Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Let’s get physical (physical)…

Okay, so Alien Wally and Mags are thankfully not clad in the lurid spandex popularized by Olivia Newton-John and which Madonna keeps trying to bring back (No, Madge, no – some of us were actually happy when the fashion of the 70s and 80s experienced a not-so-tragic demise…). The two are, however, now card-carrying and tasteful-natural-fibre-wearing members of the gym across the road from their block of flats.

How on earth did this flurry of physical activity begin? And more, importantly, does this mean the end of the Pringles?

Last question first: No, absolutely not – Pringles are good.

First question last: Well, now, this is an interesting one. Mags is convinced that the universe heard her comment to Alien Wally about how they should be doing more exercise – and actually took her seriously. Because, lo and behold, a few days later, what should arrive in the post but a letter from the gym offering Alien Wally and Mags free monthly passes. Mags could almost hear the universe chuckling… you wanted exercise, well here it is – it’s right across the road and it’s even free! It’s an offer that you simply can’t refuse.

Ah, Mags jokes, but she and Alien Wally are actually very happy. Their first few sessions at the gym have been wonderful, even if their under-used muscles now scream as they try to lift the suddenly heavy Pringles to their mouths….

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Please be patient, we have a technical problem. Nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong…

For a while, Alien Wally and Mags shared a phone line with Darth Vader. His heavy breathing in the background made it nigh impossible to have a proper conversation with anyone. Vader may have a cool helmet, but he had to go.

Since Luke Skywalker wasn’t available, Alien Wally and Mags turned to BT for help. First thing on a Monday morning, an enthusiastic engineer turned up, fiddled, fiddled some more, fiddled like Nero did while Rome was burning, but for all his efforts, he was stumped. Kind of like Vader before he got his new bionic arms and legs.

Then, first thing on Tuesday morning, the phone made a funny little noise and died. As in dead. As in an ex phone. Nothing. Nada. Which meant that The Internet died as well. And, with minimal mobile phone signal in the flat (apart from the one corner of the kitchen where you have to stand perfectly still with your arm stuck out at an angle to act as an aerial), Alien Wally and Mags were essentially cut off from the world at large. When Alien Wally got to work and logged into BT’s fault site to see what had happened, he saw BT’s incredible response: “We have fixed your fault, but were unable to contact you.” Um, yes, indeed, BT – you fixed the noise on the line by disconnecting the phone. It is true that we have no noise, but that is because we have nothing at all. And since the phone line was dead, you could not contact us. Did this not give you a clue that something was wrong?

Apparently not. And so the week progressed, with a different engineer each day, undoing the work of the previous day’s engineer and trying something different. Not one of them knew how to reconnect the line, until Sunday’s engineer managed to restore it. But, Vader was back. He had once again risen from near death. And once again, BT proudly claimed to have fixed the fault. Um, yes, indeed again, BT – you fixed the problem of the disconnected line. Congratulations, you managed to fix what you broke. But we can’t hear your customer service rep when he phones to tell us this, because there is still noise on the line. And, yes, we would like you to reopen the fault report, please. Because, no, we aren’t prepared to accept this.

And so the next week progressed. Meeting more BT engineers, all again with no clue what to do. Jedi they were not. Until yesterday’s engineer, who remained faceless and nameless, doing what he needed to do in the exchange. A distant descendent of Luke Skywalker’s perhaps, vanquishing the last vestiges of Vader? Will he, like the other great cinema baddie, be back? Time will tell.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

287 steps

The Scott Monument. What is there to say about it? Tall, gothic, tall, intricately carved out of sandstone from West Lothian, tall, completed in 1844, tall, cost about £16 000 to build and a few million more to restore, and… oh, yes, it’s tall… 61.1m tall, to be exact. No lift, just 287 steps right to the top… 287 steps up a tiny narrow spiral staircase to a tiny narrow platform, from which it’s a long way down. It’s what you would call a dizzy height. At least, that’s what Mags would call it. Alien Wally was fine, dancing all round the parapets to bring you the amazing pictures below, but Mags, she was not so fine, clinging to the walls in case a gust of wind blew her over the edge through the very large gaps in the railings. As you may have gathered, Mags is afraid of heights. She’s fine if there’s a rope attached to her – then she’s been known to climb up mountains and fling herself off bridges. But without a rope, she’s incapable of getting past the third rung of a step-ladder before she turns into a quivering shadow of her former self and Alien Wally has to come and rescue her. Mags has a lot of faith in ropes. She knows deep down that they’re not infallible, but she likes to cling to her illusions when she’s dangling out in space.

That said, Mags did manage to make it to the edge to look at the spectacular bird’s eye view of Edinburgh. And here, courtesy of Alien Wally, is what she saw…

No, starfish man lying on the grass wasn't a jumper. This is what people do in Princes Street Gardens on a hot summer's day....

Lifting one's gaze from starfish man produces this vista looking west along Princes Street. The castle is up on the left brooding over the city, and the classical buildings in the foreground are the National Gallery.

From the other side of the platform, looking east, one can see the Balmoral Hotel in the foreground, with Calton Hill's unfinished parthenon and the Firth of Forth behind it. Holyrood Park and the hills leading to Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat are on the right.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

And then he voted.

