Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Day My Dignity Died...

There are many things I left behind in Scotland when I arrived in Australia - I had no idea my dignity would be one of them. I'd been warned that every critter in Australia tries to kill you if you get too close. Quite frankly I would have rather died than endured the humiliation of a few weeks ago.

I've managed to get quite close to some of the more dangerous critters here - and emerged unscathed every time, redback spiders (Black Widow to my American readers) abound in our garden, I've been a few feet from huge snakes - but the general rule really did appear to apply - 'Don't bother them and they won't bother you'. All good as I say, until recently.

Quite what my step daughters and wife thought of the howling Scotsman tripping over himself as he rushed up the hallway in terror, trousers and boxer shorts wrapped around his ankles, screaming 'Help!' I don't know. I'm sure it's a sight which will have been burned into their memories forever - but not for the reasons you're probably thinking - Still, my dignity died that day. I'd just settled on the toilet when 'something' leaped up from the bowl and grabbed my ass. 'Snake' was my first thought, 'Spider' was my second as they are pretty damned big round here, 'I'm dying' was my third thought.  Whatever had a hold of my ass wasn't letting go. I've been told that although all these critters in Australia can kill you, with the exception of sharks obviously, you've got about an hour or two to get the antidote - and even as I ran screaming up the hall I was mentally counting the clock down. My wife and step daughters collapsed in a heap laughing their heads off when I turned to reveal this horror with it's suction cups glued to my ass;

It seems they come up through the water system fairly regularly here. Scared the living bloody daylights out of me and as I say - killed my dignity, stone dead.

And I haven't even mentioned the Bats yet.

In Britain we have tiny little Bats called Pipistrelle Bats - no larger than an extended finger most times (See below)

British Bat

In Australia, right outside our house, on the tree overhanging the driveway and the porch, we have Fruit Bats - they are HUGE Bats. 

Australian Fruit Bat

We have a white car - at least that's what colour it is when we go to sleep at night. When we wake in the morning it looks like this...(This is not a picture of our car lest other Bats recognize it and stalk us even more)...

A 'Batmobile'

So when we drive off taking the kids to school first thing in the morning - I sit there in our batshitmobile thinking about frogs sticking to my ass and I realise why there are no 'egos' in Australia. No matter where you are, or what you're doing - there's a critter out there watching you, just waiting to put you in your place.



Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Milgram Experiment Revisited...

I like Doctors with a sense of humour. And so it was that I was introduced to Dr Perigrene Arbuthnot yesterday - and his opening shot left me in no doubt I would like this man;
He shook my good hand - "Ah Mr Grant - You're relieved that after all this time someone is finally going to diagnose what's wrong with your arm and hand aren't you?"
"Yes I am."
"You're delighted that after all the waiting you're finally here and you're pleased to see me, pleased to be here"
"Oh you bet."
"Mr Grant, that's now. Thirty minutes from now you'll be wanting to punch my face in. There's no other way to describe what I'm going to do, other than to say I'll be torturing you"

I was ready though. He'd be sticking metal conductors to my hand and fingers before firing increasing amounts of electricity through them, until I reached a point where I could take no more. First up was my little finger. He placed the contacts on and flicked a switch on his desk,
"Oh My God! Oww! Enough!" I yelled.
"I haven't actually started yet Mr Grant - I was switching my computer on."
"Oh. Okay."

In the end I was zapped a frightening number of times - my head and feet didn't quite spontaneously combust, it was still pretty damned hard to take - it was all worth it in the end though. A complete diagnosis was made though the causes remain mysterious. I have crushed my Ulnar nerve and strangely also crushed my Radial nerve - surgery is now the only option before the hand withers away. He insisted this could only be the result of an injury as both nerves are no longer where they should be and are even visible to him just beneath my skin. But I haven't had any such bump, thump or injury that I can recall.

Heading out of his office I was still a little stunned from all the high voltage goings on and the diagnosis - But then I remembered Electro Man and how he developed super powers from a surfeit of electricity. I raised my arm and pointed to a prim little bush in the gardens of the clinic and said to myself 'Fire!' A bolt of silver shot out - nah nothing happened  really. But still - at last, I got some answers!

Me - after the Clinic Yesterday


Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Domestic Brotherhood of Bluster...

My whole family has been a relentless source of humour from as far back as I can remember. But today, I think I'll write up a conversation I had on the telephone with my Dad just a few months a way it typifies precisely what I mean. My Dad is an amiable gentle giant but of the bumbling variety, never quite seems to get anything right first time around...And so I called...unexpectedly it was my Sister 'Biff' who answered my Dad's telephone...

Biff - 'Hello'

Me - 'Hello'

Biff - 'I'm calling about my Dad's ironing...'

