Friday, 28 September 2012


The buffet breakfast is a mighty beast, is it not. You may eat a piece of dry toast normally, but see the buffet and you just can't stop. Or is it me. On one occasion, I managed orange juice, cereal, toast, yogurt, cheese, assorted fruit, coffee and a range of small pastries in the space of 45 minutes. I could barely make it back to my hotel room. When I did, I fell on the bed where I lay for the next three hours like a beached whale. I missed the coach trip, the karaoke, the hypnotist and the bingo, so there was an up side. I know someone who, when on holiday, scoffs a similar gigantic breakfast and manages to smuggle out - on his person - four bread rolls, half a pound of cheese, six pains aux chocolat and a bowl of fruit for lunch. Impressive.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


I told my friend about this blog. I said don't expect too much - it's not highbrow or anything. She came back to me with some feedback. I can't possibly go into details, but her summary said (and I quote): "Thought-provoking, perceptive and meaty. Essential reading." The feedback was unsettling, to say the least. I got back to her immediately and said I think you've read someone else's blog. If I've provoked any thought here, then there's a problem. This thing is what it is, and I've no idea what it is. How could it be thought-provoking when it isn't even thought-directed? Oh yes, I've got a mind, and I'll give you a piece of it. Just don't go assuming that it's a mind worth exploring. I've been exploring my own mind for years and it hasn't been a picnic in the park. Mind + Exploration = Fast Track to Early Psychiatric Intervention. End of.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


I've read Harry Potter. I've imagined myself wearing the Sorting Hat. I know the rules of Quidditch and the whereabouts of the Goblet of Fire. What's not to like.
That J.K.Rowling had a brainwave on a train. She got home, and before she even got a cup of tea she'd written the whole damn saga on three rolls of toilet paper. Six publishers later and voila! She's the richest woman this side of the asteroid belt. Now I admire that kind of kick-ass self-belief. I've had a few rejection letters myself, but I'm not about to be disheartened by the narrow-minded views of eighty-five publishers. My socio-psychopolitical novels for young adults are relevant and original. I made my niece read three of them. She said she could find not a shred of literary flair nor the remotest trace of a plot in any of my work. I said thanks for nothing. Don't be expecting a Christmas present.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


You look up at billions of stars, consider the expanding universe until your brain hurts, eat some more chocolate. What's it all about? Existential anxiety. You put three pairs of socks in the washing machine, five socks come out. You start dressing like white trailer trash and drinking martinis randomly. Existential anxiety. Here's my top tip. Don't fight it. Go to some remote spot (lots in Rural Perthshire), adopt a confident stance and address the Massive Great Muppet of Eternity thus: I GET THE JOKE, DUDE. NOW GET ME OUT OF THIS GOD-AWFUL LOOP OF MADNESS AND GIVE ME SOME ANSWERS. BY FRIDAY.
I come back from these (weekly) trips a more centred, calm and compassionate person. I can't say the deep-rooted distress ever goes away. It just gets more intense, more troubling and frankly more  overwhelming by the week. I'm thinking of starting a support group: Coping with Seriously Debilitating Existential Threat. Friday evenings at my place. Bring your social worker.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Car boot sales in Rural Perthshire are legendary. You can't live in Rural Perthshire without slipping 'car boot sale' into your  conversation at least once a day. I loaded my car this morning with sixteen boxes of stuff, confident that my quality products would entice even the most cautious buyer to part with a shedload of cash. Though I say it myself, the artistic flair with which I displayed my goods was staggering. Punters swarmed round my table within minutes of setting up. Business was frenetic. Here's a taste of the banter:
Punter:  'How much for this completely knackered alarm clock?'
Me: 'Five quid. And I'll throw in these rusty tent pegs as well.'
Punter: '50p.'
Me: 'Done.'
And so the morning went. Hours flew by in a blur of high energy trading and weak tea. It was somewhat worrying to discover that I had eighteen boxes of stuff when I packed up. Still, I couldn't wait to get home and check out my earnings. I admit that £11.75 was disappointing, but hell, you don't do a car boot sale in Rural Perthshire for the money. Or the weak tea.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


I'm reviewing my summer. The high points, the surprises, the disappointments. I had visitors from Devon in June. It was their first time in Rural Perthshire. It was fortunate that they came by car and had the foresight to pack three emergency suitcases of winter clothing. This was mid-June, and the temperature peaked at around 8 degrees celsius. How we laughed. They couldn't wait to hit the road south, and I reckon that's the last time I'll see them this side of hell freezing over. Then there was my garden party in July. The rain held off, and my pots of flowers looked gorgeous. Of the 63 people invited, however, 19 made it (if you include the dodgy new neighbours). If I'd suspected I was Billy-No-Mates before, it hit me that day like a hard slap with a wet fish.
So those were the high points. The surprises? Finding £2.70 down the side of the sofa; realising that I can yodel; painting garden furniture is addictive. (I've done benches for several neighbours. None of these people gave a word of thanks.)
                                                                      A blue bench                         

And the disappointments. You'll have read about some. Incidents with the caber, the caravan, the cake. Others are in the hands of my legal team, and I can't talk about them here.

