A Nautical Nomad

Cruising , Braemar, Fred Olson

Day three of my trip to France and Spain and heading down the coast of France on sea day before arriving at Bordeaux tomorrow evening. Trip from Edinburgh yesterday went well with a faultless airport and flight experience arriving at Southampton Airport at 8.20. Decided to put off some time by having coffee at a costa in the airport as way too early for a check in at the cruise terminal. Caught up on Facebook twitter etc. The usual chaos in Westminster surrounding Brexit making headlines in all the papers and looking at the various reports and social media postings I realized one important thing. No one, but no one, fully understands the EU and the implications of Brexit.

The flight down

Arrived at the terminal building at 11 AM and a wait till 13.00 before boarding which gave me time to assess the age group of my fellow passengers, leaving me with the hope that the younger ones would be joining the cruise later in the day. So boarded and set about setting up an internet connection, having lunch and settling in. I have been on two previous cruises with Fred Olson and in the main been reasonably happy apart from a few niggling problems . This one is shaping up to be a somewhat less than complete experience and it started with finding where lunch was served. I asked two members of staff which restaurant was serving lunch and was told there was no lunch served. This would have been the first ever cruise that I had ever been on that did not serve lunch on the first day. Now I had ,in the past formed the opinion that Fred Olson cruises were very penny pinching by nature but this was ridiculous. However, on my familiarization trip around the ship I did come upon a restaurant serving lunch, obviously a staff training issue.

So, a few problems getting connected to WI FI but to be fair not too expensive at £65 for 7 days , by cruise ship standards, although, as this is an 8 day cruise it will probably cost me another £30 for the extra day. So far so good until later in the afternoon when I decided to have a snack and discovered that there was no facility available apart from three plates of biscuits at the coffee/tea station which has been instantaneously devoured by people who had obviously cruised on this ship in the past. So dinner being at 20.30 and assuming you had lunch around 12 to 1 they expect you to go for seven and a half hours without food. I think the slave ships of the 18th century had better conditions than this one, so I have arranged for the Red Cross to do a food air drop somewhere in the bay of Biscay later this afternoon.

By evening time I was bloody starving and begged the barman to give me some nuts with my drink to keep me conscious till dinner time . He grudgingly gave me a tiny helping of nuts see below.

Total sustenance from 14.00 till 20.00

So dinner at 20.30 and Faulty Towers at sea continued with me being put at a table for two instead of a table for six only then to be told by a concerned waiter that I was sitting at the wrong table. Turns out that they had two tables with the same number on them . So a move to another table and sitting next to a guy who was a compulsive complainer who had an issue with the sound of the propeller and was insisting he speak to the head waiter, whereby he took upon himself the roll of shop Stewart in insisting that everybody was decanted to another table. Eventually I explained to him that this was a ship, the restaurant was at the stern of it , ships have propellers and if he couldn’t hear it where we were, he would have something to worry about . As I had already been playing musical tables earlier I had no intention of moving and would be obliged if he would shut up and let us do what we came here for and be fed as my stomach at that point was beginning to think my throat had been cut. So, with the usual application of astute diplomacy , the situation was resolved and after an inordinate wait we were eventually served the first course at 21.10, heaven. So much to be desired with service and attitude on this ship.

So to the later part of the evening and an uneventful conclusion with a wee bit dancing and the obligatory disco where I transformed into a later day John Travolta, immersed in a Saturday night Fever. I am becoming quite adept at the taking of pulses before asking any of the ladies to dance and differentiating between a state of slumber and Riga mortice.

So onward through the bay of Biscay and a formal night tonight.

Hope you are having good weekend folks

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The World this week from Mennies

Saturday 23 March 2019

Brexit, May ,Corbin, Sturgeon, Donald.

So another week almost to a close and an interesting week it has been, both for a business point of view and from a political angle as well.

Business wise we are becoming busier by the day, both in the Coach hire side of the business and the vehicle repair and bodywork side also. So never a dull moment and always something new. There is however the ever-present Specter of Brexit and from what I can gather from business owners in general, we are the exception rather than the rule as far as future prospects are concerned and there is great uncertainty and, indeed concern that the UK will either crash out of the EU or be left with an unsatisfactory halfway house of an arrangement.

Which brings me on to the week past in politics with Theresa May holding out her begging bowl to the 27 EU leaders asking for an extension to the leaving date of the 29th March and I do mean this March, the very month that we are in. After three years of so-called negotiation, we actually find that there is no agreement suitable to the British parliament as to the leaving arrangements for exiting the largest market on the planet. A truly incredible position for any government to put a country into. Yes, the credibility of the UK and in particular, the people who are supposed to be running the country, is now at the level of a banana republic and we, through the efforts of the Tory party are the laughing stock of the world.

