Alex Salmond

(A small chuckle at having the option of placing Salmond in the Center, Left or Right)

    AFTER THE 2014 referendum on independence what are the facts?: 55% of the turnout voted NO, 45% voted YES.
The ten percent difference is not indicative of a large disapproval of independence, but decisive enough to end Salmond’s reign as SNP leader and the dreams of many.
What saddens me is the NO vote was never about Scotland’s best interests and anyone who thinks it was, is stepping out into a delusion. When has England, let alone Wales and Northern Ireland, ever cared about Scotland’s welfare unless there was something in it for them? That is the crux of the issue for me in the decision to go solo or remain a part of average, I mean good, no, I mean ‘Great’ Britain.

Certainly Salmond could have had a more transparent financial solution to going indy. I think that in itself may have been his downfall. People started worrying about what currency they’d be using. What implications would this have for savings etc? As if somehow Scotland would become independent and not have a currency to use, as if the SNP were that stupid and disorganised. It’s almost laughable. People do not think like that however, people want concrete this or that, the simple A or B option. Anything else confuses a lot of people.

There was a huge amount of short termism at play alongside voters being suckered in by fear tactics – nothing gets them like fear! Salmond never promised instant returns and improvements to life (in the 14th wealthiest nation out of 200+). Independence is the long game, it’s a vision for the future as well as today. All the UK, Westminster and lobbying-Better Together campaigners care about is short term profits, Scotlands oil resources and…actually there is no and, that about sums it up.

The United Kingdom has never been fully at ease as a union barring perhaps WWI and WWII when we were forced to repel genuine threats to our countries (not perceived threats from, let’s say, Afghanistan). There are of course benefits to being part of a four country merger, no rational person can deny that, just as there are pros and cons to everything in life. Again, the main issue is that Scotland is not getting a government that we voted for.

Voting for independence is a chance for self rule, a chance to influence your nation, a chance for 5million Scots to feel accountable for the society they live in, an opportunity to feel like we are in control of the ship through whatever seas lie ahead. As part of the union we are anchored to England which means London in essence.

I live in Leith. It is about three miles from Holyrood. Westminster is over 400 miles away. Which one am I more likely going to be able to feel connected to and influence? It’s a no brainer. Even the north of England feel totally disconnected.

What has been lost? A golden chance for Scotland to govern itself in full, without having to worry about what London thinks. A chance to govern five million people – surely that is preferable to being run by a UK government (Scotland never elected) that deals with 64 million+?

a good ear

 

   I SAT OPPOSITE my wife in a steakhouse – in itself not the most intriguing anecdote to be retold at parties – we were waiting for our drinks order. A rum and coke for myself, a G&T for her in case you wondered. The taxi man was driving, in case you thought we might be risking DUI.

What happened two tables down was equally Tuesday-night-dull. Two guys; one in leather, the other suited, sat down. They looked serious.

Our drinks order arrived complete with wet napkins thanks to the Parkinson’s waiter. Apart from the recent spillage his service had been great as usual. Kevin was his name, just working away like everyone else to put some cash in his paw, so he could go and get wankered Friday to Sunday.

Now, when a place is quiet, and your wife is tired from a twenty four hour shift, voices can be heard, up to at least five tables away. Leather and Suit were deeply engaged in a conversation. Not one for invasions of privacy I wasn’t deliberately earwigging, I had no Facebook in me in that regard, but you know when you overhear people talking and it is captivating and mysterious? Well theirs grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me over. Olivia was too far gone to notice.

“Did you drown the kittens?” – Suit

“Of course I did, I told you didn’t I? Trust me when I say I’ve done something, it’s unbecoming of you not to.” – Leather

“What about the everything? How many tyres are on the road?” – Suit

I shook my drink, mixing the ice and dark seven year rum just as my Olivia excused herself to go to the toilet with a weak but genuine smile.

“Tyres, tyres! It’s not about the tyres, it’s the size of the trailer.” -Suit

“If I had a Panda for every time you mentioned tyres…” – Leather

Chuckles. Some sort of inside joke.

“…but seriously, I have sunlight hitting skin allll overrr. People are feeling my heat, and yours of course.” – Leather

Kevin approached and took their order. Hungry fellas. Two 21oz sirloins and a couple of double whiskies.

