April 2006


Wow. I must be getting on a bit. A few (or was it many more ?) years ago I happened to catch a fantastic film, The Music Of Chance, at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh. Based on the Paul Auster novel, it was a sheer pleasure to watch and quirky enough to give it that special edge which is always guaranteed to hook me.

Today I was in Tesco and was looking at the crappy 97p DVD selection. You may know the ones I mean – cases as thin as the DVDs they contain and they’re either 1930s cartoons or films of such awfulness that you wouldn’t even wipe your bum with them.

To my astonishement, I saw a spine that said ‘The Music Of Chance’. “It can’t be !”, I muttered to myself. “It ca…. oh, it CAN !” How the mighty have fallen. A once-great film now going for less than a Warburton’s Seeded Batch loaf.

Needless to say, I snapped it up and brought it home, whispering to it and comforting it all the way. It’ll be treasured now, safe and warm and out of the way of grubby-fingered kids and crud-loving adults who wouldn’t know a good film if it fell on them.

Whilst Croila made all the excuses under the sun (or under the rainclouds in her case), Waterspout bravely donned his Lidl cut-price lycra oufit, spanking new Berghaus Airflow backpack and extra-large Giro skid-lid and cycled the 9.67 miles to work in 52 minutes.

The return leg was (after a slight detour which actually shaved some distance off) 9.52 miles in 37 minutes, which actually beat the pants of the no.22 bus.

I’m now feeling very smug and very alive, and shaming Croila into getting her arse into gear. Of course, she has some very steep braes to face – but she did choose to live too far away from a decent cycle route 😉

Update – good on her ! Croila has been doing equally well and we seem to be spurring each other on to cycling at least twice a week to work.

I was tagged by Croila to bare my bookshelves and reveal what they say about me, and when I looked at the shots I was appalled at the mess and clutter. I just have no space for anything any more, and the bookshelf edges are just handy spots to place things and then forget they’re there….

Rather than waffle, I’d say in summary that my shelves say they need new companions to relieve some of their burden (even though I’ve only got half of the books I used to have before I was separated, and all of my childhood books are still in their childhood home).
Basically, I’m too tight-fisted to splash out on any more at the moment !!

Right – the hall shelving is creaking at the seams (click on the image for a full-sized version so you can get up close at the actual details):

Hall shelving

In the hall outside the kitchen there’s a few more, including my recipe books:

Outside the kitchen

By my bedside:

Bedside bookshelf

On a temporary, cruddy old shelf under the bedroom window:

Temporary unit

The living room baker’s shelving, obscured by nick-nacks:

Living room

In J’s room:

Wee one's books

In J’s room – the ones her Mum left behind:

Ones the ex didn't want

As I got off the bus tonight beside the Raj restaurant, I was almost floored (well, ‘pavemented’ in fact) by the almighty stench of what smelled like a year’s supply of festering shite. Never in all my life have I inhaled anything quite so rich and thick; it was astoundingly rank. There was some bloke – looking oblivious to a honk so solid you could have cut it up with a knife and fork – with a thick hose from the back of his pumping lorry shoved down the offending blocked drain. I suspect it was the accumulated poo soup from a dozen months of curry-induced Eartha Kitts from the Raj’s khazis.

Of course, I manufactured traffic the minute I tried to cross the road to get away from it; thus I had to endure a further two or three minutes trying to breathe using my coat collar as a filter.

I wonder if those men who unblock drains every day in life get paid shit-loads ?!

I’m just getting my bike out of the bike shelter at Tesco Canonmills, when round the corner and nearly taking my bike with him comes spiky-haired, mirror-shaded, metrosexual tosspot in a black BMW.

Firstly, he’s on his mobile and has tried to negotiate a 90-degree turn one handed.

Secondly, he’s driving into a “No Entry area except for bikes and pedestrians”.

Thirdly, he has his window rolled down.

So I glowered at him as I mounted my bike and shouted, “You’re not supposed to be on the phone while you’re driving !”

His witty and urbane response, completely blowing his outwardly sophisticated veneer was “Whit’s it goat tae dae wi’ you, ya radge ?”.

I left him in the company of a gaggle of equally irate cyclists and pedestrians who he almost ran over whilst he was turning backwards to yell at me whilst still on his phone. Not wise to piss off a bunch of seriously hardcore cyclists and large women who’ve you almost creamed in a pedestrian area.

I’d imagine he may be facing a hefty paintwork repair bill by now…. and I’m delighted !

This morning, I decided that I’d take my bike with me as I walked J back down to her Mum’s place so that I could have a go at cycling the “don’t know my way” part of the possible route to work afterwards.

When I got out, the wind was whipping past at a rate of knots and it was baltic. I told J that there’d be no way I could cycle against that wind so my plans were scrapped. Although it looked like a beautiful day (not a cloud in the sky), it was far from ideal for the jaunt I had planned.

But after I dropped her off (about 9.15am), I decided to stop being a wimp and just go for it. After all, I (with no real fitness whatsoever) had walked 21km into Italy and back from Slovenia in 2003, and walked on average about 10-15km uphill most of the other 14 days then too, with no-one making me do it. I’d wanted to – I wanted to achieve something whilst I had the chance and I did it.

