Author Archive

Night and day.

January 17, 2023 1 comment

This afternoon I traveled by train from Flaca, north of Girona, to Barcelona. The train was clean, comfortable and it arrived on time. With my €6 senior card it cost €7.90.

Last month I traveled by rail from Dunbar to Newcastle. The train was late, filthy, and the return journey was cancelled without notice.

As far as I’m concerned our tail unions can strike for as long as they like. Every day without them is for the better.

Why do we tolerate crap provision rather than aspire to make it better.?

Categories: General, Politics


January 14, 2023 Leave a comment

Pleasures and privilege of being a Grampar, as she spells it. Right up there is taking her to a shopping mall, aged twelve, an incipient teenager, giving her a certain amount of money and turning her loose.

When it was done, and she had spent that certain amount, exactly, to the last cent, I asked her what she had learned from the exercise. Reply: ‘I learned how to shop!’

Categories: General


January 13, 2023 Leave a comment

I’m five minutes into ‘The Rig‘ a series on Prime. I was drawn in by some fine Scottish actors at the top of the cast list, Martin Compston, Iain Glen, Mark Bonnar, people who don’t usually put a foot wrong.

What I didn’t check out was the director. That’s if there was one, for the thing sounds completely wooden, like a script read-through with the cameras running by mistake. No inflection, no interpretation, no nothing. Should I persevere? Someone tell me please, for I am about to switch off.

Categories: General

Spare, a thought

January 11, 2023 2 comments

What do I think of the lad Sussex? I reckon he is enduring the most public emotional breakdown one can imagine, and the longest lasting with no sign of it ending. The fact that he’s making money in the process is irrelevant, or would be were it not for the fact that Netflix, Oprah, Random House, ITV and all the others who have cashed in on his obvious instability are all making a hell of a lot more than he is. He’s a tragic figure whose therapy following his mother’s violent death in the public eye was to be made, as a twelve year old, to walk through Westminster behind her coffin and then to be banged off to Eton while his father got on with his life and his new relationship. It’s as clear as daylight that he has never got over that, nor has he been given any sort of effective help. He’s a victim and he should be pitied, not pilloried.

What would I have done if I’d been his father? I’d never have let him out of my sight even if he was a constant reminder of his mother.

As I look at this unfolding tragedy, I find myself wondering what kind of man KC3 really is, and also, what’s going on inside the head of his older son.

Categories: General

Beat that.

January 10, 2023 Leave a comment

Categories: Pics


January 9, 2023 6 comments

Guess what the lady is doing? That’s right, she’s feeding the seagulls. As if …,

Categories: General, Pics


My favourite film of 2023. 7 Women and a Mystery, on Netflix. Okay, I have only seen one so far, but it cheered me up.

Categories: General

Orange Juice

December 22, 2022 4 comments

Our expensive rail network is bust. It’s totally unfit for purpose. End of story.

Categories: General

It’s not

December 14, 2022 3 comments

I have begun to rewatch, not for the first time, my all time favourite TV show, The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterstones, and Dev Patel. If it has a fault it lies in Aaron Sorkin’s tendency to cram too many words into a broadcast minute, but every one makes sense so that’s okay.

Categories: General

Fringe event

December 3, 2022 3 comments

I’m often asked when Skinner will be adapted for TV,; my answer, ‘Don’t know, don’t care..’ I really mean that. I had a close call once, and learned from that experience. My characters are my creations; they are real to me, so much that I feel a duty of care that would prevent me handing them over to another without the kind of strict guarantees that a production company would not offer.

There’s some very good TV but there’s some garbage too. For example, ‘Granite Harbour,’ the current BBC1 offering. I watched the first episode because it is set in Aberdeen. I binged the rest because I expected it to explode into life. It exploded all right. Took me back to my schooldays and an eedjit with a stink bomb.

I don’t recall ever seeing as many loose end left untied. I don’t recall any other plot that left me wondering wtf it was all about. I don’t recall another series that gave one of the lead characters, the biggest male name on the cast list, a few lines before killing him off in the first five minutes.

I don’t care about any of that. I have escaped. But one question remains, one that really needs answered. Who the hell did Dawn Steele’s hair?

Categories: General

Suck it up.

November 22, 2022 Leave a comment

Fresh rail strikes to hit peak Christmas travel, RMT union announces
— Read on

So, while most people are tightening their belts and riding out the inflation crisis this lot, and others, want to be cushioned at their expense. To hell with it, let’s have a twelve month wage freeze for those earning more than average UK annual salary, £33,000.

Categories: General

Extra time

November 21, 2022 Leave a comment

The criminal justice systems in the United Kingdom and in most other democracies are based on the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven. If an accused person denies the charges and has not been remanded in custody is it defensible that he or she should be excluded from their workplace while awaiting trial?

I apologise for another football related post, but these are the cases that tend to make headlines, illustrating the point. One made the news today, that of a young player accused of a range of offences. He has been suspended by his club over a year, since the police became involved. It has taken the CPS (Keir Starmer’s old team) a year to decide to charge him, with his trial being set for November 2023. No way should that be acceptable.

It doesn’t stop there. Ryan Giggs was arrested in November 2020, after a complaint of domestic abuse and was suspended from his employment. It took the CPS 21 months to bring him to trial, where the jury found itself unable to convict him on the basis of the evidence. In Scotland the verdict would probably have been Not proven, with the same effect as Not guilty. In Wales the CPS has been granted a retrial. That is the equivalent of a footballer hitting the post with a penalty kick and being given another shot because his manager didn’t like the outcome. In Giggs’ case it will mean that almost three years will have elapsed between complaint and disposal.

Just? Not in my eyes.

