The Ruling Class


Queen Elizabeth II and Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India

The howls of anger and derision that greeted Back Door Boris on his visit to Edinburgh to meet first minister Nicola Sturgeon were deliciously reassuring. So too was reading articles penned by well-known British opinion makers, hitherto happy to accept a posh accent as indication of leadership qualities, readily acknowledging an Etonian-Oxbridge education is likely to produce muddled-headed politicians potentially lethal if given power.

‘Viceroy’ of all India

A British unionist sees liberty as his right to do as he likes, and a licence to determine what Scotland must do. Looking at the Etonians who rule Scotland now I searched for an antecedent to understand their mentality and arrived at Earl Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, last Viceroy of India.

Mountbatten was the Queen’s second cousin, a man forever associated with the end of the British Empire. If ever there was a symbol of the British ruling class he epitomises it, the naval uniform, the medals, the gold braid and the ceremonial sword, appurtenances from a bygone age. A biography depicts him sexually as a thoroughly unsavoury type.

Wikepedia insists on describing him as a statesman. He was anything but. Earl Mountbatten of Burma’s all-too obvious absence of skills in anything was acknowledged when he was alive. (He haled from an aristocratic German family, ‘Battenberg’, the family in England Anglicising their name alarmed by the rise of Nazism.) His reputation was minced by one of his kind, the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts who described him as a “mendacious, intellectually limited hustler”.

Mountbatten presiding over the destiny of some 400 million people, given the job of taming an increasingly volatile India led by Pandit Nehru and that ‘second-level Inner Temple lawyer’ Mohandas Gandhi, an insult coined with contempt by no less than Winston Churchill, another man who thought the English placed on Earth by God to rule.

Read India’s struggle for independence and you come upon Mountbatten’s colleague, the blundering lawyer, Cyril Radcliffe, who partitioned India from Pakistan by running a red line on a map through villages, over mountains and pass, without visiting those areas first. The calamity left thousands of innocents slaughtered in the partitioning that followed. The record states almost a million people died, women raped, children murdered, the world’s largest mass of refugees created during the population transfers. But who counts multiple deaths? During India’s time under British rule an estimated $45 trillion of wealth was secreted to the UK to keep Queen Victoria’s estate all-powerful.

Plotter and plodder

Men such as Mountbatten are looked upon as defenders of ‘Britishness’ against the evils of socialism and do-gooders of society. When Peter Wright, in his book Spycatcher, claimed that in May 1968 Mountbatten attended a private meeting with press baron Cecil King, and the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Solly Zuckerman, Wright alleged that “up to thirty” MI5 officers had joined a secret campaign to undermine the crisis-stricken Labour government of Harold Wilson. (Jeremy Corbyn take note.)

Mountbatten proved not up to the coup, “reluctant to act”, a typical reaction from an Englishman who feels he can relax, finish his game of bowls, because history is on his side. MI5’s treasonable intervention reminds us how free are its Oxbridge types to divert passion from the goal of independence. No wonder Britain, the defender of democracy, is seen by our European friends as ‘Perfidious Albion’, the island of hypocrites.  

Derided as a “Master of Disaster” in British naval circles, Mountbatten represents a group of men commanding top jobs they screw up. They stumble through political crisis and come out the other side garlanded with awards and medals.

Back door Boris

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is no better than the bounders and cads of the past, creators of political fiasco, taught how to be so by costly private education, beneficiaries of England’s elitist boarding schools. He tells brazen lies about his achievements and downright criminal ones about the EU. Is he a hypocrite? No, because that’s the upper class way; they assume we know they are exceptional and entitled. They are not schooled in logic or honesty. 

Johnson is the bigot who insisted of late that potential food, fuel and medicine shortages, months of chaos at ports and possible recession under a no-deal Brexit are – (drumroll) – merely “bumps in the road”. One way or another it will ‘sort itself out.’

Taught at public school that feelings are a terribly bad thing, old chap, the Etonian will keep everything rigidly superficial. Practical minded, moral Scots find it near impossible to relate to English upper class mores, never mind their loathsome class system. They are the men who admire Wellington – an Irishman they prefer had been English – and wax lyrical over the Light Cavalry charge up the Valley of Death in the wrong direction. 

Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London was a portent of things to come, costing unrecoverable millions from the public purse in a vanity garden bridge, and his time in the Foreign Office one cock-up after another. The eternal schoolboys whose “weight is out of all proportion to their numbers” – to quote novelist E.M. Forster – are vastly over represented among Tories. They have plunged the nations of the UK into a crisis.

Hating the English

“There is no place in the SNP for those who hate the English”, Sturgeon warned, forgetting those who have ruled us, and intend to keep ruling us, pursue a fantasy of imperial-era power driven by arrogance and obduracy. They ignore Scotland’s democratic rights with a brief sentence spoken between mouthfuls of foie gras, “Now is not the time”. Or put another way, Scotland is small potatoes.

Sturgeon overlooks David Cameron and his ‘English votes for English laws, pretty well hammering the last nail in the Union’s coffin. This is the English at India’s colonial end, imperious, egocentric, an unshakeable belief in their entitlement. They are all Jacob Rees-Moggs to a morning coat and top hat.

At last the signs are everywhere English have become discerning about the English. When The Economista publication dedicated to the British elite, decries the incompetent ‘chumocracy’ closing down our freedoms, we know arteries of the decrepit regime have  silted up. Those “Oxford chums” who coast through life on “bluff rather than expertise”, wrote the Economist, is a “chumocracy that has finally met its Waterloo.”

England, the great separatist

The terrible legacy of the British Empire is expressed in two words, partition and death. Division is the British Empire’s only strategy, divide to rule, divide to leave. The ruling elite left us the deaths of millions: India, Egypt, Suez, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Persia, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Somaliland, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone, China, Hong Kong, even to betraying the very English protectorate of Gibraltar that voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. The list of grotesque disasters is endless. Scotland could become one of them.

Johnson is the man saying the Irish backstop is just “pure millennium bug stuff”. English arrogance thinks nothing of telling the Irish to rejoin the UK if it wants to be a ‘real’ nation again. English arrogance is boundless.

And now insular Albion is left with a ‘chippy’ Scotland, a nation fooled so often by false promise of political equality it could use the chits to rescue hundreds of refugees fleeing our wars in leaky boats across the seas. We want to believe the British state means well.

