Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Exhausted but happy

Yes I know I promised a real post and I will get to it but stuff came up and I've just not had head space. Next weekend I'll try and hammer out something with substance. Meanwhile I'd just like to say that I had a really great day at work today and while I'm now utterly shattered (it was essentially a 12 hour working day, spent either on trains or in Leeds) I've also been reminded of what it is that I love about this job.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I've been rubbish at this lately haven't I? No posts in far too long - will sort that this weekend with a proper post but in the meantime if you're looking for something to do you could do worse than go here:

Anita put me on to it a couple of weeks ago and once I stopped being irritated by the over simplified approach to meaning they have to use to make the game work I was hooked. My personal best is level 47 (of 50) which I'm quite pleased with but the system is well geared and does keep challenging you with new vocabulary... plus somewhere along the way money from advertisers gets used in a good cause so it's all good.

So yes, go play with the words for a bit and I'll do a real post at the weekend. Promise.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Best Birthday Ever!

OK, so it was technically a fortnight ago but I'm only just back home*/in internet-connection-land, and besides the whole two week long holiday to celebrate my 30th felt like a gigantic extended birthday to me. I'll post something about it properly once I've caught my breath a bit (and read some of my Friends page which is sitting at skip=80 - eek!) but I just wanted to say thanks (again) to everyone who came along, sent things, text messaged, (and in one spectacular case) called to sing happy birthday onto my voicemail! You've all contributed to making this year my best ever birthday.

*got home last night, just waved off the last of visiting friends and am still unpacking

Monday, September 10, 2007


Anyone who's been to my house in the past few months is likely at some point to have tripped over three part finished canvasses that have been lying around* waiting for me to get round to completing them so they could go up in the living room and cover some of the very bare walls in there. Well this weekend I finished 'em and I'm quite pleased with the result: an impressionistic window on Sutherland in autumn.

For far flung and/or impatient people I've uploaded a photo here but if you're likely to pop by any time soon you might want to wait as I think they work better in person.

*update: or perhaps not, Keith for one had no idea I had a work in progress on the go, and he's been round plenty since I started them. They've obviously been less obvious than I thought... I'll admit their unfinished-ness probably kept them more prominently in my mind than they're likely to have been in anyone else's

Friday, September 07, 2007

The spider who loved me

The last two nights going to bed I've found a spider in it, the same one I think... this is a little disturbing but makes for an excellent blog post title.

Holiday in a week! can't wait!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

seems "cryptic" is in vogue

The thing about being a human being is that one's inherent falibility results in the need for so much self development that there's barely any time for the serious business of living... assuming one is doing it right.


By the way, for anyone who was worried: I'm fine, and for anyone who's been wonderful lately (which is many of you) thanks!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Order is restored!

Anyone who's been to visit lately will probably have noticed what a state our garden has gotten into. What with the alternately wet and bright summer we've had so far and with me being quite busy it had become pretty overgrown. Anyway lately it's been getting on my nerves so tonight when I got home from work with nothing to do for a couple of hours, it was all sunny and lovely so I decided to tackle it head on. Mum & Dad probably remember a similar approach to me cleaning my bedroom as a child - I'd spend weeks and weeks letting it get totally out of control, and then eventually blitz it back into shape much the way I did with the garden just now... only with a little less digging.

Lookit! oooh!

Not a great picture because it's getting late and the sun's gone off to play elsewhere now but "ooh"s and "ah"s are in order for the tidyness I think. Sadly almost all the bedding plants I bought in the spring have copped it, first from evil cats stomping on them, and then from getting overgrown by weeds and shrubs. Next time I have time spare I shall potter over to Homebase and buy some new ones.

This time I intend to thwart the cats and their evil schemes by dousing the surrounds of the flower beds with citrus smells - I recently learned from Chris that cats hate citrus smells. Invaluable bit of information I think, since I'm really not fond of felines. Hame thinks we* should plant a lemon tree but I'm not sure it would survive - anyone know for sure either way?

*by "we" he means me, which is cool - I love gardening but dislike mowing the lawn and he quite enjoys mowing the lawn but is baffled by the rest of the garden so it's all mine to play with!

Monday, August 06, 2007

can they play both at once?

This week and last week I've spent Sunday evening at a bar called Boda down on Leith Walk watching my friend Lara's husband Tim be a genius on the fiddle/guitar. It feels like the sort of evening one should be having somewhere like the Forge but I think we'd have got a lot wetter trying to walk there*, besides which it'd have been harder to get home in time to be up for work in the morning...

