Archive for August, 2014

Customer service? What’s that?

August 27, 2014 3 comments

There is an airport in England . . . No name, but it’s north of Yorkshire . . . through which I’ve travelled over many years. During that time I’ve been of the opinion that its security staff have a higher twat quotient that is found in any other British terminal. I went through there yesterday and that view was reinforced by a fluff-cheeked kid with a failed moustache. He knows who he is.

Categories: General


August 26, 2014 3 comments

I’m on the YouGov panel, which means that every day I’m sent three questions on current and world affairs. Today’s asked panelists whether Dave Cameron or Ed Miliband would make the better Prime Minister. DC won by 49% to 32% with 18% ‘don’t know’. Conversely, 47% to 35% felt that Labour were more in tune with their lives. Yet the same sample felt, by 50% to 34%, that the Tories would do a better job of running the economy over the next five years.

Categories: Politics

Not me

August 25, 2014 1 comment

DebateTwo starts in three hours time. However it clashes with Man City vs Liverpool, so guess what I’ll be watching? There is nothing that Alastair Darling could possibly say that would persuade me to go against my country and my conscience by voting No.

Better Together advances the cause of the well-to-do and offers nothing to the poor and the deprived. Worse, it’s their enemy. 

To those who genuinely believe in the Westminster union, I respect your view, and your right to express it through the ballot box. But I don’t respect the way the case is being put forward, and I hope that Scotland will reject it.. 

Categories: Politics

About time

I’ve just read that Tiger Woods has fired his coach. After four years with the guy, winding up with chronic back pain and still not being able to hit the ball straight off the tee, you could say that he’s been too patient. Once again, people will ask the question: when you’re the best player in the world by a street length and more, why change anything at all?

Categories: Sport

Always in stock

August 18, 2014 2 comments

Ron Lambert asks me when Skinner will ben his favourite bookshop.

Well, Ron, that’s a question you should really address to that shop, wherever it is. I can tell you that the entire list is in my favourite bookshop . . . . . . and that every copy leaving there is signed, yes, by me. If you’d rather have an unsigned copy, that can be arranged too.

Categories: Uncategorized

Clever girl

August 18, 2014 5 comments

This morning, I drove Our Mia and her dad to Drem Station for a morning at the festival. On the way there, she asked Dom, ‘Why is Grandpa driving on that side of the car?’

I was doubly pleased. I reckon that’s pretty bright for someone who’s only just turned four. Also, because she asked the question in Catalan, and I understood it!

Categories: General


August 18, 2014 1 comment

At this moment I am sat, gob-smacked, listening to Julian Assange whine to a hand-picked media audience about the effect on his health of two years’ enclosure within the Ecuadorean Embassy. Fact: at any time during those two years, he could have walked through the front door. Fact: he didn’t. Fact: as soon as he leaves his diplomatically protected hidey-hole he is liable to arrest and extradition to Sweden to face questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct.

Categories: General, Politics


Thanks to everyone who came along to EIBF this afternoon. Great gig from where I sat. Thanks also to Susan, my chair.

Categories: General

Police state

August 15, 2014 2 comments

I have nothing to say about the Cliff Richard story, save this. When the police raiding party arrived at his place in Berkshire, the media were waiting for them, and BBC even had a helicopter hovering over the scene.

If we were talking about a major drugs bust here, or a terrorist cell being captured, there might be the semblance of a pubic interest argument for such behaviour, but it isn’t. This is a well loved public figure whose reputation has been tossed into the bear-pit. No charges have been levelled, no cautions administered, and no advance warning was given to anyone other than the press.

I would like to think that this morning a second investigation is under way, to find the person who tipped them off. Will that happen? In the normal course of events I’d say, ‘No chance’. But this isn’t quite normal. Sir Cliff is a Tory icon. Watch this space.

Categories: General, Politics

You do know how to whistle, don’t you?

In the media storm that has followed the tragic death of Robin WIlliams, it’s important that we don’t overlook someone else who left us yesterday, from a generation earlier, but an equally iconic figure. RIP Lauren Bacall.

Categories: General

Best of causes

I am not big on plugging other people’s books, but I’m happy to make an exception for ‘My Dog, My Friend’, a new compilation put together by Jacki Gordon and published by Hubble and Hattie, a dog-dedicated imprint that’s part of Veloce Press.

It’s a couple of years since Jacki approached me and asked if I would contribute a doggie story to her collection, the clincher being that all author royalties would be going to the Samaritans.

I don’t have a dog, but what the hell, I’m creative, so I did a small piece dedicated to the boy Canelo, the younger of my step-son’s Labradors, in Spain. He and I have a special relationship. You’ll find my story on P 102 of the finished work. Canelo’s in good company, since my felllow contributors include Fred Macaulay, Esther Rantzen, Simon Callow, Charlie Dimmock, Richard Holloway and William McIlvanney, and many others.

You’ll also find this very nice photo of my subject being walked by his Granny.

‘My Dog, My Friend’ can be found on Amazon and, as they say these days with a twist of acid, in all good book shops.

Strongly recommended, and poignant, given the charity that will benefit, that it should be published in the week of Robin Williams’ suicide.

Categories: General

Thanks Dom

A few days ago, my step-son went to a concert in Spain. The performer was Gregory Porter, an American jazz singer. I’d never heard of him, but I gave him a try and a couple of days later his entire catalogue is in my music library. He’d fit well in yours. 

