Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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


October 12, 2021 Leave a comment

So, this report that’s causing all the fuss: it’s the work of back bench Tory MPs, some of whom will be bitter because they aren’t front bench, and opposition members with axes to grind. Plus, one of the principal witnesses was the loathsome Cummings whose axe is jumbo sized.

At the beginning of the day and the end, it’s a collective opinion, but no way is it impartial.

Categories: General, Politics

Keep out!!!

October 9, 2021 2 comments

This is how the members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, aka Muirfield, choose to enclose their course. That stuff isn’t a holdover from bygone times, it’s new and rust-free.

Why stop there, ladies and gentlemen? Razor wire would convey the message even more effectively.

Categories: General, Pics

Award winner

October 5, 2021 1 comment

Congratulations, Royal Mail, on picking up today’s F****** Useless trophy. I am trying to buy postage on line. I’ve gone through the process of creating an order with no difficulty. Now I am trying to pay for it. There are two methods on offer, PayPal or directly inputting card details. I’ve tried both, only to spend a frustrating half hour watching a screen that is supposed to be card authentication, but is instead a roadblock robbing me of half an hour… so far … when I could have been doing something worthwhile.


Categories: General


September 21, 2021 Leave a comment

I have nothing but time for the medical practice that has looked after my family and me for half a century. Sad then that it seems NHS Scotland doesn’t trust it any more.

The annual flu’ jab programme has never been more important and yet it has been taken out of GPs’ hands, to be run through regional vaccination hubs. Already, 80-year-olds are receiving appointment letters. One that I have seen tells the patient to report to a centre 30 miles away at 9am on a given date. Does that person drive? No. How will he get to the venue? That appears to be his problem. in theory he can change the location on line. In practice he can’t but in any event not all the target group use the internet. In theory he can do it by phone, if he is prepared to waste one of his precious remaining hours waiting for his call to be answered.

My wife is housebound. Her vaccinations are done by district nurses. How will she be fitted into the system? They. Don’t. Know!

It’s clear that the letters have been sent out far too early. This essential project is a shambles: people are confused and alarmed. God save us from Professor Leitch.

Categories: General, Politics

Shame, shame.

September 2, 2021 Leave a comment

On Sunday I put a specific question to the Scottish Government Central Enquiry Unit. I was expecting visitors from an amber list country, one not fully vaccinated the other 11 years old. Their visit was for seven days. Each was required to take a PCR test on Day 2. The adult was required to quarantine , the child was exempt.

Like all arrivals in the U.K. they were required to buy test kits from Corporate Travel Management, the outfit commissioned by HMG to run the portal. However, the portal only sells kits with two tests, the second being for Day 8. There is no alternative offered to minors or to those who are staying for less than eight days.

My question addressed this anomaly. It took the Scottish Government four days to respond and then the reply was automated and did not answer the question. The truth is that there is no option. My visitors were forced to buy four tests at £68 a time, even though two of them will never be used.

There are two issues here. One is the basic principle of the government designing a shoddy system and the handing it over to a commercial organisation that will profit from the rip-off. The other is the contempt shown by the Scottish Government by its obvious lack of concern for those who put it in place.

Categories: General, Politics


I am one track into Butter Miracle and already I am smiling. Only Adam Duritz would use ‘ossifies’ in a lyric. Adam Duritz is and always has been more than just a songwriter. He’s a poet. He’s a genius.

Categories: General

Not before time

August 11, 2021 2 comments
Categories: General


August 7, 2021 1 comment

I have just seen what I reckon to be the pole-sitter in any contest to choose the worst TV ad ever. It’s for a product called Manscape and it was shown on Eurosport. Possibly because ITV and Sky refused it?

Categories: General

Doctor, No.