Anyway it feels like the beginning of a good Sunday ritual, a chilled out space to spend the evening in and something to do on Sunday night to kind of mark the end of the weekend. I like it. I also really like Tim's song about being a drunken Scot but he didn't play that this week... maybe next time.

*as it was we had to drop in on Anita and blag the use of some towels on the way over. Bless her for putting up with me and Hamish dripping on the hall carpet!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hell, It's about time.

Hello my name is Patrick and I'm a geek. Just in case you didn't already know. The specific geek-ness I'm talking about today is concerning this about which I have been giddy since the 19th of May when I stumbled accross Blizzard's announcement that they were (after almost a decade) making a sequel to my favourite strategy game ever.

Why am I blogging about it today then? well because today's post had this:

me in my new tee shirt

which (aptly enough for the slogan) I ordered two weeks ago but I'm still very happy it's finally here... if only the wait for the game was likely to be as short as the wait for the tee shirt was...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

a big long update

For some unknown reason every time I've opened this window to start a blog entry over the past few weeks my mind has gone blank, but every time there is more stuff to blether about. So today I'm determined to bash out an update - it's Sunday evening, I have Harriet Wheeler warbling away to me in the background and a nice glass of plonk beside me. I might cheat and repurpose a few bits from emails but here goes...


Work's still a joy: I had my 3 month review the week before last (a bit early) and it went blindingly well - we tinkered with my job title to better reflect the multi-hatted nature of what I do, and (in spite of my explicitly saying I didn't expect one) I got a raise for being so good at my job. Hurrah! Ooh and I got my very own account to manage which makes me happy.


Plans for my birthday have been pretty much finalised for a few weeks now and I'm really looking forward to it: to celebrate the start of my fourth decade a bunch of us are off to Guisachan, it'll be my main holiday this year (2 weeks) and I'm almost daring to hope that we might get an Indian summer after all this rain... well you never know.


Almost a year on from deciding to be carless I'm now almost free of the V5C... I won't go into all the details of the saga and especially not about the last two months (grr) but today I finally got Frank back and all being well I'll be handing him over to my good friend James at the start of August - hopefully having his own wheels will mean James visits more often so he can be further convinced of the need for him to move to Edinburgh!

Meanwhile I'm enjoying vicarious car shopping by helping out my friend Jo (whose ancient 306 recently died in the middle of the Forth Road Bridge). Jo is great and (it turns out) lots of fun to go car shopping with: for one thing when she asks questions about something, she's actually interested in the answer so I get to come away from it feeling like I've been useful and helped her understand something (which is always fun for Patricks)

So far we have seen several duds of varying degrees, but Jo has become a seasoned car-shopper and hopefully will land something perfect soon... which will be kinda sad for me since I'm enjoying having an excuse to be a car-geek.

Yes, I know: I am a freak. A useful and happy freak though so that's OK.


Friday I went for dinner at Monster Mash with Hamish, Marja & Chris before joining Jen, Alexis and someone new whose name I forget (sorry) at the theatre. We saw this which was baffling but very good. It stared a sofa, which is not to say that the sofa stole the show* but that (because of some clever, and plot-relevant staging) it was the first thing all of us mentioned on leaving, and will probably be what we remember the play for. That and being darkly disturbing but excellently well acted. If you get chance and are so inclined I'd recommend it.


Rain keeps raining here as well as over most of the rest of the UK, happily Edinburgh seems disinclined to flood and we do get plenty of nice bright spells in amongst the downpours. I'm wondering where summer is.


That's far from everything but it's enough for now, I'll endeavour to be less rubbish with the updates in August.

* it moves, slowly turning round in a circle throughout the play. It's such a gradual movement though that for the first 25mins I (and - as far as I can gather - the whole of the rest of the audience) couldn't help being distracted by apparently having misremembered its position on the stage. It wasn't gratuitous though: there was a point to it and it was terribly clever, if a bit distracting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

the devil's been busy...

I know I know, I've been shockingly bad at this of late but in my defence I've been fiendishly busy doing my job... very well too by all accounts - go me!

not a lot else to say in this post because I'm tired but I did see a woman at the bus stop outside Virgin the other day dancing to the recently rereleased Travelling Wilburys as it spilled out of the shop doorway. Can't blame her really it is awesome after all.

