“Blue” Hydrogen is not Green

Halfway through another week and for the first time in many days I can safely say, I am free of that dreadful head cold that has plagued me. OK, I am still a little weak from its effects but in much better spirits. So looking forward to extensive travelling on bike and bus once more.

Charlie Watts, drummer of the Rolling stones, died at the age of 80, he had a good inning but when I hear of the demise of people that I have lived with all my adult life, it is a reminder that we are not immortal.

One other that has been part of my life, Toyah Wilcox, seems she has produced a new album that will be released on Friday, this week. Do you remember those mad pop videos she made, if you do you are older than you think?

For all the talk about electric vehicles, there are some forms of transport, that will never successfully be electrified. Is hydrogen the answer?

Hydrogen-powered vehicles is now being hailed by The Hydrogen Council as a silver bullet, a group that includes the oil companies BP, Total and Shell in their numbers, (is that an alarm bell I hear?) They predict that “Blue” Hydrogen will account for 18% of all energy demands by 2050. Now hydrogen has been with us for some time in fact, I have been onboard hydrogen-powered buses in Dundee.

“Hydrogen is not a panacea or silver bullet but it could be necessary for decarbonization of hard-to-electrify, sectors such as long-haul heavy trucking, international marine shipping and some parts of heavy industry.” said Mike Fowler, director of advanced energy technology research at the Clean Air Task Force.

At the coal-fired power station at Longanet, now closed, they ran an experiment for Carbon Capture and Storage, (CCS), the idea was to take the carbon from the flue gasses and pipe them out into the North Sea and down the old oil pipe lines to the sea bed, there they would be captured by the pressure at that depth. The experiment ran until the Westminster government pulled the plug on the funding. The biggest problem with the scheme was it used a lot of energy to run the system. So it did work, but who would pay for the clean air in a commercially-run power station?

But what has this got to do with hydrogen power, I hear you cry? Well, bear with me. Some time ago I wrote about a system, down at Leven (Fife) where they were producing hydrogen using electricity to crack water, the brilliant part, it using wind power to produce the electricity required. So successful has it been that they are now proceeding to put the system into practice, by offering it as an alternative to gas in and around Leven.

So what’s my grip with hydrogen?

A large $1 trillion, infrastructure bill passed by the US Senate and hailed by Joe Biden as a key tool to tackle the climate crisis. This bill includes $8 billions of dollars to support, a supposedly clean fuel, (“Blue” hydrogen) that has the potential to pollute even more than burning coal. Whit.

The problem with, so-called, “Blue” hydrogen, being pushed by the fossil fuel industry, and falls under the definition of clean hydrogen in the Senate bill, begs the question, is Blue hydrogen really that Green?

Blue hydrogen involves spitting gas into hydrogen and carbon dioxide and then capturing and storing the CO2, a global warming gas. However during the process, methane, a potent greenhouse gas is also produced, this method also uses a huge amount of energy to separate, then store the carbon dioxide, and some will escape anyway, (all this was understood at the CCS experiments at Longanet Fife.) The production of “Blue” hydrogen actually creates 20 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal, commonly regarded the most polluting fossil fuel. Furthermore it is 60 per cent more polluting than burning diesel, according to a new paper published in the Energy Science and Engineering journal. Help ma boab, is that right?

Robert Howarth, a scientist at Cornell University who authored the paper alongside Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University researcher, said “Blue hydrogen is a nice marketing term that the oil and gas industry is keen to push, but it’s far from carbon-free. I don’t think we should be spending our funds this way, on these sort of false solutions.” Well, that’s you telt, president Biden.

Dozens of gas companies have jumped on the bandwagon, in the US and started producing hydrogen (fill your boots with free dollar handouts from the US Senate) – or at least testing its viability in existing gas pipelines. This is madness, according to climate campaigners, saying it is a step towards entrenching fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when the world needs to rapidly move to net-zero emissions, outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC).

“Looking at this Biden bill, you can not fail to see a big giveaway to the fossil fuel infrastructure that is incompatible with serious climate action” according to Carroll Muffett, chief executive of the Center for International Environmental Law. “Congress went out of its way to not specify green hydrogen (hydrogen produced by renewable electricity, such as being produced at Leven Fife), and so this funding just helps prop up the fossil fuel industry. The potential of these technologies are being routinely overstated even as the impact are being understated.”

So why despite all the evidence does the US Senate still pass such a bill? For not only is it decremental to the US but the rest of the world too.

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Now, do you hear those alarm bells more clearly?

As a footnote, the Scottish government in the past have put much funding into the research and development of new green technology, wind, wave, tide, CCS alongside this hydrogen. Scotland has done much to promote such development, but it is Westminster parties, funded by big companies such as oil companies BP, Total and Shell, it is they that call the shots. Scotland has the resources of wind a plenty, strong tides, and endless wave, to power and drive, not only the development of The green revolution, but also the hard-won, and paid for, by the Scottish taxpayers, development, technology and expertise in this new green renewable energy revolution. Sadly Scotland is being held back from becoming the riches, greenest country in the world, by being part of the UK, why can’t Nicol Sturgeon see this?

What do we want – Independence – when do we want it – NOW!

Stay safe.

 I got a whole egg when I stayed with my gran.

The film came on the television at 9 o’clock in the evening. I was having difficulty concentrating on it and was dropping off to sleep, so took myself off to my bed. It smelt of fresh sheets, pillowcases and duvet cover. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Sunshine was flowing like a golden waterfall into the bedroom but it was the noise of scaffolds dismantling a chimney pack across the road that had wakened me. The hammering and clanging of steel did not keep me from turning over in my cosy cocoon and disappearing once more into slumber. It was after 10 am when I finally arrived back in the land of the living, feeling good, if a little wobbly. Must get myself out.

As a boy, I suppose I lived in my own little world, I was not really interested in what gown-ups were saying around the table, so my sessions with my older brother has been a real eye-opener.

When the long school holidays came along we, or at least we that were still at school, would be hived out to stay with aunts and uncles or in my case my grandmother, on my father’s side.

When first I was shipped off to gran’s she stayed in the ‘Happy-land’ a collection of miners rows that backed onto the old shunting yard. The rails and sleepers had been lifted but because it was mostly covered in hardcore it would have taken a great deal of effort and sweat to turn it into anything resembling an allotment.

My gran run a shop from her kitchen, it was not uncommon for a child to turn up at the door, sent there by their mother,

“Mum wants to know if she could have two Woodbine and a couple of slices of bread?”

Whoever had sent the child knew perfectly well that her man would not go down the pit the next day unless he had a Woodbine before he went down, and a Woodbine for when he surfaced again. His wife would make sure he had them or the wage packet would be light at the end of the week, and it would be her housekeeping money that would be short.

The two slices of bread was optional, the men would go down the pit without their peece (a Scottish sandwich that would be carried with you to work) but not without their Woodbine.