Scotland must educate its masters

I began with Mountbatten. He was less pigheaded than Winston Churchill. His land of hope and glory stiffens the spines of Brexiteers. Churchill was a fanatical imperialist. He refused to help Indians see the year through faced by famine in 1943 on the grounds that they “breed like rabbits.” I know, from overhearing them, there are English who are as dismissive of the Scots. Churchill was Liberal MP for Dundee in 1908, a carpetbagger, disliked for not attending to Dundee’s problems and for flashing his wealth “when he deigned to visit the city”. His associates thought the ‘lower classes’ should not be taught to read ‘lest they spend their time reading Tom Paine’. 

Just as Mountbatten knew next to nothing of Indian society, so Boris Johnson and his cronies know nothing about Scotland except it has oil, lots of it, and other great natural resources to plunder, but above all it has youth to waste in England’s wars.

It is difficult to see how the people of Scotland can be fooled again into remaining a feudal territory of England, but with the combined effort of the British state, MI5, house Jocks, BBC propaganda, smear campaigns and a natural hostility to dissent, they might pull it off a second time.

In Scotland we have Alister Jack, a house Jock presiding over us, ‘Union’ Jack educated at Glenalmond, an all-boys boarding college in his day, who might be the last secretary of state for Scotland as Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of India, two peas in a pod.

When Nicola Sturgeon the school teacher instructs us to be pleasant to our governors, assuming we disagree with her particular nostrum, she calculates without the pride in superiority of the British ruling class that has never managed to co-exist with Scotland as an equal partner in all the centuries of a one-sided Union.

Let the SNP forgo finger wagging piety and instil instead a sense of destiny in Scotland.



Further reading: 

  • Mountbatten – the private story by Brian Hoey.     
  • Inglorious Empire – what the British did to India by Shashi Tharoor   
  • The Great Partition by Yasmin Khan     
  • A Bridge Too Far by Grouse Beater.   
  • England the Oil Thief by Grouse Beater.
Posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics | 6 Comments

Once Upon a Time – a review


A middle-aged DiCaprio and Brad Pitt looking like Robert Redford dominate the story

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is reported Tarantino’s last movie, his ninth. On the strength of this one he probably is wise walking away. This one is a retread. Now there is talk of a tenth. I hope it has more substance.

Every Tarantino verbal trick and tick and experimentation with cinematic convention is here. There’s the veering off into sub-stories, too much exposition, split screens, long monologues of introspection, black and white old newsreels, voice-over narration that happens only once, visual and verbal humour, obsessive care over period detail, massive self-indulgence and of course, a bucket of bloody violence.

It wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie without the pools of blood and blood in a pool. At two hours and fourteen minutes you could take the first thirty minutes and the last thirty, glue them together and still have a film that works.

At some time in their career almost all Hollywood writers, film or television, try their hand at a story about their workaday life in the city of angels. Hollywood feeds off itself. Tarantino has made this one his. I rate it his least interesting. Whether or not Once Upon a Time is his swan song is debatable. He will miss the hurly-burly of creative activity.

Tarantino’s best skill is in creating scenes for two guys indulging in frothy banter, writing dialogue for women less so, a lot less so. For great roles for women cinema goers must turn to auteurs such as Spain’s Almodóva. But in this case, both actors are almost outshone when a ditzy member of the infamous Charles Manson ‘family’ enters the scene, Pussy (Margaret Qualley) a former ballet dancer who puts her dance training to good use. Weirdly, she gets more lines than lead female Margot Robbie, she playing the doomed Sharon Tate.

And yet, and yet the two main stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Brat Pitt make good chemistry, DiCaprio as a second level television actor Rick Dalton, and Pitt his stunt double buddy Cliff Booth. They are never anything less than a delight to listen to and observe. DiCaprio is the earnest if doubting actor, Pitt his conscience and his therapist. 


Roles aplenty for women: ugly wife, morally loose hippies, psychopaths, ingenue…

I’ll start at the end. There is something of an act of revenge in the story as written. The last scene is the gory scene. It could be Tarantino flame-throwing his critics. He ties his plot to the infamous Manson murders at the home of Sharon Tate and her unborn baby, but takes us by surprise with a neat twist. (Am avoiding spoilers.) At the point you are convinced the film will end in gross bad taste it doesn’t. What it ends with is another Tarantino signature, the pornography of graphic violence – on women. You struggle to accept it, justifying the scenes because they involve nasty women of loose morals brainwashed by a mad man.

As the final act of Once Upon a Time rolls, the Rolling Stones’s “Out of Time” plays. Mick Jagger sings. “My poor old-fashioned baby.” surely some sort of symbolic message, but it’s lost in the violence happening on the floor. The song is a lament for days gone by, but also a warning to the old that the times are changing. If that’s what Tarantino is saying in two hours and fourteen minutes it appears as an afterthought.

At the time the film is set Hollywood was undergoing one of its periodic changes of direction. Small, adventurous but under-capitalised independent film companies were popping up everywhere. They showed how to make a good film on a shoestring. So many companies became successful that the big studios bought them up as their low-budget arm. Fox Studios and Fox Searchlight is one obvious example. You can ask Pixar now part of Disney’s empire how that happened, or Harvey Weinstein’s once preeminent Miramax. Money is king in Hollywood. Everyone can be bought. Hollywood saw box office profits so it gobbled up the loose ends and returned to its old ways. 

Beyond the imaginings of copycat reviewers who believe the story is laden with nostalgia and symbolism, the film is classic Tarantino pulp fiction, now and then descending into soap. In a scene were Dalton and Booth take the Mickey out of an old Dalton television western could sit comfortable in River City.

Dalton is made of jelly but acts macho, prone to fits of self-pity. By contrast, Cliff is a full-blown sadist. Looking indistinguishable from a Robert Redford in his heyday,

DiCaprio is at his best when he loses the rag, yelling at himself for his stupidity, tearing his trailer apart after forgetting his lines on set. He gives us the vulnerability of the actor, an unlikely trait in a Tarantino anti-hero. When his too-old-for-her-years eight-year-old co-star Trudi (Julia Butters) validates his performance (her role a clunky send up of contemporary feminism), Dalton’s expression cuts through his trademark hyper-masculinity and he weeps. He is always teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown.


Tarantino on set directing Pitt and Robbie

Pitt as Cliff Booth is the more interesting character. He likes to drive his beat up old VW fast and pick up girls. His career as a stunt double takes a tumble when he throws a vain, strutting martial arts devotee Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) smack into the side of the producer wife’s car. I wondered if the door mock-up was cardboard so realistic is the stunt, but lots of things in this film are cardboard. The skeleton in Pitt’s life is the small matter of the death of his wife. He killed her on a boat and got away with it, perhaps a sideswipe at Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood sea trip. He lives the life of a perpetual adolescent.

