Saturday, 31 December 2011

Here's to 2012

So farewell then, 2011. It's not been the best of years for many people and for the Auld Reekie Ranter it's been a difficult time. However, I would like to thank those of you who are good enough to visit these pages and bear witness to my seemingly never-ending rants of despair. In particular, I thank those who regularly post their comments of support; Peggy, Adullamite, Kenfitlike, A Daft Scots Lass and Joanna among others make an old man very happy and I appreciate you taking the time and effort to respond to my ramblings.

2012 promises to be a big year. I wish happiness to everyone, I wish everyone the strength to get through any problems they may have. I hope the politicians have the ability to get this country back on its feet, and stop the suffering of many; however, I fear the worst is yet to come in this respect. The people of Scotland can make 2012 a step closer to independence for our country. It's time to show courage, my fellow Scots.

Courage is what I need in the weeks ahead. Stormy waters lie ahead for the Ranter but I  go into the New Year with hope and positive thinking - yes, I know that doesn't sound like me but I know with the help of my loved ones,  I can make it through.

I wish you all health and happiness - and a great 2012!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Another Seasonal Greet

Jack, Hannah and Ava wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Guid New Year. Judging by the sudden facial growth, the wee fella does seem to be maturing remarkably quickly for a 6 year old...

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Seasonal Greet

It's that time of the year again (seems to have been that way since feckin' October...) May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2012. Thank you for visiting my blog throughout 2011 and to those of you who have taken the trouble to comment on my various ramblings - it's very much appreciated.

2012 will bring major changes to the life of the Auld Reekie Ranter. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

'tis the Facebook Season

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my Facebook gave to me:

12 folk I'm blocking,
11 friends just watching,
10 corny topics,
9 busted barbies,
8 friends complaining,
7 stalkers stalking,
6 party invites,
Fiiiiiiiiiiiiive Drama Queeeensssss,
4 game requests,
3 photo tags,
2 friends-a-pokin &
.......a creep who won't stop inboxing me.....

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Stuck for a Christmas Gift Idea?

I know what you're thinking, fellas - the ideal gift for the love in your life...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

To Love...

To love is to risk
Not being loved in return
To hope is to risk pain
To try is to risk failure
But risk must be taken
Because the greatest hazard in life
Is to risk nothing

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Happy St. Andrews Day

To Scots everywhere. Raise a glass to the greatest country in the world.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dear John

Dear John,

I hope you can help me. The other day I set off for work, leaving my husband in the house watching television. My car stalled then it broke down about a mile down the road. I had to walk back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I could not believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with our neighbour's daughter.

I am 34, my husband is 32 and our neighbour's daughter is 19. We have been married for 10 years. When I confronted him he broke down and admitted they have been having an affair for the past six months. He refuses to go to counselling. I'm afraid I am a wreck and need advice urgently. Can you please help?

Yours sincerely,


Dear Sheila,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Ranter Says...

Sorry for the foul language, Mother!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Wrong on So Many Counts

One of the ringleaders of Scotland's biggest paedophile network has had his minimum prison sentence cut by four-and-a-half years by appeal judges. James Rennie is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting a three-month-old and for conspiring to get access to children in order to abuse them.

Rennie, from Edinburgh, was ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years in jail. Appeal judges have reduced that to a minimum of eight-and-a-half years before he can apply for parole.

Judge Lord Clarke, sitting with Lord Philip, said: "We wish to make it clear that that does not mean he will be released after that period of time. "All that has been done is fixing the period of time that must be spent by the appellant before any consideration can be given to his release."

From the BBC News website

The above story appeared on BBC Scotland's new pages over the weekend. I would like to meet those appeal judges and ask what possible justification there is in reducing Rennie's prison sentence. Why do they think 13 years would be too long for someone who sexually assaulted a three month old baby? What kind of mind does someone have in order to commit those abhorrent crimes?

Surely, this man should be thrown in jail and the key to his cell thrown away? There has long been debate in this country about whether capital punishment should be re-introduced. In cases like these, I would suggest it should,although there will be those who say hanging would be too good for people like Rennie.

It has been said the Scots legal system is one of the best in the world, although I suspect readers of this blog from the United States would question that with the Lockerbie bomber in mind (I still think Iran was behind that atrocity but that's another story)

When people like Rennie are convicted of vile crimes but then have their minimum prison sentence cut, it puts the legal system in this country to shame. The do-gooders in society will point to Rennie's 'human rights'. This dismisses the human rights of those children who are the victims of his actions.

They won't be able to appeal their life sentence...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Just Live

I know what you're thinking - the Auld Reekie Ranter hasn't lost his cuteness...

In life's rich and sometimes not so rich tapestry, we do things. Some of things we wish we had never done - although as I always say to my daughters, don't have regrets. Some of the things we wish we could replay a million times in our heads. Some we try to imagine never happened. Some people will cherish you, others will feel hurt and let down by you. All of these things make us who we are and, in the end, they shape every detail about us. If we were to reverse any of them, we would not be the person we are.

So, just live. Make mistakes. Have wonderful memories. But never second guess who you are, where you have been - and, most importantly, where it is you are going.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011


Take care - there are some scary sights out there...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Oh No It's Not...

I emerged from my daughter Laura's Halloween party earlier tonight, battered and bruised but delighted to see grandchildren Jack, Hannah and Ava maintain the Scots tradition of 'dooking for apples'. Along with what appeared to be half the child population of Dalkeith. The more alert among you will realise that, strictly speaking, Halloween isn't until Monday but with Jack at school and Hannah at nursery, Sunday afternoon seemed a good time to have the Halloween festivities.

