Bennett’s Bar


You join me this week in Bennett’s Bar, which is right next to the Kings Theatre though I don’t know if it’s frequented by the luvvies. This pub can probably lay claim to being my “local”. By frequency rather than proximity. We often go there for a pre prandial prior to a visit to Indaba, ( Zulu, a council or conference especially with indigenous tribes of South Afica) our favourite tapas restaurant.

High ceilinged with lots of old wood and ornate mirrors, a good selection of beers with seven on cask, four regulars and three guest, an extensive selection of tourist attracting malt whiskies, and a fine choice if you are a “gin goblin”- just saw that phrase today in music shop window and I thought it was neat!  ( only if you don’t add the tonic, Ed.)

If you’ve never heard of the Gin Goblins don’t bother checking them out unless you are a punk completist. Punk – what was that all about?- a reaction against the pretentiousness of prog rock?  Tubular Bells, pop operas maybe.  Also an element of reaction against the evisceration of trade unions that was going ahead in the 70s?  ” The unions have been busted their proud red banners torn” ( from Christmas Time in Washington, Steve Earle )

In times past Scottish pubs were often built with a “snug ” area which was partitioned off from the main bar area. Women and children could wait for the menfolk there. (?)  You can check that out in Bennett’s. Presumably the children had to be accompanied by adult females or maybe they sneaked in to sample what was the precursor of alco pops? The snug was probably the forerunner of the ” lounge ” bar. You know, that space where middle class wankers didn’t have to mix with the hoi polloi when their date gives them that I’m not going in there look.

Whisky choice list in the Snug.       Extensive!



What I like about Bennett’s is that it has a mixed clientele of locals, tourists and normal punters and a marked absence of suits.

The staff are friendly and the glassware clean which kept my recent pints of Fairmaid and Good Old Pale in fine condition til the last draught.


View along bar top toward the Snug

Articles that have recently caught my eye:

A Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes for ” insulting Islam through electronic channels” He received the first 50 lashes about a year ago.

Ireland re-introduced blasphemy laws in 2009  ( not very up to date, Ed. ) and some commentators seemed to think that this was a cynical ploy to attract Saudi Arabian investment. Surely not!  Some folks seem to lack a charitable disposition towards politicians. Oh yes and an academic in Trinity College Dublin, has threatened to sue ( suppose that might be better than having your hand cut off or being castrated ) anyone who “insults” Islam. And that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons are legally unpublishable there.

Yesterday the news that the EU has not granted a new licence to Monsanto for glyphosate backs up my thoughts re campaigning websites and their widening influence. Independent tests to be done before a final decision on it’s continuing use or ( hopefully ? ) a ban.

If TTIP had been in place we would be getting sued for millions.

Food security:

Last year we listened in to an Aussie soil scientist ( in a pub near the hippy Findhorn Foundation ) telling his new acquaintance how vast areas of agricultural land worldwide have become unhealthy and under productive. Who is responsible for this? Is it giant corporations? Is it smaller family run businesses? Well this week in the UK a report says that some of our most productive land could be unprofitable within a generation. Notice the emphasis on unprofitable.

The government was also criticised for failing to do enough to keep the country’s soils in good condition for future generations.  Is that not the responsibility and indeed duty of those who farm the soil?  Here in Scotland our environmental protection agency has produced a guide to encourage our farmers to value their soils. I find it amazing that people who live off the land do not care for the land. This could be one of the reasons why the preposterous Common Agricultural Policy is needed. On which subject why the fuck do we have to subsidise the production of food?

I was in one of my favourite shops yesterday. This place has a fantastic selection of mostly local produce. On the counter as I was waiting my turn to pay, my eye was taken by a form which was used to note on a weekly basis which goods went to the waste bins. It also noted the number of each item and the cost. Because of the nature of the shop selling lots of perishable fruit and veg this struck me as clever business practice. Keeping a close eye on income and expenditure is vital. However it made me think ” how much wastage is a business prepared to tolerate as long as it still cuts a decent profit?”  About a month ago I saw our local tramp benefitting from this discarded but still edible produce.

It is probably generally thought that the big supermarkets, who account for 87% of our groceries, are most to blame for the UK’s 14 million tonnes wastage. However it is necessary to look closer to home as household food waste accounts for more than 40% The UK tops the EU wastage league by millions of tonnes. However I don’t think population size was factored in so it’s probably not surprising that we waste more than Malta. Eco tourism, you’ve probably heard of it. How about Eco non- tourism where we don’t visit countries that slaughter migratory songbirds for fun.

Japan ” scientific ” whaling. How about economical sanctions  ( how come you and your missus both have Japanese cars then?  Ed. )

The point I’m trying to get over with these two examples is that if we have the opportunity to change something for the better, then let’s do just that and not sit around girning e.g. about child poverty, in the expectation that other folks will do so.

Over a million people make use of food banks in the UK .

India wastes as much food as the UK consumes, including 21 million tonnes of wheat.

UN Development Programme says about 40% of bought food is wasted.

On a happier note, or two. Last week we were fortunate to attend a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Pet Sounds. Often regarded as not very successful commercially at the time-although it had several big hit singles lifted from it- Brian Wilson’s masterpiece was hugely influential and inspired many of that eras emerging and established stars such as Clapton ( really! ) Tom Petty, Barry Gibb, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Carole King, Rod Argent, Alice Cooper, Lindsey Buckingham, Pete Townsend and Roger McGuinn amongst many others.