There is not much to say about the women so shallow are the roles they are given, hooker, ingenue, secretary, psychopath, screaming potty-mouth middle-aged harpy, ad nauseam. Margot Robbie manages to look exactly like the ill-fated Sharon Tate. She masters the empty smile, all gleaming teeth and dewy eyed, about all she is given to do; smiling in cars, smiling in the street, at home, or watching her self on film in a local cinema. She smiles, she laughs, she wears cute hippie outfits.

Similarly reduced in substance is the character of Pussycat (Margaret Qualley) a hippie in Manson’s camp who hitch-hikes a ride with Booth talking to him in sexual innuendo. However, as mentioned earlier, Qualley is an actor to watch. She adds layers to the role that is a Tarantino sketch. From the women there are lots of dirty bare feet placed close to the camera lens. Is this Tarantino goading his critics again about his foot fetish?

Other than borrowing the best from past masters and mixing their techniques in a crucible to create a mismatch usually called plagiarism, I’ve never known what post-modern means, nor when post-modern ends. Tarantino has had the tag of post-modern for two decades now, all rather boring and old-hat.

I’ll take a stab – For a better part of its running time, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is post-postmodern. It trudges along aimlessly painting a leisurely portrait of middle-age crisis and dependence. There’s not much more to see, but for most of its length it is entertaining depending on your political viewpoint, acceptable thanks in part to comfortable multiplex lounge seats. As a work of cinema it is uneven yet it hangs together, a constant paradox in Tarantino’s oeuvre.

One other role to mention, that of a guest cameo from Al Pacino as Marvin Schwarz a Jewish talent agent, wise and clever, rebooting Dalton’s career as lead actor in spaghetti westerns, a nod to the career of Clint Eastwood. “Not ‘Schwartz’, he corrects Dalton, Rick placing the wrong emphasis on the ‘rz’, “The name is Schwarsssss.”

A New York Italian playing a Hollywood Jew is a nice contradiction; both are at home working in movies. With his sixties owl-like spectacles, I know exactly which renowned agent Pacino is mimicking. Holding a script under my arm entitled ‘Jerusalem Regained‘ a similar Hollywood honcho grabbed it, handing it back disappointed when I advised him it wasn’t about Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood (2019)

Sights and sounds of multi-cultural Los Angeles is the glue that holds the story together 

Any film about my second home holds interest for me. I look out and name street I know, restaurants and cafes. Cinematographer Robert Richardson keeps a pleasing wide angle lens on most things, blurring the LA background when it has places the production crew could not dress, and art direction John Dexter ensures nothing I saw looked out of place or time. The plethora of stunts embrace a team of stuntmen and women, a list almost longer than the cast and extras. Music is pop and rock of the time, there’s no composer.

The film is crammed with movie maker inside jokes. Outside enthusiasts of the craft or people like me immersed it its minutia, I can’t see the general public understanding them all. If the cinema goer is a feminist they won’t much like what happens to the women, if a cowboy western fan, the visits behind the scenes will delight.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is well directed shot by shot but hellish hard to accept its conceits. Severe critics accuse Tarantino of having only three signature themes: loud soundtracks, macho men gone wild spewing out the n-word, and gratuitous depictions of violence against women. Only the n-word is missing from this one.

  • Star Rating: Three 
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Writer: Quentin Tarantino
  • Cinematographer: Robert Richardson
  • Access rate: 18
  • Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes
  • 5 plus: potential classic, innovative. 5: outstanding. 4: excellent. 3.5: excellent but flawed. 3: very good if formulaic. 2: straight to DVD. 1: crap; why did they bother?


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Car News: Investing in cars

A weekly look at all that sucks and blows in the car world, and some good bits


The Nazi commissioned Porsche Type 64 – one of a kind

All cars bought new lose money as soon as they leave the showroom. A Ferrari can drop over £40,000 as you uplift the keys from the dealer. In my time of owning second-hand cars, only twice have I managed to sell them for more money than I paid to buy them, and better still, have that profit cover the accumulated total of running costs including servicing. In each case I had the car no longer than two years. These days I try to choose a unique model in a car range and retain it for a long time so that when it comes time to sell it there’s a chance it will attract more buyers than the standard model. Resale is highly colour conscious, so forget owning that VW Golf in lime green!

Open any car magazine and you’ll see veteran and classic cars sold at auctions for millions of pounds sterling or US dollars. A profitable circle of auctioneers exist to dictate prices. At one time you could buy an E-type Jaguar for a few thousand pounds. Today a rust bucket at auction can fetch over £30,000, a well looked after example over £100,000.

Back in the Eighties a bubble burst in the trade of investing in cars. It was considered a fool’s game. From a situation where old cars could not be given away, a market grew almost overnight wherein people payed lunatic sums for anything older than 20 years. Like the Dutch tulip wars the trade went bust in short measure and people with a million pound car in their garage woke up to discover they had lost them millions. ‘Negative value’ was the popular phrase. From the Millennium the business of cars as an investment has since regrown and flourishes. So, it was interesting to see a unique vehicle not sell at auction at all. In fact, it was a massive auction failure.

The biggest blunder in recent auction history, a Nazi owned racing car – don’t mention the war! – that Ferdinand Porsche made didn’t sell. During a highly charged standing-room only auction in downtown Monterey, California, auctioneers at RM Sotheby’s premier sale dimmed the lights and showed a promotional video they had made ahead of the much-anticipated sale of the 1939 Type 64. The controversial silver coupe had been expected to sell for some $20 million before a massive mistake by the auction house upset the crowded room, leaving some collectors to believe it was an attempt at a joke.

“This is the only surviving example personally driven by Ferdinand Porsche,” the evening’s emcee said, then announced that bidding would open at “$30 million,” a figure that was written on the front media screen of the auction theater.

Half of the crowd laughed; the other half cheered. After rapid bidding up to “$70 million,” with the crowd on its feet, iPhones raised, and cheering, the auctioneer announced that he said “$17 million,” rather than “$70 million.” The media screen was quickly changed to reflect the $17 million sum. Boos and shocked yelps and shouts ensued. People walked out.

