Why be Rude and Crude?

[Picture of rude shop]GOING TOO FAR?

OK, you want your wee bistro to stand out from the crowd, but to resort to a Benny Hill style double entendre is sad. Very Sad indeed. This is your company, for goodness sakes!
It case you can’t see the picture, or haven’t clicked to enlarge, the bistro is called “Fanny Trollopes”, and has no apostrophe. Fanny Trollopes will be on employee wage slips and on tax forms (oh dear, shoot me now)!

The big question is why? Things are definitely getting worse when people decide on a lunchtime baguette because of the sort-of rude name of the shop! Saints preserve us! It means one thing: what’s next? Are we on a slippery slope?

Stirling Maxwell Forest Park

[Picture of Stirling Maxwell Forest Park’s Grand Sign, Corkerhill]GLASGOW originally meant “Dear Green Place” (so I have been told), perhaps that is why there is an obsession with public parks.

Usually at the centre of controversy is Pollok Park — which was was “gifted” by the Stirling Maxwell family to the people of Glasgow when they could no longer afford the upkeep of their historical estate. I think I may have found a solution to the present problem (see Apes in The Park) — I have found another park, it is small — but there are good transport links, and it’s handy for the shops, in fact it’s a stone’s throw away from Pollok Park.

[Picture of Stirling Maxwell Forest Park]It is called “Stirling Maxwell Forest Park” (as you can see from it’s grand sign — click on pictures to enlarge). Sure the park is small, but it does have a forest. Sort-of (if half-a-dozen trees makes a forest). Using my camera phone, I almost managed to photograph the entire park in one shot.

Hazardous Bus Stops

[Picture of stupid bus stop in Corkerhill Glasgow]THIS IS TRAFFIC CALMING GONE MAD.

We have posted before to explain what so-called “Traffic Calming” is really doing to us, but what we have found here is stress-inducing and life-threatening… and all for no apparent reason.

To set the scene, we have a big, spacious dual carriageway with an island in the middle and two lanes either side. The pavements are wide and there are bus stops. This is all just a few metres for a big roundabout in the Corkerhill area of Glasgow.

However, the town-planners have decided (reasons unknown) that the traffic flow was far too good, and so has narrowed the road down to one lane going in either direction. The way this has been done is annoying at best — and dangerous at worst. Look at the pictures and decide for yourself (Click on the pictures to enlarge).

[Picture of stupid bus stop in Corkerhill Glasgow] [Picture of stupid bus stop in Corkerhill Glasgow]

Now, at certain times of the day, vehicles innocently and correctly travelling on the inside lane will suddenly discover that the road has abruptly ended, so a queue will form to try to merge with the faster moving traffic on the outside lanes. The queue backs up to the big roundabout and chaos ensues. Brilliant.

Now, as though this was not enough, the town-planner has decided that — at the very narrowest point — to put a bus stop! This is Academy Award Winning Stupidity! And it is done on BOTH SIDES of the road AT THE SAME POINT!

This means that, in addition to the traffic merging problem and the traffic back-up to the roundabout, EVERYONE has to wait behind a bus while people get off and on — and wait while they pay, get their change and find a seat!

Things will continue getting worse if we sit back and allow such blatant stupidity run riot at the council. At least the “Daftest Bus Stop” we found last year was not at all like these — the daftest bus stop was on a special bus lane, caused no delays, did not congest traffic and was not dangerous. It was just silly to have a shelter so far away from the bus stop. The mess they have made at Corkerhill, on the other hand, fails to raise a smile.

Haut Dawgs?

[Picture of Hot Dog Kitchen Door Sign]IT IS ALL ABOUT SAUSAGES AT THE END OF THE DAY.

I couldn’t help myself, I just had to take a snap of the signs at a local shopping mall food court’s Hot Dog counter. Click on pictures to enlarge.

[Picture of Hot Dog Kitchen Door Sign]

It made me wonder if the sign was intended to exclude Hot Dog Crew Members who had not yet received much training — or perhaps admittance was denied to those Hot Dog Crew members who failed the training.

Then I noticed another sign, this one to the side of the doorwa, which stated:

“RECRUITING
PART TIME
CREW
MEMBER
TRAINING – UNIFORM
PAID HOLIDAY
MEAL ALLOWANCE
SUIT STUDENT
APPLY NOW!”

This sign mentions training, and although it doesn’t state the level of training, it must be high because they are aiming for students. I wondered if they would be allowed through this door — sadly, the sign didn’t make that clear. So it will be one of those questions to raise at the interview, I suppose.

