Talking to HAL 2000 – 19 September 2019

It was all going so swimmingly. A sure sign failure was on the horizon.

Got the train in to Glasgow today after Scamp gave me a run to the station. Got my hair cut and indulged in a bit of politician bashing with the political barber. Went to look at a possible new camera in Jessops and then in JL. That’s when the message came in and the day turned sour. Message from the health centre to phone about my results. Phoned the doc and had to endure the now annoying half a minute of condescension from one of the doctors, explaining how a good health centre works. Nothing like the one I was phoning. Finally got through and asked to check my results. Gave my name, address and DOB. A lot of grunting and things being bashed about on the other end of the line, eventually ending in:

“Was it blood results?”
Yes.
“Are you having them done here or at central?”
I’ve had them done. I got a message to phone about my results.
“Oh” <more bashing and phones ringing>
“You’ve to make an appointment with the practice nurse.”
OK, but what about my results?
“That’s why you have to make an appointment with the practice nurse”
Can’t you give me the results?
“I don’t have a medical background, I can’t give you details”
Can’t you give me the numbers then? <This is when the receptionist turned into HAL>
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that”
Hmmm
“I’m sorry, did I say something funny?” <Oh dear, that’s ‘light the blue touch paper and retire time. I felt like saying “Did you really say that?”>
So you want me to make an appointment. I’ll phone next week and do it.

Now that I think about it. I believe she didn’t actually have the results in front of her. That’s what all the banging was about, she was trying to find the results. Either that or she had found what she thought were the results, but there were big words on that bit of paper and she couldn’t read them. I ended the call there and walked away fuming.

Walked down Bucky Street, going over the conversation in my head. Did she really say that? Should I report that? Make a formal complaint? Nah. Just put it to the back of your head (nicely coiffed, by the way) and go for a walk, so that’s what I did.

Wandered around taking pictures and bought myself another, allegedly simple, pattern for another waistcoat. Took some photos down Bucky Street, Queen Street and the GOMA. Finally arrived at George Square to find that battle lines had been drawn. West side and all the pubs therein was commandeered by Feyenoord supporters. East side by equally noisy and steamin’ Rangers supporters, with about twenty police trying to keep the peace. Good luck with that. Took a few photos of that too and then got the bus home.

Ranted at Scamp when I got back and gave another version of the conversation to her. Than “Dug and Burst Ba’” (Can’t let it go, got to keep worrying it), phoned the surgery and got a different receptionist, a human who told me my PSA was fine and my sugar was a bit high, and I made the appointment with the nurse. All over in less than a minute. HAL 2000 must have left the building.

Last story of the day, and this one is interesting. Scamp found a thin silver ring when she was doing even more tidying this afternoon. She cleaned it up and I did some research on the Internet. It was made in Glasgow, Assayed in Edinburgh and dated around 1860. Probably belonged to either Scamp’s or my Great Grannie, or maybe even Great, Great Grannie. Just a wee ring sitting in a bowl. What stories could it tell? I photographed it with the macro lens. What would the lady who owned it think of me taking a photograph of it with a tiny little camera and looking at that photograph on an illuminated sheet of glass that can let me talk to people on the other side of the world?

Today’s PoD is the head of a dragonfly from a walk in St Mo’s this afternoon. Walking without a jacket too. Lovely warm day.

Tomorrow I go to the Hospital, basically, to pee into a bucket. No other plans.

The anaesthetic effects of Dancin’ – 28 August 2019

Today Scamp was just a little bit better. I was concerned that dancing might maybe too demanding, but on the other hand it could just take her mind off the pain.

Jive first, and because we were the only beginners there, it was a private lesson. Really useful. Learned a new move although the name “Shuffle Ball Change” does need a rethink in my opinion! Then a bit of wash and brush up for the waltz and quickstep routines. The hour just flies by sometimes.

When we were walking along for a coffee and a discussion of today’s progress, I had to stop and photograph the Devil Duke of Wellington whose dark mask had slipped, exposing his glowing ‘devil eyes’. It might just have been a trick of the light or it could have been something more sinister. Take a look at the pic on Flickr and make your own mind up. It didn’t make PoD. That went to a shot I took this morning of a rose I accidentally cut down. when I was pruning the rambling rose round the back door yesterday.

Macaroni & Cheese for dinner! Quite excellent! Then it was time to go out to Salsa. Two classes with lots of new and reprised moves. Great fun as usual with Jamie G’s classes.

JIC phoned to say that his birthday tee shirt had arrive and fitted. After Scamp’s story of woe, however, he did comment that he should have washed if first with all these stories of Norovirus!

