A Nautical Nomad ( landlubber version)

Continuation of Saturday 25 April 2020

And so to continue the walk of last Saturday, rather later than I had hoped but you know what these lock downs are like , just never the time do the things you would like.
I ended last weeks blog in front of the Old steeple and St Mary’s church, having told the story of Mary Slessor and continuing along the High Street it brought memories of, as a young Lad I would come down here to a shop in Lindsey Street to buy molds and plaster for the models I made. an interesting hobby which if I remember correctly ,the models usually turned out perfect but the paint work to complete them was somewhat of a disappointment , not just to me but I assume also to the people I gifted them to.

Gilfillan Memorial church Whitehall Crescent buit 1879

So onward along the high Street passing Whitehall street looking down towards Whitehall crescent and the Gilfillan Memorial Church. Arriving at the City Square . Now I could write a book about this place as it was, where, in 2014 we, the Yes Bus team campaigned almost constantly during the last months of the referendum. Some day I will write a book about all that happened here and I promise , it will open some eyes and cause a few bad moments for certain people . However, that is for another day, and today I cast my mind back to the good times we had during that campaign for Scottish freedom from the last vestiges of the British Empire.
In the Months before the referendum my family decided to do a few things to help the cause of independence. We donated a full sized coach to act as a battle bus for Business for Scotland, an organization of businesses who were supporters of independence., It spent two months traveling around Scotland, making the business case for an independent Scotland,
We took Chris Law’s ( now Chris Law MP) 50 year old ex Army fire engine into out workshops and completely refurbished it including a full re paint. Chris then took it on a very successful campaigning trip around Scotland and after the referendum Chris with the help of the Yes Bus team was firstly, selected by the SNP to stand for the UK parliament and then, was successful in fighting the seat for Dundee West., Unfortunately Chris like most of the MP’s we sent down to Westminster has been a disappointment, as five and a half years after loosing the referendum we are no nearer to taking the field once again to gain our independence.
The other thing we did as a family to help the referendum campaign was to put the yes bus on the road and make it available to any of the disparate groups of yes campaigners, to campaign in their own particular manner. The yes Bus was a double decker which started its life some 20 years before in Falkirk where it was built by Alexander Dennis . We naturally, also formed the Yes Bus team which was made up of anyone who wished to campaign with us. I believe the yes bus team played a very big part in making Dundee the highest percentage of yes votes in the whole country. Again all of this is for a more detailed story some time in the future.
The building at the end of the square is the Caird Hall, gifted to the city by the Cairds , owners of Ashton Works and latterly Craigie works , they also gifted Caird Park to the city.

City Square , if the referendum had been successful we had decided that it would be named Freedom Square

With my back to the City square I looked up Reform street towards the High school of Dundee the forerunner of which was the school where William Wallace, one if Scotland’s great heroes was educated.
Then my vision wandered above the School to the hill sitting to the north of the city Centre, Dundee Law, quite commonly and mistakenly called the Law Hill. Mistakenly, because the old scots for hill is Law.
Now the Dundee Law has more of a place in History than a lot of people realize as it was the place where John Graham of Caverhouse raised the standard in the first Jacobite uprising in 1689. Ok, so briefly. James the seventh if Scotland and second of England was deposed firstly by the English parliament and then by the Scottish parliament in favor of William of orange this happened in 1688 in England and in 1689, a convention if the estates was held in Edinburgh and it was decided to depose James seventh and invite William to be king. At that meeting John Graham walked out and marched his men to Dundee where he was the constable, He then , on the 13 April 1689 raised the Jacobite standard on Dundee law. Claverhouse was known as Bonnie Dundee, a phrase often wrongly associated with the city itself . Burns wrote a song about the affair called, Up Wi The Bonnets Of Bonnie Dundee. Again wrongly ( although tenuously) associated with Dundee, In the song it says ” gang doon the west port and let us gang free” Well it was the west port of Edinburgh Burns was depicting, not the West Port of Dundee and it was after Ckaverhouse stormed out of the Edinburgh parliament, However, he did bring his regiment to Dundee and did raise the standard on Dundee law ., He then went on a progress around Scotland raising the clans to fight for King James , which is also where the name Jacobite comes from as Jacobus is the Latin for James.
Eventually after several near encounters with the British forces, Claverhouse met General McKay on the slopes of Killiecrankie on the 27 July 1689 . The Jacobite’s were victorious but Claverhouse was mortally wounded. There was an indecisive battle a few weeks afterwards in Dunked but the cause was finished without the characteristic leader that was John Graham of Ckeverhouse, Bonnie Dundee,

Reform street with High School of Dundee and Dundee Law

Heading east along what is left of the High street and turning into the Seagate I walked along to Peter street where at the foot of the lane there is a cross marked out in the cobblestones. This is where the last Witch to be executed in Dundee was burned, her name was Grissel Jafferay, Generally Witches were people who were natural healers and this fell fowl of the church at the time, The reason being that the church believed that they were the only people who could indulge in black magic and cure people so they persecuted those who they saw as competition, The difference was of course that the people they called Witches were more able to cure using pants etc. than the church was using prayer.
Grissel was tried on the evidence if two ministers of the church, found guilty sentenced to death and was strangled then her body burned. Incidently the last witch was a Scottish women named Hellen Duncan from Callander , She was tried in 1944 and sentenced to 9 months prison she died in 1956.

Spot in the Seagate where Girsel Jaffray’s body was burned

Right, so I have once again went on too long and this time instead of the two miles I walked I have only walked less than half a mile but started blethering too much, so to save you all falling asleep I will again cut this short and finish the walk with you ,hopefully tomorrow.

Take care and don’t venture out of the lock down except for essential supplies and of course your daily exercise. stay safe

A Nautical Nomad ( landlubber version)

A walk through Dundee ( with a few wee stories) part one

Saturday 25 April 2020

This is us 5 weeks into the lockdown, setup to combat the Coronavirus epidemic. We are allowed out only for work in necessary industries, food shopping and limited exercise. These strictures were imposed rather late in the epidemic and travel from abroad has not yet been included which means that our airports are bringing in thousands of people every day without any testing or quarantine . This lack of proper policy has no doubt caused many unnecessary deaths and hopefully will be properly investigated in due course.

