Archive for the ‘General’ Category


March 15, 2018 3 comments

Yesterday I attended the first of what we all intend to be a series of lunchtime gatherings. Eight survivors of the Thursday Legends (check-out the Skinner title of that name) got together in the Nether Abbey, North Berwick, for the senior citizen menu, a few beers and a general update. Great time, great times, and we are agreed that our successors aren’t a patch on us.

Categories: General, Sport


Music while I create: I’ve built myself a Hugh Masekela playlist on Amazon Music. Although he spent some of his life exile, Hugh was prolific.  If I chose I could listen to him   for just short of 24 hours.

Categories: General

Me and Amy

Moved on from Keeping Faith, I’ve built myself an entire Amy Wadge playlist. She’s  been keeping Sir Robert and me company all afternoon.

Categories: General

Today’s music choice.

Keeping Faith – Amy Wadge. This is a short album of music from the BBC Wales TV drama of the same name that I’m currently watching via the iPlayer. Both of them come highly recommended. At the moment I’m at episode 3; that torn-faced lady DI has issues that go beyond the job, that’s all I’m saying.

Categories: General, Videos

Music while I work

Today it’s Clifton Chenier. If you’ve forgotten who he was, or you never knew, he’s worth a refresher.

Categories: General


February 13, 2018 2 comments

*Spoiler alert* Score one for me. A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a Facebook discussion, sparked  by Maxim Jacubowski, about McMafia and James Norton’s performance as Alex. Maxim, a highly respected figure in the mystery business, saw him as one-dimensional. I understood that but argued that Norton has already proved his range by segueing from the seriously psychotic Tommy in Happy Valley into the randy vicar  in Grantchester, and that if his portrayal was dead-pan, that was exactly how it was meant to be.

I went on to predict that at the end, Alex would evolve into someone very like Michael Corleone, in The Godfather.

As it turned out, that’s what happened, but there was much more. In fact the series turned out to be a pretty shameless reworking of the entire Godfather trilogy. Alex’s father Dimitri equalled the ageing Don with his enemies ranged against him. His interaction with Rebecca, his girlfriend, was close to Michael’s with Kaye, through the film series. There was the flaky sister, although her other half did make it out unscathed. (I admit that Faye Marsay’s casting did throw me; given her capabilities I expected more meat to her character.) The early murder of the reckless Uncle Boris had shades of the slaughter of Sonny Corleone, which Michael was always going to avenge. The retribution that befell Vadim happened following a funeral, as did the climax of the first Godfather. To cap it all, Vadim’s daughter died in a failed attempt on her father’s life. Where have we seen that before?

Maybe all this was trailed; if so, I missed it, as I am sure did most of the viewing audience.

Having made all these comparisons I must now concede that the makers of McMafia did not have a novel to adapt. Their series was based on a piece of non-fiction. My guess at the ending didn’t stop me from watching right to the finish; in fact it probably encouraged me. Okay, the guy who played Dimitri was no Marlon Brando in any language but he didn’t need to be because James Norton was able to carry the whole thing on his shoulders.

The next 007? I hope so, if only to ensure that McMafia 2 doesn’t happen; well should be left alone.


Categories: General

Explanation required

December 11, 2017 1 comment

I have just noticed an item on sale on Amazon. This is its description:

‘Motion Activated Toilet Seat Night Light’


I kid you not. It begs all sorts of questions, not least, what colour is it?

Categories: General


December 9, 2017 5 comments

Thanks to all those who’ve explored Bob Skinner’s distant future in Skinner’s Elves. Last time I looked it stood at 399 on the overall Kindle sales list, a number I find both gratifying and astonishing.

Categories: General

The Man

December 3, 2017 1 comment

Getting in the way of work, yes, even on a Sunday, ‘Versatile” by Sir George I-Van Morrison. He surely is, for on the same day, he released a blues set called ‘Roll with the Punches’, 31 tracks in total. The Man is, not to put too fine a point on it, still fucking brilliant; in fact I’ve never heard him sing better . . . even if he will never be John Coltrane.

This gives me hope, for he was born in the same year as me, on a birthday he shares with my wife.

Categories: General


December 3, 2017 2 comments

Thanks to everyone who has sampled ‘Skinner’s Elves’ since it was published two days ago, and thanks also to the generous reviewers.

I note that it’s number 75 in one of the Amazon category rankings. For a short story, that looks pretty good.

Categories: General


November 30, 2017 1 comment

I’m gratified by the pre-order response to Skinner’s Elves, the Christmas short story that I announced a couple of days ago, and which publishes on Amazon Kindle tomorrow, December 1. it’s only 6,000 words long but it tries to stand convention on its head, by beginning  with a solution and ending with a mystery.

Enjoy. It’s for you.

Categories: General

For those who can’t wait . . .

November 27, 2017 1 comment

I’m happy, and a little surprised if I’m honest, to announce a new arrival that wasn’t even a twinkle until a week ago. With very little encouragement, and with Christmas in mind, I have put together a 6,000 word Bob Skinner short story, set 24 years in the future. Its title is ‘Skinner’s Elves’, and it will be published on Friday, December 1, exclusively as an ebook, in the Amazon Kindle store. It’s available for pre-order now.

It sounds like a story for children, but it isn’t. In a real sense, however it’s a tale about children and the power they have to help us overcome, and to emerge from, the deepest despair.

