NEWS, RAMBLINGS AND AWARDS                               FEBRUARY 2010
I was in a tavern the other day. It was a tavern with a real fire. Problem was, it was a rather uninspiring real fire. It just sort of sat there and glowed, exhibiting a quite disappointing lack of the sort of attributes you normally associate with a real fire, like flames and smoke. What is the point, I asked myself, in staring into the depths of a real fire when all it gives in return is a smug glow?
On making enquiries with a fellow imbiber, it was suggested that perhaps the reason it was so bland was because smokeless logs were being used.
'Smokeless logs?' I spluttered. 'Whatdya mean, smokeless logs?'
Seems it's not only smokeless coal out there. There are smokeless logs, too. And how, I wondered as I blew some air over the dull embers in the hope of sparking them into life, do we make smokeless logs? Are they partially burnt to get rid of much of the smoky stuff, or are they treated in some dastardly way so as to reduce the wonderful greeny-grey billows that normally swirl and curl from their surface? Well, I don't know.
I mean, if we can do this, then I suppose it's only a matter of time before we genetically alter trees so that the wood they produce is smokeless. Problem is, that the trees with stout constitutions, who are more resistant to change, will probably start gathering outside pubs and other buildings and generally getting in everyone's way. Sigh!

The Department of Work and Pensions is streaking into this modern world at a rate that is frightening. At Job Centres (actually, it's Job Centre Plus, the 'plus' standing for security guards), print-outs from the job computers helpfully inform those seeking employment that applications can only be made via email 'by using a computer with internet access.' Now, I don't wish to belittle those who may not be as computer-literate as the rest of us, but the way I see it, if you have to be told to use a computer with internet access then you really shouldn't be applying for this particular job. Perhaps 'Professional Soup Slurper' would be more up your street, a position that does not, as far as I am aware, make use of electronic technology. Anyway, I think we probably have to thank the DWP for this advice, because until I read it I was desperately trying to send emails using a cardboard box and string.
BEST SOUP IN SCOTLAND AWARD goes to Brian's Cafe in Bo'ness.

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.


It does at times seem that every business that is not a supermarket is going bust. But it is in fact the supermarkets that are causing everything to fold.
Most of us think we are bystanders in the march of progress, reading our newspapers and marvelling as each step forward is greeted by wonder and resignation. But are supermarkets the way forward? Is this really progress?
With the growth of supermarkets we have witnessed the loss of High Street butchers, fishmongers, bakers, off-licenses, small music stores and book shops.
Do you want to be a bystander to the decimation of your town?
Because if you continue to just sit back and watch, I can guarantee that it will not be long before we get the bulk of our food and drink from abroad, we will have lost our farmers and all the trades associated with food preparation, and towns that have grown from time immemorial will be wiped off the face of the earth, to be replaced by singing dancing abominations that go under the name of supermarkets. If that's what you want, then go ahead. If not, then try seeking out that small shop that is still there. It might be a bit more expensive, but while it remains you can at least say that you still have a town centre, not to mention control of your way of life.
    A Hindrance To Shopping

'Can I help you?' came the insistent request from my right.
'Can I help you?' came another, this time from my left. They were all around, threatening to engulf me in offers of assistance. I'd already said to another of the bounders that I was only in for a look. What is it they want, a written statement in triplicate?
'No, I'm fine, thank you,' I replied.
'Well just let us know if you need help.'
'Yeh, right. Goodbye.'
                             FREE ONLINE E-BOOK

Keep a close watch on the News pages of The Good Soup Guide.
From the beginning of April we will be serialising a work of fiction as an e-book. This will be free to download, with ten new chapters being added every week. By the fifth week the work will be complete.
This work has not yet been published in any shape or form, and as such followers of The Good Soup Guide will be the first to read it. We don't want to give away too much at present, but let's just say that it is a work of religious horror set in both modern times and during the Reformation. It is also set in Glasgow in Scotland. Keep watching this space for more details.
Next month...
The Truth about
[Just click a month to access previous monthly News pages]