George Martin:  ” Without Pet Sounds Sergeant Pepper would never have happened. Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds”

A wonderful night of music.

And ” Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to have a bar like Bennett’s Bar close by?

Well yes it is so why don’t you come and join me sometime as ” I Get Around”


Canny Man’s

This week we are checking out one of the more notorious bars in the city. Not notorious in the sense of being a drug den or you get beaten up by looking at one of the inmates in the wrong way. Rather because of the reputation that the proprietor had built up.

On this site originally was the single storey Volunteers Rest from at least the 1860s. It opened as a purpose built pub and inn in 1871. Riflemen trainees used to come off Blackford Hill to slake their thirst and Rest was changed to Arms by owner John Kerr sometime after 1901.

Volunteer Arms is a common name for a pub. One named as such was featured in Trainspotting but our one is at the totally opposite end of the spectrum. You are far more likely to have the clientele here talking about rugga‘ rather than fitba

Canny Man’s Exterior


A.k.a. The Canny Man’s—  After delivery of the week’s beer the dray horses used to be left outside across the road morrals on- another word for feed bag, nose bag – don’t know if it is redundant or archaic but I like it- whilst the delivery men had a couple. After a while the horses got restless and started moving off and causing a bit of mayhem.  This would eventually attract the attention of one of the draymen who would come out and shout out “Canny Man” in a vain hope of calming his beast down. Probably apocryphal, but according to Christian, the son of the current proprietor, this is what his uncle told him. More likely to refer to John Kerr. Stealing a quote from the pub’s fact sheets, ” In later life he was to be nicknamed the ” Canny Man” and this he was”

I love that ” and this he was!”

Cat's Seat
Canny Man’s

Can you spot the cat’s seat Sherlock?


I love to cook and am being continually exhorted in my recipes to use kosher this and kosher that, so I did some research to see if I could make some sort of sense of it. Shouldn’t have bothered really. However over the last century numerous rabbinical organisations have sprung up that will certify your new  products, restaurants, etc.  Alright already!

The EU:   Well it’s decision time UK. Are you in? Are you out? How did it ever come to this? Plus we’ll have the Trumpet in Scotland on the day. I think he’s going to build a wall round Turnberry because a Mexican has applied for membership.
Philip Green has just taken possession of a £46 million jet. Shame 11,000 people are out of work with pension black hole from his recent commercial enterprise. ( The word enterprise can have dark connotations and that certainly applies here )

He so wanted to sort out the pension debacle that he sold the business, but only in the literal meaning of the phrase, to a 3 time bankruptee. Goldman Sachs apparently advised him, with no fee, that it was ok to do that!

A couple of phrases used recently by BHS employee who lost her job. Plundered and destroyed. Sickening levels of avarice and injustice are commonplace. That’s good old unfettered capitalism for you.

I wonder if Sir PG Tips after he eats out?

Back to EU vote: Sorry got distracted. This is mirrored in the modern tendency for newspapers ( read owners, media barons ) that instead of allowing an even handed appreciation of events, now take sides and instruct their craven editors to follow the party line. Which party they support. In or out? Etc. They are doing this for the wider common good? Don’t insult our intelligence. Like curdled cream self-interest sits atop this toxic cocktail.  ( Steady son! Ed. )

Never mind, the Tories have learnt from recent events and today propose to allow a failing industry to cut their employees pension without their permission. The government has a ” high level offer on commercial funding” on the table. Tata steel has liabilities of about £15 billion on it’s pension scheme and this costs more than £100 million to support.

What makes me really angry is not that we should be looking at ways to mitigate unforeseen circumstances in longer term viable businesses or that we may need to spend public money to this end. ( potentially up to a billion for Tata ( will it then shortly be thanks a lot and ta, ta UK? ) It is the fact that I don’t  hear anything from those in power about how we stop fat cats from getting fatter especially at the cost of everyone else’s futures being compromised . Wrecked might be a better adjective?

Whilst coincidentally more and more of the general population become fat pigs!

Neoliberalism: Now I’d never heard of that ’til my friend and knee surgeon Malcolm MacNicol gave me a book entitled The  Neoliberalising of Old Age written by his brother John. I was wondering what the definition of the word might be and thought that it might be linked to a laissez faire type of economic model. When I researched it what did I find? Yes two French words right enough. Quite pleased with my old self really! Carte Blanche are another two French words which would imply a similar philosophy.

It ain’t working but for the few. Seems that the third way will never top old blue eyes my way.



A look along the bar front to a wide selection of whiskies

Rick Stein reckons the Canny Man’s is the best pub in the world and whilst it might not qualify for that accolade solely on the well maintained 8 draught beer selection it may well do so on it’s wonderful nooks and crannies, huge selection of whiskies, wide choice of champagne and a magnificent cornucopia of items, each of which has it’s own story, which ” decorate” the walls and ceilings. Long may it last as more and more of our pubs close down or become Wetherspoon clones.

Long May You Run.





Greyfriars  Bobby

You may have heard of this pub. Outside is a statue to the memory of Bobby, a Skye terrier which (who?) stayed close to his master’s grave in the adjacent churchyard for 14 years in the 19th century.

