Sunday, 20 January 2019

Thought For The Day

Stunningly attractive. Gifted. Generous. Talented. There aren't enough words.

But enough about me. Here's a pic of Marion in pensive mood. Possibly thinking how very lucky she is to be married to me...

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Film Review: Stan and Ollie

My grandchildren refer to the time when I was young as ‘the black and white days’. Hmm. When I was their age I used to thrill at the magic of Laurel and Hardy and their wonderful slapstick humour which, of course, was shot in black and white in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

So when the film Stan and Ollie - the story of the brilliant comedy duo’s latter days in the 1950s – hit the big screen last week I headed to the Vue in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal to see if it was worthy of the publicity it has generated.

The film begins in the 1930s with the pair at the apex of their success. However, it isn’t long until it moves to the 1950s when their light is beginning to dim somewhat, and they are performing to half empty theatres in the UK as part of a tour which they hope will be the prelude to a new film. Sadly, the film comes to nothing - which Laurel can’t bring himself to tell Hardy about – and their initial lack of success in their tour brings tension between the pair.

However, audience numbers pick up but then Hardy suffers a heart attack. The end of the film tugs at the heart strings and is very powerful and moving. 

Steve Coogan plays Stan Laurel while John C. Reilly plays Oliver Hardy. Both produce quite extraordinary performances. Their mannerisms are such you can actually believe it really is Laurel and Hardy performing their slapstick routines and dances. Their wives are played by Shirley Henderson (Mrs Hardy) and Nina Arianda (Mrs Laurel)

It’s a superb film and is bound to be one of the favourites when the awards are handed out.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

January - Don't Be Angry With Me

The first full working week of 2019 has now been done and filed away. The time of peace and goodwill to all is but a distant memory as the frantic pressure of working life takes hold once again. The build up to Christmas gets earlier and earlier with each passing year and before you know it the festive season is over – until the frenzy starts all over again in a few months.

Yet, there is something strangely comforting about the return to a routine. Not working for a couple of weeks is something I usually look forward to, but my mindset changes and I become lethargic. Like so many others I usually eat far too much rubbish and consume more alcohol than is good for me. I lapse into cannae-be-arsed mode (some people may say they don't notice any difference)

Therefore, returning to the discipline of getting up at the same time every day, going to work, dealing with the everyday pressures of life brings a normality which is akin to being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winters day.

By George, I’ve even returned to the gym this week – for the first time since November. This took a huge amount of effort at first but come Friday it was becoming routine once more.

Work is frenetic and with nothing happening for more than two weeks there has been a plethora of meetings, conference calls and objective settings. Everything is, of course, extremely urgent with the world being threatened with coming to an end if certain tasks are not completed IMMEDIATELY. And, among the many ‘buzzwords’ are ‘there’s no ‘I’ in team; going forward; thinking outside the box, setting long-term objectives and looking at the wider picture’

There’s no ‘I’ in team but there is a ‘m’ and an ‘e’… (can you sense my cynicism?

Christmas was less than three weeks ago but it seems ages now. That said, Leith still seems to be clinging on to the wreckage of the festive season. At the foot of Leith Walk (the thoroughfare that links Edinburgh to the old port) the burgh’s Christmas tree is not only still standing but remains fully lit – 12 days into the New Year. Which merely adds to the winter fuel where Leith folk believe they are neglected by their big city neighbours who run the council services for Scotland’s capital.

Or perhaps, as my good pal Gary suggested after a few pints of foaming ale last night, every day is Christmas in Leith…

Saturday, 5 January 2019


ScotRail has apologised to customers for what it has described as its "unacceptable service" according to a news report today. This was my recent experience travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow by train:

09.50 Arrive on the concourse at Edinburgh Waverley station, ready to board the 10.00 train to Glasgow – as yet, platform unknown.

09.55 I ask a ScotRail employee which platform said train is expected. ‘Dunno, pal – it might be 14’

09.56 Slip train ticket into slot in automatic ticket barrier – it doesn’t open. I ask for help.

09.57 A ScotRail employee (a different one) arrives with a large bunch of keys and opens the barrier thereby letting a large queue of people pass through. Most will have tickets, some may not.

09.59 No word yet of which platform the 10.00 train to Glasgow will depart.

10.02 Train arrives at platform 12 – passengers soon discover this is the arriving train from Glasgow Queen Street which is ten minutes late and will have a quick exchange of passengers before setting off back to Glasgow.

10.05 Train departs for Glasgow Queen Street. It is overcrowded with many passengers unable to secure a seat – the lack of carriages on this train may be a factor.