On the way home from Laura's, the still of the night was shattered by a firework display a few streets away. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but Guy Fawkes Night isn't until Saturday 5 November. Yet, the brainless neds all too prevalent in our society see fit to inflict fireworks on neighbourhoods across Edinburgh, Dalkeith, the Lothians and doubtless every other town and city in Scotland days and sometimes weeks before the event.

I was in a shop in Dalkeith three weeks ago and was somewhat taken aback to see giant posters all over the store declaring 'It's Christmas'. When I ventured to the disinterested teenager behind the counter that it was only early October she said nothing but shot me a stare that intimated she didn't care two figs what I thought.

On the way home from witnessing another Hearts defeat at Tynecastle yesterday, my gloom was deepened by the sight of Christmas lights already up on the lampposts of Gorgie and Dalry in Scotland's capital city. This was a few hours before the official end of British Summer Time.

Commercial gluttony seems to be behind the reasons for such events starting unseasonably early. Fireworks have been on sale for weeks now, as have Christmas Cards. I saw an advert the other day urging people to book now for a Burns Night evening - held at the end of January. I couldn't help but feel the need to plea to let us get Christmas and New Year out of the way first.

Is it me? Am I the only one who wants to stop the world and get off? It's 1 November on Tuesday. Time to start thinking about what size of Easter Eggs to get the kids....

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Saturday, 22 October 2011

School Daze

My good friend from Aberdeen, Colleen, sent me the above photograph which, initially, induced a fair degree of sadness in my heart. Colleen and I attended Linksfield Academy in Aberdeen in the mid 1970s. The school was built in 1974 but, typically of the council, it wasn't fully ready for the influx of unruly pupils until the summer of 1975. This meant spending my first year at secondary school travelling to a much older building, the now long since departed Middle School - so called because it was situated in the heart of the Granite City.

When we eventually headed to the newly built Linksfield in 1975 it still wasn't finished, meaning we had to trek about half a mile to Old Aberdeen school for certain activities such as physical education. The swimming pool still hadn't been completed by the time I left school altogether in 1978.

Despite the shambolic organisation of Grampian Regional Council (as it was at the time), I spent some happy days at Linksfield - as well as some not so happy ones but I won't dwell on those. However, the only school chums I still keep in touch with are Graham Baxter, who I still share a few beers with on the  occasions I'm in Aberdeen to watch the famous Heart of Midlothian, Gary Adams, who was best man at my wedding but who I haven't seen in over 20 years (but Facebook has meant we are still in touch) and the lovely Colleen. Oh, and someone called Patricia Williamson who still gives me grief on a regular basis. Mind you, she's been doing that since we got married in 1982...

It's nearly 22 years since I left Aberdeen for the magnificence that is Edinburgh and I had no idea my old school was being pulled down. Some people say your schooldays are the happiest of your life. I don't particularly subscribe to that theory but nevertheless it's still sad to see part of my childhood disappear for good. All that is left is memories. Of the maths teacher throwing chalk at me as I gazed out the window; of the French teacher not particularly bothered if I learnt a foreign language; of a physical education teacher who looked at me in a strange and quite unnerving way; of dancing to dreadful cheesy 70s music at the infamous school discos; of falling in love for the first time...

...aye, go on then, flatten the place!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Me and My Girls

Stunning good looks; charm; talent; ambition - words that all spring to mind when looking at this photo taken at a wedding reception in Musselburgh last night.

And daughters Laura and Michaela don't look too bad either...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

Set Fire to the Rain

The fabulous Adele.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Aberdeen Trams

This is a fascinating look back at Aberdeen when Corporation trams and buses ran in the city in the 1950s. I hasten to add this was way before my time there...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Happy Birthday Michaela

My darling daughter Michaela is 22 years old today so I am just one of hundreds of people wishing her a fabulous birthday. She heads for New York tomorrow for a few days to celebrate - quite what the good citizens of the Big Apple have done to deserve this, I'm not quite sure....

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Travelling on Buses

The regular reader of my ramblings - Mrs Trellis of North Wales - may look at the title of this post and think 'oh no, not another diatribe against Worst Group' (rants passim) As anyone from Edinburgh will point out by looking at the accompanying photograph, this particular posting is about the other bus company in Scotland's glorious capital city - Lothian Buses, the one that actually does care about people who use public transport.

I was on one of Lothian's spanking new buses the other day - what they're calling a Hybrid bus. Apparently it is cleaner, quieter and smoother than other buses,will cut the carbon footprint of the daily commute and is more efficient, more environmentally friendly and quieter. And, I have to say, I was impressed. It's also a talking bus - a recorded announcement is made for each stop along the route (the next stop is...York Place) and there is a small screen that displays how long it will be until certain destinations are reached. As if this wasn't enough, there is also free wi-fi access which, if rolled out to other bus routes such as Edinburgh to Dalkeith, will be a boon on the long journey trying to ignore screaming kids, drunks, loud students and annoying adolescents...

It's another sign of life in the 21st century. As a child growing up in Aberdeen, I was used to some ramshackle old buses as I made my way to school in the early 1970s. People still smoked on buses forty years ago, the only concession (if you'll pardon the pun) was that one had to sit upstairs if one wished to puff on a cigarette. Thus, the roof of the top deck of an Aberdeen bus invariably became brown coloured through years of cigarette smoke. Conductors were slowly disappearing from the scene in the 1970s but there was something reassuring about a man with a peaked cap coming to collect your fare and rummaging in his black satchel for change before handing you your ticket. On occasion he would, rather like today's Hybrid bus, tell you where the next stop was, although bawling 'Come on, get aff' tended to confuse non Scots visitors to the Granite City...

That brilliant singer/songwriter Paul Weller used to sing about 'travelling on buses' on The Jam's classic number That's Entertainment. Well done to Lothian Buses for at least trying to make public transport an enjoyable rather than just a necessary experience for many.

