August 11, 2015 1 comment

Money Help Marketing has promised to add my number to its DNC list. I assume that stands for Do Not Call, rather that Dial NCessantly. Hope I’m right.

Categories: General


Last night I made it to the end: of the second series of True Detective. In truth I lost touch with the plot around half way through and even after a Poirot-like summing up in the final episode I still couldn’t join all the dots. Even today questions remain. For example: How could an actor as large as Vince Vaughan manage to be two-dimensional in one of the lead roles? Did Bezzarides have a Christian name? If so what was it? However I was not at a loss when the producers stuck to one of the rules of film to which there are few exceptions: it rarely ends well for Colin Farrell.

Categories: General

Got them

August 10, 2015 1 comment

On July 27, I posted about some annoying nuisance calls I’d been receiving. They’ve continued ever since, but finally I’ve managed to trace the source.

They come from an outfit called Money Help Marketing, in Sale. They specialise in what they call Lead Generation, in other words, freelance cold-calling. Their website is and their number is 0333 002 0139.

I’ve asked them, politely so far, to stop. If they don’t I will have my revenge by calling them every hour on the hour, leaving the line open and playing them selections from Kinky Friedman’s Greatest Hits. If ‘Old Ben Lucas’ doesn’t do it, I may have to employ my own specialists.

Categories: General


August 7, 2015 1 comment

I had an email this morning from National Rail, telling me they miss me, and offering me a £5 discount if I renew my Senior Railcard, which I let lapse last year. That would bring the cost down to £25, and would get me one third off fares for a year.

I have a senior railcard in Spain, a Tarjeta Dorada. It costs €6, gets me a 40% discount, and pays for itself on one trip from  Figueres to Barcelona.

Say no more.

Categories: General


Dodgy investment of the year; Saturday tickets for a Test Match

Categories: Sport

A trip back in time

A couple of nights ago, I watched a programme on Sky Arts. It isn’t usually a channel of choice, but there was a reason. On offer was an hour and more of Les Paul and his Trio, filmed live in the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway during the old man’s 90th birthday celebrations in 2005.

Three years earlier, Eileen and I had a holiday in New York. On day one, I looked through a What’s On mag in the hotel, and found Les’s weekly Monday gig advertised. I was surprised, as I’d assumed he had been playing the celestial Gibson for a few years. We booked, and enjoyed the best evening of our trip.

The Iridium is a compact venue and watching the TV show was just like being back there. Les didn’t make it through 2009, but he was playing almost to the end. If you have access through catch-up TV, I urge you to download it, to see a latter-day miracle at work.

Categories: General

Barking mad

August 5, 2015 4 comments

As regular visitors to my blog will be aware, I am not, never have been and never will be a supporter of the Labour Party. However I have friends who are, and it is for them that I fear the future, if the crazy rules for voter qualification are not changed pronto.

I have just filled in on-line a form to become a registered supporter of the Party. If I was so minded I could buy the right to vote by forwarding it, with a £3 payment, then cast a mischievous ballot for Jeremy Corbyn. I’m not about to do anything so irresponsible, but a hell of a lot of people will; as far as I can see from the process there is no way of screening out the imposters, whatever Harriet Harman etc. may say.

There is a clear and present danger that Corbyn will be elected as Leader of HM Opposition. That would put him at the head of a parliamentary group that would never have nominated him for the position had he not been handed votes by other candidates in the half-baked belief that the Left, in his case the extreme Left, should be on the ballot paper.

The daftness of that proposition when allied to  the wacky voting eligibility set-up is, as Denis Thatcher’s fictional self used to say in the ‘Dear Bill’ letters, as clear as the balls on a dog.

So far Corbyn’s headline plus point is re-nationalisation of the railways, a move which polls indicate would command 80% public support. Andy Burnham has already put on that jacket, and you can bet that before the next election, the Tory Governmennt will have enacted or enabled something that won’t be called re-nationalisation, but which will have much the same effect.

This morning I read Corbyn’s headline negative, a demand that the UK stop bombing ISIS targets and instead isolate it. How exactly do you isolate a brutal extremist army? You don’t; you destroy it.

On the same platform, he went on to propose that a former leader of his party should be put on trial for war crimes, over the invasion of Iraq. There might be some popular support for that, but it’s difficult to see how it could be done without also indicting the entire Cabinet of the day, who backed him, and possibly also every MP who voted to give Blair the authority for military action.

Apart from being a walking economic own goal, Corbyn is also a threat to national security. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in Palestine that he would ever be elected Prime Minister. However the way things are heading there is a strong possibility that he will soon stand opposite David Cameron at the Dispatch Box. If that happens, then the party that my pals have supported for their lifetimes will face virtual extinction as a political force.

Last year Scotland voted to remain under the yolk of Westminster. If that is how it must be, then there must be stability in that Chamber. We could be headng for chaos.

Categories: Politics

Anyone who had a heart

August 3, 2015 1 comment

So farewell, Cilla. RIP

There’s been chatter on Facebook by folk complaining about the prominence given to her passing by sections of the UK media who normally pay scant attention to the celebrity world. To them all I can say is that Cilla was greater than the  physical space she occupied, while the opposite is true of most celebs. For people like her even Guardian readers will shed the occasional tear.

Categories: General

Apathy rules, if anyone cares

August 1, 2015 1 comment

August 1 and we’re playing league football in Scotland today. The play-off (Motherwell 6 – Rangers 1) that ended the 2014-15 season seems like only yesterday, yet here we are on the treadmill again, Motherwell fans looking fearfully at the fixture list and hoping for a 10th place finish at worst.

