Archive for October, 2018

Not even then

October 31, 2018 Leave a comment

will Scotland qualify.

Categories: Sport


October 28, 2018 3 comments

It’s almost November, the month that sees the publication of the paperback edition of ‘A Brush with Death’, and also of ‘Cold Case’, the thirtieth Bob Skinner mystery.

Categories: General

In the dark

October 28, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s the last Sunday in October, my least favourite day of the year, the day when suddenly it’s dark earlier. It would be okay if we could keep our body clocks in summer mode, but life doesn’t let us do that.

It’s likely that next year the EU nations will abolish daylight saving: Morocco has done it already. Chances of the UK following suit? As Muhammad Ali said, ‘Slim and none, and Slim’s left town.’

Why do we put up with these unnecessarily depressing afternoons? The argument against change has always been that children in the north of Scotland would go to school in darkness. Its proponents cited the tragedy of a multiple fatality when a bus queue was mown down by a vehicle that didn’t see it. Fact is that never happened, but who ever let facts get in the way of a cause?

There’s a simple answer to that question: change the school day by an hour where necessary. Why not? Let’s go for it and let a little life into our lives.

Categories: General

No tip

October 28, 2018 Leave a comment

The begged question is, how could four people run up a bar bill of £50,000 in a single evening? No wonder they were reluctant to pay up.

Categories: General, Sport

None taken

October 25, 2018 1 comment

I owe a vote of thanks to my friend Bobby. Like me, he is an avid TV watcher, (and recently a programme subject) but not being a Sky subscriber his exposure tends to be different. Last time I saw him he told me about a series called No Offence, which he had seen on Channel 4, which has the reputation of being a place where stellar careers sometimes go to die. (In my eyes it’s one level above C5, which is a kind of telly purgatory.)

It’s always worth taking Bobby’s advice, so I did. Last night Eileen and I completed our binge watch of all three series. As each episode finished we just kept pushing that green button. The star, the virtuoso as DI Viv Dearing, is the wonderful Joanna Scanlan, who has the courage to hold nothing back. She is best known for being the bumbling press officer in The Thick of It.  That is appropriate, for  No Offence is an unremitting ode to political incorrectness, and it screams for more exposure and a wider audience.

If you don’t know it, do what we did. Binge it. And make sure you start with Series One, Episode One. There’s a scene in the police station Ladies, that kicks it off beautifully. Cheers Bob.

Categories: General

Fellow travellers

October 23, 2018 2 comments

I fly Ryanair often but I have never seen anything like this. In my experience the cabin crew are pleasant and efficient.

The Sky News report is built around the comments of a guy who seems to be blaming everyone else for not intervening. What did he do to stop the abuse? No Samaritan, it would seem.

Categories: General


October 21, 2018 Leave a comment

I confess: I never knew he was there.

Categories: General


October 20, 2018 Leave a comment

I just heard that Mauricio Sarri, the Chelsea manager, used to be a banker. It makes me wonder if it might be worth giving Fred Goodwin a run in the Scotland job.

Categories: Sport


October 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Question: how many Portuguese speakers does Sky Sports have among its UK subscribers?

Supplementary: how extensive is the FA’s knowledge of what is and is not offensive in Portuguese?

The charges laid against Jose are based on lip-reading of something he said as he walked off the pitch after the last United home game. That begs another couple of questions. How many Portuguese speaking lip readers were consulted? If only one was used, what was their level of expertise? Finally, who really gives a porra?

I don’t like Jose. I think he’s arrogant and well past his sell-by. But I like vindictive persecution even less and that’s what I see happening here.

Categories: Sport


October 16, 2018 Leave a comment

For 45 minutes last night I did something that I don’t believe I’ve done since 1966. I cheered England as they went one, two, three against Spain in Seville. ‘Why didn’t you cheer for the home team?’ I hear you ask, since I spend part of my life there. Well, although I do not express a view on the independence issue, my granddaughter is Catalan, her mother is Catalan, and so by extension am I. As long as Catalunya’s leaders are in jail or in exile, Madrid is my foe.

