That Was The Week That Was

Well, that was a pretty big week, as they go.  For me anyway.

That was the week I became a citizen.  I could practically feel my teeth straightening out and becoming dazzling as I took the oath.

The week I early voted, grinning like a buffoon at the bored clerk handing me my “I Voted!” sticker.

The week I went to Washington as a shiny, new-minted citizen and saw the Lincoln Memorial. And on a beautiful day, in the alcove off to the side, I read the words on the wall.   I leaned back against a huge marble pillar and felt the massive weight of history and people and ideas at my back.  My fingers ran along the grooves cut into the marble and it felt very, very cold.   I ground the back of my head into the chill and spent a little while with the old story and the cold dead giant at my back.

Noise was behind me, all kinds of people having their photos taken with Lincoln and talking in low reverent, cathedral voices. And it was the best way, a way I never imagined, to feel that behind the chilly pillar and the sculptor’s art and the reverence, the ideas were still warm and living and alive in the people who had come to look at him. I went back out into the main part of the monument and looked at collossal Lincoln gazing down the mall, beyond Washington’s imposing blaze; the steady gaze of history into the future, and it was calming.  I  thought that Lincoln’s wise, tired, grave eyes saw Barack Obama, were fixed on him, entrusting him to take back the big ideas and by leading through them, give them back to all of us.

This fanciful stuff might just come from being a new American,I don’t know.  It might be the feeling that we’re on the brink of great change and an historical election. It might be wishful thinking for another great leader and the tantalizing possibility that we might finally have one again.  But it wasn’t just me, there were many people there that day and they were all there to get up close to the beautiful ideas again. Or even if they’d just come to sightsee, like us, none of us could fail to be moved into pondering them. You could see it on their faces.  It is a very powerful monument. And on the brink of this historical election I really, truly think a lot of people are hungry to live the great ideas and be led by a man who will animate them again.

I did that day anyway.  No doubt, my customary news-fuelled, quotidian cynicism will curl and moulder the edges of that feeling soon enough but if it lasts through next Tuesday and we have a President Obama, then I think the optimism has a chance of continuing. And we will make the sacrifices we need to to get the country back on track. What’s more we will want to make them because that’s what great leaders inspire.

It was also the week I met some wonderful, wonderful people in DC but missed a lesbian transgendered wedding with my darling pal, Dev.

It was the week we went solar here at our house in Ojai.  Bit nervous about the expenditure but it seems to make long-term economic sense and will cut our leccy bills by 1/2 to 2/3. The energy savings will be equivalent to the energy two cars burn in a year – regular, movee aboutee cars, even, not just parked ones. Besides there’s a rather soopah government rebate towards almost half the cost down.  That’s jolly nice.

And it was the week I, Doofus-Woman, fell spectacularly on my arse down the hotel stairs in front of people who said Oooh! and Geez! as they watched. The autumn leaves have nothing on the rate my bum is turning colours.  My own personal fall colours. Boo.

But also, Boo!  Happy Halloween, chums!  I’m just getting back into the way of things and will be round catching up on y’all damn near directly.  Seeya out there!

Song Of The Damned

If you were to hear The Song Of The Damned, not long after you’d probably find yourself in quite a bit of trouble, right?  It’s standard for woe to betide you when you hear unearthly wails and everybody knows it.

But what if you don’t find yourself in quite a bit of trouble?  What if you genuinely – without a doubt – sure as Cindy McCain is attracted to a bold palette for her Fall wardrobe – heard the Song Of The Damned…but nothing bad happened?  What if for weeks, years, decades passed and things actually went surprisingly well?  Would you live large, feeling you had cheated Fate and slipped by somehow, or would you live every hour in dread of what you know must surely come?

Well that’s exactly the dilemma of a friend of mine. His name’s not important but it’s Douglas.  Douglases were once much more important. For example, there was: Douglas MacArthur; Frederick Douglass; Douglas Adams; one Douglas even had a fir named after him, so important were Douglases in the olden days.  These days you’re hard pressed to find a Douglas more important than this one. That is why Douglas’s name is not important.

So, Douglas is minding his own business one lonely night, compiling a list of all the foods, in descending order, that he’d prefer the circa 1979 Margaret Thatcher to lick off his naked body,  when, all of a sudden, he hears the Song Of The Damned!  Just like that!  He says he can’t really describe it but you definitely know it when it hits you, kind of like love and the odor of a “Natural Choice“-fed labrador’s fart.  The best he could say was that it sounded a bit like Kate Bush’s voice carried on a storm-force, terrified-seagull-filled gale, if Kate Bush kept turning into a snarling beast every other minute.  With an upbeat Bluegrass tempo and occasional virtuoso triangle solos.  It seemed to be coming from the fridge.

