NEWS, RAMBLINGS AND
AWARDS JUNE 2010
FIRST-SCOTRAIL EMPLOYEE SPILLS THE BEANS
I have previously said that I think the practise of having to
ask for a railway station toilet key is utterly ridiculous. It happens
at Lenzie and Milngavie, and other stations I'm sure. Well, an employee
at Milngavie railway station has spilled the beans.
'Do you want to know why we keep the door locked and the key here?'
said the employee.
'You bet,' I replied, as I settled down to a good long tale.
'Long long ago,' he began, 'a woman came and asked for the toilet key.
She was a bit of a walker, she was... all boots and dangly bits.' I
could sense great feelings of resentment towards the hoiking fraternity,
feelings that were usually dormant but all too often bubbled and fizzed to the
surface. His hair crackled and smoked.
'Yeh,' I said. 'Tell me more.'
'Well, within the space of an hour she'd handed that key to about
forty other people.' As he said this he looked at me as if expecting, at
the very least, some sort of round of applause.
'We don't have the staff or the time to clean that toilet when so many
people use it,' he said. He then folded his arms and regarded me as if
some sort of coup de grâce had been delivered. 'And that's why we keep
I regarded him for a moment in the way that you do when you suddenly
realise you're trying to hold a conversation with a tomato. On the other side of that thick sheet of Perspex I was wondering how
long he had before him and those like him, those so set in their
prehistoric ways that they are unable to adapt to any sort of change,
would become extinct. The dinosaurs of our railway system.
The rather peculiar thing is that he genuinely thought this a valid
reason, when in fact his tale only served to reinforce the need for the
toilet to be open at all times. The fact that you have to ask for a key
and then be subjected to interrogation as to whether you are a
legitimate traveller or not is downright disgraceful.
Meanwhile, I emerged from the toilet to find a desperate looking man
asking if there were any toilets. I gave him the key. I imagine, like
me, he probably passed it on to someone else, who passed it on to
someone else, and at the end of the day maybe a full 40 people used it
and some poor First-Scotrail employee had to clean it. What a bloody
BEST SOUP IN SCOTLAND AWARD goes to Brian's Cafe in
BEST ALE BREWED IN SCOTLAND AWARD goes to 'Seven
Giraffes', a superb ale brewed by the Williams Brothers in Alloa.
BEST PUB AWARD goes to
Greyfriars Bar in Perth. Go there now to find out why.
BEST THING TO SEE AWARD goes
to the panoramic view from Edinburgh's Calton Hill.
BEST LITTLE WALK AWARD goes to the forest track through
Mugdock Wood in Milngavie.
I recently noticed a large banner fixed to railings outside a primary
school. It read, 'WE'RE WALKING ONCE A WEEK.' It made me think. I
could imagine the children parading around with banners flying and loud
exuberant chants of, 'WE'RE WALKING! WE'RE WALKING!', perhaps with a
brass band in front and a big drum rhythmically vibrating the very air.
I mean, it's all rather worrying. Have levels of fitness amongst
children become so low that they need the incentive of some sort of
walking programme to get them up off their backsides and away from the
computer and TV? When I was a child I walked quite a lot. I walked once
many miles from Milngavie to Killearn with my mum, and I also walked
from Glasgow to Milngavie with my sister. On neither occasion did we
feel the need to announce the activity to the world with a few banners.
If children grow up to believe that walking is something special that
can only be done with a great hullabaloo, then it will become an
activity that you only do on special occasions, when in actual fact
walking is as natural an act as eating and is something that should be
done every day. I reckon it's the parents we should be targeting, perhaps
with banners saying, 'I LEFT MY FOUR-BY-FOUR AT HOME THIS WEEK.'
The new Liberal-Conservative Coalition has passed its first and
second statute. It comes from a necessity to sort out this country's
financial mess, and to save power, if not the planet.
As from August 1st, all street-lights will be dimmed to half their
current wattage. As this measure presents a very real risk to life and
limb, the second statute states that, 'All persons walking in the street
after 6pm will be required by law to wear a fluorescent day-glo vest.
Anyone not complying will be given one warning, then exterminated.'
