A BIT OF THIS AND A BIT OF THAT
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature Glasgow University and its magnificent tower. It
is a much photographed structure, and from its base fine views may be
had over all of the city. The university relocated here from a site on
the High Street in the Victorian period, and a good choice they
made for its new home.
FINANCIAL MISERY AHEAD, UNLESS...
The UK Government, like governments all over Europe and other
parts of the World, is struggling to keep the UK afloat amidst the most
stormy financial turmoil there has very possibly ever been. Whole
countries are going bankrupt. People are rioting. If this were France in
the late 18th century Madame Guillotine would probably be brought down
from the attic and given a going over with a shammy.
Everyone has a theory about why we're in this muddle, and why, dear
reader, should I be any different...
Put quite simply, we are in this pickle because it is where man should
be at this stage in his evolutionary advancement. The Industrial
Revolution created The Machine, and now The Machine has created a mess. Not enough stuff is being made in
the countries that once made near everything the world needed, and too
many people are now adept at thumb-twiddling.
The solution remains beyond us. Men in power hang determinedly onto
their theories even although they themselves are unsure of the actual
outcome. We are up that creek without a paddle, and almost without a
This situation requires some radical restructuring of the way we live
our lives, and of the social and economic fabric in which we exist. My theory is that the solution lies in The Village
Model, and the time has now come to make our own shoes...
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APOLOGIES - THIS MUSIC IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE.
I FEAR I HAVE BECOME NOTHING MORE IN LIFE
THAN A MAGNET FOR ALL
THE USELESS CACK IN THE WORLD
My world is full of cheap cack. Somewhere at the back of my mind I'm
thinking it's probably also foreign. Cheap foreign cack.
In my bathroom the new-fangled toilet-cistern flushing-button sticks
when pushed. So I have to push it twice; once to flush, and once to
unstick the button. Also in that bathroom are cheap self-adhesive floor
tiles that clearly are not as adhesive as they should be, for they are
slowly making their way across the floor in a direction I do not wish
them to go. And in that bathroom, up until a few
weeks ago, was one of those last-at-least-ten-year
light-bulbs that we all now have to use. Except that it only lasted
about one year. Should I write to the Queen?
In my hall I have another of these new bulb things. It not only emits a
rather poor level of lighting, but also gives off a high-pitched whine.
What sort of undesirable cack is that?
In a cupboard I have brand new cheap foreign hiking boots that I am
frightened to wear because I sense that as soon as I pick them up they
will fall apart even before reaching my feet.
In my living-room I have cheap foreign headphones that lasted a few
months before packing in. How can headphones pack in? It's not like I
was swinging them around my head or anything. I also have a door-entry-system device in the living-room. It bleeps when someone presses buttons
for anyone in the huge complex of flats. It doesn't bleep in a
SOMEONE'S-AT-THE-DOOR kind of way. It's more a bleeping that says
sort of way. Also in the living-room is a smoke detector that is
connected to the mains so if it bleeps for no good reason there will be
no way I can switch the thing off. Not that it has bleeped
without good cause. Yet. I sense that it is waiting on its moment, one
that will probably involve harmonies with the light in the hall.
then there's the remote for the cheap Freeview box. Some buttons on it
mysteriously ceased to function mere minutes after the year warranty
expired. Now to change channels I have to get up off my seat, position
the remote just one inch from the Freeview box sensor, and shout, 'WHAT
IS WRONG WITH YOU YOU USELESS PIECE OF ELECTRONIC CACK?'
I have other things in my kitchen. A sink-tap which refuses point-blank
to be fitted with the thing that prevents the water spraying and
splashing all over the kitchen; pots and pans whose lids hold and hide
what at times seems like gallons of water, water that chooses the worst
possible moment to escape; a radio that likes nothing more than merrily
wandering through the airwaves of its own accord; and a radiator that
doesn't like an open window and so switches itself on without my
permission, even when it is physically switched off.
All this useless stuff is making my miserable existence more miserable
than it really should be, and the sooner we in Scotland start making our
own stuff the better for us all.
GOVERNMENT SCIENTISTS HAVE discovered that some forms of brain
degeneration may be linked to a Scottish vegetable. The term 'vegetative
state' may be closer to the truth than we had realised. Further to a research
programme that spanned fifty years, it has been found that some
people's brain tissue may be slowly evolving into plant matter
similar to that found in turnips. The terms 'Dementia' and 'Alzheimers'
are to be replaced by 'Turnipification'.
THE FIRST SYMPTOMS of Turnipification may manifest themselves in a
strange desire to sit in a bath-tub of haggis and mashed potatoes.
