So much for congestion charging in Edinburgh On the one hand I'm very relieved since the proposed scheme would have hit me prsonally quite hard whilst utterly failing to fund a viable alternative means of transport to and from work. On the other hand I supported the idea in principle and kinda wish the city had done a better job with their proposal so that it stood a chance in the referendum...

It's worth noting that even local councils like Fife (which did stand to benefit from the funds raised) were opposed tho the proposed plan. Nice one ECC, you over egged the congestion charging pudding and now nobody wants a slice.




I'm not going to mention the unmentionable heating, except to say it's being dealt with. Suffice it to say that the gods read my blog, and they have a sick sense of humour, so I don't want to give them ideas.

I'm not well. I seem to have succumbed to the latest nasty bug doing the rounds at work and I fervently hope that I didn't pass it on to Mum and Dad this weekend. I think it started to kick in on Sunday: I felt a bit off colour then but put it down to having consumed rather a lot of red wine with my folks the night before. I did have a lovely time with Mum and Dad (as always) and they (like me) were most impressed with the carpeted lovliness that is my livingroom... the weekend was punctuated with exploding boilers (yes, that's "boilers" plural) but nobody seemed to mind greatly: I think they were taking their cues from me and I'm getting quite used to that sort of thing by now.

dammit I'm mentioning the unmentionable. I'd better stop that.

So I've spent the last day and a half either in bed or under a duvet on the sofa... which would be great if I were feeling up to enjoying it but I'm not. boo.

Outside it's been snowing, Anita tells me the hills between here and work are quite scarily snowy - she took the train in today after spending an hour and a half getting home by car yesterday. Good job I'm stuck indorrs then I suppose.

three for three

It's probably not a good sign when RHCP lyrics are the ones that make you sit up and nod in agreement... in some ways it's been a very bad weekend, two boilers have exploded, two! of them within two hours of having been installed and checked thoroughly by the manufacturers' chief engineer... I'm beginning to suspect malevolent bovine spirits are at work...

In other ways it's been a great weekend, Mum and Anita played in the Farmers' Market, Dad and I walked in the cold South Lanarkshire air together, we've sat in enjoying each others' company as always and the carpet is still a joy to walk on...

wanna know a secret?* I'd love to jack it all in, I'd love to disapear somehow and just not be living this life... so why do I? because on ballance, it's just so damned good. That says something: the man who's spent five and a half grand on having his house flooded three times this month, still loves his life.

In spite of it all I'm a lucky bastard


*not much of a secret when it's posted on the internet eh?

deja vu

my boiler's exploded.

haven't we been here before?


soft fluffy joy!

my new carpets are all down and last night Liz, Anita and I put the livingroom back to rights. I still need to clear up the aftermath downstairs and SuperPlumber is coming tomorrow morning to put in bypass piping by the boiler that should prevent any more hiccoughs with the heating (which has actually been working faultlessly for the last week anyway but shhh) but home is back to being a calming comfy space that I enjoy - comfier than it was before by a long way, and it was pretty comfy before.

I can't quite get over the carpet - it's another of the big changes I've made that once finished looks as if that's how it's always been, it just seems exactly right.


warm again!

joy! house is simultaneously warm and dry again... and on Monday men are bringing carpet for me, life is good.


Guess what happened today? it rained inside my house! This is not good.

We've been working on getting the house ready for its new carpets - Liz came over to help and we pulled up all the remaining laminate and cleaned the floor and stuff... then we decided to lift a bit of the floor to fix some wiring: when the plumbers were installing the pipe work they encountered some crazy wiring (surprise!) and accidentally cut through it. It wasn't live or powering anything so that didn't really matter. However I know what the line was for and without going into too much boring detail I worked out after the plumbers left that it'd be quite useful to reconnect it and use that line for something else, so while we were working tonight I decided to lift some of the floor and fix the wiring...

The sections of floor that were lifted were all screwed back down (by the baby apprentice plumber) so taking them up to do maintenance is a doddle, I've already re-laid the house's network cabling and replaced the floor so I wasn't expecting a problem... I certainly wasn't expecting to take a screw out and have a fountain appear in my livingroom... what would you have thought was the first thing you teach apprentice plumbers? perhaps don't put screws through pipes? yeah...

After I'd shut off the water I called Super-Plumber, he's very cross with his apprentice (the phrase "I'll ring his bloody neck" cropped up repeatedly) and is coming tomorrow to fix it.


On the bright side this showed up before the carpet was laid.

*having already used the title "splosh" I thought I'd try and recreate the sound water makes when escaping from one's floor at high pressure...


Last night we celebrated Pancake Day at Liz's. Liz played with her frying pan and made millions and millions of pancakes which were eaten by the hungry hoardes occupying her kitchen. They were very good pancakes too made with duck eggs from the Farmers' Market... mmmm

On my way over I fired off text messages to my family (only one of whom has so far replied - harumph!) because pancakes are an intrinsically 'family' thing to me: My folks have the best pancake pan in the known universe and bottles of ancient homemade raspberry vinegar which, while it might not sound it, but is actually one of the very best things ever to put on pancakes. Pancake Day was a very special occasion as a child, probably ranks up there in my memory with family birthdays and xmas, only it was for everyone at once (unlike birthdays) and Dad enjoyed it too (unlike xmas which used to just make him grumpy) which made it better than those!