Hwever that is for another day and today I decided to walk into and around the center of Dundee. Leaving the house I started down Westgrove Avenue towards the Perth Rd , Westgrove Avenue is a nice Lane bounded by high sandstone walls , keeping the homes on either side very Private. There are some lovely buildings here. this being part of the West end of the city and many of the houses here were built during the hay days of the Jute industry in the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds, by the Jute barons. The West end was chosen, as the prevailing wind is from the west and kept the smell from the slums and tenements in the center of the city away from the abodes of the privileged class at that time . Most of the large houses and almost mini estates have been converted into smaller housing units and flats but still probably the most desirable part of the city.

Westgrove Avenue heading for the Perth Rd

After a brisk downhill walk I turned left at the Perth road, heading towards the City Centre. I passed the Harris School , recently completely rebuilt and indeed the school that three of my children attended.

Harris School

Not far from the school is the western cemetery. It was originally opened by a commercial company in 1845; it was purchased by the City of Dundee District Council in 1979. In 2007, a group of local residents, supported by the West End Community Council, founded the Western Cemetery Association, to maintain the character and appearance of the cemetery.

The Western cemetery

Continuing along the Perth Road past Windsor street on the right I came to the Sinderens which sits at the junction of the Perth Road Hawkhill and Blackness avenue overlooked by the impressive Blackness Library. The Sinderins in Dundee refers to a parting of the ways or sundering of the roads, one going east along the present Perth Road and the other up the Hawkhill.
Blackness library was one of the libraries built through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie , born in Dunfermline and made his fortune in the steel industry in America. He was a ruthless businessman and in later live made amends for his exploitation of his workforce by becoming a philanthropist . His philanthropy being expressed in his home country by donating libraries in most of the large cities. Carnegie hall in New York was another of his gifts

Blackness library , a gift of Andrew Carnegie

So leaving the Sinderins and continuing along the Perth Road I passed one of the most beautiful cobbled lanes in the country . Strawberry bank, which leads from the Perth Road to Magdalen Yard road.

Strawberry Bank

And so to the heart break of the walk . My local, Mennies, or to give it its Sunday name The Speedwell bar . Closed because of the lock down. It is given the name Mennies after one of the previous owners , a Mrs. Mennie, who ran a tight ship, so much so that she once threw the Rolling stones out of the pub for rowdiness after one of their concerts in the Caird hall.
Mennies, always a place where you will get a cheery welcome from mine host Jonathan Stewart together with the many costumers who pass through the doors of probably one of the most popular hostelries in Dundee. A hive of political intrigue and the place the Yes bus team would come to after a day in the city square during the independence campaign in 2014. Sad to see it with the shutters up during this lock down

Mennies, my local.

Onward towards the City center, passing Ryhill church , which like many churches these days, has been converted into flats. Ryehill church is situated on a very restricted site on the corner of Perth Road and Mid Wynd. It was designed by George Shaw Aitken in 1878 and completed in 1889.

Ryhill Church

Onward , passing Duncan of Jordonston Collage of Art & Design (DJCAD) which is part of the University of Dundee. It is ranked as one of the top schools of art and design in the United Kingdom and has an outstanding reputation in teaching, practice and research. A couple of hundred meters and I came to Seabraes garden, a beautiful Oasis. just off the normally busy Perth road with its confusion of palm trees and a mini band stand. Great views out over the river Tay and a great excuse to stop for a break and take in the views on this glorious day.

Sea Braes Garden

Almost directly across the road from the garden is the university of Dundee. The University of Dundee is a public research university. Founded in 1881 the institution was, for most of its early existence, a constituent college of the University of St Andrews alongside United College and St Mary’s College located in the town of St Andrews itself. Following significant expansion, the University of Dundee gained independent university status in 1967 while retaining much of its ancient heritage and governance structure.

The university is at the cutting edge of medical research being linked to Ninewells hospital which is one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK. At present they are working on a cure for Covid 19 and are expecting trials to start this week.

University of Dundee

So, after a well deserved rest I continued towards the City center, shortly passing by the Queens hotel. An imposing building with a sandstone façade. Opened in 1878 by Dundee wine merchant Col Smith as a “Station Hotel” in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the railway station in Dundee it was famously described as the “swankiest, poshest hotel in Bonnie Dundee”. It once had Winston Churchill as a guest when he was a Member of Parliament for the city. A career that was short lived as he was defeated by Nedy Scrimgeour who believe it or not stood on an abolitionist ticket. Churchill never quite got over that, and he once said that he would” see the weeds grow in the streets of Dundee”, not realizing that the people of Dundee looked upon his removal as being well rid of one of the weeds.
Coincidently the Queens is in fact the scene of a couple of my political interventions in recent years., The first being in 2016 the week before the Scottish parliamentary elections when I walked out on a meeting that Nicola Sturgeon was speaking at. The reason being that I had been deliberately prevented from posing the question as to why she had not included in the manifesto for the forthcoming election, the intention to wrest control of the ability to hold a Scottish referendum from Westminster ( section 30). A question that will forever haunt her as she has been refused a section 30 now on several occasions.
The second occasion, was relatively recently, in fact just before the most recent UK General Election when the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbin came to town. He had recently announced that he would not countenance granting permission for Scotland to hold a referendum on independence . The same section 30 that I wished to ask Nicola Sturgeon about. This time I had decided not to be quite so polite as I had been with Nicola Sturgeon and had opted for a more direct approach.
Several problems had to be overcome one was entry to the room where the meeting was to take place, which by coincidence was the same room that Nicola Sturgeon had used. The other problem was that I knew there was no question and answer session planned. As far as entry was concerned, it is well known in Dundee that I am not a supporter of the labor party and in fact came up against them on numerous occasions during the independence campaign in 2014. Therefore signing in to the meeting was not an option.
There are two entrances to that room one direct from the car park at the rear and one from a staircase which leads from the hotel reception. I decided on the staircase option as it has a bend in it and lent itself more aptly to a discreet entry.