Well, Douglas, he got a bit of a start, allright.  It’s not every day etc. etc.  But it’s been 17 years now since that night and poor Douglas is still haunted by what Fate might have in store for him. When will the demons come? he wonders.  How will I tell that they’re not the nice Jehovah’s Witness couple from round the road?  He cowers by hedges and trembles when he has to interact with other people.  He can’t look them in the eye for the pants-pooing fear of seeing no pupils there. He probably would have been like that anyway because he is, after all, the kind of man to compile a list, in descending order, of what foodstuffs he would like the circa 1979 Margaret Thatcher to lick off his naked body.  (Dream Topping narrowly beat Miracle Whip on account of its lower heat-transfer coefficient.) But I think it’s got worse since the whole Song Of The Damned business.

What would you do?  How would you live your life after hearing the Song Of the Damned?  The Terrible Tune? The Unholy Unharmony?  That most Diabolical of Dirgey Ditties?  What would you do?

And She’ll Have Fun Fun Fun Til The Govt. Takes Her Money Away

The lovely Annie came to town this weekend.  For those who don’t know her she’s a gem of a blogger who has embarked upon a mighty Murkin Adventure.  Ojai wasn’t the mighty part of it obviously and there’s not a whole lot of adventure going down here, but Murkin we is, gin we had and it was good to see her intrepid, fabulously-booted self and her pal, polyglottal, all-knitting, all-sewing, all-round great guy, Wies.

Great big fat busy week ahead, but good fun busy, and the healthy kind of fat.

I’m going to my citizenship ceremony which is called “naturalization” here! Unnatural and suspicious no more!
Then I’m going to Washington to meet arty types! Bloggers who sketch, paint, photo-take and hunt gargoyles.
Then I’m going to meet up again with my lovely, lovely friend, Devin!

Then I’m coming home for a bit of a lie down.

And soon it will be November 4th.  And something great might happen that day.

How Things Rolled

In the beginning the gods spoke in yellow and black thunderbolts, the shape of exclamation marks. The utterances were guttural and absolute.  But even the gods can make a mistake. Sometimes, one of the rookie undergods would misjudge a thunderbolt and it would hit the earth too hard, bending and bouncing back like a question-mark.

This is what happened when a young, intern god, fresh out of god polytechnic and working on Mammals Of The Australian Subcontinent, accidentally created the duck-billed platypus.  “?” resounded the platypus into the earthly realm, and all who saw it wondered.

There were red-faces all around at Celestine College – the Harvard of god universities – when one of their graduates threw a thunderbolt so badly it bounced into the world of men, ricocheting off some hard-nosed pastors and contorted into a shape roughly resembling the word F*%k! They called this creation a “Sarah Palin” and, after a few strings were pulled, it was decided that they would pack her quietly off to Alaska and the matter would be forgotten.

Her creator,the blundering, cocky young god, Hubristrus, was given the job of designing what would become known collectively The Financial Instruments Of Wall Street.  (While the gods love to be known for operating in the decisive active voice, of course, all the really important decisions are carried out in the passive voice by some unnamed and therefore blameless agent: mistakes were made; Hubristrus was given a job; religion was invented. The Committee for More Transparent Godding has made no headway against the Passive Voice in its whole 7 trillion years of existence.) But Hubristrus had never really studied much at Celestine, and his thunderbolts, always thrown much too hard, were tortuously twisty, loop-holed and hideously convoluted. As we know.

Anyway, Hubristrus did very well and retired super-early to The Hallows which is a bit like the Hamptons but, you know, a lot more marvellous, obviously. Better roads. And of course there are colourful local angels, who’re like super quaint and authentic and everything but never smelly or offensive.

A few months ago, however, Hubristrus, was out strolling in his Hallowed garden, idly pulling the wings off fairies and just enjoying Eternity, when a Postangel named Pete flew by with a brown, official-looking envelope. Doffing his halo in charming Olde Heavene deference, the  fellow winked, “Looks loike ‘at could be roight impawrtant, yer Smashingness!” (He winked this in a West Country English accent.)  “Ah well, Oi cahn’t be lingering, gorra get bahck t’the missus, keep them roses in ‘er cheeks, loike, hohoho!” And with an earthy, rustic wink he headed back towards town.

Hubristrus, because of his name, dismissed the mildly annoying old angel from his mind almost immediately, and the envelope too because brown was not pleasing to him that day.  In fact, it was only Sunday morning just past that he remembered it, prompted by news of Pete and his wife being flung into Hell, for some heavenly infraction involving hot nectar, improper use of a cloud and the having of altogether too much fun for Heaven.

Hubristrus opened the letter and discovered he is being pressed back into service by order of the Big Guy Himself, his signature ,”Alf”, scorched right there into the official Gold House Paper.  Sarah Palin has somehow returned, the letter said. And Wall Street’s rampant greed and mismanagement has created a financial meltdown.

