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When I was an office boy at the Glasgow Herald I was sent to the Mitchell Library to find out what the paper said about historic events during its 200 year history. One of the things that struck me was how before the First World War the paper took a paternalistic attitude to the poor and disadvantaged. After 1917 the poor and working class were the enemy. At the time I put this down as a reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. But recently I've become aware that this attitude probably had its roots in events in the years leading up to The War. I hadn't realised what a basket case Britain was then. The upper-class sufferagette movement was mounting a terrorist campaign to get votes for women that only by a series of miracles did not result in loss of victims' lives. The British officer corps, a major employer of Irish protestants, was threatening mutiny if sent in to enforce Irish Home Rule. The years leading up to the war also saw British troops on British streets, particularly in 1913 in London, Sheffield and Liverpool, to help quell labour and working class unrest. There's a photo of the Gordon Highlanders marching into Sheffield in khaki jackets, kilts, and their ceremonial feather bonnets. In much the same way as the so-called Battle of George Square in 1919 Glasgow was never properly taught in school history, neither were the times the British Army were deployed on British streets in the years leading up to the outbreak of World War One in 1914. I wonder why. 

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Back to nostalgia. When I was at Napier College doing pre-entry journalism we had a couple of class trips. One was to the Strathclyde Police museum in Glasgow's Pitt Street. Most of stuff on display had at some point been evidence at the Sheriff or High Court. Included in the exhibits was the tip of someone's nose. There was also a bicycle chain with metal screws cleverly bound into it with wire to create a pretty fearsome weapon. The metal wire would have held the screws in place even if  the chain had been used to whack a tank. Our guide to the museum was full of helpful hints. Did you know that if you vividly decorate a ski-mask around the eye-holes, many witnesses will be so distracted that they will be unable to say what colour the robber's eyes are? Or what you should squirt in the eyes of victim to temporarily blind them but not risk a serious assault charge by causing permanent injury? I asked the guide what other groups visited the museum. Most of the groups came from local List-D schools, effectively jails for kids. I wondered if she was so free with her handy tips when showing them around. Mind you, even if she was, she probably wasn't telling them anything they hadn't already learned from their mater and pater. 

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Years back while stopping off with a friend here in Canada, Dave, on my way to Scotland he played me a catching little song he'd written. Somehow I volunteered to help film a video to go with it. The song was basically about going to the pub. How hard could it be to film a walk to the pub in a typical Central Belt town? Not as easy as you might think. Have you ever noticed in real films that that the camera is sometimes mounted on a trolley pushed along rails? That's to keep the film framing smooth. So, myself and my dad came up with the idea of securing the camera to an invalid walker. Judge for yourself how well it worked -Dave’s Pub Song

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Sometimes you hear a piece of music that is forever afterwards associated with something. For me it's Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" and a raging North Sea gale. It was when I was a reporter on the Shetland Times and was writing a feature about one of the ferries which ran between Lerwick and Aberdeen, a sort of St. Sunniva Below Decks thing. As part of research I was on the bridge of the ship as it ploughed through a heavy sea with literally tons of water crashing rhythmically  down over the bow onto the foredeck. Stranger the Shore was playing on the darkened bridge and seemed somehow to be synchronised with the bow of the Son-of-Bieech dipping under the waves. The contrast between the laid-back clarinet and the violence and power of the crashing sea was truly memorable. The fact that a similar sea a few days earlier had smashed the armoured glass of bridge and embedded shards in the wall behind the helmsman only added to the piquancy. The other thing I remember about that voyage was the discovery that while the bar open to the public only sold tinned beer, the off-duty crew had access to draught.

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A couple of years back I heard a guy interviewed on Canadian radio about the Mars Bar Standard. This involved measuring the cost of things in Mars Bars. For example how many Mars Bars could a person buy for the same price they would pay for a Rolls Royce. This was supposed to indicate any true rise in prices beyond inflation. The thing is that as school kids me and my mates had abandoned the Mars Bar Standard. This was because we believed that to keep the price down, Mars has shrunk the size of their gooey treats. Any look at some of the strange weights listed on a number of food packages suggests that manufacturers still use this dodge. Why would something be packaged in 53 gram packets? Unless they used to come in 60g bags for the same price. The other thing that puzzles me is why would a radio programme interview a guy about such a flawed idea - one that a gang of Scottish school kids had rejected years earlier? It should worry someone that a bunch of kids is smarter than a radio production team, presumably composed of highly educated adults. 

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