Och, poor wee sky


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Regular readers of my blog will be aware of my relationship with Sky (yes, box 14 is still working – before you ask).

So I am low on sympathy for their order to write down £343 million in an enforced sale of its aggressive build up of shareholding in ITV by the Competition Commision.

ITV has its problems but, you know what,  we need them more than we need a Sky monopoly.

oops. I did it again


No reference to the previous post but I am inclined to do a bit of this.

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I did it tonight.

I ain’t Mr populoso in these parts.

In my defence, I was trying to fix Amy’s computer which has been out of commission one way or another for months.

It had just come back.  It was STILL out of commission.  So’s her desk now.

(But the computer works.)

Edinburgh Festival to be bombed. Fact.


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Is it just me or is Supt Lovegrove just being a bit of a scaremonger? “It’s not just a case of “if” but “when” he tells us.

I appreciate that the public needs to be vigilant. But does it have to be terrified, and does he have to put out a message that can only damage the festival.

One of Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officers last night warned it was only a matter of time before Edinburgh was subjected to a devastating attack.

Superintendent Brett Lovegrove said Scotland’s capital would be an “extremely attractive” objective for terrorists – and said the Edinburgh International Festival, which last year attracted 380,000 visitors, was a prime target.

Speaking at an anti-terrorism seminar in the capital, Mr Lovegrove, the head of counter-terrorism for the City of London Police, said: “Edinburgh is an extremely attractive proposition to terrorists, as it has many international businesses, an airport, sports stadiums and crowded streets.

“In particular, the Festival ticks all the right boxes, so it’s essential the public are made aware of the threat and what action should be taken.

“Like London and New York, it is also an iconic city which is flooded with tourists all year round.

“Last year’s Glasgow airport attack proved Scotland isn’t immune to the threat of terrorism. Unfortunately, it isn’t a case of ‘if’ there will be an attack on Edinburgh but ‘when’.”

Read the whole article here. And the comments – most of which subscribe to my point of view (other than the person who wittily exclaims that a bomb going off at the Edinburgh Festival would be a good thing. Oh really? a few hundred Edinburghers and arty tourists dead and maimed would be a good thing? An interesting take on terrorism).

Should The Scotsman have risen to this sensationalism and printed the story?

You tell me…

A book of two halves


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“I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.”

So said Brian Clough; reflecting on his up and down career.

I have written elsewhere about the Clough phenomenon, in my review of the quite remarkable David Peace novel, Damned Utd but this is something different and just as touching.

The man is truly unique and I bought Provided you don’t kiss me, the 2007 William Hill Book of The Year, on the basis that I thought it would be full of ascerbic and hilarious insights into his career as seen by an insider.

It’s written by the previously unknown (in book terms at least) Duncan Hamilton, but surely we can’t have seen the last of him. Hamilton was a rookie sportswriter/reporter on the Nottingham Evening Post and so got first dibs on Cloughie for over 20 years. The relationship he built with Clough is at the heart of this book.

It is a thing of great beauty.

It’s no kiss and tell, despite the title, rather it is a heart felt, honest, even loving reminiscence of how a provincial reporter built an intimate, trusting relationship with the greatest football manager in history; and let’s not overlook this fact. He was.

Let’s get this in perspective. Nottingham Forest winning a League title and two European cups in the late seventies was the equivelant of someone like Stoke, or Colchester doing it now. Provincial, modest crowds (never above 25,000 even at their peak) and peniless.

And yet. And yet.

And yet Clough (and let’s not forget Taylor – Hamilton sure doesn’t) built Nottingham Forest into the greatest team in Europe.

They pissed on the mighty Liverpool.

But the book is not a football borefest. It ain’t for anoraks, it’s for people who love people. Clough was like a surrogate father to Hamilton. It was a love affair of sorts. A truly symbiotic relationship.

As the book moves through the glory years and into Clough’s decline it is sad beyond belief. At several points I was close to tears as Hamilton recounts Cloughie’s decline into alcoholism, his loss of dignity and confidence and his eventual, rather sad, retirement and most heartfelt of all; his death.