“Holy shit!” thought Hubristrus, genuinely surprised, an uncomfortable prickle of responsibility needling him for the first time ever.  It seems that many of the Gods had preferred the deregulated atmosphere of the US to Heaven’s own markets and now all of Paradise is worried about their 401ks.

I can’t tell you any more details but I can tell you “Heaven Today” is reporting that the solution to Iraq, disastrous climate change and the world-wide financial crisis, etc. require solutions so bendy and contorted that the gods just can’t come up with a thunderbolt in those shapes.  In a last ditch attempt they are throwing their biggest bungle-making fuck-ups at the problem in the hope that their disastrous – and therefore hopefully successful – attempt at a curative thunderbolt will result in so very twisty-assed an exclamation mark that it just might (cross-fingers!) perfectly align with the problem and neutralize it.

In case you’re wondering how I came to be privy to this other-worldy information, it is because of the generously oiled annual studio artists tour of Ojai I went to on saturday.  The following day, I was so close to death, the angels dropped off a copy of Heaven Today‘s Sunday edition, thinking I was a done deal and it was only a matter of time before I’d be needing a reliable daily paper in the afterworld so might as well get in a bit of early marketing.

Chill Dubya, Post Office Maverick

Pal Kim asked to know more about Colin from the Post Office.  I thought I couldn’t do any better but to let him speak for himself.

“Good morning, People Of The Internet.  I’m Colin from the Post Office.  That’s not my real name, of course. It’s just another of the many ways my parents have let me down my whole life. I should have been called Chill Riverrock.  I feel that, I do.  Like it’s my spiritual name or something, my name in the far different, far off world I should have been born into.  And I also feel that my spiritual nickname would very probably have been W for Wily.  Chill “W” Riverrock.  But do you think these fascist slave-masters at the Royal Mail will let me have a counter badge with Chill “W” Riverrock Is Pleased To Assist You!” on it?  Hell, they won’t even give me Colin “Chill” MacAuley.

But they’re fools. Fools who aren’t part Comanche* like me.  Fools who think just because you’re born with a name and everybody calls you that name, and you usually answer to it, at work anyway, that that just might not, in essence, be who you are. My essence is not the essence of a Colin.  I once went to an Essence Diviner at a fair.  She sniffed me all over and she told me, she said  “You are no Colin!”  She said I smelt “more like a Howard” but , despite being right about the Colin thing, you really can’t believe everything these people say, can you?

Say, do you know, this little parlay with you folks has helped me come to a decision!  As God is my witness, I will never answer to Colin again to anyone, except my granny because it would just take too long to explain it all to her.  So to hell with the Royal Mail!  I’m gonna live life on my own terms, and, dangit, those terms are wearin’ spurs.

Fool folks laugh at me.  It’s OK, I know they do. When I stride into the saloons at night to have me a few shots of sweet oblivion, wearing the rawhide that feels as natural next to my own skin as the silken panties beneath them, they snigger.  They don’t think I see them snigger but I do.  You’d be a great, fat, dirty shhep-fiddler though if you think Chill Dubya cares about sniggering like that though.   Nope I just pull my ten gallon a little lower on my brow and shoot arrows of steel-tipped hate at them from my stormy, troubled eyes that have known little to no love ouside my parents and my granny and a few aunties and uncles.  Chicks dig stormy eyes.

See, ignorant people always laugh at what they can’t understand but their scorn is like a horsefly round a tailless steer’s behind to me – a mere minor, and sometimes mildly erotic, irritation.  I don’t mind the laughter. In fact I laugh at their laughter.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”  I scream, while drawing my trusty, silver Colt, and they tend to scuttle off in terror with their hands protecting their bottoms,  to other bars for lesser men.

Oh yes, I can take the laughing and the sniggering, but what I cannot abide is the tittering – I bloody hate tittering –  and the smirking and the sticking to my back of bits of paper saying “Colin enjoys weekend botany”.

But what’s that? You’re surprised that a manly, rugged cowboy like Chill “W” Riverrock – a wanderer who’s seen the curlew weep, and heard the fabled hedgehog sing – who’s looked upon sights so raw and steaming and purplish-grey before which any other man would have sobbed and wet their breeks – a man who’s strangled a pretty big labrador dead with his bare hands just because she woofed at him funny, and who put a bullet between the eyes of a kitten that displeased him – do you think it’s amusing that such a craggy seeker of love and campfire wisdom with a side o’ beans should wear silky and occasionally lacy panties?  I hope not because that’s just the kind of narrow thinkin’ I’d expect from fool folks and Chill “W” Riverrock don’t tolerate no fool-folk narrow thinkin’, no way, no how.

