Monday, 12 December 2011

Damn it to hell - I think I might be a Christian...

Very often I read that people have given up asking 'The big questions'. No one cares anymore - 'Why are we here? What's the purpose?' are questions suffocated beneath the oppression of a debt ridden, commodity filled life. I disagree.

If my life has been anything it has been a constant quest for truth, or knowledge which could at least point in a direction leading to truth. This will get heavy so bear with me please...

I like Dawna Lee over at Dawna Lee - Because it Matters because she makes me think, and think hard upon questions which I was comfortable in believing I had answers for. Until I try to articulate them then realise they fall apart - My wee comfort zone goes up in flames and I seek solace in reading more sociology texts. Marx has all the answers, until I spot a few holes in there and flames lick once more. That's ok, Weber or even Giddens will have the answers, maybe Durkheim or Kant or even Thomas Paine and the list goes on...and my answers fall through the holes reality tends to punch in theory.

I've read just about every Bible in existence, or every copy of every scroll which led to the Bible - I've read them in Hebrew, I've read them in Greek, I've read them in Aramaic, Latin, I've even tracked down fragments which are thought to be the earliest known copies of particular scripture, I've read every English translation I could lay my hands on and my budget would stretch to - and I haven't done so in search of some religious truth - I did so from the viewpoint of social and political history. The Bible (as we have it today) is a hate filled monstrosity filled with prejudice and violence. Yet it is presented as 'The unerring word of God' by many who fill our churches every Sunday. My Daughter was a bit on the wild side last week - Maybe I should have done as instructed in the Bible and just told her 'Sorry Brenna but I now have to take you to the outer walls of the city and have you stoned to death.' Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Of course it's monstrous, cruel and absurd - though some Christians will defend it by saying 'But in the context of the times it was God's will; though we no longer have to do such things thanks to Jesus'. They fail to see that even in the context of the times it was monstrous, cruel and absurd. There are any number of texts within the Bible which display such monstrous cruelty. That's when one realises that the Bible is not the infallible words of God - it is the fallible words of men. Each scripture was carefully selected and compiled to convey a construct which best suited the purpose of the men of the times - before those who sat at the council of Nicaea in 325 in particular, canonized those parts they deemed worthy. They threw out all scripture they disagreed with leaving us with the Bible as we know it today. Much of the nonsense which appears in the Bible is something a good historian can prove to be nonsense using no more than logic, alternative contemporary sources, forensic techniques and computer aided software (See Robin Lane Fox 'The Unauthorised Version' - Fact and fiction in the Bible). His book has nothing whatever to do with the spiritual messages contained in the Bible and everything to do with historical fact and fiction. But as he pulls at one thread, then almost inevitably another becomes loose before the entire garment threatens to fall apart.

So what to believe if looking for something to satisfy that burning question of 'Why are we here?' which resides inside us all. Well for years now I've been a 'Dawkins' man - There is no God, we were an accident waiting to happen...but please bear with me just a moment longer...

Some years ago I was invited to attend a seminar held by a South American Catholic Priest. So radical, so challenging was his view of Christianity that no less than the Secretary of State for Scotland attended along with all the highest representatives of every church in Scotland. The Priest stepped on stage and never have I seen such squirming and discomfort among dignitaries - He opened with "Listen carefully to what I have to say - I will not get the chance to come back and repeat it. Maybe a year, maybe two years from now, I will be dead. I will be murdered by my own Government or my own church - whichever I displease most, the quickest."

In less than a year he had been assassinated by the Government of Chile. I'm ashamed to say that as I write this I have forgotten his name - but his message lives on....

"You are important in Scotland yes?" He asked, pointing a finger at the Secretary of State. The packed audience laughed..."And you? And you? And you?" he continually asked working his way along the front row. "You guys are obviously important in the Church?" He laughed as he said it pointing to some in the front row who were clearly Cardinals or Archbishops dressed in their finery.
"Even without the fancy clothes I know this because you are in the front row. Most of you will have fine lives and few worries. As we move back through the theatre we'll find some kind of grading system in place - with poor students no doubt sitting up there in the back row, maybe there is a leper? Or a blind man? Is that what to be Christian means? To put the most important in society first and leave everyone else feeling second class? You dignitaries and important people are here today because you want to know about God, about Jesus and the message I am spreading in South America. But how can you hear it when your starting point is 'I'm more important than some others in society'. Being closer to the stage may make you hear better - being farther away makes you listen more."

I remember he pointed to a Cardinal or Archbishop and mocked him saying "Why are you wearing all these fancy clothes? Did Jesus have fancy clothes? Was Jesus adorned with gold round his neck and carry a Gold walking stick? You do it because you are saying to people "I am the Church and the Church is important therefore I am important - I say 'No' you're not any more important than the leper or the blind man if there is one in the back row. And it is your duty if you are called to God to ensure that he or she has everything you can give them to make their lives better. You won't do that by wearing gold around your neck or dressing in fancy clothes. Already you are saying to that person 'Look at me, I am important' when you should be saying 'My son or my daughter, where the church is concerned you are the important one here - now what can I do for you and how quickly do you need it done?' I am sure that if someone has a burning issue in their heart and telephone's your house of god you'll tell them 'I'm a busy man so I can't actually fit you in until next month' Is that what Jesus would do? Would he say 'Sorry Amigo but my diary is full of stuff which is more important than you?" He straightened up from his wandering around the stage before bellowing "NOTHING is more important than the poorest man or woman who comes to seek the aid of God. NOTHING! Not the church, not the Priest, not the time, not the place - NOTHING! In the parishes of the churches all over Scotland tonight there are women being beaten, there are men with no work and no hope, there are children who are starving and abused - HOW DARE YOU say to them - 'Oh I'll speak to you next week, or, I'll find a space in my diary' and HOW DARE YOU be so vain as to think that wearing fine robes and gold somehow makes their lives better - it makes YOUR life better, it makes you feel good, it makes you feel important in which case you'd be better employed at Exxon or any other multi national company."

I was totally enchanted by his views - not enough to become a Christian though because of the hatred and bile to be found in the Bible. Being cut off from the internet this last week was frustrating and it brought back so many memories I had forgotten about and also gave me some time to think on those 'big questions' again - when reconnected I went on a hunt around the internet for some political/religious/social/spiritual explanations for discrimination which Dawna Lee frequently asks questions about on her blog...My wife actually found this guy for me....A Clergyman with the balls to say 'The Bible and the Church is a vile piece of work - but there is an underlying goodness to be found there if you can just get rid of the crap.'

There is a brief few comments he makes - which just totally took me back to that lecture theatre - I might go looking for God again - Sorry Dawkins, you were good - but you never did quite answer everything...this guy might just have the edge...Short video to give you the flavour of the man - a longer video with one of the finest lectures I have heard in many, many years...If Dawna Lee has the stomach for the second video -for me it answers many of the questions you pose....

Hell as an Invention of the Church

The Burke Lecture

Is it Ok to scream now?

