Archive for November, 2012


November 29, 2012 3 comments

I’m posting this just before the long-awaited Leveson Report hits the fan and splashes all over David Cameron, the man who was silly enough to commission it.

I’m sure that when our Prime Minister let it loose, he expected and anticipated that it would be a serious and meaningful investigation of journalistic standards in the UK. Major public inquiries are meant to give a voice to the voiceless, to victims of abuse or injustice, and to consider any wrongs done to them in a sober, responsible manner. They are not meant, at least I hope they aren’t, to evolve into video-boxes for B and C list celebrities, anxious to show the world that in days past they were important or interesting enough to have their voicemail hacked, but diluting the focus on the most serious media abuses.

Leveson has been criticised for this, and accused of exceeding his remit. Take the time to read the brief he was given and you may conclude that it is so wide ranging and imprecise that it could not be misinterpreted. Nevertheless, he went along with it, and as a result invited submissions from everyone under the Sun, and the News of the World and the Mirror, etc. The flaw in this is that the can he opened held so many worms that many were shoved backin there again, as the media, itself under investigation, focused attention on the trivial and away from the truly contentious. As an example, the written evidence of Deborah Grobbelaar, is well worth reading, but never will be other than by those people in the future who seek to gain PhDs, or sit in the Mastermind chair, specialist subject ‘The Leveson Inquiry’. You won’t find it reported in the Sun, that’s for sure.

I believe that most of those future doctorate theses will argue that Leveson did more harm than he did good. I believe also that Dave set the whole thing up off the cuff and that now he is regretting it. Well he may, as he struggles to stay afloat in the torrent that is flooding through his friend Charlie’s Augean stables, and many other places.

It may well bring him down. Will it also signal the end of a truly free British media? No. Why not? Because the media won’t let it.

Categories: Politics


November 28, 2012 2 comments

Another one bites the dust. Yesterday, I delivered the manuscript of  the fifth Primavera novel to my friends at Headline, two months before P4, Deadly Business, hits the shops and e-stores. The current production schedule means that it won’t be published until the beginning of 2014, but it’s off my desktop. Now I can turn my attention to the new Rebus. John has been waiting patiently at the top of my reading pile for a few weeks. Almost ready, mate; soon as I finish The Blind Man of Seville.

Categories: General

Honouring John

November 27, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a good idea; I’ll second this proposal, but any Bellany Gallery has to be in Port Seton, surely.

Categories: General

Your DL-tea is out

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Presumption of innocence has no meaning for Bauer Media, it seems. They don’t care much about local radio either, judging by the job they’ve done in Scotland of cheapening the content of our stations and emasculating their news coverage.

Categories: General


November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m sorry if I seem xenophobic here, but who is this man Regan, and how did he come to be running Scottish football? He was recruited from Yorkshire County Cricket Club, never famous for its exemplary management, he has no background in football, and very little in Scotland, other than the short period when he worked for  Coors. A background in brewing may seem relevant to the beautiful game, but only on the terraces, not on the field. There were  calls for his head during the Rangers affair. Now, as he scrambles around for a manager to replace Craig Levein, currently engaged in a legal dispute over the manner of his sacking, supervised by Regan, the feeling is growing that the chief executive doesn’t really know what he’s doing. As witness, we have the continuing speculation that Joe Jordan might get the job. Big Joe’s a legend, for sure, and a good club coach, but I know a couple of guys who would be unlikely to give him a reference for any management post, least of all the one currently vacant at Hampden.

If Craig had to go, and I  still believe that was a mistake, in spite of Scotland’s heroic 2 — 1 victory in ******* Luxembourg, the SFA would have been better advised to move him into the Chief Executive’s chair, for I’m in no doubt that he is far better suited to the role than the current incumbent.

Categories: Sport


November 15, 2012 Leave a comment

For those who haven’t seen it; for example much of the population of Scotland:

Categories: Sport

Roger Budgen

November 14, 2012 1 comment

Sorry about your disrupted sleep pattern. Your wife should be able to answer the question for herself; it’s there and it should be easy to work out. If not, she’ll have to wait until June 6, for I ain’t saying.

Categories: General, Website feedback


November 13, 2012 4 comments

I read today that Hibs have sacked their stadium announcer for playing Taxman at half-time last weekend, in alleged mockery of Hearts’ current financial crisis. Come on, guys, does nobody have a sense of humour left? I quake at the thought of my friend Scott’s choice of music, had the Adidas Predator been on the other foot.

Categories: Sport

Speaking peace unto nations

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

With all the reviews that are going in within the BBC, perhaps someone will spare time to look at the following and ask a basic and reasonable question.

