Edinburgh Festival

My annual trip to Edinburgh Fringe. Bought some tickets, went to see some free shows, had a few beers.

First stop was Matt Abbott, 2 Little Ducks. Spoken word, funny and thought provoking


Also went to see Alan Bissett in his Moira Monologues. A really funny show.





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Merry Xmas and the Scrooge of Relative Deprivation

And so this is Xmas. Another year over:-

My New Year resolution is to help people who appear imprisoned by “Relative Deprivation”. This seems to strike at folk who form their impressions and comparisons in the world by what is local and around them rather than lifting their heads and looking ahead and thinking globally.

I look back at when I was a kid and we all say that we were poor but happy…and then joke that we never knew any better!! Who would know that sociologists have been trying to figure this out for 70 years!

I never realised that it was true. Until I read about the Paradox of the Happy Peasant and Miserable Millionaires:-


And then realised that somehow “society” is fuelling our sense of “grievance and envy” as we look around and see other people with easier / better/ jobs, grander/better houses, etc etc etc

But that way leads to bitterness and madness….as I found out at the end of my studying with the finding that the happiest places have the highest rates of suicide? What’s that about:-


So the Xmas message is not to worry about the bigger present or better phone or nicer clothes or perfect night out….Just do nice things for nice people.

I’ll be in the kitchen!!

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Good Drunk Drivers? 17%

The law on alcohol and driving changed at the weekend….so in fear and self loathing the car has sat in the driveway since!

It seems that 17% of breath test failures are the morning after and 40% of people have no idea they would be likely to fail


So is this change a meaningful contribution to road safety and public health or just another creeping attempt to criminalise us all?

Recall that when using a phone was made an offence in 2003 it was £30 and it was supposed to be all about education. 4 years later the fine was doubled and now it can be up to a £1000 fine and penalty points. Hardly any education and a total boost to the insurance industry where 3 points puts £100 on your insurance quote!

New limits are described here (for reference)


I have no time for drink driving; but are there bad drunk drivers and good drunk drivers? Yes!

I’ve noticed the statistic of 20 people dying every year in accidents.

Rospa details the hundreds of deaths of cyclists. Where is the priority?


The point is we need a lot more designed safety and education rather than the big blunt instrument.

Setting targets for things like driving licence crimes, such as failing to notify the DVLA of an address change just pisses people off.





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Paying the Licence Fee of the BBC.

I came across this blog in my search for the truth about “Corporation Tax” and the scare story that because a business would move it’s HQ from Scotland then we would lose the tax they pay.

I don’t know much about taxation but I always thought the principle was that you pay such tax where you traded (not where you were “domiciled”. Anyway, it seems my tenuous grasp of taxation is still light years ahead of people earning 6 figure salaries at the BBC:-


There were a flurry of complaints about this Nick Robinson v Salmond spat.

what has really disturbed me is the BBC answer to such complaints. The answer quoted below does nothing to respond to the actual level of competence and trust of their employee. We really need organisations that own up and say…”OK that was a daft question!”


In my view the publicly funded BBC has lost the hearts and minds of many Scottish viewers. I know after next week I’ll be asking them a few questions about why I should support them with my annual payment when they appear little better than Fox News these days.

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The important things this weekend:-

1. Craig Gordon came for more crosses in the last 10 minutes of the game against Aberdeen than Fraser Forster did in a season!

2. There were 7 young swans in the boating pond up the park. Well done them for surviving SpringburnCreated with Nokia Smart Cam

3. I remembered to put out my recycling. Come the revolution I want my bins emptied during the week, Sunday collection is just uncivilised!

4. Watch Doctor Who…..missed it last night!!

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Commonwealth Games: Free Stuff

The best way to get us involved is to appeal to the “Scottish Purse”.

This means free stuff!!

Next month we have the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It might make the poor souls locked out of their houses or stranded in their shops to know that there is a lot of other stuff going on:-

