Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Car Ban, The Brown Bin Mystery & The Cow Joke


Monday

The last week of the longest month (January - why is there always so much month left at the end of the money?) began with chaos in the normally sleepy town of Haddington. But rather than the usual chaos of parents doing seven-point turns in their 4x4s and mounting pavements in their luxury saloons it was the chaos of the world’s media attention. Yes, those wise old birds at East Lothian Council have banned cars from the streets around the primary school at drop off and pick up times. The resulting images of kids scootering and cycling down the middle of the road to school with their faces beaming sheer joy must surely send a message to other authorities to follow suit.

Our own experience of the school run (nursery run until August) can be pretty hairy. The Bairn’s school in the middle of the Honest Toun, boxed in on all sides by busy roads and the entrance of a back-of-the-high-street pay and display car park. Motorists go too fast, run red lights at crossings, the pavements are narrow and on more than one occasion we’ve been freaked out by delivery lorries throwing U-turns. Where Haddington leads, let’s hope Musselburgh follows.

Tuesday

Follow the clues! That’s what PC Plum would do in Balamory. But the mystery that greets me on Tuesday has no obvious trail to follow. Our brown bin has not been emptied! According to the calendar supplied by the council it’s brown bin day. The bin was placed on the kerbside before the allotted time. It only contained garden waste. There’s even a sign on our bin, printed in large friendly lettering, asking passers-by not to use our brown bin for their crisp packets and drinks cans. I think even Sherlock would be foxed. The council has been emailed. I shall await their response before resorting to stimulants to solve the puzzle. Holmes favoured pipe tobacco, which is not my style. Columbo-style chilli is more my scene. Holmes was also fond of the odd bit of cocaine but as Watson pointed out it was simply a “protest against the monotony of existence." Of course Sherlock lived in simpler times, before fortnightly brown bins.

Wednesday

I see the joyless hermits at the ASA are trying to “ban” a Nice Way Code advert. (Ban? The campaign ran it stupid course and thankfully will never return.) Apparently cycling along quiet roads without wearing a helmet is the stuff of dreams. Snap out of it, you two wheeled hippies and suck up those exhaust fumes!

Thursday

As well as gluing pasta shapes onto cardboard boxes and singing songs like Three Craws Sat Upon A Wa’, it appears the Bairn is undertaking Financial Management for Junior Consumers. She’s set her heart on a toy that’s a wee bit pricey but has taken up the offer of walking to her weekly exercise club rather than take the bus. The money saved on bus fares goes into a toy fund. As I’m the sort of Dad who rarely asks for a receipt when making an ATM withdrawal I find this kind of logic and fiscal planning unnerving. Maybe I should ask the Bairn what she makes of the idea of a Sterling zone currency union.

Friday

To Dalkeith! I see the transformation of the old bus depot is nearing completion. Soon to be a supermarket. Frowny face. However, I see the transformation of the old Borders railway line is progressing apace. Smiley face!

Saturday
To the Pans! (Bottom Pans, not Top Pans. Apparently this is important.) My tour of East Lothian to spread the Green Yes message continues with an attempt to accost folk in a chilly and soaking Prestonpans. Given the town’s Labour traditions I was pleased to actually find a few people willing to engage in a bit of banter about the referendum. Those who said they plan to vote No gave a mixture of reasons including:

We can’t afford it.
It wouldn’t make things better.
We’re not ready for it.

I did ask how much we’d need to afford it; I asked how a No vote will make things better; and I asked when will we be ready for it. On each occasion I got a don’t know and a hint of second thoughts. I’m glad to have planted those seeds.

Sunday

The punch line to the whole week is an actual punch line. Why did the cow go to the cinema? To see the moo-vies! (Why is it when I say it, it’s naff, yet when the Bairn cracks it we all crack up? She is four; I’m approaching forty. That may have something to do with it.)

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