Fit like?

How do we get, keep and stay in shape?

A question which most of us contemplate, either occasionally when we get out of shape or as a fundamental philosophy to help us get the most out of life.

What follows is a distillation of the evolution of my 50 years experience in what, for the purposes of this blog I’m going to call sport/fitness science. SFS.

By the time I was 16/17 I was 6’2” and resembled a pipe cleaner. Scrawny young men like me the world over were seduced into buying into a body building programme by Charles Atlas.

The main advertising wheeze was – “Put an end to having sand kicked in your face by the beach hunk “ The assumption being made that if you were forlornly hoping to impress the girls you had better bulk up.

Bulking up sounds like modern terminology but the Atlas programme started in the States in the 1920’s and is an example of one of the earliest and very best advertising promotions. The Atlas “brand” still works today.

Charles Atlas eh? What a great name. He took it on to impress America.

His real name was Angelo Siciliano, not too shabby either what with having dark elements of mafiosa and hot bloodied Latin threads running through it.

After what I know as the second world war was over it became the convention for British people to spend their holiday at seaside towns such as Blackpool and I was fortunate to grow up in Dunbar which IN MY HUMBLE OPINION ( sorry imho doesn’t quite cut it here) had the best outdoor swimming pool in Britain. The world even. I was lucky enough to get a school summer holiday job there for a couple of years which gave me the opportunity of buying the Charles Atlas training manuals. Don’t think I got much out of them because back in school when I told the gym teacher that I’d been picked to play for the first team at the rugby club he asked me what weight I was. Ten and a half stone. ( 147 lb ) With the emphasis on power in today’s game I wouldn’t have lasted long.

This muscle emphasis philosophy dominated until 1968 when Dr Kenneth Cooper came up with Aerobics. This highlighted the importance of developing the cardiopulmonary system. Heart and lungs. Probably the single most far reaching contribution to hit SFS in my lifetime. And from there any physical trainer worth his salt would talk about increasing VO2 max and training the cardiopulmonary system, as the importance of having a great set of bellows got more emphasis. Reducing salt in the diet came later.

Edinburgh gets to host the Commonwealth Games in 1970 and cheer on their long distance matchstick heroes Ian and Lachie Stewart and Ian McCafferty.

But this was also the era when the world, through the ever expanding dimension of television was looking in on more and more sporting competitions and watching physical specimens, the likes of which had never been seen before, as the East v West culture wars were played out in the sporting arena.

One of my biggest memories from watching athletics in the 70s was seeing David Jenkins racing in his favoured distance of 400 metres when, from powering ahead of the field he suddenly seemed to be running through jelly. Jenkins was an outstanding athlete but under the competitive pressure to maintain his position at the top of his sport he started to take anabolic steroids. Later he was given seven years in a US slammer for smuggling steroids over the Tijuana border. He still had his wits about him though as he only served 10 months after, in true Scots fashion he became a clype.

Though, with his privileged background he may not have known what a clype was.

Mike Stone is a very highly regarded American academic in the field of Sports Science and I got my one and only Strength and Conditioning qualification at one of his courses. He was an Olympic weightlifter and in his time the Romanians and the Bulgarians were in the ascendancy. On the subject of getting warmed up he told the story of how he would, in an effort to steal a secret or two watch their pre lift preparations.

What did the guy who won the event do?

He cracked his knuckles.

Coaching started to filter down from the elite to more mundane levels. One match day a visiting rugby team were being prepared by their coach and he had them doing press ups. So wrong!

Probably a lot better though than guys in my team looking on and having a pre match fag?

When I played tennis competitively I read that Jimmy Connors had a steak before his games so I would try to do the same. So wrong!

And we’ve had glucosamine and chondroitin promoted to help us deal with our dodgy joints. A multi million dollar industry for years. Having had three knee arthroscopies to nullify years of kicking heavy leather footballs and rugby balls and twisting and turning on tennis courts I was a sucker for such promotion. But it turns out I was more than likely wasting my time and money.

Nasal dilators. Remember them? Big news about the time of Atlanta Olympics. Turns out it’s not the amount of oxygen entering through the nose ( mouth) that is critical but rather the amount getting into the lungs. Discredited now but check them out if you have a snoring problem.

Training aids: The BullWorker was patented in 1962 and was promoted for isometric exercise. This used the recently discovered principle that a muscle contracted at more than a third of it’s strength will grow in Mass. If it doesn’t go to Mass it can have a rest day and a lie-in.

I use dumbbells, kettle bells and a TRX to work out but you can get in shape with no equipment. For day to day life the vast majority of people do not need to be seriously strong but they do need to be mobile . There is a huge amount of training info available online nowadays and if you go there for help search out a qualified kinesiologist rather than a personal trainer by the name of Tiger Biceps.

Nutrition: Now very much part of an elite athlete’s life. After top tennis players were allowed to rest their weary butts by slumping into a chair at change of ends you used to see them drink Coke. And then there was a recent fad of having a couple of bites of a banana. You never saw Grand Slam winner Andy Murray eating a banana did you? There was a sound scientific reason for that though. He didnae like them.

