Have you heard of Google Earth? It’s an amazing website that explores satellite photographs of Earth. You can magnify any part of it, closer and closer in steps – a satellite view of your town or village.
Then, just to make things even more interesting, they brought out something called Street View. (If you haven’t seen it before just put in a search for “Street View”, enter the name of your town, and there you have it. It’s a view of your street… at eye level.)
Amazingly, you can click along the road and you will travel in that direction. Or you can stop and swivel the scene around to get a view of your surroundings: the shops, houses, parks and gardens.
It was all done last summer by strange little black cars with towering cameras mounted on their roofs. These cameras take a 360 degree pictures as it travels along, so what you end up with is a massive wrap-around jigsaw picture of a whole area, including your old school, the house where you used to live, or your unwashed car sitting at the gate of your house.
Of course, it caused an outcry because people were concerned that it invaded their privacy. They worried that some master criminal could log on, visit the street and see the MacGlumphey family loading up the car to go on holiday, and their devious mind would think, “Aha! I’ll go round and rob their house!”
Of course, the surprise would come when they broke in and found the whole MacGlumphy family sitting there watching TV. It’s not a live feed, it’s based on photographs that were taken months ago, remember?
Anyway, back to my original point: I am disappointed. Why so? Because I saw the camera car scooting in and out of the West Calder streets and so I spent most of the morning trying to get myself in front of it, or as near as possible, every time it nipped in or out of a street.
I thought it was rather funny. It meant that when anybody logged on and looked at West Calder in Street View they would see dozens of me at various locations and in various bizarre poses.
But you know what? I do not appear in a single shot! It’s as though I was never there – even though I almost smashed head first into the camera car as I roared into one street in an attempt to get ahead of it again.
I can only think that they were on a dry run that day and took the actual photographs later. What an utter waste of time.
Still, if you visit the web site you can explore West Calder and the A71 into Livingston to your heart’s content.
And I utterly refute the rumour that the little fella’ stumbling out the pub in a chicken suit is me. Okay?