Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The saving of the Pound

This blog is a bit of a departure from previous blogs. We were ploughing though some old political papers belonging to my wife’s grandfather and found some lyrics which I thought may be of general interest. By way of background grandfather held political office from 1920s through WW2.

According to the notes the lyrics are sung to to the tune ‘The Wearin’ of the Green.’   I have presented the lyrics as best I can, in the same manner as those found. There is no indication of the origin of the lyrics, dates or any other detail. The lyrics are with other bits and pieces relating to the 1930’s. What is probably of interest is how the lyrics may still resonate in our current economic situation.

The Wearing of the Pound

Tune: ‘The Wearin’ of the Green’

O, Ramsay dear, and did you hear

The news that’s goin’ around

The Frenchmen and the Yankees

They are flying from the Pound.

So drop the Russian Bogey

Let the clarion call resound

We must cut the workers’ wages

For the saving of the Pound

The women and the children first

Is the maxim of the sea

And that’s the sentiment with which

The Government agree,

So cut the social services

Let misery abound,

The only thing that matters

Is the saving of the Pound

                                                Chorus:            O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                         The only thing that matters

                                                                        Is the saving of the Pound.

Then let Ramsay fly from Scotland

And Philip come from Churt

Let Thomas don his dress suit

And put on his boiled shirt.

The bankers are in trouble

and some money will be found

So we’ll search the worker’s pockets

For the saving of the Pound

Your tobacco will be dearer,

And your beer will cost you more:

If you paid two pound in Income Tax

You now must pay a score

For Norman’s told the Saxon,

Gael and Celt to hand around

And sacrifice their principles

For the saving of the Pound.

                                            Chorus:            O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                        They’re starving men and women

                                                                        For the saving of the Pound.

I met with Philip Snowden,

And he took me by the hand,

And said, ‘How’s dear old sterling, boy,

And how does it stand?’

It’s reducing teacher’s wages

That will make it safe and sound;

We must cut on Education

For the saving of the Pound

‘Bear ye one another’s burdens,’

Is a saying old and true’

So we’re bearing Baring’s burdens

And Lazard’s and Schroeder’s, too;

The Unemployed must suffer,

But the City will be sound;

To hell with all that matters,

But the saving of the Pound.

                                                            Chorus: O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                              O, the saving of the Pound

                                                                               The only thing that worries

                                                                               Is the saving of the Pound.

 Hope you enjoyed.




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You’re Het

Mousa in his stud pants

Mousa in his stud pants

I needed an excuse to kick start my blog. This last while my blog has fallen away for a variety of reasons (excuses) and over the last few weeks, despite having some good ideas I just haven’t got round to it, until now. The catalyst for the change being Martha Rodriguez, http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/back-to-our-youth-authors-playing-tag.html ,  in a game of author tag. Hence, the title ‘you’re het’ a scottish variation of the usual tag term ‘you’re it.’ For some reason the idea has struck a chord and I have returned to my blog. The next blog, which I will post towards the end of this coming week, is something truly exciting found among old, 1930’s and 1940’s, political papers in our garage.  I’m sure that it will be enjoyed by everyone who reads it, but readers will have to wait another day or so for further details. Oh, for any new readers, I always include a picture of one of our cats in my blog. Why? I just do. The picture today is our large tom cat wandering around our livingroom with his anti-spray pants on.

 Back to the game of tag in which Martha kindly involved me.

The rules of the game, as supplied by Martha, are as follows:  
1.  Go to page 77 of your current WIP (work in progress).
2. Go to line seven.
3.  Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as written and post them to your blog or website.
4.  Tag seven authors.
5.  Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Like Martha, I’m still shy of 77 pages, I have taken my 7 line extract from page 27 of my WIP entitled ‘Seil’.

He pulled out a remaining  cheese and ham sandwich, removed the cheese and the ham and offered them to the cat. The offer was  received with gratitude, and little time was taken to savour the taste as the cat bolted the food down.

 ‘I told you, he was hungry.’

 ‘Aye! We have to get to school,’ said Zander.  ‘Leave him, let’s go’  

The two boys turned away and walked the two streets to the school. Behind them walked their newfound  friend, or more importantly Jack’s new found friend: a muscly lilac grey, proud cat. His smiling Cheshire cat face smiled more than before, his chest struck out with purpose and his tail stood as erect as a telegraph pole pointing directly to the sky.’

