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> Home Made Tales, The journey
peter.howden
post 23rd Feb 2018, 11:27am
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My Chronicles 23/02/2018

The good news is simply; Aunt Becky is for most times, in a carefree world of her own, the peoples in the home do their best to keep it so. The only time she has any recognition of the past is when we have our weekly hurl, in my old jalopy, around Kilpatrick Hills, with the ‘Tartan Top Twenty ‘playing, with we two, badly singing along, enjoying every tuneful lyric. I sometimes wonder who these wee trips benefit more.

‘She who must be obeyed’ is well onto full recovery, looking forward to a weekend in Peebles and a four day stay in April at the holiday place Eyemouth. It is so good to see her smile again.

There is a game which David(Salty) and I, have played as the years have rolled forward, however it has been ages since we have had the board out and played ‘Alcohol Chess’. We have no idea who is winning, for over the years we are usually slightly fou, after the intense matches. It would be nice to relive the past and set up a time when we can have a grudge match as both of us claim to be the overall victor. One thing is certain, Saltcoats caravan the place, I would have to stay the night, as my talent for alcohol consumption has narrowed drastically.

On this note, I travelled down to Ayr yesterday to keep company with my Chine Jim Hendry. My slight refreshment became a tad more than intended, returning rather tipsy…or slightly more refreshment than intended. I intend to be more frugal next visit, but he always insist walking me to the train…. nice one.

Jim is always good company, because we are both opposite, in nature and mind, but meet in the middle as we talk utter rubbish, laughing at the drop of a hat…it is a grand safety valve…Magic Jim. On the way down, as the train soared smoothly through the countryside, I manage to have five seconds or so seeing a fox wandering through its own kingdom. What a magnificent beastie with a beautiful coat, magnified by the winter sun…. natures treat

Having now accepted my memory is not what it used to be, there are plain signs of gradually becoming more, and more forgetful, mainly on simple things…and words. The tip of my tongue has never been so busy. Over the last few years things have happened which I glanced and laughed over, yet this was reality how along with old age, certain signs of a first class daftie …. here are a few examples

In the past I have arrived at Edinburgh Airport, realizing I should be at Glasgow airport, to fly to France. I doubled checked before leaving and still caught the express couch to Auld Reekie. I caught a taxi, costing a couple of bob up front, luckily, I got there in time for my boarding.
Arrived at a hospital appointment exactly one year early. If I have a simple job, using four tools…. within three minutes, or so, I cannot find either one, or two of them even if they are with arm’s length. If not where I think they should be…I can not see them. I must adapt, put things in the exact place every time…or I am lost.

In the Paris Metro…it took a blind French Madame to tell me I was one the wrong train…
Arriving in Avignon, calling in at the first Ibis hotel, because the booking was made online. The charming lady instructed me, I had booked the second Ibis hotels and attempted to direct me. Once outside these directions rather became mixed up until I entered what I presumed was the later. They were serving coffee and asked if I wished a cup. Sitting down I did notice quite a few elderly peoples there. Walked to the reception after the refreshment, only to find out I was in an old folk’s home. Everyone smiled, laughed as they re-directed my course…they did not charge me for the coffee…or even the extra biscuit

As someone said, ‘Much may be made of a Scotchman, if he is caught young’ …I reckon I’m past it…
I should not be let out alone…. Wheesht…. She who must be obeyed’ is coming up the stairs…
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peter.howden
post 27th Feb 2018, 11:18am
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Unwanted Date;

In here alone, hiding from the outside world, a futile attempt to gain some piece of mind. Believing he was as he asked himself repeatedly, no sane person, would ever volunteer, if they knew yesterday, that today’s surroundings would be such a maze of a circumstantially teeth pulling circus. He sits alone, as if in a defended cage, struggling to be concealed in the darkness, in a vain effort to be allowed rescued peace, just for a moment or so. Will tomorrow be the same?

Deep down, recognizing there is no real release from those revulsions he witnessed, compelling him to hide in the unbiased dark. Having committed no crime, advised, be strong and steadfast, the sword of truth will bare victory over adversity...instead, tortured and sullied more than if he was the accused, being verbally assaulted by legal skulduggery jargon, then spread on pages, filled tasteless media skulduggery.

It is true, as a juvenile he may have tread a shady path, even in doggy outcomes, but time and marriage responsibilities, but to insinuate devise motives appearing as witness in such a gruesome case, appears to have ‘carte blanche’, both legal and social teams, to interpolate facts of the case, to suit their own furtive purpose.

