A BIG PILE OF GRIT

December 27, 2009

 

HERE’S a question: What word has four letters, ending in * *I T, and is found at the bottom of a birdcage?

The answer is, of course, “grit”. And the tray of your budgie’s cage is the only place you’ll have found it recently – certainly NOT on the roads of West Lothian during the Big Freeze.

No surprises there, then.

Despite dire warning of freezing conditions and forecasts of massive snowfalls, West Lothian didn’t cope particularly well. Again. Not until the third day did the gritters seem to get their act in gear. And that was just on the main roads.

As a performer I was regularly driving around Scotland during this period. Time and time again the going was gruelling in West Lothian – until you reached the boundary with the next county. Suddenly, no ice. Coincidence? I think not.

Take the A71, running through West Calder. It’s a major thoroughfare from East to West, but on the third day of the bad weather only half was gritted, and once you got further west you were on a slippery slide to nowhere.

Yet once you extracated yourself from West Lothian – by taking a different route – the going was easy the whole way to Ayr.

Duncan MacNeill, who is in charge of looking after major roads for Transport Scotland, including the M8 which is Scotland’s busiest road, said that contractors had spread more than 250 tonnes of salt on the motorway over the previous 24 hours.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of grit!

Until you realise that he reckoned that they had about 40,000 tonnes of salt in storage. He told reporters that it would “…last a long, long time.”

It most assuredly will, if it’s not being spread on the roads – where it’s needed!

Drew McAdam


SCAM THE SCAMSTERS

December 19, 2009

 

I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams!

I received a letter – well, an email, actually – informing me that the World Governing Bodies including FBI, INTERPOL, UNO (I thought that was a card game) World Bank Group and the European Union Commission along with the Commander in Chief of Nigeria has…

Well, I don’t understand the jargon. The email is full of phrases like “adhoc committee”, approval and endorsements, outstanding beneficiaries and “diligently divert their approved payments.”

It’s all highly technical, so they obviously know what they are doing.

The central theme of the email is that I am the beneficiary of $2million. All they need from me is a processing and handling fee of $200 – along with my personal details, bank particulars and passport number so they can pay the money into my bank account.

Sounds great.

Then I thought, “Hang on a minute. This could be one of these ultra-sophisticated ploys to steal my identity.”

I’ve read a great deal about that sort of thing in the newspapers recently.

So, I gave them my details…

I must admit, it pleases me greatly that some poor sap is going to try to get into the country on a passport made out to Anna Sassin, whose occupation is as a bellybutton inspector with Argy Bargy Limited of Smellytown, North Lothian.

I suppose this means I won’t be getting my $2m though.

Drew McAdam


PANTOMIME TIME

December 13, 2009

 

Hurrah! It’s pantomime time.

There is nothing better than a good, old-fashioned laugh-a-minute pantomime at this time of year. Laughter and glee for a theatre filled with children, and ridiculous pantomime characters chucking sweets into the auditorium (Except the weirdy-beardy health and safety “you could put someone’s eye out doing that” killjoys won’t allow the toffee chucking.)

Unfortunately, if you live in West Lothian, you’re not going to find a decent pantomime to which you can take the kids.

 I mean, West Lothian has a fair-sized population. It’s remarkable that we have no panto worth shouting about. (And before the New Town Entertainers get on their high pantomime horse, Wizard of Oz is finished – two weeks before Christmas. By all accounts though, it was superb. Nearer to Christmas next year, perhaps?)

So, if you want to take your kids to see panto you’ll have to travel outside the county.

Just to give you an idea of what’s on offer elsewhere; you can see Mickey Rooney as Baron Hardup in Cinderella at Milton Keynes. How cool is THAT? Mind you, they also have Anthea Turner. Still, these are pretty big names.

Richmond panto has Jane Asher, while you can see Henry Winkler (Fonzee) as Captain Hook in Liverpool, alongside Atomic Kitten Natasha Hamilton.

New Wimbledon theatre (where?) has Pamela Anderson. And Cardiff panto has managed to bag John Barrowman to play Robin Hood. And here, in our proud and bustling county, we have… eh, nothing and nobody.

One rip-roaring panto well worth seeing is the increasingly popular Liam Rudden’s Sinbad, but that’s been squeezed out of the city to Musselburgh’s Brunton Hall. And what squeezed it out? Oh, yes. Allan Stewart and Grant Stott at The Kings – again. Alan Stewart plays the fool: Grant Stott plays some evil character – again.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Grant Stott. A Lot. (Sir Stottalot – great name for a pantomime knight!) But even I can only take so much of this year-after-year sameness. So, as long as Edinburgh continues with the same old same old, couldn’t West Lothian bag some of the bigger names – as several theatres throughout the UK seem to have managed?

I mean, Oor Cooncil have spent 20 gazillion pounds and 40 years renovating Howden Park Centre. Surely, we could have attracted some “draw” name for a local panto. Surely?


MUSIC MAFIA

December 5, 2009

 

Several West Lothian businessmen have told me recently that they are incensed by calls they have received from the PRS (Performing Right Society). It would seem that this “society” is currently working their way through the West Lothian small businesses directory.

This “society” collects licence fees from music users. And in their eyes you are a music user if anybody happens to wander into your place of work and overhears music playing in the background.

No, seriously.

If somebody plays work-along music in the kitchen of a restaurant, for example, they need to have a license. And the PRS people use aggressive, bullying tactics to ensure you buy a license so that you can listen to music you’ve already bought!

The money from the license is then passed on to music writers and publishers. (Less the PRS staff wages, company cars, bonuses, office costs etc of course.)

And just as a matter of interest, one of the “suits” behind this mob – as CEO of British Music Rights – is Feargal Sharkey, the Irish singer with the inside-out face who had a big hit or two with The Undertones.

A note to these “artistes”: you wouldn’t need the PRS to collect cash on your behalf if you had a modicum of talent, because you would be touring and selling records, wouldn’t you? That’s the way it USED to work.

The musicians want their music played on the radio – somebody might hear it, like it and buy the album. For them, it’s a great advert. But they also want paid if somebody happens to overhear it!

We have to pay to help them advertise?

There’s something seriously wrong there.

Drew McAdam