Author Archive

Stormy weather for the No fleet

Sorry I’m a little late this morning. I had to rush down to the beach count the number of British naval vessels out in the Forth protecting the Scottish coastline. Know what? I looked as hard as I could, through my best binoculars. yet I couldn’t see a single one.

The First Sea Lord . . . a title that could have come straight from Gilbert and Sullivan . . . tells us this morning, on the instructions of the people who appointed him, that Scotland’s defence would be weakened if we could no longer rely on his navy. I wonder if he would tell us, in support of his claim, how many of those vessels other than nuclear Trident submarines  are deployed currently in Scottish waters. No, I didn’t think so .

As the referendum draws closer, we can expect a scare story every day, orchestrated by the Westminster machine, with the help of its cronies in the London press, who are, lest we forget, currently living in fear of post-Leveson regulation and looking on with a degree of trepidation as the Brooks/Coulson trial unfolds. Will we be frightened into voting No? I rather think not.

YES for Scotland.


Categories: General, Politics

Music while I work

Jim Tomlinson: The Lyric. Jim’s a decent sax player, but his main asset is his his wife, Stacey Kent; this album is all about her.

Categories: General


Varied reading material in our house over the weekend; Eileen had the newly finished 2015 Skinner, and I had the newly published Rebus.

Each of us enjoyed the experience.

Categories: General

Better Apart

April 8, 2014 2 comments

Lord Robertson, former UK Defence Minister and NATO Secretary General, has the reputation of being a sensible man. If so, after yesterday’s bizarre outburst in New York, he should fire his speechwriter. If, by any chance he wrote it alone and unaided, he should seek counselling, as a matter of urgency.

I suppose we might feel complimented by the suggestion that Scotland is central to the defence of Western Europe. On the other hand, most right-thinking Scots will be scandalised by the language that was used. The increasingly vicious No campaign has never presented a single lucid reason against Scottish Independence. Instead we have seen a sustained series of threats, of which Lord R’s is the emptiest and the most ludicrous.

YES for Scotland.


Categories: General, Politics


March 26, 2014 2 comments

A quote this morning from David Moyes: ‘You don’t just suddenly change things around.’

Oh yes you do, David. In your case you took a  side that won the Premier League last season by nine points, and you turned it into a mid-table outfit. How? By tactical ineptitude, and by excising the pace and width from the team. Another quote, from the usually reticent Paul Scholes: ‘United are nothing without pace, and there’s no pace there.’


Categories: Sport

A hint of Bob

March 24, 2014 2 comments

Coming soon: in the wake of Dangerous Pursuits, the free re-working of the first Oz Blackstone novel that’s riding high in the Amazon chart, look out for a new Bob Skinner short story in e-book form. It’s called A Hint of Death, a precursor to the forthcoming Hour of Darkness’; it’s due for release on April 10, and for a limited period, it’s also free.

Categories: General

No justice

I read today that Stuart Broad, the England cricket T20 captain has been fined for criticising the umpires’ decision to continue his side’s match against New Zealand, despite the fact that there was a lightning storm overhead.

The match referee, imposing the fine said, “Such public criticism is not good for the spirit of the game. Mutual respect between players, match officials and administrators is paramount to the game of cricket.” My question: how are you going to maintain that respect by denying freedom of speech?

Categories: Sport

Top of the Bill

March 21, 2014 1 comment

This isn’t a review either. It’s praise, for the wonderful Bill Nighy, who lit up the BBC2 TV movie Turks and Caicos.

Categories: General

Dereliction of Duty

March 21, 2014 3 comments

With several million others I followed BBC2′s Line of Duty, from beginning to end, tied in by what I saw from episodes one to five as a brilliant, evolving plot. Too bad about episode six. Today, in common with many (most?) of them I find myself scratching my head at the conclusion, trying to join all the dots, and frustrated by an unsatisfactory ending. Too much of the motivation for the murder conspiracy was hinted at rather than spelled out. The people who were presumed to have commissioned the hit were never identified, but left nameless and faceless. The flash-back towards the end, in which much of it was almost explained, was a crude device, as if someone had wound back and then hit the fast forward button. There was a plot line that linked back to the first Line of Duty series, but was never explained in this one, making it meaningless to those who had either missed it or forgotten it. Who was ‘The Caddy’? If you didn’t know from the beginning, you were never told. If I did those things in a book, none of them would ever get past my editor. Clearly there was no such person involved in the making of this series.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t do reviews. This isn’t one of those; it’s a complaint, that the BBC Drama department should have spent millions on a project that kept viewers hooked right to the end and then self-destructed by  failing to answer all the questions that had been raised.

Categories: General

Tough enough?

A few months ago, the Crown Office signalled its intention to get tough on housebreakers in Scotland, by prosecuting them on indictment, rather than in summary proceedings. The effect of this will be to increase the potential maximum sentence from one year in prison to five.

All well and good, but that is only a statement of intent, and it leaves sentencing at the discretion of the judge. Furthermore, is it adequate? Our homes may not all be castles, but they are part of us, and they should be inviolable.

Our Justice Secretary seems to favour the populist approach. I would suggest to him that if he wants to win public support instead of the suspicion with which his actions are usually  greeted, he should propose legislation that recognises housebreaking as an act of violence against the person, with a minimum tariff of five years, ie no parole, and double for repeat offences.

Categories: General, Politics

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