Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Christmas Alone

Christmas day I spent alone. With the family being in the Edinburgh area, and having to work Christmas eve, it was not possible to get home. Not the first time this has been the case, but sad as I wanted to be there this time.
Thing is, whenever I mention this today at work people tell me how much they wish they had been with me! Not that suddenly I am popular in a fashion hid for so long, but more the memory of the crowded Christmas day they had endured.
It is great to be with the family young and old together, presents, laughter, crying, too much to eat and far too much noise, shredded wrapping paper and carboard boxes a plenty! But as age tells on the human frame, it is amazing how lovely the silence when they have gone!
So today, for a while, I was the object of jealousy among many!
Probably for the last time!

Tuesday, 27 December 2005


The Leith I remember is a place much in need of renovation.
The shops then, from the fifties up to the seventies, were always bustling places. We went there most Saturdays as Princes Street was half day closing on a Saturday. Half day closing, who gets that now, let alone on a Saturday? Not in big cities that is for sure.
It was full of folks scurrying about their business, women chatting in all the shops, men wearily wishing they were at the match, and kids being dragged unwillingly to and fro for things they did not see any reason to accumulate. The tenements were old and it showed, Victoria sat imperiously outside Woolworths, and in the dim distant past there was a cinema overlooking her.
Just up from the stone queen stood a large station building reflecting the once important, but long gone, railway. Pubs a plenty took the pence willingly from men willing to part with it. Buses followed the routes laid down long before up Leith Walk and into Edinburgh, the road trod by many over hundreds of years, hence the name.
Today, there is an abundance of dreary shops in Leith. Big stores have gone, or just faded, charity shops preponderate and a general 'down at heel' appearance is found.
The dockside is rapidly being renovated. Old whisky bonds are turned into trendy flats, statues to those men of the past remind us of their works, and pubs with dubious reputations are now wine bars, with camp waiters to match.
I was reminded of all this by a Christmas gift, the book ' Leith at Random' by David Stewart Valentine. An excellent production! Short pieces on Leiths' past and photographs to match.
The type of short book that carries so much weight, because it covers a lot of ground quickly and simply, revealing fascinating facts about things obvious but ignored.
A good read for me at any rate. I never lived there, but spent so much time there, and have memories from my early years in the shops and of finding my first job working in Arthur Bells Whisky Warehouse in Leith Walk! A death trap if ever there was one!
A book worth giving a glance at, and of a type I wish I had written.


Big clumps of white stuff falling all over the place!
I don't want it!
I mean, it's all very nice and that, it makes the whole world a different place, it quietens the sounds and brings joy to the kids, but why? Why now?
it is just horrible stuff to walk through, it's horrible to work in and it's all over the place!
Add to that the simple fact that it is very, very cold, and that ends it for me.

This is the warmest, driest county of England, and while here I do not want to be remembering the snow that clogs Edinburgh at this time of year. Oh yes, Edinburgh in snow looks lovely.
Wonderful pictures can be made there, lovely photographs. But it is no fun watching the bus skittering down the cobbled hills towards Comely Bank is it?
There is no joy playing football on an open field with snow all around and more clambering past Burntisland with you in its sight. No sir. I have had enough of those days.
I want sunshine!

Oh Sunshine. Warmth, pleasure, T-shirts and cold drinks, scantily dressed women and long evenings with darkening deep blue skies. Oh joy!
And we have snow!

Excuse me while I rejoice...........

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

Niece picture

The best thing so far, for me, is the small picture of my great niece which arrived today.
Almost seven, yet with a look that holds nothing but trouble for her folks.
OK for me however as I am four hundred miles away! Hooray!

Lovely to get such a pic. Very nice indeed.

Friday, 16 December 2005


Recently there was a suggestion in the Scots parliament that Scots History would be dropped or at least downgraded in Scots schools. How foolhardy would this be?

after learning how to read and write, how to count and something of geography to know where you are, kids need to know the story of the area they live in. Local history and national history are the most important subjects to understand if an individual is to develop a true knowledge of themselves and their people.