Will post properly soon. promise.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a dazed (but very happy) rambling update

How is it almost June?

I must now be a proper grown-up: it's 8pm and I was just checking my work email. Fear not though this is not the norm by a long way. A supplier did a Bad Thing on a job. The client for the job is in a timezone where it's only just lunch. The deadline is soon. There's an outside chance that by checking my work inbox for a few minutes a few times this evening I won't end up with a hellish Friday afternoon, and it doesn't disrupt my evening of chilling out on the sofa with music (the Wilburys are on right now but 's a very mixed playlist)

My cousin got married this weekend, meaning I'm now the last unpartnered member of my generation of the family*, four of the five of us are now happily bespoused and I really enjoyed being included this weekend. Family occasions are generally an affirming experience for me, I'm lucky enough to belong to a very close and loving immediate family. I don't see as much as I'd like of my extended family, but every time I do we seem able to pick up where we left off and I'm very fond of my cousins, aunts and uncle... I gather from assorted conversations this weekend that the feeling's mutual too which is nice. We're a pretty inclusive clan too I think, and each of my contemporaries seems to have done very well in finding a mate meaning I get four more great people folded into my family at varying distances <tone=mildly wistful>it would be nice to have someone of my own to bring to that particular party someday</tone>

(as if to snap me out of it the iPod just decided to swicth to the Red Elivises: I think it might actually be impossible to feel even remotely sorry for oneself while Istanbul Bellydance is playing... and I wasn't actually feeling down anyway, just mildly wistful)

Work continues to be a source of joy as well as a source of income (YAY! I got paid for the first time in seven months on Friday!) I know many people will have been apalled by my earlier revelation about email but it really does all balance out, and nobody other than me even suggested I might do what I'm doing this evening so I don't think there's any danger of my work-life over running my free time. I do seem to have difficulty talking about much else lately though so appologies to anyone I've bored to death lately with endless yammering about how great my job is.

Edinburgh is gloomy. Why is that? April was lovely and May has been decidedly iffy, I was all geared up for a bright and clear summer (I don't care much about the heat, I just like it to be dry underfoot and warm enough to sit in the park) Hopefully June will be better.

*by most conventional counts although you could argue otherwise by including step-cousins or (possibly?) cousins I don't know about.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"thank you for holding...*

... your call is important to us..."

I know I know, I'm sorry: I've managed to go three weeks now without mentioning my big news and lots of you will have been checking in looking for news of how it's going - sorry for keeping you hanging.

So... in case the news has somehow missed you, that "right job" I've been looking for finally showed up. At the end of April I started working for a really cool little marketing solutions agency called Gecko. The company's based back in Yorkshire (Otley actually, but not a million miles from my old stomping grounds) but no, I haven't moved: At the end of last year they opened a second office in Scotland with a view to expanding the company, and as part of that plan I've joined the Edinburgh office as its second member. It's all still quite new, but so far I'm loving it!

Why's it taken me so long to post this news then? (which by now isn't actually news to many of you.) Well for one thing I've been busy making the lifestyle transition from layabout/backpacker to busy office person, Happily the commute is pretty easy (it's a pleasant 3min walk to the office, stark contrast to the hour and a half drives in I used to do) but on top of being kept very busy at work my social life has gone into one of its busier phases too, so finding the time to sit down and share this has been a challenge.

Also one of the good signs from my interview has been making me a little self conscious... while interviewing for this post I found that for (as far as I know) the first time in my long and varied interview history, someone had actually read my web page! I mean read it too, not just glanced at it but actually had a good look around at all the junk on here... a very good sign I thought, (means that a: they were interested in getting to know me and b: what they read on here held their attention) but since getting the job, that knowledge has made me a teensy bit self conscious. I don't mean self conscious out of any fear of consequences from blog entries, for one thing because this is a refreshingly crap-free company: what matters is how well you do your job, and the emphasis is on having fun while you do that (again, stark contrast to some of my previous working environments... no specifics but certain people reading this will know exactly what I mean). I don't mean I was worried about any of the cliché blog pitfalls, I was just conscious of not wanting to seem too much of a bright-eyed eager new guy - stupid eh? Especially since my boss knows how happy I am, because she keeps asking me and getting a big goofy grin in reply!

So life in Patrickland is good right now, and the embargo on asking me about work is well and truly lifted... in fact (as most of my nearby friends will attest to) it's become almost impossible to shut me up about it!

