Saturday, December 31, 2005

not my problem

I just had an interesting bit of role reversal: My neighbours came and banged on my door angrily in the middle of the afternoon*. It seems that someone finally ran out of patience with the noise and reported them to Environmental Health, who duly sent the Police round last night. I can't imagine who that might have been, but I suspect they might have done so a lot sooner if they'd known who to contact before now. Seeing as how nextdoor don't seem to give a damn when any of us ask them nicely if we can please get some sleep at 2am, and the nice people at Environmental Health are there to deal with exactly that kind of infantile anti-social rubbish.

Anyway, true to form, instead of taking the hint that their behaviour is out of order and needs to change, the children who inhabit next door were angry that someone had called the Police. I told them that it seemed about time someone had, but that otherwise I didn't see how it was my problem. Then I listened to a few more minutes' worth of angrily agressive and indignant tripe before smiling, wishing them a happy new year and closing the door.

As I understand it, if the nice people from Environmental Health haven't got their message across (and it seems they might not have) then they can (and will) simply take away the noise-making equipment.

To all my fellow taxpaying friends who've ever commented that they didn't feel they got anything for their money, can I just say a really big "thank you" for helping to fund the best new year present ever.


* It's been the other way round, and the middle of the night most weekends since they moved in.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I'm OK...

... Bags however is not:

The short version of the story is that coming home from a spectacularly lovely family Christmas in Burghwallis, I foolishly took my usual route home over the Pennines on the A66. As I drove west the weather worsened until I was puttering along very slowly in a minor blizzard. I crested a hill into a stretch of road that hadn't been gritted, to find a number of cars (10 or so I think) strewn over the road at various angles. Turns out a Mondeo had collided with a jeep sending the jeep into the back of a police car (!) and then four more cars had crashed further up the slope trying to avoid the first accident. As I crested the hill two more cars had collided attempting to avoid the second accident. I tried to stop and couldn't, sliding downhill into the back of one car before being hit side on by another which also couldn't stop. Not fun.

Amazingly nobody seemed to have been hurt in all this car-carnage, at least two other cars (as well as my own) were rendered undrivable and had to be towed away. Two hours later as the truck carrying me and Bags left the scene traffic in both directions had ground to a halt, several more minor shunts had happened (some from stopped cars slipping down the hill into other stopped cars!) and the Police were closing the road to all through traffic with snow barriers.

Not a happy end to an otherwise wonderful family Christmas, but I'm all in one piece and it could have been much much worse. Fingers crossed that poor old Bags isn't a total write-off.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Thursday, December 08, 2005

<rubs eyes blearily>


go away: I'm far too busy swimming and doing a job I love and driving insane distances to and from work/home, I don't have time to write all that down for you. shoo.

Why did I think living in the middle of nowhere was a good idea? <looks at room> Oh, yeah. that. well yes my house is deeply lovely* but really two and a half hours a day is too much to lose to travel. There's just so much else to be done! It's making me very sleepy trying to live a full life, work a real job, and still commute. "Commute" is on its way to becoming a four letter word.

What are the compensations? well there's the house, which I love. Then there's the views. I know I've done this to death already in earlier posts, but really the views on my drive are amazing. Yesterday Justin and I drove through two stunning and staggeringly different ones: in the morning we flitted over a monochrome landscape of ice and frost lit by a sky on fire, then at night we skimmed under banks of fog in between which loomed a gigantic red crescent moon. I'll miss that when I move back to civilisation the city. That and the space.

What's this post about? no idea I just felt it was time for one... I'm busy, life is good, beautiful things are happening and I don't have the time to sit and write them down for you... that wouldn't matter so much if "you" weren't also me a year from now. ah well.

*new photos are on their way, promise

Saturday, November 26, 2005


OK I'm being officially rubbish at blogging aren't I? Sorry.

Tell you what, go listen to some really fantastic music while you wait for me to stop being so busy.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I've been shockingly remiss at blogging of late haven't I? my appologies folks I'll endeavour to do better in future.

As it happens for the past week and a half I've been doing a pretty bad job of most everything... except my job, which is still all new and shiny and which I'm still loving! Even though (or possibly because?) it can be quite demanding, and is making me really quite tired most evenings (and thus bad at almost everything else, like keeping in touch with people - sorry about that.) It's a good kind of tired though. A sort I haven't felt in a long time.

So what am I doing that's making me all tired and happy? I'm working as a Desktop Publisher for an investment company, "Scotland's leading independent investment manager" according to their website and I can well believe it. Inevitably there's a certain rose tint to my view of the place just now, but I really like working there on all sorts of levels. Not least being the corporate culture of the place which is pleasantly relaxed and grown-up, lacking a lot of the company characteristics and management mannerisms that frustrated me in certain past employers. For one thing it doesn't feel like an institution. Only one regular bell sounds during my working week (the fire alarm test), there are no mass migrations of teenagers (or anyone else) every 45 minutes, I can (and do) chat with my colleagues while I work, and I don't have to tell anyone to do anything (least of all to be quiet!) which is blissfully liberating and keeps me from feeling like a grouchy git.

I love working in the city centre, and being properly in Edinburgh every day (as opposed to being shut in a silent room in a stuffy building in Morningside) is amplifying my already growing need to move back there. Soon. That said the commute is really no less arduous than before (1hr 10min each way usually) and is generally shared with my fantastic housemates - we've even kitted the cars out with a shared bike papoose so that each of them can piggyback Justin's beloved Caliban at the same time as a full compliment of passengers. Brilliant!

At present my contract is for maternity cover until mid April, so life has direction but also a sense of freedom in future possibilities. Career-wise I get to spend the next 6 months icing the cake of DTP experience which I slow baked between June '01 and June '05, and which (un-iced) appeared less enticing to potential employers than it seems it deserved to. That little bit of insight right there is probably my favourite thing about my new job: I got it on merit, and I'm good at it! I beat four other candidates at interview, and while it's still early days all the feedback I've had so far says I'm doing a damned good job. Better even than that, I get to do work that I love and am good at, and which I can already see myself improving at. There's space in this role for me to stretch my skills and learn new things, and (with hindsight) running out of that space, more than all the bells and bureaucracy is what frustrated me so painfully in my work life over the past couple of years.


On a semi-related note, obsevant visitors will have noticed that the 'work' section of is under virtual dust-sheets. I'm not yet 100% sure what's coming there, or exactly when... but the little glimmers of ideas I've had for the revised section are interesting so if you're so inclined feel free to watch that space.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

new job!

I'm off to bed in a second but before I go I realised I haven't blogged my big news: I have a new job! Starting tomorrow morning I'll be getting paid to do DTP work on a shiny PowerMac G5 from 9-5. And as if that weren't reason enough to celebrate, it's nowhere near a school!


Thursday, October 13, 2005

on speed

Driving (which I love) is no fun any more. Between rocketing fuel costs, rising taxes and the omnipresent speed camera, all the joy is being steadily sapped out of driving, to the point where I find myself looking forward to being able to sell my car and go back to life as an urban-dwelling pedestrian. Unlike some drivers I recognise and (reluctantly) accept that (fun though it is) private car culture is coming to an end because it must.

Making driving not fun is an important stage in weening western civilisation off our damaging internal combustion habit. I understand and accept that - nobody said I had to like it. That covers the first two killjoys, and so when each successive fuel bill is higher than the last, I stiffle my urge to grumble.

Speed cameras are a different matter. I not only dislike them, I don't accept them. I don't believe they are (as claimed) a safety measure, nor do I believe they should be part of the landscape of our roads. Mostly that's just an instinctive reaction but today I stumbled accross Safe Speed, an organisation put together by a man called Paul Smith. Mr. Smith has put a lot of careful effort into examining why I and many other drivers are so distrustful of speed cameras.

I'd come across references to Safe Speed before in assorted bits of motoring press but the actions in recent years of certain self absorbed short sighted morons have made me deeply distrustful of grassroots motoring organisations. Seems I was tarring Mr. Smith with a wholy inappropriate brush (a shameful waste of metaphorical non-renewable resources). He's not out to justify reckless selfish behaviour on the road at all. His site contains a lot of thoughtful and thought provoking analysis of speed cameras and their effects on our roads. I'd recommend that anyone who drives in this country to take a look at his site.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


not sure if this will be at interesting to anyone else but I found it fascinating

ColorQuiz.comPatrick took the free personality test!

"His need to feel more causative and to have a wide..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Friday, September 23, 2005


I went for dinner with Anita, Geoff, Hamish and Liz tonight (Thursday - we got home late) Phil joined us later on but before he did something came up in conversation that was mightily geeky... I can't now remember what it was (partly because it's well past my bedtime) but everyone "got it" because we're just that kind of crowd. It prompted Geoff to mention a geek quiz he'd been doing at work, and so of course I made him email me because the idea of quantifying our collective geekyness filled me with a very geeky glee.

So anyway...

