James Boswell: The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

Not a bad read for killing time, despite the fact that many of the persons whose names are mentioned as a matter of course are totally obscure today. True, Mr Boswell’s admiration for Mr Johnson comes out as a bit too fawning at times, and Mr Johnson comes out as a bit too cantankerous, and a fair bit too xenophobic by today’s standards, but the only passage which is really a bother to read is the tediously long account of the movements of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Isle of Skye region.

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Quotations:

I was hurt to find [….] that I was so far from being that robust wise man who is sufficient for his own happiness.
 

A man will meet death much more firmly at one time than another. The enthusiam even of a mistaken principle warms the mind, and sets it above the fear of death; which in our cooler moments, if we really think of it, cannot but be terrible, or at least very awful.
 

I hoped, that, ever after having been in this holy place, I should maintain an exemplary conduct. One has a strange propensity to fix upon some point of time from whence a better course of life may begin.

 

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49

A somewhat strange birthday. Spent in a rehab, where nobody knew or noticed, and I myself felt no urge to tell anybody. For all the group therapies, I don’t feel really close to any of the other guys here. Obviously no celebration; there’s nothing to celebrate anyway. Neither a feeling that the day was somehow significant, even though it began my last year as a quadragenarian. Nor does writing this two days later feel like a delay which should have been avoided. After all, I’ll only can post it after the cure, presumably a few months from now.

The life here is in several ways rather more enjoyable than what I had between Scotland and now; all the same it feels like marking time until I’m properly online and have more spare time again.

 

Back in the rehab

Handing over the keys and leaving my latest (hopefully last) digs in the town was basically a relief. It wasn’t all bad, but it was bad enough to make me glad to go.

Being driven by Rob via his new rented kiosk to the rehab felt almost like the old days when we were much closer to each other. Almost. I almost regretted my decision to move elsewhere after my stint. Almost.

I’ve been here for a week and a half now and it does not feel almost like during my first stay back in ’08. Not that the place or the life here changed all that much during those years. And after they’ve told me I should expect spending here three months, rather than one, I’ve begun feeling more like a current, as opposed to a former, patient.

The difference is that now I have the internet, if only on my phone. Far cry from then, when my only ‘contact’ with Britain were two Teach Yourself Gaelic books] and a copy of The Guardian I came across and bought during one trip outwith the grounds.

Also, I’m more relaxed than I was the first time round. Or maybe more lethargic? Anyway, many things which would worry or anger me back then don’t do so any longer.

But just like then, I don’t have enough time for half the things I’d like to do. The patient’s day’s schedule has too many activities and too short spaces in between them; relaxed or not, I still find myself every now and then either hurrying, or smoking because of not having time for anything else than a fag.

 

About to leave – part 2

Three more nights. Monday being the last day of my internet subscription, I’ll have to temporarily cover most of my online activities (smartphone is just a meagre substitute for internet access as far as I’m concerned); on Tuesday I’m going to pack my possessions and so on; and on Wednesday I’ll hand over the flat and leave for the rehab.

Leaving this town, hopefully, for good. There are places you love the more the longer you stay there (the city where I went to college or Glasgow), and those you hate the more the longer you are stuck there (the town where I was born or this one). Of course, there’s no way I’ll be able to return to Scotland, but at least getting closer to my ex-college-mates would be fine.

 

And yet it wasn’t all bad

What I said last night holds, but it’s quite possible that years from now I’ll reminisce about these last few months a little wistfully. That I’ll mostly remember all those iPlayer documentaries I saw while having my meals . . .
 

I even have new favourite presenters, Dougie Vipond and Neil Oliver having been joined by Chris Packham, Dan Cruickshank, James Fox . . .