I had just written my last blog post - I'd fixed my splints in such a way that I could type again - life was good, I'd got a date for my surgery and it was full speed ahead.
My wife reluctantly applied the brakes.
"I'm glad you're sitting down honey" She said.
I smiled, "Why what's up?"
"I'm afraid I have some rather bad news"
My smile disappeared. 'No' I thought, 'Not my my surgery date being changed, please, please don't be anything as drastic as that. Please don't tell me the hospital called and said my arm couldn't be saved'
Sadly, it was worse than that.
"I don't quite know how to tell you darlin'..." she said solemnly, "But...well...the router is broken and there's no internet until we get it fixed or get a new one."

For over a week now I've been surrounded by real life, pushing in and oppressing me. I walked lonely and distraught around the garden vainly seeking YouTube, Facebook, the blogs of my friends, hell I would have happily read the home pages of the British Government but nature has yet to tune into the new reality. Curse you beauty and normality. I saw so much of my kids that I can name each one by sight now, I can even find my way to the bathroom without being given directions.

Last night the new router was set up - and tentatively I say (so as not to tempt fate) I'm back on line...

My life support has been switched on again :)


Sunday, 4 December 2011

My Misery Is Complete - The Adventures of 'Daggy Man'

Like most folks, I scrub up quite well. Pass me in the street and yes, even though I say so myself, you would think 'Oh, he must be a Corporate Executive'. On the other hand however I do a good impression of a bum, a hobo, a derro, a dag - and far from saying the above you'd find yourself handing me a dollar to go feed myself or buy a cheap bottle of wine. Truth is, there is no in between  - I'm either highly polished or 'Daggy Man'.

Scrubbed up - this is me...

Without the polish this is me...

Actually the second picture is not really me - It's a bum of a character called 'Onslow' from a British TV series. But when my wife starts calling me 'Onslow' around the house, I know the slide has to stop...too often recently I've been Onslow.

Now what has this got to do with my Grandmother breaking wind I hear you ask? Or at least you should be, because that's where we're heading just shortly...first however...

You all know we have a Cat and four new kittens at home, you all know that my left arm is a useless, pain filled, Velcro covered mess. It's hard shaving with one hand, you can't pull facial skin tightly to get a good clean shave - and electric razors only serve to make my facial hair longer - they pull at the hair without actually cutting it - less frequent shaving these days - and so the 'Onslow Syndrome' sets in...

Anyway, the Cat and the Dog had their first real spat the other day - Cat went for Dog, Dog went for Cat and I got between them both - I wear my spectacles with a string around my neck - the Dog got a paw in one side of the string, the Cat a claw in the other and hey presto - they snapped the leg and frame of my specs and the lenses flew out.

They were irreparable, or so I thought, enter my daughter Brenna from stage left. 
"We've got white sticky tape somewhere. I can wind it round the frame and lenses. Then use a marker pen to colour it black".
I was right - they were irreparable.
And so I sit here today typing this with Joe90 specs on, only they look like a pair made by a kid in Kindergarten. Imagine the image below but made up of coloured-in, taped up specs, and you'll get the idea.

And so I find myself being unable to wear them in public without risking an outbreak of laughter as contagious as swine flu. My misery was complete - or so I thought.

I had to visit the pharmacy for more pills - Spectacles firmly in pocket I strode through the shopping precinct and to all intents and purposes looked like someone who could see where they were going - then it happened. The shame of it still haunts me as I write this. 
I involuntarily broke wind. 
Now this is something I never, ever, ever, ever do. I'm a Gentleman, I don't break wind in public places or in the company of others. I froze. Hesitantly, I took one more step forward and another ripper let loose. It was synchronized farting - timed perfectly to coincide with each step.  What could I do? 
That's when I remembered my dear departed Grandmother. She lived with us and had a dignity and elegance about her which not even breaking wind could dent. Whenever she rose from a chair the loudest, longest fart ever would ensue, the canary would be upturned in its cage, the Dog would have that 'Wasn't me' look on its face, and everyone would look up wondering when it would end. But she carried on with dignity and grace as though nothing had happened. I resolved to do likewise.

And so sounding like someone with squeaky shoes I strode up to the Pharmacy counter to pick up my pills. The girl who works there is a pretty young thing who knows me by name.
"Hi Rory."
"Hi there Elspeth" I said - a little more loudly than usual just to distract her from any other sounds in the vicinity.
Pointing to a fuzzy piece of paper on the desk she said, "All ready, you just have to sign here."
I'd forgotten about the 'signing'. Doing it with one hand was hard enough, doing it with no specs was impossible. I had no choice - I had to pull my specs from my pocket and quickly throw them on with my head tilted downward in the hope she couldn't see. 
Something was wrong. 
At first I thought maybe it was the sudden change from fuzziness to clarity which was playing havoc with my eyes. And so I looked up to focus on something else to 'correct' my vision. It was then I realised that with two rolls of sticky tape wrapped around my specs I was staring at Elspeth with a bus ticket, a peppermint and a little alien on a key ring all firmly stuck to my spectacles. I quickly signed, grabbed my pills and squeaked my way out the door.

My misery was complete.

I now respond to the name 'Onslow'.

PS - I see the anaesthetist on Tuesday for working out how to knock me out come surgery time - Thanks to my wife who did what I couldn't do -  She hassled the hospital into coming up with a date for my surgery - Jan 30th. It's not ideal but at least it is now a firm date!

Thanks to all who have been writing - will catch up with you today! A real heartfelt thanks as it's been a difficult period.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle...

Our back garden is becoming somewhat overgrown since mowing with one arm and a three wheeled lawnmower (A horse box reversed over it) makes it exceedingly difficult. This brings dangers in Australia - slithery things move in at the first sight of cover.

After our Dog Banjo's recent accident, it's been essential to build up the muscle tone in his rear legs and so Brenna and I take him out to the back garden and have him chase a ball around - not for too long but just enough to slowly build him up. I've said in previous blog posts that whilst he is a big softie - He will attack any animal which threatens to get too close to Brenna and I. And so it was that in a Morphine and Diazepam induced stupor I took him outside and realised Brenna would have to do the kicking as there was more chance of me landing on my ass than actually connecting with the ball...She did just that and it landed by the garden shed door which was open - Banjo raced after it and then suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. He started growling at the shed before barking loudly and taking tentative steps toward the open door.
"Something's in there." I said to Brenna as she walked toward it.
"Probably a lizard" She called back.
I wasn't so sure as Banjo doesn't usually get this agitated over lizards.
Just to be safe I beat her to the door where Banjo continued barking wildly at the insides. I could see nothing.
Banjo appeared emboldened by our arrival and stepped further forward when suddenly we heard a loud rustle and a menacing "Hssssssss" - Banjo leapt back and Brenna yelled 'SNAKE!'