I am nerdier than 76% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

... 'parently.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Happy Birthday to me...

... well OK it was yesterday but I was busy celebrating it then.

I'm now 28 and it feels very much like 27 did really, only a bit fuller somehow. I spent yesterday with my friends, Justin and Liz and I hung out here at home on Friday night into Saturday morning, and I cheated by opening Liz's prezzies about an hour and a half early - she bought me cool stuff from my amazon wishlist, and some very yummy chocolate. Justin having given his best ideas to other people is waiting to see what else I get next weekend before deciding on a present. I like extended birthdays!

Saturday I opened cards and presents which came in the post and one left behind by Anita who had to visit her family this weekend, I think I have more things to open next weekend when I visit my family... like I said extended birthdays are good. Then in the evening Liz and I drove into Edinburgh to meet up with Hamish, Geoff, Dave and Phil, my friends proceeded to get me squiffy on cocktails (mostly something involving Rum and crushed ice) before we went out clubbing. I got home about half an hour ago having had a very good extended birthday bash. Now I'm going to eat some food and then go to bed.

Yes. A very happy birthday indeed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"I really missed this place..."

Through one of the universe's stranger coincidences, myself and my friend Pip lived in Aberdeen at the same time for four years, but never actually knew each other until we both lived in a much larger city and happened to each meet the same canadian. Between us we must have said a million times how we had to go back to the Silver City for a visit, yet somehow it's taken another four years for us both to get organised and actually go. In the meantime while Phil and I've been boring Hame ridgid with stories of our lives in the frozen North, we've also all three met Liz who lived in Aberdeen for the first few years of her life and so also has fond memories of the place (albeit rather different ones!) So this weekend the four of us travelled north for an adventure.

Hame and Pip went on ahead on Friday while Liz and myself had things to do, following on behind on Sunday morning. The others all took pictures which Hamish and Liz have posted here and here respectively. Liz's match my weekend the closest since she and I hung out the whole time.

Somehow in the short time we were there I managed to touch base with most of the different aspects of Aberdeen that I've missed, Sunday night the four of us spent on the town visiting some old haunts (anyone who was at Aberdeen with me will be pleased to hear that Estaminet is pretty much just as we left it) as well as exploring some new ones from the godawful gay club that's squatting in what used to be Oh Henry's to the first rate church conversion bar Soul up at the top end of Union Street...

On Monday Liz and I met back up with Hame and Pip inside my graduation photos, we wandered around Old Aberdeen in the implausibly good weather trying to figure out where we were going to go for lunch* having discovered our intended destination nolonger existed. When Liz's Dad arrived to meet us we all settled on a location chnage to the sea front where we had an excellent lunch and ate ice creams on the Esplanade.

Liz and I spent the afternoon playing on the beach, she bought a very cool kite and then nearly brained me with it. We wrote inscrutable things in the sand and walked until the Haar came in, at which point we decided it was home time and headed back to the car along the river. I'm really lucky with my friends and the more we do this sort of thing the more I find how great they are to travel with. Especially seeing how little we spent weekend road trips might become a more regular thing.

*It's gratifying to note that visitscotland's information on King's College Visitor Centre's "excellent coffee shop" is as out of date as my own: the University's gone and closed it :(

Monday, September 05, 2005

shiny city!

Yesterday I went to Aberdeen with my friends and stayed there until this afternoon, it was brilliant but I am very tired now so I'll write about it after I've slept

Friday, September 02, 2005

shines and spoulders

I hurt my thumb today. It was in a very good cause though: the island unit in my kitchen is now (finally) properly mounted to the floor. It would have been years ago but for someone else's over enthusiastic helpfulness which resulted in an island unit I hadn't had to fit, but which spilled peoples' drinks when sneezed at. I've been waiting for a day where I had a helper and the right sort of energy, Justin was off today and it was energisingly sunny but neither of us really felt like doing anything outdoors. So instead we engineered all day with big bits of wood and bracketey things and powertools.

Yay for productive fun!

(the thumb hurting came near the end when I hit my thumb with a hammer in a cartoon-esque manner. It hasn't swolen to four times its size though, happily.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


... are bloody ignorant apes"

I say that all the time (mostly because it's just so true, but also because it's always good to quote Beckett) just now it's being prompted by the news that three quarters of UK motorists don't understand how numberplates work.


Am I the only one who's amazed by their stupidity?

Friday, August 26, 2005

growing up? growing old? (II)

Other things than next door's potential future ASBO have set me musing about my age and where I am recently... hardly surprising when you stop and think. In three weeks I'll turn 28, I'm unemployed (albeit by choice), single, dogless and almost directionless... of course all that could just be put down to a delayed mid-youth crisis* if I believed in such guff. Instead I'm prompted to look for goals, examine where I am in relation to where I want to be, and think about how I want to go about continuing being a grown-up.

I'm starting to feel like I could do without some of the grown-up trappings I've accumulated. The car springs to mind. Summer is money-haemorrhaging season for my car (MOT, Tax, Insurance) and while I love it to bits, I'm really missing the freedom of not owning one. The house is another area of rethink: I'm still undecided on exactly what should happen next beyond wanting very much to live in the city again... renting seems like a possibility though, and a year ago I'd have dismissed that out of hand having 'moved on' to ownership.

Relationships are another thing altogether: in some ways I've yet to manage being a grown-up there. I have great friends and a wonderful family, in both areas very adult and grown-up relationships on the whole but romantic relationships have never yet worked for me. Maybe having to figure out a non-standard sexuality's slowed me down there? I don't mean in terms of identity: I'm very comfortable with who I am, and have been for a long time. Thinking about it though I missed out on all that 'figuring out' time my straight peers got in school and at college. I didn't date, instyead having (mostly secret and hidden) trysts. That might have been a lot of fun but it's useless as experience for fathoming how to be with someone... and yet to a degree it's set the tone: The other night I was out clubbing with some friends, chatting up a friendly and very attractive Canadian tourist** I was getting on really well with him, but when he went to the bar and I had the obligatory "so, how's it going?" conversation with my friends... and the answer was nowhere which is OK but makes you wonder a bit the day after.

Looking at it this way my mid twenties have been a late adolesence for my romantic development... maybe not but either way I feel ready for something a bit more grown up in that department.

Which brings us to work. I had a steady 9-5 job for four years but I've not yet had anything you could call a career... do we have careers these days? or is that line of reasoning just a cop-out for being directionless? No I'm not directionless, I'm just having some trouble finding a good route for my direction, there's progress there too though.

*The term is just one I heard used on TV a while back, I used it 'cus it seemed kind of funny, but that so many people have bothered to define it is almost worrying. As far as I'm concerned life by nature is full of change, uncertainty and (all too often) a vague sense of disatisfaction, (which seems like what's being described there) I've always just thought that's what drove us to grow and change. Perhaps the difference is that I do a lot of navel gazing am more prone than most to reflection, and so I'm aware of it all the time rather than just at decimally convenient chronological mile stones?

** I have no idea whty, but Canadians keep appearing in my world, more often than not completely independently of each other, do you think the universe is trying to tell me something? Or are

Thursday, August 25, 2005

growing up? growing old? (I)

No news, just a 'thinking out loud' post, just so you know.

Next door is finally inhabited - the warehouse conversion that was moving so slowly it almost cost me my mortgage (and burned the phrase "derelict commercial property adjacent" in my memory) three years ago, is now a split level two bedroom flat for the son of the neighbour who fitted my carpet... I get on fine with my neighbours but a few times over the past fortnight one of the big downsides to having a teenager next door has been grating on my nerves.

I can sum it up in two words: Bass Beat. The adjoining wall between 60 (me) and 58a (him) is two feet thick, more than thick enough under normal circumstances. I've always said that noise wouldn't be a problem, that it'd take some really serious decibel levels to get through... trouble is that the kid next door is of the Max Power generation, so of course he's got a stupidly over amped stereo and likes playing it loud. Fair enough: The walls are so think that all you get is that distant "thud thud" of the bass line and really it's no more than a minor irratation during the day. Twice now though I've had to go over after 11 to ask 'em to turn it down. That bothers me. What bothers me more though is the fact that both times this kid has sent his mates to the door to deal with my (very calm and reasonable) complaint pretending he's not in... The way I see it, if you're living in your own place, you grow the f*ck up and take responsiblity for your actions. I'll be more measured about it when I get to talk to him but words need to be had.

Meanwhile all this sets me thinking, am I getting old? One of the reasons I first started looking for my own place was when we got new nieghbours in the rented flat back in Ecdinburgh. Ironically enough they started complaining about the noise! Believe me I'm being 100% objective when I say that the noise levels they complained about were piddling compared to these (my stereo's just a stereo not a concert sound stage - it just doesn't make that much noise) and never as unreasonably late (the fact that we eventually agreed that after 8pm I'd avoid music with any strong bass component should give you an idea how much of a different leage we're talking here) but that said the age difference was probably the same...

