The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

 Sunday and I awoke to the lawn, that stretches along in front of my window, covered white with frost, thankfully I had bought four meters of fleece at the garden centre yesterday and covered over the beds as best I could, a timely intervention.

The first time I heard of universal basic income (UBI) was a project carried out in Finland over 2017 and 2018. the study paid 2000 random selected unemployed people around £500.00 per month with no obligation to seek employment and no reduction in the payment if they found a job. Participants in the project were found to experience less stress, less depression, less sadness and less loneliness. They also did better in other measurements of well-being such as confidence, sense of independence, feeling of security……………

Today I read an article by Dr Steve McCabe on UBI and from his article it seems that the idea of UBI has been around for over a century.

Coronavirus has pushed UDI once more to the top of the list for discussion at government level, for it is a proven fact that the richest in our society will always fair better than the poorest when it comes to fighting off diseases, such as coronavirus. However it doesn’t take a pandemic to tell us that, poverty and poor health along with low education standards, make good bedfellows.

The Spanish government announced in 2020 that they intend to roll out a basic income to a million of the poorest households in Spain. Likewise, The First Minister of Scotland floated the idea of a basic income, around the same time as Spain. But still only being talked about not acted upon,

UBI has always been talked about in economic terms, however, the real benefit of UBI is to public health and well-being in our society.

In Canada, an experiment in UDI began in Dauphin near Winnipeg. One thousand families, about 30% of the population were given a monthly income designed to keep them above the poverty line. This income was named ‘mincome’ Four years later a new conservative government in Canada stopped it. The data collected during the experiment was put away in a box and there it lay for the next 30 years. Evelyn Forget, a professor at the University of Manitoba found the contents of the box and analysed their data. What she found was quite astonishing in terms of public health. Hospital admissions in the ‘mincome’ group fell by 8%. This amount in terms of the healthcare budget alone amounted to a substantial financial saving opening up the possibility that UBI may actually pay for itself through its health benefits.

Much like prison reform, rather than building more prisons, prison reform, is the road out of a revolving door of reoffending. But having turned prisons into private industry for the likes of G4S, a money-making business, funded by the taxpayer, there will be little movement in that direction from Westminster. The reoffending rate in the UK is the highest in Europe and most of the developed world, and not surprisingly much of it can be traced back to poverty and poor housing, dysfunctional families, children growing up in the streets where drugs and prostitution are a way of survival, and where such children will know at least one household in the street where a mum or dad is in or had been released from prison. But I’m off on a tangent once more.

The good news did not stop there. Mental health, something that is talked a lot about at present, also improved, along with a reduction in violence. In short ‘mincome’ improved public health.

Last August (2020), when UDI was brought before the House at Westminster, it was dismissed out of hand by the Tory government. The Under-Secretary of State for Work and pensions, Will Quince, Conservative MP, described UDI as “a costly mess” that “would disincentive work in key industries and leave the country’s finances ruined….. The government have no plans to introduce this policy”.

This, even although studies have shown the opposite is true that rather than recipients becoming work-shy and lazy. There was no significant reduction in working hours and some participants actually found work or increased their existing working hours.

The system at present in the UK is a disincentive to find work or better yourself, for every penny you make over the limit is taken from you and if you rise above a certain threshold you lose out on, housing benefit, free dental care, free glasses, free night school tuition, yes, taking even a part-time job to help your family eke out a living and you crash out of the system – applying to return into the system means five weeks without any financial help at all, but there are always ‘Food Banks’ that are becoming more and more part of the welfare system in this country, and fast becoming like prisons, a growth industry, being funded by government grants, (taxpayer funded).

I would like to see UDI rolled out across Scotland, tomorrow, if possible, but it will never happen so long as we have Tories such as Will Quince able to dismiss UDI out of hand without even looking at the data. If it has already been proven that UDI can improve our countries health, mentally and physically, and greatly improve the well-being of all our citizens, whilst at the same time paying for itself in savings to our NHS – why are we still only talking about it a hundred years on from its conception.

With all my wee jobs in the garden taken care off, and with the skies clear, and the sun out, to hell with the housework, the open road and a life awheel beckons me on.

This letter popped into my in-box and I found it so funny, (but alas true) that I had to pass it on. It is a mixture of fact and fiction. The electoral figures and results are all factual.

Dear Nicola,

The Union would like to place on record our deep appreciation for the SNP strategy of BOTH VOTES SNP.

Where would we be without your help and support?. A lot poorer for a start, with fewer MSP’s, offices closed across the land, staff made redundant. Yes your strategy is the best news we could hope for. Particularly when you are planning to do so again even after that troublemaker Alex Salmond has launched that Alba Party thing. You know that Party we are all working together to stop, Unionist and SNP alike, to keep them out the debates and out the MSM altogether (unless any of us have a bad news story about them, nudge, nudge). Who would have thought it, here we have all this common interest? Who says the Scots can’t work together Nicola, Ruth, Douglas, Humza, Murdo all working together, marvellous?

Let’s look what is being achieved. Well from an SNP Point of view, you guys must be enjoying being the darlings of the Brit Media. Bet you never saw that coming. It’s a luv-in on the Record, Daily Mail, Herald for you Nicola. You know something, I don’t think it’s got anything to do with the £3 million pounds of taxpayers money you gave the media, no I think it’s a genuine appreciation of how good you are at staving off calls for a referendum. 2023 is it now? Can’t be easy, but the cult idea was a good one, a set of young attack dogs to set on anyone who demurs from your announcements. How you  get away with insisting there can’t be a referendum because of the pandemic, as part of your election campaign, while everyone goes to the polls next month is just fabulous. General Election no health risk, Indy Ref lethal to organise during a pandemic. Where do you get public health advisors like that? 

If Boris tried that line there would be a Revolution but you can pull it off no problem. The nodding dogs behind you just all nod in unison. Good enough for Nicola. Good enough for them. Just keep the salaries rolling in. We can all agree about that!

Let’s have a run through the regions, see what happened last time and what we can expect this time, nearly said all things being equal, but there is no way that will happen as long as you guys stick with the both votes SNP DEAL.

Let’s start with the West of Scotland. It was a cracker,  the SNP got 136,000 list votes. It was NOT enough under the rules, our rules, to win you a single seat. No instead 72,000 votes elected 3 Labour MSP’s and another 72000 votes elected 3 Tory MSP’s. For good measure just 17000 votes elected  1 Green MSP. Union 6 Indy 1?

Was much the same in Mid Scotland and Fife 128000 SNP LIST VOTES was not enough to win you even a single seat instead 73000 Tory list votes elected 4 TORY MSP’s and 51000 Labour list votes elected 2 Labour MSP’s as well. Less than 18000 Green list votes secured 1 Green MSP into the bargain Union 6 Indy 1?

Over in the Lothians 118,000 SNP LIST VOTES elected ZERO SNP MSP’s. It was a tight race with the real votes, you know the ones that have not been devalued until they are worthless. 75000 Tory list votes elected 3 TORY MSP’s, 68000 Labour List votes elected 2 Labour MSP’s while the Greens won the jackpot with only 34000 votes electing two Green MSP’s. You guys really deserve a lot of praise for the tolerant way you are happy to see all your votes binned. Not sure we could do it! Union 5 Indy 2?

Over to Scotland’s biggest city now Glasgow. Here 110,000 SNP LIST VOTES failed to elect a single MSP. ZERO again, sorry but that’s the rules. Labour had a field day here 59000 Labour list votes elected FOUR LABOUR MSP’s. 30000 TORY LIST VOTES ELECTED TWO TORY MSP’s and 23000 Green List votes returned 1 GREEN MSP. Union 6 Indy1?

Central Scotland next. This is a really good one. 129,000 SNP LIST VOTES DELIVERED Zilch, nada, zero again. I must say this was my favourite because 67000 Labour list votes DELIVERED 4 Labour MSP’s and a mere 43000 delivered 3 TORY MSP’s. I hope you noticed that the combined vote of Tory and Labour here was LESS than the SNP total but it delivered 7 Unionist MSP’s  while the pro Indy side got Zero. Did I mention this to you? Both votes SNP FOLK ARE GREAT, JUST GREAT! Union 7 Indy 0

To the North East now. Great performance with 137,000 SNP list votes being shown to be worthless electing ZERO SNP MSP’s. Never mind it can be cold up here and the ballots kept the fire going while we counted the real votes. That result delivered 86,000 list votes for the Tories, electing 4 TORY MSP’s, 39000 Labour list votes electing 2 Labour MSP’s and 18000 Lib Dem list votes electing a single Lib Dem MSP. So they need to be grateful for your strategy as well. I think it’s fair to say the Union gratitude for your both votes SNP STRATEGY is genuinely all Party. Union 7 Indy 0

Now we are closing in on the really exciting bits of the country where the UNION are confident we can make some GAINS on the list. Let’s take Highland first. Last time 81000 SNP List votes elected 1 SNP LIST MSP. 44000 Tory list votes elected 3 TORY MSP’s, 23000 Labour list votes elected 2 Labour MSP’s and just 14000 votes for the Greens elected 1 Green MSP. Can’t see that happening this time. Current constituency polling shows you way up on last time, so we have this Region down as one of the two where the Union expects to make list gains! How exciting is that? We confidently expect to reduce the SNP TO ZERO ON THE LIST and bring you into line with the rest of the country. Union 5 Indy 1 Indy? 1

Finally we arrive at South Scotland. Last time 120000 SNP list votes elected 3 SNP LIST MSP’s. 101,000 Tory List Votes elected 2 Tory MSP’s and 56000 Labour list votes elected 2 Labour list MSP’s. Union 4 Indy 3

Personally I wouldn’t want to change this as I recognise that you need one region where you can point too, and show some SNP LIST SUCCESS IN. It’s important and I love how you use this South Scotland list success to justify the two votes strategy everywhere else, when we all know there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of it working anywhere else. My fear is that the constituency polling could put at least two of those list seats in jeopardy, maybe all three. What would we do then at the next contest? It’s a big worry. If you guys could just pull back your efforts in a few constituencies down there it might allow the status quo to continue. Too much to ask? Consider it Nicola at least, you might see the advantages.

Now if there is anything we can do to help don’t hesitate to ask. We recognise this current system could fall apart if voters catch on to the very dangerous ALBA party message which exposes how vulnerable the Union would be under, if voters, especially your voters, start realising the huge advances that could be made if they were to swap to Alba with their list votes. We must work hard to make sure that never happens. No worries about the BBC they know what to do. Whatever you do don’t mention UKIP, that Farage was all over our screens when he didn’t have a seat anywhere. Don’t worry we can say that was an English decision made in London. Nothing to do with BBC JOCKLAND..

For these reasons I am marking this message top secret and putting our top agents in charge to make sure it reaches you safely and doesn’t fall into the hands of those pro Indy bloggers, you know the ones Salmond has set up as the NEW MEDIA GROUP. THAT WOULD BE A DISASTER.

LETS BOTH LIE LOW UNTIL THIS IS OVER AND WE CAN CONTINUE AS BEFORE. THAT’S WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT. The UK government endorsement for whatever job you are looking for at the UN is in the bag. Just let us know when. Not too soon I hope.

The first week of April has already gone down the ‘craw road’ as Judy (Collins) would also ask “Who knows where the time goes”.

7 am and the skies over St Andrews are ringing out as clear as the note from a bell, thankfully the overnight frost, that had been forecast for the area did not arrive. I did my perambulation of the garden for inspection of the newly planted, and to my relief, they were all standing up like little soldiers on parade. We travel hopefully.

With little wind and the sun on the ascension, I need to get out on my bicycle once more, it has been almost a week now and withdrawal symptoms are setting in.

I did go out on my non-electric assisted bike (yes I still have one) and it was cold, not at all windless and hard work, that’s what becomes of having a week off, like going back to work after a two week holiday, loafing around in the sun, you take it ill out.

Home and I went onto the net to see what was happening in the real world of news. And as soon as I entered the virtual world a message popped up on the screen from Elie Weather, frost expected tonight, ho-hum, I will have to think of protection for my new plants.

Now there has been a big stooshie in the Scottish parliament for what seemed like forever about a contralateral bill ‘The Hate Crime Bill’. Now I have to admit I had little interest in a bill that seemed to be a big distraction to the real problems that face Scotland, like Boris Johnston, and the stream of bills coming out of Westminster that we have no input or control over.

Today as part of the Alba party, Denise Findlay

Denise Findlay

– in advance of the Women’s The conference, today had written a lengthy piece, I shall not cut and past it, all by here is a taster.

“Women’s concerns have not been heard.  All parties in the Scottish Parliament is signed up in varying degrees to gender ideology.  

The Greens and LibDems are irretrievably anti-women in hock to an ideology that is dangerous to the health and well being of women and girls.  Andy Wightman resigned from the Greens due to their intolerance of any discussion of women’s rights claiming party leader Patrick Harvie is captured by Queer Theory. …………………………

Just before recess, the Scottish Parliament passed the Hate Crimes Bill (HCB). This bill does not give protection to women whose sex have been ignored by the bill.   A man dressed as a woman has more protection against hate than a woman. But it does pose significant danger and risk to women.

The bill introduces a new offence of ‘stirring up hatred’ which requires that behaviour must be judged “abusive or threatening” by a “reasonable” person.

Define ‘Reasonable’ when using the word ‘female’ can be judged transphobic.  When our own justice secretary can’t say if there are two sexes and a judge in England ruled that belief in two sexes was ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society.  When many women’s accounts have been suspended or banned from social media for stating a biological fact. 

During the passage of the bill amendments that would have given women a small measure of protection was withdrawn due to an outcry by the trans lobby.”

Now you can see why it has caused so many problems and taken forever to pass-through parliament. Now my complaint is not with the bill, I simply do not know or understand enough about what the bill is trying to achieve. No, my problem is if the SNP were to gain an overall majority in the parliament, such bills could go through and be given Queens Assent without due scrutiny and for me that is (duly elected) dictatorship, such as we see at Westminster, Boris sitting with an 80 vote advantage over the opposition with less than 40% of they country’s voter’s approval, and one more reason for more diversity in the Scottish Parliament.

I can not for the life of me understand why we in Scotland get so hung up on gender. Some years back I did the Compostela de Santiago staying in refugees in the process. All refugees (apart from one that was a convent of nuns, although the girls had to pass through the male dorm to get to theirs and passed the male showers that had no door, strange compromise) all others were very much mixed quarters. And since girls outnumber us lads our toilets was not a safe haven, and soon become an overspill for the girls. There seemed to be no problems with modesty either (I don’t mean that people ran around naked) but the odd flash of tits did not seem to be a problem for anyone.

Again on a cycling trip across France, on a day that was inexhaustibly hot, I came upon a hotel where a group of cyclists, both male and female were made use of a hose in the yard stripped to the buff they were happily hosing each other down in a playful way, no inhibitions about sex. Maybe it is time to stop the silliness and (with modesty) accept the reality on the ground, and not try to create problems for ourselves.

Hate is only the prerogative of ignorant people.

Today I have reawakened memories of my years in Germany, amongst some of the best in my life. A top entertainer in early 1960 in Europe was Nana Mouskouri

Nana Mouskouri

she seemed to be constantly on the local radio. When living there in Germany, I bought an LP “Weisse Rosen Aus Athen” – in later years updated to CD. One track on it was a real blast from the past Ta pedia tour pirea (Ein Schiff wird kommen) it was the theme song from a film ‘Never on Sunday’

It’s all Greek to me

– the song was later released in the UK (in English and the words changed to protect the English innocent blushes). I was surprised I could still remember enough of the words of ‘Weisse Rosen Aus Athen, to sing along with Nana, great fun or should that not be Viel SpaB – oh come on Hamilton your just showing off now.

Stay safe.

 What a day it has been, the clock is chapping 5 pm and for the first time today I can at last sit down and have a well-erned rest, a cup of tea and a banana sandwich.

The wind had been blowing hard as I ventured out to the shop for bread and milk for the breakfast, I was surprised how warm it was even in the wind. So for reasons better known to me, I decided to do a bit of gardening. I turned over the plot in front of the netted wall and spaded in some of the compost I had acquired earlier, may as well plant the sweet peas since I am here.

Noon and time for lunch, Oh, what’s this the post has brought me, iScot magazine and live plants, yes the strawberry plugs for the hanging troughs, ho-hum.

I could not help having a peek into iScot, as the kettle boiled and the pork chop sizzled in the pan. Of course, I was soon engrossed in an article ‘May’ by Jason Michael McCann.

