Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S32

Back in the news, at Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee has been taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the second blaze at the Mackintosh Building.

On Thursday it heard from independent fire, security and resilience adviser Stephen Mackenzie.

Speaking about the equipment, which relies on cooling mist to extinguish flames, committee member Tavish Scott asked Mr Mackenzie: “The committee wasn’t told it was removed after the first fire and we are all puzzled as to why it would have been removed. Why would it have been removed?”

Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m also puzzled as an expert.”

The MSP asked whether the system should have been retained until a replacement was developed.

Mr Mackenzie replied: “Categorically I’ve stated there should have been a temporary or phased installation and that could’ve been part of that basis.

“I’m incredibly puzzled to now hear that this has occurred.”

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

The committee also heard ventilation ducts which allowed the fire to take hold in 2014 were still in place at the time of last year’s blaze as they had been due to be rectified at the end of the restoration project.

Contributions continued with further comment from another expert.

Dawson Stelfox, a conservation architect at Consarc Design Group, gave an insight into fire safety assessments during the construction period and suggested the system should be reformed.

He explained: “At the moment the statutory position on that is that a fire risk assessment has to be done, but the focus of that is on life safety, is on getting people out of the building in time, and it’s not on asset safety, it’s not on protecting the building.

“I would suggest to you that it is worth the committee looking at changes to requirements and fire safety assessments during the construction period to also take into account fire asset safety and fire spread.

“Fire-stopping during construction is not an easy thing because it might continually be disruptive and have to be put back into place, but I would suggest to you that there hasn’t been enough focus on achieving compartmentation fire-stopping during the construction process.”

The Glasgow School of Art added information about advice it was given.

Referring to the mist suppression system, a Glasgow School of Art spokesman said: “As a result of the 2014 fire, considerable elements of the system were destroyed or damaged. The GSA sought expert advice which indicated that this system was unusable.

“As you would expect, the GSA wanted to take advantage of improvements in the technology and install the best system for the building.

“The installation time for the replacement system in the post-2014 restoration would have been broadly similar irrespective of the type of system commissioned.”

Fire expert ‘puzzled’ over art school mist system

Interesting to note that STV’s headline stated…

A prevention system that survived the first fire was ripped out before the second blaze.

While the text of its article went on to state…

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

Frankly, this smells of a common trend I’ve highlighted in media coverage recently, with a ‘clickbait’ headline claim which is NOT backed up by detail in the article.

Expert ‘puzzled’ by Glasgow art school fire system removal

Odd that the media has apparently ignored earlier sessions of the committee’s hearings.

Nothing they could use in those to get a ‘clickbait’ headline, or whip up some ‘Trial by Media’ goodness?

MSPs today heard the final session of evidence in their investigation into the fire which gutted Glasgow School of Art last year.

The Parliament’s Culture, Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee heard from Historic Environment Scotland and fire safety experts at 9am this morning in its last hearing.

The Committee will now deliberate upon the evidence it has heard and consider the future of the Art School.

MSPs deliberate over Glasgow School of Art’s future after hearing final evidence


No significant changes seen when I’ve been past the building remains recently.

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street


Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kelvingrove organ recital

I seem to have used quite a few of the various pics collected at a Kelvingrove organ recital, but I did have quite a few and needed to clear down the useless/spoiled ones, so thought I might as well make a slide show of what was left.

They’ve picked the wrong link (an archive) for the recital dates and info on Kelvingrove’s web page, this is the correct ‘live’ link for upcoming recitals…

Organ recitals at Kelvingrove

The lighting is interesting, and if you are feeling keen, there’s probably plenty of opportunity to play with the views and be ‘artistic’, as I did with a few, just for a bit of quick fun to see what might come out.

If you see the fairly large gentleman caught in my pics arriving, I’d say you’re in luck. Of the few I’ve managed to catch, he’s probably been the best, and got more applause than the others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I didn’t notice the monitors above the doors had changed for the recital.

Normally just showing rolling info about Kelvingrove, during recitals they show the manuals/keyboards, and the pedalboard area.

These monitor pics are from a different recital!