I simply walked into the reception , milled with some of the people standing about and edged my way to the top of the staircase and made my way down, stopping at the bend to surreptitiously peer around to see what lay ahead. Problem! there was a table at the entrance to the room manned by one of the officials, however as I looked he picked up some papers and made his way into the room. I quickly followed him and it must have looked as though I had entered the room with him. Once in the door he turned right and I turned left, walking around the back of the people who by this time were all seated. I found a row with spare seats and managed to get myself about the center of the room with people on both sides of me, the idea being that if the worst came to the worst they would have a job getting to me.
When I came in I had noticed a few eyebrows going up amongst the audience but no reaction from the officials. I heard later from someone close to Labour that I had been noticed but they had been of the opinion that they could “contain any problem”
I started up a conversation with the lady next to me and it turned out that she was in fact a supporter of independence. Eventually Jeremy came in and started his speech, much of which I agreed with. It looked like he was not going to address the independence issue so I decided to take the bull by the horns and stood up . “Jeremy” , I said, “I would like to ask why to think fit to deprive the Scottish people of the democracy they deserve by refusing a section 30. Are you not a believer in democracy” Jeremy decided that he would continue with his speech and I had decided that he wouldn’t, so I raised my voice to counter the fact that he had a mike. meanwhile panic ensued among the officials. I had considered, that because Jeremy was the leader of the opposition at Westminster he could in all possibility have had the services of MI5 officers who would be armed therefore I had to be very careful not to go over the score or in any way allow them to think I might pose a danger to their charge. This was one of the reasons I had deliberately positioned myself deep into the audience.
Three officials including Jim Mc Govern ( previous MP for Dundee West) tried to get past the people sitting to my left and did not make a very good job of it. They were shouting at me to get out and getting in one another’s way.One of them took hold of my shoulder. Now I realized that this was in fact assault, and because this was a licensed premises the only people who could ask me to leave was the management or employees of the license holder. I told the guy to take his hands off me and made it very plain that if they touched me again they would be responsible for the consequences .
Meanwhile the audience had turned into a baying mob and once I had pushed off the three ineffectual and self appointed bouncers I turned and said to Jeremy( who had actually stopped talking at this point) at the same time pointing to the mob , “so this is what you call democracy”. I had made my point and decided to leave, heading for the door which led to the car park.
If anyone is interested I covered this incident in more detail including the aftermath in a blog I did the following day titled “The dark heart of New Labour”.
As I walked past the Queens all of this came back to me, I afforded myself a wry smile.
As a foot note, that day, after the meeting when Jeremy was interviewed, he had changed his mind about granting the section 30 and his position was now that he could grant it within a couple of years of taking power

Queens Hotel

At this point in the walk, the Perth road stops and the street becomes the Nethergate before crossing West Marketgate.

Continuing past the Overgate Shopping Mall I stopped at the Old Steeple, my memory going back to my childhood and of climbing the steps to the top of the tower. Sometimes called St Marys tower , it has stood against fire and siege since the 15th century. It held out against Cromwell when his forces laid siege to the City in 1651 until the holding forces were smoked out.
I remember when the council were changing the road and gardens outside the Steeple, the workmen came across a large amount of skeletons, which ,it was thought. were buried there during and after the siege.

Auld Steeple with the old town cross

Sitting in front of the steeple is a memorial to Mary Slessor. A missionary who started as a worker in Baxter Brothers one of Dundee’s Jute mills . She went to Africa to spread the word of the Bible and as you can see on her memorial she persuaded the natives to abandon their ” superstitions” I think what it should say is that she “replaced” their superstitions.

Memorial to Mary Slessor

So that was me at the two mile mark with quite a bit to go but a perfect day for it. I will finish it there for the day and carry on with part two of the walk tomorow , to save anyone from falling asleep. Hopefully when all of this is over , people will get out and walk , it is great exercise and it costs nothing , especially when all the shops are closed.

A Nautical Nomad

Friday 10 April 2020

Third week of lock down and going through some of my facebook postings of previous cruises and came across this one which was a transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale in 2017.

Oh to be back on the seas again but hopefully it will come again .

10 April 2017

Well day four of my wee sojourn to the US with a sail across the Atlantic Ocean and day two at sea.
These transatlantic voyages can be interesting with a selection of things to do to pass the time, like, flower arranging. needlework and quizzes all about America. The quizzes must be American orientated, because most Americans think they are sailing off the edge of the World if they go any further than their inshore waters and any new country they encounter on a trip must be a new world. American news outlets do not help the situation, because they seem to forget there are countries beyond American shores.

Now I realise that I will be getting stick from my many US friends for this but I am also sure that they realise that my attempts to assuage an element of boredom are conducted with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.
Oh, I have just realised that I have inadvertently encroached on the main event of the day, coffee with the captain. I wondered why I had been getting strange looks from a group of people who are waiting to get seats whist I was taking a whole table up with my accoutrements spread out all over the place.
Well I can’t be bothered moving so I will just have to put up with the Captains old jokes in order to piss off all the people who are still giving me strange looks and after all, it is vitally important that I get this report out and the Captain has just told us that the ship is 300 metres long. He is an English Captain so presumably he has been at sea for quite a while and not heard of Brexit because before long he will have to be telling people that the ship is 1000 YARDS long. This is getting exciting he is telling us about the incinerator on board. I think that is how they dispose of the old codgers who expire whilst cruising.

Cool day at sea

OK, I will have to contain my excitement and get on to more important things like what has been happening this last couple of days since I last posted , which to be honest is not a lot and simply been winding down after a pretty intense couple of months at work . Oh I temporarily digress as the Captain has just told everyone that he once had a 10 to 12 meter swell. I do not believe him.
The first night on board, was taken up with re-familiarising myself with the Crown princess, a lovely ship and now one of the older ships in the Princess fleet. I prefer the older ships as the newer ones are too open plan. Dinner was good with a table of interesting people. Later I ended the evening / early Morning in the compulsory ships disco.