I have to admit also that alongside the three goals, which were a mix of bravado and luck, my showreel moment came when Eric Dier, not my favourite player usually, ran forty yards forward to go right through Sergio Ramos, who has had it coming since the Champions League final, and give him and his team the message that Engerland were not there to play a friendly and roll over.

Categories: General, Politics, Sport

Hard Pressed

October 14, 2018 Leave a comment

For a brief and unhappy period in my mid twenties I worked as a reporter for a Scottish daily newspaper. I am not going to say which one because some of my colleagues are still around and I wouldn’t want to offend them.

I might do that when I say that it was the most hateful working environment I have ever known. It was abrasive, ill-mannered (Bullying was tolerated:I didn’t experience it but I saw it) and some of the things I was asked to do just weren’t my style. I was very pleased when job offer came out of the blue. It took me to Edinburgh and changed my life.

Those days came back to me over the last few weeks as I watched ‘Press’, the new BBC drama that is crying out as loud as ‘Bodyguard’ for a second series. The only fault I could find was that neither of the two fictional newspapers featured appeared to have any sports reporters. The rest was brilliant: the villain, Duncan Allen, was a face from my past, and I look forward to seeing him slither even higher.

Categories: General


October 11, 2018 Leave a comment
Categories: Sport


October 11, 2018 Leave a comment

I looked for a ‘Yawn!’ Emoji, but this is the best I could do. 😴

Categories: General


October 10, 2018 Leave a comment

I watched the first episode of Black Earth Rising a few weeks ago, then life got in the way. But now I’m back, and I am hooked.

Not only on the series, but on its lead. Not being a C4 watcher, I knew nothing of Chewing Gum, her previous venture, but I plan to catch up once Black Earth is done.

Michaela Coel is how she’s billed. I suppose when your name is Michaela-Moses Ewuraba O Boakye-Collinson, you’re entitled to shorten it a little. Whatever, she’s a star.

Categories: General


October 10, 2018 Leave a comment

if anyone understands this please explain it.

Categories: Sport

Plotting the loss?

So, the Doctor is back and she’s made some changes. But Bill Potts has gone, taking with her a whole potential story line. I am a big Jodie fan so fine with her but I am wondering if this is all another perverted BBC ploy to kill off the franchise. Castrate the Doctor, switch to Sunday, no opening titles, Bradley Walsh as her companion: any one of those will upset some of the faithful; doing them all at once could signal the end of days.

Categories: General

I know

October 8, 2018 1 comment

I feel for the Barlows. When I was two years old my mother had a full term still birth. I didn’t find out until I was eight when my dad let something slip.

Back then there was no such consideration for the bereaved. There was no funeral, there was only a small sad announcement in the local paper, closing ‘stillborn’. I have no idea what became of my brother’s remains: indeed I hate to think about it. But I do know that my mother never came to terms with it. She never spoke about it to me, and she carried her grief and her anger for the remaining fifty years of her life. It’s still in me and it always will be.

She and my dad deserved an hour with their child.

Categories: Uncategorized


October 7, 2018 1 comment

I watch a lot (too much?) of sport on tv. I choose to knowing that professionals often react emotionally and that their words are often picked up by the effects microphones that are put out there for that purpose. Every time they pick something up that is remotely industrial they apologise for it; usually I haven’t heard it nor I suspect have many others.

Also I watch a lot of drama on tv. I am old enough to remember the night when Kenneth Tynan uttered the first ‘fuck’ on BBC, for reasons long forgotten. Today it is commonplace. Indeed, in the seven kingdoms of Westeros it is conversational. Apologies post watershed usually take the form of a warning, pre-transmission.

So here’s an idea: instead of burdening commentators with the duty of offering a clumsy ‘sorry’ for each infraction, how about sports broadcasters beginning each programme with an acknowledgement that when golfers hit a bad shot, sometimes, unless they happen to be Matt Kuchar, they swear.

Categories: Sport