Three Score Years and Ten

Well another milestone in what can only be called an interesting life as yesterday I arrived at my three score years and ten and before I go any further, I would like to thank all the people who sent their good wishes. I tried to answer every one of them individually but I probably missed some. For that, I apologise.

I am sitting her at the Crieff Hydro where the family have gathered for the weekend looking out on a snowy landscape and thinking on the last 70 years, or at least the years I can remember, which go back to the early years in Dudhope street at the foot of the Hiltown. I lived there until I was four.

We lived in a tenement, many of which were built to house the influx of workers from the countryside and places like Ireland, to man the new industry of Dundee , which was the manufacture of Jute yarn for use in the making of hessian and rope.

The house I started my life in was a two-bedroomed flat with an outside toilet, situated on the mutual stairway. There was also a mutual sink, placed on the communal landing. Each toilet and sink would be shared by four houses.

To the rear of the tenement was a row of washhouses which again were shared by all the houses in the tenement. The washing facilities consisted of a cast iron boiler set into a stone base with an open fire beneath which could be fired using wood or coal.

As kids, we made our own entertainment, which generally consisted of ranging through the back lands between the tenements, the air raid shelters and closes of the area between Dudhope street and Dalfeield walk and there were indeed adventures aplenty to be had.

Little did I realise in those days that I would be returning to the Hiltown in later life in another adventure which was to be the Windmill Bar , but that is a story for another time and an interesting story it is.

So, leaving Dudhope street at the age of four we moved to Kirkton , one of the new housing schemes being built during the brave new World after the second World war. To house the families living in overcrowded conditions in the tenements surrounding the Jute mills of Dundee and the men having returned from the war. The war to end all wars, how hollow that sounds today.

Kirkton was quite different from the tenements of Dundee, with well-built semi-detached villas with gardens. A Paradise, in comparison to where we had come from but perhaps not the character and community spirit where everyone helped their neighbour.

I still remember my first day at school, soon after we arrived in our new home. Being used to the freedom of Dudhope street, it was somewhat of a shock to the system to be confined within a building and expected to sit and listen to someone talk about things which did not involve digging holes in the ground or climbing on and jumping from air raid shelters or choosing as a dare the last possible second before running across a road in front of a lorry or more likely a horse and cart. So, having weighed up the situation I decide that this schooling was not for me, so I walked out of class and up the road to my home telling my Mother that I had decided to give schooling a miss, whereupon my Mum gave me a thick ear, grabbed me by the collar and marched me back down Haldane Terrace, to school.

I think that was the day when I realised that if I was to buck the system in the future, it would have to be done in a subtler manner.

So the years rolled on and we moved from Kirkton to Downfield , converting a house next to my Fathers Slating business in Strathmartine Road , that was at the age of seventeen whilst I was serving my apprenticeship as a Slater with my Father. This was where I lived for the next three years during which, and at the age of nineteen I built a house in Auchrerhouse , a village set in the Sidlaw hills to the North of Dundee.

Now when I say I built a house, I mean just that, because when I started building it I had the princely sum of £10 in the bank, so I had to build every single brick myself with the assistance of family members and the odd person due me a favour.

Living at Kirkton Bank for many years and going through one marriage and on to the second I eventually moved half a mile up the hill to where I am now, at Lisheen. A beautifully situated house with an acre of garden and fantastic views over the countryside and, looking back to the City of Dundee where it all started.

During the last seventy years, I have seen many changes both to what is going on around the World and in deed to my own world. I have had successes and I have had failures. Somehow, I have always managed to get up again, when things have not gone exactly to plan. When it became clear that the plan was not working, then I changed the plan and was never afraid to realise that I was wrong.

Through all the businesses I have had, I have employed thousands of people. I have employed some very bright people and unfortunately some not so bright ones, but I have learned something from every single one of them and I hope that most of them have in some way learned something from me. I am sure every employee I have had could think of at least one thing they could do better than me in my business but not all the many hundreds of things that go on day in and day out in running a business, because if they could, then they would be running a business themselves.

I have always had an interest in politics, but never active, until the day in 2012 when Alex Salmond declared that there would be an independence referendum in 2014. Over the next two years, I put my whole being, my heart and soul, into the campaign and a lot of money too.