“What a joke,” said Johnny Shaughnessy, a collector from Southern California. “They just lost reality. My father could have bought the car for $5 million years ago. Been passed around for years; no one wants it.” [Blomberg.]


T2222 is still up for sale

As bidding opened on the Type 64, increments were incorrectly displayed on the screen behind the auctioneer causing unfortunate confusion in the room. “This was the result of a totally inadvertent and unintentional mistake.” The company said it was an “unfortunate misunderstanding amplified by excitement in the room.” Americans term similar public disasters as a ‘snafu’.

The auction for the Type 64 was terminated in minutes, after no bids above $17 million appeared in the room. “What a scam”, said one collector. Whether or not Sotheby’s car auction wing will recover credibility is another matter, but in general car auctions have seen a significant fall in prices attained. As electric cars take over the world anything that emits gasses is liable to be restricted to garages or driveways.

For a pile of old metal and wood with some rubber bits, parts that rust or perish, or seize up stored in a garage, that can only be a good thing.


Lexus electric

The march to an electric car world goes on with luxury saloon maker Lexus, owned by parent company Toyota, promoting a chunky little city car as its first offering. The as-yet-unnamed concept takes the form of a tall, boxy and city-friendly hatchback that wears a more futuristic design than any model I’ve seen coming from other brands. What’s interesting is the company announcement that they are developing four-wheel drive. Lexus is placing a big research focus on in-wheel electric motors, although Vice President Koji Sato concedes it will take years to make the technology a reality. “We expect four wheels operating independently will offer greater agility, stability and excitement,” he said. It was in the late 1890’s that Ferdinand Porsche, father of Porsche cars, put four electric motors on each wheel of a cart, and here we are eons later just getting around to developing the idea.

Brand love

We Scots love Vauxhall cars, a sign of our bad taste and keenness to get value for money. You do see a lot of them on our roads, but for some reason we don’t buy a lot of Mercedes’. Volvo and BMWs are both phenomenally popular in Yorkshire and Humber but they’re not fussed about buying a Vauxhall. Boring Ford takes the crown in Wales and the East of England. How do I know this? Every year the Department for Transport puts out registration figures for the distribution of brands and at a glance it broadly follows our national buying tastes in 2018: Ford on top, followed by VW, Vauxhall, Mercedes, BMW and Audi. But If you compare market share nationally with those of the 12 areas of the UK the DfT divides us up into, you get those weird anomalies. Look closer and you see more detail that influences. The reason for some spikes are more arcane. All BMW’s new employee and lease cars are registered in its Thorne preparation centre in Doncaster, hence its seeming popularity in Yorkshire. But I’ll let car nerds look into that.

Pimping my RAV

The pimping of my 22 year-old original Japanese 3-door RAV4 goes on. The seat belts are at the point of giving up, an MOT failure, so there is a mad search on for alternatives. And the cheapo plastic dash pod is about to get enamelled in the same intense blue as the bodywork. But here’s the thing: I had two armrests made by my clever Mexican trimmer friends in Los Angeles. I’ve carried one around in the boot looking for a well-kept similar model. Parked in the city centre, a jobbing joiner pulled up beside me driving the same model, but with new powder coated wheels. At last, an owner proud of his utilitarian runabout. We got talking, both excited about ownership. “This is a keeper” he said, “I’ll no part with it.” I gifted him my spare armrest. “Goad! Great. Pops right intae the cup holder atween the seats. Job done. Smashin’. Ta!” The moment was enough to make both our days until I asked him his name. “Garry Weddell” he said. Still shaking hands, I told him my name. We stood stunned. My stepfather was Weddell. Weird, eh? Stranger than fiction, a trillion to one chance. I need a stiff drink.

Happy motoring!





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A Scottish Martyr

An occasional series on great Scots unjustly ignored or forgotten


Jane Haining – just another everyday saint 

Empathy for others is one of humankind’s greatest qualities. 

There are those among us, ordinary down-to-earth folk, modest in ambition and material possession, that make a life altering decision to sublimate their ego to help others. The occurrence of selflessness is common to thousands of us every day in small and large gestures of generosity. At the far end of the scale, those who give up years of their life to care for another person less fortunate than themselves are heroes given little credit.

Some decide to look after an infirm parent or sibling; some do it for another’s child as my guardian did for me. For those people it incurs years of caring, compassion rewarded with little or no income to help the day along. The dedication often means years of their life limited in scope, chances to develop to the full lost, but they do it for the good of another. Then there are those who are aware the sacrifices they make will call for great courage. One such person was Jane Haining.

Jane Haining was a Scottish missionary who died at Auschwitz after refusing to abandon Jewish children in her care in the Scottish-Jewish mission school in Budapest. She had gone there to help administer a group of orphans. There is some second-hand evidence she dismissed one of the German staff who at first refused to leave and when he did eventually leave the building decided to take his revenge. That same evening he alerted a Gestapo patrol to her return from shopping in search of food. Stopped in the street, demanding to see her papers, she was arrested for harbouring Jewish children.

By any reckoning she knew the penalty but refused to save herself. As research reveals she saved other Jews from death at the hands of Gestapo by helping them reach the UK.

A farmer’s daughter from Galloway in south-west Scotland, Haining’s mother Jane senior died in childbirth complicated by pernicious anaemia when Haining was only three. John, her father, took on the responsibility of looking after his three daughters, which together with keeping the farm going, must have been an onerous task. On the other hand, his home was quite well-to do in those days, six rooms and windows in each, at a time when windows were taxed, and John had a household help to ease the situation.

Haining and her three sisters walked to primary school a mile away, an activity frowned upon today, children protected from walking anywhere by parents driving SUVs. Scotland had some fine primary schools in every Parish, a tradition since 1530. The one in Dunscore was blessed with glowing reports from school inspectors. The welcoming atmosphere must have given young Jane a feeling of well-being, learning and playing among school friends in an institutional setting, something that probably helped form her opinion of charity schools in her later career. The parish library – another advance in Scottish society – gave her a taste for books.

An intelligent, bright pupil, Haining blossomed, learning to read by age seven. According to school friends, she matured into an individual with strong religious beliefs, a ‘little bossy’, someone who would ‘take no nonsense’.

Sunday school and Bible readings were mandatory. That inculcation may have created in Haining an unquestioning belief in the Old Testament and the martyrdom of Christ. The death of her mother leaving her father to do the caring had to be a formative event in her life. In addition, she would be familiar with the story of the Wigtown martyrs, two young girls and a woman in her sixties who refused to swear an oath to the James II. Brought before a Scottish Episcopalian court in 1685, they were sentenced to be ‘tied to palisades’, fixed to the mud flats in the tidal channel of the River Bladnoch near its entrance to Wigtown Bay as the tide rolled in and drowned them. Scotland’s political subservience to a foreign power breeds absolutists.