Unable to sleep, stumbles to the flat’s fancy window, with a keen melancholy eyes, views a deserted wet street below, unknown shades, darting back and forward, as the last indications of daylight emerges into gloom. Across the road was the High Court, the harbour of justice and law, his personal mental playground This could be anywhere elsewhere, but it was here…and now

Almost forgotten shadowy concepts paraded around his awareness, unguarded with selfish ability beyond purpose. His hopeful simple dreams now just a haze along with what it was like to be a normal human being, whatever that meant, rapidly unscrupulously disappearing into quicksand created by psychological terror

For a short while untouchable, as the world settled on different things, but he knew, an irrepressible retribution will strike without warning… but having no means to stop it… is his nemesis. Raw emotions sting deeply without mercy, because of the most blackish of prints, obligating him to bare the torturous unwanted gaudy memories over and over at the whim of the national press and the pennies cost for a newspaper

It was his life, but it was being depleted by grotesque details the press ether dreamt up, or worse still, taking facts, dates manipulated to suit the story line, while mixed media of the rags tantalized encouraged readers with claims of an exclusive scoop. Each time, with clockwork precision, they, whoever they are, would find new angles in distorting truth, while shamelessly hiding behind the need for public information need.

At the beginning, naively believing in testifying to save the innocent, expose the truth where the guilty would be punished. Little expecting this solitude and fear of being recognized as the witness? There was little protection from the courts, less from the acting lawyers and none from the tenacious press

Vowing to remember the truth… No matter the pain, or because of it… he would cry again…. but not in the public gaze.
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peter.howden
post 2nd Mar 2018, 08:37am
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Alternative Herding 2

For the proud ‘Health and Safety’ canal district of Holland, the fun and games performed by inconsistent sheep, to say the least, was annoying, unfortunately, other livestock triggered concern if not glitches. The actual problem was the cows, moody and renowned as being with low intelligence, don’t achieve much, although it may be argued, the poor beasties, taking grass all day, could cause hallucinational acts of inanity.

They have a curious habit while in water, floating upside down using ears as paddles, tails as flexible rudders, displaying their udders and teats. This unorthodox action can be mistaken for World War One sea mines, by the onlookers who call out the military for assistance. Tragically, and unfortunately, a few heifers have lost their lives due the pitiful army manoeuvres played out with 100-year-old wrinkled instruction, full of tearstains from the past.

Porkers are at home anywhere, having naughty habits like, sneaking off for some smoking, nevertheless scared of pot. With incredible ease, pig’s paddle across open water, a scientific fact, fat floats… which has saved their bacon more than once. This also adds to sizzling in the pan, when in the fastidious Netherlands competition for Danish rashers is in full demand.

The ‘Safety Committee’ have taken boffins instructions that water skiing would ease the tension for goats, wild and otherwise, as they are an obvious choice, apart from polled goats, most have horns for protection, along with warning to others. The major obstacle is, ‘Water’s Highway Code’, as their reading skills are limited, always playing the goat, except nanny goats, they just keep eating the paper instruction.

Imported Scottish cuddies don’t make an ass of themselves, adapting to anything on the hoof, while tiny Shetland ponies are just superb, treating the fields as playgrounds.

It is certainly not just the captive livestock the ‘Safety Committee of the region’ are concerned with, as an unsung duty is to ‘keep safe’, pets as well as the wildlife animals roaming the countryside, taking up residence within the limitation of the canals.

Since most of the fertile land, in the region of Holland is under sea level, the health and safety in Netherlands, have instructed, ‘Scuba diving training facility for rabbits, leaving and entering their collective burrows, and chambers which are under water level in Holland, this allows the bunnies to hightail down their own holes. Rabbits can and do look rather scary, kitted out in rubber masks, suits, flippers, and all, but more so with a snorkel. It is extremely hard to work out what a buck is trying to tell you, or what suggestions it is making with such a screwed up contorted mouth trying to avoid the snorkel. This action if repeated to often be enough to give the bunny rabbit a hare lip.

Bunny perspiration is by no means sweet, oozing around tickles the rabbit, so much in rubber, making its intentions bounce all over the place giving out wrong signals, so steer clear when they do eventually undress. One good point though, is there are no bugs on these rabbits ,or the need of a Doctor, or veterinary (well maybe, a Shrink!, for they are a bit loony if truth be known).

Animals inmates of Blijdorp zoo, have their own problems least of all with the daydreaming elephants, reputedly having great recall, pack their trunks ready, but forget where they have left them…. refusing to dip in the pink. Do NOT adapt to exams, or the need to be neat with test papers, which appear to get the wind up…. you must give tons of room to an elephant with reversed farting problems.

There are no zebra crossings on canals, and the big brother’s giraffes have a problem, not from drowning but person’s unknown keep tying boats to their necks sticking out from the water. Even a floating barber tried to use one as a sign for his trade. He must have been blind, as most barbers are, not to distinguish between stripes and patrons.

Again, no sleeping policemen for they would simple drown, even if they could transfer their helmets into temporary diving bells

Holland is a dangerous place for animals that are not naturally aquatic. The mind is simply boggles? …
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peter.howden
post 4th Mar 2018, 06:22pm
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A short Tale

They were a couple made for each other in every sense of the meaning, seemingly knowing what the other was going to do before they did. They had been together since God knows when, and where he was…she was there. In a gorgeous summer’s day, while in the Kilpatrick Braes walking, which they both loved, he was whistling as she kept looking at him with adoring eyes, this was one of the assets which made her a wonderful mum.