Why, in this day and age, is the British broadcasting tax-payer funding services in 27 different global languages, including Hausa, Kirundi, Kyrgyz, Azeri, and a few others of which most Brits have never heard? Some of my friends tell me I should be proud of the BBC World Service, which, they say, has flown the flag for decades. However given that we are now broadcasting to countries whose only interest in that flag is as a fire-lighter, I say to them that enough is enough. If we are going to use the BBC as a means of spreading the British message abroad, surely we should focus on  those countries where it is relevant, namely our European neighbours and partners, and provide services in German, Italian, Dutch, Flemish, Danish, Swedish, Czech, Polish, which currently we don’t. I don’t advocate that we do that, but I do believe the time has come for the British voice in Pashto, Nepali, Uzbek, and all the rest, to fall silent, and for the money to be put to a better use.

Categories: General, Politics

Fiona Graham

November 12, 2012 1 comment

UK Food in the 1950s…

* Pasta had not been invented.
* Curry was an unknown entity.
* Olive oil was kept in the medicine cabinet
* Spices came from the Middle East where we believed that they were used for embalming
* Herbs were used to make rather dodgy medicine.
* A takeaway was a mathematical problem.
* A pizza was something to do with a leaning tower.
* Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.
* The only vegetables known to us were spuds, peas, carrots and cabbage, anything else was regarded as being a bit suspicious.
* All crisps were plain; the only choice we had was whether to put the salt on or not.
* Condiments consisted of salt, pepper, vinegar and brown sauce if we were lucky.
* Soft drinks were called pop or fizzy drinks.
* Coke was something that we mixed with coal to make it last longer.
* A Chinese chippy was a foreign carpenter.
* Rice was a milk pudding, and never, ever part of our dinner.
* A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.
* A Pizza Hut was an Italian shed.
* A microwave was something out of a science fiction movie.
* Brown bread was something only poor people ate.
* Oil was for lubricating your bike not for cooking, fat was for cooking
* Bread and jam was a treat.
* Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves, not bags.
* The tea cosy was the forerunner of all the energy saving devices that we hear so much about today.
* Tea had only one colour, black. Green tea was not British.
* Coffee was only drunk when we had no tea….. and then it was Camp, and came in a bottle.
* Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.
* Figs and dates appeared every Christmas, but n! o one ev er ate them.
* Sweets and confectionery were called toffees.
* Coconuts only appeared when the fair came to town.
* Black puddings were mined in Bury Lancashire.
* Jellied eels were peculiar to Londoners.
* Salad cream was a dressing for salads, mayonnaise did not exist
* Hors d\’oeuvre was a spelling mistake.
* The starter was our main meal.
* Soup was a main meal.
* The menu consisted of what we were given, and was set in stone.
* Only Heinz made beans, any others were impostors.
* Leftovers went to the dog.
* Special food for dogs and cats was unheard of.
* Sauce was either brown or red.
* Fish was only eaten on Fridays.
* Fish didn\’t have fingers in those days.
* Eating raw fish was called poverty, not sushi.
* Ready meals only came from the fish and chip shop.
* For the best taste fish and chips had to be eaten out of old newspapers.
* Frozen food was called ice cream.
* Nothing ever went off in the fridge because we never had one.
* Ice cream only came in one colour and one flavour.
* None of us had ever heard of yoghurt.
* Jelly and blancmange was only eaten at parties.
* If we said that we were on a diet, we simply got less.
* Healthy food consisted of anything edible.
* Healthy food had to have the ability to stick to your ribs.
* The only criteria concerning the food that we ate were … did we like it and could we afford it.
* People who didn\’t peel potatoes were regarded as lazy so and so’s.
* Indian restaurants were only found in India .
* A seven course meal had to last a week.
* Brunch was not a meal.
* Cheese only came in a hard lump.
* If we had eaten bacon lettuce and tomato in the same sandwich we would have been certified.
* A bun was a small cake back then.
* A tart was a fruit filled pastry, not a lady of horizontal pleasure.
* The word \”Barbie\” was a lady’s name! , not as sociated with anything to do with food.
* Eating outside was called a picnic.
* Cooking outside was called camping.
* Seaweed was not a recognised food.
* Offal was only eaten when we could afford it.
* Eggs only came fried or boiled.
* Hot cross buns were only eaten at Easter time.
* Pancakes were only eaten on Pancake Tuesday – in fact in those days it was compulsory.
* \”Kebab\” was not even a word never mind a food.
* Hot dogs were a type of sausage that only the Americans ate.
* Cornflakes had arrived from America but it was obvious that they would never catch on.
* The phrase \”boil in the bag\” would have been beyond our realms of comprehension.
* The idea of \”oven chips\” would not have made any sense at all to us.
* The world had not yet benefited from weird and wonderful things like Pot Noodles, Instant Mash and Pop Tarts.
* We bought milk and cream at the same time in the same bottle.
* Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.
* Lettuce and tomatoes in winter were just a rumour.
* Most soft fruits were seasonal except perhaps at Christmas.
* Prunes were medicinal.
* Surprisingly muesli was readily available in those days, it was called cattle feed.
* Turkeys were definitely seasonal.
* Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.
* We didn\’t eat Croissants in those days because we couldn\’t pronounce them, we couldn\’t spell them and we didn\’t know what they were.
* We thought that Baguettes were a serious problem the French needed to deal with.
* Garlic was used to ward off vampires, but never used to flavour bread.
* Water came out of the tap, if someone had suggested bottling it and charging treble for it, they would have become a laughing stock.
* Food hygiene was all about washing your hands before meals.
* Campylobacter, Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria,! and Bot ulism were all called \”food poisoning.\”
* The one thing that we never ever had on our table in the fifties … elbows.

