•≈ Oops
Friday, 28 December 2007
The toolbox takes a knock

Well that's when you know your using it aye, when stone meets kevlar & gel coat. Oddly enough, after scrabbling around amongst the stones for an hour, I found the tiny black fragment & was able to epoxy it back in later. This is life & if you live in the currents & challenge the elements, you will develop the odd scar here & there, the odd abrasion & bruise. One day this new addition to the kayak family will resemble its brethren, each in turn, vying to resemble my own physical appearance in totality. Best viewed with a half squint at distance.
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 18:40:00 | 0 Retorts
•≈ Stone Wave
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Hebridean geology is wrought with bends in the earths skin - torn through like fractured bone open to the air. The longevity of shift, the subsonic murmur of tectonic plates, time & erosion. I feared once, that if I had put my hand upon it, I would have felt the heartbeaten scream of the very leviathan that carries us.

These curves make a great volcanic seat for about 15 or 20 people in a storm, & often becomes the spectator area when kayakers, surfers & kite surfers gather to fling their skills against giant Atlantic swell. Even if I'm not there with the qajaq, teaching rolls & wave combat, it's a great walk to the stone wave with the collie, made better in storm surges & high winds somehow; & throughout winter, the seat is empty, save for a lone figure with a woolly hat & a spinning dug chasing empty plastic bottles through a gale...
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 19:18:00 | 0 Retorts
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Hebrides, Faeroe, Bailey: Northerly violent storm force 11, backing southwest, gale 8 later.. Seas high or very high decreasing, very rough, occasionally severe gale 10...becoming psychotic...

I think I'll sit this one out. Well I wouldn't want to loose my hat aye... The seas around Rubha Robhanais, aka the Butt of Lewis, & the drum are shown above. The only way to get these shots was to lay down at the very edge of the abyss, under the lighthouse with it's pulsed light scanning in set clicks out toward the growing dark, 100ft plumes of spray screaming into the atmosphere, white lava streaking black volcanic incisors, the communication rig wires droning in the midst of an endless onslaught. Just inland, the active kayak is held down by 4 large gneissian boulders & 2 ballistic straps. The chimneys are rattling & the collie has gone into hiding. Squalls like these go some way in justifying why I have a woolly sock collection of gargantuan proportions, a bomb proof jacket & boots, & more often than not, a pot of hot coffee chattering to itself on the stove.

posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 19:42:00 | 2 Retorts
Monday, 17 December 2007
Every blog needs a whezzit moment. This will be instantly recognizable to some of you, but whezzit? Obviously I know exactly wezzitiz & once spent a night bivvied up on it with an unnerving swell growling at my feet. It's a good paddle out for a whiz round the whezzit with hoozzit & whatsit. That's not cloud formation in the far distance, but a range of mountains. I'm sure I can get old Donald to donate one of his ancient wellies & a healthy pinch of chewing tobaccie as a prize to the one who guesses right...
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 20:11:00 | 0 Retorts
Friday, 14 December 2007

Metamorphic shipping chain - Reminders of Portrees history as Europes busiest 19th© Herring port, are just below the black basalt sand & pelagic weed - The blood of an islands survival dilutes these waters...It may sound like a bit of a generalization, but I can't help believing that some people arrive & they take photos of some pink house, a seagull, eat a bag of chips & fall back on the coach, herded, labotomized, seeing nothing on a macro scale, & they say, that was a good day, as I bury a cigarette butt, one of them idly flicked over a century of history...
I'll put on inadvertant rolling shows for the tourists in summer, tow some local waifs out to the lifeboat & back, & I'm often heckled from the shore, & roll to cries from kids wrapped around the harbour railings like so many Stretch Armstrongs. Watchout, it's the SBS! Or if I'm close enough in: Hey mister, can I clap yer dug? The collie does well on chips & sausages down there. Or as one wee Norwegian girl asked, pulling on the corner of my tuiliq after I slid onto the sands:
Are you a bad Eskimo?
Had I of been mentally on-guard for such a line of questioning, my retort may well have been: 'Fraid not, but I do know where Evil Santa lives.