Now, I can't post about public transport without having a pop at First Bus. While Lothian Buses are going the extra mile, First Bus have done the exact opposite in the area I live. They've amended the bus route meaning my bus-using neighbours and I now need to walk half a mile to catch the nearest First Service 86. Alternatively, we can walk a few yards and catch a Lothian Bus which will be clean, on time and reliable. While the Worst Group buses are now running half empty.

As Lothian Buses will tell you with some degree of accuracy - they're streets ahead in Edinburgh...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Mind of a Child

The other day, my darling grand-daughter Hannah leapt on to my lap in her usual, ebullient style. She wrapped her arm around my neck and asked 'So, Papa.' There was a pause.

'Yes, small child?' I asked.

She flashed those blue eyes at me. 'Have you got any kids?'

Naturally, this took me aback somewhat as it's not something you would expect to hear from a four year old. 'What did you say? I asked, in case my hearing was failing me like everything else seems to be these days.

'Got any kids?' she asked once more.

'Well,' I replied, a little bit warily, 'That's my kid sitting over there' as I nodded in the direction of her mother.

Hannah wasn't convinced. 'No, Papa - don't be silly - that's mummy'.

'Yes, little one' I went on, 'but your mummy is my kid, just as you are mummy's kid'

Hannah considered this for a moment. 'So, did mummy come out of your tummy?'

I tried desperately to give this conversation some meaning to one so young. 'No, my wee angel, your mummy came out of her mummy's tummy'. She thought about this. 'What? Granny?'

'Yes, pet'

She jumped off my lap and headed to her bedroom to join Jack and Ava in demolishing the play area.

I expect further inquisition this weekend as she tries to make sense of it all.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Woman Contacts Technical Support...

Dear Technical Support...

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0 .

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as NEWS 5.0, MONEY 3.0 and CRICKET 4.1 .

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2. 6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?




DEAR Madam,

First, keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5 , Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1 .Please note that Beer 6. 1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0 .

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance.

We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Hot Looks 7.7.

Good Luck Madam!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Choosing Happiness

My good friend and blogger supreme, Peggy, published a wonderful post, the link to which is below. She really is an inspiration. Please visit her blog - you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Joan Armatrading

                  Love and Affection. One of the greatest songs ever...

Children 1st

On 11 September 2011, my good friend Claire will be cycling 51 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh to raise money for Children 1st. Claire had the extremely good fortune to have me as a work colleague but, for reasons known only to her, chose to leave the organisation I work for last year. Perhaps it was when she asked me to do something and I told her to get on her bike...

If you would like to help her raise money for this very worthy cause and would care to donate, please go to the link below. If you would also be kind enough to send the link to this page to friends and relatives, both Claire and I would be extremely grateful. Thank you.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Edinburgh's Disgrace

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I love Edinburgh. They'll probably say I tend to go on at some length about how beautiful Scotland's capital city is and how it is such an exciting, vibrant city to work and live in, particularly at this time of the year when the Edinburgh International Arts Festival and Fringe is in full swing. However, the reputation of this fine city is consistently tarnished by a group of individuals whose actions - or lack of action - turn Edinburgh into something of a laughing stock. Step forward the City of Edinburgh Council.

What started out as long ago as 1999 as a forward-thinking proposal to reintroduce trams into the capital has turned into a fiasco. In fact, such a farce may well have scooped an award at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.

The original plan was to build a tram line from the city's airport through the west end, to the Haymarket then along Princes Street and Leith Walk to Ocean Terminal and Newhaven pier. Following years of transport studies in Edinburgh, two bills were submitted to the Scottish Parliament to reintroduce a tram network to Edinburgh and both bills were passed in March 2006. We were told public transport in Edinburgh would be revolutionised and while there would be considerable upheaval as much of the city centre would be dug up to accommodate the installation of tramlines etc, it would be worth the inconvenience as by 2011 the trams would be up and running. Inevitably, as with the Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood, the estimated cost of the trams project  - initial costs for the scheme were £498 million, with £375 million funding from the Scottish Government and £45 million by Edinburgh council - was millions of pounds out with costs spiralling with each passing year.

In April 2009, Phase 1b of the tram construction project was cancelled due to financial problems. The Scottish Government said the project would continue but no more public money would be given. Later, it was announced that trams would no longer be going down Leith Walk and would instead terminate at St. Andrew Square in the city centre - much to the chagrin of shop and business owners in Leith who had endured months of roadworks and traffic diversions thus affecting business, ultimately for nothing.

Last week the City of Edinburgh Council, having given serious consideration to cancelling the project altogether, announced that the trams would now only run from the airport to the city's Haymarket - stopping short of Princes Street and St. Andrew Square. The cost is now being estimated at £715m. This despite the fact tramlines have been installed in Princes Street for two years now.

The Council's latest decision beggars belief. How many visitors to Edinburgh will take a tram from the airport and get off at the Haymarket - a good ten minute walk from Princes Street? Very few I would wager, particularly as there is already a very good bus service on that route which carries on to Princes Street and Waverley Bridge taking just 25 minutes from the airport. It is another ridiculous decision by the people who run Scotland's top city.

On Edinburgh's Calton Hill sits the partially completed National Monument, the building of which was started in 1826 and was meant to to be a memorial to those who lost their lives in the Napoleonic Wars. It was never completed, partly due to a lack of funds and was labelled 'Edinburgh's Disgrace' - a moniker that has stuck ever since.

Nearly two hundred years later there is another use for this term. Not so much for the ill-fated tram system the good citizens of Auld Reekie have been promised for more than a decade. It's more the case that Edinburgh's Disgrace of the 21st Century can be found in the council chambers....

