Unreliable and possibly off-topic


Friday, July 28, 2006

Lost chord #4

Robert Wyatt. Gharbzadegi
Gorillaz w/ Ryder. Dare
Janis Joplin. Cry, Baby
Byrds. Feel A Whole Lot Better
Crosby, Stills, Nash. Wooden Ships
Flamin' Groovies. Shake Some Action
Peggy Seeger. Aragon Mill


IKEA part VI

A reader enquires about the IKEA battle, perhaps imagining that silence on my part signifies a satisfactory conclusion to the story. Oh no, that would be too easy. IKEA refunded my credit card about 10 days ago, leaving my balance in credit, and then Mastercard took up the torture.

The first time I visited the bank to draw out my cash, I was thwarted by lack of valid proof of identity. The only acceptable forms of ID are a driving licence or a passport. For reasons that are for me to know and you to find out, I don't have a current driving licence, but thankfully I had not sent my passport off for renewal yet. So I trotted down again a few days later with the passport to withdraw my cash from Mastercard's account. Well- guess what happened? The teller made out the forms, photocopied my passport and went off to make the standard phone call. Arriving back at the desk, he gave me a withering look and said he needed to speak to me. This is the cue for criminals to run out of the bank, having been rumbled, and it did cross my mind that this was the appropriate response.

Teller came out from behind the bullet-proof glass looking very serious indeed, fixed me with a steely gaze and informed me my request had been declined. There followed a short cross-examination during which my reasons for the withdrawal and my balance were discussed. He did loosen up (I have to admit) as the sorry tale was explained, and advised me to phone Mastercard to discover the reason for the refusal.

Mastercard were mostly unhelpful. Yes, it might be my money, they admitted, but 'policy' meant my access to it was restricted. If I was so insane as to wish to cash up my credit rather than spend it slowly using the card, the only method was to have a personal cheque issued. Although Mastercard have enormous offices and thousands of staff, the issue and posting of a cheque takes three working weeks.

The case continues...


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Things to Do

Heather is very keen on lists and goals, and during yesterday's sweltering daunder up the Burn she impressed upon on me the importance of these. She has a point; she's achieved a great deal and uses them all the time on one-day, weekly, yearly and 10 year scales of time. It's correlation and it might even be causation.

Things To Do
Fax manuscript copyright release form to U of Glasgow
Post long overdue thesis report to U of Edinburgh
Get passport application photos
Post passport application by registered mail
Post repeat prescription form to GP
Join library

If I achieve this, according to the Heather© behavioural program I'm allowed a treat, which by my choice will be a long overdue haircut, and maybe just a tiny bit of chemical brightening. Right- slap on some makeup for the passport photos, and out into the wide blue yonder!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I drift between the days I see my kids, feeling myself properly only when they're around. Hopefully I will soon make an update concerning the big wan's saltational jump into adulthood- amazing, instant, surprising and charming.

Their Dad has taken them to Ireland for the week, at which they're hopefully making Giant steps at the Causeway and communing with donkeys. My folks, R. and I had a hilarious time at dinner last Sunday, recounting the memorable Irish family holiday when I was c. 10 yrs, mid 1970s. Dad remembered how we got lost on the Falls Road in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, and how at our southern Irish farmhouse an elderly lady died peacefully during a mid-morning nap. I was tasked to distract her grandchildren while the GP and the undertakers were called to confirm she was really, really, stone-cold dead, and I got a peek.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

My dream

Last night I was sleeping too hard and long, and vividly dreamt that I could sing sweetly again. It was a beautiful reverie.


Mad Mel strikes again

I've been on tenterhooks for the latest from Melanie Phillips on the Middle East collapse into war, and she hasn't disappointed.

I love it. This is but the first sentence.

July 20, 2006
The war against Israel

It was said by Holocaust survivors that what provoked in them the most intense despair, to the point where some attempted suicide, was not the infernal depredations to which they had been subject by their Nazi exterminators but the subsequent indifference and rank disbelief of a world which refused to face up to the enormity of what had happened and, in varying ways, sought to deny it.

And so it goes on, ad nauseum. She's always great value for a grounding on morals, ethics and history, to remind one of the forces of evil and dissimulation out there.

