The Clock Cafe in Dalry, Edinburgh, is just my kind of place, and this is the view from my favourite seat, down at the bottom of the glorious metal staircase and looking at the sign that reminds me, "Please mind your head." I need to be reminded of that, often. The food at The Clock is great value and good. The staff are from all over the place (the "place" being the world) and nice. The customers are just a mix of normal people. Everything is unpretentious and calm. I bought lunch and lubrication for three today for the price of a single dish at many not even all that pricey restaurants, and without having to endure the awful fake friendliness and somewhat condescending treatment I find at many restaurants. There are a few small things about The Clock that I could criticise if I had to, but I won't, because I like The Clock; and there are probably a few small things people could legitimately criticise about myself (perhaps). Imperfections can remind us of how close to perfect some things are.
Apparently, according to many people, I shouldn't like this place, but I do. Apparently they try to reduce their tax bills, but legally, but apparently that is their fault rather than the fault of the people who make the tax rules that allow such strategies to be legal. I try to minimise my tax bill too, legally. Am I a bad man? Should people not visit me? And apparently, according to many people, I shouldn't come here because "their coffee is crap". But I like their coffee. Maybe I am crap? I am made to feel a lesser person than many people are because I like to drink coffee in Starbucks rather than in a private local coffee shop with small portions, hard seats and, eh... crap coffee. And I like the staff here, all lovely local people who call me Andrew and never ever try to persuade me to buy a muffin, any more, because I have told them often enough that had I wanted a bleedin' muffin I would have asked for one because I am a big boy now... But anyway, putting that minor kerfuffle in the past where it belongs, I like this place. And I try to do what I like, where possible.
And I like the coffee in McDonalds too.
And I like the coffee in McDonalds too.
The bowed head of my lady as she telephones our daughter to tell her that the pale green orb that I always seem able to beckon to arrive out of a diaphanous sun has returned, and is monitoring us from a distance again, obviously. I know exactly what it is, and why it is there, and what it is doing, but I dare not tell.
First day back at the island to play golf, first sighting of blossom on a tree, first crocus noticed in bloom. Tired but victorious over age, and even over my young opponent, today. Time for a hot bath and a quiet reflection that there may still be some life left in this old dog after all.
This is my good leg. I have one leg that is not entirely performing as it should do any more, at least for now, with nerve signals going awry somewhere between the intention centre of the brain and the action centres in the leg, due to unwanted intervention low down in the spine, perhaps, leaving one leg somewhat numb, and erratic, and bad. But this here is my good leg, nice leg, and the one I hope remains if I ever need to get one of them lopped off. But bad leg might get better, if I am good to it. I am taking it out to the golf course in a few hours for the first time since October, or rather it is taking me, I hope, to let me teach it to be good again, perhaps, or to feel it crumble beneath me, again, perhaps. Bad leg be good, be good. Bad leg be good like good leg.
We gather around the tables, avoid eye contact, but examine one another furtively, thinking private thoughts, as we imbibe, and eat, and quietly, politely, anonymously, depart... in a mild and civilised manner; but of course we could all kill if we had to.
Having been through somewhat of a regeneration recently I offered a profile piece about my science writing career to the journal Science and they published it last week, as can be read by clicking here. The editor asked for a recent photo of myself to give their cartoonist an idea of what I look like, and apparently I look like this:
I like it, and for such a prestigious journal as Science to suggest that the light may flow up from my page rather than down onto it is extremely kind. And yes I do often use pen and paper initially, and I have often been told that I have a big head. My science writing is done under my given name, as Andrew Scott (click here), and now, regenerated, I move on, as both of me.
A broken car leads me onto the lunchtime bus in among a few free bus-pass chums with all their subdued chatter about hip replacements, heart bypass operations and fittings for new teeth. Oh and a pretty young girl sitting in her social media bubble of selfies and LOLs and FFSs... I can see over her shoulder… while what is apparently called music streams up the wires leading into her ears. The sheep in the field by the bridge run away startled as we bump past, and I don’t blame them.
Earlier than expected, normality returns, or the new normality at least, and as the river still runs, and the winds still blow, and the clouds slip by, up and high, with everything changed, and everything the same, it is my move, my turn, my throw, my go, in this strange and pointless, insignificant, but vital, game, again.