Obviously, I don’t know John Terry, but I’ve never cared for his behaviour towards opponents or officials, and I don’t like his public image. I have no idea whether he’s a racist or not, but I’ve seen the Youtube video, and am of the opinion that even if his defence is correct, that he was denying earlier use of those specific words, it shouldn’t be acceptable to shout ‘******* knobhead’ at an fellow professional, so he’s entitled to a few games in the stand for that alone. He is, I read, still considering whether to appeal. If that relates in any way to the fact that it leaves him free to play against Arsenal this weekend, then it adds cynicism to the charges against him.
If he is currently acting on advice, then I believe it to be wrong. If I had his ear I would be saying to him that he needs to put this behind him and try to retain, and even regain, a little respect. I’d be telling him to issue a statement along the lines of, ‘While I continue to deny being a racist, or having any intention to racially abuse my opponent, if that connotation has been put on the words that are evident in the video in the public domain, then I apologise wholeheartedly to him, his family and to everyone else who has been offended. I respect the verdict of the independent commission and will begin my suspension immediately. In addition, I will donate a further sum equivalent to the amount of my fine to anti-racism charities and will campaign actively on their behalf in future.‘
If he does that and means it, the rest of his life could be different. Will he? Let’s wait and see.
A fine and disturbing piece by Kenneth Roy in the Scottish Review:
The transcript of a capital trial, held in public, that led to a young man’s execution, is being withheld from public scrutiny until 2038. Why? The person with the greatest interest in its contents hasn’t been around since he was hanged in 1963, and the trial judge is long dead. So is the Minister who refused several appeals for clemency, including one from the family of the victim. All that being the case, who’s being protected by the state from public scrutiny? I’d like to know. Wouldn’t you?
One small observation on the Andrew Mitchell affair. If he shouted the words he is alleged to have shouted at police officers, in an aggressive manner, why hasn’t he been charged?
Yesterday I had an email from Marks & Spencer urging me to write a customer review for a pair of shorts I purchased on line. Occasionally I buy stuff on Amazon’s marketplace; when I am satisfied there I will always post a positive review of the seller’s performance . . . but not the product; to me the two are unrelated. When I am not, I won’t. However I do get a little annoyed when the UK’s biggest clothing store tries to make me a voluntary arm of its marketing process. So I wrote a review, and submitted it; I couldn’t keep a copy, as it was on an M&S pro forma, but this is what it said, more or less:
I am posting this review because the pushy sales people at M&S asked me to. This is a mediocre garment and not under-priced in any way. It fits me and it meets my needs. However I cannot tell whether it will fit you or meet yours. In other words, I am not in a position to offer encouragement or discouragement to potential buyers. Now that I have done as they asked I hope that the pushy sales people at M&S will go away and will stop trying to use me to influence other innocent shoppers.
This morning I received another email from M&S. Surprise. My review has been rejected on the ground that it did not meet one or more of the company’s guidelines. I’ve just looked at those and can’t find a single clause that would have disqualified it from publication: other than this . . . it wasn’t what M&S wanted me to say.
Having an easy day, after a week of family events and Mia-minding. Back on course tomorrow with Primavera 5. Primavera 4, titled Deadly Business, will be released on January 31. And here’s some advance info; in it, I will kill off a major character.
The publication date for Skinner 23 is now showing on the Headline website, and soon on CampbellReadBooks. It’s called Pray for the Dying and it’s been scheduled to escape on June 6, 2013. I’ll let you know if that changes.
This isn’t likely to get a result, but on the off chance:
I am very interested to make contact with the hijo de puta in the ticket booth at Barcelona airport railway station yesterday, who sold me a day ticket to Figueras, but who neglected to mention that there was a strike in progress, which meant that I had no chance of actually making it to my transfer station in time to make a connection. I didn’t discover this until I processed my ticket at the entry barrier and went on to the platform, to find thousands of people waiting there in the same state of blissful innocence. I hadn’t been there long when there was an announcement to the effect that the next train for San Celoni would arrive in thirty minutes, by which time the numbers on the platform would probably have doubled. That information was offered in Castellano and Catalan only, and was therefore incomprehensible to the newly arrived tourists who made up a significant percentage of the crowd.
I made it home, thanks to the kindness of my bro-in-law who drove 120km to collect me, down a road and through a city he did not know, but that does not dilute in any way my keenness to spend five minutes alone with the son-of-a-bitch who sold me that ticket, and for sure did the same thing to dozens of other people. It’s a long shot, but if anyone might be able to tell me who he is and where he lives, that info would be received most gratefully. Many others might be keen to join me in sending him a appropriate ‘thank you’ gift.
Thanks, Robert, for your interesting feedback, but that’s not what I do. If you approach my agent, whose contact details are on my website, he may be able to put you together with someone who can take the job on.
I’m more than pleased that you enjoyed the event at Stirling yesterday afternoon. Sharing a platform with Anne, and Peter, always works for me and I’m glad that feeling was communicated to the audience.
As for the other lady in question, you don’t need to worry too much about her.
