Sunday, August 31, 2008

Seasonal adjustment

It's that time of year again.

Out with the children at the weekend to pick and fill our first tub (see Rogan's post for more info).

Have made a slight change to the header.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Responsible person?

On a recent form I had to fill out for Meg it asked for:

"Name of parent or responsible person"

I was so relieved they gave me the choice...


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


“It’s gey backendish,” said Maggie recently.

“?” I enquired.

“Very backendish: the back end of Summer.”

“Not the back end of a pantomime horse?”

“Pfft,” she replied, and wandered off.

But she was right. And everyone else knows it too. Everyone who’s local, that is.

If you walk down Castle Douglas high street at the moment, you can tell the tourists by the fact they are wearing shorts, t-shirts, flimsy cagoules, and shivering like mad; clearly wondering why it can be so cold in August.

Locals, on the other hand are all wrapped up with several layers of clothing and their winter coats. Mind you, they won’t put the heating on until November, even if it freezes.

Despite living in Scotland for 20 years now, I have never got used to the idea of the 2nd half of August being the onset of Autumn. I was brought up in milder climes, some 400 miles to the south where it is still considered the height of Summer and the next season won’t appear for many weeks to come.

But up here my Southern upbringing betrayed me this morning as I left the house wearing a coat, but no fleece underneath it; I was chilled by the time I got home.

’t will Soon be time for Bramble Crumbles.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Navel Gazing

The problem with breaking is no matter how much glue, sticky tape and patches you use, the intact original has gone forever.

The choice now is whether to keep patching it up and trying to make it look like the original, or turn it into something else completely.

I distinctly remember the first time I broke. More accurately I distinctly remember the first time I realised I was broken, nearly 10 years ago.

Part of me never really accepted I broke. I think there’s a sort of phantom limb thing going on, where you leap out of bed only to remember you don’t have any legs to support you. I can still mentally charge headlong into things only to discover I don’t have the emotional capacity to cope any more.

OK, my intact original was a naïve fool who didn’t realise he wasn’t invincible, but his legacy haunts me.

I grew up reading about heroes - Batman, Conan the Barbarian, King Arthur etc – and knew I was going to be one when I grew up. And at the core of all heroes is that solid nugget of indestructibility; no matter how bad the situation gets, no matter how hopeless it all seems, part of them never truly gives up. Even if they die, they die knowing they were right.

I used to watch programmes on TV about people who faced impossible situations - physical, mental and emotional - yet survived. They refused to be beaten and just kept on going.

I knew I’d be like that.

So to reach a point where I realised if I was pushed to the limit I wouldn’t survive, I would lay down and die, with no dignity, this was what felt like the ultimate self betrayal.

At my core I am no hero.

At my core I am mush.

And I don’t think I’ve ever truly forgiven myself for that.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I know I shouldn't have, but...

After the disappointment of yesterday, I gorged myself on far too much chocolate last night.

And felt considerably better for it.

Today I'm just generally a bit pissed off, rather than feeling that extreme void in chest, like my heart's been ripped out and dropped into the endless pit of despair.

For anyone out there who still thinks self medicating with food is just an excuse to be greedy, this is the bit you utterly fail to understand - chocolate works - at least temporarily.

Faced with the choice between emotional anguish, and a large bar of chocolate, there really isn't much competition. In that state you will completely ignore anyone saying, "Well, if you don't want to be overweight, just stop eating so much"

Unless they're covered in chocolate, that is.

In which case you'll be charged with cannibalism.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chronically Fu... er, Pissed Off

I went to see the blood specialist in Dumfries this afternoon.

What I was hoping to hear:

That I have a recognised condition, where no one can say, “Did you hear of that Olympic athlete who had CFS and just decided it wasn’t going to stop her and she won gold,” or “It might get better on its own, but it might not, and it might even be degenerative, we have no idea," or "Have you thought about Crystal Therapy?"

That I would be able to say, “See! See! I told you I was ill, that I wasn’t making it up”

That it would be something serious enough to be recognised, but not so serious it would be incurable, unmanageable, terminal or requiring painful or lifelong treatment.

That I would finally be able to get rid of the label, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What I actually heard:

I definitely have Haemochromatosis, which is going to require lifelong periodic blood-letting.