Sky walkers disco

Yesterday was formal night on the ship where everyone dresses up, the ladies in their ball gowns and cocktail dresses and the gentlemen in their tuxedoes. I of course wore my Kilt and just to emphasise my earlier point about the insular nature of American society I had the usual stream of people asking where I was from!
I did bump into Ronnie, resplendent in his kilt, a fellow Scot who I had not seen for about 10 years a guy who regularly travels the World attending to his various business interests and when in the UK spends some time in his second home which is the house of Lords, I sometimes all him Barron Ronnie, as that is what he is. The last time I saw him was on board a princess ship sailing from Venice to the States. Ronnie, despite being a Lord, is a nice guy and the last time I sailed with him we had a great time. His only problem is that as he owns part of Budweiser, and when it is his round he refuses to buy anything other than Budweiser. As many of you will be aware Budweiser is on the same level as Gnats Piss.

Lovely sunset

So, my evening last night once more ended up in the disco showing the youngsters how to dance, and now onward into Monday and new adventures among the Zimmer’s, wheel chairs and nice people and I attach ( hopefully) photos of the Captains coffee morning .

Right now, can’t make up my mind whether to find the flower arranging or have a beer with Ronnie.

A Nautical Nomad ( landlubber version)

Tuesday 7 April 2020.

OK, so this is us in the third week of the partial lockdown to combat the coronavirus epidemic. when I say a partial lockdown, what I mean is that we are to stay at home except for going out for necessary food shopping and once a day exercise.

For my exercise today I chose a walk around Balgay park which is sited not far from my house based around Balgay hill situated in the west end of the City. The parkland is actually made up of three parks and a cemetery. Lochee Park donated by the Cox brothers who owned Camperdown works which at that time was the largest jute mill in the World. You can see the large chimney in one of the photos which is Cox’s stack. Camperdown works are now apartments and a large shopping center.

Camperdown Mill and Cox’s stack , Sidlaws in the background

Victoria Park, named after Queen Victoria and Balgay park once part of Balgay estate which included Balgay house, now the Royal Victoria Hospital. Balgay park came into public ownership in 1871.
Then there is the Western necropolis situated on the west side of Balgay hill.

Tay bridge crossing the river Tay

The parks are a gem and although I moved back to Dundee over a year ago it is only this last three weeks that I have found my way to the park taking advantage of the many walks through the wooded areas and hills of the parkland.
Tonight was an exceptionally clear evening, all be it with a cool breeze blowing but never the less a perfect evening for a brisk walk.

I headed through the flat area of the park skirting the Royal victoria hospital passing by the area set up for a drive-through virus testing centre, then heading uphill leaving the roadway and getting on to one of the pathways through the woods.

Footbridge over the gully to the Western necropolis

After a brisk uphill walk, I was rewarded with the wonderful views you can see below. Now I am not sure what order they will be displayed in once I post this but from left to right, they are:-
The footbridge over the gully between Balgay Hill and the Western Necropolis.
The plaque at the Mills observatory.
Cox’s stack
Mills Observetory
A view of the Tay bridge
A view looking towards the Sidaw hills and indeed where I lived for over 50 years, first hill on the left
A view looking towards the mouth of the river Tay with the Moon out
Dundee Law with the war memorial atop.

Towards the mouth of the river Tay with the Moon looking on

Perfect evening for photos, and once taken I made my way past the Mills observatory and headed down hill. The mills observatory is owned by Dundee Council and is only one of two working public observatories in the UK which has a resident astronomer. Entry is free and in the autumn and winter evenings the telescope is pointed at one of the planets and anyone can take a look. Great place to take the kids on a Winters evening.

Mills Observitory

So, after an interesting and energetic walk through the woods of Balgay park I headed home, mission accomplished.

Dundee Law with the war memorial at the top

We are getting through this, slowly and in fact more slowly than necessary but for government incompetence. Let us hope that lessons are learned from this. One thing has become very clear and that is that when necessary , money can be found to do almost anything, Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a fraction of it could be found to alleviate poverty? If so then just perhaps something good could come out of this situation.

Stay safe my friends

Sidlaw hills where I lived for over 50 years

The World this week from Mennies

Saturday 4 April 2020

Corona Virus, Trump, Alex Salmond

Well here we are two weeks into the partial lockdown and instead of these musings coming from Mennies they are again coming from a bunker, somewhere in the West end of Dundee. I say two weeks into the lockdown, but I should be saying 6 weeks as that is what it should have been if Johnston and Sturgeon had simply looked at the massive amount of evidence available from all over the world.

This epidemic started in China in mid-December and from there, speedily spread to many countries. The Chinese and other Asian countries had a pretty quick learning curve and managed to get the epidemic under reasonable control by instituting pretty stringent protocols , such as mass testing, wearing masks and very importantly, population  isolation.

It took the UK government and by default the Scottish government two and a half months to get it into their heads that there was a problem. Now we are at the 4th April and we have only had a partial lockdown for the last two weeks., This is monumental incompetence and only a few weeks ago the joint policy was this crazy heard immunity theory, which would have and indeed will mean that many thousands of people will unnecessarily die. Yes, that is an indisputable fact. Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon, by a combination of ineptitude and idiotic policy, are responsible for innumerable deaths. Once this is over there must be a reckoning.

I watch these government briefings every day and I never cease to be amazed at just how much dis-information is spewed out each and every day. The health secretary Mat Hancock’s delivery is more akin to Hancock’s half hour, which for the younger among you was a television comedy series in the sixties featuring Tony Hancock. The difference between Tony and Mat is that Tony was a good comedian.

There have been various initiatives to help businesses through this emergency however this “aid” has been somewhat unevenly distributed as only £90 million has been set aside for small businesses whereas more than 1.9 billion is going to large corporate entities. You know, the kind of companies who donate to the Tory party. Same as the two companies who the Tory government have “engaged with” to produce ventilators, Dyson (vacuum cleaners) and JCB (construction equipment) This instead of accepting the offers from companies who presently make the bloody things. Something else to be investigated when the time is right.     

This brings me to Donald Trump, who is another comedian, again a very back comedian. I do not think I have ever seen such an incompetent leader and figure of derision since the days of Idi Amin. Both have been responsible for the deaths of many thousands of their own populations. I have just watched Trump advising the country that the up to date medical advice, is to wear a mask then in the same breath emphasizing that is voluntary, and stating quite vociferously that he won’t be wearing one. People of the US, this is your leader.