My contribution is this. If we train heart lungs muscles tendons ligaments etc way above homeostasis and then let them have a period of rest/recovery/development then why don’t we do the same with the digestive system? (we can train the digestive system but just in a different way) Diet became something that was linked almost exclusively in many peoples minds with trying to lose weight rather than what they consumed. We’ve had many and varied latched onto by celebrity and punter alike, some of which, like the popular Atkins diet, were very bad for you in the long term.

Since we started farming about 12,000 years ago we’ve now got to the stage where our supermarkets are heaving with produce from all around the world and food ( please excuse the play on words!) is in your face 24/7. So our digestive system is working continuously if we constantly shovel food down the shute. Therefore don’t eat a big meal late in the evening. That advice is out there on the grapevine (!) But then again maybe if you spend your pre sleep time on your computer/ tv screen, having more of your blood directed to the digestive tract might help calm the thoughts racing around in your mind?

Recently the 16/8 diet has become popular. “Modern”mankind has become used to having anything and everything 24/7 – which imho is one of the main reasons our planet is in such a sorry state. Anyway the 16/8 gives the gut a chance to have a rest, so in my blog that’s a good thing.

We now know a lot more about how to keep the human body in optimum performance condition compared with when I started out coaching. When the weather got really bad though, I preferred in coaching.

Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates have been been joined by newer kids on the block. Cross Fit, HITT ( high intensity) and LISS ( low intensity) are just some of the terms common in SFS today.

Heart and lungs/ cardiopulmonary. Tick.

Strength and Conditioning. Tick.

We use principles such as progressive overload to achieve improvement in these areas. Remember Milo? Ancient Greek 6th century BC athlete. Mythology tells us he trained for competition by lifting a calf every day for four years. The original BullWorker maybe?

To be and remain healthy, as well as having fate on our side, we need to have strong cardiopulmonary system, a strong frame supported by a tuned in neuromuscular network and in the control tower a brain which needs to have all of it’s myriad functions open for business.

Not too much to ask, is it?

Dementia has recently overtaken heart disease, stroke and lung cancer as the biggest killer in the U.K. . Well I’m certainly not medically qualified and it’s beyond the scope of this blog to delve into the workings of the brain, the build up of plaque etc.

If our muscles, cardiopulmonary system and brain are only worked as hard as an undemanding desk job they will only atrophy. SFS recognises this and bookshelves and internet offer a huge amount of info on how to improve the first two. The topic of mental health is no longer taboo and that has to be welcomed but there is very little out there about how to keep the old brain physically fit. We are encouraged to keep it active by reading, doing puzzles, learning a new language, taking up a musical instrument etc.

Doing any or all of these is the equivalent of going for a walk to train the cardiopulmonary system or cutting the grass to train the muscles. That is, both activities are ok and certainly better than doing nothing but on their own they are not enough to substantially delay the deterioration that comes with age.

Luckily just before Covid-19 came on the scene I found a good science based app that has allowed me to add physical mental training to gym work and cardio. I’m not sure if it’s doing any good but it certainly helps to fill the day!

Ok wrap up time.

Our systems break down for two main reasons.

1. Overuse. 2. Poor maintenance.

For most of us it’s 2.

Ok, so here’s the warp!

No pain No gain. Forget that.

Use it or lose it. Remember that.

And a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link so train muscles, cardio and brain.

One of the questions in the written exam for my Intermediate coaching qualification was, What are the Four S’s of fitness? I got three.

How about you?


Want to “live” longer?

Did that heading grab your attention?

Lockdown started late March in Scotland and from April I started getting up at 6.30, about an hour earlier than usual, so that I could go for a cycle and hopefully not meet many people. Enjoyed that, so from May started getting up at about 5.15. This whilst maintaining normal bedtime of 11.0.

So I decided to do some projections on this extra time that I was awake. Assuming I go back to only an hour earlier each day when the clocks change for the winter I will have been awake for about 22 days more than usual by the end of this year.

When I hit 70 I gave myself a goal of really working on maintaining a high level of fitness with the thought that this would be vital in allowing me to get the most out of each and every day. And fingers crossed to at least 90!

Say if that worked out it would give me an extra 14/15 months.

Colin Hay has some fine lyrics in his song “I’m going to get you stoned” in relation to the passing of time and Gandhi’s “Live as if you were going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were going to live forever” has always been a favourite of mine. Coincidentally, he was assassinated the year I was born.

It’s been strange that being awake for a lot longer each day hasn’t necessitated a siesta or grabbing an occasional 40 winks. I reckon it’s probably linked to age related hormonal changes.

And finally, while putting this together I discovered, much to my surprise having always thought it was a 50/50 split that the clocks go back in winter for only 5 months.

Not many people know that I reckon, Michael.

Mahatma would have been proud of me. And Mahatma is not a wee Scots boy asking his mother for his hat but rather a nickname meaning “ great soul”



Out of Africa. 

First couple of days at Lapa Lange which was built by a water hole. Got really clever water holes over here!

Got lucky when White rhino came in at dusk. They are sub species of similar which have been hunted to extinction in northern habitats and though efforts to save them in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are having some success it was still a great privilege to get so close to such magnificent wild beasts. 

                              Unlike us who are Right Winos, these are White Rhinos
Coincidentally today I got mail from Avaaz suggesting African elephants may only be around for another decade or so. – haven’t read content yet as connection here at our second stop, “We Kebi” is more intermittent than internet. 

