Sunday, 24 November 2013

Deaf Dugs, Parents' Night and Freakishly Tall Rugby Players

It’s been a busy old week full of stuff. In chronological order the stuff went like this…


I read an interesting thing about reading: “While 70 per cent of P4 pupils agree a lot with the statement `I enjoy reading`, by S2 this has dropped to 29 per cent.”

Book Week Scotland (w/b 25 Nov) is an attempt to put the pleasure back into what can seem like a chore to a grumpy adolescent. Our Bairn (age 4 years, 8 months) simply loves being read to, and is apparently the chief shusher at nursery when the other weans are restless during story time - more about that later.

My own childhood included a surrogate reader. No, not Bernard Cribbins on Jackanory but Story Teller, a vast catalogue of tales performed by A-list voices like Sheila Hancock. It was a fortnightly magazine with a cassette. I think we even had binders and cases for storage. If I was the sort of person who people asked about great literary influences I’d have to say Marshall Cavendish.

Scotland shuffled toward the white heat of modernity today but also planted a foot firmly in the mucky past. On the plus side a majority of MSPs said yes in principle to equal marriage but Midlothian Council gave an open cast coal mine planning permission.

It’s genuinely baffling when you consider the fuss that is made whenever someone wants to stick up a low-carbon wind turbine or two. All hell breaks loose with appeals and public inquiries. But if you want to obliterate a wildlife-rich moor to get at ten million tonnes of carbon-rich coal, with massive lorries going through small communities every few minutes for the next ten years apparently nine guys in Dalkeith can say yes and it happens. Go figure.


Regular readers may be familiar/tired of my statements on the state of Musselburgh High Street with its chronic traffic congestion and World Health Organisation-defying air pollution. A conversation with a local business chappie also confirms my view that the old style High Street is dead and for our town centres to have purpose they need reinvented as places you want to spend time.

One place I do spend time in Musselburgh High Street is the majestically ramshackle Hearing Dogs for the Deaf charity shop, aka the Deaf Dugs. A bag of toys is a pound! A nearly new Katie Morag story book is 20p! My office fruit bowl came from there! Sadly I have to report that the lease on this cavernous emporium is up in a few months’ time and it won’t be renewed. I am considering hiring a skip.


My first Parents’ Night! The Bairn’s only at nursery but it was worthwhile having a chat with the teacher. Wife-features and I were able to see the primary one classrooms and get an idea of what’s in store next June when the transition starts. It would be improper of me to boast about the Bairn’s glowing report. It is perhaps sufficient for me to point out that later that evening Wife-features and I feel it appropriate to have two scoops and a flake from S Luca.


The civic Christmas decorations are up! The corner shop now stocks a selected vegetable! This is all too much.


The Bairn’s name is down for the primary school where the nursery is. It is a crisp, clear day, so we decide to go for a bracing walk around the catchment. (In my old job at a national publicly-owned water corporation walking the catchment had a very different meaning. Feel free to ask me about it some day. It involves animal poo and pesticides.)

It’s possible we’ll flit at some point before P1 starts - the current homestead was found in a bit of rush - and if we do it would make sense to keep the Bairn at the same school. It’s fascinating looking at the catchment map, which jigs in and out of various housing schemes. Who decides where the line falls and is it drawn using an etch-a-sketch?

Speaking of lines and falling, I subject the Bairn to another painful game of rugby on TV. During the match she sketches out the Scotland squad. I think the freakishly big lads are Jim Hamilton and Kelly Brown. Either that or it’s a perspective thing and they’re standing much closer to the artist’s viewpoint.


A bracing bike ride along the seafront from the Honest Toun to Leith Links to meet some fellow Greenies for a bit of light bureaucracy. On the way home I buy an energy efficient light bulb for the hallway. On the box it says it lasts 8 years. Remind me to de-bayonet it from the light fitting if we do move!

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