Of course then there's the fact that while I like him well enough, I just don't get this kid - I can't imagine needing five sets of alloy wheels for my car (especially if the car in question is a knackered old Mk3 Golf that's probably worth less than any two of said sets of wheels) Or wanting to blast my music that loud ... OK so I'm still young enough to do that now and then, even if I'm also old enough to know you don't do it at 1:30am.

Maybe it's not an age thing, maybe it's a personality thing... maybe I've just been spoiled by three years of blissful silence after 11pm... passing trains notwithstanding. Did I mention I'm putting the house on the market in the Spring?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


I'm being rubbish at updating lately aren't I?

OK so what's new? I seem to have the beginnings of a career as a freelance webdesigner going: one contract's almost completed (just some niggling bugs to work out and a bit of coding to tackle this afternoon,) and another pending (will know better if/how that's going after a meeting on Thursday.) It's not exactly how I want to be earning my crust in the long run but it certainly feels like a step in the right direction. Better still it should see some money coming in, as well as preventing my CV from atrophying. Got some other work irons in the fire too but I'll keep quiet about those for now on here at least.

Away from work life is still great, I spent the weekend away walking with Justin and his friend Toby who was up visiting. Playing it by ear according to the weather reports we set out towards Oban on Saturday. We fetched up at a servicable (and very cheap!) campsite at Bridge of Awe in time to get pitched before puttering down to the jetties at Taynuilt. From there we watched the sun setting over Loch Etive, lighting up the most startlingly brilliant rainbow I think I've ever seen on its way down. Retiring to a nearby bar in the failing light we pored over the OS Explorer* sheet to plan Sunday. We discarded a tentative plan to climb Ben Starav (far too long a walk up Glen Etive from where we were,) in favour of an extended ridge walk around and above Cruachan Reservoir.

Sunday morning we woke at the sea level campsite to see Saturday's clouds burning rapidly away. Climbing through almost unbroken sunshine and astonishingly clear visibility we took a route anticlockwise round Cruachan, over Stob Diamh (998m) and then Ben Cruachan (1126m) before descending back to the reservoir (which sits at about 400m,) through the Bond film-esque landscape of the underground hydro station's tunnel entrances and vaulted dam. Last but by no means least we took a detour over the lower slopes under the dam to a disused military road. That took us most of the way back to the car before it petered out in the middle of dense woodland, leaving us to track a small stream down, under a railway bridge and back onto the main road. Brilliant! My legs ached all day Monday from keeping up with Toby and Justin, both of whom are considerably fitter than I, but I still loved every minute of it and can't wait for the next such adventure...

Almost as a social counterpoint to all that outdoorsey excercise and wild scenery, Friday was spent in the civilised and stylish surroundings of Hamish, Geoff and Dave's new flat. Picture one of those impossibly large and swank urban pads you see in sitcoms: the ones with acres of window looking out over unbelievably gorgeous urban landscapes of parks and handsome but comfortably distant neighbouring buildings. Yep, that's the place. Ten of us met there for a liesurely dinner, which disolved into hours of easily invigorating conversation - I'm very happy for my friends for finding the place, especially since they seem happy to have us hang out there from time to time!

So that's the balance of my life at the moment. Work is steadily taking shape while my social life stands as a solid pillar around which to build. I get to divide my time between a vibrant and gorgeous city filled with engaging sharp witted people whom I love, while occasionally escaping into the nearby wilderness for a couple of days' adventuring. Life is good.

*Over the course of the weekend I found myself repeatedly contemplating just how lucky I am to live in a part of the world that's as meticulously well mapped as the UK is... probably one of the many old occupational hangovers, musing on the quality of available information resources when one's halfway up a breathtaking mountain, but living in a country where even the most overgrown and forgotten of disused tracks appears on the map certainly has its advantages when it comes to walking through it.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

silly but fun

This has nothing to with anything really but I love it all the same. 's a game where you're driving a little yellow car (kinda looks like a Renault 5 to me) and you have to run away! from a sinister black van and some evil white 4x4s before they squash you!


OK back to looking for work...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

still alive

Just a short post to say that I'm still alive, and to apologise for being uncharacteristically uncommunicative of late. I decided to take a small break before launching myself fully into the search for my next job, I bimbled down to Doncaster for Carol's wedding as I've already mentioned, I also spent a happy couple of days in the hills with Justin, and since then I've been enjoying my house and its surroundings: going for little local walks, pottering at long neglected little jobs round the house, and keeping a low-key local social-life going.

I've been keeping a low-level job search going in the background, making applications for anything that looks like the right move (one in particular I should hear back about this week and I'm quite hopeful about) and somewhat surprisingly the 'head-hunting' has started, albeit slowly: yesterday an agency specialising in design and layout type jobs rang me up having found me on That said I've not yet kicked into high gear with the whole thing and while I think I needed to take a wee break, I also think it's time I got on with it.

So, today was the last day of my break, I decided that at the weekend (actually I decided that yesterday was but then some stuff appeared that I needed to do at home today) and decided that I'm going to start getting up at the same time as my working house-mates at least four of the five days in a working week (if nothing else to help me get a grip back on which day is which!) going into town and... well at that point the plan is a little wooly, there are temp agencies to approach in the short term and the bigger agencies to pester in person perhaps. More useful than that I expect will be finding some means of approaching potential employers directly... that part needs more thought. Watch this space (and I promise it won't be so empty over the coming weeks)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

the wise and munificent C'rol

Carol just mailed me her wedding photos.

On the whole they make her look as serene and elegant as she did on the day, however she (perhaps unwisely) included the shot taken after I'd attached a baloon to her tiara (there was a fair bit of alcohol being consumed by all during the reception and I am known to act on impulse after a few beers...) Needless to say it is my favorite so I thought I'd share:

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

touching base

So on Thursday I escaped the craziness up here and drove south to spend an extended weekend in the company of friends and family back in Doncaster. That was exactly the right thing to do... not least because one of my oldest friends Carol was getting married on the Saturday so I kinda had to be there for that!

Carol's been one of my best friends for about fifteen years now, and is one of the reasons I don't bother with a Friends Reunited profile: the friends who mattered to me in school and at university are the ones who still matter and who I've made the effort to stay in touch with. Anyway it was amazing to be there for the wedding, Carol and Andy (see, I got it the right way round!) have been together for a while now, even while Andy was away in far flung places being taught how to teach, getting hitched just seems to be something they've been meaning to get round to for a wee while. Carol looked stunning, Andy was short dapper, and amazingly neither of the twins fell in the pond!

The wedding was also an excuse (were one needed) to hang out with James and Caroline, more old friends who I love, amazingly the three of us togged up for a wedding almost looked grown up!

Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday nights were family time in varying combinations - somehow my scattered family seem to have developed a knack over the past year or so for arranging to converge on the same place at the same time reasonably often - something that makes me very happy. Within the family there was occasion to celebrate too but it's not news I'm going to publish, at least not just yet. Suffice it to say there are some... developments happening that make me beam with pride when I think of them.

All of which brought me home today feeling recharged and very very lucky to be living the life I do - I good mind-set for getting on with things I think.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

stupid bloody protests!

OK so Edinburghy city centre is effectively closed down for the third day this week. anyone reading this who's all caught up in the G8 protests can I just say that I appreciate what you're trying to do but could you fuck off out of my city, take the protest somewhere that's actually involved in the subject of your complaints and let me get on with my life? Thanks it'd be much appreciated.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005


should I be worried that I always fancy TV/movie characters' evil alter egos?

um, can I have my city back?

happily this seems to have been the worst of it, and with one or two exceptions (including a couple of quotes in that article) the consensus seems to be that the Police have done an excellent job of preventing this misdirected madness from doing any serious harm... still I'm not acustomned to living with riot vans and helicopters (less still to being thankfull that they're there!) so I'm looking forward to getting my city back. soon please - I need to look for work in it!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

going... going...

That's that then: I don't work there anymore.

Last night I celebrated leaving with the coincidentally timed anual staff dinner... It was a strange evening for me full of conflicting feelings about the place that's been work for the last four years. Plenty of little reminders of why I'm leaving, but also a lot of reminders of what (and who) I'll really miss.

For one reason and another (mostly I think down to the relative natures of myself and the job) I've never felt like I was really part of the school. I think in many ways I quite liked to feel apart from the place: its rules often frustrated me and my own values and principles are fundamentally at odds with many of the school's. Don't get me wrong: It's been a really friendly and welcoming place to work, and I was delighted to get chance to say a proper goodbye to some of the really great people I've gotten to know over the years... but when the guts of your working day consists of sitting in a silent room making sure it stays silent, and such breaks as you get fall at different times from those of most of your workmates... lets just say it's been hard to get to know people as well as I'd have liked.

That said I've managed to make some good friends there in the gaps between the silences - Projects for example (the recurring highlight of my working years) allowed me time and space to genuinely get to know some of the friendly faces from the corridors, and some of those showed up last night which was great... a couple of others I'll have to track down myself I think.

