For a glimpse of how the other 0.001% live:
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?
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:
Did you know you can buy wine on Amazon? Yes, you can, but don’t; it’s damned expensive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Man against Machine – Garth Brooks. The man’s first album of new material in 13 years. Kinky Friedman used to call GB ‘The Anti-Hank’, and if you’re a country purist you’ll understand what he meant, and question his right to the cowboy hat. The new collection is welcome, the voice is massive, and it has fiddles and steel guitars a-plenty, but it’s more rock than anything else. After all this time I was waiting for the big track to jump out and grab me, but it isn’t there. ‘In the LIfe of Chris Gaines’ remains my favourite Brooks album, by a distance.
By the way, for those who wonder what he looks like without the airbrushing and the cowboy hat —
A note for my friends in Canada, who have been asking me when Mathew’s Tale will be available in printed form in their great nation.
It will be in the shops on December 16, just in time for Christmas, in Hardback and trade paperback. Most shops,including my good Toronto friends, Sleuth of Baker Street and Ben McNally Books, are already taking pre-orders.
I’ve just noticed that Somewhere Over the Rainbow, my self-published standalone is currently standing at 51 in the Amazon Kindle Political section. My thanks to everyone who helped put it there and my hopes that the rest of you will help send it higher. It makes me laugh; you might find it funny too.
Big congrats to my nephew Frank, who, with his colleagues on CITV, won a Children’s BAFTA last night. Yes I know, he’s 35, but still, well done sobrino.
I’m starting to put together my diary for 2015, a year when my plans involve doing as many library events as I can fit in. Already I’m committed to Aberdeen in April; if there are any other bids out there, now’s the time to make them.
Moonshine in the Trunk – Brad Paisley. Only halfway through it and already it’s QJ’s album of the year.