Scamp looked exhausted tonight and eventually admitted that she had probably done too much dancing, but that it had indeed taken her mind off the itch from some beastie bites and the pain from her ‘stitch’. So it was most likely the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Tomorrow I have to get the photos and stuff packaged ready for Colin’s Flower Show. He says he’s resigned from it, but I know that he’ll still be keeping a weather eye on proceedings.

Dancin’ – 3 July 2019

Today we were dancing again without the torture, almost.

For once we didn’t get picked up on every single wrong footed mistake. That’s only because Michael exited after the Jive session, leaving Anne-Marie to teach the Waltz and Quickstep session. It was much more interesting without the Chief Torturer’s nit picking. I can’t say it was any more perfect than our norm, but it was far less stressful than last week.

I got today’s PoD in Glasgow, walking back from Nero where we had our post practise debrief. It is, of course, outside the GOMA. To paraphrase Findlay Napiers “Down there at the GOMA where all the weirdos go …” All human life is there and a few that will never be human.

I’d already had a walk in St Mo’s earlier today, but despite the blue sky and some sunshine, I didn’t get anything interesting.

Scamp drove us in to Salsa tonight, but I think I had been trying too hard to keep my back straight and my head up in Blackfriars during the afternoon and as a result I had to give up halfway through the 7.30 class because my back was aching. Sat in the car and guzzled a couple of paracetamol which took away most of the pain.

Tomorrow we have no plans, other than waiting in for my batteries to arrive.

The end of May – 31 May 2019

But not the end of the rain!

Today we had planned to go to the Sagra Italiana festival of Italian food in Glasgow. The camera wasn’t being delivered until after 4pm, so that gave us most of the wet day to play with. The rain started seriously about 11am and from then on it was continuous. We reckoned the festival would be a wash out, but drove in to Glasgow anyway. We were right. There were about thirty people wandering around and at least half of them were family members of the girl group who were singing bravely on the stage. At least they were under cover. There’s nothing so desperate as folk trying to look happy and cheerful when the rain is pelting down and all the planning has been for nothing. I think we both felt sorry for everyone concerned.

To cheer us up we went for a pizza in Paesano. It was mobbed, but then again, it wasn’t raining in there. Everyone was warm and dry and being fed and watered. Went to CassArt and bought myself a little paintbox to celebrate the end of Every Day In May. I’ve had great fun doing the drawings and the paintings, but it’s been tough some days to work out how to interpret some of the prompts. I’d do it again. Today’s topic was A Crab. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to draw other than a crustacean. After all, living in the middle of Central Scotland, there aren’t many crabs around here. So it was I wandered the arcades of the InterWeb looking for some decent photos. Eventually settling on an iStock image that was what I was looking for.

Today’s PoD was seen from Ingram Street in Glasgow. The poor bloke sheltering in the portico of the GOMA didn’t look as if he was the model of Domestic Bliss and I think that’s what attracted me to take the shot.

Came home and took charge of the camera from the DPD man. It looked in very good nick and after giving the battery a quick squirt I checked it over a bit more and was very pleased with it. Let the battery charge a bit more and then the warning light started flashing on the charger which indicates a battery fault. I tried it in the camera and it worked for about fifteen minutes before it packed in. I’ve just charged it up again, fully this time, and it seems to be holding its charge this time. Will find out if it’s really working in the morning.

The rain stopped for about ten minutes today, but it’s raining again. Tomorrow is to be dry, but then the rain returns on Sunday. We should make the most of tomorrow, but we’re not making any hard and fast plans yet.

Moving Day – 10 April 2019

Somewhere in America a big removal van turned up at A Small Orange and the man with the van started loading my website on to it.

At least, that’s how I imagine it worked. I got an email telling me that the migration had started. I hope the man-with-a-van packs everything neatly and doesn’t drop anything valuable. I know I should have insured the contents, but sometimes you have to trust the person doing the removal.

Drove in to Glasgow to go to ballroom dance class. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The two pairs of dancers were starting their usual blame game. This time it was worse than normal and we got hardly anything done, thanks to their childish antics. I really don’t know why they go to the class. They go to twice as many classes as we do, they don’t practise, they seem to retain nothing. All they do is bitch with each other or giggle like schoolgirls. Once upon a time I had a boy in my Tech Studies class who, we swore, had his brain formatted every weekend, because when he turned up on a Monday for class, he had no knowledge of what he’d learned the previous week. This is the same scenario, except these are supposed adults.