Gran would hand over the goods and enter them in her little black book.

My uncle John was a cripple and walked, rather awkwardly with two sticks, when a boy he had suffered an injury to his foot, it never healed and finally turned to gangrene, the leg would have to come off below the knee, granddad would not hear of it.

It was many years later when dad returned from a visit to see his father that he told me, with an almost shocked expression, that when he and the old man had been sitting opposite one another across the fire, his father suddenly burst out crying,

“I have never seen my father cry before” he told me, “I did not know what to do, I just sat in silence.

Granddad to my father was always the strong oak beam that held up the roof, he went down the pit at fourteen years of age. Came through the Great War without a scratch, and straight down the pit once more, never missing a day. He was seventy years old before the NCB (National Coal Board) discovered he should have been pensioned off five years earlier. Grandad took it badly when they said he would have to leave. The locals organised a retirement party for him, and there he would be presented with a trophy, from the Mayor, and the press would be there to record the occasion for prosperity. Grandad never turned up, the committee, the Mayor, and the press had to go round to Minto Street and present the trophy there, and get their story and pictures.

I remember reading in the local paper about Jimmy Hamilton, starting down the pit at 14 and working there until he was 70. Mum always said it was his stubbornness that brought him through the depression and Great War.

Dad went on, “Then in a quiet voice, choking back his tears, the old man said,”

“Why didn’t I not let them take John’s leg he would have had some sort of life, I committed him to a life of pain and misery?” Some mistakes we carry with us to the grave.

John served his time as a cobbler, a good trade to be in with all the pit boots needing mending. Not able to go gallivanting he would sit with his cobbler’s last over his thighs and mend boot by the fire.

Gran suggested that they rented the old shunting yard from the NCB and keep hens for eggs and food, John could still mend boots but it would be his job to look after the hens. Gran of course would find a road for the eggs and meat, well there was a war on.

By the time I was old enough to be hived out at grans during my school holiday, John had around 500 hens on the land. I would be set to work, cleaning out hen huts and coating them in coal tar, as protection against the weather and red spider. The coal tar I would carry the mile or so up from the gas works at the bottom of Station Road.

I loved it at grans, for not only was I away from “Bedlam Hall” you would not believe the constant noise there is in a house with five women in it. Not only that, I got a whole egg when I stayed with my gran.

There were two other uncles Uncle Alec, and Uncle Willie. They were seldom over at grans since they were both married, were pipers, in fact they were both Pipe Majors in their turn, in the Lochore and Glencraig Pipe band, so when not out with the band they were at work down the pit. I did not realise it at the time but Willie was a compulsive gambler.

My brother would tell how Willie worked harder than anyone down the pit and made good money. On his way home he would throw his unopened wage packet on the ground and on the toss of two old pennies, either waked home with a roll that would choke a horse or empty-handed. If he had won he would go to the dogs at Thornton. It matters little, whether the dog won or lost, he would show no emotion, money had no real value other than catalysis to gamble. Little wonder his wife left him.

Strange looking back how I was totally unaware of these things going on around me, then again, to me grown-up were alias, and sisters more so. I lived in my own little world, free from care and strife. Sadly it also made me a very poor student, if the teacher was boring me, I simply escaped into myself, I switched off. Hardly surprising therefore that when I left school, I was so poorly educated and had to start all over again in my own time.

Someone once asked me,

“What is the worst thing about growing old?”

I have no idea what answer I gave then, but I would say now,

“Remembering when you were young.”

Stay safe.

Life’s a blind migration to some unknown destination.

Monday as ever is my allotted time in the laundry, I stuffed the washing in the machine. Breakfast was then followed by some less enthusiastic housework.

The maid was standing in front of the housekeeper, who had just drawn a finger across the top of the sideboard then proceeded to show a pristine white glove – now with one rather dusty finger, to the girl she proclaimed,

I could write my name on the furnisher in this room”

To which the girl retorted,

Isn’t education a wonderful thing?”

The bicycle had taken priority over anything close to serious housework, the day was still and overcast but I really needed to be out and about once more. Not a long run, down to the Eden, up to Dairsie, and home, but today if felt like 100 miles of cycling, recovery, from whatever alls me, will be slow.

Back home I started looking through some more of my old runs, that had been stored on CD, can’t remember if I mentioned the run Tim and I did down the Grand Union Canal, but If you have read it already stop now.

This was written when I was living down in Yorkshire so a while ago. I had just recently turned 65 and had all sorts of plans for myself, no longer a white slave from Monday through to Friday, free at last, free at last, thank you lord, free at last. Mum had other plans for me she suffered a stroke, not deliberately I’m sure, but it did put pay to my plans, I became, by default, my mother’s carer.

Although a thankless task most of the time and very tiring, as much mentally as physical, all of the time, and financially unrewarding, I never regretted one moment of that quality time spent with my mother.

Mum had gone into rest care so I could go off for a wee holiday, just get away from the seven-day routine. The position of carer for mum, also gave me custodianship of mum’s little Yorkshire terrier Tim. Wherever I went Tim would go too. With Youth Hostelling now ruled out, it would be a camping trip. I had bought a ‘new to me’ children’s bike trailer for Tim to travel in, but Tim was having none of it. I then purchased a basket, this was fixed to the rear carrier, allowing Tim to ride up at my back. Tim was in his glory, sitting high in his own little castle, anytime I left him to guard the bike and trail, that had now become a depository for our camping gear, outside shops or visitor centre. Tim was quick to exploit the situation, busking for attention from all who passed by.

Since much of the route chosen would involve off-road and since I would be pulling a two-wheeled trailer loaded with all our camping equipment, and Tim’s chunky meaty bites, I chose my off-road bike, with no rear carrier his basket was now strapped to the handlebars.

Tim and I journeyed overnight down to Thame,

which is just east of Oxford and found a safe spot to leave the van (a converted van that would take mum’s electric buggy) ideal for all our needs. I later found out that I had parked opposite the home of a member of the Bee-Gees, for all my younger readers, the Bee-gees was band big in the 1960s.

The melodic bell in the church tower had just chimed seven o’clock as we set out to stretch our legs after the long journey south. Tim introduced himself to a little Jack Russell and then to the dog’s owner, who then introduced himself as Tom. Tom, like his dog, turned out to be ever so friendly and offered to show me where I could join the disused railway track at the start of our cycling adventure. As we walked Tom kept up a running commentary on the village and from his enthusiasm clearly a village he dearly loved. History oozed from every building from its church, barn, and pub, named ‘The Bird Cage’, a timber-framed construction in the towns Corn Market. I was told it derived its name from having once been used to house French prisoners of war during Napoleonic times. Finally, we arrived at the cycle track, Thames best-kept secret since it is found by making one’s way through a modern housing estate on the outskirts of the village, out of sight and with no guiding signs.

Back at the van the trailer was loaded and attached to the bike then off we went on our ‘Big’ adventure a round trip that would take us through some of the most beautiful countrysides in England.

