Monday, July 23, 2007

Been a while

I haven't blogged for a while, and for some reason that feels like admitting to a serious bout of constipation. I did try to squeeze one out whilst on a train last week, but something went wrong with my phone's 3G connection thingy, and it got lost. Boy was I mad! I'd been at it for ages, because doing it on a phone meant lots of thumb work and predictive text. I thought that Blogger would have saved the draft, as it claims to do automagically these days, but alas, 'twas not to be.

Blairs College

My Lovely Husband™ and I popped up to the north of Scotland last weekend. We had a day or so in Aberdeen, which afforded us the opportunity to visit my old school (Blairs College), one of my favourite castles (Dunnottar). Dunnottar CastleWe also managed to fit in a mince around the city centre, a wee trip down to the beach, and a wander around Old Aberdeen. The city centre bit turned out to be really rather important, because EasyJet, in their finite wisdom, had decided it would be best not to send our checked-in luggage on the flight that we took. ServisAir promised to get it to us early the next morning. Which they failed to do. And failed again the next morning. In the end, we had to intercept the courier on our way back from Inverness on Sunday afternoon, when we were on our way back to the airport and our flight home. So, a lovely weekend, but a slightly whiffy one.

But I get ahead of myself. After Aberdeen, we headed off to Inverness, stopping in at Fyvie Castle - it's something of a corker. Then we made our way via Elgin to Inverness, where I had a quick 10 minute massage in a shopping centre - we only had the car insured for one driver, so I was spending a lot of time behind the wheel. Then it was on to Loch Ness, and Castle Urquhart, and from there a quick trip up to Glen Affrick, stopping at the Dog Falls on the way. I had to take some of these sites in on my own, or partly on my own, because my Lovely Husband™ suffers from vertigo, bless 'im, and couldn't get close enough to get the full effect. Dunnottar was particularly bad on that front, even though they have made the approach much easier than it used to be.


We spent the Saturday night in Kinneskie House, a gay guest house on The Black Isle. The hosts were very friendly, the place was lovely, and it was more like staying with friends than being in a guest house.

After the courier-interception thing on the way back the next day, Castle Fraser was our final stopping point, although by that time we were kind of castled out. And very few castles can hold a candle to Fyvie.

Fast-forward one week, almost. Friday night, I queued outside Waterstones from about 21:30, and got my grubby little paws on the new Harry Potter book around 00:15. I got through the first three chapters on the tube journey home, and then stayed up until about 05:30 reading it. I had to turn in eventually because I was starting to fall asleep, but I woke up a couple of hours later and resumed the story; then with a couple of little naps in between chapters, I finished it in the middle of the afternoon. I loved it. I was concerned that Jo Rowling would struggle to pull everything together without making it a massive, unwieldy tome of a book; in the event, it was done rather elegantly and efficiently, I thought, even despite the introduction of a new concept (the Deathly Hallows of the title). It was a bit like watching the final moments of the manufacture of a ship in a bottle, where it's creator pulls the string that lifts everything into place and suddenly it all makes sense. Nice one.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Loserists

Matthew Parris had a piece in The Times which I really liked. It basically says that so-called terrorists are a bunch of sad, drop-out, misfit losers; and portraying them that way is key to making the whole thing go away. Being a member of a group of people who are perceived as sad, misfit drop-outs isn't something that disaffected youths would aspire to, whereas the idea of a criminal, intelligent evil, shadowy powerful organisation, well that has a lot more appeal.

So, international terrorism will shrivel up and die if we respond to them by letting them know how sad, pathetic, futile and silly they are, rather than according them status as evil, baldycat-stroking, scar-eyed, Bond villains.

Okay, so the cat in this picture isn't baldy, but I'm sure you get the point. I couldn't find a picture of Doctor Evil.