Of course this needs to be true history, not the mythological propaganda that is all to often poured out as history. It is interesting that while children of diplomats in the European Union share lessons in many subjects, the history they are taught is always slanted towards their own particular nation. Myth and wishful thinking rules over facts.

Scots need to understand their own past. Not just since Wallace and Bruce, but before that, well into the distant ages. It must be 'warts and all' for the teaching of history does not tell us about happenings long ago, it tells us about ourselves.
No matter who the characters, no matter the place or the situation, in the end those we learn about are just like ourselves. They can be an inspiration or a drawback. They make us ashamed or proud, but really they tell us more about ourselves than any other subject.

And in these fascist politically correct days, the truth about our self is more important than ever.

Thursday, 15 December 2005


Every where you go these days people are talking about yobs!
The nation is surrounded by young folk taking over complete streets and enslaving the locals.
The police sem unable, or unwilling to stop them. The courts hand out slaps on the wrist, that are not even slaps! Robbery, muggings, stolen cars left burnt out, and a constant stream of abuse at passers bye continue with no end in site.
The government invents the ASBO, yet still the problems continue.

What to do?

No easy answers.

One effective answer is to change the heart of those involved, and only Jesus can do that.
The fact is that such behaviour in the young reflects the truth about the state of our hearts.
Our inner being.
As we get older we have a better attitude to others, at least, most of us do.
But when adolescent such understanding is often lacking, and the self rears its ugly head.
The desire to have our own way leads folk into the use and misuse of others.
Often an attitude that never leaves once begun.
Consideration for others is rejected for actions that are know to be wrong, but excused anyway.

The vileness that is seen in yob behaviour is within us all, not just the young however.
The heart is the root of all that is wrong in society. The self rules and cares naught for anything but, well, the self!

Only the realisation that we are guilty of wrong. Facing the fact of eternal judgement by a God who has no fault can cause a change of heart. Not just by the fear of judgement, a real and right fear, but also of the love this God shows by dealing with our wrong.

By taking human form and offering the sacrifice of himself for each one of us God shows his love.
Bad as we are, he dies for our wrong doing. Our wrong and twisted self!
That is love. Because we are clearly not worth it otherwise.

The yobs, of whatever age, can be changed by receiving a satisfied life.
Not an easy one, but a real one.
Found only in this Jesus who cares, and will one day judge, each one of us.
Whether we believe it now or not.

Roy Keane

So, Roy signs for his boyhood hero's.
Nice for him.
Hope he does not think it is a soft touch in the SPL, he will be in for a shock if he thinks so!
On top of this the Heart of Midlothian are in turmoil.
Hibernian have reached a height that will end when their players are sold in January, and Rangers may have found some form.... maybe.

The rise of the Scots league may have hit a buffer.
I hope not.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Day off

What a blessing a day off is!
There is nothing better than getting up an hour late and considering those workmates, who at this very moment, are struggling along with their heavy burdens. Time to stop and think of them for a moment....and when you have finished smiling smugly, go back to sleep!

However, I enjoy adding to the days pleasure by wandering round Sainsburys early in the morning. This has two great advantages, one is the freedom from those women who fill the store throughout the day, shoving you aside rudely, allowing their kids to get in the way, shout and scream. and be a general nuisance. With these dangerous folk not around it is possible;e to quick;y grab what you want and head for the check out. Their the second joy of the day can be found. For it is at this checkout you mentioned casually to the women sitting there that it is indeed your day off and you may go back to bed when you get home.
Her expression, as she awaits the mob of hysterical women about to descend on her, is a joy to behold. I am not always so sure her vocal expression is in agreement with Sainsburys customer relation policy however......

The pleasures of the day unfold as the day progresses. Reading, eating, sleeping, enjoying the things you like and ignoring those responsibilities that can wait! Joy indeed!
I always make a list of things to do, and sometimes do them! It is not uncommon to find dozens of things to do, and at the end of the day discover nearly none of them done! A good day as I see it!

Must go, as I have just glanced at the list, and I have one or two things to avoid!