People rub my nose to bring them luck- people are strange

We ended up here because we were celebrating the boss’s birthday. We thought we would check out the Hotel du Vin which was just a stumble away from our booked restaurant. Big mistake. Bottled beer only and gin selection poor to average. ( was there not in a clue in the hotel name? Ed. ) So we ended up in Greyfriars Bobby and it turned out to have a great atmosphere, wide selection of beers, and lots of returning customers prepared to wait quite a while to get a table for supper.  It is a Nicholson’s pub and they seem to pride themselves on delivering a really good quality beer. Half way through my pint the glass still evenly retains some of the head as the volume is reduced. This just does not happen no matter how good the beer, if the glass is not clean to start with. A good sign. I often think it’s the attention to little things that separates the average from the outstanding. In people even more so than in business. – Phil O Sofar has snuck in there when I had my guard down.


I have been thinking a lot about how the advent of the Internet has radically altered our lives.

It was a huge benefit to me when I ran my own business. I learned quite a bit about myself of which I had not been aware. What I discovered was that I was far more particular about getting things ” just so” than I would have imagined. This is reflected in the amount of time I’m now taking to getting my blogs out! Part of the problem / reason is that email is so impersonal and it can  be difficult, if you use it a lot, to maintain the human element. As usual I digress!

What I really wanted to have a bit of a look at was how it is being used to influence how society is evolving.

I have selected only one particular area.

Campaigning websites:

The hoi polloi are revolting.   It used to be that the peasants were revolting – where did I put my nose gay?- I have supported quite a few ( is that the same as quite a lot?-Ed.) projects promoted by 38 degrees over past couple of years here in the UK and a couple by Avaaz worldwide.

Websites such as those attract all sorts of weirdos, sados and other assorted derailed souls. But what they thrive on most is input from middle class wankers like me. And others, who simply want to make a difference.

Such sites seem likely to be able to have an absolutely massive influence on the decision makers throughout the world. However, like many other big ideas that come along, when they get over excited about life and overextend it’s not long before they get into soapy. That’s soapy bubble ( trouble, for you non-rhyming slang folks) Last week a campaign which 38 degrees were supporting ( totally wrongly in my humble opinion ) had to be taken down because the sados and weirdos had got a day pass.

I have particularly enjoyed the response of Tory MPs who, when challenged by the proles, have responded by dripping vitriol and condescension in equal measure from their quills. Further to that,  it seems that TTIP  ( proposed US/UK  trade deal ) which to me seems like a castration of the common good is, thankfully, facing major challenges from campaigning websites throughout Europe. If you are of the opinion that we should just keep our mouths shut and be ruled by a dictator then you are probably horrified that voices are being raised against the prospect of multinationals not being allowed to sue our government if laws are passed which are detrimental to corporate profits. Plain packaging of cigarettes etc. etc. 

I actually know someone who thinks we would be better off with a dictator. But then I also have a friend who used to be in the Hitler youth. And I’m not joking on either account!

Bobby’s Story

This week’s big stories:  The hottest April month ever recorded, by a long way. NASA.

An almighty battle is brewing with people ” taking matters into our own hands now”

Over the past couple of weeks there  have been protests by environmental groups in many parts of the world. Whether you are an ostrich or think I live in cloud cuckoo land  -unintended ornithological pairing!  these events have only been possible because of the Internet. The big question is, has it come along too late to allow us to save us from ourselves.

Without wishing to be seen as flippant on an issue of such fundamental importance, if it hasn’t arrived in the nick of time I would have to agree with Private Fraser from Dad’s Army

“We’re doomed Captain Mainwaring, doomed”

What I’ve learnt doing this blog:

Delhi is the most polluted city in the world ( kills about 10 thousand per year according to one estimate ) and suffers from smog which is a portmanteau. First used by Humpty Dumpty in “Through The Looking Glass” when he tells Alice “You see it’s like a portmanteau- there are two meanings packed up into one word”  A clever reference to it’s other meaning as a two section briefcase.

Canada only adopted it’s present flag in 1965.

The BRUCE nuclear facility in Ontario is the largest working site in the world. Old hippy mortification.

Gog time:  Don’t you just love fashion. Isn’t it amazing that so many people lead such stressful lifes that they don’t realise they are going around in jeans that are ripped at the knees?  And what does that say also about the quality of workmanship nowadays? 

When I was about 16 it was the fashion to have tight fitting trousers, especially at the ankle- the wonderfully ridiculous bell bottom era was yet to arrive. With money from my summer job and after a bit of negotiation and customer is always right, I got a tailor to reduce a good but to my mind baggy pair to 10 inch at the ankle. Man was I ever going to be cool !

When I got them home I couldn’t get my feet through the fucking holes!

Of course I was too embarrassed to take them back and I hid them in the back of a wardrobe where they were eventually discovered by my brother Barclay, who gets the sewing machine out and in no time at all has another pair of pants for himself.

Not many dogs get a headstone unveiled by royalty!

Lastly: This week I was trying to insert my iPad into an old video mount which was designed for an earlier model and succeeded in smashing it on the tiles. Have now invested in new mount and iPad. The reason for this o.t.t. expense is that I have decided to record some of my own songs and maybe put them in here.  You have been warned.





The Southern

First out, apologies for length of last missive. Little and often is usually a good philosophy. However, have been fairly spaced out over past few months. Once in a “blue moon ” ( off  Marcels 1961 debut LP )  may be the other extreme? So somewhere in between hopefully.  Doo- wop! Now there was a great new word. Who invented that I wonder?

A blog just with song titles or lyrics ? – now that would be a challenge.