I really felt like 'part of the family' when it came to my own department. Over the years I've grown to love and respect my closest colleagues, and it was wonderful to spend my last evening with the two people who've made work more than just a four letter word for me, day in and day out since June 2001. Leaving the school at the end of the night felt entirely right - it is after all a move forward for myself that's long overdue - but leaving my two friends behind on the steps was gutwrenching.

I know that I'm going to miss a lot of the people I worked with at GWC, and I hope that many of them do manage to stay in touch, but I know that I made at least some friends for life there and it's sad to think I'll no longer be spending my days with them.

Monday, June 27, 2005


... meanwhile I've finally called in the accidental damage insurance on my poor old battered laptop Sparky the other week after his most recent and near fatal fall...

Since Apple just effectively announced they're never making a PowerBook G5, I don't mind too much... though frustratingly if it weren't for the physical damage, that laptop would have happily gone on for at least another couple of years.

So it's a fond farewell to Sparky after four years of stirling service he's being sent away to the insurance company who either decide to repair him, or they'll send me a cheque and send him to live on a farm for retired laptops.

After passing the gauntlet this afternoon, Sparky's given way to Flash (the "aa-aaah!" is optional... really) a shiny top-end 2005 model PowerBook G4 who cost less new than Sparky, and is a smidge more than four times the speed...

Yes it would seem like an extravagance to anyone who didn't know me and how pivotal a part of my life my computer is. You lot all know better than that right?

ok, so not that one then

Didn't get the job in the end... probably for the best since the commute would have been awful and (given the person they did appoint) I get the impression I might not have enjoyed it as much as I thought after all...

on to the next thing then: thanks to everyone for the good wishes and positive vibes - I'll keep you all posted on developments from here on

Friday, June 24, 2005

no news...

... has to be good news: "the end of the week" has been and gone and I've not heard anything, which seems to mean that they've not yet decided.

I hate waiting.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


OK in case I hadn't told anyone, I had an interview today for a job that I really really really want. I just got home from it (it was an all day thing) and am exhausted so this is a brief post but I think that in spite of a couple of stupid gaffes it went pretty well... I'll know by the end of the week so expect a post about it then.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

mmm Dark Knight-ey goodness!

Tonight a bunch of us went to see Batman Begins. Brilliant film! Cinema generally falls pretty low down on my list of personal priorities. For one thing (thanks to the house's resident videophile) I have a really nice TV at home hooked to a TiVo which spends every hour of every day busily sifting through the hundreds of channels being broadcast at it wading through the dross for stuff I might like to watch. After all that electronic effort it seems rude to ignore the results in favour of something else. Also if I'm going out with friends I prefer being somewhere where I can actually interact with them (that being half the fun of friends) and if I'm by myself I'd rather just go home, or up a hill.

That said something about the advertising for Batman Begins perked my interest and I'm glad it did because I've not been so gripped by a movie in ages. I suspect it is one of those films you need to see on a big screen... preferably close to. That's exactly how we did see it thanks to a school party thwarting Liz's usual preference for middle row seating. I really like being at the front for action movies (I find it adds to the immediacy of action secuences if they fill my field of vision) but not enough to make a point of it when most of my friends really prefer sitting further away from the screen...

Anyway the film was stunning - instead of being the kind of dried-up franchise-wringer it could so easily have been, it re-engages with everything I find appealing about Batman (and darkly-brooding-troubled-comic-book-heros-with-big-arms in general) presenting the whole thing in a completely fresh and yet thoroughly familiar way that I just loved: Gotham City feels real and yet still legendary and 'other' - this isn't just Comic action set in familiarly real surroundings (ala the excellent Spiderman movies) it's a place out of a whole other reality, but one you could perfectly picture yourself walking though.

Better still there are people in it! The acting is only 'holywood blockbuster' but that can still be good, in this case it really is... 'course when you're dealing with a cast that includes names like Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine you'd expect good things, but I've been disapointed before - not this time though: characters like the setting feel solid and believable while still approriately removed from the mundane... this is comic-made-real, or at least as real as it gets on screen.

...and of course it didn't hurt at all that Christian Bale spends a fair amount of screen-time without his shirt on* ;) Seriously though if you like comic book movies at all and have (for whatever reason) been holding off seeing this one then (in my opinion) you should go see it. now.

* Bale's never really seemed like my type before and to be honest he still isn't outside the context of that film, but for 141 minutes there he was absolutely magnetic! ...must be a Batman thing: the same peculiar phenomenon happened with Val Kilmer iirc

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

unexpectedly beautiful

As a rule I do not like two wheeled road users. Cyclists (with a couple of notable exceptions) are inept wankers with no road sense whatsoever, and motorcyclists... well the less said about them the better (although again, there are always exceptions eh Steve?) but to reiterate, as a rule I do not like two wheeled road users (and anyone who's driven with me more than about twice knows just how much of an understatement that is. Even when it's said twice.)

All of the above makes the following even more amazing.

Tonight I was driving home at the end of a long-ish but rather lovely day. Work hadn't been especially anything - the school is approaching the end of term and I'm approaching the end of the school so between us both things are pretty wound down at this point - but the day had. My walk at lunchtime was through an almost perfect image of early summer (or late spring for those who live further south). I walked through the elegant and dappled leafy shade of Morningside, down to the banks of the canal where tiny flecks of sunlight played in the ripples and a family of swans alternately charmed and intimidated passers by. Even being indoors most of the day was actually pleasent: the vaultlike nature of the Library meant I could enjoy the warm sweet air as it swam past through the open windows, but that I wasn't bothered by the heat (yes I know it wasn't that warm, but my internal thermostat is long since set to 'Scottish' and anything over about 22 ºC makes me I feel like I'm being slow cooked)

All in all it was a playfully lovely day and though I was very tired from staying up late with Liz the night before, and in spite of still having no firm news about any of the jobs I might be going to do next, I was in a very good mood. I've blogged at length about my drive to and from work, so you all know how beautiful the landscape I drive through can be and how much joy I get out of the driving itself. Other road users however are seldom a source of joy - in the city (and in Scotland generally in my experience) they're unusually courtious by and large, and that often makes me smile, but out on the open road they're either just in the way, or else they're in a near-suicidal rush* and I'm in theirs which is stressful. Cyclists are almost always the former and motorcyclists are invariably the latter. I wouldn't have expected the sight of either would make me happy let alone both!

So I reach the start of a long downhill slope about half way between work and home. Down near the end of said slope a motorcyclist who overtook me about two corners before has met a cyclist and pulled alongside. Perhaps they knew each other, I'd actually rather imagine it was just something about the atmosphere, but as I drove down the hill toward them I could see that each rider had their head turned to look at the other. Perhaps words were being spoken but again I'd rather imagine not. After a few moments they joined hands and rode like that for a while: hands joined and looking at each other. It was a long straight stretch with plenty of visibility and completely clear ahead (otherwise I'd have been furious at the obstruction and recklessness) but as I swept past them and onward toward home I was really struck by the unexpected beauty of it. Two people out enjoying the road and the sun, meeting briefly and taking a moment to share it.

I think I'm going to hold onto that mental image of them and try to recall it the next time some two-wheeler does something infuriating.

* Anyone who wants to drive faster than I do on that road (or indeed anywhere!) is insane. I probably drive too fast on it most days (cue uproarious laughter and accusations of understatement from those friends who've commuted with me) so the amount of overtaking which still happens is a source of genuine amazement to me

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Something is wrong: I feel sluggish and grouchy for no good reason (persistent bad weather not being enough of a reason imho) It could be a lack of direction, anxiety about this whole work business, or possibly it's down to a spell in the doldrums... Ha! yet another reason I need a dog.

*For those of you who've never read, or can't remember the Phantom Tollbooth Tock is a watchdog, and just now it feels like I could use his help.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

catching up

Just back from a weekend down south* catching up with folk and generally chilling out... OK "chilling out" might not be entirely accurate: I spent most of the weekend helping my folks convert the top most bedroom in their house from an essentially unused space into a new master bedroom (they'd already done most of the hard work, I just helped out building flat-pack furniture.)

Somehow the whole clan (me, my two siblings and their respective partners) seem to have settled into the same visiting pattern and without any conspiracy this weekend saw all five of us converge on the ancestral home. I love that the world is small enough for that to work out like it does - in spite of the inevitable smattering of sibling friction (sorry 'bout that Al) it's always great to see everyone.

Sunday afternoon I spent running about catching up with some old friends including Carol who I'd not seen in ages and whose kids Lauren and Katie are easily twice the size they were when I last saw them - Lauren drew me a picture look:

...I suppose most people would stick it to their fridge but I'm not most people. At Carol's I also met the infamous "missus" aka Andrew - the man who's making an honest woman of one of my oldest and best friends this summer. For the record C'rol I wholeheartedly approve - he's lovely.

