Thursday, January 31, 2013


It's hard to let a couple of days go past without engineering a visit to Grandson, so today I went with Daughter 1 and him to the museum. The weather was cold and rainy and it's nice to let him toddle around in the warm and dry.

Downstairs there was a photoshoot going on. A chap and a girl were sitting in the middle of the space at a table with a laden cake-stand, and they were posing with cakes in front of their mouths while lots of photographers busied themselves around them, gazing at them through cameras from different angles.

Some members of the public had gathered round and were watching the proceedings - though there was very little to see apart from the two of them sitting stock still as if about to bite into their cakes. Some of the onlookers were taking pictures of the scene also.

We wondered as we passed what the whole thing was about. Then I wondered why the passersby were taking photos of this unusual, but not exactly exciting event. I metaphorically shook my head over our voyeuristic society. But possibly, I thought, they need something to write about in their blogs.

So I took a couple of photos to put on my blog and here they are.

Grandson did wander over and inspect the cake-stand with interest, but fortunately his attention became diverted by these round radiators.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Busy boy

It's getting increasingly difficult...

 ... to get a decent photo of the boy...

... at least with my phone camera, which has a delay.

He does pose, but only briefly.

 He's very interested in vehicles, like his Grandpa and Doctor Uncle - also his Worcester Computer-Chap Uncle.

He looks very grown-up in his jeans and sort-of-rugby shirt.

But sometimes he needs a short rest and a cuddle.

We haven't seen him today, but maybe tomorrow.

I've been tutoring the son of an acquaintance. I didn't see him from when he was about four until we started the lessons recently. That seems a few brief years ago but he's now seventeen and about six feet four. Don't grow up too quickly, little Grandson! The short and squashy stage is so delicious.

Monday, January 28, 2013


We were going to walk along to the Dean Gallery this afternoon but the weather, having been fine all morning, turned wet and windy after lunch. So we drove.

Here it is. It's now called Modern 2, which I myself think a more boring name than Dean Gallery.

We saw the Peploe exhibition - he was one of the Scottish Colourists (and I'm fairly sure was the painter of the pictures in my photo in the Kelvingrove). I should very much like to have this painting in my sitting room. It would match nicely. (I know that artists don't paint pictures to look pretty in sitting rooms - sorry Peploe - but this would bring out the crimson in my bits of glass.) I like the jug, the fruit, the colours, the angular shapes - you wouldn't expect roses and apples to look good painted in that cubist-ish way but they do. As I've said before, I like still lifes as long as they don't feature deceased furry things. And are pretty. It's possible that my artistic sensibilities aren't very subtle.

He also painted round things round - look at the curve on that vase.

Then, since the rain had stopped, we went for a minor walk by the Water of Leith.

I will not lie to you: Bondi Beach it wasn't. But it was better than working.

It is just me, or do you find it strange (and horrible) thinking of conflict in Timbuctu? I have to admit that I didn't know it was in Mali. I did know it was in Africa, though I always feel it ought to be in one of those distant countries ending in -stan: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan... all of which I'm ashamed to say I'd take a while to find on a map. Timbuctu is one of those places that has a separate existence in the imagination: mysterious, bright, scented.

Like Marrakech. Then there's St Paul, Minnesota, where one might bump into an Norwegian bachelor farmer on a trip to the city.

Scotland has some odd place names, such as Auchinshoogle, Drumnadrochit, Auchenblae, Clackmannan, Gowkthrapple. But I can't imagine anyone dreaming of an exotic stroll through the markets of Drumnadrochit. Edinburgh has Morningside, Juniper Green, Comely Bank, Silverknowes (which all sound lovely - and are reasonably pleasant, but not nearly as sylvan (these days anyway) as they sound).

Now for some piano practice. Goodness me, the lesson days come round quickly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Yesterday we visited friends in Glasgow. Here we are driving past Kirk O' Shotts, which stands apparently isolated in the middle of a large graveyard. However, Mr Life asssures me that there are some houses on the other side of the hill.

We went with our friends to the Kelvingrove Museum.

It looks like this inside.

And this. The balloon-like blobs are actually disembodied (plastic?) heads hanging from the ceiling: a bit spooky, especially as the faces are manically smiling.

Dave wanted to look at the swords and things, which are displayed on these wire figures showing how they were used.

I preferred these paintings, which are by one of the Scottish Colourists. Are they by Peploe? Can't remember. I really like them and would be very happy to have them on my walls: those realistically bendy tulips and the slightly cubist roses with a cup of tea and a notebook: all you really need for a peaceful afternoon at home.

And this striking chap is Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, a politician and adventurer who was the first President of the Scottish National Party. He had good hair, didn't he? The sculpture is by Epstein.

And this, today, is Grandson asking me to give him my phone. Not a good idea. He loves pressing buttons and given the chance will send (blank) text messages to my contacts.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Haggis and tomato

Why do I keep reading the title of the previous post as "The Giggling Tomato"?