This book is a window into the human soul. A historical insight that no-one else could have written.

It IS funny in parts; because Cloughie was a star comedian (indeed he was a mate of Eric Morecambe’s).

But poignancy is its greates virtue.

Wonderful.

fascinating insight into history


I am grateful to Ralf for sending me an email today containing an old (presumably dead) US Marine’s photos.

They were taken on an old Box Brownie and the camera had been secreted away in a foot locker for half a century, only to be discovered recently.

Regardless of the politics of Pearl Harbour they certainly capture the experience vividly.

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Poor old Vera


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The end of a generation.

Vera Duckworth slid away beautifully.

Jack did her proud.

30 odd years on The Street.  Good shift.

It will be a lesser programme without her.

Queen of the king of soaps.  RIP.

Charlie Wilson’s War


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This is a very complex film to decode and review. Because the politics are tough.

Should one shout for the Americans when we know just how bullying and, frankly, evil they are as he world’s only superpower?

Should we castigate the Ruskies for (at the time of the events) being equally obnoxious?

Should we feel sorry for the put upon Afghanis who are now considered an axis of evil (by the axis of evil)?

Dunno.

The story concerns Playboy Senator, Charlie Wilson (played brilliantly by Tom Hanks) lobbying congress to fund a covert war on behalf of the Afghanis who had been invaded by the Ruskies and were taking it up the arse big style.

Arms deals are done in Israel with a Jewish arms dealer played utterly ridiculously (laugh out loud ridiculous in fact) by Ken Stott.  Ken Stott? He’s a Jock! And the Ruskies get a right old doing as a result.

In fact, they were eventually sent homewards, tae think again.

The script is brilliant, having been penned by ex West Wing main writer, Aaron Sorkin (I’ve never watched West Wing so can’t coo as much as The IMDB crowd do about him).  It’s actually very funny despite the subject matter. And then there’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman

(“That’s your pal Mark”, Jeana says every time he’s in a movie. Why? ‘Cos I spotted him as one of America’s best actors in Magnolia and was proved right.)

Is it a good film?

Yes.

Is it right to cheer on Hanks as a hero?

Don’t know.

Should you go and see it?

Undoubtedly.

By the way.

Julia Roberts?

Nah.

Oh dear. What to make of it all.


I’m going to Tynecastle tomorrow, full of trepidation. Hearts are playing dreadfully.

And yet.  And yet.  Why is it that I set off with a sense of foreboding?

Hibs got off to a Mixu flyer but you know what? I hate Tynie. It’s a graveyard of our dreams. Last time I was there we got a right good skelping.

On the other hand there was this.

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The real underlying problem with Hibbyness just now though is the delicate balance between fiscal probity (Mr Petrie) and success on the field. Collins showed his hand in The Hootsman today but I think he had his own agenda too.

Murphy’s off. Another £2m in the coffers and what does Mixu immediately say? None of it, NONE, is going to buy new players. That’s a tough gig for the big man.

However, he has signed Rankin from ICT. I’m inclined to say, so what, but I’ll hold my council.

Getting Ian Murray back, on the other hand, could be inspired.

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I will never, ever forget the shift he put in as a lad against AEK Athens. He nearly DIED of cramp but played all 120 minutes. Astonishing. Nearly one of Easter Rod’s immortal moments if Paco had buried that header in normal time for a hat-trick.

Ok, he did the Judas bit going across to Rangers, but I blame the agents, and he’s no doubt learned a lesson from that.

‘Mon the cabbage.

What Wallaby?


My brother in law, Nik, who celebrated his 97th birthday tonight told me about a friend of his who was on a bus in Fife recently. As they passed through Lochaber he overheard an Australian tourist proclaim in disbelief.

“Struth! There’s a wallaby. I thought they were only found in Oz mate.”

His Fifey escort dryly retorted

“It’s no a fuckin’ wallaby, it’s a greyhoond daein a shite.”

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And for my next (hat)trick


So, having just regaled you with both hope and pessimism, and having shared Mixu’s glorious hatrick against the Jambos…

Oh you missed it?

