December 30, 2010 · 7:01 pm
Gordon Thorburn, of ‘Men and Sheds’ fame (see two posts back – or here), has asked me if I would like to appear in his next shed book. I am sure you understand my dilemma. I more than just hinted that his book was creepy (all right, I know a book can’t actually be creepy, it is people who are creepy). So do I want to be in a book that contains some creepy people? Note that I said some, not all. Most men in the book are interesting people who just happen to do their thing in a shed because they wouldn’t be allowed to do it in the house. You wouldn’t want a potter’s kiln in your kitchen, for instance… okay, yes, of course you would, but it wouldn’t be allowed by Her Indoors, so you plump for a shed (that’s if you have space. Not so good if you live in a high-rise).
I have a shed but it is full of motorbikes. Her Indoors has a shed, a sparkly new one full of gardening stuff – but this is a MEN and sheds thing, it isn’t WOMEN and sheds. Gordon asked me if I wrote in my shed. I would very much like to (because writers of novels prefer to explore their alternative universe in private). But unfortunately I don’t. No room. Too many old motorbikes.
I do have a garage, though. The garage is quite big and is full of stuff. It scares me that I can go into it and find bits that I can use to fix almost anything household or mechanically-related, a lifetime’s accumulation of bits and bobs that would make Wallace and Grommet green with envy.
So do I or don’t I contact Gordon again and have my shed (and a photo or two) in his next book? Andy Wharhol said we all have fifteen minutes of fame, but I’ve probably had mine already, see here. I wrote as Alan Frost (Alan is my middle name. Frost was my surname for a few years after I was born… don’t ask…) and for my efforts I received a prize that was presented by Ian Rankin – a pile of fairly unreadable crime novels (not yours, Ian, I like yours). We chatted for some time and he asked me never to set any of my novels in Edinburgh. I took no notice. But you needn’t have worried, Ian. Literary Agents seem to have decided that I am no threat to you.
If I get into Gordon’s next book I will have to do a lot of tidying, because at present I can hardly get into my garage for stuff. And does a garage really count as a shed? It is most definitely a shed-substitute. But is it a shed in the way Gordon defines it? Time (and the need to shovel snow from the front of my genuine bike shed in order to open its doors), will decide. That’s if Gordon doesn’t decide first.
Gordon Thorburn is here.
December 29, 2010 · 11:37 pm
That really is the sun up there, not the moon. It’s 1030 in the morning, in Edinburgh, looking south. I wondered what people were looking at* and why tourists (Oh yes, we get tourists, especially this time of year!) were taking pictures.
(*I had considered using that old joke and saying ‘then it dawned on me’, but realised that if I did you might never read my blog again)
December 26, 2010 · 4:47 pm
Santa brought me this little book. I am willing to admit to you that I have a shed. I am also willing to admit that I have a big garage and that, like the shed, it is stuffed with motorbikes, tools and spray cans and parts of engines. In fact there is so much junk… (whoops! I don’t mean junk, I mean valuable stuff)… that I was even willing to accept that I might be a little bit weird. That is, of course, until I read ‘Men and Sheds’.
I am not recommending it… unless you like creepy books.
December 24, 2010 · 5:08 pm
I won’t get into discussions as to whether or not the Ark story (Noah’s, not Raiders of the Lost…) is true, but this wooden set is the bee’s knees (and bees DO have knees, as the highly magnified picture here clearly shows). Pricey, yes. But if you haven’t yet bought a pressie for the child you love most (and if you really can afford it), then surely it must be worth it.
You have 18 minutes to get to Whitmuir Organics before they close for Christmas. If you own a jump-jet then you might just do it. If not, then birthdays…? A belated Christmas present, perhaps?
December 24, 2010 · 2:42 pm
It’s Christmas Eve and the BIG PARCEL hasn’t come. It could be that UPS is busy helping Santa and the elves, but I doubt it. I encountered a nose-to-tail squadron of UPS vans on the Edinburgh by-pass yesterday heading east from their depot, in the general direction of my house. It was an encouraging sight and I expected to see my parcel safe on my doorstep… or if not on my doorstep (because the BIG PARCEL has to be signed for) then in the safe hands of my neighbour – who is also expecting a parcel delivery from UPS (a parcel that came from the Far East, then from Midlands Airport to Edinburgh, but no further than that, apparently) and which didn’t come on the day the UPS computer said it would come.
My crime was not to be home when they attempted delivery on Friday 10th December, two weeks ago. I was left a note saying they would deliver on the following Monday, so I stayed home all day. They didn’t come. I tried to call them to arrange another delivery but was unable to speak to a human. I got a tracking page on their website that told me the package would be delivered next day so I stayed in again. Did they come? Is the moon a balloon?
And so it goes on. Their website is updated several times a day. Each day it tells me that my BIG PARCEL is out for delivery, so it must be one of the most widely travelled parcels in the country. Note that I am not criticising the drivers, they have all had a hard time. What is wrong is a system that makes false promises (i.e., lies) to its customers and is clearly unable to cope when other firms can.
