Susan Morrison: It all ends in penguins at the Science Festival

Bismarck: Sadly, a 41,000 ton penguin bristling with heavy weaponry was not available for a photo op. Picture: PA

Bismarck: Sadly, a 41,000 ton penguin bristling with heavy weaponry was not available for a photo op. Picture: PA

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This week I have been playing with clever people at the science festival. They asked me to take part in the Big Science Festival Quiz.

It’s going to be on the wireless on Sunday, so I can’t tell you who won, but let’s just say that the rest of the contestants had the combined firepower of the Bismarck in the IQ department and I was, well, more of a water pistol.

It was a bit like Jeanette Krankie suddenly gatecrashing Miss
Universe.

Flushed with the success of the science quiz, they asked me to join them up at the show-and-tell at the National Museum of Scotland. Bring something that you’re passionate about, they said. Really clever people turned up with examples of 3-D printing, fantastic sea worms and examples of replacement hips.

Everyone was very polite when I appeared wearing a rugby shirt with RMS Titanic on it and a scale model of everyone’s favourite doomed liner. Well, mine.

The wonderful vet from Edinburgh Zoo brought along the skull of a Tasmanian Devil. He is a man who exudes kindness and humanity, but was rather taken aback by my virulently anti-panda stance.

I make no apology for this.

Pandas are just the empty-eyed reality TV couple of the captive animal world, like Katie Price and Whatshisname. (I can’t be expected to keep up with who she’s married to this week. Neither can you. You’ve got cars to dig out of driveways.)

Now, you take your plucky little penguin. There’s a fabulous wee beast to admire. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this monochrome charmer should be Scotland’s national bird.

Oh, I know there are those who say it’s the sinister corbie, but let’s take a look at the penguin.

Penguins dress as nattily as Glaswegian lads on the razzle and they are as sociable as Edinburgh lassies hitting the town.

In addition, they love nothing better than standing about in the cold making complaining noises. The penguin – Scotland’s bird.

Snow joke to bemoan never-ending winter

Memo to winter. Look, you had your chance. White is for Christmas, not Easter. Naff off. It’s getting boring.

Hold on, I hear you cry. Ne’er cast a cloot till May is oot. Have Scots grown namby pamby? There was a time when we as a nation were sewn into a semmit-and-knicker combo and would not expect to be released from our iron-clad undergarments until June.

Who among us over a certain age can recall living most of our childhoods thinking we were partially deaf over the winter because of slightly too tight balaclava wearing? And lest we forget, what summer sports day at school was not complete without the bright red line around the calf caused by winter welly chaffing?

So, yes, I see your point. But that cloot discarding warning covers what we usually refer to as Spring, which generally means wee crocuses being battered by gale force winds, not huge snow drops from the guttering and burying the Mondeo in the drive.

Porty prize a puzzle

Hoorah for Portobello Beach which rated ‘Recommended’ in the The Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide. This is the highest category, incidentally, so let’s hear it for Porty. Mind you, doesn’t actually say what it’s Recommended for.

Portobello garnered this glowing report because it hit the Guideline Standards which means there’s less than or equal to 100 Escherichia coli per 100ml and less than or equal to 100 intestinal enterococci per 100ml.

Despite my recent close contact with scientists, I have no idea what that means, but I’m willing to bet there’s also one or less average Scottish person in the water per 100 metres.

In fact, about the only thing that could swim about happily in this weather at Porty beach is a penguin.

Make sure your disaster beverage comes on ice

As I skipped merrily away from the show-and-tell, I fell victim to that lurking menace of the Edinburgh pavement, the pothole.

Actually, I wasn’t skipping. I was really running after some people who looked as if they might have wanted to ask me a few more questions about the Titanic. I didn’t see the pothole because they were moving quite quickly away.

The science festival is a good time to trip and to twist your ankle. There’s no shortage of doctors to hand, although to be fair, I wasn’t looking for a doctor. I was looking for a lawyer. Have you seen the state of those pavements up at the museum?

The young medical lass who came to my aid said, what a pity you weren’t drunk when you tripped. You would have relaxed as you fell.

So good people, the medical advice here clearly is that to safely traverse the city pavements it’s a good idea to swiftly down a healthy wee half of something sustaining. At least that way you’ll relax as you fall over.