                                                                  12 Fonts with 4 of them cask  

You join me in the Southern, owned by Fuller Thomson with sister pubs Ox184, Holyrood 9A and the Red Squirrel in Edinburgh. Choose from 24 fonts, 4 of which are cask beer. Most are rotated and in interest of research I have had pints of Vienna Lager, Pale Blond and Long White Cloud all of which were in very good condition. Especially the pale blond.- ( in your dreams! Ed)

The pub reminds me of Barhop in Toronto which last year had 36 beers on offer whilst still retaining an authentic pub atmosphere. Good, but not over intrusive music with an unusual sound quality, the reason for which was revealed as we left, as we saw the barman put the next LP on the turntable.Vinyl!  Check out LP, vinyl and turntable in last century.

                                                                                           The other 12 options

What’s happening in the world this week?

Well, we have Alberta on fire. That is a devastating and life changing blow to tens of thousands of folks. Coincidently I had been reading last week about the broad support in Canada for an initiative to push the country into deriving much more of it’s energy from sustainable sources. I’ve visited Canada quite a few times since the early 70s and I can confirm to the outside world that unless you are a snow sport enthusiast then you really don’t want to be there in the winter. Canada must spend the equivalent of the GDP of a small country just on trying to keep it’s “trains and boats and planes” ( Burt  Bacharach / Hal David hit in 1965) functioning. Gene Pitney, whom I’ve featured in a past blog turned down the offer of the song  but “do you want to know a secret” Billy J Kramer didn’t and had his last hit with it. Fountains of Wayne, who I only heard of a week ago through an old CD that someone must have put together for me, covered it in 2003. Check out their “Girl I can’t forget ” if you like pop with a capital P. ( Neat lyric, but sounds more like session musicians rather than a group?  Ed.)

James Taylor started a tour of Canada in Ottowa in early May ( we’re going there in July- yippee ) and has offered to donate all profits from two of his gigs to the Canadian Red Cross in order to support the relief effort in Fort McMurray region.   Good for you James, though I would have hoped that the Canadian government and the fuel companies would front up big time on this one.  Haven’t had the time to follow through on how the fire started. 

What is guaranteed is that there is going to be a huge amount of recrimination. It’s already started and I expect a lot of bitterness will surface. 

I’m an old hippy so I reckon you can guess my views on the tar sands exploitation and I did promise to keep this blog shorter, so full stop here. 


Well if you are ill or injured in the Syrian hell hole don’t seek sanctuary in a hospital.

Today we received our pamphlet from the UK government detailing why the country should not vote to leave the EU in our June referendum. Couple of thoughts here. The Tories are as divided ( and probably more so ) as every other party on the issue, so how can they claim to represent the ” government ” ? My main gripe though is that by so openly spending my tax payer’s money on promoting something with which I so strongly disagree that it is abusing and belittling democracy. Actually, just kidding, but the point is fundamental. If they had been promoting leaving, it would have been equally as big an abuse of power. 


Recent report says in the UK young people are the least likely to recycle. Over 55s take a bow – but only if your lumbago is ok today, as you may not get back up straight. However the bright side might be that overall we are moving to a ” circular economy” File that under new jargon.

Cautionary Tale Gentlemen

Ok, how did the wall come to such an unfortunate condition? 

Seems like Mr had finished work at the property, and wanting to go off somewhere had asked Mrs to come and take the truck home. Sorry girls. True.

To finish:  Scotland’s National Rag puts another couple of nails in the coffin of our supposedly wonderful education system.

Headline recently:  Misubishi offices raided over fuel data. Maybe the workers were having a “t” ceremony?

Headline today: Turning vegitarian on a flexi-time basis.

Until the next time.


Cloisters Bar

It’s been a really tough past few weeks waiting for a dear friend to succumb to cancer. It seems strange that when you lose someone particularly close to you that that is one of the times when in a peculiar way you feel most alive.


Here we are in Cloisters Bar on an absolutely gorgeous April day.

Our recently out of hibernation tortoise had her first foray into the garden this morning. The boss is also out for lunch so we had to bring the tortoise back inside because she has been known to go into the pond when she thinks she is a turtle. I think tortoises can survive quite a long time in water hence their ability ( by chance?) to move between islands such as in the Seychelles and the Galapagos. Tortoises and turtles are both in the order Chelonia. There is one other in there. Do you know/ can you guess what it is? A clue– it begins with T as well.

Diversion over.           A picture is worth a thousand words so —



The beer selection blackboard.  Impressive!

You probably know that Cloisters means a covered walkway in a convent or monastery with a colonnade ( w t f ?)  and entablature ( W T F ?) the latter divided into architrave — (   Stop it ! Just stop it! Ed.)

The World : The Middle East has won out and Climate Change will have to wait ( if only ! ) ’til next blog.

In Iran people who want to put themselves forward for election have to be vetted by a guardian council, an unelected body of jurists ( who/what? ) and clerics. A newly elected female MP has been barred by this council from parliament. Her crime?

She ” might ” have shaken hands with a male non-relative on a foreign trip.  With a glove would have been ok. ( eh who shakes hands with a glove? Ed)

On a positive note more and more females are being elected.

Having grown up with the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland murdering each other in the spirit of brotherly love I’m now trying to get my head round this Sunni / Shia love fest. These guys just seem to hate each other’s guts. You don’t need to look far for religious intolerance. Some things never change.