Next.  Today in Swakopmund which is on the Atlantic Coast. We passed through the Tropic of Capricorn on the way. 
Turns out that Avaaz mail was to push for an E. U. ban on ivory trade. As well as the commercial aspect it is also incredibly sad that these beasts are also getting slaughtered just so sad fucks can get an adrenaline rush.

                                                               We Kebi Sunset

Visited the Dunes in the Namib desert in Sossusvlei. Thought provoking and elemental.

                                                                 Tam going up a Doon
Half way through our trip. More later.


Gleneagles Hotel

Ok, Gleneagles is not within 30 minutes walk from my home but hey it’s end of year holiday time. ( notice how he tries to keep all and no faith on side,  Ed. )


The hotel was built by the Caledonian Railway Company and was opened in 1924.  BBC’s first ever radio outside broadcast from Scotland featuring Henry Hall’s Orchestra was transmitted at the opening in June of that year. The hotel catered for golfers and grouse shooting until the fifties. Once all the grouse were slaughtered world motor racing champion Jackie Stewart established a clay pigeon shooting centre at the hotel.

Christmas Gleneagles


Last year we were here for an Illegal Eagles concert and this time it was The Soul Brothers. The three of them put on an extremely energetic performance of mostly Motown hits but it was over a not so great backing track. They worked a lot of the naff dance moves that Tamla artists used to do and the punters loved them.

December beers:

Anchor California Lager. So called first genuine lager reborn. Any hook will do.

Tempest,  White Light 4.7% and Modern Times 4% on draught at the Southern.

American Pale by Fourpour. ” Inspired by adventure ” On the can “inspired by California” and featuring a Route 66 road marker but actually brewed in the somewhat more prosaic surroundings of Bermondsey trading estate, London!

Nooner Pilsner 5.2% from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.  Full tasting with wheat and barley.

Brooklyn East IPA 6.9%   Not a session ale at that abv!

Beavertown APA   Gamma ray.  And 8 ball rye IPA at 6.2%  You would be forgiven for thinking that Beavertown was on the St Lawrence but it is in fact another London brewery.

Skyliner Wheat 4.8% Another from Fourpour.

At lunch in Côte Brasserie Meteor lager from a small Alsace brewery which was founded in 1640. A nice Pilsner.

Founders Brewing All Day IPA Session Ale.  Lots of breweries pushing this session idea but at 4.7% a bit high?

Flying Dog Brewery Dogtoberfest ( geddit?)  On the label and I kid you not it states: “There is sauerkraut in my lederhosen” I repeat “There is sauerkraut in my lederhosen”. Now sauerkraut may be one of the best prebiotics on the planet- but a penis replacement??         Further to which the old brain comes up with Strapadictomy which is a word I had only ever heard in jest and on researching it I find that not only does it sound like a scientific play on words it is what it says on the tin. The thought of lederhosen can get you into some strange territory!

Beavertown, yes the London one, Neck oil. Session IPA 4.3% On this can you get the heads of about 12 guys with eyes blacked out and death teeth showing. Zombies? What the fuck’s that all about? And if wtftaa is original, which I doubt, I bagsy it.

Art Deco
Gleneagles Gantry


Gleneagles hotel has recently been sold by the giant alcoholic beverages group Diageo ( name is smart arse branding consultancy composite of Latin dia, day and Greek geo, world. This, supposedly, to imply giving pleasure to whole world daily! ) Guinness is probably their most famous product.

The company are owners of “Monarch of the Glen” an oil on canvas, 1851,  that was one of the most famous “Scottish ” paintings during the late 19th and early 20th century. Now regarded more as shortbread tin, Brigadoon mirror of Scotland it is on loan to the National Museum of Scotland.

Commissioned to hang in the refreshment rooms in the House of Lords as part of three panels connected with the “chase” Sir Edwin Landseer’s stag has 12 points to its antlers which, pub quizzers, makes it a “Royal Stag” not a “Monarch Stag” for which 16 points are required. The House of Commons refused to pass payment of £150 for the commission and the painting fell into the hands of private investors. Howzat!

So now, instead of donating it to the nation, the rapacious Diageo want to squeeze every last penny out of it to give to their poor shareholders. Think they are looking for about £10,000,000

This is the world’s biggest producer of spirits and one of biggest for beer. The capitalist imperative still reigns supreme. ( notice the good but completely fortuitous link with the reigns verb to the Monarch angle. Ed )

Expect them to sell off Guinness when their profit falls as a result of my embargo.

Soul Brothers Show Gleneagles
Gin queen checks her list


I tried, but have failed to get out of this one without reference to the Brexshit thingy.

They are taking our jobs!

Gleneagles has close ratio of staff to visitors. At the show and in the main restaurant there are dozens of servers/ waiters and the vast majority are non British. Same idea at reception, in the spa and the bar. Lower management the same.  As Jo DiMaggio said when you come to a fork in the road, take it.   It’s up to you if your politics lead you left or right.


Educational Supplement:

My former primary school teacher currently antipodean sister mails me for my edification, so I thought I would pass it on. She names an English language teacher Maggie Meeks – great name- who made her pupils learn the definition of many figures of speech. However she missed this one.

PARAPROSDOKIAN: A figure of speech where the latter part of the sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected, frequently humorous.


1. Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until you hear them speak.

2.  War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

That’s it from me for this year. Time to shut up the shop. I have only managed about 30 out of what I thought would be weekly blogs but hopefully it has kept Mr Al Zheimer dormant for a while.

Love to one and all.











The Pear Tree

You join me in The Pear Tree which opened as a pub in 1982. Customers are mostly fu’ng stu’ens and it gets its name from the ( about ) 100 year old jargonelle  (wtf?  Ed ) pear tree on the western frontage.

Jargonelle Pear on wall
Pear Tree Exterior

It looks like it is on fire but this is only a reflection from the giant screen in the courtyard.

Jargonelle: Could be a French women who speaks in gibberish? But it means an early flowering variety.

I start with a pint of Barney’s Volcano IPA at 5%. Barney’s brewery is a couple of hundred yards South in what was the Royal Dick Veterinary College, which I must admit I always thought was a bit of a cock up of a name your majesty.

Hares.    Now I know you are probably singing ” a partridge in a pear tree  and checking out four calling birds three French etc–and going ok Tam I don’t recall Hares.

Just a happy writer’s coincidence for development. ( he means writer’s happy –Ed) – Although both could apply if I have another pint!

About 25, 000 were culled across 90 Scottish estates from 2006-2007 according to a Scottish Natural Heritage survey. Research suggests that numbers have declined by 43% since 1995 and The Wildlife and Natural Environment Act of 2012 introduced a closed season to protect hares at vulnerable times of the year. The Scottish Gamekeepers Association however, want to be able to kill hares throughout the year to “enable newly planted trees to get established”  Well I am all in favour of more trees especially if there is a diverse mix. Can we not plant them with a protective sleeve? I’ve seen that done in many places. A conifer condom?

The head of national operations for SNH : “We are asking estates for restraint on large scale culls of mountain hares”

How fucking naive is that?  Yet another genuflection to money and power. What a combination they are!

The gin queen and I spent last weekend at friends near Hawick. When we arrived a fox hunt was just finishing. It is now illegal to allow the hounds to tear the fox to bits once it goes to ground. The beasts have now to be shot. If it is necessary to control fox numbers why don’t we just shoot them?  Is it really necessary to chase and terrify the shit out of them?  Unnecessary cruelty physical or mental to man or beast just makes me so sad and angry. We really should be above that. But of course we’re no’

Never mind eh, good news for beavers in Scotland. Just in time too because they are European beavers. Well maybe not as in the Scotsrag today one guy says that we will have to cull them soon enough. No problem SNH will surely help.

Still on gun fun:

Gun violence and terrorism- the US spends more than a trillion  ( how much is that? Ed ) dollars defending itself against terrorism which kills a tiny fraction of people compared to those killed by ordinary ( not my choice of adjective! ) gun crime. US government sources state that on average 11,385 died in firearm incidents in US between 2001-2011. This c.w. annual average of 31 for terrorism. Now the pacifist in me has to hold his hands up and say that that is when you take out the numbers from 9/11 which, if like me you couldn’t say for sure what year it was that the towers came down, it was 2001. And before Charlton Heston’s ghost comes gunning for me, no amount of rifles and / or handguns would have stopped that atrocity.

Out of bullets, but lastly, comparing countries which might consider themselves fairly civilised. Percentage of murders involving firearms:

UK 10%

Australia 18.2%

Canada 31%

USA    60%

Trillions etc:  Check out the numbers. When the baby boomers were growing up a billion was a million million. Not any more!  In the UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson accepted how US usage was dominating and that was the start of bi and tri being corrupted so that most of us now know that, whether short or long scale, a billion is quite a lot and trillion is also quite a lot but more so.

A musician friend alerts me to a Tom Russell song which has a certain relevance at the moment. Although it was in fact written before that event. It’s called  “Who’s gonna build your wall?

I tried to copy just the link but the above came out!

Gog: Why is it that American audiences have to fucking hoop and holler?

And a pint of Sharp’s Red IPA at 4.9% completes my visit. No food available, the manager’s voice box does not have an off switch and the music here is not for vegetarians either because it is absolute mince.  Shortly they are going to knock the wall through to the adjacent Blind Poet, which I have featured, ( one of the reasons it’s so easy to have a pub crawl in Edinburgh! ) If I can be mean in whatever use of the word then both are average.


Pear Tree Courtyard

Phil O’ Sofar awakes from his slumber and leaves you with this:

Are you a beer glass half full or half empty sort of person?

Who cares, as long as it’s not empty.


Earl of Marchmont

You join me in one of our most local of locals in Marchmont.

Formerly The Totem it has been leased by the present landlord from PubTaverns for about five years.

Scotland’s dog friendliest pub 2016
I am sampling Jack Back at 3.7% from Stewart’s.

Today arrives a letter from DWP telling us we’ll be getting a winter fuel payment of £100 for a recent cold weather qualifying week. This jumps out as a job for PPP.

We are in the fortunate position to be able to heat our home as and when necessary. You can qualify for this payment if you were born before 1953. It is not means tested. So -Why? – when we have more people than ever having to turn to food banks.  And let’s see what Chancellor X Checker does with Universal Credit this week.  No Proportionality there!

The gin queen has proposed adding it to our Age Concern contribution this Christmas.