Categories: General

No time at all

And so we start yet another SPFL football season. My prediction: Celtic to win the Premier League. Yes, I know; I’ve always been bold. For England, top four: Man U, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, to finish in no particular order, but if I was forced to bet I’d take City again.

Categories: Sport


Twenty per cent of the Rolling Stones want Scotland to stay in the Union. So does Tom Daley. So does Lord Jock Stirrup. So does Professor Stephen Hawking. So does Ross Kemp.


Categories: General, Politics

Little Darling

August 6, 2014 5 comments

So, the pollsters say that  Alastair Darling won the debate. As a Yes voter am I dismayed? Maybe slightly, when I think back to the confrontations during the 2010 Westminster election and  recall that they gave us Nick Clegg, but otherwise not too much.

Anyone who thought that Darling would simply roll over is a fool. TV election debates are about rhetoric rather than substantive argument, and there is no better preparation for that than eight years of Cabinet rank questioning at the Dispatch Box on the floor of the House of Commons. That’s a rather tougher school than weekly confrontations with the amiable Jack McConnell, and his successors, who remain unknown to  the vast majority of the Scottish electorate. But  where did the former chancellor score? Where was his victory? They are saying that it was on the lack of a Plan B on the currency question. The fact is there is no need for a Plan B. Scotland is already part of a currency union and there is no legal or constitutional reason why it should not remain so as an independent nation.

Yet Darling’s so-called strength is also his weakness, for it reveals that his entire strategy is built upon playing upon the fears of the well-to-do and the downright wealthy. Yes, the fears, cupboard monsters dreamed up in a strategists’ brain-storming session. In focusing on that group of voters, ‘Better Together’, has forgotten one essential, fundamental truth. And so, I would suggest, have the pollsters. The rich are always greatly out-numbered by the poor. It’s the way the world works.

Westminster politicians are used to fighting campaigns that are targeted towards the small minority, fifteen  percent at best, who are persuadable, and who will vote and decide elections on the basis of which party will put more money in their pockets through the following five years.

The referendum campaign isn’t like that. It isn’t about offering bribes to those who don’t need them, it’s about offering hope to those who need that more than anything, after forty years of the systematic de-industrialisation of Scotland and the construction of an economy in which the nation’s wealth has been concentrated inexorably on the City of London, which has become, in truth, a nation-state to which the rest of us are subservient. In government, Darling, as Chief Secretary and then as Chancellor, was one of the  leading players helping to nurture it. (He was also one of the people who caused its near-collapse, a truth that is never mentioned in his campaign literature.)  Make no mistake, he is still doing its bidding.

We have the opportunity to reclaim Scotland, not for the haves but for the have-nots, and in that crusade, there is one enormous ace in the hole: the fact that every single person in the land has exactly the same voting rights. If the issue is about currency, then remember this; the ballot paper is a currency of its own and every one is worth the same amount.

My hope is that September 18 will bring out people who neglect to vote in Westminster elections because there is nothing in it for them, but who will rush to tick the Yes box, because for the first time ever they feel truly enfranchised. If they do, as I believe they will, the Fearties will be swept into the Tweed, and the pollsters will discover that they have been plying their trade in a situation that they simply do not understand.

Categories: General, Politics

So long, old friend, so long

August 4, 2014 2 comments

One Last Post about last night: at one point in the coverage I spotted our Prime Minister in a free seat and idly posted a tweet wondering who had let him in. Through the magic of an auto-arrangement the Headline techies have set up, this was copied on to my Facebook author page. That post prompted someone called Alan Jones to remark as follows:

‘Inappropriate comment. De friend time. Over. Bye bye’

For the  record, Alan, I have no idea who you are, but clearly you have heard of me, and that is a compliment of sorts. However, if you believe that a Facebook friendship gives you the right to censor my political opinions, then I am well shot of you. By the way, this will auto-post on Facebook also.

Categories: General, Politics

Top marks

Further to my last  post about the omni-present Clare Balding, I feel I should add that it should not be seen as criticism of the way the BBC covered the Commonwealth Games. I have never been the Corporation’s biggest fan, and I remain opposed to the principle of a global broadcasting tax on every household in the land, but there is no denying that they pull out all the stops when it comes to covering multi-sport events. From start to finish the coverage was the equal of that given to London 2012, and it will have done wonders for the image of Glasgow and Scotland in every continent and Commonwealth country. Even the sign-off after the sign-off got it absolutely right, with the incomparable Eddie Reader singing the full Burns Scots lyric of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ over the closing credits.

Categories: General, Sport

Clare off

August 3, 2014 1 comment

Know what? I’ve had enough of Clare Balding. She’s a cheery, jolly, lady, and I’m sure she’s as nice in person as she is on the box. But there is no escaping her. Watch the BBC and she’ll be there. Most recently she’s seen us all the way through the Commonwealth Games, including a late night chat show from the reception area in Pacific Quay. I switched on Radio  2 this morning to catch up on the news and bloody hell, she was there too. When they close the show at Hampden tonight with a great big parade and party, (by the way, if the Proclaimers don’t preform it’ll be a disgrace) no prizes for guessing who’ll be co-presenting with Hazel Irvine? (Since when did our Hazel need a co-presenter?)

I had hoped for some respite, but no. For the past few days BBCtv has been trailing a new series about surgical procedures on very large animals. (What genius dreamed that one up?)  It will be fronted by . . .? Yup. I’ll give that one a miss.


Categories: General

Come on Katie

As I write I’m watching the Commie Games women’s bike road race. Typical bloody cyclists: red lights seems to mean nothing to them.

Categories: General, Sport