I think she armed herself with a pitchfork and I grabbed a Dutch Hoe (that doesn't sound quite right does it?) but yes it's a garden implement and not a woman sitting in a nearby window bathed in red light . We stepped a little further inside when the most horrifyingly loud "HiSSSSSSSSSS" and the rustling sound was heard again - something darted toward us but too fast to make out as it retreated again.
"Oh My God! It's a brown snake!" Brenna screamed and retreated - given that they are one of the world's top 5 deadliest creatures it was a wise move. Banjo was going ballistic.
"I saw it's eye! It's in that cardboard box in the middle." Brenna yelled...
I stepped a little closer with the Hoe, ready to strike, Brenna had grabbed Banjo by the collar and was struggling to restrain him.  The 'HSSSSSSSSSSS' came loud and clear and I got startled as leaping from the box came quite a young cat in a dreadful condition. It was emaciated, had chewed chunks of it's own tail due to mite infestation, it was so skinny it could have been Kate Moss in a fur coat. It didn't have the strength to put up a fight but was trying hard to. I stepped around it and there in the cardboard box were 4 newly born kittens - the question really was which would die first? The Mother or the Kittens?

Press 'Play' for the answer....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated...

I think I may still be alive - I'm not quite sure because in my six week drug induced stupor, I may in fact have carked it, and am perceiving myself now from another dimension. Allow me please if you will...

Arm is falling off, pain is unbearable, left side in complete and total spasm with fingers trying to gouge out my palm (and my fingernails on those fingers are huge because they are too sensitive to cut) - I did the right thing of course - I went to my Doctor.
"That looks painful..." He said, looking at the curled up immovable fingers.
"That's why I'm here - I can't take this anymore. You must kill the pain. I need my surgery...Help."
Then in his best Indian/Malaysian/Indonesian/Australian/English/Thai accent (This is not to slight any nation in particular - just to draw attention to the fact there could be 'status' issues going on here that I don't quite understand) - he said, "I refuse to treat you anymore or give you medical certificates. The hospital can do it. I can't give you pills for arm - you could have brain tumour."
I looked at the large brace and splint on my left arm and wondered if there was something about the human anatomy I really didn't quite grasp.
"Brain Tumour? But..." Words failed me as I pointed with a good arm to a bad arm and wondered if he had been watching too many episodes of 'House' where nothing is ever what it seems...
"You see what I am telling you is this," He continued, "It has been five months now and the hospital have sent me nothing! Nothing! For all I know you could go home each day and place these things on your arm just so you can get pills and time off work. Of course I know you don't. I know you suffer, but it is the point I am making. The hospital will send me no records of yours detailing what is wrong unless I specifically ask for them. I refuse to do so. If I were to do that for every patient I would only have time to see two thirds of my patients every day"
"If you don't do something Doc, next time you see me I'll only be two thirds of a patient. This arm isn't gonna last much longer."
Then he came up with a great line "My hands are tied"
"One of mine is falling off." I protested.
"There is nothing I can do - without records It would be wrong of me to give you things which could be making you worse."
Realising I was getting nowhere I muttered something like "Ok - so I use my good one to call the hospital and get records?"
"That would help"

" person...please help" I gave the lady on the other end of the line the whole story.
"Oh what a shame, you poor man, caught up in a dreadful situation between this hospital and your doctor and suffering as a consequence! It's horrid."
"So you can help me?"
"No. Unfortunately not. Without a written request from your Doctor or the approval of the Chief Consultant here no records can be passed to just anyone"
"But he's not just anyone - he's my Doctor. The one who sent me to hospital in the first place five months ago...You do have my records there right?"
"Yes, Yes. I have them here right in front of me - Let's see," She said reading them aloud - as if seeking confirmation. "Rory D Grant, Cubital tunel syndrome displaying unique characteristics, combination Ulnar nerve, Radial nerve, Surgery necessary, little hope of success-" She stopped abruptly "Sorry, didn't mean to say that last part unless of course you were already aware of that..." She giggled nervously.
"Can I just get those records to my Doctor...Please?"
"I'd need a signed consent form from you and signed by your Doctor too - You can fax it through from his surgery and the records will be with him in 24 hours"
"24 hours??? I've been waiting five months for treatment from a doc who refuses to treat me because of something which only takes 24 hours to complete?"
"In fact Mr Grant I only said 24 hours just in case - it normally takes about 5 minutes as it's all transferred electronically..."

I rushed to the surgery and told him what they had said.
"But you see this is what I have been telling you..." He objected, 'They want us, me, to do the paperwork necessary for these things when I should get it as a matter of right - it is the proper way. I am your Doctor. Do you know how much paperwork is involved in doing this 'request'?"
"No." I said, almost crying in pain but waiting for him to tell me it was as thick as War and Peace.
"No, neither do I. My secretary will know. I suspect it will be huge."
The secretary leaned over the reception desk and handed me a single sheet of paper "You sign there Mr Grant and Doctor you sign there, I fax it off and that's it."
I restrained myself from strangling the Doc right there and then knowing I could only do it with one arm and he probably had a concealed scalpel somewhere upon him.
"You see!" He exclaimed as he waved his left arm in the air, possibly because he knew it was something I couldn't do "Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork!" - Docs and their superiority syndromes. Next time I see him he'll probably be sitting there juggling.

It was too late - My wife could tell it was too late, something had to be done that no despatching of records would help with - At 6am she carted me off to ER where they took one look and admitted me immediately - I spent the day with my entire arm packed in ice, morphine shots to the belly, diazepam poked down my throat - after a few hours the spasm began to release and my fingers started to straighten up and what's pain when all you can see is pretty coloured butterflies spinning around you and hear Deep Purple in your head?

And in a sense that's where I've been now for some considerable weeks. In a drug induced stupor and trying to ride out the pain. I've been fitted with a new splint for my hand now that my fingers are straight again and it makes typing a little easier - there's more room for my good fingers to type.

Now I have some catching up to do - not least with all your blogs and your e-mails. First however, I have an appointment with my Doc in one hour to go get more Diazepam - If he so much as looks at me the wrong way they'll be creating some new entries in his own medical records...

Love you all - Missed you all.


Updated - and Edited to add -

Thank you everyone - WE FINALLY UNDERSTAND IT! My Sister in Law works for the Health Service and explained what has been happening.

It's all to do with money and budgets! The National Health Service here is essentially one big pot of money - but now individual budgets are being scrutinised. In the past the Hospital would have released the records even though there's an administrative cost involved because the payment comes from a central fund whether it was Ortho, Neurology, The Doctor, The Hospital or whomever's budget - nobody really bothered because ultimately the cost was borne by the 'Health Service'.

Now it seems they have to account for every penny in their own individual budgets - so by getting the Doc to make the paperwork request he gets billed for it - he's obviously been reluctant to make the request because then the cost comes out of his NHS budget. Previously no one would have cared who footed the bill because it all comes from the NHS ultimately - and still does. But each sector of the NHS is now trying to make their budget allocation look efficient, well organised, and so everyone within the system is billing everyone else for everything - which of course is a big change from the way things were done before. And some are loathe to have it come from their own budgets hence my Doc's reluctance to make the formal request for my records.

It seems that even now if I were in hospital with my arm and complained about the other arm - Rather than make me an appointment to see a specialist within the hospital or even get someone else to have a look - they'd send me back to my Doc for an official 'referral' and start the process all over again because then he gets billed for it instead of the hospital just saying 'Oh well you're here now - let's have a look'.

