19 August 2005

Mrs. Maiden

Mrs. Maiden may be my favourite customer. I can't quite remember how old she is, but I'm sure we delivered some wine for her 90th birthday in the last three years. She's legally blind and quite near legally deaf. She wears those big sunglasses design to fit over prescription glasses. They were big in the eighties. She uses a white cane almost as an afterthought. Her manner in the shop is exhilerating, she knows what she wants and continues to enjoy them. She laments, with good nature, her son-in-law finishing off her single malt. She smiles when we recommend something new and different. She loves her walks around the town and still being able to enjoy small tipples, be it a small dram, a wee sherry, or a small glass of Burgundy. When she takes her shades off there is a sparkle in her eyes - while they don't let much light in these days, they certainly still seem to give it off. When she recalls her heydays in the 20s, 30s & 40s there is no sense of longing, regret or displacement, just a joy at the time she had and the people she spent it with. She keeps herself interested in life and while she's not able to do anywhere near as much as she used to, she makes sure she enjoys what she can do. Considering how active she is now, I think she must of been almost hyperactive in her youth. There is a sense of sadness sometimes when she thinks about how much she used to do, but never resignation. There is diginity and genuine joy in her life still.

And she's leaving. Her son-in-law and daughter are moving to his family seat in the Borders. It is the first time I've genuinely seen her sad when she mentioned this. She doesn't want to go, but cannot live alone and would rather be with her family than in care. Her new home in the Borders is a significant estate. Sadly it is remote, and her favourite pleasure, her daily constitutional, becomes too dangerous. The library van comes round only once a month. She won't be able to shop on her own, as she can no longer drive. But I take heart that still smiled and told me that she would find something to do.

She will. She has survived widowhood, the slow loss of her sight and hearing and the rest of the ailments of old age with vigour. She's a vivacious spirit and will find enjoyment until the end.

It's been brilliant to know her these four years. Her enthusiasm puts many half or even a third her age to shame. If I make it that long then I hope to take that much pleasure still in life. All the best to her. She will be missed.

18 August 2005

Stuff & another comment on comments...

Right, here's the deal: popping in to say "nice blog" just so you can leave links to your commercial nonsense is not cool. They'll be deleted immediately. It is a new amendment in the Constitution of the Singular State of My Fucking Blog. Much like the British Constitution; I make it up as I go along.

Oh, and saying "nice blog" when I rant just goes to show you're not reading anything. I wouldn't describe this blog as "nice". A blog about puppies and kittens is "nice". There's nothing wrong with that. I like puppies and kittens. But remember, they're for life, not just for Christmas.

In spite of irksome spam comments things that are cool are as follows: lunch, radio, fafblog mugs, fafblog t-shirts, puppies, kittens, Floretta, Pico and women.

So the balance of power firmly lies with the cool yet again, as it should be.

Video killed the radio star...

Got an email from Broomy today, full of chat & nonsense which is an excellent way to start the day. It seems Australia is agreeing with him and he's agreeing with Australia.

Went to watch some polo last night but instead got rained on and observed how filthy a mood everyone was in. And yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Deal. I'm sure it was tension caused by the pitches being in a calamatous state and the big event just 3 days away. There were some harsh words said by people who should know better. It upset some people who are so genuinely good that it angered me. I'm not mentioning names because it's not my fight but people should know when to step back and keep their mouth shut. That, however, is something that I often screw up, so I acknowledge my hypocrisy.

So we didn't stick around for the BBQ - we went back to Naughton, cooked some amazing burgers that Lil made, some nice Woodall's sausages and drank champagne. It had the cheering effect we were hoping for and I went to bed with a smile on my face.

Pete: "Kirsty, come to the polo - you don't even have to go to the ball if you don't want."
Kirsty: "We'll see."
Me: "Can I not go to the ball?!"
Pete: "No; you're coming."

I've also been told I have to be the face of my company at the corporate hospitality luncheon. Free lunch and champagne - sort of the same as last year except none of my mates will be at my table and I'll have to talk shop on what should be the first day of my holiday. All of my mates will be enjoying a BBQ and behaving as they feel fit. I sound ungrateful and I should feel lucky and all that but I really would just rather chill out in jeans and a t-shirt. Whatever. In the grand scheme of things it ranks up there with... well, something pretty fucking unimportant. Like Tesco running out of soya milk or something. I'll have a fantastic time regardless.

So. I'm going to be on radio tonght. A friend of mine has an internet radio station and I'll be on it, with my flatmate. Talking about wine. I have a feeling it's going to be tongue-in-cheek. Here's hoping. The show goes out at 9pm BST. Tune in if you want to put a voice to the blog. I'll be the American one. You should listen to it every Thursday anyway, as the music is brilliant and the chat hysterical. Quite a few celebrity guests as well, my chat not included.

17 August 2005


I now have links. They are to your right. Enjoy.

Two dinners... why?