Two weeks ago, Alex Salmond was found not guilty on trumped up charges of sexual assault and attempted rape. Now Alex Salmond represents a threat to the present situation of Scotland being trapped into a union which has been found to be grossly against Scotland’s interests. He was found not guilty on the basis that the 9 Women who have filed charges against him were mainly lying  and were part of a conspiracy, set up by some of the group who have very strong links to the leadership of the SNP. Now if it were not for the fact that these women had been given a court order of anonymity, it would have been patently obvious just how far up the line to the SNP leadership this conspiracy went. These Women (who were supposed to be anonymous to every one including one another ) somehow managed to get together to put a story in the National newspaper, basically making it plain that they did not believe the court decision., This was eagerly embraced by the mainly unionist press who piled on with their agreement that the court decision had been wrong. So, all week there has been the most ridiculous debate regarding a man who was obviously the victim of a huge SNP leadership led conspiracy.

This of course all took place within the unionist and SNP leadership (one and the other) bubble and ordinary Scots were bemused at this attempt to set aside a decision of the highest court in the land. ( as an aside, I put up a tweet the other day bringing into question the fact that as this anonymity court order included everyone in the country including the 9 women, then how did they manage to get together for the article in the National. The tweet received almost 77,000 impressions with virtually no adverse comments and a huge amount of support from women)

Now, the true story of this will only come out when these awful women are exposed and unfortunately, they are inexplicably protected by the contempt of court restriction which is in place. In this respect and taking into consideration the present pandemic situation and the fact that I know the names and positions of the main women involved in this. If by chance I fall fowl of this virus and it looks like it is not going well for me, then I intend exposing these awful women and let the courts take out a contempt of court action against a corpse.

Ok so back to the lockdown. It is strange that here I am at home when normally on a Saturday at this time I would in all probability be sitting somewhere having a nice coffee and contemplating what I might write in my wee blog. I still get all the correspondence and messages from friends all over the world and I appreciate it, I am sure the same applies to everyone else. The difference is of course that if I was sitting in the coffee shop and thinking of these friends, I could if I wish, go visit them. At this present time, I cannot do that. When this is all over, I intend rectifying this and it would be nice to think that perhaps everyone will take this opportunity to look at the important things in life, like friendship.

So, drop a wee message to that friend you met all those years ago or the friend you made a few weeks ago. Ask how they are and ask if there is anything you can do for them. We will get through this, lets hope that everyone keeps safe, and remember self-isolation is, at the moment, the best way of keeping well.

Take care all, and stay lucky


Any destination starts with a dream, then begins the journey, it is how you conduct the journey that determines the reward at the final destination. Treasure every day of the journey because it will never come again but join us on the road to independence.

For this is our children and their children’s road.

This is our journey.

Bob Costello

17 August 2014 Dundee

The World This Week From Mennies

Sunday 22 March 2020

Corona virus, Alex Salmond, Kenny Rogers

So here we are another week on and quite a different country than it was a week ago, We are now belatedly in a more stringent phase of the fight against the Corona virus with schools being closed and just on Friday a suggestion that pubs, clubs and Gyms by closed. For that reason, this will be coming from a bunker somewhere in the West end of Dundee instead of Mennies, my usual weekend pub of choice.

Friday marked the virtual closure of my coach and bus business and laying off drivers. An action which was not in the least pleasant as most of these guys have been with us for many years.  Hopefully we can put the company into cold storage until things improve. This was necessitated by the closure of schools where we have substantial contracts for the conveyance of pupils and the cancellation of most of the  private hire work such as weddings and sporting events which are also being discouraged.

These measures although not pleasant to implement, are necessary and I have been advocating them for several weeks. The distasteful element is the fact that they should have been done long before now and because of the indecision by both the UK government and the Scottish government many people will die unnecessarily. They are both making it up as they go, and only three weeks ago it was their policy to allow the Heard immunity theory to take place, whereby a very large number of people would be infected and thereby become immune. Now the problem was that without a vaccine being available, there was absolutely no reason to believe that there would be a natural immunity following on from the infection and there would be literally hundreds of thousands of deaths. Simply a mark of criminal incompetence to cover up the lack of proper preparation of both governments. Hopefully once this is over these people will be brough to account.

This week saw the defense case in the Alex Salmond trial being made and indeed Alex Salmond taking the stand. The trial was also now open to the public as the questioning of the accusers who have anonymity was at an end. The testimony given by Salmond was basically that the accusers were lying and indeed from both his questioning and the questioning of the accusers it did seem to be very clear that there was substantial doubt as to the motives of some of the accusers. I honestly believe that regardless of the verdict, once the identity of the accusers and their positions in relation to the leadership of the SNP things will become very clear.

However, the defense ended their case and the Judge summed up sending the jury home for the weekend. No doubt they will return a verdict during the early part of the week. I am hoping that it will be a clean sheet for Alex for without that, the future of the independence movement is in very unsafe hands. This coming week for various reasons will be one if the most important weeks in the history of Scotland.

On Friday, the death of Kenny Rogers was announced. A fantastically gifted writer and singer who brought a great deal of pleasure to many people the World over. He wrote many songs, but the one that I will always remember is “The Gambler” and the reason is that, to me is sums up my over half a century in business. The events on Friday when I had to virtually close down one of my businesses (well two actually) brought the words of that song back to me. Let me leave you with a few lines of that song.                   

 “Son, I’ve made a life
Out of readin’ people’s faces
Knowin’ what the cards were
By the way they held their eyes

“If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

Kenny Rogers

So, to all my friends wherever you are on this very fragile planet of ours. Be safe in these uncertain times, be careful, follow your governments advice regarding social distance keeping, and isolation where required. Learn to enjoy the simple things in life like a walk in the Park (away from people) A breath of fresh air at night with a view of the stars, All the things you never had time for in the past.

We will get through this, although some of us might not see the end of it. Once it is over, I have a feeling there will be a greater appreciation of true friends and I look forward to catching up with as many as possible.