Could they be worried about bangers going off in the wrong (unskilled) hands? Are the dogs that hot?

I don’t know what is getting worse here to be honest — the fact that they put such a notice on the door shows that they are either (a) of the belief that they are highly trained or (b) they know the job is brainless, and are being ironic and sarcastic. Either way, things may have reached their wurst!

Apes in The Park

[Go Ape]GO APE is a company that has applied for planning permission to section off part of Pollok park as an adventure playground-cum-assault course that charges £25 for adults and £20 for kids from 10 to 17 years of age. It would create 15 local jobs and provide income for the park to re-invest elsewhere.

The detailed proposals were discussed at a well-attended public meeting in the park, where the clear majority was enthusiastic about the Go Ape scheme.

The city council said Pollok park was the most suitable location simply because it already has facilities for visitors, such as public toilets, parking links to the motorway, a rail station and bus routes. The council said that “it would be completely inappropriate” to consider Linn park or Bellahouston Park as they do not have the required infrastructure.

However, despite public opinion and consideration by the council, Pollokshields councillor Mr. David Meikle (Conservative & Unionist) has said:

“This scheme is highly controversial and the reaction to it has been unbelievable.

“The savepollok park.com website has seen 320 votes against and I’ve had 100 letters of objection.

“This application should be put on hold in light of the level of public opposition and public consultation re-opened so people can have their say.”

The story “Fury Over Assault Course Bid For Park” is in the city’s evening paper.

Is it a storm in a teacup? Is this a case of nimbyism by the posh, Tory-voting folks who live nearby?

Look, all I know is that in the past, there was just as much or even more “fury” over the building of the Burrell Collection there, and then the huge fuss over the building of the M77 (see Traffic Calming).

In each case, the claims that the park would be ruined or destroyed were proved false, and the M77 has proved to be an excellent idea, the museum has been award-winning and a fantastic addition by all accounts — and still Pollok park remains Glasgow’s largest park (and the only Country Park within Glasgow). Its extensive woodlands and gardens mean that there is still plenty of room for Go Ape — which will not make any permanent difference.

[Best Park award]It seems to me that the go-ahead thinking of the parks department has created a very special park indeed — and one that got Pollok Country Park voted the Best Park in Britain for 2007.

I personally think it is an excellent idea — and one in keeping with getting today’s fat, lazy kids off their arses in front of their wiis and Nintendos and out into the fresh air. Glasgow has to compete with Renfrewshire’s excellent Xscape — and where better than the well-served Pollok Park? Who knows, maybe people will pop in to the Burrell while they’re there — or use the rest of the park on a summer’s evening.

  • Public Parks are for everyone to enjoy — not just winos and gays.

Things are getting worse when people want to create a stir and public outcry over something like this – are there not a million other things far more important to bother about? Anyway there will be a public meeting on 22 January 2008 in Pollokshaws Burgh Hall at 19.30 if you care to go along and moan.

The Future of Shawlands

[Poster of Public Meeting]PUBLIC NOTICES HAVE SPRUNG UP ALL OVER SHAWLANDS.

People are stirring things up — and I really do wonder why. What is the agenda — is there some secret conspiracy, a few people with vested interests? Hmmm.

The rhetoric of the poster suggests that things are getting worse, that Shawlands has seen better days, that it would be a good idea to have a Town Centre Action Plan and a Business Association. See for yourself; the Notices state:

PUBLIC MEETING TO DEBATE
THE FUTURE OF
SHAWLANDS
TUESDAY 29TH JANUARY
7.30pm LANGSIDE HALLS

Do you feel Shawlands has seen better days?
This is your opportunity to have your say on
what you think needs to be done. the council,
local Councillors and MSP Nicola Sturgeon will
all be there to hear what you have to say.
Does Shawlands need a Town Centre Action
Plan to further develop and improve our area?
What is happening with Shawlands Arcade?
Would a Shawlands Business Association help
businesses in Shawlands develop?
COME ALONG AND HAVE YOUR SAY

www.shawlands-strathbungo.org www.g41.org.uk

Things are getting worse in Shawlands because things are getting worse in Glasgow — and in Scotland — and in the UK. For example, the new policy of putting household rubbish and shop wheelie bins on the pavement at the front of the property is not exclusive to Shawlands, neither is fly-tipping, dumping, litter, swollen hedges nor even Dog fouling.

