My Amazon Author Page

Find my Amazon author page via this link

"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
"A fun and spooky read..."

"The characters are so involving and
loveable that you do want them to really exist. It does read like you've
stumbled across someone's long lost diary from and alternate timeline/universe.
I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Monday, 29 September 2014

Free Kindle E-book this week

I can't even GIVE Sea Penguin Part Five away.  For free.  Nobody wants it.  Bastards!!  it's not THAT bad.

Here's the sodding link anyway. 

Now Reading - A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine by Tony Benn

I'm quite enjoying this book, which I borrowed from the local library.  It's infuriatingly unusual these days, for me to find a book that I actually want to read, in the library.  The library is no longer a place whose purpose is to encourage 'book learning'.  It is multi-functional.  It is noisy.  It hosts playgroups and old peoples groups and job clubs and computers.  And worst of all - it has a really terrible and rapidly-depleting selection of books.  As I've said before.
I'd like to read Benn's earlier Diaries.  He had so much irreplaceable knowledge and experience of our country's politics and the ways of government.  This final one is quite unavoidably depressing, because his health is clearly deteriorating, he's dealing admirably and bravely and realistically with a host of problems relating to his age, and he feels (understandably, at 82) that he's 'on his way out'.
I'm 54 and I often feel that I'm 'on my way out', as well.  But that's another matter. (or is it??) Growing old is no fun, but it's better than the alternative, as someone once said.
Anyway, it's a very interesting read.  I enjoy following politics, though I'm not a member of any particular party.  It begins in 2007 around the start of Gordon Brown's stint as PM and the financial meltdown.  Benn witnesses the demise of the Labour Party as he knew it, and the concurrent rise of the global economy.  He expects UKIP to thrive in such an environment, as indeed they do.  Nationalism, he says, is not the way forward - democracy is. He describes Brown as a 'managing director' of Britain - a Britain devoid of Trade Union power - but he writes more positively about him than Blair, saying that when he sees Blair and that 'awful smile', his 'blood runs cold'.   All in all, he's very depressed by the state of politics and who can blame him?  Just about everything ghastly he expected to happen, has.
I'm only on page 95 by the way.  However - I just, in the middle of writing this - skipped to the last chapter, 'Life after Diaries', in which he describes, with far more grace than I can envisage mustering in such circumstances, moving out of the family home and into a flat where he receives round the clock care.  Still little nuggets of information relevant to today's politics shine out - for example, he was Energy Minister in 1975 when North Sea oil was discovered, and he set up a system whereby 25% of the oil belonged to the Treasury rather than the oil companies.  This, had it been retained, would have ensured an 'oil fund' which could have been used in times of austerity - however, Thatcher sold it off.
Not the greedy and evil 'Westminster' we heard so much about during the referendum.  Thatcher.
Yes, that's the Thatcher upon whose back, by and large, because the Scottish electorate disliked her so, and they defined themselves against her, the SNP clambered to power.  After helping her INTO power, in the first place, of course.   That's the SNP whose membership has just overtaken that of the entire Libdems, and who are bankrolled by the unspeakable Brian Souter and two people spending their lottery winnings.
In my day the SNP were a joke. They had no policies, no underpinning philosophy except nationalism.  I don't think they've changed except they have much more power and influence, unfortunately.  People are off their heads and I only hope they gain some insight soon.
I'll say no more about politics.  Unless further referendum-style ghastliness ensues which seems likely to affect the warp and weft of my daily life.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Review on Amazon - and free Kindle promotion tomorrow

Oscar McCloud has written another thoroughly kind review - this time of Sea Penguin Part Four.
Here it is.

