Archive for May, 2011

Jim Blatter

Thirty-three years ago, James Callaghan, then our Prime Minister, returned from somewhere hot to a Britain in the grip of industrial chaos. Alighting from his aircraft he beamed at the waiting media and said ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ It remains one of the stupidest things that any politician has ever done, and it sealed his fate at the ensuing general election.

Whatever else he may or may not be, Josep S Blatter is a politician, so it was eerie to hear him say much the same thing at his confrontational press conference last night. He isn’t going to suffer the same immediate fate as Sunny Jim, for the simple reason that he doesn’t have an opponent in tomorrow’s election for the presidency of FIFA, but such blindness to reality must surely mean that his days are numbered. The people who are now lined up against him are not going to go away, and they now include national governments. Ominously two of football’s biggest backers, CocaCola and Adidas, have begun to growl their disapproval in the background, and if they move to demand that Blatter stands down he really will be cooked. The sooner the better.

The thing I hate most about the self-aggrandising little bastard is that he has no right to present himself as the face of football. Alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Paul Scholes, Luka Modric, and Xavi Hernandez, he’s the AntiChrist. There is a role for FIFA, but not in its current form, and not with him or any of his lackeys involved in any way.


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Barbara Killick

Thank you for your perseverance and for your praise for The Loner. By this time next week, Grievous Angel will have joined it on the shelves, and signed copies will be available from

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Back in Scotland next week, briefly, for four gigs to mark the release of Grievous Angel. You’ll find them listed on the ‘Events’ page.

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Susan Corbishley

Certainly. The next Primavera novel, As Easy as Murder, will be published in January.

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Stone Cole

My wife was born in South Shields, a few years before Cheryl Ann Tweedy emerged into the watery sunlight, just across the river in Newcastle. That gives them a sort of kinship, even if Eileen is a  better singer. And so, when Cheryl was booted off the American X Factor because not everyone might have understood her accent, I took it personally. Having been fed over the last few years on British TV a steady diet of Sopranos, CSI, The Shield, The Wire, and various other US urban soaps, all of which could have been sub-titled, I find myself more than a little pissed off  that the show’s producers regard a Geordie accent as off limits for a US audience.

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Today’s FIFA bombshell

Latest news from FIFA’s ‘You couldn’t make it up’ department, is that the organisation has opened ethics proceedings against its own president.

This was posted today on its website.

On 26 May 2011, FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam has requested the FIFA Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings against FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter on the basis that, in the report submitted by FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer earlier this week, FIFA Vice-President Jack A. Warner would have informed the FIFA President in advance about alleged cash payments to delegations attending a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) apparently organised jointly by Jack A. Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam on 10 and 11 May 2011 and that the FIFA President would have had no issue with these.’

That means that both candidates in the forthcoming presidential election are under investigation, and will be effectively on trial at a meeting in Zurich on Sunday. It will be chaired by Petrus Damaseb, deputy head of the Ethics Committee, a London trained barrister who is, in the real world, Judge President of the Namibian High Court. What’s going to happen? I can hardly wait to find out, but I will bet on one thing in advance. If Blatter has to go, he will look for a way to instal one of his place-men as an interim successor. What will follow that? Possibly, the biggest bonfire of files that Switzerland has ever seen?

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What’s up, Doc?

Yesterday’s news from FIFA made me smile, if only for a second or two before I gave way to anger. Just when you think there are no other strokes that organisation could possibly pull, it surprises you yet again. A few weeks before the election at which the incumbent president is facing a genuine challenger, that opponent, Mohamed bin Hammam, has been accused of bribery. Charges have been laid which associate him with the notorious Jack Warner, whose greatest achievement in life seems to have been staying out of jail, if you read some of the stories that are told of his goings-on in his Caribbean fiefdom.  Who is their accuser? That’s where it gets even stranger; the whistle-blower is a character named Chuck Blazer, executive vice-president of the US Soccer Federation and a member of the FIFA executive for the last fifteen years, even though there is no evidence of hm ever having kicked a ball in his life, which has been running for a couple of months longer than my own. For my money, Mr Blazer is a poster boy for everything that is wrong about football’s global governing body. If you wonder why I feel that way, take a look at  <<>&gt;  and you’ll begin to get a flavour. Then read Andrew Jennings’ FIFA expose ‘Foul!’. You’ll find that for years, Chuck has been a loyal acolyte of the afore-mentioned Mr Warner. So why has he turned on him now, and why has he tied bin Hammam to him in his accusations?

