Monthly Archives: September 2011
You would almost think they were trying to be cute, and as if puppies weren’t sweet enough, this lot are really turning on the charm by falling asleep in a variety of adorable – and sometimes weird – positions.
A brown puppy even cuddles up to a fluffy toy to generate an extra level of cuteness. But a couple of other young dogs appear to have grabbed the attention by sleeping in slightly ridiculous positions. A plump, short-haired white puppy must have been having flying doggy dreams as it lies fast asleep with its front legs – and ears – outstretched like wings.
No doubt coming to a greeting card near you soon…
When I was 5 years old, birthday parties were a simple affair. A handful of your closest friends from school would come round for tea – always marmite or jam sandwiches and sausages on sticks followed by jelly and ice-cream. This would have come after the obligatory party games such as musical chairs, pass the parcel and musical statues. The guests would then be sent home with a piece of cake wrapped in a serviette as a thank you for attending.
When did this innocent celebration turn into a massive production? Who invented the party at the nearest soft play area? We have several near where I live and I was invited to one this week – Animal Magic in East Kilbride. These soft play areas have become the latest big money spinner where our small people are concerned and I can’t decide whether they are a good or a bad thing – you decide.
On entering the building, which is set on the edge of a trading estate, the first thing that hits you is the noise. The large room, the size of a warehouse, is full of children – hundreds of them in fact – and mostly under the age of 5. Having found your own party’s host, the children are encouraged to head off to the other end of the room where the soft play area is situated.
This is where I think it gets interesting. The sales blurb says that this is “Somewhere safe for them to run, jump, climb and have fun; to stretch both their physical abilities and their creative imagination to the maximum, whilst providing a relaxing environment for parents. Given our climate, the best all year-round solution is an indoor, soft, multi-level, adventure play area.”
Now, they may well be right. It gives the kids the opportunity to let off steam in a relatively safe environment and they are supervised by the staff as well as the parents. I do feel however that it becomes less a party for the birthday girl or boy, but more a party for all the participants. Again, good or bad thing? Not sure.
After an hour of play, the kids in your party are all rounded up to be taken off for the birthday tea. This in itself is a feat worthy of some sort of medal for the poor soul who is in charge of events. There is always one child who goes missing at this stage and then, finally, everyone is there and we can go to the party room. Party room? Party room? Wait, let’s think about this … perhaps party cupboard would be a more accurate description. A small room with no windows and no obvious method of ventilation, where the kids are crammed in and presented with their choice of such delights as “nuggets and chips”, “hot dog and chips”, “macaroni and chips” … you get the picture. Happily, the meal is rounded off with a bowl of jelly and ice-cream – some traditions are hard to dispel obviously!
After the blowing out of the cake candles and the sing-song, the kids are sent back downstairs for a final 20 minutes of play before the afternoon is brought to an end at the stroke of 5pm. Red faced and exhausted they head off home, presumably for a relatively early night.
The advantages for the parents? Well there is no clearing up to get done as this is obviously done for you – you can just walk away and leave the mess behind you. The disadvantages? Well, I can’t help but feel that the fun of the party games was sadly missing. All in all though, the kids all seemed to have a great time so I suppose that is all that matters.
On a final note, however, I was disturbed (yes, that is definitely how I felt) when I found out that there was indeed an animal corner at Animal Magic. Across from the cafeteria area were 3 glass cabinets – one containing a huge snake, one with lizards, and a third with Marmoset monkeys. Now I was under the impression (mistakenly apparently) that keeping monkeys as pets in the UK was illegal. Imagine my horror on doing some research that it is possible to own this species without any form of licence at all! On closer inspection, one of the monkeys was carrying two small babies on her back. They were clearly well looked after, fresh food and water was in the enclosure. I couldn’t help but feel that this was completely wrong however. The conditions were not ideal, approximately 10 monkeys kept in a relatively small glass box being gawped at all day long by small children – they would be much better off in their own habitat surely?
Would a friend do this
do this to me at all?
Would a friend deliberately hurt another
to make them feel two foot tall?
Would a friend forget to mention
that they’re friends with you?
Would a friend forget to say
by the way this is my friend too?
Would a friend abandon you as if you were a contaminated disesase?
Would a friend stare at you like you’re a stranger
saying you don’t know when your new friend asks you who’s she?
Would a friend toss you aside like an old toy he’s got bored of?
Would a friend forget to pretend he’s yours? yes, a friend would because mine does.
I’ve always thought that people who dress their dogs up in clothes are slightly disturbed – think the likes of Paris Hilton and various other useless Z-listers who are “papped” on a regular basis with their Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas with bows in their hair and poking out the top of oversized handbags.
Why then, did I feel the need to get my poor Cocker Spaniel, Sylva, a grey hoodie? I have absolutely no idea what possessed me but I have to say that I am completely delighted with it – every time I look at her I can’t stop laughing – she looks so cute. Oh well, guess I’ve finally lost the plot!
Now I’m the kind of girl who keeps her feet on the ground. Not for a moment did I think I’d won the mega millions first prize, but I did allow myself the fantasy of thinking that maybe a few thousand would be winging its way to me and the shopping list was already forming in my head.
Imagine the disappointment then, when checking my account, to find I’d received a message congratulating me on the fact that I’d won ………. £2.50!!! I’ll try not to spend it all at once!
