Friday, September 19, 2014

Take the High Road

What is there to say about the Scottish referendum? I avoid writing about politics on this blog, partly because it's too divisive, but also because the people who do it for a living are so much better. This article, for example, gives a very good overview of what has happened during the last few weeks.

Instead, I shall post this enchanting 1941 documentary about the Western Isles of Scotland, photographed by Jack Cardiff. If you can't face watching the whole thing, skip to 8:45 for some lovely Gaelic singing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

On the Road Again

I have just found this fascinating discussion on hippies, from a 1968 television programme called Firing Line. It features a drunken Jack Kerouac.

Around this time, Kerouac decided to have another go at hitchhiking around America and walked to the nearest highway intersection to thumb a lift. Perhaps the sight of a raddled-looking man in his 40s was less appealing than the handsome young man who wrote On the Road, as nobody slowed down to pick him up.

After two hours, it started to rain and Kerouac walked back to his apartment, where I expect he had a drink.

A year later, Kerouac's liver finally gave up the ghost.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On the Edge

This time last week, I was congratulating myself on a month of healthy book sales. At last, it looked as if my business had recovered from the two months I'd lost to illness, earlier in the year. Little did I know that within days, it would all go horribly wrong.

I won't bore you with a lengthy account. The short answer is that my courier company decided to shut down my account, as a business that trades from the same farm as me owes them a lot of money. I have always paid my bills on time, but they wouldn't budge:

"Please be advised that as a business we are not totally convinced that there isn't a link between your company and ********."

I offered to provide evidence that I was a completely separate business, but their reply more or less said that they had neither the time nor the inclination to look into it.

I looked at the sackfuls of uncollected orders and wondered what I was going to do. An internet business can go down very quickly if its orders aren't fulfilled in time. Waiting until an account with a new courier was set up wasn't an option.

In the end, I took the only sensible option available: I bought an awful lot of stamps.

It has been a challenging few days, but I have taken my inspiration from a pot outside a neighbouring unit, where people throw their cigarette ends:


Like the weed, perhaps I will triumph over adversity. It would be good to find a courier that, like Steve Austin, is better, stronger and faster. One that doesn't routinely lose parcels and delivers promptly to the time-conscious Germans.

When things are difficult at work, I usually look forward to going home, but for the last few weeks our house has been taken over by two psychotic male kittens, pictured below:

(I should point out that the second kitten is not actually locked in the stove, but is merely reflected in the glass)

We have taken to hiding upstairs behind closed doors, while they demolish sofas, disconnect telephone cables and sit on our modem until it overheats. I'm not sure if getting two cats was a good idea.

On Saturday evening they became so manic, we ended up fleeing to the safety of Brighton beach, for a fish and chip supper.


On the subject of Brighton, I saw these beautiful magic lantern slides in Hove Museum yesterday. I was trying to explain to my younger son how miraculous they must have been in a world without cinema or television. He seemed to enjoy them as much as I did.

My older son remains in his room. He hasn't been out for nine months, apart from a few medical appointments and a trip to his grandmother's. My wife is very good and never loses hope, but I have felt mine slip away and feel desperately sad that he has lost a large part of his childhood.

Perhaps I need to distract myself with a hobby. I often find old guides to various pastimes, but this book, which I found last week, would probably only lead to more trouble:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

On the Subject of Bad Art...

While we're on the subject of bad art, many thanks to Andrea (who produces very good art) for providing a link to this wonderful 'tribute' to Thomas Kincaid:

Here's a link to the rest of the series.