For rural life, life was changing. The majority of Scots lived and worked in the countryside, in villages and settlements, Dunscore one such community that never surpassed 800 people, but the movement gravitating to cities had begun.

With advent of the Cairnvalley Light Railway building a station in Dunscore, Haining was able to travel to Dumfries to attend the Academy in her teens, a place for the ‘academically gifted’. Just as in her primary school, Haining took to learning with the enthusiasm of a bee to honey.

Her father saw in her the budding dominie and from then on her life was laid out on the path of teaching, the next step some years of study in Glasgow at the Athenaeum Commercial College, and then a diversion, ten years from 1917 until 1927 working in Paisley, first as a clerk, then as secretary for a thread manufacturer.

Jane began work at the Scottish Jewish Mission School in Budapest in 1932, where she was a boarding school matron in charge of around 400 pupils, most of them orphans. Thirty to forty were boarders. Little is known of her time there other than she got on well with the staff and by all accounts the children trusted her and loved her.

A biography of Haining by the international charity worker Mary Miller, is recommended reading. She describes how Haining taught domestic management and lectured on British social life at the Budapest mission.


Haining’s cottage where she spent her childhood, ‘Dunscore’, in Dumfries and Galloway

Haining was back in Scotland on holiday when war broke out in 1939, but immediately went back to Hungary to do all she could to protect the children at the school.

She refused to leave in 1940, and again ignored orders to flee the country in March 1944 when Hungary was invaded by the Nazis. When Haining was arrested by the Gestapo she was the only foreigner left working at the mission. She wrote: “If these children need me in days of sunshine, how much more do they need me in days of darkness?”

Nothing is known of what became of the children left in the mission. Soldiers took her to Auschwitz on the understanding she looked after children there who had special needs.

In her biography Miller describes a shy, talented and adventurous young woman, who made the most of the social changes and opportunities for women brought about by the First World War. And in those days, teaching was the stepladder for most women.

While acknowledging Haining’s strong faith and sense of duty, Miller comments upon her sense of fun. “She was always putting on little celebrations and shows for the children. When she was first arrested, she spent a few weeks in the city jail with some other women, and she organised a fashion parade decked out in rags, with a commentary in German that had them in fits of laughter.”

Unwell, Haining was taken from her cell before dawn. “The other women thought that she would be going somewhere easier and better because she was Scottish, but that was not to be.” She was almost certainly gassed along with a group of Jews, gypsies and the mentally ill. They didn’t waste bullets at Auschwitz.

The Gestapo record has the commander claim, “Miss Haining who was arrested on account of justified suspicion of espionage against Germany, died in Auschwitz hospital, July 17th, 1944, of cachexia following intestinal catarrh”.

‘Auschwitz hospital’ is an oxymoron. She was aged 47.


Hockey days – Haining is front row, second from the right

She is not entirely forgotten. In June 2010, the Municipality of Budapest made a decision to name sections of the lower embankment of the Danube river after martyrs and persons who rescued Jews during the second World War. The section of the embankment between the Chain Bridge and Elizabeth Bridge is named after her.

And again, she was honoured in a torchlight parade in 2016, the annual March of the Living, marking Holocaust Memorial Day, dedicated to her memory. Her niece, Deirdre MacDowell, described the honour, saying: “Her name is remembered more and more, and with it that ordinary people can and do make a difference.”

In 2010 Haining was posthumously awarded a ‘Hero of the Holocaust’ medal by the UK government, while two stained glass windows bear tribute to her “service and sacrifice” at her former church in Queen’s Park, Glasgow.

Also, there is a memorial cairn in her home town of Dunscore. Sadly, it errs in two respects. It reads ‘A Heroic Christian Martyr’. It should read, ‘An Heroic Martyr’. You do not have to be a christian to be an humanitarian. You only need a surfeit of love.



Further Reading: Jane Haining: A life of Love and Courage, by Mary Millar







Posted in Great Scots | 2 Comments

Car News: Hands-free to jobs-free

A weekly look at all that sucks in the automotive world, plus some good bits


Naughty boy!

Scotland is, as envisaged, getting it in the goolies as a result of Brexit’s effect on British car makers. We might not have a car industry in Scotland but we have companies that supply the one in England. I’ll come to that in a minute.

The sales of cars falls to an all-time low with lay-offs in thousands between car plant and suppliers and Westminster oblivious. No government minister seems to notice car makers have stopped investing in new models pending the disaster of Brexit. And we are told there should be greater fines for using a phone while driving (a mobile while mobile), and hands-free telephones in cars are just as dangerous.

The Tories like to say we live in a nanny state, but that’s to cover up what they are aiming to create, and have created to a great extent, the authoritarian state, the kind they like. Who doesn’t think use of hand phones on the move dangerous? Illegal mobile phone use by drivers is rising. 31% of motorists admitted to using a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8% in 2014. 14% of motorists admit taking photographs or videos with their phone while driving. Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents.

With a hands-free phone you do as you would do talking to a front-seat passenger. The best are voice activated; you state the name of the person you want to call and the magic box dials the number. The most you need to do is take one hand off the steering wheel to press the green button to accept a call. What’s different about that from reaching over to get something from the glove box, or altering the hair-conditioning controls?

Granted, if you’re having a screaming dispute with a relative at the other end of the line your concentration isn’t on the road in front, or to the side or rear, for that matter. There again, what difference is there between that situation and having a screaming child in the back seat where you have to stretch back to pat the brat while driving?

What about the accident that demands an emergency call? How does that work if we ban all phones from vehicles?  90% of telephone boxes were removed years ago.

Yet here we are with a government committee demanding a blanket ban. The group of MPs – chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP – called upon the government to extend the ban on hand-held devices to hands-free ones, stating that “evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of crashing”. They provide no evidence for this assertion.

Considering the new cars appearing using computer screens for all electrical operations, interactive screens that require multiple finger prods to reach the required function, the MPs should think again. But then they probably live a different reality from the rest of us, chauffeured everywhere, free to use their phone while sitting in the rear seat next to the booze cabinet.

