31 May 2017

Pond life

Are these coots in the first picture? Anyway whatever we call them they are what they are, which could be called anything and would make no difference. But the significant issue to me was that the mother was tirelessly catching tiny black fish and feeding them to her children even though the children were demonstrably able to catch and feed for themselves; thus in that little mother bird I saw the behaviour my own dear lady displays every time she journeys round town with our daughter who now earns about twice as much as her mother. Much animal behaviour is universal.

30 May 2017

A woman walks in

Four guys chatting...
Woman arrives... 
One guy loses all interest in chatting to guys
and three guys look slightly glum.

28 May 2017

Names awaited

A visit to the Black Watch regiment museum at Balhousie Castle is of personal relevance to me as at the age of 19 my father landed with the Black Watch in Normandy a few days after the D-Day landings and soldiered his way through France, Belgium and Holland until finishing deep within Germany. The most poignant moment, however, was standing in front of this memorial to the dead from much more recent and more questionable campaigns, and looking at that empty slab at the middle right that has been erected to bear the names of young men or women, currently still full of life, or perhaps who are not even men or women yet but are running carefree around Scotland as youngsters. The presumption that the names will inevitably arrive once the half-full slab at the middle left is filled is disturbing.

26 May 2017

You want a "Happy Face"?

I am the one on the left, without the fur, and just about managing to look cheerful while my friend is her usual enigmatic and I suspect somewhat disapproving self. She understands me, I am fairly sure of that, and she is similarly aware that it is generally best not to betray too much from within. She does occasionally approach me and dunt my forehead with hers, and we both understand that.

25 May 2017

Two time Tay

I increasingly realise that everything I need for pleasure and inspiration is at home, or very close, a thought that was thought while enjoying a Tayside walk today in glorious sunshine and a mere fifteen minute drive from my house.

And in such strong sunshine that I had to turn my cap back and raise my collar, preferring to look even more idiotic than usual than risk sunburn on the back of my virtually melanin-free Scottish neck:

That is my "happy face", by the way, even though it might suggest that I was contemplating throwing myself off the bridge.

24 May 2017

23 May 2017

The need to breed

Flowers exist because they successfully attract insects, apparently. Insects are attracted to feed, and inadvertently help to set and spread the seed, apparently. The seed is the reason for the plant, the weed, and the plant the reason for the seed, apparently. I pause and look because the flower pleases me, apparently. But why, beneath this sunny sky, do I like the flower so much? Is it because creatures that enjoyed what nature has to offer were more bothered to survive, and reproduce, and spread their own seed? One way or another it is all about the need to breed, apparently. To live and feed, to seed and breed.

21 May 2017

Walk on

Moving across the metaphorical page, are we writers or just readers as we go? A bit of both, perhaps? A mix of fate and chance and freedom... or just the dupes of an illusory feeling that we control the steps we take, while walking, writing, reading on? I have plans, so do you, but other things may have plans for each of us too. What to do? Walk on, write on, read on, go through.

20 May 2017

Another walk past the wall

Some of the worst of the worst, the baddest of the very bad, reside in Perth prison, including some who will never get out; but who can look out from those high windows, first constructed to hold Frenchmen captured in the Napoleonic wars, and who may see me, from time to time, wandering past on my way to the bridge across the river to play golf, past the unmarked graves of the last men to die on the gallows there: Edward Johnstone - executed 19 August 1908 for the murder of Jane Wallace (Withers); Alexander Edmundstone - executed 16 July 1909 for the murder of Michael Swinton Brown; Stanislaw Miszka - executed 6 February 1948 for the murder of Catherine McIntyre; then wandering back, then to the golf again, then, back, and to and back, again, again; past some of the worst of the worst, the baddest of the bad, who must from time to time look out, knowing that they will never get out, and who may see me, wandering to the golf, and back, again, again, us all getting older, on opposite sides of the wall.

Mind the gap

Nowadays it is an image that stimulates thoughts of madness, of what the lunacies of belief and brain fever can drive some people to, yet however alarming it could seem out of context and with no indication of relative motion, it was just an incongruously parked truck in a pedestrian precinct containing two young men eating sandwiches with their coffee while taking sneaky glances at a pretty young woman on a bench. Moments later a young man arrived, took the pretty woman by the hand and they walked away, leaving the truck drivers to their sandwiches and coffees and dreams.

19 May 2017

Inveralmond Alchemy

I was busy writing a book in The Salutation Hotel, which has been welcoming guests since 1699, and where Prince Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of King James the Seventh, based himself for a while during his Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, and beneath Bonnie Prince Charlie's old room I supped easily on Inveralmond Brewery's Blackfriar beer, brewed in Perth and named after the city's Blackfriars monastery where King James the First was murdered in 1437... then as the bottle neared empty I noticed the alcohol content of the commemorative brew was 7%. Ah... The world of electrons and molecular orbitals began to seem less important, so I went for a walk by the river beside the King James the Sixth golf course, and opposite the site of Oliver Cromwell's army's old barracks, taking care not to fall into the cold water as I thought about all those King Jimmys, and monks, and murders and battles, and the history which the wide River Tay had all flowed past, just as it still flowed past me fast today. Then the chemistry of brewing wore off, gradually, and my mind returned to the chemistry of chemistry.

15 May 2017

Starbank Inn

Silence, other than mild murmurings from afar, one pint of Guinness, sunshine flooding in from across the blue Forth, serene solitude, 73 minutes, 1346 words... Thus time passes on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

2 May 2017


A few of those who know me probably suspected that my "Last Post" previous post might not actually be my last post. I have said it before and recanted before. There were reasons, but situations change. I am pondering a reawakening of this blog and I have opened up for comments again. Does anybody care? I thought about taking this decision while sitting looking over the top of my laptop at the scene below in the lounge of our hotel on the Isle of Bute. It was a deserted and vast old hotel which seemed to me to be rather full of ghosts, even though I don't really believe in ghosts, although one of them seemed to be whispering something in my ear... or perhaps it was just the beer.