The World This Week From Mennies

Saturday 14 March 2020

Coronavirus, Trump, Johnston, Alex Salmond

So, another week in and an eventful one at that , I was supposed to be heading to the Middle East today, in which case this blog would have been one in the Nautical Nomad series and at this moment I would have been extoling the virtues of the lounge in the Airport looking out on a rainy cold Edinburgh Airport whilst waiting on my flight to Dubai.

Unfortunately, it was not to be, as I heard only on Thursday that the cruise, I was to be joining in Dubai had been cancelled owing to the fact that Dubai had closed its port to cruise ships. Ah well, looking on the bright side, I suppose it could have been worse as I could have joined the cruise and then Dubai could have closed the port meaning it would have been extremely difficult to get back home again.

Coronavirus is spreading in the west now at an alarming rate and today there are 1140 cases in England with 21 deaths having sadly occurred. In Scotland there have been 3715 tests given and only 121 cases confirmed of which only one death has occurred and following the Worldwide pattern, an elderly patent with underlying health issues.

Boris Johnston has been giving all the signs that he is not fully on top of the situation with at one point suggesting that they let the disease take its course following the herd immunity principal, which is a theory that as long as there is a large percentage of the population immune to the disease it will eventually cancel itself out., The problem with this theory is that there is no evidence to suggest that there is anyone actually immune to the disease as this immunity can come from immunization and as yet there is no known vaccination available for this disease.

Now the main problem, apart from their being no reason to believe there is an inbuilt immunity in part of the population , is that we do know that the disease kills vulnerable people, so we have a government quite willing to sacrifice a fair section of the population to save money and the Scottish government seem to a point to be going along with this strategy. This to me is very concerning.

So, let’s look at the alternatives. Two European countries, Italy and Spain have belatedly put far stronger measures into place and basically closed their countries, preventing all unnecessary movement of people. These are the two countries in Europe with the highest numbers of affected people, they were where the UK is three weeks ago and were more or less approaching the issue as the UK is doing today. It didn’t work so they are basically closing down the country. Russia, one of the largest countries on the planet closed their borders at the start of the epidemic and, to-date they have not had a single death due to the virus.

So, why is the UK following this herd immunity policy? Well there can be a few possible reasons. The government are in a mess because of Brexit, the World was on the verge of a global recession because of the reliance on the financial services section of commerce and there has been no lessons learned since the crash in 2008. This epidemic will cloud the governments incompetence. Another reason for this particular policy could be because this illness affects disproportionately the elderly and people with pre-determined health issues. Coincidently these are the people who are no doubt seen as a burden on the state and health service, Knowing the type of government we have , I would not put it past them to by quite happy with a cull of the elderly, in fact that very scenario has been suggested by one of them.

So, to the US and the reaction by Donald Trump. I watched his performance last night when he was declaring a national emergency. Honestly, if there is a single American who was not embarrassed by his performance, I will be very surprised. Within a couple of weeks, he has gone from “no problem it will all be over by April” to declaring a national emergency. Both his speech and the answers he gave to questions from reporters was cringeworthy and childish in the extreme. He has claimed credit for the rise in the stock market in recent years, but it was solely his actions (or inactions) which have greatly contributed to the largest falls since the great depression. I honestly feel we are again heading that way unless some common sense can be injected into World leader policy combined with a wrench away from monetarism.

The Alex Salmond trial started this week in what can only be called a dystopian atmosphere. Alex was the leader of the SNP (Scottish national party) and took the country to the independence referendum in 2014., He resigned after the defeat. He has unfortunately been seen as a threat to the present leadership which has at its head Nicola Sturgeon, It is a long story which I have covered in previous blogs but because of this perceived threat it is though that he was set up to fall and the way this was done was to encourage complaints of a sexual nature to be made against him some years after the alleged incidents.

The case came to court this week, preceded a couple of months ago by an action of judicial review Alex brought against the Scottish government for irregularities in the manner the Scottish government arranged the case against Salmond. That case collapsed in Salmond’s favor because the Scottish government refused to produce emails relevant to the case. The Judge at the time made the comment that the Scottish government’s dealings with at least one of the complainers amounted to inducement to make the complaint.

So, the trial this week was set up to exclude the public to protect the identity of the accusers. A benefit the accused is not availed of although, at this point in time he is innocent. The effect of this was to skew the reporting to falsely indicate that some of the accusers were public servants employed by the government, when in fact they were anything but, and were in fact high positioned party officers and indeed politicians. I cannot divulge their identities because of the restrictive contempt of court rues in place but I will say that after the trial when these rules no longer apply, and these people can be identified a lot of things will fall into place.

I must admit, I have been slightly concerned at the cross-examination of these people by Gordon Jackson who is Salmon’s QC. It may be for a reason and I await the case for the defense and the witnesses to come, including Salmons testimony. My prediction is still some severe changes at the top of the SNP as a consequence of this case, and my hope is that Salmond will be acquitted and able to return to politics, quite possibly leading a new independence party. The present road to independence seems to be deliberately blocked by Nicola sturgeon and this is a situation which must be addressed as soon as possible.

In place of winging my way to the Middle East, I will be having a couple of pints in Mennies, and no doubt engaging in lively debate about politics and the world in general, As my suitcase is still packed I might head off to the western isles during the week with a stop in Barra, my favorite island.

So, to all my friends the Works over and particularly in these uncertain times I wish you a good weekend and please do take care.

I raise my glass to you


The World this week from Mennies

Saturday 7 March 2020

American elections, the SNP. independence/gender recognition act,

Well here we are again, almost at the end of another eventful week. Once again, a very busy week in the business with positive progression towards acceptance of our application to be a government, vehicle testing station. Confident that will be given, and certainly hope so, as we have installed most of the necessary equipment already. Body and paint shop in full operation now. Full steam ahead.

So, the coming American elections due in November and the primaries seem to have produced a two-horse race as far as the Democrats are concerned, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. On the other side it looks very much as though it will be trump again for the Republicans. Now I would suggest the best way of assessing the best man to challenge Trump is to look at the way both Bernie and Joe are being treated by the Republican press. I would suggest that it is Bernie who is more often on the receiving end of criticism from the republican/ Jewish leaning press. Therefore it is, I would suggest, reasonable to offer the suggestion that the best candidate to fight against Trump is therefore Bernie Sanders as he is the most feared of the two runners.