Me - 'No, I'm calling you'

Biff - 'No, I'm calling you - it's about my Dad's ironing-'

Me - 'Biff it's me, Rory. I just called Dad's phone number'

Biff - 'Rory? My brother in Australia! Oh! I was calling the ironing shop about Dad's ironing'

(Dad's voice in the background) 'Rory? In the ironing shop? What's he doing in the ironing shop? Gimme the phone Biff!'

Dad - 'What you doing in the ironing shop son?'

Me - 'I'm not in the ironing shop Dad, I'm in Australia - I was phoning you and-'

Dad - 'Amazing! You're in an ironing shop in Australia! How's that for coincidence? Is that what Biff is trying to tell me?'

Me - 'No Dad I'm not in an ironing shop anywhere - I'm on my porch in Australia calling to tell you something and ask how you are'

Dad - 'Oh right (pause) who is in the ironing shop?'

Me - 'Dad, can we forget the ironing shop for a minute - Have you ever heard of an organisation called the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor?'

Dad - 'The Domestic Brotherhood of Bluster?'

Me - 'No Dad - the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. I've been researching them.'

Dad - 'Nope son, the Domestic Brotherhood of Bluster is a new one on me. Who are they?'

Me - 'Hermetic Dad, Hermetic - Luxor as in Luxor in Egypt'

Dad - 'Ahhh The Hermetic Brotherhood of Bluster! (Silence) Nope never heard of them'

Me - 'LUXOR!'

Dad - 'Lucknow?'

Me - 'Frikkiin Luxor Dad!'

Dad - 'Oh I've got it! The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor! (Pause while he thinks) Is it a Horse? Are you giving me a tip for the horse racing son?' 

Me - 'No Dad, it's not a horse. It's an organisation.'

Dad - (Sounding crestfallen) 'Oh I thought it was a wee tip from Australia there. Oh well son - what about this organisation?'

Me - 'Well the point is Dad - their organiser 150 years ago came from Crawford Street in Partick Glasgow and he had the identical name to you and I - Rory D Grant! It made me think he MUST be a relative.'

Dad - 'How do you know that?'

Me - 'I read a one hundred and something year old book of theirs and it had printed on it - for more information contact Rory D Grant, Organiser, 38 Crawford Street, Partick, Glasgow'

Dad - 'And did you?'

Me - 'Did I what?'

Dad - 'Contact him?'

Me (Exasperated) 'It was a hundred and something year old book Dad! I was thinking we must be descendants of his as there were few Rory D Grants around at that time in Glasgow!'

Dad - 'So is it possible to contact him?'

Me - 'Maybe Dad (big sigh from me) but it would require a clairvoyant'

Dad - 'Well maybe he has relatives you could get in touch with?'

Me - 'That's what I'm trying to tell you - we're the relatives!!!!'

Dad - 'Oh well, I'll look that up on the internet son. You can find everything there. Did you know I can play golf as Tiger Woods on it?' 

Me - 'Really Dad? that's great. Now about the brotherhood...'

Dad - "Oh don't worry if I find any relatives of his I'll contact them and let them know you know where he lives. Will that help your research?'

Me (Almost ready to squeeze the life out of the phone) -  'Yeah...thanks Dad, that would be great. Could you maybe pass me back to Biff please and I'll tell her what I've just told you and then she can explain it better.'

Dad - 'Ok son, great speaking to you again! Take care and you don't send me enough photographs you've taken yourself of Australia. Send me photographs of things which are unique to Australia will you? Like Kangaroo's, a picture of a Koala Bear would be nice and...and a harmonica Okay? Bye!'

Dialling tone as he hung up the phone..... 


I Love the Old boy to bits :)

A Harmonica?

Just for you Dad - Just for you...


Everyone's a Winner :)

It's been incredibly remiss of me not to catch up with all you wonderful people who have been so kind toward me lately. I've just been so, so busy, particularly in this last 72 hours or so. Really sorry. It seems that in the last two weeks I've picked up a touching award (I don't  mean I was good at touching someone or anything like that - dang it's late, I've had a hard day and the words aint flowing - I just mean it was touching to receive it) from two people - Jennifer at A Book, A Girl, A Journey bestowed the Versatile Blog award upon me and Kimberly at Kimberly Krey, The Write View offered up the hardest one to spell off the top of my head - The Irresistibly Sweet Blog award lol (woo hoo - I typed irresistibly without a dictionary at this time of night!). Thank you both kindly. I have a speech here which I was saving for my Pullitzer but Wikipedea tells me Pullitzers are reserved for American authors only, so I may as well use it here...

I'd like to thank everyone who has ever read my Blog - not simply because that's who I write for - but that's where the inspiration and motivation comes from - from you.