If you come home from work one day and find your spouse engaged in
such activity then you should call the TURNIPIFICATION HELPLINE. As
the illness progresses orange waxy material may be seen emerging
from ears. In the final stages the sufferer may be heard to sing,
'Oh ma luv is like a red red rose...'
Once upon a time, long long ago, after the dragons and the
elves, but before the washing-machines, life was very different to
how it is now. For back then every village in Scotland, no matter
how small, was largely self-sufficient. There was a butcher, a
baker, a blacksmith, a brewer, a candlestick maker who spent his
spare moments wondering why he wasn't manufacturing something that began with
the letter 'B', and a guy who made shoes.
Of course, there would have been a few things imported from outside
the village, but by and large the village was a self-contained unit
that could grow and manufacture and provide practically everything
that the village needed.
But then the Industrial Revolution arrived. And with it came the Age
of the Machine. Machines that could plough far more than a horse, do
more work quicker than many men.
At first the people moved out of the villages and gathered in big
cities to tend the machines, but the machines grew bigger and better
and man was no longer required. Homo sapiens became largely
And with the machines came the ships, vast iron hulks that
coasted menacingly over the waters of the world and, like the
machines, they too grew bigger. They became like floating
continents, transporting metal mountains.
And so it came to pass that man was not just redundant due to the
machine, but those few who had managed to hold on to work now found
themselves out on a limb. The things we made or produced in Scotland
could now be made far cheaper in other lands then transported on the
ships. These foreign lands were also experiencing an Industrial
Revolution, just a bit later than ours.
Now the coal we use to generate our electricity comes from
abroad. Our miners twiddle their thumbs. The gas we use for cooking
and heating comes from abroad, as does our food and drink and cars
and electrical items like washing-machines. Shoes, too. Even our
banks are in the hands of rich foreigners. We have become a nation
unable to make much. Unable to do much, but adept at declination.
But what if we were to hark back to those old days, to adopt the
village model? Well, for a start, we'd have to make our own shoes.
Most of the shoes worn in Scotland are probably made in a foreign
land: China or Korea or Thailand. If we made our own shoes then men
and women would find work in the shoe industry, and the profits from
the new shoe industry would remain in Scotland, not siphoned off to
keep some rich foreign person in the manner to which they are
We could make other things: our own wind and wave farms (and we
would own them - not some foreign firm!), cars, fridges,
washing-machines, toys, etc etc. Scottish people would work to make
them. Unemployment would fall.
We could do other stuff. We could grow our own food, brew our own
beer, eat meat from animals reared in this country. Unemployment
All of which begs the question: does a country need to import and
export to prosper? What does 'prosper' mean? Does prospering mean that
a few folk get rich while the rest of us hold the begging-bowl, or
does it mean everyone has work and is happy?
You know, it's not going to be a very merry Christmas for a lot of
folk in Scotland this year. Presents (and largely foreign presents
at that!) are expensive. Perhaps some folk will be tempted to make
their own presents.
In fact, why don't we all try to make something? And let's start with a
country that works.
THE TIME HAS NOW COME TO MAKE OUR OWN SHOES
CATHOLICS UNDER ATTACK
There is said to be a great deal of religious bigotry in the
West of Scotland. A lot of this bigotry seems to be tied in with
football: Rangers and Celtic; Protestant and Catholic. There have been
many meetings between Strathclyde Police, Glasgow City Council, the
Scottish Government, and Rangers and Celtic football teams themselves to
try to sort it all out. Many words have been spoken, many songs have
been sung. The impact of the talks appears negligible. Empty words
Men who occupy top positions at Celtic Football Club have been targeted
in any number of ways, from having bricks thrown at their house,
physically assaulted, and even threatened with bombs and bullets. Only a
few months ago I noticed anti-Catholic graffiti on a large Catholic
church by the River Clyde. It goes on and on.
And yet, I passed Ibrox - Rangers football ground - the other day. Must
have been a match on. There were many street traders in the streets
around the ground selling scarves and flags. Some of these flags bore
images of the red hand of Ulster or King William of Orange, both
powerful Protestant images that celebrate Protestantism. Why are they
being sold when Rangers are playing? They do nothing but further bolster
an atmosphere where Catholics are seen as the enemy. Their impact on the
minority of supporters who might be caught up in such hatred can be
readily seen in recent headlines that tell us that the bulk of religious hate
crime in Scotland is targeted against Catholics.
If we are to have any hope of sorting this long-standing problem out
then we have to at least start at the bottom, and eradicate such
material from the world of football.
If the police do not have powers to remove such material for sale, then
it is up to politicians to give them that power. King William of Orange
and the red hand of Ulster should have no place in a game of football.
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NEXT MONTH : How To Make Your Own Shoes - A Step-by-Step Guide