Last week everyone was saying how fed up we were with the wrangling over the referendum but at least it would be over in a few days. Hmm, hasn’t happened like that. Many issues are bubbling under and I’ve never seen or heard so many people so animated and so prepared to state their position.
A political analytical psychologist – did he really tell his careers officer that’s what he wanted to be when he grew up? – says it won’t last. We are in what he calls “a post-close-vote bubble” and within six weeks we will all return to our usual nice, polite selves although our views may still be strongly-held.
American elections, apparently, have showed him that ordinary voters cannot keep up political fervour for longer than a month and a half without going a bit doolally. Professional politicians, of course, can keep it up for six decades, no bother. No, I didn’t say they were doolally. The transatlantic mindbender added: “If the Scots somehow manage to keep the momentum going longer than that, it would wreck my theory and burst my bubble.”
So many bubbles. They are everywhere. I don’t just mean these thin, usually spherical or hemispherical films of liquid filled with air, gas or children’s breath but the theory that prices can rise above their true value and continue to do so until prices go into freefall. Or that psychologist’s bubble which is his own theory or mindset that he is sticking with until it goes pop.
That’s a bit heavy, sorry. Yet the more you think about them, the more you realise how important bubbles are. They help keep our dishes and clothes clean. They help keep us clean too and is there anything more fun than taking half a dozen kids and giving them bottles of bubbles to blow?
Whole countries can shake as volcanoes spew out bubbles of boiling lava. Some of the biggest mammals in the world could not exist without bubbles to aereate the seas. Humpback whales herd krill for their dinner by releasing bubbles. I know certain humans who do something similar when they’re in the bath.
I could go on about the scientific properties and applications of bubbles but there is one situation in which their role is crucial. That situation is maritime transportation. Oh yes, on the high seas or even on a wee fishing loch, you have to watch for bubbles at all times. Even seeing a few in your boat, could spell disaster.
You should also watch for bubbles outside your vessel. On the big CalMac ferries we are all so used to spotting bubbles gurgling around the stern. That is a good indication that the propellors are turning and you are embarking on your voyage. And as the ferry sets off, there is a trail of bubbles left behind. That is called the wake, probably because it is a sign that the engines are working so you can then assume the crew are alert and not asleep.
However, CalMac has in its fleet a few ferries which have two sterns. Or two bows. Like the two-headed llama, called the Pushmi-pullyu, in Dr Doolittle, these ferries can sail in either direction. Forward or astern; the captain just turns his seat. Such vessels can travel back and fore between ports without ever having to turn round. The MV Loch Portain, which plies between Berneray in North Uist and Leverburgh in South Harris, is a particularly fine example of these ultimate roll-on roll-offs.
I mention this because Mrs X left here to go to Uist last Saturday. She checked the CalMac timetable so she would arrive early at the ferry terminal in Leverburgh. Sure enough, she was at the terminal and could see the ferry Loch Portain out in the Sound of Harris. Good, she thought, it is on the way in and there is no queue so she would have plenty time to nip down the road to Strond and take a few photos. Click, click, click and she drove back to the ferry terminal. Hey, something’s wrong. Uh, where’s the ferry? Someone couldn’t have just nicked a ferry, could they?
My beloved then realised, after a call to her clever husband, of course, that she had been reading the summer timetable. When she had arrived in Leverburgh and had seen the push-me pull-you ferry coming in, it was actually going out. If she had looked a bit closer through the lens of that big camera of hers, she would have noticed that the bubbles were on her side – which meant it was sailing away. You see? It is all about the bubbles and which side they are on.
Although I am now so rushed by women wanting into the bathroom, there was a day, before I became entangled with Mrs X, you understand, that I liked nothing better than a long soak in the tub. Bubbles in the bath was the ultimate treat for me after a long day. She was the best neighbour’s daughter anyone could have.