February 2012
Kilwinning Main Street - in 2011
This month we feature another whole street. It's the Main Street in Kilwinning. The photograph was taken in 2011, after the streetscape had been revamped and remoulded to give significant visual improvements. It looks, I think you will agree, braw, and might even make you want to visit Kilwinning. [See the Kilwinning pages of The Good Soup Guide for an insight into what to expect when you get there.]
February 2012 News cartoon - hospital acquired infection and cleaning methods
Hospitals - places you go to catch something
It was once the case - and I know you'll find this hard to believe - that hospitals were 'institutions for the treatment of the sick or injured'. Nowadays it seems to be the case that you go to a hospital to catch something that will either make you ill, very ill, or kill you. So prevalent are hospital-acquired infections that the NHS is considering trialling a traffic light system.
'If the Met Office can have a traffic-light system,' said a doctor in the hospital canteen where he had the same clothes that he wore when treating ill folk, 'then why can we not have one too?'
The system is expected to work like this:
YELLOW - There is a good chance that you'll pick up some sort of vomiting bug. All cleaners should deploy the brush.
ORANGE - You are certain to pick up some bug that will eat bits of you. All cleaners should deploy the Big Brush.
RED - Strong chance of death. It's probably 50/50. All cleaners should deploy two Big Brushes and one of those nice multi-coloured flossy things.

The Poem

I have a hair in my toilet
that curls around and around,
Perhaps it believes it is a rope
tethered to the ground.
It may think it secures a sailing-ship
at the edge of an emerald sea,
So I wouldn't wish to disturb it,
And I'm going to let it be.
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A new system of weather alerts has appeared from somewhere. It follows on from research that revealed some issues with regard to weather forecasts on the TV.
'Some people in Scotland,' said a spokesperson, 'were unable to recognise the cloud image that we use in our daily weather bulletins that follow the News. Some folk thought it represented a field of sheep. It was the same with the wind-strength figures. Many viewers thought they represented the price of apples. To alleviate further problems we have devised a new system.'
The new system is based around traffic lights, with three basic colours indicating specified degrees of warning. The colours and warnings are as follows:

This means there will be some weather.

There will be a little more weather than normal.

There will be a significant increase in the amount of expected weather. HIDE UNDER THE DUVET!
Litter in Craigton Street, Govan, 12th Jan 2012 11.50am
Large items for uplift, and rubbish, in Elderpark Street, Govan, noon 12th Jan 2012
Streets of Shame
Wander through the impoverished back streets of Glasgow on the day that large items of furniture and other unwanted household waste is to be picked up, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were cavorting through streets in a Third World country. In fact, wander through the impoverished back streets of Glasgow most days of the week, and you'd probably find the same.
I was making my way through Govan a few weeks ago, and was quite astonished at the amount of rubbish and discarded household items that littered the streets of the whole area. I suppose you could suggest that there were a few mitigating factors, in that it was probably the day that households were meant to put unwanted stuff out for uplift by the council. And, there was a strong wind the night before which probably blew things around. But the truth of the matter is that most streets in the poorer areas of Glasgow look like this most of the time. It's, frankly, unbelievable what people think they have to put up with. No wonder so many folk drink alcohol to drown their sorrows and blot out the reality of living in what is nothing but a coup.
There's got to be a better method of dealing with refuse. This current system is disgraceful. I know that folk sometimes put stuff out when they shouldn't, and that  other folk just dump stuff anywhere they please, but this system is not working. And the sooner the Cleansing Department management come up with a more human system worthy of the Second City of the once great British Empire, the better for us all.
SCOTRAIL IS TO offer travellers instruction on the correct method of sliding into a table-seat.
'We felt' said a spokesperson, 'that it was important to fully prepare our customers for their journey, and slotting yourself into a table-seat is very much a part of that process. We want travelling to be an enjoyable experience, and to enhance it we are offering workshops on Contortionism. All enquiries should be made to Scotrail's Why-Is-There-Not-Enough-Room Department.
THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM ballot paper is now to include extra questions.
'We simply wish to give the Scottish people more choice,' said an SNP spokesman. 'Which is why we're asking if they prefer Sherbert Lemons or Kola Cubes, American Cream Soda or Limeade, gravy with their haggis or not, brushes or flossies, wee dogs or big dogs, umbrellas or raincoats, grey clouds or white clouds, and if they think a law should be passed to control teeth-brushing.'
CASH-FOR-CACK - Glasgow City Council is trialling an innovative method of dealing with the mountains of dog mess that coat the city's residential streets. They plan to open up a range of shops all over the city, and will offer members of the public an opportunity to take part in cleaning up the streets in their own area. Called 'CASH-FOR-CACK', the shops will give 50p for every kilogram of dog mess brought into the shops. 'We'll clean up the streets, one way or another,' said a councillor.

