Employing Barrhead travel, a very thoughtless act

I posted both on Facebook and twitter, with regard to Nicola Sturgeon employing the services of Barhead travel to facilitate track and trace services. There was a mixture of support and also quite a lot of very pointed and abusive criticism of the fact that I had the temerity to post criticism of what some people see as their savior.

Now some of this criticism was not that I was wrong, in what I said but quite simply that I did not have the right to say it. A position I think is very strange from people who espouse a newly free nation, with democracy and freedom of speech at its heart.

There were others who quite rightly pointed out that Bill Munro had since sold the company to an American travel group and took great delight in calling me quite an assortment of names for what they saw as a massive blunder.

There were others who merely pointed out what seemed to be an honest misinterpretation of the facts.

Barrhead Travel President Jacqueline Dobson said the agency approached the government in a move to save jobs.

“As travel is unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels before 2021, we proactively explored other business options to help preserve as many jobs as possible,” she said.

This makes it very plain that it is Barhead travel who have been contracted to operate an element of the track and trace system and not, as many were trying to make out, that the Scottish government were employing these people. It also thrown doubt on the assertion by Nicola Sturgeon that this in no way meant that private companies were being contracted to track and trace

So let me address the situation, firstly, Barhead travel is a limited company and a limited company sits on its own, one of the advantages is that ( with certain caveats) the administrators or the directors are not responsible for the actions or failures of the company.
Now when someone comes along to buy a limited company, they invariably carry out due diligence. This is an in-depth evaluation and inspection of both the finances and integrity of a company, which in a big way can be down to whoever has run the company in recent years.

So when purchasing a company you are not only buying the assets and possible debts, but also you are buying into the ethos of the company and to a point that was what happened with Barhead travel ,so much so that the new owners employed Bill Munro to run it for them. So therefore they (at least to start with, until they sacked him) were happy with the essence of the company .

Now Bill Munro ran the company in a manner which was anti-independence, so much so that he circulated an email to all Barhead employees, in the closing days of the 2014 referendum campaign making it very plain that he thought that independence would “ be a disaster” for Scotland, and bizarrely , for a travel company, that they would have a problem with passports. Therefore this was the ethos that the American travel company both inherited and indeed paid for.

Now had they wished to alter this ethos they could have done this by circulating an email explaining that all employees were free to make their own choices as far as the future of their country was concerned and they had no thoughts either way, or perhaps they could have even made the position that they were in fact supportive of an independent Scotland.

They chose not to do that therfore they were by default in the same position as the previous managing director Bill Munro. Therefore the fact that he had sold the company is of no relevance to the question of whether it was wise for Nicola sturgeon to have given a contract for track and trace to an anti-independence company, and I might add, it would appear without the necessary rules of competition and cost comparison being put in pace, as I am sure there are a multitude of call center companies with under-employed personnel at the present time. This puts the SNP in much the same position as the Tories who have been stuffing the bank accounts of their friends by handing out lucrative contracts in connection with Covid and Brexit.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding regarding my post/tweet and I still hold, that as someone who put a hell of a lot into that referendum campaign, this decision by Nicola Sturgeon was at the very least a pointed snub and slap in the face to the many people who had worked and strived throughout the campaign for a free Scotland.

 Another bad decision by Nicola Sturgeon.          

The Joker in the house of cards

Six years ago today we went to the polls in the independence referendum. We in the Yes bus Team had worked non-stop for months in and around Dundee campaigning for independence. We achieved a lot, as did the other grassroots groups.
The SNP were somewhat less than effective as the only time we saw them in the City square was when the cameras and press where there. As soon as the press left then so did they. SNP politicians had an occasional stall in the Murrygate which they manned for an hour or two.

Dundee returned the highest percentage of yes votes in the country but sadly it was not enough and we lost the referendum by 10 points.
I wanted to continue the campaign at a lower level to inform and correct the mistakes we had made during the campaign. I approached the SNP with this in mind and asked them what the plan now was. I received a blank look and “what plan” Yes believe it or not there was no plan B, no strategy for a continuance along the road to independence.

Shortly after the referendum, Nicola sturgeon was made leader and things became a lot worse with the mere mention of the word independence expunged from all discussion among the faithful, and more especially SNP politicians.

An instance of this was when the Yes bus team were pressured by the SNP via Chris Law, to postpone a rally we had organised for the week before the 2015 Westminster general election. The reason given was that independence was to be swept under the carpet, and incredibly a statement was made and attributed to Stewart Hosie by Chris Law that ” we cant have saltires and yes posters being waved around the City Square the week before a general election” Yes believe it or not that was the position of the SNP only a few months after the referendum.

Have things changed? No, they haven’t, in fact, they have gotten a lot worse. We are now 6 years, from the last referendum and during the reign of Nicola Surgeon all that has happened is that there has been a whole stock of mandates built up, generally as carrots, offered to the faithful in the run up to elections, together with countless prime opportunities presented by a dysfunctional Tory party of government and what have we today? We have Nicola Sturgeon once again asking for another mandate to go cap in hand to a government ran by despots and the breaker of international treaties to politely ask them yet again to grant a completely unnecessary section 30 which allows a derogation of a section of the Scotland act.
I cannot for the life of me think of anything quite so illogical as that course of action.

It would appear that events are taking place that will hopefully result in the removal of both Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrel, the chief executive of the SNP. As a result of their complicity in the setting up of Alex Salmond, an action which could have seen him sent to prison for a considerable time, quite possibly for the rest of his life.