Last week, it was support for Bush's vetoing of stem-cell research, on the grounds that reproductive technology challenges the natural order of things. It's apparently extremely important that we human beings don't mess with 'natural' states, on the grounds that this disrespects G*d's plan. The fact that humans have been a successful species precisely because of their ability to transform and manipulate their environment is tangential.


Friday, July 21, 2006

So often I'm bitching, so here's a bookmark and aide-memoire that this was a lovely day.

Spent it baking R's birthday cake in Heather's kitchen, watching her veg patch grow in the suntrap garden and walking the Reekster dug over-by the fields, where the thistles are taller than we. It's an abandoned mill farm, but the raspberry canes and the fruiting cherry tree continue to provide sweeteners for the walk. We've had all the rhubarb out of the kitchen garden already.

Monday Heather is taking me to the pick-yer-own berry farm for strawbs, and she'll teach me how to make her homemade jam- nectar on a bagel. This week the kids and I have been living off stewed rhubarb and baked peaches with Greek yoghurt, and baba ghanoush and diamond potatoes roasted with garlic and rosemary, served tiede . No one wants anything warm to eat in this heat anyway, or any meat.

Went looking for radish from the Chinese veg shop and ended up with daikon today, which grated with carrot, drained and dressed with rice vinegar and coriander leaf, makes a tasty salad. I'm not sure he even charged me for the daikon, and always knocks something off for produce past its best. I'm on at them to get the flat-leaf parsley back in stock, which is becoming a running joke.

No, I didn't get the job apps in. Maybe just not ready.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lost Chord #3

Patti Smith
Dancing Barefoot
A torch song

PJ Harvey and Nick Cave
Henry Lee

Farmer John
(covers of a cover of a cover)
Mr Soul
Cinnamon Girl

Jefferson Airplane

White Stripes
I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman
7th Nation Army
Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine

Chris Whitley
All Beauty Taken in This Life
Loco Girl
Dirt Floor


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wednesday bitch

More problems with authority and identity (on which I've bored before). The spic'n'span filing system reveals not only the lack of a valid birth certificate and notarised name-change, but the imminent expiry of my passport. You'd think that would be straightforward, but the application for renewing a passport requires a social security number, which I don't have, and to apply for a social security number requires a certified birth certificate, which I don't...

An extremely expensive call to the Embassy in London assured me that my application would be considered, even if I was quite possibly imaginary by virtue of having no social security number. This kindly saved me the trouble of shooting myself in deference to the clear fact that I do not exist.

Even worse- hairballs. Yesterday, Heather helped me houseclean (she's very good to me), but my sponging up of hairball catsick from several sites ended with serious retching and much disgust. Toilets, litter trays, nappies and shit just do not elicit this reaction. All was better until this morning when another stomach-churning hairturd in a neat pool of crunchy vomit appears on the same carpet cleaned yesterday, and already primed, just the sight of it was enough to set me off.

She, the emetic one, is hanging out in the windowless, cool toilet to escape the heatwave today. I recommend that she uses the facilities there to relieve Herself of any further anti-alimentary offerings.

**Breaking news**

Now She's challenged my statement that shit doesn't bother me by developing a nasty faecal dreadlock at Her, em, rear-end. Normally these do not trouble me much- a simple, clinical clipping using the household scissors- but this one was fucking wet and malleable. Another trip to retch in the toilet. Don't be surprised if She accidentally tries to fly with the birds from her windowsill perch. I've had enough.


Sunday, July 16, 2006


Tonight, wearing a fetching and practical uniform, I'll put patients to bed and watch signals while settling into my new books:

In the Blink of an Eye; how vision kick-started the Big Bang of evolution
Andrew Parker

Humanity: An Emotional History
Stuart Walton

The former will I hope discuss the Pre-Cambrian explosion of multicellular, developmentally specialised body types, and this as a substrate for the new phyla that subsequently emerged. Vision and the eye are adaptations frequently cited by the Intelligent Design fraternity as too perfect to have evolved, but in the Blind Watchmaker Dawkins defended vision as an adaptive, saltationally-acquired characteristic.

