For those expecting me to hold up a dark mirror to Trip Advisor, or to take on Lonely Planet, I see only disappointment in your immediate future (1 star). Equally, if you are hoping for some insight into the issues which arise from the dropping of acid, you will find little here to help. All I will say is that if you are carrying anything much stronger than a decent white wine vinegar you should really be using a fume cupboard and wearing appropriate PPE (gloves, safety specs et al). If the balloon really does go up, and the flask down, my best advice is to use some ground carbonate: baking powder might be a good choice in the domestic realm.
When we are small, by which I mean lacking in years rather than just height, it is not uncommon to avoid walking on the cracks between the paving stones (NB: may not be real stones). Often, stepping on the cracks is associated with some form of existential peril – mostly commonly (I believe) bear attack. This risk has even been immortalised in song by Carly Simon: a woman with a broad advisory remit: safe, bear-free use of the pavement and dress-etiquette when embarking a yacht.
This fear of ursine assault puzzles me. The last wild bear on these Isles shuffled off its mortal coil (or, more likely, had it shuffled off by a hostile biped) around 500 AD (or CE for the theistically challenged). As a result, the risk of encountering a bear would seem low, barring some sort of zoo-based containment issue. I am aware that in the quantum world, it is possible for a lepton-antilepton pair to be “borrowed” from the universe – and thus appear to be created spontaneously – as long as it (the universe) is paid back pretty darned quick. However, the instantiation of a bear (and matching anti-bear) via this sort of loan arrangement seems both very unlikely and exceedingly dangerous in a built-up area. Frankly, the antimatter comprising the anti-bear is going to be a far bigger issue than the teeth or claws of the bear itself.
Buy why am I suddenly obsessed with being assailed by bears (or their anti-matter equivalents)? Well, let me explain…
This blog has previously mentioned the rather poor quality of road surface in the Southampton area and the concomitant impact on the contents of a chap’s unmentionables. Well, a similar issue also affects the footpaths of the city, with many paving slabs being very poorly bedded into the underlying substrate. As a result, if one treads too near (or on) the cracks one’s foot can be swamped in the muddy water that had, until that moment, lain concealed ‘neath the concrete slab. Perhaps worse, if one is even slightly uncertain of balance, you can be pitched into a passerby or item of street furniture (or, in the case of a tallboy: both). Now, I will admit that this could be a handy excuse for a bit of highly desirable physical contact with a fancied (and physically proximate) fellow pedestrian – though I think it would take some practise (and a little finesse) to make the “accident” appear fully convincing. I’m also fairly certain that institutional apathy (or inefficiency), rather than the provision of imaginative flirting opportunities, is behind the poor state of our footpaths. I am often surprised at how few of the elderly or blind I encounter littering the pavements around my inner-city garret: could it be that the local ambulance service is particularly efficient? (or is the tidying up down to the street sweepers?) Still, good to know that my local authority is doing its bit to keep the cost of welfare down – even if some of this saving is transferred to the already strained budget of the NHS.