We haven't seen him today, which has made things less fun, but on the other hand we did get the shopping and the cleaning done. Then we had a friend to a meal in the evening, which was pleasant. She used to be our very young friend but this year she'll be 50. Mind you, I'd now be very happy to be 50 myself. I was born in 1950 so all my life was conscious of the fact that in the year 2000 (which was impossibly far in the future) I would be 50 (which obviously I was never going to be, since it was so incredibly ancient).


I don't suppose any of you bloggy friends would like to come and stay in our house on the nights of 12,13 and 14 April to have a holiday in Edinburgh and adminster cat biscuits to our furry friends, would you? This, above, could be your bedroom. Or any other time, really. Now that we're free from (some) commitments it would be nice to get away from time to time. Just asking. I fear we may otherwise have to call in professional catsitters, which I feel reluctant to do (not really sure why).

Happy Burns Night, everyone. Fair fa' your honest sonsie faces.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A day in the life of the giggling tornado

The Last Day. (Well, for the moment. I think and hope that our usefulness as babysitters is not yet over.) Grandson celebrated by bouncing around on our bed and giggling a lot.
He rearranged the sitting room as usual.
He investigated Grandpa's smart phone.
He climbed on a chair and raised his arm to show that he's a BIG BOY.
(That was my maternal grandparents' chair. How I wish that my Granny could see him. She would dote on him.)
The blurring of the photos is due to the whizzing of the boy.
Tomorrow we need to go to the supermarket and clean the house. How dull.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The times they are a'changing...

Tomorrow is Daughter 1's last day of work before having her baby and therefore our last day of being Grandson's childminders for three days a week. This will give us lots of free time. Is this a good thing? Well, it'll be nice not to have to get up at going-to-work time so that we can collect him and it would be quite good not to have to go round the house in the evening, collecting the things he's picked up and carried off to the wrong place; but goodness me, how he lights up our lives.
At the moment, he's just a complete joy. As everyone says, the wonderful aspect of being a grandparent is that it's not a 24-hour job. You're not trying to hoover or make meals or do the garden at the same time as chasing a giggling imp around the house - you can just enjoy him and do the boring stuff later.
I'm sure that we'll get to borrow Grandson from time to time and indulge ourselves by cuddling him and hearing him laughing. He really does go "Ha-ha-ha!" when he does something intentionally funny. It's a sound that heals the soul.
It's hard to believe that in seven weeks or so, he'll be a big brother to Volume 2. I'm a tiny bit sad for him that his days as an only child are running out - I remember feeling the same when Daughter 2 was on the way and Daughter 1 was twenty-one months. He'll only be nineteen months. However, if Volume 2 is anything like as lovely as Daughter 2, I'm sure she'll be a blessing in his life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dear Nanny and Gramps

Today I: played with Mummy's old xylophone (but I see it as a lorry really);
carried my two black cats from place to place;
investigated the workings of Granny's clock;
cuddled in with Sirius;
and tried out this new buggy*. It's very odd: Mum and Daddy have bought one just the same. There seems to be room for another small person as well as me. Someone said something about being a big brother - whatever that is. Ah well, no doubt I'll find out in due course.
(*It's not really pink. It's red. But the new baby will be a girl.)
I also walked in the park with Grandpa and Granny and Daddy. I wore my new boots. There were some puddles and I was interested in them but I walked round them. You never know how deep a puddle is going to be.  Maybe when I'm a big brother - whatever that is - I'll investigate them properly.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Daughter 1 and Son-in-Law 1 bought Grandson his first pair of wellington boots, with the thought that he could walk in the snow or splash in the puddles. He likes them a lot. 
He does bring joy into one's weary heart.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I've just been with a friend to see "The Life of Pi". Other friends had assured me that it was "lovely" and "uplifting" and, despite having read the book when it first came out, I foolishly believed them. Aaaaaaiiiiiii! If that was a lovely film then I'm a pumpkin. Which I'm not. To make matters worse it was in 3D, so the animals and waves and all that were coming out of the screen towards us. I had to keep taking off the 3D specs and shutting my eyes. It was very good, if you like that sort of thing: being traumatised. Which I don't. But it was technically stunning and very well acted, as far as I could tell from between my fingers. We had to go and drink lots of coffee afterwards to calm our nerves, which actually might not have been the best solution to the problem.
Anyway, here are some nice unmoving pictures of alstroemerias in our house, as an antidote to shipwreck, death, storm etc.
It snowed last night, which I also don't approve of. Here was the view from the front door.
Luckily it's melted a bit now.
Son and his wife made a snow cat in their garden. I prefer snow cats to free range tigers, personally. But then I'm rather easily alarmed.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eyes and things

