The ageing process

Now, I know that we all get a little older every day. But whereas on most days this a fairly imperceptible process, today I think I aged 10 years in a matter of hours. Firstly I caught myself listening to Radio Scotland, to some programme where a panel of ‘old’ people were discussing what it was like to be ‘old’ and the things that annoyed them and made them grumpy. Things like people not talking properly and, like, using bad grammar lots. And not being able to remember what they did last week while being able to sing their school song verbatim, in Latin, at the drop of a hat. It was quite an amusing discussion, at least until I realised that I had, for probably the first time ever, deliberately been listening to a radio programme with people TALKING. No music. (Clearly football and cricket commentaries don’t count here). On Radio Scotland. And I was enjoying it. What’s more, I found myself agreeing with a lot of their experiences, especially the being-grumpy ones. These people were, on average, about 70 years old. I am 32. This is worrying.

It got worse. After this trauma I went to see a customer who showed me a photo of her new baby grandson. And I had to agree that he was cute. And then I experienced the sinking realisation that all babies don’t look alike after all. I have definitely seen a lot of babies that were uglier than this little kid. I am not going to mention any names. I have always thought that all babies looked the same. It is almost a defining characteristic of my bachelor-ness. This worries me. I think I may have got married and turned into a sap without realising it. Interestingly I had a dream the other night where I got married. My ‘wife’ started out as one person, and halfway through the dream morphed into someone else entirely. Once again I’m not going to print any names here. I think this was a visionary illustration of how women change dramatically in a relationship from the fun-loving game-for-a-laugh character they are when you first meet them into… well I’d probably better stop there.

My Radio Scotland experience occurred while I was parked in the car park of McDonald’s, having a McFlurry. This, in hindsight, seems like the behaviour of an ageing man desperately trying to cling on to his youth. Perhaps I’m overreacting. Perhaps I need to spend more time in the company of older people, which always makes me feel ‘current’.

Wiseman, where’ve you gone, m8…

Operations, pancakes, and cricket

Operations first. My mum went into hospital today in preparation for getting her ankle messed around with tomorrow, yet again. She’ll be in until Friday probably, at which point she will return home and start waving her sceptre about and issuing decrees. Until then, she has left dad in my care, which is possibly a little foolish, but I am family and so she has to trust me.

So this week I am staying with dad. We had some discussions at the beginning of the week about our likely diet. Beer and sausages were proposed, and I have to say the old man’s face lit up, but sadly mum has stocked the fridge with proper food, and we’ll just have to make the best of it. How we’ll get through the week on my cooking is anyone’s guess, my dad has a drugs supply that would land him in serious trouble in Singapore, but whether any of them will be strong enough to counteract the effects of my culinary expertise remains to be seen. Those of you given to prayer might like to send some up for us both. Those of you who aren’t, now might be a good time to start 😉

I got a phonecall from a nice lady at the Yorkshire Building Society today, explaining that my fixed rate mortgage was about to expire and that my payments would shoot through the roof. I have to say I was more concerned at the time with trying to keep the jam on my pancake (this sounds like it could be a euphemism but it was completely literal this afternoon) as it was threatening to slide off. However, mortgage payments are a necessary evil (for homeowners at least) that one has to give one’s attention to from time to time, and so I tried to carry out an adult conversation about discounted rates and fixed rates and the like, while pretending not to eat a sticky pancake. It was quite a long conversation so I think I managed to get through 3 pancakes. Regrettably I managed to land a fair amount of the jam on my tie, which lent me a certain gravitas during my subsequent appointment with a client.

Bellevue finally took to the cricket field again last night, and managed to defeat our old friends D Mains for the third time this summer. We won by 5 wickets, despite my clumsy efforts behind the stumps. More here. Holy Cross also managed to win on Saturday – we beat Dunfermline by 6 wickets, which was immensely pleasing. I chipped in with 26 not out at the end.

Right, better get off to bed. Mum has left a list of commandments which must be obeyed in the mornings, and the morning isn’t my best time of day, so I’d better get some sleep. Don’t think too hard about jam and pancake euphemisms, although any printable suggestions will be received with interest…

The exciting life of a single man

Allow me to introduce my good friend Paul. Paul has expressed an interest in hearing about the exciting life of a single man. This is because he is married, and life is, as you can see above, somewhat devoid of excitement. So much so, that for kicks he sometimes wears a Superman thong. On top of his trousers.