“In terms of party membership, the SNP did not really register on the United Kingdom’s political landscape before 2014. The independence referendum campaign of 2012 to 2014 was not an SNP campaign. While it is true the SNP contributed greatly t the campaign the reality is that this was in the main grassroots campaign directed by the politically non-partisan Yes Scotland. Put more simply, the Scottish National Party did not create the independence movement- the independence movement created the SNP. Yet, ever since its astronomical growth in membership in the wake of the campaign, the SNP has worked very hard to become the sole political party of the independence movement – to become ‘the vehicle’ of the movement – it has successfully monopolised the discourse on independence politics by silencing all dissent within the party by demonising and expelling even the most loyal of critics and by relentlessly attacking the alienating oppositional voices and opinions across the movement.”

I believe that pretty well sums up the SNP and it has a dismal record in actually campaigning for independence – ‘Wheeshed for Independence’, and of course why Nicola Sturgeon is so miffed at the creation of the Alba party. Dangling the independence carrot in front of the voters noses at each and every election since 2014 and saying vote for me on both papers or you will get a unionist coalition in my place and what chance your prestigious independence then, (that I never will champion, so long as I can keep my party in power and myself as First Minister) as it was then, as it is now. Thankfully we now have the Alba party that will hand back the independence campaign to the grassroots, the people of Scotland.

Goodness me is that the time already?

Must do something with these strawberry plants, and whilst I am at it I may as well make a start to planting out the maypole

This led to planting, the young Lupins

along the wall and the Chrysanthemums on the raised beds.

The cold weather is forecast to return tomorrow hope they survived after all the effort that has been put in raising them from seed to this stage. If all goes well we should have a fair show in June and July and right through until the first frosts of winter.

Me I’m frightened to sit down or I will fall asleep, all this fresh air has taken its toll.

Keep safe.  

Today the wind has abated, but still icy cold out there, I did however move the plants outdoors in a sheltered spot, hoping for some better weather so that they may remain outside permanently until planting time. The disappearance of the wind means I can once more climb ladders so will put up the netting down the outside wall at the front of the building as support for the climbing French beans. Once commonplace as a vegetable on the diner plate, but seem to have gone out of fashion, maybe getting them for free will revive their popularity, personally I love them.

St Andrews is still very quiet, I thought with the lifting of some restrictions more people would have returned to the streets but alas no, looks as if it will take better weather to bring them out of hiding.

I did service the tricycle and a bit of spring cleaning, how can one man get the place so untidy? I must go on the internet, for sure there must be instructions somewhere on there to tell me,

“How do I get bike chain oil stains out of the carpet, before my mum comes home?”

Audio wallpaper today, The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, “Got a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand, Sent me to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man”. Born in the U.S.A.

I listened to Alex Salmond’s speech yesterday, opening the Alba campaign, (Alba pronounced as if there were another ‘a’ after the ‘l’ Alaba, sort of rolls off the tong) He was brilliant, the man has not lost his common touch with the people, or clarity of message. Next week it is the turn of the women of Alba to have their say, (who incidentally outnumber their male counterparts standing on the 6th May for election) and there will be weekly sessions all the way up to the election, these at the moment will all be on the internet, which kind of rules out many older citizens of Scotland who do not frequent Facebook, Twitter or the likes. However, Alba lawyers are in negotiations with the BBC, making sure that Alba is represented on any further political programs.

The reality on the ground has shifted the attitude of the media and the SNP (especially Nicola sturgeon) she is now saying she will work with the parliament chosen by the people, whatever its make up. I think she knew she was acting like a petulant child, I’m sure the other members of the party would have had a word in her ear, for no one wishes to see the demise of the SNP party, for this is no longer about one party it is about Scotland’s right to exist as a country.

A NEW DECLARATION FOR SCOTLAND

Speech by Alex Salmond leader of the Alba Party on the 701st Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

“Last year for the 700 anniversary I contributed to a project on the Arbroath Declaration. What struck me about the essays in the book was how the concepts which underpinned the declaration still resonate today.

We are shaped and moulded by our history. But we are defined by how we apply those principles to our own lives and to the here and now.

A document from history with profound and modern ideas.

Of course the Arbroath document was not, in reality, a declaration.
Rather it was a letter asserting Scotland’s rights to the international authority of the day – the Avignon Papacy.

The importance of the “Declaration” was not that it came just from those in positions of wealth and authority. Rather, it’s enduring power and appeal was that it was rooted in the whole Community of the Realm of Scotland.

It was the recognition of the need for that essential endorsement by the Community of the Realm which elevated the letter far beyond what it could otherwise have been if simply endorsed by loyal supporters of The Bruce.

And how successful that strategy was.

Within a couple of years of the Declaration, international opinion moved in favour of the Scots.

It was the English King who became diplomatically isolated and eight years later Scottish independence was negotiated, acknowledged and accepted.

As it was then, so it can be now.

The appeal for Scottish independence cannot – should not – be restricted by the party. No one party has the ownership of Scottish independence. It is rooted in the sovereignty of the people, all of the people. 
Scotland’s Parliament is the modern democratic expression of the Community of the Realm. It exists to allow modern Scotland to define its own future. To tell the wider world who we are and who we want to be.


And in this election more than any other, it is about putting the nation before the party.”

In his address, of which this is just a small portion, the whole speech can be found online for anyone interesting in reading it. Alex handed power back to the people, this forthcoming election is about just that,

“Who rules Scotland – the people who live and work in Scotland or Boris Johnston, or Nicola Sturgeon, for that matter?”

I attended all of the AUOB (all under one banner)


Grey skies and showers did little to dampen the spirits of marchers taking part in what’s been described as the biggest and boldest demonstration of independence ever to have taken place. Photograph: Colin Mearns

march before coronavirus closed down protesting in large numbers on our streets. And in the last march which took place in Edinburgh the estimate given, by police Scotland, of people marching was over 200 thousand, and for me, that was a very conservative estimate. Not only the people marching but the pavements too were lined with like-minded people all cheering us on, a sea of satires. You can rest assured that none of those on that day were marching to secure ‘baby boxes’ or ‘controversial legislation’ but to secure ‘Self Determination’ for their country and its people – the right to chose their own destiny not have one hosted upon them by a party at Westminster, especially parties that the Scottish people have rejected in general elections after general election, some since before the war.

The ball is firmly in the hands of the Scottish people on March 6th 2021, Will they run with it?

Stay safe.

The snow actually purred away for a while but came to nothing, I decided to leave the plants inside for today.

Headed up to Aldi on Shanks pony I near froze my ball’s off, the wind was cutting. Returning the long way around by the harbour and abbey, but only found a few brave dog walkers out, so the roadshow will be going nowhere today either. Time to hunker down.

The audio wallpaper today is Judy Collins,

And playing now something very special, “Send in the Clowns” (Stephen Sondheim)

I noticed on my way up to Aldi that Rhuaraidh Fleming (SNP) has a prominent poster up in St Andrews for the up and coming Holyrood elections. He will only be a token vote, for he is a lad without much charisma, a rather dour fellow, unlike his opponent, Wee Willie Rennie, the incumbent Lib/Den candidate. Willie has made himself very viable here in St Andrews and has his feet well under the table at Holyrood, so will be hard to uproot.

You would not blame him for putting in the effort he has over the years, well, he would not wish to go back to driving the Kelty bus.

Picture taken at the Lothamond Bus Museum (Fife)

However with the insurgence of the Alba party, Wee Willie could pose a lonely figure in the parliament’s opposition seats after May, all his list vote MSP could be disappearing under an Alba avalanche of list MSP.

“Where are the clowns There ought to be clowns………….”

Back in the 1950 and 1960 we had clippies on the buses, and one lass from Kelty stood out. She was very tall and had reduced her ‘postman pat’ hat to a token of its original size and shape, it was now pinned on top of a mane of bottle blond hair. The straps that held her ticket machine and money bag have been extended to a point that they now hung around the calves of her legs. Legs that seemed to go on forever until they met up with her cutty sark, (short skirt). Possibly modest enough in today’s world but an eye-opener in the 1950s – then you could say the girl was “Just a Kelly Clippie”, (or there again just happy in her own body).

“The times they are a-changing”

Keep safe.

Easter Monday, and being any Monday, my spell in the laundry. Then I took off on my walk.

St Andrews is pretty much a ghost town, with all the student on Easter break, curtains in their flats hang limp and dishevels, indicating departure in hast. The streets too, devoid of Q outside the coffee shops, with no students needing their daily fix. Taking the roadshow out would have been a total waste of time today.

I did however do a perambulation of the town. The ice-cold wind was howling along South Street where men Q outside the gent’s hairdressers, I did not join them, I hate standing in Qs and will do without first.

Dropping down to the Kinness Burn. Now out of the wind, it was pleasant walking along the path beside the crystal clear water of the low running burn. The Willow waved her greeting in the genial wind as if to show off her bright new dress, to its best.

I carried on along the foot bath to the bridge at Dempster Place, where the Flowering Cherry was in full bloom. Ducks rushed forward at my coming, sorry boys and girls, no bread today.

Up now past the Byre Theatre, So-called, (elementary dear Watson) because it was once a byre.

Turning back into South Street, the icy blast hit me head-on. At St Andrews, Holy Trinity Parish Church, I turned into the square.

At the time of its building the parish church would have been within the cathedral precinct, the new church was built so that the church could distance itself, physically and metaphorically from the influence of the cathedral. At the time of its building the church was not just a place of worship, it was a place of commerce. Altars were founded within the church, at which prayers could be said for their founder. Eventually, there may have been over thirty such altars within Holy Trinity, some of which would have served as guild altars for the trades of the burgh.

It was from the pulpit of the Holy Trinity Parish Church, that John Knox roared out against the Roman Catholics, his vial tong did insight the congregation to march on the Dominicans friary, a little further down South Street from the parish church and as Knox would have it, kick the Papists out of St Andrews. The ruins of the Black Friar still stands by the roadside.

The Dominican friars founded in around 1215, in the Toulouse area of southern France, came to Scotland around 1230. the order placed great stress on academic learning as a way of combating heresy, so St Andrews would have been a natural choice for the order in Scotland.

Church Square where I had set up my stall the other day was all but deserted, only a few outside the coffee shop awaiting their orders to be taken.

Home once more, where I met Jean in the hallways, she wanted to know what should be done with the Geraniums?

I suggested, landfill, I told her they are all dead. I had removed three from their troughs, and there was no sign of life, so not worth hanging onto. I persuaded her to fill the planters with strawberry plant grown especially for hanging baskets, not only would it be a show in the summer but I’m sure the strawberries will not go to waste.

“That’s a brilliant idea” she said.

“Guess who got the job or ordering (and I’m sure planting them when they arrive)?????

So it has been a very interesting morning             

In two fundraising campaigns in 2017 and 2019, people gave money to the SNP in support of the campaign for independence. The money we were told would be ring-fenced, to be spent only on a future indiref2, that was our guarantee. The amount generated stood at £600,000.

When the party’s 2019 accounts were published they showed that the SNP had less than £100,000 in the bank at the end of the year, and a total net assets of less than £272,000 – what happened to our £600,000? The then treasurer said that it was woven through the accounts.

Following this, a complaint was made to Police Scotland on Saturday 27th March 2021, at Barrhead Police Station. Then came the resignation of three members of the Finance and Audit Committee of the SNP, for having been refused access to the SNP accounts.

That same evening two members of the Financial Investigation Unit of Police Scotland issued a statement under the incident number PS20210352082. Currently subject to a civil case at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

On Tuesday 30th March, officers visited the home of the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell, in connection with the investigation. When the First Minister appears a few hours later on the BBC televised debate, it was noted that she looked tired and below par.

I have no way of confirming any of this since it is all second hand information, but clearly something is afoot the curtain of the SNP secret inter workings has all but been thrown open now.

Who I wonder will be wearing the number across their chest now, not Alex Salmond, that’s for sure.

The good and mighty from around the world will descend on Glasgow later in the year (if it is not cancelled) for a summit on climate change and what can be done to arrest the devastating effect that climate change is having on our world. They will dine on the best that Scotland can provide and no doubt, talk for hours. Then after signing up to a commitment that will have little or no effect on global warming, there will be photo opportunities galore, column inches will be written, that could stretch from here to the moon and back. And after all this, the delegates will get back in their polluting limousines and aircraft and head home.

The biggest group there will be the Americans, who I am sure will make some grand speeches and talk of change.

Today I watched a documentary on Sky, from the great river delta, near to Windhoek in Namibia, on the south-west coast of Africa.

The Okavango River
The Okavango Delta

This is one of the last places where wild animals still live as they have for centuries, the last great delta basin where you will see many animals that were once commonplace right across Africa, alas all but gone now after the ‘White Man’ came to Africa to steal its wealth and enslave its people. Now the Americans are back in Namibia drilling for oil in this unique and unspoiled river delta.

Of course, the American company will give all sorts of assurances that there will be no pollution and will bring much-needed jobs to the area, just as they did off the great river delta of Nigeria. The oil was bought cheaply enough, with only one corrupt president to pay off. America was quick to back his claim when he said ‘all the oil, offshore in Nigeria belongs to him. A percentage of the revenue paid into an American bank account in his name.

The great river delta in Nigeria is now a stinking polluted hole from the oil spillage. The environmental damage has been enormous. Local indigenous people have seen little if any improvement in their living, whilst suffering serious damage to their natural environment. More than 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000 and it is estimated that a clean-up (if this were ever to come to pass) to restoration the swamps, creeks, fishing grounds and mangroves, it would require millions and take at least 25 years, this will never happen, for who would pay for it, not the American oil companies that for sure. Namibia will suffer the same fate, the people will receive not one penny in compensation, or will even be asked for their approval. American foreign policy personified, whether it be oil or any other raw mineral.

What makes all this so unpalatable is there is more oil in the countries around the world then America could ever need. Countries in the Middle East, and South America, this is not about a shortage of oil, it is about oil that is easily accessible and more or less for the taking and American companies will exploit any rich picking regardless of the environmental damage they may do,

“Just so long as the buck stops here”

American foreign policy has distorted the market for their own ends, buying oil from the Middle East (even if it were needed, which it is not) is not profitable and America has placed sanctions on countries such as Iraq, so that their oil can not be sold on the open market. Now the Chinese are buying up Iraq’s oil at a knocked down price, what choice do the Iraqi people have?

Climate Change Conference in Glasgow will change nothing,

“When we play our charades, we are like children playing”

I was in the common room, reading and listening to Etta James at the time. I like it in the common room for it gets the sun most of the day through its floor to ceiling Edwardian windows.

“Do you have a minute – could you come out and have a look at these?”

no point in doing anything other than what you are told, I went out to see what the girls wanted from me.

“We cut the Geraniums back in the winter, they don’t seem to be doing much, what do you think?”

how long have they been in those pots? I asked,

“About four years now” was the answer.

Maybe the soil is tired, unless you have been feeding them, then again Geraniums are a poor soil plant. I would try changing the soil, maybe even move them out of the pots altogether and into the garden proper.

Back inside the conversation had reminded me of a lad I knew when I lived and worked in Edinburgh. Tam and I would acquaint the same West End pub and would sit together for a blether. One day Tam told me his grass was not doing well at all, yellow patches everywhere, he said.

Well it can’t be the lack of water I said, all the rain we’ve been having, maybe you could try feeding it, I told him, it may simply be short on nitrogen, if you come in tomorrow around the same time I will drop you off a bag of fertiliser. Which was not a problem for me since I worked for the Scottish Agricultural Industry at the time. I filled a small bag with fertiliser, that was high in nitrogen and dropped it off for him that evening.

It had been a while since I had seen Tam, he called me over to his table as soon as he saw me coming at the door of the pub. I carried my pint over and sat down, to get the conversation going I asked him how his grass was doing.

“Oh fine” he told me, “I don’t bother putting away the lawnmower, I just leave it where I finished”.

Sky Art has some great programmes but why so early? yesterday morning starting at 6 am the Royal Ballet performing Sleeping Beauty, the dancing was superb, but why so early? I could only watch a little of it during breakfast.

The other day it was “Ancient Land” – Celtic Women from Johnston Castle in Ireland, but again at an inappropriate time. The morning is for getting on with work, the evening is a time to relax and watch such splendour.

this morning Berlioz Requiem, from Notre-Dame Cathedral, with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and a choir of many. But once more on from 6.30 am until 8.30 am. Again brilliant stuff but I could not sit for two hours at this time in the morning and only listened in for half that, during breakfast and tiding up.

Once-upon-a-time we would set the machine to recorder and watch programmes later in the day,. Sadly the BBC (especially channel 2) never kept to scheduled and you missed either the beginning or worst still the end of a programme.