Continuing with my occasional theme of Glasgow landmarks, I’d like to tell you a bit about the Cathedral which sits north of High Street and east of Cathedral Street, beside the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Built before the Reformation from the late 12th century onwards and serving as the seat of the Bishop and later the Archbishop of Glasgow, the building is a superb example of Scottish Gothic architecture. It is also one of the few Scottish medieval churches (and the only medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland) to have survived the Reformation not unroofed. On 22 April 1581, James VI gifted the income from a number of lands to Glasgow town for its upkeep. He traced the ownership of these lands to money left by Archbishop Gavin Dunbar as a legacy for repairing the cathedral. The town council agreed on 27 February 1583 to take responsibility for repairing the kirk while recording they had no obligation to do so. The church survives because of this resolution.
Technically, the building is no longer a cathedral, since it has not been the seat of a bishop since 1690. However, like other pre-Reformation cathedrals in Scotland, it is still a place of active Christian worship, hosting a Church of Scotland congregation.
On a lampost outside the Cathedral you can see an example of Glasgow’s official Coat of Arms. Somewhat surprisingly, the City of Glasgow did not have a coat of arms until the middle of the 19th century. In 1866, the Lord Lyon King at Arms gave approval for one which incorporated a number of symbols and emblems which had been used on official seals up until then – all of which were associated with St Mungo. St Mungo (who was originally named Kentigern) is said to have preached the sermon containing the words “Lord, let Glasgow Flourish by the preaching of the word.” This was subsequently truncated in Victorian times into the more secular “Let Glasgow Flourish” which is still in use today.
Many people, including Glaswegians themselves, are only vaguely aware of the stories and legends associated with the coat of arms. So here is the background to:
There’s the tree that never grew,
There’s the bird that never flew,
There’s the fish that never swam,
There’s the bell that never rang.
The Tree That Never Grew
The tree in the coat of arms is a now sturdy oak tree, but it started out as a branch of a hazel tree. The legend says that St Mungo was in charge of a holy fire in St Serf’s Monastery and fell asleep. Some boys who were envious of his favoured position with St Serf put out the fire. But St Mungo broke off some frozen branches from a hazel tree and, by praying over them, caused them to burst into flames.
The Bird That Never Flew
This commemorates a wild robin which was tamed by St Serf and which was accidentally killed. St Mungo was blamed for the death but he is said to have taken the dead bird, prayed over it and it was restored to life.
The Fish That Never Swam
The coat of arms always shows the fish with a ring held in its mouth. This is because a King of Strathclyde had given his wife a ring as a present. But the Queen gave it to a knight who promptly lost it. Some versions of the story say that the King took the ring while the knight was asleep and threw it in the river. The King then demanded to see the ring – threatening death to the Queen if she could not do so. The knight confessed to St Mungo who sent a monk to catch a fish in the river Clyde. When this was brought back (presumably catching salmon in the Clyde in those days was a lot easier then!) St Mungo cut open the fish and found the ring. When the Bishop of Glasgow was designing his own seal around 1271, he used the illustration of a salmon with a ring in its mouth and this has come down to us in today’s coat of arms.
The Bell That Never Rang
In 1450, John Stewart, the first Lord Provost of Glasgow, left an endowment so that a “St Mungo’s Bell” could be made and tolled throughout the city so that the citizens would pray for his soul. The bell was still ringing out in 1578, as there is an entry in the City Treasurer’s accounts two shillings (10p) “for one tong to St Mungowis Bell.” A new bell was purchased by the magistrates in 1641 and that bell is on display in the People’s Palace museum near Glasgow Green.
In 1631, another bell was made, this time for the Tron Church on which was inscribed the words “Lord, let Glasgow Flourish by the preaching of the word.” Whether Glasgow flourished with spiritual assistance or the hard work of its people (or both), there is no doubt that Glasgow, now the largest city in Scotland, (twice the size of the capital, Edinburgh) has certainly prospered.
Much has been written today and for the past 10 years about the dreadful events of 11 September 2001. I don’t feel that there is much more that I can add but didn’t want to let the day go past without paying my own small tribute to those who lost their lives 10 years ago today. God Bless, Sleep Tight.
One of the most interesting looking buildings to be found in my adopted home city of Glasgow is the Clyde Auditorium, known to us locals as “The Armadillo”. Sitting on the site of the now infilled Queen’s Dock on the River Clyde, it is adjacent to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).
It was completed in 1997 and earned its affectionate nickname due to the similarity of its shape to that of the animal of the same name. It is often been compared with the Sydney Opera House although this wasn’t the architects’ inspiration for the design, which was in fact an interlocking series of ship hulls in reference to the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage.
The building has quickly become one of the most recognisable on Clydeside and one of the images most associated with modern Glasgow. Its success has led to planning for a third venue on the complex – the Scottish Hydro Arena, due for completion in 2013, and already with a nickname of its own – “the Oyster”.
Those of you who watch the Simpson will also remember that the facade was a venue that featured in a promotional video which parodied the famous Susan Boyle audition for Britain’s Got Talent in January 2009.
I count myself as very lucky to have been in the audience that day when Susan stepped out onto the stage and blew us away with her amazing voice. I was one of those people who sniggered behind my hand and sank down in my seat as this rather strange looking woman in a shiny gold dress with black tights and a grey, frizzy perm strolled onto the stage and told us she wanted to be talked about in the same breath as Elaine Paige.
None of us there that night will ever forget how, in just a split second, Susan taught us an extremely valuable lesson … don’t judge a book by its cover and give everyone a chance to show what they are capable of doing.
Another lasting image of that night is the one of Simon Cowell, head cupped in his hands and a broad grin on his face. If I were to insert a thought bubble onto this picture it would simply say “£££££££”.
Whatever your opinion of this type of reality show, the Armadillo has a place in history and will be forever known as the place where Susan Boyle was discovered and where dreams CAN come true.
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