I had a vague idea what OCD was for several years: knew about the condition before Tommy and me sometimes jokingly accused each other of having it. It was only recently, however, that I discovered I might really have it myself.

I bought Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by David Veale and Rob Willson and began reading it. But while I’m sure I show symptoms for one kind of OCD, namely the “excessive concern with exactness, order, and symmetry” kind, I always halt when I read the word anxious. I definitely would not label my emotion when things are not ‘neat and tidy’ as anxiety: the correct word is annoyance.

But the authors brought my attention to another condition, one I had never heard of before: obsessive compulsive personality disorder, which has other symptoms I definitely show, like “constantly making lists” and more to be found in Wikipedia’s leader.

OCDP, then? Who knows. More probably than OCD; then again, I have not shed the suspicion that it may in fact be Asperger’s.


Packing rehearsal

The flitting day is nearing; the day before yesterday I eventually tried and found out which of my possessions I’d be able to cram into the rucksack and laptop case and which I’d have to discard.

The result was satisfactory: as expected, I’ll have to throw away all my books but Monte Walsh, including Colin Mark’s Gaelic-English dictionary (which is why I’d bought the Kindle version), as well as my winter jacket, but somewhat unexpectedly I’ll be able to keep my fleece, and my diaries can be distributed so that the rucksack presumably won’t break like my old one did two years ago.

Maybe one day I’ll reach the ideal of only having as much as can be carried in a rucksack alone.


Overbreeding effect on climate change

A new study seems to vindicate a post I wrote two weeks ago. Apparently each child you don’t have saves 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year.

The article as a whole gives me the impression that I must less of a burden for the environment than most people around me. I have no child, no car and never flew over the Atlantic. My being an omnivore and washing clothes in warm water look fairly unimportant in comparison.


Cuisle PhEG a-mach

Rinn mi gearan air a’ chuisle o chionn fhada, agus o chionn ghoirid, bha mi a’ sìor fhàs seachd sgìth dhith gu dearbh. Ach thug iad i a-mach mu dheireadh thall Diciadain.

Gidheadh, bi greiseag ann fhathast mus slànaich an toll far an robh i – mu sheachdain, a rèir an dotair – greiseag dar nach urrainn dhomh ithe, fras a gabhail ‘mar bu chòir’ no ‘eacarsaich’ a dhèanamh eadhon chun na h-ìre dhe na làithean seo chaidh.

Ach as dèidh sin … bidh mi deiseil ri dhol san ospadal-inntinne. Tòisichidh eachtradh eile, oir as dèidh sin … cò aig a tha fios dè bhios?


Jamie’s 50

The technical details, the condensed description is in what I call my ‘log book’ – I don’t have the time to make it ‘literary’ enough for a blogpost. Still, a few reflections which would look out of place there:

The scenery from the Uplands on wasn’t bad. Not as good as in Scotland of course, but miles better than where I stay now.

I didn’t fully understand whether the event was actually organised by Jamie (who seemed to pay more or less all the expenses) or by Falcon (who seemed to be in charge of the ‘programme’).

Jamie and I were in the same class at college, but he’s eleven months older. The event taking place a few months in advance, I was celebrating his 50th birthday while still not having reached my 49th, which felt sort of weird.

Most of the participants seemed to be more or less ages with us, so it was surprising to see how many of them could no longer read the quiz questions from a printed page without spectacles (“too short hands”, if you know what I mean. Points is, I’ve been wearing glasses since before primary school, but luckily I’m still not troubled by this problem).

Conversely, I was surprised by the general knowledge of geography people apparently had. Indeed, at times I almost felt like quite a yokel. I probably knew much more than the others about Britain, as much about Western Europe and North America – and much less about all the rest of the world.

Most importantly though: I didn’t feel like I really belonged, but neither did I feel too alienated. I didn’t have too much conversation with my friends (let alone talked much about myself), but neither did I sit in a corner on my own. I made myself think about the event as an exercise in patience when I did feel a bit lonely/bored, as training for the rehab when surrounded by people I didn’t know and so on.

Unusually perhaps, I was neither longing to stay longer, nor longing to leave earlier (except perhaps when it was too cold in the evening, and even then only a little and only until we moved indoors). I was taking it quite equably, considering.

All in all, I was reminded that if I return there after the rehab things certainly ‘won’t be the same’, but my intention to try and do so was, if anything, reinforced rather than otherwise.


Feasag chuairteach

Chan eil fhios agam an e seo an dòigh as fheàrr airson a gairm (fìrinn innse, chan eil fhios agam an e ‘circle beard’ an dòigh as fheàrr airson a gairm sa Bheurla), ach tha mi a’ ciallachadh seo. Thòisich mi stais fhàs dar a bha mi dà fhichead bliadhna a dh’aois, a’ smaointeachadh gun tòisichinn fàs feasag chuairteach dar a bhiodh mi leth-cheud (agus gun sguirinn beàrradh gu tur dar a bhiodh mi trì fichead). Ach o chionn beagan mìosan, cho-dhùin mi gum bithinn ‘seann gu leòr’ a-cheana nam biodh mi as dèidh aillse a bhith agam. Uill, thuirt an dotair gur dòcha gun deach an t-at à sealladh, agus cha do bheàrr mi ach mo ghruaidhean bhon àm sin.


