Monday, 28 April 2008

Worst Group (again)

I think I've figured it out. Worst Bus in Edinburgh have clearly identified the number 86 service between the capital city and Dalkeith as losing money hand over fist. This will be why this morning, when I left the house to get the 7.40 bus to the city centre there was a large queue of disgruntled passengers at the bus stop. At 7.45 a bus arrived. Unfortunately this was the 7.33 express service - although I use the term loosely - which only stops at certain points. The 7.40 was not far behind, presumably once the driver had finished the crossword in the Metro newspaper.

But I can see Worst Bus' ploy. With buses either alarmingly late or just not turning up at all, with drivers who know Krakow well but are clueless when it comes to darkest Dalkeith, and with a timetable that may well be on the shortlist for this year's Booker Prize for best piece of fiction, Worst will feel if they can drive enough passengers on to Lothian Buses they can withdraw the number 86 altogether.

And they can use the money saved on not providing buses for some other persecuted part of the Lothians...

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Don't Make the Mistakes of the Past

A new programme of council house building was officially unveiled by the Deputy First Minister in what could, for some, be the West Lothian answer to the mortgage crisis.
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the £25m-plus plan, revealed in The Herald last Saturday, in Livingston, which she said would "kick start a new generation of council house building".
The SNP-led West Lothian Council, the first to embark on such a move, will initially spend £7.5m building 240 council houses for rent, with more to follow.

From The Herald, 26 April 2008

Good news for the thousands of people who can't afford the often financially crippling cost of a mortgage - and another sign that a nationalist government is in touch with needs of the people in Scotland. It's a quarter of a century since The Hatcher's Conservative government launched the 'right to buy' scheme for council house tenants. The fall-out of which has led to a desperate shortage of affordable housing in Scotland. Now there is at least hope for Scots who struggle to make ends meet. But it is hoped that lessons are learned from the past.

The creation of many housing schemes in the 1950s/1960s were ill-thought and, in retrospect, flawed. Not enough thought was put in to the effect 'concrete jungles' would have on society. Tower blocks and shabbily built houses became the breeding ground for anti-social behaviour and serious crime and when The Hatcher's anti-Scottish policies put thousands of Scots out of work, there emerged a potent mixture for social depravity.

One would hope the Scottish Nationalists will have devised a way of avoiding the mistakes of the past. There's no sense in building hundreds of houses and having them all in the same location. Surely it would be better to scatter the new council houses among a wide mix of areas so that the lower paid workers have the same amenities as better paid people and have the chance to improve their lives. 240 council houses in the same area will surely only widen the haves and have nots in society and and increase bitter social divisions.
There is still a class divide in this country and the radical ideal of social integration needs a helping hand. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, my granny used to say, God rest her soul. An adage the Scottish government would be well advised to heed with regard to this announcement.

For in years to come no one wants more broken shells.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

We'll Never See His Like Again

Like most devotees of BBC Radio Four's 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue', yesterday was the day we were dreading. Presenter, broadcasting and jazz legend Humphrey Lyttelton died on Friday after he had been admitted to hospital last week for surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. Humph was 86 and at that age you realise people can't go on for ever - but in Humph's case we all hoped he would.
The host of quite simply the funniest show on radio - and has been since 1972 - is an icon. The BBC's Mark Thomson said Humph's gifts were his warmth and conviviality, his wit, his mischievousness. All traits lapped up by an adoring and loyal audience. His monologues at the beginning of each show were legendary.

"I still remember Nanny pulling down my trousers and giving me a good spanking. Never did me any harm. Although it did make me late this evening." That was typical Humph.

His fellow ISIHAC regulars - Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke Taylor - will be devasted at the news of his passing. The ISIHAC team - not that Humph would call them that - was in the middle of touring the country with the stage version. The show was in Edinburgh last month but as I didn't know about it until the last minute I couldn't go - all the tickets had long been sold in any case.

I read in the BBC's obituary that Humph once turned down the offer of a knighthood. My already considerable admiration for the man increased even more when I read that.

Humph will be looking down wondering what all the fuss is about. With a wry smile he'll no doubt be contemplating that 'Samantha' will be looking forward to getting her hands on a stiff...

We will never see his like again.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Ironing Maid Simple

This is a fantastic service for anyone with a 'pressing' engagement.

Ironing is one of these tedious chores which has to be done. I usually have Sunday as my ironing day - and that's not always because I'm too drunk to do it on a Saturday. But for anyone in Edinburgh and the Lothians who finds it a real hassle, let Ironing Maid Simple - do you see what they did there? - take the strain.