Yesterday (at a more reasonable time of the day) I watched Handel’s Messiah, on the BBC, I wonder if the Frenchman that misspelt the name in the carving he did of Handel, did ever received his money when he presented his bill?

Messiah was writing in double quick time, less than a month if memory serves, as Handle neared the end of his life. It was written for Easter, however, it is mostly performed at Christmas time for some unknown reason. Me well I play it all the year through, I just love the work, there was a time when I had a voice and would sing along, mostly with the contralto parts.

“He was despised, rejected, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief”

“And he shall watch over us, like a shepherd, and he shall gather unto him the lambs with his arms.”

Handel in his masterpiece puts wonderful music to major writings by the prophets of the Old Testament this evening it was an edited version so much was left out, however this did not distract from the performance, and during this time of coronavirus lockdown, there would have been a restriction on what soloists would be available on the day, cutting your coat to the cloth.

In today’s performance the choir was outstanding, “Behold the Lamb of God”, moved me greatly, then again I am just an old romantic, full of emotion when it comes to such music.

In the film “Pretty Woman” at the end of the opera,

“Did you enjoy the performance, my dear?”

“Oh yes, I near peed my pants”

Yes, music can move people in strange ways.

Keep safe.

The day was bright but cold, as I pedalled my way along South Street to Church Square where I set up shop.

I did not need my music since the busking accordionist was doing a swell job, paying medley after medley, he is actually a very accomplished musician, you will see and hear him all over Fife, today he was the roundabout when all were attracted to the swings, not a penny dropped in his hat during the two hours I spent there.

I did have three people came for a blether and a lot of photographs were taken, so hopefully a photo or two on social media.

One woman (I have seen her at the Tory stall during the 2016 election, she certainly was clicking away with her camera, so I can expect competition from now on, of course, they will have all the expensive signs and banners.

I did a few circuits of the town, just to fly the flag,

One guy waiting outside the coffee shop, starting jeering and shouting “Idiot” my message is getting through and clearly they don’t like it, worrying times for all the main parties, including the SNP.

Oor Nicola earlier today made a statement, telling the press that she did not believe Alex Salmond and the Alba party should feature in any further debate, the girl certainly believes in democracy. She must know that she is only in her post by the grace of the Yes voters in Scotland, and their patience is growing very thin indeed. The endless road she has taken them on for Indiref2. Their support is waning, she thought her popularity would gift her a further 5 years as First Minister, no wonder she is not best pleased with the Alba party. A woman’s scorn knows no bounds.

Well the gauntlet has been thrown down in St Andrews, they know we are here now, and I intend to keep up the pressure, as the days count down to what will be a defining election for Scotland.

Keep safe.    

 Friday was another fine day, weather-wise, I spend most of the day finishing up all my wee jobs, since we are now into campaign mode, and time will be scarce. First Blake 7 a new stand for her television, I suppose it does save space rather than have it sitting on a table or television cabinet, since our living rooms are not overly big.

This time I decided to read the instructions first, when every move is being watched best not to look like an idiot.

Then came the plant pot stand for the garden, I decided to modify the rocking boat (plant stand) since it was starting to look a bit shabby. As it turned out this took a lot less time than building up the flat pack television stand.

I looked up from my work to see the flowering cherry tree in blossom, it was like magic, one moment it was just a tree, next it was a glorious joy to behold.

At the moment I am having to bring the young plants in at night and take them out in the morning, since the clear skies bring a keen coldness during the hours of darkness, even a ground frost. Better to be safe than sorry.

The early evening was taken up with preparing the trailer for tomorrows campaign road trip. Rather than take my tools up to the old kitchen, for you will always need a tool you never brought with you, it would be easier to bring the trailer down to the flat, where all my tools were to hand. I cleared a space in the living room and drilled and bolted the two sideboards on. They certainly improved the whole look of the trailer.

Then came the 12V car battery to run the DVD/CD player, held in place with a ratchet strap, then the inverter, that will be required to charge the battery on the tricycle, with the solar panels, these will not go with me tomorrow since I will just be around the corner from the flat. However, they will be needed when I go further afield to recharge the battery on the trike for the return journey. Flags and flag poles. The circus has certainly come to town.

Time to take it back to the old kitchen, who’s a silly boy then? Adding the boards to the trailer added one inch to its width, just enough for it not to go back out the door, so off came the door. Once out, the door was screwed back in place. The trailers home will now permanently be the old kitchen.

By now I was starting to feel my age, but pleased with my day and tomorrow will be much more relaxing. Doing what I do best blethering.

Saturday

a bit nervous about the task today, for I am going into battle in a predominantly small C conservative area and many will be students or past students from England. I have no real knowledge of the Alba party, how many members it has (I have heard 4,100 banned about but no official tally), no authorisation, and no big hitters from the party on television or in the media, so it is all very much in the deep end today. However, the Alba party is holding their conference today so should know more by my next blog.

When I was in college, during the summer recess I took a job with the combined insurance company of America, I did not of course tell the interviewer that I was really a student and would be going back in the autumn. After my two weeks of training, I was set loose to find my own leads and make my own sales. I parked the car up in Carnoustie car park, it was then I knew as far as selling went, I was not even born yet. To say those first steps from the car park were nerve-racking, would be an understatement. As it turned out I was a natural, I really liked the job. In fact in hindsight maybe I should have packed in college and becoming a super-duper salesman, then again I would never have become a DJ in a strip club, but that’s another story, and maybe its telling is better left until after the watershed.

Today feels just like that first day as a salesman with the CICA, but a faint heart and all that.

“To the breach, dear friends.

Why put myself in this position, well, it is all about self-determination, my wish is for Scotland to break free of bad decisions made for us by parties at Westminster, parties that we never voted for, in fact, rejected in election after election going right back to the war years. I really did not wish to leave the EU, or have our economy trashed by Brexit, and sadly I feel that Nicola can not, or will not, call another referendum on independence so long as she can hold onto power in Scotland without doing so.

In theory the Alba party makes sense if all the failed SNP list votes had gone to Alba in 2016 we would have had 24 more pro-independent MSP at Holyrood and 24 fewer unionists MSP, a much stronger hand, but Oor Nicola bottled it in 2016, so we are where we are. I feel this election is the last chance saloon for Scotland, I can only put my faith firmly in the Scottish people to see that and vote for Alba on the list, “let’s get independence done”.

We travel hopefully.

 A snapshot of the UK to the EU trade in food and drink shows some worrying stats. Exports fell in January 2021, driven by a fall in sales to the EU of 75.5 % compared to January 2020, a drop of nearly £0.75 Billion. Other factors do come into play, such as stockpiling by the UK prior to COVID and ahead of the transition period. However much is due to new non-tariff barriers faced by the UK exporting collapsing and shut out of many SME exports. The UK food and drinks exports,

All food and drinks – January 2020 – £1.7 billion, January 2021 – £824.9 million, a change of -51.1%.

EU January 2020 – £1.0 billion, January 2021 £256.4 a change of -75.5%

Non-EU January 2020 – £639.9 million, January 2021 £568.5 a change of -11.1%

This is the result of Brexit and the “smooth transition” so freely spouted by Boris, what happened to the huge opportunity and how we had nothing to fear from leaving the Single Market?

Take the trouble to look into these figures that have just been published you will find that the top ten products that we exported to the EU

Whisky – a drop of £63.1%

Cheese – a drop of 85.1%

Chocolate – a drop of 65.4%

Beef – a drop of 91.5%

Animal feed – a drop of 6.8%

Lamb and Mutton – a drop of 45.1%

Salmon – a drop of 98%

Pork – a drop of 86.9%

Fish – a drop of 79.1%

Breakfast cereals – a drop of 74.4%

I’m sure you will have noticed the enormous contribution Scotland make to the UK exports figures. Almost all of this list has a big impact on the Scottish economy, beef, lamb, fish, porridge oats and Salmon all will be products leading the economy of Scotland.

Yes Corvid does have a hand to play, but we should not be hoodwinked, these figures are in stark contrast with Ireland’s economy that has grown by, between one and two per cent over 2020. Oh I’m sure we heard a lot of fine words from the five puppets on the BBC yesterday but did anyone really have an answer to how we escape the dead hand of Westminster, whose polices will ruin many business owners and many thousands of jobs in the very near future, Madness.

I could have written screeds about these figures, but really they speak for themselves, urgent action is required from our MSP not more promises (vote for me and I promise, you not only the moon but the stars too, anything to stay in power, and none of it within their gift to give) promises for a future that will never come.

Yesterday we had five leaders of the parliament in Holyrood on the BBC answering the questions the BBC had chosen for them, and the answers just as predictable, questions that we could have heard any day of the week from these trained puppets. Leaders debate, Aye Right.

Let’s stop living on dreams, let’s stop kicking the can down the road until it eventually hits the wall, and the game ends, with Scotland the looser. End this now, vote SNP 1 on the constituency paper, and Alba Party on the list vote.

In 2016 election, if all the people that voted SNP had voted for SNP 1 and Alba on the list vote, there would have been 24 more pro-independent SNP in the parliament at Holyrood. Better still there would have been 24 fewer Unionists MSP. And don’t forget if you take out the unionist MSP you also take out their office, their staff, their voice, and their vote. You weaken the opposition and at the same time strengthen the cause for interdependence.

 Sorry, I have been neglecting my blog over the last week. But you see we are having elections to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood on the 6th May 2021, and I’m sure there are many bloggers out there that are much more into the ins and outs of Scottish politics than I.

I, for the first time in my life had decided not to vote this year, even if everyone in Scotland voted for Nicola Sturgeon, there was little hope of another referendum on independence under her leadership.

Independence is,

Self-Determination,

Not,

Separation,

Stupid.

Unknown to us, beavering away clandestinely in the background, the Alby Party was putting the finishing touches to the scheme to stand only in the List Vote in Scotland, to give a huge Pro-independence boost to the Holyrood parliament.

This of course has thrown a grenade, into the system, and has not gone down well in the unionist quarter, (and of course, has had little coverage in the national press or television news programmes), for it means there will be fewer limpet MSP in the parliament, people that have never been voted in by the people of Scotland to any office, but are thereby the grace of the list vote.

I can not understand Oor Nicola, acting a bit like a petulant child over the Alba party, maybe it is her Ego that is suffering and not that of Alex Salmond. This is good news for the future of Scotland’s – independence, now closer than it has ever been since 2014. I can not wait to become a European citizen once more. You see every unionist party MSP you knock out of the ring, you at the same time demolish their base, their office, their staff, and their voice. This will weaken the opposition and strengthen our cause for self-determination. All Good.

I am really pumped about the events of the last week, last Friday’s launch of the Alba Party has shaken the grassroots independent supporters out of their slumber, and it is palpable.

I intend to start my ‘Road Show for the Alba Part on Easter Weekend. Taking my tricycle and trailer around the towns of North East Fife, (and possibly Dundee) over the run-up to the 6th May. It has all been a bit of a rush, but I hope to play music, (not Scottish traditional music) Tina Turner, Blondie, (love parallel Lines), Eva Cassidy, Suzi Quatro, and the evergreen ABBA. As Muddy Waters would have put it “The joint is jumping”.

All this has taken time and the main reason I have been neglecting my blog, I do not intend to turn this into a political blog, (too late) but hope to tell you a bit about my journey around Fife, lots of pictures and hopefully lots of sunshine – other than the sunshine that is now shined from the hearts of the pro-independence supporters at this great opportunity to further the cause of Self-determination for Scotland.

I happen to read in the ‘long letter’ to The National on March 25th 2021 John Edgar (Kilmaurs) said he is genuinely perplexed, and asked ‘can someone explain what is driving him (Alex Salmond) to continue his attacks and criticisms of our First Minister when we are only weeks away from important Holyrood elections?’

Well John, have you ever heard of a woman called Annie Oakley,

Annie, was a sharpshooter in the days of the travelling shows around America and later Europe. Her eyesight, her eye to hand coordination and timing set her apart from most of her fellow sharpshooters at the time, she was just that good. When 1900 came along, the legions and myths that had grown up around the Old West, were now depicted in the cinema and not the wild west shows, Annie career was nearing its end she would by now be a middle-aged woman.

In 1904 newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst published in bold, large typeface the headlines “Annie Oakley, arrested for stealing to support her drugs habit”. The story was ‘fake news. The girl that had been arrested was not Annie Oakley, but a burlesque performer (not the type of performer that Annie would wish her name to be associated with in the 1900s normally looked upon as a girl of loose morals) it would seem she told the Chicago police that her name was Annie Oakley. What the newspapers had failed to do it point this out to their readers.

Most of the newspapers that printed the store had done so on the Hearst article, they had not checked their facts. Most were quick to retract the libellous error, Hearst had not. He tried to avoid paying court judgments of $20,000 (around $570,000 in today money), by sending an investigator to Darke County, Ohio, with the intent of collecting reputation-smearing gossip from Oakley’s past. The investigator found nothing.

Annie spent the next six years of her life travelling around the courtrooms of America suing each and every one of the newspapers for doing a hatchet job on her good name and winning all but one of the cases she perused. In the end, her bill for legal expenses outweighed the money she received from the courts. You see for Annie (as it is for Alex Salmond) their good name means everything to them. Get the picture, John?

Annie Oakley, made herself a legion in her own lifetime, what of Alex Salmond?

The Fiery Cross has been firmly set ablaze with the new Alba Party, led by Alex Salmond, a grenade into the upcoming Holyrood Elections. How many will flock to his banner? Well, I marched with 200 thousand of my fellow countrymen in the ‘AUOB’ march in Edinburgh and I don’t believe they were marching for baby boxes and controversial legislation, all were marching for total control over our own affairs, independence from Westminster control. So you ask how many will flock to the Alba banner, I would say pretty much all that marched that day, and a million or so added to their numbers.

Could Alex Salmond, become a legion in his own time?

 Huge Montgomery is the tip of the spear in a large London incentive care unit, and once more he was being interviewed on the Alex Salmond Show.

Coronavirus has taken its toll on everyone, none more so than our NHS staff.

He went over the highs and lows of the last year, in the front line of intensive care, not everyone made it and that was hard. He knew this not only as a doctor but as a father. The man was close to breaking as he told us of the tragic loss of his son, doctors are human too.

He was asked. If you could get all of the leaders of the four nations of the UK in one room what would be your advice to them?

Without hesitation, he would tell them to invest in Social Care. Many of those that came into intensive care were obese, he told us, this cut down their chances of survival. There is little point in telling people they are fat, or lazy and need to diet, if it is difficult for people to exercise or they live in such poverty that all they can eat is cheap unhealthy food.

Schools, he said, should go back to not doing exercise but playing games which is exercise but also fun. Being able to cycle on roads that do not put people in danger. Fast food is cheap but it is the main cause of obesity, make it more expensive…………….

The way humans are living much closer to animals and the way we factory farm means that there will be more and more coronaviruses jumping from animal to human and human to animal.

The way we travel around the world, will spread viruses very quickly too. this will not be the last we see of such viruses, and not the last lockdown unless we mend our ways.

Watch this interview if you can, for it is clear, doing nothing, not learning the lessons of this year, is not an option, for if we ignore the warning then this Bad Dream will become a Recurring Nightmare.   

1%

Pay rise for nurses in England (effectively a pay cut), which ministers say is all they can “Afford”.

11,65%

Increase in UK military spending between 2020 and 2021 and 2021 and 2022. Bigger increases are planned for each of the following three years.

4th

The UK previously had the 8th highest military spending in the world. It is predicted to become the fourth highest following recent policy announcements.

59%

Percentage of British public that want the UK to sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to a recent independent poll.

47% Cut in UK aid budget to Yemen for 2021, attributed by the government of Boris Johnston to the “fiscal situation”.

£6.8 billion

The minimum value of the UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the six years since Saudi Forces (trained by UK forces) started bombing Yemen.

260

potential number of nuclear warheads that could be owned by the UK government, up from 180.

The lies on the bus go round and round…………

Keep safe.

 Monday so must be laundry day and a chance to catch up on all the little jobs, today it was for Blake 7 (Agnus my neighbour).

Agnus is a little woman around 5 feet in height but what she looses in height she makes up in energy, never off the stot. She moved in a little over a year ago and her flat looks like an interior decorator came in and turned it into a show house, you would think that no one actually lived in it. She seemed happy with my work.

I did go out for a short run over to Pitscottie and back it was a cold wind and strong enough to have me working hard on the outward leg.

Many daffodils that have grown up along the roadside banking are now in bloom.

