Monday, 24 August 2009

I don't like cricket - I love it!

What an amazing four days of cricket at the Oval, ending in an England win that was very hard to foresee after the Headingley debacle. England played with real fire - it was a joy to behold. Please let it not be another false dawn!

On the sporting front, big respect to Jess Ennis as well for her heptathlon win in Berlin. It's always good to see fellow Yorkshire folk getting on, and I love the fact that she speaks exactly like the Sheffield branch of my family - it's not an accent I hear too often in Fife!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Kenny MacAskill's Dilemna

I try not to stray into politics, but the cant and hypocrisy flying around today drove me to this.

Any decision the Scottish Government's Justice Minister reached in the case of the Lockerbie bomber was going to be criticised from one direction or another.

Watching Megrahi board his plane stuck in the craw - but the decision to let him do so was was right and brave. Megrahi showed no compassion - the destruction of all those lives was an act of callous cowardice; we need waste no time expecting compassion from mass murderers. The vast majority of the people of Scotland, however, are good people, and Mr MacAskill represented that characteristic in reaching his decision - to do the right thing, even if it is likely to prove unpopular. Doing the right thing isn't always easy.

Ultimately, we will not beat the killers, terrorists and the callous by behaving like them - we must behave better than them and show an example. Mr MacAskill has done this today.

Well done, Mr MacAskill - I hope you are able to end this difficult day relaxed and happy, you deserve to. Have a good dinner, a nice whisky and a good night's sleep.

Mr Megrahi does not deserve his freedom, and I wish him no joy in it, although I hope it is some comfort to his family. Meanwhile, he had better prepare to meet his Maker. I trust he does not have long to wait.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Dundee's new V & A

Subrosa has posted today about the plans to build a branch of the V & A near to the Discovery in Dundee.

Dundee is a town with a very unfair reputation in some circles. In fact, it has one of Britain's finest theatre companies at the Rep, the McManus Gallery is well worth visiting, and there's the DCA. The view from the Law is fantastic, and Camperdown Park is a joy. It is home to musicians from The View to Michael Marra, let alone the friends of this blog's son - The Hazey Janes. Dundee has a fine collection of unspoilt pubs, and I recommend The Phoenix, The Speedwell (Mennie's), and The Fishermans Tavern as three of the finest pubs in Britain.

Dundee is great - go and see.

Opera 10 - some geekery

My hit counter tells me that most people accessing this site do so using the Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari browsers. All have their strengths and weaknesses. IE is famously prone to malign interference, Firefox gets very slow if you load it up with the features that are its selling point, Safari I only know as the nuisance download I have to refuse every time I update iTunes, and it certainly used to have a name for insecurity.

The cool kids use the Norwegian contender - Opera - it's fast, light on computer resources and free. Lots of the newer features on other browsers first saw the light of day in Opera.

Here's a link to the Opera 10 beta


Here's a link to the current stable release version

Give it a try - there are versions for most operating systems.

Friday, 14 August 2009

A new follower!

Hi Jamie!

Les Paul

You can read the history of the man here:

All I can say is that the world of music has , albeit at a ripe old age, lost one of its guiding lights.

This is the man who gave us the Gibson guitar that bears his name, the glorious-looking, creamy toned or snarling brute of an instrument - the Les Paul. (The Holy Grail for collectors is the 1959 Les Paul Standard Flametop - which, if you could find one, would cost you $250,000- $300,000 in the US)

Here's some creamy toned Les Paul sound:

Here's some snarling brute Les Paul, courtesy of Mr Page:

And here is Mr Paul himself, playing one he made earlier, being joined by Chet Atkins part way through:

Goodbye and thank you, Les Paul.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Another song about a wedding

Emmylou, with Albert Lee on guitar - enjoy.

It ain't me, Babe

Some more Bob for you, doubting his ability to be someone's rock, like we all do.