Potentially we now only 6 days from the Armageddon of a no deal exit from the EU and the Army have set up a command post in the nuclear bunker below Whitehall, presumably to put in place the containment measures necessary in the event of civil unrest brought upon by possible food and medicine shortages together with mass unemployment, and all that needs to be done to avoid this is a single letter from the UK government to the EU cancelling section 50 which was triggered to put in place the worst example of self-flagellation in the history of the Universe, exit from the EU. The EU, showing a remarkable element of pity has extended by a few more weeks, this date of exit to allow some sort of rethink on this invidious situation.

There is a petition which went live on the British government web site two days ago to cancel Brexit in the manner I have just described which is sitting at over 4 million replies and rising by the second. As yet I have not even heard a single comment from this dysfunctional government, nor from the equally dysfunctional Labour opposition led by the hapless Jeremy Corbyn.

Ok, so that is the situation regarding Brexit, a betrayal of the British people by a group of incompetent liars, a situation that can only be fairly resolved by either canceling the section 50 or going back to the people and holding a second referendum now that there is more information regarding the consequences of Brexit than there was in 2016, and that conveniently brings me on to the situation regarding Scotland. Now, although the UK overall voted for Brexit by a small margin, Scotland voted by a very large margin to remain in the EU ( 62% to 38%) therefore the will of the Scottish people was made very clear and that was that we wished to have nothing to do with the narrow xenophobic attitude prevalent in England which had led to the situation of Scotland being potentially dragged out of the EU against its will. Now at present, we have an SNP led devolved government in Scotland, the first minister being Nicola Sturgeon who is also the leader of the SNP a party dedicated to attaining independence for Scotland. We had a referendum in 2014 where the result went against us, mainly through the campaign of disinformation and downright lies by both the British government and the British Labour party. Nicola Sturgeon was elected as leader of the SNP shortly after this and since her election, she has swept independence under the carpet apart from her regular endeavours at keeping the faithful happy by marching them up to the top of the hill and down again by way of pretending that another referendum was on the cards. The one thing she has never done was to, in any credible manner, prepare for another referendum by addressing the issues we lost the last referendum on. I have personally had my concerns regarding both her competence or her commitment to further the cause of independence from very early on in her leadership of the SNP.

Brexit seemed the prime opportunity to once more to at least prepare for another independence referendum, given that the Scottish people were about to be dragged out of the EU against our will. The utter chaos and incompetence that resulted in the Uk governments attempts at negotiation seemed like manna from heaven to the independence cause, but no. Nicola sturgeon deliberately refused to even attempt to form a case for independence on the back of this chaos although it was blatantly obvious that with an enemy in utter disarray, that this was the optimum time to get back on the campaign trail. No, Nicola seemed to be more intent on saving the Union of the UK as opposed to what should have been her main propose in life as leader of the SNP, and that was to further the cause of independence. She decided to produce the Scottish governments answer to Brexit in 2016 shortly after the referendum and I suspected that this would be her opportunity to grandstand as the saviour of the UK. The day before this report was to be published I wrote a blog and titled it ” A Road Map to Unionism” The day after I wrote the blog, the report was published. I was on a ship at the time and when I read it I couldn’t believe my eyes, as it was more or less exactly as I had predicted, it was indeed ” A road Map to Unionism” I wrote another blog that day and titled it ” I Told You So” I attach both blogs below.

https://bobsblog.scot/2016/12/19/a-road-map-to-unionism/

https://bobsblog.scot/2016/12/20/i-told-you-so/

I believe I have been right in my assessment of Nicola Sturgeon’s abilities or commitment to independence and the position we are in at the moment, with our adversaries all over the place and in utter confusion, and without even an attempt by the SNP to mount a cohesive campaign in preparation for a future independence referendum only serves to reinforce my opinion. It could be the case that the SNP will be forced into some sort of action because of the corner they have painted themselves into, but that will be like going off at half-cock and be less than effective.

I think that Nicola Sturgeons days as leader of the SNP are numbered and I feel that this imminent demise could be connected to the Alex Salmond case and Nicola Sturgeons involvement in what I believe was either a set up, or a massive cock up. ( set up being my favored theory) I also believe that Nicola has been preparing her exit strategy by setting up future sources of employment on a more global platform, quite possibly within the UN organization in its various initiatives concerning women’s rights.