How do you feel about the necessity in our society for all the charities?  Today downtown in the pissing rain we walked past lots of poor souls but the one I saw on Rose Street at the back entrance to what was British Home Stores, whose business and pension fund were raided by corporate leeches, struck a particular chord with me. But an extremely dissonant one.

This week sampling Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewery, San Francisco.  Advertised as first brewed on April 18th ’75. What happened on that date I wonder?

More history. Stopped into Tiles for a light lunch this week.  And noticed an inscription carved into the window:  ” Nunca est bibendum ” The way things are going that may catch on!

If I’ve got my Latin correct this means ” now is the time for drinking”  This is taken from an ode by Horace written about 30 BC to celebrate Roman victory over Cleopatra. Always thought Horace was an unusual name for a Roman. ( unusual for anyone Ed.-  and he had to check the meaning of bibendum.) Clype!!

The President elect has offered an oil man climate change denier the job of running the environment agency. The NRA  are pushing hard to get all states to allow citizens to carry guns. But don’t worry they will have to be concealed on your person, so that’s all right then.

We’ve decided never to visit America!

On the way to my club tonight and I am reminded of something that really gets on my tits, so I thought I would get it off my chest!

You are in your car on the way home and it’s winter, so it’s dark, right?    You are at the traffic lights and contrary to everything that you need to pass your test, instead of having your hand- brake on, you are standing on your brakes and blinding the poor bastard that is directly behind you.

What is great about this situation is that by standing on your brakes you are not aware that this is physically more stressful than putting the handbrake on, but that not only are you glaring at the poor sod behind you, you are mentally cracking them up.

Which brings us to PPP values: You were going to help me with developing our manifesto and an awareness test. Why do we need one again? Well if you had any awareness you would know!

I’ve designed the electrodes so now we need to work on the questions.

Q1. Do you agree that the world in general but our country in particular is a beacon of equal opportunity and fairness?

A. Yes

Q2. Where the fuck have you been hiding?

Earl of Marchmont

Ok, hands up. I know, I know. The picture above is crap but I haven’t had time to get a better one. We have been in the Borders, up ’til now the only Scottish region not producing gin. My source tells me that that is about to change very soon with former rugby internationalist Finlay Calder involved. He could change his name to Ginlay?

As I sign off am sampling Brewgooder Cleanwater Lager. 100% of the profits go to water projects in places such as Malawi.




Former vet college
In the world:  March 22. Brussels Airport and Metro carnage.

The Barbarians have struck again. Lives of at least 10 different nationalities cut short. For what?

32 DEAD!       What sort of God in whose name was this done?

I couldn’t write about it closer to the time. It would have come out as a total rant.

I am only realising that most, if not all of the world conflicts that my baby boomer generation have grown up with, have happened because of people wanting to assert a) their national identity ( usually to the detriment of another)  b) their political ideology  and/or c)  their religious belief on others by force, the last of which is most prominent in this day and age and has come to be called terrorism and not only so in liberal democracies.  A toxic mix.  It’s sort of like the Crusades in reverse. ( that would be sedasurC. Ed. )    Pope Urban 2 has a lot to answer for.

Forgive me if you thought that that idea was a given, but I’m just discovering that until you mull over what you believe to be facts, plough through your prejudices then try to concisely get them down on paper then any conclusions that you may come to will not stand the time of test!

Anyway I have decided that on my own I can do little to change the world for the better ( my type of better ) and if Mr Robert Allen Zimmerman couldn’t change the world with Blowin’ in the Wind then what hope for My Back Pages.       –     ( Ah, but see below! )

What are some of the major changes that are happening due to the advent of the World Wide Web?  Now there’s a topic for a thesis!   Here’s a couple for starters.

First:    The gradual demise of the newspaper. A dying breed for sure. What has brought this about?  Diminishing revenue from advertising and circulation. Availability of latest breaking news 24/7 on TVs, tablets, etc. The Independent is only now available online and a while back the Guardian took the King’s shilling from Shell – sad day that. This weekend my preferred Sunday read was wrapped front and back with car advert promotions. Drive you to distraction.

I would have thought that if you make your living from journalism then love and respect for language wouldn’t be too much to expect, but that does not seem to apply to Scotland’s so called national paper which is riddled with errors daily.

On first day of this fourth month, but no deliberate April fool intended, a picture in the back of the paper with the caption “Twins Alex and Ben Toolis ( both 24 ).

There’s more. Yesterday to accompany a picture of Reagan and Carter before 1980 election we get “Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan debate each other. No they effin don’t! Then they tell us ” from separate podiums” I can ( expletive deleted) see that with my own eyes thank you very much.

Don’t you just love the English language? With my own eyes is a great expression. You don’t say I heard it with my own ears ( ok maybe you would if you like playing with words)  I can see things through your eyes, not literally obviously but metaphorically, and if we all were better at doing that then maybe we could foster a more tolerant society.

Couple of thoughts on the back of the hatred and intolerance that is forever in our faces thes days.

Asad Shah, by all accounts a gentle and well liked Glasgow Muslim shopkeeper was killed for “disrespecting Mohammed” by another Muslim who tells us through his lawyer that he loves and respects Jesus Christ. When you were growing up you may remember the admonition Thou shalt not kill?   Where do you start to try and make any sense of it all?

