Archive for August, 2011


Just when you thought it was safe to buy the Evening News again, it looks as if the lunatics running Edinburgh may be forced by the Scottish Government to reconsider their senseless decision to commit the city to a tram service from Haymarket to the Airport. Trouble is the only alternative on the table seems to be extending the line to St Andrews Square, a move that will in no way balance the increased cost with increased traffic. I don’t live in the capital, but if I did, I’d be leading the movement to have the whole damn scheme abandoned. Also, as I said a few days ago, I’d be looking for severe sanctions against those who imposed upon the taxpayer this massive financial burden.

Categories: Uncategorized

Andy Girvan

Thank you, my friend, for your comments and your dedication. I hope your team won at Wembley to round off a great weekend.

Categories: Uncategorized

David McLaren

Yes, Yorkshire Television had a look at bringing Bob to the small screen a few years back. It didn’t work out, and I was happy about that, as I didn’t like what they were planning to do with my people.

Categories: Uncategorized

Shot down

A couple of my best friends are Arsenal supporters, whilst I, in English terms at least, am of the Manchester United persuasion. That being the case, you might imagine that I’ve been giving them a hard time for the last 24 hours. But no, I haven’t. What happened yesterday was too serious for that, and not the stuff of petty asides. Man U and the Gunners have few things in common, buy there is this. Both generate their resources from within through the development of young players and shrewd trading. For all their American ownership, neither club has received injections of silly money, neither has been able to spend in the transfer market without sense and responsibility, or to pay players the sort of wages that  are quite frankly obscene.

I don’t agree with everything that Michel Platini has said and done since becoming president of UEFA, but I am a strong supporter of his Financial Fair Play rules, which will in a nutshell force clubs to trade within their turnover, more or less, with expulsion from European competition being the penalty for abuse of the system. Arsene Wenger has done a fantastic job at Arsenal for the last fifteen years. While Cesc Fabregas’s return to Barcelona was an emotional thing which most people understand and accept, it’s just not bloody right that his next best player should be snatched from him by the bottomless resources of Sheikh Mansour, or that Harry Redknapp should have to put up with his star man having his head turned by an agent whose eyes afre undoubtedly agleam at the prospect of commission on a £40m transfer fee from Abramovich’s Chelsea. Platini wants to make football clubs behave like responsible businesses. He wants to change a world in which, in 2009, top division European clubs made a staggering aggregate loss 0f 1.2 billion euro. Good luck to him.

Categories: Uncategorized

The business of sport

For  those of you with an interest in how top level English football is run, (or should be) this is worth reading.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bill Morrison

Thanks for the praise, but I’d remind you that Bob plays a significant part in The Loner. I didn’t start with that intention, but it made sense to recruit him as the story developed. As for Oz, that’s how you’re meant to feel. He wasn’t a Skinner clone, never.

Categories: Uncategorized

Road to nowhere

August 26, 2011 2 comments

There isn’t a writer of fiction anywhere in the world who could have created the saga of the Edinburgh trams. When a factual account is written and published, as it will be one day for sure, bookstores won’t know whether to file it under Humour, Fantasy or Horror.

The latest crunch meeting was last night in Edinburgh. After years of traffic chaos, project hold-ups and ever-spiralling costs, the city’s councillors had an opportunity to scrap the whole misbegotten project and write off the costs to date. Some of it involved necessary relocation of services, and that could have been sold as acceptable. But they didn’t. Instead they decided in their infinite(-ssimal) wisdom that the city will have a tram service from Haymarket Station to Edinburgh Airport and that will be that. Those who know Edinburgh well don’t have to be told how daft that is. The final projected cost will be £700m, they say, but no-one is really certain of that. The quoted annual operating loss for the new service, £4m, is much more believeable.