See, Chill Dubya is a man of hard yesterdays and tough tomorrows, a paradox of callouses and sensitive parts and he doesn’t want these sensitive parts all scuffed up by rough rawhide seams.  Yessirree, Chill Riverrock has found silk and occasional lace panties to be deliciously cooling on his privates and, dawgone, he’s man enough to say it.

Well, my lunch-hour’s nearly over now but I’ve enjoyed this little chat we’ve had.  I’ll ask Sam if I can impose
on her blog again.  I’m sure she’ll say yes.  She  wants me, you know.  Sexually, I mean.  I try to tell her not to make a fool of herself when she comes in to buy stamps but she just won’t quit glaring flirtily at me and coquettishly threatening to call the police.

Anyway, biddin’ y’all a good day out on this dusty trail we call life.  And remember what Chill “W” Riverrock
always says:  “There ain’t no shame in bein’ 39 and still livin’ with your folks. No shame in that at all.”

*Part Comanche – my mum had a Comanche pen-pal during her school days.  She’s dead now from cultural grief and a freak canned-soup-pyramid accident, but my mum says they were like sisters for the whole of Primary 7.”

Looky Here! Updated. Again.

Look!  Go and see my wee brother’s fabulous photography page!  I say wee, he’s 6 foot tall, but he’ll always be a wee fry to me.  Anyway, I know some of yoos like the whole photog thing and these are terrific.  They are primarily of the Outer Hebrides and Perthshire.  He’s working in the North Sea now so I expect a lot more photos of stormscapes and watery expanses as far as the eye can see.

I’d like to see some Flung Object Art though, Weebro.  Found Object Art has had its day.  I’d like to see photos of things flung off the rig and bobbing in the vast unfriendly sea, off to Norway or other gobbledygook lands.

What’s that?  Littering?  What about the porpoises getting their snouts caught in the flung art?

Bugger the porpoises! I never met one of them who wasn’t a bring-back-hanging Tory.  They’re all about climbing the social ladder and who can be the most ostentatiously tasteful.  And I don’t like how they laugh. If porpoises had the opposable flippers to fling objects on land and then take interesting pictures of them, you can bet your bippy they’d do it in a New York minute without a thought for our snouts getting stuck.

These are fab photos though, chums.  The idea is to post your work and get hints from other photographers on how to improve.  Sort of collective experimentation and learning. It’s cool. Definitely worth a looksee.

I love the Digital Age.

UPDATE:

Acksherly, you know what?  Go here.  If you like, ‘an that. I like these black and white ones better, especially the sheepskins drying.  They’re a bit muddled up with people photos that will mean nothing to you but most of it is Wee Niaff’s photog. Ignore me being wee.  The Wee niaff is there himself and Mrs. Wee Niaff.  And my granny.  There’s a speed control at the side so you can zip right through the people stuff to get to the ‘scapes.

UPDATE 2:

This is the most updated a post of mine has ever been. But look!  The lovely K8 the Gr8 has given me The Dog’s Bollix!  Cheers, m’darlin’!  I’ll try to remember to feed him.

The Song Of The Sexy Crofter

Yippee kai-aye-yay get along little ewe-hoo
You must be at market by 8 o’ the clock
Though it hurts me to tell you
My friend I must sell you,
I’ve spent all the savings I keep in my sock.

That’s what the sexy crofter of Brue sings early in the morn, (it’s like a regular morning but with more curious fawns and delightful butterflies) as he walks down the lane to his  other field. The village girls line up in their smart office-wear to catch the early bus to Stornoway.  Each is beautiful in her own special way; each has her own special memory of the Sexy Crofter; each has had her own special dose of antibiotics. They watch him go by.

What is it about him?  He’s no good, they all know it.  In fact he’s a lyin’, cheatin’ son of a so’n’so and he doesn’t even try to pretend otherwise.  In fact, he goes out of his way to tell you he’s a wrong ‘un.  He has no
money and any he gets goes on beer and sheep-dip. But he is tall, and he is dark and he is deeply, deeply sexy.

He does sexy things, like saving people from certain peril and there’s nothing sexier than saving people from certain peril.  He’s done that 3 and a half times this month already. First, he ran into a burning dry-cleaners and rescued the shop’s beloved goldfish.  Fluffy was half-boiled when he found her but he CPRed her back to life with a pipette that was thrust into his hands by a passing lab technician, horrified by the carnage in front of him but too allergic to fish to leap in himself, even to save a life.

Then, using just his bare hands and the fortune the gods give to straight-toothed heroes, he lifted a lorry that had accidentally parked on old Mr. MacWhirter .

Next, he rescued an adorable little girl from the jaws of a tiger-shark.  Tiger-sharks are not normally found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic but this one was part of a shark TV-crew on the way to the Arctic to film the effects of global warming on the polar ice-cap and had come into the bay at Dalbeag to warm up. Wrestling and writhing, thrashing and throttling went the sexy crofter across the shallows with the shark, trying to tug the child from the hideous toothy terror, and finally most of her came free.  This was not the half rescue of the 3 and a half though.  The adorable child was counted as a whole save because the loss her leg to the knee didn’t make her any less adorable.  If anything, more, according to Creepy Norman in the Post Office.