Thanks for those Fiona, I post them for general comment. Many of those match my recollection, but where I grew up, ‘pop’ and ‘fizzy drinks’ were called ‘ginger’. Also we must have been posh, because we had sprouts too, and jelly quite a lot.

Categories: General, Website feedback

Angry, from Gullane

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

I don’t like to put the boot into other people’s blogs, but in the case of a lady I’ve just seen named in a Sunday newspaper, it would be a good idea, indeed a public service, for WordPress to shut her down. To me she epitomises everything that is wrong with the internet.

I’m not going to name her, because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else reading her hysterical, vicious crap.

Categories: Politics

Sheila Hameed

November 10, 2012 Leave a comment

A reminder. for all those interested, of the 2013 publication schedule: Funeral Note, in mass market paperback, and Deadly Business (primavera 4) in hardback and trade paperback, both publish on January 31. Pray for the Dying, the eagerly-awaited Skinner 23, is out on June 6, again in hardback and trade versions. Signed copies can be pre-ordered though Campbell Read Books, via the link on this page.

Categories: General, Website feedback

No excuse

November 10, 2012 3 comments

The BBC Trust may not want to lose its director general so soon after he took office, but it’s difficult to see how they can avoid it.  ‘It wasnae me’ doesn’t cut it any more, not in this case. The McAlpine disgrace isn’t just the biggest British media shambles since the Hitler Diaries, it’s worse than that because of the vilification that has befallen the person innocently accused. He wasn’t named, but so what? In this dangerous age, when social media gossip spreads unchecked like flame through a bed of pine needles, the BBC failed lamentably in its public duty.

In such circumstances the man at the top must go.  Not only is George Entwhistle, the BBC’s Director General, he is also, through his office, its editor in chief. He has no honourable wiggle room. He’s toast.

Categories: General, Politics

Quote of the day

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment

If I die tomorrow, I’ll die having been the manager of Hearts and there’s not many people can say that.’

John McGlynn

. . . or would ever want to, John, in the case of the entire population of Leith, and my good friend Fred in Sydney.

Meanwhile, good luck to your boss with the share issue. I’m not a Hearts supporter, but I’d probably shove a tenner in a collection box if I was asked. However I am an investor and I know a dodgy prospectus when I see one. As I understand it fans are being invited to stump up £1.75m, for ten per cent of the shares. This prices at £17.5m a company whose debts, which include significant amounts to the remorseless HMRC, are massively greater than the true value of its assets, and thus is actually worth **** all. Rangers, debt-free, only cost £5.5m, to include Ibrox and the training ground.

Appealing to supporter loyalty is one thing, but selling them worthless pieces of paper for a seven figure sum is quite another. Isn’t it?

Categories: Sport

Thank you, namesake

November 9, 2012 Leave a comment
Matt Cartoon
Categories: General

Kick it out

November 9, 2012 3 comments

I’m a vociferous Scottish Nationalist, and proud of it. However I am also a senior (in age) member of a multi-racial extended family. Discrimination of any sort . . . other than in favour of good over evil . . . is anathema to me. Our skin tone is an accident of birth. So also, to an extent is our faith, but we can do something about that in later life if we choose. We all belong to the same species; we can be good people or bad people, but we’re all the same under the skin.

Thus when I read, as I have lately, of something in England called the Society of Black Lawyers, my instant reaction is that any body that defines its membership by the colour of their skin is fundamentally wrong. We’ll never create One Nation by highlighting the prejudices that militate against it.


Categories: General

Bert de Marco

November 8, 2012 2 comments

Many thanks, Bert. I have been in your eponymous leisure centre many a time, but not  in many a year, since I looked like this.

You raise some interesting points, not least about Kenny McAskill’s ill thought out  unified police force, which seems to be based on cost alone with no thought of value or public service.

Bob hates the notion and so do I,  so yes, more prequels are a real possibility.

US Kindle store

November 7, 2012 2 comments

A while back, I asked for help in checking how many of my books are available in Kindle form on Amazon US. It appears that the log-jam has been broken, for as of today all of them appear to be listed, with a buy button alongside.

We are now working on Barnes & Noble.

Categories: General

QJ recharged

November 6, 2012 3 comments

Thanks to Dr Lang and everyone else at the ERI Day Case centre who made me welcome yesterday morning, and let me loose eight hours later, complete with new pacemaker box. The procedure was so quick and efficient, that I barely knew it had begun. I still can’t figure out when the local anaesthetic was applied.  They can never say exactly how long the batteries in these units will last, but as I said to the doc, if I outlast it, that will be good.

Categories: General


November 6, 2012 3 comments
Categories: General