By midday, we had travelled via Princes Risborough, Owlswich, Kimblewick, Marsh Mill, and on to Ellesbourch. It was here as we sat eating ham sandwiches, or more correctly, I was eating bread, Tim was scoffing the ham from my sandwiches. We were approached by a lady delivering the parish newsletter, Tim had that magnetic charm. In answer to my inquiry about a distinctive hill, not too far off, I was told it was Beacon Hill, overlooking Chequers.

Tim’s eagerness to go when I lifted his lead soon turned into disillusionment after half an hour of climbing in grass a little long for his liking. However, the view from the top was magnificent since we were now able to see for miles in every direction and certainly well worth the effort to get up here.

Near the little village of Tring, we turned off for the Grand Union Canal, but not before vising the village and its magnificent church in the centre of town.

First recorded in The Doomsday Book as a church and belfry in 1089, the lovely church of St Peter and Paul on the high street is open every day. As a magnificent medieval church, of St Peter and Paul is the place to visit to learn about the church’s architecture, the medieval Tring Tiles and the Victorian Gore Memorial, and our George Washington connection.

Turned off onto a path that would lead us onto the Grand Union Canal towpath. On reaching the canal we found it a little short on ‘Grand’, more an overgrown ditch. The water was shallow and crystal clear with small islands of vegetation scattered at random along its length. The banks were covered with self-seeded hardwood in autumn profusion. The towpath, that we would now follow was deep in fallen leaves that dappled sunlight played upon. There was an abundance of water hens that scurried into their moat surrounded fortresses as we approached. The chunky shoulders of our tyres caused the dry leaves to spin up and dance unrehearsed alongside our wheels in an exhilarating manner, then billow in a kaleidoscope of streaming colour in our wake. One small boy, his faithful dog, and a bicycle all setting out on a great adventure, it does not get much better than this.

We joined the Grand Union Canal proper at Bulbourne

where we stopped for refreshment. Tim had a large bowl of water me a large pint of keg beer. The next part of the journey down the canal towpath was uninspiring when you’ve seen one canal you have seen them all, so when we reach Uxbridge, I had already made up my mind to throw caution to the wind and take to the minor roads.

As we pulled into camp that night, fellow campers must have thought they had sighted the Grey Man of Ben Macau. The limestone hardcore, which made up the path on which we had spent the day travelling had left us covered from head to toe in fine white dust. My first task, after establishing the camp was to head for the toilet and shower room. Picking up a towel and soap bag from the back of the trailer sent Tim hot-footing it into the tent, where he hid inside my sleeping bag. Like all small boys, he has an allergy to soap and water. I had most everything I owned tumbling and spinning in the washing machine so it was now time to set about washing down the bike and trailer at the same time checking them over for any signs of breakage of problem tyres. Sitting now with only the light of the campsite to see by we ate supper and I downed numerous cups of tea. It had been a long day, still, I felt very fresh and if light permitted could easily have pressed on, Tim, however, was more than content to curl up in the tent, one eye open less I go off without him.

By daybreak we were packed and ready for the road, in Slough I found a greasy spoon café and sat down to a full breakfast, the first for some days and certainly a tribute to ‘hunger’s good kitchen’. From Slough to Windsor Great Park then into Windsor itself where the Tourist Information gave us directions to a campsite. It was early yet but we were in no hurry so booked in, did the chores, then off we headed for the town and a few pints, just to clear the dust from one’s throat, you understand.

By sun up we were once more on our road, heading this time for Wantage,

in the vale of the White Horse, for a land that is so flat all around, the road down the valley to the hill on which you find this incredible sculpture is anything but. We parked the bike and started the long climb to the hill fort. a group of lads were flying stunt kites, they looked impressive. a fair distance to the top of what would have been a Bronze Age fort. Yet again, well worth the effort. It was dark O’clock by the time we reached our campsite at West End near Stanton Harcourt. Batteries recharged we were off next day into Oxford, not a dog-friendly town, no dogs allowed signs at every park and riverbank. In fact, the only dogs I saw belonged to the Big Issue vendor.

All to soon the sands of time had run out on our holiday, so on back to Thame and our transport home. It had been a great trip, the weather warm, sunny, and windless. We had only two punctures, both in the trailer, which had no puncture protection in the tyres. The first was on the Grand Union Canal. With the new tube fitted and the tyre reinstated I was searching in the trailer for a pump. When we set out everything had its place and a place for everything, now it resembled a midshipman’s sea kist, everything on top, and nothing to hand. Just then a chap pulled up on his bike, it had two large panniers front and rear. The halo effect said cycle tourist but as it turned out he worked at a cafe in the nearby park and presumably his panniers were full of goodies for the cafe. Anyway, he whipped the pump from his bike and started attacking the wheel before I had a chance to retrieve ours. Off he went again, at a great rate of knots, with my thanks ringing in his ears. The hand drying machine in the campsite was used to help in the repair of the tube which would be required the following day. Once back on the roads however no further problems were encountered.

Stay safe.

“I don’t like Mondays”

 I became mum’s carer by default. It was a time when most people were getting their heads around paying the weekly bills by Direct Debit and buying with plastic. Mum however was old school and like to go to the post office of a Monday and collect her pension, she like real money in her purse.

The routine was well established. My car had been traded in against a van conversion that would take a wheelchair, so Monday morning I would load up the van with mum’s mobility scooter, shopping bags and Tim the dog, although Tim knew the score and would be perched up in the driver seat as soon as the doors were open.

Then came mum, once installed and her seat belt in place, Tim would leap over onto her lap, we were off to the post office. Purse bulging with pound notes I would drive up to the big Morrison’s store at Idle. Equipped with a large trolley it was time for me to buzz around the store, collecting the weekly shop. Mum spent her time search out gullible, boys or girls asking them where she could find…..and have them running around the store at her beck and call. Shopping can be so much fun, in your 90s.

As you entered the store the first display you would come to was fruit and vegetables. On that particular day there was a large display of strawberries, and alongside that was a pallet piled high with small cartons of long life cream.

“Look at that” mum had noticed the pallet “That milk should be in the fridge”.

“No mum, it’s a complimentary product” and as soon as the words were out of my mouth I know I was in trouble.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

Climbing onto my soapbox I explained that it was not milk but long-life cream in the cartons. And they were placed beside the strawberries, so by association people, who wanted to buy strawberries, would automagically think strawberries and cream, so buy both. Had the store placed the cream down by the dairy products the association would have been lost and less long-life cream would have been sold. Mum was not convinced, it should be in the fridge.

As I turned to go I noticed that my presentation had attracted a crowd, and I could not help but notice that many were now buying strawberries but ignoring the long life cream. Better to skedaddle before the manager comes.

Cares, like mothers with toddlers, will know that every job takes twice as long as normal, and the morning would be over by the time we returned home. It was time for mum’s we nap and me to escape up to my allotment for a time, weeds never stopped growing just because I was away, quite the opposite, mice like, they will play.