Admittedly, tonight I am not setting new records in Friday night excitement. However, sometimes a cup of coffee and an Empire biscuit are all that’s required. Add Van Morrison to the mix, chuntering away in the background about a throne of Ulster day, and Wiseman on the (other) sofa setting the world to rights, and … jings I could be married. I have served Mark his coffee in the mug with ‘BIRD’ emblazoned on the side. It’s good for the mug to get an outing every now and then, even if it’s not a real bird using it. I must get out more myself.

Last night I got out, although only as far as John Sneddon’s for tea. Johnboy is the King of blue. He owns more blue clothing than an acolyte of the Temple of Darkness. He is also an excellent cook, and treated me to a great meal, after which I availed myself of his blue bathroom. He informed me that he had recently had a clearing out of his flat, and ditched a couple of pot-plants that weren’t quite up to scratch. One suspects that their demise was hastened by an inability to produce blue flowers.

It’s been a relatively quiet week. Managed to get my car washed, visit Stephen and Louise for the first time since they got married (in April!), give blood, and put some poison down for the mice, since the little darlings have made a reappearance. It has remained untouched for the last 24 hours, which is unlike them, but am not too worried as on this occasion the mice have chosen not to run around under my floorboards in the middle of the night. Which makes for a more restful night.

Tomorrow, Dunfermline await the might of Holy Cross 2nd XI. We lost last week, I eventually discovered, by 10 runs or so. Must win tomorrow. Am also working tomorrow, in the morning. Feels like I’ve worked every Saturday in the summer, probably because I’ve been away a few weekends recently, and so whenever I’ve been in Edinburgh at the weekend I’ve had to work. Normally it’s one in three or so. Had a look at the diary this week and realised that I haven’t had a full week off work for over a year now. Still, my week off in September is looming larger on the horizon. I think I’ll be ready for it when it comes…

Scenes from an Italian restaurant

Well, I’ve made it to Sunday. Yesterday was another of those hectic Saturdays that seem to keep cropping up during the summer. Work in the morning, cricket in the afternoon and Room 65 in the evening.

It’s now Sunday lunchtime, and I am firmly installed in my favourite PizzaExpress in Stockbridge. The doughballs have arrived, and the La Reine-with-no-olives is on its way. Some days change is a good thing, but other days a well-worn routine is very reassuring…

Yesterday’s cricket followed another well-worn routine, in that I got out LBW (I can hear Mark Robson groaning all the way from Australia), which was frustrating because I was well set on 28 and could’ve gone on to make a biggish score. Realistically, 28 is a biggish score for me (!), going by the last few seasons’ form, but it was still disappointing to get out. Although also a slight relief, as I needed to be at the Room 65 café for 8pm at the latest, and sometimes our matches don’t finish until after 8… I had visions of me still batting at 7.30 and torn between staying in and trying to ensure a much-needed victory for Holy Cross, and honouring my commitment to Room 65. However, my inability to play the swinging ball ensured that I had no such dilemma in prospect.

For those of you who think that cricket involves a lot of standing around doing nothing and can’t be very energetic, I would like to point out that all my muscles ache today, and I have a bruise on both thighs where the ball hit me. Am grateful I am not facing 90mph bowlers.

It’s now 3.30pm and I’ve outlasted almost all the lunchtime diners in PizzaExpress. The tiramisu is settling in my stomach and I am pondering a cup of tea. I have now been here long enough to consider putting some of my own pictures up on the wall beside my table. Am looking forward to going to Bellevue tonight after sleeping through both morning services. As in, sleeping in and MISSING both services, as opposed to going to both services and falling asleep. After a non-stop week of work immediately followed by Room 65, I am savouring the chance to recharge the batteries today. Hopefully next week will be a little more restful too.

Last night was my last night playing at Carrubbers, although the café continues to run for another 2 weeks. It was great fun playing with their band, and I am sorry in many ways that it’s now over for me. We sat on the stairs in the hallway after clearing up and restoring the auditorium to look more like a church again in time for today’s services, ate chips (from the legendary Clamshell chippy on the High Street) and tried unsuccessfully to get the tune of “You raise me up” out of our heads… nice way to end the week.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to pop in next week and see how it all sounds from the punters’ viewpoint.

