Monthly Archives: September 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

Language is a living thing. If you choose your words carefully you can impart all kinds of subtle meanings to what you say. The TYO* (three-year-old, soon to be FYO), seems to have learned this already. I picked him up from nursery today. Later he said to his Dad, ‘Papa came and rescued me from school…

*for other little gems see here


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Leuchars Airshow: Never again!

Bad Day at Black Rock.* (for Black Rock, read Leuchars Air Show, Scotland’s answer to Farnborough).

Decided to go to the Leuchars Air Show, having been assured by announcements in the media that the RAF, the police, the AA and Fife Council had got to grips with the show’s infamous traffic jams. Paid lots of money for advance tickets – and as I had the three-year-old (who will soon be four, as he reminds me more than occasionally) – I bought the pricey ‘parking on base’ tickets rather than the park and ride ones.

I have just returned home after a day sitting in the car in the worst traffic jam I have ever encountered, worse than anything I have seen on the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham (Ha! You call those things traffic jams? You ain’t seen nothing!). THREE HOURS to travel two miles and with 10 miles still to go! At 12 noon (and with two superbly behaved children in the back – not once did I hear ‘are we there yet?’), and having just been told by two police officers that the jam went all the way to Leuchars, I did a 12-point turn in the road and headed for home, joining the hundreds of drivers that had done the same since we got in the jam. After sitting there for 3 hours, common sense had told me that things were not going to change, and simple maths told me that as I had taken 3 hours to drive 2 miles it would take me over 6 hours to get to Leuchars. As the authorities had announced they were going to stop cars entering the gates in 2 hours time, there wasn’t much point continuing.

You cannot put 2 pints into a 1 pint pot, guys!
– which is exactly what you are trying to do. When will someone in authority have the guts to say that it is physically impossible to get that number of cars into that part of Fife in the time that is available? There is an easy solution: stop ripping off the public; limit the number of tickets that are sold, don’t keep selling the damn things knowing that half of us don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anywhere near the show! These jams are legend, so surely, from a moral point of view, continuing to sell numbers of tickets well above the number of people that can possibly get to the airfield on those roads, and in the time available, is simply a rip-off. I might as well have torn up £20 notes.

I saw more aircraft when I drove past Edinburgh Airport that I saw at Leuchars. I took my camera. I even bought a spare battery. As I never even got to see a plane, the one below will have to do. It’s HH’s Spruce Goose.

Am I angry? You bet.
As I said at the start, never again!
Hundreds – possibly thousands – of others will be saying the same thing.

*For those that don’t know – an old but brilliant black and white movie.


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Post Early For Christmas

Last week I was going on about summer, and how it has gone. It was all tongue-in-cheek (though the courgettes disagree with me). Dobbies, our national chain of garden centres, really does believe summer has gone because it is now selling Christmas cards (buy now, only 107 days to go…). Not only that, they were clearing a space for their usual, huge display of Christmas decorations.


Then I came across something even more sad. Under a banner that said ‘ECOLIVING for a greener world‘ there were boxes with the words‘Solar illuminated blue tit, complete with solar panel. Bring life and colour into your garden with this colourful garden blue tit. A cheerful companion that… lights up at night to create a delightful display’. Solar powered. Doesn’t need batteries… god help us… and if you don’t fancy a blue tit there are solar powered robins, too. Go on, buy one, bring some colour and life into your garden. And as they don’t need batteries you are helping to save the planet.

Cynical? Moi?

Sorry there’s no photo. I had to go outside to throw up.

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Action man

Once upon a time I was in a lecture. The speaker, a senior detective, was challenged by a young constable. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘Isn’t it true that we learn by our mistakes?’ ‘No,‘ the great man replied. ‘On the contrary. We learn from other people’s mistakes.‘ The constable, like the rest of us, had no answer to that. It sounded profound, and sensible. And, after all, the man was a Chief Superintendent.

Recently I mentioned this to a former colleague. His response was equally profound. ‘He would have said that, wouldn’t he? He had to learn from the mistakes of others because he never bloody did anything.’

Point made?

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Pirates of the Caribbean…

…or maybe not. Pirates of Penzance, more like. Actually, it’s probably Pirates of Perthshire (don’t you just love that alliteration?), because Perthshire is where I found it. Okay, so it’s quirky. But it is recycling at its most basic and it appeals to the mechanic in me. Though I suspect it is more than that, it’s welding things so that they look good, rather than welding things just to be functional, which is something I have never done.

If the pot on the right appeals to you more than my metallic version of Jack Sparrow’s craft, the ‘wonky pot’ came from here.

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Boyd: Ordinary Thunderstorms

There is something about William Boyd’s writing that reminds me of Graham Greene, though I can’t quite put my finger on it. Mind you, it’s a few years since I read anything by Greene, so it may simply be my memory playing up. I have almost finished Boyd’s Ordinary Thunderstorms and it’s a real page turner. It took me a while to get into it. I had reached page two when I came across two words I hadn’t seen before: bosky and susurrus. My interest stalled. I was reminded of pretentious authors who insert Latin of French phrases into their text without even a hint at the meaning (luckily, for peasants like me that did brickwork, plumbing and carpentry at school rather than Latin and French, there are very few of these authors still around). Statistically, as by page two there were already two words I didn’t understand and it is a 403 page book, there could well have been another 401 more words to baffle me, to knock me right out of the story. No way was I going to read a novel with the book in one hand and the OED in the other.

I persevered. After all, Boyd’s protagonist was going for a lecturing job at Imperial College, my old Alma Mater (see, I write Latin!). I needn’t have worried. Beyond page two I understood every word.

William Boyd wrote Restless, and A Good Man in Africa. I came across him (I have deja vu here – I might already have said this in an earlier blog) when driving south to the Stafford Classic Bike Show. I needed something to listen to and I bought a set of Restless CDs. When I got home I sought out more of his stuff and I read A Good Man in Africa

Shall I look up those two words? I wasn’t going to bother but it’s nice to learn new things so I’ll do it now.

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Sunny days are here again…

Just to prove me wrong about summer being over, we are now having a heatwave (don’t feel jealous – for us that means temperatures of around 20°C). Summer is over only for our courgettes, it seems.

Our local nursery / garden centre, Pentland Plants (and after my grumblings the other day that isn’t an advert, I just happen to like the place. They also do good food and coffee) also disagrees with me about summer being over, judging by their impressive display of pot plants. If you are on Facebook, look at their page.

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A touch of frost

Summer is over. Yesterday, 31st August, we had our first frost. I got into my car at 7am and the windscreen was frozen. I squirted my washers and the water froze on the screen, despite the washer fluid being a weak mix of Halfords’ best. That we had a frost was also evidenced by the sad looking vegetables in our garden – they are no doubt lamenting the fact that this year we have had only 71 consecutive frost-free days (our previous frost was 20th June) – and it’s not as if we live in the Highlands.

While I was out I popped into Halfords to refresh my stock of washer fluid. The best stuff in stock promised (well, not promised, because ads and labels don’t do that, do they?) to protect down to -6°C. Only minus six? One night last winter it dropped to -20°C! I’m sensitive about such things. Two years ago I didn’t have the correct mix of screenwash. The washer reservoir froze solid, and cracked.

Am I bovvered? Not really. We are quite high up and have a wonderful view. Also, frosty nights mean sunny days. But try telling that to the veg.

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