Here’s a wee list of FREE music during the Games:-

Thursday, July 24: The Parsonage Choir (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/the-parsonage-choir
Friday, July 25: The Cinnamon Girls (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/the-cinnamon-girls
Friday, July 25: Celtic Connections at Glasgow Green (Glasgow Green) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/celtic-connections-at-glasgow-green
Friday, July 25: The Shiverin’ Sheiks (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/the-shiverin-sheiks
Saturday. July 26: Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/roddy-hart-the-lonesome-fire
Saturday. July 26: James Yorkston (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/james-yorkston
Saturday. July 26: Lake Of Stars (Glasgow Green) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/lake-of-stars-at-festival-2014
Monday, July 28: The Starry Skies (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/the-starry-skies
Tuesday, July 29: Rachel Sermanni with the Cairn String Quartet (Glasgow Green)
Tuesday, July 29: RSNO: Classical Gala performing music from ET, Superman, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and with Rachel Sermanni (Glasgow Green) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/rsno-classical-gala
Thursday, July 31: From Scotland With Love (King Creosote) (Glasgow Green) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/from-scotland-with-love
Thursday, July 31: Horse (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/horse
Friday, August 1: Remember Remember (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/remember-remember
Saturday, August 2: James Grant (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/james-grant
Saturday, August 2: Willie Campbell (Kelvingrove Bandstand)
Saturday, August 2: Monica Queen (Kelvingrove Bandstand) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/monica-queen
August 2-3: East End Social presents Glasgow Mix Tape featuring Lloyd Cole, Admiral Fallow, Edwyn Collins, The Phantom Band, The Bluebells, Errors, The Amphetameanies, Penman Jazzmen (Glasgow Green) http://www.glasgow2014.com/culture/event/glasgow-mix-tape

As well as these events at Glasgow Green and the Kelvingrove Bandstand there is a host of events on at the BBC at the Quay:-


These are the usual “Free” but you need to apply.

But let’s not take away from the main events: The Marathon on Sunday July 27th and the Bike Race on Sunday 3rd August will be great “FREE” days out!

Not forgetting the Triathlon at Strathclyde Park on the 24th July.

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Why I’m a lukewarm Labour Supporter

I was at the Labour Party Conference at the weekend and sat in on the address by Johann Lamont, the leader. There was some policy speak but most of the address was rhetoric with the obligatory appearance of family onto the stage. All very good.

But I found it hard to be enthusiastic and I spent the whole train journey home wondering how I’d lost my “mojo”.

I came to the conclusion that after so many years of trying to convince others to vote a certain way and then being let down and seeing the promises made breached; I have no right to badger other people and I’ve lost trust and confidence in whether the political thoughts I have will ever be put into place in the UK.

The reasons for this is that I was involved in the Trade Union Movement through the 80’s (in my 20’s). I spent the 90’s hoping for a Labour Victory, campaigning against the Poll Tax and standing for Labour in impossible seats!! I learnt a first lesson during the 1992 General Election campaign when I recall some documents coming out from Labour Leadership suggesting it might be “difficult” to remove the Council Tax. to the credit of the Party grassroots there was a groundswell of letters saying “just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we can’t do it”. But it was an insight for me into how politicians are more interested in power and compromise.

Anyway the 1992 Election was lost, Poor John Smith came and went and we had Tony Blair. I went to see Blair speak and recall he said he had 3 aims:- Devolution for Scotland, Minimum Wage, Reform of house of Lords. (nearly done them). And said more socialist plans (like taking railways back into public ownership etc would come later).
So we took him at his word (not wanting a Yo Yo government were the Tories got back in and reversed any policies)

But the Manifesto from 1997 was not implemented properly. Started allowing fees to be charged on tuition (when the manifesto spoke about maintenance) and the pledges on Railways being run for customers and regulated just did not happen.

So fast forward to 2001, another General Election win then we have 11 September 2001. In between we had Devolution for Scotland and local government elections. I’m now in my 40’s and campaigning for Blair government saying they will deliver on promises.

Then we get Iraq war, and I find many of my Labour colleague won’t campaign and indeed, leave the party. I took this guy all around Deeside but he left:-


2003 and the Iraq war …and I’m still Labour and still going about talking the good talk. I am one of only 20 people who stand in the Aberdeenshire local government elections (for almost 70 constituencies). No votes there!!

In 2004 Labour government brings in tuition fees:-


This is all quite depressing..but actually the worst for me is nearer to my work.

I’ve replied to 3 consultations in my life about consumer credit. The consultation on the 2006 Consumer Credit Act proposed a cap on interest rates.

On 8 August 2007 (I was now 47) A Labour government said they had no plans to cap interest rates:- (item 8 in these FAQ’s)


We now know in 2014 that if Labour had stuck to the convictions of it’s members then we would not have the scandal of the Pay Day lenders that blight our High Streets today.

So I’m a lukewarm supporter. I like to meet like minds and love the enthusiasm but I don’t have the confidence to convince. I look at the debate on Independence just now and thing….” The trouble with this world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”.

I wish I could be as confident and brass necked as some of the people I watched yesterday but I don’t have it in me.

Maybe I’m just getting old!!

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