I read an article in Acoustic Guitar featuring Lucinda Williams. Her poet dad Miller ( he read “Of History and Hope” at Clinton’s second inauguration) was quoted as saying

” have compassion for everyone you meet even if they don’t want it” It’s a good line but I must admit there are times when I can’t pull that off.

The parents of a 20 y.o. Belgian student murdered in the Brussels attacks have given permission for his organs to be used for transplants. That is humbling and uplifting.

Second: ( back to www changes, sorry for diversion!). It is the rise of the campaigning websites. There is no doubt that the peasants are revolting and here in the UK the one that I often support is very effective.  By chance I have recently come across a far bigger world wide site called Avaaz. I recently signed a petition on it to say how much I support Donald Trumpet’s inclusive, compassionate political philosophy.

Happy Days!      Mosack Fonseca.  11 million documents leaked. The raptors are already in for the kill and the vultures will be picking over this carcass for a long long time. Can you just imagine the sweating, squirming funk that that release has released?   Makes me feel “Glad All Over” Dave.

Oh how I question myself when the enticing stink of schadenfreude wafts up my nostrils!

Serendipitously there seems to be two Dave C’s in the tail of this tale! You may need to be about my age to get the Glad All Over reference!

You will be aware of what is happening in Iceland because of the Panama Papers.  The Prime Minister has “stepped aside for a period of time ” so looks like an election will be called. The Pirate Party has 3 MPs and currently around 37% support. Should be interesting to see what results.

I admired the Icelanders attempt to hold the bankers involved in the 2008 crash to account. Though don’t think anyone has been successfully prosecuted as yet!    Lawyers.

What I found wonderful about the story so far is that the Pirate Party are pushing for more transparency and they are up in arms (!) about offshore deals. One of their MPs is quoted as saying that it is a liquid situation. Pirates, Offshore and Liquid? – fathom that confluence of association!

I think a lot of people may have to walk the plank before this settles down.

And finally the pub!  Summerhall is in the former world renowned Royal Dick Veterinary College. The building is now an important Fringe venue and houses performance spaces, cafe and shop. More importantly from a bevvier’s perspective it has a distillery on site. There’s not many pubs where you get your gin ( look out for lemongrass, blood orange or grapefruit garnish!) poured out of a miniature copper still right in front of your

own eyes

They also have a brewery and they produce several styles of Barney’s Beer.

The kitchen is only recently reopened so haven’t sampled what seems an interesting menu with some unusual combinations.

The best bit about the place though is the clientele. Every time we go we see some strange / interesting looking folk. Sample a Pickerings gin and/or  a Barney’s Beer and do a bit of people watching. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.


Holyrood 9A

Holyrood9A Exterior

Above the typical red sandstone building which houses the pub.

I settle in with a pint of Ferry Crossing IPA at 4.4% On doing some research I find this brewery opened only this year and is run by a husband and wife team operating out of the Rosebery Estate near South Queensferry.

This pub is sister to the Southern which has been previously featured. It contains a similar impressive range of beers, lagers and ciders. Also a few that the gin queen has yet to try.

Well, I thought that I would try to start this blog in a lighter frame of mind.

Oh fuck, that’s just gone oot the windae!

He’s got Scottish blood.

What word can you come up with ( four letter sweary words not allowed ) that describes him best?

Without in any way belittling the loss of life, a German contact reminds us that we have two of our modern day disasters on 9/11 and 11/9.

This morning I have played my guitar and tried not think about it.

But — into my nearest wine shop this afternoon and what is the first topic of conversation——— ?  ?

” Walls” come up, and I suggest that someone should start a cloud fund where everyone can contribute a brick so that we can build a wall in the UK ( or what is left of it ) to keep all Americans out – unless you are of  Mexican fruit picker descent.  If you are, here in Scotland we could probably soon do with your help in the berry season –?

Mr Zimmerman is to be awarded the Nobel prize for literature and is being slagged for not responding appropriately!   Lost for words?    That would be a first.

No good will come out of it some people say. But people who play around with words would say that such people are wrong and that Nobel could be Le Bon backwards.

I am currently reading “The Scottish Nation A Modern History”

Also “A Book of Scotland ” from which I’d like to quote a few lines. These are taken from the Foreward of a reprint of 1969 and are by an English historian addressing an Edinburgh audience in 1865 on the Scottish character.

“Institutions exist for men, not men for institutions; and the ultimate test of any system of politics, or body of opinion, or form of belief, is the effect produced in the conduct and conditions of the people who live and die under them”.

And again, “So far  as one can look into that commonplace round of things which historians never tell us about, there have rarely been seen in this world a set of people who have thought more about right and wrong, and the judgment about them of the upper powers. Long-headed (?) thrifty industry; a sound hatred of waste, imprudence, idleness, extravagance; the feet planted firmly on the earth; a conscientious sense that the worldly virtues are, nevertheless, very necessary virtues; that without those, honesty for one thing is not possible and that without honesty no other excellence, religious or moral is worth anything at all– this is the stuff of which Scottish life is made, and very good stuff it is”        My italics.

After this quote the editor comments, This was a sound appraisement then. Dare we hope it still has the same validity?

