Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Absent friends.

This morning I heard that one of my colleagues had died, it wasn't entirely a surprise, I'd been told that he had been badly affected by an infection following chemotherapy. I had only just heard that he'd had a cancer diagnosis, since we were both got rid of by the theatre company we worked for a couple of years ago (Arts Council inspired rationalisation is the polite way of describing that particular episode), we only communicated sporadically; as his widow said, when she wrote to tell us about his illness, he was an intensely private man. Nonetheless we had developed a genuine affection for each other and I liked to send him stories from Scotland (he was originally from Edinburgh) to remind him what he had left behind when he moved to Spain.

He was a walking exemplar of the adage 'if you can remember the sixties you weren't there'; he'd gone to The Stones in Hyde Park gig, but left because he was bored, worked for a forthnight at the Roundhouse for The Doors and Jefferson Starship but couldn't remember a thing about it, all in all he had forgotten more performance history than I'll ever know. His theatrical pedigree was equally comprehensive and diverse, he wasn't always the most diplomatic perhaps, but his instincts were nearly always right, unlike his sense of direction, which was almost invariably catastrophically wrong.

When I first met him, and realised that I was committed to three months touring Europe in a slow truck with him, I genuinely thought I might have to kill him, but gradually we developed a mutual understanding based (I hope) on an appreciation of each other's professionalism. By the time we had been working together for five years this had grown into an affectionate bickering, we channelled Statler and Waldorf from behind the sound and lighting desks (whichever job we happened to be doing in that show), mocking the idiocy of the performers and their agonising creative process, whilst at the same time remaining committed to putting on the best show possible. I think his compulsory retirement was more problematic for him than mine was, he'd been with the company for more than twelve years, and he hadn't really contemplated doing anything else and the opportunities for casual theatre work are even more limited in rural Spain than they are in Deeside.

So, I'm very sad tonight, but things move on, I will plant a tree to commemorate him, but just for now I'll raise a glass of Merlot and drink to Ray.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Shameless mugging

I know it's my own fault, I just have a trusting nature and I was momentarily distracted. It has been an unseasonably warm and sunny day in Moomin valley (these things are relative, it was about 5 celcius), there was no wind and I decided that it was about time I dealt with the pheasant that I had been given at the weekend. Cleaning a shot gamebird is definitely one of those tasks that is better done outdoors, although my intention was to be lazy and skin it rather than pluck it, as game pie was its ultimate destination. So, armed with my kitchen scissors and a very sharp knife I embarked on the process, utilising the rickety table that I use for potting out my seedlings in other parts of the year.
I had carefully snipped through the skin along the breast bone, and was about to turn the unfortunate creature inside out, when the postie arrived. I waved at her, but this wasn't enough on this occasion, as she had something I had to sign for. By the time I had washed my hands, accepted my mail, and returned to my activities I no longer had a patient on the table, indeed, a small furry and acrimonious scrum in the middle distance indicated that my erstwhile pie mix was now providing entertainment and sustenance for the farm cats. I have always been slightly concerned that the proximity of several hungry cats and a pheasant pen wasn't likely to be a marriage made in heaven, and there have been one or two birds that have met an untimely end recently. Hopefully, if the gamekeeper spots the remains he won't be too concerned, although if I were he, I might be a little bothered that the cats are apparently able to shoot them now.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Dear blog,

I've neglected you, ok I admit it, I've flirted with facebook, but never twitter. I don't suppose that I've been quite busy is much of an excuse, sorry and all that, look forward to me being rude about things very soon.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Buzz, buzz.

Another one of those 'I was sitting on the loo' posts I'm afraid; my toilet is situated in a sort of shingled extension rather awkwardly nailed onto the upper story of my little granite farmhouse, and a few days ago I was less than happy to hear the sort of furtive rustling behind the plasterboard that usually heralds the arrival of some meeces. Up to now I had assumed that my small army of permanently hungry felines would  have taken care of that, and indeed I think I was right, because sitting out one night watching the sun set over the cow byre/come slurry pit (there's been a lot of rain), I noticed the bats were back, and I also noticed that my loyal and hungry audience were, to a cat, staring fixedly above my head. A shift of position, and a moments patience, and I saw that the bats were returning to a roost in the corner of my bathroom. Scrabbling and squeaking explained then.
I've been away for a few days at the day job, but when I returned in the wee hours this morning, I noticed that the squeaky noises had morphed into a more mellow hum, observation has revealed that my bat colony is now co-habiting with a bumble bee nest, it's getting kinda crowded in the wall behind my bog, I do hope nothing else moves in.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

DVD of choice.

It's a bit sad that the success of a cultural artefact can often be measured by how swiftly it makes its way into the charity shops. I find it continuously fascinating that the urge to ditch seems to have a sort of weird synchronicity about it, why did every charity shop in Broughty Ferry have a copy of 'Borat' for example? I can fully understand why the fifty shades of grey trilogy is ubiquitous, mostly unread beyond vol.1, I can't quite fathom why every shop in Ealing had a used breast pump though.
Current favourite for jettisoning in Perth seems to be 'Australia' with Nicole Kidman, somehow I can't bring myself to pay even a pound to find out.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

On hearing the second cuckoo in spring.

I've started a new job, unfortunately just far enough away to be a pain to commute. Happily it's not quite like touring and I should only be away for four nights a week. Although the weather is only just beginning to turn and there aren't many leaves on the trees yet, the first migrants have been showing up. The swifts started to arrive about two weeks ago, as did a cuckoo, we still have a few confused looking geese hanging around as well.
Meanwhile, back in the farmyard, the cats are all looking close to term, at least six are pregnant. I have the cats protection crack spaying team on hold.
I was standing around yesterday, feeling the sun (interspersed with rain showers) on my back, when I heard the slightly banal tones of the cuckoo, and the bird flew directly over my head, they are strikingly uninteresting in appearance, but it was pleasing to see one anyway. The hares were out in the fields yesterday too, the farm cats keep the rabbit population pretty much under control, but I can't see any of them squaring up to a hare as an individual, and co-operation isn't one of their characteristics.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pretty ring time?

Maybe, just maybe Spring is finally here, there are definitely signs of life in the garden, and more to the point things are starting to arrive. Today I saw my first swift, there aren't many insects around so I'm a bit dubious about available food. I've heard woodpeckers drumming, and yesterday I think I heard a cuckoo, so, on the whole I'm relatively sanguine.