I wonder if it's snowing,
I wonder if it's white,
I wonder if the sky was purple
During that silent night,
I wonder when the snowdrops
Will pop up for some air,
Only to be stood on
By some great big bearded bear.
Almost The Last Word But Not Quite
American scientists have been up to some research involving electromagnetic radiation. They issued a press release in January suggesting that using a mobile phone may slow down the effects of Alzheimers. The tests were done on mice who, as we all know, are frantic mobile phone users at the best of times.
The research is of course of considerable interest to those affected by this disease, and perhaps of considerable interest to those who once waved a clenched fist in the air when anyone even whispered the phrase, 'mobile phone mast in your back garden'. Mobile phone masts have been looked upon with much suspicion over the past decade. It was thought that they might emit unseen waves that could have an adverse effect on our brains. Perhaps now we might see that the effect is far from adverse, and before long the masts will become something desirable, as in...
'Whit d'ya want fer yer Christmas, Boab?'
''Jessie, ah ken it's expensive, but ah'm desperately hankerin' eftir a mobile phone mast. It would look braw in the corner of the living-room, and in the winter we kin curl up in front o' it an' keep nice and healthy.'
The mind boggles, so it does. And that, I suspect, is the problem.
Rating System details for The Good Soup Guide, Scotland's online tourist guide

There are some abominable public toilets out there. It's bad enough for us locals, but what tourists must think is anyone's guess. Let's take, for example, the town of Ayr. I recently had to use the gents public toilet in Ayr's bus station. Getting into the cubicle and shutting the door is almost an impossible task. The door will not shut because you, the toiletee, are in the way. I only managed to close the door by drinking some magic shrinking potion and squeezing in beside the bowl. And, of course, once in, you find there are no hooks upon which to hang your coat. It really is about time something was done.
This month we feature Paisley Abbey. It's a nice grey old lump of stone, and worth more than just a cursory glance. It is a place of kings and knights so bold. Recent excavation between the abbey and the river uncovered a secret tunnel. And just what it was used for, no one knows. [See the Paisley - 'Other Stuff' page for more on the abbey.]
Paisley Abbey in deep mid-winter
The FBI have been updating their image of the big bad wolf, Osama bin Laden. In trying to achieve a realistic picture of how the aged terrorist might now look, they have trawled the internet for potential look-a-likes whose features can be blended into their photographic collage. The result can be seen on your right. If you see this man, contact the security services.
Web Page
We have become aware of page display problems when this website is viewed on certain web browsers. Some text headings have all but vanished, hippos have taken to wandering into, and obscuring, areas of text, and all in all the whole thing has been a nightmare. This is all down to inexperience on our part, and we apologise profusely. Alterations have recently been made which should correct most of these problems, but we are having some difficulty with the hippos. We suspect that when pages are viewed on, for example, the browser Safari on an AppleMac computer, the rating hippos become displaced and are displayed lower than they should be. They seem to become increasingly lower than intended the further down the page you go. This is, it must be said, driving us to distraction. Are there any computer whiz-kids out there who might have a solution? Anyway, rest assured we are continuing to work on it. And, it goes without saying, that anyone who has experienced any stress at having to witness hippos in areas where they have no business being, will be fully compensated. All claims for compensation should be made between 14.00 and 14.01 hours on the 32nd of January 2009.
Free Music Downloads
Stirling Heads Exhibition
I know this is unusual, but I'm actually going to give you some news here, as opposed to my inane ramblings. There is an exhibition at Stirling Castle, running from 13 - 21 February, which is quite a short slot, so get yourself through there right now. It is the one and only chance you are ever going to get to see the carved wooden replicas of what is known as the Stirling Heads. The originals - not all of which have survived - once formed part of the lost ceiling of the King's Inner Hall, and would originally have been brightly painted. The replica carvings took five years to complete, and will soon be painted before being placed in position as part of a recreated King's Inner Hall. I understand that the original heads are said to be of such artistic importance that they have been called 'Scotland's Other Crown Jewels.' When you go, if you say that you were sent by The Good Soup Guide I understand you will be given a free round of applause.
One of the original Stirling Heads