October 10, 2014 Leave a comment!

Catchy tune, but not available, sadly, on Amazon. Hit teh play button on the page

Categories: Politics, Sport

Two days in the life of . . .

October 2, 2014 9 comments
We travelled back from Spain on Tuesday, having gone down to Barcelona on Monday for a nice overnight stay. I’d booked on the AVE (TGV to the French, HS2 to the English in about fifteen years, once it’s been funded in part by Scottish taxes) only for it to rain overnight on Sunday, so hard that part of the line was flooded.
Spent an hour at Figueras Vilafant station waiting for a promised bus to take us to somewhere that the AVE was running, until finally I collared a guy who confessed that they did not know 1) where the bus was, 2) whether there actually was a bus, and 3) whether there would ever be a bus. He also said that our tickets were valid on any train, information that would have been useful an hour earlier. So we wound up on the old rattler after all, minus a €15 taxi fare from Vilafant to the normal Figueras station.
Checked into our hotel three hours late, which wiped out the proposed visit to the Sagrada Familia, then found that our favourite restaurant was fully booked. The alternative was okay, though a little dull by comparison. Got back to the hotel and found that it was impossible to switch off the bedside light, other than by killing all the power to the room at a switch by the door. This is okay till you have to get up in the middle of the night, after that last canya in  the Placa Reial. Peeing in the pitch dark may be no problem for  ladies, but it’s different for guys.
Awoke, eventually, to heavy rain. Short visit to the other Cathedral, which was nearby, then went to airport via metro and train, me carrying both bags since Eileen can’t just now. Even in a cooler autumn day in BCN it is very hot and humid on the metro, made worse when you have to walk more than half a kilometre underground from your platform to the stair to the train station. Reckon I lost a kilo or so in sweat.
Encountered a nice lady called Ana at check-in in T1; we had a chat about Scottish/Catalan referendums, about which she was so enthused that she gave us one boarding card from BCN to Gatwick and three from Gatwick to Edinburgh.
Sorted that out, then were held up in security by an Arab couple. She had half a dozen drinks in her bag, plus Allah knows what else. An Arabic speaking staff member was summoned to explain the problem. Then it was husband’s turn. He had in his bag, no kidding, a large fucking Thermos jug, full.
While they were being led away by the police, a German (had to be) guy started shouting about people not knowing how to fly. Then it was my turn; fine till the nice security lady decided that my TV set-top box was actually a laptop and had to be put through x-ray again. She didn’t do this, I had to, which meant another pat-down a minute after the first, since I do not go through the gateway. At this point German idiot started to shout again, either at the staff or at me. Either way, I showed him a verbal yellow card , which proved sufficient, since he wasn’t in a Panzer tank at the time.
Spent half an hour with wife in one airport shop buying six tea towels and a toy for Grandson, then had a mediocre pasta salad. Pattern broken by a very good BA flight with good service. Got to Gatwick and went through a fully automated passport control procedure which by definition takes twice as long as the old-fashioned way, then went airside once again, through more security.
Invested a reasonable amount in three hours in a ‘VIP’ lounge which grew colder as time progressed, with dodgy wine and a range of snacks that ran through the entire gamut of culinary experience, all the way from A to B. Caught second flight, back to Edinburgh; took off early, landed early, a positive, but it couldn’t last, because finally, inevitably, at 10:30pm we were left staring at an empty luggage carousel, waiting in vain for a small black Samsonite case that was still in London.
But apart from that, Mrs Kennedy, did you like Dallas?
Categories: General


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

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