August 2, 2021 7 comments

When Irene, AJ, Susie and I arrived in Gullane, 50 years ago last May, Spud Bennett was the primary school headmaster, Doctors Barr and Blackett were the GPs, and it was a question of who arrived on your doorstep first, The Welcome Wagon or Doc Whiteford, the minister. The WW led on to The Housewives’ Register, which brought people of a similar age together, the main purpose being to have parties and get very pished. Today we have Facebook, Gullane News Group, the fledgling GVA, a few hundred new high-end houses, a medical centre with more doctors than I could name, a primary school that is growing exponentially, and the same unspeakable and inaccessible beach toilets. Knowing what I know now, if we were back in 1971 and a Time Lord offered to take us 50 years into the future, would I accept? Not a chance, because I would lose out on all the friends I made then and who are still with me today, physically or in my heart. If today’s twenty and thirty somethings are half as lucky, they’ll have done alright.

Categories: General


This is a quote from a reputable news outlet, one that’s always up with the times.

‘The unrivalled queen of the celebrity sit-down, who has, over the past three decades, extracted raw and revelatory intimacies from Michael Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Whitney Houston, among many others, said yesterday, in the wake of the Sussexes’ incendiary interview, that she “could not believe” the things the couple were telling her.’

Change just one word and that’s what Piers Morgan said.

Categories: General

Excuse me?

February 3, 2021 1 comment

Is the word ‘Vanilla’ racist in this context? Or am I not allowed to ask that question?

At a time when we are striving to build a diverse and multi-cultural society, I am not certain that Sir Trevor is helping.

Categories: General, Politics

Come on Eileen

January 26, 2021 2 comments

I’m starting to get a wee bit hacked off.

While I am very happy for my 70+ friends as the white vaccination envelopes come through the letter box (even if some of the locations display a lack of joined up thinking) I am increasingly annoyed that my 80+ vulnerable wife has heard nothing at all from the NHS.

I do not deal in assurances, or even promises. Only delivery matters.

Categories: General

The grownups are back

January 21, 2021 Leave a comment
Categories: General, Politics

Home truth

January 12, 2021 Leave a comment

I have a confession. I have been watching #SHOTY, (How did we exist in the pre-hashtag pre-history?) Scotland’s Home of the Year.

However, I’ve tended to watch it with the sound turned down. There have been some spectacular properties on show, and some ‘are they serious?’ entries too. The show is fine in concept, but for me it falls flat because of the judges. (One in particular gets on my tits. I’m not saying who, but there may be a clue in there.)

Each is offered as an expert in the home-making field, but ultimately what they wind up judging is other people’s taste. Why pick a winner? Why not let each home speak for itself? Or better still, why not allow the viewers to make the choice, with a weekly phone-in vote?

Categories: General

Patience, patient?

January 11, 2021 Leave a comment

Nicola Sturgeon, ‘Nippy’ to her opponents, hasn’t got too much wrong over the last ten months. The pandemic has been prudently managed in Scotland.

That said, I have reservations about the way the vaccine programme is being rolled out. We’ve all had a leaflet, at significant cost, that’s a bit of a chocolate fireguard. Its core message is ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’ Not unnaturally, most of us want to know when that will happen. We’re not being told; worse, we’re being told not to ask.

I know two people, both in their eighties, one in England, one in Scotland. The former will be vaccinated this week, the latter has been told that there are many people ahead of him in the queue.

The information gap is frustrating, and it contrasts with the English situation. Implementation north of the border has been handed, we are told, to individual health boards. To me, that builds in potential inequalities across the country, a postcode lottery, to resort to a phrase I dislike. I would prefer to see an individual tasked with personal responsibility for delivery. The Health Secretary might argue that it’s her. If it is, she should be front and centre giving much more specific information.

My wife is in group one. I have been told that she’ll be contacted by our medical practice, but nobody is quite sure how. It’s most likely, it seems, to be a letter. That begs a question. How are GPs equipped to issue dozens, maybe hundreds of letters to their elderly patients? And another. In the case of the most vulnerable, who might still be living alone but in need of support, what means are in place to ensure these letters are understood?

Lots of questions but no apparent will to answer them. Come on Nippy, step up.

Categories: General, Politics

Selling her book already

January 11, 2021 Leave a comment

Like all of you, I have reflected on the past year and how the invisible enemy, Covid-19, swept across our beautiful country. All Nations have experienced
— Read on

Categories: General, Politics