When in Glasgow:
Visit the underground world of Glasgow Central Station. The unique guide and major enthusiast, in his retirement, is otherwise employed as Network Rail’s Historian and Archivist.  He used to manage this station. During his career he also managed several other major stations in London, U.K, however, he always returned to his home (and station) Glasgow Central.

Lovely Victorian Supporting Pillars

Descending into Glasgow’s historic and present transport underworld made for a tremendously engaging and educational visit, the guide, bringing to life with his words this major, solid, surviving transport hub. He spoke of the hustle and bustle of transport, for and with all sorts of people, now and in previous times. Peering into the pitch black, eyes following the slim line of a torch beam, it felt like we were intruders into someone else’s world. We saw the outline of places on platforms that were still intact where men could not go, and neither could we. Women of the 19th century waiting for trains in that gloom had the ‘comfort’ of separated waiting areas.  Our way was barred for reasons of safety, which pertained to present day use.

A Disused Line

In a lower street level goods entry, (Glasgow is a city of hills) there were still signs of horse drawn transport. The resting places for the horses still exist.

Like many stations, the ‘streets’ under Glasgow Central station were put to stark use in the two major wars, (WW1 and WWII).  The guide did not mince his words about many elements of the nineteenth century social history associated with this station. He felt very strongly the roles of womenfolk in life and death in this station, was and had been, totally ignored… he was definitely intent on correcting with his words what he felt was a grave neglect and a major injustice.

Preserver Of  Industrial/Social Heritage

While we were in the depths exploring some unused tunnelling and were in our joint reveries sensing the spirits of the past, on a nearby spur an underground train whizzed through.


With all that’s been going on, and very publicly, here and abroad, I have been at a loss to know what to think.  If I feel disempowered, how on earth must millions of other people feel.

Those that can, have grouped up and made their feelings known in public places around the world, often at personal cost to themselves. The amount of courage and positive human energy there is to care, is truly amazing.

I am not qualified to speak of what the security services at all levels do, or, what they do not do.  Like most people, I only know what morsels are given for public consumption. I am extraordinarily grateful to have been able to live a life that has been mostly safe and away from major conflicts. There are so many who cannot say this.  Every day we hear heart-rending stories, many of which are streamed into our visual consciousness to our homes. It does make us face the reality of the suffering that has been and is being endured.

With the current ruptures, of a type generally unknown to many of us in our lifetimes, our own comfort blankets are disappearing at speed.  The peace in Europe of the last seventy plus years is politically in the balance and it is also affected by major influences from other continents. There is a serious ramping up of aggressive rhetoric.  Where will it all lead?



It never ceases to amaze me what kids get attached to and stay with into adulthood. Baby teddy and big teddy are safely wrapped up in the loft. Some other copy Stief style teddy lounges lazily on the bed, what for, I am not sure, it is collecting dust. Now, Miffy, on the other hand, travels the world and can be seen, it has been said, on social networking sites in different capital cities and tourist sites of the world.

The map of the world duvet and pillow cover are hiked out for regular use, even though some of it is now history. Some countries have changed their names. Cities and towns have their linquistic spellings, whereas they were known differently a decade or so ago. These bedcovers clearly illustrate it. Of course, the countries themselves, however much their identities have been updated, doggedly remain in their fixed positions in the global design of things.


There is something superbly decadent about reading in peace, in the comfort of a warm room, especially on a Saturday afternoon. The book has its merits and its in-built decadence too, if you read it that way. I think you are meant to as an integral part of its semi-light-hearted storyline, involving as it does, a behind-the-scenes caricature of the way academics functioned in their work, privately and socially.

The book is one I am skimming large chunks, chunks that are of not much import to me. The missing tracts do not weaken the flow of the stories woven into more stories. Skimming has helped me keep track of an awful lot of characters – too many – a large proportion of whom, I may well have long forgotten. There’s nothing worse than trawling back and forth amongst the pages, even the chapters, to remind yourself who a particular character was or is.

I am fascinated by the reminders of working practices long gone. The book is dated, very dated. For me, it is part of its charm. Roneo documents abound, Xerox machines are regularly used, sit up and beg, bash-it typewriters could keep their typists really hard at work. RSI was unheard of then. It was the time when electronic typing machines were just creeping into the office environment. There are main frame computers, there is programme development busily linking into individual machines in a laboratory; a mini network in its earliest form.

