Archive for April, 2016

Way, Jose

Categories: Videos


April 29, 2016 1 comment

Yesterday I shared on Facebook, with a recommendation, a Guardian piece by Marina Hyde a columnist whose work I enjoy. I did so largely because of her description of PGA tour golfers as ‘tedious evangelical shitehawks’, a view with which I agree absolutely, on the basis of the Sky coverage that I see.

Then I read the extended treatise on which Ms Hyde’s article was founded and realised that she got everything else entirely wrong. In fact, Michael Jordan is uniquely qualified to be Tiger Woods’ friend. In terms of the idolatry US sports can bestow on its heroes, he alone has been Tiger’s equal in the way he transcended his sport in his supreme years. Only he knows what comes after, and can advise on the basis of personal experience.

Where she did her own readers a disservice was in not drawing their attention more fully to the central premise of the ESPN analysis.

Having now studied the extended original, I find myself pondering two questions: 1) Is Tiger Woods, if not bat-shit crazy, at least part of the way en route to that state of mind? 2) Is he a guy for whom the Second Amendment should be set aside, in respect of any arms other than golf clubs?

Read it and see what you think.

Categories: General, Sport

Of interest?

April 26, 2016 5 comments


Categories: General

From my Diary

7pm, Wednesday May 4; launch event for Private Investigations, the 26th Bob Skinner novel.

Venue: Waterstone, 175 High Street, Kirkcaldy.

7pm , Thursday May 5; event for Edinburgh Bookshop, contact shop for tickets on 0131 449 1917.

Venue: Eric Liddell Centre, 15 Morningside Road, Edinburgh.

12 noon, Saturday May 7; public signing.

Venue: WH Smith Books, Gyle Centre, Edinburgh

3pm, Saturday May 7; public signing.

Venue: Atkinson-Pryce Books, 27 High Street, Biggar.

1pm, Sunday May 8; public signing

Venue: Waterstone West End, 128 Princes Street, Edinburgh

3pm Sunday May 8; public signing.

Venue: Costco, Loanhead.

Categories: General

Grimm reading

April 18, 2016 1 comment

Scanning through the Herald this morning, I came across a story with the headline, ‘Actor couple warn parents not to leave it too late if planning pregnancy.’

It began, ‘A leading actress has warned couples against delaying parenthood after she and her film star husband had to turn to IVF to have their daughters.’

What’s wrong with that? Well, putting aside the fact that the Herald actually admitted to lifting the piece from the cesspit of prurience that is the Daily Mail, putting aside its inability to differentiate between jobbing actors and those in the front line of their profession . . . it isn’t news.

Thousands of families across the country have the same story to tell, and the fact that the lady who is quoted has appeared in such dramas as Grimm (so did my mate Nurmi, another jobbing actor, until they killed him off in the current series) and The Vampire Dramas adds nothing to it.

What’s bad about it? The subtle implication that IVF is in some way wrong, and the emphasis on its cost. For most people it isn’t a career-driven choice, it’s a first and last resort.

My message to  the Herald and its editor: think before you publish, even on a slow news day, and most of all, work harder. I’m a paying subscriber to your online paper, but I have a background in your industry, and so I know sheer downright laziness when I see it.



Categories: General

Mixed Emotions

April 18, 2016 Comments off

Just as Valderrama peeled off some of the rust in my game after seven weeks off, so too did it inspire me to dust off the cobwebs from my keyboard. It takes special places and experiences sometimes…

Source: Mixed Emotions

Categories: Uncategorized

Circus life

A couple who work at the circus go to an adoption agency.
Social workers there raise doubts about their suitability.
The couple produce photos of their 50 foot motorhome, which is equipped with a beautiful nursery.
The social workers then are doubtful about the education that the child would get.
“We’ve arranged for a full-time tutor who will teach the child all the usual subjects along with French, Mandarin and computer skills.”
Then there are doubts about raising a child in a circus environment.
“Our nanny is an expert in paediatric welfare and diet.”
The social workers are finally satisfied.
They ask, “What age child are you hoping to adopt?”
“It doesn’t really matter, as long as he fits in the cannon”


Categories: General


April 11, 2016 5 comments

“You can’t let it get to your head when you win, and you can’t let it get to your heart when you fail. You’ve got to take it as it comes.”
Quote of the week, but whose?