The latter book will hopefully define how emotion differs from mood. Both are seen as transient psychological states, but emotion has a biological aspect which I feel may have escaped the author. The 'emotions' running as chapter headings are; Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Jealousy, Contempt, Shame, Embarrassment, Surprise and Happiness. Already I'm taking issue with this, and eliminating jealousy, contempt, sadness and happiness because they're mediated, cognitive *moods* and not visceral, limbic emotions. Shame and Embarrassment are too close to split, too, although I'll allow Guilt as an emotion. The author is less engaged with the biological/neurological aspects of his soi-disant emotions that their historical and cultural associations. May still be a good read, nevertheless.

Disgust is the most interesting emotion, like that felt when cleaning up Her Catness's vomit, producing visceral and physiological nausea. Morning sickness in pregnancy, which involves disgust, may be a emotive/behavioural adaptation to help avoidance of noxious substances at susceptible early stages of foetal development.


Is this Kelso?

On the warmest weekend yet this summer, Heather and Peter Ballocks are down at Kelso (in the Borders) for a motorbike fest. There were several calls yesterday to summon me down by bus, and apparently they'd kindly arranged accommodation in the next-door tent with two weedgie gadgies (huh?).

However, I thought to join them this morning, since the site is on the banks of the wide river Tweed with a ruined castle in the grounds. But I waited in vain for the Kelso bus at the wrong stop (signalling that I wasn't meant to go) and was instead destined to fill out job apps (the other choice). Went downtown to bookshops instead to spend IKEA money on books, getting sunburnt on the walk though I had Kelso suncream in my bag. Freckles will be out in force tomorrow.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The News

Although I'd prefer to keep my head in the sand, war is again breaking out in the Middle East. Israel is launching land, air and sea attacks on both Lebanon and Gaza. As of yesterday, the casualty rates are 6:1 of Arab to Israeli dead, but if you were to peruse the US mainstream media this would not be the impression you received. Israel is shelling *Hizbollah*, according the US press, who happen to include anyone (women and children) in certain suburbs. The ratios of civilian to military dead are also weighted to the Lebanese end.

Meanwhile GWB will not presume to tell Israel how to run its defense, he tells reporters, but the US vetoes a UN Security Council resolution to reprimand Israel for its overkill actions.


Friday, July 14, 2006

High season

For hairballs, from which Her Catness suffers badly at this time of the year. The hairball itself is easy to clean up, but the accompanying crunchy mush is not, especially as she always selects a carpet as the site to perform her reverse peristalsis. Unfortunately, I suffer badly from sympathetic boaks when dealing with vomit, especially of the meaty type, although wearing Marigolds tends to help. I'll spare the pics, as an act of altruistic kindness.

**Breaking news**

Overnight, an audacious assault on the giant new bag of original-style round cat crunchies was mounted. This morning, investigators found a PVC bag sprawled on the ground and crunchies spilling from a catufactured hole. Feline clawholes were evident and are now the subject of searches on clawprint databases. The bag was taken to hospital but released after treatment. So far, no witnesses have come forward but members of the public who may have information can call CatCrimeWatchLine on ....


Thursday, July 13, 2006


Now he's dead, the cult of Syd Barrett will only continue intensify and romanticise an abbreviated 5 year musical career. The repetitive 'crazy diamond' epithet was worn and stained long before his death. Apparently, he spent a great deal more cumulative time thereafter painting and gardening, of which there's little record but possibly better satisfaction.

From the two solo albums (1971), these are the most formed compositions. (search syd barrett)
No Good Trying
Golden Hair


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Apocryphal advice to repel an attempted rapist is to feign mental illness or a learning difficulty. Don't know if this has validity (I'd like to think I'd use extreme violence, or deliberately evacuate my bowels and bladder, as first defenses), but FL and Steve @ IKEA have finally responded to my pleas of 'not being myself' for three years. Anyways, I got a precious yellow slip this morning as evidence that I've been refunded. Not that I'm off to Chichén Itzá or any such, but my mortgagers will be pleased. Should keep the bailiffs away for another couple of months until mortgage interest relief benefit kicks in.

This is the 300th post at this blog.

