What I find sort of strange are these posts that start off by telling you that all the works  that follow are the intellectual property of  John Timothy Smith (for example)and are copyright and must not be copied or published or reproduced  in any form at any time for any purpose without the permission of  the aforesaid JTS…

and I feel like asking Is it all right for me to read them?

and when I do read them I often wonder who would want to plagiarise what I’ve just read

I feel like heading my own posts with something along those lines – if you want to plagiarise or cannibalise any of what follows,  feel free and thank you for showing such good taste


A Remembered Moment

The hen,

and behind it

a line of waddling ducklings –

khaki campbells –

which it had step-mothered 


one duckling

which had strayed behind

rushing to catch up

flapping tiny wings

cheeping its panic 


above it

a hoodie crow

on  the tree top,

black body, grey head,

launching  itself,

clumsy, ponderous 


and to complete the scene

me watching  it all

through the kitchen window

plate in one hand

dish cloth in the other,



Fail, fail again, fail better

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? and other  such questions                                                                                                                             


where to go and what to do once you’ve got there

was  a problem even for ginger rogers and fred astaire

a question for which these fabulous dancers

never found any answers

what to do once you’ve stopped dancing

and romancing?

well all i can say

is that if  they

such a skilful pair of dancers

never found the answers

what sort of chance have i?

0h i try god  knows why

but i do, how i do

i  try again then…

yes  i fail,  fail again

but you know what?  Having climbed the mountain,

having reached the peak, what is there left to do but descend?


*   *   *


A relatively recent and totally welcome addition to the Forfar town centre is the 88 degrees  (thought to be the ideal temperature for a cup of coffee).
Which brings to mind the temperature issue raised in 1994 by one Stella Liebeck  against her local Albuquerque  McDonald restaurant……she had ordered a cup of coffee from the drive-through window (she was in the passenger seat of her grandson’s Ford Probe).
He parked the car so that she could add cream and sugar to her coffee. She placed the coffee between her knees and pulled the far side of the lid towards her to remove it and spilled the coffee into her lap, scalding her thighs and buttocks and groin.

When the case came to court,  the jury decided  in Mrs. Liebeck’s favour, finding McDonald’s 80% guilty.  Consequently in  she was awarded a very thick wad of dollars in compensation.

So the correct temperature of your cortado, cappuccino, americano,  machiatto, doppio, turkikos, latte, or whatever  is not simply a matter of taste. But it’s nice to know that cafes exist which are specialist enough to know about such matters.
And the 88 makes  its own chocolate.

The Scotch Pie and Desperate Dan

Scots Cuisine

Not many Scots eat haggis   –  it’s a sort of joke to go along with the deep-fried Mars bar but it can taste pretty good when eaten along wi mashed neeps an tatties and washed doon wi a  golden single malt such as Talisker or Highland Park  or 12 year-old Glenfiddich on Burns night:

”  Fair fa yir honest sonsie face,
great chieftain o the pudden race,
abune them a ye tak yir place…”

However not the heralded haggis, not the disappointing Forfar bridie, not the ubiquitous sausage roll but the mutton pie is the most commonly scoffed item of Scottish cuisine. Most butcher shops have wee stickers in their windows proudly claiming that their Scotch Pie won the gold/silver/bronze award at the Scottish Pie championship held in Auchtermuchty, Methil, Tillietudlum.

The top award in The Scotch Pie World Championship 2012 held in Dunfermline was won by a butcher  from Dumfries and Galloway.

A sign in Glasgow’s Byres Road. An average Scotch pie contains 1ooo calories and when consumed at a football match washed down with a plastic cup of Bovril considerably more. The right size and shape for an al fresco snack, it has become a staple item for shoppers who like to gaze and graze on the hoof.

The legendary Desperate Dan who stepped out of Greek mythology (known there as Herakles or Hercules in the Roman version) into the Beano then onto the High Street of Dundee had as his only known sustenance, Cow pie,  which gave him the muscle and energy to perform such amazing feats of strength.

McDonald..mmmm – definitely a Scottish name – could it be that the Big Mac, the ubiquitous hamburger,  is really an Edinburger?



 I went for a week up to Stromnes, George MacKay Brown’s wee town and was quite taken over by it. The photograph above  is looking across the harbour to the Pier Arts Centre (between the red building and the white house) which opened in July 2007 after a 2 year, lottery-funded redevelopment. It sits on one of the many piers that characterize Stromness. The original  buildings and pier once housed the office and stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  It all looks good on a day like this

and just as good at night.

Then  back to Dundee. No real exercise for a fortnight. At the Sports Centre a woman with red stockings  and gold shoes caught everybody’s eye. I do 45 minutes on a variety of machines while a guy who was on the treadmill when I arrived is still there, still treading as if the world would stop turning if he did.

This is the rear view ( more attractive than the front view) of Dundee University’s  Dalhousie Building.  I quite like its bigness and redness.

A quick trip back to Orkney for the music festival. Flattie’s Bar, Stromness. A red bus and a blue flapper stop outside. Inside it’s packed to the rafters with fans and fiddlers and you talk to anybody and everybody (when it’s possible to hear and be heard). I nip over to Rackwick bay in Hoy  and talk to Jack Rendall who must be Hoy’s senior resident and his wife who runs the local museum. On the way back I ask the ferryman if he knows the Rendalls. He looks at Hoy receding in the distance and says, “A dinnae ken ony o thae hillbillies.”
Then it’s back to Dundee for work and some  sleep.

This is a view from Dundee’s landfill area across the Tay to the kingdom of Fife, a popular walk for dog owners as the red box might suggest. I have no dog  alas alas.

and a PINK rose in a glass which my love is like.

And finally a romantic goldish bluish PINKish sunset over windy Lanzarote as the world waits for the big round miracle of the moon to put in in its usual appearance  (but perhaps one of those nights……..)