Thursday, February 26, 2004


the weather is taunting me. A week ago it looked like the beginning of spring snowdrops had appeared and mornings were mild... Of course the moment I noticed this it snapped back to being winter, and I'm fed up with winter if only because it makes driving difficult.

First there's all the scraping of frost off glass (bah) then there's the road salt (I washed my car on Monday afternoon, by Wednesday morning it looked two-tone again with the lower half of its body caked in white-grey road salt. ik!) and of course the small matter of ice - not on the roads mind you, enough of the salt seems to stay on the tarmac to keep that from happening but every morning this week my windscreen washer jets have been frozen solid and it's a pain... The italians make beautifully designed cars which are pure joy to drive, but they (naturally) do not appear to understand about cold weather.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

you're new here aren't you?

I've mentioned haircut stuff before but my regular shearing session hit another first today: there was a new person doing the cutting! scary stuff eh? especially since he appeared to be pretty young and generally new to all this. Naturally scenes of an impending bad-hair week flooded through my mind, because, well, we've all seen the trainee-hairdresser* sketches haven't we?

Since this is the second time I've mentioned it on here I feel I should give some background detail about the hair cut place. as I've said I go there partly out of habit and partly because they all three do a really good job, and for as long as I've been going there there have been three hair-cutty people (they're not hairdressers because the place is too straight forward for that but they're not barbers either because - thanks to the childhood horror stories of my razor-comb wielding father - I'm pathologically terrified of barbers, and none of these people terrify me.) each of the three is very good at cutting my hair and each in very different ways:

first there's owner-bloke: owner-bloke appears to own the place and has the genuine relaxed air of a man who does what he loves for a living and lives pretty well from it, he has a very chilled out dog (who is sometimes there, but never cuts hair as far as I've seen) and the kind of hair which looks cool in a way that appears effortlessly messy but probably isn't.

secondly there's "are-you-keeping-your-sideburns?" lady who (as the name suggests) always without fail asks me if I want to keep my sideburns (in a way which conveys eloquently her opinion that I probably shouldn't.) I like her in spite of our ideological differences and she always does a great job of resisting her obvious temptation to slip with the clippers and shave the offending sideburns off

last but not least is I-used-to-fancy-him who for the first year I was going there never cut my hair once, and always seemed to be much sexier than he actually is. During all that time I thought I kind of fancied him, but it turns out I don't (and besides he's evidently straight) it also turns out that he's really quick cutting my hair: same great finish as the other two but in about two thirds the time.

So yesterday I went in and found I-used-to-fancy-him there stoically trimming away at someone's noggin while working at another chair was a new guy. Change (as I have mentioned) is unsettling to me when it comes to haircuts: this is why I used to make my Mum drive clear across town every couple of weeks as a teenager, and why I now walk half an hour across Edinburgh to go to this place (which is near where I used to live and was once on my walk home from work, but is now quite inexcusably out of my way)

new-guy finished first (of course) and proceeded to do a first rate job of cutting my hair (I don't know why this surprises me but it does: I think I expect anyone who's not done it before to wreck it)... it never ceases to amaze me that people can wave sharp objects deftly about my head in intricate patterns for protracted periods without stabbing me in the skull, and I'm even more amazed each time it happens how great I feel afterward (perhaps it's relief at not having been stabbed with scissors, but more likely it's a looking good - feeling good thing) Somehow though none of the above relaxes my conviction that I *need* to keep going back to the same place, in spite of being objective proof of the existence of other people who can sucessfully cut my hair. weird eh?

*"new-guy" is patently not a trainee, and what he lacked in customer relations finesse (by comparison with his ultra-chilled colleagues he seemed really quite awkward and uncomfortable) he more than made up for in talent: my hair looks the best it has in ages.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

clarity, caffiene and mugs

Did I mention that some evil git has stolen my coffee mug? It's most unsettling. Said mug is a large-ish one that my friend James bought me ages ago when we considered anything involving sheep to be the height of humour... or he did at least, but I like it 'cus of the associations (friendly ones not sheeply ones) I brought it to work a couple of years back because the mugs here are too small, and because getting one you'd want to drink out of is rare: teachers are appalling slobs - in 3rd year at university I lived in a flat with six other fellas three of whom were football-playing-second-year-lad-archetypes and another of whom was an economist, you can't imagine the filth that accumulated there over the year (I actually once had an alergic reaction to touching our fridge - my guess was that something on it had mutated and I wouldn't have been surprised if just having it in the kitchen broke several conventions on biological weaponry!) Incredibly though the kitchen area in our staff room here makes the one in that flat seem like a page out of a Magnet catalogue by comparison! - Sheep mug and I make, sorry made about three trips a day through the swamp to the coffee machine together, and being something of a creature of habit I was really thrown last Friday to discover it wasn't on my desk where it always is... someone had rustled my sheep!


