December 2010
Criterion, Grand Cafe and Saloon, 568 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow
This month we feature Criterion, the Grand Cafe and Saloon at 568 Dumbarton Road, Partick, Glasgow. This establishment has been constructed inside an old shop using architectural bits and pieces saved from other buildings. These wonderful Victorian wooden booths came from Moscardinis in Falkirk. Criterion is in an area that holds memories for me. As a small boy I stood on a debris-strewn pavement nearby and watched coffins being removed from a building that had been destroyed during the storm of '68. [See 'Glasgow - Soup' for more on Criterion.]

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Lesson 1a - 'I know that banks like to encourage saving; well, you're not going to believe this, but I've been saving copper coins for the last twenty years, and today's the day I thought I'd bring them in... Bert - wheel in the barrows!'

Lesson 7f - 'Whatdya mean, you can't give me change of ten pounds as I'm not a customer - surely the very ethos of attracting custom is to treat those who are not yet your customers with kindness.'

Lesson 8d - 'You're not going to let me withdraw £29? Are you people actively trying to scare customers away?'

Lesson 9g - 'Excuse me, but given the emphasis on self service these days, I just thought I'd come round your side of the counter and withdraw some money. Have you got a problem with that?'

Lesson 14h - 'Isa? Isa? Who the heck's Isa?'

Lesson 45j - 'A credit card? I'm sorry, but has someone tattooed the phrase, 'I want a credit card' on my forehead while I've been asleep?'

Lesson 56d - 'Hi - I've found this old coin in a drawer, and I wondered if you could tell me a little about it.'

Lesson 97k - 'You're not going to let me deposit a partly-eaten cheese and onion pastie? I demand to speak with the manager!'
Council Hires Hippos to Combat Botanic Goldfish Concern
Concern is growing within Glasgow City Council about the safety of the goldfish housed in the city's Botanic Gardens. The concern was expressed at a recent meeting of the Parks Department when it was pointed out that the current recession combined with a continuing squeeze on those receiving benefits could see the goldfish taken and eaten by poor people. The fish have grown to quite a size in the past few years, with a few in the small pond as large as a fully matured river salmon.
'It is felt,' said a council employee, 'that if we don't take action now, we may have a situation where members of the public are helping themselves to goldfish with the intention of frying them at home and eating them. As such, the council has decided to hire hippos to act as guards in the pond. Hippos are generally very protective of their area, and anyone getting too close is likely to find themselves in very serious trouble.'
Strathclyde Police are not entirely happy with the situation, and have advised all visitors to the Botanic Gardens to keep at least six feet between them and the pond railings.
The Health & Safety Executive have said they don't think there should be any real problems so long as the hippos wear bells around their neck to warn of movement.
Public opinion is mixed. 'Hippos? Hippos?' said a wee woman in Partick. 'What are they like on toast?'
Overcrowding on trains has not improved in recent years. In fact, it's got worse, and is expected to reach sardine-tin squashiness very soon.
In response to what is quite clearly a crisis, train operators have embarked on drastic measures. Over the next two years, the height of all train tunnels will be increased by around five foot.
'We want our passengers to feel safe and secure,' said a company spokesperson. 'During their time with us we want them to have as enjoyable an experience as we can offer, and it is to this end that we have decided to carry out the impending modifications.'
When asked why the tunnels were being given more headroom, the spokesperson had this to say: 'When we reach the expected stage of allowing passengers to stand on the roof of the train carriage, we want to ensure they will be happy. We will be fixing stout rope at regular intervals along each roof so there is ample for the passengers to hold on to. There will be a rope handle for each and every traveller. Of course, any passenger who falls off will be fully compensated.'
The Good Soup Guide understands that the Health & Safety Executive are going over the plans with a fine toothcomb, but see no major issues at present.
The yarn bombing pixies from Ayrshire strike again
Yarn Bombing Pixies
Strike Again
In mid-November strange tea-cosy-like hats appeared on those iron riverside things that are used to secure ships (what the heck do you call them?). A whole host of them materialised on both sides of the River Clyde near the Glasgow Science Centre. Given the cold frosty weather, The Good Soup Guide expected this to be the work of pixies who were keeping the iron-things-whose-name-escapes-us warm over winter. We weren't far wrong. Small labels were attached to them indicating a Twitter address. Further delving revealed a Facebook address. At the end of our extensive research we came up with the name Yarn Bombing Night Knit Pixies who 'Make Things Pretty With Yarn'. About the only thing we could firmly establish was that Ayrshire seemed to be involved. We imagine, perhaps, a whole load of women frantically knitting then furtively sneaking around in the dead of night placing little hats on things. The Good Soup Guide thinks it is the most beautiful thing we have seen in a good long while, and very much look forward to more from the Yarn Bombing Pixies.
The Question