By coincidence, this blogsite was found and identified as mine yesterday. Nini's best friend is accompanying us on a ranger-led Braidburn activity today, and her googling mum found this place while seeking details. That was strange, although why it should feel so isn't clear since imaginary friends visit too.

Tomorrow I will pay a solicitor to notarise my name and identity (again) and I'll officially exist once more. As you'll recall, the big clearout of the Guilty bag revealed that both my birth certificate and a notarised change of name were missing, so I have to try to backtrack now. Although these aren't required for everyday purposes in Scotland (where identity is assumed by common practice), the authorities in other agencies need paperwork and a paper trail for recognition. So new papers must need be assembled to facilitate a belated application for British subject status. One of Blunkett's wizard wheezes, you'll recall, is that I will have to sit an exam on British culture. Forget that I've been overpaid, oversexed and over here for over 30 years. The exam is reputed to be a bitch, and since it took four tries to pass a driving test it could be some time before I qualify.


Monday, July 10, 2006

IKEA and Sudoku, passim

Disappointingly, the promised refund from IKEA has failed to materialise today when it would be so much better if they'd just indicated a realistic timeline. Instead FL got me off the line quick when I identified myself as the late refund-claimant who'd had a nervous breakdown. "Say no more, say nor more", she said on Thursday before assuring me my refund would be in my account by Sunday. Today, a day after her timeline, she needs to look into it more. I'm taking advice on how to respond.

And I thought I was onto a winner today, when I completed the Indy's Quick Sudoku in just 11 mins in a mathematically satisfying, spiral pattern, working inward to the central 3x3 square. Really more a Greek key pattern than a spiral, orthoganialised by the grid. But it's only Monday- they're easy at this end of the week.

Flushed with success, my cocksure attempt on the Advanced sudoku on the inside pages was trounced within 30 mins. An impasse was reached after the usual cognitive techniques of switching between deductive and inductive thinking, counting missing numbers, assessing the individual and relative properties of lines and squares. That's when a laziness crept in, and I started thinking about the possible permutations as quantum locii and not as definite, real numbers. Always a mistake in sudoku, because although several potential solutions may be possible (and more or less likely), only one is perfect. Natch. Her Catness is not impressed.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Beastie hunt 2

It's been a nice weekend despite the overcast clouds, haar and thunderstorms. To the Braidburn with R, Heather, Reekie and the kiddos this morning for a 3 hr walk up and back the Braidburn. According to a mobile call, my Mum was about 20 mins behind us with Jakie, but unfortunately we didn't cross paths.

Big collection for the flower press today, facilitated by Nini. Collected today-
Dog rose
Hybrid rose
Pink campion
Duckweed bloom
Rosebay willow herb
Sticky willy
Common thistle
Crab apple blossom
Scented flowering stock
Nettle bloom
Three monocotelids (grasses)
Deadly nightshade

Later Heather dropped by with salad- fresh crisp lettuces of three varieties, tiny nippy radishes and spring onions- from her raised beds. Sweet, flavourful and a right treat. We're chewing her parsley now to calm down the allium breath we've all got.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Beastie hunt

Turned out our Insect Hunt (really an Invertebrate Hunt) was on Weds morning, and what a treat it was. Our Park Ranger guide was Jessica, a delightful and knowledgable woman from the south of France, who had the most beautifully fluent, indeterminately accented but colloquial English language. J. was just wonderful in her knowledgability and communication of invertebrates, demonstrated on a 1.5 hr walk through some leaf-littered woods. Jessica helped us find and identify invertebrates from woodlice, milli- and centipedes (do you know the difference?), hoverflies, aphids, honeybees, butterflies, bumblebees of at least two species, wolf spiders, beetles, slugs and snails, cranefly, earwig, a devil's cockroach. A spotted leopard slug and two hermaphrodic snails locked in a mating embrace (which made the girls giggle) were the catch of the day.

But it turns out other biota came up, when talking about and observing habitat. Jessica also helped us identify a wierd jellyfish fungus (Jew's Ear) on the rotting logs which were the invertebrates' palace. We found sticky willies (cleavis), creeping ivy, turk's heads, feverfew, nettles and dock (empirically), sycamore, hawthorn, hazel and beech. Beech mast, sycamore helicopters are everywhere in the locale just now- even on my suburban doormat.

