NEWS, RAMBLINGS AND AWARDS
TRADESMEN - ONCE THE BACKBONE OF THE GREAT BRITISH
NOW A DYING BREED
I have recently had cause to wonder about tradesmen. My dad was
a tradesman. He was an electrician, and could turn his hand to anything.
He could, if given the opportunity, have built a house from scratch.
Fred Dibnah was also a tradesman. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure
this country has many tradesmen left. I imagine the whole of Scotland is
possibly held together by sticky-back plastic, white sealant, and the
combined groans of householders who have been on the receiving end of
so-called tradesman's efforts.
In my opinion, a tradesman is a skilled workman, one who always does a
first-rate job, and who employs his brain as well as his arm.
I have just moved into a local authority flat. Two workmen turned up to
fix the shower-unit. One was apparently the tradesmen, the other was his
apprentice. Both looked about twelve years of age. Long ago, the
apprentice would have been paired up with someone who not only carried
the 'tradesman' tag, but had been a tradesman for many a year. That made
sense, and why we don't do it anymore is beyond me. They were called out
because some other 'tradesman' hadn't bothered to seal the large hole
under the shower-unit and his manager clearly hadn't even bothered to
check that the job had been done properly.
In my kitchen I have a water-heating boiler in a corner. A 'tradesman'
built a wooden cupboard around it. When he built it he must have been
under the mistaken belief that he was constructing a shed for a double-decker bus. The result was that I could not
stand upright at the kitchen sink because the boiler cupboard was in the
way. I've had a look at it. There is no need for it to be as big as it
is. Someone was told to erect a cupboard, and this they did, with no
thought whatsoever about anything else. Can't use the sink? Not my
problem, mate. I'm just doing what I'm told.
In that same kitchen there is a small wall unit. You wouldn't think
there was anything unusual about it until you come to clean the outside
of the window and find you can't revolve the window to properly clean it
because the cupboard is in the way. I just do what I'm telt, mate.
Another robotic 'tradesman' with air for brains.
I'm sure there are real tradesmen out there, somewhere, but
there are unfortunately also far too many idiots wielding screwdrivers and hammers.
BEST SOUP IN SCOTLAND AWARD goes to Brian's Cafe in
BEST ALE BREWED IN SCOTLAND AWARD goes to 'Seven
Giraffes', a superb ale brewed by the Williams Brothers in Alloa.
BEST PUB AWARD goes to
Greyfriars Bar in Perth. Go there now to find out why.
BEST THING TO SEE AWARD goes
to the panoramic view from Edinburgh's Calton Hill.
BEST LITTLE WALK AWARD goes to the forest track through
Mugdock Wood in Milngavie.
I have come across such sloppiness in customer service centres that I
feel that many so-called 'workers' should be sacked on the spot.
I recently took possession of a local authority flat. As Shawn Colvin
once said, a few small repairs were required. No problem, I thought, as
my tenancy manual and the walls of the local housing office bristled
with reminders of tenants rights and charting in no small amount of
detail exactly what would happen when my repair was logged.
The email I sent was, one presumes, deleted. There was no record of it
whatsoever. The scenario was without doubt that in some customer service
centre, somewhere, some person opened the email, looked at it and
decided it was too complex to deal with, and so deleted it. In my view
such an attitude should be, at the very least, a sackable offence. No
warnings. No ifs or buts. There's the door. And yet it is an attitude
that we have come to accept as the norm in these so-called customer
service centres where a great pretence is made about targets and
efficiency and customer care and yet invariably when you get through to
someone after waiting some 20 minutes on the phone you only just manage
to open your mouth to speak and you are cut off. It's time to get tough.
Wallpaper is... don't start me on wallpaper!
I am watching people on the boat,
People on the boat are watching me,
on the boat,
There is great excitement
on the boat,
For soon the boat will leave,
Ropes will be wound,
A bell will ring,
And off it will go,
Slowly and with great majesty,
Down the river
Towards the sea,
And the people
on the boat,
Will still be watching
Me watching them
As I get smaller
And they become wee
and grey and
Enveloped in the mist
That hugs the river.
THE EVIL WITHIN US
Throughout time, it has been the role of children and small
adults to annoy grown-ups. You hear tales of string being tied between
two opposite doors in a close landing, and both bells rung, so that
great confusion and annoyance occurs when folk try to open the doors.
As a child I got up to stuff, especially around Guy Fawkes, and how I
managed to survive without losing a limb or two is truly amazing. But in
all my naughty frolics I was never one for annoying old folks. The only
person at risk from my explosive endeavours was me.
But something has changed in the past decade or so. And it's bad.
Something is causing our children and teenagers to be really nasty to
others, whether to other teenagers or to adults, and the only
explanation seems to be one of utter badness. I am not a religious
person, but the word, 'evil' does seem to be the right one when you
describe some of the antics these young people get up to.