The new year starts with Tuppy and Geoffrey determined to live a healthy life and give up their addictions to salty snaxs; but can they keep their resolution or does events overtake them? Geoffrey decides to go traveling with the migrating geese and eats only seaweed and fish. He sends letters home to keep his friends informed of his travels, which includes getting his feathers scorched by a Nuclear Power station.
Technology starts to arrive with the new road for the Wind Turbine farm that the residents decide has to be stopped. But advancement in other devices come along, there are digital cameras, a Hadron Colider, a giant gym with running machines and a useful device, the Laser gun. The gun’s sole purpose is to blast the skin off the top of rice puddings.
Of course there is the Tuppfinder’s Soul Extractor machine, which causes fear and disruption. However this device seems to take second place to the other escapades on the Rocky Outcrop.
Tuppence the delinquent lamb has embarked on smuggling by wrecking ships, he continues singing with his rock group including the backing group of rats at the lock ins at the Puff Inn. He goes on to devise a ‘munny’ making scheme by turning Baby Orca into fish fingers. The point that Baby Orca is a mammal and not a fish is lost on him. This leads us on to learn the true ‘Hierarchy of Meat’ or better put; as your place in the food chain. In an attempt to warn Baby Orca our heroes are left adrift on the high seas and need to be rescued once again.
There are plenty lashings of Medeira, cocktails of Purple Peril, cravings for salt snacks and poor Geoffrey develops a craving that becomes an addiction to Black Bun and he needs to be saved from his downward spiral into hell.
Although this is a continuation of the previous Sea Penguin parts 1- 3, the story line has become adrift and is bobbing on the ocean currents, the reader therefore needs to keep their wits about them to stay engaged, but otherwise an enjoyable adventure around the Rocky Outcrop.
Fun reading and a must after parts 1 - 3.

Thanks Oscar - very much appreciated.  Not many people take the time to write reviews and I thank you very much.  I hope you and others might have a crack at Part Five, which will be available free for the next few days (it's only 77p anyway.....but hardly anyone's shown any interest.  I've re-read it and although I have considered unpublishing it because it's a bit disjointed, some of it is quite funny, and worth preserving,  although I say so myself...)

Here's the link.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Our Saturday Night plans: thinking of less cliched ways to describe Death.

'Does anything matter any more, Tuppy?'
'No Geoffrey.  Nothing matters any more, except the magical, the strange, and the unknown.'
'Isn't everything magical, strange and unknown, really, when you sit down and think about it?'
'I don't know about that.  I only know that my knee hurts, and my joints ache more in the morning with every day that passes, and if I'm not careful my back goes out when I'm least expecting it.  On top of that,  I can't manage any drugs harder than a junior aspirin unless I'm really in the mood to dice with Death.'
'Then you must come to terms with your own mortality.'
'I suppose I must, although I'll try my hardest to find a less cliched way of putting it.'
'All right.  So will I.'
'Great!  That's our Saturday night sorted.  Pen and paper Geoffrey - crack open the Madeira and the ginger crunch creams, and let's see what we can come up with!'
'By the way Tuppy....'
'Yes?  what is it?'
'You might try, as kind of a sub-set of our evening's task slash fun, to find a less cliched way of saying 'dice with Death'.  If it's not too much for you and all.'
'OK.  Fair point. I'll work on it.  But don't interrupt me again when I'm concentrating, or I'll tell everyone it was you who wee-weed in the community centre teapot last Friday, in a fit of pique after you failed - yet again - to win the DebSoc Whingers Anonymous Whinge of the Week Hamper.'

If they DO come up with any less cliched phrases, for anything, I will post them tomorrow.....

Meanwhile here is a link to more Tuppy and Geoffrey tales, on Amazon

Friday, 26 September 2014

New Item for sale in our shop

I put a new item up for sale in our Etsy shop this morning.  It's a turtle, painted by Barry in oils, and varnished, on a piece of local wood.  It has a crack at the top where the wood split, and a knot hole.  But that is what happens with untreated wood, she says hastily and defensively, it's not broken, honest it's not, and I personally really like it.   Here's a picture with a link to the shop.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Now Reading...JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, and others....