This is the view from my back balcony. I've been taking a lot of pictures from here recently. First of all, it's convenient as it's accessible from my room. Secondly, the light never seems to be the same twice. And third, possibly most pertinent, is that it won't be my back balcony for much longer. The flat is on the market. I can't afford to buy it. And even though I'm leaving, and my destiny, for the time being, is elsewhere, I love this place. And it saddens me.

I took this at Scone Palace last week when I was watching Pete C play polo. It was a beautiful sunset and I like the way this turned out, as I like to think it's technically a good photo while still being personal. You see, on the right is the Crawford Disco (Land Rover Discovery) and horsebox. If it had just been a Scottish sunset it would have been nice but boring. Of course, to most people it probably still will be, as they have no idea of the context but it doesn't matter. It brings a smile to my face. It's also the first photo taken with my Pentax I've put up here. There will be more.

So anyway. I ate 2 dinners last night. There are all sorts of excuses I could give about it - circumstance and whatnot, etiquette, yadda yadda yadda... but the truth is that every once in a while the fat git in me rears his ugly head to chow down. Thai food and then an Indian in one night. This is not a good thing in any way, shape, or form. Then, this morning, my flatmate made me a bacon sandwich. I cannot tell you how little I needed a bacon sandwich today. But how can you say no when it's made for you? Bleah.

Off to Scone again this evening to watch the polo and BBQ. I don't think I'll have lunch beforehand.

16 August 2005

Some stuff...

Things that are cool in life at the moment -
Thai green curry - hitting the spot
Peroni Gran Riserva - fantastic beer that is also hitting the spot
Book shops - I have an addictive personality, and while I've managed to defeat cigarettes, my adoration of book shops and compulsion to buy books remains a gripping addiction. Bit healthier than cigs though.
Astronomy - there's this Mars thing happening. Where it gets really big. Or at least looks that way to us earthlings. You've probably received an email about it. I find that really cool. I'll be checking it out that night. I am a massive geek.
Tina's baby - Tina's like a sister to me, and now she has a little boy, which is wonderful. And kind of like a nephew to me.
The Futureheads and The Magic Numbers - two very cool bands at the moment. Find their eponymous albums and play them lots.
Women - The constant mystery of the fairer sex is always cool. But it's also always really annoying.
London - Heading down after the polo, though not sure how. Very excited. Haven't been partying properly in the big smoke for ages.
Lobster - tastes good
Anything written by Andrew Greig - reading him should depress me, for I don't think I'll ever be able to produce prose as beautiful, but it's so good that it doesn't matter.
Baffi's wedding - is going to be in a castle in Ireland. How cool is that?!
My iPod - I'm sorry, but they are just the best things ever. Life needs a soundtrack, and now it has one.
My Pentax K1000 - Yes, it's old and obsolete and I don't really know how to use it. But it's still cool, and it still works.
The Red Sox - even though they lost last night.

Things that I find irksome at the moment...

Intelligent Design - One could say the best argument against intelligent design are the people who believe in it. Everyone's ranting about this right now, so I thought I'd chime in.
Women - They go on both lists. Even though they're nice to cuddle.
My weight - it's coming off, but not fast enough. I don't care about being bald and unattractive but the fat thing is wearing thin.
My job - I think I'm setting some sort of underachievement record.
Money - is once again becoming difficult.
Hangovers - totally my fault
Developing costs - for film. The other shoe drops.

There was something else. I can't quite remember what it was. Or whether it was in the cool or irksome column. Maybe it was premature senility...

There are more cool things than irksome things. That is how life should be.

The right to blog?

I read this and it interested me. Maybe it will interest you too.

flotsam & jetsam

Lots on my mind, weird night last night and general life rules. This entry will cover that.

Had an amazing lobster meal cooked by the friend of a friend. It was extraordinary. Lobster claws on toasted crumpets with lobster butter, a balsamic lobster tail salad, and then a lobster risotto, the production of which consisted of making an intense lobster bisque and then using it as the stock. Add some asparagus. You now have one of the greatest and most simple meals in the history of the world. Cream was involved too, of course.

Made an interesting discovery regarding the various lobster found along North-East Atlantic coasts. Norwegian lobster resides in deeper water slightly further from the shoreline, due to how rough the surf is along much of the coast. It also has the least polluted waters, as most of them are well out of the way of the main shipping routes. Scottish lobster is kind of in the middle. Shallow waters closer to the shore mean that their shells are slightly thinner. Bit more pollution too. Irish lobster have very thin shells as the warmer gulf stream water requires less insulation. They have longer claws. They're also exposed to the most pollution. Bummer.

They all taste pretty much the same though.

So after amazing lobster I went for a walk. This brought me to the pub with Pete C & Lil where we drank beer and discussed, with eager anticipation, the upcoming polo. I mentioned that I'd had second thoughts about attending due to many things, most of them beginning with this symbol: £. Pete looked at me as though I'd grown another head, which I took to be a sign that bailing was not an option. It's nice that people really want your company. It's one of those things that you can feel really good about without the fear of being big-headed.

