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Empathy

Portugal forest fires: Three days of mourning for 62 victims

Categories: General

The Queen’s (hidden) Message

June 17, 2017 2 comments

HM got it right again. There is a sombre national mood, after the Westminster Bridge attack,  Manchester, London Bridge, and now the Grenfell Tower fire. Tragedies, all of them, occurring against the background of the most divisive und ultimately pointless General Election campaign in living memory.

At a time when we should be drawing together as a nation, we are being driven apart by the continuing political shambles and the petty point scoring that goes with it. That’s why this morning I find myself contemplating the unthinkable.

Nobody wants another election right now. Very few really want to see the Conservative Party doing a cheap deal with the fundamentalist wing of Northern Irish politics to retain a Commons majority. Therefore, given everything that has gone on recently and given what is to come in the near future, I wonder if the time has come to seek stability through a government of national unity, with the Tories and Labour declaring a truce and burying their differences for the period of a five year parliament, tackling the Brexit negotiations as a nation rather than a faction, and pursuing an agenda for all the people not simply for those on whatever side of the political divide comes out on top.

I don’t imagine that Mrs May would head such a government. She’s a busted flush. Neither could Jeremy Corbyn because he didn’t win the seats. But I could see him as deputy Prime Minister, behind a sensible, strong and acceptable Tory leader, for example, Michael Fallon. McDonnell as Chancellor, no. Vince Cable? Maybe. Home Secretary? Boris? Why not?

In five years normal hostilities would resume, but one would hope with the various parties showing more respect for each other than we have seen in the last two months.

Off the wall thinking, I know, but has its time come?

Categories: General, Politics

Update

June 12, 2017 2 comments

IMG_0142

This needs updating; delete ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’, insert ‘Tory’ and ‘Labour’. This year the principle should be the  same.

Categories: General, Pics, Politics

Bye

June 11, 2017 3 comments

I’ve just deleted Facebook from my phone. The thing has become toxic. When you waken up on a Sunday and find a bloke who took the Daily Express shilling for years banging on about pro-Corbyn polls, it’s time to go.

Categories: General, Politics

Update

News for Bob’s followers: Skinner 28, officially titled ‘State Secrets’, with thanks to Marion Donaldson, my brilliant editor, is scheduled for publication on October 19. Meanwhile the paperback edition of Game Over is due in bookshops on September 7.
 
For those who can’t wait and like ebooks, there’s also the reincarnation of Oz Blackstone, in two short stories on Amazon, Born to be Wild, and The Last Chickenpig, to be followed next Thursday, by a third, The Quasimodo Trunk.
Categories: General

Oz and son, on the trail

The promise will be kept: the third Oz Blackstone short, The Quasimodo Trunk, will be published on Amazon in ebook format next Thursday, June 15, and will be available for pre-order worldwide very soon. If you need to catch up, its predecessors, Born to be Wild, and The Last Chickenpig, are live and available in the same place.

Categories: General

Stifling a yawn, . . . 

Since the programme for Bloody Scotland was published a few days ago, I’ve been asked by a few people why I won’t be there.

The short answer is, I don’t really know. I was available, as I have been for every year of Bloody Scotland’s blessed existence save one when my wife was recuperating from illness, but the feedback one of my supporters was given by the Director, my good friend Big Bob, was that this year the committee had decided to ‘rest me’.

Well this is how it plays. I’ve been active, and moderately successful, in Scottish crime fiction since some of the emerging talent, for whom, make no mistake, I have great admiration and respect, were in primary school, or maybe even being toilet trained. Given that, maybe ‘the committee’ can be forgiven for believing that I’m tired! For the record, I’m not. I was out tonight and bumped into a Welsh mate of mine. He and I are kindred spirits of the same age and temperament, and he was there with his two year-old.

For the last two years I’ve been working my nuts off adding four more Skinner books to the Scottish crime catalogue, which, I believe, promotes us all. Between those I’m presently working on a short story that I’m loving and which I hope will nudge the envelope still further. Maybe I will tire soon, but at my age all you can do is keep going until you hit the buffers, like Thomas the Tank Engine in my grandson’s favourite story book.

Is QJ annoyed by missing Bloody Scotland this year? He’s so fucking annoyed that he’s starting to refer to himself in the Third person, and trust me, that’s always a bad sign. (Doesn’t prevent him from wishing everyone involved success and a weekend of packed events, though.)

Got to go now. It’s a holiday where I am and I’m off out clubbing.

Categories: General

A living legend

My dear wife is from England. We were discussing telly and stuff tonight when I mentioned a name unfamiliar to her. Any Scot of a certain age will remember her, though, the lady who blazed the trail for Jackie Bird, Hazel Irvine and many others. I had the joy of meeting her once: she was as regal and downright nice off screen as on. I offer you the legend,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Marquis

Categories: General

Summed up

Categories: General

Concern

An odd thing to say on WordPress, but I am coming to fear that if our society falls to pieces it won’t be because of Isis or Al Qaeda. 

