Fragmentation

It has been a strange week. I have three books in process, the anthology (waiting for one author’s response on whether the story needs any changes then it’s good to go), Lee Bidgood’s long-awaited novel, another from Mark Ellott that has already been so thoroughly vetted it won’t take long to do. I want to get them all done before April 30th.

So, obviously, now is the time to get calls and visits about a blue cheese mould project and another call asking for help with a student project on lactobacilli. Sigh. I’m determined to get those three books done though. I can sleep in May.

Stranger still is the overnight switch in the weather from winter to summer. This called for a bit of gardening today before it gets completely out of control. My son questioned my buying of a machete since I don’t live in a jungle. My response was ‘ignore that lot for a week and a jungle you shall have’.

The grass, which had been cut twice by this time last year, had lain dormant until today when it shot into life. The petrol for the mower ran out, it’s too long for the push mower and not long enough for the scythe. Besides, the grass is still plagued with fallen pine cones and branches and only the petrol mower can cope with those.

So instead I delved into one of the flower bed/shrubberies I hadn’t dealt with last year beyond scything down its nettle infestation. I trimmed the bushes and started the long job of digging out nettles by the roots. It’s the only way, and even that can take a few years to finally get rid of the bastards.

In there, I found a topiary piglet. Well, having found a deer skull in the holly tree last year I was, shall we say, not too surprised. The bush is hugely overgrown and probably not recoverable but the frame is intact. I can remake this piglet. Probably in a less inaccessible and more visible part of the garden. There are other areas I have not yet touched beyond hacking them into some semblance of order so there may yet be more surprises lurking.

And, at last, I have planted my favourite tulip, ‘Queen of Night’. Hoping for a good display this year. The bulbs overwintered in the kitchen and are sprouting. Yes, the kitchen gets cold enough to do that.

The IQOS microfag smoky thing is still getting used. I haven’t switched entirely but it has outlasted any Electrofag I’ve ever tried. I know, some born-again nonsmoker vapers at the radical end of the spectrum think this thing is evil. I know, some say it’s giving money to the sell-outs at Philip Morris. I don’t care at all about either of those stances. It’s cutting down the number of real fags I smoke and that is good for my wallet, and probably my health. Although I am still not convinced that smoking is anywhere near as deadly as it’s made out to be.

Using it while typing this, I have noticed that setting it down while typing a sentence (10 seconds or so) and then taking a puff, it gives a much more satisfying plume of almost-smoke. If they could make the device and especially the microfags cheaper they’d be on a serious winner here. As it is, the cost differential is minimal. If it was a big difference I’d be far more tempted to switch altogether but… meh.

They do send emails about surveys and those do build up some reserve cash. That’s good. It needs to be cleaned regularly or it starts to taste like smoking dried horseshit, so I plan to use the accrued survey cash to stock up on the cleaning sticks. They work far better than the funny brush thing that also comes with it.

Anyway, I suppose I should get to the actual blog post.

The Labour party has been hit with antisemitism, while the Conservatives have just tried to deport a lot of British citizens, many of whom have been British longer than I have. The Lords of Lib Dem Land and those Lords who have sworn an oath of fealty to a foreign power yet still have a place in the UK government have voted to ignore the electorate and keep the UK in a customs union with the EU even though the majority don’t want that. If you are looking for the Party of Morons in UK politics, well, it’s all of them.

The abolition of the House of Lords must surely be imminent. Or just convert it into a home for mad old duffers. It pretty much is that anyway. These oafs, when they can manage to stay awake at work, have now set the UK with the option to either become a vassal state of the EU or to leave with no deal at all. There are no other options.

This is what a fictional starship captain and his Dark Emperor, the Thin White Adonis, can’t grasp. We are leaving the EU. Blocking the final deal does not keep us in the EU. It just means we leave with no deal. I’m fine with that.

Tessie Maybe, the idiot supreme of our current government, has tried everything possible to distract from the total fuck-up she is making of negotiations with the EU. She has tried to start wars with anyone she can find and now she is concentrating on banning earbuds, plastic straws and coffee stirrers. All of which go into recycling bins, not rivers. I live next to a river and have never once felt the urge to drop anything plastic into it unless it’s a lure on a fishing line. We have been provided with bins for plastic and some nice, sweaty, grubby, sweary chaps come around every two weeks to empty it.

Then it all gets shipped to China or Africa in containers on huge ships that burn thousands of tons of diesel and and when it gets there they dump it in rivers. That is recycling.

Didn’t cotton buds used to be on wooden sticks? Can’t we go back to that? I could chuck them in the fire and get a few extra microjoules of heating here. Can’t do that with the plastic ones, they give off nasty stuff when they burn.

As for straws, we used to have paper ones that were fine for one use. Plastic was never necessary unless you wanted to use it over and over.

And I never liked coffee stirrers. We used to just have spoons.

Why then would I object to this ban? Because it’s a ban and this knee jerk reaction of ‘ban it’ has been pissing me off for a long time. Why not, instead, explore alternatives? Nothing is ever offered. It’s always carrot-and-stick without the carrot.