Categories: General


Before I move on from Scottish Field, the current issue has a ‘restaurant review’. The subject is an eaterie which I will not name because it isn’t very flattering.

Leaving aside the idiocy of any person making a judgement based on someone else’s taste buds, the thing about the piece that aroused my ire was its by-line: ‘The Mystery Diner’.

I’m sorry, but if you do a hatchet job on someone’s business and you don’t have the cojones to sign your name to it, you are beneath contempt. You’re not a journalist, you’re a vandal daubing a public place with a spray can.

The editor of Scottish Field is Richard Bath. My name is out there for everyone.


Categories: General

Land grab

My dear wife has a subscription to Scottish Field, the country life magazine that has become a national institution. She reads it more than I do, but today I picked it up to study a piece by my old acquaintance Bill Jamieson. I thank him for it, and believe that it needs a wider audience.

His article points out an anomaly in the brand new Holyrood legislation which  replaces Stamp Duty in Scotland with a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which will make home owners who complete a purchase of a new main residence before selling the old one liable for an Additional Dwelling Supplement of 3% of the total purchase price.

In other words, you buy a new home, let’s say for £350,000. You will be liable for LBTT at 10%. That’s right, you will pay Revenue Scotland £35,000 for the privilege of making that purchase. Then, if your old place doesn’t sell before your completion date, you will be liable for a further £10,500 on your second home that isn’t.

I’ve picked that figure to catch the eye, I admit. (Mind you, try and buy a Cala house for under £350,000.) LBTT will be levied on a sliding scale; if the purchase price is between £145,000 and £250,000 the rate os 2%. Between £250,000 and £325,000 it’s 5%. Whatever the level, it’s a tax on people’s aspirations and it doesn’t sit well with me.

When Eileen told me about this, my first reaction was to assume that she had misread it. But no, it’s for real. This is what Revenue Scotland says about it on its website.

“Q: I am buying my next house which will be my main residence. I am selling my existing main residence but the contract for sale will not go through until after my new purchase is completed. As I am selling one property and buying another, will the Additional Dwelling Supplement apply?

A: Yes. When you purchase your new house, because you will not have sold your existing main residence, you will own two houses. You will therefore have to pay the Additional Dwelling Supplement on the purchase of your next house.

However, on 2 March 2016, the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee agreed to amend the Bill at stage 2 of the Bill process to allow for the situation where the buyer purchases their new main residence before they sell their old one. In such a situation, if the sale of the previous main residence takes place before the tax return for the purchase of the next main residence is made, no Additional Dwelling Supplement is due.

If you have already submitted a return for the purchase transaction, you will, be eligible to make a claim for the repayment of the Additional Dwelling Supplement you paid once your previous house is sold, provided that completion takes place within 18 months of the purchase of your next home. Example 2.05 explains how to claim a repayment of the Additional Dwelling Supplement.”

I have no plans to move, or to buy an additional home in Scotland; if I had, I’d be shelving them.

At a time when the Scottish housing market needs to be stimulated, the party of which I am a member seems to be doing its best to cut its throat. Leaving aside the morality of a tax on home ownership, would it not have been more sensible administratively, and less damaging to the individuals caught in this nasty little trap to make the tax fall due 18 months after the completion date on the purchase transaction?


This too: similar taxes are due on property purchases in Spain. As a result what happens in practice, the parties agree on a declared price for housing transaction, and an actual price. When the two come together in the Notario’s office to complete the purchase, said public official will leave the room during  the process, and the balance of the price will change hands, in cash.

How long will it be before the passage of brown envelopes containing £50,000 in cash becomes commonplace in Scotland?



Categories: General, Politics