James MacMillan’s Sabat Mater from the Sistine Chapel

I was sorry to have missed the live stream of James’ Sabat Mater as I was reading at Mass in Saint Patrick’s sic o’clock mass on Sunday. Classic FM have it on their website and I have included the video here.

The acoustics of this ancient chapel sound wonderful even on my PC speakers. I must try this on my television.

Click here for the video

The Private Sector Shows How it’s Done

The emerging scandal of Edinburgh schools built under a PPP contract shines a light on the workings of the private sector. For years we have been told about the inefficiency of the public sector and how the private sector can get things done. It was far better to have things like schools and hospitals built and managed by businesses rather than local authorities.

Now with 7000 pupils put out of schools for an ‘indefinite period’ we can see just how business works. The schools are fine until it gets really windy then all bets are off. The wall collapse at Oxgangs primary school not only opened the school to the elements but opened business practice to full public view.

Businesses are all about making money, as much as possible. If that means cutting corners and putting children’s education and future prospects at risk, well that’s a small price to pay, especially as it’s not the businesses that pay it.

I wonder if the contracts allow the local authority, the ones left with the mess to clear up, to sue the businesses involved. Who is going to pay for the remedial work required? Who is going to pay the costs of providing alternative arrangements for the seven thousand pupils displaced?

If it comes back to bite the business involved then I suppose they can always go bankrupt and leave the mess to someone else – the public sector.

They’ve replace the Sherbet Fountain

I remember one of our favourite sweets was the Sherbet Fountain. It was simply a paper tube containing sherbet. At one end was a tube of liquorice. You simply bit the end off the tube ans sucked up the sherbet. When you had emptied the paper you ate the liquorice.

Can you still buy these?

Can you still buy these?

You couldsee children wandering along the street puffing at their treat. The other day I was walking down Buchanan Street in Glasgow and I noticed what seemed to b adults sucking on sherbet fountains. A closer look showed thatt hey were, in fact, puffing at their e-cigarette. It was certainly a strange sight.

You can't eat the tube when you finish.

You can’t eat the tube when you finish.

I wondered why grown alults would want to emulate childrens sweets. Perhaps that’s the answer. Do ‘vappers’ really want to revert to their childhood? This developnemt is worth watching to see where it takes us.

Fear Is The Key – A Cunning Plan

In 1961 Alastair Maclean wrote his novel ‘Fear is the Key’ set in the Caribbean. It was a great read, like all Maclean’s early works. I was an avid reader of his stories. He had been an English teacher in the school across the road from our house. I felt he was someone worth listening to.

His message has been listened to again, after all these years, and by David Cameron of all people. Fear has become the key strategy of the Tories in this election and it could well be a winner. Like all the best strategies it is both simple and cunning. Churchill once said of the secret services that truth must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies. Strangely enough the lies must be protected by a bodyguard of truth. Confused? That’s the whole idea!

The polls show that Labour and Tories are neck and neck. That’s remarkable considering the damage that Osbourne’s policies have done to the UK economy. Neither party has the promise of an outright victory. How can the government survive? A good general knows how to use the forces he has to concentrate fire on the enemy’s weakest point. He knows that if he can force his enemy to split his forces then he will win.

The Tories have chosen a diversion plan. Cameron talks of the danger posed by the SNP. They pose the greatest threat since the abdication, apparently. Even John Major has been rolled out and dusted down to proclaim the message. But what threat do the SNP pose to the Tories? The SNP are only contesting seats in Scotland and the Tories only have one to lose in Scotland; why the panic?

Panic is what it is about. Convincing the Scottish electorate that he is afraid of the SNP might drive many Scottish voters to turn to the Nats to hit the Tories hard. This can only hit Labour seats and reduce the Labour strength in the UK Parliament.

The same message plays differently in England. By highlighting the possibility of the SNP forcing a Labour government to go way left of their current position and forcing Scottish claims ahead of the needs of English voters he hopes to gain seats in England at the expense of Labour (the SNP don’t have any seats in England).