If my suspicions are correct the she would be better gone, sooner than later. It would seem that at present there is only one SNP politician putting his head over the parapet and that is the MP for the western Isles, Angus Mc Neil. I suspect Alex Salmond is also in the background with Angus.

So on to Donald and the US. Much is now being made about the fact that ISIS is on the verge of collapse , in fact, just today could mark the end of their Caliphate dreams in the middle east and Donald is beating his chest about this. However, this defeat of ISIS has very little to do with the US, in fact, if it wasn’t for the efforts of both the US , the UK and Israel, they would have been defeated long ago. Make no mistake, the victors here are the democratic forces of Syria, the Kurds and Russia, The manipulated mainstream media will try to convince you this is not the case. Mean while Daft Donald is attempting to legitimize his masters in Israel’s claim to sovereignty of the occupied territory in the Gollan heights area of Syria. This is illegal under international law and Trump is no better than the gangster government of Israel for even thinking of this.

So enough of politics and hopefully a relaxing evening in Mennies. I was here last night and ended up in deep conversation with a couple of friends about independence, one of them, John certainly keeps me on my toes and comes up with extremely interesting scenarios regarding the politics of Scotland especially in connection with businesses in an independent Scotland. Good banter and sometimes difficult to keep track of the quantity of alcohol being consumed.

So, to all my friends the World over, I raise my glass and wish you a pleasant and safe weekend enjoy yourself and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do 🙂

Slainte

The World this week from Mennies

Saturday 16 March 2019

The EU, Nicola, Tory and Labour self harm, Donald,

Well a gap in my wee blog from Mennies, as last weekend I was in Brussels. Beautiful City of beer and chocolate. Extremely multi cultural and inclusive with a wonderful city center of winding streets and alleys, lined with shops bars and restaurants. The home of Tin-Tin and Captain Haddock and of course the headquarters of the EU. The EU being the largest market on the planet, the market that we , through the UK Tory and Labour parties are about to leave, in an act of unmitigated folly and self harm

Yes , only 13 days to go before we reach the official leave date of the 29th March., That is unless the remaining 27 sane members will allow an eleventh hour postponement to madness to allow the UK government a few more Months of idiocy, just as the last few months have been. The word in Brussels ( and no doubt many other parts of the world) is that UK democracy is a laughing stock. The Mother of all parliaments has been rumbled, they are quite simply a bunch of clowns in a Circus called Westminster.

So, what does this mean to us hers in Scotland? Let me start with what it should mean. It should mean the best possible opportunity to commit to a campaign once more for a free and independent Scotland within the EU. A family of nations we would be welcomed into with open arms, in place of the sad and dysfunctional English Government. Yes, English government, because that is what they are. Anyone who has been watching the black comedy unfold during the week past on the Westminster parliament will realize just what I mean, with Scotland’s needs being constantly sidelined ,along with our 35 SNP representatives as they tried to introduce amendments to highlight Scotland’s position and reluctance to leave the EU. Yes this should have been the final straw that would break the Camel’s back and should have led to an announcement that Scotland intended going its own way with a referendum to finalize the will of the people of Scotland to leave the rotting corps of the UK to fertilize the Green fields of England.

Yes, that is what should have happened , but no , yet again, all we got from Nicola Sturgeon was sound bites to keep the personality cult members quiet and yet again social media was full of the ” Nicola has a cunning plan” brigade. A bunch of no hoppers who can not stand having their little bubbles burst, and cling to the hope that their glorious leader will eventually find a ” cunning plan” Well folks , let me tell you something for sure, remember all these times over the last four and a half years that you called me names like ,Unionist, shit stirrer and many more that I would not print here, when I said that there was no cunning plan, every time Nicola marched you up to the top of the hill, only to be marched down again. Every time you thought you were about to be led into a new campaign and I cautioned against such high hopes. Every time I urged the SNP to at least start to prepare for a future campaign. When in 2016 I called the Nicola’s answer to Brexit, a ” road map to unionism” Well here we are four and a half years from the last referendum and it is blatantly obvious that there has never been a creatable plan let alone a cunning plan, and, more importantly , it is blatantly obvious that the efforts of the SNP parliamentarians, since the EU referendum in 2016 have been aimed at saving the UK union rather than what we sent them down there for in the first place and that was to get us out of this poisonous and grossly unfair union that is the United kingdom. Of all the SNP members of Parliament down there ,I think there is only one with a pair of balls and that is Angus Mc Neil from the Island of Barra. He seems the only one who will put his head over the parapet of the castle of Sturgeon and Murrel, to say it as it is, and that is we are wasting valuable time whilst the enemy are dispersed all over the battlefield, in utter disarray ,immersed in complete chaos, whilst Nicola fiddles and Westminster burns. Well Nicola, it is not a fiddle player we need at the moment, we need a leader and a road map to independence. I fear there is more than meets the eye to Nicolas tardiness regarding preparation for a future referendum and I suspect it has its roots in the Alex Salmond case. I feel there is a tinderbox there awaiting ignition, only time will tell, but watch this space.