When my mother lived in Cottingley, West Yorkshire, (Where the Cottingley fairies came from),

there was a park where I would walk mum’s dog. At one end was a steep bank that the council had planted out with dozens and dozens of daffodil. One afternoon I came down with the dog and a small girls, possibly around 8 0r 10 years of age, had an armful of daffodils, and was continuing to pick more.

“What are you doing?” I asked

And was told, she was picking the flowers to take home to her mum. I suggested that she stopped it and went home with the flowers and to tell her mother where she picked them. Another triggered memories

Then I spend some time transplanting seedlings from a tray, into separate pots, they are looking fine and healthy but too cold to go into the cold frame so they are still in the common room which is making them very leggy.

As I work around the house with hoover and duster I have the news on in the background. The riots in Bristol are prominent, what is interesting is the mixed messages coming out of Westminster. On one hand, unacceptable behaviour, and how the police are already rounding up the ring leaders. And on the other hand, how free speech and freedom of protest must be protected.

What is more serious is that MP live in a bubble and simply seem oblivious to the simmering tension going on in the country. It is like a weak dam with the water building up behind it and not sluice open. The country is split over Brexit, split over the way the coronavirus pandemic has been handled. Lost jobs, lost income, teenagers leaving school, college and university with no future prospects, and all the government have to offer is a vaccine.

The second topic is the reshaping of the armed forces. Army cut by some 77 thousand, which reflects how armies are more about technology these days than boots on the ground. As for the Royal Navy well they are heading for the Pacific, where they will be based on a permanent footing. Since all the planes on board the Elizabeth class aircraft-carrier will be American, and of course her escort ships, clearly this is where the US wants them.

Interesting reports coming out of northern Syria where the Kurds are holding thousands of refugees, that no one wants ownship off, since most are women and children (more than 50% children) and many foreigners to the region. They are living in misery, in makeshift camps, with no future. What the report was about, not how they have been abandoned, by those responsible for their flight, but how a new Islamic State caliphate is growing up in the camps. Now that is a surprise?

When is the US and its allies going to get the message? If you go into a country, destroy its infrastructure, its law and order, and government, and the collateral damage is millions of displaced people, then children that are growing up in such camps will not thank you for what you have done to their country or to them. They will become what Gaza has become under Israeli occupation, a breeding ground for discontent, that will spread across the western world. The US did not make itself safer by such bad foreign policy, it put itself in danger. These kids in these camps only have slingshots now, what will they have in 10 years from now?

With tension now between the US and Europe, I can see a permanent split coming, Europe will form its own northern alliance, without the UK and US, it will be more of a European defensive force, since they do not have any foreign territory to defend, and will withdraw from NATO (as it is now, a dumping ground for American arms sales).

I see Jimmy Hamilton QC has cleared Nicola Sturgeon of all allegations, as mum would say “Never trust a Hamilton”. Strange times indeed.

Keep safe.

Another beautiful spring-like day and like Maria, “Oh Reverent Mother, I just could not help myself, the sky was so blue…..”.

I set off on my tricycle for Ceres, all went well until Blebo Mains, where the left-hand pedal came loose. Now it could not happen if it had been properly fitted, so I suspect it had been put on and the set screw loosely fitted but not properly tightened, maybe I just did not have the proper Allen key to hand, so I’ll do it later, alas later had not come. How long ago was this, I have no idea.

Normally it will require a puller to get the crank off the bottom bracket so if I hammer it back on it should get me home. I found a heavy stone and chapped it back into place and added the stone to the tools in my pannier bag, no Allen key big enough for the crank screw of course. It did not hold, a few turns of the pedal and it was once more lying in the roadway. I had clipless pedals, but I was wearing my walking boots. I did not fancy the 8-mile walk home from here, what to do? I dug in the bottom of my pannier bag and came out with a long cable tie and duct tape, my boot was firmly secured to the right-hand pedal, foot back in the boot and laced up, I set off one-legged for home. I have never felt so awkward on a bike, ever, thankfully it was my tricycle so no balance issues. I arrived home, safe and well.

Once home the offending crank was soon secured and the other check, just in case, I always check over my machine before leaving on any trip however short, tyres, brakes then lift and bump the bike on the road to listen for any rattles, the last thing I thought of was a loose crank, lessons learned, more so on a tricycle, that will not fit in the boot of any bus.

Yesterday

It had been a bit special, what with it being the first day of spring and a proper spring-like day.

Home and pot of tea after pot of tea, I just could not quench my thirst, I should have drank much more when out, once you are dehydrated it is hard to get enough water back inside.

My e-mails answered I settled down and switched on the television to see what was happening in the world, I may not have bothered, the government telling us how great they are doing. they have managed to vaccinate half the adult population and less that 150 thousand deaths, what’s not to like. Maybe we should send them a thank you note.

As I flicked through the list of programmes my eyes popped, Seven Brides for Severn Brothers, one of the best musicals made way back in 1954, the heyday of the musical films, many made in CinemaScope and Todd-AO. All these great movies made right up until the end of the 1950s when the US government changed the tax laws, that was the end of the multi million dollar movies. Now computer graphic has taken over so the modern films are simply comic cut animation, with poor dialogue. When they were talking about a squeal to the Star Wars movie that was such success when it made its first appearance, they started with the computer graphics some18 months before even one line of scrip was written.

Art and culture has disappearing from our world. Once they held auditions to weed out all the hopeful dreamers with no talent that wished to be in the spotlight, now they make these wannabes the show. Where are the real singers, dancers, actors and actresses to come from if you no longer need talent or put in the hard work at an academy or do your apprenticeship in provincial theatre, just have enough clicks on you internet page and you are a celebrity, You are now made for life invited onto ever chat show, game show, and will even be asked for your opinion about politics, and the ills of the world, and don’t get me started on television soap.

So not the day I had in mind, but I still put in a few miles and my tricycle has now had a full service, so what is not to like.

Keep safe.  

I must have pushed hard yesterday on the run over to Lindores, for I was feeling it in my legs on my return, I had turned in at around 10.30 pm and slept like the proverbial log until after 8 am this morning. I woke to feel on top of the world.

My neighbour, Agnus Blake – I call her Blake 7, from an old TV show, it’s the way I have of remembering names. She had been buying online again and needed ‘A wee job done’ I have become an expert at flat-pack furnisher. This was Thursday, I said I would be round on Saturday if that was OK?

Saturday and the day were far too good for working indoors so I sneaked out and headed up the A915 for Upper Largo. I really don’t know why they bother with all the security cameras no matter when you come and go, or what you are doing someone will tell you the next day

“I saw you ………….”

The plot today was to climb Largo Law one of the 7 Marilyns, well if old Margaret Squires can do it …… Margaret is an 81 years (young) lady, and accomplished it in 1hour 35 minutes a distance of 1.9 miles and a climb of 718 ft, a wee pimple, we scoff at such challenges.

You can not get lost on this walk there are sign everywhere, mostly telling you what you must not do.

Notice board at the start

I was raised in a “no you don’t” world, overrun with rules,

Memorize your lines and move as directed,

That’s an age-old story,

Everybody knows that’s a worn our song.

Lyrics from ‘Woman in the Moon’ (from a star is born).

I certainly take my hat off to the old bugger, I puffed and wheezed my way up the first part of the climb. It is steep, the track is worn away to desperate and must be a nightmare when wet. I did my zag-zag back and forth across the face of the hill. And met up with a young couple halfway up. The lad had a huge camera slung around his neck, so I whipped out my point and shoot camera and asked if he could take a photograph of this intrepid adventurer, on the slopes of a mountain. (poetic licence).

They come in all ages too.

Funny how semi-professional cameramen are, all the same, ask then to take a snap and you get at least six. He asked me to look into the distance, which I did, in the direction I had just come, from the cemetery, which at this point in the climb seemed apt.

Finally the top, ha, ha fooled you it was a false summit. But from here the going was much easier, the path less worn and the grass much more sure underfoot. The top this time? no. there is a dip and finally, you see the trig point not far off.

I always find it more difficult coming down so I stayed clear of the path altogether and did my zig-zag down the longer grass slope.

There were a good number of people out on the hill today, all shapes and sizes, a family group with dogs in tow.

The little poodle was a randy little chap, and wanted to have his evil way with a very much larger collie.

Oh! he nearly pulled it off,

Oh what an acrobat,

But Borwin got bored and down she sat,

Now they say that after making love you often feel quite flat,

I’m sure little Gomes would agree with that. E. Bogal.

All too soon, I was back at the car park outside the cemetery where the trail starts. I took the coast road home, it was as busy as I have seen it, and the speed of the traffic suggested it was all local, for during the summer these small roads will see the traffic travelling in 35 to 40 mph hour, a sightseeing convoy.

The Neuk has a time of its own, disputing all attempts to move it on at a faster pace of life. The road that rises high over the Forth between Elie to St Monans, gives a great view out over the estuary, with the May clear to see. The sea today was slate grey, with white horses galloping over its surface as the incoming tide raced against the flow of the river.

The wind was driving me on all the way to Anstruther then turned into a crosswind from there all the way into St Andrews. The wind turbines were certainly earning their corn today.

The first (official) day of spring, and I could not have wished for a better start.

Stay safe.

 Another grand morning, light winds out of the west, I set off on the cycle track then onto the A91 for Cupar, the bike knows the road now, I just pedal. I carried straight on through Cupar still on the A91 and then, just after Melville Roundabout, and before the railway bridge, I turned onto the Collessie road, this small road takes you up passed Collessie Farm where they breed a shire type of horse, not as big as a Clydesdale, but big just the same, as is their hoofs.

“They call your daddy ‘Big Boots’, G.I. Blues. This one was a youngster and was much more interested in the food in the bin than the cameraman, clearly an intelligent animal.

Climbing to the top of the hill and into the tiny village of Collessie itself, a large parish church dominates the village and looks so out of place amongst the small cottages that surround it. Last time I visited it had a For Sale sign outside, good sound property, quiet neighbours. 

Then back down onto the B937 for Lindores. I just love this little road that follows the line of the railway up through the valley. At the railway bridge that crosses the track, you get your first gimps of Lindores Loch. In the stubble fields on both sides of the road, there were dozens of Pheasant feeding – The ones that got away.

I stood a while just admiring the view, there were people in the hut for the stove was lit and they wire burning wood, the strong pungent smell drifting in the light wind. I joined the A913 back for Cupar, now the wind was aiding my progress but the cloud was bubbling up so I stopped to pull on a sweater, and take a picture of another horse and pony, most every field seem to have ponies in them.

From the crossroads it is a bit of a pull up to the turn off for the mound, but I was heading straight into Cupar so from here it was downhill all the way.

Not sure why this road, but it is always littered with drink cans and plastic bottles. Why do cyclist do is, if they have carried a full bottle all this way, then surely the empty bottle will be no weight to take home with them, or at least the nearest refuge bin.

I feel a change in the weather, still it has been a good week and we have achieved a lot, anyway these old bones could do with a rest.

Keep Safe.

threewheelsonmywaggon

You know what its like, you decided to say, clean the cooker, then suddenly everything else in the kitchen needs cleaning, wall require painting and the curtains no longer match the new paintwork, been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

The patio, raised beds and garden in general has been a bit like that for me, one thing after another. Today it was the garden’s wooden benches, they have been neglected over the years, now the timber is starting to show its age, cracks and loose joints.

It was my own fault really, I asked who the benches belonged too, did they come with the property, so the landlord would be responsible for there maintenance, or where they bought sometime in the past by the residents? No one could say for sure, they have just always been there. The reason I asked was if they do not get a bit of attention soon they will simply fall apart, even a good clean and a fresh coat of preservative would help.

Now it just so happened that I was in Lidl in Cupar the other day and there I saw large tins of preservative at a very reasonable price, and being a very silly boy, I passed on this information to the girls, later in the day, delivered through my letterbox, was a note and some money.

Guess where I will be going tomorrow?

I had been hauling compost all morning, and since the weather was conducive to working outside, I though may as well make a start to the benches. but before I can do anything about giving them a coat of preservative they will need a good scrub with sugar soap, then left to dry before a light sanding, since they are covered in a green alga, and not a few bird droppings, which will only clog up the sandpaper, (I get all the good jobs). I actually like cleaning, for you get an instant boost on seeing your work paying off, the before and after is always clear to see.

The Builders are in relaying the flat roof in the Library, so their scaffold has one of the benches trapped, but the other has come up well from the cleaning.

To Be Continues.

Again the weather this morning was first class, light winds clear skies and pleasing sunshine. I was off to Cupar first thing to pick up the preservative from Lidl, I did not hang around but headed straight back home.

The seat had dried overnight and this morning I started by sanding, then out came the tin of preservative, it did not have much colour in the first coat, but it is very oily so will make a good preservative, still a second coat might work.

 Wednesday, and it is a gorgeous morning the skies are clear with just a wisp of high cloud, mum would tell us that it was the witches out sweeping the skies with their brooms, the rubbish that mums tell their kids, you would not believe.

I had an e-mail from the St Andrews Horticultural Society, they were sorry it has taken so long to get back to me, (not that long really) and yes I could have as much compost as I required from their deposits.

Always one for cutting a stick when I come to it, I set off with the tricycle, trailer, bags and a fork.

I was shown the mountain of compost, that I’m sure would have been in the running to qualified for another one of Fifes 7 Marilyns, I was told, I could come and go as I please. I did four trips with a large bag of compost in each load. I had to bring in the ‘Heavy Haulage’ and I have to say the tricycle was well up to the task, but that hill up to the roundabout is no mean task with a loaded trailer, Sweat was beading on my brow after each trip.

There was a group of leisure cyclist, hanging around at the roundabout so I did my tricycle posing thing. Open mouth they stood watching as I hang off the tricycle a bit further than really necessary.

Then it would not be fun if a bit of effort was not required, would it?

As the Dalai Lama said – “Happiness is not a gift, you have to work at it.”

Stay safe.     

 This morning the skies were cloudless and as blue as mermaids eyes, (well as blue as any mermaids eyes I have ever seen). So it was out with the tricycle, just the day for it, well that was before I found out how strong the wind was.

I headed west into the wind, always best, no point in trying to beat your way home on tired legs. Strathkinness, Knock Hill, the summit a bit of a breather, but no I had to honk down, the hill too. normally I would see the speedo doing handsprings down this steep bank. I turned onto the road for Pitscottie, someone had misjudged the corner and taken out part of the bridge parapet. Into the little glen now and at last shelter from that nasty old wind.

I love this little den, more so on days such as this, with dappled sunlight dancing in front of your wheels. Ceres Burn was running high so I stopped at the waterfall just before Pitscottie to take pictures of the falls with its little fairy pool. Yes, I know I’m just an old romantic.

It had been a while since I had been out on my tricycle and I had a few squeaky bums moments as a rear-wheel lifted into a fast corner, Ops, I forgot it dose that.

At Pitscottie some cyclists were lounging on the wall outside the cycle shop, instantly they were alert,

“What the hell is that?” well of course it’s Walter on ‘Bullfrog’.

I call my tricycle ‘Bullfrog’ ,

Bullfrog number 111,

Why do I call it ‘Bullfrog’,

Well, she is just an Old Crock,

Like me.

At the top of the hill out of Pitscottie I thought I might be able to rest awhile, down the long downhill stretch into Cupar, but no if anything the wind was stranger up here, strong enough to buffet the trik, something rotten.

In Cupar, I choose to stop in at Lidl, buy something nice for tea. I came out with a the shopping bag full of goodies, so much so that I had everything that had been in my pannier, either on me or, or stuffing it in my pockets, to make room for the shopping. However I did get some real Scottish rolls, the only place I know where you can get them locally, and if you are lucky, as I was today, some crispy ones.

Once-upon-a-time, there were numerous baker shops that made their own bread and cakes. One in Lochgelly made only Scottish rolls. The bakers worked through the night and when coming home from the dancing we would call in and get the first batch out of the oven, just the smell of them was mouthwatering.

I just loved the journey home. OK, I was not running before the wind, it was more of a crosswind, but still very strong, strong enough for light pedals all the way home and never below 25K, not bad for two old crocks.

Keep safe.

 Today I feel really well, which is a bit surprising after yesterdays adventure, apart from a bit of stiffness in my neck and shoulders, and a few minor aches, but nothing to write home to mum about. The weather today is fine too, but alas it is Monday so laundry day, more so since I skipped my chores last week, still if I press on I can get out later in the day.

I did not see the news or read a paper yesterday so I was unaware that a great travesty of in justest, pitted against women, by our gallant, personnel in blue uniforms, that had taken place in London.

Now from what I understand some women had come together on social media and decided to have a gathering in London, in remembrance of a girl who had been murdered. They applied to the Metropolitan Police, for permission to hold such a gathering. The police in response said NO. They told the organizers that it was government policy that there should be no such gathering in the middle of a pandemic, that has cost many thousands of lived and the countries economy dear. The gathering was cancelled.