A young American girl, when asked why she had done what she had done, answered,

“I don’t like Mondays”

Our trips to Morrison’s would end with lunch in Morrison’s cafeteria, followed by coffee and cake, (but not strawberries, they bring me out in blotches) so

“I do (or at the time did) like Mondays”

Keep safe.       

But that anchor chain’s a fetter –

And with it you are tethered to the foam,
And I wouldn’t trade your life for one hour of home. (Lock-Keeper Stan Rogers)

When looking back at our lives we only see the good bits, and it was always sunny, but of course it never was like that, there really were no ‘Good Old Days’ that was your lot, and you just made the best of it.

My only brother is 10 years my senior, so we were never close growing up, I was still a schoolboy when he was doing National Service. And before I left school he was married and had by now start a family. We would see each other at Hatches, Matches and Dispatches – births, weddings and funerals. But I really did not know much of what he was up to growing up and then when I started work well I had wheels on.

This last year I have possibly seen more of my brother than any time during our lives, we will meet up regularly for a pub lunch and a blether.

Now if there is one thing I regret in my life it was not asking my parents more about their early life, and as my immediate family have thinned out, again many opportunities were missed, so when I meet up with my brother I tend to spear him about The Good Old Days between the wars, for I know it shaped the character of my siblings, especially one very close to me when she was alive.

Rita was frugal and need desperately to have a few pounds in the bank, her safety net. When her husband was made redundant from Rosyth Royal Dockyard he was given redundancy money and my sister insisted that the money was not squandered on a new car but that they purchased their council house, (Maggie Thatcher was selling them off at a knock-down price at the time). Rita needed that security, it seemed to be a craving with her, even in a time of relative affluence, after all her husband had a steady job and a wage coming in each and every week, almost guaranteed, so why was this, almost a fear of what tomorrow might bring so strong?

One lunchtime my brother was deep into his life growing up in the hungry 1930s,

Dad has some job down in Leven, he started. There were now two bairns in the house, dad had been reading his paper every, word, every syllabi, morning had turned into afternoon. Dad rose from the chair by the fireside and put on his jacket,

“Where are you off to?” Mum called to him,

“Out for a paper” he told her,

“A paper?” You have just read the paper,

“I know, but I will see if the evening papers are in yet,” and he was off out the door.

Mum never saw him again for fourteen months. As she suspected he had gone down to the seaman’s union and found a ship going somewhere, it did not really matter where.

Life at sea during those times was much like life ashore ‘White Slavery’ jobs were hard to come by, second engineers taking jobs as stokers just to have a berth. You put up with most anything or you starved. Serving as an AB (able-bodied seaman) the wages were poor, and only paid when at sea, as soon as the ship tied up the money stopped until you signed back on, that ship or another ship, so it might be days or even weeks between pay. The seaman’s mission would be home from home until you could sign-on once more

There small family had moved into a council house in William Street, East Wemyss, and known locally as Macduff Park. This was the address that dad had written on the letter containing a postal order at the end of that first week he was away. The letter did not come to East Wemyss but went all the way up to Macduff up on the east coast of Scotland near to Aberdeen. When the postman revived the letter, knowing that there was no William Street in Macduff, returned to sender.

The milkman, who also sold bread rolls, carried her to the end of the week but when he came for payment on Friday, and was told the story that she had not received any money from dad, but expected a letter any day, I’m sure he was sympathetic but he possibly heard as many tales of hardship and inability to pay for milk and rolls delivered that, mum was told that there would be no more deliveries until her book was cleared.

Over the next four weeks the family survived by mum putting the bairn in the pram and they would walk out into the country, when clear of prying eyes, she would send my brother into the field to gather a few potatoes of a turnip, anything to make a meal. When the gas meter run out they sat in the dark and cooked on the open fire, kept going by sea coal gathered from the shore.

Mr Rodgers lived above my parent’s house, four in a block, and was a member of the kirk, and on the Parish Council and had something to do with most things that went on in the village, he was soon aware of mums situation. Villages were much more close-knit at that time what with the doctor knowing everyone in his practice, almost intimately, mum was trying to save for an operation she needed. The district nurse, was literally in and out of your home on a regular basis, if you had young children, and the local bobby, did not miss a trick.

Mr Rodgers came to the door,

“Your boys in the Scouts I believe, have a camp coming up soon and I think he should go”, he went on.

“Yes he was telling me,” mum had answered, all the time knowing that he could not go to the Scout Camp for it cost 2/- two shillings, that she did not have.

Mr Rodgers made a point of catching my brother the next day and placing in his hand a florin, a two shilling piece, “give that to your Scout Master, you don’t need to tell him where it came from,” he added.

Mr Rodgers knew that at least one of the family would be feed for the duration of the camp.

Mr Rodgers, again approached mum and told her that he was on the Parish Council and if she was in difficulties, she could come before the committee and possibly get financial help. Mum was desperate, all pride had gone, she was now into survival mode, she took up the invitation to go before the Parish Council.

After hearing how she had been four weeks without any money, they awarded her a payment of a few shillings, she would receive the award the next day.

Mum had my brother washed and polished and the bairn in the pram, ready to walk into Methil and the shops to buy food for her family.

Mr Rodgers, appeared at the door, “Sorry” he told her, although the Parish Council awarded her the money the Minister would not authorise the payment.

Well, mum was at her wits end and marched off down to the manse, working on her wrath with every step. When the minster opened the door and before he could draw a breath he received an almighty straight right from mums fist, clean to the jaw, a punch Henry Cooper would have been proud of. It knocked the minster clear off his feet and landed him on his backside in the hallway. Mum stood over him demanding,

“You hypocrite” she called, “stopping my money, Its not even your money, its the Parish money, call yourself a Christian” she laid into him, with all the pent up anger and fear of the last four weeks.

Next morning early, and on his way to work, Mr Rodgers appeared at the door with her few pounds form the Parish Council funds, much more than she had been promised and in high spirits set off with pram and child, and my brother for Methil.

Mum had a visit from the local police sergeant, my brother did not hear what they talked about in the back kitchen, but no charges were ever brought.

When dad returned home, looking well, tanned and dapper, mum and dad had a long talk, although it was mum that did much of the talking, as my brother had remembered it. After that dad changed, he seemed to understand now that it was he that had brought these kids into the world and they where his responsibility.

I can better understand what shaped my older siblings, why they held such a strong bond with each other, and craved security throughout their lives, in never left them. And why I in my turn, voted Labour all my working life, joined a union, and became a Shop Steward.

I was a lad growing up spent much quality time with dad, following him around like a puppy dog. When the motorcycle was going anywhere I would be on the back of it, even from a very early age. During the fair fortnight (the area holiday fortnight) I would go off with dad, we would visit family down in England or go off camping together.