*This post's title comes to you courtesy of Virgin Trains whose convoluted booking systems (both online and phone) have seen me log a total of 1 hour 20mins hold-time so far this evening (at five past ten), I'm on hold to their online booking support as I type after the online booking that mysteriously vanished (causing me to resort to their phone system) sent me a confirmation for itself two hours later! - grrr - it just struck me as also appropriate to what I'm writing...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A photo-meme (blame Liz)

The assignment of this meme, should you choose to accept it:
1. Go through your house and take one picture in each room - The picture can be of anything, a big wide shot or a small detail, whatever catches your eye. The only caveat is that you not arrange anything to make the picture look good. Shoot what is there exactly the way it looks in the moment your eye and camera falls upon it.

2.Keep it simple - Don't play with the photographs or the camera, just take the picture, upload and move on with your life. I'm more interested in a "life in progress" look than perfection here.

3. Name the room & caption (mine are done as title tags - hover over the image for the captions) - When you post the pics, tell us what room they are from and give each one a caption.

4. Post in your journal - I wanna see 'em on my friends page.






Hame's room


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

While U Wait

Lots to say, and I promise a proper update soon but in the meantime I just stumbled over this and loved it so here's something to keep you occupied while you're waiting for a real blog post:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

angry weasel

Nobody likes having their time wasted, but having it wasted over the sale of a car I was hoping to have completed six months ago is the pits. Following on a sudden flurry of interest in my car this weekend I've just spent all afternoon over at Phil & Murray's (where Frank's been staying while Phil has him on loan) waiting for people who didn't show up... or who in one case (out of five!) showed up with four friends, two of whom prodded at the car inexpertly for fully two minutes (while yammering excitedly at each other in Polish) before announcing that it was too expensive (at £990, which is actually pretty reasonable according to autotrader) and wandering off. I mean fair enough if you don't want to spend that on it, but the price is in the advert so don't waste my time by showing up to take a cursory glance at the car (about which you clearly know nothing) before announcing that you can't afford it (they weren't even trying to haggle - the whole thing was quite surreal)


So I'm feeling like I've had a completely wasted afternoon, which isn't fun. Happily Phil's & Murray's company was as always a pleasure and Phil managed to cheer me up considerably by flinging cushions at me. Still I'm fed up with this whole car thing and just want it finished with... strangely enough I'm still very fond of the car itself, I'm just sick of selling it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

accidental charity

Just home from a really cool evening out - Had dinner with Murray and Phil then went to the Bongo Club with Liz & Jo - a couple of weeks back while out dancing about like loopers at the Citrus Club I was seized with a desire to see some live Ska, and (naturally) mentioned this to Liz who (being a girl genius) promptly found us some!

Tonight was the first of two - a charity gig for Shelter which is good because I approve of them but (in all honesty) unless it had been a gig in aid of killing fluffy bunnies or something equally vile we'd almost certainly have gone anyway because these guys were playing and they rock* Their support acts were pretty good too though - the first lot were OK though I suspect they'd have sounded better with a stronger singer. Liz was kinder putting it down to the stress of live performance but I think he let them down. Second up were this lot fronted by a stunningly attractive** (and very talented) young woman who got the crowd well and truly warmed up for the main attraction. All good.

and I won stuff! There was a raffle and I won some Starbucks guff (fourth or fifth prize but hey!) including a little caffetierre which may prove very handy in my new office!

Life is excellent.

*especially the stunning attractive drummer, mmmmm
**James, this is about where you got texted - you would have liked her a lot I suspect and so should move here!

Friday, April 13, 2007

say it with Sinfest

I don't usually do this, but this just sums up how I'm feeling today.

...only it's not a bone that I have, it's a new job! YAY!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I've had a great Easter - my old mate James came to stay from Tuesday through to this afternoon and it's been far too long since he and I got to just hang out with each other, then on Sunday Liz did what seems to be becoming her customary egg hunt for us up on Haggis Knowe (sp?) in Holyrood Park - scrambling around on a rocky outcrop hunting down chocolate eggs is a great way to spend a few hours... must figure out some kind of fun thing to do at another point in the year to redress the choc-balance there I think...