Time and time again on this blog, we show that things are getting worse because of red tape, committees and interfering old busy bodies.

You cannot legislate for freedom, happiness and co-operation nor attempts to encourage understanding and respect for people, forgiveness, politeness or common decency.

  • We do NOT need more red tape, more committees, more opinions, or more “say”.
  • We do need less restrictions, less control, less red tape, we do need more freedoms, more quality, more personal responsibility.

The result of the last lot of stirring up was the addition of ugly double yellow lines at corners where people could not park anyway because of fences and bollards! (See New Restrictions in Shawlands) — what a waste of time and our council taxes! It has not stopped cars parking on pavements (which seems to be a bother for a few very vocal residents) — a problem that would simply be solved by adjusting the height of kerbs instead!

On this blog we often highlight the nonsense produced by town planners and traffic managers, (for example, The Wrong Way, The Daftest Bin, The Daftest Bus Stop, Traffic Lights Suck! and the so-called Traffic Calming schemes). We also show the lowering standards in design — such as the mess of the Clyde Arc Bridge, and our amazement in how poor quality building designs get planning consent and building warrants — such as The Most Horrible Building in Glasgow, The Bad & The Ugly, Ugly New Flats, and More Ugly New Flats, as well as Holy Balcony, and Waterfront Apartments Are Not Posh!

This is what council activity, red tape and public consultations gets you!

My opinion of Shawlands is worth at least a little consideration; I am very, very old, and have a long memory that still works pretty well. I can, for example, remember the queue at the Elephant Cinema for a Beatles film being so large it stopped traffic on Kilmarnock Road. I can remember the buzz of shopping on the world-famous Victoria Road with it’s fabulous Christmas lights — especially Pearson’s with that famous parrot! I can remember the trams, the chimney sweeps, the coal deliveries, and I reckon the last time I saw and heard the rag-n-bone man coming along Tantallon Road with his flat-bed truck pulled by a massive grey Clydesdale was in the early 1980s.

I would honestly say that Shawlands is roughly the same today as it was back then, no better and no worse relative to the bigger picture. What is true in my opinion is that things in general and in particular ways are getting worse, and we would do better to try to address the bigger picture than consider something like Shawlands in isolation. I say that we ought to fix the traffic calming, fix the problems with factors, and fix the rubbish uplifts — then the improvement to Shawlands would be incredible!

I can recall when Shawlands was cobbley, dirty and black with soot and grime. It was frequently foggy in winter and very, very smelly in summer. The trams disappeared along with the cinemas and the new shopping arcade and skyscrapers in Pollokshaws heralded good times, where the place was buzzing with boutiques and German Beir Kellers.

Later they got rid of the central parking, removed all the zebra crossings and started to block off all the side roads near Victoria Road. This killed off the Victoria road shopping area supposedly in favour of out of town shopping, but this just put pressure on the West End and Shawlands. There was a lot of demolition of slum tenements across the city, and a lot of out-of-town developments for offices, factories, shops and council estates.

However, despite these two areas being major shopping districts, property values in the West End increased much better than the south side because Shawlands had a serious subsidence problem due to the tenements being built on tin mines.

During the property price boom of the mid to late 1980s, there was a lot of power cuts, and a lot of problems with the cart flooding too. Shawlands began to fill the tin mines and shore up the tenements. At this time, the whole of Glasgow was regenerating with lots of grants — and it was all about stone cleaning, reroofing, new windows, rewiring and removing lead piping and old attic tanks.

Today, Glasgow is facing the next round of issues — the roofs are now over 20 years old, the wiring is needing redone, the windows too — the tenement stock is in need of attention once again. People bought their council houses back then, so there is a demand for public housing. There is also a serious need for new affordable housing for first time buyers, so they are building a lot of new (ugly) flats at Eglinton Toll and elsewhere. There is a re-appraisal of the high-rise skyscrapers Glasgow was once so fond of — many are marked for demolition (but which cannot be exploded due to the asbestos dust problem).

Shawlands MUST be taken in consideration of the greater city-wide picture — for example, the nearest hospital will be the Southern General as the new Ambulance and Diagnosis Centre will replace the ancient Victoria infirmary. The new motorway links, the expansion of the subway system, the Commonwealth Games and the city redevelopment and regeneration all will affect Shawlands just as much as has Braehead and, more recently, Silverburn.

