January 2012
St John Street in Perth, looking towards the Salutation Hotel, in December 2011
This month we feature a whole street: St John Street in Perth. Perth is slightly unusual in that it has a huge shopping centre in its midst, and yet the town itself has managed to hold its own, boasting wonderful streets like that shown below. St John Street is lined with old buildings with nice shops at ground level. In this photo there are even two policemen dreaming of the shopping they will do when off duty.
January 2012 News cartoon - the Olympic torch passing the Burns House Museum in Mauchline, and pensioners trying to get a heat
Scottish Olympic Torch Fears
Fears are growing for the security of the Olympic torch during its impending journey throughout Scotland. It is felt that in some areas of the country pensioners may gather in considerable numbers in the hope of getting a heat from the naked flame.
'We have received some intelligence,' said a government spokesperson, 'that the current high price of gas and electricity combined with a squeeze on household budgets may force many old people out of their homes and into the streets. Our source has informed us that many pensioners have been training in secrecy, and that come the big day they plan to run beside the torch-carrying athlete and obtain a good level of heating from the flame.'
'We can't have cold old folk getting in the way of such a big event, and to this end we are in discussions with a certain unnamed security organisation with a view to thwarting everything the pensioners may be planning. Any old person seen actively jogging within one hundred meters of the Olympic torch will be wrestled to the ground, tasered, and taken away for interrogation. Nothing will stand in the way of this day, not even a few miserable pensioners.'
Public opinion is mixed. 'Tasered? Tasered?' said a wee old woman in Partick as she wiped an icicle from her nose. 'If any SAS dude tries tae stoap me gettin' a free heat ah'm kneein' 'im in the goolies!'

The Poem

Oh ye Glesga drunken man
Ye're often drinkin' oot a can
Ye'r face is blotchy an' awfy red
Ye look as if ye're almost dead
Ye'r great big coat is fu' o' stains
Some dirt, some blood,
an' sumb'dy's brains
Oh ye Glesga drunken man
Why can ye no' chist huv the wan?
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Credit agencies around the world are in agreement that the only way forward with regard to the financial turmoil is to wind-up Europe, bulldoze the lot, and turn it into a car-park.
'We are seeing a vast increase in cars these days,' said a credit agency person. 'There is always a shortage of parking space, and if Italy, France, Germany, Greece Spain and the UK were flattened and painted with nice white lines, well... think of the number of cars you could park there!'
Not everyone likes the idea.
Italy insists that if any bulldozers come anywhere near their country they must be white and not yellow; France wants to choose the dimensions of its own parking-grids; Germany wants to tender a bid for the bulldozer contract; Greece wants to know if they can set up olive stalls in unused parking spaces; Spain wondered if it would be possible to have fences instead of white lines (and maybe bring back bull-fighting); and the UK unemployment rate has fallen to zero as all available citizens are now employed in building vast walls around the whole country's coastline.
Can there possibly be anything more demeaning in life than having to ask for a key to use the toilet? What sort of charade are we operating in this country? Toilets in train stations (I use the term loosely because I am not convinced that you can call a Perspex box on a platform a station) appear in many cases to close after a certain time. And yet there are still trains running. That's an absolute disgrace, and there is no excuse whatsoever that can mitigate the absurdity of it.
In other train stations you have to ask someone for the key. 'Please sir, may I have the key for the toilet?'
In bus stations you've got to pay to use the toilet. Thirty pence for a pee is pushing it a bit when you've had to endure a two-and-a-half hour journey on a bus with no toilet facilities.
Then there are libraries. In Hillhead Library in Glasgow, for example, you have to ask for the key, and hand over your library card as surety that you are not going to run away with the said key, the key that is attached for some unfathomable reason to a twelve-inch ruler (what, might I enquire, is one expected to measure?).
I've even been on buses that do allegedly have a toilet (built, clearly, with hobbits in mind), where you spend far too long looking at the 'TOILET IN USE' symbol wondering if the toilet is out of order or if maybe someone died in there a while back and no one bothered to check. So you spend the remainder of the journey nurturing an ever-growing bladder and a fear that as soon as you pluck up the courage to open that door a body in a state of some decomposition will fall out.
There can be no greater despair than standing in a bus or train station in the evening waiting on a bus or train in a place forsaken by civilisation, a place where there is no toilet and no members of staff; a place where travellers have been abandoned in a hopeless void of angst.
What a disgrace.
THERE IS MUCH talk of change within the Labour party in Scotland further to the recent announcement of a new leader. John Lamont or Joanna Lumley or whoever it is said, 'Change is now required. It is change that will see us succeed in Scotland, and in that change we will see much that is different.' The Good Soup Guide understands that the first major change is already in place. At party meetings there will be custard creams instead of digestives.
LABOUR PARTY OFFICIALS in Scotland have decided to embrace their new leader's cry for all-out change by getting rid of her and replacing her with one of Edinburgh Zoo's new pandas. 'We felt,' said a Labour party person, 'that John Lamont or Joanna Lumley or whoever it was we had as a leader for those two eventful minutes lacked the charisma required to allow us to forge a new Scotland. The panda is guaranteed to attract public interest, and we feel this is the way forward.'
THE SCOTTISH LABOUR party is looking at the possibility of bringing back Iain Gray. It is thought that if supplies of bamboo run out the current new incumbent may defect or run away. 'The thing about Iain Gray,' said an insider, 'is that he had a good strong jaw. You cannot deny that a man with a firm square jaw-line must have the ability to do something useful. We thought he might break down the vast bamboo supplies with his teeth and keep our new leader content.'

