Monthly Archives: June 2012

No blue flashing lights

Spotted at Scotland’s Royal Highland Show.

I did wonder where they would put the stretcher. Perhaps, if they cycled in a synchronised way, they could balance it on the back, over those bags of defibrillators and other life-saving electronic gubbins (when I passed my first aid tests – rather a long time ago – we would have had bags of leeches).

Seriously – this is a fantastic idea! A great bit of lateral thinking by somebody in the NHS. Perhaps NHS could be spelled out in bigger letters? Don’t be shy, this is great stuff.

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Power to the People! or maybe not…

Ignacio Galán Esq.,
Chairman, Scottish Power UK plc
1 Atlantic Quay
G2 8SP

19 June 2012

Dear Sir,
A neighbour handed a document to me today (copy attached). She says she and a few of her neighbours were handed it by a young man, who, when questioned, had no more idea what it is about than she had. She brought a copy to me, because she wondered if it referred to our sewage treatment plant.

The threat says our stairlighting will be disconnected. We are an estate of around 20 detached houses and therefore we have no stairlighting. Indeed, we are single storey properies, and therefore we have no stairs. The threat says ‘Pumping Station, Halmyer Loan’ (spelt incorrectly).

My neighbour, and other residents handed this threat, spent hours telephoning Scottish Power in an attempt to work out what it is all about. Their efforts came to naught. The annotations on the copy are theirs, not mine. They were told that the non-payment refers to ‘Romanno Ltd’. There is, and as far as I am aware never has been (I have lived here for 8 years) an organisation of this name.

I have no intention of doing the same as them and spending hours on the phone in case I simply lose the will to live. However, I too tried the 0845 2700 700 number. The automated system asked me for account details. Of course, I cannot give this, because the Threat Letter contains no useful information whatsoever. It is, in fact, the most inane and inept document I have ever seen emanating from a corporate organisation of the size of Scottish Power. Or, for that matter, anywhere else.

If this document refers to one of the two sewage processing stations serving this estate, then disconnection will have very serious consequences, as your action will result in the pollution of the surrounding water courses and you will, presumably, be answerable to SEPA and Scottish Water.

If you are referring to a supply to one of these stations then please let me know, as I am sure the matter can be resolved very quickly. Surely you have a meter number? Or an account number? You are, after all, the supplier of the power.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Whittle
Chartered Engineer


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That Fence

Just in case you think that fence photo looks like the perimeter fence of Stalagluft V (if you didn’t, then I did), here is a much more acceptable picture. Close up it looks rather nice (as Sergeant Wilson might have said).

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The Fence

That could be the title of a novel. It won’t be one of mine, because the way I’m going at the moment with the edit of my latest, it may never see the light of day.
The fence is the problem. Fifty metres of our back garden borders a main road, and over two consecutive bad winters our uncontrollable Leylandii hedge slowly died. Uncontrollable because each year it sprouted huge branches into the road that even professional tree surgeons couldn’t reach safely.
Losing the hedge was no great loss. A) because it was Leylandii, and B) because I am allergic to firs.
So, what to do? A new hedge? A beech perhaps, that grows two inches a year? Or a mixed native species hedge that becomes see-through for two-thirds of the year and will eventually overgrow the road (we are so close to the road we would have to set up traffic lights to cut it safely).
It had to be a fence, and a substantial one. The road has a forty limit, more honoured in the breach than the observance (Hamlet, I believe), and since the hedge died it’s like having articulated lorries doing 60 in our back garden, to say nothing of the boy racers (most of them middle aged and in vans, Audis and BMWs) seeing how fast they can take the bends without actually killing themselves.
Life is almost back to normal, the fence is almost done. What’s more, I now have 50m of new growing space for cordon apples and pears, raspberries, loganberries, gooseberries and redcurrants.
Yes, I know these also drop their leaves in Autumn, but what the heck.

(the hedge photo is Google Streetview and shows the hedge before it died. Its trimmed top is 9ft above the road) 

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Gardening Scotland

It’s that time of year again. Scotland’s answer to Chelsea opened today. I haven’t been to the Chelsea show for thirty years (thirty? Sir, you jest! Forty, more like…). All I remember about it is a massive tent, unbearable heat and wall-to-wall crowds. I understand that the tent has been replaced with a more suitable structure, but judging by what I saw on TV during last week, the tent has gone but the crowds and the heat are the same.

While I am on about TV, it seems that Chelsea has been renamed the M&G Show – blatant, unashamed advertising by the beeb. These massive shows have always been sponsored, but it was always done subtly, in a British way – not by Alan Titchmarsh opening every programme with “…brought to you by M&G”. When I first heard it I did a double-take, I thought I was watching ITV.
So, not good enough, guys. Someone deserves rapped knuckles. If my old primary school teacher was still around, she’d sort you out.

Meanwhile, North of the Border, we have had passable weather (so far). Perfect, in fact, for a garden show. The Meteorological Office (I love saying that, it sounds like I’m speaking with a mouthfull of marbles) predicts more of the same. Three days of sunny intervals.

My favourite local garden centre and nursery, Pentland Plants, assembled a magnificent floral display based on the Union Flag – very appropriate for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend. Somehow they managed to get the best spot in the show, the first stand you see as you enter the main hall.

If you use Facebook you can get a much better, bird’s-eye view here. Note that they got a Silver Gilt.

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