A BIT OF THIS AND A BIT OF THAT
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature the ghost of a leaf. Not a building, we know, but
it is a structure fashioned by nature. When they painted the yellow
lines at the side of the road there was obviously a leaf on the ground,
and instead of removing it they just painted over it. When the leaf
rotted, the paint on top of it flaked away, leaving a perfect imprint.
Nature at its best.
Government Pension Reforms
Last month Glasgow witnessed unprecedented scenes as crowds gathered
to welcome the first batch of resurrected old folk. The parade
through the city centre followed on from recent changes in the
government's pension plans. After much debate in the House of
Commons it was decided to pass new legislation that will affect us
all. Clause 3e and 3f are of particular importance, and we make no
apology for quoting them in full.
CLAUSE 3e - The retirement age, and the age at which members of the
public shall collect their state pension in the UK, is to be
extended to 90.
CLAUSE 3f - Any member of the public who dies before they reach 90
will be dug up, resurrected in new government laboratories, and put
'It was felt,' said a government spokesperson, 'that we couldn't
afford to lose the skills that many of these old folks have. This,
combined with a need to tighten our belts and tackle the
ever-growing pension shortage, meant that this was the only
realistic solution we could come up with.'
Public opinion is mixed. 'Dug up and resurrected?' said a wee old
woman in Partick. 'Ah'll instruct ma pet hamster tae eat me. They'll
no' get me tae work when ah'm deid!'
Blind Leading the Blind
I was in a supermarket recently. There was a foreign chap ahead
of me in the checkout. I knew he was foreign because his skin was black
and he barely spoke a word of English. To pay for his purchases he
handed the checkout woman a card.
The checkout woman was also foreign. I knew this because while her skin
was not quite as black as the foreign customer, it had a swarthiness
that was not of these lands. She also spoke with a strange accent.
Mildly Spanish, perhaps. Perhaps not.
'I've no' seen wan o' them afore,' she said, on scrutinising the card.
The foreign customer gave a wave of his hand. It was a mildly impatient
gesture. 'Try it,' he said.
And so she tried it.
It's at times like this that you wonder about supermarket rules and
regulations and surely they must have a list of what credit and debit
cards they can and cannot accept. Perhaps she was unable to read such
regulations, if they exist, because she was foreign.
She tried it again. Swipe, swipe, and swipe. No luck. The customer
sighed and paid with cash.
Next time I'm in a supermarket I'm going to try to pay for my goods with
something I'll cut out from a cardboard box.
Copyright The Good Soup Guide. All rights reserved. CONTACT:
Why do TV presenters make such a big thing of the weather, when
their five-day forecast is invariably wrong?
Many of us pay for things online these days. In most cases the
online paying procedure runs smoothly.
But - and this is a big but - sometimes, for whatever reason, the online
payment fails. It is usually just down to some sort of glitch in the
system. Maybe the broadband connection grew weak at a crucial moment in
the transaction. Not our fault.
However, the amount of money that the failed payment was for now becomes
unavailable to us. If that was the only funds in your bank account and
you then tried to withdraw it, you would be unable to do so, usually for
around three days.
During that three days period someone has that money. Someone is making
use of that money. It is not merely floating around in an e-ether of
At the end of the day it is usually poor people who suffer. You might
just have twenty pounds in your account, the first ten was used up in
the failed transaction, and you used the second ten in a subsequent
successful second transaction. You need that first ten pounds for food, but
you can't get at it. You have to wait three days.
In my opinion, that is nothing short of criminal activity by the banks
or some holding firm, and it really is about time the government sorted
Real Ale Festivals in October
6th - 8th - TROON - This the 12th Ayrshire Real Ale
Festival. It takes places in Troon Concert Hall. Opens at 5pm on the
Thursday, and 11am on other days. In addition to over 100 ales,
cider and perry, there will be food, entertainment, and a quiet room
where you may sit and gurgle with contentment.
21st - 22nd - ALLOA - This is the 20th Alloa
Octoberfest. It takes place in Alloa Town Hall. Opens 1pm Friday,
and noon on Saturday.
There has been much in the Press of late about Irish travellers
at Dale Farm in England. The problem appears to be that they're not
travelling, and wish to stay put. Something slightly ironic there,
I suspect that there exists within us all a hint of jealousy in that
these folk appear to get on with their lives and do pretty much as they
please. They seem not to live within the constraints that bind most of
us, getting up and moving when the mood takes them, or staying put when
the mood takes them.
It seems as if they have built homes without planning permission. Seems
to me that planning permission has for far too long been a rather
lengthy pain in the butt. They've built their illegal homes right beside
other legal travellers' homes. So, what's the ploblem?
Well, the ploblem is that Homo sapiens is by and large a pack animal. He
sticks together, lays down rules, and dislikes anyone who is different;
anyone who disobeys the rules. I mean, we need rules. We need them to
keep us happy, keep our days regulated and controlled and watched over.
Irish travellers do not appear to be into rules, although I dare say
they will have their own perhaps unwritten set of rules.
To be honest, I'm not too fond of rules myself. There to be bent and
twisted and keep lawyers in business.
I suspect the Irish travellers have experienced so much hassle over the
centuries because they do not like our rules, they talk funny, and live
lives that are outwith ours. We dislike them because they are different,
in the same way that we may dislike Muslims who swan around UK streets
wearing white sheets for clothing. Different. But I respect difference.
I respect the right of others to be different to me, to perhaps flout
our laws now and then, and live their lives as they see fit. Why should
I hate such a thing? Why should I hate so much the idea of an Irish
traveller who is neither in Ireland or travelling?
