Van Morrison and I were born two months and two days apart in the same year. He shares his birthday with my wife.
Van and I are getting on a bit; this was brought home to me this morning when I saw that he has resorted to the device of all great but ageing male vocalists, by recording a ‘Duets’ album. Of course, I’ve ordered it, but it occurs to me that I’ve missed a trick; I should be bringing out a volume of ‘Duets’ stories, co-written with my favourite authors. Maybe it’s not too late.
I’m watching a team in red playing at Preston. I’ve no idea who they are, but they have no semblance of a game plan. However they do have a manager who’s an arrogant, overrated clown, living on a questionable reputation.
I’m currently hanging on the telephone for ‘one of our advisers’ at HMRC, who will be with me ‘as soon as possible’. Fifteen minutes out of my life listening to crap repetitive music while waiting for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer isn’t my idea of fun.
Outstanding dinner this evening in our favourite Barcelona restaurant.
It’s called ….
Actually, statistics rarely lie, and here’s one that tells you the truth about the ego on legs that is Louis van Gaal, and his unsuitability for the Man U job.
United’s third goal against Burnley tonight came from the penalty spot. It was their first pen of the season. That’s right, three days short of Valentine’s Day and they hadn’t been awarded a penalty, a damning reflection on LvG’s tactical approach and on his team’s lack of attacking potential. In the Fergie years you could count on one every three games, maybe more.
Fancy a swan song, Sir Alex?
To all my Rangers supporting friends . . .
Well, nothing, really. After yesterday, I can’t think of anything to say.
Watched the BAFTAs last night. Was there something ironic in Stephen Hawking being given a standing ovation?
A thought for the day. Charity shops are admirable enterprises, until they become the enemy.
North Berwick is one of many towns that used to have a bookshop but doesn’t any more; instead it has more charity shops than I can list here. When they become so prevalent that they have a negative effect on commercial retailers, there is legitimate cause for concern.
I’d like to see their operation licensed, with local councils given the responsibility of deciding when enough is enough.
This is only an idle thought, but . . .
Is death a logically suitable punishment for a failed suicide bomber?
In common with millions, I’ve just had a communication from Peter Dawson, the outgoing Chief Executive of the Royal and Ancient. In it, he says that he and his masters, the custodians of the game of golf, are excited to be taking coverage of the Open Championship away from free-to-air terrestrial television and handing it to Sky, to swell the Dirty Digger’s obscene profits still further.
I knew the Open was screwed in 2014 when it came back to Gullane after a twelve-year absence. I couldn’t believe that it was possible for a paying (through the nose) punter to walk into the tented village, which used to be the greatest golf equipment exhibition of them all, and be unable to pick up and swing a golf club. I was astonished, and yet, under Dawson’s stewardship that’s what happened.
Now, as a final twist of the knife before he sashays off into retirement, he has overseen the taking of the people’s game, the people’s Championship, away from the people, and its delivery to the Great Satan.
‘Excited’, he says in his brazen ‘Open Letter’. ‘Ashamed’ would be more fitting, but he and his people don’t have a grasp of that concept.
YouGov has just told me that Bill Gates and Angelina Jolie, are, respectively, the most admired man and woman in the world. To me that is right up there with the one about an infinite number of monkeys eventually writing the complete works of Shakespeare.
By the way, in the female column HM the Queen came fourth, one behind Hillary Clinton and two ahead of Celine Dion. Among men, David Beckham and Stephen Hawking were ninth equal, and Cristiano Ronaldo was fifteenth. Lionel Messi didn’t get a mention, which puts the whole thing in perspective.
So Celtic reach the final of the Scottish League Cup where they’ll play Dundee United. And no sooner has the smoke cleared from the semi-finals that they buy two of the opposition’s best young players, who’ll be warming the bench at Celtic Park for the rest of the season.
There’s something wrong with that, but it’s nothing new. It’s been a blight on our game for decades.
However it’s almost matched by Mike Ashley turning Rangers into Newcastle United’s youth development partner.
I have news for Skinner fans.
