Monday, 27 October 2008


My son whispers truths to himself. Like any inquisitive four year old, he drills down to them with relentless questioning. When he receives a satisfactory answer, he whispers it back to himself, enunciating each syllable with breathy, awestruck precision.

Like jelly bears, he rolls ideas around in his mouth before he swallows and makes them part of himself. I've not heard another child do it. Certainly not as often as he does anyway.

Perhaps it's a genetic trait, as I do the same, just not aloud. Like Meg, who's recently discovered the delights of reading inside her head, I repeat these ear worms internally. Mostly because they're pretty.

"That's the price you pay" and "What else is the seat of your pants for?" are currently worming themselves around the mulch of my cranium. They got in via someone I consider to be a genius and with whom I rely on for sage advice. That, and the West Highlands accent means he could tell me to fuck off and I'd repeat it in my head for hours afterward, enjoying the angles.

See, I'm a keeper of wee small wisdoms. A plagiariser, a hoarder and repeater of the soundbite. I keep these shiny things in jars to use in appropriate situations.

"As flat as a witches tit" is another one.

Sometimes this is confused with wisdom. Which may be why I've been elevated to a relatively lofty position at work, close to the limit of my incompetence. The ability to "say the right thing" and "have a way with words" can take you some distance in this world, despite just being a little kid with sweeties stuck in your mouth.

There's an advert on the telly that Dom always repeats the closing lines of;

"Spend a little, live a lot."

Wise words indeed...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A distinctly fishy problem

Here's the quandary - faced with the evil genius that is Tinned Sardines splattered all over the crotch of your trousers, five minutes before a meeting in a stinking-hot hospital boardroom, with people you hardly know, you have two options;

1) Clean trousers thoroughly with a wet cloth, thereby removing the stain and odour but entering the room with a dark, brooding crotch patch.

2) Make do with a dry, aesthetically preserving kitchen roll scour and allowing the aroma to ripen throughout the afternoon as the crotch warms in the seat.

To be fair, the nurses & medics hardly batted an eyelid. The psychologists on the other hand, who have probably never touched a patient in their lives, looked distinctly nauseated.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

So a new week begins...

This weekend we have been mostly outside in the Autum or learning to play Dad's 1962 EKO acoustic.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

This is the thing

I've a post brewing. At its root is this song by the fabulous Fink. I will expand on what personal meaning it gives me in due course. Or to be more more precise - when I can be arsed.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Love Me Avenue

Back when we were young, skint and childless, Miche & I would eat at La Stalla in Newcastle. It was a cheap, friendly trattoria hidden up a piss soaked back street in a grimier part of the city. The food was deliciously simple and the staff were so laid back that they would sit with us and get mullered once they'd served the customers, which invariably were few. I have many fond memories of the place.

It closed of course, some years ago now, but I always make a point of walking up the alley when I'm around that way. Despite the lingering smell of drunkards' urine.

This morning I found some rather sweet graffiti on the wall along from our old haunt. I thought I'd share it with you.

On a related gastronomic note, I ate Ostrich for the first time today in a rather more salubrious restaurant than La Stalla and can heartily recommend it.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Nearly caught the little bugger having a wash in a roadside puddle but we were spotted. It left us with its reflection.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

You stupid Norbett...

Over the past ten years, the number of tree related accidents resulting in youngsters visiting hospital have reduced by 36%, whilst repetitive strain injuries (or xbox wrangling admissions), have risen by 35%.

This comes as no surprise, as I see so much evidence of our risk averse culture limiting what our children can do. Rather than allowing the inevitable fall from a tree, in doing so helping our kids learn to take calculated risks, we cosset them in soft play emporiums where they run unfettered with little risk at all. We sit them safely in front of their consoles back at home.

See, I grew up in the 70's, when every piece of playground equipment was surrounded by a sturdy concrete apron, so you had to be really careful when you rode your bicycle down the slide.

Even now my parents shudder when I disclose the calamities I got into in the fields behind the estate. I was free to get into them however and I shall try my best to give the same opportunities to my kids.

One should know one's limits. Swinging like a monkey from the tree you see above, to encourage your son to climb higher is perhaps a risk too far for a 36 year old. Particularly if you had a game of squash later on in the evening.

I got no sleep last night as the pain in my right shoulder was unbearable. I think I've done something nasty as I can't lift my elbow more than six inches without crying like a baby.

I'm numbed with anti-inflammatory, analgesic and Pino Grigio, so if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bed.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A long shot

The department of stating the bleedin' obvious have demonstrated that a belief in God can relieve pain. They gave electric shocks to 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists as they studied a painting of the Virgin Mary. It was found that the Catholics seemed able to block out much of the pain, whereas the atheists had no such luck.

They discovered that in contemplating the Madonna, the religious were able to activate an area of the brain associated with conditioning the experience of pain.

What else is religion for, if not the amelioration of pain? I would also like to point out that an inflated balloon up the arse can induce similar effects.

Religion is the (ig)noble lie that diverts the masses' attention from the cold, faceless specter of chance. It is Marx's "heart of a heartless world" and provides meaning to meaningless suffering and hope to the hopeless.

What better way to make sense of random, tragic occurrences than to give them a place in the Grand Plan? In the midst of them, rather than doing anything of use, repeated messages of complaint can be made to God's technical support line.

It's little wonder then, that faith induces the placebo effect. Perhaps they're two and the same. Religion being the "opium of the people" and all that.

Not that these mental gymnastics are peculiar to the religious. Only yesterday I had this conversation with a colleague presiding over a minor disaster;
"Well, I guess everything happens for a reason"

"I didn't realise you were religious?" I asked.

"Not at all, it's just that what goes around comes around. Karma and all that..."
"So, in God's absence you think that the universe picks up its tally card and keeps count of our insignificant fuck ups and indiscretions? A cosmic balance sheet? Utter bollocks..."
In truth, I didn't actually say that. A single Spock eyebrow took care of it quite nicely.

Mind, it pays not to think too hard about our arbitrary universe, atheist or not. Well, it does for me anyway. I choose to concentrate on that which I find beautiful to ameliorate my existential pain.

That, and reminding myself that I'm perched on top of a food chain with a full belly, in a wealthy country, spinning on a habitable planet, poking away at a Sony Vaio keyboard for fuck sake.

And what are the odds on that?