It's because I'm human. We all are, even the Irish travellers.
TIPS ON WHAT SUPERMARKETS ACCEPT AS PAYMENT
1. If you cut out a piece of credit-card-shaped cardboard from a
cornflakes box, some supermarkets may accept this.
2. As library cards are exactly the same shape as credit cards, you can
try to offer this as payment. It is advisable to engage the checkout
person in frantic discussion while the transaction is being made, and to
position yourself in such a manner that allows a swift exit from the
3. In autumn, it may be possible to offer a flat rigid leaf from a tree
as payment. Prior to handing it over, smear the surface with honey and,
when questioned, say it is your nectar card.
4. In some instances, for example when the checkout is very busy and the
queue very long, you may break a raw egg into the checkout person's hand and say, 'It's my Egg card.'
5. Certain supermarkets will accept empty crisp bags as payment. This is
a similar idea to the getting-into-the-cinema-with-a-jam-jar scheme that
existed a while back. When the checkout person tells you how much your
purchases are, remove the crisp bag from your pocket, smile, and swipe
the bag through the card device. Cheese and onion bags generally work
better than prawn cocktail.
6. Some card-reading devices are fooled by saliva. So, when paying for
your goods, you may lean down and lick the card-swiping area of the
card-reading device. If questioned, reply thus: 'Collect vouchers for
schools? Oh I'm sorry, I thought you said Gie's yer drools
7. If you are very patient, you can sometimes form dust from your
vacuum-cleaner into a rough credit card shape. Many supermarkets will
accept this. If questioned, say that it is from the newly-formed NBHF
(National Bank of Hoover Fluff).
8. Some supermarkets accept socks as payment. Simply place a sock over
the card-reading device. If questioned by the checkout person, say,
'What, you don't accept socks? I shall never darken your door again.'
Then storm out in a great theatrical manner.
Castle Events in October
1st & 2nd - STIRLING CASTLE - 'Michaelmass
Merriment'. A great event where we all learn how to properly spell 'Michaelmass'
without consulting with our dictionairiesses. This weekend you
actually get to witness the sixteenth century Royal Court feasting
and dancing and having loadsa fun during the special harvest
8th & 9th - EDINBURGH CASTLE - 'For King &
Country'. It's 1650 and the castle is being attacked. Oh help ma
Boab. There will be grand parades of English troops and Scottish
troops, although the Scottish troops will parade in a far grander
manner than the English ones. Muskets will be fired and there will
be much thundering.
14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd - LINLITHGOW PALACE -
'Fright Night'. What more is there to say? This is actually an
evening event, taking place at 7.30pm and 9.15pm. IT IS NOT
RECOMMENDED FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. Apparently you get to meet U.G.L.Y.
(United Ghosts of Linlithgow Yore). It will be dark. It will be
scary. Fresh undies should be carried at all times. Book your
tickets online at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shop.
SIGN OF THE TIMES - I tried to borrow Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep'
CD at my local library. Turned out there was a waiting list of some
fifteen other folk who also wanted to borrow it. What does this tell
us? That Adele is very popular? Yeh. That libraries still have a
role to play in today's e-world? Yeh. But most of all it tells us
that a heck of a lot of folk are so poor that they can't afford to
buy music that they clearly love. And that's quite a telling fact.
SELF-SERVICE CHECKOUTS are growing in popularity. There does,
however, seem to be even more stress attached to their use than in
regular manned check-outs. If you start fiddling with the bag you
want to place the paid items in, the machine sometimes detects a
weight anomaly, thinks you're putting something in the bag that you
have not paid for, and sets off an audible warning that sees staff
rush to your side with accusatory stares. Oh how I love
I HAVE A LIGHT in the hall that makes a noise: a high-pitched whine.
I don't want a light that makes a noise. I want a light that
illuminates, full stop. If I wanted a light that made a noise I
would buy a firework.
All these noisy and allegedly energy-efficient light-emitting things
must use up a lot of energy making that unwanted noise.
I shall stand in the street and shout about it.
PICTS versus SCOTS...
In Scotland at the moment the main political party is SNP, or the
Scottish National Party. The Conservatives don't have a look in, and
are desperately trying to reinvent themselves. The Labour Party has
lost a leader who was about as charismatic as a grape, and appears
to have no one prepared to put their head above the parapet.
You know, there are times when I look at people and find myself
trying to determine their genetic ancestry. It's not a hobby or
anything. In fact, it's probably a bit weird. I know that
populations are ever changing, people move, and ethnicity in some
areas could be termed a jumbly assortment of mongrels. But I
believe that in certain large areas of Scotland there still exists a
genetic core whose roots can be traced back to when man first set
foot in this place. In the Scottish Highlands, for example, there
will be many people of Pictish descent, far more than could be found
in the Lowlands. And in Central Scotland, in the west in particular,
there are probably a greater number of folk whose ancestral
beginnings lie with the Scots who came from Ireland long long ago.
(I would mention people from Edinburgh but I still reckon they came
by and large from another galaxy.)
It appears to be the case that voters in the Highlands may be more
apt to vote SNP, while those in the Lowlands are (or were - SNP is
now ruling the roost across the board) more inclined to vote Labour.
And when I look at the faces in the Scottish Parliament I see
things. I see those in the SNP, those with fresh rosy cheeks and
fine countenances, who look more Pictish than Scots. And when I look at
Labour I see dark-haired peelie-wally folk who have the hint of a
Scot about them.
Instinctively I prefer SNP folk. Those who are with Labour make me
And so, might it be the case that - whether we realise it or not -
this is not so much a political battle between SNP and Labour as an
ancient fight between races: Picts versus Scots?