170712: Busy, busy day

Incidentally the twenty-second anniversary of the last time I had sex, but that’s irrelevant: what made it busy was all related to the near future, rather than to distant past. First the landlord came for the rent and I had to disclose to him I was about to leave soon: he took it surprisingly equanimously. Then I went out myself to the office of my internet provider: although it took some time, I finally did make the lady behind the counter fill in the contract termination form. After which I visited the local branch of the state department responsible for pensions and mined them for information about the possibility of getting some income on account of the consequences of the cancer and the cure: I even got the necessary forms, even though in the end we concluded it would be better to apply after my rehab stint.

It’s been like this for some time: days or weeks of having no appointments alternating with days or weeks of having several. But I was quite satisfied at the end of this one, because I did follow all the negotiations through without bottling out of anything. Rather unusual for me to be honest.


Les amis meilleurs que les membres de la famille

D’après une recherche de l’université d’État du Michigan, nos amis nous font plus heureux et de meilleure santé que nos parents. Bien sûr, je savais toujours que mes amis « fournissent un exutoire » , que je peux « leur dire des choses et ils sont moins critiques » , qu’il y a « une distance qui fournit un niveau de l’honnêteté » . Mais je ne m’apercevais que c’est vrai pour les gens en général.


Eòlach air cinn-là

Bha mi airson gam fònadh leam fhìn, ach mus do dhùisg mi, sheirm boireannach air choireigin bhon ospadal leighis-inntinn mi, agus dh’aontaich sinn gun tig mi ann air an dàrna latha dhen Lùnastal.

Sgoinneil. Mu dheireadh thall, tha fios agam dè an uimhir ama a tha agam gus an latha dar a dh’fhàgas mi am baile mosach seo, an dùil nach biodh agam ri tilleadh a-riamh. Thòisich mi cha mhòr sa bhad air cnuasachadh air dè as fheudar – agus as urrainn – dhomh a dhèanamh tron àm.

(Thuirt i cuideachd gum bi mi ann mu mhìos: bha mi ’n dòchas gum biodh sin na b’ fhaide ach ’s dòcha gum bi aon mhìos gu leòr. Bu chòir dha a bhith nas saoire mar an ceudna.)


Pet Sounds

Saw a documentary about the Beach Boys and the Pet Sounds album and was surprised by three things. One, that I’d never before heard I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, with its lyrics I can completly subcribe to (pity the music’s so bland though). Two, that Good Vibrations (possibly my favourite song of the band) doesn’t actually feature on the album. But most of all … why the fuck had I thought they were Australians? Who the fuck had I mixed them up with?


BBC News &/⁊ Naidheachdan BhBC

Ged nach bi, gu tric is minig, aiste anns a’ Ghàidhlig air an làrach-lìn Naidheachdan BhBC ach eadar-theangachadh giorraichte dhen aiste thùsail bhon làrach-lìn Bheurla, is fhiach e uaireannan na dhà a leughadh. Mar eisimpleir, tha an aiste Bheurla mun chiad chàr a’ ruith air fuigheall an uisge-bheatha làn mholaidh, ach tha barrachd theagamhan na moladh san aiste Ghàidhlig.


Bookmarks: stuck

This is becoming ridiculous. Every day I stop ‘following’ another website or two, every night I tell myself the next day would be primarily dedicated to cutting down the number of ‘to-read’ article bookmarks, yet the following night I find out there were so many new ones the number is only slightly lower than the night before, if it’s not in fact even higher. If this was my first year on the internet I could put it down to beginner’s infatuation with it, but I have recently begun my tenth …


Indyref2 en attente

La semaine dernière, Nicola Sturgeon a décidé qu’un nouveau référendum ne va pas être organisé entre la fin de 2018 et le début de 2019. (Cependant, selon elle il va « probablement » être organisé avant la fin de 2021.) Elle a raison. Dans les paroles de Theresa May, « maitenant n’est pas le temps ». Maitenant, un tel référendum serait sans aucun doute un échec. Il y avait déjà trop de référendums et d’éléctions dans cette décennie.



Occasionally I treat myself to some moderate profligacy. Having read an article about rosemary smell possibly enhancing memory, I bought a bottle of essential oil, and an aromatherapy candle holder or diffuser or whatever it’s properly called. Despite the fact that normally I would snort over a research carried on only 40 participants.

(I did snort when I later learnt I was one of a crowd. The mitigating factor is that one of the reasons I succumbed to the whim was the fact that rosemary is mentioned in the title of one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel albums.)