The farmer here has cut down a lot of trees. There is a massive amount of beech, birch, oak and pine in dead piles. My son has claimed some for his woodworking, I have claimed some for a garden arch and most of the rest will just end up getting burned. There is enough on this one farm to keep a cotton bud company supplied with little dowels for months at least. Why not incentivise that use rather than moan about plastic? Heck, they could come and take this wood for free. The farmer doesn’t want it, it’s just in the way.

Why not incentivise paper straws over plastic ones for single use occasions? Paper and wood can be burned or left to rot and the CO2 they put out is the same CO2 those plants absorbed so net effect = zero. Especially as the crops on the farm will reabsorb most of it, if not all.

As for coffee stirrers, use a fucking spoon like an actual adult. Then wash it and you can use it again.

But no, we have to have a ban. Another damn ban. Another bit of evidence that our government are a bunch of wasters who we pay to do nothing sensible.

And then we have the opposition. Labour. Or, more accurately, the Corbyn Cult of Nazism. Oh yes, you read that right. When I was in school in the 1970s they actually taught real history, not some fantasy past where left was right and all racists were honoured with statues. The real deal. You won’t get that now. Now we have a Government funded organisation called Historic England who will not hire white British employees and who want to tear down historic statues. Common Purpose to the core, and way beyond the absurdity horizon.

Nazis shut down debate with violence and abuse. They ignore dissenting views. They want to control what you say and, ultimately, what you think while they never think at all but act in blind obedience and awe of their chosen cult hero. Remind you of anyone, Jeremy?

Jezza walked out of the parliamentary debate on antisemitism even while his own MPs described the death and rape threats his supporters had sent them. Well, he doesn’t need to hear the results of his instructions, does he?

Then we have the thugs of Antifa and make no mistake, thugs is all they are. They are just looking for a reason to be arses and no matter how tenuous the reason, arses they will be. They are the new football hooligans, their team is whichever they want to fight with today. They fight against homophobia but then recently broke up a gay pride march because it offends Muslims. Really, they have no focus at all. It’s just a fight to them, the reasons are no more than an excuse and they can change by the hour. At least football hooligans stuck to one team.

There is a huge amount of coverage given to the new ‘trans’ movement which consists of about five people, four of whom are better described as drag queens than genuine trans. Chicks with dicks want to have access to little girls in changing rooms and toilets all over the country. A genuine trans woman has told me she wouldn’t like to share a train carriage with some of the loonies she has met, never mind a changing room. But the genuine ones are not part of this movement. This is men in tights looking for an easy target. It’s going to turn out nasty.

Should girls give up their right to privacy so that middle aged men in skirts can ogle them in the swimming pool changing rooms? A bikini with a flat-top and a stiffie below with a couple of pink Kiwi fruit hanging out the sides is not an appealing sight. It’s even more of a mind wreck than fishnet tights with tufts of hair coming out of every hole. I hear little to nothing about women who identify as men causing problems in male changing rooms and toilets. That’s probably because most of us men won’t mind at all if a woman wants to get naked nearby. The threat level is not even comparable, is it?

There has been far less outrage than expected over the paedo grooming gangs who have been left to their own evil devices for a very long time. I didn’t say Muslim gangs for a reason. Those are just the scapegoats. Oh they are guilty as hell but it goes far deeper and if the police were allowed to actually investigate in a proper police way, some very big names will be mentioned. That’s why they aren’t. It’s not really Muslim gangs they were protecting, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They are being sacrificed now as a distraction to keep us happy that ‘something is being done’. It is not being done, it is being hidden.

The two major parties in this country are falling apart,. The third has already fallen apart and is now determined to bring about a no-deal Brexit and the abolition of the House of Sleeping Lards.

Feminism is in at least a dozen factions. Trans people, a tiny minority, are a prime concern for the Mayor of London who is a Muslim and therefore instructed by his religion to kill them in nasty ways. Gay people hold up rainbow flags with ‘Allah loves diversity’ written on them. No, he really doesn’t. Read the book. He couldn’t be more clear on this.

Knife crime will lead to the banning of knives which are already banned in public anyway (you can have a folding knife with a blade of less than 3 inches (7.5 cm) as long as it doesn’t lock open and that is all you can have). Machete attacks are common so.. ban machetes? See above. They already are banned. Doesn’t seem to make a difference when it’s not enforced, does it?

Acid attacks mean we should ban the possession of acid which is going to get awkward for car battery sales and for anyone who drives a car. Also for anyone who likes vinegar on their chips because you know our elected representatives are not going to think this through at all.

Shootings are increasing so let’s ban guns. Oh wait, we already did. We banned hard drugs too, that must have worked… didn’t it?

Sweden has regular grenade attacks and bombings now. Won’t be too long before London has them too.

My stance on immigration is simple. Anyone can come, anyone at all – but I wouldn’t pay them to come. No free stuff and no preferential treatment. You want to come and live here, fine, but you make your own way.

As for the Windrush generation, as I said, most of them were here before I was born and they were invited. The Home Office trying to deport them now is beyond shameful.

