We all hate Fred Goodwin, don’t we. We all know he was the guy who led the Royal Bank of Scotland to disaster through what we are told was his overweening ambition, lack of business acumen, being a generally adulterous shit, et cetera. And we’re all glad that he’s suffering the ultimate indignity of being stripped of his knighthood. And having that slimy little bastard James Matthews turn up on his doorstep with his Sky News camera. Sure of course we are. But wait just a minute.
The last guy I can recall having such humiliation heaped upon him was Sir Anthony Blunt, Master of the Queen’s Pictures. Blunt was a traitor, the fourth man after Burgess, Maclean and Philby.
Is that where we’ve put Mr Goodwin? If so, and if it’s fair, should he be there alone? Fred didn’t apply for his K, somebody put him up for it. Why isn’t that person being publicly pilloried for such an awful error of judgement? And what about Sir Mervyn King, the Guv’nor of the Bank of England, the superspiv on whose watch Fred got away with it for a while? When will he be reduced to the ranks for his undoubted maladministration? How about never?
I know that in the current climate this is a minority view, but I happen to believe that in doing this, Cameron has commited a truly petty and shameful act.
Just heard a BBC Reporting Scotland piece on Broadcasting Tax non-payers. The three biggest civic offenders, they said, are Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Fuksik, those are our three biggest cities, so that’s hardly surprising. My old friend Stan Taylor must be birling in his box at that sort of shoddy editorial control.
Thanks for your thanks, Barbara, and for realising that it is damn hard work. Now I must get on with some more.
I would like to congratulate the BBC, its allies and its enemies in the UK media. They have united to make me feel sorry for a banker. I’ve just heard Susanna Reid announce that Stephen Hester, the CEO of RBS, is coming under ‘increasing pressure’ to renounce the share bonus, worth almost £1m, to which he appears entitled under the terms of his employment with the bank. But where does that pressure originate, and who is generating it? In fact it is among others the BBC itself, in sending reporters out to vox-pop men and women in the street, none of whom seem to have a rolled up copy of the FT under their arm, putting the simple question, ‘Do you believe that Banker X should receive a bonus of a million pounds?’ If any of those interviewees have seen the individual’s contract of employment and the bonus triggers built in, their opinions will have some merit. Those who have not might as well be shouting up the chimney for all their views are worth. Our lavishly funded public broadcasting service is becoming to the improvement of standards in public debate as Pol Pot was to population growth in Cambodia.
I have no specific view on Mr Hester’s situation, as I am not an RBS customer, and I haven’t seen his contract. (I might be jealous of the guy, and I might have disliked his bank from the day George Mathewson walked though its portal, but those are two other issues, and neither is relevant.) However I do believe that it is reasonable for a person’s reward to be related to the size and performance of the business which he or she runs, or to the profit that she or he generates by his or her efforts. It’s even more reasonable when that reward is in shares, thus motivating the recipient to work even harder to grow the business in question, and increase its capital value.
Finally, two people stand out in current debate as positively dripping in ordure. One is Sir Philip Littlehampton, the chairman of RBS, who has stabbed his colleague neatly in the back, by declining his own bonus. The other is Ed Miliband, the snivelling weasel who currently leads what is left of the Labour Party, a man who as a vassal of the former Prime Minister, Gordon ‘Captain Barbossa’ Brown, effectively gave his approval to Mr Hester’s deal when he was recruited to replace ‘Sir’ Fred Goodwin, and who is now berating the Prime Minister for not welshing on the agreement that he nodded through. This tells me that the word of Ed the Red is not worth the paper on which it’s written. Also, it leaves me observing that every time he opens his mouth, he makes David Cameron statesmanlike by comparison; quite an achievement.
Just back from a trip to a place called Saus. The ladies of the roadside were out in force; we counted four on the short journey. I found myself recalling an old faithful phrase: ‘Money can’t buy you love, but it does enable you to rent it for a short time.’
A remarkable life ended in Edinburgh on Thursday, after more than 90 years. Sally was born in the Middle East, and married a Scottish soldier during WWII. She and her first-born survived the sinking of the Laconia, and she went on to have three more children. Life wasn’t always kind to her, but she bore the bad as she enjoyed the good, and her courage shone throughout. Sleep well.
Thanks for being so nice and for your climate hints, but . . . if you go back and look at that passage again, you’ll find that Mario’s in Sydney, in August, which in terms of the seasonal cycle is, as he says, the equivalent of being in Edinburgh in September. I’ve been there in August, and in Melbourne, so he does know what he’s talking about. You had me worried there for a minute or two, until I checked.
Will there be more prequels along the lines of Grievous Angel? That’s my intention, but I’m not certain when. You’ve cast the Skinner series mentally a bunch of times, and trust me, so have I. However, you’re doing it from a Canadian perspective; I’d be interested to hear some of your choices.
A great night with Mary and Don, a Burns-ish Supper with sixteen at the table for a traditional menu, complete with MacSween’s haggis, imported somehow from Edinburgh. Thanks to both of them and to Melanie and Alan who provided great support. Perhaps one day, if I feel mischievous, I will organise a MacGonagall Supper, in celebration of Scotland’s other bard, Sir William Topaz MacGonagall, acknowledged even in his own lifetime as the world’s worst poet.
Essentially a MacGonagall supper is a Burns Supper in reverse, beginning with the poetry, whisky and cigars, followed by Cranachan, main course, haggis, all the way to the soup. However, variations are permissible; I have heard of one MacGonagall night that began with a stripper putting her clothes on. The truest of the true, though, is, they say, one that begins with the celebrants throwing up in the car park.