Categories: General


November 7, 2017 1 comment

The Paradise Papers are great fun, and they’re a welcome break from lunging, almost deniable knee-touching and elected representatives knifing each other. However the tabloids, with one notable exception, seem to be ‘avoiding’ an inconvenient truth. Tax avoidance isn’t illegal. In fact it’s an industry that could as easily be described as Tax Management. The system under which it thrives is put in place by governments, and can be changed at their instigation. So don’t blame Lewis, HM, or the people from Mrs Brown’s Boys. Blame Philip Hammond, George Osborne, Alastair Darling, Gordon Brown and all the Chancellors before them, who developed the tax framework and have been content to live with it.

That exception I mentioned? The Daily Mail, which seems entirely disinterested in everyone else’s story of the day. Could it be that the editor has been warned off by the proprietors? If so, why?

Categories: General, Politics

Secret no longer

October 19, 2017 16 comments

Great day in our house; ‘State Secrets’, the 28th Bob Skinner mystery, is published, officially, in hardback, trade paperback, and ebook formats.

Happy to say it’s flying off the shelf and melting the Internet.

Categories: General

God’s in His heaven . . .

September 3, 2017 Leave a comment

Lunch today with more than a little nostalgia; the Finlay family are back in the Waterside Bistro, Haddington, on the banks of the other Tyne. Jim is there too, in support of his sons, who are the new face of this business. Everything was just like old times, 30-odd years ago, including the quality of the food.

Welcome back, you’ve been missed.

Categories: General

Order, order

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment
Categories: General, Pics

Hear, hear

September 2, 2017 2 comments

Also available to download.

Categories: General, Pics

Bob Who?

August 31, 2017 5 comments

Over the last 24 years I have appeared at more public events than I can remember, in eight nations, on three continents. My favourite part is always the Q&A section when the audience talks to me, rather than the other way around. Beyond a doubt one question has been asked more times than any other, so often that it’s pretty much obligatory at gigs.

‘If Bob Skinner is ever made into a TV series, who do you see as Bob?’

Over the years I have offered many answers. This thing has been going so long that when it started people were talking about Iain Glen as Andy Martin! Sean Connery, Liam Neeson, Idris Elba, John Hannah, (no kidding, Ian) Patterson Joseph, Clive Russell, Iain Glen as Bob Skinner, they’ve all been put out there. For a while I would suggest Peter Capaldi to audiences. Almost invariably they laughed. Then ‘The Thick of It’ happened and they stopped laughing. Mr Capaldi is too old now, so he has dropped off at my list.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never had a favourite. There has never been a stand-out candidate in my eyes. When Skinner did have a close shave with Yorkshire TV, they were thinking of David Morrissey as Bob. That might have worked, but it never happened.

But now, after all these years, I do. The scales have fallen from my ageing eyes.

My ideal Skinner has been around for a while, but nobody has picked him out, not even me, until very lately. Maybe a production company will have the same vision that I have. Step forward Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound . . . in real life, Rory McCann. He’s a big bloke, a genuine Scottish actor, hugely recognisable thanks to ‘Game of Thrones’ and he’s just the right age.

How about it?

Categories: General


August 31, 2017 1 comment

Finally got round last night to watching the Oliver Stone film adaptation of ‘Savages’, by Don Winslow. (Do not be misled by a book with the same title,  published recently by someone who either didn’t do his research properly, or did, if you get my drift.)

* Health warning *: there is a horrific beginning, and seriously graphic violence throughout. (Oliver Stone does not do subtle.)  That said, somehow it all blends into a logical and very satisfying conclusion. The Blu-Ray includes an uncut version; I chose the theatrical version, but I plan to watch the other, not because I’m a sadist and want even more blood, but to see whether the endings are the same.

‘Savages’ is one of the few Winslow novels I haven’t yet read, but I decided to do the movie version first. Now I will find it difficult to read the original without the presence in my head of the magnificent Benicio del Toro, who steals the film out from under a very fine cast.

Around ten years ago, I read that Robert de Niro had acquired the rights to ‘The Winter of Frankie Machine’, another of Winslow’s ‘surfer’ novels, maybe his best. I thought even then that he was too old for the title part, so it didn’t surprise me when it was never made, but good news, the project has resurfaced, with William Friedkin hired to direct. News also that Fox have bought the rights to ‘Power of the Dog’ and it’s sequel ‘The Cartel’, to be produced by Ridley Scott.

Categories: General

The future?

August 23, 2017 1 comment

On the road in L’Escala this morning I travelled for a while behind a Tesla model S, all-electric, with Dutch plates.

Baking hot morning, but all the windows were open. Was this because the driver had switched off the air-con to save battery power? Whatever it made me wonder about the practicality of electric vehicles as they stand. My bruv-in-law has a Nissan Leaf, and is very pleased with it, but there is little need for air-con in Wooler, and he doesn’t test its range. Great, no doubt, for commuting, as long as the owner has charging facilities at home. But for a journey from Spain to Holland?

Tesla’s site suggests that some configurations can achieve a range of up to 400 miles, at 55mph with the air-con off. Switch it on and go a little faster, make allowances for an extravagant driving style, and that declines rapidly.

I have to admit that I’d fancy one of the beasts myself, but I doubt that I’d be bringing it to Spain. I hope that Mr Hollander has his return journey planned very carefully, and knows exact where the charging points are.

Categories: General