Friday, 21 September 2012


I'm not addicted to online shopping and there's no way you can prove it. Those boxes of self-help books; the wardrobe stuffed with belgian chocolates and catering packs of bombay mix - well they're none of your business. Yes I buy the occasional item on Amazon. Yes I've glanced at mobilehomes-online. If I want to buy a small caravan and collect it from a dodgy dealer in a car park somewhere in Glasgow - well I'm an intelligent adult and I know what I'm doing. I had three memorable weekends touring Rural Perthshire towing that cute little van. Had it not been for the rear axle collapsing on a particularly tight bend approaching Aberfeldy, I'd be on my way to Orkney by now. I dragged that caravan down a dirt track, dumped it, torched it, then got the hell out of there.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I've seen Location Location Location hundreds of times. I'd fix those awkward house hunters up in no time at all.
Step One: What are your requirements? Three beds, large garden, village location. Fine.
Step Two: What's your budget? £250k. Fine.
Step Three: I've found just what you're looking for. Result.
Step Four: What is your problem? I quit. Find your own property. Really. Look in this Fairy Dust Delusional Property Guide.
Oh here's one:-
Three ensuite double bedrooms, solid wooden floors throughout, rural location with gorgeous cosy pub within walking distance, enormous garden incorporating small orchard, miniature waterfall and sunken outdoor jacuzzi. Small VW campervan included. Offers around £39,000, but would accept £25,000.
Sarcastic? Moi?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I can cook, and sometimes alarmingly well. There are no cookbooks in my kitchen. I create on the spur of the moment with flair and fearlessness. Guests have been amazed at the dishes I've put before them. Comments like: 'The taste is indescribable' and 'I've never tasted anything like this before' reveal just how overwhelming my food can be.
I recently entered a baking competition somewhere in Rural Perthshire. I produced a magnificent basil-infused cous cous and chocolate upside down crumble cake. Two factors set it apart from the competition. One, it was shaped like a small Scottish bothy, and two, it weighed 25 kilos. Exactly. It was one mother of a cake. The judges were speechless. I won a 'special' prize, which comprised a weekend one-to-one cookery course at a prestigious hotel and my word that I would never, ever, enter the competition again.
I got the cake home eventually. A passing farmer dragged  it (with some difficulty) on to the back of his lowloader. I put that mother outside and demolished it with a lump hammer, so deep was my humiliation.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


You'll have heard of a book called Eat, Pray, Love. I've read it. This American woman goes to Italy, India and Indonesia to sort herself out, eat herself stupid and find a man. That about sums it up. I've written a book called Search, Silence, Shoe. It reflects a memorable year of travelling in Burma, Belgium and Blairgowrie, during which time I came face to face with myself. I looked in the mirror and said: 'How did you come to this?' It was tough. I realised that my journey was no Eat, Pray, Love retail opportunity. This was a gutsy, brutally honest exploration of human frailties. (Not mine, obviously.) In Burma I began the Search; in Belgium I met Silence; in Blairgowrie I found a Shoe. That about sums it up. I'm working on a sequel. It's called Me, You, But Mainly Me.

Monday, 17 September 2012


Face blank page. Place fingers on keyboard. Engage brain. Focus on subject. Begin writing blog. Simple. Right. Fingers moving on keyboard. Brain engaged but worryingly dull. Blank page filling up. Brain becoming vacant. Where to now. Scan brain for residual cognitive activity.....nothing. Subject matter missing. Blog continues characteristically. Watching television. Who are these people? What are they saying? When will I accept responsibility for myself? Why have I consistently and abjectly failed to meet my potential? Tough questions, but they don't intimidate me.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


My guitar playing lacks polish. It also lacks technical skill, artistic merit and musical ambience. I have played the guitar for forty-five years. I hit a low plateau forty-two years ago and it's been downhill since then. If you were to hear me play, you would say: SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP. I myself wear industrial strength earplugs when I play. All this, and yet....... Playing The Guitar is one of my favourite hobbies. It's an expression of my deeply creative self. It's a statement of personal courage and self-belief in the face of overwhelmingly damning feedback that my guitar-playing is astonishingly awful. I have recently bought a violin. Can you sense my excitement as I contemplate this new and wonderful musical journey ahead of me?

