This is an old film, with impossibly young actors. But the same old story of corruption and cover-up, we’re more familiar with now. The 45th Un-United States President could say with some justification that he could ‘stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes’. He was partly right, and always wrong. Let’s leave the twice impeached President sliding out of history and return to the Watergate Scandal.
It was a pretty simple story, as Sean Connery’s character growled in his Oscar winning performance for supporting actor in Brian de Palma’s Untouchables—follow the money.
Two Watergate journalists Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) follow the money, Republican Party Contributions that lead them to the bungled burglary at Watergate, smear campaigns, the bugging of Democratic candidates with the connivance of police forces, the FBI and even the CIA. Everybody knows but nobody is telling, or they’ve been got at and threatened. Unwilling to talk.
Strictly, off the record Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) is willing to meet Woodward and advise him whether he’s on the right track.
On the record, they’ve got to convince a grizzled Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) at the Washington Post to print their story. He tells them the story of how he thought he had something on Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. And he’d ran with it as far as he could, and thought he was getting some place. Then the President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson had phoned him up and told him he was making Hoover head of the FBI, for life. That was a fuck-you from the President. He didn’t want them fucking up and bringing down his paper.
We know what happened next with Tricky Dicky Nixon. We’re waiting to hear and see what happens with the moron’s moron. Follow the money. Amen.
Celtic play a double-header, home and away, against Livingston. Must-win games. Jim Leishman reminded us that the last time Livingston won at Parkhead some of his player were on £175 a week. Celtic’s stand-in captain, Calum McGregor comes out with the usual stuff about, ‘Don’t stop believing’. Does anyone believe this stuff?
The league is gone. Ten-in-a-row gone. Even the dog’s chance we had of winning went when we lost at Ibrox. The Scottish Cup is our only chance of silverware this season. We’ve gone from a team whose fans used to (ironically) cheer when a Rangers’ player got a touch of a ball, or laugh when their so called thirty-million-pound frontman, Alfredo Morelos, missed another sitter—to the team that has went backwards and blew it.
Rangers have come back from the dead. Media savvy men told them not to focus on preventing ten in a row, which reflected back on Celtic’s accomplishments, but to shift the focus on #going-for-55. That’s why we hear that drumbeat now.
When Neil Lennon had his first spell in charge, Charlie Adams, who was shipped off to Blackpool because Rangers thought he was a dud (and they might have been right) was asked about Celtic’s achievements. His reply was they should have won more trebles stuck with me. It wasn’t often I agreed with Charlie Adams. But after four quadruple trebles, the answer now speaks for itself.
And it’s not often I agree with Ally McCoist. Super Ally in a spat with a pundit that Nir Bitton shouldn’t have had a red card and that Morelos wouldn’t have scored—give his track record against Celtic in the previous fourteen Old Firm games. But Ally’s one-liner killed the argument; he’s never played against Barkas. The Celtic keeper may not turn out to be a dud, but to me he looks like the scouting system plucked him from the same money-tree as Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo
Celtic are in a classic destructive cycle in which everything the club, directors and players do goes wrong. Rangers are in a virtuous cycle. Both won’t last.
I don’t look with envy at the Ibrox players. We can play the usual game of who would you take from their team? Their goalie, obviously, but after that nobody springs to mind. But our Celtic team has regressed, while their team has gotten better. In the game at Ibrox, we played them off the park in the way they did to us at Hampden when we won the League Cup, the difference that day was we had a goalkeeper that made saves in Fraser Forster.
If the league was called now, as it was called last year, Rangers would be champions. I don’t like it, but I’d accept that. We blew it.
The question now is when Lennon should go? There was a case for sacking him at the beginning of December, but bringing in a new manager would symbolically suggest we were in deep trouble. The Celtic support pay Peter Lawwell well over a million quid a year to act as Dermot Desmond’s go to ‘Yes man’. Lennon was their man. Lawwell is a politician and politicians don’t like to admit they make mistakes. We don’t get a vote on this. The biscuit tin mentality referred to a time when Celtic directors like the White’s quietly dipped into the profits of the first nine-in-a-row team to pay for their lifestyle. We didn’t get a vote then either. Nine flags that flew over the old main stand weren’t there the following season.