He hopes to force Labour to attack the SNP position to defend their seats in Scotland, drawing fire away from Tory policies. The question is, will it work? There seems to be evidence that voters are turning from Labour to the SNP. If they manage to take a large number of seats from Labour then the Tories will surely end up as the largest party. What happens then? As we saw last time, a minority Tory party was able to cobble together a coalition which enabled them to take power and wreck the economy. The poorest have suffered most while the richest few seem to have doubled their wealth.

Could this happen again? I think so. When we have an undecided result then all bets are off. Those who say they will not support the Tories can claim that it is in the interests of the country that we have a government that can have a majority in the house. The Tories will be back and in the words of Adolph Hitler when asked to come out of hiding in Argentina to take over Germany in the seventies, “This time there will be no more Mister Nice Guy!”

Royal Coach – What’s the Fuss About?

The Monarch travelled to the State Opening of Parliament in a new royal coach.

You can see details in this BBC video.

There have been some complaints on Twitter which leave me puzzled. I admit that I think that a republican system would be better – more 21st century and all that , but that aside there is much to be said about the choice of vehicle.

The first thing you notice is that it has no engine. No petrol or diesel fumes to pollute.

It is, of course, horse drawn. I like horses, who doesn’t? Horses brighten up the place and since you have stables anyway , you might as well make use of them. There is a question of economy too. Petrol prices will continue to rise and, remember, oil is a finite fossil fuel. When the oil runs out the Monarch will still be able to get out to Tesco for the shopping while the rest of us will be on foot.

Some people are complaining about the cost, but there I must take issue. This is not a coach made entirely of specially grown new oak. It has been assembled, apparently, from odd bits and pieces from other old stuff they had lying around. It has bits of Henry VIII ‘s Mary Rose, Isaac Newton’s Apple Tree and Westminster Abbey incorporated. Now there’s forward thinking for you.

It’s not just a coach, it’s part warship, orchard and cathedral. Too snowy to get to church? Just have the service in the coach. Security issue? Just open up with a short broadside from the carronades. Of course while it’s sitting around it can be growing apples. It sounds like a bargain to me.

Now this could set a trend. Soon these Russian oligarchs will be foregoing their gin palaces in favour of their very own coach; all trying to outdo the royals. Think of the jobs that will be created there. All those horse shoes to be fitted, brasses to be polished, the economy will boom again.

Now if I traded in the Mazda for a coach, no road tax, no petrol – let the horse munch its way through the back garden, no MOT to worry about? Sounds like a plan!


Housing Crisis?


Wow! That’s what I call a housing crisis

There has been much said about the current housing crisis in the UK. We are not building enough houses for the people who need a place to live. I know it is difficult to find a decent house and even more difficult to find one at an affordable price. I was amazed to read about the flat in London that sold for £140,000,000 last week. Ah, London, how absurd I thought.

Today as I was returning to the car park in Glasgow I spotted a property for rent. As you can see from the picture it is a little down. It is, in fact, underground. It is a disused gentleman’s urinal and toilet. I had noticed that this public convenience was closed some time ago. I wondered why. Is there a glut of public conveniences in Glasgow? Have they been crowding the betting shops out of the main thoroughfares? Now the place is up to let (although it is down in the ground).

Who is going to rent an old toilet? It is convenient (pardon the pun) for all amenities, shops, stations, churches and pubs.Do we really expect someone to go down and live there? I’ve heard of people living in the gutter but this is lower even than that. No doubt the estate agents will point out the amenities like running water, plumbing and no long stairway to climb up at the end of a long, tiring day. You could literally fall into it.

Perhaps it could be converted into a Bijoux betting shop or theme pub? Where more appropriate for P###ing away your hard earned cash?

Why We Need an In-Out Referendum Now

Why We Need A Referendum


I have come to believe we need an in-out referendum and we need it now!

Why do we need one now? That is obvious.