Categories: General

Bob Marley

November 21, 2022 1 comment

What is courage? I see it as a conscious decision to stand up for the principles that underpin one’s life, regardless of any pressure to abandon them, be it physical, emotional or financial.

When Harry Kane and Gareth Bale lead out their teams later today for their opening matches in the **** World Cup they will each be the embodiment of the cowardice of those who put them there.

The One Love armband is more than a symbol of captaincy, it’s a statement of morality. Its prohibition by ****, an organisation so abhorrent that I choose not to give it a name check, should be ignored. If the tournament was taking place in the USA and the host nation chose to wear the rainbow, this would not be an issue. In banning it, **** has set itself against all the rights and principles that are upheld by its display.

Categories: General, Politics, Sport


November 18, 2022 6 comments

Unlike many people who are offering critical opinions on Cristiano Ronaldo I watched all 90 minutes of his interview with Piers Morgan.

My view of modern professional footballers is coloured by the life experiences of those I knew when I was a kid. Back then, Ian St John combined the early years of his career with an apprenticeship in Motherwell Bridge. Many of those before and around him were part-timers from start to finish. They were also slaves: as soon as they signed a professional contract they were registered to that club until they were sold or released. Pre-Bosman players did not have freedom of contract.

No question, Cristiano is a lucky man to have been born into his era, Regardless of ability, anyone who can afford to turn down a €350 million offer, in the twilight of his career or at any other time, is blessed indeed.

And yet the slave mentality persists, Worse, it is supported by the attitudes and behaviour of media that haven’t really changed from the days when press boxes housed a disproportionate number of drunks and the semi-literate.

The response to the Ronaldo interview has been distorted. He has been portrayed as an uppity millionaire who is upset because his ego allows him to believe he should have special treatment. Possibly that criticism is valid, but he is also a man with undeniable grievances.

It is undeniable that chunks of the Morgan interview have been distorted and taken out of context, for example Sky Sports is reporting that he would be happy if Arsenal won the Premier League. It fails to mention his qualification, ‘after Manchester United’, or that his remark was in response to a question by the Arsenal supporting Piers Morgan. If he had chosen to give the interview to Sky’s Gary Neville rather than to a turd in a Savile Row suit I don’t need to ask how it would have been presented by the channel.

As a Man U supporter I am sad that Cristiano will never play for the club again. But given his emotional attachment to it, I am equally sad that he had been allowed to feel betrayed. That is classic mismanagement for which the club’s decision makers are entirely responsible. I’m beyond sad by his revelation that in the twelve years or so between his departure and his return the club’s infrastructure was entirely unchanged. I’m infuriated that its reviled owners have never met the man whose image has underpinned the countless millions they have trousered since they were allowed by our absurd corporate system to buy the business with borrowed money.

Today we are being told that the club has initiated appropriate steps. The (formerly Manchester) Guardian is reporting that these include taking CR7 to court. To me the most appropriate step the owners could take would be to meet with the finest player the club has known (with the possible exception of George Best) for a serious discussion, for it’s clear he knows a hell of a lot more about the business than they do.

Categories: Sport

An interesting question

November 17, 2022 Leave a comment

I am not sure what to make 0f this.

Categories: General

Help me

November 10, 2022 1 comment

I’m puzzled. I watched the Man U game tonight. Before kickoff the cameras picked out a young guy in the posh seats. For the information of the viewers, the director captioned him: Ishowspeed, Influencer.

I’m not so insular that I’d never seen the term , but I would like someone to explain to me what an ‘Influencer’ actually is, whom are he, she or these days they trying to influence, and to what end or purpose?

Categories: General

Try this

November 10, 2022 Leave a comment
Categories: General

Wide Open

November 8, 2022 5 comments

Storm Arwen was quite an event last year. It cost me (and my insurer) a new roof as well as flattening trees beyond number.

One of those was on the route of my daily walk with the boy Sunny. There it was, lying on its side, roots exposed. It reminded me of a much larger tree that Eileen and I saw, similarly felled by a tempest, in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

And that started me thinking. What if …

The product of that contemplation is published tomorrow. It’s called Open Season, and it’s the latest, the 34th to be precise, in the Bob Skinner series. Available in hardback, trade paperback and ebook formats. I hope you like it.

Categories: General


October 30, 2022 4 comments

I’m 77. I have a dog who demands that I walk him twice daily. It’s good for both of us and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on life, death, the meaning of existence and the contempt of civil servants for those who pay their wages.

I was one myself, a long time ago. I dealt with the media rather than the general public. I hope and even believe that I made more friends there than I did enemies. My approach was that I was there to help, not obstruct. But I was a middle man. When I had a problem usually it was with someone within the machine, who regarded public information as his or her, (usually his in those days) private property.

Many people think of civil servants only as those employed by central governments. In fact there are far more, four times the number if police and fire services are discounted.

Today I would like to focus on just one of them. A couple of years ago on a nice Sunday morning I might have taken Eileen out in her wheelchair. (Oh how I wish I still could.) A few years before that it might have been my grandson in his stroller. It I had done so this morning I would have been unhappy.

In the next street to my house there are in place temporary three way traffic lights. Large and largely unnecessary warning signs for motorists have been erected, on the pavement, blocking it and parents and carers on to the roadway. They were erected on Friday and left for the weekend at least.

The person who took the decision to do that was a civil, ie public servant. Surely to God there is something in what my old boss used to call standard operating procedures that says you do not block pavements with road signs.

Why am I so grumpy about this? It’s because I believe that every decision made and every action taken, instructed or authorised by a public servant should be considered in the context of a simple question. How will this impact on the people who pay my wages?

My local authority has a slogan: ‘You spoke, We listened.’ Really?

Categories: General


April 7, 2022 1 comment

I watched a Sky original film last night, named Blacklight. I want my money back. Liam Neeson, what are you doing?

Categories: General