Archive for March, 2013


My closest friend died last week. His funeral took place this afternoon.

Jack Arrundale lived more than half his life in Gullane, but he was always a Glossop lad, and always loyal to Derbyshire. It was odd that he and I should have become friends, as we were polar opposites in many ways. Jack was baptised Catholic, and was an altar boy, I was baptised into a right-footed family at a time when the twain never met in the West of Scotland. Yes, we’d both moved on from those beginnings, but Jack was always one of nature’s Guardian readers, while I had a Telegraph tendency. Less than surprising then, that we argued for much of those 40 years, over things as diverse as whether black was in fact a shade of grey, or whether white was really a sort of meringue colour. Yes, we argued, but we never quarrelled, never exchanged a word in anger. Truly, Jack was like a brother to me, and I’m glad that I told him that while I had time.

Jack was the most popular man I’ve ever known, without ever trying to be, or ever realising it. He made friends as if they were metal, and he was a magnet; people were attracted to him, naturally. With no expectation of return, he gave of himself most generously. For example, to Haddington cricket club in his younger days . . . and beyond them, truth be told. He was involved in the early days of the kids’ Swimming Club, which I believe still exists. He was a scout leader, and he was a stalwart of the five a side group that gave rise to my book, ‘Thursday Legends’. Jack played as he lived, enthusiastically. A heart attack didn’t stop him. The first time he came to the fives afterwards I had to beg him to slow down, telling him point blank that if he keeled over it would be me that got pelters from Bren, not him. Of course he didn’t slow down, or keel over: he played his last game when he was seventy; nobody will beat that, ever. In retirement Jack gave of himself to the village that he had adopted, in the day centre, and latterly in helping Brenda’s work with the RDA. Anything else needed doing, Jack was always up for it.

Through it all, he was also the most modest man I’ve ever known. He was always quick to praise others for their generosity, their deeds and their sanctity, without ever realising that everyone who knew him saw him in exactly that way.

I confess to being angry today, as well as sad. Why? Because Jack’s been short-changed, big-time. Okay he was 75, but he should have had another few decades left. His parents lived to a combined age of around 180 years, and there was every reason to expect that in 2037 he would receive his centenary birthday card from King William the Fifth. But now he won’t. He was not a man given to complaining about personal troubles, so when he came round to see me last November, and said simply, ‘I’m not well,’ I knew that he wasn’t kidding. Yet he handled it with a courage to which we all aspire, and hope to attain when the time comes.

After 9/11, the old lady who reigns over us told the American people, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’ That’s a price that I’m privileged to pay for Jack, and it’s a mark of the man that so many people are grieving so deeply for him.



Categories: General

The DCMS are duplicitous, fraudulent bastards

March 27, 2013 1 comment

A few months ago, the government launched a consultation on its proposal that the Public Lending Right office in Stockton should be closed, and its functions transferred to a new department within the British Library. Out of  out of 1015 views expressed by stakeholders, 948, me among them, said firmly that the PLR office is efficient, excellent and popular, and that  it should be left alone. Today the Department for Culture Media and Sport published its response, a vigorous thumb of the nose to all but the 67 who agreed with it.

The process has been a sham, and the civil service has had its way as usual. Come the revolution, bruvvers . . .

Categories: General, Politics


March 23, 2013 23 comments
In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame; two is a law firm and three or more is a government.
John Adams

If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot . And suppose you were a member of government . But then I repeat myself.
Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
George Bernard Shaw

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
Frederic Bastiat, French economist(1801-1850)

I don’t make jokes . I just watch the government and report the facts.
Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!
P.J. O’Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!

Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap…except when government does it.

The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no control at the other.
Ronald Reagan

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
Mark Twain

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class. . . save government.
Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
Thomas Jefferson

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

Categories: General

Good cause

March 21, 2013 1 comment

For all Gullanites, and anyone else with an interest and a few grand to spare.

Categories: General, Politics, Sport


March 21, 2013 1 comment

This caught my eye today. It asks a very good question.

My answer is a resounding YES. New parents have considerable statutory rights to protected leave of absence from work; the newly bereaved have very limited and ill-defined entitlements. That needs to change.

Categories: General, Politics

And so on

March 20, 2013 2 comments

I’ve just listened to Osborne’s Budget speech, and seen the embarrassing performance of the Shadow Chancellor, and the back-bench clowns on both sides. My interpretation is that there was stuff there to encourage both the aspirational and the least well off in our society. Here are the key points.

I’ve also just read some of Ed Milliband’s sound-bites. I’m not a card-carrying Tory, not any moe, but equally I’m not quite sure what’s so bad about putting 600,000 more jobs into the economy, or taking people out of tax, or helping employment by cutting the NI burden on small businesses.

Categories: General, Politics


March 20, 2013 Comments off

Sad day in Gullane. I can’t speak about it yet, but I will, in time.

Categories: General

Taxi for McCluskey

March 19, 2013 2 comments
Categories: General, Politics

The Minister for Truth

March 18, 2013 1 comment

Way back in the 70s, just after the SNP had enjoyed its first significant success at a general election, two of its members were heard to joke that come the first Scottish government, one would be the Minister for Truth, and the other the Minister for Jails. John Herbert McCluskey QC must have been listening. He was Solicitor General then, a post he held for five years, without ever ascending to the higher office of Lord Advocate. Today, in his 80’s he’s a legal big gun of sorts. Unfortunately he seems to be loaded with grapeshot, to maximise the casualties.

