The Mitre

Last week I was out walking round the cliff top promenade of my home town with my life long friend Jim. Hirondelles were amassing in readiness for their southerly migration. Autumn coming round.

Just off the skerries, the surface of the Forth as calm as a mill pond we see unusual activity in the water and it is not s.u.p.

A pod of dolphins. About 30 of them and they spread over about 4 or 5 hundred metres. The larger in the lead and I wonder about the wonder of their sonar to keep in touch over such a range.

Transfixed. A WOW moment in time. Why is it that Cetacea can do that to most of us?     ( A wee test and at the end of blog, check out your knowledge on Cetacea . Name the other different types. And as ever nae cheatin’ )

We walk round the edge of the golf course and arrive at Belhaven Bay. The wonderfully named “bridge to nowhere” crosses the Biel burn right here and stretches out to what seems like infinity. This is a spot I used to come to with my mum and it was quite scary that that particular day sitting on my mum and dad’s commerative bench was a distant cousin of mine.  Well ok, he wasn’t distant right at that moment because he was right in front of me. The English language can get you into a bit of bovver  if you’re not too careful!  Like a friend of mine who one time in conversation quoted a calm scene as a milk pond!

This week’s hostelry is the Mitre on the Royal Mile and it is another Nicholson pub. Trying the Pale Ale again. I must confess I thought that a mitre was a ceremonial stick of some sort but I now know that it is the ku klux klan like headgear that bishops wear. In the 17th century Archbishop Spottiswood was lord chancellor and primate of All Scotland and lived on this site. If you know your Scottish history you will have heard of Jenny Geddes who caused a stooshy at St Giles Cathedral. This was in response to the bishop trying to impose the Anglican Book of Common Prayer on the Scottish hoi polloi. Big mistake Johnny! Fled the country shortly after.


The Mitre. Royal Mile

Sorry about the Scaffold,  and it was very tempting to 🎤drink a drink to Lily the Pink – but beer  is the saviour of the human race.

After her swim the gin queen joins me, not for a pink one, which would have been scarily coincidental given The Scaffold link, but for Aviaton, an American variety which we’ve never happened on before. Last night on our Thursday date night Brighton Rock was a pre prandial addition. So many gins, so little time!

If you can zoom in, check out the dude in the shades. Could be the best wrap- over ever?  Also turns out that Trump and Netanyahu are to meet. Seems that the comb-over and I have to build a wall gene are dominant and inextricably linked.

10 million souls watch Strictly Come Dancing and they were plugging the weekends programmes as I left home. Our former Secretary of State in Gordon Brown’s government Ed Balls, is (was) on and when picked he said it was a “Dream come true”

No comment.  ( Well actually a lot of comment but it has all been deleted by me, Ed )

Just finished reading Guerra. Hadn’t a clue about the Spanish civil war. Very much second fiddle in school history to, appropriately enough, the Second World War. However the depravity to which mankind can fall is reflected and shared in both conflicts. Yesterday Spain, today Syria.

In the Scottish Parliament you can find, until early December, an exhibition based on the work of a Scottish born press photographer Harry Benson. The theme is the American presidents from Eisenhower onward but it touches on many of the major post war events.

Do you remember the photos of the Beatles pillow fight?    (How major is that?  Ed.)  Ok let me explain, alright?

The young photographer is sent to cover a Beatles tour of France. He is not happy but then follows them on their U.S. trip in 1964. This leads to coverage of Afro American civil rights struggles, Watergate, the Kennedys / Luther King assisinations, Vietnam war, rise of the ku klux klan etc.

Rescue dog getting glucose drip after 9/11. Brought back memories of my 50th birthday when we celebrated one of our nights in the Big Apple with supper in the North tower at Windows on the World.  Shortly after our return home a tourist helicopter came down in the Hudson River and yes we had been on such a flight.  Time and space, right?


Despicable Dave’s former chief of staff who was made a life peer in our craven ex PM’s resignation honours list has been appointed Britain’s ambassador to France. ( That patronage option has to go don’t you think? ) Our Foreign Secretary  Bo Jo the buffoon has said “E. L is hugely well qualified for this post and I look forward to working with him. He will help us make a great success of Brexit while ensuring that Britain is more engaged in the continent of Europe than ever” 

Irony anyone?

Those of us who care what is to become of England’s green and pleasant land ( Eh? WTF!  Ed.) will all have different ideas of how we think our exit will pan out.

Down that pan?