The same Home Office that welcomes back Jihadists who fought against our soldiers.

It’s a strange world when you have to look at your own government and wonder…

‘Whose side are you on?’

 

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Ruins

This was going to be about the Scottish election results but those are a disaster, not a ruin. The SNP are two seats short of a majority and might have to cosy up to the Lib Dems (5 seats) or the Greens (6 seats) to get policies through. New cry of Freedom!? Forget it.

The major opposition party is… the Tory party! Labour came third! Hahahaha!

Scotland was primarily Labour and Lib Dem not so long ago, and now the Lib Dems have fewer seats than the Green Men from Neverland.

Labour were actually down by 13 seats, while the Tories gained 16. The solitary independent is gone. Not really surprising, there isn’t much a single independent can do in a government. No matter how he tried, he won’t have been that much help to his constituents.

Anyway, the full sordid story is to be found on the BBC so I’ll move on to a much more interesting ruin.

I went to a church. A very old church. It looks like this –

It was like that when I got there, honest.

It was like that when I got there, honest.

It’s Kinkell Church and I’ve wanted to go look at it for years. It’s really not far away. Historic Scotland have done a great job of preserving the ruin, keeping it neat and tidy and looking after it in general. The one thing they haven’t done is provide any parking spaces anywhere near it.

This is along a very narrow country track that has a large and busy farm at the end. You don’t want to walk this way. It’s a long way with no pavement and has fast cars on most of it and tractors pulling huge machines on all of it. Survival is not guaranteed. I managed to get off the road and park but it probably wasn’t an approved patch of grass I parked on. There wouldn’t be room for two.

Anyway, I got there. Finally. The wall you see in the picture is the north wall. The bit in front that’s about two stones high is all that’s left of the south wall. So now you know which direction you are facing, here’s the instructions that were pinned to the north wall.

Memorise the information, then eat the screen so nobody else knows...

Memorise the information, then eat the screen so nobody else knows…

Yes, the bronze replica of the 1525 calvary is good but I bet the original was stolen rather than lost. Raiding churches was popular because they had most of the gold and valuable metals in any particular area. These days it’s more the lead flashing and copper pipes they’re after.

Bronze Calvary Replica. If it had been a trout mask I could have invoked Captain Beefheart

Bronze Calvary Replica.
If it had been a trout mask I could have invoked Captain Beefheart

All of this is open to the elements and yet still survives. There is a perspex shelter above the sacrament house but it’s not much better than a modern smoking shelter for protection.

The symbols here look like they might have been borrowed from Pagainism.

The symbols here look like they might have been borrowed from Paganism.

This part has clearly been rebuilt over the years, although most of the bits would have been available. Unlike the calvary, the 1524 stone-built sacrament house had no immediate value.

It’s sobering to think someone made that carving nearly 500 years ago and it’s still there. Some of the Pictish stones around here are 2000 or more years old and the carvings are still clear. I wonder if any of our current creativity will even survive the next solar flare?

The church had no windows in the north wall. A lot of old buildings around here are like that. It might have something to do with the vicious north wind that comes around in winter.

The big windows were in the east wall so the sun shone through for morning Mass to impress the congregation. There isn’t much left other than a display of stones at the west wall.

Pieces of the once-impressive window frames.

Pieces of the once-impressive window frames.

Kinkell9

A couple of gravestones have moved inside.

A couple of gravestones have moved inside.

One of the stones is hard to decipher but the other is the grave of Gilbert de Greenlaw, who died in 1411. You already know this if you memorised the information before eating your screen. If you didn’t, you wasted a screen.

It's in surprisingly good shape for its age because of a reason.

It’s in surprisingly good shape for its age because of a reason.

The reason is, the slab was nicked and turned over and used for someone else’s grave. The back of it looks like this –

Not quite the same artistry, really.

Not quite the same artistry, really.

It meant the original carving was protected by being face down. So not a total act of vandalism after all.

There are a few graves around the church, some extremely old and a few recent ones. One very recent one dated 2011 that I didn’t photograph. There will be relatives who might stumble across this article. Therefore it’s still consecrated ground even after all this time.

The graveyard is a bit sparse for the age of the place. Maybe they moved somewhere cheaper.

The graveyard is a bit sparse for the age of the place. Maybe they moved somewhere cheaper.

It is a very interesting ruin, in a place that has had habitation remnants since the 11th century and Pictish remains for a few thousand years before that. Pity it’s so damn hard to get to and park at. The Daviot double circle is much easier (I’ll do that another time).

I have to visit again when I have more time to spend there and perhaps when it’s not spring and the tractors aren’t quite so frantic. I have to go there at dusk too. It’s so far out of the way that if it’s haunted, nobody would notice.

If nothing else, dusk photos of the place would be killer book covers.

I must admit to being very impressed indeed at stone carvings done hundreds and thousands of years ago that are still clear today. They didn’t have angle grinders or etching tools. They had cold chisels and lump hammers and look what they did!

Could anyone do it now?

A last look at something that was seriously built to last.

A last look at something that was seriously built to last.