He calls her name softly, reaching out to tenderly touch her…there is a love within, raw and bare, knowing no gauge of time, or meaningful existence, or allegiance to anything, but the hint of aroma surrounding his mistress, awakening a burning endless passion, enlightened and free, to soar through this universe, just to be a breath away from the desire to touch her, showing affection, here…out in the wild, amongst nature itself.

Wishing they could be together forever, now, full of the joy of life, but this could not be…as time will ravish youthful looks, denying precious memories. Just at that very moment as if on purpose, time stands still…the past catches up with the present, he calls again, ‘come on Titch…time we were home with your puppies’….
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peter.howden
post 12th Mar 2018, 04:28pm
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My Chronicles 12/03/2018

Due to a wintery weather spell, subsiding last week, Becky and I eventually took off to the incredible spectacular Kilpatrick hills, by old jalopy, along country roads. We both have cherished wishes to be trekking through country lanes and meadows facing the winds from four corners, while protected by walking clobber such as woolly knitted jumpers, anoraks, and purpose old fashioned leather boots. Mainly due to our age, we take the comfortable option with my old banner (the car…not Aunt Becky) as the ‘Tartan Top Twenty’ vibrates within our little moving bubble.

The fabulous wintery scenery passes many fields holding big patches of snow, and green areas struggling for the light from the sun. Special equipment had been used throughout the previous days, to clear the highways, creating a continuous frozen manky snow pelmet, bordering each side of the highway. As we past the fields reasonably slowly, lamb chops and cuddies search and chew constantly, for sustenance via the limited grass available in the fields.

Since Aunt Becky has been in the Dementia home, she wanders around wide-eyed, seemingly content though oblivious to time or place, while the staff always have a cheerful disposition and a laid-back approach. Becky herself seldom recognizes me at first glance, always saying, ‘haven’t seen you for years?’. Once in the motor and the acknowledged Scottish music waves through the speakers, she beams, sings all the words, keeping time with her feet, and now and again sucking a mint or two. Once back at the home she slips serenely back to being in her own wee world. For us…she is safe.

‘She who must be obeyed’ and I journeyed down to the Pebbles Hydro, where a voluntary housing community training organization holding a much loved annul network conference, allowing representatives of Housing Association to meet in relaxed atmosphere…and be spoiled a little. These sessions give an organized list of debates to attend and dialog about, but I believe the tranquil aether while having coffee, tea, or a slight refreshment, is the essence of comfortable learning.

The massive bedroom allotted to us, had a wall to wall television and an extra king-sized bed, we had to send semaphore if we wished to converse...a touch of luxury. However, in the walk-in bathroom, unfortunately mirrors from all sides, no matter where I stood, reflected a wrinkled face and a nigh bald head.

The Royal burgh of Pebbles is such a great wee place and still has the High st with individual shops and best of all, the enchanting river tweed to amber along at your own pace regardless how long it takes.

Meeting friends at this rendezvous who I have not seen all year, or not see so often, has always been a pleasure and still ism though due to the unescapable truth that time takes its toll each year, when one or two faces are missing for various reasons.

This year it was sad to learn how one long term friend of mine is incurably ill. In the last twenty odd years we have met up, shook hands fondly, then discussed the serious items affecting our association then, just have a few beers and have fun of a time…he is such good company….
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peter.howden
post 14th Mar 2018, 03:45pm
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Anecdotes from the auld Steamie

Now you see it, now you don’t

In almost all the major cities around Scotland, within the manual workers districts, stood imposing Victoria buildings housing essential local amenities, such as Swimming pool/baths and the much used ‘Steamie’ all usually run from two massive boilers. The staffs’ day to day activities were run my supervisors, who in turn took orders from area superintendents.

One such superintendent stood out from the rest, having been promoted via the working floor. This meant he knew the ropes inside out…any skive or Buckie’s (buckshee washings). His nickname was Captain Kirker…he also went where no man had gone before.

In one such heavy engineering city, its needs were many such service buildings and within two districts, Captain Kirk could be seen, usually weighed down with silver in his pockets, entering the nearby hosiery for a slight refreshment. It was simply one Steamie’s dryers took shillings, and the other two bob bits. The offices of both centres, had the dryers keys and a wooden bowl to collect the said monies, then for him to retire to the ticket office, for the cashiers to tally.

Slowly moving along the drying area, emptying all by putting one driers coins in the bowl, then one in his jacket pocket for him. It was a regular occurrence and what could be done, he was the boss. Captain Kirker treated staff well, never asked you to do something he had never done or roll his sleeves with the lads. Others tended to treat the workforce as personal skivvies.

One such area superintendent, his name is lost in ancient time, used one worker as a whipping boy for a couple of months, sending the unlucky person, down to the shops, or anywhere at the drop of a hat, rain, or snow, to buy a made-up sandwich, furious if the staff brought back the wrong filling. Throughout a bitter blizzard period, when this superintendent, decided to send Ben-gunn. Three or four times later, while never getting it right, and paying extra, he moved his attention on to someone else. He could never accept, people doing so menial jobs would have any brains to act stupid.

