Thursday, November 30, 2006

Burglars Stole Our Pet Crabs

Madness! Madness! The world has gone mad. Merriol, glitter-frenzied woman that she is, has finally flipped. She has managed to find toothpaste with glitter in it. Our kids are currently brushing their teeth with strawberry flavoured toothpaste that extrudes from the tube in a star shape - and glitters!

I may have to go lie down for a week if this goes on.

I've been saying 'buffalo' a lot today. Someone over at palimpsest posted this on one of the threads:
Here is a sentence that is already grammatically correct, believe it or not:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Any guesses as to how this is so?

I was intrigued.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?

I spent several hours today happily doing the housework and playing with the kids - or so it would have seemed to the casual observer. Looked at more closely and you would have seen my lips twitching. A little closer still and you would have heard my muttering...
"Buffalo buffalo buffalo? buffalo buff-alo! Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buff-alo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo? ..."

Eventually I realised there were three meaning for the word. The animal itself, the verb meaning to overawe or outwit, and the Town in New York State. Finally I came up with:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo, Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Meaning: (The animals called) Buffalo buffalo (or overawe or outwit other) buffalo, Buffalo buffalo (i.e. buffalo from the town of Buffalo), buffalo (other) Bouffalo buffalo.

I'm glad that's over; the kids were starting to look at me with even more pity than normal - and if this entry doesn't feature high on any Google search for buffalo soon I will be amazed. Buffalo.

Bouffalo n. a Buffalo with a beehive hairdo.

Monday, November 27, 2006

One of the problems with being old enough to be my oldest daughter's grandad (I just did the math, it's true) is the huge changes that have happened in the 43 years since I was her age. I remember my first encounter with a computer in school. I was 13. It was a teletype terminal linked to some huge valve operated mainframe in the council office basements the other side of the city. The class queued up and one at a time pounded in our programs line by line (Forth or Basic, I can't remember which) :

10 Do this
20 do that
30 sub routine this
35 put in the bit I got wrong last time
40 end

If it didn't do what you expected you went away and worked it out and got on the back of the queue to type it all it again. It must have been worth it, because one of the kids I stood in line with was Alan Dix now Professor Alan Dix, of the Computing Department of Lancaster University.

Holly, aged four, was doing stop motion animation on the nursery laptop last week.

This afternoon she started walking around stiff legged for a bit before announcing. "My legs don't work very well. I have an error message in my head."

The sooner we get this kid to ballet classes the better.

I went into the Fort this afternoon to pick up some shopping while Merriol went for a walk with the kids. As I was driving in, a motorbike overtook me. He passed the car in front of me a few moments later and shot off away up the road. A couple of miles on, on a particularly bendy bit of the A82, I spotted something at the side of the road. I had just worked out it was a crash helmet when I realised the mass lying on the grass next to it was the biker who had passed me a few moments ago. I couldn't see the bike, it must have been down off the road in the trees, half way to the loch. There was no way I could stop. I had a car right behind me. So I turned in the next lay-by (thus becoming one of those arseholes who do three point turns on trunk roads) and went back. By the time I get there he was on his feet and talking on his mobile. His face was covered in blood but he insisted he was all right. All of my life I have been convinced that one day I will find a dead body. I'm glad today wasn't it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My Face Likes Dancing

said Daisy. To which Holly replied:

"My bum likes birthday parties."

I have no idea what they were on about.

I lied yesterday. I've been thinking about it, I did have an epiphanistic moment when my previous life went out the window. It was the moment Merriol told me she was pregnant*. Bam! that was it. Total life reversal in zero point five seconds.

Today was spent at a car boot sale in Kinloch where I didn't buy a lot, not because there wasn't a lot to buy, but because I didn't want any of it and, for most of the time I had Daisy clinging onto my leg. It's very hard to throw yourself into full blown, rubbish raking frenzy with a two year old glued to your knee. I bought a couple of CDs and a REALLY BAD SF movie which went into the DVD player as soon as everyone was in bed. That's another 90 minutes of my life Hollywood owes me.

In between times we went to a birthday party. A children's birthday party. Three hours of semi-controlled hell. It was like being caught in a dwarf's riot. At one point they all started blowing those party hooter things with the paper tube that unrolls** - it sounded, to quote our hostess, like a penguin colony in the mating season. Great description. I wonder how she knows.

*The first time.

**I have no idea what they are called and daren't look it up on Google because it would take me four hours and I would have joined the Inner-Mongolian Liberation Front's mailing list, and watched a lot of stupid things on U-tube on the way. I shouldn't be allowed to look things up on Google. You think this blog gets off the point quickly? you should see me trying to look up simple facts on the web.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Holly? Holly? I'm Shouting For Holly - Shout! Shout! Shout!