I finally finished reading JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy last night.  I don't read much contemporary fiction, and never best sellers, so it's not my usual kind of book, but I got quite gripped by it. Anyone who follows the blog (hello, new reader from Kazakhstan) might remember that I bought this book in a charity shop a couple of months ago.  If it hadn't been a bargain buy I would never have chosen it.  I can't say I'm glad I did, but reading it was quite an experience all the same.  I didn't take to the first quarter or so, but I persevered, and as I persevered I gradually got drawn into the story almost against my better instincts, and became weirdly interested to see what happened next - interested to the extent that I could hardly put the book down during the last chapters.  I suppose that's what happens when you read Harry Potter books - I haven't read any of those, yet.  The Casual Vacancy is actually even grimmer than the lurid reviews led me to expect.  Unremittingly grim, with an appallingly sad end.  However, much of it is, unfortunately for us humans, pretty true to some aspects of life.  I skimmed through a fair bit of it to get to the interesting bits of plot, and didn't engage at all with quite a few of the characters - in fact I still wasn't sure who they all were, at the end. The ones who were most engaging were the teenagers - and the dead man (a nice bloke, with a ginger beard), who forms the hub of the story and links everyone together.   The rest of the adults were a pretty vile and graceless bunch.
I reckon the book could have been edited down by about a quarter, at least.
I might have a crack at one of her detective stories next - I bet they're equally gripping.  They'll need to be available in the library or charity shop bargain shelf though.
I mention the library because I FINALLY managed to find some books to borrow.  Blog readers will know that the quality of books in my local library has been RUBBISH of late.  However, this week I found Tony Benn's last 'Diaries' (I love a political diary!), A Female Genius by James Essinger, which is about how Byron's daughter Ada Lovelace started the computer age (apparently), and a biography of William Burroughs.  I think the Diaries are going to be the best of the three as far as I'm concerned.  The Burroughs book mentions Irvine Welsh in the blurb, and that immediately makes me want to put it back on the shelf again.  I read Burroughs as a teenager, and wasn't hugely keen - I think I felt I should like him, but didn't.  What he was though, was interesting.  Which is almost always good.  I'll see how I get on with the biography.  The Essinger, I suspect, will be dull, because they've put a contemporary spin on it. But I love the Romantic era, so I'll try to keep an open mind, and give it my best shot.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

My Novel Progress Chart, or N.P.C. - plus, More Wrinkles than a Wrinkly Person's Dangly Bits

September 21st and I've done bog all.
I can't blame it on anything, I've had plenty of time.
Ah well.  I'm sure I'll hit my stride at some point - possibly just as I'm toppling into my grave or being wheeled into the back of an ambulance, having collapsed with a bad case of apathy.
In other news - regarding the Snottish Referenderererererereeedenedededum, I think it's all pretty ghastly, basically, and a lot of nasty rhetoric flying about on both sides. Last week, for example, we were to 'grab a granny'.  I always thought that was unwise, on lots of levels.  This week,  grannies are to blame for Everything, being stupid and gullible or greedy and mean.  A lot of grannies are aged about 40 by the way.  And some over 70s are involved in online pron and so forth (for want of a better phrase).  This may be to supplement their pensions and/or just because they enjoy it.  Others are involved in 'rock/beat/pop combos', such as that well-known group, the Rolling Stones. More wrinkles than a very very wrinkly male person's dangly bits.  Mind you they live somewhere else don't they.  If they don't they probably should.  And, they're grandads, rather than grannies.  Although I'm not sure that gender really matters much.  Or indeed sexual orientation.  I'm getting muddled again.  I'd better have a wee lie down and a swig of my Sanatogen.
Overall, best to sit back and hope that the dust settles*.
*N.B. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm a 'clart'. Any settled dust will of course be removed IMMEDIATELY, using a soft cloth and a bowl of hot soapy water.  *fetches pinny and Marigolds*

Find my hilarious* e-books here via this link  *doesn't necessarily mean 'hilarious'

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Today's Walk - a burial cairn and church at Bendochy

Green man on an 18th century gravestone in Bendochy churchyard

Fields near Coupar Angus, looking south east from a prehistoric burial cairn

An oak tree on the burial mound
Elder bushes, round the burial mound
Bendochy library
Grave, Bendochy churchyard
Bendochy Church - bell dates from the 1600s, I believe
A yew tree in the churchyard

The burial mound can be seen for miles.

We went for a short but very enjoyable outing today, to Bendochy, about two miles from Coupar Angus.  It's a lovely area, packed with prehistoric and medieval history, if you care to look beyond the horrible 'chicken factory' and can escape its vile stench.
Weather warm and dry.  On our walk up the field to the burial mound pictured above, we saw several red admiral butterflies on the daisies growing through the stubble, and a couple of tortoiseshells.  The mound is quite spectacular and can be seen for miles, especially on a sunny day like this was, with the green trees standing out against the blue sky and the golden stubble.  There are large Scots pines and oak trees on top, and lots of elders laden with berries.  Quite a remarkable place.
We walked round the mound, skirting the trees.  To walk in would have been wrong.
From there we went over to Bendochy church.  That's another remarkably historic place, with quite a number of graves dating back to the 1700s, and mostly in pretty good condition.  The date on one read 1658.  
There are also Commonwealth War Graves in the churchyard, and an arched entrance that is also a war memorial; it looks art deco and I assume it must be. It features a sculpted relief of a pelican feeding its young, at the top of the arch - the symbol of self-sacrifice.  It's a very peaceful place that looks quite undisturbed.
In the car park we couldn't help but notice a bright red condom (used) and the remains of a 'joint'. Ah well.  Nice to know that the heart of life beats on, next to the bones and dust of centuries past, I suppose.