 

Google’s geographical updates

When the Google Earth software on my laptop updated itself (of its own accord) to ‘Google Earth Pro’, I had a short look and noticed no difference, except for the colour of the icon. Contrarily, I was mighty pleased to discover that Street View now covers the path along the Forth and Clyde Canal. I must have walked the parts Between Maryhill Tesco and Nolly Brig and between Applecross Basin and Speirs Wharf dozens, maybe hundreds of times. If nostalgia grows unbearable, I can walk it again, virtually at least.

 

About to leave

So, on Wednesday to the rehab. And then hopefully to some other town, as I’ve learned to hate this one. Anyway, I’m certainly not returning to this gaff, which I never liked in the first place. Because of …

A floating floor and no carpet in the bedsit. No door between the antechamber and the bedsit, making old women blethering on the staircase all too audible. A washbasin so tiny one can’t even wash a pair of socks in it. Bathroom walls so dark it’s hard to see one’s face properly when shaving. A microwave oven and an electric cooker but no fridge. And so on.

But most of all the sod staying above me, stamping like a hippo from wall to wall and back again, quite often for a few hours in a row. God knows what the arseheid is doing that for. Even worse than the bitch in Wester Common. It’s been years since I last went – sober – to my bed with a pleasant expectation of a restful sleep. I go to sleep anxious that noise will not let me fall asleep, and certain it would wake me up.

So in a sense I can’t wait to leave here. Who knows, perhaps I’ll yet get a chance to relearn going to sleep without this anxiety. While there’s life there’s hope.

 

Tim Armstrong: Feur Buidhe an t-Samhraidh

Chan eil mi ag ràdh nach do mheal mi an leabhar. Ach tha amharas orm gun do mheal mi e sa mhòr-chuid on a bha e sa Ghàidhlig, amharas nach mealainn nam biodh e sa Bheurla. Oir chan eil ann ach sgeulachd eile-sheòrsach eile mu dheidhinn balaich òig a ghabh gaol air caileige àlainne. Agus gu traidiseanta, tha a’ chaileag nas còire agus nas glice na tha esan – gu dearbh, tha ise gun smal. Ge be dè dona a dh’èiricheas dhan phaidhir, tha fios gur e fèinealachd no baoghaltachd an duine as coireach. (Ann an seadh, tha feimineachas ann an litreachas fada, fada nas sine na feimineachas ann am poileataigs.)

 

Làithean beagan trang a-rithist

Dimàirt, b’ e an t-uachdaran agus am fiaclaire; an-dè, an oifis airson tèarainteachd shòisealta. Ach, gu neo-chumanta, tha mi beagan ro làimh, seach air dheireadh, ron cheann-ama a tha ann an Diciadain an ath sheachdain; bha fiù agus àm gu leòr agam a’ tilleadh bhon oifis ri dhol ann an taigh-òsta agus biadh sònraichte a’ cheàrna seo a ghabhail. Ma bhios mi soirbheachail, cha bi teans agam a ghabhail a-rithist.

 

Top BBC salaries

The Guardian had a pleasant surprise for me. I expected the usual whining of extremely well paid females that they wanted to be paid even more, as much as their yet more extremely well paid male counterparts. But the article did mention the real problem:

“Quite a lot of people are pissed off because of the gender gap, but there are lots of people who are pissed off that this is a big swerve taking the focus off the real story, which is the gap in pay between ordinary producers et cetera and management on six-figure sums. […] All this means is that women on those programmes identified as gender pay gap will get more money. Men won’t be taking pay cuts, so it will just mean even less money to go round on the troops.”

 

Tablette 2

Finalement, parce qu’il serait fou emporter la tablette au centre de désintoxication, je l’ai vendu à Rob (pour moins qu’un tiers du prix originel). Un peu étonnamment, il a paru heureux de l’obtenir, qui m’a fait heureux à son tour, peut-être même plus que l’argent. Donc, en rentrer chez moi, j’étais en même temps content est mécontent. Mécontent parce qu’il est possible que cela a été la dernière fois que je l’ai vu, est je ne l’ai pas dit audieu à la façon convenable.

 

OCD?

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.

OCPD, 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.