I feel that the process to investigate the involvement of the leadership of the SNP in this extremely distasteful issue is only just began, and from my own knowledge there is much more to come, some of it restricted at present by contempt of court issues surrounding the trial of Alex Salmond.

There is a darkness at the heart of the SNP and it revolves around the leadership and its inner coterie of sycophant’s and manipulators.

There is a house of cards teetering on the verge of collapse with the Joker at the heart of its imminent demise ,

The question is, just how much damage is she going to inflict on her way down?

The Enemy Within

This is a blog I did in 2017, like this week, where Nicola Sturgeon came out with yet another initiative for cooperating with the wider grassroots groups. It was another carrot, like the ones that had come before it and the many that came after it. This latest carrot is, I fear just another lie like the big one she told a couple of weeks before the last Westminster election when she hastily arranged the rally in George square to tell people that this election was to be all about independence. Then in the days that followed, it became very clear that people had been duped when the election material was produced without a single mention of independence and instead, a big picture of a Bus with stop Brexit all over it. I fear these latest promises will go the same way, as I simply do not trust her.


Kenny McCaskill wrote a good article today on the Wings over Scotland site, in which he promoted the idea of the grass roots groups taking the initiative. I have a feeling he is trying to make provision for a distinct lack of cooperation from the leadership of the SNP in any forthcoming campaign.

I would go further than that in as much as I expect downright obstruction from the leadership of the SNP in much the same way as they are now trying to thwart the attempts of Martin Keatings from ascertaining whether the Scottish people have to be bound by the section 30 fallacy used by Nicola sturgeon to hold back the independence cause. The Scottish Government/ Nicola Sturgeon actually, stated that Martin Keatings was attempting to “stand in the shoes of politicians” elected for that propose. My God, surely it is the place of politicians to stand in the shoes of the people who elected them. It is difficult to imagine a more disgraceful display of arrogance as that.

Anyway, to get back to Kenny’s article. Without a central force guiding at arms length, I don’t think it would work. I know Kenny is advocating Some sort of a committee made up of grass roots representatives but I know how that would and up and that would be like rats in a barrel.

To give you an idea of why I think like that ,I would go back to the 2014 referendum campaign. In the run up to this I had the idea of setting up the Yes Bus, Scotland’s dragon for independence. A double decker built in Scotland by Alexander Dennis for the far east market, Hence the type name, Dragon. It started its working life in Hong Kong before moving to Kenya, two countries who gained their independence from the UK.

It came to our fleet from Manchester to service a contract for the High School of Dundee, the forerunner of which was where William Wallace was educated.

So it had some history and I had the idea to make it available to any grass roots group in Dundee or surrounding area to campaign ,( and this is the important bit) in their own way , towards their own support and in their own area of Dundee.

Now Dundee was always a very radical city with a plethora of differing political activists and I realized that if any one tried to bring them together, it would be a disaster. So the Yes bus was used by many differing groups to campaign in their own manner and we also set up the Yes Bus team which was made up of a wide variety of people with a wide verity of political views who were there voluntary to campaign for a common goal.

Dundee turned out the highest percentage of yes votes in Scotland because all the groups did their own thing and we all cooperated on the way, apart from, I might say the SNP who were somewhat difficult to prise campaigning material from despite the fact that it had all been paid from through Yes Scotland, but that is another story.

So after a rather long winded explanation here is what I suggest.

As for the central leadership issue I think Alex Salmond would be ideal . He is a true leader and a committed patriot. I do not think there is any question that he would be other than a perfect leader for another campaign.

I fear however that history will repeat itself, in as much as all of our great historical figures such as Wallace and Bruce had first to defeat the Scots before they turned their attention to the auld enemy, the English.

I fear that we have an enemy within our very own ranks and that is the Sturgeon/ Murrel family. I think they will put every obstacle in the way of another referendum or alternative way of achieving our aim. They have done it in the past and they are still at it.

We are once again on the cusp of another prime opportunity to gain independence and after 6 years we have not even addressed the failures of the last referendum, such as currency and pensions and that is a prime example of one of the obstacles put in our way. The Andrew Wilson Growth Commission. Almost two years late ( another delay) and when it came out it suggested implementing one of the main failures of the 2014 campaign, tying Scotland to England with a currency union Absolutely unbelievable. It is also clear that Andrew Wilson and Nicola Sturgeon have not a clue of the implications of the laughably GERS figures, probably deliberately.

Very shortly it will become apparent , even to the most ardent Sturgonite that she has set up Alex Salmon. Evidence to be presented to the Holyrood enquiry into the lead up to the court case Salmond brought against the Scottish Government in a judicial review will show that the change of rules to enable the Scottish government to bring retrospective complaints against ministers was in fact cooked up between Leslie Evens and Nicola Sturgeon and not by Westminster as many of Sturgeons acolytes tried to believe as a means of comforting themselves. To make matters worse the Westminster government advised against it.

So there you are, the grubby truth is beginning to emerge and shortly I believe, a house of cards will fall.

So, there is the task ahead and it awaits a leader to take it forward. I hope Alex Salmond will grasp the opportunity on behalf of the people of Scotland, because as I say, before we start on the enemy in Westminster we have to defeat the enemy within.

This, unfortunately is our road to independence.