Click on the link below.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Don't Panic...

The strike planned for this Sunday by workers at Scotland's only oil refinery at Grangemouth has illicited a response from the Scottish government of 'Don't panic'. And this serves to highlight what the ordinary working man and woman feel about our beloved politicians - thousands of Scots are now doing credible impressions of Corporal Jones of the BBC comedy classic Dad's Army. I'm a huge fan of First Minister Alex Salmond - I firmly believe the Linlithgow Jambo will lead Scotland to independence before long - but when he urged Scots not to panic but then asked them to either make essential trips only or use public transport he did come across as a tad contradictory.

Some petrol retailers have done nothing to banish the image of the tight-fisted Scot by hiking up prices. This has, quite understandably, angered many who perhaps weren't inclined to panic buy but are now assessing their options after considering what the price of a litre of petrol may be this time next week.

As someone who prefers to use public transport anyway, I was alarmed when news broke this afternoon that Lothian Buses had not received a delivery of fuel as expected and they would not be able to run buses after this Sunday. The Scottish Government realised the implications of this for Auld Reekie and immediately guaranteed the bus company that they would receive their fuel - it would just be a bit late. So hopes of a day off work on Monday have rescinded for the time being.

This 'crisis' emphasises just how crucial the Grangemouth refinery is to Scotland. A two day stoppage threatens to grind the country to a halt. In this day and age that's difficult to accept. But what crossed my mind tonight was even more alarming. Nearly a year on from the attack on Glasgow Airport, any would-be terrorist may be seeking temporary accommodation in the Falkirk area at any moment...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


This Friday the mother of a good friend of mine in Seattle goes into hospital for a major heart operation. Her daughter, one of the most caring and wonderful people I know, is flying to Kansas City to be by her side. My thoughts are with them both and I hope they both get the strength to come through.

It's when things like this happen, events that affect those you hold so dear, that one tends to switch on to automatic pilot. My own mother had a health scare eighteen months ago. She was living in Aberdeen at the time which only made me worry all the more. Thankfully she recovered but this was a huge influence on her decision to move to Edinburgh to be closer to her immediate family. She doesn't see Aberdeen FC so much now but that's merely an added bonus!

Life is tough enough with the daily grind at work, the never ending battle to make ends meet to keep a roof over your head and problems that having two adult daughters and two grandchildren bring. As I get older it seems to me that life is one constant worry. But when something major happens, when someone close to you has to go into hospital for a major operation, all your other worries seem to pale in comparison. You do tend to focus on the main source of anxiety - and while this doesn't make your other problems go away they are put into some kind of perspective.

A crap day at work when the whole world seems to want a piece of you can be frustrating and very tiring. But in the wider scheme of things, the health and well-being of the people you love are infinitely more important.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Definitions of the Sexes


1. Yes = No

2. No = Yes

3. Maybe = No

4. We need = I want

5. I am sorry = You'll be sorry

6. We need to talk = You're in trouble

7. Sure, go ahead = You better not

8. Do what you want = You will pay for this later

9. I am not upset = Of course, I am upset, you moron!

10. You're certainly attentive tonight = Is sex all you ever think about?


1. I am hungry = I am hungry

2. I am sleepy = I am sleepy

3. I am tired = I am tired

4. Nice dress = Nice cleavage!

5. I love you = Let's have sex now

6. I am bored = Do you want to have sex?

7. May I have this dance? = I'd like to have sex with you.

8. Can I call you sometime? = I'd like to have sex with you.

9. Do you want to go to the cinema? = I'd like to have sex with you.

10. Can I take you out to dinner? = I'd like to have sex with you.

11. I don't think those shoes go with that outfit = I'm gay

Friday, 18 April 2008

Eighties Music

I have a confession to make. I bought a cd today (yes, I know we now live in the download age but I still have a penchant for actually going into a store and buying music). In this case it was 100 Hits of the 80s.

Now the very title of said cd infers it must be an oxymoron. The 1980s were, to many, the decade that taste forgot, certainly in musical terms. The case for the prosecution lists Wham!, Duran Duran, Adam and The Ants, Haircut 100, Dollar and bloody Rick Astley and his Stock Aitken and Waterman cronies. And, worst of all, the metamorphosise of angry young man Paul Weller in The Jam to a cardigan wearing , pretentious lead singer of The Style Council.