Oh and the garden keeps on blooming, as soon as I think on on a sunny afternoon I'll be taking and posting pictures.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


... I know I know, I'm sorry it's taken me so long but I finally finished tweaking and editing the Australia travel albums and now all three are up on the slightly revamped travel photos section of the site which you can get to the usual way or with this special big yellow button:

enjoy! :)

edit April 3rd: Fixed a host of typos in the album comments - thanks to Chris for lending a hand with finding all the "teh"s etc... in my defence I am using an unfamiliar keyboard while Flash is away.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I'm not sure which is worse, discovering that some unnamed gaydar-queen is making up gossip about me, or finding out that a nice guy I went for a beer with recently bought said gossip hook line and sinker (without bothering to ask me about it) and now doesn't want to even take my calls... People can be so disappointing.

Eric, buddy if you're reading this I hope you can take some small comfort from not being the only one this shit happens to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


... spring is springing (even if it's suddenly got colder) look though:

pretty eh? I have no idea what it is beyond "a shrub in the corner of my garden" but it's lovely - the full sized image is linked if you want to click on it not because it's a great photo but because it's a really pretty plant and partly 'cus I'm impressd with my phone for taking such camera-like photos.


I feel dirty: I just caved and submitted my CV to a few of the city's temp agencies - literally within moments I had an agent on the phone arranging an interview... I've been holding off temping because it's usually mind numbing work and because I'm looking for a real long term opportunity... but the overdaft is approaching critcal mass so it's time to reverse my cashflow and temping should at least do that.

I just hope one of the real jobs I'm applying for materialises before I lose my marbles from filing for some fiscal monolith.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Like I needed telling

So the long weekend in London was great, I got to catch up with several old friends, made a couple of new ones and generally recharged my batteries for the ongoing slog that is finding my next proper job. All that was good. Getting there and back however was hellish.

I'd been holding off booking my transport while the whole job situation is still unresolved, in spite of knowing I needed to be there for the weekend since December. With the rail network's arcane pricing structures, booking ten days before travelling meant that the train was going to cost me £60 more than flying with EasyJet. I'm a tad cash strapped right now and an extra £60** seemed like a big deal so (in spite of being disinclined to widen my carbon footprint unnecessarily) I booked my £30ish return flights and thought no more of it... until I came to actually travel that is. The journeys both ways were deeply unpleasant experiences thanks to all the nonsensical new airport security arrangements I was prodded, poked, generally treated like a criminal and - worst of all - substantially delayed by. In the end I spent so long being needlessly delayed on the flimsy pretence of security that it actually took me longer to fly to London than it would have to get there by train!

So by the time my parcel* arrived this morning I'd already decided to take the advice printed on it: I'm done with domestic flights. Costs be damned it's just not worth the hassle, discomfort and delay, especially when it already nags at my eco-conscience. I'll happily take planes for journeys that wouldn't be feasible any other way but as far as I'm concerned the days of short haul hops are over.

* The picture is of the deodorant I had to buy in London to replace the one I'd packed and then had confiscated in case it was part of a liquid bomb (which is scare-mongering pseudo-scientific nonsense and physically impossible). I had to either leave the replacement behind or post it back to myself, which I did because I was feeling stubborn, even though it's a ridiculous thing to have to do.
** Irritatingly, I worked out after the fact that I'd spent an extra £30 on getting to and from airports - not to mention money spent on replacement toiletries and the shipping thereof ;) - whereas if I'd gone by train I could have walked to and from Haymarket and would have been delivered to and collected from London city centre at no extra cost. I'll know better next time.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

dum dee dum

So it looks like I didn't get the penguin job (more power to them - I'm not sure I wanted it), and it's a week or so until my next interview... and (conveniently) I'm committed to being in London to celebrate one of my best friend's birthdays* so I made a virtue of neccessity and came for several days (on the cheapest available transport - next time I will book ahead and come by train, domestic air travel is a pain in the proverbial...) and am thoroughly enjoying myself...

I'm not sure but I think I was probably getting depressed back home: the days at home doing nothing were certainly taking a toll (sleeping until 2pm regularly and feeling generally crap - that's depression-esque yes?) and (maybe) getting away from that for a few days was exactly what I needed.

Hopefully when I get back I'll land a job (as opposed to an interview which I seem to be good at getting)


* note to those close to me: I'm thinking how to celebrate the start of my own fourth decade (in September) and thinking along the lines of a gathering so keep your diaries free and your ears open...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

tech stuff: good news/bad news

Good news My number ported smoothly and on time from O2 to Orange, meaning I can now send and recieve text messages again and my telephone is fully back to normal, only much cheaper - yay!

