NEWS, RAMBLINGS AND
AWARDS SEPTEMBER 2010
THE SOUPSAYER'S GUIDE TO ANNOYING FOLK
HOW TO ANNOY TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICE
Lesson 2a - 'Hi, I've chained the children to the bike-rack
outside. Can you look after them while I explore your wonderful town.'
Lesson 2g - 'I understand that neither Mary Queen of Scots nor Robert
Burns ever spent the night here. Would you care to tell me why not?'
Lesson 3f - 'Is it true that everyone north of Stirling is four-foot-two
and has ginger hair?'
Lesson 6j - 'You there, Jimmy, ur ye servin', or whit?'
Lesson 463y - 'Pardon me for asking, but where in this area might I find
some nice rustly cattle to listen to?'
Lesson 569d - 'And one more thing, my lovely, exactly how many blades of
grass am I likely to encounter between Milngavie and Drymen on the West
Lesson 694h - 'Hey, cumere you. I've got Factor 50 sun-blocker here, and
I want you to slap it on my back right now!'
Lesson 1,482b - 'I want you to listen very close - where can I stay the
night in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Auchmithy, Glenrothes and
Lesson six-million-and-five, k - 'Is it true that Rob Roy McGregor had
one leg shorter than the other through walking around the side of so
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.
When I was young, a man used to come round our street on a horse and
cart. You knew he was there because he'd blow a bugle. It was probably a
very early form of what we today would term 'noise pollution'. The
blowing of the bugle would be followed by frantic activity in many
houses in the street as children rifled drawers in search of items of
clothing that were either worn and little used, or so rarely used that
no one would notice they were missing. And so, laden with an armful of
clothes we would go outside into the street and offer them to the man on
the horse with the bugle. He was known as the rag and bone man. He took
your clothes, and in return offered you a treat, like a balloon or some
small toy. As he was called the rag and bone man, one presumes that he
also collected bones, but no matter how thoroughly I filter through the
stored data in my brain, I can find no recollection of us ever offering
him the remains of our last meal.
But the times they are a-changing. The man with the bugle is no more.
His modern counterpart is 'Cash-4-Clothes', a shop that has recently
opened where they offer you 50p for a kilogram of clothes. Their leaflet
has instructions: 1. Bring us your clothes, 2. Weigh them, 3. Cash 4
Clothes. But it's just not the same without the bugle.
I bought this rug in a charity shop,
It was long and rolled and fine,
And handed over twelve quid,
For the rug to be all mine.
I took it home and laid it out,
Oh goodness, it was grand,
And that's when I noticed a funny thing,
The rug was leaking sand.
I looked beneath for crustaceans,
Or shells and weed from the sea,
But all I saw was a load of sand,
And I thought,
'Oh deary me.'
And there's really just one explanation,
A reason that's not
My carpet's been flying around the place,
'Cause it's overflowing with magic.
I bought a rug in a charity shop. Cost £12, and is nine foot
square, which is quite big for a rug. I bought it because it was going
to cost around £300 to carpet the lounge and bedroom, an amount I can
ill afford. So, I thought, I'll just slap down some floor paint and
stick a rug or two on top; save myself over £200.
I paid for the rug, slung it over my shoulder in a cavalier
do-this-sort-of-thing-every-day-of-my-life sort of way, and boarded a
train. It's not easy fitting a nine foot square rug on a train. Trains
are not generally designed with such things in mind. But I got it in,
took it on a short journey, and eventually managed to get it home.
The rug lay all rolled up in the hall for many weeks while I removed
wallpaper and applied paint to the walls and various parts of my body. I
had seen part of its design in the charity shop. It looked in good
condition, was a good quality rug - thick and well made - and seemed
just the job. At £12 I half expected there to be some large stain or
blemish hidden somewhere. Maybe even a pool of vomit lurking in a quiet
But the day finally came.