There’s a buzz you get from playing with a band that’s hard to describe. Even the apparently simple task of all coming in together on the same chord, at the same time, is liable to bring a grin to my face. Perhaps that’s because, with me in a band, this doesn’t happen very often 😉 It was noticeable during the week how a slight change in personnel can make everything sound so different (at least on stage). I played with the same guitarist the whole week, but 2 different drummers, and 2 different bass players. Different bass players use different instruments, play the same songs in a different style and at different levels. Some drummers hit the drums harder than others, and some have more precise timing than others. For my part, I don’t think I played an intro to any given song the same way twice. Some of my intros were corkingly bad, which was amusing, at least for me. I also continued to display my penchant for playing a glissando and then landing heavily on the wrong chord 🙂 To their credit, the singers coped admirably and graciously with my idiosyncrasies. Perhaps I avoided too much criticism on account of being a ‘guest’ pianist, or perhaps they’re just an unnaturally kind bunch of people. Kind enough, in fact, to offer to fix me up with some of Carrubbers’ unattached young ladies, an offer which I politely declined. I was only there for the music, after all…

Room 65 & RSS

Well, this week has been somewhat busy, principally due to the aforementioned Room 65. Which is a café, held at Carrubbers Christian Centre on the Royal Mile for the duration of the festival. Runs from 8-11pm Monday to Saturday, should you wish to drop in. Bit more information here. There is a fair bit of live music involved, and although I don’t normally attend Carrubbers myself, they roped me in to play piano with the main band. I must say it was very gracious of them to involve me, and I’ve had a lot of fun, despite having strong feelings at times that I am single-handedly destroying the musical integrity of the ensemble…

Now, the bright ones amongst you who earlier spotted that I am not actually in Australia yet despite my blog purporting to be purely about that trip, will probably have observed that the festival hasn’t actually started yet. Interestingly, I am only playing until Saturday night, after which one of the regular Carrubbers pianists will take over. Which makes me wonder idly if I am actually part of an elaborate warm-up routine for the main café starting next week… however I’m sure that’s my paranoia going into overdrive… 😉

So, onto RSS… which might well be of interest to those of you who are bored enought to read this blog from time to time. Basically, RSS allows you to monitor when a site (in this case, this one) has been updated, without actually visiting it and risking the crushing disappointment that would ensue if there were no new posts to read. This is an infinitely useful feature, especially as, unlike some of my friends, my life isn’t interesting enough for me to post things up daily, and so the aforementioned crushing disappointment could be experienced regularly by the particularly bored amongst you. So, at this point, I should tell you how it works, except that I really have no idea. This is the kind of thing that I should have researched before actually starting to type all of this. I use a browser called Safari, which shows an “RSS” symbol in the address bar whenever a site is RSS-enabled, or whatever you call it. When you click on this, it takes you to a page which shows a couple of lines from each post. If you bookmark this summary-type page then when the site has been updated since your last visit it puts a “1” in brackets after the name of the bookmark, or however number of updates there have been.

Right, so that’s all great, but most of you don’t use Safari, because you’re under the influence of the Evil Empire. Some of you will probably use Firefox… Firefox has a little orange symbol which looks a little like a radio broadcast on sites that support RSS. Clicking that adds the site to your bookmark menubar, and clicking that bookmark then provides a drop-down menu of all the posts on that blog. However, for those of you using Int***** Exp***** I have absolutely no idea how RSS works. Perhaps one of my more clued-up geeky friends, like the honorary Mac Genius Alyn Jones, will be able to shed some light on it. And provide a more concise explanation of how to use it to your benefit. In fact, I was sure that he explained it all in a post on his own blog ( some time ago, but unfortunately there are 3 years’ worth of posts on there and I couldn’t find it…

For those of you who have persevered in scrolling down and reading all this, well done. I feel embarrassed. In case you thought you were getting a whole post without cricket getting a mention… I finally return to cricketing “action” this Saturday, weather-permitting. Holy Cross 2nds take on Murrayfield Dafs 2nds, and we really have to win. Otherwise relegation is staring us in the face… Come on the Cross!