November 22, 2010

Hurrah! We have somebody to champion our fight against the Health and Safety Executive and the army of grey men who dream up the rules and regulations. I mean, who sets out to do that as a chosen career path?

It sometimes seems that they are getting their own back on real people by wielding their little bit of power with all the pomposity they can muster. Now, don’t get me wrong; health and safety in the right place is a good thing. But when it comes to the recent laughable examples of the five-page briefing on using glue sticks, and teachers being instructed to don goggles when putting up posters, well… I could go on all day.

 But I’m not going to.

Instead, I will relate the story of a good friend of mine (We’ll call her Maggie) who owns a well known and well-respected West Lothian Business. It’s not easy; she puts in a full day of hard labour, plus the paperwork, chasing contracts and payments. Dealing with deliveries and sales. Organising a million little tasks. So, the last thing she needs in her busy schedule is some officious, juvenile H&S junkie trying to nosey in and dictating how she should run her business.

So, she tells me, the phone rang recently, and she picked it up.

“Good morning,” Maggie said. “ How can I help you?”

“Put me through to whoever deals with your Health and Safety,” says the voice on the other end.

“We don’t do Health and Safety, I’m afraid. We do common sense,” Maggie answers breezily.

“I beg your pardon?” “We don’t do Health and Safety – we do common sense. Oh, wait. You’re too young to remember common sense aren’t you? It’s what we used to have before Health and Safety.”

There is a sound of pages being rustled as he leafs through his script to find the right response. Maggie says nothing; just waits…

“Er, well thanks. ‘Bye.”

I think we can all take comfort that there are still people out there like Maggie, giving these people the run-around. We owe the Maggie’s of this world a huge vote of thanks.

Drew McAdam.



November 14, 2010


Okay, I admit it, I laughed.

But if you’re like me, then you would probably have afforded a wry little chuckle, too.

It was a car accident. Now, a collision isn’t something that should really bring a smile to your face. But in this case, it involved one of those boy-racers and his 20-year old Vauxhall Ashtray with the blacked-out windows and an exhaust pipe the size of a sewer pipe that’s designed to waken the whole county at 2am.

There it was, with its front end smashed and its headlights gazing skyward. The hapless super-driver stood mourn-faced at the side of it. And, yes, I smiled. Why? Because like every other driver, I’ve been overtaken at light-speed by one of these halfwits on a blind summit and found myself praying there wasn’t a packed family saloon tootling along in the opposite direction.

And like every other driver, I’ve had to stamp on the brakes as some young maniac who thinks he’s a world-class racing driver swerves across a roundabout to get the jump on somebody. Let’s not pull any punches here. They are a danger to themselves – which bothers me not a jot – and a danger to every other driver and pedestrian in their vicinity. Which bothers me a great deal.

So, there he was. This lonely figure wearing a daft hat that looked like an udder-warmer his granny had knitted, eyes brimming with tears as he surveyed his crumpled pride and joy. And I couldn’t help feeling thankful that there was one less moron on the road to put everybody’s life in jeopardy for the sake of a wee speed thrill. And one more whose increased insurance premium meant he wouldn’t be behind the wheel again for a long time.

I’m sorry if it makes me a bad person, but the sight made me feel good. And I laughed.

 Drew McAdam


November 7, 2010

Am I the only one that thinks this is really serious?

Last week the West Lothian Herald and Post carried the headline “Rampage”. The story was about police warning vandals that their rampages through a county village is putting lives at risk.

Do you really think the thugs weren’t well aware of that?

And the Breich Valley councillor said she was “extremely concerned”, suggesting that parents ask if they knew what their children were up to on weekend evenings.

Like that’s going to happen.

Let’s get this straight. There were windows smashed, 21 cars vandalised and more than 20 wheelie bins set alight. But, more worryingly, 10 wheelie bins were torched outside an old folks’ home, and a piece of burning paper was shoved through the letterbox of a house.

Those activities are more than just something to be “concerned” about. Such actions need to be met with something other than the vain hope that some parent will ask their offspring what they’ve been up to – and get the truth. Vicious behaviour like this needs to be met with more than a warning or our concern.

In my book – and I suspect everybody else’s book – the fire-raising was attempted murder.

Honestly? I am surprised that there are not councillors hauling investigating officers before them and demanding they find who was responsible. I mean, it shouldn’t be too difficult. For a start, it happened over two weekends. Six or seven streets – the length of the entire village – were affected. Fire and smashing glass. There are surveillance cameras in the High Street, and the second incident happened in the early evening.

Are we to believe that nobody saw anything? Nobody heard anything? Despite the sound of windows being put in, these thugs were like ghosts?

Could it be that a group of youths descend on a village, set about causing mayhem, then sneak back out unobserved? What are we dealing with here – nutters or ninjas?

 And as for the Executive Councillor For Services For The Community “…using the Community Service Unit… working in the area to prevent further incidents.” Well, I don’t want the council doing that. I want a squad of burly polis tooled up with batons and Tazers on the case.

And once these little rascals are caught, I suggest we ship them off to Afghanistan where they can use their remarkable skills at operating without being detected in covert operations behind enemy lines. We’d soon find out then just how good their powers at remaining undetected are.

And you could be sure they would be treated with something more than just an appeal to their good nature.

Drew McAdam