Honesty was on very short rations during recent Brexit and US presidential ( not presidential in the good meaning of the word, Ed ) campaigns.  It seems the higher and more wondrous things we accomplish in e.g. science and medicine, the lower we can debase ourselves in our treatment and manipulation of our fellow man.

From The Scottish Nation I’ve learnt about the large amounts of immigrants who came to Scotland from Ireland in the early to mid 1800s, some of them economic and some of them because of the Great Famine. We didn’t stop them then and they brought their Protestant Catholic rivalries with them, which unbelievably, and particularly but certainly not exclusively so to the West of Scotland, still fester like a boil that could well do with it’s pus being lanced.

As terrible as ” the troubles” were, they are nothing compared to the intra religious conflicts currently raging elsewhere in the world.

Colonsay Brewery IPA 3.9% as a night cap this week. They claim to be the smallest island in the world to have a brewery.

It was Armistice Day this week and as usual the BBC featured the commemorations held in London. Countries all over the world are marking the end of World War 1 and in Horse Guards parade we have Prince Harry reading from Rupert Brooke’s ” The Soldier” which contains the lines ” If I should die, think only this of me, that there is some corner of a foreign field, which is forever England.

Dismissive. Self centred. Ignorant. Arrogant. You could go on and on–    And you can probably tell that I am trying to keep these moderate.

You have absolutely no fucking idea how fucking incandescent that makes me feel. Never mind the dead from the other UK and Commonwealth nations.

Do I like English people?  No I don’t.

Well I bet that’s got your attention!

That would be like saying do I like Scottish people?  Would a better philosophy not be to like people if they are nice human beings?

Give me a decent ( language again!– in the good sense of the word)  { why did he not say good in the first instance and save us all these parentheses. Ed} English person any day rather than a dickhead Scottish one.

Learnt “dickhead” during a lesson with a 14 y.o old girl pupil from a private school. You pays your money and you gets your classy expletives!

Whilst writing some of this I have watched Australia narrowly beat Scotland -again- at rugby,  and on their shirts they have commemorative poppies.



In the constitution for the People’s Proportionality Party all members will have to sit an awareness test? How do your values and choices affect others? Setting out the parameters for this will be really tricky and I will need your help but that is for another day.

I was in the South West of England with a team a few years ago and I overheard another coach asking a man what his relationship was with the kids in his team. And he said he was “loco in parenthesis”

This week the intolerable frog faced wanker quotes: “that Obama creature, loathsome individual—”  and “Trump’s Scottish connections are good news for the UK”

Oh Rabbie! How low have we sunk?

Demagogue is one of the words that best describes the US president elect. If you are unsure of it’s definition, like I was, then Wikipedia has a really good one and it could have been invented for DT. If they clone him we could all end up with the shakes.

Holyrood9A      Gantry

Some of the 25 fonts and wide selection of gins and other spirits.

A fine beer may be judged with just one sip.

But it is better to be thoroughly sure.


Number One

What do you get angry about?

“If you are not angry, what sort of person are you?”

That’s a quote from film maker Ken Loach and it struck a C major with me.

There are so many things wrong in this mucked up world that you would struggle to narrow down to 5 those that most upset you.    Don’t believe me?   Try it.

Mine are all inextricably linked to Homo sapiens sapiens.

No Surprise there.

Science tells us that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that the current version of us has only been around about 200,000 years?    Or you may prefer the idea that it all started in the Garden of Eden about 6,000 years ago. (?)  Hope not. If that were true it would be an even worse reflection of how quickly we have fucked up.

Everyone’s agenda would be different but I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t just sit there whingeing,  do something about the things that get on your wick!

Beers and counting: 5 new so far.

This week La Blonde from Mont Blanc Brasserie is probably from the highest altitude I have tasted. Almost as high as the cost at £9.50.   It was a 750ml bottle  – but even for a French beer a bit on the Cher side Sonny. ( though you would probably have to add an e to cher as bière is feminine.  pEdant.)

You may know a Brasserie as a relaxed eating place but I didn’t know that it was also French for brewery. Learn something new everyday.

Also Duke IPA at night in our most local of locals which is under new management and was due a revisit having gone down the tubes recently.  From Swannay brewery in Orkney at 5.2% my choice has loads of taste and is in very good condition.   I am won back to our closest pub, Number 1, as that is what it is imaginatively (?) called.

Number 1 Pub


I am in the habit of picking up different beers from my local wine shop and on getting home discover a bottle of Orkney IPA in the cooler ( ooh! How New World,  Ed.)    Coincidence.   That one waits for another day and I sample a beer from yet another new brewery who call themselves Fierce, fae Eberdeen. Opened 1st April, 2016.   I try a pale ale called Dayshift and the bottle has a picture of a man in a suit but the guy’s head is replaced by that of a vulture. What the fuck is that all about by the way?

I have been collecting phrases /quotes related to beer in general and it’s promotion in particular, but that is for a future Alzheimer’s delayer. Though thinking about it it may be better just to drop a quote in here and there?

Sentences like that can get on your its.