Ok , Labour and once more Corbyn is seen to be a prevaricating wimp and a strong brexiteer despite his party being mainly in favor of remaining in the EU. it was quite disturbing watching the majority of Labour MP’s abstaining on the motion to allow a people’s vote and not difficult to see why, in all this government chaos Labour are still lagging behind in the polls.

Donald, and not doing too well in the popularity stakes with it being discovered that his quotes are being used on literature produced by a far right extremist terrorist group that the New Zealand mass murderer was a member of. It has also been found that Kim Jung has started re-building nuclear testing facilities because of the mistrust he has regarding the overtures by Donald and the gangster like attitude of Pompeo and company.

Ok so enough of politics, and on to the weekend and a couple ( or more) of pints in that den of political intrigue and convivial company, Mennies .

I wish all my friend , wherever you might be on this fragile planet of ours a great weekend and I raise my glass to you.

Slainte .

Remember, Never be afraid to say what you honestly believe is the right thing to say, and never be afraid of listening to what someone else honestly believes is the right thing to say. Invariably , the actual right thing is somewhere in between.

The World this Week from Mennies

Saturday 2 March 2019

Trump, Business for Scotland, Corbin and Independence

 

Well, another week almost to a close and yet another busy one at that, the next stage of the business expansion took another step forward with movement in the acquisition of property to facilitate further development of servicing facilities for a major contract.

Some of these days I might, just might, get around to thinking of retiring and putting my feet up. Naa, on second thoughts, probably not, as I have seen too many people retiring then dying and as I have no intention of doing that I will probably keep going for a while yet. In the mean time I am once more getting itchy feet as somewhere on the planet is calling me, not sure where yet, but somewhere definitely is, so perhaps my travel journal will be appearing before long.

 

So back to reality for a wee while and the confines of the metropolis of Dundee, and indeed the very best pub in Dundee, Mennies.

This week we had the meeting of my best pal from across the Pond Donald, and Kim Jong-un. Two supreme leaders together, one a supreme, racist, liar,con man and bully. The other, Kim Jong-un. The former having a rather bad week back home with the testimony by his one-time friend and fixer Michael Cohen, who presented (if true) a litany of Jail inducing allegations concerning Donald’s business activities over the decade of their acquaintance, from Stormy Danials to the Russian Mafia. That was bad enough, but he had to leave Vietnam without any kind of deal, so the meeting of the two supreme leaders was a supreme failure. Interestingly, it was easier to get Donald to Vietnam last week than it was 40 years ago when he should have been there but managed to get off, because of several student exemptions and then a diagnosis of bone spurs. So not one of Donald’s best weeks.

 

So back home and the other not so supreme leader Jeremy Corbyn. Now let me say to start with that at present, British politics are a joke to the extent that a Brian Rix Whitehall farce couldn’t even come near, for abject idiocy. But last week we, once again had the hoary old chestnut of anti-Semitism rearing its yawn inducing head, on the back of several labour MP’S resigning using the well-worn accusation of anti-Semitism within the Labour ranks, that together with the accusation of incompetence regarding Brexit policy by Corbin. Ok so let me be clear, Corbyn is useless, and his Brexit policy is all over the place, he is a reincarnation of a badly dressed Michael Foot, but he is no anti-Semic and I doubt whether many in the labour movement are. Corbyn’s problem is that he supports the human rights of the Palestinian people and as such is seen by the Government of Israel as a threat. Now the Government of Israel have been working assiduously for many years to change the meaning of Anti-Semitism from, “a hatred of Jews”, to a dislike of the Israeli government for their genocidal treatment of the people of Palestine. They have spent many millions of pounds through contributions to politicians and encouraging these politicians to be members of the organisation called “Friends of Israel” where-by they receive many benefits including trips to Israel. Strangely enough, one of the Labour defectors was some time ago secretly filmed receiving a large amount of money from an Israeli agent to assist with taking down a less than sympathetic Tory MP. Jeremy Corbyn is seen as a threat because of the possibility of a general election and thus the anti- sematic smear campaign. He has of course no back bone and therefore caves in continuously to this unjust smear tactic.

