… of a new SI unit for the safe distance between Street Preachers

Coleraine, my home town, is not a big place. It may have pretensions of bring bigger particularly since Lisburn was made a “city”. Oh, that smarted in the plush red velvet lined town council parlour as resentment  of just being a “town” was heavy in the lord mayor’s chain of office … I digress … Coleraine is, as I said, not a big place, you can walk from one end of the town centre to the other in about 5 minutes.

Small as it is, we seem to have attracted more than our fair share of street preachers. This in of itself is not a bad thing, a tad annoying at times when a preacher gets all worked up and at the zenith of his or indeed her declamation of the sin infested nature of the citizens of Coleraine starts to froth in a rather louder than is acceptable fashion, when I am having the guilty pleasure of a sleekit wee moccha outside Ground.

I was in town getting Euros and Czech Crowns for my trip next week and it was on the face of it a normal Friday mid morning, shoppers where doing the shopping thing and people like myself where doing banking business. In the walk from the car park to the bank, some 300 yards. I passed 5 different street preachers witnessing to the passing population. I paid them little attention at the time, other than to note that most of them professed to an impressive array of pre-salvation but now repentant sinning. “Fornication and fleshy pursuits” appeared to be the common denominator in this public confession of yuckiness.

As i have said Coleraine is not a big place and as a result these street preachers were somewhat closer to each other than is wise.This became evident when I came out of the bank and 3 of the gentlemen had given up on the unwashed masses and were now pointing accusatory fingers at each other. It appeared to be a theosophical dispute about the nature of being nice to each other. It seems that one chap felt that the Jehovah’s Witness should not be allowed to sully the truth of his witness with his heretical and un-biblical sermon. The JW was adamant that he had every right to spread the truth that Jehovah had given him “Just last night”. In summary he argument was that his truth was more accurate than the other gentleman’s truth. The third gentleman started off as an arbiter of reconciliation however when it was discovered that he was a member of one of the “big 4” denominations the other 2 started to point out what was wrong with that. Meanwhile some Korean missionaries set up their stall outside Cafe Nero some 10 feet away got out a guitar and started to loudly sing “Onward christian soldiers”. This discomforted the debate somewhat as the singing was somewhat strident, so they moved off up towards the post-office to continue their discussion on the truthfulness of their truths outside the chemist.

I propose that there be an SI unit for the safe distance between Street Preachers called “The Knox” or perhaps “The Luther” the appliance of this unit will ensure that overlapping magisteria of different truths does not lead to a sectarian cascade in the public space.


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…of tales heard when dandering, vampires, silver swords and Bram Stoker

Come on in and tale the weight off your feet, there is beer in the fridge and the nights are pulling in rightly and it will soon be the time for tales to fill the long dark nights of winter.

I dander, I dander a lot, hither and thither over the “top 9” (the 9 counties of the province of Ireland) and in the course of those danders I pass places where the echoes of long ago can still be heard. Such a place is Slaghtaverty


The laght of the Abhartach

Now this large boulder with a partnered Blackthorn in the middle of a field is not, some would say the most awesome of sights but like many an ordinary thing it has quite an extraordinary tale behind it.

Slaghtaverty lies between south of the village of Garvagh in a townland called Glenullin (the glen of the eagles). It is on the edge of the Sperrin Hills and is one of many ancient stone works that litter the landscape for miles around.

The name  modern name Slaghtaverty is thought to be a derivation of the northern Gaelic Laght Abhartach or “Tomb of the Dwarf”  and how it got to be called that is part of the story.

Back in the dark mists of time the Ireland was divided out into small kingdoms each run by a clan chieftain, these chieftains swore fealty to the Ard Ri, the high king. The area around Glenullin was controlled by a deformed dwarf called simply Abhartach (if you say Avatar would will be pretty close to pronouncing it correctly). He was as mean spirited ,cruel and evil as you like, the rest of his family despised him, the people that lived in Glenullin hated him and it was only his reputation as a master of the dark arts that kept him in power.