But at the moment it’s at a relatively low level and is highly unlikely to be the cause of my Fatigue.


Now I have both Haemochromatosis and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (and let’s not forget the B12 deficiency either, requiring lifelong periodic jabs, also not the cause of my CFS)


I plan to spend the evening curled up on the couch feeling thoroughly miserable and sorry for myself.

And I don't want to hear about people in the world being worse off than me. It NEVER makes me feel better

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I’ve decided to boycott any films I’m unlikely to find educational, enlightening, amusing or entertaining.

And I’m seriously thinking about extending this idea to other forms of media too, like books, DVDs, newspapers, radio stations and websites. If they don’t offer me something worthwhile, I will read/ watch/ buy/ listen to/ surf somewhere else instead.

However, I’ve decided not to call a national boycott on anything I find offensive, distasteful, bland or boring.

Firstly I like the idea of free speech, and that means if I want to be able to express my opinions on anything, I have to allow people to express other ideas with which I profoundly disagree.

Secondly, calling for a national boycott only serves to promote and advertise the very thing I’m trying to turn people away from, while at the same time making me look like I have a closed mind.

Remember when the Sex Pistols shot to Number 1 in the charts after their song, “God Save the Queen” was banned by the BBC?

Remember how Monty Python used the condemning statements of “Life of Brian” by archbishops as a promotional tool?

Remember how you’d never heard of Salman Rushdie until he had a Fatwa placed on his head for writing “The Satanic Verses”?

Remember what you thought about the people calling for the bans, boycotts and fatwas?

But when it comes down to it, I’m a philosopher, not a politician. I want to help people think for themselves, not tell people what to think.

So if anyone wants to know if they should boycott this or that film I’ll have to say, “Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me, you don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!” *

*No bonus points for correctly guessing which film this quote comes from, but minus several million if you get it wrong

Sunday, August 17, 2008

3rd Blogging Anniversary


14 different profile pics

More than 390 posts

Over 55,000 visits

In excess of a thousand afternoon naps

What have I actually achieved in 3 years of blogging (anniversary back on the 11th of August – forgot about it until today)?

Fame? No.

Fortune? Hahahahahahahahahaha. No.

Glory? You’re kidding, right?

On the plus side I have met some truly wonderful people. Unfortunately with only a tiny handful of exceptions, you all live too far away to visit in person.

Sometimes I wonder if the primary reason I blog is merely looking for some vague verification I exist (outside of Doc Maroon’s head, that is).

OK, I’m fishing for compliments.

Or well-crafted insults.

Leave a comment, a smiley face or a set of weird symbols.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Should I be here?

5 Minutes For Special Needs

I've been guest blogging over on 5 Minutes for Special Needs again.

This time I've written a post called Should I be here?. Do pop across if you have a couple of minutes to spare.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Genotype Compound Heterozygote

You want to vivisect me???

“No, no, no, no, no. Venesect you, Mr Ayres. VENEsect. It’s a phlebotomy.”

I’m rather attached to my phlebs. What do you want to remove them for? Suppose I want to keep them?

“You misunderstand, Mr Ayres, Ve Vant your blood, mwahahahaha...


“I said we want to take some of your blood.”

What, for more tests?

“No, we need to bleed you.”

Ewwww. Is that where you cover me in leeches?

Sigh. We live in slightly more enlightened times these days, Mr Ayres. It is exactly the same process as giving blood, only it’s done deliberately to make sure your body releases some of the excess iron it has stored in your body. Leeches might do the job, but they are a bit of a plitter; a syringe is much simpler.”

It turns out I might have haemochromatosis (or hemochromatosis to you lot across the Atlantic who shun the “ae” spellings in words). With luck, this is the cause of my symptoms rather than the current vague diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Although we also have to hope the luck holds out that it’s been caught early enough not to cause any major liver damage.

Haemochromatosis is a condition whereby the body absorbs too much iron, which if left unchecked can cause a great deal of damage to various organs. It’s not something usually picked up by your local GP, but almost by accident some of my blood got checked by a specialist who identified that I carry 2 mutant genes, thereby giving me a Genotype Compound Heterozygote.