Now having said that, I do not think that the republican press is Bernie’s greatest enemy. No, in fact I believe his greatest threat is from within the Democratic movement just as it was the last time he fought for nomination against Hillary Clinton where he was basically cheated out of the nomination for a very poor candidate. You might have noticed that I am not a great fan of Donald but that is all to do with his mental suitability as a president of the most powerful country on the planet. He has made some really stupid decisions such as moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem and that latest “peace plan for Palestine” is simply a black joke. However, he has not “yet” started a major war. Now on the other hand, had Hillary became president she would have been even more of a poodle to Israel and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we would have been at war with Iran within a matter of weeks of her becoming president. When I say we, I mean the UK and probably some of the countries in Europe who the US would manage to bully into compliance.

OK so back to Bernie, America needs a change from the Republican mind set and also from the diluted republican mindset which would have came with Hillary. It is kind of like the setup we had here during Tony Blairs term of office. He was Labour but it was a Labour party that you couldn’t have put a cigarette paper between them and the Tories. Yes, we had the red Tories and the Blue Tories and that is what you would have had if Hillary had been in power and it is probably what you will have if Joe Biden is a elected.

So, what I am saying is that if you good people on the other side of the pond wish for change, then vote for Bernie.

So, to the SNP, a party which seems on the verge of collapse. You might think it strange that I am saying this about a party who returned 47 out of a possible 59 MPs to Westminster only a couple of months ago. Ok so let me explain. In the Months before the General Election in December there was chaos in Westminster as the Tories tried to push through the EU withdrawal act., They were months at it and the Tories were hemmed in as they did not have a clear majority for the course they were taking on the EU. They wanted to hold an early General election but could not do it as it needed an act of parliament as they were knocked back at the first attempt because of the required very large majority they needed to gain that act at the first two votes. Ok they went for a third vote which needed only a simple majority and against all logical thinking the SNP together with the Lib Dems decided to give them that. This was followed by Jeremy Corbin folding as well and so we had the election on the 12 December returning the Tories with a majority of 80. This was one of the stupidest acts in a long line by Nicola Sturgeon. Now to go back a bit, in the run up to the GE campaign Nicola held a hurriedly arranged rally in Glasgow’s George square where she indicated that the election would be fought on independence, and indeed a referendum in 2020. This of course fired up all the Nicola is God, acolytes to actually believe her and  come the election campaign there was not a mention of independence on any of the candidates election material only about Brexit and in effect saving the union. It wasn’t really until after the election that people realized what had happened and to make matters worse she gave a speech in which she seemed to be trying to prepare the loyal followers for a referendum sometime in the future but not in 2020.

So, there was Nicola Sturgeon committing a fraud by invoking the independence issue in order to get her MP’s voted into Westminster. Utterly and completely dishonest. Since then there has been outrage on social media with twitter exploding with condemnation of the one-time great leader. A leader who was only great in the minds of the unthinking mob who threw all their hopes on to her.

Now as if all that was not bad enough, Nicola has been pushing through the Scottish parliament the Gender Recognition bill which, in short means that people who are not comfortable in their bodies can self ID as a member if the opposite sex and thereafter have access to Women’s private places and compete in Women’s sports . Absolutely crazy situations and a direct threat to Women’s privacy and wellbeing.

Now the back ground to this could be possible as rumors indicate, to do with Nicolas personal sexual orientation, which is of course her own business but it can lead to questions as to the probity of pushing gender bending policies such as indoctrination of school children and suggestions that there could be gender changing arrangements made by issuing puberty blockers. This all sits very uncomfortable with many people and indeed parents, there was an incident the other week where an openly gay female member of parliament Mhari Black organized a transvestite show for school children by a person who went under the stage name of Flow Job. Utterly disgusting.

So, all this and much more such as the suggestion going about at the present time of an extra marital affair carried on By Nicola Sturgeon and another female politician. This is a stress at the moment hearsay and perhaps Nicola could clear them up and indeed clear the air.

So, the SNP as an effective political party are on very shaky ground. On top of this is the Alex Salmond trial which starts on Monday and Nicola Sturgeon is not expected to come out of that very well. My hope is that Alex will be cleared of charges which could have been constructed against him.

At the end of the day the independence movement is not in a good place and a new leader is what is needed, or indeed a new party which Alex (is cleared) could fit well into.

I walked through the city center in Dundee today and was pleased to see a stall manned by SNP members. My pleasant surprise was not long in diminishing when I went over to speak to them. I mentioned the I was pleased to see they had a lot of material giving the true financial situation in Scotland produced by Business for Scotland. I introduced myself (although I think they all knew me) and conversed about the present state of the independence movement. This was met with blank stares and growls and tirades about how independence could not be stopped if the will of the people demanded it. I put forward the suggestion that it will take more than that to convince people that we should be independent and that the SNP were really not performing as they should. This brought about convulsions and a raising of voices stating, basically that Nicola Sturgeon was wonderful and doing a great job. I offered the suggestion that as the Alex Salmond case was about to start on Monday there was a distinct chance that Nicola would be out of a job very shortly. I asked them to look at the table they were standing at and could they see any form of material which had come from the SNP. There was SNP members, standing at a table covered with Business for Scotland information material and copies of the National and they were berating me for criticizing the SNP for not doing enough. Honestly, the irony simply escaped them. At this point one of the Women lifted a copy of the National in front of her face presumably to block me out , quite possibly believing that the national was soundproof. If there are any of the Dundee SNP reading this, then please do not under any circumstance let that bunch of comedians anywhere near a campaign (if it ever actually starts). Next week and the Alex Salmond trial will make compulsive watching.

So now to more important business and that is a pint at Mennies. I lift my glass to you no matter where you be on this fragile planet if ours


PS next weeks “The World from Mennies” could be coming from the middle east as I am off on my travels again, starting Friday with a flight from Edinburgh to Dubai

The World This week from Mennies.