So this morning I have a new work mug - it's not the same but it's pleasingly weighted and large enough to make walking down to the coffee machine worthwhile again... I'm still hoping my sheep one will turn up unharmed but realistically I think it's gone for good.

On a brighter note last night I had a really great evening with Hamish - we're doing this thing where we meet up once a week and talk to each other about all the projects we each have on the go, kind of a structure for making sure said projects keep current 'cus it gives each of us someone to be accountable to. Anyway one of mine is this new self-promotion CV thing I cooked up (there'll be a tie-in section on here soon so you'll all have to wait and see what it is for now) and I'd run aground doing some of the content that afternoon. Talking about it with Hame was a real shot in the arm because it made me realise that actually I've got all this great content ready to roll, I just needed a slight shift in perspective. Everyone should have friends like that: personal polarisation filters who help you see right through the surface glare... now if you'll excuse me I have to go and be brilliant.

Friday, February 20, 2004

link link link... post original content already!

The catalogue is down this morning so I've had a perfect excuse to catch up with some of my friends'* bloggings and remind myself that I have some really smart and funny friends who live varied and interesting lives... sometimes I take that for granted.

Also in the reminding stakes this morning was Liz's photography - she has the same camera as I recently got and takes very lovely pictures with it...

so as well as being link fodder this morning underlined what I'd already decided about this weekend, which is that I must switch of the TV set and do something less boring instead ;) or to put it in a less 80s-Kids-TV-refernce-ey way, I need to get out and do stuff before I turn into a mindless linking machine!

* I'd advise scrolling down to the posts about Saturday 14th for Liz and Justin giving some of the best examples of what I'm talking about here, there's also much silliness on the LJ friends page, which for me is half the fun, but it's not why I linked to it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


so the phone just rang and it was my big sis (the one who's younger than me) "great" I thought "I've not spoken to Al in ages!" 'cus I haven't: we've both had a busy month since I forgot her birthday... which happens almost exactly a month before my big bro's birthday (the one who's older than me)...

yup, my sister was calling to find out if I'd died or something because (once again) I have forgotten a sibling's birthday: sorry bro!

[goes off to beat self round the head with a stick]


my friends visited me! yay!

on Thursday afternoon just before I finished work reception emailed up to tell me that the visitors I was expecting had arrived, and sure enough there they both were. Two of my oldest and best friends (James and Caroline) who I've not seen much of since before I moved from Edinburgh, came up to spend a long weekend with me.

On Friday they recovered from their travels while I worked and then we all met up with some of the usual Friday gang for dinner and Improverts which I think James and Caz both enjoyed, I certainly did. It was a little bit 'when worlds collide' for me, and I must confess to being a bit nervous that old and new wouldn't mix but as far as I can tell a good time was had by all.

The weekend itself was gloomy weather so any vague plans we'd had for 'doing stuff' went out of the window in favour of a long chilled out session of just hanging out and catching up: we took a trip to Tesco to stock up on Caz-friendly foods and James-friendly beers (neither of which I'd got) then we plonked ourselves down in the livingroom and relaxed - it was wonderful!

The pair of them have been something of an item on and off for almost as long as I can remember, certainly since school. A few years back they solidified the whole thing by getting engaged and buying a house together, which is great but it did somewhat change the individual friend-dynamics for me, I think this weekend was the first time since then that I've really managed to relate to each of them the way I used to before they became a real couple, best of all I found I really like the new grown-up version of them as a couple, they're fun to be around.

by Monday we'd thoroughly caught up (as well as having consumed far too much very nice ale - I discovered 'Goliath' this weekend, which I love) and inspite of the weather still being grim it was time to leave the house so we went to Glasgow and looked for a coffee jug that would fit under the nozzle on my new espresso machine (which incidentally I also love) we didn't really find one but we did have a great time and got to hang out with Jamie briefly which was great.

Yesterday the sun came out and I took them to New Lanark for a small dose of pretty Scottish scenery, then we got chips in Lanark before I had to drive them to the train station and say goodbye. Hopefully it won't be so long again before we next get to do something like that.

Friday, February 13, 2004

a meme? me?