This doesn’t mean I definitely have it as I might just be a carrier. But I now have an appointment with the blood specialists in a couple of weeks who are apparently thrilled at getting their hands on someone with a Genotype Compound Heterozygote as it’s not that common.

When I first heard about my Mutant Genes, I wondered if it would give me superhuman powers, like Magneto in X-Men. Perhaps I’d be able to raise up the Forth Bridge and threaten to drop it on the Scottish Parliament if they don’t crack down on Mazda garages in Dumfries saying you need 2 new tyres when actually there’s nothing wrong with them and they’re just trying to con you into spending more money on your 50,000 mile service.

Unfortunately this has turned out to be idle fantasy. The only likely superpower I might have is if I crap in a puddle my stool will face magnetic north.

Great trick if you’re ever lost in the wilderness, you might think, but too much iron is also associated with constipation, so I’d only be able to check my bearings every 3 or 4 days.

In the meantime, until I see the specialists, they have told my GP I might benefit from a bit of venesection, so on Wednesday I will come out of the health centre ½ a litre lighter.

Wonder if it will help with weight loss…

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meg’s Kitchen Exhibition

Ever since Maggie opened her studio to the public back in May at the Spring Fling Open Studio Event, Meg has wanted her own exhibition.

Figuring it would a) give her something to keep her occupied for periods of time over the summer holidays, and b) prove to be an excuse to invite a few friends round, we decided she could have her own “Kitchen Exhibition” about 10 days before school started again.

For the past few weeks then, she has been busy with pencils, pastels, potato prints, marbling inks and even my camera. Invites were designed, created and posted out, and finally the big day arrived on Saturday.

Despite being only 10 years old, Meg doesn’t seem to distinguish a difference between herself and adults; indeed I don’t think she ever has. Consequently the only non-adult invited was Mary’s younger daughter (who is a teenager and taller than everyone in our family so Meg wouldn’t have made the distinction anyway).

We’ve never really got the hang of inviting people round more than one or two at a time so were caught out by the logistics of having an extra 7 or 8 in the house. This was most obvious when we realised after sorting out food, drinks and cake for a dozen people, the kitchen was probably the worst room in the house to invite people in to view anything, let alone an exhibition.

Still, it seemed to work in the end. Certainly everyone was very indulgent with Meg and she was glowing with pride by the end of the evening.

I couldn’t fit the whole wall into one photo as the kitchen isn’t wide enough, so I’ve merged 4 photos together. If you click on the image it takes you to a larger version.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Eustacia Bancroft wants to be my friend

Eustacia Bancroft contacted me on Facebook.

Eustacia Bancroft wants to be my friend.

Eustacia Bancroft is very pretty, with red hair, porcelain skin and clear blue eyes.

Eustacia Bancroft is 25, single, interested in men, friendship, dating, relationships and random play.

Eustacia Bancroft isn’t a name I recognise as someone I know, or even the likely daughter of someone I know.

Eustacia Bancroft must have randomly come across my profile and been instantly smitten.

Eustacia Bancroft must have a thing the more mature, bearded man.

Eustacia Bancroft must surely have seen my current Facebook profile pic.

Eustacia Bancroft must be insane.

Eustacia Bancroft has 58 friends on her profile.

Eustacia Bancroft’s 58 friends are all male.

Eustacia Bancroft’s 58 friends are mostly overweight, balding, holding a pint with a silly grin on their face, or all three.

Eustacia Bancroft’s 58 friends are some of the saddest looking bastards I’ve seen in a long time.

Eustacia Bancroft is clearly operating some kind of con, scam or is just laughing herself stupid at the gullibility of blokes who think they are attractive enough to have a good-looking 25 year old woman throw herself at them.

Eustacia Bancroft couldn't have known I’m instantly suspicious of any good looking woman (other than my wife) finding me attractive.

Eustacia Bancroft hasn’t been accepted as my friend on Facebook.

I did toy with the idea of pointing her towards Dr Maroon though…

Sunday, August 03, 2008





Much hilarity ensued.

Except for those involved in trying to manoeuvre the bloody thing.

Relieved no one thought to film it and put it on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Rogan has set up his own blog, Ramblings of the Unbearded Son.

He asked me to mention it.