After much deliberation, some slurping, lots of looking to and fro, and a total absence of any free beer from you miserable bunch of brewers, The Good Soup Guide Annual Awards 2012 will now be announced. Are you ready?

BEST SOUP IN SCOTLAND - The Gypsy Cream Coffee House in Largs. As well as good wholesome soup they make what is probably the best tablet in the whole country.

BEST ALE BREWED IN SCOTLAND - 'Punk IPA', brewed by BrewDog up in Fraserburgh. Never have I tasted such a gloriously fragrant ale, one that I could drink and drink and drink.

BEST BAR IN SCOTLAND - Dreel Tavern in Anstruther. Such a wonderful old thing.

BEST THING TO SEE IN SCOTLAND - Perth Museum & Art Gallery. An astonishingly beautiful building full of astonishingly beautiful stuff.

BEST LITTLE WALK IN SCOTLAND - The section of the Southern Upland Way between Melrose and Lauder. Oh the joy of being out of doors amongst green stuff.
The Good Soup Guide Annual Awards 2012

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How Far Should We Go?

How far should we go to ensure that everyone in society ingests the appropriate quantity of vitamins and minerals essential for a good healthy life?
We already add unnecessary - unnecessary with regard to the taste and quality of the product - vitamins to many foodstuffs; we have debated about the addition of more fluoride to our drinking water (probably best not to know what is already in your clear 'pure' drinking water!); and we are in danger of pampering to an underclass of nutritional dunderheads to a degree that may in time have an adverse effect on the human race.
Because, at the end of the day, you can get too much of a good thing. Excessive amounts of certain vitamins may actually be detrimental to our health.
So how far should we go?
Well, we shouldn't. We shouldn't be adding anything to our food and drink that is not in it in the first place. I don't want to risk fluoride poisoning by drinking tap water just because wee Johnny's not too good at remembering to brush his teeth after consuming umpteen cans of sweet fizzy drinks.
What we should be doing is educating children... you know - that thing we used to do with them in schools when we talked to them and they learned stuff. We could, for example, educate them about the need to consume oily fish, like mackerel, so as to boost our levels of Vitamin D and keep diseases like Rickets or perhaps even Multiple Sclerosis at bay.
I will simply not entertain any argument about it being too expensive to eat a healthy diet. It's not. It might require you to think more, and it might require more effort to source what you need, but eating healthily is not more expensive than reaching out your flabby arm and grabbing tins of salt-, sugar- and fat-saturated chuck.
I'm not an unreasonable man. I know that sometimes we may need a few extra vitamins or minerals to perhaps see us through an unusual period in our body's existence. So pop a pill, don't go burdening the majority just to keep the minority content, especially when we do not understand the long-term implications of mass-dosing the population.
In mollycoddling people who simply cannot be bothered to eat healthily we run the risk of creating a dangerous genetic monster that could at some future stage not just bite a large chunk out of mankind, but finish us off once and for all.
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