On the new car investment side of the news, evidence mounts that parts suppliers to the car trade are moving into debt which in turn will lead to closures. An example: in an extraordinary announcement from TS Tech who make car seats for Honda UK, Honda shutting down permanently its only UK plant at Swindon, they have ‘no idea what will happen’. They have not had new orders from existing companies. On the wider front, closures in the UK guarantee the global supply chain will evaporate in months to come.

Scotland isn’t exempt from the knock-on disaster of Brexit. TMD provides assembled car parts, parts made in Ayrshire. Steve Firbank, finance director for TMD, said it was “with deep regret” they were to close the site and start a period of consultation. “I would stress this was an incredibly hard decision to make. We do not take redundancies lightly having invested over £4 million in the site since we took ownership.”

TMD blamed the “significant cost pressure” on the European manufacturing sector from Brexit, adding they need to “safeguard the future” of their business by making it as competitive as possible. Cutting costs invariably is a euphemism for cutting staff numbers. TMD will move all work to their biggest site in Hartlepool which sounds  fine except it affects their supply chain in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. It will see 90 people made redundant from the brake pad manufacturer unit on Cessnock Road. 

Kilmarnock and Loudoun SNP MSP, Willie Coffey, has asked to meet with representatives from the company, calling it “awful news for all staff affected”. Coffey explained to me from his Edinburgh office that he will try to raise the matter in the Scottish Parliament to “see if there is anything we can do”. That will see him engage with the Scottish government’s PACE team, Scottish Enterprise, East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire College.

In another Scottish example: One of Teesside’s biggest employers has called for more clarity on Brexit after Nissan’s shock X-Trail announcement, claiming the work would have been “one of the building blocks of its future growth strategy”. Car parts factory Nifco UK says it’s “disappointed” the Japanese giant has switched production from Sunderland to Japan – and “confusion around Brexit is to blame”.

Next step is China invading Hong Kong to quell dissidents, and British car maker pulling out of China, or signing memos of subservience to the Chinese state.

As we hear relentlessly, when England gets a cold, Scotland gets pneumonia. How often do we have to repeat that it’s time to govern our own future.


Bright blue yonder

Believe it or not there is a right-wing think tank called Bright Blue. How refreshing for neo-liberal plotters to give their unelected fifth columns a title that isn’t Orwellian, such as ‘Democracy Now’, all about reducing democracy, or ‘Climate Knowledge’, wholly concerned with limiting or rejecting what we are doing to our planet in the name of the profit line and shareholder rights. This bunch of Eton fags suggest members of the public who spot drivers leaving their engines idling unnecessarily should film them, send the footage to authorities, and receive 25 per cent of the offending driver’s fine, according to a think tank. Where will that go? Bash an alien, drag them to the nearest police station and get 25% of their repatriation fees. Bright Blue describes itself as a “pressure group for liberal conservatism” but as readers can see, is actually a pressure group for curtailing liberty and spying on your neighbour.

Conferring with the flowers

Drivers have a multitude of ways of keeping their minds occupied when they are caught in traffic jams. Some listen to the radio, some play ‘Envy’ – taking exception to the driver in an expensive car in the line – others still, pick their nose. In my last jam I composed a wee poem which I duly offer for reader’s pleasure. If you’ve never heard of the Zonda supercar you won’t understand it. It costs upwards of a quarter of a million pounds. And if you’ve never heard of the ancient town of Ronda in Spain’s Malaga province, with its famous old stone bridge spanning a deep gorge, the ditty will mystify. Anyhow, here it is, thankfully brief.

Yonda in Ronda lies my Zonda. My ex, Vonda, whom I’m not fonda, took it. Now I drive a Honda. Okay, I’m not apologising. Best I could manage under the circumstances.

Those bloody French again

We know the English despise the French. They’ve good reason to, many have Gallic blood in their lineage. Well, recent data shows the DVLA received 325,000 requests for Mr Limey’s driver details and … 246,000 came from France. It appears the Brits nip over there a lot and don’t play nice. French authorities are mad because so many Brits won’t pay up for their bad ways. Countries in the European Union are able to ask the DVLA to supply them with the details of UK drivers who have broken local traffic laws when driving abroad under mutual legal assistance (MLA) rules. Will Brexit mean Harry the Cockney gets off Scot free – if you’ll excuse the expression?

Happy motoring!



Posted in Transportation | 4 Comments

English on English


Sometimes composing a witty riposte is no substitute for a punch on the nose

Depending on how you use it or been used by it, the internet is a force for good or an evil invention. For my part, I’ve made good friends out of it, tested my political arguments to destruction, and got maligned by the ignorant. Mud sticks. You take the good with the bad and learn how to give a literary tongue lashing to idiots and sloganeers. The wise avoid social sites like the Tory party avoids reason; it just isn’t good for one’s reputation. I calculate ninety-five percent of Twitter and chat site chat is dross. Addicts like me wade in, restoring Scotland’s independence the ultimate goal, the spur, permanently wound up for a brutal, bloody boxing match.

Some years back, writing on a fast disintegrating and degenerate website concerned with cars and car enthusiasts, the site infected by the new wave of UKip lovers who hate foreigners and think being English is a gift from God, I got frustrated by the constant, unwarranted attacks on the integrity of patriotic Scots.

In time the vitriol and infantile arguments from budding sociopaths became so repellent I was compelled to write to Heseltine’s moderators and demand all my contributions be deleted. By then the ‘dedicated’ founder-owner had sold the site to Michael Heseltine’s car mob for a bag of retirement cash and disappeared.

I had had enough of fools and farts beginning ungrammatical sentences with ‘methinks’. The moderators duly agreed to wipe all my work, a sheet cleaned and ironed flat, included a 28 hour session without sleep calming readers after one of the well liked contributors committed suicide. I lost some of my best prose on the pursuit of happiness but I was happy UKippers wouldn’t benefit by it. I didn’t want my work left to rot like meat crawling with flies on what had become a right-wing rocket launcher for naked intolerance. A few psychopaths tried to follow me to my new site but in time I shook them off, or maybe they got bored.

What scunnered me was the site had made the serious error of adding politics to its chat room car categories. Naive about internet social sites back in the day, what I didn’t realise was the then owner of the site was increasing traffic so he could make more money out of advertisers. Opening pages on British politics was a joy for the child-like UKippers and odious British National Party thugs. Soon, the worst of Unionist Rangers football fans joined in spewing hate at anything SNP or Scots independence. They waded in with all the fervour of bankers desperately trying to prove their honesty.