The other six kids on the walk were younger than my two, but even adolescent Joe (who only declined to come along at the last minute) enjoyed himself immensely, like me. Jessica and I were talking behind the kids' backs about hermaphoditism in snails & slugs (molluscs, don't you know), and just who gets pregnant, 'Life in the Undergrowth', her tips to distinguish hoverflies from their mimics, honeybees.

The bright spark of the group was 5 yr old Harry, a slightly hyperactive, extremely curious and self-evidently highly bright handful, despite having an 'estate' accent. He concentrated on everything, and kept all the adults amused on the walk. It was he who found the 6 cm leopard slug, the day's prize catch. Of course Jessica made us release all our beasties back before we set off back home, and Harry complied because none of us wanted to hurt them- oh no. Once we'd walked back to the supermarket carpark, Harry must have been tired and started climbing across the platforms of reined supermarket trolleys, which were higher than him. His mum was patient- clearly a saint, but behind her remonstrances were pride. Go on Harry.

By the way, the language to denote bugs, insects, creepy-crawlies, critters, etc.- the small livers on the loam- is loaded and imprecise. 'Beasties', a decidedly Scots term, is more denotative of invertebrates than other term I know, and is to be endorsed.


I may heart IKEA

Can it be, or am I just overly optimistic? For a start, they called me Ms. and they wish to 'bring resolve' to my refund issue! Who cares about the punctuation and capitalisation. There's an incipient celebration at hand- I feel it in my water.

Hi Ms [Ion]
your e-mail has been passed to customer services to now bring resolve to this issue. What we are looking for from you is more details ie. address phone nos etc. If you could contact myself [FL] on xxx xxxx or if you wish we can discuss through e-mail, i am looking for credit card details so that this refund can now be processed.
with kind regards,


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lost Chord # 3

Search at

Big Star- Kangaroo
PJ Harvey- Sheela Na Gig
Sly & Family Stone- Family Affair
Richard Thompson- Vincent Black Lightning 1952
The Band- The Weight
Rolling Stones- Stray Cat Blues
Richard Thompson- Beeswing
Johnny Cash- Personal Jesus
Can- Mary, Mary, So Quite Contrary

Search at
Hawkwind- Quark, Strangeness & Charm
Hawkwind- Orgone Accumulator
Didn't know Robert Calvert was dead, in 1988.



Lightning and thunder today, maybe something to do with yesterday's Engerland KO and national punishment for schadenfreude. Sorry- not revelling, but hoping the Engerlish nation can take its licks without pulverising others like in St Helier. Incidentally, I didn't hear any anti-English celebrations from either neighbours or the two pubs within 10 yards last evening, unlike last Cupo Del Mondo.

The weather breaking is a relief after 3 days of overcast cloud, a stifling lack of breeze and high humidity. A perfect exacerbant for perimenopausal night sweats and bad dreams. Maybe tomorrow the sunshine being enjoyed in S. Engerland and Brussels (according to R.) may migrate northward.

The tomatoes are thriving, hands stinking of them after their watering.



Nothing earth-shattering- just the bumblebee who stalked me home from Smiley's, being curiously drawn to my blue plastic bag. Bumblebees delight in the Genus name of Bombus, just one of the reasons they're held in such affection. She (for almost certainly she was female) was lost in gardenless tenementland from the swanky house 200 yards away. I guided her to the pubs' hanging baskets, to which she buzzed off happily. I cannot imagine an unhappy bumblebee, unless she were trapped under a beerglass. I would've invited her upstairs to the flat to pollinate the tomato flowers, but I suspect Her Catness would dispatch her rather rapidly. They're slow movers, in bee terms. Looking at her close-up, I was impressed at what a good impression of a bee-a-like some local yellow hollyhocks give inside their petals.

Last time we were in the Braidburn park, we saw a notice for an Insect Hunt at Burdiehouse Burn on ?Tuesday, to be led by the rangers. If it's anywhere as good as the Toad Hunt this spring, we'll have a great time. Parents have been dispatched (in a different sense) to the other end of the Braidburn park to ascertain the date of the Insect Hunt from the noticeboard.