Monday, 24 February 2014

Festive Road, Flat Tyres and The Four Metre Rule


“It was another ordinary day in Festive Road…“ Hearing those words brings back memories of childhood lunchtimes when I got to watch incredibly gentle cartoons - such as Mr Benn - while slurping Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup or wolfing French Toast.

A DVD of Mr Benn adventures arrived - bing - as if by magic in the post from one of my sisters. A late birthday present but very welcome, and not just by me but by the Bairn. I never met David McKee, the show’s creator, but recall an interview I did with Oliver Postgate many moons ago. The man behind Bagpass and the Clangers (along with Peter Firmin) described making kids TV back then as simple storytelling using an ordinary item like a bottle or a pin cushion to spark ideas. I think that’s why Mr Benn retains his charm after four decades - it’s a simple concept, going into a costume shop with the twist that there’s a door that leads to adventures…

Meanwhile the Bairn is hooked on her current bedtime story: the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (first published 1943). This is Wife-features’ doing. I’d never heard of it. The stories are utterly bizarre and in true Blyton style feature exploding toffees and firm yet fair mothers. Although no lashings of ginger beer yet.


My delight at the recent bike service was short-lived. As I attempt to leave work I discover the front tyre is flat. The only pump available is for a different kind of valve. I resolve to fix the flat when I have time on Friday, so for the rest of the week I’ll be a bus commuter. This gives local shops a huge boost as I always end up buying biscuits and newspapers to get change for the bus. When we switch to an Oyster card type system will our high streets be further devastated?


To the Cross Party Group on Rural Policy! I am such a thrill seeker. These after-hours meetings at the parliament are a chance to discuss issues away from the combat zone of the debating chamber. On this occasion the topic of planning is examined, and we get an update on progress towards Scotland getting its own rural parliament. (Parliament is a misnomer; it’s a conference. But the Swedes do it, so it must be good.)


I want to see the bright lights tonight. Or so Richard and Linda Thompson sang some years ago. Well, tonight I’m seeing bright lights as a cherry picker hoists a chap up Musselburgh’s lampposts to install some spotlights to illuminate the town hall’s flagpole. I can only assume this pricey enterprise by the community council is in response to reports of public outbursts of ill-lit flag post rage.

Meanwhile I feel like shining a spotlight on the bizarre regulations that mean that planning permission has been granted for a pub two doors along from our house without us being consulted. We’d already complained about the noise from a pub across the street. The local authority confirms to me they only consult with people whose property is up to four metres away from the applicant. Four metres. The length of two drunks lying face down. Having moved here only two years ago I fear a flit will be on the cards before long.


Another flat tyre! This time while cycling through Joppa. Oh the shame.


One of the Bairn’s wee pals is having a birthday party and Wife-features has an extremely convenient prior engagement, so I suit up for full-blown Dad Duty. The battleground is the function room of an ex-pub. An onslaught of about twenty four-year-olds ensues, complete with high-pitched war cries. There’s dancing and cake and soon it’s over, with a goodie bag full of sweets for the bus home. I’ve been to a few of these events now. I'm a veteran, and have hopes for a medal soon.

To Tranent! A quick visit to the Bairn’s Great Gran (my Gran) results in a couple of startling revelations. Firstly, she asks me if Salmond’s going to get his Yes vote, to which I reply I hope so, although it’s not his, it’s ours to get. This clearly gives her food for thought (she’ll be 80 this year, is not a big fan of Big Alex but also isn’t fond of Tories). Secondly, there’s some thought about food. Gran’s an ex-school cook and points out the trifle we made last weekend was flawed. A real trifle involves fresh sponge, warm custard which soaks the sponge, and then cream. None of your jelly nonsense.


Another flat tyre! Okay, okay. I promise. No more jelly in my trifles.

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