Relaxing over the weekend, after the ghastliness of the last couple of weeks.   I'm working on my 'Unkle Funkle' story.  I need a bit of escapism and as I'd like to avoid 'hard drugs', at my age, that should do the trick.

More thoughts about the referendum, if I can stand to write about it.  I've certainly read a humungous amount that other people have written about it, and I would describe a pretty large percentage of that as, I'm afraid, 'guff'.

Friday, 19 September 2014

It's over.  
Or is it?????
Some reflections later, once the dust settles.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Haggis Balls

'Sniff that.'
'What is it?'
'It's a Red-Ridinghood-style basketful of haggis balls.  I'm going to egg and crumb them, then deep fry them and take them along to the Fulmars' referenderenernednernernernenrnerendmum party.'
'They don't half stink.'
'I know.  They'll be all right once they're cooked.'
'Where did you get them?'
'I got them from Willie Wilde, the new eco-butcher.  They're not strictly speaking free range, mind. He's been rearing the haggis in pens in the big cave,  up on the moors.'
'So has he... have they been....'
'De-balled, yes.  He did it with rubber bands - like they do with lambs, you know.  You tie them on with a special stretchy thing, and wait for th....oh I'm sorry Tuppy, I shouldn't have mentioned that.'
'No problemmo.  It couldn't happen to me, I'm delighted to say.   I'm like an Action Man doll.  Genitally challenged.  Always have been, and always will be, if I have anything to do with it.  Which I fully intend to.  I bet they're none too pleased about that though.  The haggis, I mean.'
'No.  As a matter of fact some of them have escaped.  They're on the loose, running wild up on the moor.  They want their balls back.'
'What for?  It's not like they can be re-attached, at this late juncture.'
'They believe they can.  And in any case, it's a matter of principle.'
'Well I think you should do the right thing Geoffrey.'
'You mean give them their balls back?'
'No.  I mean get them egged and crumbed quick-style and into the deep fat fryer.  I'm starving.'

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Whinge of the Week - the Snottish Refernerdernerderndernderndnernernum

'Is that the kettle I hear whistling or is it the sibilant campaign at the door again?'
'It's the sibilant campaign.  Should I tell them that we're ambi-franchised?'
'Yes.  Tell them we're sure that we're swinging both ways.  They can rely on us to do whatever they say.  Get them to come back next week, when it's all over, and we'll give them a game of cribbage and a custard cream.'
'Okay doke.'
Geoffrey was at 'DebSoc' last night.  Again.  He's been there every night for the last three weeks, and he's all clued up about the Snottish Referenernernerdernerndernnernernernernemum.  And so am I. It's all a bit much now.
'I'm bored out of my mind hearing about the Snottish Referenernerndernerndernernernernnemum!'  I snarled, when Geoffrey came back into the livingroom.
'I know how you feel, but it's imPORTant Tuppy,' he replied.  Besides, it'll all be over soon.  One way or another.  Have you decided which way you're going to vote yet?'
'I'm not going to vote at all.  I'm lying on the settee all day with a pint of Madeira, three opium tabloids, a multi-pack of square crisps and Michael Palin's Diaries.  I'm not even getting up to go to the toilet.'
'You're a disgrace.'
'It's part twenty seven of my fifty stage plan to become the world's fattest and laziest person.  Don't tell me I have no purpose in life.'
'I didn't!'
'Anyway, it doesn't matter to me who's in charge.  Life goes on - until it doesn't.  And there's nothing any of us can do about it.'
'Don't you want to get the government you vote for then?'
'No.  There's nobody I want to vote for.  They're all shit.'
'When you resort to foul language Tuppy, you've really lost the argument.'
'Is that the best you can do?'
'Fuckwit.  Put the kettle on and make me a bacon sandwich.'
'What did your last slave die of?'
'Don't get stroppy with me!  I've got a dicky heart.  I need to be indulged at all times.'
'All right.  But really Tuppy, you're language is...'
'I know.  I'll try to stop swearing but it seems to be beyond my fu- sorry - my control.  Shit-bum.'
What was happening to me?  Tourettes syndrome, perhaps?
You may or may not remember that about a month ago I swore at little Chelsy, the Fulmar's three year old niece, who is currently staying with them.  I was worried that she might tell Uncle Apsley and Aunt Cherry about my over-reaction and my awful language and that ghastly revenge would be wrought, but so far so good.  Chelsy has kept her mouth shut.  This might be because I've been providing her with a constant supply of Froobs, but I'm not sure.
'I like you Uncle Tuppy!  You're my betht fwend evva!  get me more Fwoobth!'
'That child will get sugar diabetes, Tuppy,' warned the Ghastly Wilson. 'You mark my words.'
Nobody Hereabouts has ever marked his words and nobody seems any the worse, so I'm sure Chelsy will be fine.
Anyway - I am planning to spend most of tomorrow on the settee with a bag over my head (one with plenty holes in), but late in the night we're going to go over the the Fulmars' for a 'Refernerdnernernernedernenernernernernernernemum party, to watch the results coming in on their 97 inch curved screen 3D TV.  They haven't invited us but we're going anyway.
And at dawn,  Dave and Valerie Nark are planning to light bonfires to celebrate the bright new dawn of a bright new Snotland.
After that,  I expect that we'll stagger home and have a bacon sandwich.

