I’ve got an interesting Monday in front of me. Those who know me well know also that I have a heart pacemaker. It’s one of very few things that Bob Skinner and I have in common. I’ve had mine for slightly longer than him, twelve and a half years, and the battery is beginning to run out. When that happens they can’t do anything as simple as plugging you into the mains, No, they have to take the old unit out and put a new one in. And as a bonus, these procedures have to be done under local anaesthetic, so it ain’t a case of ‘Wake me when it’s over’. For those who may be facing such an implant I have one tip: when they ask you, as they make the first incision, ‘Can you feel that at all?’ it’s best to say ‘A little’, just to be sure.
In spite of the name, Wullie, from your photie, you would appear to be a wumman.Whatever you are, thanks very much/
Just when I was settling down for a snooze on Monday in our Barcelona hotel, what did I hear but a familiar chorus. When I looked outside, what did I see? Whoever you are, I hope you enjoyed the game, lads. Sorry about the late goal.
A little while ago I gave the okay for my titles to be published in the US as e-books. Given that technical issues prevent us checking this out from the UK, it would be useful if US blog visitors could let me know whether QJ e-books are available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. All information and observations gratefully received.
Two and a half hours late, we made it home yesterday. The proffered explanation was air traffic difficulty in France, but that doesn’t excuse calling passengers to the gate for a flight which ground controllers must have known would be delayed, or the lack of interest in advising passengers of the developing situation.
These people may not be directly employed, but airlines must be responsible for their passengers’ happiness and comfort nonetheless.
Another Ryanair fuck-up. Currently in Barcelona Airport where our flight is showing as boarding on time. However it is not. Plane is there crew is not. There will be a two-hour delay but this has not been adequately announced and many punters are sitting on the ground bewildered.
I know it’s a form of blasphemy to criticise Sir Alex Ferguson, but it seems to me he fell short of his usual level of football statesmanship when he attacked one of his own players on telly last night. Rio Ferdinand is 33 years old, a respected figure in the game and beyond. For all that he’s had a lapse or two, he is also England’s most distinguished black player of his generation. Through no fault of his own, he was thrust into a most unpleasant situation between his brother and an England colleague. If he now feels resentment that the incident was allowed by the FA to drag on for a year without resolution, that’s understandable, and he was surely entitled to demonstrate it. He chose to do so by not displaying his support for an FA funded organisation that he feels has been asleep at the wheel. Any reasonable man would understand that, surely. Unfortunately SAF is not a reasonable man.
Every professional is entitled to a degree of respect and understanding from his manager, but Rio’s had the opposite from his. When he declared on Friday that all his players would be wearing the ‘Kick it out’ shirts, Sir Alex must have known how he felt, and that he was ordering him to go against his principles. By announcing that he would be ‘dealt with’, after he stood up for them, he’s putting his own reputation and standing at risk. I saw Sir Alex play; usually it wasn’t pretty, and he’s taken few prisoners during his coaching career either. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the greatest club manager in British football history, but this incident, it’s different. He created a rod for his own back by his statement on Friday. Now he’s felt its weight, and his reaction is petulant, arrogant and wrong.
What’s he going to do next? Will he and Gary Neville insist that the entire Man U squad vote Labour at the next election?
This chap peering out of the kitchen of Can Roura, his excellent restaurant in St Martí d’ Empúries, is my friend Joan Malé. As well as being an outstanding chef, Joan has other strings to his bow. He’s a professional photographer, with his work heavily in demand. Not only that, he’s a musician, with his own record label and a second identity, Monoceros. Under that name, you’ll find his electronic constructions available through Amazon and iTunes.
Early summer on the beach at El Riuet. It’s windy and the kite-surfers are having fun.
I took this shot on June 27, while flying over the Pyrenees. I don’t know what such a cloud formation indicates, but instinctively I didn’t fancy being underneath it.
Good luck in your quest for an agent, Amelia. I look forward to reading your work when it’s published
Don’t jump, mate, for Christ’s sake. Hold on until February when Deadly Business, the next Primavera will be published, then till June for Pray for the Dying, the next Skinner. Meantime, I am hard at work on more, honest.
Last night we caught the first episode of a new series on BBC2 called ‘Hebburn‘. My dear wife is from Tyneside and used to teach in that community, so she tittered from start to finish, and I was able to watch almost all of it without the aid of sub-titles. My favourite line was the one uttered by Granny as she wheeled herself out of the pub disabled toilet. As for the bagels, they were priceless. And the fat guy in the vest sucking in a couple of his bellies and flexing his pecs as he passed Denise at the bus stop. If you didn’t see it and can access BBC iPlayer, check it out for yourself.
At last, it’s official. There will be a referendum on Scottish independence, most likely on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a significant date in our history. My mind is already made up, and has been for many years. I will be voting ‘Yes!’ (Note the exclamation mark.)
I have a few English friends who don’t understand why that will be. My answer is always the same; ‘Because I’m Scottish. That’s my nationality. That’s what I am.’ My dream is that one day I will present my Scottish passport to a foreign immigration official. Maybe he’ll be English, maybe Canadian, most likely Spanish; whatever, wherever, I will insist that it is stamped, for it will be a momentous day in my life.
Already the ‘No’ campaign is rolling, and many of my fellow Scots are in that camp. I’m not going to demean them by calling them names. They’re not ‘Fearties’, most of them, but people who hold a different view to mine and who see our future in a continuing political union with our English nee’burs. But I’m not going to allow the assertion that we are voting for the break-up of the United Kingdom to stand unchallenged.
