Monday, 24 March 2014

Hill-walkers, Cake-bakers and Cat-lovers


The hills are alive with the sound of grumpy climbers, or so the Mountaineering Council of Scotland would have you believe. It seems its members aren’t huge fans of wind farms, although the survey the council conducted didn‘t offer respondents the option of saying wind farms are just fine. Sadly the press go to town with headlines about tourism being devastated. I’ve bagged dozens of Munros and you know what bothers me? Discarded tissues. They’re flippin’ everywhere! It’s time we hill climbers got our personal hygiene in order before we go moaning about views being spoiled.
Not a wind farm in sight but I bet there are tissues stuck in those rocks!


Today’s shenanigans cause me to invent a new word for the dictionary: wonkfest. It’s a noun and means a prolonged period of excitement for policy nerds, or wonks. What prompts this new word? Well, is there any other way of describing the results of Labour’s Devolution Commission? It contains all manner of complex fiddling with a broken system, fiddling which the party leader turned into a muddling during questioning on TV. Yes, folk like the idea of more powers short of independence but they don’t want to have to take an Open University course to understand the details - if they can’t be summed up on a bumper sticker you’ve no chance. As for those who say Scotland should control everything except foreign policy and defence - I simply don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you want the power to not wade into illegal wars and why wouldn’t you want the power to get rid of nuclear weapons?  


Budget Day. The Bairn asks me what money is for. I ask her what she thinks it’s for. Paying for things you need, she says. Such as? Chocolate. And cake ingredients. (Got that, Osborne? Not bingo and beer but confectionery.)


I take the bus to work today due to the arrival of spring and its gale-force winds and hail stones the size of mint imperials. As my bus chugs along Musselburgh High Street (one of 500 a day) I notice a poster outside a newsagents with a headline about the local air pollution problem. Despite knowing about the problem for some years the council has done very little to date. However, according to the latest splash in the paper a council chief claims plans are afoot to conduct a traffic survey. I won’t hold my breath, although due to the pollution some days I do literally hold my breath.


Urgh. It’d be easier to extract hydraulically fractured gas from Caroline Lucas' garden than extract the Bairn from her New Best Friend. Last week’s hide and seek nonsense is repeated, indeed embellished. This time even once the Bairn and NBF are prised apart and I’m hustling my girl down the stairwell of the block I hear a letterbox being opened and her name being called out from above. I make clear we’re one step closer to meeting Serious Dad. This - or possibly the brisk spring air by the river as we walk home - chills the Bairn to the bone. What will next Friday bring?  


Musselburgh is a city with two tails. My recent newsletter deliveries have revealed distinct zones of town where cats and dogs rule. There are some terraced streets where every other door has a cat flap, a welcome mat in the shape of a cat and a sign in the window saying We Love Cats. Oh, and actual cats. While across town there are tenement blocks with at least one barky dog per block. There also seems to be a corresponding increase in muddy boots left on doorsteps. I shall feed this vital demographic detail into my electoral supercomputer.


To the Pans! I take Arthur Conan Doyle's advice, mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road without thought on anything. It’s sunny and the Forth is choppy with white peaks contrasting sharply with bright green lagoon-like waters. Curlews peep. I pour coffee from a flask and it doesn’t take funny. Life is good.

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