Regular visitors to my blog may wonder why I don’t enable comments on my posts. The answer’s simple. This is my site and only my axes will be ground here; I don’t want it to become a sounding board for any crank or idiot with a prejudice to air.
If anyone wants to counter or criticise any of my views posted here they should go back to the main website and use the ’email QJ’ facility, then check back here in a day or two to see whether they’re still afloat or holed below the waterline.
When you’re very young, and your Dad takes you to football for the first time, you are inevitably fated to support his team. It’s like Tinkerbell landing on your shoulder and whispering in your ear. In my case, she whispered, ‘Tough shit, kid; you’re a Motherwell supporter.’ And so I have been, for around ** years. You are allowed to support other clubs, but that’s where your footballing soul will always lie. (For example, I have been a Man U fan from the day I met Matt Busby’s mother, and maybe even before that: maybe the seeds were sown when my Old Man came back from a schools’ international trip to England, telling me and everyone else who’d listen that he’d seen a boy called Duncan Edwards, who was destined to be the best player ever.)
But the commitment is reciprocal; support your club and it will support you. If you doubt me consider this. The Thursday Legends are still in existence, but the average age is now way below mine; indeed, I am the doyen. At our meeting a couple of weeks back, it was extremely cold, so cold that I pulled from my bag a pair of full-length Motherwell socks, a present from last Christmas that I had never had the effrontery to wear. I put them on, scored six goals, and they are now my official lucky socks.
A few days ago, my team sacked its manager. This is not something that its chairman is notorious for doing, so I’m not going to question his judgement. A couple of days later, the club announced the appointment, on an undefined basis, of a replacement, Craig Brown. This has been greeted with badly disguised derision by some people, the sort of pond life who add comments to articles in the Mail Online and the like. Not by me, though. Craig is an honest, intelligent, pleasant man, who’s devoted much of his life to football, and whose record as Scotland’s international team boss is better than any of his successors. He’s not going to use my club as a stepping stone, as did his predecessor, and his predecessor, and many others. We should be proud to have him, for however long he stays, and I for one hope that his appointment extends beyond the few weeks that have been suggested.
On top of all that, his arrival deals a significant blow against ageism. Craig is older than me. He’s even older than Sir Alex Ferguson. Happy Birthday, Fergie, 68 today.
Merry Christmas to you also, and a Happy New Year. Hey, you’ve finished Blood Red even before I’ve launched it. That’s a feat.
(That’s for all the James Brown fans out there, the seasonal song he never did, but should have.)
The day is almost upon us; less than nine hours of Christmas Eve are left. Eileen and I are in our winter fastness, where I am wondering at this moment whether all those Dreamers of a White Christmas would fancy it so much if they realised that all too soon it would become grey and slushy for a couple of hours, before the temperature dropped below freezing once more and it turned to ice. This morning, I drove (very carefully) my son to the airport. He’s in the air right now, bound for Japan via Schiphol, Amsterdam, bearing our good wishes to Akihiro-san and Yoshiko-san, his in-laws. Our Kid will be driving home some time soon along the same road, and then, with her back safely in the village, the festivities can begin. They’ll be quiet this year, with only one of our four collective offspring, and her man, around the table, the other three being in different countries, but we’ll have a quietly good time nonetheless, there will be ‘Ohhs’, and ‘Thanks’, and ‘Just what I needed’ , even though that isn’t entirely the point of Christmas. Doctor Who will be recorded, and may be watched later, depending on how big a dent has been made in the port decanter. The Queen’s Christmas Message will be missed. Citizen Kane will also be recorded. (By the way, it was his sledge.)
And now I must go and shave, so that I am not taken for Jim Royle.
To all of you who read this, and even those who don’t, wherever you are on the planet, whether tomorrow has any significance for you or not, may it, and all your days that follow, pass peacefully and happily.
