Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Left....

to my own devices.....

It's been an emotional roller-coaster of a week. I'm not going to recap, because you can get the flavour by reading the earlier posts, stupid!!

My cousin, Sophia, breezed back into my life, on a cloud of clove scented air. We met 'neath the Harold Wilson statue after some 30 years of absence.

I was hoping everything would be good between us, and that we'd get along during the week long visit. I don't think either of us was disappointed.

We've had a blast.

Done a bit of shopping; Ate a bit of food; Some Jammie Dodgers; Talked; Walked; Ridden; Had late nights; Watched the birds; Watched League of Gentlemen; Listened to Radio 4; Drunk tea and coffee as though it might go out of fashion; Moonwatched; Smoked; Rapped; Played awesome guitar; Made video; Took pictures; Exchanged cards.

And now, as Soph has begun her journey home, and I am back in the lounge, surrounded by plastic guitars, and my customary overflowing ashtray, the house has most definitely sobered. The "ambiance" is noticeably darker, and colder.

Sure, it's always nice to catch up with a relative, to banish the "bad relative" demons once in a while. I don't remember ever having the privilege of such a great opportunity to catch up, in as relaxed and informal manner that we have managed.

The experience has left me with the feeling that I am the one that's been on a holiday somewhere, and returned home with renewed vigour, and am able to see things through a fresh set of eyes.

And so, cousin Soph, convey my love and regards to all the family out the in Canadia!! Keep on struttin'!!

Farewell (for now), bon voyage, au revoir..... I know I will see you sooner than you would probably like!! Haha

Everybody says shes lookin' good
And the lady knows its understood
Strutter

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tribute.

Ok, so I haven't had time to make a post for a while.

My cousin Sophia has been over for a few days now, and I am trying my best to keep her amused - I can only imagine, this is with mixed results!!

We've had my cousin Dan's funeral now, and without trying to explain the pain and tears, and stranger noises that welled up and poured out of me, I thought it more appropriate to just pay this small tribute to a big man!

SoHo and Fox's tribute!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sidetracked.

It's not often I get sidetracked into something else.... Ok..... let's start again....

I am always sidetracked onto something else.

My current fixation is Flickr.

I have been beavering away, squirreling photos, and updating the titles, descriptions, tags, and geo-tags.

So far I've uploaded about a hundred of (I won't say good, because they are not) my more memorable photographs.

I have to be careful not to turn this into an out-and-out advert blog, but I am loving it!!

Go, take a look, leave a comment, view the sets, explore, have fun, see what you think.

Arctic Fox's Flickr pad!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hello darlings.

Cast your mind back. Back to posssibly November 2006. You there yet? Good.

I was sitting at work, wondering what to do. I had been politely asked not to play motorcross games all day. I read, somewhere, that "The Producers" was about to start its national tour, and that Peter Kaye was to be included in the cast.

I lokked further into it, and found that the first night of this tour, would be in Manchester on February the nineteenth, and yes, Peter Kaye would be playing the character of Roger DeBris.

I booked the tickets, and kind of forgot about it.

I can't believe how quickly the nineteenth of February came around.

So, last night, was a trip into Manchester, to see Mel Brooks' classic musical romping comedy at the Palace Theatre.

How was it? Marvellous, darling. Simply marvellous.

If, seeing Peter Kaye, dressed as either a woman resembling the chrysler building, or as a camp german dictator, would tickle your fancy, then you can't really go wrong.

I was a quite outstanding theatrical performance.

The highlights for me, were the number of people who had obviously never been to a theatre before, and obviously were only going now, to satisfy their Peter Kaye curiosities.

1) A couple who dressed as if they go to a theatre every night of the week, but who obvisouly had no concept of how "seating" works - thereby, to reach their aisle seats, they promptly joined at the opposite aisle and stumbled across the entire row's feet to reach them. They both looked a little embarrassed when they took their aisle seats!!

2) The couple who were seated next to us, actually asked Dawn if the whole thing had finished, as we got up during the intermission!!! I don't think they got it!!

All in all, a fantastical, musical, colourful, extravaganza, of epic proportions. You could certainly do worse.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Pizza.

I fancied pizza for lunch. I went to the freezer to dig one out.... ok, I know this isn't good, but it gets better.

What greeted me, upon opening the pizza box, was nothing short of tragic. I leave you with my letter to Stateside Foods!!!

Hello, I have bought two of your pizzas, in a twin pack. I don't remember where they were bought, either from Asda or Morrisons. They have been in the freezer for a while so I am completely unsure about when they were purchased, but the box clearly states - new improved recipe!!!!

