Monday 30 May 2011

Nothin' but the Blues

I just don't care anymore. Its my blog and I can do what I want. Nobody reads it anyway. The alltime page view graph is like a profile of the "crag and tails" that scatter the carse around here and we are nearly out of dolerite and heading into the sediments. So look forward to ProCelebrity Cage Fighting and Topless Country Dancing on future posts

Saturday 21 May 2011

Two Way Family Favourites

I've had a letter from Letitia Gruntfuttock of British West Hartlepool asking if I would play something for her fiance, Gunner "Smudger" Rabinowitz currently serving with BAOR 42.
"He is particularly fond of Gilbert and Sullivan and banjo music" she says. Well, Letitia, happy to oblige

Monday 16 May 2011

Old men remember

"Back at the bricked-up mine entrance I switched on that personalised memory-bank, fuelled by nostalgia, which has these computerised contraptions skint a mile. There was the fire-hole at the foot of the steps where we'd sit warm and dry on cauld weet days and admire the skill with which auld Jimmy Steel would deftly toss shovels o' coal into the orange inferno.

Abune was the injine hoose, forbidden territory, with the shining well-oiled machinery. At intervals it would whine into action and drag long lines of hutches from the black bowels of the earth heaped high with the fossilised residue of forests that had flourished and died long ere man had set foot in the valley.

Beyond, to the east, stretched a long row of low-roofed brick buildings. Here was the smiddy and workshop connected to the stables housing a half dozen pit-ponies.This was another fine retreat in inclement weather. We'd sit, feet dangling, on the corn kists, chewing on lumps of the toffee-like sweet tasting locust beans which supplemented the ponies' diet, and inhaling with relish the stable smell of hay and horse dung.

To return to the coal. It was timmed down a chute from the hutches into a rattling and banging system of sieves and sorting tables from whence the finished product gravitated into railway wagons on the sidings below. When the wagon train was sufficient in size the pug would arrive with a load of empties. The word pug means in one sense to pull or haul, and it was obvious that in the small, squat, square-built engine the niceties of aesthetic design had been neglected in favour of pulling power.

I could see it now, trundling across the Black Brig with it's retinue of coal-heaped trucks, their contents due to drive the many industries that in those pre-war days prolifererated in the county. it was little thought then that these same industries would in a relatively short time be as extinct as the long dead forests embodied in the fuel that drove them. "

The words of Richard Bernard who wrote about The Ochils and the Hillfoots. From "In the Quiet Places" published by Clackmannan District Libraries, 1991.
Richard was a council roadman, self-taught naturalist and prodigous walker.He began writing when he retired.
I was preparing this post when Blogger went down.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Right, tea breaks over. Back on your heads.

You've had it pretty easy over the last few weeks while I've been hors de combat. Posts about philosophy politics micro-electronics etc.have delighted or infuriated (or bored) you while you waited. But that's not what you enlisted for, is it ? You want full-on hillwalking, red in tooth and sock. Your wish is my command.
As you are aware, stoic is my middle name, but I have to admit to being mightily peed-off that the momentum I had been building up during early April had been dissipated.
So after a little warm up last weekend, it was time to get the Donaldometer ticking over again.

It was a Tillicoultry start again, and I clocked in at the Clock Mill as usual. Going up the steps through the wood i had to follow a 40-something couple who were only marginally faster than me. She had an arse like a coalman's horse which she had squeezed into a pair of these stretchy running/walking trousers, displaying a VPL as prominent as the Ochil Fault itself.

I was pleased to see that cloot-casting is now in season, but decided , in the interest of public decency, to wait until I got home.

Two types of whin !

After the initial brisk climb, it became obvious that, physiologically speaking, it was not a "good day". It was not a "bad day" either , but I was suffering a bit and the brain, as it does, started to look for cop-outs and excuses to fail. You may have been lucky enough never to have been afflicted by this, but for us normal people, it requires a certain amount of "giving yourself a good talking to". I get particularly frustrated when I am overtaken by cheery healthy people who are obviously older than myself. However, at this point yesterday I consoled myself with the thought that many people are never spared to enjoy a view like this.

My original plan had been to go to the top of the glen, and then tackle Kings Seat from the col. At the "gate to nowhere" I took the psychologically important decision the divert to the upper path. This was a good move. The going was easy- height was gained quite quickly and I was soon at a little coll with a straightforward pull up to the top.

I have no idea what this little cairn, marked on OS maps is about.

As I neared the summit, I could see rain showers coming in from the NW and getting all the nice new turbines wet.

The path goes over the true summit marked by a kind of horizontal cairn and then along the wide flat ridge to a more substantial stone shelter cairn.

The Law, Cleuch and Andrew Gannel
As I tried to take some pictures of the valley below, the camera informed me that its memory was full. I know the feeling. It also started to rain. So, straight off the top and heading down towards Dollar.

