SCOTTISH INNS, BARS AND TAVERNS
This month we feature Lochlands Bar, at 14 Lochlands Street in Arbroath, as photographed through a camera lens that had misted up. The misty lens adds a strangely atmospheric quality to a bar that has its own atmospheric charm.
Lochlands Bar, 14 Lochlands Street, Arbroath
December 2012 news cartoon - mothers jogging with prams
The Olympic 400 Metre Pram
Prams and babies are getting out of hand. There, I've said it. Do your worst.
It was once the case that mothers put their baby in a pram and merely went for a walk somewhere, perhaps in a park or wherever. But those days are gone. Walking baby in a pram has been taken to a whole new dimension.
Much of what we see in our streets and parks is down to the fact that most mothers have a baby then hand it over to someone else to wheel around while they swan off and earn a crust. In order to increase efficiency and make good use of staff numbers the folk who look after the babies have progressed from one just one baby in a pram to hoards of babies in hoards of prams. We've got prams joined to other prams to such an extent that it is not unusual to see three prams bolted together, either in a pavement-blocking side-by-side fashion or as a joined back-to-front train. And it doesn't even appear to be stopping there. While walking in the park the other day I saw what I can only describe as a small pram carriage consisting of something like eight prams made up of two side-by-side and multiplied by four. What on earth is going on? It's got to stop!
For those mothers who have decided to actually be mothers and look after their own children, the choice of pram available to them has increased greatly in recent times. Some are hi-tec prams designed to be good and rugged so that mothers can jog while pushing baby. It beggars belief. I kid you not when I say that during another attempt by yours truly to walk and relax in a local park I was almost run over by a group - A GROUP - of mothers all jogging with their babies in prams. WHAT'S HAPPENING OUT THERE? HAVE WE LOST OUR SENSES?
Are we soon to see prams progress to the next level? Is The Everest Pram just around the corner? Prams with their own oxygen supply and special high-altitude pampers to allow mothers to scale mountains and walk baby? Prams that bleep? Probably.
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
December 2012
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Free music download of 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' by Eddy Burns
Merry Christmas


'The First Time', or 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face', to give it its full and proper title, is the work of Ewan MacColl and dates to 1957. Originally a folk song, it has been covered by many artists over the decades.
This is my version (I'm Eddy Burns, by the way), recorded around 2005, not long before the financial doggy-doo hit the fan and they took away all my guitars.
Although a fuzzy-guitared rocky adaptation, the vocals are without question in the manner of that quite superb rendition by Johnny Cash.

PLAY IT LOUD!
Snippets
THERE ARE FAR too many dogs in Scotland. In some big city residential areas the streets are awash with dog poo. It's beyond a joke, not that it was ever a joke in the first place. In fact some say it's lucky to stand in Fido's faeces.  Here in Partick the locals are the luckiest in the whole country. I fear my solution might cause upset, but it's a practical one. We could both reduce the number of dogs in society and help out with the much-stretched household budget by eating a few dogs. Whatdyasay?
PAVEMENTS IN GLASGOW and other Scottish cities, are in a hell of a mess. There are that many wobbly, cracked, holed and generally broken pavements that it is becoming increasingly dangerous for pedestrians to use them. The reason they are in this state is because most pavements were built with people in mind. They were not built to hold the weight of a mechanised street-sweeping vehicle. Instead of having to pay for repairs, would it not make more sense just to employ more manual street sweepers?
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SCOTRAIL SUCKS
If you are in any doubt about how badly the rail operator (I use the term loosely) Scotrail is letting down the travelling paying public then you need look no further that Twitter. On one day alone, November 15th 2012, the tweeting Rail Travelling Champion 'Scotrail Sucks!' retweeted around 170 tweets from disgruntled unhappy train commuters. In one day.
Now, it might well be the case that the number of tweets from hacked-off rail punters was unusually high on that day, but even if we round it down to a nice one hundred as a nominal daily average, it still gives us almost 40,000 complaints annually against Scotrail. And that's just from folk who feel the need to tweet. I might suggest that the actual number of unhappy rail travellers each and every day is far higher than a tweet count might suggest. Indeed most rail travellers merely put up with the constant delays and cancellations and overcrowding and don't tweet or complain. It could well be the case that we're looking at a seven figure number here: over one million complaints per annum.
Is it not therefore time the Scottish Government carried out some sort of enquiry into just what on earth is going on with Scotrail? Can we not at least attempt to determine how such a large and crucial organisation can be so inept?
It is no longer good enough to cite constant signalling problems as the main source of angst. Signalling problems have reached such an intrusive economy-threatening level that it is clear whatever signalling system is used is not up to the job. We need a radical alternative to whatever system is alleged to be in place at present.
But it's not just signalling issues. Trains are overcrowded far too often. Travellers who have paid a lot of good money are being treated like cattle.
And then there's the staff. It seems to me that a certain culture exists within Scotrail, a sort of jobs-for-the-boys culture where everyone's having a laugh and doing as little as possible for their so-called hard-earned cash. Such a culture comes from management. Nowhere else.
I would therefore ask the Scottish Government to look into this issue with haste. Scotrail is clearly no longer up to the task of ferrying rail passengers around the country, and the time has now come to give that role to another more able organisation.
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