Money it seems is not just the root of all evil - it's the root of a great deal of discomfort and pain.

It all makes sense now - Gosh my Sister in Law is clever.


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Wrong Place, Right Time...

I love pictures which are unintentionally funny. I have a fair old collection of them here in my lap top (The Internet is such a wonderful resource). None of the images below have been 'Photoshopped'. In some cases it's just that the image was taken at an inappropriate moment (though some might say - the most appropriate moment)...In others they are just 'unintentionally funny'.

Let's start with the British Prime Minister shall we?

No Irish Priest's home should be without the next one...

I think maybe it was their first ever fashion show?

Poor Guy - should always look at the backdrop before posing for a picture...

Speaks for itself...

Some things require very precise explanations...

"Ah, breakfast..."

The camera never lies...

This is one of my all time favourites - The timing and the angle were perfect...

In these troubled times, it's nice to know at least the birds are happy...

Sadly, I have to go now - got a Kid's bedroom to paint.

Stay well everyone :)


Friday, 23 September 2011

Comes a Time...I am NOT TROY DAVIS

There will come a time when we are all called to account. Whether it is in this life or another - somewhere down the road we all have to meet up with justice - it's a belief I hold fervently to without having to appeal to the existence of a God. But when that reckoning comes, be it from Gods, Angels, Politicians or Policemen I want the world to know that I was unafraid to say this...


Image Courtesy of 'The Blue Gal'


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Let's Get Low

There's not much work around for one armed Guitarists. I've therefore had plenty of time on my hand(s) to think back on some of the songs I've written. Yesterday I remembered a song I wrote which was all part of a 'master plan' to ensure solvency in old age. I figured that if I reached pensionable age and was broke - it would be a good idea to have a song of my own which required only the one basic instrument - guitar. That way, if needs be, I could stand on street corners and perform it well into my nineties. Now even that plan is busted. So Mr Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Williams, Neil Young et al, this song has minimal orchestration and arrangement meaning you could stamp your own style on it, and it's available for only One hundred thousand dollars (though I am prepared to open negotiations at fifty dollars).

I didn't want to just post the music so last night I made a wee daggy video to go with it, all of the images in the video were taken by myself or my wife Tracey and so some of the video might not make much sense - but it was all I had to work with lol. At huge expense we filmed in Rosslyn Chapel (yes of Da Vinci Code fame), Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Winter markets, the 17th Century home of the Duke of Argyll, The Gold Coast Australia, Brisbane - Oh and Lindisfarne on the Holy Isle. We didn't do all that last night however...


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just for the CIA, the FBI, MI5 and 6...

No, I am not a terrorist but if you are intercepting my e-mails or reading my blog posts you could be forgiven for thinking I am. I do believe there may be some kind of cyber terrorist lurking within my computer.

No one specialises in writing the mundane and banal quite like I do, yet thanks to the wonders of modern technology and speech to text software, one could easily think I had become radicalised and was on a mission to destroy the planet.

Brenna was at her biologically responsible dad's the other day and e-mailed me, her socially responsible dad - to say she would be going to the city and wouldn't be home for dinner. I reminded her that 10 minutes before arriving home on the bus "Don't forget, send text". I issued the command 'send'. Then sat back horrified at what my software had just mailed her.
"Don't forget, Semtex".

It has to be trained, cajoled, shouted at to get it into its Bin Ladin sympathising brain that I am a man of peace! Last week my wife almost fell off her chair laughing at my repeated insistence that "Cool! It's easy and..." is not "Bullets to Disneyland".

And then of course, there's Delores (I typed the name) over at the Feathered Nest whom it insists on calling ' Lawless '. Overall however, as you can probably gather from this Blog post - it is slowly picking up on the nuances of my Scottish accent. I'm even hopeful that before too long it will get their law is correct (Delores).

Now, what could be a more peaceful, harmless, terrorism free blog post than one about pretty flowers? Well here goes;

It's the last two weeks of September - and something special here happens every year at this time (besides my busty) ' that should read birthday '. A particular flower in the garden bursts into bloom - I have no idea what it is but it is gorgeous. So much so that I photographed it this morning to share with you. "One plant. four flowers", I'll resist the temptation to say it explodes into colour as no doubt somehow that will come out as "plant, followers, explode."


Sunday, 18 September 2011

They Passed the Weirdo Test!

You don't just marry an individual - You marry their whole family. My Parents-In-Law live a couple of thousand miles from us in the North of Australia and both are 'grey nomads'. You never quite know where they are at any given time. I'd only met them briefly before I married their daughter but they promised that after they returned from spending two years in the Falkland Islands they'd come visit and 'get to know me'.

And so it was that earlier this year, I unexpectedly got a phone call to say they were only 20 minutes from my front door. Thing is, there was only me at home. Tracey was out teaching and the kids were at school - no one around to help break the ice. This could be awkward. I decided to make it more so...

In that 20 minutes I raced to the pantry and grabbed the aluminium foil. I then crafted a nice 'anti-alien' tin foil hat with a pointed antenna affair at the top, and placed it on my head. They duly appeared at the door and I opened it wearing my new accessory. They stared as I ushered them in but neither said anything.
"I'll put the kettle on - Tea or Coffee?'
They sat at the kitchen table struggling to find words.
"It's great to see you both after all this time!" I said sitting down opposite  them.
They stared in silence.
"I was getting worried that we might not see you again before the aliens return in 2012 and fulfil Mayan Prophecy. As you can see we're prepared though.  I insist Tracey and the kids have one of these each too." I said pointing to the tin foil hat.
Mouths gaping, they both nodded. I was really impressed by how tolerant and polite they were.
"Only 200 dollars each on e-bay and they work as none of us has been abducted by aliens in ages" I enthused..
My Mother-In-Law spoke first as my Father-In-Law was now squirming around uncomfortably in his chair.
"Oh..." She said, " have one?"
"Absolutely. The kids are off to school in theirs and Tracey is teaching in hers this morning. You never know when they might strike, best to be on guard. I could order you a couple if you like? I'd like to think you both survive what's up ahead. More so as I've barely gotten to know you." My face never wavered from 'sincerity'.
Silence again.

It was at this point my Sister-In-Law (Whom I know really well) walked through the front door and spotted me at the kitchen table - "Oh for Christ's sake Rory get that bloody thing off your head and stop terrorising them."
I burst out laughing - you could see them visibly uncoil.

We have a terrific relationship - they are genuinely and sincerely lovely people. I often wonder though just what was going through their minds for those few minutes?

Anyway, Brenna announced that she has her first ever boyfriend this week. I told her we'd like to meet him -  There's plenty of tin foil in the pantry.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

Oh...and did I mention the weather?

I've said it before - I'll say it again, 'Everything in Australia tries to kill you.'