I would suggest that the people of Shawlands fight for the removal of traffic lights, speed humps and parking restrictions to encourage shoppers and house buyers and to free up congestion. They should fight to have the rubbish put back in the lanes and back courts for uplift — out of sight of the street, they should fight for cleaner pavements, for more regular cleaning, better litter bins, more public toilets and so forth. Everyone should be demanding better — better flood defences, better telephone and television reception, better quality homes, better property management, better conveyancing, better customer services, better interest rates and better looking, better designs.

It’s common sense, improvement is all about better, and for things to get better they have to first stop getting worse. Shawlands cannot be improved in its own!

NO NO Signs

[Picture of a no smoking sign]ONCE UPON A TIME PEOPLE SMOKED CIGARETTES IN PUBLIC.

As the “norm” was freedom to smoke, it follows that there would be special areas set aside for non-smokers and areas where smoking was not allowed for all sorts of other very good reasons.

Signs were put up to notify the general public of such no-smoking areas. These signs increased in number over the years as no-smoking areas multiplied, perhaps becoming the most common sign in the world. I used to see it on every single window of the bus and train, then it began to appear in cars and taxis. It was everywhere! I always thought the smoke coming from the lit end — with a portion of ash evident — actually looked like the smoke was coming from the filter end!

[Picture of a no-smoking sign]There were other versions of NO SMOKING signs, some better and some worse.  I preferred the one where the entire cigarette (or cigar) was black, to my mind it was clear that the end with the smoke was the end with the ash and fire!

Now, of course, the world has changed, and the situation has completely reversed.  Instead of the norm being SMOKING, the norm is NO SMOKING. It follows that instead of a designated area for NON SMOKING, there ought to be designated areas for SMOKING.  Areas where smoking is allowed.

The first point to be made is that the default position is NO SMOKING, then there is no longer any need to have NO SMOKING signs.  All of these signs should be completely removed at last — we should NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN.

The problem is how to designate SMOKING AREAS?  We need a sign that means THAT IT IS OK TO SMOKE.

[Picture of the Ghostbusters Logo]This is a problem.

You see, the NO-SMOKING sign is a victim of its own success.  Because it was so common, the format  became the norm. To indicate a rule, law or instruction, we need a RED CIRCLE.  To show that something is NOT ALLOWED or FORBIDDEN, it needs to be CROSSED OUT using a red diagonal line.

[Picture of No Dog Fouling Sign]Sometimes — when it is difficult or impossible to think of a suitable picture for a banned activity, the “empty” red circle with diagonal would be enough.   The NO DOG FOULING sign is such an example.  The sign is aimed at dog-owners, rather than the dogs themselves (in this respect the NO DOG FOULING sign is unusual), on the one hand, we are spared a symbolic dog symbolically fouling.

The trouble with using forbidden signs is that we have to ask what is the default position — what is the “norm”. As far as dog fouling is concerned, having a NO DOG FOULING sign implies that dog fouling is allowed elsewhere — when it is in fact not.

The problem is the same as with smoking; the default is that it is outlawed, so we need a sign that designates an area where the activity is allowed — and possibly even encouraged.

We need a sign that says that smoking is OK, and we need a sign that says it is OK for your dog to take a dump.

If we simply remove the red diagonal we would get a smoky cigarette picture — would that be obvious as a smoking allowed sign? Then what would we have for dog fouling?

It is complicated, isn’t it?

[Picture of Australian No Cycling sign]

In Australia and New Zealand, I am led to believe, the sign for NO CYCLING is in the red circle with a diagonal format — so it seems obvious what it means.  However, here in the UK, the sign for NO CYCLING is this:

[Picture of UK NO CYCLING sign]

Also, in the UK, the sign for a cycle route (or a cycle allowed) is this:

 [Picture of Cycle Only sign UK]

Yes, it is complicated. Another weird UK traffic sign is NO PARKING. You might be forgiven for thinking that NO PARKING looks like this:

[Picture of fake NO parking sign]

This is a fake no parking sign, knocked-up in photoshop to make my point. The fact is that in the UK, no waiting and no stopping or parking looks like this:

[Picture of NO WAITING]  [Picture of NO WAITING/ PARKING]

Thank goodness parking is the default norm position! Things are getting worse when people don’t know legal signs from faked ones based on a 1970s NO SMOKING campaign, and things are getting worse when  signs, such as NO SMOKING and NO DOG FOULING, are used when they ought to be consigned to the history books. The world is ugly enough without unnecessary clutter like these — it all adds to information overload too!

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