Dermot Desmond is part of the Irish mafia that cashed in his chips at the right time at Manchester United, took his profit and invested in Celtic. It’s his club. Lawwell is his man. Lennon is their manager. But he won’t be here next season. Many of our player will also be sold or out of contract. I’d sell Edouard now, cash in. Other players that are looking to leave should be shown the door, such as Ajer and Ntcham.
Roughly, seventy-percent of our income is based on supporters turning up on match days. Around ninety-percent of Rangers’ income. As league champions next year their players will demand to be paid more. They’ll be sucked into the same downward spiral as Celtic, paying an increasingly high wage bill, with a largely fixed income stream. We all know about their massive debts and hush-hush loans that need to be paid back. But as of now, they are a going concern, and we should be concerned. Champions’ League cash of around £30 million if they qualify for the groups stages puts them on par with us. That’s the golden ticket that’s eluded us the last few years. Indication of our decline, the Dermott Desmond’s of this world chose to ignore. Football is a hard business, Lennon should go now. It would make the transition to one-in-row easier. The only consolation is when Rangers do win it, they’ll be screaming into a void. With lockdown, like our quadruple winning team, we’ll quickly move on to something else. Let’s hope we do have a plan for next year. Celtic are literally taking money from fans for next to nothing and promises of change. That’s a business model that is sure to fail.
Craig Robertson publishes a novel every year, and the setting is Glasgow. Full of places I know and people that speak and think like me, it’s therefore much easier for me to like his work. Random, his debut novel, established him as a writer worth following. This is the second of his novels I’ve read and, like its predecessor, it’s a page turner.
The setup is simple. There’s a bad guy out there. The Glasgow equivalent of John Worboys, the ‘Black-Cab’ rapist, who committed more than 100 sex crimes, before he was caught. This is a Glasgow in which Robert Louis Stephenson is quoted by forensics at a crime scene:
‘Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder. Certain old houses demand to be haunted.’
The good guys are mostly women. Detective Inspector Narey leads the charge. She’s vulnerable having a baby at home while she does nightshifts at the local police station. But she’s got a sidekick, her husband, aptly named, Winter, a reporter on a Glasgow rag (author Craig Robertson was a reporter so authenticity is guaranteed). He’s conducting a parallel investigation into Richard Broome the suspect, and The Photographer, of the book’s title. He’s the serial rapist, possible murderer, they need to catch. Winter’s delving into the paper’s archives finds that over ninety people go missing in Scotland every day.
DI Narey has already arrested Broome, found his stash of photographs of over 100 women in Glasgow that have been stalked and their pictures taken without their knowledge, or consent. Stalked.
Victims such as:
‘Leah Watt was twenty-seven going on fifty-five. Her premature aging wasn’t her fault.
Narey often found herself wishing that she’d known Leah before Broome wrecked her life, her confidence and her future. Everybody said that she was the heart and soul, a party girl with a big laugh and eyes that lit up a room. A personality stolen.
Broome’s modus operandi was consistent. ‘Jennifer,’ a victim tells rape counsellor Lainey,
‘I was raped. A man broke into my flat and raped me…
He just kept thumping me. Pounding his fist into my nose and cheek. Slag. Slag. Slag. Punch. Punch. Punch. I couldn’t see. Just heard the noise. Heard my nose breaking. My cheek being smashed.’
Lainey’s secret is she too was raped, by the same man and in the same brutal way. The police have been ineffectual. Lainey has been tracking similar cases to her own, and to ‘Jennifer’s’, she’s determined to find him.
Robertson plays with the genre of whodunnit. The reader knows who committed the crimes. The Photographer, Richard Broome, is identified early on as a women hater, with a sense of grievance and entitlement. He rapes them because they’re ‘slags’ and asking for it. He owns them, even though they don’t know it—yet.
But Richard Broome is not a black-cab driver. He’s a millionaire that owns his own hi-tech company. He hires a QC, ready and willing, to do his bidding, because he can, because of who he is. When the case against Broome collapses, he does not fade back into the dank gardens and murky houses, he goes on the attack. Narey and Winter and their child come under threat. Their middle-class sense of privilege and security comes under threat.
The least convincing part of the book is when Winter brings in his uncle, an ex-cop, to babysit them and their baby. The ex-cop goes online and tracks down the women haters, the trolls and cyberwarriors wanking in their bedroom and outs them. A lead into Broome’s misogynistic cult.
