May election

December 19, 2014 2 comments

If the journalist Philip Webster’s sources are correct, there is an undeclared war going on within the Tory Party between Dave Cameron and Theresa May.

139 days before the General Election I’ll come out and say that unless there is a political earthquake that leaves Alex Salmond as Prime Minister (an offer he would decline, almost certainly) my choice for Number Ten would be Cameron, but only on the basis that he is the least of several evils.

Who is the greatest? Mrs May comes very near the top of my list, shaded only by Mr and Mrs Balls. (Take your pick.) I never saw anything to like about our only woman Prime Minister, but there was a hell of a lot to admire. But Mrs May, or Thatcher Lite as I will call her from now on, she doesn’t score a point  in either column.

Categories: Politics


December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Three nights, and three series finales with The Fall coming to an end yesterday. No scope for a whiz-bang ending, I’d thought but I was wrong. No spoilers for those who recorded it, but an unexpected question is out there waiting to be answered. Will there be a third series?

Categories: General

Music while I work

December 18, 2014 1 comment

How about now – Ags Connolly. My friend Wallace made me a serious country music follower when he introduced me to Alan Jackson. I wish I could return he favour by directing him to Ags Connolly, who’s invented his own sub-genre, Ameripolitan.  Ags may be an English folkie from Oxfordshire, but he’s produced one of the best albums of the year.

Categories: General

Good evening

December 18, 2014 Leave a comment

And so farewell to Will, Mac, Don, Sloan, Jim, Maggie, and most of all Charlie. A day after the end of The Missing, Sky Atlantic showed the finale of series three of The Newsroom. It’s gone, and it won’t be back, but you can bet Tom T Hall will be thanking the producers for boosting his pension fund.

That’s the way to finish a series: you give the addicts the resolution they want, throw in a little sadness, then batter it to death with schmaltz and happy endings.

Mind you I’m going to miss Will MacAvoy. I wish we had a real news anchor like him on British TV, but we don’t. Adam Boulton makes a decent fist of it, and then there’s the amiable but essentially dim Eamonn Holmes, but both broadcast to minority audiences on Sky News. The main line channels are bereft of such talent; half an hour ago, I switched off BBC Breakfast and escaped back to the recorded Newsroom. I don’t like Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchkin at the best of times, but when the talent-free zone that is the abrasive Steph McGovern joined the party, my hand leapt of its own volition to the remote.

The only solution i can offer is for BBC to pretend that Will MacAvoy is real and to hire Jeff Daniels to present its mainline news programming. With a budget in excess of five billion, I’m sure they can afford him.

Categories: General

The Missing, presumed . . .

December 17, 2014 2 comments

So it was a combination of an accident and a bungled cover-up, Emily lives happy-ish ever after and poor old Tony pays for his undetected crime by going mad, growing a beard  and stalking children all around Moscow, looking for (and finding?) lost Ollie.

Disappointing? Maybe just a  little, but let’s see where series 2 takes us.

Categories: General

Multi-coloured Christmas

December 17, 2014 Leave a comment

To those stuck for a  Christmas idea, a late reminder that ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow‘, my semi-secret but still well-reviewed political novel is now available in paperback format. It’s supposed to be exclusively through Amazon, but by some means that I do not understand copies are also available on the monster that is eBay. I advise buyers strongly against taking that route, as in all probability you will be ripped off. Beware also of any marketplace sellers advertising copies as new, as originals can only come from Amazon itself.

Categories: General


December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Just had a piece of news and I’m in a quandary. Someone I know and revere has found a new job. I couldn’t be happier for her in that it takes her out of the madness, but I’m devastated for me because she’s irreplaceable and will be missed more than she can ever imagine.

Categories: General

How deep is your love?

December 10, 2014 4 comments

For a glimpse of how the other 0.001% live:

Categories: General


December 10, 2014 1 comment

For a classic afternoon read, try this:

It seems that there is a debate under way on the efficacy of torture. What would Will MacAvoy say, I wonder?

Categories: Politics

Music while I work

December 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Alison – Elvis Costello. Elvis/Declan has been one of the best and most  prolific songwriters for going on forty years, and yet his first Anthem is still his outstanding and most memorable work. But . . . if you can find an album called Piano Jazz, with EC and Marion McPartland, that’s my favourite. It’s a recording of a radio show, half conversation and half acoustic classics, and it is PDB.

If you can’t find it:

Categories: General

Where we had lunch today

December 7, 2014 Leave a comment
Categories: General


December 5, 2014 1 comment

Did you know you can buy wine on Amazon? Yes, you can, but don’t; it’s damned expensive.

Categories: General


December 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Couldn’t help laughing this morning, when I read that the Spectator has accused George Osborne of being ‘pusillanimous’ over spending reform. My dad would have loved that; after he had his stroke, he had a therapist whom he called ‘Pusillanimous’. My mum and I never did figure out whether that was a  description, or simply the closest he could get to her real name.

