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.