Sunday, 24 July 2011

Diary of a glass-half-empty person 30

Consuela (my Tejana maid) came back to the teepee yesterday in somewhat of a state of shock[1]. I had to sit her down and give her several cups of hot, sweet tea laced with Auld Reekie[2] as clearly she should not have been driving in that state. It was some time before I could get it out of her. What had spooked her, I mean.

Consuela goes from time to time to Glasgow to visit her aunt Dolores. Dolores runs a Mexican-themed restaurant which opens late to cater for the after-theatre, after-concert crowd. It’s called ‘Hacienda The Show’, no te mierdo. Her route from the teepee to Glasgow and back takes her along the A80 past Cumbernauld, through mile after mile of roadworks where there is a camera-enforced average speed limit of 40mph[3]. The traffic was heavy on the way there and she needed to keep her eyes on the road, but on the way back it was lighter, so as long as she kept good control of her speed and course she was able to check out her surroundings. It was just as she was passing Cumbernauld that she spotted this:

I mean, really! What a bloody sight! No wonder the poor dear was suddenly all over the road getting honked at by all and sundry. It’s enough to give anyone the holy heebs, so it is. There it sits, overlooking the A80[4] stretching its metal arms out as though to embrace and drag anyone it selects to an extra-dimensional charnel-house realm. As a work of art it takes being hideous to new heights/depths[5]. The rationale behind it is beyond weird.

Okay de gustibus non disputandum est and all that, but gie’s a break pal. The statue is called Arria, apparently after Arria Fadilla the mother of Roman Emperor Antoninus. No I don’t know why. No I don’t know why she has four arms either. The decision to erect her was taken after Cumbernauld ‘won’ an award for ‘the most dismal place to stay in Scotland’. Now I’ll grant you that you couldn’t make a decent living out of selling postcards of anywhere in the Central Belt, but Cumbernauld just isn’t that bad. I’ve been there – once – and it’s not. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. Nevertheless this award obviously pricked an inferiority complex in the city fathers and, rather than sticking two fingers up at whomever made the award and being proud of their town, they decided on a costly, idiotic, vandalistic gesture – the erection of a frighteningly ugly sculpture. Congratulations, O worthy councilors, on making Cumbernauld uglier. They proudly state that seventy thousand commuters per day will see Arria every day. Fellas, that’s seventy thousand people lining up to kick your shins.[6]


News from Hogwarts.

It seems that in the post-Dweeblebore era some of his far-seeing, far-reaching policies are to be implemented by the new Board of School Governors. Less controversial than it was during the initial experiment is the appointment under a two-year contract of non-magical Teacher in the subject of ‘Defense Against The Dark Arts’, Marie Marshall.

Ms Marshall will be remembered by Old Hogwartians as the first (and so far only) non-magical to have successfully negotiated the shifting staircases in the school. She remarked at the time: “There is a logical sequence of changes, and all you have to do is ignore it totally and you can’t go wrong. Except you have to be ready for it to follow logic once in a while just to catch you out. Talking nicely to it helps too”. It is more likely, however, that as she had just returned from a term teaching ‘English as a Foreign Language’ at Ankh-Morpork Academy she had recognized that the staircase was made of Discworld Sapient Pearwood.

Ms Marshall will also be remembered as the teacher who famously stated that “By the time that even a competent necromancer had thought about what spell to use and got his wand half out, a muggle of average intelligence would have had the presence of mind to banjo him with the nearest heavy object, shove the wand right up his chamber of secrets, and walk off saying Get that out with yer ruddy ‘wandum extracto’, sunshine!”.

We wish her every success in her new position.


[1] Ordinarily she comes back in a state of schlock, but we won’t go into that.

[2] A little-known single malt. I keep a bottle handy for medicinal purposes. I keech you not – it tastes how it sounds!

[3] I am told that this is going to last for a decent-ish time too. Consuela’s description of the work going on goes somewhat thusly: “Miles of orange cones, clutches of inert machinery, occasionally one guy actually digging or prodding something while another guy writes on a clipboard… y tres otros hombres arañan los huevos.” I have no idea why she insists on translating that particular piece of vernacular into Spanish, nor why she uses that particular euphemism.

[4] Some poor bugger apparently owns a private house right across the highway from this. I think I’d cut my throat!

[5] Strike out as appropriate.

[6] Arria is actually the work of artist Andy Scott, who is responsible also for the M8 Heavy Horse and the Falkirk Helix Water Kelpies. He’s actually a fine sculptor. Someone should point out however that ‘water kelpies’ is tautological.

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