I'm not usually one for these things but this one's kinda interesting... I don't think I missed anywhere:

County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

looks about right to me, the only blue bit I wish was yellow is the Western Isles, must get round to going there

Thursday, February 12, 2004


This afternoon two of my best friends from high school will arrive to spend a few days visiting with me. I've not spent any significant amount of time with either of them in far too long, and they haven't been up to visit since I lived in the flat in Edinburgh. In the intervening time lots of grown-up-stuff has happened for all three of us and I think we're each very different people, as well as being the same old nerds who used to spend our lunchtimes and weekends together a decade ago in another life... I really have no idea what we'll spend our time doing but I'm really excited about it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004


One of my things for this year is working on a bad habit I have, I call it Teflon eye-contact which I think is pretty self-explanatory, and it bugs the hell out of me when I catch myself doing it... which is quite a lot. I'm told that back in The Beginning, tinyPatrick was a brightly inquisitive, friendly little person, remembered most for his grin. A socially quite adventurous toddler who looked and smiled at everything and everyone... to the point where fustily socialised grown-up doctors wondered if there might not be something wrong with him (there wasn't, he was just happy.)

Somewhere along the way from there to here, in the business of growing up and getting socialised myself, I withdrew a bit more than I think I probably meant to: I spent more of 1988 to 1998 looking at paving slabs than I did looking people in the eye - I realise that as a grown up it's inappropriate for me to reprise that same kind of wide-eyed happy wonderment (at least on the outside) but I still feel that the ideal spot on the continuum (I think) is somewhere a bit closer back to tinyPatrick's approach than I've managed to get as yet.

Anyway that's all by way of a preamble to a story about me being a doofus (hence the title) Last night Anita and I did our usual weekly trip to the supermarket, which incidentally are a great example of why I love living with my friend - we have fun doing the shopping, not the kind of fun you'd keep going back for if the fridge magically stocked itself, sure, but it's certainly never a chore. So while we were walking from one aisle to another talking happy rubbish to each other and laughing as usual I realised that I was looking right at the (really very attractive) security guard who was walking towards us, and by the time I'd realised it, it was abundantly clear that he had too.

As a rule attracting the attention of security guards in shops is one of those things you know you just don't do: they instill that same vague sense that you're going to get into trouble (in spite of having done nothing wrong of course,) as a police car in the rearview mirror does: on the whole we keep our heads instinctively down and just hope they pass us by... and I hadn't, I'd let my guard down (so to speak).

At about this point, when part of my brain was slapping itself on the forehead and muttering "stupid, stupid" while picturing our getting followed about the store and watched suspiciously for the next half hour, some new unconscious reflex I hadn't realised I'd developed kicked in - instead of looking quickly away (as I expected myself to) I held his gaze and smiled quite genuinely at him (which was very easy) and to my (and, I think, his) mild amazement he smiled back just as warmly.

You know that bit in the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (I forget if it's in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish or Life, the Universe and Everything) the bit where Arthur Dent discovers that he can fly, but only if he doesn't realise that he's doing it? well it turns out that something remarkably similar happens when you notice yourself casually pulling off eye contact with a cute security guard, and of course this is where my damned Teflon thing kicked in: having made eye contact I looked away. The moment (such as it was) was gone.

Of course he was just smiling. I was just smiling. There wasn't anywhere else for that little interchange to go, unless we lived in my imagination, (which is a fun place to visit, it's just harder to keep the fridge stocked there) but sometimes when that happens there might be more to it mightn't there? there might be a new friend to be made at the very least, and so now I've noticed this new reflex to be engagingly friendly, the old shy reflex bugs me even more than it already did.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

blowing my own horn

I'm really quite fit.* I know that's awfully immodest of me and all but I think I can be excused on account being really rather surprised by the realisation myself. I shouldn't be: it's occurred to me before but I've been incredibly lazy for the past six months or so and thought I'd got out of shape, apparently not: last night I collected the useful timber remains of Liz's deadbed (Fiona killed it by chewing something a little too vigourously while perched on it... or so I'm told) - I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to use the bits for, but they looked awfully useful and I have storage for them so I asked if I could have them and Liz said I could... I suspect they'll become shelves.

anyway Liz lives right at the top of one of the implausibly long and winding stone staircases that enable the denizens of Edinburgh's old town to live a very full three dimensional life (possibly more than three come to think of it: the Old Town is decidedly Escher-esque in places) If I remember correctly it's about six normal storeys up - Edinburgh ceilings being the height they are there are in fact only four very tall storeys (of which this isn't one!) The remains of deadbed were at the top of said staircase while my car was parked as close by as possible, at the bottom of the stairs and then a few meters down the precipitously sloped cobbled street onto which they lead.

Car was parked on a meter and Patrick was in a hurry so without really realising it until afterward, what I did was go up the stairs, disassemble the broken bed, carry first one armful of timber then (pausing briefly to run back up the stairs!) the other armful of timber which I bundled into the back of the car and then scooted off in a hurry to Hamish's where I arrived about an hour early on account of having completed the whole wood collection thing in about 30 minutes flat... It's about then that it struck me: I'm really quite fit!

