Mine’s a Double – The Blind Poet and Captains Bar

Today in Edinburgh we have the UK’s newly non elected Prime Minister on a visit to see if there is a way to keep Scotland in the Union. Interesting times.

This week two pubs for the price of one.

The reason for two will be plain to see

as both can be linked by poetry.

After that wonderfully rhyming couplet it is appropriate to start at the Captains Bar above which for the last few years of his life lived William McGonagall, Scotland’s best worst poet. If you are at all aware of his work you will know that it was indescribably bad. Such that you would think that he was under the influence every time he put pen to paper. However in contradiction to that idea he wrote several articles supporting temperance. One of his  contributions being ” The Demon Drink ”

“If drink was abolished how many peaceful homes would there be, Just for instance in the beautiful town of Dundee, then this world would be heaven, whereas it’s a hell, And the people would have more peace in it to dwell”

Formerly a tailor’s shop supplying uniforms to ship captains of Leith, at one time the pub was linked to what was the Empire theatre by a staircase. Handy for those stage fright jitters!

Today owned by the huge brewing business Heineken don’t expect to find any particularly interesting beer choices but it’s a cozy pub with set and impromptu folk music, nothing fancy but a good ” local ”

McGonagall has probably actually encouraged some people to publish poetry for the first time with the thought that their efforts couldn’t be any worse than his. Here’s mine.

Ye may think it kinda queer, How frae Dundee I got to be here, I’ve heard it said there’s nowt as queer as folk, And if you now expect to hear a funny story, You’d better buy me a pint first.


South College St.
Captains Bar


A diversion.  ( omg! Ed )

One of the main arguments put forward in favour of exiting the EU  was that it is run by faceless non elected bureaucrats. Anyone with power in EU is either directly elected or appointed by someone who was. Looks pretty much like the structure in the UK to me.

Plenty other events to get us down this week.

As families enjoy a Bastille Day national holiday, in the name of a vengeful God carnage is once more unleashed.

“Hate is everything you think it is” Neil Young.

Looks like many areas of Africa are going to suffer from famine. This when the “West” wastes, depending on your source, between 30-50% of what it produces.

Did you see the programme Exodus tracking migrants from the Middle East, Afghastan and many areas of Africa who were part of the million or so who have tried to reach Europe since 2015. Most of them fleeing terror and torture. Some of them trying to get to Europe to work and send back money to support their wider family. Middle class people in their own communities who could afford to sell stuff to pay the smugglers. The poor?  No chance. That’s the way it is.

We weren’t ready for it. Understandably. And we haven’t come out of it  well, then or now. A harrowing documentary. However there were some uplifting moments when folks showed some real compassion that translated into practical help with a happy outcome.

The migrant situation is to me analogous to all the beggars which we see on our city streets. The scale is incomparable but the problem is very similar. How can we help and support those who genuinely need it and weed out the chancers who don’t?

Our new PM has selected her new cabinet and picked the universally loathed BoJo as Foreign Secretary. Go figure.

In US the Republicans are set to endorse The Trumpet who has apparently got the Evangelicals on his side. God forbid!     ( That doesn’t work, Ed. )

Ok, The Blind Poet.     Do you get the poetry link now?

I moved into the city in the early 70s and I’m in this local pub for the first time. A lot to choose from around here!

Lots of dark wood,  12 fonts mostly of the owner Caledonian Breweries beers. This is a long established music venue and adjoins The Pear Tree pub. They are amalgamating next year. I try a mid-day pint of Ossian and am the first and only customer in a venue which has been open for an hour. Edinburgh weather is fair and most of the other alcoholics must be imbibing al fresco.

Dr Thomas Blacklock was the blind poet’s name and he lived in two upper floors of the building in the 1770s. His friend Robert Burns had become disenchanted with life in Scotland and Blacklock wrote to him and dissuaded him from emigrating to the West Indies. Burns acknowledged that the letter had roused his poetic ambitions.

