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.

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