I have begun blogging at my own website. However, I mean to keep this account for the sake of private posts, which have served me since the beginning as a sort of an online diary.



Afternoon shift again

Here it is at last. I’ve been beginning to wonder whether I’d have one at all, thinking unless I did I’d have to find another job after a few years, good pay or not, even if it wasn’t in Scotland.

How it feels? Great, that’s how it feels. The night before you only go to sleep when you feel sleepy, not when your brains tell you you should for the next day’s morning’s sake. In the morning you get up leisurely, even have a breakfast, and placidly do the things you want to do. Safe in the knowledge that you’ll finish those you won’t have time for at night.

Even if I’m told that tomorrow I’m on a morning again and the last sentence doesn’t apply (as I’d only have time to make my tomorrow’s packed lunch and catch some sleep) I don’t mind. I’ve got this beautiful morning.


Mike Perham

Well, he’s done it.

Not that I doubted it in the end. But more than once during the circumnavigation it looked like he might be forced to give up.

I first noticed him, by pure incident, on this page. Later on there was this, and from there I got to the site dedicated to the voyage itself. And since then I followed his progress throughout.

In the beginning I meant to visit the site daily, thinking his blogs would help me to get a bit of a sailing vocabulary. In that aspect I totally failed, there being too many other sites I was watching or even active on. In fact I only read a few, and those were mostly marking some important point of the trip rather than dealing with sailing per se.

Nevertheless, I was on his site at least once a week, and daily since he got to Panama. As the voyage lasted over 9 months (16 November – 27 August), he became one of those people you’ve never met and probably never will who you are very interested in all the same.

Can you be proud of somebody with whom, when all is said and done, you have nothing at all in common? Obviously you can…

Today I’ve read he was about to announce something on 8 September. You may be sure I have that day marked in my calendar to find out what it’s gonna be.

Note: Later I posted elsewhere links to BBC: Young sailor sets global record and BBC: Hero’s welcome for young sailor.


Aged 41

Incidentally, I also turned 41 recently.

What’s there to say, though? I hang one more year on the line…, as Paul Simon put it.

Perhaps I might consider what age I feel, though. Given that up till, say, twenty-five or thirty, I usually felt as if I were either 17, or 70, or both at the same time. Then, up till about thirty-nine, I usually felt as if I were either 25, or 80, or both at the same time. These days, I feel as if I were somewhere between 30 and 35. Past 30 anyway. And nowhere near 90.

So there is some development after all.


On 28 August 1990…

… I for the first time crossed the Scottish border.

I had been picking raspberries and strawberries with five college friends of mine down in Essex for six weeks, and then we went around Britain. The two-week route being approximately this: Ardleigh – Oxford – Holyhead – Liverpool – Glasgow – Fort William & Ben Nevis – Inverness – Thurso – Aberdeen & Perth – Edinburgh – St Andrews – Ardleigh. With many more places along the way that stuck to memory, of course.

I’ve only been back once, in 1997, with a workmate. It was a package tour, but great nonetheless. (We only spent our time with the others in the bus, otherwise we, like, went our own way.) The last day but one of that trip we were in St Andrews and I promised myself in the St James’ Church there, just like I had seven years before, that until eight years were over I’d be back again.

I failed.

Booze, loneliness, midlife crisis and so forth combined meant I never had the money or the guts. Or either.

But I believe that now I finally have both gu leòr, and that next year I’ll be there. Probably a package tour again, and without a friend this time – but it would be a start. Or rather, a kind of a resurrection. And then I may begin on improvements.

Perhaps, one day I’ll even be able to emigr… But let’s not bring bad luck by talking about it. My immediate goal is to get there for a holiday next year, and what will follow, will follow.



Apparently, I’m going to have a website.

