which was which. A gallery of interactive light sculptures in fibre-optics and nylon led on through the velvet darkness of a special exhibit of nineteenth century sketches into stately galleries of classical oil on canvas.

At one point we moved from a series of excellent exhibits on the ancient history and pre-history of the province to a small contemporary exhibit on youth culture (in which I found a pair of black DMs identical to my own presented in a glass case identical to the ones housing mesolithic axes and arrow heads only a few galleries away). The display was simple and showed nobody present anything they hadn't already seen in the course of their everyday life, but the effect of re-contextualising the everyday was nonetheless quite affecting.

Afterward, back outside in the city under the watchful drone of the ever-present helicopters, I couldn't help wondering (given the context of my surroundings) if this divided city and province was conscious of this epitome of unlikely unity which sits within spitting distance of police stations still barricaded and barred by the trappings of decades of unrest.

(written 4pm 18th July - post delayed due to problems with blogger)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


just a quickie today: I'm off to Belfast this afternoon to spend some time with a very good friend, Pete. much long overdue catching up to do but first I have to get to Troon and catch a ferry... and guess what? I'm running late! happily I know myself and scheduled everything about two hours earlier than I had to but I still have to get a move on, just wanted to set the scene for posts to come.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Life is good...

do you ever just get struck by how fantastic your life is? I'm having one of those days today: it's four thirty and I'm sitting typing this into my PowerBook in the dappled shade of the line of cherry trees that stand in front of the school where I work, the sun is shining in a near cloudless blue sky, birds are singing and I have one of those big stupid happy grins on.

it's not just today either: on Thursday evening I had some family up to spend the weekend with me - and as if that weren't enough of a lift, we decided to make a mad dash for the west coast and go camping just outside Arisaig. bliss!

of course the weather was awful: I mean it had to be - one of my guests had never really seen Scotland (the Edinburgh festival doesn't really count) and so naturally there was the Highlands 'baptism of drizzle' to be endured... but oddly enough, murky and driech though the weekend was, the showers had breaks in them long enough to allow us to wander on the beach with our beers before dinner, and again after dinner and a couple of hands of 'Rollmop' the clouds lifted long enough for us to sit out on the headland and chat into the evening surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in existence.

on Saturday, after a walk through the marbled white sand beaches of those parts, and a quick chip-shop lunch eaten on the breakwater at Malaig, we decided that one night under canvas in the rain was probably enough, and so allowed ourselves to be drawn home by the siren call of a Sunday spent eating toast and reading newspapers in my incredibly comfy living room... the plan was perfect except for the minor flaw of coming home via Loch Lomond on the same day as the Scottish Open! even so some comedy driving* (is she going to hit the car in front? or propel one of us through the windscreen by braking? or just start a 'mexican traffic jam wave' who can say) kept us all amused as did a car number plate game involving the phrase "penis milk"...

Back home, and by Sunday morning the sun came out, just so that I could prove that Scotland does have a summer, and we all managed to rouse ourselves into leaving the house by mid afternoon to soak up the sunshine and the (rather less spectacular but still quite pretty) South Lanarkshire scenery near my house... all in all it was a stunningly lovely weekend, and so far it looks like the rest of the week is set to be lovely too.


*note: The person in question is in fact a very good driver, the comdey stunt driving was only brought on by intense boredom at sitting in a huge traffic queue behind hoardes of insane golf fans, and as such is completely understandable and not the behaviour of an unhinged individual at all ;)

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


and finally the rest of you can join in - yes the site is finally viewable by the great unwashed of the internet: Internet Explorer users welcome! :)

thanks to Owen for the much needed insight into where my messy html was fouling Microsoft's messy browser (for it is a messy browser, yes it is Hamish)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

something's missing...

I learned relatively recently that there's a handy psychological trick you can use on yourself when drawing and painting objects in the real world. It seems that our brains find it easier to accurately interpret the space around an object than the object itself...

just now this came back to me in another context and I started wondering if that same tendency crops up in other ways: for example if I'm low (which happily I'm not right now) I have a tendency to start defining myself by what I'm not, losing sight of all that I have got and focusing in on empty spaces, like the lack of a "significant other" for example.

in some ways we live our lives around the gaps: Going to work each day thinking about that promotion you're after, or daydreaming about the guy you saw on the bus and didn't speak to, or still sleeping on one side of an empty bed... it's often this stuff that makes us unhappy, so does this mean that the more accurately we percieve our lives the less happy we are with them? surely not.

I swear, contrary to appearances I really am in a good mood today, sometimes this stuff just pops into my head...

Monday, July 07, 2003

pants on fire...

this weekend for the second time in as many weeks I found myself on a date with a fit attractive, engaging man who (part way through the date) announced that he'd lied to me about his age.

now before I go off on one - and you know I'm going to ;) - lets get one thing clear: I have no problem whatsoever with older men, in fact almost all my relationships have been with guys who were at least a couple of years older than me... in both the recent 'pants on fire' cases I already knew that each of them was older than me and I was OK with that, what I wasn't OK with was finding out that they weren't OK with just how much older they each were.

