Archive for June, 2010

Beckham for England

June 28, 2010 3 comments

Latest from my friend Scott. ‘The England team are planning to fly back to Glasgow, so they can have a heroes’ welcome.’

Yes, they were shambolic. We’re better than that at the back, even with a 40-year-old at the heart of our defence. The England fans are always victims of their own unrealistic expectations, fuelled by their media. That said, such a catastrophic defensive collapse couldn’t have been predicted. What could have, was a lack of creativity in midfield which led to Wayne Rooney being nullified. To an extent the same is happening to Messi and Cristiano, but the Argentinians and Portuguese have other quality players to compensate, plus they’re capable of tactical variations. England lack such class in depth, and their manager proved himself inflexible and unusually blinkered. When you have a forward  (Crouch) who scores two goals for every three games that he starts for England and another (Heskey) who averages a goal every nine, and you opt persistently for the latter, you are a tactical genius if it works, and an idiot if it doesn’t. The media should all have smelled a rat when Gareth Barry suddenly became indispensable. Any team that needs him can’t be much ******* good. Manchester City didn’t exactly carry all before them last season, did they?

To be fair to Capello, England suffered badly from the loss of Rio Ferdinand, who organises the defence on the field.  To offset that fairness, he replaced him against Germany with Upson rather than Carragher, another choice that defied all logic. Ledley King should never have been let out of rehab, far less on the plane.

However, for me it was the absence of Becks that was the most significant. Even at 35, he has an ability to change the direction of the game with a single pass that no other player in the squad can match, plus, he is a massive authority figure, without being remote from the rest of the players. If I ran the FA … having been appointed to replace the idiot who gave Capello a  new contract just before he boarded the plane for South Africa … I’d beg him to take on the manager’s job. I am not kidding. It’s time for a different English approach. As the Germans did with Jurgen Klinsmann, and the Dutch with MvB, give the job to someone who’s played at that level recently and who’ll put passion and instinct before rigid theory. Becks is the man, and his love of his country might not allow him to refuse. Klinsmann did the job while living in the US so . . . why not?

Why did England do so well in the qualifiers and so badly in the World Cup? IMO, it was because Capello only had the squad together for ten days, max. Six weeks of military discipline left them demoralised, uncertain of their own individual ability and pissed off.

In their other national sport, England are currently engaged in a five match series against their other arch-enemy, Australia. While the ritual humiliation was under way, the cricketers were in the process of beating the Aussies to take a winning 3 — 0 lead. Nobody noticed.

You know the classic speaker’s metaphor about all the darkness in the world not extinguishing the light of one small candle? Why is it that losing one football match seems to reverse that?

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A new QJ novel, exclusive to on-line readers.

June 27, 2010 Comments off

For years now, I’ve had an unpublished manuscript sitting around on my desk-top. It’s a labour (or should that be Labour?) of love, drawn from my days in politics, not a crime novel of any sort, just a pure fantasy. Nothing autobiographical in it, ahem.

I’ve offered it to Headline several times, but they don’t want to break me out of genre. I’ve even thought of publishing it in book form myself, but I’ve never quite been able to commit the time.

So, step forward Amazon, and its new desktop publishing platform. Someone told me about it a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t believe it could be that simple, but it was, and as a  result, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow‘ is now available, through the Kindle store on, for wireless delivery anywhere in the world.

This doesn’t mean that it’s only available to those with Kindle readers. There is free software available from Amazon, downloadable in minutes, that will let you access Amazon e-books, on PC, lap-top, Mac, iPhone, iTouch or iPad.

It’s up the flagpole at last; now let’s see who salutes.

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Lorraine Corscadden

Thanks. It’s good to have you flying the Saltire in New England.

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Jayne Bimson

I am indeed, as soon as I’ve finished this, and as soon as England are no longer involved in the Copa Mondial.

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Jim Spence

Thanks. I won’t enforce copyright on those, don’t worry. The king of the one-liners for me is Reginald Hill. ‘As unreadable as a footballer’s autobiography’ . . . wish I’d coined that one.

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Raymond Currie

Yes, I recall your suggestion, but it takes a long time for these things to work through. In the meantime, I’ve forwarded your message to the chair of Borders Council, who’s a chum of mine.

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Sheila Marchant

Let me understand this. You’ve read 20 Skinners in three months? I’m astounded, and on his behalf, deeply flattered.

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Eileen Guy

Thanks for that. It would help me follow it up if you could give me a few specifics.

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Gillian Dickinson

I’m fascinated to hear of your debate. Truth is, Bob’s hardness has always shielded a soft and wounded centre, one which I’ll explore in Skinner 21. Pause? That’s a device, no more.

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June 27, 2010 1 comment

Hi all. Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, but I have a good excuse. I’ve just become a step-grandpa. Mia Abernethy Teixidor was born in Girona at 4:30pm on Tuesday June 22, to Frida and Dominic, and she’s absolutely guapa. It’s been ** years since I had such a close-up view of a new-born child, so she’s brought back a lot of memories. Mia’s her own little woman, though. She has two impulses, feeding and sleeping, and she’s very good at both. She has the added bonus of being her mother’s double.

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Sue Wellby

When’s the next one due?!? I haven’t launched Rush of Blood yet! We’ll see what the future holds for those two, but before then, I have individual plans for Alex.

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Helen Fitch

Normally Bob would not approve of rudeness, but those were exceptional circumstances. Glad you like the cover treatment. I’ll look out for that artist.

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Susan Nicoll

And thank you also.

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John Blackwell

Since my nation will be based in Scotland for this World Cup, my interest will not be 100%, but if I don’t watch all the games live, I’ll catch up on the highlights programmes. I suspect that the All Whites would struggle to beat the Thursday Legends, but if we can’t be there, I’m glad they are. My tip to hoist the trophy? I can’t see past Brazil, but if Spain don’t bottle it, they have a chance. The Germans and the Italians always do well, but nobody seems to be rating Argentina. Messi’s had a hard season in Spain, but he’s young and strong, and he’s the best on the planet at the moment. Any side with him in it must have a chance. England? They’re all tired, plus they’re relying too much on one player, as they always do. I can’t see them in the final without a very helpful draw. They may be capable of beating anyone but Spain and Brazil, but it’s highly unlikely they’d get all the way without coming up against one or the other.

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Ray Lynn

Not quite on the border; around 45 minutes away. You should visit. Indeed everyone should visit St Marti, but not all at once.

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Ann Matheson

No to your first question and yes to the second. See you there?

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Beate Seiber

To be honest I don’t know ether. i have people who’re supposed to do such things for me. Time I banged the table, perhaps.

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John Chisholm

You Canadians have sharp eyes. Yes, I do know about it, bit every so often I like to set a test for readers. If authors can make mistakes then so can characters, and for that reason, I’m going to leave it.

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Neil Copeland

Thanks for the thought. The name has been around for centuries; maybe it’s time I took a look.

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Check them out

I’ve just posted some updates and revised timings for the ‘Rush of Blood’ launch tour and for other dates. Check ‘Events’ for details.

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