I remember saying to my sister one day that I was fortunate to have spent so much quality time with dad. To which she replied,

Mum would not let him out the door without you, for she knew him too well, he would sign on the first ship in the harbour, where ever it may take him, and mum would not know until the letter arrived with a postal order from some far-flung part of the world. No, you were the anchor chain that kept him tethered her home.

Sure I’m stuck here on the seaway,
While you compensate for leeway through the trades;
And you shoot the stars to see the miles you’ve made.
And you laugh at hearts you’ve riven,
But which of these has given us more love of life,
You, your tropic maids, or me, my wife.

Keep well.

Sorry, all a bit political today.

It has not been a good month for me healthwise, but getting better every day now, even managed a short run on my bike yesterday. My niece’s youngest daughter is having a baby later in the year so I thought I would spend some time in my workshop making s/he a couple of wooden toys, really enjoyable and very time-consuming.

“Michael Russell

has warned Yes supporters that they are up against a deeply unscrupulous regime under Boris Johnson.” The National.

Now I have always thought of Michael Russell as a decent chap, someone I could trust, but a little too soft when he was in negotiation with the Tories over the Brexit settlement for Scotland. He was telling us, the Westminster government did hold talks with the devolved governments of the UK. Then added that they did not heed one word that was said by the devolved parliaments. Saying, they had their own agenda. Under their “Taking back control” they would cut all ties with the EU. In the end, they had to make a deal over Northern Ireland, but for Scotland, there would be no deals, you are part of England (that’s what the people of Scotland voted for in 2014).

knowing all this we still hear nothing about a road map to independence, although they tell us that the union is not working for Scotland. Instead of the word that can not be spoken aloud, (the ‘I’ word) we hear the mealy moth words “Recovery Referendum” (expect to hear a lot about it at the SNP conference) and not Independence Referendum, well we would not wish to scare the horses.

Michael (at the roadshow) was asked about the missing £600,00 (money collected from people as a fighting fund for indiref2 and as they were told at the time Ring-fenced.

“The Money is not missing,” he said.

Then why is there not an entry for £600,000 in the SNP books? Oh, I forgot it is all woven through the accounts. Find Michael, so how much does the SNP have in the bank at present, nothing like £600,000. Now I am not saying that Michael is a liar, but what I am saying is that this lack of clarity makes for mistrust in the SNP.

The Greens are trying to form a working agreement with the SNP (much as the Green party have done in the Labour government in New Zealand) the attraction for Nicola Sturgeon, she will have a working majority at Holyrood, but what will she have to give up in return for their co-operation? Nicola is no one who will want to share a stage with anyone. And although Green may be in vogue and the colour of the month at this time, will this really appeal to the Yes moment, more soft politics.

It was a valiant effort Michael, your Referendum for Recovery speech, but we are well past that stage now. We want a roadmap to independence, we want Civil Servants working day and night, to bring that about, for we know that is the only path out of Covic recovery for Scotland.

You have to wonder when the SNP are going to stop telling us that “Now is not the time for an independence referendum” and start to tell us “Independence was never a good idea?”

And as a footnote, Yes L McGregor, Falkirk. The National.  I do hope that Alba supports the resolution of getting rid of the monarchy. I would support their idea for a republic. Then when we are an independent nation once more, we tell Boris to move the nuclear submarines from the Clyde (like yesterday) and whilst you are at it the ones parked up at Rosyth. And also tell the British and Americans, that we intend to follow much closer in the footsteps of our European neighbours and say loud and clear.

“We will only fight in the protection of our lands and not as cannon fodder for America’s failed foreign policies”. Or as Rodger Whittaker, put it.

“I don’t believe in ‘IT’ anymore.” and if you had this album in your collection then it is later than you think.

Bairns not Bombs.

Stay safe.

How Green is Green?

Are Electric Vehicles the Answer?

Global warming is a fact of life today, and many column inches of newsprint have been written how we can become carbon neutral – Green. Sadly for the world, the new Green is in the hands of big business interests rather than the interests of the planet, and we who live here will have little input in that, well, a part that is, for the bill.

Electric cars are being promoted widely as our saviour Zero Emission, electric cars sales have now surpassed 2 million globally. There is plenty of choice for the buyer, Toyota, Chevy, Tesla,


BMW, VW ……. focusing on luxury, high performance, the marketing model for cars has not changed, and at the end of it all we are still buying cars, we are still buying status symbols. The words “Zero Emissions” may be a good selling point, but are electric cars any more environmentally friendly than the big American gas guzzlers, once the manufacturing process for the vehicles and their batteries are taken into account?

Electric cars rely on regular charging from the local electricity network, which in today’s world is a long way from being emission-free. The big polluters, China and America still depend heavily of generating electricity from coal-fired power stations, where the power from their electric cars come.

Greener power is on the way, solar and wind power will reduce the need for coal and gas fired generation, so will be Greener, right? Most people recharge their electric cars overnight, problem, the sun does not shine at night and winds do not always blow and we have not as yet the ability to store sufficient surplus electricity when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing strongly.

The cheapest power is not the greenest power, the cheapest power at present is from hydro, and nuclear (although nuclear is a double-edged sword, when you factor in the cost of decommissioning). Hydrogen, generated by electricity generated by wind and tide and wave could in the future be a possibility, but as yet still in their infancy.

Are electric cars the answer or are we simply exchanging one problem for another, are we in fact looking down the wrong end of a telescope?

I read recently that America is to spend billions of dollars updating an ageing highway network (mostly concrete) that is past its sell-by date. All to run those new zero-emission cars on, how do they square that with zero-emission driving?

How Green is Green (Part Two).

I asked the question about electric cars in part 1 are electric cars really green when you take the manufacturing costs and costs of material exploration and extraction for their manufacture, especially the batteries?

“Greenland may have said “no” to oil and gas, but its vast mineral wealth is up for grabs as the world’s biggest billionaires invest to claim metal reserves needed in the manufacture batteries.”

August 10, 2021, the Guardian.

The reason given for Greenland suspending offshore oil exploration was the dangers of climate change, (although after 50 dry holes drilled you may say it was because no oil was ever found there). Now Greenland has opened itself up to mineral mining, mainly those minerals used in the manufacture of batteries and other components of electric vehicles.

Bluejay Mining and KoBold Metals have formed a joint venture backed by American billionaires (Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezon and Ray Dalio, founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates is the principal investor in the privately held KoBold) with an investment of $15 million to explore (and if found) exploit Greenland for nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum (Cobalt is essential in the manufacture of electric car batteries).

“Greenland’s Ministry of Mineral Resources announced on 15th July (2021) that Greenland remains committed to developing the vast mineral potential, but that it was in the process of drafting legislation to ban exploration and extraction of uranium, and that the country would also no longer issue licenses to explore for oil and gas”

Well that all right then, we get our electric cars, not gas guzzlers, so global warming fixed, really?