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Manual Monitor

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Manual Monitor


Kelvingrove Organ Recital Pedalboard Monitor

Kelvingrove Organ Recital Pedalboard Monitor

Some people…

Mobile Phone Zombies

Mobile Phone Zombies

None wearing earphones 🙂

Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Nice to see drug-driving legislation with zero-tolerance proposed

I don’t have any time for anyone who whines about being caught and locked up for drug-driving.

Near zero limits and roadside tests will be introduced if MSPs back change in the law.

The plan is to introduce the crackdown, along with roadside testing, from October 2019.

I might as well admit to being somewhat hostile to any sort of smackhead who takes any sort of mind-altering substance and then decides they are safe to get into a car and drive (or even walk along a street in public), especially after hearing some of them argue that they are perfectly safe as they know who to control their use of such substances, object to any sort of restriction or control, and want their nasty little habits legalised.

Given the unreasonable attitude many now have to drink-driving (which I would suggest has led to related legislation becoming ineffective or misguided as it not being properly considered, and being made tougher as opposed to effective), I’m surprised it has taken so long to get proper drug-driving legislation into place, although I do recognise the problem of backing it with proper, traceable, repeatable testing, which can provide the necessary evidence to back up charges.

A zero-tolerance crackdown on people who drive under the influence of drugs is being proposed by the Scottish Government.

If MSPs give it the go-ahead, new laws will introduce near zero limits for eight illegal drugs, based on the lowest possible level where any claims of accidental exposure can be ruled out.

The eight include cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, cannabis, LSD, heroin, methylamphetamine and benzoylecgonine.

Another eight drugs, including methadone, diazepam and morphine, that may be prescribed by doctors for medicinal purposes, will have maximum levels based on safe levels for driving.

The new laws are designed to make it easier for police to target people driving under the influence of drugs.

Government to launch zero-tolerance crackdown on drug-driving

Existing legislation makes it an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs. The penalties (which are reserved to Westminster) are a minimum 12-month driving ban, up to six months in prison, and a fine of up to ÂŁ5,000.

There are currently no specific maximum levels and police have to prove that a person’s driving is impaired by the drugs to be able to prosecute. The new offence of driving while above specified drug limits will operate along with the current offence of being in charge of a motor vehicle while unfit to drive through drink or drugs, and carry the same maximum sentences.

Police Stop

Police Stop

While I try not to be a cynic (all the time), this really is how I imagine ‘First Contact’ will go…

Drug People

Drug People


This turned up a day too late to go in the original post, but I couldn’t resist.

Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Camcorder Day

20 January is Camcorder Day.

I’ve already made a post about Camcorder Day, so there’s no real point in writing another one.

That said, if you read the original, you’ll see I refer to a Sony Video 8 camcorder I didn’t have an illustrative pic of.

Now I do, albeit a small one, since I can’t be bothered to dig out the remains and take a pic of mine.

Sony CCD-M8

Sony CCD-M8

The blurb says…

Lightest camcorder in the world when launched, at 1.0 kg. This model is exclusively for recording. The CCD-M8 marked the start of the Handycam series. It is significantly smaller than the CCD-V8. The lens barrel has a sliding cover, and the grip incorporates the battery compartment. Offering convenience and simplicity approaching a fully automatic still camera, the premier Handycam was exceptionally easy to operate with one hand.

And note that ‘exclusively for recording‘ bit. You needed a Video 8 VCR for playback – fortunately, shelling out the best of a grand back in the mid-1980s brought one of those in the same box.

I also found a nice item on the thing at the Museum of early consumer electronics and 1st achievements

1985. Sony CCD-M8E. 1st 8mm camcorder.

It’s almost hard to believe that this eventually led to complete (solid state) camcorders that can live in key fobs, or watches.

Far from costing a grand, they are so cheap the most basic are disposable.

There really is no industry surviving for this product either, as any camera or phone can record video of a quality that makes tape camcorders look like little more than a joke now. Don’t go looking for spares either – there was apparently only one factory that manufactured the spinning heads/drums that made the helical recording on the tape, and it closed years ago.


Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Naptime! I’ll buy that, I’ll even take out a subscription!

After it apparently became ‘acceptable’ for kids to be taken into pubs and restaurants, and not ‘PC’ to object as parents were taken aback by the slightest suggestion that they control them, tone down their offspring’s volume, or not use other patron’s tables and chairs as playground equipment, I used to regret trying to take clients out for business lunches.

Eventually, we just stayed in the work, and came to deal with a nearby ‘greasy spoon’ whereby they’d send in sandwiches.

(That part’s actually true. Not only did the uncontrolled kids make it impossible to hold a discussion, they caused so many other problems the level of service became atrocious as the serving staff tried to cope. It eventually just took too long to have those lunches.)

If only Naptime had been available back then 🙂


Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

2019 marks 200 years of James Watt’s achievement since his death

I’m glad to see that the message of James Watt’s actual achievement, that of IMPROVING the steam engine (in a BIG way), is finally seeping in, and it’s becoming less and less common to see items appear which claim he was the inventor of the thing.

Watt was lucky enough (or maybe the steam engine was the lucky one) to come along just as the original steam engine was about to be destroyed by its own success. useful as it was, the pre-Watt steam engine was horribly inefficient, and burned huge amounts of fuel (coal and wood) to the extent that it had consumed most of what was available at the time. Mines had been emptied, and forests cleared, leaving little or no reserves. Supplies were being transported vast distances, but were also becoming scarce, and uneconomic.

By adding his condenser to the steam engine, and improving its efficiency, Watt allowed it to remain in service, and just get better and better.

The pioneering work of James Watt will be celebrated by the University of Glasgow with a year of events marking 200 years since the engineer’s death.

This year also marks the 250th anniversary of Watt’s steam engine patent, credited with kick-starting the industrial revolution and earning him a place in the history books.

Watt, born in Greenock, Inverclyde, on January 19, 1736, undertook the work during his time as mathematical instrument maker at the university.

He will be the focus of a dedicated exhibition, a competition for school students, and an international symposium for engineering researchers.

Further events are planned by Heriot-Watt and Birmingham universities, and Historic Environment Scotland.

It was while repairing a model Newcomen steam engine in 1763 that Watt realised he could improve its efficiency by adding a separate steam condenser to avoid heat loss and conserve fuel.

Colin McInnes, professor of engineering science and a James Watt chair, said: “While Watt is best-known for his improvements to the steam engine, he was a restless inventor who developed new devices including a portable document duplicator and a mechanical three-dimensional sculpture copier.

University celebrates life of pioneering Scots engineer

Glad I collected pics of his statue on Glasgow Green (and his ‘stone’) recently.

James Watt and Condenser at the Peoples Palace

James Watt and Condenser at the Peoples Palace

Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery became the Glasgow Green Viewpoint

Some years ago I discovered an ‘Undocumented Feature’ in the People’s Palace, and eventually rattle off a couple of Blog posts about it, so won’t repeat the tale here, these are the originals…

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery is an official thing now

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery – Part 2

Although they still don’t seem to do anything to promote the existence of this feature, it seems it has undergone ‘rebranding’ at some point, and is now the…

Glasgow Green Viewpoint.

People sPalace Glasgow Green Viewpoint

People’s Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint


People's Palace Viewing Gallery doors

People’s Palace Viewing Gallery doors

Still the same view 🙂

People's Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint View

People’s Palace Glasgow Green Viewpoint View

A tad wider.

Click for bigger.

People's Palace Glasgow Panorama

People’s Palace Glasgow Panorama

Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | council, photography | , | Leave a comment

Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm is progressing

I’ve lost touch with most of the science ficton related contacts I used to have, so it’s nice to get the occasional nudge towards things I’ve let slip.

One was the promise of a new series bases on one of Gerry Anderson’s ideas, still being followed up although we lost the man himself back in 2012. I was following this for a while, but got diverted, and eventually forgot to check back.

I was lucky enough to see his panel at one Glasgow’s science fiction conventions when he was still doing the rounds, and it was a great discussion of his career.

