last updated December 22, 2014


It's incredible, but culturally important, that there still exist shops like Tam Shepherds in the centre of town. It's mis-placed sense of being from another era is only briefly brought into the Amercianised 21st century with the inclusion of a card payment system. An eighties carbon shuttle would have been perfect. And if I'd given them an 'Access' credit card.

The woman who runs the shop is balanced. She has a kind smile but quieter and more business like than you'd expect from someone who owns a trick shop. She plays her own music - an un-placeable 70's band. Despite it being less than a week to Christmas, there is little hint of festive cheer. It's refreshing. A dip into independent retail which has almost vanished from the city centre.

The layout of the shop is how it has always been - long cabinets with an oak frame and glass top and front to see the dirty soap, fake poo, whoopee cushions, blood capsules. There is low-level grey-patterened gingham formica which goes largely unseen amidst the colourful masks and tricks sitting below fluorescent tube lighting. Just as the owner is in a middle aged cardigan, unremarkable hair and a indistinctive dark blouse. She's well aware that you cannot compete with the madness they have on sale.

Posted by stupot at 10:44 AM Monday 22 Dec

The Lone Piper

The sound of the enemy can be heard in the distance, muffled but unmistakable, breaking rest. Explosions and shouts. The sound becomes clearer and closer. Hand to hand combat ensues. Screams are let out, eyes full. The smell of fear. Wrestling on the ground: uniforms torn and messy. The struggle continues. The shouting lessens. Quiet eventually has the upper hand. Upright again. The opposition sedated and weary.
The lone piper paces, focussed and steady, considerate and measured with his breathing. The battle is won for now, the victory rewarded by sleep.

Posted by stupot at 06:57 PM Sunday 14 Dec

A Decade of Social habits

Mr Third started this blog for me ten years ago. In December 2004, being social on the internet was quite a scary thing. Going into the foyer of 'Habbo Hotel' (think you directed me there too, Chris) and entering into a conversation with a stranger was enough to make me close the computer down, shut the curtains and rock myself to sleep in a dark room. Psychotic people with anger management problems would populate online forums. Then facebook emerged as the home of the lazy narcissist, the ready meal of the internet: fleeting and insubstantial, complete with layers of plastic packaging destined for the landfill. And twitter - a kind of poverty Haiku for the masses.

A more closed tool (latterly without a comment function), the blog has been a useful platform to decant head-stuff, the writing helping to untangle the brain muddle. You dissect. You put away in a box in a slightly neater bundle than you started with. For someone with a bad memory it has become a more concise catalogue of places, rides, holidays, tastes, experiences, as well as a handy reference tool to point others to. It's certainly an enjoyable pastime and encourages a commitment to writing - a subject I've always struggled with since school. Just as my sketches are a fun way of documenting life in a visual way, the words add a bit more depth. There's less preciousness when you write online - you can tweak, alter, change, refine - I can't help thinking a piece of paper charting those edits would be a far more interesting document to look at though.

Posted by stupot at 06:17 PM Saturday 6 Dec

Wee Stoater

We went to an industrial estate in Livingston the other day: it's unglamorous but there are some proper cool businesses knocking about. Click Netherfield supply museum cases (OK - cool in my book) to institutions all around the world, Endura supply kit to cycling's Spanish Movistar team. We were dropping in on the small team at Shand Cycles with a view to finding out how they work and maybe buying a local, solid, lovingly built bike. Steven shows us the process with a cheery welcome - the welding happens not far from CAD, the CAD guy is at a bench not far from the admin and the admin is spitting distance from the spray booth. It's a tight wee operation - Chris Hoy just had a track bike from there I notice from rummaging through their flickr account. It's tailored stuff. The all-round 'Stoater' has many components that are new and fascinating to me - Rohloff concealed hub gears, carbon drive chain, a split frame (for goodness sake), disc brakes, plenty of lugs. Not light but in line with how I ride. Bike weight keeps you fit. Might be a long term addition to the family, post-crash trauma.

Posted by stupot at 05:50 PM Saturday 6 Dec