Saturday, 15 September 2012


I'm thinking about walking the Fife Coastal Path. It's about 116 miles long. I'm visualising myself with my rucsac and waterproofs, striding out, taking in the sea air. It's a big commitment: I know this. I have a number of questions at this early stage of the planning process:
  • should I walk clockwise or anti-clockwise?
  • how many sandwiches will I need, and which fillings would be best?
  • is it appropriate to carry travellers' cheques?
  • will I get my picture in the PA? (Perthshire Advertiser)
Logistical planning for events of physical endurance admittedly is not one of my strengths. Astute as my questions are, I can't help feeling that I'm missing the whole central concept of this long distance walk. You may be surprised to hear that flippancy, ignorance and crass stupidity have landed me in plenty of trouble in the past. I'm going to give myself a damn good talking to. Then I'm going to get me some seriously expert advice on the details and the challenges of this thing.
Does anyone have a map of Fife?

Friday, 14 September 2012


My visit to the hairdresser today was uneventful until the stylist said: "Would you like some product?"
"Product? I said. "Fish paste? Engine oil?"
"No" she said. "Mousse, wax, spray, gel. That kind of thing." Friday afternoon. I honestly couldn't have given a dog's monkey. "Yes" I said.
"Which one?" asked the stylist.
"All of them. Let's go large."
I had no idea what I was talking about. I realised about halfway through the application process that I'd made a terrible mistake. How can hair possibly be made to resemble a partially-constructed bird's nest topped with assorted pretzels?
The stylist seemed pretty impressed with her creation.
"You've ruined my life," I said.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


An autumnal chill has descended on Rural Perthshire. It's a seasonal thing. Local conversations have  shifted from the amazing, spectacular, unbelievable Olympic Games to the most comfortable thermal underwear and the optimum grip for a snow shovel. I'm fully prepared for a repeat of the 2010 winter. Two weeks it took me to tunnel out from the front door to shout for help. The memories are still vivid. I'd lived on boiled rice and cardboard for the last few days. Phone lines were down, heating was off, water froze. I learned more about survival skills in those fourteen days than you would believe. I put a small tent up in the living room, whittled myself a canoe paddle from an old book-case and felt just like Ray Mears. Much self-reflection too, as you can imagine. I came out of the whole harrowing experience a more egotistical, angry and suspicious person. But, I have a snow shovel. I have survival skills. I have no book-case.

                                          I'm inside the car

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Did I mention that my favourite film character is Donkey in Shrek? I find that he has an impressive range of acting skills and a depth to his performance rarely seen in contemporary actors. Donkey has consistently refused to tell his story to the press. It's refreshing to find an A-lister these days who actively avoids publicity. He is a man of immense stature and principled integrity. I actually do a mean impression. Listen to this: "I'm a Flying Talking Donkey!" The pace, the tone, the inflexion: all spot on, I think you'll find.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Now the Olympics and the Paralympics are over, I've decided to start a new regime in fitness training. I like to aim high, so I'll be putting myself forward for 2016. This is the schedule: select a sport by end of December 2013; buy the necessary equipment by end of June 2014; begin training by end of December 2014; reach peak of physical performance by June 2015; apply for selection on 31/7/15. So, no pressure at all.
Field events appeal, but the unfortunate incident with the javelin on the school field many years ago perhaps suggests that throwing  lethal objects is not for me. Something sitting down would be good. Competing at Dressage would be satisfying as I'm very good at choreographing dance. How hard can it be to supervise a horse. Then there's sailing. I've watched it on television. A couple of hours in a boat - I think I'd be cruising. You can see why I've set my selection-of-sport date so far ahead.

Monday, 10 September 2012


So, I should tell you something about myself. What harm could it possibly do. Politics? I'd describe myself as north, north-east, with strong leanings to the eradication of hair extensions and the development of puppetry in higher education. I support local community projects with vigour and commitment. Current examples are: turning my neighbours' front garden into a skate park for disadvantaged children (let's hope it's done before they're back from Majorca); baking and selling chocolate chip cookies to raise funds for the Society of Lost Property; knitting leg warmers for abandoned donkeys.
Let's move on to religion - always a contentious topic. I find solace in a Christian-Buddhist stance, laced with overtones of Jedi principles. Can you feel the force. I enjoy rigorous debate on a wide range of subjects, which is surprising given that I am chronically unable to follow an argument or piece together a coherent one myself. My hobbies are collecting vegetables, buying solar panels and hopping. I can say 'No, Officer, I have no idea what happened' in sixteen languages.
My favourite soup is asparagus.

