Monthly Archives: February 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday Shuggie

Today is my ex-dog’s birthday. He was born in 2005, and since then he has grown from a tiny ball of fuzz into a strapping young lad, as you will see below. Since getting him, Mairi and I have split up, and he has gone with his ‘mummy’ but I still see a lot of him, because Mairi only lives round the corner, and I look after him from time to time, generally at least once a week. The court decided I get access rights, despite my record. I take him to McDonalds, and let him stay up late, and don’t make him do his homework, so he always has a great time with me. We’re a team. Aren’t we, little buddy? Me and you? Me and you forever?

This is the first view we got of him.

First View Of Shuggie
When I first got my hands on him – note wad of cash for deposit.

First Couple of Days with Shuggie
First day at new home – his eyes aren’t this blue any more.

Shut yer noise
Shut yer yap!

Shuggie and Molly playing
With my brother’s dog Mollie. He’s the little one, at least he was back then.

After his operation to remove something he swallowed – full story here.

His great big schnozz and tiny teeth.

In action.

Shug at the park
How he is now.

Shuggie's Birthday Cake
His 2nd birthday, a year ago – about to singe his fringe. This year I will be preparing a special surprise treat for him which I will deliver tomorrow (I hope he’s not reading this, or I will have ruined the surprise). Happy Birthday Shuggie! Mairi said she was going to give him 36 kisses, one for each month of his life. I’d like to see her try.

Head In A Burrow, August 2007 – The First Day

These are – surprise surprise – notes from my notebook which I haven written up yet. Get used to it (actually, I’m nearly done with this kind of thing). The order in which things were done may not be correct – I have had to piece together my memories of that time with the help of K and her addled neurons. The order is as I remember. Time and age has eroded my body and mind, so don’t expect tocal recall.

I went to the Edinburgh Festival last August with a few friends and acquaintances. It was a nice ride up on the train, because the tickets had been booked, and we had reserved seats. Interesting to see Seahouses and Berwick from a different angle than I’d seen in 2006.

We had a “suite” reserved in what was called a “Eurohostel” which was actually student halls of residence flats let out to festival-goers for a minimal fee. Spartan, but nice enough and very convenient for the centre of things. As soon as we were sorted out in the flat, we headed out.

Pro-Am Karaoke

A strange start, but we wanted to get going with a light piece of fluff. This was in the downstairs pub/club area of some hotel. It was a man with a microphone, a laptop and projector, playing bad MIDI files, and displaying an MSWord doc of the lyrics on the screen. A person or group would then sing along, just like regular karaoke. But with a twist! At least a bit of one! The MC (such as he was, fumbling and muttering – but a nice chap) apologised that the ‘Pro’ bit of the title was inaccurate. Normally he would have various Edinburgh Fringe stars along to croon for the mob, but not today. Luckily I’m a fan of Karaoke, and I like to stand up and show off. Others were up for it too, and it was quite a fun time. One of the highlights was that old chestnut, One Song To The Tune Of Another. This was done ad hoc without preparation, and it was amazing how well some songs just slotted together.


Then we went to the pub.

no solids

Barry Cryer
After a couple of swift ones, it was along to see comedy legend Barry Cryer, doing a stand-up set sitting in a throne. The gags came think and fast, not all belters, but it was clear why he is still in the credits for so many TV and Radio shows. Nice to see a genius in the flesh. Look at his credits!

One Man Star Wars

Largely Very Dangerous

The next thing on the list was one American guy performing the entire original Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI). He did all the moves, voices, and sound effects. Most impressive, although he did ruin it a bit by adding in asides and comments. I nearly didn’t get in, because I had bought the wrong ticket in the weeks leading up to the trip, despite (or perhaps because of) the hundreds of emails bouncing around discussing who was going to book what. So I had to sneak in. As the others were strolling past holding out their tickets to the overworked volunteers, I managed to creep past in front of them. It was like I was able to wave my hand and say, “You don’t need to see my ticket…”.

Daniel Kitson – The Fireworks Talking

Basic standup, but very good. Lots of emotional family stuff, good storytelling. A bit mawkish at times, but heartwarming and genuinely funny.

