Archives » 2009 » August

Dundee’s Art Deco Heritage 4. Willison House.

Willison House Front view

This is the building I fortuitously came across while strolling through Dundee last June. It houses Robertson’s Furnishings whose address is given as 56, Barrack Street despite the building being located on the corner where Barrack Street verges onto Bank Street and Willis Street. The picture is from Willis Street.

Here’s the Barrack Street aspect, showing some nice columnar detailing. The stone cladding needs some attention.

Willison House

There is some detailing between the windows above the corner entrance.

Willison House detail on

This is the ornamentation on the roof line.

Willison House roof detail

Not a bad thing to find tucked away in a Dundee back street.

Brechin City 3-1 Dumbarton

Glebe Park, 29/8/09

Pretty even first half with Brechin maybe having slightly more of the play but not much in it.

The first goal was one of those that happens when you’re at the bottom of the league and nothing is going for you (it reminded me of our first against Elgin way back in May:) the ball looped up off Ben Gordon’s block and over the keeper’s head.#

31/8/09 Edited to add: I’ve just seen from Sons TV it was Chris Smith’s attempted block.

The equaliser was a peach, a Mick Dunlop bullet header from a driven corner.

At least we didn’t lose a goal straight after equalising, only ten minutes. I didn’t get too clear a view of Brechin’s second but the ball broke to their player who was able to sweep it in.

Then Brechin’s keeper dropped the ball at Roddy Hunter’s feet but he couldn’t poke it past the defender on the line. This was followed by a fantastic Ross Clark free kick just saved by the keeper before half time.

We dominated the second half. I lost count of opportunities, chances, half-chances we should have put away. Prominently, Ben Gordon unluckily hit the post (and McLaughlin should not have skied the rebound,) Carcary with the keeper stranded should have squared it to Hunter instead of side-netting it; but the prize goes to Scott Chaplain for missing the sitter of a header that would have made it 2-2 and removed the need for Mick Dunlop to move up front as we chased the game.

The penalty may or may not have been – I was at the other end – but it sums up our season so far.

In general the referee was good, though, and officiated sensibly throughout. This is so unusual it merits comment.

Three points thrown away. With that second half display we should have won this.

Two main failings, then. We can’t defend and we can’t put the ball in the net. 108 goals against is still on.

Having said that, our new Czech goalkeeper actually didn’t have that much to do. At least, in the second half, he stopped punching the ball and clutched it instead. Maybe Chappie had had a word.

Two home games coming up. Things better turn round soon.

Autumn Almanac

I happened to hear this song by the Kinks on the radio the other day. I thought (again) how strange it is. It seems to have as many galloping hiccoughs as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and sounds as if it has at least three different melodies. As a result I began to wonder if there were different time signatures involved and if perhaps it could be claimed as a progenitor of prog rock. After all, the Kinks songwriter and éminence grise Ray Davies has been credited with inventing heavy metal with the riff driven You Really Got Me and All Day And All Of The Night so why not prog too? Note here that his song writing skills undoubtedly rank as high as anyone in the rock/pop pantheon – and I mean anyone.

So I listened to it again more carefully and, yes, there are key changes, but, to my ears anyway, it follows a resolute 2/2 throughout. (Either that or it’s a quick 4/4.)

Despite the apparent complexity, it’s actually very simple rhythmically.

The man was/is a genius. Hear for yourself.

No Added Sugar (Again)

So here I was posting a rant about the rankness of “no added sugar” soft drinks and what comment do I receive?

One about the merits of a new drink with …..

No added sugar.

Complete with a link to where to buy the stuff, of course. (A link I shall not be including here.)

So thanks but no thanks, Margaret. I’ll not be trying it.

Even if it does come in six delicious flavours.

Morecambe Again

Also in Morecambe close to the Midland Hotel on the sea front on the other side of the road were these two Art Deco buildings.

The first was once a Woolworths.

Old Woolworths Morecambe

Here it is when it was a Woolies.