These silly girls decided to go ahead anyway and had a mass gathering in the park, then were surprised that the police came along and tried to break up the illegal gathering.

Today it has all turned very political, a police state, heavy-handed brutality by the police. I would have sent in the fire service and turned the fire hoses on them, that’ll learn yi.

Laws are made for out protection, they are enforced by our police, who on the whole get it right most of the time.

What set alarm bells ringing for me was when these women started spouting about, ‘Taking back the Night’ (similar to what happened in Sidney Australia some years back), women marching in the street with claims that the streets of Sidney were unsafe for women to walk at night. I even heard that they wished to have a curfew for men.

If women feel unsafe walking alone at night in a city that has thousands of CCTV cameras then there is a problem that should be investigated. But we should not be having knee jerk reaction to some tweet on social media, and picked up by the mainstream media looking for a sensational story to tell.

If any person, man woman or non, feel they are so vulnerable, they can not walk the streets, try going out in pairs, take a taxi, take self-defence classes, and yes badger your MPs, but do not break the law then shout “Police Brutality”.

As for out non-bias national media – a few weeks ago a crowd of Ranger football supporters, gathered outside Ibrox Stadium to celebrate their club’s achievements, (seems they won some trophy or other). A lively bunch, dancing around, setting off flares, Well, the National Media, including the BBC and Sky had a field day, “hooligans” they cried. In the middle of a pandemic, putting everyone life at risk, such irresponsible behaviour could lead to another spike in deaths from coronavirus………….. Why we even had Oor Nicola standing up in Holyrood making political capital from it.

What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander.            

The weather has not been great all week so the mileage was sparse, last weekend I had said I was going somewhere special when disaster struck, some drunken student on their way home had smashed a beer bottle on the pavement and onto the road, costing me my day of cycling, along with the cost of a new tyre and tube. I was not angry, for I remember, I myself was young once and just as daft.

I set out around 7.20 am for Denhead climbing up past Drumcarrow Craig, the road was closed for repair but of course, I could get through on my bike. From here I dropped all the way down to Kilconquhar and all the way up onto Kincraig Hill, leaving my bike against the fence at the communication tower I headed off for the start of the Chain walk.

It has been a battle against strong winds all the way, so it was shaky legs that took me down the rough path where I met four dogs and two owners coming up towards me, the first sign of life I had seen since leaving the house.

I dropped down the steep well-worn path to the start of the Chainwalk,

F

From here is can only be described as a scramble, but not for anyone under 7 or over 70 years of age, I wanted no accolade other than a super safe transition of the Chain walk.

Looking down into the gully at the start.
Over the top, and down the other side.

I was well aware that I was on my own and with the tide on the turn, so no risks could be taken, when the going looked a bit precarious I simply sat down on my bum and slid down rather than try to balance my way down where no chains were to be had. Crossing the loose rocks between climbs I found most difficult, for I was being super careful, not to fall.

You can’t be serious.
Looking up at the old watch bunker, not much comfort there.
Rock formation much like that of the Giant Causeway in Norther Ireland, here they are known as the Organ Pipes.
More of the same.
This was a tricky part for you had to leap from the end of the chain over to the rock you see in front of it – Scary Man.
What the cobbler throw at his wife – the last.

But soon it was all over and all that remained was the climb back up to the top of the hill and my bike, with its pannier, loaded with goodies, dumpling, cheese sandwiches and a packet of crisps, and of course a full bottle of water.

Having walked along the sea shore and climbed back up onto the ridge you can see the guyed tower at the tric point.
What remains of the battery
One of the two gun placements, enhanced by the local spray can artists.

I dropped over the back of the hill, and out of the wind, before starting on my picnic,

If they could see me now,

That little gang of mine,

I’m eating fancy chow and drinking fancy wine,

I’d like those stumble bums to see for a fact,

The kind of top drawer, first-rate chums I attract,

All I can say is ‘Wow’ look at where I am,

Tonight I landed, pow! Right in a pot of jam,

What a setup! Holy Cow!

They’d never believe it,

If my friends could see me now (from Sweet Charity)

The homeward journey was a breeze – a 28 mph breeze on my back. I was fair flying along at 40 kph into freezing cold air. What a joy to step into a hot shower and then tucked into a pot of tea.

Days don’t come much better.

Keep safe.     

My father always believed in tidal and wave power, the tide is a constant and the most reliable power on the planet, he would tell me and the power that is stored in waves, unimaginable. That was some 50 years ago when he was talking about electricity from the sea, today it has become a reality.

In the late 1950s nuclear power was to be our source of power, it would be so cheap, they told us that it would cost more to send out the bill than the cost of electricity. Whoever suggested that had not calculated the cost of decommissioning and how we would store the waste from such plants. Even after all the test bores in rocks around the country and talk about encasing the waste in glass and storing it deep under the Cumbrian hills, we still do not have a solution.

With coal still cheap there was no real hast for a solution to powering the UK now however the reality of global warming has kicked in, we need a clean soars of power.

First to appear were onshore wind turbines, there was a big hue and cry about them at first, they were noisy, killed birds and unsightly, but they made commercial sense, so they kept coming.

Then came offshore wind turbines and now floating offshore wind turbines.

Tidal are now catching up with offshore wind turbines, mainly because the tide is so predictable. One line of tidal power turbines stretching across the Pentland Firth they say will produce enough electricity to power the whole of Scotland’s needs.

This brings us to the second problem with all of the above systems, we do not need the same amount of power all of the time, and what do we do when the wind does not blow?

Storage systems

back in 1959 work was started on the Cruachan Power Station, a pump-storage hydroelectric power station in Argyll and Bute. The scheme can provide 440 MW if of power and has a capacity of 7.1 GWh. The turbine hall is located inside Ben Cruachan, and the scheme takes water between Cruachan Reservoir to Loch Awe, a height difference of 396 meters (1,299 ft).

The system is simplicity itself, water flows from the dam to the pumping station during peak times, then the turbines can be reversed to send water back up to the reservoir when the electricity is not needed. I can also, take surpass off-peak power from the grid to pump water to the high reservoir.

Batteries have been around for more than one hundred years, but only in recent years has batteries developed where they are small enough and efficient enough to be used to store electricity for the grid. Scotland has a 20 MW energy storage facility at Broxburn in West Lothian. Its response time in delivering to the grid at peak demand is said to be the fastest of its kind, being able to respond to the grid in milliseconds when required.

Alternatives storage systems

For years now there has been a wind power generator down at Leaven Mouth. I had passed it many time and had not given it a second thought, then one day I was cycling down by the dock and I read the notice on the building, adjacent to the wind-powered turbine. It was not simply producing electric power but experimenting in using that power to produce hydrogen, like gas it could be used as a fuel to drive transport or used for cooking and heating as a clean alternative fuel for natural gas.

We already have hydrogen buses in Dundee so hydrogen is truly an alternative to petrol and diesel. Hydrogen would replace natural gas too as a green alternative for heating and cooking. The Company at Leven Mouth hopes to have it operational, and commercial viable within three years.

Offshore wind would be used to generate the electricity required to create the hydrogen from water through a process called electrolysis.

New pipes will be laid alongside 1,000 properties, meaning homeowners would have the choice of receiving their existing gas supply or hydrogen alternative. Sadly we have to wait for private companies to come up with the money to get such innovations off the ground, and still it has to run alongside and not replace natural gas, because it is all commercial and outwith the control of the Scottish government.

Back to storing electricity

I read with interest that a company at Leith (Edinburgh) are developing a Gravity Storage System,

The company, Gravitricity, has set up a £1 million demonstration at the Forth Port’s Prince Albert Dock. It aims to use underground shafts and massive weights to store large amounts of energy.

The 250KW demonstrator comprises of a 15-metre high tower, two 25-tones weights, suspended by steel cables and two fully interconnected generators units, they hope the system will be fully functioning by April 2021.

This is not the first time this has been tried, but as far as I know, tried in Scotland and it is the speed of change that has impressed me.

The first gravity storage system I heard of was way back in 2019, seems like an age ago now. It was developed by Energy Vault the system had six-arm sitting on top of a storage tower, that raised and lowered concrete blocks and storing the energy in a similar method to pumped hydropower stations.

Comparing different systems and their efficiency will always be a challenge when they are still at the development stage. How many of these ideas will ever leave the development stage is debatable, more so with the more ambitious systems. For national governments are unlikely to invest in such large projects past the development stage and companies are more interested in a quick return on their investments. So sadly it will not always be the best we see come to fruition but, the ones that show potential for profit in the short term. Begging the question, “Who does run our country?

Yesterday, Elie weather popped a message up on my computer to tell me that the wind would rise to 48 mph over the next 24 hours. Thankfully the adverse weather had not arrived by the time I had completed my wee morning run, however, the wind was building so it was a great trip home at 40 kph.

Regularly I pass a very light fixed wheel bike that had been chained to a rail for all of this year, I have a great hankering to ride a lightweight fixed wheel bike once more, although it is probably the last thing I should do, ending up in the heart-attack country, but the thrill of riding a fast bike never really leaves you. A bit like me having to sneak past motorcycle shops, the M/C spirit is still there although you know yourself, those days are over, – still, if someone was to………

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.

Yesterday I spent most of the day in the workshop, not sure what I accomplished in all the time spend there, mostly with my earphones in place listening to my CDs. Everything from Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Furry Lewis, to Suzi Quatro. Mostly I practised making joints, (I need the practice) which turned into a couple of little boxes. I also made a pair of signboards, still to be written on.

Today they are hanging in the Holly tree, outside my window, I had spray painted men earlier. I see them now from my window, ‘Dancing in the Wind’ – Suzi Quatro.

Suzi is easy to listen to for most of the tracks have that deep bass keeping the rhythm, I like ‘Catsize’ possibly because it was the first time I heard her sing, it was on the TV show Happy Days, Fonzie memories.

In one of the students flat over the road, in big letters,

55 W A T P, I’m sure they will mean something to his fellow students, alas I am not privileged to that information, possibly well above my pay grade.

I have to admit the students here are a very diligent lot, heads buried in their books from morning until night. I wonder if Coronavirus restrictions will make for higher qualifications in the student sector this year?

Not much to say today, but then words are what we use when we have sod all to say.

Keep well.

 Monday once more and it was a late start to the day, old sleepy head did not rise until near nine o’clock, then he has sat up until one in the morning reading.

I gave the washing a miss, the bed bugs are safe for another seven days, but I would have to go up to Aldi, in the rain, as it happened, but it was only a shower and was over by the time I had my shopping secure in my panniers bag.

The bike has never ridden so well, not sure what I did right but it is working. I think it all comes down to changing the back tyre and tube, for to do so I had to remover a lot of stuff you would not have to normally to remove a bike wheel, like dérailleur, to get at the overlarge nuts that secured the axil to the bike. Being at home with all the tools too hand and working in fine weather I could take my time when putting it all back together, so spent time on the adjustments, this, it would seem has paid off.

The tyres and tubes I already had in the cupboard they were Schwalbe Lugano 11 with K Guard (standing for Kevlar puncture protection) I have a customer prejudice in favour of Schwalbe, having used then over the years and have found them long-wearing puncture-resistant and good at sticking to the road. They were bought at a knocked down price for a pair including tubes, and I knew they would be needed for my tricycle soon enough. I will have to keep my eye open for further stock clearance sales for the tricycle now.

It was after 10 am when I set out on the bike, I headed for the cycle path which lies down the old road by the golf course, today the main road was closed to traffic for resurfacing, well done Mr Councillor, months of little traffic on our roads, but wait until the schools are back and traffic is returning to normal then close the road for repair, how did they ever win the war? (well the Russians, and colonial troops along with US armament actually).

As I neared Guardbridge, I could see snow on the hills beyond Dundee, and certainly, it was not warm although the sun was now shining on us from under a clearing sky. Looking over towards Leuchars airfield, Paratroopers, thirteen in all, appeared from out of the low cloud, I could not see the aircraft, and they were really a bit too far away to get a decent picture but I stopped and took one anyway.

I wonder if number 13 landed safely – or maybe like public schools (which are really private fee-paying schools, and no, I have no idea why they are called public schools). They do not have a number 13, the lockers jump from 12 to 14, daft really but it’s true.

As I passed Leuchars airfield the aeroplane was on the ground (I could not identify the plane but it looked a bit like a Hasty Bird (a Hastings) a small aeroplane used as transport in my day, but this one although much the same size did not sit down at the back end like the Hastings). A lad was standing by the fence with a telephoto lens camera, I thought of asking him to e-mail me some photographs of the drop but was passed by the time I had made up my minds.

Talking of Hastings – I bummed a lift in one from Gibraltar, little knowing that they could not fly high enough to clear the Pyrenees so had to fly all the way up the coast, sitting on a packing case in an ice-cold fuselage of an aircraft for hours and hours on end, is no way to fly.

I was now heading for Tentsmuir forest and the shore. Been a while since I was last along this road, and thankfully it has been resurfaced since then, but still a single track road, so don’t bother to come this way in the summertime its murder police.

Even today the car park had a fair share of cars and vans, then again if you are into off-road riding there are plenty of tracks throughout the forest too trail.

I parked the bike and walked down to the shore, then homeward bound,

In the fields were a good number of pony, all in winter dress.

Since they all look much the same size and breed, sturdy little animals, I wonder if they might be for pony trekking.

Back home by 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the sun was still out but gave off no heat and the wind had been rising all day, thankfully now mostly on my back so it was a fast pedal home, shower and time for tea.

The last of the potatoes were boiled, not planted, and eaten with beans, delicious, when you dine at Hungers Good Kitchen.

Stay safe.

My iScot magazine arrived in yesterday’s post and my first read was the ‘Dinwoodie Interview’ as it always is, when iScot drops onto my mat.

The best way to start to tell the story is to paraphrase the first two verses.

There is a bleakness to the first and final reels of Gareth Wardell’s personal story, but it’s been a helluva life in between. “When you have a bleak childhood and you have been witness to a lot of violence, the theatre is a safe home. Running away to the circus is not a cliche” he said.

The bleak childhood propelled him into a life in the movie industry and last year he revealed the latest plot-twist in his popular Grouse Beater blog, slipping into a paean to the Scottish NHS the dire news that he had “incurable cancer with the look and dimensions of a pearl of tapioca. Awe, crap! Why bloody me? Well, why not? Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Take solace knowing it could not happen to a nicer person.”

but on further reading, you find a man that despite all the difficulties that life has thrown at him, his life and work is not insignificant.

When he was thinking about going off to LA, as worked dried up here at home, he consulted an old friend and fellow Fountainbridge bairn, Sean Connery. Connery was scathing about the sharp practice there. Speaking of LA, where a handshake is meaningless unless nailed down in written contract,

“If you are going to Hollywood go for fun, and get a fucking lawyer”, his friend advised. “They’ll all steal from you,’ said Sean and he was absolutely right.”

Connery recounted a row over his part in the 1964 Hitchcock movie ‘Marnie’ where his the contract provided for a fee for every day the project over-ran. When he did not get his fee he pursued it legally, only to be told by horrified agents,

“No-one sues Jack Warner.”

Connery fought for and got his cheque, only for it to bounce. The studios had to teach him a lesson.

It is worth the cover price of iScot for the ‘Dinwoodie Interviews’ alone. But of course, there is much much more to this monthly magazine, Billy Kay’s well researched and crafted piece on ‘Darien’ the failed Scottish colony, and some say, leading to the failed union with England. And not forgetting ‘The Orkney News’ telling us of – The watery finale of Queen Mary’s Vice Admiral. And I’m only halfway through.

The weather is very quiet today so I am going off somewhere special, I have not done this for some time, in fact not since I lived in Elie. I had left Tim (my Yorkshire terrier) tied up to the bench at the start of the chain walk, with a note to say he was not abandoned I would be back in an hour or so. Of course when I did return he had been busking for attention and having lots of loving from a family out for a walk from their car-a-van at Shell Bay.

I can not leave until the afternoon however for the low tide is not until 2 pm. I will tell tales of my great adventure on my return.

With banana sandwiches and potato crisps and a full bottle of water on board I sett off for Elie, well Kincraig to be exact. My intention was to do the chain walk.

The chain walk came into existence during the Second World War, up until then the salmon fishermen from the village would carry their catch over Kincraig hill from their fishing grounds at Shell Bay. At the outbreak of war, the MoD chose Kincraig hill as the place to site two large guns from off a First World War decommissioned battleship. Having a range of 22 miles the guns would be capable of guarding the River Forth from enemy shipping and as a consequence closed off access to the fishing grounds for the fishermen.