If you have any interest in personal freedom, please read this, and applaud.

I suspect that Alex Salmond is too polite to tell Lord McCluskey to his face that his report on the shackling of the public press does a disservice to him and to every person on his panel. I can’t believe that he concurs with it. If these proposals were ever enacted, there would not be a single journalist in Scotland, and among their number I include online magazine proprietors and even bloggers like my not so humble self, who would be able to speak their mind without wondering when His Lordship’s heavy hand would bang on their door.

Eventually, we can expect much less draconian proposals to emerge from the Scottish Government, but I agree with Kenneth Roy. This terrible document should be repudiated at once.

Categories: General, Politics

Fibre-optic-al illusion

For everyone in Gullane. It seems we’re not going to get superfast broadband any time soon unless we ask for it. So, if you live in the EH31 2 postcode area, please go to this link

and register interest, even if you don’t want it.

If you don’t live here but know someone who does, please pass this to them.

Categories: General

No chance

It seems that Lord McCluskey thinks he can control Twitter by statute. Eh? What awaste of time and money his wee committee seems to have been.

Categories: Politics


March 16, 2013 4 comments

You forgot a couple of Tory achievements, Dave: ‘When Ernie Marples butchered the railways’, along with ‘When Marples Ridgeway built the roads’.

Categories: Politics

Almost there

Thank you David Moyes and Everton, for evening the score.

And ‘Well done you ‘Well last night.

Categories: Sport

Odds off

March 15, 2013 5 comments

I believe that the Cheltenham Gold Cup was run today. That gives me a topical excuse to say something that’s been bothering me for a while now.

As a frequent watcher of TV sport, I am becoming more and more disturbed by the prevalence of betting ads and event sponsorship. Only the BBC is free from Kris Kamara and that fucking little Italian idiot. They’re on every commercial channel, along with those intellectually offensive Paddy Power ads, the unintelligible ravings of the guys in the William Hill commercials, the real Victor Chandler and his imaginary friend Maurice, the Liz Hurley re-modelled, liposuctioned  and face-lifted Shane Warne encouraging us all to play poker, and, maybe worst of all, Ray Winstone, besmirching a fine acting career by putting on his best nasal Cockney, and thrusting ‘Live odds now!’ at us in every break. when I was a boy, off-course betting was legal, but only just. The bookie’s in Motherwell was known locally as ‘The Shovel’, a term that went back to the days and when it wasn’t, and the odds were chalked on the back of a shovel or something similar so that the evidence could be wiped off should the polis happen by. The internet has changed all that. It has liberated the gambling industry and given it free rein to pander to one of the most insidious of the seven deadly sins. Greed.

Don’t imagine this is simply a British phenomenon. Spanish TV football is also accompanied by its Bet365 ads, with their Winstone equivalent. Real Madrid’s shirt sponsor is an on-line bookie.

In British society, all forms of cigarette advertising are banned, and the promotion of alcohol is regulated, although not as tightly as once it was. Fags and booze are addictive and can be family wreckers. The same is true of gambling, yet we have reached a point where we seem to be celebrating it.

Categories: General, Politics, Sport

Not laughing

March 15, 2013 4 comments

I am not ungenerous by nature, or so I like to think. I put my spare change in various collection boxes, and I make  donations to good causes. Against that background, what I’m about to say now makes me feel guilty, but it’s true nonetheless; I don’t like telethon fund-raisers in general, and I positively dislike Comic Relief. No, it’s not simply because the awful Miranda Hart is usually all over it; fact is I’ve found it a turn-off for most of its 25 years. The concept of ‘Do something funny for money’ just doesn’t work for me. All they need to say is ‘Pledge a wedge’ and I will. I don’t need spoiled celebs shedding crocodile tears on the telly to make me aware that there are appalling things taking place in the same time zone as me, give or take an hour or two. Nor do I need them monopolising a whole evening’s telly doing things which are unlikely to bring me, and many other sentient people, even close to laughter.

No, I won’t give any more because Jack Dee and a few others  go white-water rifting down the Zambesi rapids, but I won’t give any less either.

Categories: General

Alien spy in UK Cabinet!!!

March 12, 2013 1 comment

Question. Which is the impostor?

Minister at war over 'cheating' councils

Answer: The Sontaran is disguised in spectacles and a blue tie. The other one is Eric Pickles, MP.

Categories: General, Pics, Politics

Who’s next?

March 12, 2013 1 comment

An interesting analysis, and well worth a read.

Categories: Politics

Fitting the crime?

March 11, 2013 4 comments

Before the judge pronounces ‘for doom’, a question. What will society gain by putting Chris Huhne and his woman scorned in jail,  to be heated , fed and watered by the state for however long it is. Wouldn’t seriously exemplary fines be a better deal for the taxpayer, and as effective a punishment for them?

Categories: General, Politics

The blonde one is back

Great news for us mature gentlemen.

Categories: General

Sons of Anarchy

When this point is reached, evil has won.

Categories: General, Politics