Ancient harbour rings, clattering trawlers, & ropes & marker bouys & mistral gannets, nets & weeds & clouds & things that move in rings, like light...I'll be down there...resting days before the next kayaking expedition across the Minch, visualizing the next rolling scenarios, rigging the prawner with Fraser. Gaff-cutter-rigged that one is...gaff-cutter-rigged; & I've got one eye on the Cuillin one eye on the straits up along Rona - one hand on the winch. Hot village coffee in chipped enamel mugs, sore shoulders, a grinding knee, kids turning shells & shrieks on the mud slithering tide, shadowed by dark dank & dripping green joists. They move along the shore ahead of the shadow, almost subconsciously...not much changes in generations of play. Packing trays, hose pipes & boning knives. Extended sessions of street blether, leaves drafted along guttered yellow lines, free mackerel, lost change in drains & the pie shop ovens on the breeze. There is a feeling of snow in the air...the kayak is being licked by a creeping tide...I'll have a roll in at 3pm...a cows knee from old Doni Matheson for they dug & using his cleaver as an expression of full-stop, he extends to me in Gaelic, the whole historical village heyday, & his youth in hard shoes, & I'm hurried along inside great vivacious swirls of laughing ghosts...of herring port clammer, salmon fishery finery & bustle, swept into my grandfathers days, when women had beards & men kept worms on Iniseer...Sump oil for the soul boy. Sump oil for the soul.

With the Strait of Shadows beyond the hunter mast - you roll with an eye on the open water beyond & if you're balanced & fast on your feet, you can run a jump reverse somersault clean off the highest yard-arm into the winter sea, clear over double-rafted trawlers below. It's an HSD - Health & Safety Dismount aye....well ok it's no a HSD but it's hell-of-a quicker, just don't take thee paint pot & spanners as well, cuase they clatter a bit on touchdown.
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 16:16:00 | 0 Retorts
Monday, 10 December 2007
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 04:58:00 | 0 Retorts
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
'S iad sin mo Eachraidh Allaidh

Inside this clay jug are canyons & pine mountains, & the makers of canyons & pine mountains...All the seven oceans are inside, & hundreds of millions of stars. The acid that tests gold is there & the one who judges jewels, & the music from the strings that no one touches, & the source of all water. If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth; Friend, listen: The god whom I love - is inside.

Kabir [1398-1518]

[Act I]

Sitting amongst the storms, Jackie Leven on repeat, his smokey tones drifting into the emptiness & the joyless box I loosely excuse as home... Faerie Tales For Hard Men, Peace Comes Dropping Slow, the beautiful & extraordinary Ian Rankin tapes, a glass of rum, a jar of pain, numb hands all warmed, the black knife held to the ground with straps & boulders, out in the dark somewhere. I don't know why I don't put the heating on here, why the window is adrift amongst a parade of cold stars...why I wait for one voice to call out below. Should I burn the fiddlers who would unmask strength & strip away the paint on her face? Should I sweep up the machair & tear down this oil painted sky canvas. Chase these vast sweeps of rain to the cliff edge., swinging at them like a madman wi a hurley stick...it's a stupid gesture anyway. A cartoon going up against a classic. Bart going up against Marlene Dietrich. Cyrano de Begerac vs a Dundonian sashay... Tell me I'm an idiot child of the Gael, dreaming of horses on the range... & send through your Parthian Shot. Wee me, father to a murderd aubergine, shagger of the neighbours cat, & I will have my wheelie-bin back...in this life or the next. It was an island rant, & the award for daftest Gladiator impersonation, fell to myself, & as my accolade landed in my lap, as we unrolled the Skeabost track back, a black carpet tracked, by Don's hellish clattering taxi through darklight & rain, Archie snoring on the left, as the rest of us locked into a desperate round of elbow boxing - I thought I'd stumbled across enlightenment - then promptly lost it. The lights on the dial drifted us into the village...
I dinnea ken how Don drives so fast...we're gonnea die man...
No, you're looking onto they rev counter there Alec, we're barely tagging 30.
Aye, we'd be better off in a Coop trolley...
Boys, would ye like to run behind they trolley & check the brake lights are workin'?
No Don, sorry Don...
And the helter-skelter ends with a low drone & the shuffling of dross, hand to hand, & like a jettisoned child subject to the prolonged sufference of secret indoor violence, I find myself alone...reluctant to enter my own front door & embrace the void. And it's coming round Christmas again, & it's just another Monday, or what ever day it falls on, & I'll probably have a can o' they beans wi sausages in that day...Executive, & my teeth are going wrong, & my soul has no longer all the strength of stone, more the holding knit of Lego, & within this freedom with all it's arms flung open, I have become little more than a prisoner. And some fucker in telecommunications will press the sofa advert avalanche button in a few days, -thats no a SAAB boy- initiating a 4 week avalanche of perfect people flinging themselves through patio windows, in an attempt to relate how good the sofa truly is... but hey, in 2 weeks & a few more days, all the tinsel will smell of pish & international debt & kings & queens will still sleep on the streets... & I'll still be sitting on the floor, scared of laying things out. I mumble to myself that, Stars are constant, that they don't run & shift in the weather... & I swing my eyes toward Pleiades, Maia Oureias, up through breaking cloud, & it feels like I'm falling through my own body, through another cold exit wound, & an old African wisdom steps through my mind, its hand on my shoulder... & I think of my pals that have laid down forever in the dust kicked up by war, & the leopard that shared my bed as an adolescent, back on the Côte d'Ivoire ...