And while Broome as an arch villain, the kind that might well have been elected to the Presidency of the United States, hung together before sliding into stereotype, his mother as victim, didn’t ring true. But, hey, this is fiction. A great read. Read on.
But the price of freedom is high, it always has been. And it’s one I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.
I was scared the moron’s moron would, inadvertently, take us into the Third World War (delayed). I’ve got a roof over my head, enough to eat, and quite like being alive. As Malcolm X said before he was murdered ‘the chickens have come home to roost’.
The 45th American President, the pedlar of hate and conspiracy theories—who got into the highest office in the land, with Fox News help, a Facebook disinformation campaign, and the Russian President Putin providing logistical support—under the pretext of a taking back control, incites riot and unlawful assembly. A mob army to dispute an election he lost, we’re back at Charlottesville here, with ‘those very good people’ that are gun-toting, flag-waving white and right.
Not since 1812, we’ve been told has this happened. General MacArthur brutally dealt with a citizen army, many of them veterans of the first world war, that had come to Washington and demanded government help during the hungry thirties. It will be interesting to see what happens to those moron moron’s supporters, who, for examples, filmed themselves sitting in Presiding Officer’s chair. That’s how dumb they are.
They believe that the purity of their brand of patriotism will protect them from the law. Without the moron’s moron in office how can there be any law? Just or otherwise?
The bankrupt 45th American President, who when called to fight for his country in Vietnam, but said he’d a sore foot, ends in farce. When it comes to taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich, I’m a revolutionary. This was no storming of the Congress by Captain America surrogates, but was dis-United America showing its face for the television and the mass media. Andy Warhol’s everyone requiring their fifteen minutes of fame in La-La land. Poetic justice as the moron’s moron bows out.
We all know about the meet-cute, when the main characters collide, and we know they’ll later have a romance. In Norah Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally, for example, Sally Albright (Meg Ryan’s character) is sitting waiting in a beaten-up Beatle car filled with junk to give a lift to Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) while he gives a prolonged snog to his latest has-been. Here Hannah Fiddel is more in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita territory with middle-aged literary professor Humbert Humbert having a sexual obsession with his stepdaughter, Dolores Haze, and English school teacher Claire Wilson (Kate Mara) having an affair with her pupil Eric Walker (Nick Robinson).
The first couple of episodes set things up. Claire Wilson arriving at Westerbrook High and Eric Walker and his school buddies looking on and saying how cute she is. But, of course, she’s ‘a teacher’ and they’re eighteen-year-old boys. They know the difference between fantasy and reality. Twelve-year-old Lolita, for example, has still a lot of growing up to do in comparison.
We’re a long way from Texas, but in Damian Barr’s autobiographic Maggie & Me, with Motherwell as a backdrop, he tells the reader how as a spotty sixth-year pupil, one of his teacher was giving him the heavy-come on. Prattling on about her problems at home and how her husband didn’t really understand her. Giving him a lift home. Does this sound familiar? She didn’t realise he liked boys. Perhaps that would have made a more interesting drama.
Usually, as we know, far away from News of the World type exclusives, around 99% of cases it’s the male teacher leching after the female student. Age does matter. Who does what to whom shouldn’t matter. But for this kind of drama, phew, every schoolboy’s wet-dream onscreen. You might want to watch how it develops and how the protagonists don’t live happily-ever- after over ten episodes. Two short and colourful episodes was enough for me.
‘You’re unbelievably beautiful, you are.’ Daniel (Martin Compston) tells Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor).
It must be dispiriting for a young actor thinking if any series is set in Scotland, I must have a chance, but only if Martin Compston is busy and doesn’t want the part.
She’s got baggage. He’s got baggage. Every character has more baggage than Buckaroo. (I’ve got baggage. Did I tell you I did a forensic science course, elements of forensic science, and somebody stole my course book? I might even be a suspect here.) Molly’s a forensic student in Dundee, Tayside College. Her mum went missing eleven years ago when she was seven. She was unbelievably beautiful then too. Her mum wasn’t bad either. Julie Hedges (Neve McIntosh) she turns up—blonde hair swilling about, print dress, bright colours. And she’s laughing because she doesn’t know she’ll go missing during The Tall Ship’s Gala and her dismembered body will be discovered by a dog walker, three months later on the beach. She’s not a ghost, like in Randal and Hopkirk Deceased, because then she’d need to wear a white suit.