“I do love steak.” – Leather

“So, did I understand Robs take? He will cut off the head if we pluck the chicken?” – Suit

“Well I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. We might not even be talking chickens because of that last agreement. But! – no matter what, he will renegotiate, because, like we’ve seen in the past, bumpers will touch bumpers and sometimes the side airbag goes off.” – Leather

Suit nodded vigorously at this evidently important point.

Olivia returned along with a new coating of lip gloss. She timidly sipped at the G&T as if there was a fly at the bottom of the glass. She said something barely audible but my ears were too busy concentrating on the convo down the way. She twisted around in her crinkly dress, wondering where my attention had gone.

“Let’s leave!” she demanded, once facing me again.

I had little choice. What do you say in this circumstance? Sorry my lovely, but I was most intrigued by the indecipherable and insane back and forth of those two suspect characters…do give me a minute.

I downed my juice, slapped twenty five on the table, slipped my wife and myself into our jackets and headed out, past the two guys. I heard one last string of words before I left.

“..well, I’ve heard the wife is called Olivia. No idea what he looks like, shouldn’t be hard to track him though…small town, tight community. Once the cement sets we’ll be under a moon far away… shame about the kids..” – Leather

scotland-referendum-   WELL, ONLY AN hour and a half to go until the final votes disappear into the ballot boxes across Scotland.

Irrespective of the outcome, there are huge positives to the referendum:

  • Record turnout of voters
  • People are talking politics again
  • It has given Scots the chance to decide the future of the nation

In the current state of the world and the way things are going in the UK and globally, this is Scotland’s last chance for independence for decades.

Some say Scotland cannot run itself effectively, that we don’t have enough money, that the back end of a recession is not the ideal time to split from the Union. I don’t feel that these are valid or true. Scotland can run itself well and deserves the chance that every nation should get: to govern itself 100%.

Scaremongering from the Better Together has been the epicentre of all of their campaign, classic fear tactics by a London centric Tory government who are scared of Scotland breaking away and for their own selfish reasons do not want independence to happen. Sadly Northern Ireland and Wales have barely been mentioned in the entire run up to the referendum tonight, as if they don’t exist in the supposed ‘United’ Kingdom or ‘Great’ Britain. The British Empire has been in steep decline for decades and Scotland leaving the Union is another indicator that external governance is no longer an acceptable state of being for a nation, but is in fact a modern step toward self rule.

Let us see where the cross of a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ takes Scotland and the UK. What will be will be.

 

sun

A repost to take the edge off autumn :)

The Shining

Ra’s rays cascade,

A dying star, firing Vitamin D past my face,

All the way beyond, to the grass blades,

On which I lie, denying them the promiscuous light,

It wins every staring contest, ridiculous, too bright

So I close my eyes, absorbing it’s comfort as ‘lids turn rose red

Winter killed off the flowers, now it resurrects a rose bed

Burning incessantly, turning skin pleasantly, darker

Until I’m ready to scarper from the park

Awaiting the moon to reflect its glory after,

Plucking it from the sky, for turning the horizon pink.

 

 

big words   I HAVE READ good books; my eyes have been cast across pages of bad books, and those inbetween – regardless of writing style, the stories can be brilliantly told and executed. But sometimes, from time to time, when busting out a short story, I start to worry that my product is basic and not at all like the ‘mature’ books or classics beloved by nobody (well a few, because they were told they were classics ergo quality writing).

Ok, ok, I don’t really want to write like Dickens or Thomas Hardy, their writing styles are irrelevant in our age of books – I’m not saying they aren’t fantastic examples of literature from that era. The prose is sluggish and difficult to get through. People had more time then to develop characters and describe every crack in the floor of someones house, or the number of stitches in someone’s jacket. Books were different then but well used language provided it isn’t excessive, is a delight to read.

What I really mean is I find it difficult/ troublesome/ problematic/ or operose writing stories that are sufficiently verbose to interest the reader and keep everything interesting, without arrogantly overusing large words to make myself seem more intelligent. It seems to be a fine balance. An OCD part of me cringes everytime I use ‘the’, ‘and’ or other basic words, yet they are obviously necessary and I didn’t have a problem with these until someone pointed it out – not in my own writing- but in someone else’s.