But the case for the defence is not as weak as one may think. The cd contained some memorable tracks from Altered Images (I'm still in love with Claire Grogan), The Beat, The Steve Miller Band, Aztec Camera, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Stranglers.

So perhaps the decade that is remembered for Thatcherism destroying whole communities and a way of life, mullet hair cuts and rolled up jacket sleeves wasn't all bad. Some of these tracks brought back memories for me of getting married (the day after Brazil humped Scotland 4-1 in the 1982 World Cup), the birth of my two daughters and Hearts last day nightmare in Dundee in 1986.

But as Everything But The Girl sang - I Don't Want To Talk About It. Unless your name is Claire Grogan...

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Unusual Sighting in Dalkeith

By Our Transport Reporter Stan Dingages

Residents in Dalkeith, Midlothian, spoke today of their shock of seeing the 8.10 First Bus service to Edinburgh leave the Mayfield terminus on time. Disillusioned passengers have long since given up on First Bus providing the service it says on its timetables and have been resigned to hanging around the bus terminus for long spells in the hope that a Number 86 will eventually make an appearance after the driver has read his paper and consumed a flask of tea.
But today, shocked passengers trooped down to the bus stop to find the Number 86 not only there waiting for them but actually leaving at its designated time of 8.10. Said one astonished resident 'I couldn't believe it when I left the house and saw the bus sitting there. I thought I was still dreaming and had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn't a mirage'.

A First Bus spokesperson apologised to passengers for the confusion. 'It appears there was a misunderstanding which meant the driver actually turned up two minutes before the scheduled time and departed as per the timetable. We're all aware that passengers don't expect many of our buses to turn up at all, let alone leave bang on time so I can only apologise on behalf of the company. Passengers can rest assured that normal service will be resumed tomorrow when we don't expect the 7.40 and 7.55 buses to turn up at all and the 8.10 to be ten minutes late.'

Inspector Blakey is 94.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Great Subbuteo Matches of Our Time

With the end of the football season now in sight, the thoughts of Hearts supporters are elsewhere, anywhere but on the football field after what has been a disappointing season. But the premature end to Hearts season brought to mind the days when I was a lad (no, not the war years) in the early 1970s when Hearts often struggled in an eighteen team First Division (the top flight in those days) and an early exit from the Scottish Cup meant tedious end of the season fixtures against the likes of Arbroath and East Fife with nothing to play for.

In order to relieve such turgid fare, my cousin George and I would arrange our annual Subbuteo Challenge Cup match, a game that would take on unhealthy significance for both of us. Subbuteo was then, and probably still is, the world’s best table football game and was the saviour in the Smith household on many a Saturday evening.

It says much for my nerdiness that I still recall the 1974 Slade Album to the Winner game that was to become not so much the Battle of Santiago (younger readers ask your grandfather about the 1962 World Cup) as the Battle of South Aberdeen, where I was living at the time. The game was my first experience of the class war that still exists in today’s society. While I had just two Subbuteo teams, a set of two goalposts and a brown ball, cousin George had a dozen teams – one of which was Ajax of Amsterdam – a green baize pitch with markings, a dugout, plastic figures of a manager and an assistant and, the piece de resistance – floodlights. It was at this grand arena (George’s house) that this classic encounter took place one Saturday thirty-four years ago. After the football results had been read out on Grandstand, George and I retired to the spare room.

Typical gamesmanship followed when George decided to use his England team after I had won the toss of the coin and selected Ajax, whom Hearts had somewhat bizarrely modelled their strip on that year. While George played a 4-4-2 system with Mick Channon and Martin Chivers up front, I was steadfastly sticking to Donald Ford and co. In a bid to add spice to the occasion we both agreed that our substitutes would contain two pop stars from that era. That George elected for Elton John and Gary Glitter to sit on his bench tells you all you need to know about him. I opted for Noddy Holder and Alice Cooper but as the away team we didn’t have a bench so the glam-rockers had to make do with Uncle Norman’s ashtray - used in later years for Nicky Butt...