After terrible storms affecting most of Scotland, tragic damaged, and flooding of houses throughout one metropolitan, demanded urgent action as several buildings were chosen for round the clock working. The carpets were brought to Ben-Gunn’s ‘Steamie’s’ in a desperate hope to dry them out. !2 hours shift, day, and night, lasted around 8 weeks. Every Saturday only, the public were allowed in to do weekly washings, making it a treble shift for the workers.

One Saturday morning, Captain Kirker informed all he would be on duty that night, bunged a few pounds into Ben’s hand, with instruct to buy a bottle of whisky, following it with a demand to have money for cards. In the carpet shift, you only worked bloody hard for a solid hour or so, putting wet carpets all over the place, to fume. Once done, nothing happened for around four hours while extreme heating did its bit.

The workforce retired to the cashiers’ box (known as money takers) at least it had air condition. Captain Kirker had worked just as hard as the chosen staff did, now insisted to see the alcohol and the lose cash for the card. John, tam the bam, Gay Bob put theirs on the table while Ben-Gunn took the drier keys and headed out. Captain Kirker was so intrigued, he opened eyed followed Ben straight to dryers, and a machine he stored money in earlier on in the public shift that had not been observed by anyone else. Opening the box with the special keys, emptied the contents into his pocket.

Captain Kirker asked what the hell was he doing? he replied, “Training to be a superintendent?”
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peter.howden
post 16th Mar 2018, 08:07pm
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Anecdotes from the auld Steamie


Gratuitous Booty

Throughout one metropolitan, the halls of power, who apparently thought they ran such Victorian buildings housing, Swimming pools, hot baths, the much loved local ‘Steamie’, decide to integrate academy and university leavers, into the management structure. Such candidates may be educated in the theory; however, their practical skills, or common sense, was not up to scratch.

Superintendent Captain Kirker, who came up through the ranks, had a nose for ill-discipline, whereas Shift supervisor Andy Pandy, concept collage educated, was easily distracted because he was a fanatical Rangers football club supporter. All Humphrey, the Steamie attendant had to do, was quote the old joke, ‘Rangers won the coin toss…and did the lap of honour’ sent Andy into a sulk, storming off not to surface for some time. Humphrey was a frustrated amateur entrepreneur…with a knack.

One such harried health/care worker, due to work schedule, would dash into the Victorian building, on a Friday at five forty precisely wishing to be complete and out for quarter to seven without fail. Humphrey decided to start an express service. he told the health worker to leave it all up to him. The fact her spick and span cloth just received a hint of water, her washing was dried and pressed for her arrival

She once asked about his family, for she was under the impression he three children were tots, so began the strange gratitude payment from the lady, becoming much more as time passed by.

When young mums left the hospital with their babies, they were issued with a bag full of wee bottles of containing orange juice, cod liver oil, talcum powder, baby cream, soft tasting yeast for mum and baby, for mum only was two thin sanitary towels.

The health lady began to give one or two of these precious cargos, as a kind gesture and reward, however, after a short period, no pun intended, it multiplied to receiving six, seven and eight bags at a time.

Humphrey would leave the excess sanitary towels in his locker. It took no time at all for the locker to be overrun by these ladies’ personal items, so action had to be taken. No-one could be found who would want them, until Scooter, the other wash house attendant, expressed an interest, and sure enough took the lot. Scooter stayed with his German Shepard mutt in a caravan, on a country road outside the city, and Humphrey’s mind boggle what Scooter would do with so many clinical items.

He was known as being a right miserable miser, nothing gratis was his motto. If he dropped a half/dollar (half a crown), he would crack his head on the floor catching the dropping coin.
Three weeks later, near Christmas on a frozen wintery day. the very question was answered and witnessed.

Scooter had slept in that morning, rushing his mutt into his car, starts up and moves swiftly down he country lane, still with his slippers on his feet. Once in the work, hastily changing into works gear, one slipper slipped off…and what fell out? was a singular slim sanitary towel including the original string.

Scooter was using them as foot pads and warmers.
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peter.howden
post 19th Mar 2018, 11:44am
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IM; 20;

Jim stepped down from the train, unaware when his weary foot touched the actual platform, what instantly occurred defied all logic, or physics, all common sense, however the plain truth of the matter was, it did happen. The Pullman, the track, the platform, the very structure he was standing on, just vanished. Not only from sight but from existence. Jim’s courage spiralled uncontrollably, galloping in all direction, pulling on unknown disturbed nerves, causing a vice grip of basic fear to take hold.