SNP, Just Another few hard truths

The second in my series of A few hard truths about the SNP

This series of incidents goes back to 2016 and the posting below was a cancelation of an independence related rally which I had to make because of the direct and willful obstruction of Dundee SNP council and their officers.
Please read this and make up your own minds as to the probity of the actions of Dundee SNP.
I have had doubts for a considerable time regarding the actions ( or inactions) of the SNP with regards to what is supposed to be their main function in life which is independence. A function which seems to have morphed into feathering their own nests.

At present the SNP are in a god awful mess with a leader who couldn’t lace the shoes of her predecessor, Alex Salmond. A man who has been the subject of an attempted stitch up in a manner which could have seen him perhaps spending the rest of his life in prison. An unholy incident that at present is being investigated by a Holyrood committee with Nicola Sturgeon at the center of this investigation.
An investigation which is being willfully obstructed by the Scottish government

There is a growing awareness and indeed grave concerns at the existence of the dark heart of the SNP

Bob Costello

6 August 2016 · 

Yes, Bus Scotland’s Dragon for independence Event on the 27th August Dundee City Square, family Caleigh in the Square and parade around Dundee to show support for Scottish independence.

It is with great regret that I must announce the cancellation of this proposed event in its present form. This because of (in my opinion) the wilful obstruction of the event by SNP controlled Dundee council.

I will layout my reasons for this opinion below and leave you to decide on the merits or otherwise of my reasoning.

Last Monday I applied for the necessary permissions to hold the event in the city Square together with a parade around the town. There is a 28-day notice requirement for this together with a facility for late applications to be considered by the convener of the licencing board. The reasons for this built-in option is that one of the main benefits to the local community of having events of this nature is that they attract a great many people into the centre of the City from outlying areas and also from other towns meaning that these events have a very positive impact on the local economy, therefore it is the duty of the council to facilitate in any way possible the success of these events.

The notice period is there to facilitate the necessary permissions from the various Council departments such as building control, Roads and indeed the police. Now in effect, these permissions can take place very quickly, in fact, I have been involved in many events which have been organised within a matter of a few weeks to as little as two days and it is very rare for late applications to be refused, especially ones of this nature that would bring a huge economic benefit to City Centre traders.

So deciding on the 27th as being the best date for the event, taking into consideration the availability of two of Dundee’s leading bands and a list of top quality speakers I went into the council offices on Monday the 1st August to make the application, which I did for both the City Square and the parade. I was 9 hours into the 28 day period, so in other words, I gave only twenty-seven days and fifteen hours’ notice.

I received an email from a council officer stating that SNP Councillor Stewart Hunter (convener of the licencing board) had refused to apply his discretional powers to grant the permission for the event to take place. The reason sited was that the last time I organised an event in the square, there were several complaints made and in any case, the council were not prepared to make electricity available, which in itself would have made the event envisaged, impossible.

I found this very strange and indeed the statement that electricity would not be available rather concerning as I knew that electricity is available and indeed we had had the use of this facility on previous events. I took exception to this statement and questioned as to why I was being singled out for this refusal to supply electricity facilities and received a reply from the council officer saying that he had meant that there would have to be special arrangements made, which I already knew of as we had done this in the past. Had I taken his statement that electricity would not be supplied at face value, then that in itself would have been enough to stop the event going ahead?

I inquired as to why I as the organiser of the event had not been informed of these unspecified complaints ( if indeed they had been made at all) and believe it or not the officer said that at the time he “saw no any useful purpose would be served in doing so” This I found very strange as he was at this point making as he saw it a “useful purpose “ in attempting to use these suspicious complaints to stop this event and by depriving me of the ability to have defended my responsibility in these complaints he had taken it upon himself to act as both Judge and Jury to my detriment. I thought this to be a very strange manner in which a high ranking council officer should carry out his duty as a public servant.

I inquired as to what these complaints actually were and this is incredibly what he came up with and what my answers to these allegations below.

Ice cream van there without permission: – Nothing to do with me and if that was the case then why didn’t the City Square ambassadors who were on duty ask him to move.

Someone sick in the toilets of Hendry’s coffee shop: – The contents of someone’s stomach is hardly my responsibility and quite possibly more to do with Hendry’s who had probably sold him food. Perhaps a visit from the environmental health officers of the council would have been in order.

Some people were drinking outside and this is against by-laws:- nothing in the conditions of use of the square concerning this and how did he know that these people were at the event and as this was not a closed event this was not my responsibility. Why did the City Square Ambassadors not do anything about this as it was their responsibility?

There were no Stewards at the event:- there were 20 stewards at the event all with hi-vis vests on and Steward written on the back but as the council had refused permission for the parade, there was actually no requirement for stewards as it is not a requirement of the use of the City Square.

These believe it or not were the so-called and quite possibly fictitious complaints that were supposedly used in the thought process by Councillor Hunter in his decision to refuse to apply his discretionary power to allow the event to go ahead, an event that the application had been made 9 hours late out of the 28 days required. Even if these so-called complaints were genuine, how could I have defended them if I had no knowledge they existed. I was of course at the event and did not witness any of these alleged incidents taking place, I spoke to the police all throughout the day and again at the end of the event and they were perfectly happy at how it had gone.

Now let me address what is possibly the real reason for this application being turned down, and for this, I have to go back first to the previous event in October last year and a previous event which took place two days after the general election in 2015.