Going back to Doncaster always has a kind of restorative effect on me which is strange given how much travelling it necessitates and how busy the weekends always are. Dad once suggested it's because there's a restorative quality to feeling that you belong. I think he's absolutely right, and I'm lucky that I do quite a lot of belonging.

*It's only just stopped feeling strange to me to refer to the North of England as "down south" even though 'home' has been a good way north of there for almost a decade now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

back from the wilds!

sorry it's been a tad quiet round here of late folks: I've been away on Projects again. This year (for my last one) we had the ideal combination of a really great group of kids, and unbelievably good weather! ... oh yeah and a kick ass music festival half way through.

I'm not going to do a day by day run down of the fortnight like I did last year - for one thing I'm kinda busy - but I will say that I'm really going to miss that aspect of working here... 's a shame you can't keep a job for only two weeks of the year.

As in previous years I've come back from all that fresh air and excercise wondering how I manage to spend so much of the other eleven months of the year indoors sitting on my arse, so anyone who's at all up for geting out there into the hills over the next few weeks need only mention it in passing and I'll be there! Hopefully this time I'll keep the momentum up and make a year-long habit of it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


After my friends went to see Hitchhiker last week Hamish blogged about how it wasn't the same, meaning that the film didn't really grab him the way the book had when he first encountered it (the book being his first brush with Adams' multifaceted and gloriously inconstant story)

Leaving aside the particular merits of the film for now (except to say that I personally loved it) when I came out of the cinema this evening having seen the Guide for the first time a week later than everyone else, (but thanks to Liz, with just the same sense of occasion and giddy excitement!) its not-the-same-ness was one of the things I'd found most exciting and engaging about it.

Change is something I can relate to right now.

On Friday last week I handed in my resignation at work. I'll work at my current job for another two months because that's the length of time my boss and I agreed suits us both best, but after that I'll leave... and right now I have no idea what happens next. Changes are afoot, some are scarey and as-yet-unkown but change is what it's all about after all.

Change is part of what makes life worth living: growth, development, discovery... it's all about the next interepretation of "today" being different than the last one was. Hopefully you keep the best elements, build on earlier versions, develop themes... but change is a vital part of life in every sense. Not that it's not also important for there to be things which stay the same, but those solid elements should be the kind which support and encourage growth and development (I'm lucky in having a lot of such support in my life) so that their very stability facilitates change...

I've much more to say on this, and about a lot of other things but I'm tired and really must sleep now.

Monday, April 25, 2005



This weekend a bunch of us made plans to go and see the Hitchhiker's Guide on its first night, Thursday after work. A heap of us got organised and booked tickets for the Gold Screen showing at 5:20. To say that I was really looking forward to it is a gross understatement... and I just found out that I have to work that night - actually the real sucky part is that I already knew! I have to go on the pre-Projects walk after work with the group we're taking to Rum in May, something I was really looking forward to as well, I just hadn't rememebered it was that Thursday.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

friendly helper

While poor old Bags is in the shop having his suspension rebuilt (he went in on Wednesday morning and I should get him back tomorrow night) I have one of these* friendly little motors to bumble about in. It's not really my sort of thing, the styling's a bit on the cutesy side for me for one thing but I've been pretty impressed with it all the same.

Driving a little one litre again is inevitably quite a culture shock: 64bhp is a good deal less oomph than I've grown used to (in all fairness, Bags is no super car, just a more-than-usually-powerful three-door hatch.) but that said the Micra's pretty peppy, especially round town, and it's certainly a good deal perkier than my old Panda which had the same size engine in a much lighter body. I suppose engine design has come a long way in 20-odd years.

One thing it has made me very aware of is just how far out of town I really live - this car is perfectly capable and (traffic and hills notwithstanding) bombs along the A70 at a respectable pace... but it isn't fun to drive. It's not that it's unpleasant, far from it, it's very inoffensive... and inoffensive is no fun. I miss my car's growl and the way it leaps gleefully 'round other cars whenever I ask it to... it seems that a big part of my not minding the commute has to do with my car, I don't think I'd appreciated just how much until now: driving home tonight was the first time in three years that it actually felt like a long way.

All in all though you'd have to be a pretty hard hearted not to like the Micra, it does everything you might reasonably ask of a car and is cute and reassuringly simple to drive to boot. While I can't wait to get Bags back, this friendly little four wheeled helper is at least making his extended convalescence less of a pain.

*My almost brother-in-law calls them "the ugliest car ever built" but personally Steve, I think you're wrong. The Micra isn't the ugliest car ever - this is. [shudder]

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

expect some wear and tear

Two things to post about today, both dimly related in a weird sort of a way.

Bags (my car) went in for his 60,000 mile service today. He's only been on the road a little over three years so it doesn't take a maths whizz to realise that's pretty high mileage for a little car. Most of it's done slogging back and forth between the city my life happens in and the house I live in - that's about a 60 mile round trip each time and the road between the two is one of the most staggeringly poorly maintained you're likely to encounter in the so-called "developed" world... Inevitably this daily slog was going to take a toll on Bags' suspension, and for the last few times he's been in for a service I've been braced for the news I got today - namely that half the components in his suspension system are now shot and need replacing. Ouch.

So part of my day has been about that while the other part has been about my renewed efforts to find somewhere else to work. After almost two years of applying for (and not getting) jobs that might move me smoothly away from the school I've stepped up the pace somewhat and am determined to be somewhere (anywhere!) else by this summer (more on that in detail another time.)

Lots of applications mean lots of rejections (direct or indirect) and much like potholes the cumulative effect of all these adds up to quite a battering for the psyche. This morning as I read yet another rejection letter (which had arrived within an hour of my application!) I became aware that my emotional suspension could use a few new parts, or perhaps even a complete overhaul considering the ride ahead.

Later in the day while I was engaged once again in that sisyphean task of redrafting of my CV, I delved into my files looking for a way to make the personal statement part sound more like it's actually about me and not some worker drone. I pulled up a file from about 18 months ago. It was the results from a mailshot I'd made asking people who knew me well for their observations on what I do well, and what they rely on me for (it was part of that hookey-pookey self development work I do with Hamish.) Anyway as well as condensing that for the particular 'process' I was involved in at the time, I'd salted the comments away for future reference in this file.

Reading that file this afternoon was like having every bearing, strut and suspension arm in my emotional undercarriage replaced free of charge - right now I'm riding on air and just wanted to say thank you (again) to everyone who contributed to that, and whose stored up observations cumulatively reminded me something important. Namely that no matter how many rejection letters I get, I have a hell of a lot more to give than this job allows me scope for.

Bumps in the road be damned. I'll get there.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

"metadata, you fickle bitch"

So. London. I know, I said I'd post this ages ago and time's run on now but it was a great weekend and I feel like documenting that for my own benefit as much as anything (as I found when I was down there, this blog has become quite a handy chronicle for me of what happened when...)

The Plan as it stood when Hamish and I decided to go to London for a weekend was to see his mate Tim on stage in the show he's in problem with that plan was that having booked ourselves flights down for a weekend when it was on and we could both get there, the damned show was sold out. Undeterred we decided to just hang out in London, I've a couple of great friends down there who I don't get to see often enough, one of whom Owen was being kind enough to put us up for free so there was bound to be plenty of scope for catching up (or in Hamish case, meeting for the first time in real life).

With The Plan dropped, our weekend just kind of formed itself organically around the very cool people I'm lucky enough to know - without really making any effort to organise our time Hame and I managed to spend pretty much every minute in excellent company and making the most of where we were. Days and evenings just formed themselves according to our moods. For example Friday night we hung out at Owen's 'local' where he appeared to know everyone and all of them were worth knowing. Late in the evening I observed that the (stupidly early) English pub closing time was threatening to call a premature halt to things. Before I'd really had time to think about it our evening was being ushered (past the queue) into one of London's biggest gay clubs' VIP lounges where things carried on uninterupted save for the arrival of some champagne.

I slept through Saturday morning emerging into the perfect chilled atmosphere of Owen's livingroom with Owen, Hamish and a very lovely friend of Owen's called Gav I'd met the night before. 'round lunchtime and staying there through the afternoon just enjoying the luxury of excellent company and no commitments. Later on Hame and I headed into town to meet my old friend Stéph, whose London is almost the antithesis of Owen's being as she's only quite recently begun building a life there - It started to feel like a 'hang out in a café' kind of evening, so an appropriately quiet and intimate Café Rouge materialised on the street we were already walking down... the whole weekend just kind of worked out like that.

Hanging out with Hamish is always good, but this weekend was the first time we've travelled together on a completely equal footing - in the past I've always driven us on our adventures which isn't quite the same as both being at the mercy of trains and planes. A sequence of missed connections meant we missed check in for our return RyanAir by 5 minutes. That was momentarily annoying but within a few minutes both of us geared down from travelling mode and spent a happy five hours in Stansted just enjoying each other's company while we waited for our Standby.