Eventually the local townsfolk went to the clan leader of the neighbouring kingdom a brave and heroic man called Cathán. They pleaded their case with such fervour that his heart was moved to help them and he rode straight away to Glenullin and confronted the dwarf Abhartach. The battle was short but fierce, Abhartach summoned demons but Cathán armed with a sword of silver made, it is said, from the silver arm Creidhne made for Nuada the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann .This magicaly weapon made short work of them and the end came when Cathan slit Abhartach’s throat and let him bleed to death. Cathan buried him were he fell in a remote field on the slopes of the Sperrins. Job done . Cathan returned home confident that the people of Glenullin were now free … or so he thought.

The next day Cathan awoke to find a group of terrified people from Glenullin gathered in his courtyard with worrying news. The previous evening as the sun set, Abhartach rose from the grave and rampaged through the village, catching two women and draining them of their blood so as to replace his own. However the stolen blood soon leaked out of the slit throat and it was only the coming of the sun that stopped the monster and he returned to the grave.

Cathan disbelieving this tale went to the grave and sure enough there he found the ground all disturbed, the sods he had so carefully replaced cast hither and thither. He sat and waited and as the sun fell, the long spindly fingers of the dwarf dug their way clear of the earth and it hauled itself up in the cool night air.

It is said he screamed such a scream that would turn your hair white when he saw Cathan and his sword waiting for him. Once again Cathan prevailed and the monster was returned to a grave dug deeper this time and the body placed vertically which is a sure fire way to keep a body from wandering from its final resting place.

A week or more passed and once again the people of Glenullin appeared at Cathan’s door. Abhartach was back and 3 more people had had their blood drained! So Cathan consulted with the local druids on how to deal with this neamh mairbh or Walking dead and once again he waited next to the grave for the dwarf to appear.

It was after midnight when the grave opened and the deformed corpse of Abhartach appeared screaming with rage and thirst for the blood than no longer coursed through his veins. This time the battle was fearsome and although grievously wounded Cathan prevailed and taking the advice of the druids decapitated the corpse, burned the head and buried the corpse neck down vertically in the grave. The next day he and his men got a massive boulder and placed it on top of the grave and a druid planted a sacred blackthorn bush whose deep roots would grip the corpse and hold it in place.

Abhartach never again appeared to drink the blood of the people of Glenullin and the now ancient Blackthorn and massive boulder still exist in the lonely field on the slopes of the Sperrins and few if any locals would ever think of disturbing it.

As a footnote to this tale some think that Bram Stoker, a Dubliner Civil Servant came across this tale in a collection of stories laid down by a Mythographer Patrick Joyce some 30 years before the publication of Dracula and he may have used it as the basis for the blood sucking Nemesis of his classic tale … and there you have it a tale for Thursday 🙂

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… of incondiserate parking and a novel way to deal with it.

I have been remiss in my blogging of late but I would venture my gentle readers (all 2 of them) would not be interested in the finer points of SAML token construction and the digital signing of XML documents with RSH-SHA cryptography, with which my life seems more than replete at the current time.

I feel compelled to record the following as both a thing of interest and a cautionary tale for those who are incautious and inconsiderate when parking their cars. It was on the weekend just before the McDonagh summer holiday to Scotland and I was standing cadging a sleekit wee smoke outside Sainsbury’s when a large black BMW Chelsea tractor pulled up in the disabled parking bay in front of me driven by a be-suited able bodied chap of around 35. Now I have several friends both young and old that daily struggle getting wheelchairs and themselves or their loved ones into and out of cars and I see a car without the blue sign taking up a bay that should be left for those more needy I get a bit nerked but usually do nothing just in case they forgot their badge on that occasion. When I see a person get out of a car parked in a disabled bay and the person is not in any way impaired I get rather more animated and usually berate the person in such a way than my declamation includes words and phrases that are as inconsiderate of their sensibilites as their parking has been to those that actually benefit from the parking space. I like to think of myself as the Parking Karma Fairy, but it seems there is one greater than I in this field of endeavor.

