Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wandering The Halls Of Memory. With Birds Eating The Breadcrumbs I Leave For A Trail

In an intimate, intellectual conversation about music (before it degenerated into random personal abuse) at Zombie's place, The Pogues entered my brain (due to a video containing one Mr. Shane McGowan, who looks great, barely 4-5 days dead.) At work, and near coma on my feet because I am ambitious, therefore stupid, I was trying to do tasks not requiring open panels and so had some thoughts running about.

When I was in college, I had opportunity to study in Scotland, not properly an exchange program, but an American program in a manor house near Edinburgh, and it was good, I never considered myself to be particularly close-minded, midwest small city, insular, but I really got a chance to see a bit. I had either zero, or thirteen, majors at the time, so it wasn't going to cost me time*. While Scotland was at the time not my first choice for travel, it had always fascinated me (being German, that was firstest, but while I got a few days there on spring break during my semester in Scotland, I haven't really done the Deutsche thing, not like Sweetie anyhow, or my parents. Poop.) After all, castles, The Quest For The Holy Grail, Hound of the Baskervilles (I know, not Scotland, but tell a 12 year old moors, and his mind goes to Scotch kilts), HIGHLANDER. (Please note, for the record, that no one, living, has any idea what accent Christopher Lambert actually has. I suspect Tagalog.) I went.

Ten days after Lockerbie. paleo had never been on an airliner. The airliner had never had a passenger as cowardly tortured darkly and dashingly good looking freaked as paleo, and the seat in front had to be replaced due to indelible fingerprints put there upon takeoff, turbulence, serving of chicken marwhatsit, and such, until international airspace had been reached and drinks were served to those under legal drinking age. Guaranteeing that my first experience of Heathrow would be, ummm, 'fuzzy'.

The manor was very cool, large walled-in grounds. There was a royal room that had been used by previous monarchs. The royal room, the Queen's room, had an anteroom for attendants (with a 'hidden' door to the Queen's room), supposedly haunted (the estate was on the British Registry of Haunted Places, so I was thoroughly geeked out. The houseman demonstrated that his dogs would not go through the passage - and there were a few good ghost stories that came out of our semester. W00t! Of course, my friends and I, being the only people open to ghosts in the first place, and up at all hours, particularly in the library, both sober and somewhat-less-than, didn't see shit. GODDAMMIT.)

I got my ear pierced for the first time. Having imbibed a three liter bottle of Strongbow strong cider, and having been convinced -
"C'mon paleo, don't be a wuss. Just imagine a bowling ball being yanked through your penis. That's giving birth, you wimp!"
- by several wonderful female friends,
they took advantage of my reflexively protecting my junk to hold two icecubes on my ear lobe, heat a safety pin with a lighter, and poink. Of course, within 3 weeks my ear had turned black, and as punk as it looked, I had to take it out. (I got it pierced again, properly, the next semester, impressing the hell out of my dad, not in a no-son-of-mine way, but more of a what-an-idiot way.)

There were pubs aplenty. I grew up in a brewery town, La Crosse WI, and had investigated the effect of Special Export Light, in quantity and on a minor. I liked it, very much so, and as such, heavy ale and scotch were acquired tastes. It was probably a bad sign that I was to acquire it so readily. (I don't drink beer much anymore, diabetes sucks, but boy do I like Scotch. If I ever get enough readers to put up a wish list, memorize the words Glen Morangie.)

The back 40 of the estate, actually, the back several hundred (acres), was old growth, with a stream, we called it the Magic Forest. For a kid who'd spent a decade playing D&D, wanting to be Thorin Oakenshield (don't judge - I was always a huge fan of the dwarves, huge appetites for life), watching every version of Robin Hood, it was Lothlorien.

Also on the grounds was a small adventure course, like a strenuous obstacle course, included a zipline. I am not now, nor have I ever been, especially skinny - converting my weight in pounds to the old english measurement, stones, became a number that may have led me to my degree in geology - but on the zipline I was able to test certain theories of physics, and was quite surprised. The immediate acceleration and the low tension on the line itself resulted in my ass hitting the ground much harder than I expected.