The fishermen cut steps in the rock face to gain access below the gun emplacements, but it would have been a precarious pathway more so loaded with large heavy salmon. So they clubbed together and paid the local blacksmith the princely sum of £150.00 to make and secure chains to the steepest part of the route. The old chains have since been replaced by stainless steel chain and visited by many over the summer. Since it can only be crossed at low tide and you really need to give yourself an hour, to stop and take in some of the beauty of the place and visit McDuff’s cave along the way best to get there at half tide on the ebb or low tide so that you can have your picnic on the rocks.

One mile or so out I saw a broken beer bottle smashed on the pavement and spilling out into the cycle lane (you should not rally cycle in cycle lanes, for that is where all the crap is swept from car tyres, waiting there for the unsuspecting cyclist to come along, also motorists expect you to stay within your defecated white line regardless of deep drain covers and potholes). Bloody cyclist. But I divers.

I did move out to clear the derby, but still managed to pick up a piece of shrapnel, that cut both the tyre and tube. Being the rear tyre and remembering the problems I had to overcome to get the motorised wheel in place the first time, I decided that it was not a job for kerbside motors.

As it turned out it was much easier the second time around, but it still required some extra tools, I had not carried with me, the thinking was, I could always put the bike on the bus and use my bus pass as a get you home service, now I carry more tools in my pannier bag.

By this time I had missed the tide, still, I did take the bike for a test run to see that all was well, just as far as Strathkinness and back. Surprisingly enough it felt much better than it had before the puncture. However the tide is predictable in a weeks time, weather permitting I can have another go at the chain walk, this time in the early morning.

All’s well, that ends well, and I did not have to make lunch for I still had my picnic, banana sandwiches and potato crisps, and the added bonus of a pot of tea.

Mark it up as another (although not as planned) good day

Stay safe

After yesterdays time out in the gardening my labour and fresh air did for me, certainly, by 10 pm (early for me), my bed seemed very appealing. I slept like a log until almost 9 am and although a bit sleepy-eyed when I woke, I felt totally refreshed.

For a while back I was concerned that I was turning into a couch potato and becoming grossly overweight, which brings on many medical problems in old age, so I have tried as best I can to stay active.

Thinking about potatoes – the ones that I bought from the supermarket the other day have sprouted so well, I did not know whether I should peal them or plant them, ho-hum.

Cycling will always be a joy, but now I like to choose my days for anything other than a short circuit of an hour or so.

Gardening on the other hand is something quite different, not only is it light excessive and fresh air, but I’m finding it very therapeutic, maybe it should be prescribed by doctors on prescription.

The temperature had been forecast to drop during the night, so I put a cover over the cold frame, could not bear to see all the hard work destroyed in one night of frost, thankfully when I removed the cover this morning all was well, lots and lots of healthy little plantlets.

Although the morning was bright and bathed in sunshine under the clear skies, it was cold and the nagging wind from the north is still with us. I took off on my bike after a light breakfast, (only one slice of bread remaining for the morning toast). And headed out for Cupar, with no real plan as to where I would end up.

The wind was a bother all the way and maybe I should not hang my face mask over the handlebars, parachute breaking has its place but not on a bike.

I pulled in at the park and sat a while watching dogs exercising their owners and children at play, as I sipped at my water bottle, The daffodils, were everywhere but yet to flower, in a few days time they will put on quite a show.

With the wind mostly on my back now, the long climb out of Cupar, for Pitscottie, could be taken at leisure, then the exhilarating ride downhill into the village at 40 kph. On the homeward straight now for St Andrews, and as you crest at Blebocraig, with St Andrews now in your sight and a long straight of blacktop I tramped along at 35 kph. I love this part of the run and happily pushed hard for home.

As I entered the town, still buzzing along at around 30 kph, a young student came up alongside and was soon disappearing down the road, he didn’t even look like he was pedalling that hard, just a nice steady cadence. How old do you feel now Hamilton?

The sun has passed over the yardarm, by some way so the best of the day is over, still again, another good day.

Stay safe.

The morning was dull but promising as I set out for Strathkinness, dropping down off Knock Hill, over the bridge and climbed up to Dairsie and home, nothing to write home to mummy about.

Breakfast over I loaded the trailer with gardening tools and headed for the front of the building. The post that would form the maypole was shrouded in a polythene bag to about 18 inched from its base, this would hopefully protect it from rot. A hole was dug and in it went, all pretty painless so far. However I better get it right, there was a lot of eyes on me.

There was already a flowing shrub in the middle of the plot so mostly the strings would have to be on three sides rather than four, but I did put in a few over the bush as backstays.

I had been asked to remove some ivy from the wall that was taking over the climbing rose and prune and tie in the rose back in place. Lots of praise followed by,

“The climbing roses at the front of the building are in a bit of a state – maybe – but only when you have time – you could have a look at them” ho-hum.

By the time I had cut back, tied in the roses and cleaned up after me, the snots were dripping from my nose, yes it is cold outside today, and well after 2 in the afternoon.

Coming into the house it was like walking into an oven, I showered and changed, then I dumped a large pork steak into a hot pan and set about lunch.

I was on a long weekend cycling rally in St Lo (pronounced sillo) Basse Normandie in France. It was run by the equivalent of the Cycle Touring Club here in the UK and well organised including refreshment stalls, lunch stops and a grand dinner and entertainment in the evening. It takes so much organisation that it is only held every four yeast. At one of the lunch stops was the biggest BBQ in the world, there must have been 15 – 20 behind cooking up pork steaks.

As I came forward the lad grabbed a large steak and throw it on the grill, it had hardly time to sizzle, before it was whisked off the hot bars and turn over. Then instantly it was picked up once more and as the lad was about to toss it on my plate, I cried out,

“Wo’, put it back on the fire”.

He looked at me like I was not right in the head, “burn” he said

“yes, burn” I insisted.

What is it with the French they always cook their meat in a way that leaves it still raw inside?

Today the cook received only compliments.

Another enjoyable day.

The Scottish Parliament officially rises in less than three weeks, and both reports from the enquiries into the conduct of the government’s handling of the Alex Salmond allegations must be in by then. Either Sturgeon will be gone, or Scotland will be doomed to five more years of a corrupt government, passing policies almost nobody wants and occasionally making token pretences at delivering independence the SNP has neither the intention nor the ability to achieve. But at least we will know. 

Keep well.

The weather today was not good, an extremely lively and ice-cold wind was off-putting, even although the rain has passed. Well, I needed a rest day anyway. I did wrap up well and with hammer nails, string and scissors headed out into the garden to tame the climbing roses. It was easy to drive nails into the cracks of the old random rubble wall, and tie the very thorny shoots back to the wall in a fan shape.

I am also pleased to report that new growth is now appearing at the base of many of the rose bushed that were cut back hard earlier.

‘In focus’ is a local magazine to St Andrews, when I got around to reading it I found an interesting article near the end ‘How to build your own “Munro”

Although relatively flat Fife does boast 7 Marilyns, hills of over 150 meters with a 50 + drop between it and the next one. All within its boundaries. Not as well known as the Munros, Corbetts, or even the Grahams, perhaps, still relative just the same.

West Lomond 522m Falkland,

East Lomond 424m Falkland

Benarty Hill (the sleeping giant) Ballingry

Largo Law 356m Upper Largo

Norman’s Law 285m Brunton

Cairnie Hill 228m Collessie

Mount Hill 221 Cupar

now anyone following my blog will know that I have covered many of these hills in the past but the writer of ‘How to build your own “Munro” climbed then all in one day chauffeured driven by her husband between each of the 7 Marilyns.

Total distanced walked = 14.6 miles

Total time taken 7 hours 54 minutes

Total ascent = 3856 feet

Total distance travelled by car 97 miles.

You may not think this worthy of a mention but the writer, Margaret Squires from St Andrews is 81 years ‘young’.

If an 81-year-old can do this, then surely there is hope for me yet, and I needed a fresh challenge. Now since I do not have a chauffeur-driven limousine, I will use my bike in my attempt to climb all 7 Marilyns, in sequence, but since the distance between then = 97 miles, not all in the one day. It will take a wee bit of planning to cut down on the distance travelled on the bike, (may even use the tricycle) but that will all be part of the fun.

Bairns Not Bombs.

The UK government is not only supplying the weapons, aircraft and military expertise to bomb people in Yemen if this wasn’t bad enough, the government is now slashing essential aid to Yemeni people in half.

After six years of a brutal war, it’s estimated that 24 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance – that’s nearly 80 per cent of the population.

Keep well.

Again like yesterday the skies were overcast with a light mist hanging over St Andrews as I set out on my morning run. The song that came into my head and I sang to the morning,

“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…..” which lead me to sing on,

“Sometimes in my life, we all have pain,

We all have sorrow,

But if we are wise,

We know there’s always tomorrow.

Lean on me, when you’re not strong,

And I’ll be your friend,

I’ll help you carry on,

For it won’t be long ‘til I’m gonna need,

Somebody to lean on.

Yes, everyone needs someone to lean on, I have not played Withers for some time, must put that right when I return home.

I have heard and seen his daughter perform her father’s hits, beautiful voice, and like singers of old, she simply stands there and sings, no jumping around or pyrotechnics, or special lighting effects, just a beautiful voice, refreshing.

I did not go far today out to Pitscottie, turning left onto the B940 for Peat Inn then off left again for Strathkinness. At the crossroads right onto the B939 for St Andrews.

Loads of carrots were being transported along the B939 to the farm at Blebo, so lots of mud on the road some hard-packed, like riding on corrugated iron. On my return, I stopped at Burnside to take this photograph of ‘Clouds of (not golden daffodils) but snow-white snowdrops’, something we see a lot of when out riding at this time of the year.

The wind was picking up and not any warmer as I made my weary way home, for I had been pushing hard all morning, it happens from time to time when I still believe I’m 20 years younger.

I want to make a maypole to grow sweet peas and French climbing beans up the strings from the top of the pole. I have some three-meter lengths of 3X2 timber that will do the job, but as ever when you are working with the elderly (which doesn’t include me of course) you have to think ‘safety first’ and since the timber is rough sawn, I will take it out the sander and sand the surface so anyone coming into contact with it will not end up with skelves in the fingers. May even have enough paint left in the tin to give it a coat of protection.

Well it was sanded and painted, OK it’s not round and does not look much like a maypole, then again our garden is no village green – baby it’s cold outside, the wind has certainly picked up now and again it is what the Irish would call a lazy wind, that doesn’t bothering to go around you.

I did listen to a bit of Nicola Sturgeon’s ramble to the inquiry but I shall say no more, for to me it was all about ‘if you can’t get the ball, get the man’, and divert attention away from yourself at all cost, a big boy did it, then ran away. I will wait to hear what Jimmy Hamilton QC has to say, then we might get to the bottom of this saga. 

The morning was overcast and misty but warm enough out, I took off on my trusty stead for Cupar, then up the hill, I climbed before dropping down into Pitscottie then the B939. I was tooting along fine when the font tyre went instantly flat, I pulled the bike off the road and found it was not a puncture but a dodgy high-pressure valve, not having a cap it was always an accident waiting to happen. I had a spare tube I could have fitted but pumped the tyre up and it held most of the way home, another stop to inflate the tyre and this time a successfully completed journey. A fellow of the wheel did stop and ask if he could help – thanks but only a flat tyre and only two miles from home. Front-wheel, so an easy change, and it gave me the opportunity to check the bike over and do a bit of adjusting, cables do stretch.

Breakfast over I spent a couple of hours in the garden, turning over the borders and planting bulbs and corms. Gladioli (the only one I know), Brodiaea, Acidanthera, Liatris Spieata, Freesia (oh I know that one too), Allium Moly, Anemone Blanda. I’m sure they will all be lovely and bring joy and colour to the garden, all 300 of them.

Passing through the complex I picked up a copy of St Andrews in focus, from the hall table. What attracted me to it was the cover an illustration of ingin’ (onion) Johnnie.

I remember well in the 1950s and on into the1960s how the boat from Roscoff in Brittany, France would dock at Methil dock, the hold laden with golden onions, grown only in this part of France and the soil they grow in fertilised by seaweed from the shore, they were hard and firm and a cut above anything grown in our own garden, like Ayrshire potatoes, they had no equal.

Ingin Johnnie would live onboard the boat and tie the onions into garlands that hung and were sold from their bicycles. At that time trains had guard vans you could put a bike on so they were able to travel all over Fife, Perthshire and Aberdeenshire selling their special wares.

The bicycles themselves were built by the French equivalent of the Panzer Tank Company. An extra bar ran across the front of the bike under the handlebars, and this was draped with garlands of onions,

along with an extra crossbar and rear carrier. Not only was the bicycle festooned with strings of onions, but Ingin Johnnie himself, would have strings of onions hanging around his neck as he pushed his bike, from door to door selling his goods, although little selling was necessary, they sold themselves. The opening of supermarkets and motorways put pay to ingin’ Johnnie, on our streets.

When I cycled in Brittany in the late 1950s I saw the fields from where these onions were grown and I believe still are to this day, but I suspect in a much more commercial way. 

Days of my childhood, where are they now.

Keep well.      

Monday once more and the weather is looking good, the sun is rising above the horizon and there is scarce a breath of air to stir the trees, but since the skies are clear, there was a touch of chill in the air, so I have deliberately left the lid on the cold frame down for a little longer.

Monday my laundry day and as the clothes were washing I did a skellp across the carpets with the hoover. Now it is time to head for Aldi. Life’s constant but slow drum beat here at City Park.

Today I will attach my trailer to the tricycle and head for the riding stables for a load of manure for the garden, might even manage two trips in this fine weather.

I was a bit surprised to switch on the television yesterday and see a rally by Trump, well, not really, I’m only surprised that it happened this soon.

The Leppard can not change its spots. On Inauguration Day in America, the troops were already marching into Syria, a new American base is to be established there, and the gauntlet has already been thrown down to Iraq and Iran. We will keep you in poverty, not allow you to sell your oil if you continue to flaunt America’s wishes and bed down with Russia. The Obama years are here again, and why Trump had to be stopped.

What is happening in America is what is happening in the UK, you have a Republican party lead by the establishment, yet the grassroots are for Trump, all 35 million of them. The problem that the Republican party has is Trump. Trump has them scared shitless. He as said if you do not choose me as a presidential candidate then I will run as a third party. Now he has no chance of winning the presidency as a third party, but this will split the Republican vote, and they will be out of power for possibly a very long time.

So the media in America are out with pitchforks to take down Trump and anyone who is supporting him.

We had the same thing in the UK. The Labour party is very much establishment now, (after the Blair years) you only need to see who they chose as a leader, a man more establishment than any Tory. But who was Labour grassroots supporting, Corbyn? Corbyn had to be taken down, they accused him of being a Jew-hater and kicked him out of the party. That’s you telt.

In Scotland it is much the same the establishment is all the unionist patties, Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrats, they are all branch offices of their parties in Westminster, with a thistle in the corner of their letterhead. But the grass roots in Scotland, like in America want change and they have turned to the SNP in their droves. The British media are out with their pitch forks, and at every opportunity will attack the SNP and their party followers at every opportunity, and why this up and coming election in Scotland will be so crucial for the SNP and Scotland as a whole.

So the UK (the Westminster establishment) like in America, (the Republicans party), and Scotland (the SNP) have to show that they are willing to change, or fall. I don’t believe, Revolution, is too strong a word kto use at this time.

Yesterday was a good day, I went out for a two-hour cycle first thing, I wanted to be back for Alex Salmond’s appearance at the inquiry of the governments handling of the allegation against him. I am of course in the camp of Alex Salmond, so this was not to be missed.

The four-hour-long session ran for almost six hours, and it was clear for all to see that the man was, as expected on top of his brief. Not reading from notes, no dithering, total unambiguity, Alex could have gone on for another six-hour session without batting an eye. His words, tone and body language all radiated candour, and questions answered with the wisdom of Salomon. A performance to behold.

I was impressed by the Unionists seemed at least to be trying to get to the bottom of this unholy saga.

In truth Salmond never put a foot wrong throughout the session, not a misstep, stumble or misjudgement, he was a man in top form and no matter Nicola Surgeon comment after the even that he has no proof to back up his clams (Because the Scottish governments have put a gagging order on anything that may discredit Nicola Sturgeon if it came out) she has a hard act to follow.

Now we know how good Nicola Sturgeon is, she has a sharp brain and does her homework, but can she truly say “No smoking gun?” Alex Salmond’s evidence yesterday will make any whitewash by this committee very difficult to say the least.

