A BIT OF THIS AND A BIT OF THAT
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature Daffy Dill. Clearly, this is not a building or a
manmade structure, but it is a structure, and a man probably placed a
bulb in the ground so that nature would construct it. So there. Happy
TIME FOR SOME SERIOUS RAIL INVESTMENT
I recently visited St Andrews. As I don't have a car, I had to use
public transport, and as there is no railway station at St Andrews I had
to catch a bus. Two-hours-twenty-five-minutes in a bus with no toilet.
No toilet and an incumbent crazy person who cackled with alarming
But it got worse. Ten minutes out of Glasgow and the bus broke down. It
broke down many times, sometimes at road-works where we blocked all
traffic and had to suffer mean looks from drivers.
They changed the bus at Glenrothes, by which time we were late, my bladder was
singing songs, and the crazy person was worryingly quiet, presumably
carefully plotting the best method of wiping us all out. To somehow make
matters worse, if that is at all possible, when we arrived in St Andrews
we passed through the stone abutments of what had once been a bridge - Pether Bridge - a sign that once upon a time St Andrews was part of this
country's rail network. That would be in the old days, I expect, when we
as a nation were known for our good sense, a trait that we have somehow left
Okay, you can get a train to Leuchars and then catch a bus to St Andrews, but
when you're laden with stuff the last thing you need is to change
transport. ST ANDREWS NEEDS A RAILWAY STATION. To extend the rail line
from somewhere between Cupar and Leuchars to St Andrews would surely not
cost too much? A mere five miles of additional track, and not
necessarily following the old route. It could be done.
Some parts of Scotland are worse than others. The East Neuk of Fife, for
example, is probably one of the most beautiful bits of the country and
an essential visit for tourists, and yet it has no railway. We are
constantly reminded of the fact that these places did indeed once have a
rail line close by: the magnificent railway viaduct at Lower Largo, for
The Scottish Borders is another area that desperately needs the railway
reintroduced. Like Fife's East Neuk, it is a stunningly good-looking
part of Scotland, but oh so hard to reach. I for one am not entirely
sure that I can cope with more long bus journeys and changes and all-out
Apart from anything else, how on earth can we ever hope to persuade
people to ditch their cars in favour of public transport when we've got
buses with no toilets and crazy folk. Not that I am suggesting, you
understand, that people with mental health issues should be banned from
buses. Perhaps we could get away with legislation banning maniacal
cackling. Then, once that's done, we could rebuild the railway.
It really is time for some firm investment to bring the railway back to
those remote areas of Scotland that shouldn't be remote at all.
MOD's GOLD-PLATED LIGHT-BULBS
Back in March, the revelation that the MOD had been paying £22 for
regular light-bulbs that might normally cost around 65p was met with
outrage. It wasn't so much that money was tight and cuts were having
to be made across the board, but more that someone somewhere was
charging £22 for a light-bulb and someone in the MOD was quite
happily paying £22 for a light-bulb. Of course the UK Government
kind of poo-pooed the whole thing, writing it off as an inefficiency
that would be sorted during the big recessionary clean-up. Ha!
It is very hard to imagine a scenario where such a thing could be
allowed to happen. Well, here at The Good Soup Guide we've done a
bit of rooting around. Turns out the light-bulbs were gold-plated,
and part of a grand scheme.
'We felt,' said an MOD spokesperson, 'that the time was right to
splash out a little, to show to the world that money is no
longer an issue. It's what you might term our 'glitz and glare' tactics.
We are currently looking to expand the scheme, and are in the
process of considering diamond-encrusted machine-guns, silver-plated
tanks, and fighter aircraft decked out with nice red rubies.'
If we were to give any advice to the MOD with regard to control of
its finances, it would be to get rid of their accountants and take
on a wee old woman with a purse from Partick. That'd sort things
SAINSBURY'S HEALTH RISK ISSUE
Many supermarkets have hand-baskets in addition to trolleys
available for their customers. Some use metal wire style baskets, and
some use plastic baskets. The plastic baskets used by my local Sainsbury
supermarket are the dirtiest, most revolting things I have ever seen. I
don't expect they have ever been cleaned. And yet these baskets are in
use day in and day out, catching all manner of spillages, from fruit
juice to milk and bloody juices that have dripped from meat containers.
Never have I seen such a serious public health risk in my life. Because
whatever bugs are happily growing on the surface of these plastic
baskets are being spread to households and undoubtedly ingested now and
then by unsuspecting and far-too-trusting members of the public.
There are some supermarket baskets that look okay. ASDA, for example,
seem to favour the metal wire basket and those I have seen look clean.
But it is the very idea that such a large organisation as Sainsbury,
whose sole raison d'etre is to supply us with food and drink, does not
have managers who might think to clean the baskets now and then. To be
honest, I'm not entirely sure how you would clean them, but expect some
sort of steam blasting might do the job.
So, in short, be very very careful out there, and if you have the
misfortune to use a Sainsbury's plastic hand-basket, then make sure and
clean everything when you get home. Better still, ask to see the store
manager and then clip him or her around the ear.
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How is it possible that such large bus shelters offer so little
protection from the elements?
WANTED: A PERSON
There have been some strange job titles over the years, more so
in these recent and quite ridiculous times. 'TEAM PLAYER' is one. It is
a job title that gives no information whatsoever about what the job
entails. You've just got to be a team player. Which team, I always
wonder, and which sport?