Now at the event in October last year I had invited Tommy Sheridan to speak, as he had been a staunch advocate for independence and was actually the first person of any note that I heard advocating people to join the SNP as they were the best conduit to independence just after the referendum. Also when he came to Dundee during the campaign he filled the Marriott hall and had to go outside and speak to a large crowd of people who could not get in. I asked people from all parties also to take part. There followed one of the most comical episodes in the politics of Dundee when a politician who had been put forward by the SNP to speak went on to Facebook to ask all and sundry whether he should speak on the same platform as Tommy Sheridan, Certainly a novel departure from the normal procedure of voting for someone who can presumably make their own mind up about when and where they speak in public.

This as you can imagine caused quite a cuffufle with the sheeple, aided and abetted by employees and SNP officers posting adverse comments in order to give this politician an excuse to withdraw, which he did.

Now because of confusion at the council office I had not applied for the parade element on time so found myself in much the same position as now, having to depend on the good offices of Councillor Hunter, which of course he refused and this is the interesting bit. He refused on the grounds that the previous time I had organised an event he had only approved it at the last minute. Now the point here is that the event he was speaking about was nothing to do with me I had not applied for permission and had not organised it, I had however agreed to put the Yes Bus there.

This event was to take place the week before the General election in 2015. A few days before the event I had a visit from an SNP politician, Chris Law, who asked if I could use my influence in having the event postponed until the weekend after the General Election. I asked why, and incredibly the answer I received was “ we can’t have saltires and yes signs being waved about the City Square the week before the General Election”, this statement he attributed to Stuart Hosie. I could not believe what I was hearing. I said that if it was moved then there would be no council permission in place for the new date and was told that this would be “taken care of”. Before I had a chance to speak to the organisers they were approached by the politician and an SNP political manager. Who put to them the same proposition of moving the date, they again mentioned that there was no permission in place for another event and were told that it “would be sorted. “

In the event, the SNP did not apply for the event change and it was only on the morning of the event that they had to scurry about getting Councillor Hunter to sign off the and give permission for the event to take place. That was not the 28 days it was not even 27 days and 15 hours as this one was, it was not even 28 hours and was more like 28 minutes before the event took place

So there you have it, a tale of two entities the SNP and an ordinary citizen of Dundee and two sets of rules.

You might have noticed that the common thread going through this story is the fact the all of these events have had an independence theme, you might also realise that at every one of them there has not been a single SNP speaker, apart from the one just after the General election where Stewart Hosie was prevailed upon to say a few words as he was passing by and instead of trying to make out that he had made the effort to speak to the people, he comically told them that he shouldn’t really be there but was shopping for a pair of trousers and was hijacked into speaking.

Given events which unfolded into Hosie’s love life, one can only assume that he did not purchase a belt for his trousers that day as subsequent events would indicate that he had a problem keeping his trousers up.

The SNP in Dundee have a problem in regard to their sole purpose in life and that is to assist in the process of moving towards independence, they allow themselves to react to personalities instead of keeping their eye on the ball they display a lack of understanding of basic strategic thinking.

My experiences of them lead me to believe that they are a threat to independence where they should be an asset.

They need to wake up and smell the coffee.

We will arrange another independence related event in the near future and once again my sincere apologies for the cancellation.

SNP, Just A Few Hard Truths

The excerpt at the foot of this piece is from a Facebook memory of the day 6 years ago we put Scotland’s dragon for independence on the road and indeed the day the Yes Bus team came into being.

We fought hard and we fought well, on the streets of Dundee and district. Mainly in our City Square. We debated all comers and converted many to the cause of independence.
We saw off the opposition in the form of labour’s big red bus and Jim Murphy on his crusade to strike fear into the hearts of our pensioners.

When I look back, I realise we did it all without any assistance from the SNP, in fact, they actually expected us to pay for elements of campaigning merchandise which the Yes Movement stored in the hub in St Andrews Street.
Merchandise, bought off funds raised through the Yes Scotland movement an organisation set up by the SNP as a way of giving the independence movement a separate identity from the SNP.

The only time we saw any politicians was when the cameras were there to photograph and film the Yes Bus team as we campaigned constantly in the city Square and other areas of Dundee.
When the cameras left then so did the politicians. Our only consolation was that we gave Dundee the highest percentage of yes votes in the country.

Ever since the referendum in 2014, the SNP have all but abandoned the cause of independence, with hardly a mention of the word through many of the elections which have taken place since then.
In fact, it was said to me by a prominent Dundee politician that when Stuart Hosie learned that we were arranging an independence rally to be held in the city Square the week before the 2015 General Election he said, and I quote “we can’t have saltires and yes posters being waved around the city square the week before the General Election.”
Yes, that was a direct quote from an SNP member of parliament.

There was the occasion during the referendum campaign that I could see that there was confusion regarding various proposed policies for a future Scottish Government such as pensions, and in particular, monetary union.
At the time, Wings Over Scotland had published a fantastic book called “the Wee Blue Book” which gave very clear answers to all of these questions.
I had the idea that we should get a copy to every household in Dundee.
I spoke to a fellow campaigner, John Gibson, who immediately agreed to share the cost of the project.
I then approached the SNP at their office in Glamis Road as they had the means to distribute these books.
I explained the projects and the reasoning behind it, which was that being on the streets of Dundee most days with the Yes Bus team I had picked up on a need for clarity on certain important issues, the Wee Blue Book was a godsend in clarity and we were prepared to finance the project at no cost to the SNP.
I will never forget that day.
There was a good selection of SNP politicians there, and they listened to what I had to say.
It then took them about two minutes to reject the idea on the grounds that it was their opinion that it would not work.