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Carrying Life's Burden

I was emailed the message below about managing stress by my good friend and fellow Jambo Adullamite. I find the words particularly useful as this year things seem to be going from bad to worse for my family.

My elder daughter Laura was rushed into hospital at the weekend with severe stomach pains. She is presently in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh awaiting surgery to remove her gallbladder although apparently she has a gallstone particularly close to her liver and this is giving cause for concern. She goes for a scan tomorrow with a view for the operation to go ahead, hopefully, on Tuesday. Laura being Laura, her main concern is for her children and whether she will still be able to take Jack and Hannah to Euro Disney a month from now. Having spent so much money to go on the trip she doesn't want to let anyone down. In my view she will never let anyone down.

My mother, meantime, is waiting to go into hospital for tests. No date as yet but it will be quite soon and I know she is quite anxious about it. She has fainted a couple of times when out and hopefully these tests will ascertain the problem.

It's only a few weeks since the other Mrs Smith, the mother of my children, was in hospital with what was initially believed to be a heart attack. She isn't enjoying the best of health either and in addition to this she also has a medical condition that requires regular attention.

My younger daughter, Michaela, started her new job three months ago and she is working all the hours of the day to try and put systems in place to improve the service her team provides. Early starts, late finishes and working at weekends. Not an ideal situation for anyone, far less a 21 year old girl who really should be enjoying life. Her stress levels - and therefore mine - have increased greatly and like any father I worry about her welfare.

Which leaves me. Not wanting to feel left out, I am attending hospital this Tuesday for an all day 'session' where tubes, cameras and various bits and bobs will be entered into various orifices in an attempt to discover what's causing my throat problems. Coughing up blood, so they tell me, isn't a good sign. However, I'm the least of my worries and I'm sure all will be well.

But if I don't post on here for a wee while you'll perhaps understand. And be thankful!

Have a read of this...

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience. With a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'... She fooled them all ... "How heavy is this glass of water?", she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time,sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night ... pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

David Cameron's Return Makes a Difference

The prime minister says police admit they got their riot tactics wrong, as he announces a raft of measures to help homeowners and businesses....

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Happy Birthday Hannah

My darling grand-daughter is 4 years old today. She brings so much love and joy into my life.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Maggie’s Centres are for anyone affected by cancer. They are places where people are welcome whenever they need us – from just being diagnosed, or undergoing treatment, to post-treatment, recurrence, end of life or in bereavement.

Maggie's is about empowering people to live with, through and beyond cancer by bringing together professional help, communities of support and building design to create exceptional centres for cancer care.

Maggies also welcome family and friends, as they are often deeply affected by cancer too. Maggies know that those who love and look after someone with cancer can feel just as frightened, vulnerable and uncertain. Below is a link to an organisation that makes a huge difference to so many people's lives.

On 11 September 2011, my good friend Kirsten will be cycling 51 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh to raise money for Maggies. If you would like to help her raise money for this very worthy cause and would care to donate, please go to the link below. If you would also be kind enough to send the link to this page to friends and relatives, both Kirsten and I would be extremely grateful. Thank you.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Coming out in the Wash

No wee angels were harmed in the taking of this photo. And neither was grand-daughter Ava...

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This girl's voice just blows me away.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Other Side of the World From Edinburgh... Glasgow. If you go the wrong way.

I had a day away from the coalface that is Human Resources in order that I could travel through to The Mitchell Library in Glasgow. This is an impressive building and the staff there were very helpful in assisting me with research I needed to do in relation to the book I am writing - Hearts Greatest Games (yes, there will be many plugs for this between now and next summer...)

After sampling the delights of a full Scottish breakfast in Auld Reekie, I boarded the 9.45am train to Glasgow. I wasn't sure where The Mitchell Library was so I checked their excellent website and the informative 'how to get there' section advised me that several First Buses - including a number 9 -  pass by. That was my first note of concern - my reader is well aware of my feelings on First Group.

Standing near Glasgow Central station, a First Bus number 9 approached so I asked the driver if he went past The Mitchell Library.

'Whit?' he asked incredulously, 'Ah'm no going past there. That's at Charing Cross. You need another bus, pal'

'Really?' I asked, somewhat puzzled as to why TML website said a number 9 bus passed by. 'So, my good man, what bus should I get?'

'Ye need a 44 - next street alang and up the road'

I heeded his less than helpful directions and ran to catch said First Bus number 44 in the next street.

'Do you go past The Mitchell Library?' I asked, somewhat short of breath.

'Aye!' replied the driver before adding 'Naw! Well, sort of!'

'Well,' I asked somewhat irritably, 'which of these three answers is it to be?'

'Ah dinnae go past it', the driver continued. 'Ah ging roon it, doon the street opposite'

'Okay, my good man, that will do'

An hour or so later I left The Mitchell Library armed with the material I had came for. As I did, a First Bus number 9 whizzed past. Initially I thought this contradicted the first bus driver I had encountered but soon realised what he meant when he said he didn't go past TML was that he was going the opposite direction - having already come from there. Good to see Worst Group are employing the same standards of service in Glasgow as they do in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

I end this tale on a curious note. Before heading for the train home I went into a pub called The Counting House in Glasgow's Buchanan Street for a swift pint. This pub has free wi-fi access so I duly registered and surfed the net on my ITouch, posting on Twitter (@Mike1874 if anyone cares) that I was in said pub. Half an hour later I received an email notification from Twitter saying Princes Square Restaurants in Glasgow is now following me on Twitter. Princes Square are based in Glasgow's Buchanan street - a short walk from the pub I was in.

The power of the internet? Or just a coincidence?