In Paisley a schoolboy threw a raw egg into the cloisters of Paisley
Abbey. It broke and deposited a yolky mess for someone to clean up. Was
there something funny about that? Did he have a right good giggle with
his chums back at school? Or did he have the numbers, '666' tattooed
into his hairline? Children as young as ten have been roaming
unsupervised through cemeteries toppling gravestones.
I once watched a small boy of around eight years work his way down a row
of garages, stopping in front of each one to spit once on the door. By
the time he reached the end of the row he had to work hard to get enough
spit up to actually spit, but he managed it. He was on his own, so there
was no bravado in front of the chums going on. It was a fascinating
thing to witness. What can possibly make such a young child hate the
world so much that this is how he gets his revenge? Does the answer lie
in the 'food' he shovels down his throat?
There are times when I despair for the future.
GLASGOW'S TALL SHIP - THE GLENLEE
Glasgow's one and only tall ship, The Glenlee, will be
moved to the new transport museum some time before it opens. Before
then, it will be sent away for a facelift which, one presumes, means
a going over with a shammy, a hoover, and a sprinkling with that
carpet stuff that leaves behind a nice smell. But even before that,
you can visit it for FREE on August 7th and 8th, during what is
termed the 'Sail Away Weekend.' A most pleasurable salty experience.
Goodbye boat. Come back soon.
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. It was
built in the Victorian period to commemorate Scotland's hero, Sir
William Wallace, and is one of the most visually stunning man-made
structures in the world. See the 'Stirling - Other Stuff' page of The
Good Soup Guide for details of the monument. I've even included a map
which allows you a scenic walk to get there. [See
'Stirling - Other Stuff' page for more on the monument.
[12.30 to 4.00pm]
[12.00 to 4.00pm]
14th & 15th August
[12.00 to 4.00pm]
12.30 to 3.30pm
ST ANDREWS CASTLE
'The Power & The Glory' - If you've never been to Bothwell Castle
then for goodness sake get up off your backside and go now. Although
a little ruinous inside, it is nonetheless a visual feast that will
have you galloping around, Monty Python-style, on a pretend horse
whinnying and snorting with excitement. Today's event features
demonstrations of the power of the warbow and someone called
Archibald Grim. This castle is a little south of Dumfries, where
good ale and soup places await your discerning taste buds.
A beautiful castle in a beautiful little village. This event is
titled, 'Murder, Treason & Plot, and centres around the murder of
David Rizzio, secretary of Mary Queen of Scots, in 1566. You get to
hear about the plot from two of the culprits, and you can also learn
about 16th-century fashion, make-up and grooming. There is also a
military camp and live combat shows. You can get a train to North
Berwick then a bus to Dirleton.
Fort George is near Inverness. The event is titled, 'Colossal
Celebration of the Centuries,' which is quite a big title. It also
looks like a big event, said to be 'Historic Scotland's largest
event of 2010.' There will be hundreds of performers and all sorts
of displays demonstrating fighting men from Roman times up to the
present day. An event 'not to be missed.'
The Soupsayer has not yet visited St Andrews, but he understands it
to be a mighty fine place. This event features the resurrected
bodies of Robert the Bruce, John Knox and Cardinal Beaton, who all
tell tales of Scotland's past. You can visit Bruce's 14th century
camp, and listen to 16th century muskets being fired.
REMEMBER - IF YOU MENTION 'THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE' YOU WILL BE
GIVEN A FREE ROUND OF APPLAUSE AT ALL EVENTS
WORLD PIPE BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS
- GLASGOW GREEN, Aug 14th
Free previews are available in Glasgow's George Square on 10th and
12th August at 5.30 - 7.30pm, and at lunchtime on 13th August, when
half-a-dozen of the pipes and drums will Beat the Retreat. DO NOT
MISS MAIN EVENT ON 14TH - 9am to 6.30pm.
EVEN MORE NEWS - STEAM DAYS AT DUNASKIN
Fancy a hurl on an old steam train? The Ayrshire Railway
Preservation group (a bunch of dedicated folk with black oily
overalls) operate the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre in what
used to be the Dunaskin Heritage Centre (on the A713, 10 miles
south-east of Ayr, at Waterside, near Dalmellington). Various Steam
Days have been organised. Those in August are on 1st, 8th, 15th,
22nd and 29th of the month.
Opening times are 11am to 4.30pm. There will be brake van rides, a
shop and museum. Great day out guaranteed, as the surrounding
countryside is beautiful.
REAL ALE FESTIVALS IN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER
CALLANDER - August 27th to September 5th at the Lade Inn,
Kilmahog (pass Hamish, then turn left). The Lade Inn is a mighty
fine place. Add on what they call The Trossachs Beer Festival and
you've got a recipe for unbridled happiness. During the festival you
can get to meet the brewer, sample some beer, and quaff good
Scottish ale from the likes of the Williams Brothers, Harviestoun,
Tryst, and the Lade Inn's own ales. There's good food most of the
time, and on Friday and Saturday evening there's good music. I
simply cannot wait.
TWO MORE FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS
Simply click the image on the right to be mysteriously transported
to a page with two free music downloads from the Eddy Burns music
archive (aka the box under the stairs).