But get this! The ship on which Burns had hoped to embark sank on the voyage – – –

If you ever attend a Burns supper you may like to raise your glass in appreciation of “The Blind Poet”

Last Brexiters thingies for today. The biggest donation to the leave budget was £3.2 million. The stock broker donor’s rational? It will make us feel more insecure and we perform better under that stress! His stash has lost £400 million since the result so as a 69 y.o. I hope he feels suitably challenged. Never mind Peter, if things continue to get worse (ha!) there’s always the food banks.

David Cameron’s special advisors are out of a job. Contracted to receive 4 and a half months of their salary in compensation the bold Dave says it is not enough and ups it to 6 months or £70,000. Expect those same ” loyal” workers to be on departed Dave’s Honours List nominations. Yet another example of warped values.

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul”.  George Bernard Shaw


The Castle Arms

Scotland goes al fresco
Breakfast at Castle Arms


Happy Canada Day on July 1 and US Independence Day on July 4.

Well here in the UK we’ve had our Independence Day and I still am in need of a drink. Actually make that several.

Anyway I’ve decided to try and spare you from most of my prejudices and focus more on the beer this time round. ( you gonna fail boy! Ed.)

Alexander Pope said ” a little beer is a dangerous thing” ( not half as dangerous as a lot! Ed. ) Wasn’t he the Pope before John Paul, —  or was that George Ringo?

Ok apologies already cos I’ve just scanned the next sentence, but here goes anyway.

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the facts – and beer!  Abe Lincoln ( is calling him Abe not a bit familiar?  Ed. )

Well Mr President, we weren’t given the truth, we were given nothing but fucking lies and they never even bought a round!

I was thinking this week about how I have been a member of sports clubs much of my life and reflecting about how my subs were used and how allegorically they reflect the position that we find ourselves in at the present.

They have been used to used to maintain and expand the facilities. ( When I was President of my tennis and squash club I got the beer store stripped out and replaced it with a gym. Go figure! )

Some of it goes to a national governing body to support the promotion of the game in general on the world stage.

And bureaucracy!

Some goes toward junior and youth development. If you are in the 18-25 category and even although 75% of those of you who voted at the last agm wanted to stay in these premises, the club has decided to move. This category has been discontinued as only about 36% of you voted and you should now resign as you are no longer welcome in the club.

Some goes towards allowing the veterans to have a reduced fee because they need to look after their pennies and they won’t forget to attend the a.g.m, vote, and look after their self interest.

Some of it goes to attracting new members. If you do not live close to the club you may have a Country Membership. However, the management committee reserve the right to refuse admission to people from Syria, Iraq or any other similar region from where people flee in fear of their lives. You could try Canada, who have taken in  @ 25,000 new members recently.

Maybe try Toronto, 51% of whose population were not born in the country. But better be a doctor, accountant or similar methinks.

The U S have taken in about 2,800 over a similar period. So I doubt very much if they even have a waiting list.

Our ( still) United Kingdom propose to take in up to 20,000 by 2020.    Well we did before —– ( deleted, Ed.)

Right, apologies,  I’m definitely going to leave that til later.

Time for a few Gogs to lighten my  mood:

“Child on Board”  Whoever thought up that should be hung drawn and quartered.

I suppose in the days before cameras, if they wanted to keep a visual record of an event they may well have had to have had it drawn. Which leads us nicely, but purely coincidentally, into the eleven hads in a row in a sentence which a while ago I promised to tell you, if you were good. Apologies if that was the day in English class that you paid attention.

A teacher was comparing the written grammar of two of his pupils:

James where John had had ” had had”  had had ” had”,  “had, had” had had the teachers approval.

