Monday, 30 January 2017


In October I tweeted, 'Loved ones move into dangerous lands when the restraint of understanding suicide's selfishness & impact is untied by "better off without".' This with a retweet of @TWLOHA's 'Your family is not better off without you. Your friends are not better off without you.', which linked to this article.

Friday, 27 January 2017


On Saturday evening, while Bethan and her dad were at the RFH for Beethoven's Fidelio, Maisie and I watched Thor. We weren't that impressed - just another superhero movie, without much substance but a lot of action, which gets rather tedious and unengaging. Sufficiently unimpressed that we deleted the sequel, which we had also recorded, knowing that we wouldn't fancy watching it.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

newport street gallery; beaconsfield gallery

On Saturday 21st January we - with Bethan's dad - went to the Newport Street Gallery, which is Damien Hirst's gallery. Bethan walks past it on the way to work, and thought her dad would be interested in the building. It's a changing exhibition, I think from his own collection. The temporary exhibition - which filled all the rooms was of Gavin Turk, and was surprisingly interesting, though very much in the modern 'artist as subject' way of things. The most impressive things were the painted bronze sculptures of ordinary objects, like sleeping bags, which were so realistically rendered, though the main thought it prompted for us at least was why he didn't use that ability on more interesting and lovelier things. That choice is presumably saying something, of course. It's a modern well-designed building, well-staffed and free to entry, so that we wondered how it worked financially. There is a restaurant, and a shop with very expensive art in it, and perhaps there's venue hire also.

On the way we also went into the small Beaconsfield Gallery, which we happened to pass, and went back there afterwards for a light lunch. There was nothing particular in the gallery (one room closed, the other some collaborative pottery workshop not going on while we were there), and the cafe was vegetarian and slow, but significant as part of the artistic/gentrification developments going on in the area in recent decades. Never heard of it, but it's been there since 1995!

judges and ruth

On Sunday 22nd January I finished the IVP Tyndale commentary on Judges and Ruth by Arthur E Cundall and Leon Morris (I expect there's a newer version in the series written by others). The Ruth was fine, the Judges pretty good - especially the introduction, which was very helpful on the geography and disposition of the land and the tribes, and related theology and implications.

michael palin diaries 1969-1979

On Sunday 22nd January I finished Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years. They were fine, but wouldn't have been very interesting if I hadn't been interested in that stage in his career; they're not interesting enough as diaries and writing in themselves (if you know what I mean). I don't expect I will go on and read the next volume. They did make me resolve to read/watch/listen to his output from the 60s and 70s, though.

There were a couple of pertinent passages on the original Common Market referendum which I shall try to put on here, and an interesting para of George Harrison's thoughts on his fellow Beatles, ditto.

Sunday, 22 January 2017


I think all Leodhasachs know Leodhasach men quite a lot like Donald Trump (I think that's part of our embarrassment and shame at his heritage - we know the type); indeed, some of us are even related to a few of them. But we are rarely daft enough to take them as seriously as they want to be taken, or to give them any actual power...

If it were anyone normal whose mum had been from Lewis and who was now the US President, we'd be so proud, I think. Indeed, if it had been his sister we would have been.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

'install as normal'

Favourite unhelpful instructions for a while. Took delivery of a new sofa today. Instructions for attaching the feet: a tiny, illegible illustration, and the text 'Turn the sofa over, remove the feet and bolts from the pocket and install as normal'. Got to love 'install as normal'.

(As with a number of recent posts, this is me copying over an old Facebook post before deleting it. (Ditto Twitter.) This one from September.)

new email

That thing when you see you've got a new email come in and you think ooh I wonder who this is from and when you look it's the reminder email you sent yourself twenty seconds ago and had already forgotten about.
I'm only 49, you know.


There is a joke Nirvana t-shirt which has the Nirvana logo but a picture of Hanson.

What I'd like is a t-shirt which has the Nirvana logo but a picture of Bananarama.

(Original line-up, obvs.)

What? Yes, a little lightheaded, actually, but I think I'm just hungry.

perceptive boys

The back of an old Puffin edition of Jane Gardam's A Long Way From Verona indicates that it is 'Highly recommended for girls, and perceptive boys, of eleven and over.' (I know this via Andy Miller on Twitter.)

I could have done with this line for most of my life. 'No, I'm not a big girl's blouse, actually, I'm a perceptive boy.'

Although, obviously, using such a line would have led to quite the beating.

men sought for quest

If you seek bold, reckless and desperate men to join you on your quest, whatever it may be, you would have found such men shopping in Stornoway on Christmas Eve on the supposed one-day lull between Storm Barbara and Storm Conor.

a different corner

I was sorry to hear of George Michael's death at Christmastime. My favourite George Michael song was always A Different Corner (though I know more of the Young Gun lyrics than one reasonably should). It was No 1, I think, but the only time I remember ever hearing it after that when I wasn't playing it myself was while having a workday lunch in a pub with Cathi Thacker and/or Sarah Mayers up in Bletchley. Sarah, of course, is far too long gone.

Here it is on Youtube.

And if all that there is is this fear of being used,
I should go back to being lonely and confused.
If I could, I would, I swear.

Friday, 13 January 2017

nice fish

On New Year's Eve we all got day seats for the matinee of Nice Fish, at the Harold Pinter Theatre. We all enjoyed it.

funny women

I don't need any examples of funny women to prove that women can be funny, because why in the world would I think that women couldn't be funny?

a murder of quality

On Monday 20th June 2016 I finished John le Carre's A Murder Of Quality, which was quite good.

skigersta phonebox and drumming snipe

Here is the Google Streetview of the Skigersta phonebox.

It was here that my granny waited on a particular 1967 night for a call from Aberdeen with news of a birth.

Looking at it, there's every chance that that's literally the same box. Who had a phone in their house then? Even when I was in secondary school I had friends who didn't have a phone in their house. Now it's the rare person who doesn't have a mobile phone, and we may be moving back into a time when people don't have a phone in their house.

That technological development is perhaps shaded by the fact that resources like Streetview mean you can see a 360 degree of that view - and most views in the developed world where there's a road - anywhere you are any time you like. (The view, as I write, is from August 2009. I don't know whether the link will survive changes, but it'll be findable again.)

As my granny waited she was accompanied by the sound of the snipe drumming, a sound she would always associate with that night.

I was familiar with that sound long before I knew this story, and before I knew what the sound was, exactly (it was clearly made by a bird, flying in the dusk or dark rather than daylight). It's made by the snipe's tail feathers. It's my favourite and most evocative sound of my Hebridean years.

Here is a Soundcloud clip which gives a very clear idea of the sound.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

the hobbit parts two and three

On Saturday 15 February 2014 I went in the afternoon to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the only place it was still showing in London that day, one of the Odeon Leicester Square Studio screens.

Texted Douglas about it, but referring to the trilogy really, 'Tries to turn simple children's adventure into prologue to Lord Of The Rings and so delivers neither successfully. I would have enjoyed them both if they had simply tried to make them as separate films.'

On Tuesday 30 December 2014, in the evening, I went by myself, no one else in the family being interested since the first one, to see the final part of the Hobbit trilogy at Cineworld West India Quay. Much the same thoughts as the second. I still may one day get the full three-DVD versions for all the deleted scenes and extras, if they're anything as good as the LOTR ones.

marian keyes

The utterer of the finest opinion ever expressed on BBC Radio 4's A Good Read - 'Nothing wrong with chips' -, Marian Keyes can be relied upon.