Very smooth trip down on the Hrosseyland last night, featuring for tea my first NorthLink baked tattie, which was...not disastrous. Manage to avoid the bar, the awful beer (no matter what, from bottle or tap, it all tastes foul aboard ship, and I have no idea why)and the worse red wine. Memo to self: remember kerry-oot next time.
Weirdly, as I type this, I'm listening to a wonderful song called Wine Destroys the Memory by At Swim Two Birds...it's on the CD you get free with Word Magazine...anyway. Trick with the boats that go via Orkney is to nap for an hour as soon as get on board, then eat, then stay awake until after the ship has unloaded and re-loaded at Kirkwall. Because you sure as hell won't sleep through THAT racket. It's like having someone steam-hammer at your brain.
Sound as a bell until 6.00 am, and out of the lower car deck into a brilliant blue and silver Aberdeen morning. Beans coffee shop opens at 7.00am, so that's where I settle with the papers to ease myself into what passes for urbanity.
I become conscious of how scabby my old Wrangler jacket is (and I'm 51, for goodness' sake: should I be wearing such things?)and when M&S opens I check out something more salubrious. Jings! £45 for a jacket pretending to be even scabbier than mine! Deliberately defenestrated denim! And then an awful thought hits me: One reason for me being on the main land of Scotland is a charity dinner for the Vine Trust this Thursday, which I'm MCing. And the smartest clothes I have with me comprise (1)an ALDI waterproof climbing jacket (2) Raichle climbing boots (3)Columbus hiking trousers (4) A Delgados t-shirt.
This calls for one thing: Primark!
9.00 am: Primark opens. 9.10 am, I have spent £38 and own a (perfectly fitting)linen suit, a new shirt, a silk tie and a belt. I have always wanted a linen suit, as I figure it will make me look a bit like a raffish Graham Greene hero. Tropical. Ideal for Shetland conditions. The climbing boots go suprisingly well with it.
Next, the usual look around Bruce Miller's music shop for guitar aversion therapy, One-Up Records, Fopp, Waterstones, a haircut and that's Aberdeen, really. The show comes from the BBC studios at Beechgrove today, and then it's Clydebank. Biggest shopping centre in Western Europe, so they say. So maybe I'll get a pair of shoes there...
Oh, nearly forgot: caught a bit of the infamous John Sweeney Panorama doc about Scientology last night, including his now-legendary eruption into psycho-bawling at some Man in Black. Check it out.
While Scientology is clearly (and rather frighteningly) far less convincing or appealling than its Battlestar Galactica spin-off, Sweeney's action seems to be utterly indefensible. And I'm confused by the BBC's apparent willingness to defend him, notably on Gloria Hunniford's Heaven and Earth show, where Panorama's editor appeared to do just that.
For what it's worth, Sweeney's brand of overtly partial 'investigative' journalism, full of righteous anger and 'passion', has always seemed to me vulnerable to exactly this kind of ambush by his equally-exercised opponents. Lessons should be learned. By the Beeb. I fear organisations even less lovely than the Kirk of Science Fiction will already have been taking notes.