The publication date of Last Resort, Bob’s twenty-fifth journey of self-discovery, has been brought forward. It will now appear in what publishers these days call ‘first format’, on April 9.
Three months to go and I have had enough.
I have never been a fan of fixed term parliaments. I liked the old system under which the incumbent Prime Minister could choose the moment to ask the electorate for a renewal of his mandate, or be forced to do so by the loss of a confidence vote in the Commons. Change, however, was forced upon us as a by-product of the rose garden agreement, the cobbled together coalition which has seen us through the last five years.
Has that administration worked? In some ways it has. Unfettered Toryism has been reigned in, the NHS and education, for all you hear to the contrary, are actually no worse than before, still doing a marvellous job in the face of interminable tinkering, our troops are no longer dying in Afghanistan, and the economy has made slow but steady progress. But now we’re at the sharp end, heading for a polling day that has been known for the last five years.
And we are saddled with an election campaign that began the moment that Ed Miliband judged that the voters had forgotten the destruction wrought by the last Labour Government, and might be prepared to allow his crew another chance, given the lack of a strong alternative, and the surge in Europhobia under Nigel Farage, every man’s idea of the archetypal pub bore.
Many weeks after the sparring began, we have just gone through the hundred day barrier. Three more almost interminable months stretch out before us; God help us all.
In common with nine out of every ten people that the pollsters will stop in the street, I know already how I’m going to vote. Nothing that I read, that I am told, or that I am shown in Party Propaganda Broadcasts is going to change that. With a view to securing the best possible future governance of Scotland, I will vote SNP, even at the risk if seeing a minority Labour government in Westminster. Whatever their individual allegiances, the great majority of people on our islands feel the same way, of that I have no doubt.
So please, can we cut the rest of the crap and vote tomorrow?
Pablo Milanes — Definitive Collection. You’ve probably never heard of Pablo, unless you listen to Spanish radio, and even there he doesn’t get much air-time. That’s because he’s Cuban, and because his career has more or less coincided with the years of the revolution, of which he is a supporter. But, suppose ‘Yolanda’ is the only song of his you ever hear, it’ll be worth it.
i’m slightly narked with my Australian friends. None of them thought to share this diamond with me; the left me to come across it by chance.
Tiger Woods’ 82 yesterday is being compared with his second worst score as a pro, his 81 at Muirfield. It shouldn’t be.
I was there when Tiger shot that earlier round . . . well, to be accurate I was there when he finished it by birdieing 17 and parring the last. When I saw the storm coming I did the local thing and went home till it passed over, because I knew how bad it was going to be. Tiger couldn’t; he had to play on through the unplayable, in waterproof gear that looked hopelessly unfit for the task in hand. His 81 was probably a couple under par for the conditions and next day he went round in 15 fewer shots.
What I saw in telly last night as he shot his 82 was a man who has lost it beyond redemption. Around the greens he chipped like me; that’s not pretty, and I’m not kidding.
If he ever wins another golf tournament it will be a miracle. Thanks for the memories, Tiger.
I’ve just watched the fantastic last-ball finish of the final of Australian cricket’s fourth Big Bash League. I’m sorry it’s over for another year, but at the same time, I’m pleased to have my mornings back.
All the English players who’ve been in Australia taking part have come home saying the same thing; that domestic cricket has to adopt the franchise system and organise its T20 competition along the same lines as the model that has proved so popular there and in India. As far as I can discern, none of the decision-makers are listening. They’d rather play four-day county games all summer before empty grounds.
News from the front: my political satire, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow‘, published by Portador Books and available from Amazon and CampbellReadBooks.com, is currently inside the top twenty of the Kindle political fiction list.
Thanks to those who put it there and thanks in advance to those who’ll help push it higher. All it takes is a couple of clicks; links to the right, on this page.
I drove through Figueras the other day, behind the biggest bull-dozer cum excavator I have ever seen on any public highway. Overtaking was impossible; it took up a full lane and part of another, with its driver sitting on top, encased in a perspex box.
It must have been bloody difficult to drive, even more so since the guy was on the phone all the way.