Snapshots from the 2016 Arab Youth Survey:  ( 3,500 from 16 nations )

The point which registered most deeply was that most young Arabs reject ISIS.

50% thought ISIS was the biggest problem facing the Middle East.

However, lack of jobs was considered a stronger reason for young people to join rather than strong religious beliefs.

The International Labour Organisation, whoever they are, reckon about 75 million young Arabs are without a job.

53% thought that maintaining stability in the region was more important than promoting democracy. This hit me because in 2011, following so called Arab Spring, 92% of Arab youth said ” living in a democracy” was their most cherished wish. How views can change!

22% said they would most like to live in the UAE and 23% said it was the nation they would most like their country to emulate. Get your head round that. The UAE is an hereditary sheikhdom with no elected institutions!

What also challenged my perception, was that 63%  thought the US was an ally.

32% get daily news online, 29% from TV and only 7% from papers. A fair assumption might be that most young people worldwide are doing the same and no longer rely on the printed word. Expect lots of other newspapers to go bust or to try to extend their life as an app. The U.K’s Independent has tried that – but I think that it will hit the buffers fairly soon, although how that is possible if you have already gone off the track I don’t really know.

Headline in the Scotsrag today – ” Schools survey to contine  this week ”

Where were “u” when you were needed?

We are moving toward a cashless society and a newspaperless ( bagsy new word! ) one as well, it would seem.

Gog time:  You go to the leisure club for a swim. You take a shower at the side of the pool as requested before entering the pool. You enter the pool without diving because that is frowned upon. So why the fuck did you leave the shower running, pal?

Do you think ( mixed metaphor ) water grows on trees?

Tragedies waiting to happen. We already have cretins shining lasers into cockpits and now we have morons unleashing drones into flightpaths. Mark my words it will not be long before innocent lives will be cut short.

Coincidence or what!!!   Yesterday at Heathrow an Airbus 320 was struck  by a drone.

The “West” is already using drones against terrorist targets and it’s not difficult to see that rôle being reversed. Not just terrorists though because we have plenty of other non aligned deranged fuckers to worry about as well.

On that theme check out “Eye in the Sky” the late lamented Alan Rickman’s last film.

Ups and downs:  👇🏿The Australian Barrier Reef really suffering from effects of El Niño.

(Did you see the photo of our coral table which I recently added to Back Home? )

🖕🏿The fund that the Norwegians cannily accrued from North Sea oil and gas and put into an extremely large piggy bank  ( about £610 billion !? ) to support their welfare state, has tightened up legislation about where those funds can be invested, and with a wonderful and delicious irony the fund must be pulled out of companies who get 30% plus of business from coal. Petroleum and natural gas accounted for about 59% and coal about 27% of world energy in 2007. Coal though, seems to get the worst press despite the fact that all three are fossil fuels. Compare the Norwegian ” put something aside for a rainy day” mentality with what happened in the U K where we just pished it all away, borrowed huge amounts that we had no hope of paying back and we now find ourselves in a situation where we cannot even pay the fucking interest on the loans never mind the loans themselves! What our current Tory Chancellor is attempting to do should have been faced up to a long time ago. However, trying to eliminate the deficit by kicking shit out of the most vulnerable in society brings you back to the default Tory position.

This Norwegian action is, I think, the tip of the iceberg ( the possibilities to explore the metaphorical and literal implications of that phrase in it’s present context are immense!   (Maybe next time Ed. ?)

🖕🏿Burma starting to release it’s political prisoners.

🖕🏿The Cambodian lawyer who is risking his life to limit illegal logging operations.When I read that article I immediately thought of Chico Mendes whose efforts to prevent the exploitation of the Brazilian rainforest inspired social activists the world over but who was ultimately gunned down for his trouble. Check out his story and if you like music of the pan pipes then have a listen to Allpa Kallpa which apparently translates into ” the inner force of the earth ” in the Inca language.

Time to go!!

Third T is Terrapin.

Colonnade : Series of regularly spaced columns.

Entablature: Mouldings which lie above columns.

Architrave: Lintel or beam which rests on the capital of the columns!                      Sorry!


A righteous Tam empties a bag of plastic which we beachcombed in about an hour whilst out enjoying a walk in Aberlady Nature Reserve yesterday.   Until the next time.



Ye Olde Golf Tavern

Here’s a question for the oldies. What was Jagger/Richards first song to reach the U K top ten?

This week’s pub is only 7/8 minutes walk from home but I have only been in it a couple of times and that was back in the 80s. Check out it’s golfing history here.

Tonight the boss and I strolled over to check it out. It has a lot going for it. Location. Lots of wood. Comfy seating. Clientele with wide age range. Pleasant staff. Good pub menu with 3 veggie options- that is unusual.  Botanist gin!

Not so great: Uninspiring draught beers selection. I had a couple of nice pints of  Innis Gunn lager but at 5p short of a fiver that’s top end pricing. The pub promotes itself -as so many do now- as a Sports bar and the boss counted 5 screens. There is an absolutely ginormous one on one of the walls. For many years I made my living through sport and loved playing but I now have a more jaundiced view. I’ll come back to that topic another time as the Editor has just tapped my shoulder!

Ye olde golfer tavern door

If you visit which one of the above are you!