I donated a coach to Business for Scotland to campaign all over Scotland and one of my Sons, Jeff drove it. We took Chris Law’s old fire engine into our workshops and renovated it , turning it into  The Spirit Of Independence under the watchful eye of my Son Jamie. I had the idea of using the twenty-year-old Dennis Dragon to campaign throughout Dundee and district and made it available to any independence grass roots organisation to do the same. We naturally formed “ The Yes Bus Team” of wonderful and able people, like John Gibson ,Tony Banks, Billy Kay , Sheena Wellington, Deb Brown ,Harry Marshal, Ian the piper, and many ,many more and we made Dundee the Yes City ,turning in the highest percentage of yes votes in the country.

On the 18 September 2014, we had the referendum and we lost, it broke my heart. We will come again, there is no doubt of that and the Dragon for independence will be once more on the streets of Dundee and we will continue, on the road to independence.

So, sitting here watching the Snow fall and reminiscing back over my three score years and ten , I felt that I had to get just a very brief record down here. There is more, much more , some of it funny , a lot not so funny, and some which will never go to print, but all part of an interesting life.

Last night at dinner, the family gave me some birthday presents although I had told them not to. One of the gifts prompted me to write this piece. It is a framed print of the song “Caledonia” by Dougie McLean. There is something of the words in all of us I suspect.

Some more than others.

Our Journey.


A new Dawn required

Well quite a weekend and an eventful Monday.

First we had Nicola admitting that with only entry to the single market then an independence referendum would be off the Table.( not what the Scottish people voted for in the EU referendum) Then we had a press in a fit of apoplexy attempting to sway the meaning of  exactly what Theresa May said in the context of a “hard Brexit”. If you look at the interview you will see that she did not say that., In fact she left the door open but she had to say something after Nicola put a brave front on to a dogs breakfast on the Andrew Mar show in a spectacular breast beating display in order to try to gain some of the ground lost a day earlier by admitting that entry to the single market would mean no referendum.

So at that point we had Nicola threatening  another referendum if the Uk government chose to commit suicide by not joining the single market and we had Nicola stating quite clearly that the general direction Scotland was moving in, was independence. Well Nicola can I just say that if my  intention was to drive from Dundee to Perth, then I would drive ” in the general direction of Inverness “but that does not mean that I have any intention of going there.

We had the press putting a completely false interpretation on what Theresa said in the context of Brexit and causing quite a stir.

Now this might be becoming a wee bit complicated but if you look at the blog I did at the weekend and the two previous blogs I attached you will see that I  predicted exactly this mess that was unfolding  and you will notice that the two previous blogs were posted the day before the Scottish governments  paper on Brexit ,and the day after.

So now to this Morning , first thing that happened was that I was woken from by much needed beauty sleep by Theresa, who was not in the least amused as she had been up all night reading my blogs ( with the assistance of her gormless husband who was helping her with the big words). ” Bob , you are an Ass hole , do you realise that the value of the already very low pound has dropped another 1% because you just told everybody that the UK government  were about to commit the worst act of suicide in history by failing to remain in the single Market and we haven’t even had time to write the suicide note yet”. “OH, I said , I hadn’t realised that but that was not exactly what I said , no what I said was that the SNP were basing their strategy, on the UK committing suicide, but I do  not think that will happen, because although I do actually think you are stupid ,I do not think you are quite as stupid as that, and you will keep the single market and by doing so and by the good grace of Nicola you will get a bonus of keeping Scotland in your grubby little hands”

The result was that good old Theresa then called a press conference where she made this statement and I will put it in bold writing so that all the myopic Sheeple who keep calling me unpleasant names will be able to see it.

“I’m tempted to say that the people who are getting it wrong are those who print things saying ‘I’m talking about a hard Brexit, (that) it is absolutely inevitable there’s a hard Brexit’,” she said.

“I don’t accept the terms hard and soft Brexit. What we’re doing is going to get an ambitious, good and best possible deal for the United Kingdom in terms of… trading with and operating within the single European market.”

So there you are, as I said the SNP have been painting themselves into a corner.