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Green Thing

In the line at the store, the cashier told an older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologised to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day....
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery shops and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But we didn't have the green thing in our day....

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day....

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Wales.

In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But we didn't have the green thing back then....

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.

We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their parents into a 24-hour taxi service.

We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we older people were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Hacked Off

The thing is, 'Dave', the British people didn't realise he was listening in...

Saturday, 2 July 2011


I did something on Friday that I haven't done for several weeks. No, it wasn't buy a drink in the pub before you smart arses out there comment (although my good friend Gary the Hibby will testify I did purchase at least one pint of foaming ale last night) No, the unusual event in question was that I posted a letter.

The letter in question was my publishing contract for next year's blockbusting best selling book Hearts Greatest Games (cough, splutter, cough again...) I'll be blatantly plugging this tome all too frequently over the next 12 months so beware...However, the reason I feel the urge to blog about posting a letter is that it seems letter writing is fast becoming a dying art. It's bad enough that many people no longer make the effort or feel they have the time to put pen to paper - but even worse is the abbreviations that have crept into today's communication world.

I received an email at the office the other day and at the end the sender had put the letters KR before her name. Next year I will reach my half century (health permitting and that's not looking particularly clever right now with a hospital admission due next month - but I won't bore you with the details...) so my brain does, on occasion, take a wee but longer to digest certain things. And KR had me stumped. So I used an old fashioned way of communicating - I walked across the office and asked her what it meant. She smiled and said it was 'kind regards'.

Similarly, another colleague sent me an email with the initials BW at the end. Taking my cue from 'kind regards' I eventually worked this one out for myself. 'Best wishes'.

Courtesy is even more of a dying art than letter writing these days so I don't want anyone to get the impression I didn't appreciate both these sentiments. But it's a sad reflection on life today that some people can't be bothered to write their intended sentiments in full - as if writing the words 'kind regards' was too much of an effort. If so, why bother in the first place?

I blame the explosion of text speak in the last 20 years. My two daughters already bamboozle me with some of their text messages and postings on the dreaded Facebook. Although I did gather, quite some time ago, what they meant when they texted me with WTF - what the f**k?

Sadly, it's the way of the world these days.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Please May I Have Some More?

Grand-daughter Ava has a look which is asking 'Papa, please may I have some more ice cream?'
To which Papa replied 'Go away, you small child'.* At 13 months, she already knows her way around the kitchen...

*okay, I gave her just a wee bit more...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Quite Simply Wrong

                                          Vladimir Romanov

I usually refer to football related stories on my other blog On the Terracing but this posting will hopefully relate to a wider audience.

Hearts player Craig Thomson appeared in court in Edinburgh last week and plead guilty to two charges of indecent behaviour for lewd and libidinous behaviour towards two girls aged 12 and 14 years over the internet. He was fined £4,000 and placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The player has apologised for his crimes and Hearts said his "grave error of judgement" was due to "naivety and possible wrong outside influence". Nonetheless, the club have decided not to sack the player and are standing by him. On Friday evening, Hearts issued a statement, part of which read:

"For almost seven years we have been fighting to shield the club from crooks, criminals and thieves.
Many of the top players at the club have felt the bitter results of the swindles that have been carried out with them on their own skin. Skacel and Webster have returned to the club after realising where these 'football patriots' have led them. Every year Hearts fights to be in the top three, but even last season in the last 12 games of the season it was almost like someone replaced the team with a different one. Whose fault is that? Players'? Managers? Or it is mafia.?"

This statement purports to be from the club but it's fair to say this is another rant from Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov.

Understandably, the decision to keep Thomson at Tynecastle - and the subsequent statement -  has sparked a furious reaction from the majority of the club's supporters. I have received numerous emails from people wondering asking what my take is on this. My view is you can't defend the indefensible. Hearts used to be a club that stood for dignity. What Craig Thomson did was wrong and he should have been sacked, no matter that he has now apologised. Hearts promote themselves to be a family club, the 'Heart and Soul' of Edinburgh. Can they really try and continue to promote the idea of attracting families to Tynecastle when children are watching a convicted sex offender on the field of play? A player who has become - until this sordid incident - a role model for thousands of young Hearts supporters. I took my grandson Jack to Tynecastle last season but will be loathe to do so again knowing he will be seated just yards away from a convicted sex offender - one who has admitted his crimes.

There's now an active and fast growing campaign by Hearts supporters to have Thomson thrown out of Tynecastle. A protest is planned for the pre-season friendly in three weeks. As for Vlad, the Hearts support needs to show that this, quite frankly ridiculous, statement (and some other Vlad actions and statements) are not in the name of the club's most important people  - the supporters. Without us, Hearts are nothing.

Heart of Midlothian FC used to stand for respect, decency and dignity. It presently stands for the exact opposite. No one, it seems, is capable or has the will to stand up against Mr Romanov; to tell the man in Lithuania that his actions and what he wants publicised on the club's website is quite simply wrong. Until someone does, he will continue to make a once famous club a laughing stock.

For me and thousands like me, this is no laughing matter.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Father's Day

I know my daughters love me really....

Sunday, 19 June 2011

What You Won't Hear on Father's Day

Things you'll never hear a dad say.

10. Well, how about that? I'm lost! Looks like we'll have to stop and ask for directions.

9. You know Pumpkin, now that you're thirteen, you'll be ready for unchaperoned car dates. Won't that be fun?

8. I noticed that all your friends have a certain hostile attitude. I like that.

7. Here's a credit card and the keys to my new car....

6. What do you mean you want to play football? Figure skating's not good enough for you, son?

5. Your mother and I are going away for the weekend. You might want to consider throwing a party.

4. Well, I don't know what's wrong with your car.  Just have it towed to a mechanic and agree to whatever he asks - I'll pay the bill.