It will be the fault of social media and its facility for people to express their prejudices, their intolerance and their downright hatred for those with whom they disagree, in the most vicious and provocative of language.

I’m on Facebook and the like for two reasons: business, because that’s how publishers do most of their marketing these days, and to engage amiably with genuine friends and those who show genuine friendship towards me. I’m not there to be exposed to fundamentalism in any way, but make no mistake, it takes many forms, it is alive and well and at the heart of ‘our’ society. 

The boy Zuckerberg has a vision of bringing the world together. Sadly it’s more likely that he’s playing a central role in breaking it apart. 

IMHO, as we say in the chat rooms.

Categories: General

Twin Peaks 

Such utter nonsense.

Categories: General

Manchester 

The world’s a hateful place. How do we explain that to our grandchildren.

Categories: General

Hello

I heard a guy say on radio this morning, ‘Adele is worth £125 million.’

So am I, mate. I don’t have £125 million, but that’s by the by.

Categories: General

Listen and think

Categories: General, Videos

Open season

Outstanding evening in Driftwood, Cala Montgo. Lasagne to kill for, magic chips, and a top rated Provençal pink wine. Great to be back.

Categories: General

Shambles 

March 22, 2017 1 comment

I went to Edinburgh today. I had two meetings, so I took my car, to see if it was as bad as I had heard.

It wasn’t. It was much, much worse. 

I can only hope that they let the lunatics take over the asylum, for they have to do a better job than the councillors.

Categories: General, Politics

Colourful

March 22, 2017 3 comments

I’m pleased to announce that Somewhere Over the Rainbow, my political folly, is now available on Amazon, in paperback format as well as in Kindle. Soon, it will be available also in audio, physical and download, published by Isis.

Here’s a link.

I know, I think Jeff Besos is  the Anti-Christ, but he’s driving and my young friend Matt works for him.

Categories: General

Cleft stick

March 14, 2017 2 comments

Here’s the way it is.

In the Independence Referendum, I voted Yes, because I’m passionately Scottish, and I believe that my nation can not only survive but be a force in the modern world.

In the EU Referendum I voted Leave, because I do not wish my grandson to be a citizen of the monstrous, ungovernable, riven Federal European State that I believe is  inevitable. There’s already talk of the French ceding control of its nuclear deterrent to Europe.

Now Nicola wants me to vote again. She’s asking me to choose between remaining British or remaining European. The dozy mare is asking me to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Sorry lass, my grandson will always win.

 

Categories: General, Politics

Fall of the dinosaurs

Time to stick my head above the parapet, re Muirfield.
First, I’m pleased the HCEG has reached the decision it has, for its own sake. It’s the people who know least who have had the most to say about the issue. Ignorance is never a good a starting point for a debate, but much of what’s been written on social media has been mere abuse. Even in the wake of a positive vote that hasn’t changed.
I don’t know the whole story but I know some of it, having lived more or less next door to the place for 46 years. In that time I’ve played the course twice, but I know several Muirfield members and none of them are dinosaurs. Today is the second occasion on which theyve voted to admit lady members, having been hangstrung by their constitution first time around.
Golf is a competitive game played largely by men against men and women against women, so it’s not unnatural that separate men’s and ladies’ clubs have evolved over the years. They were what they were but some were more exclusive than others. In the case of Muirfield, when the first lady member tees off she will not be the first lady to have played the course, not by a long chalk. There’s a legend of another club where ladies were not permitted to walk in front of the clubhouse windows.
As for the Open, Muirfield doesn’t need it financially, and I’m told that many within the club would prefer if it remained off the Championship rota. But it will be returned, and every twelve years or so Muirfield’s members will continue to enable the substantial contribution to the Scottish economy that it brings.
Categories: General, Politics, Sport

Thanks, regardless

March 8, 2017 1 comment
I’m going to say something here that I say often at events. I don’t understand why people pay any attention to reviews of anything that could be called, however loosely, art, be it written, spoken drawn or painted.
 
My interest is books, and this is what I believe; every time a story is consumed, that is an intellectual experience unique to that reader. There can be no such thing as a bad book; one that doesn’t work for you or me will be a rollicking good read for someone else. No two individuals read exactly the same work.
 
What are reviews about, and what drives people to post them unsolicited on Amazon, blogs or anywhere else? Ego? Attention-seeking? A genuine desire to help and guide others?
 
Probably all three.
 
This, however, is undeniably true. Those Amazon stars do influence buyers and I’m grateful for everyone I score.
Categories: General