Do not, seek to much fame.
Or do not, seek obscurity - be proud.
But do not, remind the world of your days.
Excell, when you must.
But do not, excell the world.
Many heroes are not yet born.
Many have already died.
To be alive, to hear these words - is a victory.

I remember the smell of that mans arm on my head, testosterone fuelled black magnificent skin, sweat & wisdom, & while standing there on the wet tarmac, musing at how magnificently romanticized the orange glow seems to make drain water appear, I know I'd swap a million of these pointless nights of laden trash, for just one with a girl hiding from her own scars, & becuase I don't see her life as a rehersal, or as a cheap 5 minute comedy sketch, it's a punishment by proxy of sorts, a karma wrought from distant past events that suffocates forwardness in the present, & then I realize, we should be pushing forward, getting stronger, not scattering like supernovae, her, us, this race, but my grace, & usefulness leans pelagic or high into the stone ariel boundaries. Beyond here, I know I'm surplus & bypassed, shelved & overwritten by the glamorous & the glitterballed & the ordinary alike. And then I realize, there are no photos of me as a child, anywhere, & nobody searching for any. That the label on the vacuum packed fish in the fridge still reads Use by 01/07, & there is dust in the bath & on the tops of these decayed candles...& these walls are become the skin of a drum, that no longer resonates with or remembers the frequencies of laughter. That this roof is loveless & serves only to keep the rain off a few toys that carry no great purpose or meaning anymore, & the compass by which the soul navigates, is defaced. And the decades pace up & down & leave without glancing back, & people out there are killing eachother & decieving eachother & I want to split the world with a sword. Is this why I've taken to sleeping the day & walking with they dug, my unwavering escort, down through qiuet streets, along the loch & onto the summits at 2 or 3am?...Is this why I'm prone to sit qiuetly with the stags in the hills through such seasons? Is this it? Banjaxed & marginal in the eyes of the race like some lone radio operator in Antarctic storms, calling for contact, & only coming through in waves.
And she says, How I wish I could fly, where none can see me, behind the ray of light. I'm giving you to the rain little one, in whispers.
But we should be discussing how big the fireplace will be right now, where the cement mixer is gonnea live...trawling junk shops for an old piano, a sofa good at refereeing cushion fights, ultimate bling, & a Pogues cd...
And a scythe moon cuts & the doors on the snip & I turn the handle...
I also, while fighting my boot laces, in a who the fuck tied this moment, make an oath, never to try Aretha Franklin's - I Say A Little Prayer in public, ever again. -less cheek darlin', it's no as bad as Michael Ball & Skittles- But unlike many, I hope my victims have recovered, that there is no lasting damage, & slither down the wall in an unavoidable resignation, of the fact that I would have been better placed on the speeding, reeling & blurred Glasgow armco intersection with a bottle of buckie given that performance...overall.
Stings deed I'm tellin ya!... & I only work on philosphy darlin'. - Jackie always makes me laugh.
Aye Jackie, you do. But no from the belly, like her...