You may know that I find it very difficult to read Scotland’s National Ragpaper but I do still occasionally scan the sports section. Today a report on a recent match between West Ham and Chelsea where a Chelsea fan by the you couldn’t make it up name of Cutting is pictured with blood running down his bald skull. The Rag informs us that “— Steve Cutting received a head injury to his head–”

Also added to beer list is Bearface Lager 4.4% from Drygate Brewery, Glasgow. Artwork features a Zeus like face with a beard that goes into the sky and branches in two with a bear’s head at each end. Amazing what students from the Glasgow College of Art can come up with!

I read today that the intolerable frog face wanker is in line for a peerage. As somebody once said: “You cannot be fucking serious”

Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition in the National Museum visited by the gin queen and me. The first time in the museum for both since the early seventies.  WOW!  Recently upgraded, the place is a beacon for what can done with public money. Uplifting. Inspirational. Check out their website and GO!

Halloween couple of days ago.  Long past the tipping point. Hordes of  little ones came round . Delightful little kids. It’s become like Hitchcock’s  “The Birds”

We had only spent about £20 quid on goodies and the  g q had to put the lights out and the double lock on 20 minutes after the first visit!  I had bailed out to the pub before that. Sabre lasers everywhere.  My generation used to have to get down on our knees, hold a fork in our mouths and drop them on apples floating in a tub. If you missed-  too bad. Hungry.

Dookin’ good fun.

I didn’t have a clue what it was all about way back then. And I’m no further enlightened now. It is however starting to rival Christmas in it’s commercial excess.

Red top and Torygraph rage on High Court decision re parliament’s rôle in Brexit. Omg it’s going to be as awful and drawn out as the US election. Thank god that will be over soon -and we await the worst! ( Too many gods there. Do you not know that that is the reason for most of the world’s conflicts? Ed)

Last night pre prandials of Beavertown apa Gamma Ray 5.4% and Yellow Cab lager 4.1% in the Southern.


But remember    –  there is nothing wrong with sobriety,

In Moderation.


Tiles A night out on—

Tiles Never forget to look up

Since the gin queen is rapidly pushing up the numbers sampled (nom de plume Jennifer Juniper maybe? Donovan  1968 ) I thought I would start my own list of new beers.

So this week up in Brora I sampled Goose IPA ( thought they preferred lager, Ed ) and in Pitlochry on the way home, tried, from their own micro brewery at Moulin Inn, the light at 3.7% abv.

This week in our favourite watering hole the Cafe Royal, a pint of Dark Island from Orkney followed by a new one to me called The Bridge to Nowhere.  I had to try that. Great name for a beer by the way!  Unfortunately I am generally not that impressed by the beers from my home town brewery. I would imagine that about 90% of punters  ( pinters? Ed ) will not know that there is actually a “bridge to nowhere” and it is in fact only about 500 metres from the actual brewery!  ( remind me to change that distance back to yards soon).  [ he promised me he wouldn’t go there this blog but sometimes folks let you down, Ed )

Two breweries virtually at opposite ends of the country although strangely, or unusually as some may say, I wasn’t spaced out when I left.

Why Belhaven brewery has never been able to come up with a decent lager I’ve never quite been able to figure out.

“Seahorse” if memory serves correct was one. The boys in the rugby club used to call it Crazy Horse – but I guess you certainly get into that area whenever excess alcohol is consumed.

Anyway I have landed up in Tiles which is on a corner of St Andrews square and Andy Murray is on Sky Sports, sound off, competing in Vienna, a city I loved. Fine by me. The ball girls and boys have naff wee nets in a racket shaped frame to gather the balls – never seen those before. Anything to make life easier. Bin coordination.

The bar has a central serving area and was opened following refurbishment in 1993.  Formerly the site of the Prudential Insurance Company the architects Alfred Waterhouse and Son were also responsible for Manchester Town Hall and London’s  Natural History Museum.

I only knew about this pub because I bought a book on Edinburgh  pubs!  Hard to describe the interior. Tiles from floor to ceiling so maybe a clue to it’s name there Dr Watson?    Think I’ll let the pictures do the talking on that.

Tiles Bar Light

I’ve got two adults between me and the TV and they are both playing with their mobiles. Not just a generational thing then.

Pints of Caesar Augustus and then a Czech Republic Krošovice, which is a new one for me. A nice sharp Pilsner.

Back there after the war they were trying to come up with a new identity and decided to call their new country Czechnia, which sounds like a sneeze that has gone wrong, but seems like the proles prefer the simpler Czech Republic.   Whatever, like other sophisticated countries they know how to save some of their best grains for beer rather than bread.

Tiles Bar One side

Making the news in UK is decision to build another runway at Heathrow. The challenges to this going ahead are going to cost millions far less the final cost if it were to go ahead. I’m guessing that this is a grandstanding decision by the government to distract from that other thing that might be quite important for our future.

In any event they are not going to stand a Tory candidate against Zac ( ?) Goldsmith who resigned over that decision and whose constituency is going to be massively affected . He is going to stand as an independent. Not prepared to face up to the kicking that they would have surely got. Cowardly.

Ok Andy has just lost the second set but doing good in the third. What then happens is something very British or Scottish if you will. The tennis is suddenly ditched and we have TV sound  contaminating the whole bar. Yes you’ve guessed it. Football.

Tiles Bar the other side


Edinburgh has become littered with posters which say “we have a vision for the future but you are not part of it”

Anger and a terrible sadness in about equal measure.

On that high note time to go.

Tiles exterior at night