Now with all the smart-arse gear, George was naturally more experienced at the game than I was. As The Undertones sang so memorably in My Perfect Cousin, he flicked to kick and I didn’t know. After ten minutes, England were 3-0 up and my cause wasn’t helped when in a fit of rage I picked up Kenny Aird and threw him across the room only for the diminutive winger to be trodden on by George’s mum as she came to tell us supper was ready. After a half-time break that lasted an hour – Dr. Who was on BBC1 – the match resumed in a tense atmosphere. After Jeff Astle scored a fourth goal for the home side, I brought on Alice Cooper, a move that was to have devastating consequences for the game. As I was re-arranging the team’s formation so that Cooper was playing just behind Bobby Prentice, cousin George raced up the pitch and scored a fifth. When I protested that I wasn’t ready George merely smirked which provoked me to swing a right hook that landed on my cousin’s nose. As George rolled on the floor in agony, he inadvertently sat on Gordon Banks and as Alice Cooper and Drew Busby combined brilliantly to grab a goal back, the floodlights were switched off and the pitch was being rolled up in a vain attempt to avoid the drips of blood oozing from George’s nose.

The ensuing wails from said cousin brought a rapid appearance from his mum and I was immediately ejected from the room by the ear and told to wait for my mother who was on her way to pick me up. The subsequent four-week ban from my cousin’s house was probably for the best.

So while many of us wish to forget the season that is just about to end there are still some things worth recalling in the Smith household from tedious end of season eras. England 5 (Chivers 2, Channon, Astle, Moore) Heart of Midlothian 1 (Alice Cooper) – match abandoned after 60 minutes – remains etched on the memory even though I was only twelve years old at the time. I know, there can be few people as sad as me.

But at least Alice Cooper and Noddy Holder are still going strong…

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Jokes That Only Work in Scotland

A Glasgow woman goes to the dentist and settles down in the chair. 'Comfy?' asks the dentist. 'Govan,' she replies.

What did the Siamese twins from Glasgow call their autobiography? Oor Wullie.

A guy walks into an antiques shop and says: 'How much for the set of antlers?' 'Two hundred quid,' says the bloke behind the counter. 'That's affa deer,' says the guy.
Did you hear about the fella who liked eating bricks and cement? He's awa' noo.

After announcing he's getting married, a boy tells his pal he'll be wearing the kilt. 'And what's the tartan?' asks his mate. 'Oh, she'll be wearing a white dress,' he replies.

What do you call a pigeon that goes to Aviemore for its holidays? A skean dhu.

How many Spanish guys does it take to change a lightbulb? Just Juan.

A man takes a pair of shoes back to the shop and complains that there is a lace missing. 'No,' argues the assistant, 'look at the label - it says Taiwan .'

What's the difference between The Rolling Stones and an Aberdeen sheep farmer? The Rolling Stones say: 'Hey you, get off of my cloud.' And an Aberdeen sheep farmer says: 'Hey McLeod, get off of ma ewe.'

What do you call an illegitimate Scottish insect? A wee fly b*****d.

What about the Scotsman who lost his testicles in a motorcycle accident? The surgeon re-attached them with Bostik.

While being interviewed for a job as a bus driver, a guy is asked: 'What would you do if you had a rowdy passenger?' 'I'd put him off at the next stop,' he says. 'Good. And what would you do if you couldn't get the fare?' 'I'd take the first two weeks in August,' he replies.

Two negatives make a positive but only in Scotland do two positives make a negative - 'Aye right.'

A Glasgow man - steaming and skint - is walking down Argyle Street when he spots a guy tinkering with the engine of his car. 'What's up, Jimmy?' he asks. 'Piston broke,' he replies. 'Aye, same as masel...'

Aw, come on, it's Sunday night and I've ran out of brandy...

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Rock On and On and On...

I was at the Red Hot Chilli Pipers gig in Edinburgh at The Liquid Room on Thursday evening. It was hugely enjoyable and the Pipers showed why they're one of the hottest (if you'll pardon the pun) acts in Scotland today. And the support act - Irish singer/songwriter Paul Casey - was also impressive. You can't beat seeing a live act. But sometimes - okay, most of the time - I do feel my grandfather status making an impact...

Some things that have always happened at gigs are now beginning to irritate me. I purchased the tickets on-line and, not trusting the postal service in Dalkeith one little bit, arranged to collect them at the box office on Thursday evening. From 7.00pm my confirmation e-mail said and when we got there at 7.20 there was a queue down Victoria Street that stretched very nearly down to the Grassmarket. And on a chilly April evening we had to wait.

On eventual arrival at the box office it transpired that our tickets had been given to another customer called Smith but, credit to the girl at the counter, she let us in on receipt of the printed confirmation I had brought with me. Now The Liquid Room has staged many a fine gig over the years but, being somewhat claustraphobic, I've never been totally at ease there. At least now Scotland has the ban on smoking in public places you no longer feel like an Arbroath smokie.

