The last post. 2007. That was my year that was.


As I head off to enjoy, with a heavy cold, the Hogmanay celebrations it’s time to bring the 2007 blog to an end.

Looking back on the year one thing will rise above all other memories of 2007, the passing away of my father.

A great man who had a great send off.

Saturday past was a poignant ending to the year as we committed his ashes and closed a half open door. My Mum, all of my sisters, Jeana, Denny and James were there at a simple ceremony that was just right.

I have said much on this subject , but it can be summed up here.

The Hibees winning their first cup in 16 years was a great highlight too, but slightly marred by the aftermath and then JC’s ‘walking on water’ turning into ‘JC plays Judas’ in December.

Shame on you JC.

A full year of working for myself was very rewarding and proved I can bring the family up at the same time. That meant a lot to me.

As did my 78 on The Queens Course in November and my 78 at Ratho in August, my first ever single-figure-above-par golf round.

Amy’s Standard Grade results were outstanding and made both Jeana and I very proud, as did Tom with his pre-eminence on the golf course and Ria’s determination on the Gymnastics floor. She finally achieved that elusive bridged kick-over during the summer but was once again thwarted in her chase for a merit at her cnmpetition in November because the judges raised the bar and docked her points because her cuffs were too long.

It will happen.

Jeana’s contribution to a beautiful; Queensferry and her ability to manage the Queensferry’s non-gardening population in a rendition of Strictly Come Cat Herding was worthy of merit.

In books Joshua Ferris’, Then we came to the end was my new book of the year.

In music it had to be Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand.

And my movie of the year? A tough one, but I’ll plump for Control, just edging out Atonement.

TV show of the year? UI’m tempted to go for The Secret Millionaire but the one that inspired me most was the Genius of Photography.

The greatest thing that happened to me technologically was the discovery of Flickr and the amazing avenues it opened for me.

Gig of the year was a close call between midlake at the ABC in Glasgow and Candie Payne at Cabaret Voltaire. But I have to give it to midlake because they are the greatest band on earth right now (including Arcade Fire) and I saw them.

Ridiculous decision of the year undoubtedly goes top The Nobel Prize Jury who gave Al Gore the Peace Prize. Why? Great guy, great politics, great movie. Peace prize? Get real.

But awarding that free kick to Italy in the 90th minute runs it close. But that’s not just ridiculous. That’s corruption.

And my man of 2007, for several reasons, was Mike Donoghue.

Restaurant of the Year was, no question, Kismot.

Best day out was, ironically in a way because it was set amongst so much sorrow, the day Jeana and I walked to Cramond Island in a post-funeral state of exhaustion, shock and trauma to return, in a way spiritually refreshed, and to be met by Tony Delicata’s offer of a free lunch at The Cramond Brig.

Tony. That hit the spot.

Performance of the year went to my sister Jane for her rumbustious rendition of A Fairy Tale of New York at the FAT Christmas show.

Twats of the year? Mondial Insurance. Get it up Ya.

Muppets of the Year. Sky. Get it up ya. (But at least we’ve had a laugh at their expense.)

Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman.

Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me.

And so to 2008.

My hopes?

Terry makes a full recovery.

Terry and I share school barbie duties at St Margarets in June.

Hibees remember they are a football team now that they are a succesful business. You’re not in the dock yet Mr Petrie but there will come a point after you’ve coined in another few million in January when enough is enough. (Oh yes, and we win the Scottish Cup, but even before it starts I’m putting that one on hold for 2009.)

Tom gets down to a 14 handicap.

Tiger Woods wins the Grand Slam (I don’t care I love Tiger Woods) but Scotland also find a golfer (Mark Warren looks the only real contender.)

I win something, anything, at Dundas Park.

PT Anderson wins Best Director at The Oscars.

Amy skooshes her highers.

Ria gets a merit at Gymnastics.

Jeana realises her potential. (Or at least realises she’s realised it!)

My mum and Emily have a fantastic time in China.

Carlisle Utd get promoted to the Championship.

Boris the Spider returns to the racetrack.

I am healthy throughout.