So, where are we now on the road to independence, well exactly nowhere and many of these politicians that were making these dubious decisions during the campaign are still wielding power.
Therin lies the possible reason we are in a dead-end with a leadership that is caught like a rabbit in the headlights of a car.

Unless there is a complete change of tact in the lead up to the elections next May, with all independence parties going on a manifesto of simply independence, and thereafter, and on a majority, declaring independence, then I fear the British state will begin taking even more powers from Scotland making a future independence campaign virtually impossible.

The implications for what might follow on from that are too awful to contemplate.

6 years ago I posted this on Facebook as we prepaired to roll out one of our projects to forward the cause of independence.

27 July 2014

Scotland’s Dragon for Independence

We have the Dragon ready to roll and we are intending meeting tomorrow Tuesday 29 July at Tesco Car park on the Kingsway aboard the Dragon.
We are making this vehicle available to any grassroots Yes organisations for Campaigning for a Yes vote on 18 September.
Also we are to campaign ourselves ,so we want any organisations who wish to make use of the bus to turn up at this meeting and we will get them scheduled in for use of the Bus . there is absolutely no cost implications to any of these organisations.
It would also be great to see any interested volunteers to man the bus and carry out leafleting duties. We only have 7 weeks to go so lets see a good effort by all.

The World this week from Mennies

Saturday 25 July 2020

China and Russia.
SNP and independence.
Corona Virus.

Ok so this is me just sat down again to give my views on what is happening in the world after some time away.
To be honest, I have been disillusioned even more than normal with politics over this last few months and just did not have the motivation to write. However, things seem to be changing hopefully for the best, so I thought I would have a wee go at trying to fathom out the logic behind some of the machinations of our so called leaders once again.

Russia and China
Let me start with the two countries that seem to be the brunt of ire emanating from mainly the UK and the US.
Once again they are the devil incarnate, with their meddling in the affairs of both the UK and the US.

The UK have decided to dispense with the services of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant on the grounds that Donald Trump told them to, and the reason he did that is that he is on a crusade to vilify any thing Chinese in order to stop them from becoming the number one economy on the planet.

He wont succeed in that himself, because he will be thrown out of the Whitehouse in November at the upcoming presidential elections. That is if there is anyone left in the US after this virus has spread with the incompetent aid of Trump. His management of the Pandemic has been disastrously and incompetently plain for all to see. Hence the need to divert people’s attention from this.

What Trump really needs is a new war, and he is diligently working on that as well by causing problems in the South China Sea in connection with Chinese territorial claims.
” Just what are these bloody Chinese up to in the aptly named, err, South China Sea?” If the US start any thing in that part of the world, they will receive a very severe bloody nose, but mind you, there is word that Trump’s poodle Johnson, is to send one of our new aircraft carriers to the area, which is great news for Trump.
It would be even better news if the UK could afford airplanes for the carrier.

The thing Trump and Johnson have in common is that they are making an utter mess of governing their countries and Johnson, by way of taking people’s eyes off the ball has decided to vilify Russia.
In this he has enlisted the willing idiots in the BBC who are once again telling people that the RAF are turning back Russian planes who are trying to breach UK defenses. The only problem there, is that this has been the standard procedure for over 40 years and is a weekly occurrence. Russia are simply testing the response time of aircraft from Lossiemouth, in the North of Scotland.
The RAF carry out the very same maneuvers in connection to Russian aircraft response times
I am sure the UK would do a lot more if they could afford the fuel!

Big investigation this week into Russian interference in UK affairs and in particular into how it affected the Independence Referendum in 2014.
The only thing absent from this was evidence, in fact the only item of substance was a report which came out in Russia shortly “after” the referendum, which highlighted the inadequacies in how the referendum voting had been carried out to the detriment of the Scottish people and that came directly from the international observers who were present during the campaign, a fact missed out was that David Cameron actually asked Vladimir Putin to intervene on behalf of the British state, which he did, in a comment that “countries were stronger together”. Something the UK might have paid attention to in the years following the referendum in connection with the EU.
Rather ironic don’t you think?

Yes there certainly has been Russian influence in UK affairs but it has been through deliberate manipulation of the immigration system by the Tory party and indeed the British government, by way of the points system regarding the granting of visas to Russian citizens.

There is a system of acceptance for visas based on how much money an individual is prepared to either bring in to the country, or “invest” within the UK. Quite a lot of this “incoming” money seems to find its way into the coffers of the Tory Party by way of substantial donations.
That is bad enough, but one of the main reasons for this influx of money into the country is the need for it to be laundered and the UK is one of the largest money laundromats on the planet.
By definition therfore, so is the bank account of the Tory party, and I will explain the process.
These visa applications do not go through normal channels and there are different procedures depending on the amounts the individuals wish to bring into the country.
These “special” applications are authorised directly from the Home Office.
In other words Priti Patel is responsible for these applications being authorised.
You will remember that Priti Patel was sacked from Theresa May’s government after it was discovered that she was involved in secret meetings with Israeli government officials in a scheme to divert foreign aid UK funds to the Israeli Army. She was later reintroduced into government by her friend Boris Johnson.
When money comes into the country or into a new bank account, the banks are responsible for carrying out certain procedures to ascertain that this money was derived from legal sources. In other words it is not being placed into the system to wash it clean. However in the case of these “special” visas authorised directly by the Home office, the checking on the probity of these transactions was, whether deliberately or by the usual incompetence, confused, as the Banks “assumed” that the Home Office had carried out due diligence on these sums and the Home Office “assumed” that the banks would carry out the necessary checks.
This meant that huge amounts of dirty money found its way into the system and indeed, into the Tory Party’s bank account.
This was the reason for the reticence on behalf of Johnson to allow an investigation into Russian “influence”.

