IMAGES OF SCOTLAND
This month we feature the railway path near Grandtully. There is something strangely enchanting about this photograph. It was the last photograph of the day for me, the day was on its way out, and I fully expected it to be nothing more than another naff snap. But it's not. It speaks of adventure and pixies and the promise of Velvet Truffles from The Highland Chocolatier in Grandtully.
Railway path near Grandtully
News cartoon re Scotland's new Forth Bridge - made mostly from Chinese steel
NOT AN OUNCE OF SCOTTISH STEEL
The Scottish Government has been asking Joe Public to come up with a name for the new Forth Bridge that will be built at Queensferry. This is the bridge that is to be built from steel girders, none of which will be made in Scotland. Indeed, according to Press reports, the bulk of the steel to be used in the construction will come from China.
It kinda beggars belief, doesn't it? I mean, it might be cheap to get steel from yon foreign land, but there is just something either immoral or unethical about it. It certainly can't be good for Scotland in that it pretty much announces to the world that our steel industry is, as the singing twins from Auchtermuchty might say: no more!
Scotland's online tourist guide understands that pioneering prawn cracker technology is to be employed, and that the workforce will be utilising the latest equipment that has been designed, like the bridge itself, on the back of a packet of cheap fags.
As far as names are concerned, The Great Bridge of China is as good as anything.
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
April 2012
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THE TRAINS... AGAIN
Scotrail appear all hung-up and quite stuck on the idea of three and six carriage trains. Their station platforms are geared towards the acceptance of trains that are three or six carriages in length.
What this means in the real world is that when you get on any number of trains at rush-hour there are many people standing because of insufficient seats. A four carriage train - just one more little carriage - would make all the difference.
But the driver of a four carriage train would have problems at stations. For although there are signs saying '3' or '6' to help drivers of trains of either three or six carriages in length with regard to where they should bring their train to a halt, there are no signs that say '4'. The driver of a four-carriage train would therefore not know where to bring his train to a stop.
It would maybe mean having to employ a wee man, one who would stand on the platform and give instructions to train drivers...
'Back a bit... no, too far... bring 'er forward a smidgeon... bit more. STOAP!'
Or they could just get someone to paint '4' on some more signs.
Snippets
SOME BANKS HAVE a policy that disallows customers from withdrawing less than £50 inside the bank. It's all part of progress and a shoddy attempt to reduce queues. What it actually means in practise is that poor people are denied the luxury of human interaction, and instead have to deal with The Machine. And if you're an old person who nurtures a slight fear of The Machine, and who relies on occasional human contact to feel alive, then that's quite sad, and certainly not progress.
I RECENTLY HAD cause to use a bus to get me from Dundee to Broughty Ferry. I rubbed my hands in glee as a double-decker appeared. There is nothing better than the view from the top deck of a double-decker bus. Usually. On this occasion some person of indeterminate brain capacity who was employed in the world of advertising decided that the whole front window upstairs would be ideal for a large advert. Result: nae view. What tourists think of it all, I do not know.
THE 'EXACT FARE' policy in use by many big city bus companies has to be the most crooked scheme ever introduced in Scotland. This is a scheme where you have to have the correct amount of money to the value of your fare. If you don't, you either get back off the bus, or put too much in and don't get any change. It makes it hard for visitors who may be unfamiliar with the system, who invariably end up losing out financially. Are we actively trying to scare visitors away, or what?

Hands up all those who know what a Velvet Truffle is. A small chocolatey thing filled with some sweet brown stuff? Something pigs unearth from woodland with their snout? An unknown word popular with poets as it rhymes with snuffle? Well, prepare to be informed.

CLICK HERE FOR SPECIAL FEATURE ON THE HIGHLAND CHOCOLATIER.
The Highland Chocolatier
Special feature on the Highland Chocolatier
FEEL A COUGH COMING ON? INSTINCTIVE SURVIVAL IN HUMANS
It's funny how sometimes when you're sitting in a public place, like at the theatre or cinema or on a bus or train, and someone coughs, it seems to set off some sort of chain reaction that soon sees others exercise their lungs in a loud explosive manner.
For some reason that one little, or big, cough triggers others to do likewise. It might not necessarily lead to a mass outbreak of bronchial honking, but there will invariably be a few folk who find themselves joining in in a sympathetic and quite uncontrollable manner.
Perhaps we nurture dormant instincts that see the stranger's cough as a signal to clear our own lungs.
Here in The Good Soup Guide's School of Theories we have a hypothesis. We love hypothesissiesses.
Our hypothesis is that of a threat. The stranger's cough is a signal of some unseen threat. It may signal a number of things. Someone could be infected with a dangerous organism and his lungs are doing their utmost to expel the beastie. Or, there may be something noxious in the air that we have not yet detected. So we'll cough, whether we wish to or not, so as to lessen the threat to our own existence. Just to be on the safe side.
In coughing, Man has embarked on a small bout of self-preservation, even if he is unaware that that is exactly what he is doing.
So, any questions out there? Do you agree with our Hypothesis on the Involuntary Coughing Mechanism as an Instinctive Means of Self-Preservation?
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WELCOME TO TONGLAND
During a recent visit to Kirkcudbright the bus I was on passed through a village. The roadside sign said, 'WELCOME TO TONGLAND'. It was a mildly ominous sign. The word Tongland feels a bit foreign, and a little bit scary. I mean, it's not the most user-friendly name in the world. Tongland. If it were located near Glasgow the sign might well say, 'WELCOME TO TONGLAND, YA BASS.'
But methinks it is a village worth checking out. I caught a glimpse of an architecturally stunning power station, and a lovely old bridge. I shall prepare the hippos for battle.