Long term followers of QJ’s journal may me aware that one of my favourite rock bands of all time is an outfit from British Columbia, called Default. I came across them in Las Vegas a few year ago, and I’ve been plugging them ever since. While they’re one of the world’s greatest, they must also be among the unluckiest on the planet, for a series of record company disasters have resulted in a gap of four years between their third and fourth albums. But their luck has turned, for they’ve been picked up by EMI Canada, and their fourth work, ‘Comes and Goes’ is available at last. It has still to be released in stores outside Canada, but it’s available via Amazon. If you’re a Classic FM listener like my wife, it’s not for you, but if you’re an unreconstructed old rocker like me, with many hours of John Peel and The Old Grey Whistle Test behind you, you may agree with me that it’s the album of the year.
Same to you and yours, Ray, and to all my friends in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the US, and around the globe.
Although the official publication date of Blood Red is January 7, a few copies have escaped from the warehouse and are now available, worldwide, through http://www.campbellreadbooks.com, signed by Yer Man.
The new novel is the second in the Primavera series; in addition, it’s my thirtieth published work, a landmark that gives me a little personal satisfaction and an occasional headache.
Check ‘Events’ for the launch schedule.
I’ll be signing Blood Red in and around Edinburgh, yes, but not as far north as Inverness, because of time constraints. I’ll publish details in the blog’s events section.
That’s a very good question, Mary. To be honest, I haven’t . . . but I will. As for Mark Harmon as Skinner on-screen, the fact that would count against him in the final analysis is not that he’s American, but that he’s too old.
Thanks, Lynda. I’m sorry that you’re having difficulty in getting hold of Fatal Last Words through your local store. Actually, I’m more than sorry. I’m downright angry, and here’s why. A few months ago a decision was taken by my publisher’s parent company to replace the excellent McArthur & Company of Toronto, as Canadian distributor of Headline and other titles, with a new, wholly owned, subsidiary, Hachette Canada. This has ripped up the close personal relationships with Kim McArthur and her colleagues that I and my fellow authors have built up over the years, but we’re nowhere near group board decisions, and no-one asked us whether we thought this was a good idea, or bothered to explain to us why it was being done.
The new arrangement takes effect on January 1, and as far as I can tell, while there were a few copies of FLW in Toronto at the time of the International Festival of Authors, (you may still be able to find one at Sleuth of Baker Street) general Canadian release has been held back until it’s in place. So Bob Skinner’s Maple Leaf Mates are six months behind the rest of the world in keeping up with his adventures. I’ll leave you to imagine how hacked off I am by that situation.
However there is one solution. If you go back to my website home page, and click on the ‘purchase’ link, you’ll be taken to my son’s on-line store, where you’ll find FLW listed, along with all the other Skinner titles, every copy signed by me. We will deliver to Canada, and we’ll keep the postage as tight as we can.
Here’s a question put to her audience by the elfin guide on a Toronto harbour tour that I took a couple of months ago. ‘Which sporting event set the record attendance at the Skydome, now known as the Rodgers Centre?’ Guesses included hockey, basketball, baseball, Gridiron football, rock concerts . . . none of them right. The highest, and second highest crowds ever logged in the arena were for . . . Wrestlemania, the annual headline event of the World Wrestling Entertainment. As the little guide put it, ‘Grown men in tights, pretending to fight.’ (I knew the answer all along, but I was too embarrassed to admit it.)
Yes, sports entertainment is huge. It’s made its leading magnate and promoter into a supposed billionaire, it’s prompted his wife and business partner to run for the US senate, it’s spawned video games and all manner of products, and it’s even made a few people believe that it’s for real. Recently, the WWE and Sky TV announced a long-term deal to continue showing the programming on satellite TV.
Now let me ask you all another question. Do the following names mean anything to you? Richard Rood, (40), Brian Pillman, (35), Rodney Anioa, (34), David Smith, (39), Curt Henning, (44) Elizabeth Hulette, (42), Michael Hengstrand, (45), Michael Lockwood, (32), Hercules Hernandes, (46), Ray Traylor, (41), Eddie Guerrero, (38), Scott Bigelow, (45), Sherri Martel, (49), Brian Adams, (44), Edward Fatu, (36). You’ve probably never heard of any of them, but they were all WWE ‘superstars’, and those are the ages at which they died, either from heart or drug problems. You may have heard of Chris Benoit, (40), who killed himself, after strangling his wife and son. Post-mortem examination suggested brain damage due to repeated concussions. It must be pointed out that the WWE takes a strict line with performers who are found to have taken prohibited drugs, but still, it’s a hell of a body count for something that describes itself as part of the entertainment industry.