Now apparently it seems I need to divulge 7 or 8 things which no one would know about me - and it strikes me there are about 7,777 things folks won't know about me as I've had a very, very strange life...but I'll keep it simple :)

1) I can't recall how old I was at the time (16? 17?) - but I was the youngest Community Councillor in Britain at one time - I made it to the hallowed halls of power with a stunning total of seventeen votes - beating my rival by two votes from a potential electorate of Six thousand! How's that for voter apathy and a ringing endorsement of me as a candidate?  :)

2) I drifted so far out to sea on a surfboard in Scotland once, that when I was rescued, I could speak fluent Norwegian.

3) Mel Gibson's frightened of me. (Long Story).

4)  Prince Edward's frightened of me (Short Story).

5) I fell out of an aeroplane once and lived - it was on the ground at the time but even so - damn it's a long way down from the door.

6) When I was a kid, we were so poor that one year I got 'cotton wool' for Xmas - I was never quite sure why it was cotton wool of all things - but hey I played with it for a year and I don't think it damaged me psychologically. It didn't become a fetish or anything.

7) I love Cacti and Poppies - I mean I really love Cacti and Poppies! In Scotland I'd grow all kinds of flowers but those two I'd spend forever on. I used to grow so many flowering plants -  and I mean like thousands of plants - and then sit them outside my house on trays for passers bye to take away free of charge. Local Florist hated me. There's just something amazing about growing things from seed and watching them really blossom - I tried it here in Oz but the dogs would always pee on the seedlings. Ah I miss growing plants.

8) I genuinely believe there's substance to 'Abiotic/Abiogenic Oil' theory. I really do.

Well there you have it - now there are other obligations placed upon me for these awards...I believe I now make special mention of any Blogs which attract me...

Honestly I'm not being diplomatic or polite - but there are so many and all for differing reasons I couldn't possibly list them all...apart from anything else I would be terrified of missing someone - but rest assured if I follow your Blog it's because it's excellent for one reason or another...It seems so unfair to even type one above another they are all so if you don't mind - over the next few weeks at varying times, I'm going to mention every blog I follow and why I follow it...

Lately I've been an avid reader of Austanspace - apart from a scintillatingly lucid view of life, there's wit and compassion in abundance. And she has my own favourite approach to Blogs - If it moves and annoys you - blog about it. You never know where her sights are going to be set or on whom. It's also like waking up to a wee box of chocolates every morning - never know what's going to be in there.

Mybabyjohn - The feathered nest is superb - again it's another box of chocolates to wake up to. Good writing and not afraid to express her 'real self' - which is lacking in so many blogs out there.

I only discovered this one yesterday and read almost the whole thing until I was falling asleep lol - It's so well written - and again compassion from someone with a real feel for what's going on around him - Cognac Guy - Boris in Ayrshire

Perpetuawhimsica - Muser I love the art which keeps appearing there - I like to think it reflects the personality of the individual creating it. It may not be to everyone's taste but I think it's unique and kudos to her for keeping it up almost daily. Forces me to think of what's behind it before I start my day.

Cre8tivesoul - The Four Aces It's another box of Chocolates every morning :) Never know what's going to be there - there's a good chance it'll involve Cats though lol - You know what's really funny - the profile on this one says the author is from Brisbane (where I live) - I like to think we get on really well here in Cyberspace - but what if it turned out to be the neighbour from hell behind me lol? Or maybe I'm her neighbour from hell?

John from Going Gently  writes a terrific Blog which is so comprehensive about that which he's describing - you feel part of it. And I keep meaning to ask if that's ISA BROWNS or HI-SEX on the front page - as I used to keep chickens myself and they look like mine - they were rustled you know lol?

Forgive me - for if I keep going with a blog roll of honour - I'll never get to bed and it's 1:09am already. Like I said - every Blog I follow is immense for one reason or another to me - and I'll be letting you know why in relation to each one over the next few weeks.



Thursday, 23 June 2011


Woo Hoo - My book is now available on Kindle at Amazon! The Paperback takes a wee while longer and should appear in the next week. But for those of you who have a Kindle and would be interested in reading my meagre offerings - then it's here - For Auld Lang Syne: Letters From Scotland And my conscience wouldn't allow me to put it up there for any more than $1.99

A bargain!

Listen, I've had a helluva day. My hand was so bad last night that I couldn't sleep - and it was the coldest day in the history of Australia (or seemed like it). On top of the bed I piled coats, towels, bathrobes, dogs and cats and it was still freezing - so I'm falling asleep here typing this...forgive me folks but I need to go to bed early and get some sleep!

