SCOTTISH INNS, BARS AND TAVERNS
This month we feature The Royal Arch bar at 258 Queen Street, Broughty Ferry. The Royal Arch has an interior that may be described as 'busy', being crammed full of stuff, framed wall prints mainly. It has a traditional old pub feel to it, and when not full of folk watching footie on the telly it's a nice pub.
The Royal Arch bar, Queen Street, Broughty Ferry
November 2012 news cartoon - The damage and dampness done to buildings by the growth of plants
Och Rone, Och Rone, Och Rone
I like plants. I like their smell, the way they look, and their nice colours. What I don't like is when they grow out of buildings. This is not the plants' fault. It is the fault of man. For man has forgotten the importance of maintaining buildings. He has forgotten the importance of clearing muck from the rone, or roof-gutter, and maintaining the down-pipe. Because if you fail to clean out the rone in a building as part of a programme of regular maintenance then what happens is plants start to grow. They grow to such an extent that the roof-gutter becomes blocked and is unable to continue with its primary function: namely, to direct rainwater away from the building. Unable to escape along the gutter, rainwater then spills over the roof-gutter and falls down the front of the building's stonework. The stone gets wet, and over a period of time green moss grows on the damp patches, the plants in the rone get bigger, and all that greenery begins to take over. The external damp and the plants' roots start to creep inside the building, and as time goes by the actual structure of the building declines.
As I wander through Scotland towns and cities I see this all over, and it causes me no end of despair. The photograph above shows an architecturally magnificent building on Paisley's High Street. It is so magnificent that it even has a grand statue. And yet it is clearly festooned with plants. This building is slowly decaying before our very eyes and no one seems to actually care.
Well, I care. I care because I hate to see failings within town and city councils with regard to building maintenance, and especially when that building is of considerable architectural merit.
I also care because I love Paisley. I love it in the same that I love all of Scotland. And unless whatever council is in charge of that fine town gets a real grip, then I will have no option but to send Hamish around. Armoured hippos don't like plants on buildings either.
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
November 2012
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THE DEMISE OF SCOTLAND
I was in Brechin recently. When I visit towns I am unfamiliar with I like to get off the bus at the town's edge and approach on foot. It's a good way of getting a real feel for a place. In the case of Brechin, it was a bit of a shock. As I walked up the town's High Street the road was lined with closed and abandoned shops. Of those that were boarded up one had a sign in the window thanking all customers. A recent closure. Two other shops had a closing down sale. Another Scottish town going to the dogs. It's probably only a matter of time before Brechin folk follow the example set by other impoverished Scottish places like Dumfries and Paisley and paint shops on their shop-fronts to make the place look more interesting.
While there are many reasons why small towns in Scotland are struggling, it may be of interest to pause a moment and look at just one: the internet and online shopping.
When you buy something on the internet, a book or laptop or whatever, then the shops in your town that normally sell such things are denied the sale. But it's not only that, a van is despatched right to your very door to deliver the book or laptop or whatever. The amount of additional vehicles that this places on our roads must be astronomical. Ordering things in the comfort of your home may be convenient and it may even be cheaper than buying the same goods in a shop, but in the long term it is actually doing society a great deal of harm. It is causing shops in our High Streets to close, shop-workers to become redundant, and increases the traffic on our roads and the carbon footprint to levels that are destroying us. And thus places like Brechin are turned into urban wastelands, fun grounds for boy-racers who coast around in a surreal local version of Grand Theft Auto.
Snippets
I'VE GOT MY Berghaus jacket. It was made in Indonesia. I've got my Sainsbury's TU shirt. It was made in Bangladesh. I've got my Morrison's sardines. They were produced in Thailand. I've got my Morrison's Fish Paste. It was produced in Belgium. I've got my Sainsbury's sweetcorn. It was produced in France. Remind me, what is it we make here in Scotland? Whisky? Cripes, is that not the white spirit that's flavoured and coloured with foreign spirit? In fact, where is our Scottish spirit?
MANY JOB VACANCIES in today's jobs market require people who are good team players and good at handling pressure. If you're not one of the guffawing guys or galls and dislike steam coming from your ears then you've had it. But not everyone is a team player, and there is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone can cope with lots of pressure, and there is nothing wrong with that either. The amount of emphasis that is placed on folk being team players and able to handle pressure is nothing but absurd.
IN THE TICKET office in Glasgow Queen Street railway station there is a neat little invention. At each ticket window there is a small device in which folk can place their walking-stick. The device keeps the stick upright and prevents it from falling over, as they are apt to do when leant against a smooth straight edge. What a great idea. But I'd like to see it extended. If the devices were a little bigger, and in pairs, drunk folk could slot in each of their legs and be retained in an upright position, secure and safe. Whatdyathink?
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WARNING! WARNING! SCHOOL CHILDREN ARE APPROACHING! WARNING!
I may be alone with this thought, but I am inclined to think that in areas around large secondary schools a siren should sound at the start of lunch-time so as to warn folk of the impending bedlam.
I mean, there I was, on Portobello High Street, thinking I might grab a small greasy thing to keep my stomach going. I saw a place where I might obtain the said small greasy thing, but between thinking about it and the relevant signal being sent to my legs a million school children appeared. It was instantaneous bedlam, and there was no way I was going to reach the counter of the shop I'd spied to obtain the small greasy thing I had in mind. And it was almost impossible to escape from the hoards. They queued out of shops and blocked pavements, seagulls swooped in the hope of catching falling crumbs, and the pavements because littered in a peculiar gloopish delicacy that I understand goes under the name of 'Chips and Curry Sauce'.
I really don't think we should be unleashing such bedlam onto the streets. Ordinary folk who live in such areas should not have to put up with this. They should not be frightened to leave their homes because they know that schoolchildren have generally no respect for anyone who is not a school child and pensioners are likely to be elbowed off the pavement as they stomp and shout and spit. No, we can't have that. We have to provide canteens in schools, and we can't allow them to leave at lunch, even if that means locking gates and hiring security guards armed with whips. The behaviour of some school children is so bad that if they were adults they'd probably be arrested for breach of the peace. But they're just kids, so we somehow tolerate their bawdy behaviour and hide behind curtains when they emerge at lunch.
Of course, I suppose you could argue that many small food outlets near schools thrive on the business the school children give them. Many would indeed maybe not survive at all without that daily bucket of chips and curry sauce. Well so what? Chips and curry sauce might taste pretty good, but it has about as much nutritional goodness as the cardboard from a box of breakfast cereal.
And so, to conclude, I know that sirens still exist in many towns, placed high on certain buildings like police stations or government offices, and it's time we started using them. When ordinary sane members of the public hear them sound it would be a signal to get off the streets and hide for cover in some place where the hoards have no access. It would be time for... THE PUB!
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