The real half-save was really just an error of hearing in the pub when the story of the 4th rescue was told.  After a while, people in that particular pub get so that not only their vision but their hearing goes blurry.  Anyway, as we now know, what happened was this:

Murdo ‘Leccy, the notorious adulterer of Sand Street, was canoodling deep in the ferns by the town hall one night with Janet from MacLean’s when his wife’s sister, Maureen, walked by, pausing to flick a cigarette end into the fountain.  Seeing the ferntops twitching rythmically, she was moved to investigate because she hasn’t a lot else going on in her life.

“Oh, Murdo Leccy!”  breathed Janet, all goosebumps and exclamation marks.  “Where did you learn how to do that?”

But Janet had gasped too loud.  Out in the lamplit street, Maureen’s eyes narrowed.

“Murdo! Is that you in there, you filthy, harlot-hopping, little weasel-todger? I know it is!” She began to cackle a nasty cackle.

“You’re up to to your miserable gonads in trouble now, ‘Nad-Face!  I’m calling my sister! There’s no way you can talk yourself out of this one!  Who’s in there with you?  Is that “Gives You The Extra Yard” Janet from the
fabric counter at MacLean’s? ”

Murdo froze solid, apart from one part of him which shrank away like a terrified mouse into a skirting board.  Thinking fast, he did what he always did in a fix.  He speed-dialed his cousin, who, as it happens, is our hero, that impossibly sexy crofter of Brue.

“Ferns!” he hissed into his Nokia. “Maureen!”

The sexy crofter, round the corner in the Fisherman’s Rest, took the call, put his new pint back down on the
counter carefully and walked out the door. Reaching the corner, right behind the tall ferns, his stunning blue eyes took in the scene immediately and in one fluid motion he’d dropped on his belly like a snake you’d just love to…pet.

Unseen by the shrieking, triumphant Maureen, the sexy crofter writhed his way into the ferny undergrowth with the kind of loose-hipped agility that would make a nun weep.

He reached the disheveled lovers just as a Honda Civic screeched to a halt on the street beside them.  The door opened and a little mountain of beer cans and scorched styrofoam cup ashtrays avalanched tinkily, ominously, onto the pavement.  He could see the pink nylon slippers of a woman coming out of the car.  Closer came the pink nylon slippers, closer, into the ferns now, which were being thrashed aside with a… holy shit! With a cleaver! And a pretty, flipping capable looking arm attached to it!

“I’ve caught you this time for sure,” snarled the raspy voice of a saw-throated woman . “Let’s see what your
lawyer has to say about this, eh?”

The ferns parted and a bulging-eyed gargoyle thrust its head through to glare down in darkness at the couple in flagrante…

“Pardon me, ma’am” said the sexy crofter.  “Oh hi, Beryl, it’s yourself! Look, I don’t mean to be rude but you’ve sort of stumbled into an occupied fern-patch, here.  If you go over by the quay, there’s a good clump there, ‘fyou like.  Bloody council, eh!  Never get around to the weed-whacking.  Now, if you wouldn’t mind just closing the foliage up there, Beryl, there’s a bit of a draught when they’re open, see.  There, that’s great, much obliged to you.  Bye now!  Say hi to Murdo for me!”

Beryl retreated to the pavement sputtering, and gurgling like dodgy plumbing with air in the tubes.  She looked at Maureen.  Maureen looked at her furious sister and began to open her mouth…

“I…”

But that was all she got out before Beryl’s pre-brick-filled handbag made the sort of sound against her skull
that a butcher’s bag of minced beef, eggs and parsley makes when it’s dropped from a third-storey window.  And sustaining the kind of injury that had become known in the hospital’s A&E, down the years as a BSM: a Beryl’s Special Meatloaf.

Meanwhile the dog, Murdo, smudged green and reeking of Elizabeth Taylor’s “White Diamonds” slipped into a still-warm seat at the bar in the Rest, picked up his devastatingly sexy cousin’s pint, and drank with all the gusto of a man who had just escaped certain Beryl.

Peril and Beryl are practically the same things and both often result in a grisly death so this piece of selfless,
and therefore sexy, saving of a life was counted as a half, a half being deducted for being related to his stupid-ass cousin whom everybody else would have like to see castrated. Strangely, no-one ever wished a castration upon the Sexy Crofter of Brue.

So he had that: selfless acts of death-defying courage, for sure he had that.  But there was something else,
thought the ladies at the bus-stop, each to her secretest self, half of them hoping he’d look up and seek out their eyes as he walked past, half of them praying he wouldn’t.  All of them half-hating, half-loving him.  All of them wondering what he was thinking.