So there you go - my weekend in London, I essentially did nothing, but it was really good nothing with some great people and it all just happened by itself. I'm a lucky guy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

unsurprising meme

Owen's fault the meme that is, not the earthshateringly unsurprising result thereof.

Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Liberal Democrat

Your actual outcome:

Labour 2
Conservative -65
Liberal Democrat 92
UK Independence Party -23
Green 22

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Yes I know, the London post is coming

Monday, April 11, 2005

delayed post

I'm still shattered and haven't mustered the mental energy to describe the weekend yet but amazingly Hamish has, so you can read his version of events while you wait, if you like.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

back I am

had a fantastic weekend away, but a hard time getting home from it and consequently my brain is now kelp so I'll post about it properly tomorrow.

Friday, April 08, 2005


I'll keep this short because Hame is lying on the livingroom floor behind the sofa I'm sitting on, and he's trying to sleep.

Tomorrow we're going on an adventure to London, it was supposed to be about seeing his friend Tim acting in a show, but that's looking like it won't happen and instead it's become Hamish and Patrick's weekend in London with No Plan and I'm really looking forward to it: perfect cap for my week of being responsible for nothing

On Monday I'm going back to work and on Thursday the kids come back... there's a new plan brewwing that will hopefully mean this is the last term I'll be working there... last half term even... but it's early days yet so I don't want to jynx it...

Hame wants to sleep... I should sleep. I'm shutting up now, but I'l hopefully have lots to say when I get back

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Team Splat 2006?

I stumbled into something yesterday that I'm finding hard to get out of my head... and I'm playing with the idea of taking it seriously. I might very well regain my sanity change my mind between now and then... or I might actually do it, you never know. Either way I think this looks like a lot of fun.

Anyone else want to race an old 1l FIAT Panda accross a quarter of the world in three weeks next summer?

... what? it's a perfectly sane idea *grin*

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


OK so some of you will have no doubt noticed that things at have been a bit flaky of late, or if not you'll have noticed it's been oddly quiet. Long story short, my hosting company went crazy so I've moved to a better one. Things should be back to normal now but if you've sent a mail in the last few days and not had a response then send it again because I probably never recieved it.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

warm and fuzzy

Life is sweet

I'm sitting on my sofa with the remains of a glass of Laphroaig contemplating a really good weekend. I'm in a very good head space lately and feel like I should document that so here we go:

On Friday the gang came out to the boonies and we all hung out here, I love when that happens and it happens all too infrequently because I live "Far Away" from most of the people I care about... but my home is set up to be a space for people and fun though it is having it to myself, it really feels right when it's filled with my friends and their laughter. And laugh we did! I'd quote some choice bits of conversation but it'd probably sound like we wre having an entirely different kind of fun... Mexican food, beer, Father of the Pride (if you get Sky One you must watch it) music, conversation and laughter... I love my life.

Saturday morning everyone except me went to the Farmers' Market and (I gather) had fun. Personally I enjoyed being able to sleep through until lunchtime! I came round in a lazy sort of weekend way once 'nite and Justin came home (still thoroughly enjoying the new home-dynamic as do my housemates happily) mulling bits of the Guardian in between mugs of coffee, sections of the Saturday paper and some daft console games... After dinner (portobello mushrooms roasted with goats cheese and parmesan, parsnip chips and salad, 'nite and Justin had venison instead of 'shrooms) I poddled into town, joined Liz, Hame and Geoff to belatedly mark my saint's day with a pint and a half of Guinness at the Waverley before going clubbing with Hame at Mingin' which was as always fantastic!

Today I polled home round mid-day, flopped onto the sofa with the Herald and more coffee, until I was roused into an afternoon walk by Justin and Karen - the three of us wandered through a surprisingly spring-like Falls of Clyde for a happy couple of hours before retiring back here for more fine food, drink and company... Bliss!

...all in all I'm feeling very good about my life right now which is probably a good job seeing as next week is the dreaded last week of Spring Term at work... but lets not think of that while the Laphroaig's still to hand eh?

Friday, March 18, 2005


Last weekend while my brother and sister-in-law were visiting one of the things we did was go clothes shopping in places I'd not been before - in one such shop my clever brother found a YELLOW shirt* which I am wearing today and which makes me very happy.

Thanks again bro!

*it's this colour: YELLOW so it has to be written in block capitals

Saturday, March 12, 2005

pop out joy!

Yeah, I know! ...but I couldn't resist that title and I didn't name 'em The Futon Company did. What am I burbling about? well with three of us living here now (which I'm loving by the way) I no longer have a spare room but I still want to be able to have guests over, and since I also sometimes have lots of people over for the night I've been thinking about getting some of these for ages now, but more so recently.

This week I finally got a couple because they very kindly put 'em on a "buy one get one half price" sale just when I was about to have guests for the weekend. Handy eh? Because I'm such a lovely person... and because they're my new toy, I gave up my room last night and slept on one - so comfy! So I'm a very happy splat this morning... just need to get some blinds for the livingroom now.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

big weekend - little post

Been a busy splat of late, lots happening but it's late on Sunday and I don't feel like going on at length about it all so I'll sumarise in case I don't get chance during the day (and because it's been shockingly long since I posted)

First things first there are now three of us at home - my mate Justin has moved up to Edinburgh and for the time being has become my second lodger, should be fun.

Also at home I now have new wardrobes - yeah I know that's probably not exciting to anyone but me but they've been rather dominating my week what with moving old furniture about and building new. All good.

Weekend social life was busier than it's been in a while, Friday night was Burly at the Arches in Glasgow with Hame and Geoff, another good night (incidentally if you take a look at the gallery for last month you might spot a familiar face back thanks to Geoff for spotting my 15kB of fame there, and no the vest wasn't silver - it's just a low-light photo) think that's set to be a regular haunt: it's a great night, really good crowd and the venue is right out of a spy movie...

Saturday was a quieter night in at the Wav with Liz, Geoff, Mark, Karen and Justin, topped off with an after-closing bite at Fav and then talking into the small hours at Geoff's.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


So much for congestion charging in Edinburgh On the one hand I'm very relieved since the proposed scheme would have hit me prsonally quite hard whilst utterly failing to fund a viable alternative means of transport to and from work. On the other hand I supported the idea in principle and kinda wish the city had done a better job with their proposal so that it stood a chance in the referendum...

It's worth noting that even local councils like Fife (which did stand to benefit from the funds raised) were opposed tho the proposed plan. Nice one ECC, you over egged the congestion charging pudding and now nobody wants a slice.




I'm not going to mention the unmentionable heating, except to say it's being dealt with. Suffice it to say that the gods read my blog, and they have a sick sense of humour, so I don't want to give them ideas.

I'm not well. I seem to have succumbed to the latest nasty bug doing the rounds at work and I fervently hope that I didn't pass it on to Mum and Dad this weekend. I think it started to kick in on Sunday: I felt a bit off colour then but put it down to having consumed rather a lot of red wine with my folks the night before. I did have a lovely time with Mum and Dad (as always) and they (like me) were most impressed with the carpeted lovliness that is my livingroom... the weekend was punctuated with exploding boilers (yes, that's "boilers" plural) but nobody seemed to mind greatly: I think they were taking their cues from me and I'm getting quite used to that sort of thing by now.

dammit I'm mentioning the unmentionable. I'd better stop that.

So I've spent the last day and a half either in bed or under a duvet on the sofa... which would be great if I were feeling up to enjoying it but I'm not. boo.

Outside it's been snowing, Anita tells me the hills between here and work are quite scarily snowy - she took the train in today after spending an hour and a half getting home by car yesterday. Good job I'm stuck indorrs then I suppose.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

three for three

It's probably not a good sign when RHCP lyrics are the ones that make you sit up and nod in agreement... in some ways it's been a very bad weekend, two boilers have exploded, two! of them within two hours of having been installed and checked thoroughly by the manufacturers' chief engineer... I'm beginning to suspect malevolent bovine spirits are at work...

In other ways it's been a great weekend, Mum and Anita played in the Farmers' Market, Dad and I walked in the cold South Lanarkshire air together, we've sat in enjoying each others' company as always and the carpet is still a joy to walk on...

wanna know a secret?* I'd love to jack it all in, I'd love to disapear somehow and just not be living this life... so why do I? because on ballance, it's just so damned good. That says something: the man who's spent five and a half grand on having his house flooded three times this month, still loves his life.

In spite of it all I'm a lucky bastard


*not much of a secret when it's posted on the internet eh?

Friday, February 18, 2005

Thursday, February 17, 2005

soft fluffy joy!

my new carpets are all down and last night Liz, Anita and I put the livingroom back to rights. I still need to clear up the aftermath downstairs and SuperPlumber is coming tomorrow morning to put in bypass piping by the boiler that should prevent any more hiccoughs with the heating (which has actually been working faultlessly for the last week anyway but shhh) but home is back to being a calming comfy space that I enjoy - comfier than it was before by a long way, and it was pretty comfy before.