Find my Sea Penguin e-books here 
Another day closer to the awful vote.  I wish I could see a positive side to all this. I can't relate to the Yes campaign at all, and that disturbs me profoundly, because according to the polls, half the country is behind the Yes campaign.  It's really disturbing to feel such a gulf between how I perceive things and how the other half of the country perceives things.
I look at images of my countrymen (for want of a better word) waving flags and cheering and painting their faces blue, and I feel like I'm on another planet. I can understand people wanting to get rid of the Tories, but I cannot for the life of me understand this intensity and nationalistic zeal.
I see people being interviewed on the TV and it scares me because I honestly cannot relate to their fervour or to what they say, and I feel I need to because on Friday morning they could be leading a victory parade and making plans for a whole new country.  MY country - or what was.
I read an article today about 'anarchy for Yes'.  I'm quite well-disposed to anarchy as long as it stays well away from me and my life, i.e. in the ether of the theoretical realm.  We are talking about Real People being affected on every level here - Real People with lives, children, mortgages, jobs, credit cards, aged parents,  illnesses - the paraphernalia of 21st century life.  What relevance does - or rather, should - anarchy have for them?  How self-indulgent and cruel to talk of 'anarchy' and a total change of regime in that context.
The whole campaign has been utterly ghastly and I cannot wait for it to be over.  I pray that it's a resounding no, but I'm preparing myself mentally and spiritually for a yes.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

This is now for sale in my local Co-op - first time I've seen it there in twenty years.  I'm sure it must be a 'sign of the times'.
I'm feeling more relaxed today.  I'm 'indyref'ed out.  The whole thing has tipped over from the febrile anxiety stage into a ghastly spectacle with celebs tripping over each other to join in.
I'm still going to vote No.  The Holyrood elite are worse than Westminster - and that's saying something.  And there's no 'second chamber' in the Scottish parliament to put the brakes on them.
Brian Souter anyone? 80s pop star Pat Kane?  Franz bloody Ferdinand?
Heaven preserve us.
Obviously it's all a hugely more serious matter than the bandwagon-jumpers currently make it appear.  
I passed a No stall yesterday.  They were handing out wee Union Jacks.  I've never waved a Union flag in my life and I won't start now.  And I'm still voting No.
It's a journey, eh?  A bloody great long one.