Thought you might like to come with me as we have a wee look at how the English language has changed over the last 50 years or so. I love how words can be put together in differing ways and how they can be moulded with so much invention. Sort of like notes on a stave.  Outside of my personal relationships language and music are two of the things I most like. Why might that be? The ability to inspire and uplift certainly. Both have an oral tradition but the vast majority of each is annotated in some way – not necessarily “written” –  as I was at first going to put it.

Both are vocal. Yes we give even the written word a voice as we lift it off the page and say it, albeit silently, in our head. So here we have stumbled on one change already even before we get to the theme!   People have little need for a pen or pencil nowadays. Having used a computer to help me run my business for many years I now find my writing is shocking! This would not have surprised my primary school teacher who on inspecting one of my efforts commented that “It looks like a hen has just run all over your page!” A friend of mine recently told me that in a few years time, children in  Finland are not to be taught to write. Probably catch on big time if it hasn’t already done so.

Right, the theme. It’s Gog time!

In a nutshell. It’s the use of verbs as nouns. And vice versa and other corruptions! The first time it jarred with me was ” the commute” Not many others came along for a while ( was there a strike? Ed.) but then the floodgates lost the battle.  I am getting a migraine even thinking about it so just let a couple come to me. Ok, here in Edinburgh a wall collapses in a recently built school, and we now have 17 schools built by the same contractor under PPP closed, whilst safety checks are carried out. PPPs are essentially a contract between public authorities ( who don’t have enough disposable income – you decide why ) and private finance ( who can spot a dripping roast a mile away) to provide new infrastructure. In this particular instance a fund registered in a Guernsey tax haven has a 20% stake in the schools under survey, in which ” similar issues” have been identified. Panama papers anyone!!

The main problem often seems to stem from the fact that the maintenance contracts bleed the public purse dry for 20/25 years. Now I don’t know if this is because the public authorities don’t have enough civil servants to say to the decision makers, “hey wait a minute we are being screwed if we sign off on this”  or if the politicians don’t give a flying duck if they put future generations into hock.

Anyway this is happening throughout the world and it is costing Citizen Kane and Citizen Smith a fortune. There is a phrase ” a small fortune ” but the adjective is inappropriate in this instance.

We ( you and I ) really need to sort out our “spend” on this. Because we are paying through the nose for it.

On the front page of Scotland’s National Ragpaper today, 13th April ( as a follow up to the school story above) a part of the headline is ” school build projects” I just hope that once they are in fact made safe that the English lessons that are delivered there are on strong foundations.

But I know it is too big an “ask”

Ok, the Jagger Richards question.  It was a song entitled “That girl belongs to yesterday ” by Gene Pitney which charted    -HEH!!!!!!-    at number 7 in 1964.

More trivia: Pitney never made it to number one in the US singles charts. His “Only love can break a heart” at number two was kept from the top spot by The Crystals version of “He’s a rebel” Guess who wrote that!

Join me soon at the next watering hole.

Peripatetic pub person.        (A better take on PPP ?)


Canons’ Gait

Canons' Gait pub in Edinburgh's Canongate.-?
Canons’ Gait pub in Edinburgh’s Canongate.-?

Phil O So Far he say: Never be cringingly ashamed of your humble background nor chest swellingly proud of your privileged one.        What’s it got to do with you?

This week we are checking out the Canons’ Gait in the Royal Mile. Formerly the Blue Blanket.  Unprepossessing from the outside it has a good reputation for tasty pub food and a wide range of mostly Scottish, craft beers. The night I was there they ran out of food and had to turn folks away. The couple behind me made a point of telling the staff how much they had enjoyed their meal. My pint of Azure ( new one to me ) was good. Part of a group owned by D M Stewart which includes the Abbotsford, Guildford and Cumberland. On a second visit I had a pint of one of the four cask ales on offer and no prizes for guessing the colour of my tasty pea, mint and courgette soup.

Gogism for today.  Well where do I start mate? You’ve no idea how this irritates me pal, yes sir it really gets to me buddy, so much so that I am no longer a cool dude.

If I tell someone that you are my best mate then you are my closest friend. If you say “see you later mate” then you are probably hoping that you won’t and that if you do it will be of very little consequence. In one of the shops I go into almost daily ( hands up, it’s a wine store!) one of the guys has taken to calling me mate when I go in, so like Richard Thompson I think I’m going to be taking my business elsewhere.

It seems only fair since I asked you to come up with the three things which most irritate you that I tell you mine. I’m really just working out now that I didn’t mean global issues like climate change, food security ( I must come back to that!) etc. but rather people things ( eg folks picking their nose in public? )

I assume your time is precious so here’s only one of mine.

It is how we use our mobile phones iPads etc and how that usage affects others. If you have been with me since Genesis then you may remember that I recently spent a holiday in Sri Lanka. One of the days we took in a cultural show of traditional music and dancing. Sitting directly in front of us were two Oriental young men, one with a smartphone the other with an iPad. They filmed the whole performance, therefore totally missing out on the immediacy of the event. Doh.

You are in the pub and you get the drinks in for your date ( you fill in the genders ) There you are on your first night out, presumably trying to get to know each other, but what you get to know is that your date is on Faceoff and wants to show you a clip of a parrot escaping from it’s cage, landing on it’s owner’s head and flying off with his toupeé. Your place or mine?

New Year’s day 2016 and we are off for a walk into Holyrood Park. It is a gorgeous morning and it being the time of year it is the city is full of tourists. Firework display at the castle last night safely recorded by all for posterity, and to remind them what a great time they might have had if they had actually experienced it.