After pub I went for one of my very long walks along the beaches of St Andrews. I ended up, as I often do, at the end of the pier. The stars were incredible. The sort of stars you shouldn't get near a densely populated area. There were so many visible that they lit the space between them, and gave the impression that for every one you could see there were a trillion you couldn't. I knew that within those gaps there were more stars and that if all of their light reached us the night sky would be consumed with starlight instead of midnight blue and black. I tried to find the two stars I'd made my grandfather's constellation but failed. Ah well...

I got home and found Lish online. She was drunk. I was drunk. Drunken messaging ensued and in the heat of it all I started a new blog. It's fictional, but only slightly. I got to bed at 4 and had a driving lesson at 11.

The Bob Marley Songs of Freedom box set arrived from Amazon today. It's a legendary collection, and one that I owned before, but lost in quite a silly fashion. I was on a train from Birmingham to London and left it in my bag, as well as my passport. I only realised this when I got home. I phoned Paddington to see if anyone had handed in a bag to lost and found. I was told they couldn't check as the station was under a security alert due to unattended luggage. Oops. I mumbled something about finding it and hung up, blushing bright red in solitude.

Do what you like. A friend of mine made this discovery when he was going through a rough patch. He looked at all the things he used to do that he loved. He wasn't doing any of them any more. He was in a job that he hated and his only extracurricular activity seemed to be heavy alcohol consumption. So he went back to the things he loved, that made him happy. I've started doing the same, going back to the things that I love: writing, reading, adventuring and finding some new things like rugby and photography. I even went horseback riding the other day. That kind of filled a gap. So, go do something you like.

Bought a book today, recommended by someone who has yet to suggest a book I didn't like. I feel guilty because I don't have as good a record with her. Ah well.

15 August 2005

Karma fart...

So there I was on Saturday, home from work and playing with the new lense for my SLR. It's a 28-200mm 3.5 Vivitar with a Pentax K fitting. A month ago I would not have known what that meant. I had been worried about scratches (bought used, how could you not be?) but a good rub with cloth cleared up the few blemishes. Ready to go. Film. Black & White 400, because I've only used colour so far. So I'm kind of excited about getting textures & playing with contrasts. I'm ready for disappointment as well because I'm still not very good at this. I head out to the front balcony to guage the zoom. Glorious evening sun & a rainbow. The beach and pier are the richest gold I've ever seen. Black & white film in the camera. D'oh! So I grabbed the digital. Ah well...

A lovely lady just called to order a case of champagne for her nephew and his wife. She described my accent as lovely and called me a "lovely American". That doesn't happen very often these days. Even I have a hard time using positive adjectives when describing my homeland and my compatriots. It was nice. It's given me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Thought - we all know the heart is really just an organ whose job is to keep our blood flowing. All the romantic stuff is nonsense as all feelings and emotions are generated above the neck. Then why, on Friday, when I received dreadful news about a friend of mine, did my heart go cold? Why, just now, when the fantastic Mrs McInnes paid me a rare compliment, did my heart lift and warm? C. S. Lewis wrote that what something is made of and what something is are seldom the same thing. I'm sure there is a simple, biological explanation for why certain emotional reactions come from the heart. I'm also sure that's not the whole story.

After dawn...

Snapped this one morning a few weeks ago. I was up pretty early for me. I'm glad I was.

14 August 2005

Self-inflicted wounds...

Self-inflicted wounds receive no sympathy.

I have a lapping hangover. Like a calm sea, it caresses, lapping quietly; making me aware of its existence and its power without hurting me. A bit of dizziness, an odd sense of being out of sync with the world around me, an urge to listen to Jimmy Buffett; this is my state right now. I'm enjoying it.

A force ten hangover would toss me about like a cork in a tempest. And it would hurt.

Customers are arriving with inane questions and I'm enjoying it.

I like this hangover.

It came about through drinking with old friends from different stages in my life. One was an ex-girlfriend. I mentioned her briefly, saying she makes me smile so much my cheeks hurt. This is still the case. Her friends are also my friends and they too make me smile so much my cheeks hurt. There was a great deal of laughter, silly chat in silly voices, pizza and wine. I realised how incredibly beautiful they all were, not simply in the aesthetic sense but because their amazing character shines through and enhances their looks. They are pretty hot too.

Maybe hangovers made in the company of beautiful women hurt less.

Grumpiness and depression are self-inflicted wounds as well. They don't tend to lap. And most of the time they don't deserve sympathy. I don't think I'll discuss them here anymore. Because it occurred to me that I mention them here to garner sympathy and to attract attention. That's not so cool. It's also pointless for 2 reasons. One is that reading about someone being miserable and grumpy is no fun. The other is that I don't think anyone actually reads this.

Jimmy Buffett is great hangover music.