Author Archive

Listing to port

Congratulations to all those on the short list for Scottish Crime Book of the Year; the winner will be announced at Bloody Scotland, our very own crime festival, which runs in Stirling from September 19 – 21. Yes, I’ll be there, on the last afternoon sharing a platform at 4:15pm in the Albert Halls,  with the talented  Caro Ramsay. I hope to see you there.

Categories: General

No such wumman

Note to the BBC caption department; ‘Bella Houston’ is,  in fact, one word.

Categories: General, Sport

Let’s be non-**

July 22, 2014 7 comments

I’m planning to start a campaign against PC in the media.

I’ll begin by targeting the infuriating newspaper habit of adding words in brackets in the middle of direct quotes, words that the speaker didn’t actually say. This is done presumably to make the meaning clear to all readers, but let’s face it, if a person is that dumb, he’s unlikely to be able to read the damn paper in the first place.

Then there’s the asterisk craze. The BBC website quotes Bradley Wiggins this morning as saying he might be ‘p***** off’ about something.  For those in doubt, be might be ‘pissed off’. So?

Finally, there is the terrible compulsion TV has to apologise for every minor breach of the language code. During the Open last weekend, Ken Brown jokingly called a co-commentator ‘a smartarse’, for which he apologised a few seconds later, undoubtedly under orders from the production box. On several other occasions commentators apologised on air for golfer expletives after bad shots. Tell you what, guys. Try moving your effects mikes a little further away. If not, accept that if Tiger, etc.,  hit a bad shot, they may let one go, and live with it.

Categories: General, Sport

Poor Mark

July 17, 2014 1 comment

Watching the Open on telly and wondering: why do the BBC persist in employing Mark James? His credentials include being the worst Ryder Cup captain in living memory, putting his name to an awful, graceless autobiography, and never paying a straight compliment when a sneer is available. Plus he’s a twerp.

Categories: Sport


Having been off the reservation for a week or so, the first thing I have to do on return is to thank a few people: specifically, Dr Agnes Durie of Gullane Medical Practice, Mr David Lewis, consultant vascular surgeon, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, and his theatre team, and the staff of Wards 105 and 118, RIE, for the unsurpassable care that all of them lavished  on my lovely wife, and most of all for giving her back to me.

You are all special.

Categories: General

To think again

Today, July 3, the people of Scotland are to be addressed by an Old Etonian twat who happens to be Prime Minister of the Westminster Parliament, although his party holds less than half of its seats. Against that background, it’s more than a little ironic that he  will call on ‘The Silent Majority’ to speak out. A few words in that forthcoming speech leap out and grab me, those where he refers to ‘the silent majority who don’t want the risks of going it alone.’ In other words, he’s talking to  conservatives with a small ‘c’, and to cowards, with a capital.

In fact, there is a silent majority in Scotland. The problem for Dave is that he doesn’t recognise it, because he and his colleagues have been sweeping its existence  under the carpet for so long, they’ve forgotten about it. It’s made up of the Scots, twenty per cent of us, who live in poverty created by four decades of Westminster policies, and those of us who believe passionately that independence is the only way to reverse that unacceptable situation. In September, it will be our voices that will be heard.

Independence has nothing to do with ‘proud Edward’s army’, or any of that flowery crap. It’s about recreating the fair, just and honest society that we once had in Scotland before Westminster destroyed it, about restoring hope to the deprived, and about giving them and the next generations a future that they will never have under a government that has spent the last forty years gathering the nation’s wealth into a small corner of the south east.


Categories: Politics


Can you tell what it is yet?

Categories: General

I’ll see you outside, Charlie

June 30, 2014 3 comments

BBC Breakfast has become so bland that there is little in it that anyone could find annoying, but this morning the colourless Charlie Stayt managed it, in spades. A brief report on Glastonbury was topped off by the fact that the most popular performer was not some dire cloned heavy metal outfit, but Dolly Parton, who drew a bigger crowd than anyone else. When the piece was over, read by his colleague Naga Munchkin, the idiot Charlie chipped in, portentously, ‘And she’s 68 years old.’

Having celebrated yet another birthday yesterday, I found myself perched on the edge of my chair, shouting ‘So f*cking what?!?’ at the telly. I am against most things that end in ‘ism’, but ‘ageism’ is right at the top of my list. Here’s a suggestion for the Breakfast production team. For a couple of weeks, replace Charlie with Ken Dodd . . . ‘And he’s 86 years old.’ . . . and see what happens to the viewing figures.


Categories: General

Last word on Suarez

June 28, 2014 6 comments

When Tom (Tiny) Wharton, a Scottish football referee of my youth, passed away a few years ago, many stories were told about him, but this is my favourite:

While refereeing Hearts one Saturday, Tiny had particular trouble with a veteran winger named Johnny Hamilton, who was known for leaving his dentures in a glass in the dressing room during the game. Finally his patience was exhausted. He called the player to him (when Tiny called, you went) and said solemnly, ‘Mr Hamilton, the time has come for you to rejoin your teeth.’

Perhaps that is the simplest solution to Luis Suarez’ behavioural problem. Aesthetically it might not be a bad thing either, from his viewpoint, since the set with which God equipped him gives him an unfortunate resemblance to Francis the Talking Mule.

Categories: Sport

Chewed over

June 27, 2014 4 comments

Four month global ban for Suarez; excessive, fair or insufficient?

I don’t go with any of those. Whatever you think of the gravity of the offence, it happened on the watch of the Uruguayan FA. When Suarez is with his club, he’s protected by its support systems. These include a psychologist and an extremely perceptive head coach. When he went off with Uruguay he went into an aggressive environment, where his transgression is barely recognised as such.  Therefore isn’t it entirely logical that any penalty should impact on Uruguay alone?

As I understand it, when a player is on international duty, his club is indemnified against injury, by insurance. Not so in this case, unless Liverpool FC’s lawyers persuade Uruguay that it should compensate the club for the loss of his services.

Common sense says to me that a fairer disposition would have been a longer ban from international matches, and a fine, not on the player but on the Uruguayan FA, (which has plenty of previous over the years) leaving the club to deal internally with the matter.

But when did FIFA last display common sense?

Categories: Sport

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