Monday, February 26, 2007

Read recently

Some recent reading:

  • Roger persuaded me to read Climbers by the simple expedient of giving me a copy. This is often the only way of getting me to read something, as I am contrary in my ways and tend to ignore things that are recommended to me. I liked this description:

" the mid-to-late seventies, when it was still possible to be good across the board at 'adventure' sports. Distinctions weren't so clear-cut then: less committment was necessary. (Now only Boy Scouts and army officers are left between the zones of obsession, high and dry, trudging along under a burden of manly, cheerful ineptitude like maroons who haven't yet seen the ship sail off without them.)"

  • Finished Frances Donaldson's biography of P. G. Wodehouse yesterday - an impulse buy in a local second hand shop. He was a very odd writer. Never has so great a skill with words been exercised over such trivial material. This is probably why (whisper it!) I have never actually liked his books that much. Maybe I should keep trying.

  • Another biography, of Norbert Weiner - I'm still working on this one. He's a fitting subject for re-examination, but the authors (two journalists) don't do him any favours by pulling out all the tired cliches of their profession.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Since starting to work in Glasgow, I've noticed that its pedestrians are mental. I've just watched a man on crutches slowly hobble across Argyle Street despite a red light, dodging the cars as he went. "Awright?" he said to me as he reached my side. Was he chiding my lack of boldness? Maybe the crutches are the result of a previous crossing and he feels he still has some issues with the traffic to work out.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fragments of today

We had that conductor again on the train. Tonight he told us that the refreshment trolley was available not only in the front three, but also in the rear three coaches.

Somebody has written in to the Independent to say that "Solar-powered airships must be part of the green future". I did enjoy this.

Quite a day for cranky letter writers, because Brian Josephson also wrote in with some conspiracy theory about cold fusion. The Cavendish has rather come down in the world.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nice start to the day

I was hugely delayed on the train this morning, in common with half the business community of Glasgow. For me, it was a relaxing experience, and I found it hard to join in the ritual tut-tutting over the shocking standards of our trains. It was a cold, bright morning, with frost glinting on the hedgerows and fields. I was listening to my iPod (working for once), and so were most of the other passengers. With every announcement, headphones would be removed, heads cocked, sighs emitted, and headphones replaced. I felt refreshed by the whole experience.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You can't beat a bit of buachaille

A very welcome trip to the West today, in the company of Billy and Dave, whom I used to go walking with, but haven't seen for a decade or so. Some things just stay the same though, despite life changes, marriages and children.

Billy and I go up the Buachaille, which I haven't done for ages. I've been doing a lot of Eastern hills recently, so I'm unused to the mountain being above you, not out of sight behind 10km of bog. There's very little snow apart from a battered patch at the head of the corrie, but it's enough for some ice-axe practice.

Dave does Beinn a'Chrulaiste, as he's into such things these days, and he thinks the views of the Buachaille will be better.

The views are excellent: almost a cloud inversion, but more broken, with odd patches clinging to the hills in very photogenic ways. The usual suspects line up along the horizon: Ben Nevis, the Aonachs, Ben Alder. Schiehallion is being shy - a pity, because I remember the pleasure of first recognising it from here many years ago.

Friday, February 02, 2007

We would wish to remind passengers...

As if to compensate for the terseness of his colleague, tonight's "train manager" or whatever they're called these days, gives us every possible announcement, in obsessive detail.