To make matters worse Nicola made a statement saying that there is no chance of a referendum this year., I shake my head in wonder at the naivety of this . It is like the commander of an army telling his opponent that he has no plans to attack him for a year.

Yes indeed , we have been given a road map to unionism , independence is disappearing over the horizon and we will await the new dawn.

The Long and Tortuous Road to Independence


Ok Folks .

You will see below, two blogs I did recently ., The first one , I did the day before the Scottish government published their paper on Brexit and the second one ,I did on the day the paper was published after reading all 64 pages of it .

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon conformed exactly what I said in both of these blogs. I wont go over the same arguments and hope you will take the time to read them. They convey the  fears I have had for quite some time, and in fact the dissatisfaction I have had with the SNP for the last two years since the referendum. Two years , during which I found that the SNP ideas and actions ,or indeed inactions gave me such concern that after much soul-searching, I realised that they were not the party I had joined 30 years before, and therefore felt I had no choice but to resign from the party, the party that had up to that point, exclusively carried my hopes for an independent Scotland.

I thought that when  Nicola Sturgeon replaced Alex Salmond she was to be the breath of fresh air we needed to carry on the fight for a free Scotland. Now please do not get me wrong , as I have the greatest respect for Alex Salmond and I believe he is by far the most able politician in the whole of the UK at the moment, but he did make mistakes during the referendum campaign and for some reason he did not come over well to many people and whilst campaigning with the Yes bus team we constantly had people saying ” I would vote yes if it wasn’t for that man Salmond “.

So Nicola brought with her great hopes and of course the ranks of the SNP swelled hugely on the back of the result and the fact that Labour had thrown their lot in with the Tories.

So to cut a long story short ( it might be told in full before long) the popularity of the SNP surged but to be honest ,they were the recipients of circumstance and not the architects of their structure of popularity.

Over the last 27 Months, Nicola Sturgeon has led her troops up to the top of the hill, only to march them down again. Generally they were marched up the hill in the run up to an election   with a selection of carrots like the Summer initiative , which never transpired and then the troops wearily marched back down again after the election.

The SNP have ,I feel been in the process of painting themselves into a corner, whether through incompetence or design and I have often wondered as to the motives of the later. The only possible motive I can offer is that Nicola sees herself as the saviour of the UK with a possibility of standing candidates in England, Wales and possibly Ireland in the future , possibly joint candidates with traditional parties in these countries’

The SNP are ,according to their constitution , the party of independence. As the government of Scotland they have no mandate to govern for all , that is something which is intrinsically impossible anyway. They have a duty to “consider all ” but that is it . They were voted for on their manifesto and the fact that they were the SNP and any one who voted for them knew that.  This “governing for all ” is nonsense , their job is to achieve independence.

The latest  obstacle on the way ,it would seem is Brexit and I have covered this in the two blogs attached. It would seem that all Theresa May has to do is remain in the single market and independence is off the table for the forseeable future. I feel also that the rather unwise consultation with the Scottish  people, which ended on St Andrews day, presented without addressing the issues we lost the last referendum on ,might have something to do with the present situation

Now ,there is a slim chance that there could be a situation in which another referendum would be triggered and that is a very hard Brexit but I do not think there is a remote chance of that happening , because that would involve the British government committing the most stupid act of suicide in history as this would involve taking away the advantages of a single market at the same time as possibly loosing Scotland’s assets.

I would have more faith in the SNP’s intentions if they would make some move to prepare the ground for another possible referendum but they have not done a singe thing to address that since the last referendum, which brings me to the consultation on the “draft ” legislation before the Scottish parliament to allow a referendum to take place . I would urge everyone to read this as it is basically the same as the last one with no additional safeguards as to security , postal voting, international observers, or exit polls. additionally it states quite brazenly that during the last referendum there was a satisfaction rating of 96% for normal voting and 98% for postal voting.  This is unbelievable and shows one of two things, either the SNP are completely out of touch with the people of Scotland, or they have not bothered to scrutinise the work of their officers because they realise there wont be a referendum anyway.

So that is my concerns and I stick to my assessment that the SNP’s position is more of a road map to unionism than a road map to independence