Bad news Flash's narcolepsy is a hardware problem and not something I can fix myself so he's almost certainly going to need an expensive replacement part in order to be usable again. :(

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Linkey post

I'm not being very good at updating lately am I? Sorry about that - it's largely down to the fact that I'm still job hunting which is a bit depressing really since I've been back in the UK for almost six weeks now, still there's a very promising prospect on the horizon (fingers crossed) which - if it materialises into a job - should see things picking up pretty quickly.

Anyway, other than the job hunting (which I'm fed up with talking about) I've not got much going on, Flash (my trusty PowerBook) is bucking to get himself renamed Mike Waters ... which is an obscure way of saying he's developed this glitch. It's my own fault for saying to Hamish the other day how generally good my experience of technology is and how my stuff seems to last for ages without going wrong... serves me right eh? Hopefully I'll be able to convince Apple to fix him out of warranty because it does seem to be a problem with this model rather than my specific unit, but the prospect of convincing tech support people of that isn't very appealing.

Meanwhile though (more tech news) after almost a decade with these guys I've finally stopped being able to wring a decent service contract out of them and so I'm mid-move to another network who I've heard good things about and am so far very happy with: everything including my swanky new handset has been bang on time, and I've not had to argue with anyone at customer services, something of a constant when dealing with the old lot recently. Happily because of the way things work I'll be keeping the same number I've had forever, so nobody needs to update their address book. That said for the next week or so you're all better off calling or emailing than texting me since the actual transfer takes a week and while calls can be redirected, texts can't.

There. So lots of distractions from not having a job, some good some bad. and many many links, not sure why I've peppered this post with links... maybe I need a job. ;)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I heart my friends

Been a bit fed up of late what with spinning my wheels on this job hunt thing and all, but my friends have been consistently perking me up - like Chris constantly emailing me suggestions of stuff to apply for, or James blethering with me about nothing in particular for an hour or so last night (on his phone bill), or Pip inviting me to lunch tomorrow, or Thursday nights at the Calley with Justin & Keith which seems to have become a (welcome) fixture of my weeks since I got home... and of course there's Hamish being across the hall which I love.

Or last Friday: I'd just heard back about a job I'd interviewed really well for and really wanted, and which in all honesty I thought I'd probably get, only I didn't and was crushed. Liz had some DIY for me to help with which picked me up no end*, then the Friday gang were about being Friday-ish and they completely took me out of myself (with a little help from drinks being a pound at Opium, and the Citrus Club's 80s night).

Today, Justin popped by to say hi (apparently - I was still in bed but knowing he popped by is nice, and Just next time you have my permission to wake me up: I should not have still been asleep at that hour!) then just now Anita showed up to take Hame to the cinema with the gang, not a pick-me-up in itself since I'm not going (no income y'see) but (bless her) in her latest round of sorting she'd uncovered some old films and got them developed, including the lost reel from starting renovating my old house! So I spent a happy hour or so flicking through those and will get them digitised at some point soon so I can sort the first house album out and people can see exactly how much work we did (which is a lot!)

So yeah, today instead of getting bogged down by some greetings card nonsense which I can't join in on, I am just being very thankful for my friends. Happy Wednesday guys!

* yes really, and I know I'm a freak

Thursday, February 01, 2007

We apologise for the delay

OK I know it's been three weeks since I got home but there was a lot of editing and sorting to do, however I've finally got the first of my three Australia trip photo albums compiled and posted, you can find it here

Enjoy. The 160 images in this album cover the first month of the trip - More to follow soon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

of sexuality and identity

I started writing this post in May last year and then left it as a draft, but partly because (with all the travel) this place has become a bit what-I-did-at-the-weekend-ish of late, (i.e. lacking my usual abstract musings/navel gazing) and partly because it's on a topic that keeps coming up for me, I thought I'd revisit what I'd written, add to it and post it. Appologies if I get a bit soap-boxy in places, and for using even more footnotes than usual.

Over the last year or so one way and another I've given a fair bit of thought to my sexual orientation and how that impacts (or doesn't) on my day to day existence, and on my future. On one hand I've been watching my two siblings forge happy conventional relationships for themselves, and finding myself part of a steadily growing family without really having a sense of how my role in that family might develop as it grows, or if/how my own relationships might someday contribute to that growth*. On another I've just enjoyed a six month long holiday, (afforded in part by a non-conventional lifestyle) exploring new places, and along the way exploring who I am.