Right.  Regarding the prospect of a Yes outcome, I think we've moved, today,  from shock and crisis mode through grief and dismay mode through victim mode through to coping mode.  We've had to pull ourselves together, and think, how do we face this independence carry-on, if it happens, in a positive way that feels right to us?
We now have a Plan A and a Plan B.  And we're working on a Plan C.
It's not a bad thing actually because it refreshes and focuses the mind.
This is a totally bizarre experience.  I intend to vote no, for practical reasons and because I prefer to keep the UK together, and face its undoubted problems along with the other three countries.  If there is a No vote,  perhaps it will bring the promised change that will help those that need it. I think there is just as much chance of that happening within the UK as there is within an independent Scotland - but only if people remain engaged with politics and make their voices heard, loud and clear.  I think that in an independent Scotland, a self-interested 'Holyrood elite' will immediately replace the despised 'Westminster elite'.   And when I consider who that might include, it's not an inviting prospect.
'This is what the people of Scotland want...' Really?  I'm a person of Scotland, and I don't want what you want.
I'm not keen on the public face of the No side, either, although I am definitely a No voter.  The celebs that have come out in support are not people for whom, by and large, I have a huge amount of time.  But the Yes lot are far, far worse.  The whole celebrity endorsement thing is horrendously cringey across the board.
Looks that way from where I'm sitting, anyway.
I feel like a threadbare old buzzard, perched on a telegraph pole, watching events from a distance through squinting eyes.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Today I saw three sea eagles.  Normally this excitement would dominate my brain for at least three days before fading, gradually.
Not today.
Sodding independence referendum. My emotions lurch from fear, to anger, to disgust, to hope, to dread, and back again, with a touch of astonishment thrown in here and there.
Saltires everywhere.  Demonstrations outside the BBC. A general feeling of aggression and threat.
I can understand the thuggery that goes on.  People's feelings are ramped up and that is how some people behave, at such times. That doesn't appall me. What does appall me is the arrogance and smugness of the artistic community.  I'm shocked that there are no dissenting voices, no-one who challenges the nationalist line, nothing remotely controversial in terms of artistic content.
I don't want to be part of any of that.  I've considered going along to writing events - I'm not much of a joiner-in, so I never have - and I certainly won't now, if I'm going to be surrounded by delirious yes-men and women, belching on about independence and building their careers on it.  Is there nobody who disagrees with them?  I even read something about change not being possible without pain - so the feelings of people like myself (no voters) don't matter - we must be sacrificed for the greater good, apparently.
My blood runs cold.
Thank God for the internet, where you can speak to a world-wide community and borders (for now...) don't matter.
Goodness only knows what is to become of us over the next week.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sorry - terribly miserable posts at the moment.  Latest polls show that Yes have an eight point lead.  I'm sick at heart and really cannot face living in Scotland if they win.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The referendum certainly sharpens your wits (up to a point...) and forces you to think about things you formerly took for granted.  I do not want to see the UK broken up.  I did not realise how strongly I felt about that until I was faced with a choice.
Some of the things I find myself saying and some of the people with whom I now find common cause sit uncomfortably with me.  When I looked round at my fellow attendees at the Usher Hall last night, I felt that perhaps I was not in the best of company.  But that doesn't alter my view. I think that separation is a mistake and I do not want it.
I find myself saying 'The UK has done great things' and 'the British people who fought in the war' - and I cringe!  But it's true that the UK has done great things.  It sounds naff, but it's true.
It's done some terrible things as well.  I always have, psychologically, placed myself 'against' the prevailing 'elite' if you like, and now I find myself in support of what they represent. It doesn't feel good,  but it doesn't change my view, either.