Our economy is in a dreadful state. I know we have signs of growth, but it is growth based on consumers spending their savings, not on industrial expansion. People are buying new cars, booking holidays etc rather than leave their cash in the bank losing value as inflation outruns the interest rate

Pay day lenders are making massive profits as more and more people fall into debt. The rich are getting extremely rich and the poor are getting even poorer. We are told that the economy will be back to pre-crisis levels at the end of the year. Just ask people how their income matches up to their expenditure. Most people will be way behind.

We are creating a massive problem for our children. Unemployment among the young is racing well ahead of the headline rates. This was caused by the austerity that was supposed to save future generations from our debt.

So,how will a referendum help? I want an in-out referendum on the government and I think we need it now. Things are getting worse and we are being misled by doctored figures and hidden reports. Can we afford to have another two years of Tory muddle and Lib Dem aquiesence? I don’t think so.

A General Election Now! Get the Tories Out before it is too late!

What is the important issue today?

In the words of Bill Clinton,”It’s the economy, stupid!”

Is It Time For Football To Go Away?

A goal

Ball in the net – so what?

There is much speculation about the imminent ‘Second Administration’ of Glasgow Rangers. It raises the question “Would you be sorry to see them go?” Many Celtic supporters would be sorry to lose their big hitter opponent. I would not be sorry.
Actually I would not be sorry to see Celtic and all the other football ‘clubs’ go. You might ask why a football agnostic would bother to comment. Well, it’s quite simple. I think football has become a major threat to our world. It could be described as the poor man’s Scientology.
What is football about? It’s about kicking a plastic ball into a nylon net. It’s also about stopping the other guy kicking a plastic ball into a nylon net. What’s so bad about that? Well, what’s so good about it? Football has gone beyond any rational game. It has become the focus for all sorts of tribal nonsense. It has become the home for all those who need to belong to something; preferably something that doesn’t require any difficult beliefs, specialist knowledge or understanding.
You can go along and join in the singing and feel part of the community. It’s almost like a religion, but less complicated. Well, so what? What’s so bad about that? Was it Karl Marx who said that religion was the opiate of the people? Well now it’s football. The papers are full of it. The television must show it. And, all the time, the real issues in our world can be sidelined. The economy is in the septic tank and we can happily pay a potato over £300,000 per week to kick a ball (or so I’m told).
Our government is knocking seven bells out of the poorest in society and it’s football managers who get the sack. Keep people concentrating on trivia as if their lives depend on it and you can get away with murder. Football is escapism; but there’s no escaping the reality that we have lost all sense of proportion and we are allowing ourselves to be kidded.
Look, there is a housing shortage! Why not build houses on all those stadia and give people a place to live? If you like football, then take a ball down to the park and kick it about. It’s as simple as that. Now I realise that these views might offend. That’s not my intention. I’d just like to inject a small slice of reality into an imaginary world.

The 50% Line

The clowns

Boris and Dave; who should resign first?

London Mayor, Boris Johnston has complained about the current Underground strikes in the capital. He argues that it is not right for a union to call a strike without the backing of 50% of the members, not the voting members but 50% of the membership.

There is a certain logic to his demand. It does sound democratic. It sounds absolutely reasonable. Who could refuse such a request. It is, in fact, a very democratic principle. There would be no need to demand that the unions adopt this principle if it became an integral part of our democracy.

General elections would seen to be more than fair if the winner had to poll 50% of the electorate; not 50% of the votes, but 50% of those eligible to vote. There would arise a slight problem; fewer than 50% of the electorate regularly vote. It might be impossible to elect a government then. You might think that would be no bad thing when we consider the amateur bunch (Boris’ pals) who are running the show now.

Well done Boris! another load of absolute, unconsidered nonsense put out as political speak.

It’s The Trees

I had a tree surgeon in to trim my trees. The high wings before Christmas caused some damage and brought down a neighbour’s tree. The tree surgeon, John, came out and disposed of a very tricky situation. He agreed to come out and make my trees a bit safer. Boy, he works fast.

Don’t believe me? Watch the video.

Now you must admit that was quick.