Surrounded as I am by thinkers and (in many cases) fellow misfits in one sense or another, it's a topic that gets a fair bit of discussion, especially when something raises the issue to the surface. One such discursive catalyst was that gay cowboy movie which everyone got thoroughly sick of hearing about soon after it hit the cinema and which has since disappeared quietly into celuloid history. At the time I read lots of things about how groundbreaking it was for all sorts of reasons that barely seemed current, let alone 'groundbreaking' to me. I also read a lot about how brave the actors were for... acting. Again that seemed like nonsense to me, but at the same time, the film struck me pretty hard emotionally when I watched it in the cinema. Even seeing it again on the back of an aeroplane headrest a few weeks ago, it left me with a vague feeling of having encountered a social sea-change of sorts.

When it was released some people lambasted the movie for presenting modern gay men with an outdated, negative, hopeless model for our relationships: the idea being that the characters could have made a life together elsewhere, and that endlessly presenting gay relationships as tragic failures is a form of oppression. They are admittedly frustrating characters because there's a potential there (it wouldn't be a love story if there weren't) but does a love story need to have a happy ending to be a positive social phenomenon? Coming at it from a creative/critical perspective I can't see how a happy ending version of that story could have been anywhere near as powerful or moving. Sure they could have moved to 'the city' and had a life together and Maupin and others have proven there's some milage in stories about gay society... thing is though these two characters weren't gay, they were just a couple of homosexual men.

That disticntion (if you can grasp it) is what I think made the film timely, and is also (I think) at the core of one of the most interesting developments in terms of sexuality and identity now. 'gayness' is gradually becoming mainstream: the whole counterculture idenity that homosexual men in the C20th built up around themselves is beginning to be woven into the fabric of mainstream popular culture**. That's great for what it is, but it doesn't really do a whole lot for those of us who are just homosexual - Personally I've no truck with "gay culture" - it's a fun place to visit now and then, but it offers me nothing with which to identify in terms of who I am myself. I'm none of the things a that make a gay man, except that I'm ardently homosexual - that's my sexuality, and for what it's worth I'm proud of it, but it's only my sexuality, it isn't my identity.

Getting back to the film, Jack and Ennis could have upped sticks from their rural existence and lived out a happy life somewhere more accepting, but especially in the early second half of the C20th (with events like the Stonewall riots shaping the burgeoning contemporary gay culture,) that would have meant adopting an identity that was not their own - an identity based narrowly on just their sexuality rather than who they were in a wider sense.

Don't get me wrong here: I think that that shift among many gay men and women in the 1960s and 70s from hiding, to confronting social inequality by open and defiant difference was hugely important. I also recognise that it's in large part why I enjoy many of the rights and freedoms I do today. I also think that the time for defiant difference has passed now, and that little is left to be gained by homosexuals defining ourselves by what makes us different. The "gay community" today (at its worst) serves only as a license for us to treat each other appallingly. Little if anything of the supportive inclusive aspects of a "community" remains. That in itself is perhaps the biggest sign that it's time for something else.

By writing a story/making a film now about the pressures of an unaccepting society and how it ultimately destroys two lives by outlawing their love, in a sense Proulx/Lee are each underlining that acceptance of that loud attention grabbing C20th "gay culture" is not enough, that it misses the point which is that many (most?) homosexuals aren't actually gay! Increasingly examples of "normal"*** homosexual and bisexual characters are cropping up in the media and the idea that sexuality governs any aspect of character beyond those directly relating to sex, is starting to be challenged. The optimist in me sees a growing recognition in the mainstream that exactly that gay culture which has been steadily gaining acceptance is not what really needs to be accepted.

