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Archive for October, 2010

Wazza

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve just read a piece of sports gossip alleging that Wayne Rooney’s Damascus moment may have a lot to do with the fact that his weekly pay packet has gone up to £250,000. If that’s true, it sets a new world record for the price of loyalty.

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Oh Canada

October 22, 2010 2 comments

Second day in Vancouver after my first of two events last night, and I’m enjoying it as much as ever. Muchas gracias to Hal Wake for the invitation to the excellent Vancouver International Writers’ and Readers’ Festival, to Linwood Barclay and Gail Bowen, my co-panellists on the Revue Stage, and to our incredible moderator, Senator Larry W Campbell, former Mayor of Vancouver, who doesn’t look a bit like his official photograph. First thing Larry said to me last night, was ‘My grandfather was from Bellshill.’ I replied, ‘Big deal, so was mine,’ and we were off from there. I don’t know how we wound up discussing the anaesthetic qualities of Buckfast Tonic Wine in front of a live audience, but we did.

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And by the way . . .

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

To the guy from Singapore who sent me the diatribe about Glock firearms, (sadly I am unable to retrieve it from the bin so I can give him a name-check) I think you for sharing your expertise, but I still prefer my version. Yours may have been factually accurate, or may not, but whatever; it was boring, and I wouldn’t inflict it on my readers.  Now let me leave you with a fundamental truth. Nobody loves a smart-arse.

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Gavin Pagan

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Yes, Gavin, you dare mention that, for sure. As it happens, I’m in the middle of Mortal Causes myself. TV is a regular question for me, and my answer  doesn’t vary much. It won’t happen unless I have complete assurances that the translated Skinner would do justice to the written character, and to his team. In all probability that boils down to ‘No.’  When I start writing screenplays I’ll worry; until then, I won’t. Many thanks for your enthusiasm.

 

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Mike Slowther

October 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Man I admire your application; that’s more than three books a month. Slow down, please. I can’t keep up. Future publications? I’ve posted this before but it’s worth repeating. A Rush of Blood in paperback, February, The Loner, a new hardback, not part of either series, in March, then Grievous Angel, that’s Skinner 21, in hardback in June.

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Y viva Escocia

October 13, 2010 2 comments

Scotland avoided humiliation last night. In fact they played well enough to score twice against Spain and few sides do that these days. Pity about the three in the other direction. Another ref might not have given that penalty, and very few would have yellow-carded Whittaker, given that he had his back to the ball, but the guy we had last night lacked the courage to use his common sense.

There is hope for our national football side, but it will be a long haul. The first step for me would be to make Craig Levein responsible for all levels of the game, from playground level up. Since he has no more than half a dozen games a year as a team manager, there’s no valid argument against. Something has to be seriously wrong with youth development when we have a 40-year-old centre-back, and when we have to raid Sunderland reserves for a Mancunian right-back on the basis that someone’s just remembered that his dad was from Glasgow. It would also help if the Old Firm stopped signing talented young players for significant sums of money, then stalling their progress by treatingthem liek apprentices.

Yes, there is hope, the sun is coming over the hill, not setting behind it. Finally we have a coach who’s up to the job; now we need to empower him, and have patience.

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Arks

October 13, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s a small miracle happening here. I don’t think it’s raining. Haven’t been able to say that very often during the last four days. I  took three inches of water out of the pool yesterday afternoon and I may have to do the same again this evening. Still, the family are back and we are a dog-free zone again.

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Sue Menard

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Glad you’re enjoying the series. Sorry about the late nights. If it’s any consolation, I’m posting this at midnight.

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The rain in Spain . . .

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

. . . is getting bloody serious. Three days’ pretty much non-stop and I’m not talking about a light drizzle either. Approaching Ark conditions.

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Sorry, but it’s not my fault honest

October 12, 2010 3 comments

This morning I had occasion to refer to Waterstone’s website. To my surprise, I found that they are offering, for delivery on December 9, something they are calling Untitled Primavera. I was even able to put a copy in my shopping cart, although I wasn’t daft enough to pay for it.

For the avoidance of doubt, there will be no such publication on that date; the third Primavera Blackstone novel is scheduled currently for publication in January 2012. My apologies to anyone who was planning to give this book as a  Christmas present. Not that the howler had anything to do with me, but I’m embarrassed nonetheless, that such a mistake was made in the first place, (whether it was by Waterstone or my publisher I know not) and that it remains uncorrected so close to the non-existent publication date.

For the record, the next QJ publications are A Rush of Blood, in paperback, next February and The Loner, a brand new stand-alone novel, in hardback, £12.99, next March.

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Phil Robertson

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I wish I could tell you that’s possible, Phil, but all I can say for sure is that you can find them all on Amazon, in Kindle format.