In December 2020, Greenland opened three new offshore areas for applications of oil and gas exploitation licenses: Buffin Bay, Disko West and Davis Strait.

However, in April 2021, Greenland’s current government, led by the Inuit Atagatigiit party, was elected on a pledge to mitigate climate change, (now where have I heard that line before? Em, oh yes, I remember, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, who still wishes to extract oil from the seas around Scotland). Greenland is the world’s largest island, home to a population of 57,000 and though semiautonomous, depends on Denmark for two-thirds of its state budget.

Now you can not blame a country that is dependent on another countries handouts to keep it afloat financially, to want to exploit any natural resources it may, or may not have, in helping close its financial black hole. But this is not about Greenland, it is about Global Warming and electric cars that are being promoted by manufacturing companies and governments as our saviour, Zero Emission cars. Is this really a step in the right direction?

So for the final time, I ask How Green is Green?

Now I have said something about forestry in the past but worth mentioning again – are we going in the right direction on Global Warming.

A quarter of Estonia’s forestland is at imminent risk from a major logging increase, aided by “flexibilities” in EU rules that the Baltic state championed. Climate Home News.

A decade ago you could not get a mortgage on a house that was built by anything other than them employing traditional methods of building, no-fine, timber frame, were two such construction methods that came under such definition. So builders built with bricks and mortar. There has been a big turnaround in that time, now the main form of housebuilding around the world is timber-frame, many built within a factory system and transported to site as a complete package, fully fitted out with first and second fixings.

The demand for construction timber has soared (as has the price) – where does this leave Global Warming?

The scars of clear-fell are plain to see across Estonia,

All in says work

the demand for wood is already changing the landscape. Logging in Estonia’s has tripled in the past decade. The European Commission expects Estonia’s forests to become a net carbon source by 2030, rather than a sink, as they are today.

Before, when forests were managed, the pace of change was slow, trees were planted as trees were removed. But modern commercial forestry is different, you do not select trees to cut, or plant and cut on rotation, you send in a harvester, capable of cutting and stacking 1000 trees per day, seven days a week – 365 days a year. That is a lot of trees, this is clear-felling, on steroids.

20 per cent, or Estonia’s great forests have already been clear felled, regardless of thickness. They say they do re-plant as they go, but replanting will never keep up with the large volumes cut down. And regeneration will be counted in decades. Once the country bristled with pine. Aspen, spruce and birch, all flourished under Soviet rule. Something is changing in Estonia’s hinterland today. As small forest owners, (mostly elderly) are selling off their forests to the big companies for 50 to 60 euros a tree. Clear felling in this way it will take 80 years to get the forest back.

Estonia has the EU’s second-most intensively farmed forests (after Belgium), with logging making up 91% of forest activity. It is also the most carbon-intensive country – dependent heavily on shale oil for its electricity.

To meet EU green targets, the Baltic state burns biomass for the vast majority of renewable energy – 96% in 2012 – and more will be needed by 2030. A billion-euro “biorefinery” is due to open in 2022, it will be churning wood into pulp for applications including power generation.

This will cause a catastrophic spike in deforestation under the banner of Renewable Energy.

UN climate science reports that the EU’s plans would increase global warming for decades to centuries, even when wood replaces coal, oil or natural gas.

We have been here before and still, lessons go unlearned. By 1850 the uses of wood for bioenergy helped drive the deforestation of western Europe even at a time when Europeans consumed relatively little energy. (the great forests of Scotland all disappeared around that time, the wood used as fuel, pit props, the land cleared for sheep). Coal saved the forests of Europe, but is the solution to Global Warming to go back to wood burning? Hardly.

“Of course people have problems with clear-cutting”

Said, Marku Lamp, the deputy chancellor of Estonia’s environment minister.

“This is something that we must address more by (explaining) what is behind those forests management practices and why we need them…. We also have a really clear obligation for forest owners to reforest their clear-cut areas” lamp added.

Well, that’s all right then. When the forest has gone along with the present owners, cash in their pockets from the sale of the forest, what then minister?

We are so hypercritical, calling out the people of the Amazon Rain Forests for cutting down the worlds largest carbon sink, yet turning a blind eye to what is going on in our own backyard.

Stay safe.

“It’s Tureen The Queen Had Four Marries”

Woke up this morning feeling good, today I will wean myself off drugs, by going turkey, may even try some. The weather looks rough out, high winds and clouds whizzing past. No cycling today that’s for certain.

I sat up until 2 am finishing the history of Mary Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser. This book should be compulsory reading in every Scottish school, for this is, on only, an in-depth book about the life of Mary Queen of Scots. But European history, brought to life, at around the time that Mary was alive. And to a greater of lesser degree, shows how little has changed in the mindset of those who rule over us today.

On reaching France, Mary, ‘the little half-royal cuckoo well and truly in the royal nest’ was shielded from the world and for the next six years her life took on a dream-like quality.

In those times it was essential that a household the size of the royals’ should move every few months in order that the castle should be more of less spring-cleaned. So Mary would embark on a series of glamorous journeys.

Housed in Saint-Germain in January, April they would journey to Fontainebleau, May return to Saint-Germain. October Mantes-sur-Seine, and by the 24th of November, they found themselves housed in Bury in Touraine (to avoid the epidemic). By the following April they had moved to Meudon at the palace of Blois, Mary attended the court in June then back to Blois, and in January the King himself took the royal children to Sait-Germain.

If Mary did remember anything of the small dark castles of Scotland the French palaces must have seemed very grand, this was another world. James V’s palace at Falkland, originally built in the royal passion for hinting, is a far cry from the spender of Fontainebleau built as a hunting lodge. Mary growing up in such spender, how could she ever understand that this was not the reality, that she would face if she returned to claim the Scottish crown.

Why was Mary such a threat to England? When Mary Tudor, (queen of England) died leaving no children, her throne was inherited by her half-sister Elizabeth (an unmarried woman of twenty-five). Therefore, until such times as Elizabeth married and had a child of her own, Mary was thus the next heiress to the English throne, for she was descended from her great-grandfather Henry V11 of England. But the situation was more complicated for although Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry V111 and his second wife Anne Boleyn, his devoice from his first wife, Catharine of Aragon was never recognised by the Catholic Church, therefore making Elizabeth illegitimate, no crown for the illegitimate sons and daughters of kings or queens. So Mary not Elizabeth should have inherited the English throne. Well no, you see Henry in his will had stopped the throne from going to anyone who was deemed a foreigner – which by English standards also put the kibosh on Mary inheriting the crown. No good would come of this.

Mary had been brought up all her life as a queen in waiting, she had married the French King so was Queen of Scotland and now married to the King of France, and by right (as she saw it) the English throne, had the King not been so frail, and had been able to produce a child with Mary, her life could have been so different. But, is that not a tread running through the whole of Scottish history, much like the name through a stick of Blackpool rock, “If only”.