It all began with this BBC article. Uninteresting to me as the story itself was, the fact that anybody can buy a .co.uk domain made me very interested. I contacted Dànaidh, who confirmed this; spent an afternoon looking for a registrar; and currently I have the address thrissel.co.uk registered and we’ve begun to work on the site. It will take some time, but in the end I’ll eventually have a homepage. A central point from which to reach to all the other places on the Net on which I’m more or less active. No more considering what to put as a “user info” here or there – a link with only optionally some more specific details would do. And some activities I can move there altogether. Like these blogs of mine…

For two years now the future hasn’t stopped looking interesting. Touch wood so it’ll last…


Rick Bayan: The Cynic’s Sanctuary

In the end I haven’t read all his “monthly tirades”, as he calls them, though I had meant to.

As a whole, the website is fairly good, the introductory parts by Rick Bayan in particular. But I didn’t like the discussions’ subpages, finding most of the participants mistaking just complaining about life being unfair for cynicism. And later on, reading the tirades in chronological order, I found even Mr Bayan growing less and less cynical – the way I understand the word. Take this, for instance:

No matter that our progenitors had been enjoying the delights of the bedchamber for countless centuries. What the rockers gave us was the notion of unfettered, uncouth, unromantic sexuality – no sweet-sad waltzes played by sighing violins, no garlands of flowers strewn upon the wedding-bed, no cameras cutting to the pounding waves on the beach. We began to like our sex hot, hard and nasty.

About as cynical and true as Sir Walter Scott’s ideas of Merrie Scotland, it almost made me give up. I plodded a bit more, but after this

It is an easy matter to accept both the goodness and the unfairness of the world with an indifferent heart; then you are respected as a realist. Just as easy is it to overlook the unfair, for then you enjoy the sunny life of an optimist. If you delude yourself that you can overcome the unfair, you gain a reputation as an activist. But to see the unfair and rail against it – while admitting that YOU CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT IT – that is the difficult and thankless calling of the cynic.

I just read one more tirade (out of the moment of inertia) and I did give up. For me, “railing against the unfair while admitting you can do nothing about it” is no more cynical than being an optimist or a believer.

Nevertheless I heartily recommend the site. There’s still a hell of a lot of good reading, unblurred vision, and fun left.

Hole in my head

Don’t know if this is worth posting at all…

As a variation on the old “pride comes before a fall” theme, perhaps?

Anyway: a few weeks ago a friend of mine was showing me a YouTube video featuring himself, jumping into a pool and reappearing on the surface with a hole in his head. We both enjoyed it, needless to say.

Understandably, I enjoyed it much less when on Wednesday last I opened the top cover of the machine I’m operating so forcefully that it decided to bounce off and close again. Only my head was already inside, with the effect decsribed by the title of this post…


Hard Rain

I refer to the Bob Dylan album, made from recordings from his Rolling Thunder Revue tour ’76 leg. It was one of the first albums whose English lyrics I knew, and one of my favourites when I was eighteen. I haven’t been able to listen to it for years, but a few weeks ago I bought it on a CD. And when I heard it again for the first time after all those years I was amazed. Not by the fact that I still liked it quite as much as I had. But by how the lyrics, long-forgotten except for two or three songs I remembered by heart all along, were returning to my head. Line after line, just as – or even split seconds before – he sang them. A man’s memory is really a very mysterious thing!


Rob’s flittin day, or Cupboard

He wasn’t actually moving flat. Neither he nor his ex had been living there for a month. But they had to clear it last Sunday, as on the following morning a purchaser was to come and take it over.

It took us (the ex was mostly in the flat, packing the things, and I, Rob and R the Limpet carrying and driving them away to other places) most of the day. Or rather, most of my waking hours. And it was fine. I had pre-decided not to give a damn whether or not I’d have time for anything else that day, my only concern being to get into bed in time to have enough sleep prior to next day’s shift. No problem with that. It was fun as well: R the Limpet was sober, and as usual, one of Rob’s main concerns was to exert himself as little as possible. The funniest moment was seeing him carry a monitor for some twenty yards using a hand truck.

