Archive for September, 2015


September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

As of next year, twelve months earlier than planned, continuous coverage of the Open Championship begins on Sky.

That will mean, farewell Hazel Irvine, hello Sarah Stirk; not an exchange that this golf viewer will welcome. In fact, it really gets on my Colin Montgomeries!

Categories: Sport

Don’t think so

September 30, 2015 Leave a comment

A clear message from the YouGov poll this morning. Question: Corbyn as Prime Minister? Answer: No.

If 24% approval is the best a Labour leader can do in his Party Conference week, in his first month in office, he isn’t going to last long.

Categories: Politics


September 29, 2015 Leave a comment
Categories: Politics


September 27, 2015 10 comments

Big day here; Catalan parliamentary elections, which are in effect a referendum on independence from Spain. Looks like the worst possible result; the Yes coalition has won a majority of seats, but it looks like it has failed to secure 50% of the popular vote.

Someone said to me on Friday, ‘We will vote and we will be independent.’ I told her ‘No you won’t, because Madrid won’t allow it and neither will the military, which has an obligation to protect the Spanish state.’

As it stands, the leader of the ‘Si’ movement says that if independence is not granted he will declare it in two years. By that argument, ie a substantial majority of parliamentary seats, Nicola could declare Scotland independent tomorrow. But she won’t.

I say this as an SNP member and a supporter of independence for Scotland; without 50% plus one of the popular vote, there is no incontrovertible mandate for Catalan independence.

Categories: Politics

Music while I work

September 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Stereophonics – Keep the Village Alive. Just downloaded this, after catching a sampler on Jools Holland last night. I’m halfway through and already I’m glad I did. Kelly Jones could sing the phone book and make it work.

Categories: General

This is for Fergus

September 22, 2015 1 comment

(Sorry about the ads.)

Categories: Uncategorized


September 22, 2015 2 comments

This is worth some of your time, particularly if you don’t like pompous TV interviewers who aren’t very good at their job.

Categories: General, Videos


September 22, 2015 2 comments

A propos de rien . . .

Categories: General, Videos


September 21, 2015 1 comment

In the great days of the British Empire, a new commanding officer was sent to a South African bush outpost to relieve the retiring colonel. 

After welcoming his replacement and showing the usual courtesies (gin and tonic, cucumber sandwiches etc) which protocol decrees, the retiring colonel said, “You must meet my Adjutant, Captain Smithers, He’s my right-hand man and is really the strength of this office. His talent is simply boundless.”


Smithers was summoned and introduced to the new CO, who was surprised to meet a hunchback, one eyed, toothless, hairless, scabbed and pockmarked specimen of humanity, a particularly unattractive man less than three feet tall.


“Smithers, old man, tell your new CO about yourself.”


”Well, sir, I graduated with honours from Sandhurst, joined the regiment and won the Military Cross and Bar after three expeditions behind enemy lines. I’ve represented Great Britain in equestrian events and won a Silver Medal in the middleweight division of the Olympics. I have researched the history of…..”


At that point, the colonel interrupted, “Yes, yes, never mind that Smithers, he can find all that in your file. Tell him about the day you told the witch doctor to fuck off.”

Categories: General, Politics

BBC and all that

September 21, 2015 3 comments

M y buddy Mike; always an interesting read.


Still had time for an occasional walk! Still had time for an occasional walk!

Last week was another busy one. Plenty of writing and planning, but then I had to go up to London to discuss the next books.

I am currently on a two book contract. The first of the pair is written and submitted: it’s the last of the Vintener Trilogy, and deals with events ten years after Crécy. I really like it. There is a pretty high body count, but most folks are happy with that. The questions was, though, what my editor and I should look at next. Some people have been asking me to write about Agincourt, which is an appealing idea, but for that I’d have to invent a bunch of new characters and work through a different period, while many readers would expect something to follow on from the other books. They are all in the Hundred Years War, after all.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Braid’s kids

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment

A few days ago a message popped up on my Facebook timeline, from an author asking me to buy his book.

I know nothing about the guy, other than what I’ve read on his page and on this link.

Based on that, I’ll buy a copy. If you read it you may wish to also. Or you may not: no pressure. I said I’d do what I could and this is it. (Marcello Mega, is there a story here?)

Categories: General


September 17, 2015 Leave a comment

When you have a pool in your garden, even one as modest as ours, it can have benefits beyond healthy exercise. For  example, I cannot tell you how many plot twists and possibilities have come to me as I’ve ploughed up and down, doing my lengths.

It can also be educational. Only last night, when I looked in the skimmer I was reminded (I say this because it’s happened before) of a sad but fundamental truth:

Mice can’t swim.

Categories: General

A lady’s tale

September 16, 2015 Leave a comment

“Why I’m divorced.” Written by a woman. 

That morning. I went downstairs for breakfast hoping my husband

would be pleasant and say, ‘Happy Birthday,’ and possibly have a

small present for me.


As it turned out, he barely said good morning, let alone ‘Happy Birthday.’


I thought….well, that’s marriage for you, but the kids…. they will



My kids came bouncing down stairs to breakfast and didn’t say a word.