I took Daisy up to playgroup today up at the church hall. I was glad she was in one of her "Me do it on my own!" moods which meant we walked up. It was slow but it beats pushing her up that steep hill in her pushchair. The walk was especially slow today. Because it's autumn, there are an awful lot of interesting leaves lying around on the road, each one had to be looked at, picked up, carried for a few paces, then discarded as a more interesting leaf presented itself...

One of the first things I heard when we arrived at the hall was:

"Don't let any of the kids into the church. There's a coffin in there."

There was funeral later in the day and the body was already in place. We only knew this because one of the mums at the playgroup is the priest at the church and would be conducting the service later. Another of the Mums* is the village doctor. I really wonder how I got here. You see, time was - in my mispent youth, I used to drink like a fish, do all sorts of interesting chemistry experiments on my brain, conduct interesting physical exersizes (mostly horizontal) with all sorts of people, hang out with bands, artists, and all sorts of other people your mother wouldn't like - and here I am Xty years later watching my wee one playing with plastic food while I chat with the Vicar over a cup of coffee while there is a dead person in the next room.

Time does funny things.

All the certainties I had back then (not that I can remember any of them apart from the 'I'm never going to have kids' one) have all vanished. I've always been genuinely embarrassed by my younger selves. When I was a teenager I hated the child I had been. When I was a student I hated the teenager. And so on. My younger selves always seemed so gauche. Opinionated little nerks I was glad to outgrow.

I never had any blinding epiphanies where I cast off my previous selves with a cry of "I renounce thee!" but I always remember looking over my shoulder at myself thinking "did I used to think that? did I really used to like that band? did I really treat her like that?" You know the sort of thing; it's like looking in an old photo album (like Flickr, but in a book) and finding a picture of you wearing flares (or hotpants, ra-ra skirt, tank top, leg warmers or whatever. Imagine yourself wearing the most hideous fashion disaster to befall your generation.)

I've lost the plot...

....oh yeah! I realised today that I hadn't done that for a long time. Looked back and cringed at my previous incarnations. For one thing I've been too bloody busy for any self-indulgent introspection, and for another I seem to have been happy with myself and my life for quiet a long time now.

I just thank the gods I never had a mullet or wrote poetry.

*I say 'Mums' deliberately, not 'parents', because I am usually the only male over four years of age who goes. I have no idea where all the other men are. Out slaying mammoths or something equaly testosteroney.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Nipping down to the Co-op this evening to get a bottle of milk, I ran into Eileen who was heading to the public notice board. I guessed she was going to read the weird open letter our former doctor has posted there...
(Back story: there has been a long, growing rift* between our former GP and the GP who replaced him. As Merriol works for the new GP, and we count her as a friend, and as I have no idea what I have been told, in confidence as a friend, and what is public knowledge, I'm not going to go into the finer details, but this open letter put up on the public noticeboard is certainly making people think about the affair in a whole new light.)
So, (Get to the point!) Eileen was indeed going to read the notice but couldn't because of the poor light...
(More back story: the noticeboard down at the Co-op was cunningly constructed so as to be in total darkness after sunset and in midwinter the sun sets mid-afternoon around here. The overhanging roofy bit of the notice board which shelters you from the rain (on the rare occasions the rain comes straight down as opposed to sheeting in horizontaly which is the norm) also completely shades out the streetlight on the other side of the road. The thing was also cunningly placed right next to where the trucks delivering to the Co-op have to reverse round a tight corner and has been semi-demolished at least twice.)
Ilene couldn't read the notice so I backed up the car and switched on my headlights so she could see.

None of which is got anything to do with what I started out to say. What I started out to say was, as we were chatting, Ilene asked me how the 'dirty weekend' had gone and the first thought that popped into my head was "Didn't you read the blog?"

I need to get out more and socialise face to face and do real talking to people.

*'rift' as in Great Rift Valley

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

test of new PFF installation...

Edit: ...which obviously works.

PFF = Performancing For Firefox, which is the sit at the bottom of the window blogging tool I've been using for a while but, after I foolishly upgraded it, it stopped (and there you have me and computers in a nutshell).

Now someone has fiddled with something somewhere and it's up and running again. For which I am grateful. Thank you anonymous World Wide Interweb people for your tireless fiddling, and for making at least one of my Firefox extensions work again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Not much exciting happened today so I drew a cartoon.

I'll get my coat...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blah day. Cold but beautiful. It snowed heavily last night and there was snow down to the tree line. Dead calm this morning and a high tide. Real picture postcard weather.