There were other pleasant features. I’ve been to a few places I’d never been to before in this town. We dined at Limpet’s place on escalopes prepared by his girlfriend. (Ay, I had a hot Sunday dinner.) It was manual, as opposed to mental, business, and one spent for a great part outdoors. And I “inherited” a cupboard they wanted no longer.

So that yes, at the age of almost forty-one, I for the first time in my life have a piece of furniture of my own. (I can still say I never ever bought one.) It’s a wee bit strange. For the most part of my life I was determinedly attempting to have as few material possessions as possible, so they wouldn’t weigh me down if I had to (or wanted to) move. Nowadays, I want to move, sooner or later, more than ever. Yet I feel good, rather than bad, about obtaining the cupboard.

But I guess I know what it is. Previously I’d hate the idea of having to somehow dispose of the item – pillow, cupboard, whatever. Today, I’m relaxed about it. I know that if I have to, I’ll accomplish it, somehow. I’m no longer getting nervous about crossing bridges I may not even come to at all.


Busy, busy days

Luckily it’s over, and I’m back to normal.

After the “flittin Sunday” there was so much to do, email-wise and thrissel.co.uk-wise and 28/8-preps-wise, that I only had time to have a proper look at the Fòram yesterday. Even today I’ve still had for some time the feeling “there’s so much to do I don’t know where to begin”. Although I knew that actually this wasn’t true any longer.

It’s funny to see how each time I find a way to get more leisure time I presently find a way of losing it again. I stopped editing in en-wikt only to find myself writing a long cs-wiki article, and I only finished that to begin creating my own website, and there are several other examples… I wonder if the website will really be the last “large” thing, after which I’ll finally be able to just go on without starting new ones. Seems I still have a long way to go in learning not to try and cut too deep everywhere I find myself…


Gd grammar on cs-wiki

Another monster of a task is finished.

I began writing the article on Tuesday, 21 July, and only finished today. And I wouldn’t have yet, hadn’t I prioritised it over several regular tasks within the last few days. (Most shamefully reading new Fòram posts. And eating properly.)

But done it is, and I’m not going to edit on cs-wiki again, other than in connection with it (and even that only temporarily). There’ll be no more editing under the old account on any of the English projects either; I’ll gradually get out of gd-wiki as well, and only edit under the new account. Which means much less work and much less talking with others.

The other aspect is that I decided I’d consider my promise to Deamhan fulfilled, whether he’d agree or not. I already mailed as much to Dànaidh, and tomorrow I’m going to mail Deamhan himself. But my mind’s made up. Whatever he says, I won’t waste my time on any such task again.

Glè mhath; tomorrow I’m helping Rob with emptying his married-life flat, and of course it’s the 28/8-preps time these days, but even so I hope I’ll be able to go on more leisurely once again.


Lammas & old shoes

Some years ago an idea occurred to me: making an overall evaluation of my finances on each of the former Scottish quarter days.

Sometimes I succeeded, meticuously listing all the “black” and all the “red” items I could recall. Sometimes I failed, either postponing it until it became irrelevant, or being on a binge.

But it’s been Lammas on Saturday, and I’ll make an evaluation in another way:

I’m currently better off than I have been since 2003. I’m more in the black. I’m earning more. I’ve more useful things. Rob’s debt to me is higher than mine to him ever was. And able to afford it, I’m more easy-going with money.

True, I’ve got the biggest debt I’ve ever had. But considering to whom I owe the money, it’s highly improbable it would create any real future danger. And my conscience won’t be the least hurt even if I don’t pay back.

In short, I’m much better off than I’ve been these last six years.

What have old shoes got to do with all this? In the course of the annual pre-28/8 tidying, I was doing the antechamber cupboard today, and I threw away the three pairs I’d only been keeping “just in case”: the army plimsolls, the Macro pair in which I had actually worked there, and the black pair I’d bought there only to discover it pinched.


