Friday, 17 April 2009

A trip and a wee hauf...

It's all Rob Allanson's fault. He's the editor of Whisky Magazine, rides a motorbike and...well, I'll let him tell the tale.

"In June myself and BBC Scotland presenter, whisky writer and
motorbike nut Tom Morton (let's not forget he travelled to every
distillery in Scotland using an ancient sidecar outfit) are heading
out on a bit of a epic long distance whisky trip ­ entitled Journey¹s
Blend. To help out and document the trip a photographer and mechanic will complete the two wheeled entourage.
The idea will be to travel the compass points visiting the more
extreme distilleries and selecting whisky that will be shipped to the
hub of the circle to create a blended malt.

So starting at Highland Park, we head to Kilchoman, then Bladnoch and
Glen Garioch before finishing at Glenturret ­ taking about five days to do it.
At Glenturret, Edrington's master blender and whisky creator supreme
John Ramsay has agreed to pull the blend together. The result, just 50
bottles in all, which will be presented in a bespoke engraved
Glencairn Crystal bottle, will be unveiled at Whisky Live Glasgow, and
some of the proceeds will go to the Parkinson¹s Disease Society in honour of Michael Jackson."

(Tom points out, helpfully, to non-whisky connoisseurs, that this Michael Jackson is NOT the allegedly-still-living-singer, but the late and legendary whisky and beer writer.)

"Also to lend the project an air of sophistication, British bike
manufacturer Triumph has agreed to lend a couple of modern classics. I
have to say I cannot wait to ride a Bonneville. It¹s a bike I have
always wanted to ride, the essence of British motorbiking and
engineering. With its wonderful burbling exhaust note, I know it will
be hard to part with it after so many miles. Mind you the trip is also
a dream come true. ­ It's all about the bikes and whisky, both taken very responsibly, obviously."

Monday, 13 April 2009

Co-op Fairtrade Carmenere and back on the Pravastatin

...discovered, I insist, long before Victoria Moore lauded it in The Guardian. Best £4.99 buy in Brae, that's for sure.

Doesn't mix with Simvastatin, though. That's a nasty little way of lowering cholestorol! But it's ultra cheap, so expect your GP to at least get you to try it...

Crosses the blood-brain barrier, though, so it can unleash all kinds of side effects. Notably, in my case, with even a glass of wine, raging dizziness and pains in the legs.

Pravastatin, which I've been on for years, seems to be OK.

Oh, and did I mention that the 30-day teetotalism went well? Aff it for the week, again - stuff to do.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Day 31: they think it's all over...and it sort of is.

So, 30 days and 30 nights...I look slightly thinner ( a few pounds, nothing serious) slightly less puffy around the eyes. I've eaten more, drunk more tea (though less coffee) fitted an exhaust system to the Suzuki, done a little more walking and no running to speak of, written several songs, bought two guitars, sold one, bought a canoe, written several poems and knocked together the live show called 'Tom Morton's Drinking for Scotland', which has been booked for the Co-op Verb Garden at the Belladrum Festival. Oh, and set up a company to do specialised PR, designed business cards and flyers, had them printed and built a basic website. Plus a radio show, of course.

Would most of that would have happened had I been drinking? Not in 30 days...

Thing is, I'm going to have to do this again later in the year for real...sorry, for radio...och, anyway. I'll have a wee glass of wine tonight (Chilean Merlot) and see how I feel.

Meanwhile, here's a poem from Drinking for Scotland:Live -

The Nominated Driver

(A shorter version was written for Shetland Library's 'Bards in the Bogs' scheme, but the site specific nature of the poem probably told against it: it can only be displayed at the Voe toilets, an important, nay crucial staging post on the long road, the A970, between Lerwick and the North Mainland, especially if drink has been taken on board in Coalfishreek).


The nominated driver sits
And most deliberately shits

It's three AM, midsummer, Voe
He didn't really need to go

And this is most unsalubrious
The graffitti extremely dubious

The chauffeur needed to take a break
Though agreeing to drive was no mistake

He's never really liked the drink
With it, he finds, he just can't think

Straight, crooked, birly - any way
So sober, now, he likes to stay

And sometimes, he'll take his friends to town
And watch them pour the draught beer down

Their conversation, brilliant or slight
To him all just the purest shite

He sips his iced Coke, a dash of bitters
A cocktail found in literature

In Raymond Chandler's Marlowe thrillers
Drunk by the hero, not the killers

And not by Chandler, to tell the truth
Who died a hopeless, gibbering drouth

(A different Chandler from the one in Friends
Though they may come to similar ends)

Anyway, tonight, they went
to Posers, until the cash was spent

And now they're heading home, to Brae
Next week, though, he'll make them pay

For valeting his car, the bonnet
Even now is smeared with vomit.

And the back seat is soaked in piss
They aimed for a cider can and missed

So. In the crapper at Upper Voe
It's nearly time for him to go

They're singing Hank Williams and Steve Earle
Dreaming of missed chances with girls

They'll remember nothing of this night
The falling down, being sick, the fights

But the nominated driver will
In the toilet he's writing still

In his notebook, with great care
All sorts of things are detailed there

For staying sober there are compensations
He retains a wealth of information

All documented, filed and stored
Ready to settle any score

So never underestimate
Sobriety's capacity to hate

Always suspect that teetotal bloke
If he puts bitters in his Coke.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Teetotal day 28, verging on 29: the cost of alcohol.

Strong tea. Mug after mug today (Scottish Blend), consumed with great lip-smacking, soul-quenching relish.

Extraordinary piece in The Guardian by Chris Paling, a diary of his 30-odd days in a hospital ward specialising in alcohol-related stomach and liver complaints. Disturbing, especially as I've been daydreaming about a moderate return to imbibing come day 31, which is Tuesday.

Hmmm...perhaps not. Even with a large chunk of the family in Pisa, quaffing Frascati...

I do think the proposed 50p per unit minimum price for alcohol is absolutely justified. The argument that it somehow discriminates against 'sensible' drinkers is complete tosh. A 50 per unit bottle of wine is less than £6. It's only once wine gets above a fiver a bottle that you start paying a reasonable amount for the actual wine, as opposed to tax. Fifty pence a unit discriminates against insensible drinkers. Or to be exact, folk who use alcohol as a convenient anaesthetic/social lubricant, and don't really care about the taste.

Discrimination is the key. We should all be connoisseurs!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Day 27. An urgent need for a fried breakfast... deal with the shock of having witnessed Lulu the St Bernard summarily dispatching one of the hens. Susan won't be pleased. Especially is it was one of the two chickens I couldn't persuade into the safety of the newly-built fowl stockade.

Anyway. I've done the out-with-pals-at-the-pub thing, now I have a weekend on my own just to wrap up this 30-day stint of teetotalism. Lots to do, including fitting the new exhaust for the Suzuki and writing the sequel to Serpentine. Must get on!