I'll Blog properly when I wake up! I was just so excited that my wee book appeared I had to tell you :)



Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I was so much older then - I'm so much younger now.

Ha! Not much to say today. I've been listening to my wife cuss at me while she edits my book. Seems I'm a terrible person for using Capital Letters where they are not supposed to Be. Oh well, she's getting at least 30 cents an hour for it - which is more than you earn at Walmart so I'm not sure what she's complaining about?
So with nothing to do, I've been tripping down memory lane again and stumbled across some very low resolution images from my old days performing with the band. They are so low resolution I don't even know if they will appear here...

Anyway, I remember this first image well even though it's tiny - taken in the town I would love to live in if we ever move to Scotland - Ayr (I'm the one in the white shirt). Loved playing there because the audiences were superb and the dressing room was always clean but the best part was they always paid for the accommodation which was never a hotel - always a little house by the beach somewhere.

Then I found another image and thought OMG! This was taken as we were setting up equipment and trying it out before an open air gig in the Borders. Look at the grey hair!!

My dear wife has had my features to play with now for five years - we all know a woman can make a man feel younger - but can she make him LOOK younger? I would have to say yes. This was taken three years AFTER the grey haired photo and one year after meeting my wife...

I really was so much older then - I'm so much younger now. Thanks Darlin' :)

Honey I've Killed the Planet - (but you can pay for it)

I'm reeling from a double barrelled blow to the belly today (alliteration rocks!). Just a few days ago I reported that something was seriously wrong with our oceans. I follow reports of mass fish deaths and changing eco-systems religiously and I've been screaming about it to friends for over two years now. I don't suppose for one minute that scientists the world over ran to Rory's blog to see what all the fuss was about and thought 'Hmm maybe we should look into what he's saying?'
But just one day later a gathering of the world's top marine experts had this to say;
"Ocean life is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history"
Did you get that? Unprecedented in human history!? But wait! There's more...
"The findings are shocking" said Alex Rogers,IPSO's scientific Director and Professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.
"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised."
"We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we thought, or in ways we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years."


So let me get this right - everything the big skinny guy in Australia, with no scientific credentials other than a Masters in Sociology has been mailing you about for two years now - has turned out to be correct? The same big skinny guy with no money for research but who does have an internet connection and can go talk to people all over the world about their water quality and mass fish deaths? The same guy who sent you all an e-mail saying "You wanna know what's happening? Go look on YouTube!"

Damn I'm angry! Not because I wasn't listened to - but because there are hundreds if not thousands, tens of thousands of people all over the world just like me - we've known something was wrong and no one would listen.

That's one barrel - now the other.

You remember BP's little local difficulties off the coast of America? All that oil polluting the hell out of some of the most fragile environments and eco-systems in the USA? Well guess who's getting the bill for the clean up? BP of course - no I'm joking, that would just be silly. They only made the mess, surely you don't expect them to also foot the bill for the clean up - You my dear friends, the American taxpayer - are footing the bill.
THE US District Court has dismissed 100,000 bundled claims against BP and Transocean to pay for the clean up and environmental damage as a consequence of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Judge presiding over the case ruled that as the well is now sealed and clean up efforts are under way, then no claim for injury can be made by citizens against BP or Transocean - essentially the ruling said that 'It's already being dealt with by the Federal and local Government so who's suffering any financial loss?' In short, you the taxpayer via the Federal and local Govt's clean up programme are now footing the bill. Had everyone ignored it, and left the oil to wreak havoc then maybe a claim could have been made against BP but no - too late now.

It is totally perverse!

I've just had an afterthought - Just in case the 'reality' of my Blog's existence and the post I made caused all the best marine brains in the world to gather the next day - I'm gonna try this out - Poor people the world over need an immediate cash injection of $100,000 each.

Let's see what happens tomorrow...


Monday, 20 June 2011

And Here's To You Mr Robinson...

My book is finally complete :)

The last chapter (not the last chapter of the book but the last chapter to be written) was one of the most difficult to write as it contains so many horrid memories. But here, just for you, is that final chapter...

And Here’s To You Mr Robinson

It had all happened so quickly. We were driving along, my friend and I, on a beautiful autumn day. In the back of the car we hauled an unwanted metal filing cabinet my Mother In Law had threatened to dispose of. Money is tight in Universities and my lecturer friend had taken up the offer of installing it in his office. And so there we were, heading for Stirling University with our booty, when the car in front slowed to a snail’s pace to turn left into a wooded area, we slowed too – the car behind didn’t. In the time it took to hear squealing brakes behind us my life had changed forever. The cabinet shot forward, the impact caused it to hit me square in the back. 