Earlier this year my wife and I were sitting in our office at home, outside it was a gloriously beautiful day, the temperature was up in the 90's. We heard a tapping sound on the roof - we looked at one another and my wife said 'Rain or Possums'.
I wasn't so sure, Possums don't ordinarily run over our roof during daylight and as for rain it looked all clear through the window. The tapping got louder, 'Hmm...' my wife thought out loud 'Hailstones?'. But again all was clear through the window.
Our two Dogs in the garden started barking and the tapping became a roar, yet I could still see nothing through the window. It reached the level of a deafening roar and I raced toward the back to find out what the Dogs were agitated about. I hadn't even reached the back door when I could tell what was going on from the trees I could see through the large glass panels - Twister.

With very little warning huge branches were being thrown across the garden, trees were falling, and as I opened the door, mercifully the Dogs came racing in. It was bad. It was as though night-time had descended in the middle of the day. My wife and I locked ourselves in the Office with the Dogs - not even standing next to a plane engine at full throttle could have matched the roar reverberating all around us. It was truly terrifying. The power went out.  And then, within a few minutes it was all over. The sun shone once more and all was quiet save for neighbours yelling. I went out back to check the damage - the garden was destroyed and the perimeter fence had 'gone'. Trees lay across the yard and had tumbled into the nearest neighbours garden too. Mercifully the house had been spared. Even so it would take months to sort all this out.

Later in the day I grabbed my camera and took a stroll around the neighbourhood. There were cars thrown around like toys, the rain which had fallen in just a few minutes had caused flooding. Our driveway had washed away for the fourth time in five years (still to be repaired even now). The images below are from the kids playpark at the bottom of our street.




Our little part of suburbia had been torn apart. My most abiding memory from that day though was of sitting out on the porch surveying the damage and thinking overall how 'lucky' we were. I stood up and headed inside and just as I did so a Fruit Bat flew overhead and shit on my head. I think it was a warning not to get too complacent...


Friday, 16 September 2011

Of Banjo, Brenna and Blue Tongued Wizards

It's been a crazy week. One which I will try and describe in images. There are creatures everywhere in Australia, and I have no idea what most of them are. My 16-year-old step-daughter in her infinite wisdom however, took the time and trouble to give me the basics when I first arrived here.
"If it has blue on it, it's toxic and will kill you slowly. If it has red, it'll just kill you quickly."

Armed with this knowledge, my faithful friend and I (Banjo my black Labrador), stroll around the garden and I have little fear of what we may encounter, apart from anything else, I have Banjo to protect me. Australia is a tough place to be a dog, it costs over $100 a year for a license just to have one, and the restrictions on their movements in public are pretty tight. At most times they must be on a lead, and rarely are they allowed to run free even in bushland. The penalties for non-compliance are pretty harsh. So if we're not out together somewhere, or my stepdaughter hasn't taken him away to the local dog park, you'll find us in the garden. Ordinarily I ensure the large wooden gate in the garden is locked tight. I have no idea why it was open but it happened to be so earlier in the week when some kind of creature was lurking in the grass at night. I didn't see it, Banjo did and took off like a greyhound after it. Somewhere out there in the darkness he met something fast, heavy and with four wheels. I'm relieved he's alive but damn he's expensive to glue back together again - $700 and that was with a discount for knowing the Vet's Assistant.

Anyway, he is recovering well, not as well as I would hope, but recovering nonetheless. So my wee strolls around the garden have pretty much been on my own.

Two days ago, I left the house via the front door and made my way around the back intending to come in through there - only to find the back door locked.
' No problem ', thinks I, ' I'll go round the front again'. I turned and was met by the most horrifying guttural hiss. There just a few feet from me was some kind of large reptile which at first I thought was a snake. It reared up and I realised it was as long as a cat but half the height. But anyway, the main focus of my attention was the "kill you slowly" blue tongue - which it flashed every time it hissed. I was trapped between it and a locked door. I picked up a small twig and jabbed it in its direction but it only served to make it angrier. I picked up a small pebble and threw it hoping to scare it away but that only made it rush a few more steps towards me angrily. So this was it then, Rory D Grant was about to be despatched by means of toxic poisoning injected by Godzilla's midget nephew. I slumped down onto my ass with my back against the door so as not to appear too intimidating. I felt the glass door slide open and I tumbled inside.

"Watcha doing?" My Stepdaughter asked.
"Thank God Brenna - I was about to be killed slowly by that THING!" I pointed.
"Aww a Blue tongued wizard." (She has a lisp).
She rushed toward it, picked it up and cuddled it.
"No!" I roared "It's dangerous, it's been attacking me!"
"Rory," she said, stroking it in her arms, "They only attack if you are aggressive. Were you throwing sticks or stones at it?"
I thought about that for a second - "Maybe".

We took it to a secluded tropical area of the garden where I photographed it and let it go.

I need Banjo back on his feet - and soon. Life without him is just too dangerous.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

And we walked off... to look for America.

Warning: Political Post Ahead.

I saw an image of graffiti on a blog I follow yesterday. It couldn't have been more appropriate. "Speak the truth, even though your voice trembles"

My voice doth tremble. But sometimes maintaining silence is simply no longer possible.

I am about to speak the truth as perceived by me. This blog post will undoubtedly cost me followers, I don't set out to be malicious, vindictive or spiteful, and this is certainly no knee-jerk reaction, it's a post I've had 10 years to think about. What I say below is out of concern and love for a people and nation I adore.

When I was 12 years old I was in awe of America - a land where you could find liberty, democracy, freedom, justice and equality - there really was nowhere on the face of this earth that came close to the United States of America. I wished I was an American. In my desire to realise that wish I sent off a hand scribbled letter to the state of New York asking how I could become an American and then become a Police Officer there. Several months later, my local postie handed me an envelope with an American postmark. Inside, the letter explained what I had to do to become an American and further explained what I had to do to become a Police Officer. But what really caught my eye was the big bold lettering at the top "We are an Equal Opportunities Employer". Through my 12 year old eyes, here was a nation with no class system, no differentiation based upon religion, gender, race or starting point in life. Here was a nation which had realised, the physical and political embodiment of centuries of struggle and philosophy. It starkly contrasted with my own nation, riddled as it was by a pernicious class system, and sectarianism.

By the time the Americans caught up with me at 18 years old, I had already become a Police Officer in Scotland and so I then politely declined their formal invitation to go through the application process.

And so it was that my future developed in Scotland and England but being a keen political activist and observer, America was never far from my thoughts.

Then in 2001, the world changed.

Four aeroplanes were hijacked and the terror and grief unleashed on 911 reverberated around the world. As I watched the twin towers crumble, I realised my heart was doing likewise and so too would billions of others across the planet.  A plethora of new legislation was introduced, most notably the Patriot Act. As ever, my own nation followed suit acting like the USA's shadow.

Allied forces then attacked Afghanistan before moving into Iraq, both these actions were questionable and problematic but it's not the resultant foreign policy I wish to discuss here. It's domestic policy.

I remember watching a Democratic Presidential candidate debate which included Barack Obama but the individual who caught my eye was Dennis Kucinich, why? He was being berated for being the only politician there who voted against the Patriot act. I was impressed by his response, "I voted against it because I'm the only one here who actually read it and knows what's in it."