I have, in this game of chance, tagged the following authors

Ben Woodward http://www.booksbyben.com/

Rahma Krambo http://www.rahmakrambo.com/

Noah Murphy http://k23detectives.com/

AR Silverberry http://www.arsilverberry.com/ 

Susan Leigh Noble http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/susan-leigh-noble.html

Michelle I Brooks http://www.BoneDressing.com

Jemima Pett http://jemimapett.wordpress.com/


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I like geese. I don’t know why, but I do. I think it’s because they have presence, and are more than capable of letting people know of their authority, as those with guard geese can testify. My partner tells stories of  various family gander, in full honk, with wings flapping, charging at her as a young girl, before their Christmas demise.  I think one of the reasons I like these creatures is that they reassure me that, depite all the economic turmoil and other worldly problems, life continues. Throughout my life I have witnessed large skeins of geese flying overhead as they make their way to and from a local loch (nature reserve) about 7 miles from home. They arrive around late September and leave around April, spectacularly marking the seasons. Last week on my drive to work I saw my first pinkies, as they are known by some, of the season.  Last week’s gaggle of Pink Footed geese was a small one, less than fifty I suspect; while today’s sighting must have approximated 200-300. Up to 20,000 will winter here in Fife. (picture gobirding.eu)

As I drove past the gaggle in the field I had a strange thought. I wondered what would happen if a teenage goose (is there a name for such a goose or does it just move from being a gosling to a goose?), decided not to come. What if a teenage goose wanted to holiday elsewhere, with other teenage geese? At some point in time, every family’s holiday plans hit the independent cries of  that ‘sounds boring’, ‘I’ll just stay at home’,’I’d rather be with my friends’; usually accompanied by the some form of ‘you can trust me’, or ,’ more often than not, the phrase, or variation thereof, ‘after all I’m sixteen now; I’m a grown up.’ In a moment of madness I started to wonder if teenage geese pass through the same developmental phase.

OK, staying in Greenland or Iceland may not be an option for young geese given how cold it gets there and how hard feeding becomes. But if If staying at home isn’t a viable option, there does appear to be several other destinations where they can spend winter. A few miles from me is one choice and may be preferable to other geese resorts such as Montrose, Aberlady, (both Scotland) or  even Norfolk, the latter is warmer than any of the others but a slightly longer flight. Who knows, there may be some geese put off by longer flights. Which raises another question, which skein do the geese take? In September are there scheduled skeins leaving for different destinations and do different destinations offer different things? Is there an 18-30 club equivalent for teenage geese? Is Loch Leven,Fife, the party capital , the Ayia Napa, of Scotland for geese or is it Montrose, after all, Montrose is at the seaside? Maybe, Norfolk is a better choice after all more geese winter there than here, however, maybe,just maybe, it’s the other way around and Norfolk is the Costa Brava for geese while Fife is for the more discerning goose. It would also appear that some geese may actually fly from resort to resort moving south as the temperatures drop arriving at Aberlady, Aberdeenshire and if it gets too cold moving south from there. There may of course be another reason, that being that these geese are enjoying the best of all possible worlds by mixing the partying resorts with the quiet ones.

As you may have gathered from the above I know very little about these creatures and should, perhaps,concentrate on the cats, cue a cat pic.

Tigh, from our very first litter – still going strong.

Anyway, the geese have returned in their thousands once again. For the next six months or so, I will see them every morning on my way to work, perhaps, as they recover from the night before. But they will be there, reminding me that some things in the world continue as before and that there may just be a better and simpler life  than the manic one that we lead.



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Many years ago, as a young man,  on my very first foreign trip, in the beautiful city of Bologna, a place I will some day revisit, I enjoyed a meal courtesy of our hosts. At the end of that meal, we were invited to sign the guest book and my senior colleagues signed the book ‘Here’s tae us. Wha’s like us? Damn few, and they’re a’ deid. Mairs the pity.’ As they did, I wondered how arrogant that entry must seem to, not only, the restaurant owner but, to others following in our steps in this beautiful eatery. That memory came back this past week as a result of two different but, I believe related events, and a comment made by one of our contentious sports journalists on the exceptionally poor performance of Scottish football teams in Europe this week. His, the journalist’s, argument was that we, Scottish Football, hadn’t embraced change due to our own arrogance; for some reason the comment resonated.