At this point I was suffering some distress. Lights were showing on the control panel. Head, knees, ankles, and liver were at amber, and feet and heart were already flashing red.The least said about the section past the Spitfire cairn, through Banks of Dollar, over Bank Hill and down Dollar Glen the better! Which is a pity as there were some good photo opportunities.
I'll just need to go back again.
So, there you have it.I feel surprisingly chipper this morning, so perhaps I can get the momentum back.I noticed that the bracken is unfolding and there are several walks i would like to get done before it becomes a nuisance. We shall see.

Friday 13 May 2011

Want a screw,driver ?

Somewhere, a crowd of pimply social inadequates on obscene salaries have broken Blogger and appear to be unable to fix it. I was in the middle of composing a post when it broke - it appears to be gone forever.

Just testing to see if it works at all now.

PS. Just realised that most of you are far too young for bus conductress jokes

Saturday 7 May 2011

Back on the road again ..

My pride and joy, the vintage Corpore Sano GTi has been up on blocks in the garage for the past fortnight. Today seemed an ideal opportunity to take it out for a spin, so it was lubed up and off we went round the reservoir. Didn't have it going full-chat, but, apart from some creaking in the lower suspension members, there seemed to be no ill-effects.

..the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.

Friday 6 May 2011

"Fairer Votes" in Scottish election

As much of Scotland was affected by rain during yesterday's polling, the result will now be recalculated using Duckworth-Lewis !

Monday 2 May 2011

Funny old game, blogging.

Sometimes you post a wee piss-take, someone takes it up and, before you know it, it has gone round the globe. Overnight your "followers" multiply eightfold and it ends up with ten times the number of page views of all the rest of your posts combined.

Then you post about something in which people have expressed an interest, and it dies on it's feet.

However. You want my advice apropos the upcoming elections. Here it is

  1. Turn up your speakers

Sunday 1 May 2011

3 seconds that changed the face of popular music.

I'm crocked again so I might as well post about the non-walking stuff to stop the blog rusting-up.
This is a little number that I referred to in my very first post, and it is regularly requested by many of you for your gran's birthday etc.

Way back in the mid-sixties I had become enamoured of a particular form of The Devil.s Music.Unlike  the communication overkill we have today, the only way to hear this stuff was to go to London.
Sooo, initially in my final year at school and latterly while at university I would set off on a Friday afternoon and hitch "down the road". The old A1, with all the roundabouts, was my preferred route and you could do Central Belt to London easily overnight. I can only remember once being stuck in something called Northamptonshire for about 12 hours. .On arrival in the metropolis, I would sleep during the day (parks in summer/ stations in winter) and then head down to Soho on the Saturday evening for the allnighter at The Marquee in Wardour Street or Les Cousins in Greek Street. They tended to throw you out around 4.30 and then it was along to Oxford Circus to wait for the first tube out to Mill Hill and the hitch back up the road, hopefully in time to do the English ink-exercise due for Monday morning.I would do this on average maybe once every six weeks or so, sometimes with a mate, sometimes with a "burd", but mainly on my own - single hitch-hiker travels faster !

The allnighters at Cousins worked like this. Andy would pay a headliner (say Bert Jansch) to keep the punters happy for about 6 hours. The artist would do a couple of sets himself, but relied on a lot of his mates coming down after they had finished their own gigs for the evening. There was also usually a chance for anyone in the audience to do a number.I remember one night about 2am when Mike Chapman (nice bloke/good musician/not the most charismatic performer) was doing Postcards from Scarborough the door opened and ,in a flurry of rain-soaked sheepskin and ethnic percussion, the oriental caravan that was The Incredible String Band cascaded down the stairs.

Anyway. Where was I ? Was I really ? I will get to the point in my own sweet time, thank you.

OK. Jimmy ( bass) and I had identified a particular Alexis Korner allnighter as our vehicle to stardom. We had it all worked out. We would let the usual suspects get up do their thing, and then as last up we would blow everyone away with a rendition of Freddy King's The Stumble. Alexis was obviously very well connected, and a recording contract would be in the bag. So eventually AK says "right any one else ?". We clenched buttocks, looked at each other and went to stand up.
But Shock! Horror!. Two slightly younger and relatively clean-cut lads had already reached the stage and were setting up. And - aw naw - they did The Stumble. Now this is a bit of a test piece ,a sort of blues Fur Elise. It's not to difficult to play badly, but to get the dynamics right, well that's different. And this guy was brilliant. Brought the house down. Afterwards Alexis asked his name and he replied "Michael Taylor".
Now the way Jimmy used to tell the story, he said "Michael Taylor, sir" but I don't remember that.
Then AK says " anyone else ? was there someone over there ?"  We didn't have to look at each other. There was no way we could follow that.
And the rest, as Simon Schama would say, is history. Within weeks young Michael was a Bluesbreaker, and within months he was a Rolling Stone. And it should have been me.!!
Well. maybe not.
Anyhow, there as they say, you have it. OK the conclusion is a bit of a tease, but the facts, as far as I can remember are correct.

To follow
How I discovered a cure for cancer, but lost the bit of paper with the formula
How my offer of the Nobel Peace Prize was lost in the post
The truth about Dusty and I.