I couldn’t walk properly or any great distance for years afterwards. This troubled me less than the pain. The pain was quite simply unbearable. From that time on, my back would spasm regularly, leaving me a crying heap on the floor. My wife did what she could, my children would look on horrified. The Doctor would arrive and stab me in the ass with Pethadine knowing I’d still be lying there in forty eight hours time – there was nothing he or anyone else could do.

And so the slow descent into dependency on prescribed drugs started. The Doctor as a matter of course would stop by on his way to work and stab my ass with Pethadine, then again on his way home. I slowly became someone else.
Eventually I needed four shots a day until I was given the okay by Docs to go ahead and do it myself. It became eight a day. I was a wreck.

Things reached a head when on a cold, snowbound winter at 3am I was found walking naked alongside a motorway. Apparently I had been trying to get ‘somewhere’.

I woke up to find myself in a psychiatric unit. Worse than this however was the fact it was a locked ward. The realisation was painful to say the least. I was assured I was there voluntarily and had not been ‘sectioned’ – the aim was to wean me off Pethadine which would take six weeks to complete in detox. The ward it seems had two halves, one for people with psychiatric illnesses and the other for detox. It was little comfort to know.

Strange things happen when in such situations, suddenly you become powerless. Everything you do is decided by someone else. Even your ultimate release is dependent on the approval of others. I’d been told in no uncertain terms that although I was there voluntarily – any attempt to leave would lead to me being ‘sectioned’ – the legal term for being held against one’s will. I was so distraught with what I had become I resolved that regardless of the pain I would beat Pethadine. I did precisely that in four weeks – two weeks ahead of schedule. 

A weekly staff meeting would be held to determine who was fit for release and who wasn’t and of course - I would sit in when it was my turn for the thumbs up or down. One Nurse, Senior Staff Nurse Robinson - was responsible for my ‘care plan’. His approval or disapproval meant everything when it came to being given the all clear to leave. In conversations with him in the ward he continually pressed me on my plans when I leave.
“I’m going back to music – put a band together and have a successful career’ I’d tell him.
“Not very grounded in reality is it Rory?” He’d say disapprovingly. “Let’s face it you’re in your forties, disabled, grey haired, and I don't know of anyone who has succeeded in the music business from that starting point.” 
“I’m not ‘anyone’ – I’m me and I can do it” I’d insist.
“You know I can’t approve your release until you come up with realistic objectives”
“I am being realistic”
“Oh no you’re not”
“Oh yes I am”
And so the discussion would descend into pantomime farce every time.

I actually became great friends with my psychiatrist at the time, Adam – a genial giant from Australia. Eventually when I was released we’d go for a beer at weekends and relive that terrible time – but for now, I was stuck. Pleading with Adam didn’t help.

“They are my staff Rory, I have to work with them daily. I’m dependent on them. I daren’t overrule them. I’m trying diplomatically to let them know I think you’re ready for release but I can’t run over them, can’t ignore their opinions. Mr Robinson most definitely has the opinion that so long as you harbour the ‘musician’ dream - you won’t be going anywhere. He feels he can’t justify it within the care plan and the criteria he has to meet”

I was despondent, six weeks had become two months. Every Friday I’d hobble into the staff/patient meeting on my walking sticks and sit listening to what they said about me and then Mr Robinson would ask;
“So what are you going to do about money Rory? How are you going to live?”
Every Friday I steadfastly refused to say anything other than the same thing “Musician”
“I’m sorry but I have to deny your release Rory. You have to become realistic.”

Adam would come to my room and offer words to alleviate the distress but nothing would work – so long as I said “Musician” I was going nowhere. He urged me to take another tack, to lean on my degree and just say “I’m going to work in an area suitable to my degree”. I refused.

And every Friday we’d go through the denial ritual. Two months became three months. I hated Mr Robinson.

I lost a lot of friends whilst in psychiatric hospital. I guess it was the ‘stigma’. Very few people I knew visited other than my sons, my wife and some former band mates.

I was into my fourth month in a locked ward, sitting in a lounge facing the entrance doors when I could have cried at the vision I saw walk through them. She was a friend, she was my lawyer but more than this – she was the Scottish equivalent of the District Attorney (Procurator Fiscal). Well known throughout the region she was a true ‘Public figure’. I swear I saw some of the staff go weak at the knees when they realised who she was – they had no idea why she was here – was it an investigation? She told them crisply and clearly but politely that she was here to see Rory Grant and they almost fell over one another in their haste to lead her toward me. I stood up and we hugged. She sat in the chair next to me and apologised for not visiting sooner – but she’d been under the impression I’d be getting out ‘sooner rather than later’ and had fully expected to be visiting me at home by now. We talked for an hour or so before we smilingly parted company – she to her delightful house overlooking the Moray Firth and me to my locked room. Mr Robinson unlocked the door for her and I swear I thought he bowed to her on the way out.
He caught up with me in my bedroom later.
“Don’t ever give me a fright like that again Rory’
“Like what?”
“Why did you have the Procurator Fiscal here?”
“She’s a close friend. That’s why”
“A friend? Of yours?”
“Did I also mention she’s my lawyer Mr Robinson?”
“No but you mustn’t frighten staff like that. You should have warned us she was coming” He was clearly shaken by the experience.

