Lived here for just over a month and already I'm a marked woman! I come back from an exploratory drive along the coast around Catterline - the subject of a favourite painter Joan Eardley (1921-1963 centre).
Back at base, I park up. Opening the van door, I notice in the wing mirror I am not alone - a police 4x4 is parking behind me. Ah.
I step out to meet them and smile: "Hello can I help you?"
"We're just checking that everything's OK, " says the younger one, hand on radio as he towers over me, bulked out by an array of gadgetry. The shorter moustached one observed that I was driving a Royal Mail van . Yes it's called Patsy as in Postman Pat, I say helpfully.
"We noticed you were driving a bit slowly..." he adds.
So there's a minimum speed limit here then? I over-explain that I'd been getting lost, reversing, driving through muddy flooded lanes and tracks and Patsy's undercarriage was waterlogged.
It's registered in York says the tall one. Ah. So that's what this is about then.
I babble on about how I'd recently moved here and why. Bla bla. Far too much information but I want to cheer them up as they seem disappointed. They drive off. I glance at the windows of the surrounding houses and wonder if I'd be the talk of the street now.
Probably, says my landlord later. There's not much crime around here. The cash machine was broken into once by a local who was immediately caught and he gave the money back. It's still talked about today. That was seven years ago...
Talking of machines, that's the topic this week. Machine can mean many things. It's no longer just a complex man-made structure with a specific function (think of Heath Robinson or Swiss artist Jean Tinguely (top left).
Policemen crop up in our reading. A Thousand Machines by Gerald Raunig (Austrian art theorist, 1963-) refers to Flann O'Brien's hilarious novel, The Third Policeman, where the bicycle and the policeman, machine and man, begin to merge as one. Following this to its logical conclusion eventually the bicycle gets elected onto the local council. If the policemen round here had been on bikes, they'd probably still have caught up with me!
Machines today now seem more sinister as they are invisible and encompass operating apparatus ranging from the world wide web to nuclear defence systems to artificial intelligence. The key question is who's in charge? Who or what is pressing the on/off button?
We watch a three part documentary: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011)
It weaves together disparate topics under broad themes including economics, politics, ecology and decentralisation of power. There was a fascinating insight into Allan Greenspan, Head of the Federal Reserve, who advised Clinton to let the market control itself.
Greenspan used to hang out with idiosyncratic writer Ayn Rand (1905-1982) whose philosophy Objectivism declared power lies with the individual to do as they want. Also in her group was abstract epxressionist, Joan Mitchell, another of my favourites (above right), who was briefly married to Alan Greenspan - a surprise connection.
The programmes jumped about a lot from UK genetic biologist, Bill Hamilton (1926-2000), Dian Fossey and gorillas to systems scientist, Jay Forrester, and Silicon Valley pioneers to experimental living in geodesic communes.
The seminar was lively as we also jumped from topic to topic like a bunch of kangaroos. We touched on artificial intelligence, nuclear defence systems and the role of the images - machine-made or computer-generated. A common thread was speed - the speed at which systems/machines can function now and rate at which images and information goes 'viral'. What used to take days to process on the financial markets now takes seconds. We could have been minutes away from nuclear war when there were false alarms 1979/80 of nuclear missiles being launched from Soviet to the USA - alarms were triggered by defence systems.
Speed was important to Paul Virilio (French philosopher 1932-2018) The VIsion Machine which we had to read. He proposed that rather than past, present, future - we live either in real time or delayed time because of the impact of television and cinematic viewing. He continued with more convoluted suggestions which were hard to follow.
The dizzying effect of all this is that I feel like Alice in Wonderland exploring an endless warren using a torch to highlight lots of different doors and openings which lead off in all directions.
"Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else - if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Red Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
I would add that if you're not careful, before you know it you'll get stopped by the authorities for not going fast enough!