I don't want to wipe out 300 years of history.
I dread the result, either way.  
Another day closer to the dreaded referendum.  Feeling stressed out and depressed as hell we decided to 'plunge in' to the maelstrom and went to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh to see George Galloway and others.  On the trip down we kept a look-out for signs indicating support or otherwise for either side of the campaign.  Where we are, every window and garden seems to have a Yes sign, but on the way south and right into Edinburgh there were only a few of each.  Considering that nearly 90% of the population has registered to vote and that the polls are neck and neck I find this surprising.  In a general election you usually see a fair number of posters.
I hadn't been to a political event since the 1980s and early 90s, when I was an enthusiastic member of COHSE, the health service union and attended conferences and various protests in support of the miners and against health service cuts.  The only major politician I can remember seeing speak live was the late Robin Cook.  So, it was interesting to see George Galloway.  He's an excellent speaker and I agree with pretty much everything he has to say on this subject.  Brian Wilson also spoke. I was not a fan of his when he was a Labour minister, really, but I've always been interested in him and had an admiration for him because he set up the West Highland Free Press on Skye, and, curiously, I believe he may have had a cottage across the glen from my aunt's, in the late 1970s.
I feel very old.
I also feel very detached from my - what is the word? Compatriots?  Countrymen?  Citizens?  Even from the country itself - the land. I'm seeing it all through a new lens, as I said the other day.  I feel, in a way, in a definite sense, actually, that it is being taken from me.  By force. I took some photos of Edinburgh - beloved to me - knowing that it may be the last time I see it as wholly 'my' city.
We arrived at the right time to avoid parking charges and we brought our usual flask and some muffins to fuel ourselves cheaply for the evening.  I went along more from curiosity than anything else, because I was already sure of my views and what I heard only confirmed them.  Moment of the night for me was when a very old ex-miner got up and made a very moving short statement about his experiences during two strikes and the support he received from union members across the UK.  I remember that time very well, myself, and I cried a little because he spoke from his heart and I felt his pain, and because I too would hate to lose that sense of solidarity with the rest of the country. It would be like erasing a memory and losing part of my own personal history.  I don't think many people share that view though - possibly because it all happened a Long Time Ago, and the Unions have been decimated and nobody feels that way at the moment.  I think that if the Labour movement appeared more effective, so that people felt it and knew that it worked, nationalism would not have stood a chance.  However, sadly, that is not where we are.  So, History in terms of co-operation and supportiveness between the four countries of the UK doesn't seem to be part of this particular equation.  It seems that we all must move on.
I am even more depressed.
Gordon Brown spoke at the end.  I think he spoke well. I am glad he may stand for the Scottish Parliament.
But I remain absolutely completely and utterly depressed.  As two friends said to me yesterday, we should not even be IN this position.  We do not want to have to choose.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Life goes on as we await the vote in one week's time.  It's a complete nightmare and I cannot wait until it's settled, one way or another.
Social media undoubtedly makes it worse.  People are terribly aggressive.  Feelings are running high and it's all too easy to get caught up in the intensity.  I knew - or suspected - that it would be like this.  Nationalism and identity cannot be treated lightly.
When you're out and about doing your shopping or getting on with work or life in general everything looks the same as always, but the tension is there and when you switch on the news or go online, it hits you like a sledgehammer.
I had campaigners at the door the other evening.  I said I was an undecided just to make them  go away.  The zeal in their eyes reminds me of converts to Amy Semple McPherson or Billy Graham.  It's truly frightening.  Especially when you see the rage online.  I'm hoping and praying for a peaceful outcome regardless of the way the vote goes.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Today's Walk - Tentsmuir beach