Wikipedia account

So at last I’ve created a Wikipedia account. After all, it’s one of the websites I’ve been using the most since I came online. And considering all the places where I have one without going there any longer at all…

I also created accounts on a few of the “sister projects”, as they call it. Even if I don’t ever write anything on any of them, it somehow feels good to know they’re there – and they’re mine.

Strange thing, however. Despite what I said here, I once again just started the accounts and only put a few words to each so as to make them “link blue, rather than red“.

Perhaps I’m really changing more than I realise? Well, this kind of change would possibly be for the better. I mean, towards being less fussy…


Quakers & gay marriages


Stonewall tells me that the Quakers’ annual meeting in York have decided on holding gay marriages. And they seem to mean it:

The group will now arrange a draft revision of the relevant sections of the group’s prayer book and the next edition of Quaker Faith and Practice will be revised so that gay marriages can be “prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded and reported to the state, as opposite sex marriages are”.

Strange thing is, I’ve only consciously came across any Quakers in fiction, and as far as I can remember they were always portrayed as obvious laughing stock. Taking them for some sect of the Mormons’ or Jehovah’s Witnesses’ kind, I was rather taken aback to see the news. Consequently, I read the leader of the relevant Wikipedia article and was further surprised – there are even agnostics taking part in their annual meetings? And no church hierarchy at all? All of a sudden they looked like daring to go even further than Presbyterians or Buddhists, resembling most of all the Secular humanists, except for the atheism on the part of the latter.


I guess I’ll read the whole article, possibly even follow a few of the external links – and when I see them slighted in fiction again, take care to notice what kind of character is doing so.


Isle of Lewis Sunday ferry

The first Sunday ferry left Stornoway last week, but I don’t know whether or not to be glad.

Those who know me well would probably assume I’d be very glad to hear the news. “Victory over religious bigotry”, things like that. (I was mighty glad when Stonewall informed me that the very next day, the first gay civil partnership ceremony was about to take place on Lewis.) True, if the argument was only about the service being against the Scripture, I’d no understanding for that.

On the other hand, I can quite believe that for some the possible advantages don’t make up for the possible disadvantages. For instance, if you’re not into services, is having more tourists around such a big deal? I remember the two men in front of a Skye church back in ’97 who were obviously only there to prevent oncoming new flocks of us sightseers from entering, as there was currently worship going on inside.

But then again, if I had friends or relatives on the mainland or worked there, why should I not be able to cross the Minch if the CalMac were happy to sail me? Because some others wanted a dead quiet weekend?

I’ve been pondering about it for days… and then an inner voice told me: “Do you HAVE to have an opinion? Haven’t you criticised people who held strong convictions on matters they knew next to nothing about often enough? Aren’t you doing the same now?” And I guess I was. I’ve never been to Lewis. I don’t know a single Leòdhasach, let alone discussed this with one. I’ve just read a few BBC articles and listened to a debate in the town hall – where of course only those whose presence was required by their jobs and the most vocal inhabitants would be heard, not to mention that hearing, rather than reading it, I couldn’t follow much of what was said. I don’t even know whether the opinions of the inhabitants are divided 50-50, 90-10 or whatever. And aren’t na Leòsaich the people whose quality of life is concerned?

So I concluded that if and when I spend some time on Lewis, and/or talk to several of its folk about it, I may form my own opinion from what I hear – but not till then.


Pogue Mahone

On Sunday I finally listened to the CD while reading the lyrics.

I haven’t done this sort of thing for years. As I’d been afraid, I found it somewhat hard to concentrate throughout, but more or less I succeeded.

I admit I was slightly disappointed. The words didn’t fall quite as close to my heart as they do with Peace and Love and Waiting for the Herb. Apparently, though, it’s not because the Pogues have changed so much, but because I have. Also, it’s hard to remember whether at first reading it wasn’t the same with the other albums. Perhaps I had to spend some time finding interpretations suiting me for those as well.

The music, too, seems less fascinating. But then again, it may just be so until I know the melodies by heart.

Anyway, the overall sound of it is much better than that of Red Roses for Me, which I had bought (and heard for the first time) only recently as well.

