That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I couldn’t sleep all night; a fog-horn was groaning incessantly on the Sound, and I tossed half-sick between grotesque reality and savage, frightening dreams.

So much for San Antonio.


¿cuándo volverás?; you ask

Thanks to people like me, the world’s a small place these days.
I suppose the only problem is when our circadian rhythm tries to catch up with the uh, the solarisation thing and the uh, apparent rotation of fretful vitamin D tins zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Whoah there Achilles, wake up!
I’m fine.
Couple of ales; I’ll be right as rain.
Texan women are really good looking. Absolument. There’s a limber healthiness to them.
Wouldn’t mind, I really wouldn’t.
I’m only saying. What am I; a monk? I’m only talking about a couple a drinks and a few laughs. Sheesh.
There is an e in the whiskey in whisky and soda in America, not that I give a damn. I stuck to American drinks like beer and wine and martinis and aviations and mint juleps and Tom Collinses. Here’s a thing, some Americans CAN drink, as in fish.
Back on Wednesday?
So it’s Wednesday then?
We’ll see.
Yeah we will.
I agree
Yeah, just see that you do
I agree! Back on Wednesday
That’s what you said.
All things being equal
Now what the fuck does that mean?
I’ll be back Wednesday
You better
I will
Yeah I know you will
I’m just sayin
Well don’t
Right I won’t

I’ve got lots to tell you and I took hundreds of snaps, really great ones too. They wouldn’t let me photograph the secret blade coating machine though. Americans are funny. What did they think? I was going to rush back and reverse engineer some complicated thermal process in the garden shed? I just thought it was neat, that’s all. Some people collect train numbers, I like to photograph strategic technology at the manufacturing stage. What’s the problem?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
It was something about money or maybe it was women.
When you first go to New York which is The Best Town In The World you spend the first couple of days waiting to be mugged then you remember that you’re from Glasgow so you relax and after that it’s brilliant. The Bronx is up and the Battery down. The best part is when real New Yorkers stop you in the street for directions. Three times already. There is no better feeling. I’ve been all over the world except Asia and South America and no-one, like ever, has mistaken me for a native but in Manhattan it has happened enough now to make me feel superior and smug. Oh and Greenland and Australia: not been there either although I’ve been to Iceland.
I mention all this because Dick and I may have to go to Dallas.
I’m technical so they will show us technical things and Dick who is not technical will say ‘wow, that spark erosion technique is really fascinating’, and I’ll be like, ‘yeah, cosmic. Say Tex, where d’ya get them denims? Do you own a gun? Can I see it? Can I shoot it? Is there a ranch nearby? Can we go? Can we? Can we? Can we buy genuine Wrangler jeans there? Can we? Can we ride horses?
I will probably not be mistaken for a Texan but you never know.
I think he’s already trying to back me out the deal. Cowboy!

Friday, May 04, 2007

And in a single bound, Jack was free.

Je adorer le weekend. At the weekend, we slough off our worries and get on down with the brew that is true.
Climate change and the smoking ban have transformed the town pub and its environs. There are aluminium tables and parasols, it’s great! A poor man’s Boulevard St Germaine - rive gauche in the rough. And the warmer it gets, the less clothes we all wear. It’s very liberating. Europe calls us “the shirtless ones”.
Stuffy uptight continentals.
Drinking beer in direct sunlight is hazardous but it feels so good. As the day wears on we may have double egg and chips and last weekend there was the evocative scent of Ambre Solaire just like the Costa Brava. Yeah! Classic. We are really motoring.
I know it may be gilding the lily, but I wonder if they couldn’t move the big screen to the window and put a speaker outside so we could hear the commentary. It’s just a thought. Maybe send someone out now and then to clear the tables and take an order.
I know I know, I want jam on it, me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


‘Have you noticed Achilles, whenever I seem to be getting close to the identity of Gerald the mole, how often the subject of my failed marriage comes up?’
Smiley had taken off his glasses and was polishing them absent-mindedly with the fat end of his tie.
‘George…’ I said uselessly.
‘Oh I don’t mind,’ he beamed through the big lenses, ‘I’m not going to buckle at the knees, on the contrary, it means we’re on the right track.’
‘Karla attempts to discredit your investigation,’ I agreed, ‘just like the Scottish Question.’
‘How so the Scottish Question?’ asked Smiley, studying the photo in the folder before him.
‘Well, whenever that subject is mentioned, some tame wrangler from the LSE is rolled out to tell us it will cost a fortune…’
‘So what if it did?’ interjected Toby Esterhase. ‘What price self determination?’ The dapper little Hungarian liked to affect the experience of a life lived under a foreign yoke.
‘Well I wonder sometimes if it isn’t some Establishment red herring.’ I said, turning to Smiley in supplication.
‘Well George?’ prompted Esterhase.
Smiley closed the file on Operation Testify before looking up.
‘Lacon and the minister say independence would cost the Scots 12 billion, or roughly the same as the London Olympics. Frankly, I don’t agree. I think the Olympics will cost more.’ he said impishly.
‘And if the Scots stay in the union, there are all those English subsidies to sweeten the pill?’ I asked.
‘Danegeld.’ said Smiley.
‘I don’t buy it.’ said Esterhase, tilting his little hand this way and that. ‘If the Scots are that expensive, why keep them? Why not turn off the tap and teach them a lesson? Why not…divorce them?’
Smiley either didn’t notice or more likely chose not to show that he had heard Esterhase’s Freudian slip.
‘Perhaps we should thank our lucky stars that England is still throwing bundles of twenties at us.’ I suggested facetiously, more than anything to lighten the mood in the room.
Esterhase was having none of it. He pointed an accusing finger at me, saying:
‘You are a beggar nation with your hand forever out to London. Face it, what have you ever done for us? You are like the banks, when it rains you take back the umbrellas. You cheered Costa Rica in the world cup which is a total failure of the Tebbit Test. Total! So we stole a few horses together, good times but that was then. Now you hate us yet we keep working our fingers to the bones and give you all the money. Why? Why would we do that?’
‘For auld lang syne!’ I shouted, unable to hide my shameful Scottish tears.
‘Achilles,’ called Smiley softly, ‘Achilles, come down. Finish your sherry and calm down.’ He took up the Testify file, ‘We were talking about Kirov, Alexei Alexandrovitch…’