Grandson and I went to the museum again today. This may seem rather unimaginative but I had him all to myself since Mr Life was at the eye hospital all day so some entertainment was called for. Grandson was wearing rather bright orange trousers, as you see. They were knitted by a friend of Daughter 1 and they have a tendency to sink beneath the little round tum. He could do with a belt or braces.
Mr Life was at the hospital so that they could take readings of the pressure in (behind?) his eyes at hourly intervals from 9 till 4. The pressure is too low and this may mean that he's at risk of glaucoma, though normally this is to do with pressure being too high.
We're getting our money's worth out of the NHS these days, it strikes me. Son had to go as an emergency to the eye place in Perth yesterday because he had another episode of iritis - inflammation of the irises. He's had problems with his joints since he was thirteen - inflammation of the soft tissues round his joints. It started with his hip and now affects his knee, ankles and fingers. Arthritis has some connection with the eyes also, hence the several attacks of iritis. Fortunately he knows to go and get steroid drops, which deal with it. He's very stoical about it all but has to have daily injections to combat the joint pain and swelling.
Daughter 2 also has a bit of it, in her fingers.
And then there was my dad, who was in hospital for nine months before he died, and my mum, in hospital for two months and on a lot of medication before that.
And I had to visit the doctor yesterday for the first time in years, for three little (at least I hope they turn out to be little) problems.
So: thank you, NHS. We're very lucky to have you (though I know you're not perfect. But what is?) Though I'd rather we didn't actually need you.
It's rather chilly here, though there's no snow. Yet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


On a chilly winter's day...
... it's nice to go with Granny and Grandpa to the museum.
I like to look through the railings and see cars, cups and boats in the displays. (These are all things I can say.) I'm particularly interested in cars.
This notice says "Area closed" but since I can't read and am much smaller than the tape across the corridor I didn't feel it applied to me. I took it philosophically when Granny said it did, though.  I'm such a good boy.

Monday, January 14, 2013


On "Brain of Britain" on the radio today, a contestant was asked for the adjective meaning "uncompromisingly honest or just" which is derived from the name of one of the sons of Zeus.

Pause. Then the chap said drily, "Frank."

I love it. So much better an answer than the actual one, which is "rhadamanthine" from Rhadamanthus. Never heard of him. Heard of Frank, though.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sic transit gloria mundi

This is, or was, Arthur Marshall. He lived from 1910-1988 and though 1988 doesn't seem very long ago to me, I suppose that it is really. I never did read his articles because I didn't buy the magazines he wrote for, but he was on "Call My Bluff" for some years and we watched that as a family.
He was quite a jolly chap - a giggler and rather avuncular - but I hadn't thought about him for years till I found myself using the "life's rich pageant" phrase. I remember him saying that it tended to get changed to "life's rich pattern" and he didn't think that was as good, or at any rate not the same.
I don't suppose anyone under forty has ever heard of him.
It's so odd, this living and dying thing. You're there and then you're not.
I watched a bit of a programme about the universe yesterday - with Professor Brian Cox, whom I quite like but someone in the family (is it Daughter 2?) finds smug. I think I'm ok with smugness as long as the smugger has something to be smug about, which he clearly has. Anyway, someone asked him what happened before the Big Bang and he said, well, either there was something or there was nothing - no one knows.
There are more things in heaven and earth .... etc.
The other thing I remember from this programme (I was making millionaire's shortbread at the time and not really concentrating on astrophysics) was that they showed us an infra-red telescope that was so powerful that it could pick out a bumblebee on the Moon. Not that there was one. But if there had been, it could have.
And now Cassie Cat has come and sat on my keyboard so I shall stop typing and go to do some piano practice. Deep thinking can wait till tomorrow. And even then we may concentrate our energies on getting the plumber back. Washing the dishes in the bathroom is becoming less fun by the minute.
PS Grandson is on antibiotics but is as cheerful as ever.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I loved Mac 'n Janet's comment on my last post: Of course he wants to be a cat. We all want to be cats. Very true. Particularly tonight. I'd quite like to be doing this (above). No, it's not a two-headed feline, but two felines at their ease.
Am I at my ease? Yes, temporarily, but I have wet feet. Why? Well, for some weeks the pipework under our kitchen sink has been dripping very slightly so we summoned a plumber, who came on Thursday and replaced it.
This evening I've been preparing lunch for Daughter 1, Son-in-Law 1 and Grandson tomorrow. When I finished, I did the washing up by hand because the dishwasher was full. After a bit I decided I needed fresh water so I tipped the basinful of mucky water into the sink in preparation for refilling the basin. 
And all the water flowed out of the cupboard beneath the sink and over all the stuff in the cupboard, my feet and the floor. The whole U-bend thingie had come detached from the sink.
Did we think that phoning the plumber at 10.30 pm on a Saturday would do us much good? No.
While we were mopping up, Daughter 2 phoned to say that Grandson had developed a leaky and smelly ear. She had a phone consultation with her doctor brother, who advised taking him to the emergency doctor in the morning. Grandson is now peacefully sleeping but one can't go around with smelly ears in polite company.
Ah well. I suppose it's all part of life's rich pageant, as I believe Arthur Marshall first wrote - though I can't find confirmation of this on Google. I wonder how many people remember him now.