You could go into Holyrood Park every day for a year and never have to take the same route twice. It is a fantastic resource in the city.  Many other people are of the same mind and as we are coming off the hill this new year’s morning, we come across two girls side by side, filling up the whole path and thumbing their phones. Ok so it’s a new year therefore new resolution, and mine is that I am no longer going to change direction or get off the pavement to accommodate you as you give your thumbs RSI.

EXCUSE ME!      The girls look up, and briefly slip back into reality for a second. –  before diving back into another dimension as we pass.

Ok time to leave that particular gripe behind but last thought on mobile phones. If they really are safe why do some authorities say don’t keep them close to your testicles, boys?

In the U K:  This week a former prime minister resigns from the Tory cabinet following a budget which, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, left the top 50% no worse off but the bottom 20% to lose 12% of their income by 2019. Distributional analysis; how much different “classes ” paid in tax, used to be published after each budget but this Chancellor thinks it must no longer be published because people will think the deficit reduction is a bad idea!!  Weird logic.

Someone once said that if you tell people something often enough they will eventually believe it.This week on perpetual repeat,

“One nation conservatism”

A total lie.

Now dear reader have you been overlooked all your life?  Have you not had the recognition that you undoubtedly deserve? Well help is on hand. Awards Intelligence. They will help you get into the New Year Honours List. Check them out, but don’t expect this peasant to tug his forelock when you come by.

Lastly, do you care about your health?  You do, well how much do you know about what you wilfully put into your body? If you want access to an absolute goldmine of information based on the very latest from the cutting edge of research then check out this website. There is a free option ( funded by adverts ) and a subscription option which is especially great for people like me with a scientific background. In my opinion it’s the best site out there and it could change your life. Or save it.

In the world: A guy in a fake suicide bomber vest hijacks a plane. Prior to boarding he had been frisked at “security” Fill you with confidence?

Trump’s circus goes three rings and throws up prospect of, if you’ll excuse the somewhat contorted clown reference, all of our futures being Grimaldi. Now there was a tragic figure.


The World’s End

imageToday we are in what is probably Edinburgh’s most notorious pub. The World’s End on the Royal Mile.

You need to do a little thinking as well as just reading on this one. Here is a crossword clue I remember from way back.

WORL  5, 7, 3  Answer at blog end.

The bar area is cosy with atmosphere in spades. Low ceiling – must have been grim before the smoking in public ban.  Majority of customers are tourists with a small core of a couple of dozen locals. It has become a tradition for visitors to write their name / city on some folding money from their home country and pin it up above the bar for posterity. Nice touch. How’s your geography? Ethiopia and Doha anyone.

I’m trying a pint of Cask Marque in the bar. New one on me but good. How it works ( I think? ) is that Belhaven Brewery make a batch of beer which they distribute to their wholly owned pubs and each pub sell it as if it were a special for that particular pub? Not sure if that is totally up front?

Pleasant helpful staff and the adjacent food area doing a lively business.  Good choice of beers for tourists with the most Scottish of lagers and most Irish of stouts on draught. The pub changed hands when Greene-King ( UKs leading pub retail company) took over Belhaven Brewery and it’s associated pubs. In the week of  putting this blog together they have taken over several other well known Edinburgh hostelries. Day of the Clone.

When I left you last you were to think of the three things that got on your goat the most. Did you do that?  You didn’t!  – I’m hurt.  If you did, then the next question is?  What are you going to do about them?    Sit on your backside?   Is it a good philosophy to simply just accept what the world throws at you?

What’s in the news this week?  – apart from the Donald Trumpet. Well Maria Sharapova has admitted to failing a drugs test. Make up your own minds on that one. In the bigger picture she has been cheating throughout her career by screeching when she hits the ball. Some sports psychologists say that this is a natural reaction. Guff. I was a reasonable player and a pro tennis coach for half of my working life and it was the classic tipping point situation, like tattoos today, where enough people were doing it that other sheep soon followed. Tennis balls weigh about 55/60 g.  If you are tackled by a 20 stone American football player or a rugby opponent you would be hit by 127005.864 grams. Now that may force you into a grunt or screech.

Do competitors in other hitting sports like badminton, squash and hockey shriek ?  I certainly never did so when attempting to convert a rugby try and a dry rugby ball  weighs about 7 times more than a tennis ball. A few years ago I watched a doubles at Wimbeldon with the Williams sisters and they started out with no grunts but soon the four of them were at it.  –   On drop shots girls??

The WTA never had the cajones, literally obviously, but metaphorically certainly, not to stamp it out in it’s infancy. However the men are no paragons of virtue either.

Connors and Seles have a lot to answer for on that score!

The notoriety of the World’s End stems from the murder of two girls in October 1977. They were last seen alive leaving the pub.

No one was brought to trial ’til 2007 and the accused was acquitted as having no case to answer due to insufficient evidence. This unleashed a hornets nest in legal circles and a wide ranging review of the legal system which resulted in The Double Jeopardy (Scotland ) Act in 2011. Most countries give weight to the principle of double jeopardy. Some have it in their constitutions others by statute. The amendment made to the situation in Scotland allowed for retrial if new evidence was forthcoming and in 2014 the same man was convicted with help from improvements in DNA profiling.