I hauled the rug through to the lounge, onto to the fine red-tile
painted floor with the Cathedral Green walls and brown skirting, and
unrolled it all the way. I stepped back in some amazement. The room came
to life. I was looking at what was quite simply the most beautiful rug
in all the world. I'd never seen such an intricate design of swirls,
almost Paisley-esque in pattern. On the back of the rug was a label. It
was made in the now-defunct Templeton's Factory in
Glasgow, and had been 'Permanently mothproofed with Dielmoth,' much to
Templeton's old building on the edge of Glasgow Green is itself an
architectural work of art. The intricacy of the design in its facade is
somehow echoed in my rug. My charity shop rug. The rug that had come
Straight From The Hippo's Mouth
we bring you...
An insight into cosy snug real fires in pubs and coffee houses
and hotel bars in Scotland.
BUILDING/STRUCTURE OF THE MONTH
This month we feature the Victorian carpet factory building of James
Templeton's on the edge of Glasgow Green. It was designed in the style
of Doge's Palace in Venice, and is a brick-built structure of
considerable beauty. The carpet shown below is one of theirs, woven possibly around the
1950/60s using the Arran Wilton technique. If anyone could tell me why there's sand coming out of it, I'd
be ever so grateful.
CASTLES & Stuff
[4.00pm to 7.00pm]
11th,12th of September
PLEASE NOTE - This is a special
late-afternoon/early-evening event that requires booking in advance
(only 500 tickets available). This very castle was used in the film
Monty Python & The Holy Grail, a wonderful film memorable
for many things, including the cow being fired from the castle
battlements, a scene that was shot at Doune. This event commemorates
Monty Python and recreates a number of their sketches. You can book
via Historic Scotland's website, and if you are lucky enough to get
a ticket you are advised to 'come along as your favourite Python
character.' Sure to be a memorable evening. Doune is between
Stirling and Callander.
This Victorian villa is said to be 'possibly the finest domestic
design by Alexander 'Greek' Thomson, Glasgow's greatest Victorian
architect.' As well as the house itself and 'attractive riverside
grounds,' the National Trust for Scotland have organised a family
event, to be held every day the house is open, between 12 and 5pm.
In the old spooky house you are invited to step back in time to the
year 1860, 'a time when children were seen but not heard', to find
diary entries written by long gone family members, collect clues and
solve puzzles, to unravel a secret code. Holmwood is located at
61-63 Netherlee Road, Cathcart, Glasgow. Are your children up to the
challenge? ... woooogghhaaaaghhh!
This magnificent structure is located at Stirling, about a mile to
the north of the town. As it was on the 11th of September 1297 that
William Wallace led a Scottish army to defeat the English at the
Battle of Stirling Bridge, it is quite apt that a number of events
have been laid on at the monument, one of which is a guided walk in
the capable hands of William Wallace himself. The walks take place
at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm, are free, and tickets are available from
REMEMBER - IF YOU MENTION 'THE GOOD SOUP GUIDE' YOU WILL BE
GIVEN A FREE ROUND OF APPLAUSE AT ALL EVENTS
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. Those in September are on the 5th and 26th of the month.
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.
ARE SUPERMARKETS DUPING THEIR CUSTOMERS INTO SPENDING MORE THAN
The answer is, of course, yes. Whether it's those sweeties
lining the checkout or the special offers that you didn't mean to buy
but they've been deliberately positioned at eye level and you just can't
stop yourself from reaching out and grabbing one, it happens all the
time. Indeed, it has happened since time immemorial. Duping where food
and drink is concerned might simply be the grocer who once halved the huge
slab of butter and charged different prices for each half in the
knowledge that his customers like a quality product and the dearer half
will sell out first. Or it could be the buy-one-get-one-free offer where
you get home and find you've inadvertently spent more than you intended
and now have enough toilet paper to last the rest of your life.
But when does the act of duping stop being duping and starts being some
other almost criminal activity?