Do you simply keep a thesaurus handy and add in the odd juicy word? It shouldn’t be forced obviously, and of course there are writers who stick to ordinary language like Stephen King, who’s a real up and comer so I’ve heard. What’s your verdict when it comes to bolstering your writing while avoiding looking like a spelling bee’s practice sheet?

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<pLET IT GO. You can operate without it. I know for a fact that there will be times when I am tired and lacking in the mental energy to write interesting material whether fictional or real. While my wandering creativity can sometimes have the reliable nature of a pet cat that lives near a busy motorway, when my mind is engaged and full of ideas jostling to exit my headspace, then, I can get my ideas out, often enough to inspire a dozen new posts.

I don’t even have to publish them in one swoop, I can save them for another date so I have a steady stream of posts throughout the week or month. If I pump out six posts in one day, my viewing figures might not be as great as if I released a couple a day for three days.

I actually wrote this days ago, when I had the spare time and had already published several pieces. Just remember to create a new post, as your old draft, if published will appear in the Reader from days ago, and nobody will see it except your dedicated followers unless you change the schedule date for publishing.

 

 

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‘I’ll think about it.’ Automatically his hand was outstretched, ready to grip mine. It felt big and insincere, with all the friendliness of shaking a Grizzlies paw.

As I left the car dealer clutching his leather clipboard, to get to my not unimpressive car, I heard him mutter, ‘Fucking time waster..’

Usually these things, you let them go. To react everytime would be to have a life of daily battles beyond the standard bollocks we all face. Nobody needs it, so we slap people, mostly punch people in our minds, or maybe just say what we would have said very, very silently, spelling out the words with a silent tongue and closed mouth.

As I turned around he was walking away between two shining motors. I looked at the back of his standard-stock car dealer rippled bald head receiving a concentrated dose of sunshine as he slowly headed back inside before saying, ‘Despite the fact this is the only Maserati dealership in this country, I won’t be back.’

Caught by surprise he turned around in episodes, first a crane of the neck before facing me. A sideways glance to the side, an admission of guilt.
‘Sorry mister..’ He’d already forgotten my name.

‘Yeah, yeah. No amount of words will win back my custom.’

His face took on a sullen look as the facial muscles tensed.
‘Well, I’m sorry you heard that..’

‘But you’re not sorry you said it?’ I smiled as I fidgeted with my not unimpressive car keys.

‘See the trunk of my car?’
He looked.
‘There’s 60 grand in there. That’s right. Cash. dont go getting a semi over it. The funny thing is, I’m liking the look of the classic yellow Lambo next door, the one getting a good wash right now.’

Still he stood there, periodically chewing gum like a cow on cud. The face didn’t show it but I saw his eyes dull in an instant as he pictured sixty k, in notes, in a briefcase, in the boot.

‘Work on the people skills. At your age that investment might not be enough to earn back sixty g’s though. Ah well. Shame.’

I left him standing still and heard him spit the gum out as I turned away and remotely unlocked my car.

Did I buy the Lambo? I took it for a test drive making sure the Maserati dealership was watching. I didn’t buy it, but made sure as hell that it looked like it. The kicker is I was going to buy the Maserati after going away for a think on which colour to get. Three words cost him 60 g’s, and me 4.5 litres. Luckily for me those horses come with different badges. Manners don’t cost a thing? – well they cost him half a house.

setting you up twibbons

IN THE BUILD up to the referendum for Scottish independence there has been a massive amount of campaigning on and offline. Social media has been heavily involved in all aspects of campaigning for both the YES and No, or Aye and Nae sides. Somebody linked me to a site by twibbon which would add a YES logo to my social media profile pictures to show my support for the YES vote. Ok I thought, why not,  a simple but effective way to show my allegiance.

But when I clicked to set up my YES twibbon, what I found alarmed me. Because twibbon requests the same set of ‘permissions’ as do many other apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Google Maps. What they can potentially do:

This application will be able to:
Read Tweets from your timeline.
See who you follow, and follow new people.
Update your profile.
Post Tweets for you.