Briefly coming back to the movie, (by way of bringing this rambling post to a close before it sprawls into a fully fledged essay) by not having the two characters fold and adopt the available (albeit it difficult) gay identities which would have allowed them to live as a couple, the film highlights that gay culture doesn't necesarily represent homosexuals, being instead just a response to the repression of the sexual orientation/sexual identity which it purports to represent. Arguably (now it has served its social purpose) it's even just another form of repression... but maybe that's a whole other post. For myself back in the real world I'm just going to have to keep puzzling out as an individual how the assorted aspects of who I am fit with the world as I find it... and of course hope that I don't end up in a long term relationship with a shirt. ;)

* By which I mean my reasonably well documented failure to date to form a lasting adult romantic relationship. I'm not talking about the thorny issue of gay parenting, just wondering if/how a partner (should I ever find one) would fit into the family. My family would be friendly and welcoming I know, but the last person I was seriously interested in voiced reservations of his own about ever feeling like part of someone else's family and that angle wasn't one I'd considered before

** in my experience in Europe at least, but also in the more civilised parts of North America and the wider western world. Also throughout this post I'm using media portrayal as an imperfect measure of social climates - and yes I realise that's a flawed approach but this isn't science, it's just me thinking aloud

*** That is normal as opposed to stylised and/or stereotyped. For example characters like Jack Harkness or David Fisher whose (non-standard) sexuality is presented as an incidental aspect of who they are, rather than as their primary character trait. Meanwhile characters like Daffyd Thomas emerge (though usually more subtly like Ken the steward on Pacific Air flight 121) showing neatly how little "gay" as a character trait has to do with actual sexuality - Daffyd for example being "the only gay in the village" while also patently not homosexual

Thursday, January 18, 2007


...but not the ones you're all waiting for I'm afraid, those will hopefully be ready to post in a few days, in the meantime here are those long promised shots of my finished house taken just before I sold it. Sorry for the wait, I promise it won't take me six months to post the albums of the Australia trip.

I've also updated the album of pictures of me, reversing the timeline (so that the most recent pictures appear first) and dan dan da! the updated album includes a few shots of me down under. Hopefully that'll keep certain people (*cough* Chris *cough*) off my back while I wade through all the other photos and put the albums of the trip together.

back to it...

...whatever "it" turns out to be. Yes, now that I'm home it's that time again: job hunting season*. What's really nice about this time round though is how often people are telling me one way or another that I'm very very employable, and not just my Mum & Dad (whose unfailing support and encouragement is, as always, much appreciated) but recruitment agents and other such people who might be in positions to find me a job. It makes a pleasant change from previous experiences at this game... though now I come to write that down I suppose it's been a gradual shift (last time around things were almost as optimistic). I think maybe after the 18 month battering my work-self esteem took applying for jobs to move on from Watson's, some part of me still expects to get knocked back sumarily at every turn. It's good to have that blown out of the water.

So this week held three agency interviews (all very positive experiences) and Monday sees the first actual job interview. Experience this summer taught me that job interviews really are a two way process, and I'm going to remember that I'm as much there to see if the job fits me, as they are there to see if I fit the job. This lot do sound like they've got the specifics of the job nailed down pretty well though, so that should help.

Another thing I've found through talking to recruiters all week is how commited I am to being in this place. Much as I loved Australia (and firmly intend to go back,) I missed Edinburgh, I missed the city and I really missed my friends here so the most exciting thing about this hunt for a new means of paying the bills, is that I'm doing it here. With a bit of luck I'll find something with the best qualities from my last three jobs: great pay, engaging and challenging work and the kind of great colleagues who become great friends. Well a boy can dream right?

*does it worry anone else that I heard that in Buggs Bunny's voice when I typed it?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Home again!

Well I'm safely back in Ediunburgh, and curiously enjoying the cold and the rain - yes really. I'm sure that part will wear off in a day or two but I am really glad to be home. Will sort out putting pics up soon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

on my way home...

... and wishing I'd booked a flight straight through to be quite honest, though that's as much because I have a gummed up head as it is because I don't like Hong Kong. That's not entirely fair: I hardly know Hong Kong, better to say that I don't find it very compelling. Excitingly different, busy, gargantuan and visually very much like being inside Ghost in the Shell* but not compelling. At least not to me.

I'm sad to have left Australia (and determined to go back and visit it again because I like it a lot, I made some great friends there, and there's plenty of it that I didn't see this time round,) but I'm also really looking forward to getting home.

I miss Edinburgh, I miss my friends & family, I miss the cold (yes really!) I miss breathing clean air**, I miss having my stuff around, and I miss knowing what all the things are when I go shopping because they're the same things I grew up with... I miss feeling at home. adventuring is good and a big part of what's good about it is the way you get to come home afterward.

*albeit with far fewer naked cyborgs running about of course
**mostly due to being here in Hong Kong where quite frankly the air should be being distilled into some kind of fuel source it's so full of fumes, but nowhere in Australia had air that felt as good on the lungs as it does back home