Whatever, it’s clear there is little cross-over between readers of the Spectator and  the Daily Star.

Categories: General

Oh yes?

December 3, 2014 4 comments

I’ve just seen a Sky tv ALDI ad offering wine for as little as £6.99. In ALDI L’Escala you’ll struggle to pay more than €4 for the same product.

We are being ripped off.

Categories: General


December 3, 2014 3 comments

Jacket design for next year’s Skinner, hot off the press. Due for publication May 2015.

Categories: General, Pics


December 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Click on this link and it will take you to . . .

Ah what the hell, click it and find out; it’s a mystery, but you won’t be disappointed. Hopefully you’ll be a few quid less rich, but others, people who really need it, will be better off, and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Categories: General, Videos

GI Blues

December 2, 2014 1 comment

For its staff, Prestwick Airport is a sad and lonely place these days. Although I believe that freight traffic is on the increase, it is home to only fourteen passenger flights.

Yesterday we were on one of them. From a traveller’s viewpoint the experience was excellent; no queues, no scrambling rush through security, and shop staff who are anxious to please. And the Elvis Presley Bar is still there, in the departure lounge.

When Elvis paid his only known visit to the UK on March 3, 1960, on a brief stop-over at Prestwick, £11.60 was a decent weekly wage. Yesterday evening, that’s what I paid for a pint of Stella and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But I don’t mind. The lager was well kept, the wine was crisp and at the right temperature, and the bar lass was pleasant and friendly; if I can play my part in keeping her in a job is the face of a turnover that must be derisory, I’m happy with that.

Categories: General

Another one bites the dust

November 28, 2014 7 comments

Excellent night in Dalgety Bay. Thanks to everyone who came along for making it so enjoyable for me. I hope it was for you too.

I hope you all enjoyed filling in the Scottish Book Trust questionnaire. Having glanced at it I’m struggling to see why the SBT needs to know whether event attendees are ‘Gay, Heterosexual/Straight, Bisexual, Lesbian,’ or even ‘Other, please describe’, and what Goddamn business it is of theirs.

As for the section ‘Gender. Male ⃞   Female ⃞     Other _________’, well, words just fail me.

Categories: General

They come in threes

November 27, 2014 Leave a comment

A very sad day. Within hours of  the tragedy of Phil Hughes, the Australian cricketer, we hear of the passing of P D James, and also of the much loved Arthur Montford, the doyen of sports television broadcasting in Scotland.

Categories: General

Down the river of your choice

November 27, 2014 Leave a comment

David Cameron is ‘delighted’ with the report of the Smith Commission, and is quoted as saying ‘We are keeping our promise to the Scottish people.’

That is all we need to know about the proposals that have been published today. Anything that gives such pleasure to the Prime Minister, and to the Westminster parties, who  fought so hard, so viciously and so unscrupulously to keep their hands round the throats of the Scottish people, is by definition against our interests.

The ‘sweeping new powers’ we were promised turn out to be the right to set our own income tax rates and bands. The single most contentious area in the fiscal management of any nation; that’s what we’ll be given.

  • The level of personal allowances will be reserved for Westminster.
  • Taxes on savings will be reserved for Westminster.
  • Corporation tax will be reserved for Westminster.
  • Indirect taxation and excise duty rates will be reserved for Westminster.
  • More than 80% of the welfare budget will be reserved for and controlled by Westminster.
  • All job creating powers will be reserved for and controlled by Westminster.

My friends on the ‘No’ side will rush to reminded me that Scotland rejected independence. They are correct; we did.

We did so on the basis of a cross-party promise of ‘sweeping new powers’ for Holyrood. In fact the Smith Commission recommends  hardly any new powers for Scotland, only a series of responsibilities, and even then the main one, devolved income tax, will be hamstrung by the retention of key elements by London.

The Blessed Baroness Bella Goldie gave the game away, when she said that Holyrood politicians will now have will now have ‘to look taxpayers in the eye.’ We are being handed a stick with which we can beat ourselves senseless, but the whole bag of bloody carrots is being retained by Westminster.

What sops are we being given?

  • The vote will be extended to sixteen and seventeen year-olds.
  • Air Passenger Duty will be devolved.
  • Licensing of oil and gas extraction will be devolved.

Thus, we may prepare for a future of barely literate electors emerging from our underfunded schools in the hope of a job with Ryanair, or in a fracking operation whose revenue will continue to fill the London coffers.

Lord Smith, whose commission delivered this fudge, refuses to answer questions on what it all means, insisting that he is only the referee. If that is so, he has given a red card to the aspirations of the 45% who voted Yes, and to the significant percentage who voted No, in the expectation that the notorious Daily Record ‘Vow’ could be kept, and not shown up for the sham it undoubtedly was.

Categories: Politics

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