On the return of Mary to Scotland, Scotland was a country controlled by ruthless warlords that would stop at nothing to further their own position and wealth. Mary would have to quickly form alliances. She knew nothing of the politics of Scotland, did not have the wealth of the French crown behind her and religious reformation was taking place.

The reformation was still in its infancy, (still not adopted as the state religion) so the reformers were afraid that Mary becoming queen would turn the country against the new religion and back to Rome. She thought she had solved that problem by saying that her people could worship as they wished – but she herself would keep the faith. (in Egypt today, a Muslim country, they wear the veil lightly, this is what Mary hoped for Scotland). But tolerance was not to be, and Knox would not let up, putting all his energies into casting Mary as the Pope’s Whore.

Marriage for Mary was not about love or pleasure – but about politics. A strong husband, that was acceptable to Elizabeth and had the backing of the Lords, could give her an heir to the throne was what was wanted in a marriage. She set about making a list.

One such suitor was Darnley, she liked him but did not see him as a husband at first. That was until Darnley took ill, it was said at the time to be smallpox, but was in fact syphilis. Mary nursed him through those long dark nights, and in the process fell head over heels in love with the fellow. She married Darnley, against the wishes of her advisors and her marries

“Don’t do it ‘My Queen” they cried, “It will be a disaster” and so it proved.

Elizabeth was infuriated by the marriage. It was a disaster, for he was a weakling full of his own importance and gullible and easy prey, for ruthless lords to exploit.

The violent death of Riccio, dragged as he was from her petticoat and stabbed viciously to death, must have opened her eyes to the danger that she herself faced at the hands of such men that it seemed would stop at nothing to attain the power they craved.

The gunpowder plot to kill the king by “Bothwell and his gang” that turned out to be another disaster for the king escaped the explosion only to be caught and strangled to death, so did not look like an accident, explosions do not strangle people, leaving the evidence behind to be found.

The abduction and rape of the queen by Bothwell, and the hasty marriage that followed even although his first divorce was not fully lawful. Showed her in a very poor light and implicated her in the eyes of many that she was party to the murder of her husband.

(two things to remember, Bothwell had shown her a letter signed by the Lord that they had approved of the marriage, and he had their full support, she, therefore, must have looked on Bothwell as a man able to control the Lords in Scotland. If rape had taken place, then Mary would not wish her child to be a bastard.)

Then the abduction and imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle,

Loch Leven Castle

by the Lords that was the gang that was closely associated with the kings murder, needed her out of the way so that they could rule as a junta in Scotland.

Escaping from Loch Leven Castle into England was “out of the frying pan and into the fire” the junta in Scotland did not want her back, Elizabeth certainly did not want her in England.

The Casket Letters produced and doctored, said to show that Mary Stuart had an adulterous liaison with Bothwell before the death of Darnley and her guilty foreknowledge of the murder was the reason given for her imprisonment, although it was not so much imprisonment but held until all the facts about the matter were cleared up. A sort of trial was held and no one was found to be guilty, Mary was not guilty of having any prior knowledge, in the murder of her husband, the king. Moray was found not guilty of begin a rebel and abducting the queen for his own ends, to rule in her place as regent. Mary was never allowed to see the letters, or answer the allegation against her. So on the 31st January, the inquire ended what was one of the strangest judicial proceedings in the history of The British Isles. With a verdict of not proven given to both parties, yet one plaintiff allowed to return freely to Scotland (with £5,000.00 in his pocket) and rule in the place of the other plaintiff, who in the meantime continued to he held a prisoner.

So we have the long drawn out saga for Mary’s19 years in captivity in England, ended with the changing of the law to make it possible to try Mary for treason if anyone (known or unknown to Mary) plotted against their queen. There would be no escape for Mary, any plot (and there were many manufactured) that involved a threat to Elizabeth and the crown and Mary would be implicated and tried for treason and executed. And as soon as Mary answered the letter from Babington her fate was sealed, Walsingham had set a trap and Mary fell into it, he even draw a noose on the letter when he received it.

Fotheringhay Castle where Mary was beheaded

If Mary had participated in any treasonable activities in England, where she was in any case, a prisoner, held against her will, the remedy (although never considered) was to expel her from the country. The judicial proceedings for trying a sovereign presented enormous difficulties by English common law. In England it was the foundation-stone of justice that every man had the right to be tried by his peers; Mary being a queen had no peers in England, except Elizabeth herself. No one could be said to be the equal of an anointed queen.

But by the time that the parliament had all its ducks in a row to get rid of this tiresome wench, Mary was a middle-aged woman of forty (old for that time). She had been kept in harsh conditions and prone to long illnesses, and now suffered from rheumatism, which made her a partial cripple, the lack of exercise did not help in this.

We hear all along how Mary would take to her bed for long days and months. Become easily upset and melancholy. At first sight this is hardly surprising for a woman in her state of mind, and having to deal with circumstanced outwith her control on a day to day basis.

Antonia Fraser breathed new light on the subject.

The exact medical causes of Mary’s undoubted ill-health have been a subject of several modern investigations. It used to be suggested that her symptoms corresponded most nearly with those suffering from a gastric ulcer. But recently Drs Ida Macalpine and Richard Haunter, working on a group of diseases known as porphyria, have identified the recurrent illness of George 11 as belonging to it. An important aspect of this disorder is that it is hereditary, being transmitted as a Mendelian dominant character, showing itself in varying degrees of severity, they have traced back similar symptoms to George 11’s ancestor and ancestress James V1 and Mary Queen of Scots.”

Mary probably inherited it from her father James V for he was known to become very melancholy, and after losing the battle he had taken to his bed in Falkland Palace and turned his face to the wall.

It would certainly make sense about her day to day life, and of course not only George 11 (depicted in the film “The madness of King George”) but we know that Princess Margaret, (sister of the present Queen Elizabeth 1st and 2nd.) suffered from porphyria.

What an eye-opener this book has been for me, it has taken a while to get through it, in dribbles and drabs, but well worth the effort, for it is a study rather than a good read.

Mary’s fate was sealed as soon as she crossed the Solway Firth and onto English soil, why did she choose this route? We are told she had second thought as the boatman brought her across asking him to take her instead to France. However it was too late for that, the tide was against them and carrying them ever onwards onto the English shore. She could have gone to France where she had the support of her extended family, money and property. But she truly believed that Elizabeth would send her home at the head of a great army and reinstate her on her throne in Scotland, her upbringing has prepared her from birth on how to be a queen, but had left her totally unprepared, for the power game, that was ruthlessly played out by Queens and Lords, in this foreign land.

Stay safe.

Not In My Name Nicola Sturgeon.

Thursday and the weather is looking fine after overnight rain, as for my, well I’m much better but still a bit wobbly. Well wrapped up I spent an hour tiding up in the garden. Everything has been late or struggled to even survive. Was it the overnight frost in early spring, the hot dry summer months, or the poor soil condition, (you will be hard pressed to find a worm anywhere in the garden) possibly a combination of all three? Next year will be better, we travel hopefully.