Forcibly closing his eyes, rationally considering being amid a cavorted reverie, then opening his eyes, a floating sensation nonetheless seeing nothing whatsoever… challenging all possibilities where he was. Instinctively aware escape was impossible, asking himself if this was a colossal hallucination of nightmarish proportions, distorting reality. Neither was true, sensing he was hanging in a mysterious limbo void, without notion of time, until his drifting awareness, a caretaker crosses the threshold of his mind, in primitive manner of speech and vision. Jim was no scholar, but surprisingly understand the spirituality of the information filtering through his brain. Jim’s fascination, now automatically switching off his alarm button, eradicating any apprehensiveness…the lecture began with visions and commentary

The history of the earth moved forward from erratic beginnings in grass roots, through multiple epochs onward display, famine, wars, and starvation. Pitiful sights of indescribable misery caused by humanoid eco footprints, stamping indiscreetly, by human greed, no matter the era displayed. Each stage of hypothetical civilization was no better than the previous. Jim concluded without question, there was a concierge of sorts, controlling everything within the known universe, cosmoses far beyond, and the soups of aethers of indefinite makeup, mere man could never understand in a million years. Jim could see it all.

One fact was common, this surreal encounter was man’s cockiness of being supreme. It was obvious humans assumed themselves above natures laws…and little else other than destined for higher things. Jim supposed perhaps humanity was just an accident, in millions of accidents taking place every day, never mind throughout eras. If the ice had not reflected light, or the atmosphere had change minutely, humans would not have existed, yet… he concluded the caretaker had made it so, but his purpose eluded him. Earth could be the cancerous spinning cell of the creation’s D.N.A.

Finally, the information slowed down as Jim was left to contemplate all he had observed. He had a glimpse of an idea something of real importance was just about to come. A deep intuition dramatically bubbled just beneath his concept, though it was perfectly plain it existed. Was this the answer why he was there, wherever ‘there’ was …or was ‘there’ everywhere… who could tell. Certainly not Jim as his curiosity strengthens himself to listen.

The brutal message from a voice… simply the clockwise dream of immortality, a feeble attempt to pick the correct gene, doom becomes a certainly. Genetic chemical mutagenesis will swiftly take over the natural selection, having sex suffocate human beings because man has experimented to eradicate mutation to point changing codes of D.N.A for everlasting existence, futilely unlocking rare secrets of aging.

Uncontrollable somatic regenerations will invade all bodies and species throughout the world, until nothing breathing will survive… becoming the destroyer…not the creator. Genetic chemical mutagenesis will reproduce at such an alarming rate, it will be impossible for it, or all other life, repair and reproduce anything, even bacteria. Death of the planet will be only a matter of limited time.

This was not the first time, as eight empty planets are silent witnesses within trillion of planets amongst many galaxies, with the caretaker benign part of it all. All started so promisingly, as all creatures had a purpose and all life was a gift. Every attempt was dwarfed by mankind’s intervention with such limitation however with great expectations invalid to his capabilities. Time after time, the caretaker picked up the pieces, start again though Jim did not know the caretaker’s motivation.

Unexpectedly, now alone on a noiseless stairway leading to the station, as the Pullman was just about to pull away, Jim robotically racing, then boarding the moving locomotive.

Jim was left in no doubt the caretaker had decided this was the last time to interfere, and if there was no action was taken, leading to total oblivion… then so be it. Was the caretaker the Divinity the religious people talk about, having over the past many millenniums… attempted to rescue humanity… or was this just an illusion… who knows?
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peter.howden
post 21st Mar 2018, 12:23pm
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The Challenge

Stewart changed his name, by deed poll, to Paul, costing £40, due to his admiration of screen idol Paul Newman, particularly in the film ‘Cool Hand Luke’ having watched repeatedly at the drop of a hat. Stewart, now Paul, became obsessed by the egg competition, displayed so photographically in the movie. After arguing with himself, decided to take up this 50 eggs challenge. Realizing exercise was paramount to train for this epic happening, plus progressively building up by taking 3/4 eggs to start with, then add several more at each sitting, until ready willing and able to consume such a magnificent quantity at the all-important contest

Stewart, now legally Paul, was warned by concerned friends, of the danger eating such amounts of eggs, particularly in one go. In theory, it is believed, but not proven, such behaviour can lead to heart ailments, serious diabetes, cholesterol, salmonella, but all these warnings, was to Paul, like water of a duck’s back as he was determined to achieve his eggy goal.

Over the next few weeks, a determined regime was set in place, as his fitness improved way beyond expectations, while feasting of eggs increased in each sitting. His system was simple, choosing the amount of eggs, boiling them for eight minutes, cracking then shelling them clean at the table. Start the stop watch and begin. Afterwards taking a brisk walk, some three or four hours, which was really demanded by anyone in the flat at the time because of the constant pimping releasing gases.

Feeling confident of success, he picked a day for his colossal illustrious event, and when the day came, he prepared everything by himself, on the theory he was the best person not to make a mistake looking after all the intricate procedures. The great day was here and Stewart, now Paul started of well, looking ever inch a winner who would ‘swally the hail lot’ with the ease of a champion.

Then… without warning, he began to violently choke, fighting for breath, almost turning blue. Luckily there was a bonny nurse in the selected audience who immediately weighed up the situation and applied the ‘Heimlich manoeuvre’…saving the moment…but not the hour

The culprit forcing an unwanted assault on his gullet was a piece of egg shell.