Mr Robinson raised his clip folder at the following Friday meeting – “I feel Rory has made spectacular progress in achieving all the criteria laid down for his release though the question of what he’ll do for work is still a thorny issue – Have you had any further thoughts about that Rory?”
Without even looking up I murmured my usual response “Musician”
Adam piped up – “And why not a musician Mr Robinson?”
Mr Robinson flapped around with his papers and clipboard before announcing to all "Yes, well...I agree. You’ll be recommended for discharge today Rory if everyone else agrees.” 
Everyone else had always agreed.

Three months later the band had been back on the road for a month. I listened as the announcer welcomed us on stage. I was forty four years old, disabled and grey haired. Haggerston Castle was the venue and two thousand folks rose to acclaim us before we had even struck a note. I smiled at the audience and stepping back from the microphone triumphantly muttered, “Fuck you Mister Robinson, Fuck you.”


Sunday, 19 June 2011

To Clarence with love...

Dear Clarence,

You and Springsteen gave my teen years a vibrancy I never knew could exist. There was no such thing as a mundane Monday, even stepping onto a bus and heading for work was a pulsating experience thanks to you two. There was fire in my feet and purpose in my stride. You banished all those foreboding dark city nights and shadowed alleyways pierced by neon, and turned them into something magical, something breathtaking.

Your music gave life a rhythm, a poetry, you showed us ordinary folks that our lives were rock opera's of the grandest order.

Rest in Peace Clarence Clemons. You life changer you.


Friday, 17 June 2011

Moving Pictures...

Whoever said 'Don't put off till tomorrow that which can be done today' was very wise - today everything still refuses to move - my clothes drier, my back door, and my lawnmower.

And I have a hangover.

So my brain is kinda stuck in first gear, going nowhere fast today.

So, today, I'm just going to throw up my five favourite paintings of all time - Hopefully it will tell you something about either my psychology or just my taste in art. A 'getting to know each other better' kind of blog without me having to get all 'wordy' here goes - At number one is probably one of the best loved pieces of art in the whole world...

The Lady of Shallot 1888 Oil on Canvas - by John William Waterhouse

I just love the serenity of it and yet the vibrancy of the colours and overall beauty of the composition speak of so much more going on. I just love it!

Number 2) Sadly, historically, women artists were and still are largely overlooked - this is a piece from a woman artist from America who travelled to Europe to try and get to grips with impressionism. I think she succeeded brilliantly and is vastly underrated. Sisters. 1885 by Mary Cassatt.

At number 3) Well what can you say about Salvador Dali? I've seen this masterpiece up close many times and it takes the breath away each time - the perspective is amazing. Sadly there are signs of damage on it where it has been attacked by religious fundamentalists. They are not happy that Christ's head is bowed in what appears submission. Several times they've tried to slash the canvas...

Christ of St John of the Cross. 1951 by Salvador Dali.

And at Number 4) The cow in this strikes a discord in the painting - the way the tree bisects it makes the painting have an odd angular quality which in ways detract from its overall beauty - but I still love this painting - Poor Fauvette 1881 by Jules Bastien-Lepage

And finally at number 5) This painting is quite incredible - the subject matter is not even in the painting - it's at the end of that rope leading out of the picture. The Last of the Clan 1865 by Thomas Faed...

There - I've shown you mine - how many of you are gonna show me yours? I honestly think seeing what people prefer artistically is a great of way of getting to know someone! With the tremendous resource the internet has become I'm fairly confident you'll find at least a few of your favourites out there!



Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Sixteen Men of Tain

Och - I went through an hour of louping hell yesterday getting a new splint fitted - Today the laundry dryer has packed in, the rollers on the back door have given way (meaning I need to drag a GIANT glass door just to get out the back garden), the lawnmower has thrown a hissy fit, and for the first time ever in my life I really do feel old - so what's a man to do?

Drink Malt Whisky.
So that's what I've been doing.

Whoever said 'don't put off till tomorrow, that which you can do today' was an idiot. More than this - he was neither Scottish or had ever tasted a good Scottish Single Malt Whisky or had a broken back door and clothes drier.

I rest my case.

That was today's 'Philosophical thought' brought to you by Rory D Grant and Glenmorangie.