The sea, the sea.  Nothing as soothing to the worn-ragged soul than constancy, and there is nothing more constant than the gentle wash of waves on a sunny, sandy beach.  The weather today was perfect, with just the right amount of breeze.
Two quid to park though.  Bit steep for a beach and some toilets.  I suppose the metal barriers prevent 'undesirables' coming in at night and lighting fires, leaving tons of rubbish and so forth, as they do at numerous other popular spots.
Tentsmuir beach is not far from St Andrews, with its famed West Sands.  And they're similar; both are vast, and you can walk and walk and let your mind drift.  I like St Andrews, but the West Sands is no use for bird-watching - there are usually a few waders but I've never seen anything else much.  Tentsmuir on the other hand, is great.  You do require transport to get there though, it's a bit out of the way.
Loads of gannets and terns today, diving near the sandbanks.  Gannets are my favourite bird, or at least are in my top five.  Terns are also great to watch.  There was a variety of gulls, and waders, including, I think, although I am not good on waders, grey plovers.  I was hoping to spot a dolphin or seals, but didn't. I think I might have been at the wrong end of the beach.
We were there at the turning of the tide.  I am unsure if that has any significance.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Another Kind Review

The estimable Oscar McCloud has kindly given Sea Penguin Part Three - Death at Your Fireside a five star review on Amazon.  I will reproduce it here.
'The not so ordinary adventures at the Rocky Outcrop continues with a seemingly innocent discussion around the fireside. Is death avoidable? Tuppy decides that something has to be done about the Grimm Reaper who is stalking the area and collecting their souls.
There are so many intertwined and interconnected depths in these tales where the characters take on almost real human identity that if you let your imagination free you will certainly go mad but in a pleasant way.
Tuppence the lamb has now become a menace with his gang of rats and has retreated into the tunnels beneath the Outcrop where he is stealing electricity from the Fulmars to drive his prog rock band.
Tuppy has enough of Dr Wilson’s warnings about Swine flu and the obesity dangers of eating fudge doughnuts and he and Geoffrey set off for St Kilda. Blown off course they end up on Flannan Isle and are trapped there by Tuppence who steals their boat. They get rescued and return only to try and escape to Cuba, once again they are blown off course and end up in Greenland and dragged into the ‘Christmas spending fever’.
There are lashings of Purple Peril cocktails, a meth and Madeira mixture and lots of salty snacks with the act of blowing up of crisp packets and bursting them in the Puff Inn. As well as lashings of satirical fun about eco warriors living in Yurts, tourists dropping their litter of snuff movies, second homes and expenses and 62 inch televisions on which they watch the Eurovision Song contest and Britain’s got Talent. Of course there are the never-ending poke at unhealthy living and warnings from Dr Wilson who lives on seaweed.
The conflict with the Baby Orca, a killer whale determined to have revenge on Tuppy for killing its mother continues. A new visitor Nippy Grimshaw who is spreading doom and gloom is sent over the cliff by a gust of wind and has to be rescued from the Baby Orca. Tense moment of awfulness ensues.
I must admit a felt a moment of nostalgic thoughts of my younger days when butterscotch angel delight was mentioned and my mouth began watering.
I found this an exciting but weird continuation of the Rocky Outcrop Adventures and enjoyed the tongue in cheek dig at contemporary society making me chuckle at the truth of it all. I almost feel and wonder if the author through the voice of Tuppy is actually living out these mad escapades and her best friend really is a Seagull in her mind at least. A fun read and recommended escapism.'

Here is the link to Sea Penguin Part Three - available on Kindle (and can be read on any device that can download the free Kindle app)

Thanks so much once again Oscar - I love these characters, I lived with them for years as I wrote these Tales, (and still do!) and it means a great deal to know that others appreciate them too.

Another day, another night with minimal sleep.  I know I won't sleep well again until the country settles down.  We're in the midst of what feels like cataclysmic change.  I cannot believe that the United Kingdom is breaking up - and it is, even if Scotland votes No.  More devolved powers - and that means that Ireland and Wales will want them too, and England. The whole dynamic of the islands is shifting.   The old order is changing, and what is to come?  Nobody knows.  I didn't want this change, and neither did many of the people I know.  Of course I want to be better off - and so do most people.  But I would wish to achieve that through a change in government, not by breaking the Union.   For Pity's sake.  I suppose that nothing is eternal, unless you believe in God - not even the Universe.  But it feels tragic.  And I'm feeling old.  I feel like a new chapter of history is being written, minute by minute, and I do not belong in that story.  And yet, of course, everyone does have a part to play, regardless.
Prior to the Union, three hundred years ago, Scotland was a nation that bickered with itself, and Scotland and England were regularly at each others throats.  The Union isn't perfect but it has kept the peace.
Till now.  Times change, of course, but people, by and large, do not, unless they learn from history.
I went out to look at the Moon tonight.  Such a mysterious and beautiful and wondrous object. Tonight it was very bright and later on it was surrounded by chiffon clouds, and reminded me of a Blake engraving.  And then I remembered something ghastly I read a while ago, about the Chinese (I think) building something on it, or planning to do so.  How awful it would be, to look up at the Moon and see some vast scaffolding or a mine or something.  I'm glad that I've lived at a time when for most of my life the Moon was unassailable,  mysterious, and certainly 'undeveloped'.  Planet Earth's 'Other', and I hope she remains so until long after I'm gone.
So, events unfold and we cast around looking for certainties while we await the next stage.  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

September's Novel Progress Chart, or N.P.C. (flat-lining already)

Starting September off with a BANG
Yes, here we go with another month of novel-writing, using my top-notch 'motivational tool', featured on the left.
I'm thinking of patenting it, along with my Book of Secrets, 'How to be a Self-Starter'.  It's so secret I don't even know what's in it, myself. In fact, it doesn't exist.  Well, it does, but only in the darker reaches of my celleb...cereb...whatever.  The part of my brain that deals with that kind of thing.  What kind of thing?  The Kind of Thing that Will Never Happen,  Not Even in a Million Years.
Last month's N.P.C. got scrunchled up and flung in the bin, and I expect this one will, as well.
Who ARE these bastards that actually manage to write novels?  Especially ones that get published! They can fuck right off.  Sorry and all that, but they can.
I'm off to have a fag.