I am enclosing a photograph of your pizza, which is, as we speak, sitting in my wheelie bin!

At first, I thought the pizza had become defrosted somewhere along the line, and the topping had slid across, but on closer inspection it is clear, that half of the pizza has NEVER had tomato sauce on it, and the half that has tomato on has all run over the edge.

The cheese "lump" is one of the oddest things I have witnessed from a frozen pizza.

I have to question your quality checking process, as anyone with a working pair of eyes can see, this recipe is clearly NOT improved. If this is indeed improved, then I can only thank my lucky stars that I had not previously purchased your products, and will certainly think twice before buying them again.

Thank you for your kind attention.

There may well be, not one, but two morals to this tale:

1) Don't buy Stateside Foods products!

2) Don't piss off a blogger!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chores.

On the seventh day, God rested. I didn't, and Dawn certainly didn't.

In preparation for the arrival of my cousin, Sophia, this week, Dawn saw fit to completely tidy my house. I kept out of the way, and was allowed no distraction from my never ending stack of paperwork.

Like a tasmanian whirling devlishly dervish, armed with vacuum cleaner and all manner of things, for which I do not know the names, she swept, vacced, tidied, and generally spun round with aplomb.

I played house music, and danced round the bedroom, whilst scanning various documents. As per usual, I have done everything I needed to do, and absolutely no more. Dawn's efforts are infinitely more visible, complete, and appreciated.

To celebrate the industrious outburst, I paid the only way I know how, by creating a plate of creamed mushrooms on toast. Laced with black pepper, and cooked to perfection, an excellent repast.

I constantly marvel at Dawn's selfless, giving nature. As we say in Yorkshire: "She's a grand lass!". I certainly don't know what I would do without her!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Breath of fresh air.

It's been one of the most difficult weeks I can remember. I feel stifled and claustrophobic.

All hail the lovely Dawn, and her suggestion that we go for a walk today. I knew just the place I wanted to be. We drove out to Deer Hill, which is a little wild place on the moors above Marsden and Meltham.

We walked. At parts, in the cold, biting wind, with tears streaming down my face, or with a warm sun shining on my back. Fresh air, and space, clearing the cobwebs.

We crouched behind a wall and drank coffee with brandy in it.

A lovely walk. A pint on the way home. I cooked a late lunch/early tea.

Enjoy the photos.

Alternatively, you might like to head on over to Flickr, where I am starting to store my pics - here's my album so far.







Friday, February 16, 2007

Fade to grey.

It's starting to feel more like November now, than the glimpses of spring that prematurely erupted a week or two ago.

The weather fits my mood, and I no longer open the curtains or blinds. The artificial, man made, controllable lights are my preference.

I have a strong hankering to start a marine aquarium just now.

Today I refilled the bird feeders.

The last week or so, I have had a blackbird that is flapping against my kitchen windows. It's spooky and strange to see her bouncing off the glass, and pecking, as if attracted by something inside. Hitchcockesque indeed. Each day she returns, and each evening disappears.

Am struggling to raise enthusiasm for Pogo badges this week, which comes as no great surprise. I did manage to get my cousin Tom on there this morning though, and I would love to think he might use it more in the future, and come and say "hello".

I am not enjoying seeing my thoughts of cousin Dan slowly shifting down my web page. It's indicative that time marches relentlessly on, even if I can not manage to do so at the same pace. Another interesting blog side effect. The blog waits for no man.

I am sending thoughts, and love, in the direction of my Aunty Janet, Uncle Dave, Jo, and Tom. I wish I could do more.

Anyhow, as all blogs should end, I am taking a young lad to buy socks......

?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dark days.

I've had a few VERY dark days lately. Even the weather is running parallel to my somberness. Waves of rain, of wind, of greyness, broken only by happier moments of sunshine. Tears and laughter, seemingly unprovoked to the casual observer.

Focus.

Nothing on earth can focus your mind like the events of this week. Finally, I am starting to find my silver lining.

I am most thankful to have shared times with Dan. Some most excellent formative years. I have even remembered our strongest bond, the possible topic of conversation on the beach at St. Cyrus.

Black sheep.

Both myself and Dan were undoubtedly our family's black sheep. If anyone could drag the family name through any mud at a given moment's notice, then it was the pair of us. We both took great joy in connecting over this. Two's company!! Forged in fire!!