So when I left for the office I felt pretty low and somewhat dejected.


As I walked into my office, my handsome boss, Rick, said, ‘Good

morning, lady, and by the way Happy Birthday!’ It felt a little

better that at least someone had remembered.


I worked until one o’clock, when Rick knocked on my door and said,

‘It’s such a beautiful day outside, and it is your birthday, what

do you say we go out to lunch, just you and me.’


I said, ‘Thanks, Rick, that’s the greatest thing I’ve heard all day. Let’s



We went to lunch. But we didn’t go where we normally would go. He

chose instead a quiet bistro with a private table. We had two

martinis each and I enjoyed the meal tremendously.


On the way back to the office, Rick said, ‘It’s such a beautiful

day…we don’t need to go straight back to the office, do we?’


I responded, ‘I guess not. What do you have in mind?’


He said, ‘Let’s drop by my place, it’s just around the corner.


After arriving at his house, Rick turned to me and said, ‘If you

don’t mind, I’m going to step into the bedroom for just a moment.

I’ll be right back.’


‘Ok.’ I nervously replied.


He went into the bedroom and, after a couple of minutes, he came

out carrying a huge birthday cake, followed by my husband , my

kids, and dozens of my friends and co-workers, all singing ‘Happy Birthday.’


And I just sat there on the couch….




Categories: General


September 15, 2015 2 comments

I am very pleased to announce that I’ve been invited to Cuffed, the brand new Vancouver Crime Fiction Festival, which will take place from March 11 – 13, 2016, on Granville Island. It’s the creation of the redoubtable Alma Lee, and her friends Lonnie Propas and Susan Ogle, ensuring that it has ‘success’ written all over it, before the first ticket is sold.

As a trail-blazer for the Festival proper, my friend the mighty Ian Rankin will appear at a Cuffed – sponsored  event in St Andrews Wesley, Vancouver on November 16. Tickets available from September 17, through

Details will be announced in due course on the above-named Festival website, but I’m looking forward already to a return visit to one of my favourite places on the planet.

Categories: General

Looking up

September 15, 2015 Leave a comment

The West Ham vs Newcastle game was on  telly last night. My dear wife is from Tyneside; she was so underwhelmed she went off to bed.

Paradoxically, after losing 0 -2, Steve McClaren, the Newcastle manager,  declared that the result had been ‘a wake-up call’.  Okay Steve, now you’re awake. So WTF are you going to do?

Categories: Sport

A modern Stone Age family

September 14, 2015 2 comments

A couple of days into the Corbyn reign and we’re back to the bad old days, with the union bully-boys who put him in place now  triumphant and threatening to bring down the government. (Whether they’ve actually done that doesn’t matter, for the Daily Mail says that they have.)

The new Shadow Chancellor is firmly on record as wishing he could go back to the 80s and assassinate Thatcher. Leaving aside the unsuitability of such a thug for high public office, he’d be better advised to take his Tardis a decade further back, and assassinate Len Murray and the yobs in the TUC of the 70s, for they were the people who paved The Lady’s way into office by undermining a government of their own party.

If JC is to have a shred of credibility he’ll stamp early doors on McCluskey and his pals, but he can’t, because he’s their creature.

Categories: General, Politics

As darkness falls . . .

September 12, 2015 2 comments

So the sinister Len McCluskey has had his way. The Labour Party has committed electoral suicide by choosing a leader who commands the support of no more  than ten per cent of his parliamentary colleagues.

I thought that Gordon Brown, old Captain Barbossa as I fondly nicknamed him when he was our unelected Prime Minister, was bad, but the idea of Jeremy Corbyn with his hand on the national tiller is incomprehensible. Apart from the fact that the man is a poor imitation of Michael Foot and peddles a brand of Marxist-lite politics that by comparison puts Nicola Sturgeon somewhere close to Maggie Thatcher in the political spectrum, there is this:

The next UK General Election is scheduled to take place on May 7, 2020. On that date, the new Leader of  HM’s Official Opposition will be nineteen days shy of his seventy-first birthday. Today, I am just over nine months shy of mine, and while as far as I know I am in decent health, I would no more consider myself physically fit for the rigours of five years of national leadership than I’d offer myself as a replacement for Wayne Rooney should he fail his fitness test this afternoon. (Okay, I might step in as a sub for Motherwell, but they’re in another league altogether.)

Will Corbyn still be in office in five years? The smart money says ‘No’, but given that he secured 60% of the vote in a four-horse race, and presumably has no intention of changing the insane electoral system that put him where he is, it seems to me that he’s going to be bloody difficult to remove by anything other than Divine intervention.

As for the new Deputy Leader: who is he?

Categories: Politics

Ugly as sin, but a hell of a runner

September 12, 2015 2 comments

What have I been doing for the last week? Well, I’ve been in Spain, tolerating a shamefully slow broadband service (Get your act together, Movistar!), thinking about Skinner 27, and driving the ugliest car on the road

to Barcelona and back. I’ve also been getting back to work on Skinher 27, but of that more later.

Categories: General, Pics

We All Need Caddies

September 9, 2015 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized


September 7, 2015 Leave a comment
Categories: General