The first half of my working life I worked in molecular biology, and research into DNA and other chemicals with extremely long names was a big deal at that time. The second half in sport (pun unexpected therefore unintended!) It seems strange how those two elements have come together in this one blog.

What I found particularly poignant about the murders was that the girls were on a pub crawl and legally in Scotland you need to be 18 to drink. Both were seventeen.

Crossword Clue:  If you haven’t worked it out, you are going to kick yourself. Given the title of the venue for today’s blog  – I mean how much help do you need?

WORL   5, 7, 3

World Without End





Tolbooth Tavern

Here we are in the Tolbooth Tavern, Royal Mile, Edinburgh,  a pint of Three Hop at hand. Before leaving home I just put a fresh battery in my hearing aid and have forgotten to put my contacts in. Should have been the other way around!  It’s really loud in here and I’m bumping into things.

I was in a local bar, The Southsider, on Tuesday lunchtime and the music was painfully loud there too. Must be my age?

Oh my god can we not get away from the US presidential nomination contest? Have to put up with that and then the  big one ’til November.

This is my second visit recently to the Tolbooth and again a bit of cussin’ wafting around.  I can swear with the best of them but more and more recently I think of a quote from a namesake of mine. “Profanity is the last refuge of an ignorant prick” Lenny Bruce. This may not be an exact take on the quote but please don’t bother to rattle my cage if you know better.-?! It’s a great line on so many levels not just at face value. Especially from a man who was charged and found guilty of ” obscenity”. I think he probably borrowed it from someone and just changed the last word”man” for “prick” Brilliant.

Lenny’s surname was Schneider but folks in my clan think he made a good choice when he changed it to Bruce. Did you know that Lenny features on the LP sleeve of Sergeant Pepper?

My week: You may have heard of happy slappy which is a “jape” that kids do. I have been in the habit of walking through Dumbiedykes on a Friday evening, a scheme with a tough reputation, to meet up with my spouse for a relaxant after her gym session. I have done this weekly for a couple of years and have had no problem with the locals. Last week whilst minding my own business in what is a very middle class area of the city I was “slapped” but it definitely was not Happy! Search the internet if this is all unfamiliar to you.

Ok, in “What’s This Then” when I was setting up this blog I did say that it would contain gogisms.  Well here goes with the first.

Gog = Grumpy Old Git

The demise of the newspaper proof reader.

Nowadays we have spellcheck- hurrah!- so no more will we have spelling and other grammar mistakes!  Wrong!

” The Scotsman”  which claims to be my national newspaper, presumably now with no proof readers, is riddled with cringe- worthy mistakes every day. Whoever is ultimately responsible for the finished (ha! ) article should be castrigated! Unfortunately this has spread and Scotland on Sunday this week – end has a caption on the front of it’s magazine which states “Iggy Pop is a back with a new partner in crime” He may have been taken aback by that, if he was bothered to read the article, which I very much doubt.

And if you like to read some balanced comment, skip the Scotsman letters to the editor page. Here you will find bitter old guys who think that folks who have the temerity to espouse principles that are radically different from their own are zealots, or apologists. And if they have Rev. Dr. Sir, Rear Admiral etc. after or before their name or are members of an Alliance or Society  (with the implication that this somehow should impart some extra weight or authority to their views ) and we are taken in by that, then more fool us dear reader.

And the second:   Was out having my constitutional a few months ago and a guy and his son were out walking their dog. The dog craps and the guy picks it up in a plastic bag , which all public spirited canine lovers carry around for just such an eventuality. Well done son I say to myself, when he then bends down again and puts the bag against the garden wall and walks off. “Excuse me” says I, ( as bold as brass) and I commend him on his first reaction to his dog decorating the pavement but enquire to the reason why he is not going to deposit the deposit in an appropriate receptacle. Apparently he’s going to pick it up on the return part of the walk!   That’ll be right.

Yesterday, having lived in Edinburgh most of my life I discovered the walk on the Braid Hills. Ladies and Gentlemen this is a FANTASTIC walk. If you are fortunate enough to visit my lovely city you MUST check that out on a nice day. You can see for miles and miles and miles and miles, oh yeah!       360 degrees vista.

The area does attract dog-walkers  ( if you are not familiar with that term it’s the canine equivalent of our nursery schools where we pay other folks to look after our beasts ) And what did I see? You guessed it. For the third time that day, poo bags just lying in the open. What the ( sweary word) is wrong with these people?

Enough about me. We all have things that annoy us, so your job before we meet again is to identify the three that most get on your goat – or other part of your anatomy.  Ok?  I’ll be checking next time.

Til the next swill.



Royal Oak

imageWell this is a long time coming. The Royal Oak has been an institution since 60s but this is my first visit.

Renowned for it’s live music Michael Marra’s ” Hermless “was coming over the speaker and I reckoned that that was trying to tell me something about what the place stood for. Folk music is a  tree with many branches but to me is best when it is about the trials and tribulations of life. White blues.

On the walls are a few quotes of literary sayings. One is from Burns: ” For a’that an’ a’ that, It’s comin’ yet for a’ that, That man to man the  world o’er, Shall brothers be for a’ that.

Made me think about the situation in the Middle East and Syria in particular and thought that maybe we shouldn’t be holding our breath.

The password for wi-fi is scallywag and a couple of worthies came in for a pint.

I had a pint of Game Bird from fairly new brewery in the Borders. Very nice.

Overall impression is that it is unpretentious and couthy.  Scottish then?