Unfortunately, the newly named Paul did not know the amount of 50 eggs, was just a starter for Joey Chestnut in 2013, when as a competitive eater, swallowed his way to the world record, scoffing 141 boiled eggs in eight minutes. Joey probably suffered 36 hours of gastric distress, with hydrogen sulphide gas he ever experienced. Farting is the common word for such actions, however perhaps he did not possess the same panache as the film star.
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peter.howden
post 23rd Mar 2018, 10:21am
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At the kitchen window

Looking out of our kitchen window, an ambulance with flashing lights aplenty, obviously in an emergency run, hurtling along Edinburgh road towards the royal infirmary. The scene is like watching a silent movie unfold, as no sound, not one decibel penetrates through the double glazing of our cosy home. In the garden is one off the local cats, practicing hunting methods as most cats do, yet the birds seemingly taking the micky, fliting from branch to branch, just out of reach when the poor hopeful mouser makes ready to strike.

While idle minded, gaping out the window, another scullery window emerges in my thoughts, almost as if I was there, giving away its past secrets, being the only source of daylight beaming through our single end in Toryglen street, back in 1969. We were just wed when taking the top story of a close facing an industrial estate in Oatlands. There was the football ground just across the road, and due to being so high up, we could see over the surround security fence, the greenery of the pitch, the only such foliage in the engineering area until Richmond park.

Inside this one room accommodation with an extremely wee so-called hall, it could be cosy if the coal fire was constantly blazing, because the sash window rattled while the wind intruded making the centre single bulb swing back and forth, creating shadows scurrying around corners, especially during winter nights. Any passing hubbub in the street was heard without trying. A Friday/ Saturday night being the climax, punters coming and going along our street leading to the local pub. Being newlywed…this did not really bother us

Unconsciously mused away to another memory of standing at a kitchenette window, in Toni and Fergus flat some years back. They both worked as trouble shooters, for European companies, in the Netherlands, Leiden, Amsterdam, then in Paris France, wishing their processers to have new complicated programmes installed. We were so fortunately, staying in any of their accommodations, when they chose to holiday somewhere in the world.

Leiden was somehow special to both of us, as we spent a smashing weekend, with them, before the flew off into the blue horizon. The memory I have at the sink window, was a well-furnished book store across the forecourt, with a large sign printed; ‘Pilgrim Fathers Leiden 1620’ The shop’s name deluded me… standing there for ages, attempting to work my mouth around the impossible title… as I could not even pronounce

These reminiscences of Toni are not so hurtful as in the recent past, nevertheless do catch Rebecca and I in different ways, producing images we would prefer not to see as they prod deep into depths unknown. However, a more favourably light is coming from Toni’s own personal window memories… and now and again… produce a proud smile from me…even through moist eyes
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peter.howden
post 26th Mar 2018, 05:57am
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My Chronicles 26/032018

The Three Musketeers

Last week a smashing farewell lunch was held for Michael, director of our housing association for 18years, who became a personal confidant as we confided in each other throughout the years of his service. I liked him… from when he first gave me a strong handshake saying hallo. He proved to be an honourable man of good character. His accomplishments were ‘Sure and Steadfast’, working always to the best of his ability…for the community, the staff, but particularly for the committee. I felt fortunate to have been the chair of the organization during part of this period…

A slight emotion personal goodbye …but again, lucky for me I have his contact through this fantastic creation called the ‘Internet.

Another gentleman I am so grateful to call a friend, having contact via cyberspace, is Keith, his lovely Elizabeth, and their generous amiable family. I first met Keith, when he was hired to be a consultant directing Calvay the way forward. They both moved ‘lock stock and barrel’ in 2003 from Biggar Scotland, to aa hamlet, near Carcassonne, France. His idea was simply to work hard, travel throughout for so many months, retreating into the hills of this almost idyllic medieval Cather’s village, to rest his weary bones eventually to retire. Unfortunately, there dreams faded with the aid of fate and political turmoil

One heck of a blow to give to anyone, but defiantly for such an enterprising academic person, with panache. Over the years, somehow, I became a yearly fixture, generously invited into their home, after visiting various places in France. Grand company, superb food, beer on tap…and they did my washing… I have such happy memories…pure dead brilliant. Now due to circumstances beyond their control, due to the foolish Government’s ungainly Brexit confrontations, they have decided to return, not to Biggar but a new experience near family

Knowing Keith’s inbuilt determination and fortitude, things will be fine…. but I’m glad of the incredible internet highway

Last but by no means least, is my China Jim, Ayr resident. With Jim, Michael, and Keith, I’m completely opposite to their traits, for all three are organized, knowing where they wish to be at a given time. Jim having an uncanny knack with radical rhetoric, a retired devout labour party theologist.

