NEWS, RAMBLINGS AND AWARDS                               JANUARY 2010
A lot of people own dogs these days. I suspect more folk have a dog now than was ever the case. In fact, some folk have more than one. It wouldn't be the first time I have waddled through some park and turned a corner to come face to face with three folk and a veritable pack of something approaching ten dogs.
Now, the thing about dogs is that they do poop now and then. It therefore stands to reason that more dogs means more poop. In winter, when walking through any area with trees and fallen leaves, I generally do not let my eyes leave the ground in front of me. Because, sure as fate, one momentary lapse of concentration will see me up to my armpits in some brown odorous sludge that has escaped from the rear end of man's best friend.
Of course some people make the effort to pick up their pet's poops. But not everyone then properly disposes of the poop-filled bag. Some hang their little green plastic bag (same colour as grass so it must be okay!!) from a tree, or drape it over a nearby fence. And the thing about plastic bags is that the poop they contain is likely to remain therein for some considerable time. Years, even. And yet if they had just left it on the ground it would probably either have been washed away by rain within a couple of days or stepped on by that many folk that it will have all but vanished.
As a result of all this extra poop, the National Health Service is reporting a gradual rise over the past decade of the little known condition DDH Syndrome. It develops over time in the human frame, and is caused by having the head continually bent forward to scan the ground ahead for poop. As the condition develops a small bump may grow on the upper spine, and in more severe cases this may become a humph, hence the name of the condition: Dog's Dirt Humph.
The Conservative Party has promised that if it gets in at the next election it will introduce legislation forcing all dog owners to fit their dogs with canine pampers.
The Good Soup Guide understands that certain firms are currently working on different coloured pampers. 'There's the potential for a whole new industry,' said one spokesperson. 'You could have pampers the same colour as your curtains, or the same as your favourite coat. Even your hair.' When asked how the pampers would be disposed of, the same spokesperson suggested a different colour of wheelie-bin could be introduced, along with a special weekly collection.
We asked a few dogs in the street, but got no more than a lot of 'woofs'. And poops.
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.


Scotland's just a wee place. At times this wee place seems to be bristling with wee-minded folks. In places like Glasgow - and in other towns and cities, I'm sure - overuse of the word 'wee' has reached epidemic proportions. It is a word that is used through a combination of habit and because our national psyche is one of the downtrodden bauchle who doesn't like to be a bother. You know, I have been invited into a wee room to take a wee seat at a wee interview, asked if I've a wee phone number, given my wee receipt at the supermarket, asked on countless occasions to wait a wee moment, and handed my fish-supper with words along the lines of, 'Here's yer wee fish supper, son.' And the thing is, it was a wee fish supper. Wee and expensive. But how did we ever get ourselves into this vocabular mess? Why can't everything be BIG, instead of wee? Are we to remain forever the broken head-bowed wee folk of the planet, one wee step away from crawling into wee holes in the ground and waving goodbye to ambition and visions of grandeur? These are all questions we should chew over, and that's exactly what I'm going to do now, down the wee pub in the wee town where there'll be other wee folk that I can have a wee chat with, as well as a wee refreshment.

The 2010 Awards have, as you may see, just been announced. These are places deemed to be of exceptional standard during the previous year. This does not, of course, mean that last year's winners have fallen from grace. Far from it. But there are that many superb places out there that is is becoming increasingly difficult picking a winner. And that is no bad thing. Long may it last, and well done to all those concerned.

I fear I may be at death's door. Every time I wander into a shop someone comes up to ask if I'm alright. I always knew I suffered from PWP (Peelie-Wally Pallor), but I never for one moment suspected that the condition would get so bad.
What is it with shop assistants? Why can't they ask something sensible, like, 'Can I help you?' or 'Would you like a hand to pack those two apples?' Asking if a person wishing to browse or make purchases is alright seems ridiculous, so utterly ridiculous that every time I am asked I generally clutch my head, say, 'Well, now that you mention it, I don't feel great,' then groan and fall theatrically to the ground. I can guarantee that a couple of episodes of this and you will never be asked if you're alright again and shopping will once more become that calm enjoyable pastime of our dreams.
Next month...
[Just click a month to access previous monthly News pages]




The flowers are coming,
said the elf,
So wipe away the snow,
And give a little breathing space,
They need it, don't you know,
For being a flower's not easy,
In amongst the snow,
So wipe away that cold stuff,
And let the flowers grow
The Last Word
Many shoppers don't generally like to be  reminded of the fact that what they are about to purchase was once a living thing. There can be no more graphic example of this than the eyes often found on the fish and sea-food that languish on supermarket shelves.
'Ah dinna like those beady eyes glowerin' at me,' said one shopper. 'It gives me the willies.'
Supermarkets have been employing scientists to carry out research in this area.
'It's going quite well,' said a spokesperson. 'At the moment we're trying to genetically alter crabs, fish and prawns so that they are born with no eyes. The research is at an early stage, and until such times as we can master the technique we feel we may have discovered a temporary solution. We have been able to insert the plant genes responsible for causing a Venus fly-trap to close into the eyes of these creatures. The plant genes remain active long after the animal is dead, and are still capable of giving a response a full week after that creature has expired. With the Venus fly-trap, the closing of the plant around an insect was brought about through triggering of receptors on the plant's inner surface. When an insect brushed against the receptor, the plant immediately closed. The same principal applies to the eyes of these altered animals, and we're very pleased with the results. It is the interaction between shopper and dead creature that will, we hope, put shoppers more at ease.'
The Good Soup Guide understands that within the next few months supermarket shelves will be filled with fish and crabs and other things with beady eyes, the only difference being that when the dead creature is touched, the eye will close.  However, during some trials shoppers were found to exit the store with arms flailing wildly and cries of, 'Help! The bloody thing winked at me.'
Rating System details for The Good Soup Guide, Scotland's online tourist guide

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