On this occasion I was beaten to it by a young mother whose imagination flare and artistic performance made my own sweary efforts pale into insignificance … the conversation went like this. I shall refer to the the chap as IDE  (Inconsiderate Dick End) and the lassie as Ms.X. The IDE has exited the car and has jauntily popped his keys into his trouser pocket and is striding purposefully towards Sainsbury’s. Ms.X is wheeling her trolley replete with a weeks shopping and a 3 year old infant in the other direction. She swerves the trolley, causing the IDE to pause. Ms X. goes wide eyed and falls to her knees arms raised in supplication and shouts in a loud voice….

The chap stops and the passing throng pauses, the normal brownian motion of people in supermarket car parks slows perceptibly.
She genuflects wildly, her long auburn hair in disarray as she flings her head from side to side in ecstatic swipes. Her small child raises his arms to mirror his mum and cheers
The IDE looks around sheepishly and misses Ms.X’s sudden lunge at his nearly pressed trousers.

The IDE mutters “Errrr…..” and makes Shushing noises… and tried to disentangle her arms from his legs.

Ms.X – Stranger can I ask what ailment you suffered from? A Palsy perhaps? A shrunken limb? The Shaking Disorder of St.Vitus? For heaven be praised as you got our of your car it vanished, IT IS NO MORE!! YOU ARE CURED!!! IT IS A MIRACLE I SAY MIRACLE!!

IDE.. Errrr I was only nipping into the off license for some wine, Please be quiet you are attracting a crowd,

Which indeed she was

Ms.X  – Why would you park in a disabled bay if you are not disabled? Is it not clearly marked? Do not hide your thanks from the Lord! .. Is it this leg that was afflicted? Let me know so I can give praise and thanks for your cure! Are some Protestant heathen atheist to deny the majesty of the miracle you have been given?

The spectators now having giggled somewhat at the start, now start laughing and join in with comments like “Perhaps he was a blind?” and “He is an estate agent I don’t think there is a cure for that”

The IDE freed himself from the clutches of the woman, scrambled back to his car and with some difficulty given the coral of shopping trollies that had stopped to watch the goings on and drove off in the direction of Lidl, I have to add at this stage that his face was the most glorious colour of pink I have seen in many a day.

Ms.X got up, dusted her knees, and pushed her trolley off amidst the applause of the spectators. To Ms.X I continue the applause with this blog post.. Well done that lassie WELL DONE!

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Of the perils of “Bog-Snorkelling Ear”, GPs, Teasmaids and shouting

Righty Ho!
A bit of a blog is required, cue up Metallica, brew some extra strong coffee and off we go ….

Sunday week ago the bauld Vitor Pereira and I entered and took part in the Norn Iron Bog-Snorkelling championships, Vitor dressed as Iron Man and me in the trusty Spidy suit. Needless to say our plan not to embarrass the other contestants by sweeping all before us was executed to perfection in both the main event and the fancy dress. The world’s press lapped us up and both Vitor and myself have been gracing the middle pages of the world press both online and print in the “WTF!!!???” section. Which is as it should be.

I could regale you with the ins and outs of the day but I won’t as there is a tale of one particular bit to tell and I will concentrate on that. Beside the main swiming course was a Bog Jaccuzzi this makes it sound way more safe that it actually was. Basically it was a 5 foot deep hole some 10 feet in diameter from which the dark black peat had been removed. This material was passed through a wood chipper and then mixed with equal quantities of water, the resultant thick soup was then placed back in the hole and left to settle.

Being the sort of chap that does no shy away from new experiences I did the honorable thing and jumped right in .. like this

Which was all right and proper, bar the fact that one of the essential bits of kit for any neophyte bog-snorkelling jaccuzzi contestant is ear-plugs. The mashed up peat is quite pleasant to be in, however the bits get everywhere! I my case the everywhere included my right ear.

The introduction of a chunk of ancient bogland into my ear canal was not immediately  noticeable, however come the following morning it was obvious that something was amiss as I could hear bugger all in my right ear.