Find out more about the progress of the new series here…

Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm

One of the big bonus points in its favour is that it has turned its back on CGI (computer generated imagery), unlike the remakes we saw of Anderson’s work a few years ago.

They didn’t quite work (for me at least) on a number of fronts, not least of which was that CGI, and lack of ‘real’ models and puppetry, together with the physical special effects that go along with them.

Part of the original magic was the puppets.

And that leads me to one grouse – a problem acknowledged with the original series was the difficulty in making characters walk.

They didn’t have all those swivelling desks and personal transport gadgets just to be futuristic. They all avoided the need to have character walk.

Firestorm seems to have arranged some shots that show that limitation has been overcome, maybe.

I think they should forget that particular effort, and stay with the original.

Oh… there’s a Scottish character.

Here’s the first minisode, to give an idea of what’s to come…

Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Today is Tin Can Day

19 January is Tin Can Day.

Surprisingly, the only information that came with this alert of the day was the name, and the date.

Peter Durand patented the tin can in 1810.

Guess you’ll have to try Wikipedia if you want more.

I could say I’ve seen rather more of them than I care to remember, having worked for companies that canned food, I was often to be found playing with machines that checked their weight after filling, or scanned the contents (before filling) for any stray pieces of metal that might have made its way into the various goodies.

One thing I’ve seen online is that they’re quite popular with crafters.

I suggest taking care though, especially if they end up out of doors.

The coating of tin (tin cans are actually steel, or even aluminium) is very thin, and only really good for the life of the can if kept indoors.

If not cared for, they will begin to perforate and rust (in Scotland anyway) if used outside and not given additional protection. Even then, the coating is so thin it only takes a scratch to see the can decay in a few years.

But it works really well within its intended life.

Tin CansTin Cans

Tin Cans

Jan 19, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Why I don’t complain about cats dumped in carriers or at doors

Unlike many official sources, which are highly critical of people who dump or abandon cats in carriers or loose boxes (ie not taped shut) and/or at doors, I tend not to criticise them as they have taken some care to look after the animals.

While I agree that what they have done is not the best, we don’t know their circumstances, why the have had to abandon their pets, or what their mental status is or, these days, if someone is threatening or controlling them.

However, there are situations where leniency is probably not so appropriate, possibly in this case I was told about in London.

The guys look happy and healthy, but only because they were found soon enough, and rescued.

London boxed cats saved

London boxed cats saved

A few hours earlier, they had been in danger of suffocating, after being placed in cardboard boxes which were then taped up, and left in a lane in London.

I’m not even sure I’d be so critical of the taped boxes, as noted below “We can only assume the intention was for them to die as surely everybody knows animals need to be able to breathe to survive.”

Sadly, I find myself slightly embarrassed (or shocked) by the ignorance, or lack of eduction (or even Common Sense), demonstrated by some people I meet, and even this could be a genuine mistake by someone mistakenly thinking it’s a good idea to prevent the cats escaping the boxes before they are found, running around, getting lost, or hit by cars.

London cat box dump

London cat box dump

Since I don’t touch Facecrook, try this link

I’ll quote the story…

via the Celia Hammond Animal Trust facebook:

Dumped in the night….

We were called out the night of 11th January by a lady returning from work who had noticed several sealed cardboard boxes in an alley in Stratford, near a busy road. She walked past the alley and then went back as she thought she heard miaowing – thank goodness she did, as the boxes were completely sealed shut with masses of parcel tape and the 11 young cats inside would have suffocated if we hadn’t raced straight out to collect them, as there were no air holes in the boxes. We didn’t know their temperaments so didn’t dare open the boxes and risk them flying out into the road, so made a few tiny holes to let air in but not big enough to allow them to rip at the cardboard and escape. Fortunately, it only took a few minutes to drive back to the clinic. The risk of cutting the cats would have made it too dangerous to use scissors to open the boxes, so we used a butter knife to get the cats out as quickly as possible.

