Author Archive


September 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Anyone involved in professional football is now banned from betting on games. So why is Harry Redknapp advertising an on-line bookie?

Categories: Sport

Hi-ho Silver

September 28, 2014 2 comments

A crazy question popped into my mind yesterday and won’t go away. Is it coincidence that The Lone Ranger rides a white horse?

Categories: General, Sport

Mark my words

September 27, 2014 3 comments

I see another Tory MP has jumped ship and joined UKIP. Name of Reckless. Also by nature, I guess.

However, it is now time to be taking seriously the prospect of Scotland being dragged out of Europe against its will by right-wing Little Englanders. Another major issue for May 2015, for the 45 to consider.

Categories: Politics

Stop press!

September 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Big news from Waterstone. Mathew’s Tale, my new stand-alone historical novel, has been selected as the chain’s Scottish Book of the Month for October.

To tie in with this, the publication date has been brought forward from October 23 to Wednesday, October 1. Look out for it in all bookshops from that date on, in hard back and trade paperback. Signed copies will be available as always, from and ebooks will be available also through the usual outlets.

Categories: General


September 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Still they won’t let it go. A week after the referendum, Facebook and other social media are still stuffed with triumphal posts by ‘No’ voters.

But are they triumphal? Might they not be indicative of the fear which  drove Better Together’s campaign? if that is so, it is not misplaced.

‘Yes’ scored 45%, rounded up, of the votes cast; that is not in dispute, for all the furore stirred in the Scottish press by Ruth Davidson’s apparent ignorance of electoral law. In a single question referendum, that equals defeat. However, in the General Election next May, 45% of the votes cast could well lead to an absolute majority of Scottish seats.

With SNP membership soaring, to the point that it is now the third biggest party in Britain, it is not fanciful to imagine  that happening.

Right now, the referendum result has been accepted . . . if not respected, because of the way it was secured . . . and we move on to hear what the Three Stooges’ Daily Record ‘Vow’ actually means in practice. There are no demands for a re-run, nor will there be.

That said, should May 2015 lead to a clear Scottish majority for the SNP, that will be a completely new situation and all bets will be off.

Categories: Politics


September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

I just saw a post on Facebook which led me to a surprising realisation. For the first time ever, I was unable to name my Westminster constituency MP. I can now; she is Fiona O’Donnell, but genuinely I had never heard of her before today. My ignorance  may be, probably was, based on the fact that I never read what no longer passes for my local newspaper, but other than that, I’m reasonably well versed in and up to date with current affairs.

To me this indicates the irrelevance of Scottish constituency Westminster MPs to our daily lives. So why the hell, I’m asking myself, did we vote to keep them?

Categories: General, Politics

It’s not cricket

September 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Just over an hour ago, the first matches in the Ryder Cup 2014 tee-ed off at Gleneagles.

Will I be there? No.

If someone called me in the next half hour and offered me the top hospitality package for Sunday’s singles, would I accept? No.

Somewhere along the line, I fell out of love with golf’s biennial transatlantic duel. Yes, the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ was compelling viewing, and the outcome was deeply satisfying. And yet there was something about it that I didn’t like, the triumphalism, the sometimes mindless behaviour of the crowds, the sometimes mindless behaviour of Bubba Watson encouraging the crowd to break one of the cardinal rules of golf etiquette by roaring him on as he hit his first tee shot. (He was not alone, as I recall; Ian Poulter saw fit to copy him. A friend of mine used to have a seat near Poults at the Emirates Stadium, so this did not surprise me.)

In 1973, the event was played at Muirfield. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Billy Casper led the American team: it was too far back for Tom Watson. In those pre-Seve days Europe was not invited; the side was Great Britain and Ireland and the result was almost inevitable.The crowds were smaller too, with far fewer American visitors for what was expected to be a walk-over, even with Tony Jacklin, Peter Oosterhuis, Neil Coles and a 48-year-old Christy O’Connor in the GB&I team.

In fact, they did better than expected, going into the final round of singles with a mathematical chance of victory, only to see the score-board turn red. There were two singles rounds in those days, eight matches each; under those rules it was possible to be selected for the Ryder Cup but never play a match. One English golfer was in the 1971 and 1973 teams yet played only once, in a four-ball. Brian Barnes, on the other hand, made his name by beating Jack Nicklaus twice in one day.

Television coverage was provided by the BBC. The admission charges were modest crowds, with the exception of  one yob who had a down on Bernard Gallagher for some reason, were well-behaved. It was a dignified, enjoyable event, even in the preparation days, when Lee Trevino could be found doing his stand-up turn on the practice ground.

Forty-one years later, I doubt that Muirfield would welcome the event. It has been transformed into a circus with crowds paying through the nose, per day, to behaving like wrestling fans. Television coverage today is provided by Sky Television, led by the terminally platitudinous Ewen Murray. Sky being a jewel in the crown of the odious Murdoch Empire, all of his titles join in the hype, leaving the rest of the media no choice but to add its voice.

All this has been reflected in the attitude of the players. Nicklaus famously gave Tony Jacklin a putt for a half that resulted in a tied match. At the height of the notorious Battle of Brookline, Payne Stewart conceded his match to Colin Montgomerie to signal his disapproval of the crowd’s behaviour. That match may have been a nadir, but things have improved only superficially since then. Today the US has Keegan Bradley, and we have Poulter. Good examples to junior golfers? I think not.

Progress is progress, I suppose, but I can’t help but observe that the growth in interest in the Ryder Cup can be traced back to the years when the Americans, for the first time in the history of the event, started to lose more  than they won. They reacted and our crowds have followed suit, until the spectacle is unedifying however the contest turns out.

The whole thing runs counter to the spirit of the game of golf.

Categories: Sport

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