You’ll forgive me if I doubt that moral outrage or altruism came into it. You’ll forgive me if I ask who stands to benefit most from these accusations, true or false, given their timing. Step  forward Josep S Blatter, president of FIFA for far too long already, and intent on another four year term. Read what you will into the farce; I know I have.

There’s only one proper course of action that I can see. The English FA has indicated already that it finds neither candidate acceptable. Its solution? It’s the one you’d expect from that bumbling, weaselly body; it proposes to stick its head in the sand, by abstaining in the vote. Enough of that nonsense. It’s time for the nations who should control football, those whose domestic leagues and international teams generate its finances, the Europeans and to a lesser extent the South Americans, to stand up and save the game from these scoundrels. They should demand the cancellation of the election, and insist on a root and branch reform of the entire FIFA structure, beginning with the appointment of a new interim president, someone of the stature of Franz Beckenbauer or Bobby Charlton, to oversee the cleansing of the stables.  They should back these demands with the threat of breaking away and setting up an alternative body, let’s call it the International Football Conference, to administer the game among its members and to run its own global and regional club and international competitions.

Can they do so? Yes they can! Will they do so? No they won’t! Why not? Because integrity and courage vanished from world football long ago.

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There is no certainty of life, there are no guarantees on our birth certificates. God bless you, Vincent: may those flights of angels sing you to your rest, and may their voices give comfort to Yvonne, to your parents, to your brothers and to all the rest of us who knew and loved you.

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Norah Rothwell

Hi Norah. You won’t have to wait too long, for Grievous Angel. It should be heading your way week after next. As for audio editions, yes, these are available in  the UK and Commonwealth, but they cost an arm and a leg in CD form, and mainly go to public libraries. However if you look at, which is now owned by Amazon, (as soon will be everything else in the world that isn’t owned by WalMart or Tesco) you should  find many of them in downloadable form, at a realistic cost. Load them onto an iPod or MP3 player and you’ll be able to play them in your car, if the audio system has an input socket. Are they read in a Scottish accent? But of course, mostly by my actor friend Jim Bryce.

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Shame on you, Hibs

Many years ago , my friend Fred was one of the founders of the Australia branch of the Hibernian Football Club Supporters’ Association. Over the years, pre-internet, they’ve spread the word through snail-mailed press cuttings, and monthly newsletters; members have even bought season tickets that were rarely if ever used. They are true addicts, football fans of the finest kind. Their club should be proud of them and should encourage them in any way it can. At least that’s what you’d think.

A few days ago, the man who looks after their website <<>&gt; contacted Easter Road and asked if he could use the Hibs badge in a new logo he’s doing for them. He offered to acknowledge Hibs’ copyright and to give HibernianTV a free ad on every page of the site. It took a club official all of 45 minutes, and just ten words to say, ‘No’. The man involved didn’t even have the courtesy to offer an explanation for his intransigence. I know this because I’ve seen his email. There may be legal inhibitions on use of the badge, but it would have cost nothing to set these out.

No wonder Fred and his pals feel let down, and angry. If someone who reads this post knows Hibs’ majority owner Sir Tom Farmer, (or any senior executive of the club) I’d be grateful if they’d bring it to his attention. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that no club has so many fans, nor any business so many customers, that it can afford to snub a single one of them, least of all those who carry the torch on the other side of the world.

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Dot Hicks

Yes, it is ages since the last Skinner. Grievous Angel will be out there in two weeks.

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As expected, the Scottish Night in Trattoria La Clota was a major success, even if we were in the minority.  I didn’t do a full kilt count, but I reckon I can recall four, and at least one and a half of those were worn by Scotsmen. Major credits to Kathleen, John, the chef, and to the great Fergus Muirhead who ran the entire show. If you’d like to know more about Fergus the entertainer, you’ll find it on If you’d like to meet Fergus the financial expert, you’ll find him on If you want to see him, and you can tune into BBC1 Scotland, check out Reporting Scotland 1:30pm on Wednesday, May 25 and monthly thereafter.