On this trip to the UK I went to Dublin for St. Patrick's Day. It is not like the big city green beer vomitfests we've become accustomed to, but they do have their fun. This was during a flareup of the troubles, and Belfast port (the ferry from Glasgow) was crawling with very young, very heavily armed British soldiers. There was a car bombing in Newry that, in retrospect, was within a couple hours after our going past the tracks. None of this affected us (I was with a friend on this road trip) as much as the young lady we met on the ferry back to Glasgow. Very nice, a hairstyle that appeared as though a Pittsburgh Paints factory exploded, enough piercings to make a 19 year old boy v-e-e-r-r-y curious, Irish accent. We were hitting it off rather nicely until we got off the ferry, going through security, I was searched, she was skipped, my friend was searched. As we escaped earshot of the customs station, she exhaled, speaking quickly "Thank God, I've got a bunch of speed for my boyfriend..." Um. Are you frakkin' crazy, lady, gonna get us deported-arrested-beaten like a redheaded stepchild? I can laugh, in retrospect, but holy shit.

I took a second trip to Scotland in my senior year, made it a two-week spring break, and those credit cards just seemed to show up in the mail as we needed them, so there we go. Drove from Edinburgh to John O'Groats, slept in the parking lot of Castle Urquart and was not digested by some ancient beastie, merely snowed on a little. One of the mighty travelers had decided to eat every cheese in the Cheese Shop sketch, only learning in the middle of a night that cheeses are often packaged in wax, when the first slice seemed to lack a little something. From John O'Groats we determined to drive to Land's End, I don't recall if we made it but we did reach the SW seaside of England. Many back roads in the UK, especially in No. Scotland, are single lane, with turnouts for two cars meeting. It was a one of these turnouts that I introduced a Royal Mail truck driver to the worldly and sophisticated ways of an American, who has not yet, for the record, learned his right from his left, by nearly killing him, turning out to the wrong side. I suspect those rapid and heavily accented words and gestures were those of gratitude?

Times ago, times ago. I know, TL;DR, but thanks for letting me ramble.

One other thing I acquired from there, being a music guy, is a huge appreciation of Scottish/Irish folk music, from pipes and fiddle to folk-punk. Not necessarily the new-age stuff, and Michael Flatley should be deported. Ceilidhs, babies.

If you are not dancing like a bastard to this, seek the help of a qualified mortician.
The Battlefield Band, Dougie Pincock on the pipes, from Home Ground - Pincock's Pleasure

Also, my first 'video', kinda proud, I'll get better.
 Because I really need more distractions.

This is such a beautiful song. Dougie MacLean - Caledonia

Back on yer feet, ya buggers!

Kinda brings us full circle to the top o' teh post!

Ooo, one more - an American folk band from the 60's, but doing a cover of an English song...

*Someday, when I get ranty, which never happens so I don't know why I even bring it up, I'll tell y'all about my opinions and shit about American higher education. Right now, however, I am in a good mood and plan to stay there.


  1. No, but a quick googly reveals that I will be checking them out.

  2. Replies
    1. OK, I'm sold. More money I don't have, but there you go.

      Also in the realm of money I don't have, some friends want me to go to Summerfest and see Rush. Imma working on it, sweetie is unlikely to go, however...

    2. Wife Sublime and I already have tickets. I typically hit the Fest nearly every day, although this year WS has a product rollout that week and will be unable to take the week off.

      I particularly like the first day or two, when the fest is all clean and the workers aren't completely wiped out yet.

    3. In any case, if you do come down, it goes without saying that I have to buy you a beer. And then you buy me one. You know how this works.

      If you don't I will ban you from the Empire.

    4. Beer? What is this beer you speak of? paleo always open to, experience, things. Perhaps I shall share in this 'beer' ritual.

      Abstitutely, that's why I brought it up, and hope I get the chance.

    5. sweetie is unlikely to go, however...

      A woman who doesn't like Rush? Unpossible!

    6. sweetie is unlikely to go, however...
      Everything is possible, and thingies is looking up!

  3. That last video was a test, wasn't it?

    Also: There's a viddy out there of the "Unwigged and Unplugged" tour, wherein a certain zombie and his friend can be seen in certain shots from the stage.

    1. A mighty windy test even.

    2. Hate to be the poor dumb sumbitch holding the test tube.