Why does the clearing of leaves have to be such a noisy affair?

It may have escaped your notice, but this country, Scotland, is being held to ransom by foreign power firms. The price of electricity and gas has increased to devastating levels over the past wee while. Shareholders get rich while the poor get poorer.
I find it quite astonishing that the government is sitting back and doing, it appears, very little to sort the problem. And don't be under any illusions; this is a problem, and one of such size that unless we sort it very very soon the whole country is going to be not just a puppet dancing to the tune of foreign millionaires, but so impoverished that we will effectively cease to exist and become one of the world's backwaters.
If that's what you want then keep on moaning about the visual blight of wind farms, keep on waving your fist in the air about the size of pylons. I'm afraid choice and visual niceties are luxuries we can no longer afford.
We have to increase our construction of wind and especially wave power generators, and we have to ensure that we, as a country, are self sufficient. And the sooner the better.
Also, it is our government who has to own all these wind and wave power generating farms. Profits should no longer go to rich shareholders. These days have to be put behind us.
Ignore The Good Soup Guide's advice at your peril.
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John Logie Baird vs Chuck

John Logie Baird invented TV. You’ve never heard of him?
He was born in Helensburgh. What, you’ve never heard of Helensburgh either?
If this were America, Helensburgh would be awash with John Logie Baird pubs and tearooms and museums and theme-parks and waxworks and every kind of tourist attraction imaginable. But it’s not, and all we have is a bust on the salty promenade looking longingly towards the waters of the Firth of Clyde.
John Logie Baird - Inventor of Television

I mean, TV’s important. In fact, if you check in a corner of your living-room you’ll probably find you’ve got one. If John Logie Baird hadn’t exercised his grey matter and been a fairly brainy chap we might not have had TV at all. Your days would be spent staring at that vacant corner wondering what you could use to fill the space.
In this country of mountains and castles and tartan haggiesses tourists flock to the likes of Edinburgh and largely ignore wee places like Helensburgh. As does the Scottish Tourist Board or Visit Scotland or whatever hat it is they wear these days. As far as they are concerned the only reason not to wipe Helensburgh off the face of the tourist map is because on a hill above the town there is a white house that was, in my opinion, designed by some puffed-up overhyped Charles Rennie Mackintosh bloke whose sole claim to fame appears to be a rose doodle.
The tourist information office, like that in many Scottish towns – if one exists at all – is closed in winter, as is Chuck’s hoose, and one could be forgiven for thinking that all there is to do is follow Mister Baird’s gaze and head somewhere else.
During these desolate periods about the only place you can get a map and leaflet giving information on what to see is in Craigard’s tearoom, whose owner has done a sterling job trying to put Helensburgh on the tourist map.
Without a doubt, the town’s strength, in the absence of any TV visitor centre or museum, lies very much in its excellent range of small shops and coffee houses. It is a range that would put many a big city to shame. There’s the magnificent Buffet Shop Delicatessen, the superb butcher’s Callaghan of Helensburgh, and the wonderful Clyde Whiskies and Rowan Gallery facing the promenade.
I sense a spirit in the citizens of Helensburgh that is lacking in other small towns in Scotland. They might be down, but they’re certainly not out. If only they could find someone who has an historic collection of TVs to get the ball rolling with regards to a museum dedicated to The Man.
And meanwhile, he continues to look out to sea, undoubtedly thinking to himself, ‘Why didn’t I emigrate and invent TV in the United States?’
Why, indeed. At least he’d have been given the recognition he deserves.