There is an old medical adage that goes “you should never stick anything smaller than your elbow in your ear” however this is for mere mortals and does not apply to trained medical professionals like I am/was. So the first thing I did was stick a Qtip in and gave it a good wiggle, some gunk came out but the world was still in glorious 1960 dancette mono. Somewhat miffed at this turn of affairs I went to work calling in at boots the chemist to pick up a bottle of those fizzy ear drops that are meant to sort you out double quick …
This appeared to be the case, I would after application of the drops have a dramatic improvement which would gradually lessen until i was to back to right sided deafness the following morning.

I did some more poking, dropping and wiggling all with no great effect and as a result this afternoon I gave up and went to my GP’s practice after work to get a second opinion and so it was that I approached the gatekeeper of medical magic the receptionist. GP receptionists are the SAS of the medical profession, they are trained to weed out the malingerers, the time wasters and the chronically well from wasting the GPs time. I am well versed in the “Would you mind not bleeding/throwing up/oozing on the carpet for a moment while I look at the computer …<pause> … the soonest appointment I can give you is 3 weeks next Thursday” so I was expecting to be put off, the conversation went like this.

RCP – Can I help you?
Me – Hello, would it be possible to see someone in the treatment room or a doctor?
RCP – <typing on keyboard> well the earliest …
Me – <interupting as if she had not spoken> it seems I have gone a bit deaf and I would really like to see someone
RCP – Deaf?
Me – Sorry?
RCP- You have gone deaf?
Me – Yes today please
RCP – When did this happen?
Me – It’s my ear you see, it has stopped working
RCP – Which one?
Me – It happened after i was bog snorkelling
RCP – No which ear?
Me – Somewhere near Dungannon
RCP – <types some more and points at a seat> Sit over there
Me – Sorry?
RCP – Sit <poitns at a seat> over there
Me – OK i will wait over here then?
RCP – YES!!!
Some 5 mins later a nurse stuck her head out of the treatment room and motioned me into her lair. I explained all in one big rush what the problem was and she got the ear-o-scope and had a bit of a look-see.
YE GODS! She exclaimed with rather too much excitement I felt and called for one of her colleagues to have a loo
Nurse 2 had a shufftie in my lughole and said “You have something growing in there!”
A short discussion later and they got a very long nosed narrow pair of tweezers and with a all the gusto of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat they wheeked a loops of peat bark out of my ear and into a waiting bowl. 50% improvement ! Nurse 1 then had another look and vouchsafed that the bit of County Tyrone that had been stuck in my ear had irritated the ear canal which being irritated had produced copious thick wax which was now chunified around the ear drum.

Nurse 2 said “Good I haven’t done a ear syringe in AGES… do you want us to clean the gunk out?”

“Why yes” I replied that would be most excellent!

Nurse 1 and 2 went into a huddle and I think they may have played Rock,Paper,Scissors to see who would do the cleansing of the McDonagh Auditory Canal. Having sorted out who was doing what, Nurse 1 got me to sign a consent form which Nurse 2 got a machine out of cupboard. Now in my day, which admittedly was some 35 years ago, syringing an ear was done with water, oil and a big syringe. But not now, oh no, now you get something that looks remarkably like a teasmaid, which you put water in, let it warn up and then it squirts pulses of warm water into your ears many times a second and out comes the wax, like a bat out of hell into the light of the treatment room, sterile towels. 1 minute after they started it was over and I could (and still can) hear again!!! OH THE JOY!

So if there is a lesson to be learnt it is this, if you are bog-snorkelling wear ear-plugs and if you forget and end up a little deaf do not use Q-Tips and go and see the nice ladies in the GP Treatment room and get your ears washed out with a teasmaid!

Now bring on the weekend!



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Of farting and classification thereof

Recently my medical advisor suggested a new pill that will make me a healthier chap full of vim and vigour. Sadly the vim and vigour has been accompanied with an increase in the volume of gas that I seem to be capable of producing. Indeed Norther Ireland Gas have been making nosies about implying me for their first methane powered power-station. This has lead me to search on “the google” for the correct terminology for the different types of gaseous excretion. Now we have put a man on the moon, squeezed 3000000 songs onto an iPod but we have not managed a classification for farts.