I always admired the sense of family that Dan possessed. In fact, all three of my northern cousins have something that I have never innately possessed in that respect. It's something I am trying to work on, and have been trying for some time.

This week has been surreal in that I have had conversations and almost daily contact with family. The events that have drawn us together are neither desirable nor pleasant, but this for me is absolutely a good thing. I am sure Dan would approve of bringing the family together.

Last night I went to the pub. I raised my glass to my cousin, and drank some foaming Guinness. The next one was for the rest of my family. It helped in a small way, and finally, in bed, my mind was silent.

I'm not sure who I am writing my blog for anymore. Two cousins, yesterday, stopped by and commented. I hope they approve of the words that I write. Most importantly it's an important process for me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dan.

On Monday morning, I was shocked into the day with news that my cousin couldn't be woken.

Dan's been suffering with MS for a couple of years, and there is not a soul on earth who hasn't been shocked by the aggressive nature of it.

By the end of the day, Dan was gone.

It's only right that I recall great times with the little pothead, that I have been proud to call my cousin for thirty three years.

I see Dan grinning his toothy smile as a young teenager, with a white Dunlop t-shirt, smeared in strawberry juice from the farm where we had been picking.

I hear Dan's fantastically loud infectious laugh.

Hours of inane MSN messenger chatter.

I see him grinning, with a joystick in his hand, playing SSX on the playstation. Concentrating on busting moves. I'd driven down to Leicester to drop off some dope.

I remember the family shock when Dan burned a huge pile of hay in a farmer's field in Johnshaven, Scotland.

When I learned to ride a bike - it was Dan's bike. A purple Raleigh Budgie, with fat tyres, and easy rider handlebars.

On the subject of bikes - Dan rode his into the corner of a house!!

Arbroath in Scotland, the amusements (the "switchies" as they were known). We all loved to go there. The "king kong" machine in Montrose. The sand dunes.

I walked the sandy beach at low tide with Dan at St. Cyrus in Scotland. We smoked a spliff, and walked and talked. I can still see the ripples on the sand, and the wooden boards that led there. I don't remember what we talked about, but I know it rained.

The memories are choking in my throat and in my eyes.

I had a great affinity with Dan, we had many things in common. He was the most mild mannered, placid chap you would ever meet, and in a lot of ways I find that inspirational. I always had time for him, and don't ever recall us having a bad word.

I know we have some old Super 8 films, from those heady childhood days where we played in the sun. When the time is right, I promise myself to dig them out.

For now, my cousin, my friend..... simply....

GRATITUDE!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday 12th February 2007.

Here and now, is not the place to discuss today's events. I have tried to find a way to express myself, and sadly, I think I've failed. I simply wanted to leave something to mark today.

The ONLY thing I could come up with are some terrible words, comparable to Vogon poetry from the majestic "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy".

I tried to write words that would describe my dark mood,
But nothing I say can do justice when viewed.
Without being here, or sharing the feeling,
You'll only be guessing at what I'm concealing.
You don't have to read inbetween my short lines,
Don't look for my meaning or scan me for signs.
Life's simply unfair, that's as far as it goes,
And the key to it all, is right under your nose.
There's a much simpler answer, than just "forty-two",
If you take care of me, I will take care of you.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kill the pig..........

Despite my attempts at gardening earlier this week, my total output has been zero.

I am falling into a kind of feral existence. Most days I am to be found with charcoal smudged across my face, whooping, and dancing around the house in a loincloth and feathered head-dress.

With no rules, nor structure, and no boundaries, my house and state of mind are falling into disrepair at equally alarming rates. I know this should concern me.... it simply doesn't.

I am finally following my own advice, casting aside my clothing, and indeed running wild and free.

I can't help feeling guilty though. These times and this life may well be short, and I am sure there are countless others out there, with their noses pushed hard against an ever faster spinning grindstone, who may wish to experience the exhilaration of complete and utter abandon.

My ashtray is positively overflowing!!

I promised myself, that today I would tidy up. I promised myself I would not sit at the laptop all day playing hangman in a futile effort to chase more Pogo badges. Sweet irony of the forbidden fruits, finds me taking a short break from hangman to write a blog, in the true avoidance of aforementioned housework.

Paperwork is piling up around me, and inevitably, yet another month-end has passed me by without so much as a shred of accounting efficiency crossing my keyboard. The credit cards remain unpaid.

Even the offer of a potential job, that was proffered by a former colleague, has not woken me from my stasis.

I know it sounds gloomy. I know I should not be doing it.

