Archive for June, 2012

A Parent Forgets His Child at a Park/Pub/Shop


From Bigrab I see that David and Samantha Cameron absent-mindedly left their eight year old daughter at the Plough Inn pub.

This does not strike me as unusual or suggestive of bad parenting. I know a good many people who have done similar; some without the excuse that they were with their spouses at the time and thought the other one had the child.

What I find baffling is how the Camerons’ presumed security detail did not notice this.


Arrival at Thurso Railway Station Less Like Arrival at Rio Tinto Site


Previously the Tesco site was half filled with unsightly rubble heaps on full view to train passengers as well as road users on School Brae. At some point this weekend, however, these mounds have been leveled as the material removed.

There still is no public announcement on the future for the site, but it currently it looking much less unattractive.

Olympic Torch in John o’ Groats


Not having the bus fare to get out to John o’ Groats and witness to offshoot of the Olympic flame, I spent yesterday on the allotment packing-in the last of the winter cabbages.

An equally good and less messy time was had in Groats as the flame emerged from the North Sea.

Litter Round-Up


Last night’s The One Show featured popular dissent in the Blaenau Gwent council area to zero-tolerance on littering and dog fouling. Amongst other complaints, there were anecdotal claims that parents of children in buggies had been issued with on-the-spot fines by a private contractor company when the latter dropped a piece of litter without their noticing.

The pursuit of minor littering offences – in defiance of Government guidelines not to do so – including one resident being issued with a fine for tossing a cigarette butt onto the street. She took it to magistrate’s court, and was acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence; thus diverting time and money from other targets in the court system.

It is reported that 50% of the £60,000 of fines which have been issued since October 2011 remain unpaid (although this still means that £30,000 of fines have been collected for the burgh council and private contractor). What came out in the various dissenting residents interviewed was that they agreed “something had to be done” about the lamentable litter record in the area; just that it should be directed at the worst offenders, and not a great many minor litterers whose cumulative effect adds to a larger problem.

Such cumunlative effects can be seen on Bignold Park in Wick, where local woman, Kerry Gunn expressed her disgust at it being used as an open-air shit hole for dogs. See also clean-up efforts by Surburban Community Council of the Vodka Trail around Moss-side of Nairn, as discussed by GraisG of the Gurn from Nurn.

Likewise, here in Caithness, private Castletown residents individuals recently gathered even more vodka bottles, as well as 700 empty tin cans and other litter.

Starbucks Ireland Misses the Past Nine and a Half Decades


The Gentlemen of Hereford Complete a Little Task


On the one hand, you have lifestyle activists and human rights campaigners who restrict their activities to the path of least resistence against Western Government and security force agencies and whose tough moral decisions include whether or not to accept massive donations from Gaddafi fils (they – and by that I mean, Shami Chakrabati – do, but manage to forgive themselves).

Or, when the step outside their comfort zone, they – and, by that I mean, the Fools Crusade, Viva Palestina – are sure to do so under the protective gaze of Syrian Baathist forces.

On the other hand, there are aid workers to the such countries as these activists cavil about. Andi Parhamovich or Gayle Williams or World Vision workers in Pakistan or Karen Woo and colleagues at the International Assistance Mission or Linda Norgrove or Khalil Dale to name but six.  They work quietly and unceremoniously in zones where the threat of lethal violence against them is – as can be seen – intense, with or without lifestyle activists securing asylum for those who would direct this violence, such as Abid Nasser and Ahmad Faraz Khan.

Into the second more worthy group now come Medair workers, Helen Johnson from Britain and Moragwe Oirere from Kenya who, along with Afghan colleagues, were abducted in the same area of Afghanistan in which Karen Woo and her colleagues were murdered. This time, however, after some minor difficulties in reaching the cave in which they were being held hostage, the Gentlemen of Hereford managed to effect their release.

Johnson (shown above, on her arrival in Kabul) is reported to have said simply “thank you for saving me”.

Biomass Heating Systems at Highland Schools


Having noticed a number of vehicles in Thurso belonging to biomass heating companies, I wonder if the proposed upgrade to Thurso High School’s heating system is being implemented. Following its own refit, Lochaber High School is reported to be making significant savings to previous annual fuel oil bills of £170,000.

As the CHaP scheme in Wick might have considered, the lesson when in pursuit of similar district heating schemes is… aim modestly.

Looking for the Transit of Venus from Bettyhill


With the 2012 Transit of Venus being between 2209 UTC on 5 June and 0449 UTC on 6 June, it was going to be a tight squeeze to see it around sunrise in and around Caithness. As the evening drew on yesterday, I took one look at the advancing rain clouds, and decided not to attempt it from my vantage point at sea-level.

Local skywatcher, Peter Dyson toddled up the Aird Mor by Bettyhill for 0430 GMT. Alas, according to the John o’Groat Journal, he was disappointed (and soggy).

All the same, it was a better outcome than the doomed astronaut in Arthur C. Clarke’s short, Transit of Earth. Despite getting to view this phenomenon on 2 May 1984 from the Martian surface, he did so with the knowledge that no rescue craft was en route.

The Amazing Dancing Juche Bear


Say what you like about this North Korean animal circus, but the animals appear to be better treated than almost all the 10 millions North Koreans (which itself is perverse).

And rabbits.

Unpaid Marshalling at River Pagent


SarahAB writes about reports that marshalling duties at the River Pagent was conducted by unpaid Work Programme ‘volunteers’ who previously were told that they would be paid, only to be told that this pay would be from possible contracts during the Summer Olympics which would be endangered if they declined.

Sarah makes reference to In the Year of the Jubilee by late Victorian social documenter, George Gissing. In 1894, he wrote about the mistreatment and low pay of the wheens of menial workers toiling alongside the River Thames to ensure that Diamond Jubilee celebration went well. Which was precisely the allusion I had been thinking of.

It takes some doing to beat someone else to George Gissing allusions.