We can only assume the intention was for them to die as surely everybody knows animals need to be able to breathe to survive. The boxes cannot have been there very long as without oxygen our vets estimate they probably wouldn’t have lived more than an hour or two. One really strange thing is that these cats are really friendly and have clearly once been loved, handled and cuddled – what on earth would drive an apparently loving owner to do something so terrible? Perhaps it was a family member or neighbour who hated the cats enough to do this.

All the cats are extremely underweight and covered in fleas – our vets treated them for fleas immediately on arrival in the clinic, but we will have to build them up before they are fit enough to be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before they are rehomed. If you would like to contribute towards their care and helping with the cost of the extra food they all need – we’d be so grateful. You can donate via our donate button here or you can always bring in food toys direct to our clinic.

If anyone in the Stratford area has any ideas about where these cats might have come from, please call us in confidence as we are concerned this situation may not have been resolved and there may be other cats in the owner’s property as we don’t think either of the two adult females are old enough to be the mothers of the nine adolescent cats. If the person who left the cats reads this, please email us on canningtown@celiahammond . org or call 020 7474 8811 so we can collect any other cats you may have and don’t want. There were no clues on the boxes to indicate an address.

We will post an update tomorrow.

Thank you, Wendy, for calling us – you undoubtedly saved these cats’ lives.”

Meanwhile, in Turkey

More here:

Since we’re on a roll…

Another impressive save

Don’t ask…

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Time to make events pay their way, NOT the hosts – especially when our Winter Gardens are rotting

I wonder if people are generally aware that lucky events like the Commonwealth Games (dumped on Glasgow in 2014), The Olympic Games (probably never coming to Glasgow, thank goodness), and now the first ever World Cycling Championships (set for August 2023, don’t have to PAY for the privilege of disrupting the cities they take place, or all the work needed to allow them to take place.

Glassgow was ‘taken’ for something like ÂŁ300+ million by the Commonwealth Games, and is now being asked for ÂŁ15 million in advance of the cycling event.

As usual, the promoters are blackmailing the hosts with promised of wonderful returns and benefits which they will lose out on if they don’t throw money at the organisers, and bring the event Glasgow.

GLASGOW councillors are being urged to approve ÂŁ15million towards the city hosting most of the events in the first ever World Cycling Championships, taking place in August 2023.

The world governing body for cycling, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), revealed last year a plan to combine around a dozen existing individual cycling world championships into one major event every four years.

Following an approach by Glasgow and EventScotland, the UCI has given an exclusive opportunity to Glasgow/Scotland to present its case to host the first championships. The final submission, including funding commitments from the major partners, has to be made by February 2019.

A report to city councillors stated: “This will be the biggest cycling event in the world with over 100 countries represented and over 200 World Champions being crowned during the course of the Championships. The huge media interest will guarantee worldwide broadcast coverage delivering massive international profile for both Glasgow and Scotland.

CHANCE For Glasgow To Get On Its Bike For Historic Hosting Of World’s Biggest Cycling Championships

I’m not even going to waste more of my time digging into this.

You can read more of the fantasy in the linked article. It’s pretty much a self-explaining fiasco.

What I will say is that it’s a scandal that I would NOT mock dopey MP Paul Sweeney if he questioned it with the same vigour he did after hearing ‘tale telling’ about the plants in the People’s Palace Winter Garden.

But, I doubt we’ll hear as much as a squeak.

That this famous and long established Winter Garden should be languishing in closure for the lack of ÂŁ7.5 million while there is a farcical demand for ÂŁ15 million to be poured into a transient event that lasts for a few days is little short of shameful.

And gets even worse when we reflect on the dead shell that was Tollcross Winter Garden, closed after some 2011 storm damage, and could not be spared a penny when the millions were being squandered on the Commonwealth Games, and in particular the swimming pool in the sports centre only a few metres from that glasshouse.

As they say…

Somebody need to GET A GRIP!

Tollcross Winter Garden – ignored while millions were spent on an adjacent Commonwealth Games venue…

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

Tollcross Winter Gardens Derelict

People’s Palace Winter Garden – closed while ÂŁ7.5 million is searched for, but ÂŁ15 million is being demanded for a cycling event…

Closed Winter Garden North

Closed Winter Garden North

Jan 18, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

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