3. No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit your belly-aching, and let's go to the shopping mall.

2. What do you want to go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.

1. What do I want for my birthday? Aahh  don't worry about that. It's no big deal....

Thanks to my very good friend Peggy for these!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Love, Honour & Obey...(well, obey certainly)

                 An historic occasion. This was the last time I smiled...

18 June 1982. Scotland lost 4-1 to Brazil in the World Cup Finals in Spain. Bad enough, but the following day my days as a free man were to end. In front of a small gathering of family and friends who had come to lend their support, I was shown no mercy and given a long sentence. One that I'm still serving 29 years later. I was getting married to she who must be obeyed.

How depressed was I that night? You may find this difficult to believe but I was not in the pub on 18 June watching Zico and Socrates put Scotland to the sword. Honest, guv, I spent the evening quietly at home with my mother. I knew the significance of the night for her - it was the last evening I would be staying with her in her home. What had been also my home for the past four and a half years. I thought it only right I should spend it with her. I felt a lump in my throat that evening -  particularly after the fourth goal went in…
And so it came to pass that Patricia and I got married at Greyfriars Church in Aberdeen. Her grandfather gave her away - I will resist the obvious gag here although he was armed with a 12 bore shotgun. To this day she says I told her that she looked like a princess - and I’ll also resist the obvious gag about ugly sisters. The day itself went as planned. Pat turned up on time, I managed to avoid throwing up and war didn’t break out between the families.

My father made the effort to attend although I liked to believe his ‘she’s too good for you’ comment was made in a congratulatory sense. There was a slight mishap with cutting the wedding cake at the reception afterwards - I just could not cut it, an accusation that has been thrown at me on numerous occasions throughout my life - but it was a grand day. We stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast in Aberdeen before we headed to our honeymoon in Blackpool. No expense spared, eh? Not only that but my father drove us down to Glasgow for the train to Las Vegas of the North.
Meanwhile back in Aberdeen they were taking bets on how long the marriage would last. I believe two years was the 6/4 favourite although there was some money on six months. I suspect my newly acquired mother-in-law had stuck some of the drinks kitty on that. Few, if any, had any money on 29 years.
The above photograph shows me and the missus with Gary, my best man, June the bridesmaid and little Caroline the flower girl. 'Little' Caroline is now a mother herself. I haven't seen Gary since I left Aberdeen in 1989 but we still keep in touch via Facebook. As for June, we've lost touch completely. If anyone knows where she is please let me know as it would be nice to contact her again.
Nearly three decades, two children and three grandchildren later blessings are counted every day. I don't think Mrs Smith realises how lucky she is...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Project Management

A few lessons in life...

Lesson 1: A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings. The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs. When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbour.

Before she says a word, Bob says, 'I'll give you £800 to drop that towel.'

After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob, after a few seconds, Bob hands her £800 and leaves. The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs. When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, 'Who was that?'

'It was Bob the next door neighbour,' she replies.

'Great,' the husband says, 'did he say anything about the £800 he owes me?'

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2: A priest offered a Nun a lift. She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg. The priest nearly had an accident. After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.

The nun said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.

The nun once again said, 'Father, remember Psalm 129?'

The priest apologised 'Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.'

Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way. On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, 'Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.'

Moral of the story: If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3: A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp. They rub it and a Genie comes out.

The Genie says, 'I'll give each of you just one wish.'

'Me first! Me first!' says the admin clerk. 'I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.' Puff! She's gone.

'Me next! Me next!' says the sales rep. 'I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.' Puff! He's gone.

'OK, you're up,' the Genie says to the manager. The manager says, 'I want those two back in the office after lunch.'

Moral of the story: Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4:An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing. A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, 'Can I also sit like you and do nothing?'

The eagle answered: 'Sure, why not.'

So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5: A turkey was chatting with a bull. 'I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree' sighed the turkey, 'but I haven't got the energy.'

'Well, why don't you nibble on some of my droppings?' replied the bull. They're packed with nutrients.'

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree. He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story: Bull Shit might get you to the top, but it won't keep you there..

Lesson 6: A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field. While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was. The dung was actually thawing him out! He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy. A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:

(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy. (2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.(3) And when you're in deep shit, it's best to keep your mouth shut!

Monday, 30 May 2011

It's Hot...Damn Hot

A Scottish couple decided to go to Spain to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Glasgow and flew to Barcelona on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realising his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Blackpool, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a church minister who died following a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: January 16, 2011

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and so you can send emails to your loved ones.

I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. It's f***ing hot down here!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Exercise? I'm Knackered...

For the last few months I've had something of a routine in going to work. For the final part of my journey to the office I have been getting off the bus and walking about a mile which, if the weather is dry and there's not a hurricane force wind that Scotland is prone to, is quite pleasant and can psyche me up for the stresses of the day ahead. However, last week my daughter Michaela started a job in the office where I work - in the floor below, thankfully - which has meant she has been giving me a lift to work in her Forumla 1 vehicle (given the speed she drives she surely thinks she's competing against Sebastian Vettel and co.) Which has meant my little routine has ceased.

Being on leave this week I thought I would try and rectify this by purchasing an exercise bike for use in the house. The internet can be a wonderful thing and I checked out the on-line reviews before purchasing. Almost every reviewer said it was a good bike for its price although a common theme was the difficulty in putting it together. Disregard the instructions said one reviewer. The bike arrived today - tightly packed in a box with polystyrene that took several minutes to dislodge. The assembly instructions may well have been written in Chinese. Guide the lower part of the INNER cable of the tension control knob into the formed metal loop of the INNER cable of the tension cable. You get the picture. There were several references to a tension control knob. How I could have done with one of them for my aching, ageing body as I grappled with the machine.