I don’t think I wasted the time there, though I wasted too many hours answering pig ignorant assertion from brain dead amoral right-wingers keen to emulate Papa Doc Duval, or Goebbels. It was a good training ground for what was to come creating the Grouse Beater site.

For one thing it taught me that a lot of males with expensive cars are polishing queens. They don’t know how to drive them, and never take them near a race track. The cars are there to feed their narcissism. The worst of them were automotive illiterate in the same way the enemies of Scotland are proud of their ignorance. My good friend, Ian Stewart, racing driver of Ecurie Ecosse fame, was the first to notice the hideously stupid comments appearing that proliferated what was once a chat site for car enthusiasts exchanging tips on car maintenance and car bargains.

At the point I decided to call it a day I penned a final article, one to wreak revenge on my persistent, inane antagonists. (It wasn’t a site to post essays. With few exceptions those on it never read past a tabloid headline without getting a headache.) To provoke outrage I posted a number of attacks on English mores and attitudes, one after the other, in the form of phrases and epigrams. I cannot remember them all, so here are only a few. I have numbered them for a good reason made obvious later.

  1. All the ‘best people’ from the gentlemen’s clubs, and all the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoisie to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of securing the nation’s wealth and power. 
  2. The English share an unconscious patriotism and an inability to think logically.
  3. English patriotism is thick-headed and proudly insular – the bulldog is an animal noted for its obstinacy, ugliness and stupidity: nearly every Englishman of working-class origin considers it effeminate to pronounce a foreign word correctly.
  4. The English takes pride in celebrating defeats and retreats, like Corunna, Gallipoli and Dunkirk. The most stirring battle-poem in English is about a brigade of cavalry which charged in the wrong direction.
  5. England’s homicidal lunatics are well employed in killing each other, but sensible Englishmen keep out of their way while they are doing it.
  6. An Englishman knows good port when he tastes it but has not the breeding to put it in the right glass.
  7. An Englishman that overvalues himself will undervalue others. If he undervalues others he will oppress them.
  8. Paradise Lost is a book that once put down, is very hard to lift up again.
  9. England is the most class ridden country under the sun. It is a land of snobbery and privilege.
  10. The English have always been wary of foreigners and intellectuals.
  11. English moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
  12. The Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. 
  13. There are people who believe their opportunities to live a fulfilled life are hampered by the number of Asians in England, by the existence of a royal family, by the volume of traffic that passed by their house, by the malice of trade unions, by the power of callous employers, by the refusal of the health service to take their condition seriously, by communism, by capitalism, by atheism, by anything, in fact, but their own futile, weak-minded failure to get a fucking grip.
  14. English do not expect happiness. I had the impression, all the time that I lived there, that they do not want to be happy; they want to be right.
  15. The British nation is unique in this respect: they are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.
  16. It is sometimes said that butlers only truly exist in England. Other countries, whatever title is actually used, have only manservants. It is for this reason that when you think of a butler, he is bound, almost by definition, to be an Englishman.
  17. Statistics show that the nature of English crime is reverting to its oldest habits. In a country where so many desire status and wealth, petty annoyances can spark disproportionately violent behaviour. Envy and bitterness drive a new breed of lawbreakers, replacing the old motives of poverty and the need for escape.
  18. The Great Potato Famine came to an end. Thousands of Irish died because of it, but it ended. And how was this wonderful thing accomplished? Why, in the simplest way imaginable. The famine was legislated out of existence. It had to be. England’s Whigs were facing a General Election.
  19. English people living in the USA should keep a low profile on Independence Day. 
  20. The English have always been madly overambitious, and from one angle it can seem like bravery, but from another it looks suspiciously like a lack of foresight.

Readers can imagine the tsunami of vituperation flung in my direction, the torrent of outrage those remarks triggered. I was called every bad thing under the sun. Bile flowed onto my computer screen like wasps falling upon a rancid Apple. How dare I insult English sensibility so wilfully and so vilely? In an instant I had confirmed my enemies’ worst opinion of my character. I was a racist incarnate, a foul chauvinist, a sweaty Jock.

It was exactly the reaction I had hoped to get. I let the righteous, riotous mob bray and scream for almost a day enjoying every minute of their discomfort. Their comments were a pleasure to read.

You see, in truth the statements I had published were not mine, not mine at all. To trick my assailants I had omitted quotation marks on all I had written. They were written by Englishmen of Englishmen. With a glee that would lift the spirits of a starving dog gifted a a large piece of rump steak, I admitted my sleight of hand pro tem, and posted this:

“Every single one of the statements I posted was coined by Englishmen of the English. If you do not believe me, here is the list to check for yourselves. Goodbye and bad luck.”

1: English editor of ‘Marxism Today’. 2: George Orwell. 3: George Orwell. 4: George Orwell. 5: Bertrand Russell. 6: Prime Minister Gladstone. 7: Samuel Johnson. 8: Samuel Johnson. 9: George Orwell. 10: George Orwell. 11: H.G.Wells. 12: Winston Churchill. 13: Stephen Fry. 14: Quentin Crisp. 15: Winston Churchill. 16: Kazuo Ishiguru. 17: Christopher Fowler. 18: Edward Rutherfurd. 19: Stephen Magee. 20: Ben Aaronovitch.

Revenge is sweet, especially when provided free of charge by your dumbass tormentors.





Posted in Scottish Politics | 11 Comments

Car News: Fat Cars

A weekly look at all that sucks in the automotive world, plus some good bits


A familiar scene – cars so wide two-way streets are reduced to one vehicle at a time

A number of automobile journalists have been writing of late about how cars are getting bigger, not just taller, but wider. Michael Heseltine’s rag, ‘Autocar’, recently resurrected the theme. As ever, the writer missed the obvious and named the usual suspects. I stopped buying that rag years ago. For the uninitiated, Autocar is a weekly magazine for fast car enthusiasts that has an annoying tendency to quote right-wing think tanks in its articles and forget to advise readers of the political bent of the source they quote.

The tale journalists tell of our cars getting bigger usually fall into two categories. The first is we’ve got fatter, our butts in particular. Our arses have expanded out of all reasonable proportions. The second is new safety regulations demand bigger cars. They forget roads are not getting any wider.