Nicola Sturgeon and Independence

Right, now to the thorny subject of Independence and indeed to Nicola Sturgeon who, as the leader of the SNP and indeed the First Minister of the Scottish government, a government, in effect elected on the basis of the will of the Scottish people being, that it would progress to Independence, is, through at least SIX mandates instructed to attain Independence ASAP.

Before I go any further, and to save anyone requiring medical treatment because of increased blood pressure, and if there is anyone reading this who are part of the mindless hoard of groveling sycophants who object to anything negative being said about their “glorious leader” I suggest you stop reading this blog now, because I make it very plain that because of the way Sturgeon has led the Independence movement up a dead end street, I have absolutely zero respect or confidence in her “leadership”.

Nicola Sturgeon was crowned Queen of the SNP, and by definition, the Independence movement in 2014, shortly after Alex Salmond resigned in consequence of the result of the Independence referendum.

Since then, she and the SNP have been the beneficiaries of circumstance with regard to popularity.
Which, in turn favourably increased their membership. They have increased their representation in Westminster and held on to the place of the largest party in Holyrood, with some reverses along the way….. all because of the actions of both the Tory party, and to an extent the Labour party in Scotland.
It is fair to say, they are where they are, not because of their actions but despite their inaction.
Again, I reiterate that they are the “beneficiaries of circumstance” & not the authors of their own success.

I cannot think of a single thing Nicola Sturgeon has done to push forward the cause of Independence.
Some would say that because the SNP have governed well there has been an element of conversion of no voters.
To that theory I would say … nonsense.
I will explain my thoughts on why.

The people we have to convince are the people who voted no in the last referendum. These people, in the main, voted no because they honestly believed that they would be better off being governed “under” the Union.
How on earth are these voters to be persuaded to change their minds by showing them that Scotland can actually be governed better than it has been in the past, but still under the Union. No, the SNP are really in the process of settling in as the colonial Vichy government.

If proof be necessary, one only has to look at the record of the SNP and indeed the opinion polls over the last six years, come September.
In the early days after 2014 it is probably reasonable to say that the SNP did govern Scotland well, mainly because of the systems and policies that were put in place by Alex Salmond , such as free prescriptions, the small business rates relief, free university education and projects like the new Forth Road Bridge, the dueling of the A9 and the Aberdeen by-pass.

However during that time the opinion polls remained stagnant, and the SNP’s ability to govern the country became rather controversial through showing a tendency to be authoritarian with laws such as the attempted introduction of the “Named Person” legislation being introduced.
Latterly there has been controversy surrounding the attempts to introduce the “Gender Reform Act.”
A reform which seemed to deny the biological make up of human beings and introduce self ID of “perceived” gender changing, meaning that biological men could legally gain access to women’s only private areas such as showers and public toilets, by simply saying that they had changed their impression of what their gender was. Thereby defying the laws of nature.
There is also now the “Hate crime bill” which again gives the impression that the Scottish government is hell bent on introducing ever more Orwellian restrictions on the general population.

Now with huge dissatisfaction on how the Scottish government is legislating to restrict freedoms, opinion polls are heading upwards in favour of Scottish Independence.
My point is that there is no direct relation between the Scottish government’s perception of governing well and no voters turning to Independence.
Nicola Sturgeon’s record in advancing the cause of Independence has been abysmal, with a collection of mandates gathering dust in a cupboard somewhere.
If I were to put all the evidence together on a basis of a for or against Independence, I would have to come to the conclusion that Nicola Sturgeon is anti-independence and by definition a supporter of the British state.

Whenever an election is looming she starts playing the Independence card and that last Westminster election really took the cake, when she hurriedly arranged to appear at a rally in George square for the first time in her five and a half years in power.
She blatantly gave a totally false impression that this election was to be all about Independence.

It then transpired that it was really all about Brexit, something she knew she couldn’t change.

In all of the election literature, there was not a single mention of Independence, a totally dishonest and shameful exercise in political manipulation and every single SNP candidate willingly participated in this disgraceful episode in Scottish political history.
Basically a barefaced charade.

Recently, Nicola Sturgeon’s rating have climbed considerably but this is against a very low bar, as her counterpart in London is no more than a bumbling, partially coherent scarecrow.
Her presentations at the daily Corona Virus briefing have been in the main clear and appeared as statistically accurate. This does not however absolve her from the awful mess at the start of the epidemic in Scotland where confusion reigned.
Our elderly, sick, and frail, were unceremoniously removed and dumped into care homes without being tested, causing countless unnecessary deaths and huge pressure on care home managements dealing with the resulting outbreaks.
The Scottish government initially acquiesced with the UK government in regard to a policy of herd immunity.
A totally insane and soulless policy.
Of course the root of the problem was that both governments had ignored the recommendations of exercise Cygnus in 2016 which identified a serious lack of preparedness for any future disease outbreak.
Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy will be that she led a government which was responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths.