Today I watch in shock and disbelief as four and five year old boys and girls are pulled aside at airports in the USA and have the contents of their underwear examined. I see former breast cancer sufferers being asked to remove their prosthetic breast in the most humiliating of circumstances so that they can be examined for possible terrorist equipment. I read of the demands of the United States that an autistic young man from Britain be extradited to the USA for possible "terrorist" offences (he found his way into a military computer whilst looking for information on ' aliens '). I read of right-wing commentators demanding that Julian Assange be executed. I read today of a woman, a US citizen, being taken handcuffed from an aeroplane in Detroit by officers wielding machine guns and then being subjected to interrogation and a full strip search. Her crime?
"She looked suspicious" (for the full shocking account of her ordeal please read her own words at this link). I read of Internet hackers whose misguided behaviour in interrupting the flow of communications between corporations leaves them not with a slap on the head or six months in the slammer - they face possible terrorism charges formulated under the Patriot Act. I read of ordinary men and women who simply happened to have a camera handy when something unusual was going down on the street outside and who now face 20 years in prison for having the audacity to film what was happening. Making images of something unfolding in public is not ordinarily a crime (although I now believe seven differing states have made it so if you photograph or film an officer of the law performing their duty). Why has photography in public suddenly become a criminal act? Officers of the law are public servants, it is your tax dollars employing them. In fact the vast majority of police officers in the performance of their duty are filming you with cameras mounted in their vehicles.

You know, my understanding, my experience of the United States of America has largely been gleaned through movies,  music, novels and documentaries. They probably represent the United States of America's biggest and best, most important export.  In those movies, in that music, in those novels and documentaries there was a freedom, particularly of young people,  which was so appealing, so charming, so desirable. A month or so ago  I watched a video of two young sisters neither over 12 years old, who wanted to make some extra pocket money so that they could both go to a funfair. They did what I believe is a tradition in some parts of the United States - they made lemonade to sell to passers-by from the lawn outside their home. Until the police moved in that is - it seems in this day and age kids can't even sell lemonade without some kind of retail license, or health and hygiene license. The screw is being tightened but not on terrorists!


Have anti-terrorism laws been formulated as a means of social control knowing the economic bubble would burst eventually?

Just yesterday I was horrified to read that there are now more Americans living in poverty than have been since the 1950s. I looked in disbelief at images of tented villages springing up in woodland all over the USA, where the poor live beneath tarpaulins and this wasn't just out in Hicksville - this was in New Jersey! In this particular community in New Jersey to protect themselves from a harsh winter, they had erected three or four wooden structures including a little church - however the ' authorities ' felt this was in contravention of planning law and so demolished all of them, even though this endangers their lives. They now have to have open fires inside their cloth covered, plastic tarpaulin roofed hovels.

Something is wrong in America, something is fundamentally wrong and ordinary men and women all across that great land are suffering as a consequence. It's more than an economic malaise, there is a wedge being driven between those who have and those who do not, between those at the top and those at the bottom, between those who can purchase protection from the law and those who are open to exploitation by it, between those whom the powers that be deem fit to protect and those they don't.

Was my America mythical? Did it ever really exist? I believe it did, so where did it go?

On 11 September 2001, it wasn't only four aeroplanes which were hijacked; it seems to me, it was the United States of America.


Monday, 12 September 2011

And I'm not lost in space either!

At last! I can make a post! Apologies everyone, I've been laid low with a chest infection and just to make matters worse I think my left arm and hand are in the process of falling off. I've never seen the necessity for mentioning it before but I suffer from chronic emphysema so whenever I get a chest infection - it could prove to be my last week on the planet. It all gets taken pretty seriously and so I've been seeing more of my bedroom ceiling than I have of the outside world this last week or so.

You remember that god-awful speech to text software that I have been using periodically? Well it's back again of necessity. I spent this entire weekend teaching this darned thing that a Scottish accent is not a disability. From now on, unfortunately, it will be necessary to use speech to text for all my posts and for making comments too.

I apologise in advance if it transpires that there is in fact a word it just doesn't understand and I insult anyone when praise was my objective. Unless of course you are a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in which case I deliberately set out to insult you.

There really hasn't been much happening of late, but a few things caught my attention and are deserving of a wider audience and recognition. I've been so spaced out on painkillers that I can't recall whether I saw this on TV or on YouTube or read it somewhere on the Internet-but as a matter of urgency if you know anyone unfortunate enough to be in a coma (and yes there is a wee bit of self-interest and self-preservation here) don't give up on them yet. I saw something, somewhere, I swear I did, about people recovering from a coma after they have been given a sleeping pill. No, I haven't gone mad, from my recollection, a patient was inadvertently given a sleeping pill and it revived him from the coma he had been in for a number of years. As a consequence it was tried out on others with stunning results.

Now should I be unfortunate enough to find myself in a similar situation please note:
Give me sleeping pills! If that fails and it's decided that I am in actual fact dead, please ensure I have a mobile phone with at least $30 credit in it before burying me.

Just wanted to get all that out there before it's too late.

I have a massive amount of catching up to do with other people's blogs and the kind e-mails enquiring after my health; so without further ado and more funded by greed, no I said off on the bed read, nor their begging read, their begging read, the deck of 50 know I said FAQ hit- Damn it was all going so well.

Crawley, no I said Rory.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Austanspace is not Lost in Space

I just had a brief e-mail conversation with Laura from the Austanspace Blog. She just wants to let everyone know that she's alive and well but still isolated from her home as a consequence of hurricane Irene. So if anyone is worrying - no need - sun's shining where she's at and she just needs the ok, presumably from the authorities, that it's safe to return home.

Take care Laura - and all the best to you from all of us!


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gone in Sixty Seconds

Many American readers may not have heard of him. He's been languishing in prison for the best part of a decade. Just this week he was released from prison in Scotland and re-arrested and imprisoned again within 60 seconds. Who is this man, and what deadly threat to the nation or the public at large does he present when life behind bars appears to be his long term fate? His name is Steven Gough - and he wants to get naked. Hence his media coined name 'The Naked Rambler'.

I first saw him with my own eyes as he wandered up the A9 toward Inverness some years ago. I must confess my initial instinct was not to avert my eyes, or rush toward him with clothes, but instead it was to offer him something to eat. Poor fella looked really skinny! Of course that may be a consequence of every Macdonalds in the nation locking their doors when he appears, I don't know, but judging by this picture taken the other day - prison food isn't particularly nourishing either.

I'm not really for or against people running around naked - I even think there's a few places I would do it myself - on a beach for example, where there's very little in the way of jabby things to poke you in the eye. But Mr Gough wants the right to be naked everywhere. It's a tough call.

Now there's a wee bit of a wider issue here with Mr Gough - and one that really does deserve some serious consideration. There are Terrorists who spend less time in jail than he has, in fact, the Lockerbie bomber who was responsible for 270 murders spent less time in prison than he has. Society has to either keep Mr Gough locked up forever and concede that 'being naked' warrants more jail time than mass murderers, rapists and even terrorists or let him have his way. Is being naked really that serious that it merits a life behind bars?