It’s not as if we live in Narnia, so they don’t have to get their vans through the back of that wardrobe. Other delivery firms with Edinburgh depots have been delivering here despite the snow. Royal Mail, City Link, Home Delivery and others have been regular and faultless, so UPS can’t use ‘the weather’ as an excuse – or if they do, then as my geology professor would say, ‘It may be a perfectly valid reason, Whittle, but it is not the correct one.’
So…is this the correct one?>>>
*This is the UPS new slogan. Meaningless, or what? And the pic at the top of this post isn’t mine, I got it off the web – so it looks like I’m not the only one who is not a happy bunny.
Postscript: I now know that today, while I was out, a UPS van stopped outside my house, delivered my neighbour’s parcel but not mine. Sad but true. So no BIG PARCEL for Christmas. Well done, UPS! Go to the bottom of the class and then to bed with no pudding.
December 21, 2010 · 11:56 am
This is a few years old now so you may have seen it before. Click here.
December 19, 2010 · 6:42 pm
In case you don’t know about it, click on this link and then the ‘play’ arrow to see where it is raining / snowing, and the way the ‘weather’ is moving. If you have time, click on the ‘Satellite Imagery’ in the menu on the left of the page and click the play button here as well to get the cloud movements. It’s good stuff. Not rocket science… although presumably they used rocket science to get those weather satellites up there.
It is only for the UK, so apologies to my US readers. I’m sure you have something similar.
December 17, 2010 · 6:07 pm
The big suppliers might not be delivering to Scotland but our local firms are. Just up the road from me is Whitmuir Organics, a farm shop on a farm that despite the weather, and unlike the big boys, is managing to deliver food and supplies to all surrounding parts. If they can do it, why have the big retailers chickened out?
Perhaps I shouldn’t have said ‘chickened’. Whitmuir has turkeys for sale, the chickens are for the fresh eggs. So if you want a fresh, local, Christmas turkey that has been allowed to run around in the big world, or if you want to buy a lot of other interesting things in the shop (or eat in the licensed restaurant) it really is the place to go.
Photo copyright (C) 2010 Whitmuir the Organic Place
Filed under Uncategorized
Tagged as chickened out, christmas turkey, farm shop, Lamancha, local produce, organic produce, scotland, scottish borders, snow on snow, turkeys, whitmuir organics
December 17, 2010 · 5:39 pm
Okay, so I butchered the Macbeth quote. But if what the media says about big firms not having the guts to deliver to Scotland then it’s true, isn’t it? We recently had a huge snowfall, resulting in 24 hours of hell on some roads*. In the Home Counties they get 2″ of snow and come to a complete standstill, I know that because I used to live there. But will the big firms ban all deliveries there? You bet they won’t. These big suppliers no doubt based their decision not to deliver to Scotland on a 60% chance of heavy snow here (which is what I read in the ‘media’ so it has to be true). You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that this is 60:40, just a little better than a 50:50 chance – which you get from tossing a coin and we can all do that. I don’t blame the Met Office for being cautious. I was living in Berkshire that fateful day in 1987 when Michael Fish predicted mild weather and next morning it looked as though we’d been hit by a hurricane.
I have said a few times before in these posts that I am not a Scot. But I have lived here for 10 years and I am beginning to understand what niggles the people here about ‘down south’. We might as well be Norway or Sweden. I’m sure Scots are thought of by many as bagpipe-playing caber-tossing peasants swigging whisky and eating haggis, shortbread and turnips. Others subscribe to the more modern belief, that we are all stabbing one another on Glasgow streets (they don’t do that in London of course, they just have drive-by shootings). I have watched 1950’s documentaries on TV with a voiceover sounding like Laurence Olivier on steroids that describe Scotland and the Scottish in the same patronising way that other documentaries of the time described ‘negroes’ in mud huts (you know what I mean – the commentators used the word ‘piccaninnies’ when talking about black kids).
So where am I going with this? Nowhere, I’m just telling the truth. But I am beginning to understand why so many people here voted SNP.
*The M8 in particular. For those that don’t know it, it is the arterial road between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Unlike most other motorways it is ONLY TWO LANES. And it doesn’t actually connect the two major cities because a long stretch of it is ‘A’-road dual carriageway.
December 15, 2010 · 6:41 pm
Millions of years ago trees and plants fell into primeval swamps and creatures sank to the sea floor. Over the millennia they were subjected to huge pressures and temperatures that turned them into fuel. Coal and oil did not go through all that* to have the energy they produce squandered by the Highways Agency illuminating road signs in Scotland that say CAUTION FREEZING CONDITIONS when you are following a gritter, driving through ice and snow with mountains of the stuff by the roadside and snow-smothered hills in the distance. Freezing conditions? WOW! Really? I hadn’t noticed. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
*humblest apologies to Aleksandr Orlov