The books I’ve read this year


Jeana writes…

I can’t do a top ten of books of the year. I haven’t read that many so it wouldn’t be a very good list. I got off to quite a slow start and then seem to have stuck to the same authors. I’ve decided instead just to let you know what books I have read and what I thought of them. No great analysis though I’m afraid I either like the book or I don’t. (I’ve realised I’ve actually read quite a few so these are the ones that are top of mind.)

FEAR by Jeff Abbott

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I read PANIC last year and thoroughly enjoyed it . However, FEAR is much of the same and although the pace is fast you’re left thinking so what.

A Short HIstory of Tractors in UKRAINIAN by Marina Lewycka

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I read this on Mark’s recommendation. He said it was hilarious. I’ve never read anything so sick and sad in my life. The poor man’s (he’s 84) wife dies and he subsequently falls in love with a glamourous blonde Ukrainian divorcee (she’s 36). They move in together and she proceeds to abuse him and he ends up locking himself in his room in fear. Mark said it was hilarious. I couldn’t see the funny side and couldn’t wait to finish the book for all the wrong reasons.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

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Freud and Jung come to New York and get embroiled investigating a murder. As you do. Once I got my head round the idea the book iimproved but I still felt it was trying too hard or I was missing the point.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

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I recommended this to Amy during the Summer. She was looking for something to analyse for English. An excellent book. I re-read it. Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor in chief of French Elle, has a massive stroke and can only communicate by blinking one eye. The book has been “dictated” to his PA by blinking. I originally read it after coming home at midnight after, I think, Gerry Farrel’s 40th. Picked the book up with my cup of tea and as Mark walked in about 3.00 am I told him not to speak to me as I was finishing the last couple of pages. What can I say, go out and buy it. I picked it up for £3.67 in Tesco.


On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

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I enjoyed this but it was a bit slow. One of those books you feel it’s taking ages to get into and just as you have, it’s finished. I know Ian and Mark really enjoyed it and I read it on their recommendation. But all in all a bit slow.

Things my mother never told me by Blake Morrison

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A great read. I enjoyed reading all about his family life and to “hear” it from a different point of view.

I had read And did you last see your father? years ago.

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I remembered he was the man in charge of the household and what he said went. A generation thing I think, we’ve all been there in some form or another.

It was great to hear the story from his mother’s point of view. How lives end up the way they do, how we accept the way things are done. I went back and re-read And when did you last see your father? straight after. I don’t fancy the film though it looks a bit sentimental which neither book was.

For one more day by Mitch Albom

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Nice wee book all about meeting his mother just one more time after she has died, but not as good as the five people you meet in heaven.

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I went onto Google to check if the man has some sort of obsession about the afterlife but couldn’t find anything. Does anyone know?

I then read tuesdays with Morrie.

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Loved it. Didn’t put it down until it was finished. Just buy a copy and read it. In fact buy all three, they’re well worth it.
A Thousand Splended Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Loved this. What a life these Afghnistani women have. To read about their lives and the horrors they have to endure. Excellent. If you want to read a book read this.

Then follow it with The Kite Runner if you haven’t read it already.

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Current reading


The Peel Sessions

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This is not literary genius, far from it.  Most would argue that it is an anorak’s notebook and that would be very close to the truth.  But, you know what.  It’s great.  It proves that Peel, and his army of producers, most notably John Walters, were demi-gods and men of much greatness that transformed the lives of the bands they broke and their many dedicated listeners (self included).

It’s also a cornucopia of facts.  The headliner being.  Which band did the most Peel Sessions?  The answer is, of course, The Fall with 24.

Yes, 24!

He liked them then…

Truly the world is depleted without him.

Books of the year


It was a slow year for me. I can’t have read more than a dozen books in all, but very few duffers came my way, indeed I think the Mrs may have out-read me and will no doubt post her own best-of by close of play today.

However many of the best books I read were recommended by Ian Dommett, so he goes to the top of my critics list.

In no particular order my favourite reads of the year were.

The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.

