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.