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Colin Campbell

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Thanks, Colin. I know about that one. FLW, P475. Why do you assume that it’s an error or oversight? Its purpose is to show that Stevie lives on in the hearts and minds of his colleagues. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)

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Slightly less grumpy

Been to gym. Hot, sweaty, and the new router’s still not connecting to the internet. Dinner guests tonight; maybe someone round the table will know how to acquire an IP address.

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Grumpy

Jobs we hate. Trying to set up a new wireless router. I give up. Off to the gym.

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Pleasant evening

I’m sort of on holiday at the moment. With an hour or two on our hands, we took the grand-dogs (we’re dog-sitting for a couple of weeks) for a longer walk than usual, along to St Marti d’ Empuries, where they, and we, are fairly well-known. Big thanks to our friend Josep Maria, (aka Pep) for making us and them welcome in L’Esculapi, http://www.esculapi.com/index.htm and to Salvador for the tapas. Thanks also to Sunny and Canelo for behaving pretty well.

Pep and I agreed that they’re lovely dogs, even if Canelo can be a little tonto.

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BC visit

A couple of weeks from now, and I will be in Vancouver; my third visit to its writers’, and readers’, festival, one of the friendliest in the planet. I have two gigs scheduled, on the evening of October 21 and the afternoon of October 23, and I am looking forward to both, appreciative of the honour that the invitation does me.

While I’m there, I’ll be dropping into as many book stores as I can, and also, if my schedule allows, visiting Vancouver Island for the first time. My good friend John North, God bless him, spent his last few years there, and his description has me anticipating a very enjoyable trip.

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Thanks

I’d like to thank my recent correspondent, Mr Flynn, (sic) and apologise for the fact that his comment fell into the bin when my back was turned. I’m sorry if that plot was too simple for you, but I’m pleased that your colleagues enjoyed it.

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Sorry, I know I shouldn’t

I don’t like to pan things; I don’t recall ever doing a review for money. Even when I was a  very rookie reporter, sent along to cover the local drama society, I always gave the actors ten out of ten for enthusiasm, even when they had no discernible talent. I was much the same as a football reporter. The good was praised, the rest was overlooked. For example I never reported something I saw at Fir Park on a non-match day, a first team footballer stopping for a cigarette break halfway through a training session.

However . . . last night I tuned in to a Sky movie called ‘Damage’. It was set in the alleged world of bare-knuckle fighting, UFC without the subtlety, and it starred ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. For those who don’t know, ‘Stone Cold’ was a WWE superstar, top man in his time. These days, such guys have to possess microphone skills, and they all play characters. But that doesn’t necessarily make them actors; they can’t all be Duane Johnson, and very few should try. Put it this way. While Vinnie Jones will never appear as Hamlet, ‘Stone Cold’ lacks the skills to play even Yorick. Sorry, Steve, you were a great wrestler.

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Masterchef

October 6, 2010 4 comments

Why is the public television so obsessed with cooking programmes and who is Claire Reyner’s whelp, to be telling me what’s good and what’s not? Sod all these would-be masterchefs, the big man did his own thing in the kitchen this evening and it was pronounced excellent by the only one-woman jury that counts.

I have this idea for a book called Skinner’s Dinners. What say?

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You’ll never walk alone

October 6, 2010 4 comments

I’ve just tried to explain to Eileen, what’s happening at Liverpool Football Club: not easy, and she’s smart. I have a friend who’s a serious Liverpool fan, and as a Man U supporter (Green and Gold) I feel for him. The whole sorry affair illustrates the dangers of corporate investment in businesses of which the investors have no understanding.

Yes, Hicks and Gillett arrived at Anfield with a reputation as sports entrepreneurs in the US . . . but in a system that is, as I understand it, (correct me, please) almost entirely franchise based. British football doesn’t work that way. Whatever its ownership structure or corporate base, you can’t pick up a club and move it around from city to city. It isn’t even possible to force a move from one part of a city to another, as the owners of Hearts and Hibs in Edinburgh found out a few years ago when the idea of a shared stadium was floated, or even across the street, as is demonstrated in Dundee by the two clubs there. You can’t buy the goodwill of a football club from the owners of its shares, because they don’t have title to it. That  belongs to the fans . . . or fanatics, if you like . . . and it has to be acquired separately. Cash isn’t involved and there’s more to it than simply putting on a scarf and sitting in the directors’ box, or even mingling with the fans in the stands. H & G didn’t get that, nor did the guy at Newcastle until it was too late for him. You don’t have it for life either; it’s a short step from the crowd singing ‘There’s only one (insert name of owner of your choice)’  to the song changing to ‘sack the board, sack the board sack the board.’

For that reason, and another, that you can’t value future performance other than through an earn-out deal, it has to be virtually impossible to put a fixed price on a club as a business, beyond that of its assets, and so, when the two Anfield Yanks decide arbitrarily that their property is worth £600m, that’s sheer nonsense; all the more so when under their stewardship its performances have declined to their present level. They should take the money on offer and run; for my pal’s sake, I hope that’s what their advisers are telling them.

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