It was one of those days in which nothing much seemed to get done. We went shopping in Oban and filled the car up with stuff from Tesco, Lidl, a couple of charity shops and home again, put the kids to bed and watched a movie. Well, started to watch one, got so pissed off with it we junked it and I fetched another off the impressive (in size, not content) 'Movies we have not yet watched' heap,

On the way down to Oban Merriol texted Morag to see if she wanted anything. Morag did, and because the kids were playing up and it was getting late I was delegated to run round Lidl and get the stuff for her. Have you ever tried to do someone else's shopping? I found it totally confusing.

Morag had asked us to get things we don't normally buy. It's very odd how quickly you get into ruts. I go into Lidl buy umpteen things, but they're always pretty much the same things. I notice new lines when they appear on the shelves but somehow I manage to tune out all the other stuff that has always been there that I don't normally get, so when I was asked to purchase some of this stuff I had somehow trained myself not to see - I just couldn't find it.

I thought I knew where everything was in the store (it ain't that big after all) but I just couldn't find the stuff she wanted us to get till I had walked past it five times and then asked one of the few and far between downtrodden workers. It was a very unsettling experience.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Know! I Know! But My Legs Don't Understand.

An interesting day.

I cleaned poo off a carpet, bathed one of my kids, wiped milk off the stairs, mopped up a puddleful of water off the kitchen floor, and scraped gobbets of congealing porridge off the table - and all before nine in the morning.

In the afternoon I got offered the lead roll in a movie.

The movie is a lo-lo-no budget thing and it's five minutes long but "If you're interested the lead role is yours" are words every actor dreams about. Especially if it gets me out of wiping Daisy's arse for a few days.

In the evening Merriol and I took ten minutes to track down the rightful owner of the lost camera, a feat about which, we will have great fun telling the nice policewoman who has had the thing for the past three months. (Actually I will let Merriol tell you about that on her blog tomorrow as it was her brilliant deductive powers that broke the case - too much Miss Marple if you ask me.)

I found a pedometer of the kitchen floor during the morning (where does this stuff COME from?) . I zeroed it and clipped it on my belt.

I just took it off. It read 12753.

According to this site that is about six miles. I'll believe that. Most of it up and down stairs. No wonder I'm buggered at the end of the day.

Oh, and it snowed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I Wish You Could Open Up Sunshine To See What's In It

I spent the greater chunk of today varnishing and assembling a couple of Ikea storage box things we bought on our shopping orgy in Glasgow. How sad is that by the way - I mean the fact that going shopping in Ikea is a big treat for us? This trip we did make the serendipitous discovery that going round Ikea on Friday night is a good idea. The place is practicaly empty. Most of the population of Scotland spends Friday night getting themselves plastered, or in hiding from those that are, not wandering around warehouses full of flatpack lifestyles. Sunday afternoon on the other hand, we went back to buy some things we decided we couldn't live without) and the place was packed, a nightmare - full of families with kids all moving at 0.1 miles per hour pushing huge fucking trolleys empty apart from a funky plastic toothmug and a £4 table lamp plonked in the middle. Beats going to church I suppose.

Anyway. These little wooden trunky things: wooden cubes made of open little wooden slats. Half way through shellacing them I was really starting to regret it but the thought of trying to clean felt pen or paint off totally untreated wood was even worse so I finished. It was one of those so boring it becomes hypnotic / addictive jobs. After the shellac had dried (which wasn't long, one of the nice things about shellac is that it dries very quickly and doesn't stink the house out, unlike polyeurathane) I assembled them and found myself the proud possessor of another two dinky little Ikea's self-assembly double ended Allen keys. There's one in every Ikea bit of Ikea Flatpack furniture. I have dozens of the buggers in my workshop. One of these days I will find a use for them (other than dismantling Ikea furniture) I will, I will. That or someone in Ikea will finally realise the scrap value of these things and start placing little boxes in every store for you to dump them in so they can be melted down to make 'Snott' kitchen roll holders or something equally weirdly named.

(Typing Snott and Ikea into Google gets 18,100 results... just in case you were tempted).

This evening, interrupted only by letting my family thrash me at Scrabble, I will be listing stuff on eBay. It's a chaepo day on Thursday and we need the cash now that I am not working again. We also need the space, given my predilection for buying crap (I only bought 14 CDs last week). This will be the first chance I have had to sell anything for a while, what with one thing and another and I am totally confused by the new postal regime. Until a few months ago the Post Office would charge you by the weight of your letter or parcel.

It weighs X grammes? You pay Y pence.

Simple. Easy.

It got a little more complicated when you took into account weight limits for different classes of postage. If an item was too heavy to post First Class it had to go either Parcel Post or Second Class. (Or was it the other way around?) But it was livable with. Like I said; easy.