Sunday 1 March 2020

Scotland’s Independence

Well another busy week in and standing in Mennies the other night I got to thinking about the road we have traveled on the road to independence since the 19th September 2014 the day we lost the last referendum on independence.

That day broke my heart, as we in the Yes Bus team have worked extremely hard for independence over the previous two years and more especially in the previous several months campaigning throughout Dundee and surrounding area and more especially in the City Square.

I got over the loosing of the referendum and wanted to get back into the fight but on approaching the SNP I discovered to my surprise that there was no plan B and no intention to address the issues which led to the defeat in the referendum. Nicola Sturgeon became the leader of the party and in effect the leader of the independence movement. I looked upon this initially as a good thing and had hopes of a road map to be produced to get us back on the road to our goal.

Unfortunately, this was not to be, and before long I started to doubt the abilities and commitment of Nicola Sturgeon to the cause of independence, Not being one to hide my opinions I posted and eventually blogged my reservations. This was met be the most awful abuse by a cult like following of Nicola ,The glorious leader who could do no wrong ,

Well, recently a good number of mainline journalists and comentators have came around to the same opinions as I had all these five years ago. Now it looks to me very like the structure of the SNP is crumbling and with the advent of the trial of Alex Salmond I suspect it will all but collapse and possibly with it the independence movement.

I looked back on some of the blogs I did in the early days after the referendum and I came upon one I did in 2017 which contained an article I wrote for the Scottish Independent in 2016, in which I gave an analogy of a leader not willing or able to give the proper leadership and the consequences thereof. Well we are getting to that stage now where it looks like Joanna Cherry is lining herself up for a leadership challenge and as far as my analogy goes she will be the seven sisters. I attach a link to the blog below.

Oh and by the way, I told you so


So in the mean time, if you havce not fallen asleep I wish you a very pleasant weekend and I raise my glass to you


The World This Week From Mennies

Saturday 22 February 2020

The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, Bernie Saunders, US foreign policy

Well, here I am with my musings of the world this week from Mennies, But this week it is somewhat different as it comes from Brussels, where I am spending the weekend, Brussels is a beautiful city a city with, it seems, a chocolate shop on every other corner and a Belgian beer hostelry on the other one.

Back in Dundee it has been another busy week in business, with another step in the progression of a MOT (Ministry of transport) station being completed.

In-between all this, trying to keep up with what is happening in Scotland and indeed the rest of the planet.

Here in Scotland we had one of our representatives at Westminster, and MP for Perth and Kinross, Pete Wishart making a fool of himself again by showing his unionist credentials in one of his blogs, calling England the “parent country of Scotland.”  This in relation to the debate on how we should progress to another referendum on independence, or what it should actually be and that is, an assertation of the will of the people, with a view to progressing to a fully independent country.

At present we are caught up in a massive road block brought about by the leader of the SNP and therefore the de-facto leader of the independence movement ,Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that the only “legal” rout is to keep on asking Westminster to pass a section 30 derogation of schedule 5 of the Scotland act, thereby enabling a referendum to take place , the outcome of which would be pre-agreed.

This is of course in no way required and the present Westminster government are rubbing their hands with glee at the fact that Nicola Sturgeon and people like Pete Wishart are doing their job for them. It is quite clear in the UN charter of self-determination that all a country, or a people requires to do to gain its independence is simply ascertain that the people wish to be independent and then declare that they are independent. This would be followed by recognition of the fact by other countries and eventually the UN. This was exactly how Kosovo became independent and Britain was one of the first countries to recognize that fact. In this process we do not need foolish people like Pete Wishart and Nicola Sturgeon giving false credibility to the naturally oppressive state of England, A country who have raped and pillaged the resources of half the world during the history of the British Empire.

The trial of Alex Salmond is to begin next Month and I fully suspect that revelations which could be made concerning the involvement in, and closeness of, some of the witnesses to the first minister, could see her departure from the post. I sincerely hope that this will be the case and we can get back on the road to independence.

Only today it was announced that Joanna Cherry will be standing for the seat in Edinburgh that Angus Robertson intends standing  in, This is good news as a precursor to Joanna becoming leader of the party and Angus being consigned once more to the pages of history as he is too close to Nicola and he himself is likely not to come out too well either ,in the Alex Salmond case. By the way, if there are still a few misguided people out there who still think Nicola is going to lead them to a glorious referendum this year as she has promised, or indeed that she ever had a “cleaver plan” in the first place then be prepared for the shock if your life as she will be very lucky to still be in power by the end of March.

So now to Bernie Sanders who had been doing rather well on the primaries and looks good to successfully challenge Daft Donald in the forthcoming presidential election. Now there are several reason why I say this and not least among them is the fact that the Jewish lobby are throwing inordinate amounts of money into a campaign of disinformation against Bernie and guess what? The Russians are coming again, riding to the aid of Bernie, I ask you folks, honestly, just how stupid do you have to be to believe that crap being fed to you daily. Just look at where it is coming from, it is media and news papers with large Jewish controlling interests. The reason being if course is that if Bernie gets elected, he will reign in the mindless support for the worst terrorist state on the planet, Israel, In doing so he will stop the US from being a poodle of Israel and guess what? He will bring your young folk back from stupid wars in the Middle East. Hands up every Mother and Father who would like to see their Sons and Daughters in the armed forces being used to protect US shores instead of “US interests” which is another way of saying Israeli interests in the Middle East. Come on folks, wake up, you are being taken for a bunch of mugs and by the way  you might not have noticed but there is about to be a peace agreement with the Taliban and the only condition is that the Taliban have to cease hostile operations for a week. I will say that again “the Taliban have to Cease hostile operations for a bloody week.” So, in other words you have had your young people dying in Afghanistan for the last 17 years to give Afghanistan a week of peace, wow. Mission accomplished.  

So, sitting in the lounge at Brussels Airport finishing this week’s “The World This week From Mennies” and looking out on a dreich windy day. I am sure the Sun is splitting the pavements in Dundee awaiting my return.

So, to all my friends the World over I wish you a great (remainder of the) weekend. Take care all, be productive, be fair to others and gentle with animals. Life is too short for anything else. Slainte