This month we change from Images of Scotland to a glimpse of the inside of some of Scotland's public houses, bars, inns, taverns or whatever you want to call them. We set the ball rolling with Bennets Bar in Edinburgh, a truly magnificent old pub with many preserved original features. Not to be missed.
The interior of Bennets Bar in Edinburgh, showing stained glass, old carved wood, etc.
October 2012 News cartoon - call centres
Those Dark Satanic Call Centres
I've worked in a few call centres. In most occasions I've left after a short while because I just couldn't handle it. I couldn't stand, amongst other things, the standard responses with the gap that read ' ... INSERT EMPATHY HERE ... '. It was like we were all robots who could switch the empathy on and off at the drop of a hat.
The working practises inside many call centres are, at the very least, suspect. I've been in one where the team leader of the team that achieved the fewest sales in a week had to wear a clown's outfit for a week. In my opinion that is not so much motivational as demeaning and kinda sick. In that same call centre there were occasionally elderly ladies with clipboards manning stairwells to check that everyone was holding on to the banister. I kid you not. If you weren't holding on to the banister they took down your name.
I think it's the total erosion of respect that gets me; the idea that you only have precisely six minutes each day for 'Personal Time' - six minutes in which to pee and empty your bowels. It's almost harking back to the shipyard days of old when men were handed exactly six sheets of toilet paper to use when they needed a poo.
In the last call centre I worked folk would stomp up and down shouting out, 'GET READY! GET READY!' This happened if just one person was waiting to get through on the phones, and we all had to stop what we were doing and become ready to take a call.
You only got half-an-hour for lunch - half an hour to frantically make for the shops and elbow other half-hour lunchees out of the way. It used to be the case that you got an hour. An hour allows you to relax, and you return to your job refreshed and better able to do the job well. Half an hour is a nonsense, and the reason there is bedlam in big city centres is because everyone's dashing around trying to cram everything into that measly little period of time. And you don't get paid for breaks. It's Draconian, Dickensian, and downright disgraceful. The young folk employed in such places are put under so much pressure that it's no wonder they get absolutely smashed on alcohol at the weekends. It's just not right.
Scotland's Online Tourist Guide
October 2012
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Some toilets are scary. By that I don't mean there's some guy spending a bit too long shaking the last drip off or that the floor-gap between cubicles is more than a foot and folk are keeking. No, what I mean is there is some modern device inserted therein that really has no place in a toilet.
I was once in a hotel in Dorchester in England. On the bowl in my en-suite loo was a sign that read, 'DO NOT USE W.C. UNLESS RED LIGHT IS ON.' I mean, using the toilet in unfamiliar surroundings is fraught with quite enough stress without there being electronic gadgetry involved. What did it mean, I wondered. Has this world become so turned in on itself in the field of electronics that we can't even have a pee without there being buttons and switches and red flashing lights? I couldn't see a red light.
Oh my god, I quietly whimpered to myself. I'm not even going to be able to sit down for a Number 2 without wondering if my dangly bits will be sucked in and minced!
On another occasion I saw a sign in a train toilet. This one read, 'WARNING - MAGNETS ARE FITTED TO TOILET LID AND SEAT.'
Does this mean, I wondered, that if you've had a hip replacement or some surgical procedure where metal bits are inserted you may never get up off this loo? It brings to mind surreal images of folk magnetically glued to the bowl.
Yeh, there are some scary toilets out there. If you know of any more, let us know, and we'll investigate.
IT MAY BE my age, but I'm becoming irritated by the increase in the number of words ending in vowels. Here in Scotland we don't generally do words that end in vowels, with perhaps the exception of coo, doo and moo. Many of these new words are company names, like Arriva or Selecta. Sounds more Spanish to me. It seems it's just another symptom of a creeping foreignness that is leeching into our genes. It's probably only a matter of time before folk in Partick greet each other in the street with cries of, 'Ola Jimmy!'
A RECENT TRIP to Aviemore reinforced the notion that Scotrail are failing their travelling customers. There I was, standing on the platform at Aviemore railway station at 6pm on a Saturday evening having consumed several pints of fine ale, and the station toilets were shut. How can you have a station open with trains running yet no toilets? It's not just disgraceful, it's got to be practically criminal, surely? Until Scotrail start to get such basics right, they will continue to be nothing more than Scotland's transport joke.
WHILE PEEING MY way across the beautiful countryside around Aviemore in a marking-my-territory sort of way, I noticed a sign by a gate and a wooden fence. It read, 'DOG EXERCISE AREA'. Why, I often wonder, can such signs not just say, 'DOG CRAP AREA'? I sneaked a peek over the fence and was somewhat surprised to see dogs doing press-ups, sit-ups, and bench-presses. Perhaps the need for a healthy body has passed from humans into the world of our canine chums. Very fit dogs in Aviemore.
I know, you're thinking this month's News is just a little too focussed on toilets and peeing, and you could be right. But I've been on too many buses that do not have an onboard toilet, buses that can take you from A to B and spend almost 3 hours doing so. The main culprits appear to be Stagecoach.
A Stagecoach bus from Edinburgh to St Andrews takes just over two-and-a-half hours, yet there is no toilet on these buses.
A Stagecoach bus from Glasgow to St Andrews is the same, a journey of around two-and-a-half hours with no toilet.
Am I alone in finding this unacceptable, or is it just my age and a greater need to urinate more often?
Given the emphasis on tourism these days, is it not about time the Scottish Government introduced legislation to force bus companies to use buses with onboard toilets when the journey is over a nominal period of time, say two hours or whatever?
We cannot have a situation where tourists are put through some discomfort in trying to explore our fine country, and especially when there are so many areas of Scotland that are not connected to the rail network and buses are the only option.

Glesga Wumman

Oh ye stocky Glesga wumman
Ye look like ye could dae wi' slimmin'
Ye've spare tyres here an' spare tyres there
An' sum ur lookin' worse fur wear
Ye'r sox ur hidin' bulgin' veins
Ah sign o' ha'in' a bunch oh weans
Oh ye stocky Glesga wumman
Huv ye ever thocht o' Olympic swimmin'?
Reach ~3,500*
potential customers
for a monthly equivalent
of around £6.
* Approximate online visits
during the month of August 2012
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