Monday, 21 April 2014

Taking A Stand, Keeping The Heid And Biking With A Bang


I’m a sucker for punishment so when I see a headline in a press release from my local Labour MP warning about the cataclysmic consequences of independence I click the link to read more. It doesn’t disappoint. My Westminster representative (actually, I didn’t vote for her and neither did the majority of people in the constituency but that’s the wacky Westminster way of doing things) is literally freaking out at the prospect of shifting responsibility for tax, welfare and defence from London to Edinburgh. Apparently a Yes vote would mean at a stroke our businesses would only be able to sell to the 5 million people north of Hadrian’s Wall. So, farmers: plough in and mince up those highly exportable crops and beasts. Distilleries: pour your internationally renowned water of life down the drain. Innovative manufacturers: throw a spanner in your works before you get any more great ideas. We’re doomed!


Sitting down is killing us. Or so I keep reading, from the comfort of my armchair. A documentary on Radio 4 highlights the change in office culture over the centuries and the toll it’s taking on our health. I think it was David Mitchell who once joked we’re basically a nation of workers vaguely clicking on computer screens. In a previous life, working in radio, I was a fairly active desk jockey and disc jockey. As a reporter I’d spent a shift darting from typewriter/PC to studio and to outside interviews. And as a presenter I could ensure a breezy voiceover by standing up at the mic rather than sitting down. For a while I was a bookseller and always stood up. To start with I ached at the end of the day but I got used to it and came to appreciate putting my feet up. Isn’t it time more of us took a stand against the swivel chair?  


To Whitelee! This Ayrshire wind farm is probably Europe‘s biggest onshore development. A gaggle of us get a tour of the site and the control room. The site has become a massive visitor attraction and community resource. There’s even a hardy crowd of mums with buggies who promenade between the turbines. The drive down from Glasgow was revealing. It’s been eighteen months since I was last behind a wheel and within minutes my autopilot clicks in, and I‘m forced to “keep the heid and mind the footwork” to quote my Gran. I find it almost impossible to do less than 50mph on the M77. Who on earth set this speed limit? I’m overtaken by pensioners on mobility scooters. Maybe beneath my terribly sensible Green Dad exterior there’s a dipstick Top Gear Dad struggling to get out!


To Dunbar! The sunniest town in Scotland, cycling nirvana and home of a community bakery that does awesome sausage rolls. I’m given a tour of the groovy Green things going on to inspire me in my desire to mould Musselburgh into a sustainable shape. Dunbar has a car club, a community garden, community woodland, well-signposted network of paths and a primary school where you can’t park a car so instead everyone cycles. Given the Honest Toun’s chronic traffic problems I fear I have my work cut out.


To Newhailes! This grand old house on the outskirts of Musselburgh has lovely open grounds for chasing a giggly Bairn on a sunny day. I show her how to play music* using a blade of grass between two thumbs, we take part in an Easter Egg hunt, and discover a route home that avoids walking next to the main road. Back in town Musselburgh Races are in full swing, evidenced by a noisy blokes’ Buckfast chug-a-thon in the High Street. Even as they chug and chant local worthies are Tweeting what a great economic boost the races are. Is the anti-social behaviour a price worth paying?

*When I say music, I mean the difficult Eric Dolphy/Eyvand Kang stuff, not something hummable from a Disney soundtrack.


The sun keeps his hat on, so we don ours and spend the day in the back garden. Wife-features breaks out the Flymo to give the lawn its first cut of the year, then takes a siesta. The Bairn and I have hours of fun playing simple games and reading stories in her tent. These are the days, my friend.

A compliment! I don’t often get them so they’re worth noting. The lady at the checkout in Farmfoods says my uber-efficient bag-packing abilities are astounding and I should consider working there. I believe that’s what’s called an iron in the fire.


The cataclysm is a step closer. I read that Yes is at 48, while No is at 52. To celebrate I ride my bike on purpose up some steep hills to prove that anything’s possible. Just as I’m about to cross the boundary from Midlothian into the Borders there’s a massive bang, hiss and squelch and my rear tyre goes flat. A massive screw brings my sunny ride to an abrupt and unhelpful halt. It’s a sign, I tell you. We’re doomed!

No comments:

Post a Comment