The United Kingdom has been in existence since 1603, and came about because the Virgin Queen left no weans (Well, she wouldn’t, would she?) to succeed her. The Union of the Parliaments came about in 1707, and it is that ill-considered but long-lasting marriage that will be dissolved if Scotland says ‘Yes!’ I will not be voting to reject the Head of State; I’m a monarchist, and more than happy with the present occupant. No, I will be voting to end an economic and fiscal union that has always been dominated by London and has always put London’s interests first. And I’ll even do so knowing for certain that the new state will have a left of centre government; I, who have never voted Labour in my life.
Nor am I going to allow myself to be deflected by the sterling smokescreen. The pound is a British unit of currency, not English; Scotland is its co-owner, and it is entirely logical that we should retain it, in the short term at least, taking our share of the asset and setting up a Scottish central bank, possibly with Alistair Darling as its first Governor.
Will it ever happen? Will I ever present that Scottish passport? Current polls indicate that if the referendum was held tomorrow, the single question on the ballot paper would see a resounding ‘No’ vote. But it won’t be. Those of us who believe in a sovereign Scotland, in a politically and fiscally independent Scotland, have the intervening period to persuade our fellows to ask themselves the simple questions, ‘Who am I? What am I? What do I want to bequeath to my children?’
The more we can do that, the more likely we are to energise the electorate, particularly its youngest members . . . very young some of them . . . and to awaken the inherent courage of the nation that we always have been in our hearts, and can be again, in the fullest sense.
Moira, (and anyone else who’s in doubt) for the record, Oz Blackstone doesn’t die in any book. He goes to Jesus off the page, at some point between ‘For the Death of Me‘, and the first of Primavera’s adventures, ‘Inhuman Remains‘.
Good news for you, Paul, and any other US residents in search of QJ titles. http://www.campbellreadbooks.com will ship to any global destination.
Incidentally, I met another Beauregard, in late 1979. First name, Buddy, he was a Texan and the boss of the MSV Tharos, a fire-fighting support rig in the North Sea. Any relation?
When I was a lad I did a bit of football reporting for the local paper on which I worked. There were some characters around then, the likes of Bob ‘Rex’ Kingsley, Gair ‘Budgie’ Henderson, Jim ‘Scoop’ Rodger, James ‘Solly’ Sanderson, Malky Munro, whose nickname rhymed with his forename, George ‘Corky’ Young, and even for a time Willie ‘Deedle’ Waddell, who went from the Daily Express into the Rangers manager’s office. Most of these guys didn’t know a lot of big words, but they did know their football, and they were realists.
Today’s generation seems to be different. They’re too dull to have nicknames and they do seem to know lots of big words, (although not always how to use them) but **** all else. Currently they have decided collectively that Craig Levein, the beleaguered Scotland national coach, team manager, call him what you will, must be sacked. This is on the basis of a lousy result in sweltering summer conditions in the US, a game that should never have been played, two home draws against very competent sides, one of whom went on to hump Wales 6 — 1 a few days later, and a defeat by our island neighbours on Friday which was entirely down to the linesman who disregarded the laws of geometry (if geometry has laws) in chalking off a perfectly good second Scotland goal, and a referee who must be a big ballet fan, since he gave Gareth Bale top marks for a Swan Lake dive late in the day, as Wales faced defeat. He also gave him a penalty kick which turned the game. Hardly Craig’s fault, either of those decisions, but their consequence was that his side were robbed of a good away win.
The jackals of the Scottish football press have decided that this is unacceptable. They disregard the fact that for the last year the manager has been without his inspirational captain, that another top midfielder has a chronic injury that is limiting his availability, and that our best striker has been in the huff. They overlook the sad truth that at this time we do not have a back four capable of keeping hens out of a dustbin, far less holding off international class forwards. They report, then deride, the fact that the players are behind the coach. They want his head, and they are determined to have it.
But there’s one relevant question that is not being asked. If not Craig, then who? Who is available, of those, who would be better, and who in his right mind would want the job? The list of candidates is not extensive. Owen Coyle’s name is mentioned, but he is actually Irish by football nationality and is much more likely to wind up in charge of the Republic. Graeme Souness says he is finished with management. Gordon Strachan does not inspire and also seems very comfortable in the media. The likes of Mark McGhee and Steve Kean have one thing alone going for them, their nationality, and God preserve us from such foolish choices. Stuart McCall is doing an excellent job at Motherwell, but he doesn’t seem the type who would cope with seeing his players six times a year as opposed to every week.
The fact is there is only one logical choice for the Scotland hot seat, and that is the man who is currently being pilloried. It’s being said now that defeat in Belgium tomorrow night will be the final nail in his coffin. If that becomes the case, then the people running Scottish football will have been proven as blinkered and moronic as the people writing about it. There are only two sides in Europe, Spain and Germany, who might be backed to win in Belgium, and even they would be happy to come away with a draw.
The Tartan Army may not be happy with recent results, but they are realists. They know that while we are not good enough at this moment to come through a very tough World Cup qualifying group, we do have some very good young players on the way up. If the present coach is allowed to see out his contract, there is every chance that he will build a side worthy of the jerseys. If the clattering classes have their way, as I fear they will, they’ll get what they deserve.