Network Fail

[Picture of train station stairs]LET’S FACE IT: RAILWAYS ARE RUBBISH.

I recently watched with horror as an elderly man with a stick tried to cope with the stairs down to an east-end railway station, and I just wondered how any mum with a pram would be able to manage to use this so-called “public transport” service.

Railways are definitely for able-bodied people only — and they seem to be required to additionally be reasonably fit and healthy too; getting the train is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you.

Buses often have a low step to help people get on and off, quite a lot also have wheelchair access, and all have provisions for prams. The newer bus stops have raised kerbs too.

When are we going to own up to the fact that the era of the train is over? They do not have staff, the costs are high, it is risky and frightening, and completely the opposite of “user friendly”. To improve things, they would have to completely redevelop the stations at massive expense, and I just don’t see that happening in a million years.

[Picture of Pollokshields East Station in Shawlands]Presently stations are dark, dank, stair-filled, exposed places — a place for winos and druggies, neds and yobs. The picture to the left shows Pollokshields East station’s stairs on a bright, sunny afternoon — a massive and steep flight of steps takes you to a landing where you can head off to the right or left under the bridges where the pigeons and starlings live and shit. It is too dark to get a picture even during a sunny afternoon, and the lights merely cast scary shadows against the blackened, mossy dripping wet Victorian walls.

Stations are always either sited a lot higher or a lot lower than the entrance from any road, so this is typical — imagine dealing with a pram! If that is bad, a pram and a toddler would be too scary to bear thinking about. A zimmer or crutches is impossible, as would be any form of wheelchair.

For goodness sake, it is bad enough trying to cope with high heeled shoes!

The railway network is denied to a massive number of people, this is a serious prejudice indeed. If we cannot fix the problem, we ought to either shut them down and turn the tracks into roads, or at the very least, own up to the truth.

The first step of which would be to stop including trains in discussions about public transport, particularly about viable alternatives to the car!

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Power Message

[Picture of Black and Decker Toy Power Tools]BLACK AND DECKER IS A WELL-KNOWN BRAND FOR TOOLS.

“Boys Toys” for the DIY man in your life can start as young as pre-school, because — as you can see for yourself in this photograph (click in picture to enlarge) — the Black and Decker brand now includes children’s toys.

[Picture of drinks advertising on children’s clothes]Oh, and yes, I know that little girls might just as well play with these toys just as many adult women lust after a new chainsaw, that is not the issue here — the issue is brand placement. I object to toys having real brand names; it’s just not right and proper. In the same way I objected to football teams being sponsored by brewers and distillers to the extent that brand names were on baby-sized shirts.

By the way, I have nothing against beer or Black and Decker either — I merely have a problem with brainwashing children in this way — and I think we all ought to have concerns about this sort of thing. If something is not done, then things will just get worse, don’t you agree?

[Picture of Bosch branded toy]November 2008 UPDATE: Dear readers of the blog have sent us a picture of a Bosch toy to prove that it is not a market or idea monopolised by Black and Decker.

Wet Bools

[Picture of Bowling Green at Pollok Park]BOWLING GREENS ARE FAMOUSLY WELL-KEPT.

Greenkeepers take great pains to ensure a carpet-like finish to the grass lawns used for bowling — what a shame no-one at Pollok park thought to design in some drainage!

[Picture of Bowling Green at Pollok Park]All that manicured turf and hard work gone to waste. Things are getting worse when this sort of thing can happen; it is not as though the rainfall has been particularly heavy, there have been no severe weather warnings, no flash floods, no emergency — just the normal drizzly Scottish wetness that we really ought to be able to cope with by now!

Urban Off Road Adventures

[Picture of off road parking]OFF ROAD VEHICLES LIKE TO PARK OFF ROAD.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it: you have the money to get a big off road BMW, but you only use it to pop to the shopping centre, it never goes off road, so why not park on the pavementy bits provided in the massive car park?  At least that’s off road.

This picture was taken at the Fort, so all the car parks are equally as near to the shops, so it’s not as if this tactic was to get handier for the shops.

Why bother stealing a disabled space or a mother-and-toddler bay?  Mounting something is far more satisfying, especially when you cannot get a ticket!  Even though car parking is free and easy, why not stand out from the crowd and do your own thing? No wonder things are getting worse!

Shaggy by Name…

[Picture of Scooby Doo Toy box]SCOOBY DOO CARTOONS ARE PART OF OUR CULTURE.

“Why, if it wasn’t for you pesky kids…”!

We all grew up on the TV show, and have somehow managed to overlook the fact that the dog’s owner is a hippy called “Shaggy” and that they knock about in a hippy surf van.  In fact the whole thing is suspect, but still, it seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence as it is everywhere.

[Picture of shaggy toy figure in close up][Picture of Fred toy figure in close up]I saw a box of toys in my local Woolworth recently, it was toy figures of the characters — fully articulated and ready to pose. Right near the hole where a child’s finger was to be inserted, I couldn’t help but notice that the Shaggy figure seems somewhat well-endowed.  See for yourself. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Now, in case you think that this is something to do with the way the toys have to be made, compare Shaggy’s crotch area with that of his partner in mystery-solving, Fred.  It seems to be the case that either they are suggesting something about Shaggy, or else suggesting something about Fred.  I will leave that for you to decide. It is something of a mystery, isn’t it?

PC WCs

[Picture of white effect toilet seat]A GOOD DESCRIPTION IS NEEDED IF YOU WANT CUSTOMERS TO BUY.

That is why I was surprised to see a toilet seat in Woolworth’s labelled as “White Effect Wooden Toilet Seat”. Click on picture to enlarge.

This naturally begs the question, what is it if it is NOT white?  Is “white effect” similar to “white”? Will customers say “No, I don’t want a white one, I’d rather take a white EFFECT one”.

I was then advised that they cannot describe anything as being “white” in case it is misconstrued as being racist! The best they can muster is the effect of being white, without actually being white — just as they have black effect items. Deary deary me; things are definitely getting worse!

Sicker Stickers

I SUSPECT THAT PRICE STICKERS ARE DELIBERATELY PLACED BY DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEES TO ANNOY SHOPPERS.

I cannot be the only one who find this annoying.

It started for me many years ago when I bought a gift and took it home. I was gift wrapping, so I tried to remove the price sticker, and it left an unsightly rip behind! After that I used to ask the shop assistant to remove stickers at the till, and if they left a rip, I refused to buy it!

Matt album sleeves, comics and book covers were extremely prone to ripping, but now that we have CDs and the like, the worst that can happen is glue residue — and the deliberate placement of the sticker itself.

[Picture of Poorly placed shop price stickers][Picture of Poorly placed shop price stickers]There are so many examples that could prove this, but the following digital photographs illustrate the point very well. Please click on the pictures to enlarge.

The shelves are filled with CDs in their jewel cases. There is a theme that links them — music of a particular year, 1961, 1962, 1963 and so forth.

The shop price sticker is deliberately and annoyingly placed over the last number (so you cannot easily tell which year the music is from), all you can tell is the decade — its 196* or 197*.

In books the sticker will obscure the author’s name or book title, but it’s getting worse because I have seen it with other goods and even electronic products. Deliberately placed stickers will obscure the battery size, the calories or health warnings — even the “best before” dates!

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