Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Andy Nicol Comment

Following the earlier post about Andy, and 'Pen is Mightier's' comment, she e-mailed the Sun article she was referring to. Essentially, Boss and I, along with a few colleagues were in The Tun having a drink when a guy came, clearly either a) under the influence of alcohol or b) had been indulging in the miracles of modern chemistry. It quickly became apparent that he was armed with a not unsubstantial kitchen knife which he wasnt shy about showing off. Having got quite stroppy, he then left. Emboldened by the fact that I had done a knife instructors course only the weekend before, Boss and I gave chase. To cut a long story short the knife was retrieved and the guy was arrested. It turns out the chap was, how shall I put it, no stranger to the police and bearing this previous activity in mind, the judiciary sentenced him to.................160 hours community service. So much for tackling the booze and blade culture eh?

Anyway, the story was written up true 'Sun' style as you can see:

We laugh about it now, but it could all have ended up so differently..................

New Book

Working in Parliament, you often get to know some interesting people. We come into contact with lots of journalists for example. One of whom, Andy Nicol is the political editor of The Sun. Andy has written a book, his debut novel and it will be published shortly. You can reserve a copy at Amazon here

I have to say the synopsis is a bit weird:

"Synopsis"The Good Mayor" is a magical debut novel. It is a love story and a story about love.Set in the little town of Dot in a forgotten part of the Baltic, it tells the story of Tibo Krovic, the good and honest Mayor of Dot, and his love for his secretary, the beautiful, lonely, but married, Mrs Agathe Stopak.In the quiet, respectable town of Dot, there is nothing that Tibo can do about his love for Mrs Stopak but, one day when she accidentally drops her lunch in a fountain, everything changes and their lives will never be the same again."The Good Mayor" contains love, loss, magic, friendship, wonderful food, a brass band, an Italian witch, a large lawyer, an occasional dog and a car chase that takes place at walking pace."The Good Mayor" is one of the best and most exciting debut novels in years and Andrew Nicoll is destined to become a major voice in UK literature.Read "The Good Mayor" and fall in love again. "

It sounds like an interesting read, and I'm looking forward to the launch party in Parliament on the 7th May. I hope he does really well with it.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008


I took girlfriend to the pictures at the end of last week to see 'I am Legend'. Its well crafted film, but very bleak and although I often watch the same film two or three times, this is one I won't be watching again.

Its taken me a while, but I just finished a book that girlfriend gave me for Christmas. It is a collection of experiences by ordinary Japanese during WWII. It is brutal at some points and at other points its heartbreaking to read. It has given me a completely new insight into Japan's role in the war and what it hoped to achieve, but it seems that many of them knew that it was a doomed effort from the start. I have always wanted to visit Japan and I'm fascinated by its history, I am trying to persuade girlfriend to go on holiday there, but as she lived and taught in Japan for four years she isnt too keen just yet.

I had a pretty relaxed weekend in Edinburgh and generally pottered about. I wasn't meeting anyone or going out at night so for once I didn't bother shaving, something I have been doing scrupulously every day since I shaved my beard off last year after some 'encouragement' from former fiance. I was surprised how grey the stubble had become in a relatively short time. Girlfriend had told me that I had been getting a bit weatherbeaten from juggling the two jobs and trying to have a life too, but looking at an earlier photo of said beard and comparing it the weekends efforts, I think she's right:

The washing machine in the flat which I hadn't managed to get working since I moved in (much to the annoyance of my parents etc when I would turn up with a load of washing is now in use. I got in touch with management company and said it had never worked. They had got in touch with owner who informed them "does the tenant know that the door must be closed gently and then the machine needs to be given a "gentle tap" below the locking mechanism? How on earth was I supposed to know that? Ironically, I had been closing the door, but my "gentle tap" was more like a swift and rather brutal punch/kick which would then develop into a series of punches/kicks, none of which ever worked.

Strangely, the machine now works, but its pretty crap all the same and particularly noisy.

Sunday, 27 January 2008


Periodically, I have alluded to the atmosphere of the euphemistically titled 'debating chamber' at the cooncil. I have sometimes suggested that I was not happy at the way some people chose to conduct themselves.

Things had certainly improved a bit over the past couple of months, but even in my most negative state of mind would I ever have conceived that a councillor would dream up the following:

A female SNP Councillor has complained to the Standards Commissioner that the Provost smacked her "bottom to her pain". It sounds ludicrous doesn't it? The Provost of Angus, the Right Hon. Ruth Leslie Melville OBE, is a 66 year old widowed woman who has gladly served her community all of her life. She is a credit to the post of Provost, and conducts herself with dignity and quiet good humour. She gets on well with everyone she meets and is universally liked. She is extraordinarily hard working and my respect for her is immense.