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Tommy Cooper lives

Mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid. When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time…..

I had a mate who was suicidal. He was really depressed, so I pushed him in front of a train. He was chuffed to bits.

I was at a cashpoint yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could check her balance, so I pushed her over.

Statistically, 6 out of 7 dwarves are not happy.

My daughter asked me for a pet spider for her birthday, so I went to our local pet shop and they were £70!!!  Bollocks to this, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.

Just heard there was an explosion at a pie factory in Huddersfield . 3.1415927 dead

I was walking in a cemetery this morning and saw a bloke hiding behind a gravestone. “Morning.” I said. “No” he replied, “just having a sh*t.”

Went around to a friends house today. His wife was sat there with their newborn baby. She asked if I’d like to wind it. I thought that was a bit harsh so I gave it a dead leg instead.

I start a new job in Seoul next week. I thought it was a good Korea move.

Was driving this morning when I saw an RAC van parked up. The driver was sobbing uncontrollably and looked very miserable.  I thought to myself ‘that guy’s heading for a breakdown’.

The lead actor in the local pantomime, Aladdin, was sexually abused from behind on stage last night. To be fair the audience did try to warn him.

Saw my mate outside the Doctor’s today looking really worried.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I’ve got the big C,”he said.
“What, cancer?”
“No, dyslexia.”

A new Middle East crisis erupted last night as Dubai Television was refused permission to broadcast ‘The Flintstones’.  A spokesman for the channel said. “A claim was made that people in Dubai would not understand the humour, but we know for a fact that people in Abu Dhabi Do.”

I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a coffin, 3 hours later and they’re still walking about with it. I thought to myself, they’ve lost the plot!!

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Too bad

Sadly,  my team  failed to with the Scottish Cup this afternoon; well done Celtic, nonetheless. My fault; I should have been  there as I was at both the club’s wins, in 1991, and a hell of a long time before that, when the team was: Johnstone, Kilmarnock and Shaw; Cox, Paton and Redpath; Sloan, Humphries, Kelly, Watson and Aitkenhead. I cannot recall the full 1991 team, but I do know that the late Phil O’Donnell was man of the match.

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Catalan Ceilidh

Off to Kathleen’s Scottish Evening, at La Clota. The star of the show is the multi-talented Fergus Muirhead, who mixes his cabaret gigs with his regular spot as BBC Scotland’s money expert. I can take some of the credit for this, being responsible for putting him in contact with Kathy a couple of years ago. Yes, I will be wearing my Scotland shirt. Wha daur meddle wi’ me?

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Anarchy in the UK

I  care little about Imogen Thomas and her alleged footballer lover, and I care nothing about Sir Fred F*****g Goodwin. I do care about the existence of any law that’s used to prevent any newspaper reporting the truth and I’m alongside those who want to change it. But . . . such laws exist and we live under their protection, until they are repealed: it’s how our society works. When a commercial organisation, specifically Twitter, allows itself to be used to flout the law and courts of any nation in which it operates, then it should be accountable. But it isn’t, and it won’t be until the US government, under whose protection it lives, takes action against it on behalf of those countries whose courts it’s helped to defy.

Could it do so? Sure. For an example, look at this site

Will it do so? Not a chance. We have finally reached the stage at which the internet is more powerful than any government. That’s called Anarchy.

I’ve made my tiny protest though, by deactivating my Twitter account. As of now @skinnercop is no more.

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Jo Gill

I’m pleased that you like The Loner. Yes, imagineering can be fun.

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Michael Jardine

Congratulations, that’s quite a haul. HMS Victory? No idea what you’re talking about, pleas enlighten.

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Phil Passmore

Worry not, I have the inclination to keep going for as long as I can. You’re from Biggar? You might know my friend Alex Dickson.

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Liz Barnes

Thanks for  that observation. Yes, it’s what I try to do; I don’t seek to be better, only different.

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