Back to the windscreen stickers ( sometimes I can’t help following JoeDiMaggio’s advice that when you come to a fork in the road you should take it)

I also don’t care a flying duck if your car’s back window tells me:

“Grandpa’s Taxi”

“Little Princess on Board”

“Fill in your own inanity”

Well I finally made it to my destination. The Castle Arms on Johnston Terrace. The bar personnel are Polish and Italians. These people just come over here and take our jobs!

As I sup my pint of Castle No. 3 at £3.95 I’m reading about an upcoming programme on BBC 2  entitled Exodus to be shown on July 11-13. If you are at all interested in the whole immigration/ asylum seeking thing I’m sure it will be enlightening. A lot of it apparently filmed by the refugees themselves. From Turkey to Greece people smugglers were charging ” €2,000 per adult, kids half price, every kid under two and a half goes free” Almost impossible to know where to start with this quote. ( so don’t Ed.)

Take 5 Birmingham MPs.

Two vote exit. Three vote remain.

All vote contrary to how their constituents voted.

Democracy in action, folks.

The bar here has a, what you could call a mural but that wouldn’t be right as it’s on the ceiling!   What’s that called Michelangelo?

Castle Arms


On the way home bought a Big Issue for the first time in a while and it is good to read some uplifting stories.

Whatever you do today.   Make a difference.


No Room for the Inn

So I can stay current re. all that is going on in UK I’m not featuring a pub this week.

Right, the shock waves from this EU political earthquake are not going to die down anytime soon. Richter may need to add a few extra degrees to the scale to accommodate the fall out. ( is that not from a volcano? Ed.)

When my team lost on the recent Scottish independence referendum I was really disappointed. By and large ( though not exclusively it must be said ) it was fought, at least in the public arena of the media in a fundamentally fair way with many and varied a subject matter.

” Those were the days my friend we thought they’d never end” ( Mary Hopkins)

Well the next chapter has begun with the main authors getting an advance for a draft which they haven’t even written. These people have not taken electioneering into the gutter, oh no, they have dumped it into the sewer and concreted over the manhole covers. So this time I am not disappointed, I’m devastated and blazingly angry at the same time.

Now – ” hold the front page!”- it would appear our bold BoJo is too busy writing his newspaper column to face up to the consequences of not getting his own way after Article 50 is invoked. This leaves us with the prospect of “the intolerable frog-faced wanker” getting even more publicity.

Always good to have something to look forward too.

If you haven’t seen the link to this American clip re. our decision plus some Trump/ Turnberry re-opening coverage and resulting twitterisms then you may find it entertaining.

Full Frontal is the name of the show but it is a metaphor- you haven’t stumbled onto a sex site!

Samantha Bee Full Frontal

The English football has been kicked into touch but it has been booted back as the violently spinning sphere of a rugby ball which on landing is bouncing off in lots of unforeseeable directions.

Can’t see how this is not going to lead to another Scottish referendum. And quite soon.

Panama papers:

You will know that there has been a marked downturn in North Sea oil production, well I have come up with an idea to make good use of the redundant rigs. What we do is set them up as offshore ( ha! ) tax havens. Philip Green can sail out on his £1 million pound yacht to the rig near the Trumpet’s Menie estate golf course and hide the one pound that he was paid by a three time bankruptee for the sale of British Home Stores. While he is there he can call shredded wheat heid to confirm where it was on the wind farm that Green was to place the limpet mine.

And if the seas are too rough he can drop off the £ 150 million pounds, which should be in his 11,000 former employees pension fund, from his newly bought £46 million pound jet. When he is back home in Monaco we get the SAS to sneak out and replace the stash with Monopoly money so that he doesn’t notice, then we bribe the Icelandic football team to see how we can dump the English.

With my crystal ball burnished up to HD, down the road a few years I can see the Scottish Nationalists convening  a massive clan gathering at Bannockburn, where stands a statue of Robert the Bruce.

On that glorious day in everlasting appreciation of Scotland once again becoming an independent nation they will unveil a 30 foot high statue to the man who finally made it possible.

” David Cameron, Father of the Nation”