As usual his release and subsequent re-arrest became something of a sideshow. He wasn't permitted to sit down in court until some paper had been found to place on the seat for 'sanitary' reasons. Not only was he charged with being naked out there in public for a whole sixty seconds, but he was immediately charged with contempt of court for appearing naked before the Judge (Which strikes me as a wee bit unfair if his principle defence is his claim to a natural right to be naked).

This problem requires solutions. If not found, then for the rest of his life this man will be in prison and even though I think he's being incredibly stupid, stupidity and nudity in my opinion are not reasons to be deprived of liberty for a lifetime - if it were then Paris Hilton would have been lost to Guantanamo Bay forever.

It needs a solution or solutions folks, I can't think of one - I just don't have one which I think would be a happy compromise. Either the man is allowed to be naked or he rots in Jail for the rest of his life with 60 second glimpses of the outside world every couple of years. Of course I say it needs solutions only because I empathise with his plight for the comparative reasons I stated above - there are those who may very well argue that if he wants his pecker on display and the only bags he's carrying to be those he's born with - then he deserves to be in jail - but for life? He's not backing down. Neither is the law. What to do? What to do?


PS - I just thought of something - Maybe Scotland could lead the world by decreeing that nudity is not 'indecent' if one so chooses - This came to mind particularly as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are currently in Scotland filming a movie. Maybe they could start the ball rolling?

My dear Wife has just read my Blog and offered a compromise - "He's perfectly free to be naked beneath his clothes."

Thanks dear :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Technically Speaking'

The porch is where I go to think. I like to sit out there in the dark and warmth and just wrap my head around whatever troubles me. It was raining heavily last night but if you sit on one of the many window ledges then the eaves shelter you from the rain. And that's precisely what I was doing, when Maddy, my 11 year old stepdaughter, came outside and sat on my knee. An opportunity for one of those wonderful bonding moments between a father and daughter, I thought - just like in Disney family movies.
"Why have you come out to stand in the rain Maddy?" I asked.
"Well technically Rory I'm not standing or in the rain am I? In fact make that officially, not just technically."
Clearly she had inherited the 'I'm always right' gene from her Mum.
"No stars tonight." I said, looking at the cloudy night sky.
"Well technically Rory the stars are there. You just can't see them."

I wasn't going to allow this little 'technical' problem to get between us on this, the occasion of one of life's precious and tender moments. I cuddled her closer "The rain has made it a little bit chilly"
"In a way yeah," she replied "but technically it's not the rain that makes it cold."

I remembered a scene from the Woody Allen film 'Annie Hall' where both lead characters were saying things but subtitled beneath them was what they were thinking - my subtitles at this point would have read 'Will you shut the fuck up with 'technically'. I'm 51 years old and I KNOW what I'm talking about! If I say 'There are no stars, the rain has made it cold.' then just accept I'm wise beyond your years and agree.' That however came out as;
"I'll be making pizza later if you want some."
"'Yeah! Cool! Though technically you're not actually making it. You're cooking it. If you made them like you used to, using flour, then yeah you'd be making them. But someone has made them already so really you're just cooking them."
"Have you been getting critical thinking classes at school or something Maddy?"
"What's that?"
"Never mind."
"Is it something old people know about? Like you?"
"I'm not old!"
"Well, technically speaking you are. But I must say you've done really good for an old person. You learned the English language really quickly when you came to Australia." She stood up and said "Okay, I'm going back inside now."  And with that my Disney family movie moment was gone...though technically it wasn't quite over...I pushed open the front door "MADDY!"
"I learned your language better than you thought." I smiled, "I'll spare you the technical details darlin'  but technically and officially your bedroom is a shit tip - will you get it cleaned up please!"
Visibly thinking she looked up at me and smiled, "Wow. You're right."

Yes yes yes yes yes yes!


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Gotcha Covered!

At some stage in our life - we've run out and bought an album of music. If we were lucky enough to have spare cash and the time to peruse what was on offer in the music store we might even make a decision on what to buy based on the album cover art (there are some sensational pieces of cover sleeve art out there). Today however, I want to ponder on what demon possessed the people below to officially sanction their sleeve art...these are the worst covers, I think, which have ever lurked in music stores.

This first one troubles me because I can't tell if it's a man or a woman I'll be listening to singing....

Religious folks, be yea not offended but if four Christians were to get together today and put out an album with this title they'd be stuck on a compulsory register for life...

Is there some kind of ritual slaughter of a virgin about to take place in the name of God and good music? The guy with the axe worries me....'Swing That Gospel Axe'???

I can't date these - but it seems there was a time in America when people wore dead animals on their heads? Or alternately - having 'High Hair' made you closer to God?

Who on Earth came up with this for an album title?

I have a wee problem with this next one - it's an arithmetical problem...'The Gospel Four'?...

And last but far from least - I think the less I say about this one the better...

Thank God for Led Zep, Floyd, Rod Stewart, The Stones, Gerry Rafferty et al. Dang they knew how to make a cover...

PS - Thank you to Alec Lindsay for spotting a very young Stephen Fry in that last album 'Jesus Use Me'.


Saturday, 20 August 2011

There are no words - just feelings.

I've been sorely preoccupied of late, my computer keyboard has been silent - a heavy heart just isn't conducive to light fingers and flashing insights.

It was the birthday of one of my sons last week. I have four sons in Scotland, we rarely talk. The distance between us can be measured in more than miles. But this isn't about me, it's not even about my sons. It's about a friend of theirs, a nineteen year old who was always 'in or around' our house and if truth be told we were always in or around his. The son of my guitarist playing partner and friend James. Jamie, a truly beautiful young man who only had one expression - smiling.

Last week they all went out together for a drink to celebrate my son's 19th birthday. Jamie didn't come home. Somewhere in their headiness they became separated around midnight. After a massive land and sea search Jamie's body was found nine days later in the local harbour.

For days I've wanted to rage, for days I have wanted to scream, for days I have cursed God and every stupid little insignificant thing we trouble ourselves with daily. This is a 'stop the world' moment. This is not what life is supposed to be like, right now in Scotland two people who were once my dearest friends are grieving over the loss of their beautiful son and no one ever deserved such a fate less than they do, less than Jamie did. Right now my sons are trying to come to terms with the loss of their best friend and I'm trying to grasp the pompous stupidity, the pathetic preoccupation I have had for the last five years with 'being right'.

Life is too short to preoccupy ourselves with what's 'wrong' in relationships, allowing the icy nature of what separates us to become solid and frozen in time and space. What unites us is to be revered, glorified, revelled in, dare I say worshipped. At the end of the day, it's all we have.

To my oldest and dearest friends, you had a son any family would be proud of. Sleep well Jamie lad, sleep well, my heart is awfy sore this night but by God do I remember that smile.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

I'm Genuinely Happy - Two Rights Have Made a Wong!