What may seem fairly innocuous is actually a full on authorisation to do what they please with your account once you have agreed to get your twibbon. Do I want them following people for me from my account? No. Do I want them to be able to update my profile? No, that’s my access and my privilege. Do I want them to post tweets for me? Definitely not, even if it is a campaign I am for. In fact I don’t know if their tweets through my account would be related to the YES campaign or would just in a general whatever they please kind of way. Regardless, my account is my own, I do not want to rent it out.

This is a pervasive practice online, getting users to agree to permissions allowing other companies or the hosts access rights to utilise your account for whatever purpose they may have. The insidious nature of these social media apps doesn’t seem to bother a lot of people, or they simply aren’t fully aware of the terms and conditions when they sign up to a new applications or website. Just be very wary. Even sites like Google Maps will want to track your location – sure it’s convenient to use but at what cost? Well, it is the classic free meal scenario. Nothing is really free, and your movement and data usage stats are all being sold or used by these huge companies to target advertising your way, perhaps the most noticeable side effect. Beyond that, your habits can and will be used for all sorts of other uses that are generating monster revenue streams. Because in the 21st century people want to know where you are, who you are with, what you eat, where you ate it, what your movements are, when you buy your shopping, how many times a week do you fill up your car etc etc etc. Twibbon? No thanks.

suits-posterSINCE I’VE STARTED watching boxsets I’ve gone through Lost, Game of Thrones, The IT Crowd, Portlandia and Breaking Bad to name some. Watching multiple episodes in a sitting, and an entire series in a matter of weeks is the newer way to consume.

It isn’t that often that I review or recommend media as there are plenty of blogs that do that job better and in more depth. Every so often though, there is something outstanding that I feel needs to be shared. What is it? – Suits. Yes, it is about lawyers, it glamorises lawyers and I’m sure puts an incredibly positive spin on being a commercial lawyer, however, I still love it. There just seems to be something of a magic element in depicting lawyers winning lawsuits, usually smarmy and cocksure. They are characters you’d hate to know in real life yet are entirely alluring in their realm of books, files and sabre tongued tete-a-tetes.

The dialogue is snappy, character development is paced to perfection and the storylines are engaging every episode (I’m 8 episodes into the first season). Dialogue is really outstanding – I’m emphasising that – with a plethora of wit, barbs and well worded retorts that will make you wish your everyday interactions were as playful and edgy.

Yeah, it is cliched in that there’s a lawyer-duo thing happening between Harvey (Gabriel Macht) and apprentice Mike (Patrick J. Adams) but there is far too much other stuff happening each episode that it doesn’t get tiring. Winning or losing cases isn’t always a straightforward issue and the script writers have done a great job in keeping the viewer guessing as to how a case will be resolved.

Really class writing and directing, a show to watch and become immersed in for 45 minutes. Now, I have 20 episodes to watch…and a suit upgrade to do. Seriously, what’s the obsession with suits?

Luskentyre

…OR MID-DISTANCE car trip. I know which one I like the sound of. I’ll be away for a week from civilisation, if civilisation can be defined as the presence of wi-fi, a coffee shop nearby and neighbours you never knew existed despite them having lived directly below you for years.

I don’t think I’ll be posting anything while I’m on holiday with my girlfriend, so this is me putting up the ‘CLOSED’ sign, a gone fishing kinda thing, although the only fish I’ll have will be in a restaurant – caught by someone else.

A road trip around Scotland isn’t exotic, but it’ll be a welcome break for both of us (plus look at the pic!). It is about time we faced the midgies and all that they can muster. I’m half tempted to take up smoking again to keep them at bay. You might think a strictly mythical beast like Nessie would be the scarier prospect, but no, midgies, the mosquitoes of the north can be horrific and are harder to kill.

Of course I may attempt to hunt a haggis or ‘haggi’ as I believe the collective term is, we’ll see how successful that is – not sure how much the hunting permits are and if it is even in season. Might have a perusal of the odd home, or castle as we call them. The nice thing about being in a car is we can stop anytime and go anywhere, there’s no transport to catch or deadlines to meet. I’m sure I’ll think of some interesting writing projects and ideas while in the Highlands.

So I bid you adieu for a week and thank you to all my readers, commenters, and followers known or otherwise :)