Further to my last post about events, I can confirm also that I’ll be doing the Edinburgh International Book Festival again, this August. Programme details will be announced in June when tickets go on sale.
Am I doing any events near Aberdeen, Perth or Dundee this year? If you count Alloa and Stirling as being near Perth, yes, Alloa Library on March 28 and Bloody Scotland in September. Other than that, I don’t know yet.
I’m in Spain just now, so I’ve been slightly removed from the current stooshie about the Coalition government’s proposed benefit cap and hadn’t examined the detail. However I admit that when a reporter mentioned on TV news last night that the cap per family is to be £26,000, net, I raised one eyebrow, and then the other. I said nothing, though; I will leave that to others.
However, I said plenty this morning when I learned that the proposal was defeated in the House of Lords last night and that among those voting against were ‘The Bishops’. I am not against a bi-cameral system in principle. The ancient UK model is in need of reform, but that is on the way. However there is one change that should be made today; in my opinion it should have happened long ago. Don’t you find it outrageous, that proposed legislation can be voted upon by people who are only there because they hold promoted posts in one, and one alone, of the UK’s many organised churches? I don’t care how they vote, it’s the fact that they still can that gets to me. I pray that they are disenfranchised, sooner rather than later.
If you are up and about at 07:30 GMT, have satellite TV and are bored by what’s on offer on the top channels at that time, try tuning to Russia Today. Three times a week you will find a programme called The Keiser Report, hosted by an American named Max Keiser. Max seems to be impervious to civil law on defamation. Latterly he’s been making a career out of being outrageous, and in RT he seems to have found the perfect platform, after earlier forays on Al Jazeera English and on the BBC World Service. RT gives him half an hour to say more or less what he likes about the global financial system, although curiously, he seems to omit anything Russian from his constant stream of accusation and allegation.
His technique is simple, he talks so fast and fires so many accusations that it’s impossible to analyse them all, and so the tendency is simply to say ‘Wow, I never knew that,’ and move on with him to the next. As we all know, the US financial system is based on piracy and fraud . . . well, that’s what Max says, although he omits to mention that as a stockbroker he was one of those piratical fraudsters himself. Indeed as we all no the word ‘Yankee’ is derived from a word meaning pirate . . .well, that’s what Max says, but you won’t find authority for that claim anywhere. He has a side-kick too, a flat faced fellow American called Stacy Herbert who is described as an ‘analyst’ when in reality she is his straight woman, Abbott to his Costello.
As morning entertainment, it’s pretty funny, but if you want to catch it, you’d better hurry. If the world really is as Max says, he may not have long to live.
Thanks Gillian, I knew I could rely on you to ask the question. Apart from The Loner, the other two books in my top three for film/tv treatment are A Coffin for Two and Grievous Angel. However since I am omnipotent in this forum, I will squeeze a fourth title on to the podium. This one may surprise you ; Somewhere Over the Rainbow, even though it has never appeared in printed form, only as an eBook on Amazon.
High praise for The Loner; thank you very much. I’m asked often about film and television adaptation, and I’m usually rather cagey in answering. However, I’ll make a confession. Of all the works I’d like in another medium, that’s in my top three.
‘Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.’— Marsha Norman
What the hell does that mean?
This morning’s Torygraph leads with a report that Vince Cable is demanding that the Chancellor includes in his next Budget what he and others refer to as a Mansion Tax. There was a time, before the last election, when Vince had a reputation as a wise old elder statesman; that was when people didn’t know a hell of a lot about him. In office he has turned from being Winnie the Pooh’s friend Owl, into his other mate Eeyore, but this doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten how to grab a headline. On the face of it, there is merit in what the former Glasgow Labour councillor and member in his lifetime of four political parties (the further left the better as long as it’s electable) is proposing: a 1% annual levy on homes worth more than £2m. Why not? People who own great such big piles deserve to pay a bit more than the rest of us. But they do already, VInce, in income tax. What you’re proposing, taking from the rich to give in theory to the poor, might sound as if it’s sprung straight from Sherwood Forest, but I’ve never been able to gloss over the fact that Robin Hood in the unlikely event that he ever existed as depicted, was an out and out thief. And if you believe that it is, as you say, ‘a very good idea’, then so are you.
Fortunately, the Chancellor is not going to buy into the Cable wheeze, and I doubt very much whether his leader, the self-aggrandised deputy Prime Minister will either. But it does show you the sort of character who has slithered into high office. The principle of taxing people on what they earn and what they buy is well accepted. The principle of taxing them, even the super-wealthy, on what they have, is not, never has been and never will be. Dr John Vincent Cable is a manipulator with a Red Box, and the sooner it’s taken away from him the better. Anything I have heard or read from the man leads me to the conclusion that if he had real integrity, and wasn’t in love with the power of office, he would leave the Lib Dems and rejoin the Labour Party. But he doesn’t, he is, and he won’t.
Just been looking at iTunes and Amazon music. Guess who they’re pushing like mad for the last cent of profit? Easy. The very recently late Etta James. Too bad they didn’t push her a little harder when she was alive.
Having been hooked on the Moffat-Gatiss Sherlock, I am immensely pleased to learn that indeed there will be a third series, (even if it will use up TV time that might have been even better spent on an adaptation of Skinner). Given the way Sunday’s ended, I cannot imagine how they’ll explain the hero’s reappearance, but I’m looking forward to it. I hope also that Moriarty ain’t dead . . . although that will be seriously difficult to script . . . since the guy who played him was amazing.