The other houses a Hitchens

Hitchens Morecambe

This is someone else’s close in view.

There was one more Deco-ish building much further along the front but time was getting short so I didn’t photograph it.

Underword (ii)

Here is the latest update from Gavin Inglis re Underword.

Tue 24th Aug is a double blow of performance poetry with Anita Govan
and Laura Hainey. West coast wit meets east coast energy.

Wed 25th Aug is Dirty Words, a sex-themed charity night in aid of the
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which will not shy away from the
f-word, c-word or indeed outright porn. Two Bloc readers and you can
probably guess which ones.

Thu 26th Aug is Stefan Pearson with stories of salt air and drunken
sailors. You might have heard some of these before but you won’t have
heard his take on the real truths behind the decline of the Scottish
fishing industry.

Fri 27th Aug is Writers’ Bloc. We almost have a programme ready!

Sat 28th Aug is the closing night, a hell for leather rush through as
many readers as I can cram into 45 minutes.

Underword is 19.50-20.40 at Fingers Piano Bar, Frederick Street. and admission is FREE.

You may also enjoy Alba Ad Astra, an exhibition about the Scottish
space programme, at Transreal Fiction in the Grassmarket.

No Added Sugar.

Time was when bottles labelled as above were rare in shops. Not so now. Just try to find any diluting juice that has sugar added to it at all (at least in my local supermarkets.)

It may not actually be the case – they may be perfectly all right – but I remember reading somewhere years ago that the tests on the stuff that’s used instead of sugar in these drinks (aspartame or E951 and acesulfame K or E950 – but not so much saccharin, which came earlier) didn’t properly pass the safety tests. Either that or the results were massaged to put them in a more positive light. Something iffy anyway. This, I find, is supported by the Wikipedia article on aspartame, which does, though, contain a warning as to its disputed content. The main article states that the latest information is that the safety of aspartame is clear cut.
Acesulfame K has also been questioned but declared safe by the FDA and its European equvalent.

Aspartame is the methyl ester of a phenylalanine-aspartic acid dipeptide. Ah, a bit of Chemistry!

Both phenylalanine and aspartic acid are essential amino acids; which is to say our bodies need a certain supply of them – along with other amino acids – to make protein for muscles and cell repair and so on. We get these amino acids normally from our food. The plain dipeptide would present no health problems as the body would hydrolyse it to the individual amino acids before utilising those. I presume the dipeptide itself is not sweet since they use the methyl ester as aspartame. This ester can potentially hydrolyse to produce methanol – which is a poison, as found in wood alcohol (wood spirit.) I can see that the quantities of methanol involved will be small unless you imbibe bucket-loads of the drinks and the body will be able to get rid of it reasonably easily – though its metabolite, methanoic acid (or formic acid,) apparently lingers and is the main problem in causing the blindness and acidosis associated with drinking methanol.

Acesulfame K has a more complicated chemical structure (see link above,) containing what is known as a heterocyclic ring and bristling with oxygen atoms. As it is relatively stable under heating it is probably reasonably safe though I suspect it will hydrolyse to form an amino sulphonic acid.

Whatever, these “no added sugar” drinks have a slimy quality to them that is extremely unpleasant. I much prefer the sugared varieties (when I drink any at all) but they’re so hard to find.

I would also take, for myself, any health risks associated with the increased sugar intake. I’m sure these risks will also be acceptable for children if their sugar consumption from elsewhere isn’t excessive.

Art Deco Icon

Leaving Haworth we headed back home through Lancashire, skirting Bolton and Blackburn (plenty signposts but nary a glimpse of it from the M65) on our way to the M6 and north. We came off at junction 33A to detour into Morecambe. Mistake. The road takes you through Lancaster and the traffic was a crawl, if that.

Our destination was Morecambe – we passed the local football ground in the way in. As a seaside town we expected it to be in something of a decline but it looked in good enough nick, thriving even.