The government of the United Kingdom has placed the fate of this great and venerable nation in the hands of one Alien Wally. He is currently looking to elect a party that will ensure cheap CDs and DVDs, no tax on whisky, and world peace. He's not asking for much, but so far he hasn't had much luck. The politicians here are all bickering over trams. One track minds....

Sunday, 8 July 2007


The weekend before last weekend (sometime round about the full moon, and just after midsummer), Alien Wally and Mags tried to visit the MacNoodle, only to have their path blocked by some folks marching for something. Or against something. It wasn’t clear what it was, really. There were balloons, and there were flags, but it was all rather boring. Where was the toyi-toying? The looting? The cultural weapons? As the buses ground to a halt, Mags entertained herself with thoughts of poppity-pop-pop-popping balloons to get revenge for keeping her away from the fluffy one….

So the next weekend, which was last weekend (before this one, round about half-moon, and a bit further away from midsummer), when Alien Wally and Mags found out that the opening of Holyrood was scheduled for the same time as their visit to the MacNoodle, they decided to abandon ship (er, bus) rather than get caught in all the mayhem. Mags was showing signs of wanting to poppity-pop-pop-pop the politicians’ inflated egos, and so the two got themselves the heck out of the city and went to visit the land of Braveheart instead.

Since Alien Wally and Mags were rather tired of buses, they decided to take the train to Stirling. A lovely smooth ride it was, with beautiful comfy cloth seats, plenty of leg room and a table to lean on. A fairly quick ride too, as 45 minutes later, the travelers arrived at Stirling station.

The main aim of the day was to visit Stirling castle, said to rival Edinburgh’s own. Alien Wally and Mags decided on a circuitous path to the castle, in order to take in some other landmarks of interest. First up was the Beheading Stone.

Located at the top of a hill, guarded by many beasties with Nasty Pointy Teeth (they may look like innocent bunnies, but ye be fooled by their cuteness at your own peril), the Beheading Stone is a bit grim. At first glance it looks just like a big ol’ stone. Then you look closer and you see a few axe marks, and you notice the groove used to channel the blood away, and then you realise that you’re alone on a hill and the wind is blowing all eerie-like, and then you run down the hill as fast as you can, and you pretend that nothing was the matter when you reach the bottom. Haha, how silly, haha! Let’s just go to the bridge now, shall we?

And so Alien Wally and Mags proceeded to the bridge, site of the first major defeat of the English by William Wallace and co – The Battle of Stirling Bridge!

And then it was on to the castle, via a lovely wooded walk over the hill, via a very cuddly grey kitty cat, and via the very pretty Top ‘O The Town Cemetery. The castle itself is beautiful in its magnificence and magnificent in its beauty.

The castle is extensive, so to get their bearings, Alien Wally and Mags took a tour before exploring the castle’s many nooks and crannies themselves… the Great Hall, the palace, the chapel, the kitchens, the gardens, the war museum, the dungeons, the coffee shop….

It has been said that whoever controlled Stirling controlled Scotland, so before leaving, Mags tried to proclaim herself Queen of the castle. However, since her feet didn’t even reach the ground when she sat on the throne, her attempt at world domination was thwarted before it even began. Oh well… it wouldn’t have worked anyway – Mags knows that the MacNoodle really rules the roost!

Friday, 6 July 2007

Like Fox in Sox, only way cooler.


Socks in shoes.
Pants in socks.

Pants in socks on bike on shox.
Shox on bike with socks on pants.
Bike with sox and pants and shox.

Cleats with shoes come.
Cleats with pedals come.
Cleats with shoes and pedals and bike come.

Look, sir. Look, sir. Alien Wally, sir.
Let’s do tricks with pants and socks, sir.
Let’s do tricks with bikes and shox, sir.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The (almost) final countdown

At the start of March, six months stretched out in front of the MacNoodle like... (hmmm, pause while Mags tries to think of a suitable simile)... like a... well, like a cat oozing its way off its owner's lap in an attempt to get ever closer to the heater.

But yesterday was a double celebration here, as the MacNoodle has completed two-thirds of her time in captivity. Four months down and two to go! Madam celebrated by throwing a party in her cage, tearing up the newspaper as she pounced on that darned piece of string that just always seems to evade capture. A while into the party, noisy gatecrashers pitched up - two cats being transferred from one section of the cattery to the other. But the MacNoodle doesn't take any nonsense and she quickly dealt with them. Unfortunately, given the small matter of some wire and space between herself and the gatecrashers, Madam's solution involved hissing and swatting Mags repeatedly. Oh well, what's a few more lacerations between friends, right? Like all good parties, the host passed out at the end, drooling contentedly on Mags' lap until visiting time was up.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Happy Birthday Alien Wally!

Aye, Alien Wally is a youthful 31 today!

In keeping with the tone of this blog, Mags could make jokes about ageing. She could, but she's not going to. Because she loves Alien Wally very much and she thinks that, in addition to being the most wonderfullest man in the world, he is, quite simply, a very sexy braw lad.

Happy Birthday!