Monday, January 21, 2008

Where are we now?

I hired a dual-control car from Arnold Clark in Paisley yesterday, accompanied by the very kind Michael as my "responsible, grown-up person with a real driving licence". Although the Byzantine traffic systems of Paisley probably hold few fears for a man who has driven through Athens at rush hour.

This is just as well, as immediately after leaving the hire-place I turned left instead of right and set us on a - seemingly inexorable - path towards either the dual carriageway to Greenock, or the motorway to Glasgow. Neither of which we fancied. However we managed to extricate ourselves by means of a tiny roundabout at the end of a side road that seemed to have been put there for that very purpose. Handy.

As we headed back towards the town centre, I worried that I couldn't remember what key I was in. After being informed that I was probably driving in C# minor (and definitely in third gear) things were going quite well until I did the whole left instead of right thing again and ended up heading towards Barrhead. I don't like Barrhead. It's difficult and involves something called "The Hurlet" which sounds alarming before you even get to it.

Luckily, by dint of actually executing a right turn for a change, Barrhead was successfully averted, and were were able to carry on getting lost for a bit before I managed to get us back on time by way of a three-point turn. And there are still a couple of strands of Michael's hair the same colour as when we started...;-)

Friday, January 18, 2008


I was wildly impressed (and slightly scared) the other day by Morag's ability to get all of her socks to come out of the washing machine still in matching pairs. I sometimes don't even manage to get them off my feet like that. But at least I've never ended up with a pair of mismatching tights:

(Although I'm almost tempted to buy some...)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Perching in the Dark

Same photo, different layer on top, and black and white. Plus missing couplet of the Raine poem, uncovered after extensive research by Michael:

"But others are trained from the wrist to fly
And hawk the readers from the sky"


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


"Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings -

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand."

from "A Martian Sends a Postcard Home" by Craig Raine.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I went up to DCS today to catch Peter's leaving presentation before he heads off to the bright mountains of Switzerland:

Then headed off past the maths building and the moon:

to the Library where, since I now have a DACE-type matric card, I could actually get in!

As usual when surrounded by lots of books, I found myself being pulled into some sort of vortex

but managed to come out with only three books. This should be enough to run up some respectable fines though. The ones at Renfrew library are pathetic; you can pay them off without having to take out a mortgage.

The following is a shot from the 9th floor (where I'd gone in search of some Martian poems). I didn't stop to check out the grafitti in the toilets. It used to get noticeably better the further up the library you went: on the 1st floor (Physics, Maths, Computing) it was dull or non-existent, but got increasingly soap-opera-like and/or existential as you headed up the building towards Philosophy and Theology (particularly wild for some reason).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Hogmanay this year did not involve anyone trying to blow me up, so that was good. Instead Julie and I went on a mini party crawl, starting at Jamie's (where I was almost cuddled - or something - by a man who hates me, but nearly mistook me for his wife. He seemed quite shaken by the experience). After that, we watched Jamie mull wine, sang Auld Lang Syne and then headed off to Morag's, being serenaded along Thornwood Drive by a piper playing Scotland the Brave from a balcony.

At Morag and Colin's we narrowly missed being savaged by a dog attending the party downstairs, but were wished a happy new year by a couple of students who were leaving the party protesting that they had another four to get to. It's a hard life... We then spent a couple of hours mocking Alasdair for being so drunk he could only talk in words of ten syllables and dodging the stars being thrown around the room.

Other than that, I met up with Satnam for a drink and heard about how he ate one of the Midsummer Common cows and managed to annoy the man who discovered the ozone layer (although not a whole cow, and the two events were unconnected);went round to Jane and Wolf's and found out: how to roast chestnuts on an open fire (on a shovel); how the chestnuts taste (horrible, if you ask me); how to reconstruct vanished ancient languages from less vanished, slightly less ancient ones ; why the founder of UCL is a mummy; and what the German word for "the shadows cast on the ceiling by the dying candles of the Christmas tree" is (Laube - surprisingly short, really).