While this may at first glance seem a quite drastic measure, The Good
Soup Guide understands that the impact will be minimal as a lot of folk
wear bright orange vests already.
SPAM COMES IN A TIN
Next Month -
The truth about
Ah needed a pee
Ah had tae go
The train arrived
Don't you know
The door wus locked
Ma bladder full
Ah needed a key
It wusny cool
Ur you a traveller?
said the man
So ah replied
Ah'm Desperate Dan
POLICE RECEIVE FIREARM INSTRUCTIONS
Trials are expected to begin soon in Glasgow of the Taser stun
gun. This addition to the beat policeman's belt, which
already bristles with dangly bits and bobs, has been greeted by a mixed
reaction. The outcome of the trial will be eagerly anticipated.
The Good Soup Guide understands that Glasgow police have been
instructed to give the following warning when about to use the Taser:
'Hey you, Jimmy, stoap right there or ah'll stick the taser oan ye.'
We also learn that certain sections within the UK's police forces have
expressed concern about the effectiveness of their current weapons
arsenal. It is felt that perhaps the machine-pistol currently carried
openly in big cities and airports would not be up to the job of properly
protecting the public. Indeed, it is felt that, where combating
terrorism is concerned, the police should be armed with more powerful
weapons. A move towards a greater use of 'heavy ballistic weapons' has
been called for, and talks are ongoing with regard to exactly what these
should be. The Good Soup Guide understands from an insider that as from
December this year, all officers who currently carry machine-pistols
will instead be issued with bazookas. We also understand that the proper
warning when about to discharge the bazooka will be, 'Hey you, ur ye
gonny stoap or huv ah goat tae bounce a high explosive shell aff yer
We also understand that during training, police officers are given
strict instructions not to fire the bazooka at shoplifters, except where
circumstances deem it appropriate, like if the shoplifter scowls
inappropriately. In order to allay any public fears,
and to present a more human side to a public who are becoming
increasingly worried about everything, all officers who carry the
bazooka will also dangle a small teddy bear from their belt.
THE CLOSURE OF PUBS - THE END OF A WAY OF LIFE?
It's not hard to notice that a lot of pubs are going bust just
now. A lot of factors are involved, the most dominant ones probably
being the recession, the smoking ban, and supermarkets. The smoking ban
has probably had a minimal effect. The supermarket thing is clearly
linked with the recession, because people have less money to spend and
are more keen to buy cheap booze in the supermarket. End of story.
While it is obviously not good to see people lose their jobs, is the
closure of so many public houses a godsend? Is it nothing but a
necessary evolutionary step that will see a lot of dead wood cleared
away? I mean, let's not kid ourselves. There is a lot of dead wood out
there, pubs that have seen better days and whose interior decor is at
Surely men, and women, whose sole enjoyment in life is to frequent
public houses for a drink and a chat deserve better? Whatever happened
to the people's palaces of the Victorian period? Even back then, the
licensing trade realised the importance of giving the working man some
place quite grand to go to, somewhere where he might forget about his
naff life and immerse himself in the richness of hope for a while. Maybe
getting rid of the dead wood will be the best thing that has happened in
a good long while.
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature the recently-renovated Abbey Bridge in Paisley. A
major engineering project saw chunks of the old bridge removed and
replaced by modern ironwork. It is so encouraging to find that we are
still capable of making big things, and of making them beautiful. Who'd
have thought that something as simple and functional as a bridge could
be so stunningly attractive. Well done to Paisley.