The former claim is true, we have grown taller and overweight, seats made bigger to accommodate our derrier. (So have cinema seats for the same reason.) As I never tire of reminding readers, I own two very old 3-door RAV4’s, the first and the second derivative. I’ve removed the rear seats from the oldest to make it more practical, a mini van. This earliest version has narrow squabs that push the metal frame into my backside, uncomfortable on long journeys. The ‘cutest SUV in the world’ according to an aghast Texan who came upon my Japanese import 1996 RAV4, does have benefits, being narrow and a very short car, great for parking in our crowded cities.

The later one is has a generous girth. It has a much wider stance and consequently feels safer taking bends at speed. A lot longer makes it difficult to park and avoid scrapes.


Some vehicles are stupendously unfit for our cities

The claim of safety regulation causing cars to bloat doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. It’s a nonsense when you look at how compact is a Smart car packed with modern safety devices in addition to encased in a metal safety shell.

Guess what, a lot of safety laws come from EU regulations which the UK accepted. Implied in Brit journalist’s moaning about regulations making car design bland and uniform is a criticism of EU. Thankfully, if car makers want to sell their wares abroad they must comply with EU regulations, and as most ‘British’ makers are foreign owned there should be no diminution of regulation laws protecting driver and passenger.

For a company to refresh a car’s design, repackage it with the latest gadgets, it has to have a ‘better than last’ selling gimmick. Think of washing powder which acquired a magical ‘blue’ whitener to help aid greater sales. It worked, the increased sales, that is, not necessarily cleaner sheets.

Invariably the car sales line is the one of which we are all familiar – the new model has more space than the last. Well, of course a car will have more space than the one before if it is bigger! But did it have to get bigger to achieve more space? The latest model of the popular Range Rover Evoque has reversed the trend. It is not any bigger than the last, but by clever redesign offers a little more interior space than before.

Safety regulations, such as heavy bars hidden in doors to lessen side impact, crumple zones and the demand for increased interior space and comfort, now mean that cars are bigger than they ever have been. And bigger means heavier. A shame attractive aspects such as pop-up headlights got nixed by strict safety standards, but I can see why bonnet mascots got the boot. There are deathly projectiles to pedestrians. Rolls-Royce managed to save their mascot by designing it to drop inside the radiator nose.

Big cars make them far less agile and pleasant to drive than small, lightweight cars. Step into an MX5 sportscar from an everyday saloon and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The little roadster can dart this way and that at fingertip control of the steering wheel, while large, heavy cars needs a lot of grappling with the steering. And there less of a margin of error driving a big car if you get into trouble.

Not until you see a car next to its ancestor do you realise just how bloated modern cars have become. To illustrate the difference in one model, here is the first and most recent best selling car, the VW Golf, the photograph conflated to show comparison girth.


Old and new VW Golf. The VW Polo is now bigger than that original Golf!

This brings me to parking bay sizes, a hobbyhorse of mine. They have not kept up with the increase in car sizes. Pass a line of them nose to the pavement and you’ll find you have to swerve around one sticking its rump out beyond all the others. It might well be a worky’s Toyota double-cabin Hilux, a vehicle he can haul his kids in to school – the interior as luxurious as any saloon – and a bag of gravel plus his tools in the load area.

In the United Kingdom, the recommended standard Parking bay size is 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) wide by 4.8 metres (16 ft) long. Recently there has been some controversy about most spaces being far too small to fit modern cars, which have grown significantly since bay size standards were set decades ago.

The term ‘one space’ used in the UK standards regulations refers to standing area only and the recommended minimum dimensions for a car space. The term ‘commercial vehicle space’ used in the standards refers to the standing area required for the general type of commercial vehicle. Shopping centre car parks stick to the smallest space, except for disabled drivers. They are give half-a-metre extra either side of their vehicle for wheelchair access. Unless a nose to tail coach area, the rest of us are completely ignored.

  • Car: 2.4 metres x 4.8 metres
  • Light Vans: 2.4 metres x 5.5 metres
  • Rigid Vehicles: 3.5 metres x 14.0 metres
  • Articulated Vehicles: 3.5 metres x 18.5 metres
  • Coaches (60 seats): 3.5 metres x 14.0 metres

How many times have you been boxed in by inconsiderate drivers, so badly you cannot squeeze between cars let alone open your car door. You drive home with dings and dents not there when you arrived at the store.

Poor bay sizes together with being ignored ends with this kind of situation:


Try being the driver on the far right hoping to enter his vehicle

And I haven’t touched upon the greatly increased size of our double decker buses. They are now monstrous, 10 wheeled behemoths negotiating a tight bend, and in Edinburgh, some must be warned off narrow road routes!


Carpet Man

The carpet in my oldest car finally gave up pretending it was a carpet, the stuff you get with your car I call belly button fluff. To my surprise and disappointment no dealership in Edinburgh, and no coach trimmer who fits bespoke leather seats, will fit new, better non-standard carpets. I finally discovered one man who would, the classic craftsman working from his garden shed, Alan Gibson in Musselburgh. He tore out the crap carpet, stuck down sound deafening, added foam padding and then a new black Wilton carpet. He suggests noise deafening material for the doors and over the wheel arches to make the car as quiet as a Bentley, and the door not sound tinny when slammed shut. Alan did a great job at a reasonable cost, materials and all, and in two days. What a difference in cabin quietness! No more engine noise or tyre hum. I’m happy to give out his phone number if any reader is in dire need of a new carpet or sound deadening.

Car sales slump

The crash in car sales continues unabated. The Brexit economy is showing the greatest signs of strain on dealers for seven years facing a continued decline in car sales as the service sector struggles to grow with Brexit looming. According to the latest snapshot from the beleaguered UK motor industry, car sales dropped for the fifth consecutive month in July. New car registrations fell by 4.1% to 157,198, the weakest sales in July since 2012, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders report. And they advise worse to come. We shall see badly capitalised dealers going out of business soon.

Volvo recall

Is your Volvo among the group below? More than 500,000 Volvo cars are being recalled worldwide, 70,000 in the UK, because of a fire risk in the engine. The manufacturer said a plastic part in the engine has, in rare cases, been liable to melt and deform, resulting in a possible engine fire. Affected models have four-cylinder diesel engines and are 2014-2019 versions of the following cars: S80, S60, V70, XC70, S60 Cross Country, V60, XC60, V60 Cross Country, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country, XC90, V40 and V40 Cross Country. A Volvo spokesperson said there had only been only “a few” fires to date, with no reports of injuries. Aye, right. If you’ve not received notification from your dealer, call them right away. (Would a bicycle spokeperson be called ‘spokes’ person? Just asking.)

Happy motoring!



Posted in Transportation | 3 Comments