In these northern climes, August carries strong hints of autumn. The days start to grow noticeably shorter, the swifts leave for Africa (they left Ceres last week), the crops ripen and harvest begins.

Frosts, the tangy smells of willow at leaf-fall and of wood smoke, and the evocative sounds of skeins of geese will soon be with us. The early part of autumn, up until the clocks go back in late October, is one of my favourite times of year. We often used to take Jemima D out for the October school half-holiday, enjoying the peace of the waterways after the summer heat and bustle. In early October, you could be alone on the canal, half-hidden in ghostly mists. The boat's wood burning stove kept us warm in the evenings, and all was well with the world.

John Keats - To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A wee joke for youse

A wee wummin goes intae the butchers, who is standing with his back against a small electric heater, she looks at the display case of meats and says " is that yer ayrshire bacon?" the butcher reply's "Naw! just heatin ma haunds!!!

Nothing continues to happen

I'm discovering that it is a hard call to write a riveting blog about M E. The brutal truth is that for most of the the time, not much happens. I've been in a foggy dazed place ever since returning from Edinburgh on Tuesday. I had a bit of a false dawn on Wednesday, overdid things, and have been paying for it ever since.

Having a chronic condition can be very boring. It's not a dramatic, flashing blue light telegenic situation. It couldn't be further away from "ER". Life just grinds on.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Edinburghers take note

I just found a survey of Nottingham tram users, who seem to be a very happy bunch.

"Tram Passengers Now Even More Satisfied

A survey carried out in the autumn of last year has found that passengers continue to be extremely satisfied with tram travel in Nottingham. There has also been an increase in the number of people who support plans to introduce new tram routes.

For the fifth year running a comprehensive survey was carried out among NET tram passengers to gauge customer satisfaction, awareness and usage of the tram system in Nottingham.

Around 1400 people responded to the independent survey commissioned by Nottingham Tram Consortium, through on-tram questionnaires between 7am to 7pm over a period of a week, and telephone surveys with the general public along the tram route.

The results reveal an overall satisfaction with the tram service of 92%. Satisfaction levels with the experience on-board the trams and at the tramstops both increased compared to previous years as did satisfaction with the NET website."

So, look forward with confidence, Auld Reekie, delirious happiness is only a couple of years away.


I though I'd spend a day listening to the cricket. As a Yorkshireman, I consider Headingley to be a spiritual home, and memories of Willis and Botham putting the Australians to the sword years ago still warm the memory.

However, the rosy glow didn't last long. England's batting hardly lasted for as long as it takes to say "England Batting Collapse". Then it got even worse. The ineptitude of England's batting paled in comparison to the utter cluelessness of the bowling. The slender England score was overtaken for the loss of only one Aussie wicket as the bowlers persistently bowled short and seemed unable to learn from their mistakes as the ball flew to the boundary in all directions.

Ponting's just got himself out , but it's all too late, I fear.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Iain Anderson - Radio Scotland

I can be seriously disgruntled with the BBC. I am especially annoyed when they feel the need to do things like send thousands of well-paid employees on freebies to Glastonbury whilst unwaged citizens like myself are compelled to pay their exorbitant licence fee under the threat of criminal prosecution. Similarly, it seemed that they sent their entire newsroom payroll to Washington for the US Presidential inauguration, for no discernible reason.

However, they do manage to get a lot right, and Radio Scotland, except for its moronic over-devotion to football at weekends, is a good example.

Iain Anderson's late night music programme is always a joy, and I commend it to you. And - in the 21st century, you can hear it at any time, anywhere in the world, through the miracle of the electric interweb thingy!

John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt

The video is a bit unnecessary - but there's some great guitarwork here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Bobby D on a forthcoming wedding

We haven't had any Dr Zimmerman for a while - The Amazing Wooldridge Brothers parodied this at Gill and Jamie's wedding reception - so providing me with an excuse:

Bamboo Bike

What a superb idea!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Some Burns for Gill and Jamie

I was thinking that I should post a poem about a marriage, and "John Anderson, My Jo" came straight to mind.

