Popular Essays – 2018


With the UK Government determined to cut us off from the rest of the world and implement rationing, a cute robin perched on holly seems a superficial image to wish readers good will. The little boy is a survivor – so far – in the battle of Aleppo, Syria.

Gie’s a brek, pal

Grouse Beater is taking a winter break. With the possible exception of reviewing the Australian born historian John Guy’s filmed version of ‘Mary Queen of Scots‘ the only reason for this site not to relax over the festive period will be some sort of unforeseen political shock – which can happen in the form of a total power grab by the British state.

Grouse Beater’s Twitter timeline will continue, open to all but the abusive. I need free of academic pursuits to reach the bomb shelter and not be at my keyboard when Tory and Labour drop more Brexit bombs.

For good or ill

Over adult life I have come to recognise Man is a strange amalgam of good and evil, angel and devil. And women are often no better nor worse. None stand categorised as all-white or all-black. The angel can become irrational in a moment of blind panic and the devil can rescue a drowning child in an act of unthinking self-sacrifice.

Even the worst of us is capable of a kind act, only when you are confronted by blind fury it’s very hard to remind yourself the disher of vitriol might be having a bad time at home and taking it out on you. And in that regard…

Making a futile gesture

It’s been an interesting year. The least attractive part of it was the SNP’s wild swing of its disciplinary cane. A political party rightly praised for being radical and progressive has an antediluvian department of corporal punishment, Room 101. Charged with protecting the SNP’s reputation it actually tarnishes it, the anonymous group reminiscent of black arts operators. The Bringers of Wrath are unaccountable and oblivious of honest character. So grotesquely unqualified and inept are they to judge any situation they’d throw a drowning man both ends of a rope.

In a nutshell, the SNP hierarchy prove they lack strength of leadership to denounce unjust accusation tossed at them by opponents. Instead they adopt the short-term remedy of a knife in the back and then have the casualty expelled for carrying a weapon.

Paving the way for opponents to repeat the felony is no way to boost the morale of the troops. It follows that it would be folly for me to lend the SNP my imprimatur knowing I am liable to be wounded or worse by ‘friendly’ fire.

The age of unreason

Descarte, generally held to be the father of modern philosophy, rejected everything he could doubt for he wanted to know what was real and what was illusion. He preferred he was certain something existed before he believed it. Of course, he couldn’t doubt his own existence because if he didn’t exist he could not doubt. He said, “I take as a general rule the things that we conceive very clearly and very distinctly are all true.” Soon, like the SNP’s rodeo clown Fiona Robertson, Descarte was conceiving all sorts of nonsense. He threw intellectual caution to the dogs.

Eventually he formed an idea of God as a perfect being, and as such God must exist. Well, I know the SNP exists, not as a perfect entity but as a community of diverse minds driven by a single ideal. It is an historic force for change but the change is in ourselves to make. On the other hand, Scotland’s constitutional independence does not exist. And that is the goal devoutly to be wished. If the SNP can’t or won’t attain it we must by other means.

A new day dawns

The sun has reached my study window a portent of renewal to come. I finish the fifth year of supporting restoration of Scotland’s democratic and constitutional rights as I began, a committed individual not associated with any political party. I must thank all readers here and abroad who stayed the course and who forgave work written in haste. I proffer special thanks to those who recognised a gross injustice and spoke out about it.

The short list

To that end I’ll finish the year with a short list of the most popular essays, the high fliers, an accolade achieved by reader numbers, worldwide. Some past essays I thought ready for filing were rediscovered by readers and circulated a second time, one Car News among them. I write about the car industry because politically it’s a great bellwether of the state of our political integrity, and our environment and economy.

If some essays are new to you and look interesting take my advice and choose the company of friends first this festive time. Only if hankering for diversion read them. Encouraging a solitary Internet life is not my aim. There’s always next year … I think, though with Brexit looming I can’t be certain, as Descarte might have concluded.