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In truth this probably wins by a nose. The fact that it was written in 1985 is a strength as it shows off her perceptiveness even better than if one read it at the time of its release. Is it her best book? Hard to say as she is such a brilliant writer, but it certainly sits alongside Oryx and Crake, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace and he Blind Assassin. All magnificent.

You’ll find my full review here if you are interested.

Then We came to The End by Joshua Ferris

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I predict this will be a monster in paperback. It’s been on many year end lists this year and so should get the reviews it deserves when it comes out in PB in 2008. I think it’s slated for a movie too, although the mystery that is implicit in its writing will probably be diluted on screen. I reviewed it here.

The Damned Utd byDavid Peace

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My all time favourite sports book. It’s a novel but reads like a Biography od Brian Clough in his 43 days as manager of Leeds Utd. Not a happy experience. It is frightening how out of control Cloughie was. So good was it that I asked for, and recieved, “provided you don’t Kiss me, 20 Years with Brian Clough” for my Christmas. I’m really looking forward to that. Anyway I reviewed David Peace here. Highly recommended.

An Occurance at Owl Creek by Ambrose Bierce

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It’s just a short story but it’s packed with drama and a brilliant twist.  Read more here.

 The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

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I was blown away by this.  Far superior (aren’t they all) to the movie; it gets right under your skin in a very odd way.  But he’s a very odd writer.  My mother read this and his other masterpiece, Middlesex, on my recommendation and loved both of them.  More here.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

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This is an interesting but overwritten and ultimately pompous diatribe against the existence of God.  Nevertheless, until he starts getting overly political about it all it is a very interesting essay and worthy of reading for anyone who has any interest in the existence of god(s).  Read more here.

 Auchwitz by Laurence Rees

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I was gripped by this book and I also liked the BBC Drama later in the year that depicted the liberation of Auchwitz.  Not by the same writer.

It’s a detailed account of the concept behind Auchwitz and throws the net of Nazi guilt far wider than Hitler.  Well written and absorbing it is, despite its gruesome content, a compelling read. 

 On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

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Great, but not his greatest.  I wrote an overly glowing review of this on completion, but, in hindsight, it’s a bit style over content.  Still beats most of the muck that gets published though.

Agent Zig Zag by Ben Macintyre

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If this was a novel it would be rejected on grounds of ludicracy.  It is in fact, the true life account of an English Double agent who crossed sides more often than Michael Stewart.  It’s real boys own stuff and a splendid read.  What ho!

(Heroic) Last game of the year


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Despite feeling like death warmed up – terrible cold – I went out for my last golf match of the year with my five Arran Golf mates, my 13 year old son, Tom and my brother in law, Alan.

Having the cold is a life-threatener for us men as the hilarious link in James’ comment, below, points out so I think I deserve some form of recognition.  A CBE perhaps, for services to golf?

Needless to say Tom finished the year the way he started, playing the boys for the first time he whipped their/my asses, scoring a 5 under par nett 65 at Dundas. Ian shot a level par 70 and Vince and I scrambled home in net 71’s. The rest were trailing in our wakes.

But it was Tom who set the bar so high that no one could get over it, coming home 4 under par (net) for the last 5 holes.

I predict, if he keeps playing next year,that come the end of 2008 he will be off 14 or less.

This time last year, when he was off 28, I predicted he’d get to 20.

I wasn’t far away.

Edwyn Collins – pure class


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The BBC Scotland Documentary tonight on the return from, almost literally, the dead by Edwyn Collins to record a live BBC gig was nothing short of amazing.

With the unstinting support of his wonderful wife Grace, he had undergone intensive physio and speech therapy over a three year period since suffering a double Brain Haemmorage and despite losing the ability to speak, read, sing (of course) and walk with huge spasticism down his right side he sat on that stage at the Electric Ballroom in Camden like the star he truly is.

For thirty years I have been a fan of, first, Orange Juice and, then, Edwyn’s solo work. This proved how great a contemporary talent he is.

I have a close friend who has been through a similar experience so I know first hand how great his, and my pal’s, progress is and how hard it is to achieve.

Roll on Edwyn’s next number one and thank you BBC for such a great programme.