The Way I See It #33

WRITING and reading go hand in hand. Put simply, you can’t write without doing at least a small amount of reading. I improve my fictional writing by reading different genres and recognising styles of other writers. And I come up with content for my blog by devouring newspapers and magazines, newspaper apps on my phone and other online news services. I read all sorts of weird and wonderful stories. In fact, this week I’m splitting the column up a little and dedicating it to a few of the things I’ve read recently, all of which put a smile on my face.

Sweden, what’s not to love about Sweden? It gave us Ikea and its top-notch discounted furniture (just don’t mention horse meat in the cafeteria), pop superstars Abba, Scania trucks, Nokia and Ericsson mobile phones, and Volvo cars, to name but a few.

Wait for it, though, as this week a report in the Independent newspaper stated that a 30-square metre bed had been prepared in a Swedish nightclub, so 200 swingers could attempt to break the national record for group sex. Unfortunately, the club hosting the event got smoky rather than steamy as a fire ripped through the building and burnt it to the ground. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the blaze. Now I’m just speculating, but I always said electric blankets were a fire hazard!

The Big Issue, a copy of which I bought in Glasgow last weekend, provided me with my next weird, or wonderful, story of the week, depending on how you look at it (eye of the beholder and all that). January Jones, the elegant and attractive actress of Mad Men fame claimed that eating pills made of her dried-up placenta helped her avoid post-natal depression. I think at this stage, though, it’s worth clarifying that there is no nutritional gain from eating your placenta, apart from a small amount of iron, which could be found in normal supplements or dietary choices. It’s also worth mentioning that the placenta prevents toxins from reaching your baby, so really eating it is quite inane, maybe even insane.

My final story of the week is without doubt wonderful. Now doing handstands and urinating as high as possible might sound like a typical night out for me. However, it is in fact the behaviour of Yang Guang, the male giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo. Unbeknown to Yang Guang he has no competition when it comes to seducing female panda Tian Tian. And he is munching 70kg of bamboo a day to make sure he is the biggest panda around and that Tian Tian succumbs to his charms during her extremely brief period of fertility.

The prospect of a panda cub is a huge deal for everyone involved with the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, and a tremendous amount of effort is being made to

ensure the best possible chance of this happening. It would be wonderful if Scotland played a part in the development of one of the world’s most iconic and endangered species. (Especially when the zoo is paying China £700,000 a year in rent for the pandas).

Having watched the Panda cam off and on for the last week-and-a-half I must admit to only seeing a single panda eat and sleep. It’s an extremely difficult challenge for the Edinburgh zoo staff, considering the poor breeding record of these beautiful animals.

We can only hope Yang Guang urinates mighty high when Tian Tian is watching, and that should be enough to convince her he is the man. If mating is still looking unlikely, the zoo staff could do worse than to call on the Swedish swingers. And I know January Jones is rooting for them to conceive, she’s hoping for the placenta.