And advert has just appeared on the television, (I have it on with the sound muted) Martian Bell, of UNICEF is doing the rounds of some refugee camp, we are entertained to poor children dying from disease and starvation in war torn Yemen, and how your donations could help save a child.

Why should they invade my paradise,

And stare at me with their dying eyes?

If not this one you will have seen many such appeals over the years form Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Palestine and tomorrow, who knows Afghanistan. And what do all these failed states have in common, they are all war torn.

The UK government claims it has one of the world’s most “rigorous and robust” arms export control regimes. If that were so then it would be easy to know the value of arms sales around the world each year by British companies, nothing could be further from the truth. We have SIEL (single individual export licences) which are easy to track. Then you have OIEL (open individual export licence) which are anything but open. OGEL (open general export licence) allows companies that register and fulfil certain conditions, to export an unlimited amount of wide categories of equipment, often to a long list of countries. OGELs are valid indefinitely. Open licenses contain no information on the quantity or financial value of equipment exported, so open they certainly are not.

The British taxpayer is complicit in the suffering of people in Yemen and other parts of the world through arms sales, war crimes are being commuted in their name, is this really how you wish your tax-pounds to be spent?

Former US defence Secretary, James Matthis, quoted on Millitary.com

“There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do. It’s just business”

Democrats in Congress are introducing legislation to transfer $1billion worth of funding from a controversial new ballistic missile programme to the development of of a universal Covid vaccine. The “ground-based strategic deterrent” missile system is expected to cost $264 billion. The Guardian, 25/03/2021.

A Microsoft deal to build customised HoloLens goggles for the U.S. Army is to go ahead. Last year the Senate considered freezing the sale. The deal is thought to be worth around $22 billion. Bloomberg, 31/03/2021.

This is just two examples of big bucks being spend by the US government on behalf of the American taxpayer, is this really how you wish your tax-dollars to be spent?

As for Scotland,

The Scottish Government is still providing funding and support for arms companies, including many that have profited from the brutal bombardment of Yemen.

It will take a lot of donations to UNICEF to sort this lot our in Yemen, Nicola.

In the last financial year the Scottish Government’s business promotion unit, Scottish Enterprise, gave £700,000 worth of funding to arms companies. The biggest beneficiary was Leonaredo, which accounted for £500,000 worth of grants. It is one of the biggest arms companies in the world and a partner in the Euro-fighter consortium which produces the Typhoon jets being used by Saudi forces in Yemen.

With a new minority SNP government taking office, we need to ensure that we keep up the pressure and call for Scotland to lead the way by ending support for war profiteers, and instead, support the children of Yemen.

Sorry, Martian (Bell,) but I will not be sending money in order to help alleviate the suffering of children in Yemen. If you really wish to safe the children of Yemen, you need to target your adverts at those responsible for bombing hell out of Yemen, and the people that are complicit by their support, and who make it possible to do so, by selling arms. The US Government, The British Government, and the SNP Government, in Scotland.

Not in my name, Nicola Sturgeon.

Stay safe.

 The invaders have the guns, but we have the time.

I had survived the coronavirus pandemic over the past 18 months, then I was felled by toothache, and just when I felt it was safe to go back in the water, I woke on Monday, unable to breathe through my nose. I had a head full of porridge and lugs full of cotton wool, help ma boab. My hearing was so bad I could not hear anything that anyone said to me, as for the television, everyone in the block, bar me, could hear it, hopeless.

I put the washing in the machine and headed over to Superdrug, and bought Sudafed and Lemsip. In my youth mum would make up a hot lemon drink with sugar, even the fumes of the cup would help comfort.

Once the clothes were out of the machine I doped myself up and went back to bed. It was afternoon by the time I rose. I tried reading, watching television but could not concentrate on anything so more dope and back into bed. This became the routine through Monday into Tuesday, Tuesday into Wednesday. It was almost dawn when I opened my eyes on Wednesday morning, and found I was breathing cold air in through my nose. I was back fighting once more, (with all the force and affect of a pink powder puff), After a shower and clean clothes I felt much better and made some scrambled egg and toast, and really enjoyed it, I suspect I was hungry after three days of fasting.

I was still very weak and lay on top of my bed for a while in the late morning, sitting at my computer this afternoon, with a toilet roll beside me, for I seemed to be blowing my brains out when suddenly my nose gushed with blood. Great, I thought, a good sign that this cold is on the wane.

Maybe I had been weakened more than I appreciated with my toothache, leaving myself wide open to the first bug that came along, I’m only thankful that was not coronavirus. Then again I have not stopped doing my impersonation of Doctor Kildare, am I giving my age away again? Not really people only have my mental age to go by.

The kind of month I’ve had, “It may as well rain until September”

I have not been watching much television, but I did watch a documentary from Inside Afghanistan, people are so poor there is a growing black market in organ donations. Men and women lined up to show large scares where kidneys had been removed to keep food on the table. One small boy of 10 showed his scar where they had removed his kidney. How can we the invaders justify this?

The US went to war in Afghanistan to – as they told us – protect us from terrorists, are we now protected from terrorists? America went into Afghanistan, on the pretence of bringing peace and prosperity to the people. 20 years on and after Trillions of dollars of American taxpayers money, Thousands killed, the people of Afghanistan so poor they are having to sell their children’s organs in order to survive. Then when it all became a to political back home in the good old US of A, like Vietnam, the US abandons these people.

Where are all the schools, hospitals, democracy they were promised, President Biden?

First the French tried to colonise Afghanistan and failed. Then the British, in 1842 they lost a whole army there. The Russians in 1979. then after 9/11 the Americans. Centuries of fighting, killing and dying, and now all these years on, the people of Afghanistan are having to sell their kidneys to survive. Shame on us.

You will never control Afghanistan for the Taliban have a saying –

“The invaders have the guns, but we have the time”.

Sadly at the time of the Afghan invasion, the media was controlled, there would be daily briefings, however if the army did not like the way you were reporting the news, you would not be invited back to any briefing. So the American people, as it was here in the UK, were really kept in the dark about what was going on.

They gathered the crippled, the wounded, the maimed,

And they shipped us back home to America,

The armless, the legless, the blind and insane,

We brave wounded heroes of Afghanistan,

The Star-Spangled Banner played out loud and clear,

As they carried us down the gangway,

But nobody cheered, they just stood and they stared,

Then turned their faces away.

Afghanistan: After Trump’s ‘rotten’ deal, what incentive is there for the Taliban to negotiate?

As for the British. I was born during a war and there has never been a time in my life when there was not conflict somewhere around the world and the British right there in the thick of it all. Maybe, just maybe, the two great challenges in our world today, the pandemic and global warming will knock heads together and we as a world will start to come together as one collective people and start to work together for the good of all. That would be my hope, but don’t hold your breath.