What I’m hearing at the moment from the powers that aren’t is that hey we are now about to be once again in control of our own destiny but that we will still have access to all the benefits of the single market. When we wake up to discover that the chances of that happening has morphed from wishful thinking into total fantasy we may well find that our erstwhile partners have learnt from our Bulldog war time Prime Minister and have decided to give us the V sign.

( Coincidence [Happy!] – our house gin this week is Bulldog!) Today I have also just discovered that a local pub claims to have the biggest selection of gins in Scotland. And it is within easy stumbling distance —

Pub quizzers. Did you get the other types of cetacae?

Porpoises and whales.

Cetacae derives from the Latin, Cetus, meaning whale and the Greek, Ketos meaning huge-fish. Whoever came up with the term must have been some classic scholar freak.

The Labour Party conference is drawing to a close and if re-elected intend to make Britain back into a manufacturing powerhouse. As the gin queen said tonight “They are living in cloud cuckoo land” Couldn’t agree more.

One flew over —-

To the next swallow.  SORRY!


Deacon Brodie’s

Looks like I have been falling behind with the idea of a pub a week for 2016. C’est la life! Which is quite an appropriate phrase as we have my local Deacon Brodie’s on left above alongside the one in Ottowa, and as you may well know the French Canadians are not shy about sticking up for their heritage.

Haves and have nots
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern Edinburgh
Bar front with inscription

My excellent pint of Nicolson’s Pale Ale at 4% abv and man bag  in the foreground.

What struck me when I was trying to select an appropriate photograph, was that to the right of the outside picture can be seen the copper roofed headquarters of the Bank of Scotland. This is on North Bank Street- geddit? For most of my life I didn’t know that such “verdigris green patina” was copper.

With his back against a phone box you can see a guy begging. What you have in that frame is an allegory for rich / poor, excess / deprivation, silver spoon / wrong side of the tracks ( OK, ok, I think they get it! Ed. ) And of course in the middle of it all we get Average Joe just mucking along.

Deacon is a term used in different ways depending on religion but from what I can gather it is someone who is ordained but at a level lower than priest or minister.  Tom Russell has Deacon Black featured in his ballad “The Sky Above and the Mud Below”

” Old Deac he could drink and curse, but he still quoted sacred verse”

I digress. Our Deacon was regarded as a model citizen and was born into a respectable Edinburgh family. William Brodie rose to become the Deacon  ( a secular take on the religious use of the word? ) of the Guild of Wrights. Another digression. When my dad served in the Royal Navy he was a “shipwright”

I have searched for the meaning of Wright and found nothing, but guess that it was a term applied to someone who was practical. A tradesman say. ( OK, “Tradesman!” Anything to keep him happy. Ed.)

Brodie owned a locksmith and cabinet making business and although he was Freeman of the city he liked to gamble, had five children from two mistresses and a passion for cockfighting. And if you don’t know the literal meaning of that last phrase probably best not to go there!

The financial pressure of such a life style led him, with what today we would call inside knowledge, to carry out robberies on premises that he knew through his trade as a locksmith. Eventually rumbled he fled to the Netherlands but was ultimately arrested in Amsterdam.

Now we need to have a look at this scenario. We are talking about the 1780s. How did the Scottish fuzz know he was there? How did they get him arrested? Instagram?  Artists impression?  How was he brought back?     I’m finding it hard to accept that less than three centuries ago extradition such as this was possible. However it worked, Brodie was eventually, with yet another wonderful irony, hanged on Edinburgh’s Tolbooth gallows.

Which he had built.

Last but not necessarily least on Deacon Brodie. He was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s ” The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”

Deacon Brodie’s Craft beers on offer


Ok, I’ve decided to start a new political party!  No joking! ( no shit! Ed. ) Well actually it’s not going to be a party with a constitution like Labour, Tory,  etc. It will only exist in the ether. Unlike most of our major parties it will be founded not on self interest but on some of our better human values.

What might they be you might be asking yourself?

Your choices will no doubt be different from mine but the plan is to contact everybody in the world and ask them what five human characteristics they value the most.

Avarice, ( just joking) compassion, fairness, etc, etc, etc.-?

Once I’ve got all the answers I’ll ignore them all and write the manifesto based on my own preferences!

What should we call this new party?  Well I’m going for PPP.

That is ” People’s Party for Proportionality”

Now I think proportional representation relates to the number of votes cast in an election and how that is reflected in the number of ” your ” candidates that are elected.

It isn’t used in US or UK elections but was introduced in some form for the Scottish Parliament. One of the main arguments put forward in it’s favour was that it would stop one political party becoming overly dominant. Ha blinking ha! Yet another example of our political leaders not having a clue.

But then how many of us do?

My thinking on proportionality is coming more from a how much is far more than enough little is not nearly  enough.