I find few sports less enthralling than tennis. When I was young, it was different. The women’s game was more gentle, and genteel; there were no screamers. The men’s game was dominated by guys who won with skill rather than endurance, and Grand Slam five setters tended to be serve and volley affairs, determined quickly, before the guys on court ran out of puff. I liked the era of Newcombe and Roache, and Nastase, and Connors, and Borg and even the Brat. I started to go off it when Pete Sampras retired, and would have ignored it completely when the peerless Federer started to be run down by the superfit Nadal and Djokovic, but for one man.
It’s not because he’s Scottish, it’s because for all his monotonous voice and his dolorous countenance, there is an aura about Andy Murray that not even the great Roger can match. Until this summer he has played the role of the tragic hero, valiant but ultimately vanquished, very much like Camille Desmoulins, as depicted in Hilary Mantel’s magnificent French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety, full of drive and passion, but with a tumbril waiting for him along the road. If you don’t believe me check out his portrait:
Until the Olympics, that is, when he was lifted by the national mood, to sweep aside the man who had crushed his hopes at Wimbledon a few weeks earlier and to seize the gold medal. As I watched him stand on top of the podium, then pose with the runners-up, I realised that something seismic had happened. The introspective, shy Andy had learned to smile in a different way, from the heart, rather than simply out of politeness.
The great Bob Monkhouse had a line about sincerity: ‘When you can fake that, you’ve cracked it.‘ You couldn’t fake the smile that Andy wore that day, not could you misunderstand its meaning. So far, within a few weeks, it’s carried him to his first Grand Slam. Within the next year, I suspect it will be seen after a couple more, and as he rises to the top of the world rankings.
I’ve met Craig Levein, Scotland’s national football team manager, a few times. He’s a nice guy, and very bright, but not even he can make bricks without straw. Yes, he has a tendency to be too loyal to his trusties, but he has no strength in depth in his squad and his midfield is second division class without Darren Fletcher. The Tartan Army, Scotland’s core support, has acquired a fine reputation on its travels abroad. Unfortunately it is cursed with a collective belief that we have a divine right to win at home against all but half a dozen of the world’s best teams. Against them, a draw at Hampden will do. It will certainly not do, the fans believe, against the likes of Serbia or Macedonia, and when the side turned in those two results during the last five days, the mob turned viciously on the manager. Time they all grew up and faced the facts; we are no longer at the races against even mediocre European opposition. We have the desire, tradition and inherent ability to succeed, but getting there will be a long job and will involve trust in the guy in charge when times are darkest.
Back in the late eighties, another Scottish football manager was under similar pressure, but his fans and his employers kept the faith. He’s still around; unless you’re from very far away, say Venus, I don’t need to tell you his name.
Whatever you think of The Lady, she’s a human being like the rest of us, so this is disgusting and contemptible behaviour. Those behind it, who run the publicly funded Derby Unemployed Workers Centre, deserve to join the ranks of the jobless themselves. The upside is that only a few idiots seem to have bought them.
Mmmm. I wonder how many Mirror Group journos and execs are playing away games.
I have a very firm view on what should be done with the long lenses of paparazzi photographers; it would not involve the use of Vaseline.
When Michael Fallon was appointed as No 2 at the Department for Business, it struck me as a declaration of war on Vince Cable. It looks as if the Wizened Seer is of the same mind, and is getting his retaliation in.
Seems to me that if Vince had the courage of his convictions, he would resign from the Coalition and the Lib Dems to rejoin Labour, which some might say he never really left. But he won’t, because he doesn’t. If Nick Clegg had the cojones, he would react to this latest provocation by asking the Prime Minister to boot him out of the Cabinet. But he won’t because he doesn’t.
Only a few days to go until the opening of Scotland’s first ever festival of crime fiction, the brilliantly titled ‘Bloody Scotland’, which runs in Stirling from September 14 – 16. I’m looking forward to my gig, in the Albert Halls, at 12:30 next Sunday, September 16, when I will share the stage with the great Anne Perry, one of our country’s international superstars. We’ll be kept in control by the immaculate Peter Guttridge.
Event and ticket information can be found on
Look out for a forthcoming promotion on Amazon.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, my political novel/folly/comedy will be available for download free for a limited period, beginning on September 14.
This QJ masterwork (so my wife says) is only available in Kindle format.
This piece in today’s Torygraph fascinated me:
It seems that the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Tony Blair’s act of revenge on the Church of England, believes that the job is too big for one man. Since none of his 103 predecessors has ever expressed that view, is there the faintest chance that the job was simply too big for him?
Some might suggest it should have been something longer, say ‘The Iliad’.
I read this morning that cricket hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, aged 34, is applying for a professional boxing licence. He’s going to be trained by Barry McGuigan and his son, and will have a heavyweight fight in Manchester in November. His preparations will be the subject of a TV documentary. I hope Mrs Freddie is onside with this project; if she has misgivings, maybe she should check out how Mickey Rourke looks these days. He did something similar at around the same age.