The goal was of course the Midland Hotel: designed by Oliver Hill. Its vintage is 1933 and it’s one of Britain’s signature Art Deco buildings. It has of course been featured in the Poirot TV series.

More recently, starting in 2006, it has been restored. It reopened in 2008.

This photo was taken from a distance and shows the curvature of the frontage.

View form distance.

Here is a stitch of three I took from the car park. The stitching seems to have flattened the perspective.

midland panorama

The entrance pillars are nice, too. Could do with a bit of weeding, though.

Entrance pillars at car park.

Closer in to the cylindrical tower. You can see the Eric Gill sea horse sculptures adorning the top. The glazing seems okay on the tower but the room windows look wrong.

Cylindrical entrance tower.

The view from the south. Eyes poked out on this side?

View from South.

The view from the south west, (the promenade, essentially.) To my mind the restoration has put in too much glass here. No doubt it protects the patrons from bracing winds.

View from South West.

The north side. Lovely curved entranceway and canopy – plus the glazing on the doors looks right.

View From North West

Friends of the Midland Hotel website is here.

Dumbarton 3-3 Clyde

The Rock, 22/8/09

Given that we were two-nil down after 24 minutes I’ll take the draw. But against ten men for nearly an hour you’ve got to look to be winning the game.

We obviously need to learn to defend when we equalise. That’s Alloa a fortnight ago and now Clyde today have caught us then.

Correction: we’ll need to learn to defend. At this rate we’re heading for losing 108 goals in the league this season.

This result was particularly galling as Clyde hadn’t yet scored in the league but at least we showed the resilience to come back twice.

However, it’s getting on for being the worst league start – the worst overall start – I can remember.

Still bottom of the league. Ah, well. Onwards and upwards, eh?

(I’ve just now checked on Sons Mad as far back as they have dates for the games [1992-3] and it is the worst start in that time.)

Tie A Yellow Ribbon

I’ve no idea whether Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, was guilty of that offence or not. There are certainly grounds for believing he was innocent, high among them the fact that the main witness against him is said to be living the high life in Australia bankrolled by US government money. Megrahi was also quite probably sacrificed by the Libyan leader, Colonel Ghadaffi, for the sake of normalising relations with Britain and the US at the time.

There are many aspects to the whole murky affair which are strange; not the least of which is Kenny MacAskill’s – in best Rev I M Jolly mode – peculiar invocation of a higher power. The only conclusion to be drawn overall is that nobody’s hands are clean.

However, and this is the key point, even if Megrahi was/is guilty, to show him compassion is to demonstrate a sense of morality, of decency, way above that of someone who places a bomb on an aeroplane in an attempt to kill everyone on it. That a provision for such a release exists in the Scottish justice system is something to be proud of.

In this regard the phrase “to temper justice with mercy” comes to mind. Surprisingly, as it’s more the sort of thing to be found in the New, it comes from the Old Testament; which tends to be more fire and brimstone, not to mention vengeful, on the whole.

Some of the American relatives of those killed on the plane have stated in interviews that, in letting Megrahi out of jail, justice has not been done. Well, it has; as the Scottish system allows for compassionate release. 28 out of 31 such appeals have now been granted in Scotland in recent times. (One of the three not allowed was an earlier one for Megrahi when his condition was not so serious as it now seems to be.)

In any case, to keep someone in prison when they have an illness that is terminal smacks to me of vengeance rather than justice. If vengeance was the equivalent of justice then the law would sanction vendettas.

There has also been a lot of outrage expressed over the reception afforded to Megrahi on his return to Libya. (Insert alert about reprehensible cultural stereotyping here.) Personally, I thought that for middle Eastern types the greeting was remarkably restrained.

The waving of saltires has been commented on in disapproving terms. The thing that struck me there was, who’d have thought there were any saltires at all in Tripoli?

But… especially to those Americans who are complaining about Megrahi’s welcome home. You do exactly the same!

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