All in all I reckon that, despite the mild initial disappointment, chances are I’ll love the album, after some time, just as much as the other two. Or almost as much.


Legal residence

Unsurprisingly, my question whether my official address can be transferred from the town hall in my birth town to the one where I live was answered in the negative. I was told that one’s last “proper” address is what counts. So no dreaming of change of name again.

Nevertheless, it occurred to me that the next time Rob asks me to stand as a surety for him (which he well may within a couple of years), I may agree on the condition that he writes me down as a “legal resident”; and in other news a second post of mine got a comment, and I was the first to find an error in the latest FnaG spot-a-mistake picture.

It’s all about not letting ill luck get you down, playing the “business as usual” game, and patiently waiting for good luck to come again. As it eventually always does, unless the terminal ill luck pre-empts it.


14 years of virginity

Meaning, of course, that the “Jockie’s full BWB day” I described yesterday ended in the last night when I had sex.

As a matter of fact, only the fifth sexual intercourse I had ever.

But somehow this never troubled me. It was great and no mistake, each time. But as I’ve been wanking since the age of eight, if not even earlier, I can live without the intercourse. In fact, the most fantastic experience of those five nights was that morning when I woke up and found myself and Jockie still embracing one another.

Similarly, I can watch any porn video and keep entirely calm, even cynically amused. But when a young couple passes me on the street, hand in hand, chances are that for a split second I’d feel a sharp pang of envy. (And the boy doesn’t even have to be particularly bonny.)

Of course it’s about sex as well; what I’m saying is that there are different facets of sex, and these have different amount of appeal to different people.

My trouble isn’t as much the lack of sexual intercourse, but what I gather they call tactile deprivation. Sure, they’re related; but I’ll talk about the other some other time.


Benkis, Jockie’s full BWB day, Bruce… and Quitting WT

It’s no good. There’s no running away from it. Here goes, then:

It’s Benkis‘ 37th birthday today. A Hungarian living in the same country as me, he was one of my fellow conscripts – and one of the most important two at that. One of the most important people of my whole life, for that matter. The first person ever to call me “bráško“.

Another lad among those most important to me was Jockie, and today it’s 14 years since he spent a whole day in what I then called BWB, visiting me. (He came the night before and left the morning after.) Day of visiting our favourite pubs, framed by awaking and falling asleep embracing somebody I loved. One of the best days of my life.

And it’s also the 735th anniversary of the birthday of Robert the Bruce. So let’s be strang and cover — let’s call it My en-wikt story:

First there was the pleasant surprise of having found a place where I could ask questions about English to which I couldn’t find answers elsewhere.

Then there was the infatuation of communicating in English, and also of being a part of creating something new and potentially esteemed. Of being useful.

And there were many micro-stories, good and bad. Moments of bliss coming from seeing us cooperate, goals achieved, gaffes and botches, things to ponder about even when walking to work of a morning, a great part of the ’08 Yuletide spent there, discussions won and lost, new words and expressions learned, people I liked a lot (still do) “met”, and so forth…

But slowly frustration was becoming more and more frequent. Decisions I disapproved of were growing in number. And a feeling that I had bitten more than I could chew was growing as well.

Yet there were still several things I wanted to accomplish, even though I’d managed the major task I had set myself to do. A couple of hours before I quit I still had plans for the future, although I had already had consider quitting twice, and has been for quite some time deliberately diminishing my communicating with the others. But then it came. The fuse has blown and I could stand it no longer.

So I covered it up, said goodbye and quit.

And now I’m through with it. I may or may not return to finish the things I haven’t, under the old username or a new one. But for the time being, except for keeking there now and then, I’m going to concern myself with other things. The remaining items on my Backlog list. Am Fòram, and Gaelic generally. Processing my diaries. Reading, or re-reading, all those books. And so on.

Happy times they were, for the most part. But now it’s through, and I’m going elsewhere – with heart undaunted.