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19 Responses to Popular Essays – 2018

  1. grumpydubai says:

    Season’s greetings to you and yours.

    Here’s to a dynamic, exciting, peaceful and positive 2019 to Scotland and all its people

  2. broonpot says:

    Seasons Greetings and enjoy your break.
    I look forward to your essays and Twitter ‘converations’ in the New Year.

  3. It has been a tough year for most of us, Gareth.
    Take your time and enjoy Yule and the New Year.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your writing this year as in all previous and feel genuine dismay at the injustice inflicted on you by those who should have known far, far better. It has been a strange year for me also as I lost my four legged companion but latterly gained a human soulmate.

    The usual dread of December has been much less marked this year.

    All the very best to you and yours and thanks for continuing telling it like it is.
    I look forward to a refreshed and invigorated Gb in the new year.


  4. greig12 says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your reviews/essays/articles and the insights therein and I look forward to many more. People like myself, not content to be members of a colony need people like yourself to not only challenge perceptions but to help keep our powder dry.

    Wishing you all the best the season has to offer and keep up the good work GB, I for one greatly appreciate all your efforts.

    I look forward to reading your takes on the unfolding lunacy while not particularly looking forward to the consequences of the lunacy itself.

  5. angusskye says:

    Thank you for your insightful, interesting and thought-provoking words over the year(s). Unlike you, I started the year as an SNP member (since 2014), but end it in the same position as you, a member of no party, deeply disappointed in the one that is our main – if not only – channel to independence.

    Nollaig Chrideheil agus Bliadhna Math Ur.

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    I hope things are better for you now, Davy. Th companionship of a dog can seem limitless until they remind you their life span is much shorter than ours. I read somewhere that foxes are lucky if the live beyond two years in the wild, four in captivity.

    You know, I think I’m right in saying you were one of the earliest people to come across my essay site. I’d this daft idea I could use it as a way of scribbling down ideas to check the strength of my argument and no one would see them unless I published them. But I hit the ‘PUBLISH’ icon in error and awoke next day to read your comment. You said something like, “whoever you are you sure can write, just tidy up your prose and write more”. It was the perfect comment to have me understand what WordPress is about and why I should learn how to work it properly!

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, Angus. Sad to admit, I swing from not a chance to, it will happen, sometimes in the one day! Realistically, statistics and power in the hands of the influential present us with a hurdle higher than we had before.

  8. Doreen Milne says:

    Have a good break and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and Hogmanay. Thank you for all the wonderful articles. I’ve learned so much (esp about cars!), been entertained by your many excellent film reviews and, countless times, been fortified by your commitment to Independence. Take care and haste ye back, GB. x

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    The reason for adding cars to this site’s portfolio wasn’t just for a break from Scottish politics but to show everything is integrated – millions of parts a week imported from Europe for the car industry soon to be blocked when out of the EU. Though Scotland has one small car maker, the service companies look after the British industry are often owned by Scottish companies and investors. Also, our art colleges train car designers – where do they get jobs when the big boys take their companies abroad? The virus will spread.

  10. Hugh Wallace says:

    Thank you for some great writing during 2018, GB. A thought provoking pleasure as always. See you again in ’19!

  11. I’ve been reading your blog since 2014 but rarely comment (too shy I suppose). I have 4 regular go-to’s for comment on this mad world of ours; Wings Over Scotland, Wee Ginger Dug, Craig Murray and Grousebeater. You’re up there with the greats in my opinion and I look forward to reading more of your entertaining and informative material next year. The whole stooshie surrounding your criticism of Labour and the GMB was painful to witness. I’m not a member of the SNP either, never had any plan to join. For the record, I wholeheartedly agreed with everything you said in that post. Enjoy Christmas and Hogmanay!

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    Well, I welcome your comments. Neil. because they’re the sort of boost to self-esteem one needs having manage to reach the other side of an irrational injustice. Thank you.