I can't quite get over the carpet - it's another of the big changes I've made that once finished looks as if that's how it's always been, it just seems exactly right.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

warm again!

joy! house is simultaneously warm and dry again... and on Monday men are bringing carpet for me, life is good.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Guess what happened today? it rained inside my house! This is not good.

We've been working on getting the house ready for its new carpets - Liz came over to help and we pulled up all the remaining laminate and cleaned the floor and stuff... then we decided to lift a bit of the floor to fix some wiring: when the plumbers were installing the pipe work they encountered some crazy wiring (surprise!) and accidentally cut through it. It wasn't live or powering anything so that didn't really matter. However I know what the line was for and without going into too much boring detail I worked out after the plumbers left that it'd be quite useful to reconnect it and use that line for something else, so while we were working tonight I decided to lift some of the floor and fix the wiring...

The sections of floor that were lifted were all screwed back down (by the baby apprentice plumber) so taking them up to do maintenance is a doddle, I've already re-laid the house's network cabling and replaced the floor so I wasn't expecting a problem... I certainly wasn't expecting to take a screw out and have a fountain appear in my livingroom... what would you have thought was the first thing you teach apprentice plumbers? perhaps don't put screws through pipes? yeah...

After I'd shut off the water I called Super-Plumber, he's very cross with his apprentice (the phrase "I'll ring his bloody neck" cropped up repeatedly) and is coming tomorrow to fix it.


On the bright side this showed up before the carpet was laid.

*having already used the title "splosh" I thought I'd try and recreate the sound water makes when escaping from one's floor at high pressure...


Last night we celebrated Pancake Day at Liz's. Liz played with her frying pan and made millions and millions of pancakes which were eaten by the hungry hoardes occupying her kitchen. They were very good pancakes too made with duck eggs from the Farmers' Market... mmmm

On my way over I fired off text messages to my family (only one of whom has so far replied - harumph!) because pancakes are an intrinsically 'family' thing to me: My folks have the best pancake pan in the known universe and bottles of ancient homemade raspberry vinegar which, while it might not sound it, but is actually one of the very best things ever to put on pancakes. Pancake Day was a very special occasion as a child, probably ranks up there in my memory with family birthdays and xmas, only it was for everyone at once (unlike birthdays) and Dad enjoyed it too (unlike xmas which used to just make him grumpy) which made it better than those!

When I left home to go to University, the first couple of years' Pancake Days went by unmarked - I remember the puzzled voices of family members down University payphone recievers, how could I have forgotten? Not that they were repudiating me for a lapsed observance, just that they were shocked I could have forgotten about such a big day. Since we all began living sepperate adult lives my family and I have through necessity made Pancake Day more of a movable feast. My big brother has a particular knack for knowing just when to suggest we make pancakes (you do have to be careful not to let them become an everyday food after all) but I still very seldom make them myself (even though I actually have a pretty good pan of my own nowadays, as well as good pancake-making genes.)

I'd never really thought about it until I was walking back to the car from Liz's last night, but pancakes for me are a deeply and intrinsically social thing: they're almost a kind of ritualised familial inclusion, and as much as anything that's why I only seem to ever eat them with groups of people that I love. Pancakes with 'the Gang' last night was probably the first time that Pancake Day has really felt like Pancake Day since I left home in 1996. My own oddball (and subconscious) emotional/ritual perspective on this particular food probably also explains why certain Canadian friends bitching about what constitutes a "real" pancake when I was making some for them last year upset me as much as it did.

Isn't it great when you manage to make sense of yourself?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I'm being referer-log spammed... at least I very much doubt that so many of you are arriving here via links on poker websites, that would make no sense... stupid spammers.

on the bright side of site statistics only about 18% of traffic so fra this month arrived at the old blog address, yay! my audience (mostly) remembers to update their bookmarks - thanks folks... and how will I replay you? by posting about my usage stats of course.

yeah. sorry about that. Real post to follow soon, I'm just still a bit zonked after the plumbing adventures.

Friday, February 04, 2005

my love is like a...

... busted clutch.

I love my car, we've covered that. Well it's a bad love and it's no good for me: I just got a massive repair bill this morning for fixing the clutch - something that really shouldn't have failed at this point in the car's three and a half year short life. The waranty of course ran out in September, and the clutch is broken so it must be repaired. I might very well get my money back from the manufacturer (who agree that at the car's young age this isn't something I should be dealing with.) but they need to see the old clutch first and determine why it failed and whether it's their fault or mine (how can it be mine?!) before they'll cough up... so in the meantime I'm saddled with a massive bill in order to get the car I rely on back working.

I really do love it though, I love driving it especially and it's a source of great joy to me, as well as being a gaping fanancial black-hole. - Generalisation: Patrick likes things which are very bad for him. boo.

I was describing to a friend the other night how I used to drive everyone everywhere in my first car - I loved that car too. I loved (and still love) driving for its own sake, and we were both observing that the same appears to be true for another mutual friend who recently passed his test. There are people for whom driving is a chore, and others who are frightened of it but there are also those who light up when they're behind the wheel and I'm very much one of them. Driving rocks.

Owning a car however... owning a car is hard. That first car I used to drive everyone everywhere in as a teenager had to go in the end because my money ran out and it just kept breaking... After I'd stopped mourning the loss of my wheels back then, I gradually began to realise how freeing it is not to own a car and if I could have afforded to stay living in the city I doubt I would ever have bought another... ironic really that I've been forced into owning another motorised money pit because couldn't afford to live where I didn't need one.

And yet, I still love it. Something must be wired wrong in my brain.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


well this is wierd - I forgot both my laptop and my phone when I was leaving for work this morning, so I'm without both. For the first time in months there's only one computer on my desk and I'm cut-off from most of my lines of communication... very very strange sensation.

Of course I'm used to voluntarily cutting myself off like this, (more so actually, I mean I am blogging after all and there is a computer here, it's just not mine...) Going out into the wilds of Scotland I really enjoy switching everything off and leaving my digital; self behind for a while... but to have it happen accidentally, and then to otherwise still be in the same environment as usual, all feels very strange.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


It's hard sometimes to put a sense of loss into words, I think the Scotsman's obituary writer says it best:

"Scotland's musical landscape is a sadder, less colourful and vastly poorer place following the death on Sunday night of Martyn Bennett"

It's rare to stumble into something genuinely original, but that's exactly what happened the night my friend Justin animatedly popped a tatty copied D90 cassette into my car stereo as he, Lara and I drove up the coast from Aberdeen to look for the Northern Lights. "You've got to hear this" are words I'm used to hearing from Justin, but that and the background engine noise of my old Panda were all that sounded familiar for the next hour or so.

It's possible that the magical atmosphere of that evening has coloured my feelings toward Bennett's music ever since - it was quite a night all round, though the three of us never did see the Aurora - I think though that I could have encountered that music any where or when and still have been moved in the same way... Something about that unexpected fusion of sounds and textures captures Scotland perfectly for me and over the years its become indellibly linked with my sense of this land as home.

Sad that such a powerfully original voice is silenced so young.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

coughing up time

OK everything seems to work as advertised, no hitches and my house is still snug and cosy (even though the floor coverings upstairs are mostly ripped up) so I've just written a really big cheque. This means the heating system is now officially in and mine. Everything's under warranty (lifetime for the giant hot water cylinder, 5 years for the radiators and 2 years for everything else) and Super-Plumber said not to hesitate to call him if I have any concerns, questions... or explosions.

Yay for home improvements. It might have cost me an arm and a leg and an extraordinarily stressful week but it feels good: I can get out of bed in the mornings into a room which is room temperature, come upstairs and wake up under the best shower I've ever experienced, and just generally enjoy living in my house that bit more. Plus when the time comes it'll sell... well it will when I get this carpet in...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

cautiously cosy

The new boiler's in (as of yesterday afternoon actually - but I was too busy Friday-ing to blog.) so far so good - the last one failed after about a day's use though so I'll reserve judgement until it's well and truly settled in - just now though all appears well, my house is warm again, hot water is something we just have rather than having to think about, and once the sealant all seals (this afternoon) I'll be able to really enjoy that with the shower... mmmm shower.

keep your collective fingers crossed a while yet though...

Thursday, January 27, 2005


OK... you know my swanky new boiler? the one that's been making my house all warm, my shower superb and my spare room wet? well... it exploded.


Clark (aka Super-Plumber) came out very quickly and took it apart, seems one of the converters (the three bits of cleverness that make the water hot, there are three so that they can scale up or down and use the appropriate amount of electricity to the demands of the house at any given time) literally exploded - there's a big hole in the side of it that looks like someone inside it* shot their way out... followed by lots of water!