Meanwhile in Europe, only two Scottish sides are left in the qualifiers and I would not put money on either of them making it to the competitions proper.

Our international side may be enjoying its best spell of results in recent years, but domestically our game is goosed. I’d rather watch fly-fishing.

Categories: Sport


A pleasant evening in the House of Lords last week, but not once was I offered a line of coke. Nor did I see any ladies of the night, not even on the terrace outside the Strangers’ Bar. What’s the world coming to?

Categories: Uncategorized


Sitting with my grandson yesterday, looking at photos on the iPad. He reached out and swiped the screen, to move on to the next image. Rex is not yet 18 months old.

I’m not saying that he’s a genius . . . not yet. When Mia was two she could call up a video on her dad’s tablet. But it sure is a sign of the times.

Categories: General


That’s the worst spell of weather I can imagine, and it’s what we’ve been having in Gullane for the last couple of days. We have custody of the grand-dog and even he is complaining.

Categories: General

The training, the prayers, and the vitamins

So what’s this with Hulk Hogan, the ‘wrestler’,  who it was said ‘wouldn’t know the difference between a wrist-lock and a wrist-watch’? Abruptly fired from the WWE after excerpts from a covertly (and possibly illegally) recorded tape, in which he used some fruitily racist language, were leaked on the internet.

Sack him for sure, but the recording is eight years old, and much of its content was known already. It is the subject of an imminently pending court action by Hogan, an action for $100million against a sleazy website called Gawker, which paid cash money for it. Also it was supposedly sealed by the court.

I’m not in the slightest interested in what a geriatric grappler may or may not have said in what he thought was the privacy of his friend’s wife’s bedroom, but I would like to know: who leaked the recording? I imagine the court will too.

Categories: General

Red deal

July 27, 2015 3 comments

Has anyone else been receiving automated calls from a woman telling you that you need to book a Green Deal Assessment before 2016? I have, even though I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service and shouldn’t be receiving cold calls.

After about a dozen of these intrusions, finally I did as I was told and pressed ‘2’ to book my assessment while they are ‘in my area’. Hopefully someone will turn up at my door, so that I can tell them to fuck off, face to face. I’ve tried with the computer, but it doesn’t work.

Categories: General

Settling Down Again

Settling Down Again.

An insider view of the Open by Eddie Pepperell, the thinking person’s golfer.

Categories: Sport

Job done

July 24, 2015 3 comments

Sasha died at noon today: he was 18 years old, a good age for a Tonkinese. For the last week he had become increasingly listless, uncomfortable and clearly unwell, making the trip to the vet, and his diagnosis, inevitable.

I stayed with him until the end, and beyond. When you commit yourself to a pet, it’s part of the job, an obligation and a way of showing the same affection that he has given to you. 

Sash was a character, a scrapper in his younger days but never given to bringing home friends and dismantling them in the hall. He lived an independent life but was always an integral part of our household, and a vocal one too.

I’ll miss him like hell, and I’m sad when I dwell on the fact that I’ll never again hear him yell for food, or attention, or anything else. But I don’t feel bad, because we both knew that I’d got the moment right. He was in a bad place, it couldn’t get any better, and no way was I going to let it get any worse.

So long, buddy, and thanks for the laughs, the loyalty and the love.

Categories: General


July 22, 2015 3 comments
There is a whiff of  scandal around the recently completed Open Championship. (Well done, Zach.) I have lived in Gullane since 1971, and  have been present at every Open staged at Muirfield since 1972. I watch the others on TV, thus when the 2013 event came around, I hadn’t been physically at one since 2002, the year of the Great Storm, when conditions were playable since it rained so hard that the balls could barely move anywhere. When I bought my season ticket for the event, in advance at a discounted rate, I could not help but note that the cost had doubled over the eleven year gap. I put that down to avarice, nothing else; it was not untlI I stepped on to the course and headed for the ‘Village’ area that my outrage exploded.  In days gone by the exhibition tent was the off-course centrepiece of the Open for the paying customer. All the major equipment and clothing manufacturers paid handsomely for space under canvas, to show off their latest kit; serious golfers were able to handle the latest Big Bertha or Taylor-made or whatever, and the space was packed. By 2013, all that had gone. The only people allowed on site were the championship’s ‘official’ sponsors, HSBC, Mastercard, Mercedes, Nikon, NTT Data, Ralph Lauren, Rolex and Doosan, a Korean conglomerate with a vast range of activities, none of which have the faintest connection with golf.  The only merchandise on sale, apart from over-priced Polo clothing and expensive watches, bore the official Championship branding. That’s right, it was no longer possible for a visitor to  the championship to pick up a golf club and swing it. Amazing, outrageous. Under the stewardship of Peter Dawson, the R&A chief executive, the Open has been taken away steadily from the people.  As his final act before he shimmies off into retirement, he has overseen the completion of the job, by selling broadcasting rights to a subscription television channel. One of the world’s great sporting championships is now purely a machine for maximising profit, at the expense of the true owners of the game, the people who play it, and love it. (Having been involved as a volunteer marshal at the recent Scottish Open, I  have to say that the European Tour has developed along similar lines, but to put that in context, the cost of five days’ golf viewing at Gullane would have bought one day at St Andrews.)
Categories: Sport

Dancing Giants, Barcelona, June 23

Categories: Videos

Not to be missed

July 19, 2015 1 comment

If you haven’t seen the BBC documentary, ‘An Evening with Peter Allis’, I urge you: find it on iPlayer.

Categories: Sport

Max-ed out

Sad screw-up by BBC golf. In their piece about Ben Hogan, they showed Max Faulkner instead.

Categories: Sport

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,006 other followers