There are plenty of slang terms, Silent but Deadly, Duck up my arse etc, but this is unsatisfactory, so here I present for peer-review

The McDonagh Fart Index

The Common Fart
The garden variety; usually audible, but subtle enough to beblamed on the cat or dog; its presence is announced by a decided change in the atmosphere; in a group of people conversation may stop for a moment, but continues almost immediately
The Anxious Fart
These are common in small crowds of people like in lifts; the sound is tentative and timid, often in a series, which of course has no effect on a fart’s lethal effect on the atmosphere; these are produced when the farter lacks the strength of his convictions
The Threatening Fart
These are often quite audible owning to a somewhat moistnature of the sound, suggesting that this is more than “sound and fury, signifying nothing;” this type of fart have been known to stain undergarments… or worse .. AKA “The Mooney Cashew Special”
The Strained Fart
This is a fart that is often produced by straining, either unrelated to the fart, like coughing and farting at the same time, or in a deliberate effort to release the gas and face the music immediately
The Constipated Fart
This is often produced by the anally retentive and uptight farter; the sound is high-pitched and preluctant; people who produce this kind of fart obviously do not take any pleasure in the activity
The Pleasure Fart
These are the most gratifying because of the obvious pleasure in producing it; the sound may last for some while owing to the large amount of gas released; men are often given to this class of farting, it has been suggested, because it is the closest they will come to birthing a baby.

This list is woefully incomplete but I hope to study it closely and apply my scholarly circuits to get it published and peer-reviewed. Please feel free to contribute

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of consternation, frustration and being rude to cold callers without saying “fuck”

I have got tired of telling PPI callers to “███ off” and to be frank I am using way way way to much black duct tape when I speak on the phone and it is expesive putting it over ███ and ███ and it always seems to get folded in and stuck to itself when covering  ███████ █████████ ██████.

I had a brief dallliance with the following gambit.

“I have signed up to the Telephone Preference Service which allows me to”opt out” of receiving cold calls. Professional companies use this list to ensure that they do not call someone who preferes to be left alone in the silence of their own thoughts as they try to make sense of a busy and somewhat worrying world. Please note when I said “professional companies” use it, it is both logical and rational to assume that since you are ringing me and I did not in any way seek this call that are you an unprofessional company that I would be best having nothing to do with”

… around this time i would generally revert to type …

“.. so you can ███ off and keep ███ing off till you are too tired to continue. Then you can ███ off some more you ███ing waste of ███ ███ing ██████ and not to mention my time… <click>”

The sprog Niall deals with it by just repeating “Hello” a few times followed by “Oh it is you …. the problem is dealt with and the cleaning crew are disposing of the body” and then hangs up

Taking this a step further I have experimented with a Dadaist approach with a hint of Magrite.. and it will unravel something like this.

<Ring Ring>
Them: “Hello”
Me:  And a  gushing thermos flask to you too?
Them: “Pardon?”
Me (Cheerfully): I’m tiny little kettle ! <Sternly> Admonish the kagoul!
Them: “Sorry”
Me: (Querying): You rumbling Sontaran can you not erotic newt datestamp?
Them: “errrrrrr… it is about your PPI Claim you could be owed £1000’s you know
Me (Surprised): You are leafleting!!!??? Cull my sandcastle have i been collywobbled?
Them: (Panicing a bit) : “Yes your mortgage was sold with PPI and you may have been sold it incorrectly and the bank owes you money! and we can get it back”
Me (Sounding relieved and interested) Thank Water Frock!
Them: Sorry I am having difficulty understanding you could you repeat that?
Me (loudly as if to a foreigner): TEN.SPOOKY.UMBONGO.ORGANIST.NEEDLE
Them: Who is this?
Me: (sign) Ravensfuff MacToogerty
Them: (somewhat relieved) not Mr Stephen McDonagh
Me (aghast): Heavens osSILLYscope!
Me: (dismissively) Fare wibble  & a thermometer a day keeps the pomegranate anal!
<hangs up>

It actually isnt that hard to do and can be great fun just throwing words around..

