There is a theory doing the rounds at the moment. It’s based on Carl Jung’s notion of personality types, claiming that it’s possible to gain an insight into a person’s character by the books they have lying around. Another crackpot theory?
I suppose it’s possible to deduce if they are an outdoors-type person. Or an academic. Or if they are the sort of individual interested in adventure and escapism. But their personality?
So, see what you can draw from this. At the moment there is a collapsing tower of 23 books on my bedside cabinet. Titles include such things as “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, O’ Henry’s Short Stories, and Body Language by Robert Phipps (with a chapter on Lie Detection which I contributed.) All sensible stuff, really.
But there is also a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Chess, and three different editions of The Reader’s Digest. I’m not even going to mention the mentalism books, but will give you a further pointer by telling you that the whole thing is topped off by an old, well-thumbed copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes which I’ve had since I was 14-years old.
Enough to be going with? Are you beginning to form a psychological profile based on my reading matter? No?
Well, there is also the massive Times Complete History of the World (Rather sadly, I have noticed a major mistake in that book. According to the author, the ex-president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, was born in 1924 and died in 1997. Well, that will come as something of a surprise to him as I spoke to him last year. I can call him on his mobile if you want me to check.)
Other books in the bedside pile include The Nations’ Favourite Poems and an Ian Rankin novel.
Most of these books have various ticket stubs and playing cards acting as bookmarks. So, they are either being read, or are intended to be read, but I’ve closed it and started on something else.
Just to confuse things further, I now have a Kindle e-book reader that contains at least 40 books which I have downloaded from the internet. (Try reading THAT in the bath!)
So, have you deduced my personality type from all this information? Well, if you said that I am somebody who flits from one thing to another, is completely disorganised, and has too much time on his hands then you’re almost there. And you are absolutely correct if you think I am somebody who should be moving most of his reading material to the charity shop in a wheelbarrow. Or just setting a match to it all.
Seems the theory works, then.
Three decades is a long time for one man to give of his free time. Especially when it’s being done for others in the community.
Following 30 years of unselfish service, a West Lothian volunteer firefighter recently decided that it was time for him to hang up his tunic and spend a bit more time with his family. You see, until that time he has been almost constantly on call. Family gatherings, birthday celebrations, time with his wife and children – all lost. Never to be reclaimed.
And that’s only part of his story. Weeks that could have been spent on holiday were often spent on training. He gave his free time, his knowledge and his expertise; called out at inconvenient times of day and night to help others who were in life-threatening trouble.
On innumerable occasions, people were fleeing a house or factory fire… and this chap was running towards it. What courage must THAT take?
Will he be honoured by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service? No. Will his name join those of politicians, showbiz personalities and sportsmen in the New Years Honours List? No.
I know the commitment of this man, because for a long time he was my sub officer. So I was honoured to be present when his colleagues had their farewell get-together. His presence in the front of the fire engine as it roars off to God-knows-what emergency will be sorely missed.
I’m not going to name the chap – in his own words, he was “just part of a team”. And there are individuals just like him in every town in West Lothian. Invisible Heroes.
But the next time you see somebody dashing to their car at some ungodly hour of the night, and you see their wife and kids standing silhouetted in the doorway as he races off to the Fire Station, take time to give thanks. Pause to appreciate that there are selfless people out there willing to put their lives on the line to pluck you to safety in times of peril.
Believe me, even after 30 years, that is the only recognition they will get.
When growing up, I regularly raided the library for books dealing with weird and wonderful events from around the world. Ghosts, poltergeists, telepathy, UFOs and monsters.
But one thing that always caught my imagination were the stories of strange objects that fell from the skies. There are numerous documented accounts of weird rains reported from all over the world. Showers of fish, frogs, golf balls, worms and ancient currency have fallen from the sky here and there. In Argentina recently, a hill walker managed to photograph a deluge of thousands of spiders tumbling from a clear sky.
In the autumn of 2009 deposits of a weird “Star Jelly” were found scattered across the hills and mountains. Nobody knows what it is, but it’s reported that the substance only appears in areas where a meteorite has fallen to earth.
All very strange. But now, in West Lothian, we have unusual objects appearing in our towns and villages. Start looking for them, and you will find them everywhere. Very peculiar, this.
I am talking about those weird, red rubber bands. Now that I’ve started looking, I’ve found them on the road, in the gutter, outsides shops – always near housing. Have you noticed them yet?
They look like wristbands – perhaps they ARE alien wrist bands – made of a bizarre, red, smooth, stretchy material. Red in colour, almost the same colour as a Royal Mail van, or pillar box.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that the pavement may be clear one day, but next morning they are back – these strange alien artefacts. Perhaps they just materialise there. But – and this is very odd – they never appear on a Sunday!
So, are they being deposited as gifts from passing UFOs? Are they being scooped up by a waterspout from a boat somewhere and then carried miles to be dropped across the county? I mean, there must be around 10 of these rubber bands in my street alone. (I even found one in my garden the other day!) If you multiply that by the number of streets in West Lothian, then it’s … well, a lot. An awful lot!
I would suggest that Government bodies and research committees should be brought in at massive public expense to get to the bottom of this bewildering mystery – the amazing appearing red rubber bands.
PREPARE yourself for a year of bad luck; courtesy of Oor Cooncil.
There is a long-standing tradition that Christmas decorations should be down by the Twelfth Day of Christmas – that’s the evening of January 5. The belief was that tree-spirits lived in the holly and the ivy. While the greenery was used for decoration, it provided a safe haven from the winter for these spirits. But the decorations had to be down and gone after the Festive Season or the spirits would bring mischief and calamity.
It’s a tradition that still holds today, and most people are well aware that leaving Christmas decorations in place after the Twelfth Day is courting disaster. And that’s why, by that date, decorations throughout the country are disassembled, packed into boxes and shoved into the attic. It’s an activity that takes place in houses, shops, factories and pubs. Nowhere, after the deadline of the Twelfth day, will you find festive decorations.
Nowhere, that is, except in West Lothian. Even now – as I write this, it is the Forty-fifth Day of Christmas – the neon decorations attached to street lighting in various boulevards and main roads around the county are still in place. Strip-lighting santas, candles, robins and baubles are still in place. Okay, they’re not switched on at night; probably in the hope that nobody notices.
No doubt those responsible will moan that they are “too busy” to take them down in time. Unlike those who run our businesses, shops and factories, I suppose.
Let’s face it: if your neighbour left her Christmas decorations up for weeks after the event, she would be the talk of the street. She would be seen as slothful and lazy. Somebody who lives a sloppy, slapdash life – a slacker. So, how embarrassing that when visitors to West Lothian drive around they can see that Oor Cooncil hasn’t managed to get their act in gear, weeks after the event. Such an apathetic and slipshod attitude speaks volumes about their approach to everything else for which they are responsible.
So, when West Lothian faces hardship, disaster and ruin this year, you know whose fault it is.