But back at the beginning of March a new one emerged. In the online jobs
website S1 Jobs there was a vacancy for a 'PERSON'. But, of course, not
just any old person, you had to be an 'EXPERIENCED PERSON'.
Well, you know, as a person I feel I meet all the requirements. I've had
many years experience as a person, and indeed was a person the very
moment I was thrust into this world. I think I'll alter my CV to include
more of the 'Person' word, and apply.
Real Ale Festivals in April
1st & 2nd - LARBERT - Dobbie Hall, Main Street. Fri
5pm - 11pm, Sat 12pm - 11pm.
27th to 30th - PAISLEY - Town Hall. Wed 3pm -11pm,
Thur & Fri 12pm - midnight, Sat 12pm - 9pm.
28th to 30th - GLENROTHES - Rothes Halls. Thur 4pm
- 11pm, Fri 12pm - midnight, Sat 12pm - 11pm.
FEET-EATING FISHES AFOOT
Wandering through Glasgow's St Enoch Centre the other day I
glanced into a shop window and was a little surprised to see folk
sitting with their bare feet dooked in tanks of water. I wondered if I
was perhaps witnessing some sort of mass suicide and that somewhere in
the background might be the leader of the pack poised with an electric
cable. But then I noticed that all those bare feet were not alone in the
tanks. There was something else in there with them. In fact, whatever it
was, there was lots of them, a mass of wriggling fishes chewing and
nibbling away at folks' feet. I curbed an urge to rush in to save
everyone, maybe beat a few fishes around the head, give mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation, and that kind of thing. But then I saw that folk were
paying to dook their feet in the tanks; paying to let the fishes
eat their feet. It was just the strangest thing I have ever seen. It is
actually called Silverburn's Fish Therapy Concept Spa, and those little
fish happily chew your feet (actually, they've got no teeth so they just
suck) and remove dead skin to leave you revitalised. Struth, ah'm gonny
huv tae try that! I am given to understand that if the fishes
get a bit carried away and remove a toe you are entitled to £2
compensation, and if they eat a whole foot the staff give you a lift
LASERS - ONCE SCIENCE'S MAGIC WAND, NOW A WEE BOYS' TOY
Often, this world bewilders me. I can spend a good part of each
day looking up at the sky, chewing over yet another bewildering
experience. Our silliness ranks high in my Top Ten of bewildering
moments. I mean, it used to be the case that lasers were dangerous
things, safe when in the right hands, but liable to take out an eye -
make you blind, even - if in the wrong hands. Whenever we used lasers -
whether during surgery or some other medical procedure where parts of
our body are zapped into nothingness - everyone in the vicinity had to
wear special goggles in case some of that harmful laser light escaped
and zapped bits of people's bodies that did not require zapping. All
that, I'm sure, is still the case. And yet on a regular basis we are
treated to news stories where some eejit thinks it's funny to shine a
laser pen at pilots of helicopters or aircraft. Of course the thing
about these stories is not that there are eejits who would do so -
because, let's face it, the world is full of eejits who will
pretty much get up to everything and anything - but that lasers can, it
seems, be bought like sweeties. Listen, you bunch of governmental high
heid yins, if lasers are so dangerous that the light from a laser pen
has the ability to distort the vision in a pilot's eyes and potentially
bring down an aircraft, then don't you think it's about time we
introduced some pretty serious controls to govern their distribution and
use? They certainly shouldn't be on sale - anywhere.
TRAVELLING TIPS FROM THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE - Walking
1. Try wherever possible to move the left and right feet alternately, as
trying to move them both together takes you to a new level of activity,
often termed 'jumping'.
2. Always swing the arms alternately, as swinging them together so that
both are either in front or behind at the same time makes you look
3. When walking on busy long-distance paths like the West Highland Way,
conserve energy by only saying 'Hi' to every tenth person.
4. When on the pavement in a big city, it is deemed considerate to warn
others of dog-mess by stopping, pointing at the said mess while
remaining motionless (no pun intended), and screaming, 'FEEEEEEET!'
5. Always carry a red flag on a stick so that you may walk on the
pavement in front of folk walking their dog, waving said flag and
warning others by shouting the phrase, 'WARNING - DOG MESS INEVITABLE!
WARNING - DOG MESS INEVITABLE! WARNING - DOG MESS INEVITABLE!'
6. If you feel a bit left out when surrounded by other pavement walkers
whose attention is taken up entirely by both mobile phones and music on
headphones, simply place a brown paper bag over your head. Thus, you may
be as aware of your surroundings as them.
7. Always wear bright red fluffy socks and tuck your trouser bottoms
into them so that they are always visible. This advice is brought to you
courtesy of the 'I'M
handbook, page 342, paragraph 17, regulation 8c.
8. When purchasing a rucksack for use when walking, always go for the
one with the most dangly bits. For when you are bored in the Great
Outdoors (which can occasionally happen), great fun may be had by trying
to guess which part of your face will be whipped at the next gust of
9. When walking, always carry a whistle. In addition to being a safety
item in the countryside, it may be used in the street to berate dog
owners who allow their dog to poo on the pavement.
10. As it is often difficult folding your map, it is perhaps best to
walk with it fully opened out. This has the added bonus of aiding
movement in a high wind.