So with a new sense of purpose I set off along the off-road route to work, into a stiff oncoming wind and with little real sense of direction (despite having consulted Croila’s borrowed Spokes map). And do you know what ? I made it to Balgreen, from whereon in I know the route to the Gyle. Sure, I took a few wrong turns along the way (and found a few shortcuts on the way back) but I made it. I decided not to press on to the Gyle (I still need to work on my road confidence as I’m still very nervous with cars and buses streaking by me with inches to spare), but had I chosen to, it would’ve been no bother. A brief road-ride along Whitson Road and Stenhouse and then I’d be on the bike-path by the Guided Busway all the way to Edinburgh Park and work.

The return ride was a doddle without the headwind, and I managed to get the speed up to around 20mph and keep it there for the whole way back (except when gaggles of women decided to block the path and deliberately ignore my frantic bell-ringing approach, forcing me to slow almost to a stop to get past. Maybe I should invest in a huge air-horn and scare the bejesus out of them in future….

So, another huge step forward for Mr Unfit. A 16 mile round trip (by the bike computer’s reckoning) in 1hr 15 (which included a few stops to check the map and a few path retraces after going the wrong way). I reckon that I probably would have done it in about an hour or just under if I hadn’t stopped or gone astray. And for me, that’s one hell of an achievement !

All without being a puggled, gasping, sweat-drenched wreck at the end either. I’m treating myself to a nice cold beer tonight with a DVD as my reward, and I’m hoping the weather this week after work’ll be nice so I can get out and just keep cycling for an hour or so each day to keep the fitness building and the bum acclimatised to that tiny saddle.

I’m so chuffed with myself you wouldn’t believe it.

Tonight, as part of my other life as a podcaster, I’m putting on a live gig featuring three bands I’ve played on my show. This is, as far as I know, a Scottish first if not a UK first so you can imagine how I’m feeling right now.

To be honest, I’ve not really done any of the organising as the bands (with their years of experience) have done it all between them. I’ve really only been a name to hang it on and I’ve simply done my best to plug it in as many ways as I could.

In reality I’m a very shy soul who’s much more comfortable staying quietly in the background, but tonight I’ll be on public display and I’m absolutely terrified; elated, yet scared beyond belief. My bowels are getting a damn good workout at the moment as the alloted hour gets closer and closer. The lovely Rowena from the Bristol band Santa Dog just rang me up to run over the afternoon’s plans, so I’ll go and meet the bands at 3pm as they all get their gear in and set up, then head home to get changed before heading back up again for the soundchecks and the gig.

I really hope for the bands’ sakes that tonight will go like a dream and everyone will have a brilliant time. They’re all very up and excited about it, so hopefully I’ll relax into the whole event very quickly and just enjoy it rather than fretting.

I’m sure a wee refreshment or two at the start of the night will do me the world of good and then it’ll be a case of “Move over Harvey Goldsmith, there’s a new promoter in town !”.

Cabaret Voltaire, here I come. Wish me luck.

I can’t work it out, I honestly can’t. I mean – I’ve got a little spare tyre which I’m trying to lose, but I would NEVER dream of flaunting it in public. I keep it well-covered and disguised.

Why then do obese, overweight women with three or four stacked Dunlops around the waist insist on wearing cropped tops and hipsters to show it off ? They have stretch-marks without ever having been pregnant, for heaven’s sake. It gives me the dry boak. Eurgh.

There’s obviously some sub-genus of Body Dismorphic Disorder which makes them see themselves as stick-thin as the best of the laxative-popping, bulimic supermodels. Either that or shovelling cream cakes, chippies and bars of lard down their voluminous gullets causes some kind of cellular breakdown that kills off the self-consciousness gene.

Is there any other way to explain it ? Help me out if you have any suggestions.

I admit it – as a vegetarian and lover of home-made curries, I am a walking time-bomb. Well, probably just a walking bomb; but nevertheless I could be lethal.

I ferment and emit a frightening quantity of gas with alarming regularity.

Tonight I finished off an aubergine, courgette and mushroom Thai green curry that I made last night, and boy is it …. oh, excuse me again …. making itself heard (and smelled).

The cat just ran from the room, boaking and retching, in a desparate attempt to avoid being suffocated by the sulphur-tinged blanket of methane that’s smothering the place.

One tiny spark and they’ll be picking up small, bite-sized bits of me from all over Leith for months (provided that the local seagull population hasn’t had a slap-up feed before the forensic team find all of the me-morsels).

Assuming that the fate above is avoided and I somehow avoid gassing myself in my sleep, I’ll be back again tomorrow. Touch wood.

Never mind having a bahookie giving me gyp, it’s my back that aches tonight.

I’ll have to work on my cycling posture as I must have it all wrong. I walk and sit humpty-backit’ but I didn’t realise it was possible to bend humpty-backit’ !

Now I know how unfit and out of shape I am. Buggerit. This get-fit lark is going to involve some serious initial pain and suffering. Better start stocking up on the ibuprofen and Deep Heat now….

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