And here’s what the sexy Cowboy of Brue was really thinking as he strolled down the lane, his hands in his
pockets, the morning sun on his back, and here and there gorgeous butterflies settling Disneyesquilly on curious fawns’ noses, contributing to the aura of magic that surrounded him at all times; here’s what he was really thinking:

“Christ, I’ve really got an itch in me balls! It’s like there’s a ball-weevil in there with a little feather duster! How the hell am I going to scratch it with all these gorgeous women over there at the bus-stop?  God and me guts are giving me jip, an’ all.  Shouldn’t have had that paneer aloo gobi last night with my beans.  Man, I’m just going to have to wait til the bus has gone and then I’ll let one rip and really have a good root down in my breeks.”

He walked on, humming to distract him from the tortuous itch and the ballooning pressure.

Yippee kai-aye-yay get along little ewe-hoo
You must be at market by 8 o’ the clock
Though it hurts me to tell you
My friend I must sell you,
I’ve spent all the savings I keep in my sock.

Across the street, the women sighed their private sighs.  And then the bus came.

She Wore A Blueberry Bloget

Woohoo!  Look at the blog!  This is the absolute schmancy-assiest she’s ever been!  She looks like she could get a job she’s not qualified for, in a language she can’t speak.  She looks like she could kick WordPress default template’s bottom wearing nothing but a pair of fabulous boots, scarlet lipstick and a French Resistance lady’s trenchcoat.  Why, I declare,  she is surely, I say she is surely is the finest-lookin’ blog written by a Hebridean housewife anywhere in the Ojai area!

Depending on what your monitor setting’s like, she might look jaundiced and yellow about the writing area.  She’s like that on the Problem Husband’s monitor.  But on mine she’s rosy of intext-link with a non-cancerous Levantine tan. I’m smitten with her anyway so tough filet mignons if y’all don’t like her looks.

Clever-Bloke Tom is responsible for all the techie stuff.  He is a great bloke, friendly, patient and knowledgable and I highly recommend him to anyone wanting technical help.  He changed the blog’s host for me – something that ended up needing some hand-coding, the very thing I was afraid of.  Then he very ably changed the look of the thing.  If I ever need anything complicated done again, I’m going right to Tom.

The header up there was one of several designed for me by the inimitable Wally Torta/Sparky Donatello of Crackskullbob(pants), a pal and an artist of astonishing talent, humour and imagination.  His blog is terrific and well worth visiting.  You’ll have fun there.  He put up with my hemming and hee-hawing over which design to choose in 7004 emails on the subject.

He won’t want me telling you this but every Tuesday Wally goes to a room and gazes at naked people.  Yes. He does. On Wednesdays, he paints in the nude in the comfort of his own home and Thursday is his plein-air nude day, weather-permitting.  Friday and Saturday he’s mostly in jail for Thursday’s indecent exposure rap but usually he’s out by Sunday, when he practices his faith of Ultra-Orthodox Episcopalian Gardening – a fiscally conservative sect which believes in trickle-down piety and the transubstantiation of steamed broccoli with just a hint of butter into the body and blood of Ronald Reagan, Walt’s Lord and Personal Saviour.  He believes in the transformative powers of saying “fuck” and the transcontinental doctrine of adding “’em all!” His cat is called Bernice and as far as I know he hasn’t killed anyone despite having those eyebrows…

I’d also like to thank God, obviously.

But most important to the changing of this blog has been my dear little cat, Trouble, (affectionately known as Wubs; angrily known as Oiyoulittleasshole; Show name – Pride of The Torpid Sasquatch III; American Indian Name – Dances With Shoelaces; Kabbalah Name – Esther; Porn Name – Nipples Galore; Pirate Name Disemboweling Dorothea the Holy Terror of the Western Sofa; Preferred name: Bob).  Trouble refrained almost entirely from walking, sleeping and vomiting on my keyboard during the move and for that I am forever in her tummy-rubbing debt.

Did The Earth Move For You?

Did it?

But never mind you for a minute!  It’s a fait accompli!  No longer Yahoo, we, but Host Monstered!  Ironically, all I want to yell is Yahoo!

It wasn’t without its parlous half hours but Clever Bloke Tom was steady-as-she-goes the whole way through, kept his head when all around him was losing her’s, and he steered the good ship PCB into safe harbour all ship-shape and Bristol-fashion.  Blooming marvel, he is.

But what I want to know is, how was it for you?  Were you rocked and rolled?  Did you feel anything at all?  (Be careful how you answer! Gentle hearts are easily wounded)

For myself, I feel like lying back with a cigarette in the afterglow*.  For I was moved, deeply moved.

Lets here it for Clever Bloke Tom!