I burn a candle under the oil bath daily, usually when working on my languages’ vocabularies and/or when meditating. Sure, I’ve no idea whether it actually has any effect, there are too many other variables. But the smell is pleasant, and I’ve always had a soft spot for candles anyway; somehow this makes burning one even more gratifying.



Some English schoolboys protested against having to wear long trousers during the latest heatwave by wearing skirts instead, and apparently won their fight.

Good on them, but interestingly the photos show them in buttoned-up shirts and ties, which reminds me of all those guys wearing shorts, even sandals – and zipped-up fleece tops. I could never understand this. Maybe it’s down to my blood circulation, but as far as I’m concerned, the chest and neck get unpleasantly hot long before the legs. I’m more likely to feel comfortable naked to the waist, while below it wearing heavy-duty denims, thick socks and boots.

So I find it much more understandable when John Bercow accepts tie-less MPs in the House of Commons.


Còrdadh eadar Tòraidhean is DUP

Dar a thig an naidheachd gun do rinn na Tòraidhean agus an DUP co-aonta eatorra mu dheireadh thall, smaointich mi mu dheidhinn na prìse agus mu dheidhinn riaghaltas Èireann a Tuath: Cia às a thèid am billean? Cò gheibheas maoineachadh nas ìsle gus ‘Maybot’ a chumail mar phrìomhaire? Agus ciamar as urrainn dha na Tòraidhean leigeil orra gu bheil iad neo-phàirteach, gu bheil iad nan ‘honest broker’?

Ach dar a leugh mi, beagan làithean na b’ fhaide, aiste le Martin Kettle, anns a tha e ag ràdh gun do rinn May bùrach dheth agus nach soirbhich na còmhraidhean ann an Stormont a-nis, thig e a-steach orm gur dòcha gur e seo ’s a bha i ag iarraidh bho thùs: cumaidh i sa chathair, agus bi eadhon tuilleadh cumhachd aice dar a thòisicheas riaghladh dìreach Westminsteir as dèidh dhan DUP agus SF fàilligeadh air ruigsinn còrdadh eatorrasan.

Agus ge be dè a bhios Rùnaire Stàite Èireann a Tuath ag agairt, tha an suidheachadh a’ dol an taobh sin. “James Brokenshire has indicated Westminster will step in soon and impose a budget.” ’S mathaid gun cùm May grèim air a’ bhillean aig a cheann thall?



Il y a huit ans, quand la population du monde était en dessous de sept milliards, j’ai cité Christopher Isherwood, ou plutôt Mr Lancaster.

Aujourd’hui, l’ONU dit qu’il va y avoir dans six ans plus de huit milliards.

Voici la citation pleine: “They breed like vermin. That’s the real menace of the future, Christopher. Not war. Not disease. Starvation. They’ll spawn themselves to death.”

Et même si la planète pourrait continuer à nourrir les nombres en hausse, il reste le problème mentionné par Kurt Vonnegut en Abattoir 5 ou la Croisade des enfants:

O’Hare had a little notebook with him, and […] he came across this, which he gave me to read:

On an average, 324,000 new babies are born into the world every day. During that same day, 10,000 persons, in an average, will have starved to death or died from malnutrition. So it goes. In addition, 123,000 persons will die for other reasons. So it goes. This leaves a net gain of about 191,000 each day in the world. The Population Reference Bureau predicts that the world’s total population will double to 7,000,000,000 before the year 2000.

“I suppose they will all want dignity,” I said.

“I suppose,” said O’Hare.

Je ne suppose pas qu’ils vont l’obtenir.



Uill, chan eil an àrd-dhotair buileach cinnteach fhathast, ach cho-dhùin e mu dheireadh thall gu bheil coltachd mhòr ann gun deach at na h-aillse à sealladh. Dh’aontaich e cuideachd gun urrainn dhaibh a’ chuisle PhEG a tharraing às mo stamag.

Drochaid-choise thar Allt a’ Choire Odhair Mhòir

Chan e seo toiseach ùr. Gidheadh, ’s e a’ chiad cheum air slighe ùr, as dèidh nam mìosan dar a bha e coltach nach biodh tèile ann tuilleadh; ’s dòcha gu bheil beagan ama ri teachd romham fhathast.

Feumaidh mi a-nis faighinn air ais dhan rehab agus an uairsin, nas fhaisge air mo sheana-charaidean. Bha mi a’ grodadh san bhugair bhaile seo ro fhada.


BBC One: Growing Up with Cancer

All right, so I’d got cancer. Maybe I’ll be told tomorrow the chemoradiotherapy worked just fine and the tumour has gone. Maybe not. But I’m in my late forties, and had lost just about everything a couple of years previously anyway.

But reportedly seven UK teenagers a day are diagnosed with cancer too. This programme looks at a few of these, some of whom went (or are about to go) through a more drastic treatment than me. Spending what should be the best days of their lives fighting a disease.

Presumably, scarcely any of them will ever receive an OBE, but they’re heroes all the same, if only for not breaking down. I simply admire them and wish them all good luck.