I have always believed that this inquiry was just so much smoked filled, coffee-house crap, for I listened to the witness statements at the trial of Alex Salmond and it was clear that this trial should never have come to court, begging the question “What/who was behind it?”.

Then Alex in his final statement to the inquiry – throw in a hand grenade. My lawyers have the evidence that has been so far denied to you, if the committee were to write my lawyers asking for this evidence, you will have it by Monday. Can they afford not to ask for it?

If Salmond is right in believing that this would tie the case up, and show corruption at the heart of the SNP, poor leadership in the Civil Service, and Procurator fiscal office, then not so much a smoking gun as a whole a barrage of cannon.

However after all of this theatre the real meaningful stuff will come from James Hamilton QC in his own separate inquire.

Next Wednesday, Nicola Sturgeon, well prepared and well-briefed will appear before the same committee,

Will the Sturgeon prove too difficult to hold?

Will the facts speak for themselves?

No matter the outcome of this inquiry, there will have to be changes within the SNP hierarchy, if Nicola is to survive as first Minister (and I thing that is now doubtful) then the membership has to take back control of the party. It was always an unsatisfactory situation for the First Minister along with her husband running the show and that must end.        

This was the title given to a film about a girl who turned her life around. Coronavirus has done much the same for many, in a way we have all had to change, look at ourselves in the mirror and reflect on our past lives, sometimes that change forced upon us, will have been for the better, it has given people the chance to pause and examine.

“Is this who I want to be?”

When I was my mothers carer, I was restricted to where I could go and when. during that time I joined an allotment club. The club was a group of like minded folks that came together and rented a field from a local farmer then split the field into plots. It worked well, we shared knowledge, thinning’s, loads of manure, and good conversation and community, and taking turns in the shop that sold surplas produce.

I would take mum up to the allotment from time to time. Mum loved the company, spent her time chatting to other members, there was always someone to blether to since mostly were retired and if she keept them back from their work, I do not thing they minded that much. When there was no one about, well, she simply pointed out all the jobs that I needed to do, and pointed to the weeds that needed rooted out, to me with her walking cane.

Now would it not be great if governments worked together in the same way?

You can not live in Scotland and be unaware of the stooshie that is Sturgeon V Salmond. It has spilt out into the wider community and now threatens to bring the SNP to its knees. There was a time when the SNP was seen as above all the corruption that is everyday politics at Westminster, people trusted the Scottish government and especially the SNP as being a party of truth and justness. Now we see the SNP party split into two camps, and deep phishers within the party have resulted in a (for a better word) coup, where party leaders have tried to grab control from the party membership. No voice of dissent will be tolerated at any cost.

It is all very troubling for the grass root, that saw the SNP as their ticket to ride the Independence train, now many are disheartened and disillusioned, alarm and dispondancy has spread within the voters, by what they are seeing.

I do believe the voters in Scotland will give the SNP one final chance in the up and coming Holyrood election (it would help if Nicola said now that she will not stand for re-election as First Minister in the new parliament) failing to deliver on independence and the grassroots of the party will vote with there feet, many may even be thiking of that already.

There is a lighter side to all this, and I had to laugh at Stuart Campbells post on 24th February 2021.

Hands up all you that have indulged in corruption.

Well, obviously you.

Okay, now smirk if you think you’re going to get away with it.

Yes, it would be funny it it were not happening this close to the Holyrood elections. as for those above, ‘The truth will find you out’, we will see.

Yesterday again the weather was conducive to cycling so I did a wee run out, to keep the pedals turning, well, a girl would never wish to lose her hourglass looks, or me my beer bottle figure.

On my return I swapped my cycling shoes for my pit-bits (pit boots) gathered up my graith (gardening tools) and headed out once more for the garden.

As we leave the common room by the French windows, on each side of the outside steps are some very overcrowded plants that no one seems to have a name for,

“But they are awful bonnie when they’re out”.

The task today was to divide them up into manageable clumps and spread them at random around the rest of the garden. Nay a problem to super-gardener.

Two hours on, and with sweat sticking to me, the plants were divided, well, at least to one side of the door and transferred to the front of the building.

The other side, well that can wait for another day, when the good Lord made time, he made plenty of it”.

The weather forecast for today was not good, but it was still early morning, the wind was light and the imminent rain had not arrived, an opportunity of an hour on the bike.

Out to Strathkinness dropped down to the bridge over the Eden and climb up to the village of Dairsie, then right, onto the A91 for home, the wind had picked up and then it rained relentlessly, the wind was not the best a broad-reach, so by the time I arrived home I looked like a waterlogged cat. Still, if this is the weather for the remainder of the week, well worth the effort.     

Sunday, what a day it had been, never off the stot. The morning was spend gardening, then out for a ride on the bike, what a joy, the weather was so spring like, a bit windy but not in the least cold. I popped over the hill to Elie, and spent time just daydreaming by the shore, the most natural place in the world for a Pisces. It was amazing just how many people had the same idea, not all on bikes of course.

Elie Beach (not taken by me)

With the sun shining and on such a pleasant day as this I could have cycled on for ever. Home by 2 o’clock in the afternoon, the planning department (the girls in residence) was in full swing. They had gathered out on the patio and as I arrived, greeted me with thanks for moving the Jersey Lilies. As I basked in glory, they gently hinted that I might try my hand a few other jobs around the garden. Oh! that was sneaky. I don’t mind of course, in fact I like gardening, possibly with the exception of weeding. I once saw a sign in a garden that read “Pick Your Own Weeds” which amused me at the time.

So it was out with the tools, cut a stick when you come to it, and repair a plant pot stand and remove the old foundation, that had once held a plastic greenhouse. The winter gales had put pay to the flimsy structure, leaving only the timber foundation that I had screwed down to the patio. I then moved the boat planter back to the its place at the door, now that the Christmas decorations had been taken down. Out with the soap and water and give it a good clean down, and generally tidy up, two hours later it was all looking very spick and span. That is the thing about cleaning, you can see the difference right away, very satisfying.

I made a Spanish omelet for tea, you are always guaranteed to get your moneys worth with onions, they constantly replete on you. However since I have not had time to go off to Aldi, my choice from Mother Hubbard’s cupboard, was very limited indeed.

I once more have that dull soreness that comes from a day of activity, its a nice felling, another pot of tea, and I may even get a chance to read the Sunday paper, another great cure for insomnia.

Monday, so it must be laundry day, with the bed stripped and sheets and the contents of the laundry basket gaily doing a fling on the other side of the glass window of the washing machine, much like the girls in an infamous street in Amsterdam, showing off their underwear, I took off on the bicycle to Aldi.

The Catkins are out on the tree that grows by the bridge over the Kinness Burn and the buds are swelling on the flowering cherry trees that line many of the streets around St Andrews. Although they do not last long they are the first to flower and certainly brighten the place up after a dreich winter.

Something to look forward to.

Aldi was very quite, it never takes me long to do the shopping, I know what I want and where to find it. Then off to the checkout, have you noticed how your bill has increase since you were last at the supermarket? Good old Boris and his oven ready Brexit deal that would see us all better off, and millions pouring into out NHS every week, Aye right.

We had rain during the night, still, it will help settle in the Jersey Lilies, and the skies are still very overcast but we travel hopefully for the forecast is good for today. Unfortunately the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, Is anything but. Heavy rain and gale force winds, I’m so pleased I had a good day on Sunday. Then again, if nothing else, Sunday has shown us that there will be a spring and it will be coming soon enough.

 First thing Sunday morning, I put on my Adam the gardener hat, I had promised to lift the clump of Jersey Lilies. Planted years ago, now as the garden had developed, in totally the wrong place, out of sight and forgotten.

I pressed the bicycle trailer into service,

and set about digging up the plant, surprisingly it was not deep-rooted and lifted without much trouble. It was too big and heavy to lift in one go so I split it in situ, then loaded it into the trailer. Fully loaded it was off to the border at the front of the building for replanting.

Now spaced out along the wall outside each of the flat’s living room windows. Lilly will be appreciated by all now come summer, and Lilly makes an appearance in her glorious new dress.    

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

Keep safe.

For some time now I have been at odds with the leadership of the SNP, believing like Scottish Labour before them, once their bums were firmly planted on the green benches they would be sucked into the system at Westminster and staying in power would become their one priority and independence simply kicked like a can down the road. With the Holyrood elections only weeks away now, it is difficult to see any real alternative to the status quo at Holyrood, if we are even to hold onto the dream of an independence referendum in Scotland then most of the people in Scotland will have to vote SNP, on the Constituency Vote, even, if that does mean holding ones nose. Sadly we see no real challenge emerging from the grass roots on the list vote either, however it is very difficult to get your messaged out during a pandemic and lockdown, and possibly that will be the SNP’s salvation.

Still the people of Scotland have educated themselves over the past few years, they have seen how Boris Johnston and his gang of Brexiteers, have systematic dismantled the powers of the Vichy government, that is the SNP lead government at Holyrood. You have heard it all from me before, and I’m sure many are already telling me “Get a Life, Hamilton”. So I will end by cutting and pasting this well crafted piece from Kenny MacAskill MP.

I don’t believe he will object or drag me into court for this, anyway why would he bother ‘You can’t take the breaks of a highlandman’.

The How and the why

Posted on February 19, 2021 by Kenny MacAskill MP

With selections ongoing and an election approaching, there’s an opportunity to reflect on how SNP M/SPs are elected and their role in those offices.

As the party’s grown the numbers in elected office have increased, but some aspects remain constant: it’s the party that puts you in and it’s independence that’s the cause.

There are individuals who carry a significant personal vote. The late Jimmy Reid was one of them but even his persona and an election in the aftermath of the UCS work-in was unable to see him win, with the Communist Party label attached to Jimmy being enough to see a comfortable victory for a Labour MP that few recall.

Margo McDonald and Jim Sillars’ personalities may have been the X-factor when it came to the SNP winning Govan by-elections, but even the former was unable to buck the trend in Hamilton when the party’s vote was falling.

So it’s not the individual but the party that matters. Many outstanding individuals have been unsuccessful SNP candidates. It wasn’t inability that saw them lose, but the party’s standing when they contested. When some arrogantly tell activists they’ve been once, twice or even six times elected they forget to add it was the party label that did it. From some a bit more humility would be appropriate.

That also explains the shenanigans ongoing in selection processes. Some now know that it’s the SNP ticket that gets you elected and have come on board. It’s the price of political success but it’s why internal democratic electoral processes become essential, and the party’s damaged by anything that detracts from that.

Zipping and allocated positions are perfectly acceptable but transparency in process and a democratic decision remain fundamental. It’s the absence of the latter that’s currently causing discord.

Likewise, whilst the party makes selections and is the core of activity, electoral success is founded on a far broader base. In every election support still extends far beyond activists, never mind the membership – nobody ever won a seat on party-member votes alone. So it’s not you but us, and not just the party but the whole movement, that puts you there. That should never be forgotten, by candidates or by the party.

But once you’re elected, what’s the role? There’s clearly a difference between being in opposition or in administration, as there is between Holyrood or Westminster. But in all situations the primary goal is to deliver independence.

In Holyrood an administration needs formed and governance performed. But political focus must still remain on somehow progressing the cause. In Westminster where an administration can never be formed circumstances can vary depending on numbers and leverage. In past years those elected were in many ways simply “flying the flag”. In more recent years electoral sway existed and SNP votes could have been crucial.

Since 2019, though, while numbers have increased the leverage and influence has gone as have the prospects of winning any votes in the Commons. So the SNP’s solely in opposition – but what should that be?

The SNP can never be the principal opposition party nor should it aspire to it. It’s not the job of the SNP to administer the British state. Yet that in some ways is what’s being done and there’s a danger of being sucked in and suckered by Westminster.

I can understand why grandiloquent titles such as Shadow Foreign Secretary or Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, which the SNP has recently started attaching to its spokespeople, may appeal to those individuals. But the SNP can never hold those positions nor does it aspire to even replicate the policies.

As for Wales and Northern Ireland, sending a fraternal delegate to the conference of a sister party is one thing, but announcing yourself the shadow minister for a British province is quite another. Should Scotland really have a Shadow Secretary of State for Wales? Is that any of our proper business?

It’s not just the positioning, but the involvement. An SNP MP sits on the Security and Intelligence Committee. Why? We already know through the BBC’s actions that the British state uses its resources against our cause. To think they won’t do so with the security services would be naïve. Actions in Northern Ireland give credence to it, as do events in our own country.

A senior police officer told me the security services who came north in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games remained in place during the referendum. Maybe they all went fishing or sightseeing, but I doubt it. As Justice Secretary I never got an explanation from Police Scotland about why they either had no intelligence of, or simply took no action against, the Loyalist thuggery in George Square on 19 September 2014.

Are SNP members on the Security Committee told about actions in Scotland? If they are and cannot tell us, whose side are they on? If they aren’t told, then that itself is an issue that demands answers, not legitimisation by participation. But either way SNP members have no proper role in such Westminster institutions.

It’s the party that wins the election but it’s the cause that must prevail. Those fortunate to be elected must always remember that.

Stay safe.

Opening the blinds this morning and the weather is crap, wet and windy, my mind travels back to all those wonderful day cycling across Europe, or alone on my old folk boat sailing until my hearts content. After weeks of lockdown you may be thinking of a wee boat trip yourself in the summer. after months of being house bound maybe be feeling you would like a little bit of excitement in your life, so just to wet your appetite.

I remember Billy Connelly once said about cruise liners, “It is a bit like being in prison with the possibility of drowning”,

Just a bit of fun folks, keep well.

 I want you to forget all you have heard from waffling politicians, from so-called experts being interviewed on the BBC and Sky about the coronavirus. All the rubbish about how soon we can come out of lockdown and lead a normal life once more. Forget it all, just tune into the Alex Salmond Show at 6.30 this afternoon on RT and listen to Dr. Hugh Montgomery, in only 30 minutes you will find out, how coronavirus originated, how it got into humans, why we were caught on the hop, (it is not like flu or any of the other viruses that have come and gone), and is there a cure?

Towards the end of his time, he told us that post coronavirus will have to be different from where we were before coronavirus, spend much more on welfare, tackling the big problems caused by being overweight, poverty, poor housing, cramming hundreds of people onto planes and flying them around the world. It would seem that we are our own worst enemy, we have to change.

Sharing experiences on social media has helped doctors understanding symptoms and he said anyone who is suffering the long term effects of having coronavirus, deserves your sympathy, it is a real illness.

I advise you all to listen in to this programme and learn about coronavirus, without all the media hype, the waffle of politicians, who have a foot in two camps, and to the media I say, stop speculating about when we come out of lockdown and start educing people to the real problems we face from this virus. Stop being a mouthpiece for the government and start being a mouthpiece for the people.         

The weather today is very overcast and blowing hard, I had hoped to get the cold frame outside and given a final coat of paint, setting the seedlings off on there journey from pot, to harden off, then planning out in the garden, I’m sure it will all be worth it in the end. Still with the weather now that is looks iffy. Halfway through another week, where does it all go?

Yesterday I was over to Leuchars, I wanted to go to the cycle shop, my wish to hire an e-bike for an hour as part of my research project I’m working on. Seems they no longer hire bikes, coronavirus they say, not allowed to hire them out. He told me they intend stopping the practice anyway, only sales now, more than they can cope with it seems. They have an awful lot of e-bikes if the two pallets of boxes outside their shop are anything to go by. Possibly sell them on the internet, I can’t see a large enough market for them here.

Their e-bikes are more in keeping with step-through mopeds than bicycles, and that will be the market they are pitched at, an alternative to a moped. Makes sense, no need for a licence, no need for a helmet, no need for road tax or insurance for that matter, what not to like? The problem will be if they become popular the government will find ways to squeeze some money from you, all in the name of safety, I’m sure.

The road out had been into a cross wind coming over the port bow and played havoc all the way into Guardbridge. I resisted the temptation to hit the throttle, and just pushed all the way there. At the roundabout the wind changed so an easy ride from here. Coming home I moved onto the cycle path. The low lying fields, of winter sown barley, that run between the road and the estuary, were flooded. Flocks of Geese, a couple of swans, a curlew and a very large flock of what to me looked like sand pipers, they were about the size of a waterhen light grey in colour and straight pointed beaks, and seemed to be always on the move. All happily helping themselves to the farmers crops, he will be pleased.

After my shower, I settled down for the afternoon, that is until the doorbell summonsed me to the main door, my piece of perspex had arrived, no rest for the wicked. I set about making the lid for the cold frame, it has been a while since I started this project, but when you are waiting for the right timber to turn up in a skip, it always will.