Saturday, 8 September 2012


Let's not mention the loss or normal service yesterday. We'll move on, because the past is past, what's done is done, and life is never a bowl of cherries even if you live in a house made of fruit.
Crucial  questions today are:
(i) are mud-smeared people in lycra shorts necessarily Scottish?
(ii) do mountain bikes and laundry baskets go together in unusual ways?
(iii) are jelly babies really fruit?
I'm tired. This is the only reason I have to explain the bizarre content of today's blog. Let's regroup tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


So I'll be leaving Rural Perthshire tomorrow for a weekend in and around Oban, on the west coast.I'll be packing food, guitar, outdoor gear, bike, canoe, paddle and survival bag. Anything can happen. There's lots to do in Oban. A spot of busking on the esplanade; jump on a ferry to the islands; check out Tesco's 2 for 1 deals. Personally I like to pretend I'm a lost eastern european tourist. I'll stop a local and say things like: 'Scoozie you, please, eez Sauchiehall Street?' It's terrible really, to see the desperation in someone's eyes as they struggle to break the news that I'm nowhere near Glasgow. This sort of anti-social behaviour passes an hour or so.
                                             Clearly not paddling types........

The open water swim across to Kerrera - part of the Craggy Island  Triathlon - will be great fun. For the spectators. If you're in an ill-fitting wet suit (another misguided ebay purchase) just trying to stay alive while some elite athlete submerges you as s/he charges for the bank with merciless aggression...well it's grim isn't it. Never mind. Maybe you can accidentally knock the fecker into a ditch as s/he laps you on the bike section.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Some men in a kilt in Rural Perthshire

Blogging is my life now. Already I can feel that I am a more rounded, more fulfilled person. I  never took the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder seriously anyway.Today, out on my travels, I noticed that Blairgowrie Highland Games were cancelled last weekend due to inclement weather. I think that's the third year in a row. It's a shame, particularly as I had registered only last week as the first female Toss The Caber competitor. I've had a couple of practices with a short log I found lying about in Rural Perthshire. Things were going really well until I overbalanced, lost all control of the log's trajectory and got a bit of concussion. Some locals found me lying face down in a small ditch and brought me round with a couple of sharp slaps to the back of the head. I think I need a slighly shorter log.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Sadly this blog has no direction. It is a series of meandering statements, a manifestation of a disfigured mind, a random collection of weightless notions. Frankly I can keep this up for years. If you're looking for profound, or informative, or challenging, you won't be detained here. Or will you? In real life, I have - on occasion - shocked acquaintances with an astute comment which evidences a complex world view. Well, no I haven't, to be honest. So, to sum up. No purpose, no message, no content. Not in my blog.

Monday, 3 September 2012


Fourteen degrees celsius in St Andrews....does it get any better. Picture late summer leisure at the beach: children splashing at the water's edge, romantic picnics for two, an elderly gent dozing in a deck chair. Visiting from south of the border? You'll be wearing a duffle coat, two pairs of gloves and a balaclava. The locals are easy to spot. They're in bermuda shorts, string vests and wellies. You don't mess with these women. It'll need to hit six degrees before they put a jumper on. Yes, I did paddle and yes I was wearing a jumper. Remember I travelled from Rural Perthshire. It makes no sense to me either.
                                      A lone open water swimmer from Rural Perthshire

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Where is the enthusiasm, the focus of yesterday? Where are the big ideas, the plans, the clarity? All gone. Like a slug on prozac, today I really couldn't give a damn about the best route down the garden path. I think I might change the font size of this blog. Impulsive and edgy I know, but that's the kind of thinker I am.
So, the week ahead looks challenging, but I smirk at the idea of challenge. I scoff in the face of adversity. Last week I had to fit new wipers on my car and new ink cartridges on my printer. That'll give you a flavour...dynamic is my middle name. Actually I don't have a middle name.Years of therapy to address that little omission were only marginally successful. Don't get me started.

Saturday, 1 September 2012


It's September 1st and I have officially written off Summer 2012 as a wet dishcloth. Autumn beckons, and with it more manic ideas of novel writing, swimming the channel and putting a show on the Edinburgh Free Fringe next year. Chances of any if these things becoming reality? Remote, at best. But aim high, or crazy, that's what I think.
So today, I have forced my mind away from the wonder of Mahjong Titans and invested my time into something far more stimulating and intellectually profitable. I've re-invented myself as a Blogger. At the moment, I have no real grasp of what that actually means, but it's all part of the online adventure. I refuse to get on to the mud-caked tractor of Facebook or associate myself with the inanity that is Twitter. You will read nothing here of  the hilarious incident with my hairdryer. You will remain clueless about the recent week of severe constipation. No. I may be a Blogger, but I have a life in real time.