* it has been suggested that rather than being an example of manly prowess in the field of timber hefting, this episode is in fact evidence of some kind of mutant abilities, so I'd just like to reassure anyone who's concerned that I will only use my powers for good :D

Monday, February 09, 2004

restless blogger


So at the moment this page is power by blogger, and that works very well for what it does *but* there are two things I'd very much like it to do that it doesn't, the first being enabling you (the reader) to comment on what I've said should you want to. The site is now getting in the region 400 hits a month from all over the world, and that's steadily increasing, but without a comment field I have no way of knowing who most of you are, or what brought you here and what you think... and I kind of think I'd like to.

The second short coming of blogger (for me) is that there are no third party scripts that would allow me to auto-update my LiveJournal page when I update this page. I only have a LiveJournal account in order to be able to comment on a few friends blogs that are lazily hosted there, but it would be nice to be able to mirror my postings on both sites and it looks as though, were I to use MoveableType or WordPress I could do just that... trouble is that both of those would require that I move hosts (since the lovely people at heavenly host only support one kind of scripting and it's the wrong one)

bah. maybe this is just one of those cases of everything working fine and me feeling an urge to change it all for the sake of it? It's certainly a case of me blogging to clear my head and the end result being of no interest to anyone. sorry about that I'll be more interesting next time.

paper mountain

it really makes you wonder why you bother getting them when out of an entire weekend's paper, the most interesting page is the Sony advert on the back of the Weekend, and that's only because there's a cute guy in it.

I'm probably just pissed off because I didn't see any new jobs in either paper (I suppose it's to be expected with the Guardian, but the Herald really could try harder!) I'll give it another scan through tomorrow and see if I missed any hidden details... the recruitment section that is of course, not the Sony ad...

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

digital d'oh!

Yesterday I did a monumentally stupid thing. It started out as a pretty good day, I got up early (which is becoming a moderately regular occurence!) made coffee, had a shower and even got a load of washing into the machine all before it was time to leave for work - I made it out to the car early and was just doing my 'pre-flight' checks when I realised I didn't have my mobile, and at about that point I had the first inkling of what I'd done.

For a few secoinds I raced around the house looking in all the places I sometimes leave Lumie*, all the time hearing the washing machine happily churning away upstairs and feeling a rising sense of dread... yes folks I put my mobile phone through the wash. I hauled it out of course (it was in the pocket of my dressing gown) and left it drying out as I dashed off (not as early as intended, and thoroughly hacked off) to work.

by late last night it was mostly dry and I managed to get it to boot up a couple of times, though I think it's still a little waterlogged as the keypad was a tad erratic and after a time it just shut itself down again - also there's a wierd blotchy effect happening on the screen which suggests there's maybe washing liquid residue gumming up the backlight.

Hopefully the lovely people at Carphone Warehouse will be able to repair it without it costing me a fortune - the warranty is pretty explicit about not covering accidental dammage or problems caused by water... meanwhile my very lovely housemate has loaned me her old handset so I'm not totally cut off from the rest of the world.

Note to self: in future wake up before using the washing machine.

*yes I know I name inaimate objects and some of you are thinking that's a deeply sad thing to do, but personally I just think it's evidence of a good perspective on the world so there.

Monday, February 02, 2004

bannister girl

...I promised to post something creative, so here's a short bit of observational prose.


I can see the back of her head from up here, resting against her hand on the heavy wooden bannister. There's too much noise for her to hear me if I called, and too many bodies throng the steps between us. I can't reach her.


{fragments of thoughts, noise, confusion, surging mob-mind}


I feel the noise around me through my fingers like the grain of the wood they grip. One ear is pressed hard to my hand blocking out half of the sounds, while their lost pairs tumble in to my other up turned ear. nobody jostles me - which is strange. Each day here moving through the corridors I am pushed and shunted by the hoardes of others surging to and fro, but now that I am standing still they all miss me. Barely perceptably I can feel the air move as they pass without even brushing my side.

Perhaps... perhaps if I stayed here, curled against the foot of these stairs staring into my own thoughts everything will pass by like that. Perhaps I'd like that. I imagine time passing me down these stairs, and not seeing me here, forgetting me and sweeping past oblivious, absorbed in its own movement not seeing my stillness, just like this moment.


Once again I had a fantastic weekend, yay for the life of Patrick, 'tis a very lovely one to be living at the moment. I could waffle on for ages and ages telling you all all about my lovely weekend but instead I'm going to be lazy and link to two other people who've already described most of it, and have both done so really rather well.

I will by way of making up for this extreme laziness write something creative here later on, but right now I have work to do and not enough coffee to do it with so this is all you're getting for the time being.