That’s the cold case, but it’s complicated by her boss at the lab at which she works, Professor Sarah Gordon (Laura Fraser) is also running a MOOC course in forensic science that has been viewed by over 23 000 online viewers. I might have done it. I like MOOC courses. But she’s made a bit of an error. The case study and corpse they use as analytical material matches the case of Molly’s mum, because it was based on her case. But Professor Sarah Gordon can’t admit this. Nor can she seem to avoid Molly, they bump into each other more than is humanly possible without intercourse.
She’s got something to hide. As has her colleague Professor Kathy Torrance (Jennifer Spence) who also had intercourse with an Australian backpacker, but it was sexual.
The forensic scientists are deep into murder cases at the appropriately named Secret’s Nightclub. Three bodies and the manager of the nightclub jumped off the Tay Bridge after the club burned down.
Emma goes to stay with her pal Skye Alessi (Jamie Marie Leary) while trying to digest all those secrets. Skye is her wee pal in the swirly hair moments when her mum appears. You guessed it. She’s also got secrets her mum, Izzy Alessi (Laurie Brett) doesn’t want Emma to know about. Something to do with the photo of her dad, old rocker Drew Cubbin (John Gordon Sinclair) being in bed with her mother, taken in Izzy’s house, possibly by Izzy, while her mum was married to her step-dad. He’s got something to hide. She’s got something to hide.
The lead detective in the case DI Neil McKinven (Michael Nardone) was a junior cop when Emma’s mum was killed. But as a favour, he’s helping Professor Sarah Gordon cover up her mistake in using an ongoing case in her course material. He’s got a secret too.
So far every cast member has a secret, and some non-cast members (me), we need to know who the killers are or were, and work out if they were related cases to the person that stole my course book. Taggart would have done it in an hour. Here we’re in for the longer haul of six episodes. Nah, not for me. Too suspect.
Don’t wait for God to put his hand on your shoulder—unless you’re the Virgin Mary—that’s not going to happen any time soon. Start writing now. All you need is you.
Yes, I procrastinate, which sounds like masturbate, or maybe only to my sick mind.
Do something you enjoy with yourself without the need for paper hankies. Having a sick mind is an advantage, because you’re going to have to tell lots of lies. That’s what fiction is, without having to be elected American President. But the nearer the truth your lies are, the greater virtue you create for your characters. Believable characters must roam the land like prehistoric dinosaurs, leaving behind a trail of disruption.
Conflict is where your characters live. If someone else mentions that you must kill your darlings I’m going to hunt them down and treat them to one of my readings. Sincerity is what you find in yourself when you’ve nothing else left. Buried treasure unearthed and you’ve been forced to share again and again until it becomes boring.
Worthless treasure isn’t treasure. Fool’s gold is easy to find. It’s on the page in that first draft. Your eyes glitter. You open the swag bag, ready to pile in the awards.
Forgive and forget yourself. Write like a dog running after sticks. Slabber if you like. Nobody cares. Don’t let your smooth baby brain slowly harden into a border guard. You just need to get that stick to mix metaphors with it and beat back your inner critic. You need to get words on a page pronto.
Don’t interrupt yourself with somebody else. When you’re having an affair of the heart, the worst thing you can do is pick up your phone. Listening to the siren calls. That’s like saying ‘I do’ at your wedding, then sloping off to fuck the entire front row, and some of the back row too. We don’t want to seem too picky. We want to be nice. Yeh, we’ve all done it. Social media owns us, but not completely—yet.
You only live once, but in writing you can live as many lives as you like. You can do what you want, you can be what you want. Being believable is Sir Gawain setting out to find the Holy Grail. It will always be over that next hill. You’ll make mistakes. Go the wrong way. Other knights will challenge you to duels. Chancers will spring up and tell you they know the way, the true path, all you have to do is follow them.
Imagine being like Ted McMinn (the Tin Man), the Rangers’ winger, who wrong-footed himself and wrong-footed defenders by not knowing himself what he was going to do with the ball next. It doesn’t matter. I played football for over forty years and was rotten. But write as if every game matters, because it does at the time—I’ve not got the medals to prove it—and it might be your last. You need to turn up, with your three quid dues in your hand.
My characters aren’t rich or famous. I’m not going to be rich and famous either. And I wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I might feel less guilty about leaving the bathroom light on overnight and wasting electricity. I’d still be guilty of causing global warming and deforestation in the Amazon, before Amazon owned the world.