10.20 First (and last) sullen appearance of woman with catering trolley.

11.02 Arrive at Glasgow Queen Street – 15 minutes late. No apology from ScotRail ticket inspector but there is a reminder to collect your personable belongings.

11.05 On exiting the train I slip ticket into slot in automatic ticket barrier – it doesn’t open. I ask for help (see above)

15.00 Arrive on the concourse at Glasgow Queen Street Station for the 15.15 train back to Edinburgh – as yet, platform unknown.

15.05 I ask a ScotRail employee which platform said train is expected. ‘No idea, pal. It’ll no be long though.’ He doesn’t realise the irony in his statement.

15.07 Slip train ticket into slot in automatic ticket barrier – it doesn’t open. I ask for help.

15.08 A ScotRail employee (a different one) arrived with a large bunch of keys, opens the barrier thereby letting a large queue of people pass through. Most will have tickets, some may not.

15.17 Train arrives at platform 4 - passengers soon discover this is the arriving train from Edinburgh Waverley which is ten minutes late and will have a quick exchange of passengers before setting off back to Edinburgh.

15.20 Train departs for Edinburgh Waverley. It is overcrowded with many passengers unable to secure a seat – the lack of carriages on this train may be a factor.

15.35 First (and last) sullen appearance of woman with catering trolley

16.22 Arrive at Edinburgh Waverley– 15 minutes late. No apology from ScotRail ticket inspector but a reminder to collect your personable belongings.

16.25 On exiting the train I slip ticket into slot in automatic ticket barrier – it doesn’t open. I ask for help (see above)

The moral of this somewhat repetitive story? If you’re thinking of travelling from Edinburgh to Glasgow and don’t wish to take the car – take the bus…

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

That Was The Year That Was - 2018

Farewell then, to 2018 and a wee dip in the waters of 2019. The antidote to Happy New Year is that the Auld Reekie Ranter is back – just when you thought it was safe…

A few things have happened to the Ranter since I last bored you with my thoughts, the salient points being I now have five little horrors grandchildren, baby Daniel being added to the brood last October. Oh, and have I mentioned I have written another book – The Team For Me?

Here are a few personal highlights from 2018:

January – the darkest and most depressing month of the year. And on the very first day I had to go to Edinburgh's Western General Hospital. Not, as some have suggested, to remove my wallet but to relieve severe stomach pains. The most serious aspect of this was that I missed the New Year's Day race meeting at Musselburgh...But the month brightened with the news I won two tickets for the Hearts Burns Supper. I never usually win anything…

February – Daughter Laura tells me she’s expecting another child in October. That’s more expense for the Ranter…

Back at Tynecastle for the 1998 Scottish Cup Final re-run lunch – courtesy of daughter Laura giving me two tickets for my birthday. A good afternoon, the highlight of which was meeting Hearts legend Jose Quitongo. He cut short our conversation with the words ‘Jesus, ah’m needin’ a p*sh!’ – as they say in Angola (Jose’s country of birth) I suspect Gary Locke has been too much of an influence on wee Jose…

March – The so-called Beast From the East – gale force winds and heavy snow – brings Scotland to a standstill. Edinburgh without public transport for two days. Hearts legend Jim Jefferies agrees to write the foreword for my new book. Well chuffed! (me, not JJ)

April – Grandson Jack plays in his first cup final - the Persevere East of Scotland U13 Cup. I head to the home of Bonnyrigg Rose to see the young man strut his stuff. Not only is he on the winning team, he scores a brilliant goal. I depart Bonnyrigg a proud old man!

Young Jack the Lad - a football star of the future?
May – New premises for my hypnotherapy business – Sighthill in the west side of Edinburgh. Early morning and early evening appointments now available. If you have any unwanted habits and want help visit Mind Generating Success  for more info. And this month saw the usual plethora of family birthdays – Jack, Ava and Laura.

June – Football's World Cup begins in Russia. Without Scotland – as usual. A lovely wee trip to Perth races for Marion and I. Remarkably, I picked two winners - Marion picked nowt. But then, she's extremely lucky in love...

July – Ah, the domestic football season is back! Life is bearable again. But Hearts brought on a player in a Betfred Cup tie against Cove Rangers who wasn't eligible to play and are deducted two points. Somewhat fortunate I suggest...

August – The usual frenzy of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a plethora of shows to see. But Marion and I had a delightful week’s break in the north of Scotland at Strathpeffer. Visited the Black Isle, Nairn, Inverness, Beauly, Culloden Battlefield and Loch Ness where Marion was asked to keep moving as crowds were beginning to form…

You try to take a photo of the Black Isle but then someone gets in the way...
The final day of the month saw the publication of my latest book The Team For Me – 50 Years of Following Hearts. Six years have passed since my last book but I’m quite excited. Available here and in all good bookshops.

