Archive for June, 2016


I don’t bet. Every time I tip a horse it loses.

I’ve just awakened after a late night watching the St Joan fireworks. I’m happy, and only mildly surprised, for I had a hunch that the people who made the pollsters look like idiots at last year’s General Election might do the same again.

I said I’d be a good loser. Now I’m going to do something even harder: I’m going to be a good winner.

Categories: General, Politics

It’s over

June 23, 2016 1 comment

We’re there. The bluster and the bullshit of another corrosive referendum campaign lies behind us, stored away in the memory banks of the political participants, so that the winners can take revenge on the losers at a moment of their choosing.

Remain will win, and I will be as good a loser as I was (and still am) when I voted ‘Yes’ to Scottish independence. But one thing I won’t tolerate or forgive, is the assumption that because I voted to leave the EU, I am a kindred spirit to the likes of Nigel Farage, or Katie Hopkins, or Donald Trump . . . although it beats me why his views should have any relevance.

In a debate that has been largely about money and the protection of the wealth of the rich while also salving their social consciences, I have been focused from the start on the long term. This has nothing to do with immigration, or racism, or xenophobia; I believe that a political union of going on for thirty nation states with different cultures, attitudes, objectives and of course languages . . . and that is where the EU is headed . . . will be an unhappy and unstable creation. In the very long term it will also be unworkable.

So I don’t care what Farage says, or how Cameron spins it, or how sore Corbyn’s arse is from all that fence-sitting, or whether Joanne Rowling thinks we’re all mini-Trumps (although when I read that I couldn’t believe she said it), or whether Becks and Posh wake up happy or sad tomorrow. I will not be browbeaten by the strident voices of Nicola, Ruth and Kezia, or even persuaded by my friend Malcolm.

I voted with my conscience, and it’s clear.

Categories: General, Politics


June 21, 2016 7 comments

Game of Thrones: by the end, Ramsay had really gone to the dogs.

Categories: General


June 14, 2016 5 comments

In two years, the FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Russia. 

Should it? 

Categories: General, Sport

Music while I laze

Soulsville – Beverley Knight, singing her little heart out.

Categories: General


June 11, 2016 5 comments

The YouGov daily panel questions are always interesting, but sometimes their purpose can be a little obscure. No ambivalence about one of yesterday’s three, however, only a little grammatical quirkiness:

‘If the UK were not a member of the EU at the moment and there were a referendum on whether we should join (on current terms) wold you vote to join or stay out?’

The result? Out of 4427 total respondents,

I would vote to join:                                28%

I would vote to stay out:                         60%

I would not vote:                                          1%

Note sure:                                                      11%

Okay, it didn’t ask for voting intentions on June 23,  but if I was part of Operation Fear this morning, I’d find that more than a little ominous.

Categories: General, Politics

No Small issue

The notorious ‘Named Person scheme’ and the SNP’s sudden coyness?


What influence will the personal views of a man named Alan Small have on every family in Scotland?

For the answers to these quesions, required reading from the invaluable Scottish Review:

Categories: General, Politics


The Hound is back!

Categories: General

The Greatest

I was fifteen when I saw Cassius Clay on television for the first time. He put on a masterclass in the Olympic final in Rome, dismantling the best opponent Europe had to offer. And he was only three years older than me.

When he turned pro, I followed his career in the Ring magazine, my monthly read, and on telly when his fights were shown on Grandstand. They thought he’d be lucky to escape with his life against the brutal  Sonny Liston, who would probably have beaten every other opponent that Clay faced in his career. The young man humiliated him.

Ten years later Muhammad Ali faced another monster, someone else who was going to kill him, George Foreman, christened ‘The Mummy’ by Muhammad. The 34-year-old humiliated him.

That was the point at which he should have quit for the sake of his health, and for that of Joe Frazier. But he didn’t. He fought on, too long.

And yet afterwards, when he couldn’t any more, he didn’t drift into a punch-drunk slumber. He went on, as best he could, spreading the word of tolerance and understanding, making people laugh, until they couldn’t any longer, so badly was he maimed by the affliction that followed his career.

There has never been an icon who has transcended his sport as Muhammad did. Yes there have been others; Pele, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, even David Beckham. But when they die, their passing will not dominate the world’s media, or provoke such a wave of love and regret as his does today.

Categories: General, Sport

The Closers

June 1, 2016 1 comment

Now I can talk about it.

The Bloody Scotland  programme is out, revealing that I will be sharing the stage for the closing event, 5pm Sunday September 11, with the great Ian Rankin, who is, genuinely, apart from being a  top bloke, my favourite crime author.

Come and join us.

Categories: General