My school reports always read: "Jason MUST try harder" - Who am I to prove them wrong?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Green grow the rushes.

Well, not much to report.

I have spent the last two days working in the garden.

Day 1 - Spent most of the day picking up sticks, and general detritus. Pulled up some dead conifers (I hate the living versions of these conifers, so there was much joy to be had in dispatching of dead ones). Filled a few bags of garden waste and took them to my mum's house, and engaged in the manly art of bonfiring.

Day 2 - Just light gardening duties, until I picked up the secateurs!! Within ten minutes of hacking with handheld artillery, I was calling for the big guns. Mum arrived with "loppers" and I was soon dervishly whirling an Edward Scissorhandsesque green typhoon of vegetation. I even got the saw out!! six bags of carnage later, my garden's now completely empty.

And so, with my newly created personal dustbowl, I am left with tattered tools of the trade - my hands! Scratches and scars adorn each digit, and my fingernails... well, let's not go there!!

On a positive note, it's been a delight to spend some time in my garden with my feathered friends. Normally, I watch the birds from behind two layers of glass, and they take flight at the mere sound of a turning doorhandle.

Over the past two days, they have come quite accustomed to my vomings and goings, and are now quite happy to sit within spitting distance of me while I work, or more commonly, smoke a well earned cigarette.

I recently put up a nestbox for the bluetits, and already there have been inquisitive singles, and couples enquiring about availability. Perhaps soon, I might be able to get some nice pics of these little critters too.

I'm disappointed that my stunning collection of minimalist photography, yesterday, yielded only one comment. Thanks Spice, I knew I could count on your opinion.

PS - I hope y'all like the Banjamin Zephaniah music I have provided!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Oh, Jack of much frost.

The moors above Huddersfield are one of the most invigorating places I know. This morning, bathed in sunlight and frost, they drew me like a moth to a flame.

I can only intimate to you, what it is actually like out there. It's the most desolate windswept piece of land for miles around. Underneath the moorland is water. It's like a huge floating raft of reeds and peat.

In the wrong weather, these moors are not the place you want to be. It's cold and wet, and very inhospitable. Today is a different story.

The frost has crusted over the tufted ground. It's quite possible to walk in areas you would normally not want to go. I walked until, eventually, I sank.

Freezing purple hands, clutching metal tripod. I managed to snap a few pics, which I am pleased with. The colours are fantastic, but don't really do justice to the moorland, and its orange glow.

Sky and water are fantastic mirrors, and the ice formations were unreal.

Enjoy this selection from Cupwith (pronounced cup-earth to us locals) reservoir and surrounding area.








Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday musings.

It's Sunday the 4th February. It must be like 14 degrees or higher in the garden. The sun is shining, and the sky is a watery wintery blue, with white winter sun.

The trees and bulbs are all sprouting their new shoots, and it's a confusing scene. This is February, and it feels like summer. The birds are already pairing up and nesting, and there are insects flying about outside. This is all about one or two months premature, but you will not hear me complain.

I don't need to hark on about holes in the ozone layer, or melting ice caps, or global warming. The evidence for all these things is as plain as the nose on my face. The intersting aspect of this, is merely that, this week, it is finally official - Humans are to blame!!

Well, stone the crows, I could have told you that for a lot less than the IPCC charged to write their document. Personally I am chagrined with the whole debate, and the issue of whether it is a scientific problem or a political one.

Perhaps we should just accept it, drive hungrier cars, and just wear less clothing? Maybe the "oil" nations of the future will be the ones who can manufacture the highest sun protection factor oils? Maybe somewhere under the oceans there are vast quantities of factor eighty "Piz Buin" just waiting to be tapped?

All that being said, I must admit to having bought strawberries, yesterday, whose country of origin was Morocco. Think about it!!

It's a quiet day today. Dawn's gone off to the NEC in Birmingham for some sort of "buying" trip with her work. My mum wanted to go to a garden centre, but decided not to. I am enjoying the peace and quiet, but missing being with Dawn.

For some strange reason today, I have Newfoundland on my mind. I've been told it's a good place, and one that warrants further investigation. Perhaps I will look some stuff up when I have finished this blog? More likely I will go and play Age of Empires. I bet you didn't see that one coming?

I've been cooking up a storm lately. Last night I made: Spinach, rocket, and watercress soup.... Low fat fish and chips, and a kiwi fruit granita for desert.... very nice.

I think this week, I might start to be more productive around the house and try to tidy up the junk piles. Let's call it a premature spring clean!!