So for the now gentle readers, adieu and remember.  “If you want to marmalade tapeworms wait for Horlicks undercarriage”


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A moment of illumination and other thoughts not apt for a Thursday

Thursday’s or “not-quite-friday” is probably not the day to sit at the keyboard thinking thoughts and wondering but never the less here I am …

This post has come about mainly due to a conversation I had on facebook the other day. I had popped a couple of my new paintings on facebook. I have taken to putting work in progress sequences up , not totally to show off cos they aren’t that good. But as a bit of a public aide memoir of how a painting moves from blank canvas to finished piece. Like many painters many many works end up in the bin because they don’t come together into something that kicks the viewer into attention. It is a bit like a songwriter who can’t get the words to match the tune there has to be a synergy there for the song to work and as it is with the auditory so it is with the visual. Putting the good with the bad on public display is sort of a “new” thing for me and it is kinda making me think more about what I am painting and why – this came into sharp focus with the last paintings i exposed to public gaze.

I posted two pictures one I was happy with and the other less so, it was an experiment in both colour and a much more chaotic form. Within 30 minutes the experimental one was getting positive comments and within the hour it had (or will have when I post it) a new owner. I couldn’t explain why it reached out to some people …  but it did.

Oddly as it turns out this quandary was to deepen when another chum asked me if I did portraiture, i have in the past but generally it is of the polaroid variety, quick sketches done in pubs or parks of people in situations that made sense at the time. I replied that I did but I wasn’t very good at commissions. Mainly this comes from what I see is not what the other person sees and I don’t want to offend by taking something that someone likes/loves and wants to remember and doing it badly.

I looked in my archive of drawing and pictures and found one I had done 5 or 6 years ago and popped it up. Now this particular picture was of an “unknown” lady’s face. It was a quick pen and ink and in my view not very good and really quite sad.

It was one of a series of 5 or 6 paintings and drawings I did when I was exploring some pretty raw emotions. I am sure you have gathered that Val suffered from and is now living and coping with depression. These paintings were done around the time she was diagnosed. I have been lucky in that I have not been afflicted with the sort of grindingly awful miasma that was turning the love of my life into a different woman, one I had difficulty recognizing. For me this was something new, I had seen depression before but never so close that I could feel it as a physical force. Part of my way of dealing with it was to explore from the outside looking in at what Val was telling me her life was like. The only way I knew how to do this was by painting it.

My first reaction to was see sadness, despair and fear as hard brittle emotions with sharp edges and dark colours and the first 2 or 3 paintings were like that.. Along side the painting I was listening to things like Faure’s requiem and the St Mathew’s Passion and it came to me that sadness is not necessarily the way I was portraying it, there is a beauty in there. Hard to define but beauty none the less.

Suddenly I understood why Milais’s Ophelia was beautiful even though it was portraying a lady singing before she drowns, similarly Van Gogh’s “Old Man of Sorrow” and dozens of other paintings took on a new life and perhaps indicated why my “sad” paintings all now live in other houses. I think that perhaps we all understand life’s negative side, it tweaks our empathy and most of all it reminds us we are human and that is something we should all be proud of.

Time for bed.

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I succeed in ranting about having nothing to rant about.

Gentle reader I am when all said and done adapting well to my chronologically triggered role as “grumpy old git (culshie division – first grade)” and it has come to my attention that since the start of 2014 I have been lacking in rantage on the usual social network channels.

I can only apologise for this lack of spleen this famine of bile and I can assure you that it is not of my making as there has been a distinct lackage of things skundering my pish. Coldplay have been rather silent of late and I can only hope that Gwyneth Paltrow has been keeping the archbollox Mr Martin busy with a plenitude of household tasks to the extent that the aforementioned grand metropolitan of damp tuneless kleenex’s urge to write a Xmas ditty entitiled “I saw Mommy painting Santa Yellow while death and all his friends drank tea out of helicopters” was totally submerged in an extended bout of shed-tidying. I for one applaud Ms Palrow’s dedication to keeping the world’s airwaves free of naval gazing gobshites but alas this has taken the sting out of my new year discomfort.