Take responsibility. You know your work is finished when you can’t bear to look at it one more time. You’d rather spit it in someone’s face and apologise for how terrible it is. Given half a chance you’d be quite willing to sell out to a huckster with a shivering monkey on his shoulder turning the handle for an organ grinder offering peanuts, and then by sleight of hand taking them away.
Humility and humanity don’t rhyme except in the heart. There’s nothing wrong with you when you listen and see. When you don’t listen, you don’t see. Buddha is just a jade statue of a fat guy sitting about doing no work, while you’re banging away on the keyboards ready to produce The International New York Times bestseller that everyone really needs to appreciate now.
Pour yourself into who you are and your writing, not what others think you should be. Writing is meant to be fun, but I played football mainly in the rain and freezing conditions and on gravel parks that took away the skin of my legs and scarred me. I’m not going to say I loved it, but when I think about it now, it makes me smile. I am going to say I loved it, because I can change my mind. I can therefore claim maturity, even wisdom.
Writing gives you a sense of achievement. For a somebody that’s nothing much. We’ve all heard it before, the media figure that lists their achievement then at the end adds, blithely, I just thought I’d write a book.
We all know about Alexander the Great visiting Diogenes with inked parchments of his International New York Times bestseller tucked under his arms. And Diogenes asking him to stand out of his sun.
Yes, us writers own the sun, moon and are but fragments of stars. Get your parchment, pens or keyboard out and make great use of them. Do it now.
The world doesn’t need another post-script—but here it is.
You’ll be a lot better prepared for existential questions like when a neighbour, Frances, was complaining that her grandkids got too much, and that children in Africa haven’t got any toys, or even enough to eat:
Alfie (aged seven) said, ‘Doesn’t Santa go to Africa gran? You said he goes everywhere’.
It’s your job, as a writer, to make sure Santa gets to Africa. Write on.
Julien out injured was a real blow as he’s our best defender, Bitton comes in. He’s second-rate, but had a big role to play at Ibrox. And so it proved. But not in a good way. A red card for hauling down Morelos with half an hour to go. Celtic undone by yet another free kick. Aribo claimed it, but it came off Callum McGregor’s shoulder. And with fifteen to twenty minutes to go—game over.
It’s much the same team that overran Dundee United. An attacking team with Soro holding (he was excellent) and Edouard and Griffiths up front. In the first-half that’s just the way it played out. Total dominance. Edouard had a chance after two minutes and another couple of half chances. Alan McGregor had over twelve shots blocked. A world class-save from a Griffith’s curler that was going in the top corner after 21 minutes. Alan McGregor was by some distance Rangers’s man of the match.
We’ve been here before with the flying pig, ‘Andy Goram broke my heart’ as the late, great, Tommy Burns put it. The Walter Smith smash and grab continues into the twenty-first century.
In a way it was a tale of four halfs. In the first half of the half we got most of our chances and should have scored. Frimpong, in particular, was getting in behind the Ibrox rearguard. They were rotten.
They remained rotten in the second period of the first half. While we were still good, but created less chances. We started the second half well, without creating anything, in a game we needed to win.
And yes, Morelos should have been booked. He does look a complete dud. Celtic should be thankful he played. But we had duds of our own. Shane Duffy got booked for taking out Ryan Kent and Morelos got booked for argy-bargy, as did Conor McGregor.
I can’t really criticise the Celtic keeper Barkas, he didn’t have a save to make. The goal wasn’t his fault, but yet again a cross ball undoes us. But my feelings are Barkas is a dud too.
I’m not sure there’s any point in going on a training trip to the Dubai. The league is over. Rangers won’t win the treble. We won’t win ten-in-a-row. A real opportunity missed. The best we can hope for is to stop them winning the Scottish Cup.
Celtic could and should have won today. They didn’t. We’ve been hanging off looking for a new manager, because it would have been near impossible for him to turn it around. Now is the time for Lennon to go. He’s took us as far as he can. Like his fellow Northern Irishman and former Motherwell manager, Robinson, he should walk. No point in wasting money on January signings for this season and Lennon shouldn’t be the man making those shouts. Shane Duffy can go now. The start of a clear out. I’m sure you’ll have your own ideas. I’ll still watch Celtic, still support them, but no longer any point in writing about them. I won’t waste my time or yours. Hail Hail.