When this nonsense began four years ago, citizens were promised an integrated service from Leith to the Airport. The quoted cost was £514m, but I don’t know anyone who believed that. The newly elected minority SNP government at Holyrood tried to put a stop to it, but its proponents won the day, which they are now left to rue. Last year, retail businesses along Princes Street lost God knows how much money when Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare was closed so that tram lines could be laid. The job was botched and was scheduled to be repeated this winter, but presumably the rails will now simply be removed. I propose that this should not be contracted out. Instead, every councillor who voted for the project, and every senior executive involved in the shambles that it became, should be clad in broad arrow overalls, shackled to a ball and chain, given pick-axes and made to  dig the  fucking things up themselves.

Furthermore, I propose that the authors of this story of ineptitude should pay an even greater price. The councillors who voted for the project on Day One, and for its continuation ever since, should be surcharged for the entire cost. No, the money could never be recovered and the taxpayer will be hit regardless, but to me it is right and fair that those who visited this massive burden on Scotland’s capital city should be saddled with its consequences for the rest of their lives.

Categories: Uncategorized

Guest editor

A couple of months ago I did a series of columns for the Afterword feature in Canada’s influential National Post. They went on line one by one, but they can all be found under a single link. If anyone would like to read them, copy this and paste in the address bar:

Categories: Uncategorized

Jennie Virtue

A Xavi fan, hello and join the gang. Yes, I’m very pleased by the fan following that the big guy has won since he emerged from the shadows earlier this year. We thank you for your support.

You misunderstand Bob; he has nothing against Fettes College per se, nor do I. A chum of mine was (very well) educated there, as was our last Prime Minister but one. No, his prejudice flows from his own education in a similar, but not quite as exclusive, school, which he didn’t enjoy too much. In fact there was nothing in Bob’s early years on which he looks back with any pleasure, save for one bright shining star,but she died young. Bob’s a complex guy.

I can’t help noting your surname. It’s shared by a regular character  in the Skinner series, (she’s also a walk-on player in The Loner) . . . but don’t take it personally.

My regards to Vancouver.

Categories: Uncategorized

Felicity Kendall

August 26, 2011 1 comment

In common with most Scottish football fans this morning, I’m angry. Whether we like it or not, for the last twenty-five years, since Alex Ferguson moved from Aberdeen to Manchester, and since Jim McLean went into decline,  the international prestige of our national game at club level has been dependent on two sides, Celtic and Rangers, listed here alphabetically. During that period they’ve had their moments of achievement; for example each has reached the final of an international competition, although Aberdeen remain the last Scottish club to win in Europe. Overall though it has been a picture of steady decline.The nadir was reached last night when our two flag-carriers (I’m leaving Hearts out of this  argument) were eliminated from the second tier Euro tournament by sides that would not survive in the English Premier League and would probably be mid-table in the level below.

What’s gone wrong? Every Scot and his dog called Bob will have an answer to that. Mine is that it is a consequence of the parsimony of one club and the extravagant ego of the owner of another. Celtic have never really got their heads out of the sixties, although they did have a period under Fergus McCann’s ownership when they appeared to be heading in the right direction. Rangers were fed big dreams by David Murray, and that was fine while his business empire was booming and could sustain them, but disastrous when he ran out of money and bottle. The idea that this is a mere blip will not hold water. Without any Euro income and confined to an impoverished league structure, these so-called giants will be unable to balance the books, and we can expect to see an exodus of players maybe before next Thursday, but certainly in January.

There can be no quick fix, but surely the Ancient Firm must now look to the example of Barcelona. That club didn’t get where it is overnight and it didn’t buy its way there either. No, its success is founded on its legendary academy, a football university where they hand-rear the teams of tomorrow, and turn out honours graduates. Celtic and Rangers have such structures, but their products cannot win regular places in their top teams because the way is blocked by foreign signings, most of whom, in the words of a guy I used to work with, could not kick a door at Hallowe’en. That has to change; the top two should commit themselves to three years without a transfer budget, to Good Life football where they grow their own. It might not win overnight, but it will and when it does it’ll taste magic.