Clyde Built

So that has been my day, never a dull moment. If I was pleasantly aching after yesterday ride, I’m doubly so today. I wonder if there is anything of any worth on the television tonight? I could do with a night in.

Keep well.

Yesterday was fine once more, a bit windy but that is to be expected in February, I headed out on the old B939 turning off at the Strathkinness crossroads for Crossgates, and the long climb up to Drumcarrow Graig then went whizzing off on the B941 for Peat Inn and Largoward. The roads were free of traffic and I just love coming over the top Bowhill to see for the first time the Forth valley spread out before me, it is quite a view. I continued on the B941 turning off for Arncroach to make my way back over to the B9131 for St Andrews. The wind was now driving me forward, encouraging me to push harder for home, even keeping the pedals driving down off Balmungo and Brownhills, weeeeeeeeeeeee. Not sure if the new-found pain in my belly is a cramp or some re-found muscles, but I feel good this morning.

I read yesterday that Julian Assange may be returning home to Australia, soon. There has been a lot of diplomatic traffic between the Australian government and the US to have the case against him dropped. Both sides are playing it down, in Australia, the minister is saying, Julian can come home when he leaves prison, but that he cannot be seen to be interfering in the law of another country. The American government still have 14 days in which to lunch an appeal, but the thinking now seems to be, It may be better if the whole thing just went away.

And strictly on the QT

I heard some news yesterday – imminent changes at the heart of the SNP, following a serious incident – rumours of “blood on the carpet” abound. You heard it here first.

Keep well.

On opening the blinds first thing this morning I found that the snow had been given a fright and the weather was looking very favourable, sky clearing and the sun may even ‘come out and play’.

First washing in the machine, then out with the hoover and a quick dicht over the carpets. Time to dust off my bicycle that had been languishing rather too long in the living room and fast becoming a clothes horse. The snow, black ice and generally bad roads had turned me into a couch potato over the last weeks, I really needed to be out on my bike again.

I struck out for Guardbridge, nothing strenuous, and as I pedalled my way towards the cycle track, I was stopped in my wheel tracks by road repairs. Taking to the pavement I reached the cycle path only to find it still under a covering of patchy snow and ice, so it would be the A91 to Guardbridge. The road was surprisingly busy with lorries and vans, and the obligatory empty bus. I wonder if the drivers will take it ill out when they have to stop and pick up passengers once more?

As I whizzed along at 20 kph my mind wandered over the past days of inactivity. Or possibly that was a bad choice of words since I had journeyed twice around the world over that period.

Once with the good Captain Joshua Slocum, a brilliant well-written book that everyone should read at least once in their life. Although I believe the good captain stretched the truth, just a little sometimes, still, it was a great adventure, and you will meet some fascinating people along the way.

Then ‘The long way’, by Bernard Moitessier, much more about a man searching within himself, and possibly finding some inner peace in the solitude of his self imposed little world, his boat Joshua. We travel with him not only around the world but back into his past growing up in Indochina, and the eastern cultures that seemed to have had a profound influence on him as a young lad, even although he had not been back there for some 20 years, it still bubbled to the surface.

Sailing around the world, is that possible? I mean if the world is round, there can be no end, you may reach a destination along the line of travel but there will always be something further ahead, so can you ever really sail around the world? Clearly, I have not made the transformation back into the real world yet.

As I neared Guardbridge I had a look up the road to Strathkinness, the road was black and therefore free of snow and ice, so I headed up the hill for the little village. Dropping down the other side where I saw a crocodile of children in high visibility jackets coming up the hill toward me, it was a long line so the kindergartens are still going strong.

At the B939 I turned left, popped it into my high front ring and pushed hard all the way into St Andrews. It was not a long run today but I was out on the road once more turning pedals and that is all that mattered. Home and sitting with my pot of tea, it felt good to feel the dull pain in my legs once more. The good news the weather will stay mild for the remainder of the week, hip-hip- replacement.

The finishing joiners are in at the old Backpackers building, so the skip had to be raked, I found enough dressed timber, (I think it is obeche, for it had that cat pee smell when I cut into it) still it made good shelves, down each side of the cold frame, and enough 2 inches by 1-inch timber for the frame’s lid. I cut and planed up the wood for the shelves and fitted them, somewhere to put tools or plant pots. all that is needed now is the piece of perspex I ordered on the internet, something you just can’t find in skips.

The disappearance of the snow has the birds once more finding their natural food in the shrubbery and borders, so I have stopped putting out feed for them. If the cold nights return I will continue to feed, for I’m told a small bird can lose up to 10% of its bodyweight simply keeping warm overnight.

There is nothing on the television to interest me these day, if I ever see Dominic Raab again it will be too soon, don’t you just get the boak, every time that man appears to tell you how great Boris is doing with the vaccination programme, all those that died because of their incompetence, oh that’s yesterdays news, move on.

I think I will have a night in with Bogart, what shall I watch first The Maltese Falcon,

(Mary Astor and Peter Lorre).

Or what about The Big Sleep, (Bogart/Bacall).

They would later marry

Then there is Key Largo (again with Bacall and who can forget the great Edward G Robinson).

“Is that a dagger I see before me?”

Or as a special treat, I could watch Casablanca, (with Paul Henreid and the unforgettable Ingrid Bergman). He was to say in an interview that he hated Bergman, and yes he used that word.

“Why did you come to Casablanca?” Rick, was asked by the Principal of Police.

“I came here for my health, to take the waters”.

“But there is no water in Casablanca, this is a desert”,

“I was misinformed”,

They just don’t write them like that any more,

“Here’s looking at you kid”.

Stay safe.

 

All Cut From The Same Cloth

I don’t believe I am racist, but thinking back to my youth, I’m sure I told jokes in the pub that may, or may not, have offensive, say, the Irish, “did you hear the one about the Irishman………” for if it is true that only an Irish person can say if s/he is offended by your remark, and if so, then I suppose I may well have been a racist.

Now back in the 1980s a German came to work with us, I found out he had studied engineering at a German University, and at the end of his studies moved to South Africa where he had secured a job in management. He was in charge of laying water pipes to outlying townships, however, he never really had to leave his office since he had under-manages and foremen to look after the actual every day laying of the pipes.

“What kind of pipes were they, concrete, clay?” I asked.

“No, asbestos” he replied.

“Asbestos! I’m really surprised, you must have had strict safety in place working with such material, and was the water passing through the pipes not contaminated? (asbestos was disbanded in the UK).

“No, none” he assured me.

“But the danger to health would have been enormous, asbestos is a killer” I said.

His answer was even more shocking, it was not a problem,

“Black men have big families”.

Later when he returned to South Africa to bring his wife and son to the UK he landed at Heathrow where they would have to pass through immigration control, when he found out the person that would be interviewing his wife (she and her son were white South African) he immediately boarded a plane for Germany with his family and brought them through customs there, now officially in the EU they could fly to Edinburgh unimpeded. He asked me why we allow black people to run our country?

There were two French lads on the television the other day talking about ballet, one black, he was saying how black dancers were under-represented on stage and how changes should be made to correct this. The other took the opposite view that the only criteria to be on stage at all, should be their talent no matter their colour. Difficult since both views had merit. The system in France, of course, could be pitted against anyone other than ‘male and pale’ and there might be all sorts of reasons for those theatres to favour white dancers, Theatres make their money by selling their product to an audience, so will cater to that audience, not an excuse, and possibly wrong, but a reality just the same.

I personally think for instance that the BBC should bring more black people on as presenters and newsreaders on television, especially black women newsreaders. My reasons for saying this may be biased. You see I’m hard of hearing, and I find English women, like children, their voices are high pitch and to me sound squeaky, very difficult to follow. On the other hand, black women newsreaders normally have deeper voices and their diction is flawless. So I suppose I am on the side of, who is best for the job, regardless of colour, creed or favour.

Which brings me to the stooshie that is taking place in Scotland at present. Should we have all women candidates lists at elections to have a better balance in the parliament? And the latest has to be the SNPs ham-fisted and corruptly-motivated attempt to increase BAME and disabled representation at this years Holyrood elections, that is now threatening to split the party and the parties membership asunder.

It is very easy to make the case against any form of discrimination, and if you talk of having all-female lists, whatever the thinking behind it, well is smacks of discrimination or even cronyism, so you change the wording to, “Quotas” much more neutral sounding, who could object to that? But people did. So those pushing for change did just that they changed the name again to “Diversity and Inclusion”.

Now object to diversity and inclusion, clearly a good things, and we will hound you to hell and back on Twitter. Suddenly now all debate has gone from the argument.

I am against any system that overrides raw democracy so as to increase the representation of a selected group at the expense of another group, for whatever reason, sex, gender, or colour, the choice should only be made on ability. If there is a problem in the system that discriminates against any of the above gettings to the top spot, then that is a different question.

I remember when Union Congress was a sea of white male faces, and during my father’s generation, women did not even have the vote. Tossing statues into the harbour will not change history, the values then are not the values now, and that is a good thing, but they were the values then and you cannot change that.

The First Minister of Scotland, since taking office has brought more women into her cabinet, and from what I see, she has picked well, and when she didn’t, she was quick to through them under a bus. What I object to is this 50:50 cross-party group which enjoys the enthusiastic patronage of the First Minister. The proponents of these systems that are being imposed argue that the only groups being disadvantaged are ‘male and pale’ and nobody likes straight white men and anyone standing up for them can be quickly dealt with on Twitter.

The banner behind the First Minister as she took to the podium of the 50:50 group read

“At Least 50:50 Representation in our Parliament and out Councils”

So at least 50:50 – at present only 35% of Scotland’s MSP are female – the group see this as unacceptable and what would be acceptable? Would 65% or even 75% or why not 100% since no upper limit is set, would this be acceptable? I doubt that we ‘pale and male’ would think so and would simply vote with our feet.

When it comes to ethnic it is even more complicated. Scotland is, and always has been, a white country. In fact, 95 % of the population is white. Asian 2.6% around 140,000 souls, and relatively speaking, new to this country. Only 0.6% of our citizens a mere 32,400 are classed as African, Caribbean or black, growing up in Fife I only knew of one black man.

So when you talk about proportional representation for BAME at Holyrood that would be 4% of the 129 MSP, which is five. We already have two, Hamza Yousaf, and Anas Sarwar, electing three more, you would think, not impossible. But is that all from the same party, for if not, what? And then do we move to subdivide BAME or simply lump them all together into a neat (Brown) group? – and what about BAME women must we have 50:50 BAME? And all this before you come to cultural identity – something that can not be overlooked in Scotland if you have attended an old firm game in either capital. So then do we have a shortlist for religious followers of Allah, Mohammed, Buddha, Obi-Wan Kenobi, this list would be endless. You can already see the problem, by proportional representation, to have even only one Jewish MSP in Holyrood there would have to be 769 MSPs, so should we forbid a Jewish MSP from standing for the Holyrood elections, so as not to upset the balance?

Why, oh why, did the SNP open this can of worms, and how can they put the lid back on the tin?

Hours of bickering and squabbling, over this silliness, whilst the real problems of Scotland go undebated, is a recipe for disaster.

Since my retirement I have found the time to read books, I pick up most of my paperback fiction in charity shops and when read will put them in our library here, for someone else to read. Others, however, I pick up in book shops, usually, these are books that I hold on to. For on their first ready, you get the story, but on the second or even the third time of reading you get the message too. I have been working my way through a big box of books that comes under the category of worthy of a second reading. Today’s book is East of Eden, by John Steinbecks.

Lee the Chinese and old Samuel discuss a Bible verse where a word is translated differently in the American Standard Version and the King James versions. The word was so important that Lee consulted his Chinese community. The Chinese got so interested in the exact meaning of the verse at issue that they learned Hebrew to try to part the veil. At the end of two years, they were ready. One of the accepted translations said, ‘Thou shalt rule over sin’ (a Promise). The other equally accepted translation said ‘Do thou rule over sin’ (an order). And the Chinese had found that it read ‘Thou mayest’ (a choice). And they knew their two years spent working and meditating on it had not been wasted.

Samuel said, it’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. ‘Don’t you see?’ he cried. ‘The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in “Thou shalt”, meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel – “Thou mayest” – that gives a choice. This says the way is open. That throws it right back on man. For if “Thou mayest”, it is also true that “Thou mayest not”. don’t you see?

What a beautiful way of put it, to conquer ignorance or remain ignorant. You can educate but you can not legislate against racism or prejudice (ignorance) and quotas will change nothing. The Hebrew word – timshel, “Thou mayest, it is an individual choice, that we all must make.

Stay safe.

This morning the snow is still with us, the promised rain has not yet arrived to wash it away. Making the coming spring all the sweeter.

The old adage states – feed a cold, starve a fever.

Yesterday I had an e-mail from one of my nurse nieces, who never seems to take off her nurses cap, she told me that I should take it easy for two or three days, and to eat well.

Yesterday I starved a fever, I fasted. Today I will take my nurse’s advice and feed a cold, even if I do not have one.

I made myself a thick sandwich on ham and settled back to watch two episodes of Jesse Stone. Jesse, as he likes to be called, is an acquired taste, my sister did not like him, calling him an old drunkard. I guess she simply did not get the flawed hero thing, her taste was more Miss Marple, or Murder She Wrote, which of course I could not stand.

What I liked apart from the clever staccato dialogue, was the intertwining relationships, and of course the storyline. Then again “Everyone to their own ways”.

About a year ago in the Scottish parliament the First Minister was asked about money given to Leonardo for what she called “aid diversification efforts”. We know now that the money from Scottish Enterprise had been used by Leonardo to fund the development of military radars.

Leonardo

Now Scottish Enterprise is being used to facilitate high-level meeting between Senior Scottish Ministers and arms industry “clients” (much as we see at Westminster). MSPs wined and dinned by arms companies in the Scottish Parliament itself. But I’m sure they were only discussing the horrific death and destruction reaped by the arms trade and how Scottish taxpayers money could be used to “aid diversification efforts”.

Scottish taxpayers may like to ponder the fact that Scottish Enterprise money is begin paid to companies such as Raytheon, the 4th biggest global arms company, and its Glenrothes factory is among the biggest in terms of its weapons production line outside the U.S.

Raytheon Glenrothes

It would seem that the Scottish government is slowly but surely becoming a branch office of the corrupt Westminster government, begging the question, where really does the First Minister stand on this? Find the answer to that question and you may unlock the reason why the SNP are dragging their feet on independence.

Follow the Money.

We have all heard and seen the storming of the Capitol building by supporters of Donald Trump on our televisions. Many, like me, have wondered why the Democrats are making such a big thing of it? The answer may lie very close to a lot of congressmen’s pocketbooks rather than their moral standing on democracy.

Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are amongst the companies that have announced they are pausing political donations in the US. This follows the storming of the Capital by supporters of Donald Trump. If you are looking for answers, follow the money. I’m sure that as soon as the congressman fall back into line with the arms traders wishes, the money tap will once more flow their way.

The Long Way.

Just finished re-reading Bernard Moitessier’s book The Long Way, (Translation by William Rodarmor). I’m not sure this is a book that will interest too many people outside those who have a history of sailing. There is lots of nautical language in the book, and since unlike Slocum’s wee adventure around the world, stopping off as he went, telling tales of people and their customs. Moitessier, never leaves his boat. Still, he managed to keep readers happy and experiencing the highs and lows of his voyage.

The idea came about when Bill King and Joshua were preparing for the long way. Before leaving Toulon for Plymouth, Moitessier was, as he put it, incensed by the Sunday Times, which decided to organize a solo non-stop race around the world, with two prizes: a golden globe for the first to finish, and £5000 Sterling for the fastest voyage. There was no need to be officially entered, and the rules were simple: all you had to do was to leave from any English port between June 1st and October 31st then return to it after rounding the three capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn.

There were other in the race, but Moitessier of all of them had many, many more sailing sea miles under his keel than any other. By the Cape of Good Hope, only Knox-Johnston, who had left much earlier and Moitessier was in with a chance of finishing. Knox-Johnston’s lead would surely see him finish first, but Moitessier had the faster boat. He himself helped built Joshua and had input into her design. Knox-Johnston had a secondhand boat that had non of the attributes of Moitessier’s little ship, and many faults, if memory serves, from reading his book on that voyage. With all Moitessier’s sea knowledge built into Joshua It was not really a fair contest in that respect.

You will possibly know the ending, and if not I will not spoil it for you. Only to finish with Moitessier’s words at the end of part 3 of the book.

“I wonder. Plymouth so close, barely 10,000 miles to the north ….but leaving from Plymouth and returning to Plymouth now seems like leaving from nowhere to go nowhere.”  

Keep safe.