After what felt like a lost hour, I got myself a new pair of Chinos from Debenhams. The girl who sold them asked if I wanted a Debenhams card! Eh no, I don’t know what benefits that would bring me.

Drove to Salsa and everyone in the Intermediate class listened to Jamie’s instructions and did exactly what they’d been told. Maybe not the first time, but after a few run throughs, they had it. I bet Michael wishes he had a class like that. Even the Beginners class that came after that had obviously practised and were better than they were last week.

When we got home an email was waiting for me from my new web host to say that the man had delivered the website and had plugged it in. I checked it with the link provided and it looked like it had been last night. It appears I’ve now moved into bigger and cheaper premises. Just a few tweaks and we’re good to go (fingers crossed).

PoD was a wee man standing outside the GOMA.

Tomorrow we’re going to Stirling to buy Waitrose.

How are the mighty fallen – 13 March 2019

Unlucky 13th?  It didn’t affect me, for once, well it did, but only marginally.

We drove in to Glasgow after lunch to show off our new-found confidence in Quickstep. They do say that pride comes before a fall or as the Bible has it: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Either way, that’s what happened. Michael, as usual picked us up on a few little things we were doing wrong in Jive, then proceeded to tell us we weren’t doing one of the moves correctly. That might have because you hadn’t taught us it yet, Michael! It’s no use arguing with him, because he uses his deafness as a shield and just ignores complaints. I’m not convinced he is as deaf as he makes out. I’m going to get him one of those ear shaped erasers from CassArt and give it to him as a present. Rubber Ear indeed.

Anyway, we survived Jive and also the ridiculousness of Rumba and Cha-Cha which start on beat 2. Whoever decided that was lacking in the numerical department. We waited impatiently for the Quickstep music to start because we knew we’d ace it after two hours of practise between Friday and Saturday. It was a disaster. For once it wasn’t me making the biggest mistakes, Scamp just couldn’t put a foot right. Now I know how she feels when I screw things up. A cup of coffee in Nero made things better. Drove home and Scamp made the dinner, but managed to drop her fried egg on the floor. Maybe she should have had a Large coffee in Nero!

Drove in to Glasgow for the 6.30 class. CITRAC claimed the time from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow Airport was 42mins (on a good night it’s less than 20). It looked like the motorway was going to be a carpark again. Fifteen minutes later we were in the STUC building. Why have a display system like CITRAC if it’s totally inaccurate? Anyway, the 6.30 class was great fun as was the 7.30 class, but as it is closing soon, the numbers were low, although the spirits were not! Maybe it was that, or a footbath to ease her feet, or maybe it was a stiff G ’n’ T that put the smile back on her face, but whatever it was, she’s gone off to her bed looking a lot more like herself.

Today’s PoD was taken outside the GOMA this afternoon. I think this one is much better.  It was taken near Duntulm on Skye last Saturday.

Tomorrow is a tying up loose ends day, I hope.

A day in the Toon – 27 November 2018

Off into Glasgow on my own to see if Christmas has arrived yet.

Scamp offered me a lift to the train station and I accepted. I couldn’t face JL with all its glitter and sparkling lights and xmas songs. Instead I wandered down Bucky Street which had glitter and sparkling lights and buskers who weren’t singing xmas songs yet. Wanted to send a pic to Scamp, but forgot that my data allowance is down to 18MB! Then I remembered that Glasgow has free WiFi now, so got connected fairly easily to BT. Walked into HMV and noticed a new Dylan album. Walked outside and downloaded it to Spotify using my new best friend, BT!

Managed a couple of photos in Glasgow, outside the GOMA, but the light was pretty poor, so the photos ended up a bit grainy. However, with a bit of help from ON1, I managed a fairly decent PoD. I called it “Cold Caller”.

Bus home and stir-fry for dinner. Scamp had already been out for lunch with one of her friends, but she helped me finish it off.

That was it for the day. None of the half a dozen rum ’n’ cokes or three course dinners we had last week. Just boring dull Scotland.

It appears we have some sort of rodent in the house. We’ve heard it occasionally in the past, but now it’s becoming more apparent that it has to be dealt with. In the past we’ve had problems with mice in a cupboard, but after despatching about ten of them over the course of a month they seem to have disappeared. This one may be a squirrel and we need professional help to dispose of it. Phoning the council tomorrow and we’ll see what they can do. Apparently they are quite efficient. We’ll see.

Dancing tomorrow we hope!

A dull day – 7 November 2018

Nothing much happened to brighten the day apart from mince ’n’ tatties.