    Incidentally, I chanced upon a tweet from a GMB member admitting their Glasgow rally was planned to embarrass the SNP and outdo the Saltire marches. “We prove Scotland is no different from England.” – meaning independence solves nothing. My reading of their agenda was entirely correct.

    Here’s to 2019. I hope you will remain a fellow traveller for we are about to face the gravest challenge to or democracy since 1707.

  13. Thanks GB. Your well written articles have become essential reading over the last couple of years.

    I’m generally pessimistic about our chances of gaining independence. Your articles help me realise that there is still a possibility (however remote) that sense may prevail and the majority of Scots will see this so called union for what it really is – colonial oppression – and hopefully vote for self determination.

    Sadly your historical pieces reinforce my opinion that the British establishment via the Westminster government will never willingly allow us the opportunity. Anyway on a lighter note.

    All the best to you and yours over this festive season.


  14. Grouse Beater says:

    If you hit a pet dog on the nose and head with a stick to control it, in time it will shy away from you when you call it to heel. I’d like to think Scotland is that dog, but as you know, David, dogs are loyal even to the point of meeting injury or death at the hands of their master. We shall have to be doubly courageous and, head down, more determined than ever to reach our ideal. Thank you for your kind comments – may you and yours enjoy the ‘vacation’ period, as my ‘Merican friends say. Hell knows what is to come next year!

  15. diabloandco says:

    Merry Christmas and may 2019 be the best of years.

    Thank you for the insightful essays and the money saving reviews!

  16. Grouse Beater says:

    You’re always welcome, Diablo. You have a life’s membership.

  17. A bit random. Yet relevant to previous posts. I am reading a fine new Irish translation (by Darach Ó Scolaí) of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped’. The following from Chapter 16 seems to portend so much of current events. London’s determination to cut Scotland off from France. Desperate refugees caused by British military intervention. Even the parallel of “caravans” of desolate humanity heading for America in hope:

    “But there was one melancholy part. In the mouth of Loch Aline we found a great sea-going ship at anchor; and this I supposed at first to be one of the King’s cruisers which were kept along that coast, both summer and winter, to prevent communication with the French. As we got a little nearer, it became plain she was a ship of merchandise; and what still more puzzled me, not only her decks, but the sea-beach also, were quite black with people, and skiffs were continually plying to and fro between them. Yet nearer, and there began to come to our ears a great sound of mourning, the people on board and those on the shore crying and lamenting one to another so as to pierce the heart. Then I understood this was an emigrant ship bound for the American colonies.” (Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘Kidnapped’, from Chapter 16)

    “Ach bhí rud amháin a chuir gruaim orainn. I mbéal Locha Álainn thángamar ar long mhór farraige ar ancaire, agus mheas mé gur cheann de chúrsóirí an rí í a bhí coinnithe le cósta, samhradh agus geimhreadh, chun teagmháil leis na Francaigh a chosc. Nuair a thángamar níos gaire, ba léir gur long thráchtála a bhí inti agus, rud ab aisteach liom, ní hé amháin go raibh an deic uirthi, ach bhí an cladach freisin, dubh le daoine, agus bhí báid bheaga anonn is anall ag freastal uirthi. De réir mar a dhruideamar léi, chualamar gleo mhór chaointe. Bhí na daoine ar bord, agus iad siúd ar an gcladach freisin, ag caoineadh is ag olagón chomh mór sin go mbrisfeadh sé do chroí. Ansin thuig mé gur long imirceach a bhí inti agus í ag triall ar na coilíneachtaí Meiriceánacha.” (Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘An Fuadach’, aistrithe ag Darach Ó Scolaí, Leabhar Breac 2016)

  18. By the way, ‘Kidnapped’ is freely available to read online or download in various formats. One such site to check out is that of Project Gutenburg:


  19. Grouse Beater says:

    That’s a fascinating extract, Fearghas. If we could pinpoint the date he wrote that section I could check his collected letters – of which I have the volumes on my shelves – to see if he makes any political observations on the subject. I’ll have a look once I get a moment from festive guests.

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