Here it is again then.

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He only goes and gets Deano to score his first ever hatrick against the hapless Caley Thistle

Nice start Mixu. Let’s hope it’s not just beginner’s luck.

Makes you pit a line oan!


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That’s the old gag and phoenetic translation of Hibees’ new manager’s name; Mixu Paatelainen. But I tell you what, new manager or not, I’d not be rushing to bet on Hibs putting Inverness Caley Thistle out of the cup this afternoon. I hope these are non-prophetic words. But time will tell.

Prediction?

Hibs 1 Thistle 1

Replay

Thistle 2 Hibs 0

Will Thistle win the cup? Will they buggery.

New work


We were beavering away before Christmas at 60 Watt on this rather good campaign, if I say so myself. Kept me out of the pub at least some of the time. Hope you like it.elb739_january-campaign-a4_aw.jpg

That’s the chaps’ version.

And this is the chapess’s.

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Check 60 Watt out here.

We also made several thousand of those smiley devises and stuck them on wooden sticks to distribute around the gyms. They look fab and are really quite amusing.

The power of amatuer theatre


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The family went to the theatre last night. As we have many, many times before, given my dad’s extensive involvement in am dram.

This particular venture was to see my sister, Jane as Queen Evira, in Holy Cross Players’ production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It was a local church production so, in all honesty, our expectations were not sky high, we were anticipating a lot of endevour, some in jokes and a quick getaway. How far from the truth could we possibly have been?

What a magnificent production it was. Jane was awesome and my Dad would have been so proud of her. She had the audience in the palm of her hands, threatening a shortened interval and reduced chance for that cheeky wee glass of wine we so look forward to if we booed and hissed once more. Cackling demonically and losing the plot with her hapless henchman Igora, played by Denise Simpson.

The script was hilarious, having been adapted to suit the fictional lands of Ferry Roadia and West Erhailes by the director Tony, Philip Lewis and Lou Milligan.  Each and every member of the cast looked like they were having the time of their life.  Snow White was perfectly cast, the stooges were hilarious and the two big set pieces; an echoing well and a Monty Pythonesque skit based on an exchange something like this…

“What?”

“Pardon?”

“No I said what!”

“Don’t you mean pardon?”

“What?”

“No, pardon!”

It was a hoot.

Every single principle could sing. That’s a rarity!

The whole show was life-affirming.

Congratulations to the director, one of my Dad’s many Proteges, Tony Delicata and all his production team.

Highlight of the week, by far..

Recent reading


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Just finished this wee cracker. It’s a ripping yarn about an English crafty criminal turned double agent set during WWII. He’s a womaniser, a serial petty crook, safe breaker, heart breaker and code breaker. It’s all highly unlikely.

But it’s true.

A fun and very easy read that doesn’t need a military mind to enjoy it.

Splendid.

Looking forward to the almost inevitable movie.

So, Mixu has landed


The Mighty Hibees have a new manager. The mighty Mixu. He was a bit of a legend. Ok maybe he didn’t walk on water like JC. But at least he didn’t give up when things weren’t going so well.

Maybe he’ll be able to recreate some of this magic. (Watch carefully and you’ll see he did make a contribution! Three actually.)

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Or, even better.

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That’s 16 v 2 in only 2 games.

JC is now Judas. He got his bag of silver.

Maybe Mixu will have the stomach for a fight.

Bad day at the golf


So, I’ve rapped a pitching wedge to 6 inches from 110 yards and sunk the putt for a birdie three when the phone rings.

“Mark, the house is on fire.”

“OK, I’ll be back by half two” I reply.

” I just missed an eagle by inches.”

“Yes, but the washing machine is belching black smoke and now two of the cupboards are melting.”

“Does that mean I have to come back?” I venture.

“Why not phone the Fire Brigade?” I suggest.

“OK, but I think I would appreciate it if  you came back.  I realise you might think everything is ok.”  So I did.

They were waiting!

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Hmmm…

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If the insurance doesn’t fork out I swear I will do a Michael Douglas!

At least the lid was on the stew, so we had it for lunch.