It should be noted that Nicola’s hastily arranged rally in George Square was the only Independence rally that she has appeared at since she became leader of the independence movement.
She has however, willingly appeared at gay marches in her capacity as the First Minister of Scotland, a blatant example of her putting what I am led to believe is her personal sexual orientation forward to promote a cause nearer her heart over what is supposed to be her main function as leader of the SNP and First Minister with a mandate to attain Independence.
This to me is plainly unacceptable.

I could go on for days listing the failures of Nicola Sturgeon, but I have already went on too long with this and I haven’t even touched the Alex Salmond fit up, so I will conclude, by mentioning the SNP attitude to parties standing in the next Scottish elections in the regional list section.
In the last Scottish elections in 2016, the SNP made an utter mess of it by instructing their membership to vote SNP in both the Constituency and Regional options. This was a disaster as it led to almost a million SNP votes being wasted and allowed many unionist candidates to be elected.
They do not learn as they are at it again. They are once more about to make exactly the same mistake.
Or is it a mistake?
If you believe that Nicola Sturgeon is genuinely trying to achieve Independence for Scotland, you might think it is a mistake. I do not think that, in fact I believe that under Nicola Sturgeon the SNP are more interested in retaining power than achieving Independence, and therfore they are not fit for the purpose for which they were originally formed which is the independence of the Scottish Nation.

Nicola Sturgeon is hell bent on pursuing this section 30 goal, calling it “the gold standard,” absolute nonsense.
She point blank refused to envisage any other method, quite simply because she knows that the section 30 route is the one which will never succeed.
The most sensible way forward is to make the next election an election on a simple mandate for Independence, simple as that, and if there is a majority then open negotiations with the UK government to separate, while at the same time looking for countries to recognise Scotland’s rightful place once more as an Independent nation.

I feel this is our last chance to achieve independence through the ballot box. I fear this right wing government will shortly proceed to strip powers from Scotland.
In fact, this has already begun through the repatriation of powers from the EU which should have went to Scotland being powers that were not retained under the devolution settlement.

If we do not act in a positive manner at the upcoming Scottish elections in 2021′ the only alternative left open to gain Scottish Independence is to fight for our freedom, an Irish situation in the making, compliments of Nicola Sturgeon etal. The implications of which are too horrendous to contemplate.

All the very best to my friends in different parts of the planet. I hope you are coping with this awful curse we have upon us at the moment.
We will get through this, although the “normal” then, will never be what it was before.

Stay safe


A Nautical Nomad ( Landlubber Version)

Chapter three of walk through Dundee Saturday 25 April 2020

Ok , so to continue with the walk through Dundee, I managed to get as far as Peter street and the site of the burning of the last witch in Dundee, so onward along the Seagate to Trades lane across from the bus station turning left up St Andrews street. with a fine view of St Andrews church known also as the trades kirk with interesting history, dating from 1774; built by Samuel Bell with plans by James Craig, Edinburgh. Beautiful stained glass. Includes former Glasite Kirk of 1777 (The Kail Kirk), now part of the church hall complex. Handsome spire with peal of fine musical bells.
Now if my memory serves me well, James Craig ,of Edinburgh was also the architect who was given the remit to design the New Town area of Edinburgh which sits to the North if princess street.

St Andrews parish Church

Turning left into the Cowgate I look at the once fine building I knew as the Gaument Cinema Built as the King’s Theatre and Hippodrome, the auditorium was converted to a cinema in 1928. The name was changed to ‘Gaumont’ in 1950 and again to ‘Odeon’ in 1973. Closed as a cinema in 1982, part of the building was subsequently run as a bingo hall and then partly as a nightclub. Next door was the Continental Ballroom which had an interior of similar design to the Kings Theatre.
When I was young I used to take the bus or tram from Downfield to my Aunt Marys she lived in Charles street which was off the Wellgate . She would often take me to the “pictures” which was the common term for the cinema at the time . Quite often the Gaument, usually preceded by a Wallace’s pie for lunch,

Gaument Cinema

Continuing along the Cowgate in a westerly direction, I come to the junction with the Murrygate and indeed the Welgate shopping Mall. The entrance of which was once the start of the Wellgate , The area my family originated from and as I said where my Aunt Mary and uncle Willie once lived in Charles street

Charles street looking towards the rear of Victoria Road

I have down-loaded a photo above, of Charles street, my family lived in a tenement just to the left of that photo and the building in the forefront was a hall in which my father and some if his friends started the Charles Star cycling club. I was born and spent my early years not far from there , across Victoria Road and up the Hiltown in Dudhope street. Although I was only four years old when we moved to Kirkton I still have vivid memories of that period of my life, at a time when a horse and cart were more common that a truck when they transported bales of Jute from the Docks to the Jute mills in Victoria Road. The Hiltown was to play a prominent part of my life in later years, but that is a story for another day ,or perhaps another book.

Continuing along Panmuir street , past Caws, one of the older pubs in Dundee I come to Medowside with the old Chamber of Commerce building on my right and looking towards the Albert institute, now called the McMannus gallery. This hall was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and built 1865-68. The stained glass in the windows was by the London firm of Clayton & Bell. The building is now a museum and an art gallery which far outshines the more recent V & A museum at the waterfront. At one time the West elevation housed a library and in fact the reference library. I remember going there in the days, way before the internet, to look up things like the Scotland licensing act and the building regulations Scotland act. Generaly in connection with disputes I had with Dundee Council.