Next job – to change this ugly blogling into a beautiful widgetty swan!

*And me not even a smoker.

Moving

It might look like I’ve abandoned blogging but I’ve been here, behind the scenes, fiddling with knobs and researching, getting headaches and peeping out at yooz all from behind my blue and red header. I would like to pretend I had an adorable smudge of oil on my nose from all the tinkering but what I’ve really had are beads of blood forming on my forehead as I attempted a crash course in PHP and Mysql among other abominable things. It took me a long time but what I learned at the end of it was that I needed help.

The upshot is, I’m moving from Yahoo hosting to HostMonster. With luck, by next week I’ll be up and running! ‘Twill require some twiddling though so I’ve recruited an able pyooter fella to help. The blog will get a bit of a nip and a tuck here and there too. Some porcelein veneers, maybe a dye job, Immac for the blog’s unsightly upper-lip hair etc. Soon, I’ll be fabulous.

He seems like a nice bloke, and capable, so watch this space…

Love In The Time Of A Hacking Cough

Once upon a time in the Outer Hebrides, there was a cough Going Around, a nasty, phlegmy, be-streaky-sputumed cough. Those who caught it and coughed it sounded like a troop of asthmatic tapdancers dancing in a long echoey hall each time they were moved to expectorate. Their lungs bubbled and wheezed and, once it struck the pestilence could not be shifted from the sufferer’s body for at least a year and left the victim in a significantly weakened condition for perhaps several more.

The curious thing about this cough was that small children, people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems went completely unaffected by it, while otherwise strong and healthy adults were laid low. Not only were they laid low, but they were also laid less and less. They simply did not have the puff to manage it any more.

The only strong and healthy adults not to be affected were The Ruddy. In the same way teeny-tiny, microscopic way as the sickle-cell anaemia allele protects against malaria, something in the rosy-cheeked gene was acting as a lung-protectant against the Hacking Cough.

In the Outer Hebrides there is no such thing as Performance Anxiety. Everybody can do it just fine, left to their own devices, and some don’t even need devices. What we do have though, is Population Anxiety. Many a promising evening has been cut short by one or other partner (heterosexual partner that is, of course – God has blessed us such that gay people don’t exist in the Hebrides. Nope, not a one.) … where was I? Many’s the promising evening that has been cut short by one or other partner rolling dramatically off to one side and rubbing their temples, saying “It’s no use, a’ghraidh, the pressure to produce the next generation so we won’t be a top-heavy population, graphically speaking, is just too much. O, unhappy demographic! If only Westmister hadn’t mandated an uptick in our breeding!”

You can imagine then that a year or more out for members of the breeding population was a hard blow for everyone. Without more young people, there would be no more grants from Europe, no more Crofting Development Programmes and no more lovely, lovely subsidies to spend down at the Legion. What was to be done?

An emergency meeting was called with the sick being wheeled in by variously The Very Young, The Very Old and The Ruddy so that a full community vote could be cast. What with the hacking of the ill, the bawling of the very small and the dozing of the old, things were proceeding very slowly. It was left to The Ruddy to take charge. Fortunately there were some natural leaders among them who now saw that their time to shine was nigh, only this time the shining would be metaphorical. They were being called to do something for their island, something noble, something magnificent, a selfless gesture of defiance against the blight that plagued their people. The motion was put by Rubicund Rory:

“I move that The Ruddy, being of sound lungs and florid cheeks, be called upon to lay themselves down for their countrymen and women, and for the duration of this Hacking Cough, endeavour to make as many babies as possible,”

Rosy Rosie seconded and the proposal was put to the vote.

“All in favour say Aye!”

“Huh, what was that? Oh, aye, aye, right enough then,” said The Elderly

“Aboohoo aboohoo waaaaaahaye aye aye!” said The Very Young

“Ackh ackh ackh wheeze!” said The Sick, nodding.

“Aye!” said The Ruddy solemnly, flushing with pride and responsibility and taking the full brunt of island expectations on their ham-dappled shoulders.

Noone could know the Hacking Cough would be Going Round for another 10 years. In that time, The Ruddy surpassed all expectations. Ruddy ladies turned out 1 and a third babies a year and ruddy men ran hither and yon making sure that The Ruddy Young didn’t wander near clifftops or drink bleach.

That was years ago, but even if you go to Lewis today, you will see everywhere the legacy of that love in the time of a hacking cough. From the blowzy drunk on the corner to the raw-headed, black-clad, turkey-vulturesque church elders at the Seminary; from the florid florists on Cromwell Street to the sanguine sailors on the quay; from the bloom-cheeked merry folk to the face-like-a-slapped-bum dour contingent, the extraordinarily high proportion of The Ruddy in the Outer Isles is one of the first things a visitor will notice. Right after she notices that some people have more than ten fingers and all of the clocks are moving much…more…slowly…

Stellar

I hardly ever do political posts. The last time I went on at any length about politics was way back here. That was a bit ranty. This is even worse, it’s a bit ravey. Sorry ’bout that. I’ve posted a few incidental, political, spitty-spitty phthoo-phthoo paragraphs here and there on PCB – not many at all really considering I follow it all quite closely and sprinkle my political views around people’s comment boxes all the damn time – but every now and then I feel the desire to blog it out.