You might say that from the lofty heights of my 25 years I'm not really in a position to judge? that as a young man I couldn't possibly understand the social pressures of this youth obsessed culture we live in? well you'd be right as far as the specific circumstance goes - it naturally isn't part of my own direct experience, but lying about an aspect of myself is, as I expect it is for almost every gay or bisexual man or woman on the planet.

I understand all too well what it's like to feel that some part of yourself is going to repel people, or change the way they see you, and I understand better still that that feeling is something you grow out of: it's perfectly understandable to be chronicaly insecure about your identity as an adolescent, but as an adult?

I've owned every aspect of myself to a greater or lesser degree for years, and long since discovered that the people who really matter to me, the ones who actually love me for who I am, don't give a damn about incidental details like who I'm sexually attracted to, or how many years since I was born. The idea of lying about myself to someone I was hoping to form such a relationship with is baffling. I'm not expecting total disclosure, I don't need to know everything about someone before getting into a relationship, and I appreciate that some things take time to be comfortable sharing, but your age really should not be one of them.


Saturday, July 05, 2003


I'm really not a cat person... that said I'm quite enjoying having Benny about, except for the fur that is getting everywhere (happily there are no carpets in the part of the house he's allowed in) he's really driving home how unfair it would be for me to have a dog though. Cats are supposed to be all independent, and yet he makes it very clear that he doesn't like being left alone, a dog would go out of its mind here *sigh* must find a job that lets me work from home...

Friday, July 04, 2003

Friday again

how did that happen? where did my week go?

I suspect that an unexpected jaunt on Wednesday night is responsible for this - Lora (a good friend of mine who moved away to University a couple of years ago) turned up out of the blue (as is her wont) and announced that we were going out to celebrate her birthday ("I'm 20, that's so old" - now I know how other people feel when I moan about being the ripe old age of 25!)

celebrations included a fantastic Mexican meal (paid for by Lora's incredibly lovely parents) and copious quanties of alcohol, most of which was in the form of tequilla which is an evil substance that makes patricks very drunk indeed...

anyway so now I find myself at another Friday afternoon with another weekend stretching invitingly before me - 'rah! Some of the weekend will be taken up with entertaining an unexpected guest: my friend Jane's cat... anyone reading this whose eyeballs didn't just pop out at the idea of me voluntarily allowing a cat into my house, can wait for the (impending) publication of the revised 'ideas' section of and see what I think about cats as a species since that's what's on my mind at the moment and will almost certainly be one of the first posts.

Oddly enough, Benny isn't driving me to distraction, in fact he's quite a welcome adition to the house so far, which I guess goes to show that the rule about prejudice and the individual (something you can also expect to see linked into the ideas section very soon)

Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

sunshine on a rainy day

It's been a pretty rotten day today, for starters the Fireman on our calander isn't a patch on Mr. June, and to be honest for the 1st of July it's been quite unacceptably miserable weather too. Happily though, just now on the way home (late, of course) the day redeemed itself, and I'm starting to think that just maybe July isn't so bad after all: let me paint you a word picture...

I'm driving (something I enjoy immensely even on the worst of days) through one of the prettier stretches of South Lanarkshire. The road is winding its usual way through the drizzle and cloud that have characterised today when the sun, on its way south for the night, peeps out from below the cloud-line illuminating the rolling green of the hills around me in that warm yellowy pink light that's usually reserved for implausable holiday brochure photographs and coffee commercials.

It's still gently raining and the wet world around me begins to shimmer under the setting sun, as my iPod begins playing the tentative opening strains of Lemon Jelly's Lovely Weather for Ducks (which if you haven't heard, you really should).

As the track gears up to full swing with its quirkily optimistic mixture of guitars, voice, synthesiser and chirpy precussion, the sun makes its way lower into the clear patch of sky and casts its light long over the landscape, as if making up for its conspicuous absence today with one spectacular appearance.

The faintly unreal quality of the stretched out evening light throws the hillsides into sharper than natural relief, picking out their detail to the point where I can almost see individual blades of grass on fields that are miles away. As I round the bend onto the approach road for my home village, and Lemon Jelly lift Ducks into its wonderfully silly closing trumpet crescendo, the sun (now behind me) adds the finishing touch to the show with a short but brilliantly couloured rainbow which arcs up beside the railway bridge and over the fields behind, glinting briefly in the windows of my house as I pull the car onto the driveway.

Some days it is unusually good to be home.

Monday, June 30, 2003

johnny splat lately


It seems that just as I'm getting started, others are quitting: two of the (very few) blogs I've enjoyed reading have wound down recently. and embra nights have both gone black pretty much just as I've started... makes me wonder if I'm filling a void or just jumping on a band waggon whose wheels have fallen off?

Friday, June 27, 2003


I am in a disgustingly good mood and have been all day. Since (for the first day in ages) the weather is miserable possible explanations are...

1: sleep deprivation
2: the weekend effect
3: the sudden, unusual (and most welcome) absence of teenagers from my workplace
4: the fact that mum and dad are visiting this weekend
5: all of the above


in the beginning...

so *finally* there is content here at - still also far too many of those little 'men at work' about too but I'm working on it. Thanks to the wonder that is blogger this section should be reasonably regularly updated... and thanks to the wonder that is my friend Hamish the whole thing is (almost) perfectly in tune with the rest of the site :)