Albert institute

Sitting in front of the building is a monument to Robert Burns , Scotland’s greatest poet. Every New Year the whole World sings a song this man wrote , Auld Lang Syne.
A brilliant Poet a humanist and a prolific lover, he had a great propensity to write a poems depicting the loves of his life. When in Edinburgh he would frequent the white Swan in Grassmarket, He had a great propensity to write a poem about all his lovers and there were quite a few of them. To me , his greatest work was “A Mans A Man For A That”
The last verse is this:-
For a that and a that
Its coming yet for a that
That man to man the World ower
Shall Brithers be for a that.

Robert Burns

With my back to the statue of Burns I look at the imposing sandstone building of DC Thompson. DC Thompson are the largest publisher in the UK and have may titles such as the Courier the Telegraph, The Sunday post the Woman’s friend. They publish a range if comics such as the Beano and the Dandy, They own the Aberdeen Press and Journal and they contract print many of the mainline newspapers. This is their head office and they have a large print works and offices on Kingsway east. It was established by David Coupar Thomson in 1905.
During the referendum campaign in 2014 we found that because of the companie’s right wing leanings we in the independence movement never seemed to get a fair press from them and I personally was the subject of some very biased reporting from them.

DC Thomson head office

So, onward and along Meadowside and one of the most beautiful oasis’ in the city , The Howff., The land of the burial ground was part of Greyfriars Monastery until the reformation in the 16th century when it was granted to the people of Dundee by Mary Queen of Scots. It was used by the incorporated trades as a meeting place and became known as “the Howff” which is the Scots name for a meeting place. Unfortunately Dundee Council have seen fit to close the Howff during this lockdown, a rather silly decision in my opinion.

The Howff

I walked down Barack street and into Bank street coming onto reform street and back to the high street. I had one special place I wanted to visit and that was at the very end of the high street where St Pauls Cathedral sits. It was built on a part of Castle hill, most of which was blasted away to make way for Castle Street, which runs down to Dock street , once the edge of the harbor.
What I wanted to see was two things, A statue of Admiral Duncan and a plaque dedicated, to a Man who was probably Scotland’s greatest hero and patriot, William Wallace.
Adam Duncan was born on the 1st July 1731 in the Seagate of Dundee. He was the second son of Alexander Duncan of Lundie and Helen Haldane daughter of John Haldane of Gleneagles. He became an Admiral in the British navy and his greatest battle was off the coast of Holland at Camperdown where he defeated the Dutch Navy. He was made Viscount and gifted a large piece of land and mansion on the outskirts of Dundee. It was eventually gifted back to the City and is now Camperdown Park.

Admiral Duncan

William Wallace was educated in Dundee at the forerunner of the High School of Dundee and it was in Dundee he fell fowl of the law and thereafter started a guerilla campaign to free Scotland from the English occupiers. After King John Baliol was defeated near Brechin by Edward the first of England, Scotland became an occupied country, and Dundee Castle was the headquarters of the English Governor for the area. Wallace was the Son of a minor noble and had been sent to Dundee under the charge of a churchman , William Mydford . One day he became involved in an argument with the son if the English governor. The governor’s Son tried to humiliate Wallace by touching the dagger he wore and Wallace in a rage killed him. He then had to flee the town. From then on the rest is legend, as he gathered a band of followers and carried out guerilla warfare against the English occupiers. Some successful, and some not,
The problem Wallace had was that as he was not a great lord he found it difficult to involve the Scottish nobility in his struggle. He did however manage to get the support of Andrew De Moray a brilliant tactician and after great hardship and deprivation Wallace eventually brought the might of the English army to battle at Stirling bridge in 1297
It is widely though that Moray made the battle plan – picking the ground and deciding the tactics. On 11 September the Scots met Edward’s army under the Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham.
Stirling bridge at that time was a narrow wooden structure that made its way across the marshy shallows of the river forth. Wallace and Moray had placed archers on both sides of the bridge hidden in the undergrowth and they waited on Abby Craig. The English waited two days whilst they negotiated and took stock of the ground.
Eventually and because of the way they vastly outnumbered the Scots, they started to make their way across the bridge , infantry first, followed by cavalry , Wallace and Moray waited until a number which they thought they could defeat had crossed the bridge and then attacked, Probably up to two thousand English soldiers had crossed the bridge and the majirity of them died including most of the cavalry who by this time were on the bridge and couldn’t move, they came under attack from the archers at both sides if the bridge.
The English army was totally defeated and they retreated to Berwick. Unfortunately Moray was wounded and later died
It is believed that before the battle Wallace gave an address to his troops where he gave them the chance to leave the field, He Said to them

“Fight and you might die.
Run and you will live, at least a while
And Dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men, and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives but they will never, take our freedom”
Oh how I wish the present SNP had the spirit of Wallace.

Commemoration to William Wallace

The reference to the Chevalier De St George I believe is a reference to James the eighth of Scotland and third of England who made a brief appearance in the country in 1716 and indeed in Dundee on his way to Montrose to be shipped back to France to continue his exile, on the third of 5 Jacobite uprisings, culminating on the 16th April 1746 at Culloden moor.
So after a day of brilliant sunshine and a wonderful walk through some of the history of Dundee and indeed Scotland I made my way home, with plenty to occupy my mind on the way back.

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.