Biscuit Tin Full Of Photos

As described earlier, I’ve been going through old paper photos and scanning them, and posting the results on Flickr. The photos have been hanging around for years, and I kept them in an old biscuit tin that’s practically a family heirloom. It has drawn a couple of comments, so I scanned the tin, and here it is. It was probably a tourist souvenir, hence the cool pictures of London landmarks on the lid and sides. Elkes Biscuits are now a subsidiary of the mighty Northern Foods, who make everything. I’m not really sure what ‘London Biscuits’ are. Crammed tightly into a metal box?

Souvenir Biscuits 

The Tower of London complete with river gate

Souvenir Biscuits 

Buckingham Palace with 1847 closing-off amendment to prevent commoners seeing too much

Souvenir Biscuits 

St Paul’s Cathedral, looking lonely without the new buildings

Souvenir Biscuits 

The Houses of Parliament

Souvenir Biscuits 

Trafalgar Square – can’t see any pigeons. Traffics OK though.

Taste Can Be Bought

Westie Anniversary Clock

Someone gave me this cutting from a TV listings magazine. It is an advert for the most fabulous object in the world. The goal of everybody’s hopes and dreams. From the lovingly crafted brass westies that wouldn’t go round in a little circle, but would in fact swing back and forth, in such a way that would cause a real dog to throw up on the carpet, to the lovingly bought-in-China-by-the-thousand-for-50p-each battery-powered mechanisms, everything about this item shrieks out at the top of it’s lungs out to your friends and acquaintances that you are a person of taste and discretion.

The advert doesn’t say what anniversary this is applicable to. The Anniversary of the Battle Of Culloden? The Death of Alexander III? The Clearances?

LA Story – October 2007 – Sunset / Silver Lake

the streets of silverlake More reminiscences of LA from last October

One day (17/Oct if you must know) I decided to take a stroll around the locale and see what kind of place Silver Lake is. I walked down Descanso, then along to Millies cafe, a friendly and quite famous diner with nice food, and outside tables perfect for dogs. One Devil’s Mess later, I wandered over to the row of hyperexpensive/exclusive/empty boutiques to check out the fashions and furnishings. It’s slightly embarassing walking into these places with no intention of buying anything – because you’re the only customer, you get all the attention. Some amazing stuff for sale – a concrete coffee table with tiki-kebab-style inlays – $4000. Actually, with the exchange rate, that’s pretty reasonable…

After some heavy-duty browsing and fobbing-off, I went to Good for an Alaskan Honey Beer. Good is not as good as it would like – slightly sticky tables and a distinct whiff of beer snobbery. It used to be a classic diner-style place, with counter service and red leather booths, but now it’s open plan, and the service isn’t as good as it was (so I’m told). But because of this, it seems you can always get a table on Saturday morning, unlike everywhere else. After that I popped over to the Mexican-goods/headshop for some incense for C. Then further up Sunset to more gift shops and the Army Surplus place. There are some great little shops, full of interesting stuff, but it’s the same stuff I could buy in London. I don’t buy it here, why buy it there? The shop full of cocktail paraphernalia (classy stuff too, not the “musical bottle opener” crap) was particularly good, and tempting. The Surplus shop was just like the UK equivalent – survivalist owner by the door, displaying his collection of badges, hats, knives and knick-knacks, and then the Dickies workwear, green rucksacks and orange boiler suits at the back.

I finally sat at Intelligentsia (wear your attitude on your sleeve, why don’t you?) and drank a cup of good coffee. I counted at least 3 people with MacBooks, and I had my Moleskine, so I felt cool and at home. I could do this. I could do this.

Rodent Occurences

I caught a mouse last night. It wasn’t wearing clogs, as is reasonable for a mouse not living in Holland. Neither was it a poor country mouse that had swapped places with the posh town mouse. Of course, it would be the poor town mouse and the posh country mouse these days. Possibly. Depends which town.

Anyway, I was washing the dishes (using my system. You’ve got to have a system) when I saw this little fella pop out from under the washing machine. It gave me a start, and I think I involuntarily yelled out, “Woah there, Mr. Mouse!”. It ran into the bathroom, and it was in there that I cornered it.

First I pulled the washing machine out from it’s alcove. I wanted to see where the mouse had come from. I had already filled in various pipework holes with spray filler foam and duct tape after previous visits, so I wanted to know I had missed anywhere. Sure enough, there was evidence of mouse activity, namely, poop. It was time to confront the poop perp.