The world of train tickets in Scotland is a green and leafy one that could probably be rightly termed 'a jungle'. For in that complex place of offers and discounts and are-you-travelling-the-day-after-tomorrow-or-the-day-after-the-day-after-tomorrow-and-coming-back-sometime-with-a-flower-in-your-hair (what - you didn't know there was a special discount for rail travellers who wore a flower in their hair?) only the strongest survive. And it shouldn't be like that. It is discriminating against folk who might not be totally on the ball with regard to electronic gadgetry and things that go 'bleep'. Some folk, for example, might like to just go to a railway station and buy a ticket from a man behind a sheet of Perspex.
There was a reader's letter in The Herald back in January that told of the disparity that exists within the system. An off-peak return ticket (where no flowers in the hair were involved) between Glasgow's Queen's Park and Perth cost £27.20. And yet if that person bought two separate tickets, one from Queen's Park to Glasgow and another from Glasgow to Perth, he would save £9.10. The response from Scotrail's customer services was to be fobbed off with the old, 'It's your responsibility to check' ruse.
There is no good reason why Scotrail cannot go through all the ticket prices and destinations in Scotland and get rid of these pricing inconsistencies. And from what I can see, the only reason they are not doing so is because they really don't care. Which kinda makes me wonder if they are fit to operate trains in this country.
The Inconsistencies of Rail Travel
Scotrail - The Last Dinosaur

Forgive me if it appears that I hurl abuse at Scotrail on too many occasions, but on too many occasions I find this Scottish rail company to be indescribably and unbelievably inept.
Take, for example, a little jaunt between Hyndland station in Glasgow and Milngavie recently. It was just a train journey. How many inept things can one possibly come across on such a short jaunt?

■ New 'automatic' door at Hyndland ticket office appears to offer a level of complexity that few travellers can master. One, it doesn't appear to be greatly automatic as you stand there waving your arms and waggling your ears to get the thing to open. Two, if you're standing inside browsing the leaflet stand and the door opens, it gives you a thick ear.

■ New toilet 'box' on Hyndland platform, an all singing, all dancing affair whose door just doesn't open. One presumes it is there for show.

■ On the train... the visual display that tells you what train you are on and what station you are approaching had us approaching Bearsden long after we'd left Bearsden and were in fact approaching Hillfoot.

■ Toilet locked at Milngavie station. To use it you have to ask for a key and show your ticket to prove that you are a legitimate toilet-needing train traveller and not some suspicious toilet-user who might only pretend to be a traveller so as to pee.

The unfortunate thing about most of these things is that electronic gadgetry is involved, much of which clearly does not work as well as it should. The exception is, of course, the final point, where the barrier was merely a man doing his job and trying to prevent non-travelling pee'ers and poopers from using his toilet. I have it on good authority that Scotrail is to begin trials of a system that will see rail travellers who present themselves as needing the toilet X-rayed to ensure that their bladder is sufficiently expanded to merit the energy expenditure required for the ticket office person to reach out his arm and give you the toilet key.
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