The accompanying diagrams may well have been instructions to build a nuclear weapon - numbers here, letters there, numerous arrows pointing to every corner of the page. In the end I took the advice of the on-line reviewer and threw the assembly instructions away. Two hours later the bike has been assembled. But now I'm in a foul mood and have no inclination to set near the damned contraption.

Perhaps I should take up yoga instead...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Who Cares?

The latest hoo-ha to hit the media is the fact the Sunday Herald newspaper, based in Scotland, has published the name of the 'Premier League footballer' who it is alleged took out a privacy injunction - a so-called 'super injunction' - against the users of  Twitter to avoid details of an alleged affair being published. Perhaps I'm just getting old but it saddens me greatly when the people of this country get themselves in a frenzy over the private lives of so-called celebrities. It seems to me the moral standards of the British public have seldom been lower.

Frankly, I couldn't give a Jonathan Ross about who does what to who and who with. There are serious issues around the world that need to be addressed but are seldom reported in the UK press.

It is estimated that 925 million people suffer from hunger. In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition. Children who survive early childhood malnutrition suffer irreversible harm—including poor physical growth, compromised immune function, and impaired cognitive ability. Around the world, 178 million children under 5 are stunted, low height for age. Of all stunted children, 90 percent live in just 36 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia.

Then there is oppression. Think Zimbabwe, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Oppressive nations do not care about human rights and freedom and the recent protests in Tunisia and Egypt showed that the people of these nations are tired of puppet regimes imposed on them by oppressors.

There are atrocities and people dying from starvation around the world. Not that this gets much of a mention in the UK press, particularly the tabloid press who feed the celebrity cravings of the masses. The media in this country  - and this includes television - has dumbed down to such an extent that ignorance is king. Tragedy is happening every minute of every day around the globe but as long as some D list nonentity is photographed coming out of Tescos or is lined up for some tedious mind-numbing 'reality' show then that's what really sells newspapers.

Surely this can't be right?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

25 Years On...

Saturday 10 May 1986. The day my wife was due to give birth to our first child. When Saturday morning arrived I woke up to a bright sunny day in Aberdeen where we lived at the time. I brought Mrs Smith a cup of tea in bed and asked if she was okay. She smiled, thanked me and said she felt fine. ‘That’s good’ I said, ‘Because I’m going to the football’ Pat’s smile faded quicker than a bank manager’s bonus. ‘You mean you’re still going?’ she asked, somewhat incredulously. Time for quick thinking I thought to myself. ‘Well, yes, if you don’t mind. It is Aberdeen Hearts are playing and my mate  Graeme is giving me a lift there’ This seemed to placate my wife of less than four years. ‘But what if I need you?’ she asked. This was the tricky bit. ‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I replied, ‘I’ll phone you a couple of times to check how you are’

A couple of things here for younger readers and those who, like Pat, are not in the slightest bit interested in the beautiful game. Firstly, mobile phones were some way off general use in the mid 1980s. Those that were around tended to be used by high-flying business types and were the size of a small mid-terraced house. Therefore, my means of checking if baby Smith was on the way would be by the use of public telephones - call boxes. Secondly, I was factually correct in stating the big game was between Hearts and Aberdeen. And that my mate Graeme, an avid Aberdeen fan, would be driving me there. However, I did omit the fact that as the game was the Scottish Cup final it would be played at Hampden Park, Glasgow - 140 miles away. A fair point, I concede. I looked at it this way. Yes, my wife understandably wanted me to be present at the birth of our first child. As, indeed, did I. Nonetheless, I had to balance this up with the very real possibility that Hearts may never reach another Scottish Cup Final. I had followed the Jam Tarts for eighteen years up to this point and had never had a whiff of success. This chance might never arrive again. Whereas, there was a good chance my wife would have more children. So, off to Glasgow I scampered leaving a less than happy Mrs Smith and an outraged mother-in-law who threatened to decapitate me on my return (a tad harsh in my view)

Hearts lost the final 3-0 and it was a long journey back to Aberdeen in the company of Graeme who in the 1980s was getting used to seeing his team win cup finals. To his credit, he didn’t hang around much after the game and we headed back north in little under three hours. There I found a smouldering Mrs Smith still pregnant....

Saturday 17 May 1986. 3.25pm. Laura, a bouncing baby girl arrived and changed my life forever. It seems like yesterday - now she has three children of her own. The photo above was taken last week to celebrate Laura's daughter  - my gorgeous grand-daughter Ava's - first birthday.

Happy 25th birthday Laura. I'm proud of you.

ps thanks to those who have sent their best wishes regarding Mrs Smith's hospital admission last week. Since I last posted she was re-admitted to hospital on Saturday with more chest pains. Curiously, the large amount of tests she has had since going back in have not found anything amiss with her heart, other than it is slightly larger than normal (big-hearted Mrs Smith? Surely some mistake?) She is due to get out of hospital and return home on Wednesday, diagnosis as yet uncertain. It's a strange world we live in.


Friday, 13 May 2011

A Tough Week

It's been something of a tough week for the Auld Reekie Ranter. Mrs Smith took unwell on Tuesday and had to be admitted to hospital. Initially it was believed she had a heart attack but after numerous scans and tests the docs say she has angina. She's now recuperating at home (there's a sinkful of dirty dishes, three days of dirty washing and the place could do with a hoover...)

It has been a scare for us all and it was sad that grand-daughter Ava didn't have much of a first birthday last Wednesday. We'll hopefully be making up for this on Sunday - health permitting. It's hard to believe a year has passed since she came into my life. Happy Birthday Ava.

Sometimes you realise what is really important in life.