I walked carefully into the bathroom. The mouse was hiding in the corner, and I have to say it looked really cute. I approached it, and it twitched, but didn’t make a run. I shut the bathroom door behind me. I didn’t want to hurt the thing, even though it would probably be best in the long run. Keeping one eye on it, while it kept both it’s beady eyes on me, I got the recently-emptied bathroom bin, and approached. It made a run for it, but there was nowhere to go. After a few seconds frantic scurrying and skidding on the tile, it ran into the bin placed in front of it. It tried to jump out, so I grabbed my bathroom book, currently Spacewrecks by Stewart Cowley and put it over the top. Trapped!

I grabbed by coat, and walked to the end of the street where I’ve released mice before. It may not make sense, as they will just hassle someone else, or even return to my flat, but I can’t bring myself to hurt them. I let it go, and it scurried off – in the direction of my flat. Surely it wasn’t homing?

In other rodent news, it appears to be the Chinese year of the Rat. Having been born in 1972, I am a Rat myself. In another mythology, my birthday means I am a Gemini, which means that everything I say and do my entire life can be attributed to the motions of a certain arrangement of nuclear furnaces light-years away. Gemini is apparently an Air Sign. This is another way of stripping me of any free will and unique personal qualities.

“So you’re a Gemini?”

“So they say”

“That means I know everything about you, and whatever you do, I can nod and say, “Aha, Gemini”.

“Try it, hippie.”

“Aha, Gemini!”

So. I am a Gemini Rat. An Air Sign Rat. An Air Rat. A Rat of the Air.

I am a Pigeon.

“Sorry, what can I do? Politics!”

A most interesting and fun evening was spent attempting to keep up with my old friend MV, both in walking speed and intellectually. We met at Liverpool Street for a drink and chat, and the first thing she did was to hand me a leaflet from a bunch of “Truthers”* called We Are Change. This group claims the 11th Sept 2001 attacks were set up, or at least allowed to happen, by the US guvmint, to allow them to start the War on Terror.

*meaning any group which has the word “truth” in their title, such as (these are made up) MMR Mothers For Truth, 9/11 Structural Engineers For Truth, or any group which says they are searching for truth. What it often means is that they have a fixed view of the world, and a fixed agenda, which they claim is the truth, and anything that doesn’t agree is just plain wrong.

The leaflet is the usual mish-mash of “why are these questions still not answered?”, and quotes from unnamed structural engineers who claim that the steel used couldn’t have collapsed the way it did, etc. It would often state a “fact”, such as “the temperatures in the wreckage reached 10000C” then ask “how could this have been without explosives”. But the “facts” themselves are not attributed or referenced, so you have to take it on trust that they are true. And the questions may not even be relevant.

It’s all very difficult. It often comes down to a clash between investigations or research, and in that respoect it’s similar to the arguments surrounding homeopathy and other Bad Science. Some piece of research has one finding, another piece has another finding. Both are reported by the media equally, or unequally to push an agenda or sell papers with sensationalism (usually in tabloids like the Daily Mail or The Express). But often one piece of research is later discredited, and it isn’t reported. The example of the MMR vaccine is a classic. One piece of research said it was dangerous, and all the breeders got up in arms. Think of the children (translation: “Think of my children”)! Then lots more research was done which discredited the original. But some people said, “There’s no smoke without fire”, a phrase which can be used to prove anything you want.

I would link to the Truthers site, but it just crashed my browser, which is a bit of a giveaway if you ask me. Surely if You Are Change, you want as many people to read your site as possible, and you won’t do that by punishing IE-at-work users. Pillocks. If your message is so powerful, like a snowball of truth smothering the tyranny of imperialism (to paraquote the page), then plain HTML should do the trick, shouldn’t it?

Anyway! MV and I had some sushi (great reverse tempura) and Kirin in Liverpool Street, and then went for a pint of Youngs Special in Dirty Dicks, complete with mummified cat, jackalope head, and what appeared to be a stuffed animal with the head of another stuffed animal stitched to its arse. A Push-Me-Pull-You?

A really nice evening, and MV was able to offer advice about what I should do to get to LA ASAP. OK?