Buy this book and make an old man very happy
September – The middle of the month saw one of those days that remain etched in the memory. A hypnotherapy client also happens to be a director of Edinburgh City Football Club and she invited me to the boardroom before a game against Annan Athletic. I gave Jim Jefferies  - now City's Sporting Director - a copy of my book. To meet the great man was an absolute honour. On the same day I received an email from BBC Radio Scotland inviting me on to their Off the Ball show with esteemed broadcasters Stuart Cosgrove and Tam Cowan. I appeared at the end of September – alongside fellow guest Robbie Neilson, another Hearts legend. A day to remember!

Tam Cowan, Robbie Neilson, some old fella and Stuart Cosgrove
Also this month, I fulfilled a life-time ambition by seeing the truly sublime Joan Armatrading in concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. I had waited more than 40 years for this – and she didn’t disappoint! Her new album is sublime.

October – Grandson Daniel Michael George Dillon duly arrives on 7th October. Mother and baby well – and back home just 9 hours after giving birth. I suspect the maternity hospital had seen enough of daughter number one... Three days later I watch Jack play for the East of Scotland League U14s Select Team against – Hearts! Jack does very well but his team lose heavily. But I couldn’t be any prouder.

The latest addition to the family - can you tell what team he'll support?
A wee trip to Aberdeen at the end of the month for a hypnotherapy conference – and a swift half with my old chum Graeme. This was quickly followed by Jack’s first crushing disappointment as a Hearts supporter – the 3-0 defeat from Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi-final at BT Murrayfield. It won’t be his last...

November – Marion and I attended the annual Hearts Memorial Service at the Haymarket. It’s been 100 years since the First World War ended. Lest we forget.

A fine evening at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh for the Nutmeg Magazine event. Listened to that fine author Daniel Gray, former footballer Pat Nevin and the esteemed journalist Allan Pattullo amongst others.

December – An end to another momentous year. A wee trip to Glasgow to see the incomparable Madness in concert. And my book makes it to The Scotsman’s list of Top Sports Books of the Year – a proud moment for the Ranter.

The year ends with Hearts defeating Hibernian in darkest Leith – the first time we’ve won there since April 2014.

A tough year beckons in 2019 – but I’ve heard this before. But may I and my ever-increasing brood wish you all a very Happy New Year. 

Fast turning into The Broons…
Shows attended: (seen at the Edinburgh Playhouse unless otherwise stated)


Blood Brothers

Crazy for You

Fat Friends


Billy Reid’s Magic Show (Storytelling Centre – Edinburgh)

Titanic the Musical

Summer Holiday

Filth (Hilton Hotel, North Bridge, Edinburgh)

A War of Two Halves (Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh)

Colin Cloud (Pleasance – Edinburgh)

Craig Hill (EICC)

Frankie Boyle

Rag N’Bone Man (Princes Street Gardens)

Paul Merton (Pleasance – Edinburgh)

Cirque De Soleil (SECC – Glasgow)

Joan Armatrading (Usher Hall – Edinburgh)

Let it Be

Caro Emerald

Saturday Night Fever

Motown the Musical

Kinky Boots

Madness (SSE Hydro – Glasgow)


Bohemian Rhapsody (very good)


Myths and Legends, Chinese Lanterns at Edinburgh Zoo (recommended)

Book of the Year

Black Boots & Football Pinks by the incomparable Daniel Gray. And have I mentioned The Team For Me?!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Be Afraid...

...the Auld Reekie Ranter may return in 2019. You have been warned...

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Auld Reekie Ranter No More

I started this blog back in 2008. A lot has changed for the Auld Reekie Ranter since then - and social media has changed as well.

I've not been updating this blog anywhere near as regularly as I have hoped in recent months so it's now time to put this little baby (now eight years old) to bed for good. The number of visitors to the blog has dropped to a level where it hardly seems worth adding anything - so I will no longer be updating Auld Reekie Rants.

I did this a couple of years ago but re-opened it after a three month absence. However, I have no intention in resurrecting it this time. I shall now be concentrating on my hypnotherapy business and the blog for this will now take more priority. Please visit the blog of Mind Generating Success when you can.

I thank everyone who has visited Auld Reekie Rants and, in particular, those who took the trouble to post comments. Your contributions were greatly appreciated.

So, thank you - and good night.