Then, for some reason known only to themselves, they changed it. Not only do you now have to know how heavy something is but how big it is too. If it measures this by that and will slip through the handy plastic slot on the counter it will be charged at one rate, but if it this by that and won't go through the slot, then it's charged at another higher rate. If it is within a different, larger set of this by that's, and still goes through the slot, then it's another rate - and then there's a third set of measurements... after which I have no idea. They probably make you saw the thing in half and post it in pieces.

It is utterly confusing.

Time was, I used to be able to shove a heavy book in a jiffy bag, heft it in my hand, and think - 'that feels like about £2 worth of postage'. Now I have no idea.

Nor does anyone else.

I'll have to take everything down to the Post Office, see if it shoves through the slot, get it weighed, and have it priced before I can list it. It's stupid. I heard one Post Office official on the radio saying it was a system that worked well in Holland. That explains a lot. It was probably invented one Friday night by two stoned postal workers in an Amsterdam dope cafe and scribbled on the back of a napkin. Made perfect, almost mystical sense at the time, but in the cold light of day....?

I wonder if Dutch Ikeas are busy on Friday nights?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Job is over and I am now gainfully unemployed. Hurrah! Full time house-husbanding again.

The day the job finished Merriol and I buggered off to Glasgow for a weekend without the kids. Posh Hotel - lots of shopping, not being woken up at 3.30 am by Daisy demanding a story.


Realising on the first night that I forgotten to take a book with me. No so Heavenly.

How can I have forgotten to take a book with me? I cannot normally move without at least one book somewhere within reach (on the Ferry over to Islay last Thursday I shoved three in my pockets before we set off (and this was five in the morning! I was hardly able to walk! let alone make thinkings) Toothbrush. Books. It's automatic; it's instinctive. I can't function without a book to read but, more importantly in this case, I can't sleep without a book to read. Something about the rhythm of the eye movements while reading is very hypnotic. So there I was, stuck in a hotel room wide awake, Merriol snoring away by my side. Nothing else to do, I plugged my walkman earphones into the socket in front of the bedside telly and flipped through the available channels. I landed on an interesting program about the late, great Ivor Cutler. After that finished I flipped on through the channels pausing only to wonder why anyone would want to watch cricket or wrestling at two a.m. when I discovered the - Free Porn Channel.


I had a real Joey Tribbiani-like moment. Cooool, free porn!

Just a moment.

Dear God! save me from the badness of British Porn. The highlight of my brief stay on the channel was watching a well-endowed young lady bring herself to a 15 minute (OK, it wasn't that brief a stay) fake orgasm that made Meg Ryan's Harry Met Sally one look understated. Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Ah! Ah! Oh! ah AOOOH! AH!!! AHAHAHAAAH! Oh! Oh! OH! - and on and on and on she went and she didn't stop chewing her gum for one single second!
Chewing gum? Who the hell chews gum while having sex? Even with yourself?
What I found even more amazing was that her relentless chewing didn't match any other visible on-screen rhythm. Various parts of this naked woman were oscillating at various interesting speeds and in various interesting directions as she Oh! Oh! Oh!ed away at herself and yet none of them matched her chewing at all. It was fascinating. It was like watching a jazz drummer keeping some bizzare beat going. Did Gene Krupa write sex manuals? (Insert your own joke about paradiddling yourself here, I am not going to stoop so low.)

It was incredible. It was like she was lap dancing a Dave Brubeck number: Take Five or Unsquare Dance. It was the second best bit of acting I had seen all week.

The first best bit of acting I saw all week was, without doubt, me acting my way through the first part of the show on Islay despite being in some considerable pain. What happened was this:
The third scene of the show had me pretending to be 5 years old and throwing a tantrum because I couldn't get the toys I wanted. Thursday, it being the last show, I thought I would go all out and really throw the tantrum to end all tantrums. If Bob could overact mercilessly, why couldn't I? I worked my way up to it fine, got the dialogue out, built myself up with frustrated anger - then let rip, I jumped up and down, whined in the annoyingly high pitched sulky winge, thrashed my clenched hands around like I had done forty odd times before only this time I pulled out all the stops and really went for it - and whacked myself right in the testicles with my fist.

I managed to punch myself in the balls.

Stop laughing; it was agony!

The next few minutes were insanely hard work, acting as if nothing had happened and carrying on with the banal banter that followed, when all I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cuddle my nads - I must have been good because no one else noticed anything was wrong. I love actors. We're so sensitive.

Missing CD? Contact vendor

Free CD
Please take care
in removing from cover.

Copyright (c) 2004-2007 by me, Liam Baldwin. That's real copyright, not any 'creative commons' internet hippy type thing.

(this copyright notice stolen from

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