You have to book a transmission line, or more likely, several of them, to arrange an Antipodean broadcast. That must also have been the time of black and white visual broadcasting.

Descriptions of vehicles crop up, at the time, state of the art, probably now part of a rust heap, with the odd one preserved by an enthusiast.

Here, there are description of airline booking desks, staff assistance, flying experiences of yesteryear; the passengers and what they do in their smoking or non-smoking cabin seats. In contrast, elsewhere, some plebs sink in overcrowded leisure trip rowing boats.

The contextualising of characters in the Amsterdam red light district, a district that would be pretty familiar today, though described here, thirty or more years ago. In a couple or three years, will it still be recognisable from the author’s description, who knows?


Today in America it has been a momentous day. For the rest of the interested English-speaking global community, it has been a culmination of over-drooling, over-hyping and over-speaking, especially by the BBC.

I was hopping mad when the presenters on TV BBC1 had the temerity to constantly talk over the progression of the ceremony. As a result, I did not know the identity of the lady in grey who sang in soul sound till about half way through; then I discovered it was Aretha Franklin. The first few musical phrases of John Williams’ piece, being played by some exquisite performers, was totally lost with BBC unwanted chat. Then the presenters drowned out the introduction and nearly the words of the swearing-in of the vice president.

There was an excellent mistress of ceremonies in Ms Feinstein, who was a very good speaker, why on earth did others feel they needed to pitch in and drown out her and the main performers?

After all, it was an English language ceremony, the watching English-speaking public did not need voice-overs or translators. The reporters obviously had a need to demonstrate the relevance of their presence, to justify the costs of their jamboree to the license payer.

Thank heavens the commentators managed to shut up for Obama’s superb and important oration and for the final presentation by the elderly Pastor who gave a message of hope that all could relate to, with grace and humour.

Yet for all that, you could hear the commentators had real problems containing themselves; they were almost wetting themselves, trying to get the first wise words of analysis out into the media. Save us from the BBC press corp!


According to research we in the U.K. are;

1.Below the level of eastern block countries for our cancer survival rates;

2.There are inherent dangers in cardiac patients and people with other
chest/breathing difficulties being transported distances to obtain appropriate medical care;

3.And if you live in North London, where patients have to be transported through dense London traffic up to TWELVE MILES to have heart and breathing problems dealt with, you are likely to have even weaker survival chances. Even weaker than what? Someone who has to travel hundreds of miles for similar treatments?


Okay, we are keenly aware as consumers that our medical services can be well below first world country standards. If you live, as I do, in a remote area such lacks are even more pronounced.

Transporting of patients over huge distances is a perennial requirement here; when available (note ‘when‘)helicopters have to transport severe life-threatening cases to not one hospital but two, sometimes even, three. Often the first is a triage and holding station, the second is another triage and specialist assessment and the third is the one where the specialised resources reside, if all that is needed doesn’t exist at hospital number two. Two hops can be made if it is clear from the outset what services are needed that do not exist in the region. The examining doctor needs to be familiar with regional resources The distances covered are about 300 miles, if within Scotland.

For the very infirm, limited ambulance transport just might be available either for county out-patients’ requirements (40 miles round trip) or regional ones 240 miles round trip. Otherwise, you may be fortunate to be squeezed into a taxi with several other frail people, to meet up with a hospital service minibus 50 miles down the road. For other ambulance needs, perhaps a maternity emergency that can only be dealt with at regional HQ, an ambulance would have to be found and a midwife organised, this, sometimes with difficulty.

I have absolutely no sympathy with twelve miles for a North London Hospital, I heard bemoaning the problem in its own terms this morning. This is a hospital I became extremely familiar with last year. A filthier, dirtier medical establishment in the U.K. I have yet to see. It is no wonder Chase Farm Hospital near Enfield is a failing hospital. In my view, it would be safer, if any of our hospitals can be construed as safe, to go elsewhere, even if it is three or four miles further on.

The variables used in the research models would be worth a quick look just so we could say “I could have told you so, without the expense of research”. However, in days when everything we query has to have evidence to back it up, such basic facts have to be ‘researched’ to point out the obvious.