I won't name or describe her accuser, but I'm angry and disgusted that she has stooped so low as to go the Standards Commissioner with such a ridiculous complaint. Even if it were true (and the chances of that being the case are non existent) then it was technically assault and if she felt so strongly about it, she should have involved Tayside's finest.

With pathetic antics like this, it is little wonder that politicians at national level, and indeed the electorate themselves, can be found to be looking down their noses at councillors. The other side of the coin is that it also makes potentially excellent councillors think twice about coming forward to serve the communities that they live in.

I really cannot express just how totally sickened I am over this, nor can I adequately state just how badly I feel for the Provost who is justifiably upset over such a pathetic allegation. I hope the accuser is proud of herself, but to be fair to her party colleagues, I would hope some of them would share my sentiments on the subject.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Fancy a Grand?

Myself and fellow Angus Alliance Councillors have clubbed together to provide a £1000 reward for information leading to the safe return of this painting:

It was painted by James Quinn ROI who was a well known and admired portrait painter and official war artist and it was donated to Arbroath Art Gallery around 1936, but was stored in a local art centre for safe keeping during the war. Although it remained on the council insurance lists until the 1970's, the painting has dissappeared. In a strange twist to the tale, the original frame has turned up (though in poor condition). It seems quite a lot of stuff went missing over the years, but we don't have good enough descriptions of the items to positively identify them. The painting is about the only thing we have a photograph of.
Arbroath folk tend to have long memories about things and lets just say there are a few rumours doing the rounds about what happened to these items, but nothing definitive. Perhaps the lure of a grand may make someone remember things?

Tuesday, 22 January 2008


The local theatre has been refurbished at a cost of nearly £5m and it reopened on Saturday night. It's a theatre that has had a lot of use from local organisations, but it was getting so delapidated that it needed £800,000 spent on it just to bring it up to acceptable health and safety (I'm getting fed up of that term) standards.

Eventually, it was totally refurbished, and the Scottish National Orchestra provided a concert. It was a fantastic night and I loved it. A fellow councillor couldn't make it and kindly gave my her two tickets, so my parents came too.

I took girlfriend and she enjoyed it too. It was nice to be able to introduce her to my colleagues for the first time.

I had to give the vote of thanks and for some reason was extremely nervous, but got through it ok.

Apart from that, it has been any number of meetings from budget setting sessions to meeting with constituents. Local Govt really is not as good as I'd hoped......................

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Speaking of Zoos'..................

I remembered one of my all time favourite adverts.........

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


My old and (quite literally) battered Volvo has finally completely died. It had been deteriorating for quite a while, but it had got a lot worse with the amount of mileage I'm doing (often going from Arbroath to Edinburgh and back two or three times a week and going from Arbroath to Forfar and back at least three times a week too).

So I have bitten the bullet and bought this:

Its a 3 door Nissan Almera. I'd be the first to admit its not the most exciting vehicle on the go, but it will be economical. Although its a '55' plate, it has only done 6,000 miles and is in really good condition. Girlfriend likes it and I have to say that driving it is a big improvement on the last one.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

The Zoo.............

Girlfriend wanted to visit the zoo the other day, so we went along. I have avoided Edinburgh zoo for years for a variety of reasons, including the amount of mail my boss got at work regarding the Polar Bear and the conditions it is kept in. Now I'll say at the outset that I have absolutely no experience in zoology whatsoever, and I have no problem listening to arguments for or against zoos' and I appreciate that they do good conservation work.

That said, I was pretty surprised at how small some of the enclosures were. Animals that by nature might be expected to cover many miles in a day, are kept in enclosures that are about twice the size of my sisters living room (ok it is a really big living room). About halfway through, I began to find the experience a little unsettling, and by the time we left I was quite saddened by the experience. I suppose the pretty dank weather didn't help.

Its a place I would never go back to.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Looking Back,Looking Forward

I hope you had a great Christmas and New Year. I have taken time off from both jobs and I'm currently in Edinburgh for a few days.

I suppose its only natural at this time of year to reflect on the events of the past 12 months, and give some thought to what the new year may bring.

2007 has been a mercurial year for me. If someone had taken me to one side this time last year and outlined the events that would unfold for me on a personal level, I would have laughed in their face and told them not to be daft; and yet here I am.

In March my fiance and I parted company and the wedding which should have been in October was cancelled. The following election campaign in April perhaps distracted me from dealing with the issue as perhaps I should have. In April, my new girlfriend and I were in a car crash which saw my Dad's car a total write-off and me in casualty with back injuries.

I was stunned in May to be elected to the council, and even more stunned when all the opposition councillors formed an alliance and ousted the SNP after 23 years of control and I was appointed Convener of Neighbourhood Services and Chairman of the Licensing Board.

Since then, life has been hectic and demanding to say the least, trying to juggle my responsibilities and my personal life. Sometimes I do not succeed as well as I'd like.

What will 2008 hold? I have no idea, but I certainly hope it won't be as bloody dramatic as 2007.