Out early with Colin to a funeral in Airdrie for one of our old colleagues. As usual at funerals we both met folk we hadn’t seen for years.

Came home, got changed and Scamp and I were off to Glasgow for Dancin’. Learned a new part of the Lindy Hop routine. Our first Waltz was amazing. We hardly put a foot wrong. Later in the routines our quality slipped, but we were complimented by both teachers who confirmed that we were certainly improving greatly. Quickstep was ok until we tried the Fishtails’ which looked easy until we tried it. I video’d Michael and Anne Marie dancing it and we can practise it for next week.

I grabbed a couple of shots of the GOMA on the way home, and home is were we went after a coffee and a discussion of our progress in Nero.

Back home I took some time processing the shots in Lightroom and ON1 and what you see at the top is the PoD. The GOMA and 110 Queen Street in one frame with a decent sky looks interesting.
Mince ’n’ Tatties with Cabbage for dinner.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight and were disappointed to discover that Shannon was booked to teach the 7.30 class, because Jamie wasn’t there. We didn’t stay. There seem to be fewer and fewer classes by Jamie recently. He is a great teacher, but only when he’s there. Neither of us could stomach a full hour of class being taught by Shannon. She raises nit-picking to an art form and also, you simply don’t get a chance to dance. All she seems to do is repeat, repeat, repeat the same move until everyone is pig sick of it. Worst of all, she thinks she’s a good teacher. Delusional. I don’t know, we’ve just cancelled the gym and swim this week (the letter was posted today). Hopefully we won’t have to take time off from salsa too. That would probably be a bridge too far. Something needs to be done by Academia de Salsa in the mean time. Lots of good teachers have left the group or had their teaching commitment drastically reduced. What was once a five strong teaching team is now reduced to two (if you count Shannon). There are three junior instructors, but we’ve forgotten much more than they’ll ever know, and I purposefully didn’t include Bachata and Cross Body teachers as that’s not salsa. Not real salsa. A difficult and disappointing situation. I don’t really mind driving for half an hour through mental traffic on a Monday and a Wednesday to get to the STUC building, but I really, really object to doing that only to find it’s not the advertised teacher taking the class.

So that was today. Not the best day ever, but it can only get better. No plans for tomorrow, but the weather doesn’t look like improving.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.

I walked into a door – 7 August 2018

Today, a Tuesday, we were going dancing.

So far we’ve had ballroom classes on a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday. Today we added a Tuesday to the list. The only weekday we haven’t had has been a Monday, not yet, anyway. Today saw a definite improvement. The Waltz was better and we were introduced to the mysterious Spin 7 in Jive. Even the Tango was getting better. All of this was a miracle in itself after the black monkey I brought to the basement of Blackfriars pub.

The reason was this. When we left the house, I was ducking down to avoid a low hanging branch of the chestnut tree we park under, and simultaneously opening the car door. I whacked my nose off the corner of the door and bells started ringing in my head. I ended up with two cuts to the side of my beak. To say the red mist descended would be an understatement. The sensible thing to do would have been to go back into the house, clean the cut and maybe put some ice on my beak to halt the progress of any bruising, but when have I done anything sensible? No, I drove off with a paper hankie in one hand, dabbing away the blood when there was an opportunity. Nothing can stop the desire to go dancing. Parked in silence and that silence continued all the way down through the streets to the the basement of the pub. We arrived just in time to start the class. I firmly believe that the black monkey only leaves you when it finds some other person who deserves its attention. Some poor soul left that place with the cares of the world on their shoulders, disguised as a black monkey. Me? I was in a much better mood and Scamp breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think she believes in black monkeys and you have to believe in them, for them to cling to you. Some call them black dogs, but for me it’s always monkeys.

Coffee after the dancing to discuss what we’d learned today and what we need to improve. We’d had a few pointers from Michael. The most enlightening for us was the importance of ‘The Frame’ and ‘The Hold’. The Hold especially made so much difference to the difficult second part of the waltz. It’s sometimes the little tweaks that make the biggest difference. The other two couples didn’t bother to use what he taught us. One couple think they know it all. The other pair have just started learning to walk upright, so it meant nothing to them.

Got today’s PoD in that storeroom of photo opportunities, The GOMA. All human life is there, and a few other species too. I got another shot too. Another sketch on a junction box at the side of Candleriggs. I’ve seen one by the same artist before only a few meters from this new one. Impressive work in what looks like wax crayon or chinagraph pencil.

Home with a sore nose. I got a few strange looks, but if asked if I was alright, I had the answer off pat.

“I walked into a door!”