Forgive me for the title - I couldn't resist. She has the right to live openly and freely with her gay partner. She has the right to IVF treatment from an unknown donor - as a consequence Australian Finance Minister Penny Wong will be mother to a child within her same sex relationship with partner Sophie Allouache. I'd like to congratulate them both whilst pointing out how delighted I am with Australia's non-hysterical, tolerant and respectful attitude towards their news - a respect which is reflected in Australian media. Any coverage of it here has been 'matter-of-fact' with the only public dissent I can see - emanating from folks who would otherwise be stoning wayward wives to death were there not laws against it.

I can imagine the headlines in Britain or the USA if a senior Government official announced the imminent arrival of a child within a same sex relationship. I don't think there would be rioting in the streets but all the old prejudices, all the simmering homophobia would undoubtedly rise to the surface. I'm both delighted and proud of the Australian approach to this issue. It would be foolish and dangerous to suggest that Homophobia is dead in Australia - and of course there's still that little hurdle of gay marriage to address. One would hope it's only a matter of time before sense, justice and compassion prevail.

Meanwhile - back in Scotland, the party I supported all my life allowed bigotry and discrimination to raise its ugly head to the extent I almost ripped my kilt off. I hope again that sense and compassion will prevail. Nationalist MSP John Mason has tabled a motion at the Scottish Parliament stating that no person or organisation should be forced to be involved or to approve of same sex marriage. I could write for hours on this subject alone - but I won't. Calling Mr Mason a fool will have to suffice for now. My hand is dead again and I have a garden wilderness out there which on this Sunday is calling to be transformed into a garden of delights. I'm off to brave spiders and snakes armed only with gloves and a Dutch Hoe. That's the gardening implement type of Hoe lest anyone wondered.  :)


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Who'll run the fastest at the Olympics?

I've been quiet of late - too stunned by the dreadful scenes coming out of London to really think straight. So many friends and family to worry about.

Things appear to have calmed and now I can think significantly more clearly. How on earth can London host the 2012 Olympics with such a seething cauldron of unrest bubbling just beneath the surface?

A suggestion was made that the Olympic logo for London be changed...I fear it may be more accurate than any of us would like...


Monday, 8 August 2011

Love - Isn't It Strange?

I'm stuck for written Blogging material today, brain just isn't functioning - so forgive me for indulging a few days early. Some years ago I wrote a wee song and when I met my dear wife it was very appropriate, it still is. I grabbed some old bits of video, some stills - and cobbled them together yesterday to make a video to go with the song. It'll be our anniversary in a few days - so, as they say, this one goes out to the one I love...

Happy Anniversary Darlin'


PS - There's a couple of editing errors I didn't notice until AFTER I uploaded it to Youtube lol - apologies :)


Saturday, 6 August 2011

Misplaced Faith and Past Lives

In an earlier Blogpost I mentioned that I don't have an agent. Nor do I have a manager. Should I? To do so would be to entrust someone else to act in my best interests, it's a road I've been down before - allow me please to relate two examples...

There was a coup in the offing. I wanted to revolutionise the Student Union and dislodge the incumbents at my University, but I was too controversial a figure to run as President myself at the time - My friends and I needed someone with no 'prior' in terms of media coverage or controversy, someone articulate, intelligent, unassuming but unswerving - enter William Stockdale. Over a few beers in a Uni bar it was decided "Okay William, you're a nice guy - you're the front man. Articulate what I and others devise as policy and we'll win power easily." I was putting all my faith in him to deliver our vision of the future. We all were.

Prior to the emergency election, the 'great debate' was held in a lecture theatre - it was standing room only and the national press were out in full force. I sat on the stage beside William and quietly reminded him of key manifesto points which he delivered to the audience brilliantly, so much so he received a standing ovation and rapturous applause for his speech. I remember thinking to myself  'This is done and dusted'.
Then it was time for the press to ask questions - the first of which left me thinking the journalist had taken leave of his senses...
"Mr Stockdale, have you ever claimed to be The Messiah? Our Lord Jesus Christ?"
I looked at William and laughed thinking this is some sort of joke that will be made clear in a second or two. William stood up and facing the entire theatre said quietly "Yes, yes I have."
I shook my head thinking 'Okay stop this now. Don't want to alienate the Christian vote. The joke has run its course.'
"You wrote a book once in which you claimed to be the Messiah didn't you? Do you still claim to be Our Lord Jesus Christ?" The journalist wasn't for letting go...
William stuttered slightly, "Th-th-there's a good chance, probability in fact, that I am Jesus Christ, the saviour of humankind." The audience gasped and I held my head in my hands in much the same way Salome would have held the head of John the Baptist. Right there and then in those few questions I watched any hope of a revolution in Academia disappear...None of us knew he had this kind of revelation to was our own personal Armageddon.

The only other time I 'signed away' a part of myself - was when a musical agent offered my band and I a contract which was pretty lucrative - we didn't do our research, we didn't stop to think, we didn't hesitate, we signed on the dotted line...and then rushed home to look him up on Google.

"Music Man Guilty of Sex with a Vacuum Cleaner" was all we got when we Googled his name. At first I held out hope that he was guilty of having sex with a cleaner who used a vacuum in her duties...but no, logic dictated that this would not be an offence - Google didn't lie. His biggest claim to fame it seems was his sexual exploits in a public place with a vacuum cleaner for which he did jail time.

I've never trusted anyone to act for me since. I have no Messiah complex and no unhealthy fixations on vacuum cleaners. I can trust me...most times :)


I'd like to thank my agent...

...But I don't actually have one. This probably precludes me from a Pullitzer, an Emmy, an Oscar or any other glittering prize given that everyone's acceptance speech starts with 'I'd like to thank my agent...'.
However - what does it matter when Delores over at the The Feathered Nest hands out such sweet awards as the 'Liebster Blog' award? I'm delighted to be in receipt of it even if I don't have an agent or know what Liebster means.

I just checked to make sure that 'Liebster' doesn't mean 'interminably boring' and is a secret code/label among bloggers for 'Avoid this Blog at all costs' - and I'm delighted to say that it doesn't. It means quite literally 'dearest'. So with that in mind I'd like to thank Delores and following in the tradition of Liebster awards I now pay it forward by referring you to three blogs which I think are terrific but are under-followed (less than 300 followers).

So - here goes....

AUSTANSPACE (Where reality is offensive) really is wonderfully offensive in an informed and intelligent manner.  It's one of my favourite Blogs and by default means one of my favourite people is sitting behind the desk.

Just this week I stumbled upon Gonzo Curiosita which I also find wonderfully offensive in an intelligent and rational way.

It's such a shame I'm limited to three choices as there are so many Blogs out there I enjoy (If I follow you it's because I love your Blog - not just because you follow me!).

Number three this time however, goes to -  Carrie On Carrying On because it's just so damned nice. I love it when I read a Blog and can identify with the person juggling the words and sentences. And I do.

Maybe they would be kind enough to pass the love on?

In other news this week - President Obama turned 50, despite Republican protests. 
The global financial meltdown continues - meaning I may rush to empty the 70 cents in my bank account before it's too late. And (yes I know I started a sentence with 'and' - see previous post) my daughter Maddy is clock watching as she's obviously read something on the Internet which leads her to believe the world ends today at twelve minutes past eight (20:12).

Strange times indeed.