When I left home to go to University, the first couple of years' Pancake Days went by unmarked - I remember the puzzled voices of family members down University payphone recievers, how could I have forgotten? Not that they were repudiating me for a lapsed observance, just that they were shocked I could have forgotten about such a big day. Since we all began living sepperate adult lives my family and I have through necessity made Pancake Day more of a movable feast. My big brother has a particular knack for knowing just when to suggest we make pancakes (you do have to be careful not to let them become an everyday food after all) but I still very seldom make them myself (even though I actually have a pretty good pan of my own nowadays, as well as good pancake-making genes.)

I'd never really thought about it until I was walking back to the car from Liz's last night, but pancakes for me are a deeply and intrinsically social thing: they're almost a kind of ritualised familial inclusion, and as much as anything that's why I only seem to ever eat them with groups of people that I love. Pancakes with 'the Gang' last night was probably the first time that Pancake Day has really felt like Pancake Day since I left home in 1996. My own oddball (and subconscious) emotional/ritual perspective on this particular food probably also explains why certain Canadian friends bitching about what constitutes a "real" pancake when I was making some for them last year upset me as much as it did.

Isn't it great when you manage to make sense of yourself?


I'm being referer-log spammed... at least I very much doubt that so many of you are arriving here via links on poker websites, that would make no sense... stupid spammers.

on the bright side of site statistics only about 18% of traffic so fra this month arrived at the old blog address, yay! my audience (mostly) remembers to update their bookmarks - thanks folks... and how will I replay you? by posting about my usage stats of course.

yeah. sorry about that. Real post to follow soon, I'm just still a bit zonked after the plumbing adventures.

my love is like a...

... busted clutch.

I love my car, we've covered that. Well it's a bad love and it's no good for me: I just got a massive repair bill this morning for fixing the clutch - something that really shouldn't have failed at this point in the car's three and a half year short life. The waranty of course ran out in September, and the clutch is broken so it must be repaired. I might very well get my money back from the manufacturer (who agree that at the car's young age this isn't something I should be dealing with.) but they need to see the old clutch first and determine why it failed and whether it's their fault or mine (how can it be mine?!) before they'll cough up... so in the meantime I'm saddled with a massive bill in order to get the car I rely on back working.

I really do love it though, I love driving it especially and it's a source of great joy to me, as well as being a gaping fanancial black-hole. - Generalisation: Patrick likes things which are very bad for him. boo.

I was describing to a friend the other night how I used to drive everyone everywhere in my first car - I loved that car too. I loved (and still love) driving for its own sake, and we were both observing that the same appears to be true for another mutual friend who recently passed his test. There are people for whom driving is a chore, and others who are frightened of it but there are also those who light up when they're behind the wheel and I'm very much one of them. Driving rocks.

Owning a car however... owning a car is hard. That first car I used to drive everyone everywhere in as a teenager had to go in the end because my money ran out and it just kept breaking... After I'd stopped mourning the loss of my wheels back then, I gradually began to realise how freeing it is not to own a car and if I could have afforded to stay living in the city I doubt I would ever have bought another... ironic really that I've been forced into owning another motorised money pit because couldn't afford to live where I didn't need one.

And yet, I still love it. Something must be wired wrong in my brain.


well this is wierd - I forgot both my laptop and my phone when I was leaving for work this morning, so I'm without both. For the first time in months there's only one computer on my desk and I'm cut-off from most of my lines of communication... very very strange sensation.

Of course I'm used to voluntarily cutting myself off like this, (more so actually, I mean I am blogging after all and there is a computer here, it's just not mine...) Going out into the wilds of Scotland I really enjoy switching everything off and leaving my digital; self behind for a while... but to have it happen accidentally, and then to otherwise still be in the same environment as usual, all feels very strange.


It's hard sometimes to put a sense of loss into words, I think the Scotsman's obituary writer says it best:

"Scotland's musical landscape is a sadder, less colourful and vastly poorer place following the death on Sunday night of Martyn Bennett"

It's rare to stumble into something genuinely original, but that's exactly what happened the night my friend Justin animatedly popped a tatty copied D90 cassette into my car stereo as he, Lara and I drove up the coast from Aberdeen to look for the Northern Lights. "You've got to hear this" are words I'm used to hearing from Justin, but that and the background engine noise of my old Panda were all that sounded familiar for the next hour or so.

It's possible that the magical atmosphere of that evening has coloured my feelings toward Bennett's music ever since - it was quite a night all round, though the three of us never did see the Aurora - I think though that I could have encountered that music any where or when and still have been moved in the same way... Something about that unexpected fusion of sounds and textures captures Scotland perfectly for me and over the years its become indellibly linked with my sense of this land as home.

Sad that such a powerfully original voice is silenced so young.



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