Oh! Oh! I just remembered something about Glenmorangie! Ha! I must tell you - On the label of every bottle of Glenmorangie (The best Malt Whisky in Scotland) are the words - Perfected by THE SIXTEEN MEN OF TAIN.

When I wrote my Thesis at University, as is the custom, I thanked everyone in the acknowledgements, my Mum, my Dad, my Professors, but mischievously I also added - the sixteen men of Tain (Without whom it would never have been possible) - No one really noticed lol. One Professor even remarked that it was good that I had taken the time and trouble to travel to Tain to do research. He had no idea I was thanking a bottle of Scotland's finest.

I raise my glass to you Glenmorangie and the Sixteen Men of Tain! May yer lum aye reek!

Rory D (for drunk) Grant :)


Out of Time - Warning - Some of this may disturb you.

Apologies but I'm going on a rant this morning - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

I'm not a Tree-hugger, but I make no apologies about caring for the environment. I want my children and their children to grow up in the best possible environment.

Like age, the destruction of our environment is something which 'creeps up', it doesn't suddenly arrive with a fanfare - and for decades now it has been inexorably 'creeping up'. There comes a time when we realise and acknowledge 'I'm too old for that now - I simply can't do it' and of course, there's no turning the clock back. So it is with our environment, the destruction is slow but inexorable - as a species we humans are good at confronting immediate problems, but those problems tend to be localised, affecting the people in that vicinity and they respond as one to the perceived threat. But what happens when the threat is global?

THIS PLANET IS DYING! All across the globe the signs of distress are there to see - and therein lies the problem - it is global. What happens in Australia is rarely reported in the USA, what happens in the UK is rarely reported in Australia and on it goes. Countries acknowledge their own problems and the population is left thinking it's a 'little local difficulty' - when in fact it is a disaster of global proportion.

Our oceans and waterways should be seen as the 'blood' coursing through the veins of the global body. Right now it is poisoned in a way which threatens our very existence. This is no 'alarmist' rhetoric, the evidence is there but politically the will to deal with it is lacking. So bad is the situation that Whales are being burned alive in the toxic sludge which passes as 'Ocean' (See below from New Zealand)...

These are not 'isolated incidents' - Everything you read about below is from earlier this year...

Alabama - Tens of thousands of dead 'Spayed Fish' wash ashore.

East Coast USA - Dead Sea Turtles continue to wash ashore - a conservative estimate puts the number at more than 50 times the seasonal average.

East Coast USA - Dead Dolphins was ashore - again conservative estimates are that the numbers are 50 times greater than the seasonal average.

Madagascar - 14 people die from eating Sardines which contained toxins derived from the sea.

Ventura Harbor California - Thousands of dead fish spread across the harbor - scientists say a lack of oxygen 'probable cause' - unlikely to be true as only one species was affected - lack of oxygen would cause all species to show signs of distress.

Vapi, India - Tens of thousands of dead fish wash ashore - the fourth time such an event has happened recently.

Rouge River, Michigan - MILLIONS of fish found dead in the river

California - Sharks dying in large numbers due to 'internal bleeding'

Bangladesh - Tens of thousands of dead Sea Snails wash ashore

Manila - MILLIONS of fish found dead in Lake Taal

Redondo Beach California - MILLIONS of dead anchovies float to the surface

United Kingdom - Thousands of dead Starfish wash ashore 

These are just SOME of the dead marine life reports which I gather. There are quite literally hundreds more from this year. Add into this the unusual mass bird deaths, the weird weather phenomena, not to mention quakes caused by "fracking" and it's plain to see - this truly is a Planet in Crisis.

What do we do?


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story

If you like photographs - then today's Blog is for you. If not - then best to close your browser now and wait for the next instalment. I'm a bit short on words today (and my hand is playing up badly) so thought I'd keep the momentum going with some images from my life here in Oz. I've never really been 'into' photography - never really tried, but my wife loves it and as a consequence I've developed the same taste. Every chance I get I'm taking photographs...

These are some of the photographs I've taken since arriving here with explanations of what was going on...

Down at the bottom of our street is 'bush' as they call it here - I rarely actually see any bushes though - just lots of trees so quite why it's called 'bush' escapes me. Anyway, most mornings Kangaroos are hiding out there - I thought I'd try and capture one on camera - I got lucky! The way they stared at me I think they were pretty annoyed at being surprised lol...

During a roam around the countryside we passed a farm with Emu's running around - We stopped to take a picture and this guy/girl just couldn't be more helpful when it came to posing for me...

A short drive from our house is one of the best beaches in Australia - Byron Bay. I'd like to say I scaled mountains, braved spiders and snakes to take this picture - but I didn't - I just jumped out the car and poked the camera through a bush - yes a real 'bush'!