Friday, 6 May 2011

On the Road to Independence for Scotland

Today is an historic day for Scotland. The votes have now been counted from yesterday's Scottish Parliament election - and there has been a stunning result.

My interest in politics goes back more than 30 years. In all that time the Labour Party has been the dominant force in Scotland, even during the 1980s and early 1990 when they were in opposition to a Conservative government that treated the Scots with contempt and closed down industry after industry, effectively killing community after community. The Tories, initially under the detested Margaret Thatcher then John Major and others didn't care about Scotland and the majority of Scots thought the best way to get rid of the Tory party was to vote Labour. In UK terms this mattered not a jot as the affluent south-east of England, the main beneficiaries of Thatcher's anti-socialist policies would inevitably vote the Tories back into power. Until 1997 when 'New Labour', under Tony Blair came to power. Devolution was granted to Scotland but Labour initially limited the powers of the Scottish Parliament and reckoned their party would win every Scottish election in any case.

Four years ago the Scottish National Party won the Scottish election by the narrowest of margins, much to the surprise of the Labour Party. As it was a minority government, the SNP couldn't push through all the pledges in their manifesto but they still did so much good for Scotland in those four years.

Now, the latest election has produced a startling result. As I write this not all of the results have been declared but the SNP have already won an astonishing 65 seats - meaning there will now be a SNP majority government for the next four years of the Scottish Parliament. Previous Labour heartlands such as Glasgow Shettleston, Hamilton and East Kilbride are now SNP seats. I live in the constituency of Midlothian North. I've lived here for more than 21 years and it's always been a staunch Labour area - until now. The SNP's Colin Beattie won the seat, reward for years of hard work and relentless campaigning.

When I lived in Aberdeen more than two decades ago, I stood for the SNP in the local council elections. I came second but I was part of the campaign to elect Brian Adam as the SNP's first Aberdeen councillor in years. He won and is now a MSP in the Scottish Parliament - and yesterday's results saw the whole of Aberdeen come under SNP power. What an astonishing turnaround from when I used to live there.

In the last parliament, the SNP had hoped for a referendum for the people of Scotland to decide whether they wanted independence for their country. However, being a minority government, they couldn't get enough support to push this through. Now, in 2011, a majority SNP government won't have to rely on anyone else  - they could proceed with a referendum now if they wanted. My heart says yes, go for it now while the country has given the SNP such huge support; my head says it would be ignorant to think that everyone who voted for the SNP yesterday wants independence and that the SNP government might be better building on their significant achievements of the last four years and further convincing the people of Scotland that independence is the next logical step.

There will be those who are sceptical and say this is a protest vote against Labour and the Liberal Democrats. I disagree and would say this:

Years ago we were told there would never be a Scottish Parliament.

Then, when devolution was granted and there was a Scottish Parliament in 1999, there would never be an SNP Government.

Then, as the SNP got stronger and stronger, there might be a slight chance of an SNP government  - but never an SNP majority.

Now they will tell us that Scots will never vote for independence.

After a breathtaking election night, I would say this  - the road to independence for Scotland remains a long one but we have made significant progress along it. Freedom for our nation has never been closer.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Happy Birthday Jack

6 years old today. That's my boy!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Thought for the Day

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." - Martin Luther King, Jr

25 Years On

I know some people who read my ramblings aren't football fans, so they won't look at my other blog but below is a link to a traumatic event in my life - and that of many other Hearts fans - a quarter of a century on. And before anyone says 'it's only a game' please consider our feelings!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sir Henry Cooper

In the 1970s, Eddie Turnbull, Ted Lowe and Henry Cooper were sporting names to admire. Now all three have passed away in the same weekend. Above is a clip of Our 'Enry's fight against Cassius Clay (as he was before he became Muhammad Ali) in 1963.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Who's the Daddy?

One of the best British films ever made was the brutal borstal drama, Scum, in 1979. It was the breakthrough for a young Ray Winstone who was quite brilliant as Carlin, a delinquent who ruled the roost at the borstal. His violent methods were usually followed by the words 'I'm the Daddy!'

Incidentally, as you will have gathered, I didn't watch some bloke get married on the television yesterday. I did wonder, however, if a close friend of his late mother was watching the best man do his bit...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Two Cool Dudes...

...on Edinburgh's Arthur's Seat. I blame the parents...

Friday, 22 April 2011

Royal Wedding? Not Here, Mate...

The words below were published the other day on a website called

The royal wedding is almost upon us, and with it another reminder of our status as the subjects of an unaccountable system of privilege and power.

In light of David Cameron's reassurances that people will be allowed to freely mark this “special day”, without regard for “red tape”, we want to embrace such reassurances to express our contempt for the archaic and inherently undemocratic institution of the monarchy.

On this day, we hope to see the Royal Mile transformed into the “Republican Mile”, in a celebration of democracy and people power, and a two-fingered salute to the monarchy, the ruling classes, and all that they represent.

Bring loudhailers, sound systems, royal and political effigies; anything to make enough noise to be heard in the centres of power, whether in London or Edinburgh. If anyone knows how to perform a rain dance, please teach us, and we can endeavour to send some dark clouds to Buckingham Palace. Most importantly, bring a spirit of rebellion!

I'm not so sure anyone will need to perform a rain dance in the UK's capital but I understand the sentiments. I am already heartily sick of hearing about the royal wedding, about how the nation will be celebrating this 'great event'  - an event which is at the tax payer's expense. One week today I may well be in a darkened room, somewhere with a bottle of brandy and a set of ear plugs. Or perhaps I'll listen to the Sex Pistols Anarchy in the UK on my Ipod. Even my place of work has given us the day off to 'celebrate the royal wedding' As the ironically named Jim Royle might say 'celebrate, my arse!'

 C'mon the republic!