July just passed has been a very unsettled month across Scotland with rain, unusually strong winds, grey overcast skies, occasional thunderstorms and unpredictable daytime conditions. To make up for that however some of the evenings have been amazing with spectacular light conditions, weird sunsets and clouds forming into incredible shapes. With several weekends in a row being a washout of wind and rain I've been joining a friend some evenings, as she's always out anyway at dusk walking her dog before some TV catch up after dark, usually crime dramas. She's also a big computer game fan and I've her to thank for introducing me to that world.
So... for half a dozen nights throughout July I've enjoyed her company outdoors and we go to various small hills on our side of the City of Glasgow to catch the light show. It's only a ten minute drive in the car to reach them and it's always worthwhile to meet up as she mentioned recently she was bored with her usual haunts dog-walking of an evening.
(Looks like a duck- floats like a duck... must be a duck.... cloud.)
"Snowflakes, rainbows, clouds and storms." was printed over the dark doorway so I wandered in.
Behind the counter a tiny chap with very pointed teeth smiled a welcome. He was under five feet tall and only his head and shoulders reached above the collection of items on the counter top.
"Welcome friend." He said. "Is it hydroponics you are after?"
"No." says I " I've been searching for thin sheets of coloured plastic to put in front of my camera to change the light. I remember seeing them years ago for school projects. They are very thin square sheets and come in yellow, red, blue, orange... all different tints."
"Like tinted filters? says he, catching on.
"Yes, exactly!" says I "Only a tenth of the price of normal camera equipment, which probably won't fit my camera anyway."
He went into the back shop which was like a tropical jungle in appearance, full of strange looking exotic plants, tree frog noises coming out a speaker, fertilizer grow bags, plastic tanks and specialized water sprinklers. Must be for people that keep reptiles, fish or amphibians at home in tanks I found myself thinking.
" Do you sell lizards or monkeys? " I inquired hopefully as I like little lizards.... and monkeys.
"No. But I have a small collection of books that may interest you." he offered, guiding me over to a modest bookcase in one corner...... which is how I ended up with 'How to influence the weather'... and also acquired several tinted thin squares of different coloured material.
Happy with my purchase I flashed a smile of my own as I handed over some cash and he was pleased to see I'd filed my teeth down to sharp points as well. I did this during my teenage years to attract girls. It didn't really seem to work back then though........ except with the darker variety of goths.
I went back a few weeks later to see what else was on offer but the shop had disappeared and was no longer there. Very strange indeed.
"What's this?" she asked, flicking through the pages.
"It tells you how to influence the weather patterns." I explained, grabbing it back. It's full of magic symbols, astral designs, incantations, tricks and chants to help improve the surrounding conditions."
"We could certainly do with that." says she. "What do you think Snapper? " Snapper being her dog.
A tail wag and a bark might have been either agreement or something else. It's not that easy to tell with dogs.
"Let's try cloud shapes first." I suggested. " What do you fancy?"
"How about a nice wee bear to start with ?" She waited expectantly on the hillside, shooing a few evening flies away from her face with her hands. "Go on, impress me."
"Ah, that's page number 22 that is. The classic Teddy Bear cloud." I flicked to the appropriate design blueprint and began mumbling a chant under my breath.
"Hey! That's not bad. Look Snapper.....A wee bear just like you. I'm impressed." She congratulated me with an exaggerated pat on the back. The dog looked up but not having advanced facial recognition skills that most humans possess didn't appear to see anything unusual in the clouds.
"This book is supposed to have been written by former members of the Magic Circle." I informed her, reading the inner sleeve notes but not letting her see it. "It spills the beans completely on many of their top secrets."
I proceeded to chant again- very softly to myself and pictured the next image in my head.
"What exactly is it you're mumbling?" She asked, being her usual noisy self, trying to see the page for cloud bear shapes I was reading from.
"It's a magic chant." I told her. "only for skilled practitioners of the art to know and learn." I started mumbling again softly, building up the tempo under my breath.
She started listening hard. "Please tell me that's not 'izzy wizzy let's get bizzy?' " she finally asked, voice triumphant yet disappointed at solving a minor puzzle in such a rubbish way.
"Don't be daft." I put the book away in my pocket hastily. " That's just for children. This is serious stuff we are dealing with here."
She crossed her arms in satisfaction. "It is... isn't it? I'm right!"
"It's still a bear." She soothed. "Try another one. I'll shut up." A glance down at the dog. "What a drama queen, isn't he Snapper?"
She'd been listening very closely right beside me, despite pushing her away several times to keep her distance.
"That one was just 'Hey Presto' muttered over and over again wasn't it? You've wasted your money there alright. Seen you coming pal."
"No.They did not. Look, it obviously works, doesn't it? "
She yawned. "I.m bored now. Try something else."
"You young folk are really hard to please." I complained bitterly. "Joni Mitchell never had it this good in her life staring up at the sky and she wrote a famous song about cloud formations."
A small sigh. "Sixties singer/ songwriter. Before your time. I keep forgetting."
She brightened up.
"That comes with the birth certificate living fossil. Eat loads of blueberries. Dementia super-fruit they are. You can sprinkle them over your cornflakes."
It was her turn to sigh. "Nope. Walt Disney is soo old school now anyway."
It's bloody Dumbo you bimbo! Surely you must see it? The long elephant trunk?
" I know who Dumbo is. Where's the big flapping ears then?
I stared at her in exasperation.
"Yeah." She conceded. "That's not bad but let's just put the book away and watch the sun setting without the wand."
So we did.
Keeping with the arty theme here's one of the best things I've seen on You Tube. Stunning, bizarre, and gets better as it unfolds.