 

So a bit nearer home and yesterday I attended a lunch by the Business for Scotland Saltire club. Now Business for Scotland are an organisation of business people who believe in an independent Scotland. The Saltire Club is a group within Business for Scotland who meet regularly for lunches attended by politicians and notable figures from the media, whereby ideas can be exchanged and hopefully passed on to those with remits and abilities to change the way things are done in government and indeed, the independence movement. Business for Scotland led by Gordon McIntire Kemp research the difficult questions relating to Scottish business and how it would operate in an independent Scotland. I have been a member of BFS from during the independence campaign we had from 2012 to 2014 and during the final months of the campaign my family and I donated the use of one of our full-sized front-line coaches as a battle bus to tour the country. I joined the Saltire club when it was formed sometime after the campaign but became somewhat disillusioned at the cooperation being received from the SNP and left after some time.

However, having received an invitation to the Lunch in Dundee yesterday I decided to go along and was very pleasantly impressed by Gordon’s presentation of how things had changed with the SNP/ Scottish government, and how the organisation now had a strong team of researchers and a program of statistical information and guidance which will be extremely useful in the next referendum campaign. So, I have re-joined the group.

 

Yesterday the guests were Leslie Riddoch (Journalist) and Chris Law the member of the Westminster parliament for Dundee West. Leslie gave a masterful account of the Nordic manner of independent countries and especially the Faro islands. I have known Chris for many years and campaigned alongside him during the referendum campaign. I remember bumping into him in Mennies after a gap of several years during the campaign and him telling me about an idea he had. He had bought an ex-army fire engine and intended having it refurbished and taking it around Scotland campaigning. I asked to see it and he took me to where it was, and I saw it was in a bit of a mess but offered to get it into our workshops and carry out the renovations. It was with us for a couple of months while we striped the paint, made good the body imperfections and completely re-sprayed it and serviced the mechanical side of it. I remember Chris sitting in my office the week before he left on his journey around Scotland and he said to me “well, what do you think” I said to him, I think you are f*****g mad, but I hope you make it. Chris did take it around Scotland on a very successful campaign and was back in Dundee on the last day of the campaign where he joined us, the Yes bus Team in the City Square of Dundee. We had had a very busy day talking to people and reassuring them, many people had come into town just to see us and wish us luck, as we had spoken to thousands of people during out campaign over the last few months in the centre of Dundee. Most of the team, Deb, Tony, John , Harry, Mark and all the rest of them, had left as they were to be gong to the count later and Chris and I were left clearing up and taking down the stall, it had been an extremely intense few months and I remember thinking that it was a anti climax as I looked around  “our” Square, the place we had held against all odds, with the might of the no campaign against us throughout the campaign. We had seen off the numerous attempts by the no campaign to put their people on “our streets”, we had seen off Jim Murphy with his tour of Scotland and his Iron Bru crate to speak on. We had seen off the Labour battle bus with Anus Sarwar where we organised a march at hours’ notice to march behind our piper, Ian to spoil their day. I remembered the wee old lady who, earlier in the day I met as she walked down Reform street, she had made a special trip into town to speak to us. She came up to me and told me she had voted by post a couple of weeks before, she said she had , had a visit from one of these “ no people”  who had told her that her pension was at risk if she voted yes so she made out her postal vote and gave it to the young man to post for her and she voted no. She said she regretted it now and she was sorry. I told her not to worry as she did what she thought was right at the time and gave her a big hug.

 

So, there we were the two of us standing there on the field of battle, so to speak. The yes Bus team had seen off the enemy, but had we won the battle? Chris said to me, what do you think? “I think we should get over 70% “I said “what will you do now “ Chris asked. I looked around our Square and thought of the intensity of the last few months, of having all but abandoned the business and left Jamie to run it. “I just don’t know” I said, and I couldn’t stop the tears coming. We walked across to Hendry’s and had a coffee. That was the end of the campaign.

 

We lost the referendum, but Dundee returned the highest percentage vote on the whole country, I suppose that was the Yes Bus teams reward.

 

Chris went on to become an MP and again the yes bus team played a big part in that and his selection for candidate. Yesterday at the lunch I took him to task as to why the SNP have not made any effort to prepare for a future referendum and we had quite an animated discussion regarding this. I have had many a heated debate with Chris, mostly in Mennies regarding the shortcomings of the SNP and I will no doubt have many more. I hope there is a change on the horizon, but I fear there must be major surgery before the body of the SNP will be on a healing curve and I suspect that might be sooner than later.

So, to all my friends the World over, I wish you a good and peaceful weekend and I raise my glass to you.

 

Slainte.

Remember, life might not be the party you wished it to be, but seeing as we are here, we might as well dance.