Much as I enjoyed The Pipers - and they are a superb act - I felt the intimacy of the venue didn't do them any favours. Perhaps the larger Corn Exchange would have been more appropriate as the band seemed to struggle initially with the sound system at the smaller Liquid Room. And, at 46, standing for nearly three hours didn't do my back any good!

But this is down to me getting old! Twenty years ago I would have headed to the nearest pub from such a gig and toasted such musical talent into the wee small hours, even with work due the next day. Two decades, two kids, two grandchildren and two mortgages later, it's leaving a couple of minutes early to avoid the stampede to get out and straight on the bus home to a cup of Horlicks and bed!

Rather appropriately after watching the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, I'm off to find my pipe and slippers and a quiet night in....

Thursday, 10 April 2008

It's an Education

The following questions were set in last year's GCSE examination in Swindon , Wiltshire. These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed?
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections?
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids?
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs

Q. What happens to your body as you age?
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery

Q. What is artificial insemination?
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does "varicose" mean?
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control?
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium

Q. Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean section"?
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor

Q. What is a terminal illness?
A. When you are sick at the airport

Q. Use the word "judicious" in a sentence to show you understand its meaning?
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face

Q. What does the word "benign" mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Jailhouse Rock

The lead 'singer' of the rock group The Babyshambles - the shy and retiring Pete Doherty - has finally sucummbed to the laws of the land and been sentenced to fourteen weeks in prison for violating his probation and using drugs.
Rumour has it that Doherty will spend some of his time 'inside' working on a new album for his band. It's believed to be an album of cover versions including hits such as:

Jailhouse Rock

I Want to Break Free

Please Release Me

Things Can Only Get Better

Chain Gang

I'm sure, dear reader, you can suggest many more....

Monday, 7 April 2008

Royal Flush

At the weekend there were two stories dominating the news. The protest during the Olympic flame relay in London and, also in the 'smoke', the news that Prince Philip had been admitted to hospital with a chest infection. As a new week begins, the story dominating the news bulletins tonight is that the long running inquest into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and her companian Dodi Al Fayed has returned a verdict of 'Unlawful Killing'. As opposed to what other kind of killing, I'm not entirely sure. But the huge cost involved for the inquest and the cost of keeping Phil the Greek in a hospital bed for a couple of nights will doubtless be passed on to us - the taxpayer. And at this point, I feel the need for another rant.

As a Scottish nationalist, I've often asked the question - what does the British royal family actually do for Scotland? In my view, not a great deal. Scotland, on the other hand, provides royal residency at Holyrood Palace, here in Edinburgh, Balmoral in north-east Scotland and at the Castle of Mey in Caithness. There are probably others but I can't be bothered to mention them although like thousands of other Scots, my taxes do help pay for their upkeep.
I heard on BBC Radio Five Live at the weekend that Prince Philip, despite being in his eighties, keeps rude health as does his octaganerian wife, Liz. The Queen Mother lived for over one hundred years and we're supposed to admire the longevity of a family whom, history decrees, shoud never have been in the position they are in any case (the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936 saw to that) Republicans like me will see it as hardly surprising the Royals enjoy such good health - we taxpayers are paying for their healthcare.

When Scotland does achieve independence - and the day is not far off now - I sincerely hope that the next step is to make our nation a republic. The Royal family are an expensive millstone round our nation's neck. Many people in Scotland live in poverty and in poor health - the two are not unconnected - whilst millions of pounds is spent every year keeping the Windsor family in the luxury to which they're accustomed. Money that is taken from the hard working people of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, money that we could all do with in the daily struggle to make ends meet.

I don't care if Prince Philip has a bit of a cough. I'm not bothered if Prince Harry returns to active duty with the army in Iraq. And I'm not particularly interested in the outcome of an inquest into the deaths of two people more than a decade ago. What I do care about is the people of Scotland. Particularly those living in poverty and those desperately trying to avoid it.
That's what should be making the news headlines in this country.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Breakfast at Smithy's

In today's increasingly stressful life - 99% of the news is invariably so bad I sometimes find it a huge effort just to get up in the morning - it's comforting to know there are still some simple pleasures in life. Sunday mornings mean the great British breakfast - a couple of rashes of bacon, fried egg, some sausages, fried mushrooms, a couple of slices of buttered toast and a cup of coffee (the real McCoy, not that decaffinated stuff) - and suddenly the world seems a much better place.