Much has been written, in Scotland and possibly beyond, our arrogance is such that we believe that we are still of sufficient importance for others to be interested, this week about the problems in Scottish Football as all our teams crashed out of Europe.  Excuses have been proffered, ranging from lack of resources, facilities, money etc, yet, teams and countries with fewer resources do better. We apparently have one of the best coaching teaching set ups in the world which doesn’t translate to success either. Why, then is our national game in such a mess? Is it our psyche? Are we afraid of the hard work, dedication, commitment and graft to make it to the top?  Does the problem then lie with our youngsters, as some would suggest.

Alongside this footballing debate, but receiving far fewer column inches in Scotland was Eric Schmidt’s , Google’s chairman,  statement that ’education in Britain is holding back the country’s chances of success in the digital media economy.’  The speech was delivered in Scotland, it is no leap of the mind to say that the statement was if not targeted at Scotland certainly included Scotland. Once upon a time, we could state without fear of contradiction that Scottish Education was among the best in the world, I’m no longer certain, despite pockets of excellence among a few of our Universities, that the statement holds any longer. The comments, anecdotal stories, observations and employer statements that suggest a decline in our education standards are in many ways not too dissimilar to the type of comments about Scottish football made a few years back.

The warning signs for our education systen are there but,  like our football there appears a reluctance to acknowledge the decline and a temptation to hark back to a past where the mantra of Scotland having one of the best educational systems in the world is constantly repeated. If we repeat it often enough it must be, a bit like the constant claim that Glasgow Rangers v Glasgow Celtic being greatest club derby in the world.  Perhaps, the slide is masked by how we measure and perceive our game, how else can we reconcile more and more youngsters achieving examination success with a decline in standards. It doesn’t add up, or does it?

It may be that it doesn’t add up because we are no longer teaching the things that matter, like our football we measure and teach for our own backyard not for the bigger stage. If we want to play on the big playing fields, we need to change. Our education system may not be at the same low point as our football, but if we don’t take appropriate steps we may well reach that point. We need to change; one of the biggest barriers to change in Scottish football to date it is argued has been arrogance of people, structures and systems, however, last  week’s embarrassing results may be the shock required to force that change. It’s difficult to think of a shock to the education system in the same vein; more likely will be a continuing decline in meaningful work opportunities and a brain drain as our brightest leave for greener pastures. An article printed today suggests that unless Scotland changes it will be a third world country by 2030, an extreme claim, maybe. The case for change is strong, part of that change must be that we teach the things that matter.  Schmidt, I believe is right we do need to bring ‘art and science back together’ and ‘reignite the passion of children for sciences and technology.’ You never know, in doing so we may be able to reinforce the disciplines of hard work, dedication and commitment that are required for all works of life including a decent football team.

What about the cat, I hear you cry. For those who expected cat pics I would hate to disappoint, there is no other link.



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It’s been a while since I posted a blog. Life has been busy, whose life hasn’t and I’ve kinda lost my blogging and writing mojo over the last few weeks. To lose one mojo may be an accident, to lose two could well be neglect. I’ve had several ideas for making my great writing comeback, but each idea  has met a premature ending and that may well be where the problem lies i.e. I’m searching for that great idea, in football (soccer) parlance the World Cup ball, when all that is needed is ‘the simple pass’.  Both  terms are used often when playing or coaching, but what do they mean. Searching on the internet failed to provide a definitive definition of either, in fact, the search yielded very little insight to either term. Yet, both terms are used by pundits, fans and players alike  and everybody nods, as if we all know and share the same understanding. To take the blog forward I need to profer a definition of sorts; here goes.

Leo watching intently

World Cup ball:  Usually a long range pass which leads to a game winning situation. The pass is usually one that requires precision and accuracy over distance and carries a high failure rate.

The simple pass: a short range pass which in itself may or may not create a game winning situation. Successful completion rates are high and carry less risk.

