Monday, 10 November 2014

Back On The Blog With Bituminous Emulsion And Black Magic

Well, Mrs Miggins, at last we can return to sanity. The hustings are over, the bunting is down, the mad hysteria is at an end. After the chaos of an independence referendum, we can return to normal.

A bit of Blackadder to restore the blogging bug. I’ll come to politics shortly but first I should describe an exciting event of a less hysterical kind.

Wife-features and I just celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary by subcontracting parenting duties to my mum for a few days, in particular a weekend evening. The missus and I took in a show and knocked back a few cocktails like the hipsters we used to be. We don’t have a huge circle of relatives and friends handy for watching the Bairn but when it happens we always feel the benefit.

I’ve learned over the five and half years since the Bairn arrived to try to strike a balance between time as a family, time on your own and time with your better half. It’s also been good, if I’m honest, to have a brief respite from indyref campaigning! But with a membership surge and an election just a few months away, I’m going to have work hard at that family time balance.

To North Berwick! I address a packed meeting where jaws collectively drop at news of where the other political parties stand on fracking, the controversial gas drilling process possibly coming soon to a quiet field near you. The political spectrum goes from hardline drill-baby-drill Tories and Libdems through fudgy-wudgy Labour and SNP types who think it’s an “opportunity” to Greens like me who say Not On Your Nelly. I leave comforted by the sense that common sense will prevail and any frackers sniffing around this neck of the woods will be given short shrift.

The local newspapers afford some local politicians a regular platform to pontificate. Today I notice my MP Fiona O’Donnell has signalled her support for pro-austerity, pro-Trident, pro-trickle down economics Jim Murphy. How this will rescue Labour from its meltdown I have no idea. Meanwhile the SNP’s Colin Beattie welcomes the lobbying by Scotland’s airports for air passenger duty to be cut, which would result in tens of thousands of tonnes of additional climate change emissions. Both these items scream business-as-usual when the mood of the nation is rather different. Will they pay the price? We shall see.

Bituminous emulsion news! This very sticky road surfacing material will imminently be applied to the street outside our house, I learn from today’s post. The council’s Executive Director for Services for Communities (no, I don’t know what this means either) informs me, and presumably hundreds of other local residents, that starting a week on Monday construction and resurfacing work will take place between the frightfully sensible hours of 9pm and 7am. For five nights. This is “to minimise congestion”. Because heaven forfend we disrupt Johnny Motorist on his daily commute - no, much kinder to have fifty hours of drilling and steamrollering right outside people’s windows as they’re trying to sleep. I shall be interested to learn what alternatives they considered. At the very least I’d like some earplugs in the post and few quid off my council tax bill.

To the library! It’s awfy busy. We then end up in the big, evil, edge-of-town-centre supermarket, by accident. It’s really quiet. The world (at least the Musselburgh bit of it) has gone topsy turvy.

The library hubbub can be explained by the timing of the Bookbug session for wee bairns but the supermarket silence? Is the big box retail era over? Please tell me it’s over. Anyway, I was determined to get a copy of the Financial Times, which I haven’t read properly for ages but used to enjoy at weekends. Sadly, none of the paper shops in the town centre stocks it and I think I got the only copy at the supermarket. (Sorry, if that was meant to be yours!)

My instinct to restore the FT weekend habit is proved right. In a feature piece about “The Silver Economy” (ie, our ageing population) I note that Nestle has redesigned coffee jars to make them easier to open for ageing consumers, and they have reworked their Black Magic chocolate boxes by increasing the font size, reorganising the chocolates so they align with the pictures on the lid and - wait for it - they have widened the finger scoops. Yup, widened finger scoops in chocolate boxes. I may mock this right now but when I’m doddery and can deftly pop a coffee cream into my wrinkly gob I’ll be quietly thinking I Love Capitalism.

Arg! Trauma. The Bairn is pretty confident on her wee bike. (Pedals and no stabilisers.) But I misjudged the size of the hill she was happy to career down on our walk/cycle from Musselburgh to Prestonpans via Levenhall Links. She slammed on her brakes, lost control and went tumbling. There was crying and hugging but in the end she was fine. I even got a laugh out of her later when I described my experience of learning to ride. (Plonked on a bike at the top of a hill. Given a shove by my dad. Caught at the bottom of the hill by my mum after scraping my sides on fences and walls on the way down.)

It’s a horrible moment when you see your kid coming to grief but hopefully when she’s older she’ll think back and laugh. She did manage a pretty professional “tuck and roll” when the bike came out from under her.

If I told you an oil baron called Algy Cluff wanted to set undersea coal seams on fire and catch the emerging gas you’d probably think I was describing a sequel to There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day Lewis. But no. Sadly it’s a real thing that has come forth and will affect the Forth. Pity the poor planning official at Fife (probably) council who has to handle the application. This will prove to be one very hot potato.

And speaking of delicious foodstuffs, it turns out school meals can be a real help in broadening the Bairn’s tastes. Some days she gets a packed lunch but today it was a school lunch and she tells me she had chicken with gravy and sweetcorn - things she’s been dodging at home. Peas remain the inaccessible pinnacle of the dinner table for her, both at school and home. Apart from whizzing in a soup, any ideas for how to solve this? All I ask is that she gives peas a chance.

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