John Anderson, My Jo 1789

John Anderson, my jo, John,
When we were first acquent;
Your locks were like the raven,
Your bonie brow was brent;
But now your brow is beld, John,
Your locks are like the snaw;
But blessings on your frosty pow,
John Anderson, my jo.

John Anderson, my jo, John,
We clamb the hill thegither;
And mony a cantie day, John,
We've had wi' ane anither:
Now we maun totter down, John,
And hand in hand we'll go,
And sleep thegither at the foot,
John Anderson, my jo.

I knew the Bride when...

A bit of Rockabilly fun in honour of last night!

Mission Statement - Permaculture and me

Gosh, that sounds very portentious and organised. Now I've been at the blogging for almost a month, I thought I'd take stock of where it's all going.

So - the key purpose of the blog will be to chart my progress through my ME midlife crisis. It's a diary, it's a chance to let off steam, it's a chance to talk about music and and writing that appeals to me. However, it will also record my progress from being a hectic wage-slave, via illness and unemployment, through into a new way of living on, through, and with a small patch of land.

There's a fairly happy coincidence of circumstances here. In a Permaculture system, the land is left, insofar as practicable, to look after itself. For example, mulching is preferred to digging, and every opportunity is taken to lessen inputs, whether by eliminating spending on artificial fertilizers, or by counter-productive disturbance such as digging. As I am too poor to spend much, and too ill to dig much - we are in a good position to pursue Permaculture. I hope to attend courses, learn more, practice more, as time passes. Other skills, such as green woodwork and poultry husbandry wiull be part of the package. The objective is to live a calm, natural life and find some healing in doing so. There will be progress reports...

A sojourn in Auld Reekie

A good evening in Edinburgh. We attended the wedding reception, meeting up with a few people we hadn't seen for a while, including many of son Alastair's school and University peers. We had an excellent meal, and then were well entertained, firstly by the groom's father and uncle with a light-hearted set. (Example - Uncle Eric fiddles with PA controls "Does that sound better - or can you still hear us?"). That was followed by an excellent set provided by Andrew and Matthew of the Hazey Janes, who blew us all away with some great musicianship - including a great cover of the groom's (Jamie) own composition "Got You" - you can find the "Boss Star" original here

We returned to our lodgings in Morningside, and after a good night's sleep, bacon rolls and a blether, returned to the Kingdom of Fife this morning.

Edinburgh's in some state - the tram works have turned Princes Street into a linear building site. The locals are uniformly irate about the whole business. I wonder what feelings will be like in the longer term - cities like Dublin, Nottingham and Manchester were ambivalent at best about their tram lines at the outset - but they all seem to be a great success now.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Chicken maintanance

Well, I just cleaned out my little chicken coop, currently occupied by half a dozen "teenage" chooks, all about 12 weeks old, and very full of themselves. It's the first useful thing I've achieved today - it's been a while since I felt as boisterous as my young birds do!

Bantam keeping is a great PWME activity - it never asks too much of you all at once, and the responsibility for the welfare of the little girls (and three teenage boys) is a good motivator on the "blah" days when I really don't feel up to move at all. The rewards are pretty instant also, it's always a pleasure to find eggs in the nest box.

This hasn't been a great week. Since my day at the Big Tent Festival last Saturday, I have been flat as a fluke - foggy, headachy, utterly without energy, either too hot or too cold, and constantly perspiring. We have a wedding reception to attend in Edinburgh tomorrow, I really wonder if I will be up to it, although it will be nice to see both our friends at the wedding, and also the friends who have offered to put us up for the night in Morningside.

Housing issues lumber on. We've been offered the lease on a great old house in the country - hurrah! But - the buyer-to-be of our house has just had the sale of her property fall through, so we remain in limbo. This is not good.

As ever - we shall just have to wait and see...