However while they are doing that, the example must be followed throughout Scottish football.We have to go back to being home grown; I would begin that process by firing the guy we imported from Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be chief executive of our national association. I would replace him with someone who actually knows Scotland and knows football, and give him executive powers to develop the game free from the input of the clowns who have free-loaded off it for too long. I could go on, but I won’t. Sod it, I’m still too angry.


Categories: Uncategorized


I note that the Deputy Idiot and convicted teenage arsonist Nick Clegg, the British Joe Biden, has expressed the view that the convicted Lockerbie bomber, al Megrahi, should be returned to jail in Scotland. That may well be the case. Indeed with the fall of his protector, it might be in his interests to return voluntarily to the relative safety of Greenock, to prevent the Americans from getting their hands on him, as they would love to do, with a view to giving him an alternative form of chemotherapy. However the one thing in this that is certain is that the Megrahi situation is not a matter for Westminster, but for Holyrood, and as such, Clegg would be well advised to keep his mouth shut. He said that he was expressing a personal opinion, that ‘ this is a man who was convicted of a terrible, terrible atrocity.’ That’s not an opinion, son, it’s a fact, but in any event you should realise by now that Deputy Prime Ministers do not clock off at five like the rest of us, and that everything they say is deemed to bear the seal of their office, however spurious that may be.

Oh yes, and the same goes for William Hague, whoever he was.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dianne Price

Good question and one I’m happy to answer. Both Bob and I are absolutely dead set against the idea of a single Scottish police force.We both believe that if anything there are too few at the moment. In fact, Bob’s opposition is such that if it ever becomes a reality in my world it will be a resignation issue in his.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Manager

It had to end sometime, but ‘Well are still second in the league and will probably remain  so if they can turn over the promising Dunfermline side at the weekend. Congrats to Stuart McCall for his regular emails to ‘Well fans, and for not hiding when the result doesn’t go the way he hoped.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bett Cope

Yes, (patient sigh) there will be more Skinner books, one for sure, next years being already delivered.

Categories: Uncategorized


Following on from joining Facebook, Bob Skinner now has a Twitter account. Check him out: @CCBobS.

Categories: Uncategorized


August 19, 2011 4 comments

In just over an hour I’ll be heading off to Charlotte Square, for my gig at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’d have thought they’d have been tired of me by now, but apparently not. Thanks in advance to everyone who turns up. and to those who thought about it, but couldn’t make it.

Categories: Uncategorized


Alas, Pilmar’s birthday wasn’t rounded off as we’d hoped, not by a five goal margin it wasn’t. There isn’t a single football cliché applicable to Hearts’ situation, not even ‘A mountain to climb’, for none so high exist.

A black night, not only for the Jambos, but for the whole game north of  the border. We are one week away from every Scottish side being eliminated from Europe before the end of August, a circumstance that I will find plain unacceptable if it comes to pass. Uruguay, a nation with a population two thirds that of Scotland, has just won the South American championship, beating the likes of Brazil and Argentina. Instead of commissioning a failed politician to compile a report on the structure of the game which frankly a ten-year-old could have anticipated and summarised on the back two pages of a school jotter, the Scottish Football Dissociation should have sent a highly qualified delegation to look at their developmental structure and determine what we can learn from it. That can still happen, and it should, without delay.

Categories: Uncategorized

Many of them

Just back from an excellent birthday lunch in honour of a milestone reached by my good friend Pilmar Smith, convicted Jambo and thorough gentleman of the neighbouring parish. Many happies, and may  this evening’s result round off an excellent celebration.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tony Canning

You have read the lot, Tony. Oz died off page, somewhere between For the Death of Me and Inhuman Remains. Funny, but lately several people have asked me whether he’ll stay dead.

Categories: Uncategorized

Service over

What did I say a couple of days ago about the doubtful wisdom of golfers getting involved with tennis players? Seems it cuts both ways. Caroline Wozniacki just lost to a wildcard in this week’s tournament. Upside, it’ll give her more time with Rory . . . or was that why she lost? Well, he does have a sore wrist.

Categories: Uncategorized