AND NOW FOR THE NEWS
5th & 6th June
[12.00 to 4.00pm]
[12.00 to 4.00pm]
12.00 to 4.00pm
12.00 to 4.00pm
ST ANDREWS CASTLE
The Historic Saltire Society will have a medieval encampment in the
castle. There, you may see how knights in armour were fed and
watered and clothed, and how during moments of inactivity they would
take to weaving their fingers. Aberdour is a fine castle. To get
there you can catch a train from Edinburgh. Good ale is available at
the Aberdour Hotel (The Soupsayer has not yet checked out the soup
situation, but chances are you'll be able to get good soup there as
See knights in armour and swords and fighting, and pop into the
battle camp. You can hear how Sir Andrew Murray arrived in 1337 to
retake his castle from the English, and the part played by the
medieval siege tower. Bothwell castle is a little ruinous, but
retains an attractive castle shape. Bothwell is not far from
An event called, 'The Guardian & The Bishop'. The year is 1298, the
castle is under siege, and word arrives about the defeat of William
Wallace at the battle of Falkirk. The Historic Saltire Society set
up camp and give you a taster of what it must have been like. While
Dirleton Castle is a bit ruinous, it is still a nice castle with
many nooks and crannies to peer into. The village itself is tiny and
charming. Check out Dirleton page in The Good Soup Guide.
'Fraser's Dragoones portray the events of 1638-1640 in Scotland with
a series of displays of the military and civilian aspects of the
Covenanting rebellion.' The Soupsayer has not yet checked St Andrews
out, but he understands that good ale may be had at the Central Bar
and the Whey Pat Tavern. Contact me if you find any good soup
REMEMBER - IF YOU MENTION 'THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE' YOU WILL BE
GIVEN A FREE ROUND OF APPLAUSE AT ALL EVENTS
REVIEW OF GLASS CLEANLINESS IN PUBLIC HOUSES AND HOTEL BARS
The Good Soup Guide reckons a review is long overdue with
regard to the effectiveness of glass-cleaning equipment in public houses
and hotel bars. How often have you been given a pint and noticed lots of
small bubbles forming a pattern or lines on the inside of the glass?
This is a dirty glass. It means the residue from a previous user of that
glass has not been totally removed, and chances are you are drinking any
number of things that escaped from the previous user's mouth, maybe some
spittle, drool, and a few bacteria for good measure. Now, the thing is,
either the current glass cleaning equipment is not up to the job, or bar
staff are not properly trained on how to effectively use the equipment
for glass cleaning purposes. Either way, something has to be done. If
you have any inside information on glass cleaning equipment, please get
in touch and spill the beans.
EVEN MORE NEWS - STEAM DAYS AT DUNASKIN
Fancy a hurl on an old steam train? The Ayrshire Railway
Preservation group (a bunch of dedicated folk with black oily
overalls) operate the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre in what
used to be the Dunaskin Heritage Centre (on the A713, 10 miles
south-east of Ayr, at Waterside, near Dalmellington). Various Steam
Days have been organised. The one in June is on June 27th.
Opening times are 11am to 4.30pm. There will be brake van rides, a
shop and museum. Great day out guaranteed, as the surrounding
countryside is beautiful.
SAILING DOON THE WATER
The city of Glasgow has a few new boats coasting up and down the
River Clyde. There's a regular Riverlink ferry (shown on right)
which is like a bus service on the water. It travels between the
Broomielaw, the Glasgow Science Centre and Braehead, every day
except Mondays and Tuesdays, up until 10th September. Right beside
the new ferry terminal at Braehead there is an excellent museum (Clydebuilt
Museum) which gives a good history of shipbuilding on the River
Clyde. You'll see the times of this ferry at each of the three stops
(first in the morning is 10.35am at the Science Centre).
In addition, there's a slightly larger vessel which offers
sightseeing tours of about two-and-a-half hours, going as far down
as the Titan Crane at Clydebank. This only operates once a day
(except Mondays and Tuesdays, when there is no ferry), and leaves
from the Glasgow Science Centre pontoon at 1pm.The Titan Crane is
open to the public, and each sightseeing tour will allow you to
disembark (get aff) at either Braehead or Clydebank, with a
specified time slot to see things before getting back on. Your ferry
ticket will entitle you to discounts on entry to certain
attractions, so hang on to it. You can buy your ticket on the ferry,
or phone 01475 721281 to check availability.
REAL ALE FESTIVALS IN JUNE
ABERDEEN - June 3rd to 5th at the Richard Donald Stand,
Pittodrie Stadium. Opens at 4pm on the Thursday, 3pm on Friday, and
noon on the Saturday.
EDINBURGH - June 24th to 26th at the Assembly Rooms, George Street.
Opens at noon on all three days.