His knowledge of Scottish politics is phenomenal, although our almost monthly meetings, usually held in Witherspoons tavern, is based on talking rubbish and laughing at boloney

On my side I have a kangaroo mind, inconsistently jumping from one theme to another, coated in ridicules…yet these connections are a safety value…much appreciated. Right through my life, I fortuity had good companions…and it appears my luck is enduring
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peter.howden
post 29th Mar 2018, 10:50am
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WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART ONE;

Ben and Salty


Ben’s years were gathering behind him, having no clue if men turn a certain corner, starting to do silly things, to prove they can take whatever life throws at them, answering anything confusing or enormous dilemmas for humankind. Unknown to him, his little grey cells were working overtime, primarily struggling through what the boffins call the male version of ‘Menopause’…or just taking leave of his senses, transferring fear to his overloaded brain.

Whilst growing older, men sometimes have more pathetic attempts to verify, testing he still has what it takes, and take’s it in fine mettle, possibly as strong as an ox, or in Ben’s case, one with a slight limp and a taste in ballet. Such tests have an inexhaustible supply. Frank Sinatra did ‘his way’ though reputedly never liked the song. Whizzing past fifty, Ben wanted a physical way to show how he not only survived the first half century but in reasonable condition to meet the second half
Salty was a fair bit younger, still in the late flourish of youth, having seen more of the world via its oceans and ports. They both enjoyed a slight refreshment…and craic, with a hint of male bravado atmosphere slipping through the air..

With Ben’s insistence, they often spoke about saunters around rugged trails of bonnie Scotland, with abundant rough terrains to choose from, in different scales of effort to succeed. This elevated Scotland far above most countries, perfect suited for the manly appetite to bear nature and come out smiling. Once, while fortuitously patronizing within a Saltcoats tavern, their commanding window facing Arran’s magnificent mountain range spiralling across the horizon, planted an acorn for an adventurous ascend up the compelling impressive ‘Goat-fell’

The great date arrived for the trip over by early ferry from Ardrossan (Gaelic Àird Rosain, "headland of the deer’). Ben and Salty rucksacks contained spare socks and jumpers, chocolate, water, flask, and a geographical map. A crisp morning to dauner towards Corrie village, with a happy step arriving ready to start the craggy trail to the summit.

It was quite a haul for Ben’s stride, tackling the range of dissimilar problematic terrain, scrambling slowly towards his daydream. The truth of the matter was, without Salty, Ben would possibly not reach his goal. Sadly, a very cold mist suddenly came down on the summit as they arrived at the peak of Goat-Fell itself, but it did not dampen their exhilarated mood, relying on the geographic map to point to where North Goat Fell stood.

What amazed the two comrades while taking the cosy footpath down from the range, how people climbing the path were so inefficiently dressed, and no provisions. One girl wore high-heels…absolutely nuts in the opinion of a couple of knackered, but ecstatic, eccentric walkers.

Once in Brodick, then on the ferry, arriving Salty’s accommodation, swallowed a few drams, taking turns to shower and the leisurely sip a few more drams. It was then Ben dropped a bombshell…by proposing …’Now what about the West Highland way?’
-=-=-=-=
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peter.howden
post 4th Apr 2018, 07:56am
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WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART TWO;

The need;
Being a game bloke, Salty became quite interested as the banter waffled while various sips of the water of life’s golden nectar, any true Scot would drink. Salty being of catholic taste, was sipping white rum, reputed to be from Cuba, which may have influence him to be a little snide referring scornfully to Ben’s abilities and physique, the way only a good china has the absolute right. The repartee of one-upmanship strolled carefreely into the night, to a point of complete silliness.

The next daybreak, both awoke to find the usually tidy abode, in a slight gurdle with bottles and glasses all over the place. Both had slightly hazed recall of the previous night’s events, however what did predominantly remain…the rash challenge of the West Highland Way. After the zombie period had past, Salty, with a concerned voice, hinted how Ben was not quite up to scratch, for such an adventure. Ben retorted, “How come naw”, insisting he was just a smidgen off-peak…and with a wee saunter or two, he could match step for step, stride by stride, with the best of them.

Probably with daft obstinacy, Ben began training with a stroll from the Larg’s road, along the moors over Baidland Hill to Dalry. The following week, a dauner leaving Largs to Saltcoats, and finding himself not too knackered at the end. With such endeavours safely under his belt, with a hint of over cockiness, suggested how Salty and he could trek from Glasgow to Saltcoats. The response was not quite sunshine, “That’s a belter, you can raffle my doughnut” Salty retorted, swiftly adding, “you think I will spend my next leave prancing about like a bloody Lonnie” leaving muttering something about a bampot halfwit.

Several weeks later Ben had managed to persuade, super fit, swift Mick along for company. Full of enthusiasm, the team set out early, setting a cracking pace, though several miles on, there were signs of physique weariness starting to take a grip mainly due to the conquering wind against them, but it was the drizzly rain being bloody awful to say the least. Half way there, as the painstaking miles slowly went by, Ben had to search for hidden resolve. Call it foolhardy but he was determined not to display weariness in any manner or form and he certainly was not going to let Salty have the last laugh.

Three quarters of the 28 miles almost completed, still pissing (A Glasga term for rain) down, a voice bellowed across the rough terrain, “your honkin…and knackered, bet you wish you were at hame!” Ben turned around, wiping the rain from his eyes, but smirking shouting back, “don’t know what you are gloating about Salty…you didn’t want to come in the first place”.