Every year we go to the 'EKKA' - I haven't actually asked what the EKKA means yet - but the kids love it - it's full of fun fair things and Maddy and Brenna's passion - HORSES!

This is my adorable faithful friend 'Banjo' - refusing to come out of the water at Christmas Creek.

And here's my two wee darlin's - Brenna and Maddy...

I have heaps more pics but I won't bore you all to death lol. I really enjoyed looking through them this morning and reflecting on the memories they brought flooding back.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A State of Mind...

I was eighteen years old, given a uniform, handcuffs, truncheon and whistle - and sent off to patrol one of the most violent environments in Britain at that time - Drumchapel. Very few people from Drumchapel became Police Officers. A criminal conviction of any sort precluded you from applying - effectively ruling out a significant portion of younger people from the sprawling housing estate from ever joining the force. Not that this indicated most folks from Drumchapel were criminals - absolutely not. Poor educational qualifications, poverty, ill health and a whole heap of other social ills excluded them from applying. But I'd made it in, and was proud of doing so. Growing up in Drumchapel and unlike most of my friends; I'd avoided any kind of trouble with the law not because I was a saint - but because I could run really fast.

I wasn't enjoying this particular time in the force however. Arresting people you'd grown up with, knocking on the doors of friends to drag their Dad off to the cells wasn't pleasant. But it appeared I was the only Officer at that time who knew every single street, every back alley and so my knowledge of the area was invaluable where the all important 'response times' were concerned.

It was raining, raining so hard that even through my PC Plod boots my feet were soaking wet. I had another two hours of this shift to go - another two hours of stomping around streets looking for folks with hooped shirts, masks and carrying a swag bag. I never saw any - ever.

That night my call sign was 'Hotel' and my partner was 'India' - on a night like this we both wished it was 'Mike Hotel' or 'Mike India' - Mike would signify we were a mobile unit. As it was, we both plodded miserably around the streets knowing that even criminals stay indoors when the weather is bad. Our expectations from a night like this were low.

Suddenly our radio's crackled into life - "Foot patrol India - Foot patrol Hotel'
On this dreary night even sorting out a 'domestic' would have been welcome so I quickly grabbed my radio 'Hotel over'
'Hotel - Do you know where Linkwood Drive is and are you anywhere in the vicinity over?'
'Affirmative on both - four or five streets away from Linkwood now. Can be there in less than five minutes over'
'Roger Hotel.  Can you and India please attend - Anonymous Triple nine call. Report of a person trapped in a burning vehicle. Fire Service have been informed and are en-route over'.

We both started running as fast as we could. I realised that a quick left through a tenement and out the back door, over a back fence then through another tenement, would have us there in next to no time. My partner albeit the senior officer offered no protest. He knew I had grown up here, still lived here, knew where I was going.

As luck would have it we emerged just twenty metres or so from the 'burning vehicle' - it was no burning vehicle - it was a burnt-out vehicle. I'd seen it days before and had asked the council to remove it but nothing other than robberies ever happened quickly around here. Inside the mangled wreckage, I could see someone moving in the driver's seat. We approached wondering what this was all about. In the driver's seat sat a kid who could have been no more than twelve years old, his hands clasped around the contorted steering wheel. The only real danger was from jagged, twisted metal threatening to puncture him but given he'd found his way in, I guessed he'd know an easy way out. I took a good look at him and realised he appeared to have Down's Syndrome.
I got back on the radio "Hotel to Bravo - Stand down the fire service, stand down any other units. No fire, no danger, will update shortly - received?'
"Received and understood Hotel - standing down fire service"

"Hi there" I said to the kid.
"Hello" he answered, without really looking in our direction. He continued trying hard to get the steering wheel moving.
"This your vehicle?" I asked smiling.
"I must ask if you have been drinking alcohol whilst driving today sir"
He laughed and shook his head as though I were stupid.
"Do you have a licence for this vehicle?" I asked jokingly.
He smiled again, "In the house" he answered assertively, pointing to the tenement beside us.
"Can I ask you to step out of the car please sir and get me your licence?"
Surprisingly the door still worked and out he stepped onto the street, into the pouring rain.
Laughing I asked again "Now, do you really have a licence for this car or are you pulling my leg?"
"I Joking" He replied.
"So, where have you been?"
He looked at the burnt out wreck, looked at me and his face lit up so warmly that momentarily it banished the rain.
"Everywhere" He said before running off into the tenement entrance.

That one word 'Everywhere' -  uttered from a kid who had more than his share of injustice heaped upon him taught me something right there and right then. Life is a state of mind.

At times when I've surveyed the wreckage of my own life - It's a lesson I've tried to hang onto.