I’ve just watched Barack Obama deliver his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president. He’s the first black man in American history to win, win the nomination of a major party. This was not an appointed position, Secretary of State or Attorney General or such. He won the right to run after a long, hard campaign in which he consistently took the moral high ground and did not compromise his integrity.

Tonight his speech was not about his being an historic candidate though. It was hardly even about him being black. It was about America rebecoming the country the Founding Fathers envisioned. Obama is not merely an outstanding black candidate, he is an outstanding candidate, – he truly makes race not matter. If it is true that any minority candidate must be twice as good as any white male candidate then he is four times as good. He is an extraordinary person.

The speech was brilliant. He was subtle, he was strong, he attacked but did not slur. He said there was no one party more patriotic than another so quit that crap, Rove tacticians. He set a noble, high-minded but also very muscular and practical tone, and laid out 29 strong policy differences between he and McCain. He turned McCain’s perceived strengths and particular attacks back on him and ended up sounding by far the more honest candidate. He has single-handedly managed to raise the tone of American politics and be successful and sincere doing it – something I reckon most of us thought was nigh on impossible nowadays. His wife has that same deeply intelligent, articulate, measured and compassionate sense about her and, while I know this is politics after all and how politicians are wont let us down badly, I really, really find myself believing in these people in a way I thought I was much much too jaded to be able to. It seems very unlike me to be gushy about any politician and I am having a hard time recognizing myself.

Following that speech tonight, any of the usual attacks from McCain next week when he accepts the Republican nomination are going to look, petty, pathetic and desperate.

Obama is the American Dream incarnate. Not the trite, corn-ball, white-picket-fence dream I was encouraged growing up to think America was all about, but the old, original American Dream that anybody – even the black son of a single mother – willing to work, and given the right tools and encouragement can fulfill their personal dreams while at the same time increasing the common good. He has resurrected that second part. He declared old style models of trickle down economics and the “ownership society” as just no longer workable in these changing, globalizing times and that our personal “I’m alright, Jack, you’re on your own” hangover attitudes towards each other from the Reagan years must yield to a bit of collective purpose. Obvious, for sure, but not common from the mouth of such a high level politician. He called for a country where we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers, not in terms of personal, governmental or lifestyle intrusions but in terms of keeping us all economically and morally robust and accountable to each other.

While he used the language of hope, he didn’t sugar-coat any of it but called for serious, hard work, both individually and collectively to get stuff done. He invoked the generation of the Depression, his grandparent’s (“who were no whiners”) generation, when describing how the huge problems of the day require us all to pull together with hope and a common purpose to reach progress and better times in a socially and morally responsible way. And he was specific about how we can do that, outlining his plan for energy-independence from the Middle-East in ten years and an unprecedentedly huge investment in other energy sources, admitting that some of them would fail but, like in the development of any new technology, we have to go through that before we learn how to succeed with it. He called for a big election to be about big issues, not small wedge issues like in the last two elections, because the times are just too serious for that and the stakes too high.

Obama has changed minds by inspiring people, not frightening them and by talking to us like we’re adults, not children who need complex problems dumbed down for us. He does not pretend all will be perfect for everybody or that government is a panacea for all society’s ills but that we need a clear change in direction and in what we value as a society. He can admit his opponent is a good brave man who loves his country but says McCain just does not get the changes going on with the country economically, socially, temperamentally and globally. and he makes a damn good case in saying so, using McCain’s own record as proof.

I’ve listened to many political speeches and I am nothing if not a cynical European when it comes to American campaign hoopla, especially the cheesy rhetoric, but I cannot recall being so energized, inspired and excited by any candidate before, anywhere.

Obama is the man for these times. History is always ready to make fools of people who feel as convinced as I do about a poli-afterblinkin’all-tician but, despite myself, I really believe that to be true. I’ll be gutted for haggis if he doesn’t win in November.

~oOo~

Been a bit busy lately and looks like it’ll continue through the end of next week. Prolly be around but not as much. Somebody asked but I’m not going off blogging. Not at all, I still love it. Especially because myself and the fabulous Devin have been invited to Ireland in February to watch the Irish blog awards again! And in October I’m going to meet a whole bunch of amazing sketch-bloggers and artist friends of the truly incomparable Crackskullbob!

I feckin’ love blogging!

Singed Feathers Everywhere*. Hebridean Mother Living In WierdyBeardysville, USA