How many of you check your supermarket receipt? How many of you go
through each item and check that you have been charged what you thought
you were being charged? I don't have a statistic on that, but I bet it's
a very very small percentage of customers. We live busy lives; we've got
much more important things to do than checking if the supermarket's diddled
us of a few pence. But if you diddle a large number of customers you can
make a heck of a lot of money.
At the moment I find I regularly have to return to Customer Services at
any number of supermarkets to dispute the price of an item. Sometimes I
am right, and the supermarket has mistakenly put the wrong price in the
computer system. But a lot of times I am wrong. Or am I?
I am witnessing an increasing number of occasions when price labels seem
to be either labelled in such a manner as to confuse, or the label is
nowhere near the item it refers to. This makes you look daft when you
ask them to check the price. But the fact of the matter is that not
everyone has the time, or the eyesight, to read all the small-print
details beside the price label to determine if that is indeed the price
for the product you are interested in.
It is up to the supermarket to thoroughly ensure that each item being
sold has a price label, and that label should be either on, or right
beside, the appropriate product. There should be no room whatsoever for
confusion where customers select a product thinking it's one price, only
to find out that that price was actually for the medium eggs and not the
large, or whatever.
If I were a little paranoid, I would perhaps think that all of this,
with regard to the price labelling of products, is a deliberate ploy by
the supermarkets to get you to spend more than you intend. If that is
the case, then it is perhaps something worthy of investigation by
How can we possibly trust the quality of the food and drink that we buy
when the organisation that sells us it cannot do something as simple as
correctly price an item?
I think we have cause to worry. Check your supermarket receipts for the
next month. I think you'll be surprised.
ARE THEY PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE BREAK DOWN IN LAW AND ORDER ON THE STREETS AT WEEKENDS?
Forgive me if I appear to be on Mega-rant with regard to supermarkets,
but we have come to accept them so fully into our lives that it's all
too easy to poo-poo the nasty things they get up to.
We're all too familiar with the mayhem on our streets at weekends, with
young people drinking too much and falling about the place, hurting
themselves and others. Oh sure, it's not just young people, but they are
mostly the culprits.
Supermarkets have been criticised quite severely for selling cheap
booze. In fact they do, it seems, sell some of it at a loss, a
'loss-leader' or something, and it is this stuff that the young folk
buy; boxes of bottles of booze to take away and either drink in the park
or at home before heading up town to 'enjoy' themselves. In response to
all this criticism, the supermarkets say they sell such products at a
loss to pull people into the store in the hope that they will buy other
goods, perhaps even their weekly shopping.
Well, I'm sorry if this causes an upset, but I've never heard so much
tosh in all my life.
Those that run the supermarkets are not daft. They must surely know that
the bulk of alcohol that they sell at a loss is bought by youths. It is
not bought by someone who is in to buy their regular shopping. Those who
buy cheap boxes of booze buy that and that alone. So why do the
It's time supermarkets held their hands up and owned up to playing a
significant part in the current alcohol-fuelled breakdown in society,
and if they don't, then it's time politicians got up off their fat
apathetic backsides and forced them.
One solution worthy of some serious consideration would be to pass
legislation outlawing the sale of alcoholic beverages where the mark-up,
or profit, is less than 100% of the buying price. Like all solutions, it
would not be perfect, but it might at one stroke make huge inroads into
the problem. Think about it, guys and guyesses. For me.
NEW NUMBERS TO BE USED ALONGSIDE THE 999 EMERGENCY NUMBER WHEN
REQUIRING MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
The NHS has rolled out alternative numbers to be used alongside
the 999 number when requiring medical assistance. This is to prevent
abuse of the system where callers have thought they should dial 999
because they missed their bus or if the TV's not working.
The new numbers to dial are as follows:
111 - If you feel ill.
222 - If you feel terrible
333 - If you feel terribly ill
444 - If bits ur hingin' aff
555 - If stuff's leakin' oot
666 - If the devil's appeared in your kitchen
777 - If you're swimmin' in bodily fluids
888 - If your numbers up
999 - If you've rung oot yer shammy but it's still no' dry yet