When I was 17…..

It’s easy to be cynical about the sixties in retrospect. The explosion of “youth culture” was largely manipulated by scions of the Establishment freed from the need to do National Service. They made the money, and the creators took the fame, often to their detriment. But that’s not the whole story. I was a teenagerContinue reading “When I was 17…..”

P stands for Paddy, I suppose.

Driving through the pretty village of Coldingham yesterday, I found myself thinking of one of its former residents, the late journalist, Ian Bell. This in turn led me  to remembering a friend’s comment: “You write so well about dead people!” It was meant (I hope) as a compliment, and it is true that the wordsContinue reading “P stands for Paddy, I suppose.”

Two documentaries – a life apart.

On Tuesday July 18th 1967, as a fifteen year old,  excited at the start of school summer holidays, I sat down to watch a BBC documentary on Dickie Rock, lead singer with Dublin’s Miami Showband. I had a special interest in this film because  the year before, on my first “teenage holiday”  to Ireland, IContinue reading “Two documentaries – a life apart.”

Things Fall Apart: British self delusion, Yeats and Chinua Achebe

Born 5 days before the death of George V1 you could say my life coincides more or less exactly with what was originally hailed as “the new Elizabethan Age” And right there is an indication of the endemic self delusion from which “Great Britain” has suffered throughout my life time. This is not an attack,Continue reading “Things Fall Apart: British self delusion, Yeats and Chinua Achebe”

Hughie – you’re immortal!

In  the summer of 2015 I was waiting outside the Assembly Rooms on Edinburgh’s George St to attend “Graham Spiers ….in conversation with Hugh McIlvanney.” It was an unmissable event really – one of our best current sports journalists interviewing a man invariably described as ‘the finest ever sports writer’. I leaned against one ofContinue reading “Hughie – you’re immortal!”

Physician heal thyself

The partition of Ireland was a temporary measure – a sticking plaster over the wound of Rebellion and Civil War, employed by Britain because they could find no other way of squaring the circle of Unionists and Republicans. However, instead of regularly changing the dressing and cleaning the wound, they walked away and convinced themselvesContinue reading “Physician heal thyself”

Three Photographs and a plug of tobacco

They look out from  the faded picture with 100 year old stares. They look towards the camera but not at it. Really they are straining to see  the future. My dad is just 18 and he has joined the Scottish Rifles, the Cameronians. He looks scared, not so much for himself, perhaps, as for hisContinue reading “Three Photographs and a plug of tobacco”