Clark is not impressed, he is surprised: this is far from being the first of these systems he's ever installed, it is however the first time one of them has exploded. He's taking it back to the manufacturer tomorrow (I imagine with angry guns blazing) and getting a new one - I feel looked out for which is comforting.

In other news my bathtub has been propperly installed (about ten years after it arrived in the building) and now doesn't flex, squeak or otherwise behave in an unbathtubly fashion. soon it will be water tight but we're at the mercy of chemistry for that part - Super-Plumbers may well work faster-than-a-speeding-bullet speeds, but sealants will still take a while to seal...

so... all isn't exactly well in splatland: I was very unhappy at the start of the evening. That's an understatement - I was miserable. That thing about your space reflecting your state of mind is very true - happily while my space is undergoing some... "upheaval", there's a good and effective force at work making a new order in it.

All will be well. soon.

*this would be really hard since each of these bits of cleverness is about the size of a coke can

the Curse of Cruickshank

every time.

the Curse of Cruickshank strikes again: the nice new high pressure shower over his shoddily fitted bathtub means that taking a shower floods the spare room. bugger.

Happily Super-Plumber is coming to the rescue and refitting the bathtub propperly so that it'll hold water (a novel approach, I know) but it'll take time for the sealant to seal so no showers for a while yet... Anita's OK, she christened the new niagra last night (which is how we know it leaks) but I may well need to visit a friend with a functioning bathroom soon.

every time: this sort of knock-on happens with any job in my house, as well as undoing crazy Cruickshank's botched work in order to do whatever improvement you're doing, you also end up undoing a bunch of other related stuff he did wrong once you've sorted whatever it was you actually wanted to change. Case in point this business with the bath but it always happens...

... mind you at the rate I'm going it won't be too long before I've undone and redone everything he ever did in that place.

"Super-Plumber" is (aptly enough) actually called Clark

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

smoking electrician monkeys

huzzah! my house has heat!

The electrician who usually subcontracts for my Plumber (see, I'm getting all proprietorial* about them, which means they must be doin' good) has vanished into the electrician ether... Plumber In Chief is miffed about this but managed to scare up two replacements for this evening. So at 7ish they all three arrived, Plumber In Chief and his two un-tested new sidekicks... sidekicks stopped outside for a smoke, and returned there for nicotine top-ups at regular intervals over the evening... much to everyone else's mild irritation since none of the other four people in the house smokes and all of us wanted the job done with asap.

Hey ho, they did (it seems) get the job done, albeit in a slightly haphazard way - Hamish, Anita and I retreated downstairs to start putting furniture back together in Anita's room (which has seen the most upheaval of the three bedrooms in order to accommodate a radiator, and needed some re-thinking) "give us a shout when the power's going off" says I as we depart, "yeah, of course" replies Plumber In Chief... an hour or so later we're all plunged into darkness: electrician monkeys seem to have been either unsure or just uncommunicative about exactly when they'd turn the power off and upstairs is in confused darkness too - nobody's torches seem to work except mine so I distribute them and wait patiently for power to return... in between fag breaks *sigh*

but now all is well - the system works, there are some loose ends to be tidied up tomorrow but my house is warm throughout for the first time in the three years I've lived here - that's really something! Anita's scheming to christen the shower too - technically we shouldn't because one of the 'loose ends' is installing a thermostaticly regulated mixer so that we can shower under a safely temperature controlled niagra, but Hamish and I have both promised not to turn on taps while she's in there so she'll be fine...

yay for the new heating system! and yay for my Plumbers! they did good.

*It's all totally appropriate and platonic, anyone who's having tradesman fantasies on my behalf can just quit it - lovely though they all three are, none of them is lovely that way OK? they're just very good at their job

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

hiding? me?

First off thanks again to everyone who listened to me freaking out yesterday - decompressing really helped. So Day 2 has kicked off, the team have started ripping up the floor upstairs and I've retreated to my room. I'm calm. No really I am. ;)

Things I'm happy about today:

- I'm one day closer to this being done
- I'm a day closer to having heating
- I got the wirelss network fixed before work started
- my bedroom reconfigures into a comfy bolt-hole


oh yeah, and

- there are lots of people who'll help me regain my sanity again at the end of the day when I'm a gibbering wreck

In case you hadn't gathered already, I'm finding this all just a little stressful.

Monday, January 24, 2005


I should have taken bets on how long these guys would be in before one of them asked "so which joker put this plumbing in?" The man who converted my house from the shop it used to be was a gap-toothed psychopath and every time I or anyone else work on the place, half the job involves unravelling his "workmanship".

so, 'round 11am today the team who are installing my new hot water and central heating system got to the stage of starting to pull out the old immersion tank, turned the water off at the mains, disconnected the pipes, isolated it with its stop-cock, turned the mains back on and nearly flooded my house. Surprise surprise, Cruickshank's plumbing sucks just as badly as the rest of his work...


Sunday, January 23, 2005

battening down the hatches

so the house is almost ready for the arrival of the heating engineers tomorrow - Anita's room looks as if she's about to move out with half her furniture disassembled and a heap of packing crates piled about the place holding the former occupants of the disassembled furniture (like her gigantic video collection for example) I've had to take the stairs lights out of action because they'd be unsafe to have running while people are going to be clambering about on the other side of the ceiling they're fitted into, and the contents of my airing cupboard have been moved out so that the airing cupboard itself can be converted into the boiler housing... the only thing left is to clear one or two surfaces upstairs and stow away the glassware since the cupboard that lives in will need to be moved to make way for piping instalation.

should be an interesting week but at least I don't have to go to work tomorrow

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


I give up. Something about the new site structure (which makes everything else work much better) is screwing up comments both from Blogger's own homebaked solution and from the add-in code I used to use from Haloscan... so it's 'no comment' for the time being folks, you'll have to put up with just listening for a while.

I'm archiving Haloscan's comment log so I haven't lost anyone's input on old entries (thanks to all of you by the way, it's been good to have feedback) but for now you won't be able to add new comments. sorry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

update on the update

so now the archives are back up, took a bit of digital sleeve rolling and mucking in manually with some html code but I can do that and hey look, it worked!

now I just need to figure out what's breaking the comments engine so you can all overload haloscan with your torrent of accolades for my beautiful new layout ;)

oh and (as yet) some links in archived blog posts (to photo albums for example) will still be broken because I've moved where some things (like photo albums) live - similarly if you link in to any content at you should know it's moved - in fact you should already know because I mailed the only people who've asked permission to do this and explained the new structure, so if your external link in is broken the it's your own fault for not asking - so ner.


sorry we've been a bit short on updates round here recently - I've been kinda busy updating the whole site! woo! :)

I'll have more to say once I've finished checking everything works (like the archives, which are shot just now I'm afraid)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

God Bless NETGEAR!

Home is wireless once more! woohoo!

For those of you who missed it, back in August broadband finally arrived in the little Scottish backwater where I live. Cutting a long and boring story short after that there was nothing but perplrxing techno-disharmony in my house until this morning when I replaced a bunch of inexplicably uncooperative devices with one of these wonder machines. Now all is well again! Cables are banished to the corners and ducts they belong in and no longer dangling out the back of mine or 'nites computers. We can both use the internet at speed and at the same time... all is well once more!

I know: none of you are remotely interested in this but I'm ridiculously happy about it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

not in Baltimore

I've just been to see Garden State with Hamish. It's a good film, but I don't think I got half as much out of it as Hame did. You know how you can be in a conversation and not really feel like part of it? Like the other people talking are all communicating on a level that's missing you somehow? well this was like that - I understood what the film was saying but it wasn't really speaking to me while I think Hame was having his ear chewwed off, figuratively speaking.

It's been fun lately watching my best friend being in love, and this was like turning a lens on it but I couldn't help feeling a little like the part of me that the movie was pitching to is missing at the moment. Not gone, just kinda switched off and diverting to voicemail. I'm busy you see.

Last night I couldn't sleep - that's normal for the first night before work resumes... and not all that unusual in general - left to my own devices for any length of time my body clock shifts, and the waking day for me slews by about four or five hours out from everyone else's in the same timezone. Anyway I was lying awake with all this stuff going round in my head, not the usual late night anxiety crap either but really engaging stuff work stuff, life stuff, creative stuff... busy brain. Fun, though not good for sleeping... but then when I finally managed to get it to shut up and be quiet I had to get up because the silence freaked me out.

A blank page can be kinda scarey when you stop and look at it for too long. That's exactly what 2005 feels like to me at the moment: a vast and inviting/intimidating blank page. I've got some great ideas forming for what's going to go on there but right now they're still just forming, and that promising shapelessness is unsettling when looked at head on. Anyway the film tonight made me realise that for the first time in a long time, I'm really not thinking about love, not much. Realising that reminds me that love's exactly the sort of thing which shows up when you stop looking for it, but then if I think about that too long it starts to feel like I'm baiting fate or something daft so I'm going to go back to all the other stuff and just get on with creating my year.

watch this space (as always)