[Act II]

Upside I guess, I have 2 new students of rolling coming on board for the new year, who are seperate from this existance. Students to whom of course, I will only impart joy & positivity. I have been explaining the dance to them, some simple workable theory based in Aikido principles, wherein you do not defeat a situation head on, but use it's own momentum to pass through it. We will start with some unique rolling exercises, best performed on a lawn with no kayak. I've never seen anyone else use this as an instructional device to the degree, & in the style that I do - they should. You'd have to turn up to see what I mean. In the realms of Aikido, the purpose of training in a dojo is for discovery & for growth, not for performance of what you already know. It's the same when you start rolling kayaks Greenlandic style. It's the same with a group on a dojo of grass. My 2 new students are already comfortable saying they don't know & in that acceptance, they are set for a great learning experience. There is a natural process involved in learning & growing, whether you're an Aikidoka or kayaker learning technical combat rolls - there should be no straight punches, but systems of defence that curl around an external assualt. We will begin by undoing these crass braces that come from what I see as a backward SCU/BCU format, the uneccessary almost thuggish, yet profoundly weak Euro rhetoric, by practicing small parts of techniques & principles, then putting some of the parts together & try to make them work smoothly as a whole movement, from the centre outward, fluid & strong without muscling a single roll. We usd to call them paddle thrashers on account of them looking like a bag of fighting cats clawing their way upright. The paddle in truth, is the last thing you need to use in rolling effectively, with grace & power. It does give your hands something to do while you go through sets though...So, often the parts work well but fall apart when the whole technique is attempted. Gradually, their understanding of the parts & of the whole will merge. Such a focus does not only improve the roll, but questions the style of the individuals paddling & asks them to conform to or expand his/her personal ability. Also, & in the passing of time, I have learned that I am a far more competent roller of said kayaks than I am practioner of said Aikido, but the teaching device & ethic carries with me into today. We will have fun.

Aside, I'll probably generate a few laughs trying an idea I have for performing an out of the water, mid-air Storm Roll. Does it sound as though I'm conceptualizing? I'm confident it's possible to perform multiple controlled & clean 360° twist mid-air exits off the back of roller sets. When I nail that. I'll try it with the paddle held under the kayak. Mid-air Qaanap Ataatigut Ipilaarlugu then. Qaannap from qajaq, kayak - Ataa meaning its underside - Qaannap Ataatigut meaning to push up against & under the kayak -Ipilaarlugu meaning to turn or rotating the whole thing as one entity - paddle reseting the roll balance, not the person. When you perform such rolls, the mechanics of the roll should not be at the front of your mind, you should not be putting mecano together, taking notes upside down, more, you should capsize & just find yourself upright again, effortlessly, fluidly, as if all the parts of the engine are working in unison with a subconscious ease...Well we all know the car doesn't start some mornings...that's why I'm here. Big swell becomes not a threat - more a playground. In technical climbing, you only need to climb HVS to be able to climb all over the world, in kayaking, you only need a few bombproof survival techniques for the oceans to open up. The ability of the kayaker to self-right is the climbers ability to tackle a crux sequence. Within reason, anything is rollable with confidence, open canadians & SoTs included. When I try to empower someone with the ability to roll, I also attempt to help them lose the them & us, the it against me attitude they so often carry to the shoreline. They so often stand there seeing the ocean as being a confrontational entity, something to be beaten into submission, rather than part of the joy, part of the toolbox. Kabir attempts to tell us that all the faith we need, is inside ourselves, that we have no seperation from our enviroment, that behind the mystic there is physical structure, that does not always need acute analysis, that the most complex answers are held within simplicity, that there are no foes, save for the ones that we conjure.

Use the fork Luke.
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 23:51:00 | 2 Retorts