But it's a sign of the times that even such pleasures can come under attack from an increasingly 'nanny state'. I read the other day that eating just one sausage a day can increase the risk of bowel cancer by 20%. Now, according to the 'experts', enjoying your freshly cooked bacon is already placing you at the front of the queue for a heart attack. And too much coffee isn't good for you. What some health-obsessed guardians of the state would have you eat is akin to a couple of slices of cardboard, fruit juice and five pieces of fruit a day - before you head out for a five mile run.

Now this may well be a sign of my advancing years but where the hell is the fun in that? Like thousands, probably millions of others, I love the great British fry-up. In fact, the great Scottish fry-up to be precise. Substitute the mushrooms for a slice of black pudding or haggis and making sure the bacon is of the Ayrshire variety and you're just about there.

Now Dr. Begood and associates may say I'm doing real damage to my arteries. But they're my arteries. My family has a history of heart disease anyway so there's a fair chance I could eat my cardboard and drink my herbal tea before running the equivalent of the Edinburgh half marathon every morning and still drop down dead before I'm pensionable age (as happened to my father and his father) In fact, knowing my luck, there's a reasonable chance I may get run over by a bus whilst out on my 'jog' - although admittedly the chances of it being a bus to Dalkeith are unlikely. But I still prefer to take my chances and have some enjoyment in life.

Part of my weekend is enduring the efforts (although I use the term loosely these days) of Heart of Midlothian Football Club, once pride of Edinburgh but now the plaything of an Eastern European empire. By Christ, I need something to look forward to.

Hang on - can you smell burning?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Worst Group

Rumour has it that First Edinburgh buses - a subsiduary of First Group - are considering sending their managers to a brewery so they can train to organise a substantial drinking session.

Tonight, I waited 25 minutes for a number 86 to Dalkeith at Cameron Toll. Then the bus broke down. The there was the interminable roadworks in Dalkeith (yet another set of temporary traffic lights has sprung in the town centre. I'm beginning to think it's an alien invasion disguised as traffic lights) And the driver didn't seem to have a clue what she was doing. So the normal half hour journey from Cameron Toll to my home took an hour.

I read the other day that First Edinburgh have been fined for their poor services in West Lothian. i.e. buses running late and sometimes not at all.
Well, there's a surprise...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Pandering To The Neds

There was a story in The Herald yesterday about how three under-16s had to spend some time in an adult jail after one of Scotland's secure units for children had to be closed temporarily after a riot. Cue condemnation from the do-gooders brigade about how this was wrong and why our vulnerable children should be protected. John Watson, Scottish Programme Director for Amnesty International said: "Adult jails are no place for vulnerable children."

Admirable sentiments. Except we're not talking about vulnerable children, are we? We're talking about gobby little neds who roam the streets at night with the sole intent of causing as much trouble as possible. And who make life miserable for many others.

You only need to walk down Edinburgh's Princes Street on a Friday or Saturday evening - or any other evening for that matter - to witness loutish behaviour by out of control wannabe gangsters who have no respect for society or law and order. Fuelled by cheap alcohol and who knows what kind of illegal substance, the teenage thugs do as they please and heaven help anyone caught in the crossfire. Travelling on public transport in the capital city and beyond late at night can be at best an irritation and at worst an ordeal with one being fearful for one's safety. Loud, abusive, threatening behaviour - it's small wonder that most buses now have protective shields in case the poor harrassed driver gets set upon. And many of these yobs are still of school age (I hesitate to suggest they're still at school as I suspect many of them don't bother with education - or they go to school to harrass and threaten the downtrodden teachers)

Society has declined steadily in the last three or four decades. You daren't drop your guard when going out at night as you just don't know what lies ahead. There is precious little respect nowadays. So it annoys me when I read the views of the so-called experts who say these louts are vulnerable and need protection. Worse still is the all too frequent human rights bollocks. What about their victims? What about their human rights?

The reason most of these yobs are in secure units is because of their behaviour. Now there'll be any number of social workers and child psychologists who say these children need support and not punishment. Any number of 'experts' only too keen to pander to the needs of ned culture.

When I was 14 years old in 1976, I got into a spot of bother. My mother gave me such a damned good thrashing I never got into trouble again. But violence against children is not humane I hear the cry. Fair enough.

But if the do-gooders say the reason youngsters get into trouble is because they have no social amenities and no prospects then may I suggest a solution? Bring back national service for 16-18 year olds. A couple of years in the army will sort out their 'vulnerability'

And allow law-abiding citizens to live a little more freely.