There is a suggestion that ‘the simple pass’ by its very name is safe, uncreative and boring whereas the ‘ World Cup ball’ is viewed as dynamic and creative. Yet, the truth is often very different; rather than being creative, the World Cup ball, or the attempt at the World Cup ball, is, in many cases, reckless. On the other hand, the simple pass, as many fans and observers of Barcelona Football Club will testify, can be creative, imaginative and powerful when harnessed fully, and in Barcelona’s case epitomises the beautiful game for many.

There are without doubt, books that are the equivalent of the ‘World Cup ball’  that stand out because of their daring, creativity and boldness in challenging conventional thought. There are also books constructed of simple beautiful passes that weave together to present a novel of considerable beauty. I have no intention of starting a debate of which writer fits which category and will leave that to you the reader. I’m open to suggestions should anyone wish to offer one.

A young Rhumtetum showing how to win

Where, does that leave me and my writing. I can only dream about the ‘World Cup Ball’, the reality if I’m lucky is the simple pass. But the simple pass isn’t any more reachable than the World Cup Ball. In fact the simple pass may be harder to attain, because the beauty of the simple pass lies in its disguise. To execute it fully, requires understanding, foresight and the ability to synthesise words, story and reader in perfect harmony. To achieve this harmony requires, not only, a continued study of the art , but practice, more practice and even more practice. Bernie Bolts Bergen is a start, but my writing has still some way to go and may be, at this point in time, more Raith Rovers, our local team, rather than the silky soccer of Barcelona.

All in all, it’s good to be back



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The last few weeks have been a bit chaotic at work resulting in long hours and hard, testing days. Living almost a full hours drive from work, (public transport is nigh impossible), makes the days even longer. My average day for those  few weeks averaged around 12 plus hours per day. As a result, the weeks have felt, and have been, even longer. On most evenings I was happy to sit on the couch, watch TV and check Twitter making the occasiional tweet.. In the middle of these long days we suffered the loss of Coco. The loss was a body blow and for a week or so, it is fair to say, I lost a little bit of heart.

Everything seemed to suffer. I had been asked, contracted,  to vet a teaching support pack something I would normally turn round quite quickly but couldn’t find the time or make the time to do the work. Work on the book and the blogs came to a crashing halt. I couldn’t find the time or the spark that I needed to find in order to write. Not having time is an easy excuse for non-achievement, if you want to achieve, the secret is to make time.

To turn my writing round I had to find time but had to find something to write about that would help me get that rhythm or routine back. The first blog was about Coco, it was quite a difficult blog to write, primarily, due to the content but also in part the drop in confidence in writing. The blog, Remembering Coco, didn’t get many readers but the process was cathartic. I looked at the blog the other night and was quite pleased with it considering the circumstances in which it was written.   I started tweeting a bit more regularly again and a number of twitter friends provided tremendous support and started to restore my confidence. The next step was to find another subject to blog about and ‘Introducing Leo’ was ideal because Leo’s stort was one that I was very comfortable with.The feedback on Leo’s story was great and provided an ideal pick me up.  Over the last week I  have started to edit and vet that teaching pack.

My working hours are still long but beginning to settle down and I’ve started to work on the book again. I’m now making time. What seemed to work for me was

  1. that cathartic piece about Coco, write those feelings down
  2. twitter – speaking with friends (cat lovers and writers) helped considerably
  3. write about something you know. Leo’s story was just that.
  4. make time, on set days or at set times. Work with the family.
  5. Write, write and write.

It took a few weeks to get back. It has meant a delay on the book, also not helped by a delay on the book cover designers part. I’m reworking a couple of chapters, especially the first chapter, but I now feel good about the story. The launch date will be August now but will ne a lot more polished as a result.


Speak soon



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Hello world!

Welcome to my blog. I do hope you find it interesting. As a writer, lecturer, parent, grandparent and general numpty (a good old scottish word for idiot) I hope to post the occasional nugget of wisdom. The writing part is new as up to now my writing has been for academic purposes. Bernie Bolts Bergen is my first full length novel written for children and surprise surprise based on cats. Are cats interesting enough to have a book written with them at the centre. Well Dewey is one example of the lure of a book on cats and the number of followers that Casper the Plymouth cat had on twitter suggest yes. Book 2 is planned although sit down time is hard to find. So welcome aboard and feel free to comment

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