So, should you ever tune in to Wrestlemania, or something similar, even as you’re being thrilled or amused by the ‘grown men in tights pretending to fight’, spare a thought for all of those who didn’t make it to fifty.
Thank you, John, sincerely, and the best of the season to you also.
I’ve read the link you sent me,
with interest, but I don’t see that it matches my comments. I referred to the way that the Tiger Woods case has been portrayed by the media, while Scott Lawton is discussing the actions of law enforcement in relation to it. However, having read the piece, it occurs to me that if the police in the UK went to a hospital and demanded blood test results for any patient, let alone one who had been involved in a very minor car accident within a gated community, with no third-party involvement, they would be told to go away until they had a court order. Even if they got one, and in Scotland that would be long odds against, those results would probably be useless in court because of the circumstances in which they were taken. I know that US law is different, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong, but I don’t really believe that Scott Lawton has a case.
To come back to my post of a couple of days ago, today I had the misfortune to read one of the most disgraceful pieces of journalism I have seen in many a moon, written by a man (I refrain from calling him a gentleman) named Mark Reason and published in the Daily Telegraph, a broadsheet that was highly regarded by many in the UK, before it lost its soul. John, I hesitate to give this **** a wider audience, but I will, because I believe that it makes my point, that we are seeing the international media persecution of an individual on an almost unprecedented scale. How long will it be before he’s linked to Al Qaeda, and 9/11?
Finally, I read today that Gatorade has cancelled its deal with Tiger Woods. I’m still laughing at that one . . . although Gatorade won’t be in four months, when he wins the Masters drinking Lucozade isotonic. If anyone is stupid enough to give up a sports drink because the man promoting it has had an extramarital affair, they probably should anyway, and switch to something with a higher Omega 3 content. I doubt if the man will care too much. Consider this. How much is his endorsement worth to the makers of Viagra?
You are dead right; the internet has made the world a smaller place. Sadly it’s also made it nastier. I’ve never set out to offend anyone in this blog. I may say what I think from time to time, to time, to time . . . but I try not to dish out gratuitous abuse. It’s been said, by me among others, that the internet is man’s greatest invention since the wheel. The wheel can be pretty dangerous also, when used for evil rather than good.
Has your mailbox been going Tiger Woods crazy, like mine? Some of the stories are bizarre, for example the alleged long-term mistress is said to have sold her tale for $250,000, while the alleged one night stand in Australia is said to be getting $1m from Tiger for keeping her mouth shut.
Okay, it’s pretty clear that the world’s most famous athlete has been a bad boy, but . . . Where’s the surprise? Think about this: the PGA golf tour is all about 150 wealthy guys playing away from home, literally, week in, week out. It’s an environment that’s made for infidelity, yet if you watch the TV coverage you’ll find that it’s wrapped in a cloak of God and family values. So Tiger has a penchant for getting his leg over? Is he the only one? If he was a politician rather than a golfer it would be expected of him. But no, the media who have built him up are now trying, viciously, globally, to pull him down. Why? The colour of his skin couldn’t have anything to do with it, could it?
I wonder if the media would be as vicious if Tiger was white, or if Elin was a fat black girl instead of a blonde poppet. Nick Faldo has been divorced three times. When an American girlfriend trashed his Porsche, the media treated it as a joke. Greg Norman split from his wife, married Chris Evert, and now they’ve split up. Tom Watson divorced his wife of 25 years, then married the spouse of another pro golfer, also named Watson, coincidentally. As a young tour player Lee Trevino always wore a plaster on his arm while playing. It was to cover a tattoo bearing his ex-wife’s name. These guys are all still icons. None of them found their marital problems spread gaudily over the world’s tabloids. So why should Tiger Woods?