The magnificent three arrived, relatively unscathed, drenched, victorious, and droothy for the merited pints…or two. The big test completed and now for the ‘West Highland Way’
-=-=-=-=-=-=-
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peter.howden
post 6th Apr 2018, 07:50am
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WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART Three;

The Gauntlet

Ben was not a fan of walking even for simple constitutional reasons, not since the B.B camps of his youth, however, such a schlep triumph, taking just 7 hours, ignited a buried desire. Sudden success can lead to certain misfortunes in the head department, which either he was not aware of… or chose to flout it.

When talking to friends about the forthcoming tramping excursion, several remarks as to the time it should take, with quotes how some dedicated teams walked the into Fort William after 3 days, the navy finished the ordeal in two days, and a specialized commando outfit accomplished this in 36 hours. Ben stood up to the mark, uttering for all to hear, “Salty and I will finish on the 4th day” concealing a slyness in his voice

Boasting the ability to complete the ‘Highland Way’ in 4 days was rather a tad confident, if not ludicrous on plain paper…but in his mixed-up mind, dancing with the gods, or eejit ghosts pretending to be real… anything was perfectly feasible. What Salty thought or spluttered out of this bragging act…is certainly not printable.

First thing on the sunny morning of the momentous day in Milingavie, Ben and Salty posed aside the stone obelisk for a historic photograph of two proud adventurers. Ben insisted to aim for Rowardennan, on the first day, because it was roughly the same mileage as the previous trek triumph. Salty shrugged his shoulders.

Setting a cracking pace then easing passing the Craigallan Loch, then stand perfectly still to witness one of the wonders of nature, a majestic osprey, with such grace and seemingly effortlessness, glide to the water surface, catching a fish on its talon, flying off way into the early blue sky…and beyond.

Restarting with a fine stride, only slowed when crossing the A81, heading for Conic hill, reaching the top to witness the Loch Lomond, in all unbelievable splendour no picture can quite capture … without warning… disaster struck.[/size][size="3"]
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peter.howden
post 9th Apr 2018, 06:15am
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WEST HIGHLAND WAY, PART Four;


The Bill

Ben surely do not think he was a prancing peacock, or indeed vain in any manner, however his challenging behaviour was leaving him wide open to be a clucking duck. Salty was not of the age for going through man’s mind boggling gung-ho enigma, which was compelling Ben proving he still had what it takes…unfortunately no one knows what it does take… but certainly not multiple advancing years.

It was such a braw morning, with a grand view when Ben felt a tinge of pins and needles, then electric waves though my veins… every muscle exploding down his left leg, followed rapidly being almost totally immobilized, because the bloody pain was nearly past Ben’s threshold His natural limp adding to the now locked throbbing left leg, gave the illusion of a bandy cowhand, launched and dismounted by a demented horse…or cursed by old fashioned terrible rickets,

Salty suggested making their way to ‘Buchanan Arms hotel’ in Drymen, take a hot bath to see if it helps. The hotel was hosting a special ‘Murder Weekend’, with only room available, very costly. By this time, Ben was past caring however, however struggling upstairs to reach salvation’s doorway of this pricy refuge, took the decisive toll…Ben made the only decision left… to end the challenge. Salty took a shower, then departed on his single adventure…Ben being depleted, phoned his missus, pleading for her to drive to the hotel and collect this wreak of a soul.

Alone waiting, Ben thought a thought while thinking, but on reflection, may have been counterproductive. He calculated how a wee half would sooth the pain, so made his clumsy way, to the small but amply supplied snug bar. He met a French traveller enjoying the Scottish scene, began to converse in stuttering French small talk. Luckily his new companion could speak well in English as a few hours passed with both sharing refreshments

Ben’s wife arrived, anxious for his wellbeing, only to find him rather rosy, disappointing her motherly instincts…and it showed. She decided nourishment would help her husband to recuperate, but due to the surrounding stramash, caused by the ‘Murder Weekend’ activities, dinning in the security of the hotel was not an option. For a moment, ’Murder weekend’ was a tempting offer, she thought.

They slowly made their way to a small café, at the crossroads, ordered soup which quickly came. Unfortunately, both bowls were microwave unsupervised, as soon as Ben swallowed the first spoonful…it burnt his throat quite severely. they scuffled back to the hotel.

Now with a burnt gullet and a painful leg, Ben fell asleep with the help of the liquid medicine consumed earlier. Waking next morning tip-top, his wife grumbled she had little sleep due to the very loud Ceilidh activities causing vibrations in the room way after 3 A.M. When She mentioned to the reception the same, before going in for breakfast, he smugly asked, “did you request a quiet room?” Silly billy.

After enjoying a smashing breakfast, Ben entered the lobby to have a quiet word with manager, who now consented that the total bill for the night stay and morning breakfast for two…. would be pepper-corn £5.

The hotel is now under the umbrella of ‘Best Western’…. Amply named
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