Looking furhter afield to local politics a quick glance shows that nothing has changed, then again nothing much has changed signicantly in 13 years indeed some would saw that nothing has changed since 1921. Honest to goodness what is the point of having a bunch of poltroons in charge of things if they never do anything really really stupid so I can complain about them. Even the twin agents of gobshitery Edwin Poots and Nelson McCausland have failed to annoy me. I mean what IS THE POINT of putting them in charge of anything if they don’t do anything annoying it was a total waste of beating them with the stupid stick and I do hate waste!

I suppose I could rant about the weather but that is much more an “English” thing, we have had more than our fair share of Storm 10+ gales this year todate but I really couldn’t be arsed complaining about wind unless it orginates from some idiocy fueled mouthpiece on TV.

I note with almost total disinterest that “The Voice” starts this week, yet another program helping the government’s “Caring for the talentless in the Community” initiative and to be fair it does keep the tuneless all in one place where they can be controlled. The masses do like watching their cavortings and it I suppose gives them a more balanced viewing schedule as Jeremy Kyle and that twat (Insert anything with the strange trouserd Simon Cowbell) can become rather cloying after a day or two.

In Tech, Apple are still shiny expensive and as smug as you would expect them to be. Windows is still shite, Linux is running around wearing a penguin oneise going “Look at me! Look at me!”. I suppose I could get pissed about the fact there there are no hardware thingies I really really really want … but given I can really really not afford them were they to exist I am spared the indignity of being pissed off and jealous which is of course a #win.

Hey ho, there is always young men and their inability to use belts on their trousers that is always a irritation but it is rather an attack on low hanging fruit or in this case low hanging Levis-Boss-Diesel-Firetraps.

So here I sit in week one of 2014 totally at a loss for things to meaningfully rant about could this be that nasty thing get 1001 emails about that begin “Are you over 50? Three out of 10 men your age suffer from – Rantile Dysfunction” ? Hmmm perhaps I need to take their advice and take an annual subscription to The Daily Mail? I may consider it if life does not throw me a decent thing to get fucked off about soon.

Adieu for the now as I have to take “The Son” down the town.

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Steve’s Christmas Message for 2013

It is nearly time for bed and after this brief unconscious hiatus I will awake to the dawn of one of the “special” days. Sitting as it does deep in the heart of winter it is a day (for us northern hemisphere types) when warmth is a priority. We value warmth and rightly so but not just the physical warmth of a well heated room the warmth that comes from family, friends and indeed strangers. We instinctively feel the need to connect with family members near and far, exchange gifts, news and renew the feeling of ‘family’.

We pull in our friends into this newly invigorated circle of ‘family’ and every person we touch and in turn touches us spreads and strengthens the connections we need to thrive and enjoy life.

So before the rush starts tomorrow I am reaching out to all my family Val, Niall,Isobel,Janet,Mike,Ruth,Tim, Chris, Downey, Joy, Barry, Andy, Sebastian, Ali, Cathy, Francis,Hilary, Jonathan, Peter, Moana, Conor,Poppy, Natasha,Paul,Karen,John,Madeline, Simon,Jessica , Peter and Leo in a monster McDonagh,Page,White,Litherland,Moore {{{{{HUG}}}}} and 3 cheers to you all for being an A+, first class, gold star, proper pukka, super, whizz bang family I am proud and blissfully happy to be a member of. Lets hear it for us all and raise a glass and a bigger rousing 4th cheer and a big smile to those missing from the dinner table who we miss dearly and remember fondly!

To all my friends near and far no need to be shy come and join the HUG for without you the world would be a sadder empty colourless place. You support me when I do strange things like walk up the great glen in a kilt and pith helmet, you provide constant help both professionally and socially even when you do not have to or have precious little time to spare. I value you more than space or time permits me to express other than a simple thank you for being my friends

To the strangers I have yet to meet and may wander across this post by accident come on in there is room enough for you all in this super HUG, we may end up hating each other but we can start off on the right foot.

To the people i dislike …. well there is room for you too for what use happiness if it cannot be shared with everyone if only once in the year.

So with that I raise my glass of beer to you all every single one and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a stonking, throbing, life filled, joyous 2014!

