Sunday, 5 September 2010

I Belong To Glasgow

Ah, dear old Glasgow – that unique Scottish metropolitan experience, where the average life expectancy is the shortest in the country, you can treat yourself to “authentic Indian tapas” (instead of that fake Indian tapas that's so prevalent everywhere else), and the road signs become increasingly-didactic the closer you get to its concrete-and-despair-clad outskirts: “Please use your seatbelt”, “Be a courteous driver”, “Dinnae pick yer nose or we’ll chib ye”.

[To be fair to the "tapas" - which apparently means "heat" in Sanskrit - folk, they might just be referring to the "essential energies" of the yogic tradition, a sense of deliberate self-discipline & austerity related to a higher purpose in life. Or not.]

Still, today I come to praise Glasgow (for once), rather than bury it - even if that does seem like the most merciful option from time to time. For one thing, the city certainly possesses some fine architecture:

and for another, it's home to the small-but-perfectly-formed "Strung Out Guitars":

tucked away in the railway arches of King's Court, in the south-easternmost corner of Glasgow's central 'Merchant City' area, Strung Out is a delightful haven of independent instrument expertise & fascinating second-hand gear...some of which was pleasantly familiar from my dim & ever-more-distant past hanging around the old Live Music shop in Edinburgh back in the mid-1980s.

A few Sundays ago (yes, I work on a geological time-scale), I happened to be in the vicinity with a couple of hours to use up, so after I'd wandered around taking photographs (occasionally endangering residents by standing on bins & other assorted street furniture to get a better view), and enjoying the sunshine (an incredibly rare commodity in those parts), I headed over to see what they were all about...

...and ended-up being handed a not-yet-on-display 1965 Martin D-18 acoustic to plonk around on - currently could be yours for £2399 (correct as of 20/09/10). Which was far too nice for me, but hey, I wasn't about to start complaining.

Anyway, suffice to say, with its fine assortment of noise-making equipment, and friendly (& extremely knowledgeable) staff - oh, and did I mention they're top-notch specialist instrument repairers, too? - Strung Out is all the reason you need to make the effort and drag yourself over to Glasgow sometime soon...just remember your potential lifespan, and obey the road signs, eh?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

One White Duck / 0^{10} = Nothing At All


After virtually no deliberation whatsoever I have decided that, in honour of the current state of my bank account - and the level of political genius swilling around our delightful Lib-Con government - September shall henceforth be known as "Vacuity Month".

[ vacuity: noun (vacuities) 1 the state or quality of being vacuous. 2 a foolish thought or idea. 3 formal an empty space.
(from the Chambers on-line dictionary) ]

So let me invite you most cordially to celebrate the next 30 days of glorious emptiness by posting superficially-meaningful-yet-utterly vacuous statements, (i.e. precisely the kind of stuff that seems to get the most attention on Twitter, advertisements for mobile phones/cars/the latest gratuitous Apple iCack, and 'motivational' posters*), wherever and whenever seems appropriate.

Vacuity, after all, does have a long and noble history - for instance, in Wu Ch'eng-en's C16th Chinese classic "Monkey", the Monkey King is given the name "Aware-of-Vacuity" when he is accepted as a pupil by the Taoist immortal Patriarch Subodhi (chapter 1, page 18 in my copy).

Here then, without further ado, is my first 'Vacuity Of The Day':

"Inspiration can come at any moment, yet the leaf cannot drift upstream"

cheer up, there are only 29 more to go...

*when it comes to "motivation", I much prefer these.