Billionaire Philip Green versus the beggars I see on Edinburgh’s streets as I walk down to meet my wife for lunch in the Cafe Royal . — Well we have a bit of a challenge to proportionality right there as that pub is definitely m.c.w. territory!

G20 summit recently finished and British Prime Minister returns saying that, hurrah!  six countries might make a trade arrangement with us – once we have exited. That brings up thoughts from Johnny Saxon like, who are the other 14 bastards that will have nothing to do with us? And if you want to avoid trouble probably best for you not to host the the next Euros. Know what I mean!

Also my campaigning websites assure me that TTIP is dead so why was Obama giving the impression that it was going ahead?  To show the UK what a bad decision it had made?   Yes probably,  but mostly to show himself in a good light.

Seems unlikely that the non Mother Theresa will be made a saint-?

CETA ( EU/Canada trade deal) has been finalised since 2014 but not yet ratified by all EU member states. I think it stands for comprehensive economic and trade agreement though why they need comprehensive I’m not sure. Possibly to let us know how thorough and inclusive they have been? ( Or maybe because there is no way Spain would sign an agreement with ETA? Ed.)

In my simple way I don’t know why we need to have all these trade agreements. If I have or make something that you want and vice versa why can’t we just do business?

Well what has our government been up to recently apart from making no progress on Brexit?

It is busy buying votes. Buying, in the metaphorical sense not the literal one, as we all know that would be illegal and politicians never knowingly tell lies to win us over. Hold the front page! Brexiters have officially abandoned the lie of giving £350 million a week to the NHS. A lie that probabably was enough to swing the outcome.

I was educated in a grammar school and kids of the town from all backgrounds attended.

Apart from our headmasters kids that is, they were sent to private schools in the city! I have always thought there was a wonderful irony in that situation.

In England grammar schools are in the news because the plan is to reintroduce academic selection. If you should think about reading how the government proposes to improve our education system my advice would be – don’t. Waffle, no vision, divisive, crackpot. You just end up getting angry. Comprehensive- that word again- Education has been in place since mid 1970s and is a more inclusive and less divisive option for society as a whole. To me it would be better to be concentrating on making teaching a more attractive and higher valued profession. Without wishing to offend any teachers stumbling into this blog you do not need to be a rocket scientist to be a good teacher. In fact other qualities are far more important than the amount of knowledge you have. It is a sad reflection on our society that we are still bickering over how best to educate our future generations.

Good teachers good facilities and good governance. We shouldn’t even be having this conversation!

More anger. The UK government are once again selling off social housing.

Back to grammar schools, selling off council houses, it’s like Maggie Thatcher has come back to haunt us.

Maybe Scotland should build a wall. Everyone else seems to be doing it. Netanyahu, Trump, Hollande. I’m starting  to think  it may be genetic. If your dominant gene tells you that your dome would benefit from a wrap- over then the recessive gene forces you to build a wall. Yes it’s coming back to me now. The first law of genetics, I remember.

I think the second was that if you are born an asshole —–

No recessive gene for that one as I recall.

Maybe they will become known as the Mr Thatchers?

If the Scots do decide to build a wall everyone involved in the construction will have to wear a Jimmy hat to bolster the dodgy hairpiece gag. It wasn’t me who called Trumpet shredded wheat heid.

Since we have been distracted by walls. When was the Berlin Wall knocked down?  You know? All right smarty pants! When was it built then? And nae cheatin’

The Gin Selection


We are definitely not going to tackle the housing sell off this week though, as I need to calm down. What day is it again? It’s Saturday apparently so that means it’s champagne pre prandial. Did I tell you about my spanakopita? They go great with some bubbly. BP is below 120/80 just thinking about it.

Coincidentally I’ve just found out today that Israel is building a wall round their Gaza border at a cost of $530 million. It is going underground too! This to stop Hamas infiltration via tunnels we are told. Why can we not get on with each other? You know the answer. And is a wall not always built up the way?

Next blog some thoughts on seeing, totally unexpectantly, a pod of dolphins at Dunbar.

To nearly finish, a quote from a comic at the Fringe who was commenting on the Brexit thingy.

“We will be creating beacons and roundtables of organisations. Everything will basically be fine once we’ve got round to thinking about it with the brightest and best minds in Whitehall though obviously there can be no room for complacency”

You probably didn’t fall for that but the quote is from a parliamentary debate last week more than 2 months after the referendum. Made by the Brexit Minister.

All you pub quizzers will know the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989 but maybe don’t know it was built in one night! In August 1961. No wonder the West was terrified of the commies back then!