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Captain’s Log or at least a small twig

**** Captain’s Log *****
Star Date: -309011.87966133945

Location: The Planet “Mud” or “Muck” or possibly “Earth” the universal translator is not fluent in the local patois of “Culshie” so it was impossible to say exactly what this place is called it may also becalled “Cootoon” but they may have been refering to someplace else.

Longitude: 179° 56′ 39.4″ latitude: +0° 2′ 46.2″ distance: 7,940 ± 420 parsecs from the galactic core.

Pautooii the ship’s chef reports that we are totally out of Sagittarian snot nuts which he tells me are an important staple for some of the crew. Having consulted with Navops we made an unsheduled stop on planet M27/6.3 in sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha which intelligence shows as being “quite nice in a bijou hippy funky sort of way” (note to self: talk to Star Fleet about their metatext). Security Officer Spook informed me that the locals posed little threat as long as we did not talk about Flegs, Religion or Sex topics the locals take great exception to. I selected First Officer Val to join me and we left the ship in the hands of First Officer Charlie who is a Felineophore and bears a remarkable resemblance to “Spot” our Android Nos’Ql’s ginger cat which is really quite confusing at times particularly vis a vis litter tray ettiquette.

So with Flazers set to “light nap” we transported down to Planet Muck. Chief Incredibly Petty Officer “Wild” Bill Buchan [Wifi Networks and Bar mitzvahs a speciality] beamed us down into a small white tiled room fully equipped with what appeared to be Betelgusean Mating Basins or at least something that involves tentacle like wobbly bits. It should be noted that the basins were fully equipped with lemon scented tentacle stiffening cakes possibly for tired over stressed passing Betelgusean male nonopods, this planet it seems is more civilised than we were lead to believe!

Leaving the mating boudoir we found ourselves in a brightly lit warehouse laid out in aisles filled with Mucklings pushing wheeled devices apparently constructed by other Mucklings who have yet to grasp the concept of a “wheel”. Arming ourselves with one of these instruments of torture Officer Val and I made a start…. they have a lot of strange and eldritch wares for sale in this emporium which we ascertained was called “Ceannezberries” or possible “Twoferapound”. For some reason these people feel the need to sell penis shaped things in an aisle called “Vegeeeeetablez” you can get them in Yellow and Green covered in what i can only assume is a hyjenic polycarbonate film. Officer Val also noted that they have a boxes of something labelled “Satsumas” which are infact CraqueMindWarpospheres banned on 80% of the federation worlds!

Having gone down several aisles we discovered the reason for the wonky wheels, it is customary to be rammed accidentally from behind by a trolley the wheels are deliberately wonky for this very purpose. Having been rammed from behind the customary response is to yell “Waddafecck!” at the rammer who will reply “Windyerneckinyaeejit” it is always interesting to find out these strange other worldly sociological morés and taboos.

At last we found what the tricorder informed us were Sagittarian snot nuts in a frozen bag labelled what we think said “Urine” the translator was blinking between Peas and Pees which it could not differentiate between. Discrete enquiries of a shop flunky failed to rectify the situation as the words both sound exactly the same.

We collected 48 bags of Sagittarian snot nuts and headed for the payment booths, Officer Val had paid special attention as we passed these on our search of the establishment and noted that you have to do the following. Wait until a booth becomes free then approach the portal and wave a products infront of it waiting until the machine goes BEEP which I have to say shocked me as this is “Your mother is Anderpulsian googwink abuser” in Popleusian.

Officer Val following the example of other shoppers proffered a small paper napkin from 10 forward into a flashing slot. However it seems that it needs to be a special napkin issued by “that crowd of robbing bastards at da bank” or so we told by Sarah-Jane a Ceannezberries Customer Service Person. Luckly she ignored our faux pas thinking us to be “bloody tourists” as fate would have it the machine accepts Andromedean Master Card and transaction complete we beamed back up to the ship and have resumed out 5 year mission to seek out new beer, find attractive alien females with mouths in roughly the right place, snog them and boldy go where no geek has boldy gone before boldy!

*** Log Ends ***

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