[11 Nov 02] I replaced my desktop picture today with a photo of a rough-textured wall from a street near our place, all algae- and soot-encrusted, mortared and multicoloured. It was only afterwards that I realised: whenever I close a window from now on, I'll end up staring at a brick wall.


Pute or Canute?

[29 Oct 02] Newspaper banner headline: PUTIN DEFIES RUSSIAN GAS STORM.

You can't hold your breath forever, you know.



[20 Oct 02] The 5.30 train from Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley, full of day-trippers at the end of a sunny autumn Saturday. Jane and I are facing each other in a pair of window seats. Next to us, a couple of English kids have got out the travel Cluedo.

"I guesssss... Professor Plum... in the Library... with a spanner."

"No, I've got the spanner," says his sister. "My turn... [Rolls dice. Moves.] I guess Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the spanner."

"You said you had the spanner!"

"Oh, did I? I meant the rope. Ha ha-ha!"

"You cheated!"

"No I didn't, I forgot."

"You did! You big cheat!"

"We'll just take the spanner out. We know it's the spanner. Go on, it's your turn."

"What do you mean? The game's over. You cheated. I won."

"No, no no, go on, keep playing. We're almost there."

"Oh, all right. [Rolls. Moves.] Ha! Miss Scarlet, in the Library, with the spanner."

[Checks cards.] "Okay, you win. But I won the first game."

"Come on kids, pack it away, we're at Haymarket."

Hurried packing up. The family alights. Silence.

Jane: "The man sitting next to me... on the Train... with his bare hands."



[15 Aug 02] Exchange with bakery person in Aberdeen last Friday:

Me: What flavour is that cupcake? [Points at feeble brown specimen with white lumps scattered on top.]

Her: It's a sugar muffin.

Note to Aberdonian bakers: sugar is not a flavour. And that cupcake was no muffin.

Also noteworthy: the ship in Aberdeen harbour named after Scandinavian hair-loss.


Blurring Blue

[29 Jul 02] I shouldn't really have been sitting in the seat 'particularly appreciated by the elderly and the infirm', but the bus wasn't particularly full, and there was still room for the old man to sit down next to me.

It's hard to get a good look at someone when they sit right next to you; you can't just turn your head and stare. Instead, you look down and glance sideways. Jeans and trainers; unusual for white-haired Scotsmen, who often wear a jacket and tie with a tweed cap. A tattoo on his right hand.

The bus lurches to a stop, and a small girl staggers forward in the gangway, grabbing onto his left arm. She looks up at him and smiles as he asks gently if she's all right. Another glimpse: white hair cut fairly short; judging from the lines on his neck, about sixty. The girl's mother tells her to hold onto the grips on the seats. The bus starts moving again.

A tattoo of a bird; a dove, perhaps, drawn in blurring blue. Gothic letters on the back of his fingers, just above the knuckles. Can't quite read them. One of them a 'T', I guess, if it's upside down.

We come to his stop, and he stands up. Holds onto the rail beside the doors in the middle of the bus, and then swings out to the left as he gets off. For a moment I can read the letters on his left hand. L O V E.

A hard man, once. But softer now.


Speak to Me

[18 Jun 02] The Dock is trying to tell me something.


BW Omen? B Women? Bwo Men?


Three A.M. Haiku

[27 May 02]

strange new rumblings
in airing cupboard
boiler about to explode


Quattro Stagione Day

[16 May 02] 1. Now that the twentieth century is behind us, evoking Adolf Hitler as the epitome of evil is looking as old-fashioned as quaking at the mention of Napoleon or Rasputin. No wonder we're so eager to dress Saddam or Bin Laden in his size 6,000,000 shoes.

2. Doesn't it feel odd to leave a comment on someone else's blog addressing not the blog author but one of the other commenters, when you know that a copy of the comment gets emailed to the author?

3. "... unlike this table made out of off-cuts."

"Yeah, but I'd rather have a table made out of off-cuts than one made out of a single piece of oak."

"That would be a bit wasteful, true."

"Unless it was a recycled piece of oak. Like from an old ship. Half the houses in England are made out of bits of the Spanish Armada."


"Okay, some of the houses. In a specific area. Built during a particular moment in history. Hundreds of years ago... Somewhat less than half."

4. In hindsight, is it all that helpful to leave a copy of Q in the donations bag for Help the Aged?


Situational Irony

[10 Mar 02] Saw for sale in a department store yesterday an oversized purple porcelain turtle with googly cartoon eyes; the kind of monstrosity it's heartbreaking to imagine as a future family heirloom. ("This was Grandma's favourite googly-eyed turtle, a fine example of the Hideous school of early 21st century art. Apparently there are only 132,000 left in existence!")

And across the aisle in the very same store, the book of the BBC TV series 'The Life Laundry': How to De-Junk Your Life.



[27 Feb 02] So, it's 'UKOK', says the British Tourist Authority. Which means the entire country is branded with a slogan that:

What's next? NZNG? USLS? UKTHXBI?


[18 Jan 02] The recent discovery that the colour of the universe is shifting from blue to red and is currently turquoise suggests two things:

  1. Marx was right, and the dialectical process is heading towards a communist 'classless society'; and
  2. We're still in the bourgeois phase when everyone says 'stuff it' and heads to the Caribbean for a holiday.


[17 Jan 02] 'So you two are catching the bus to where?'

'Southampton. No... Northampton.'

'This place has all the Hamptons. North. South. Wolver.'


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