#SoldOut Raising Funds and Awareness

I recall many years ago standing on the terraces at Hampden Park, Glasgow with 145,000 other rabid fans, waiting for the teams to come out of the tunnel to begin the annual Scotland v England ‘Home International’ football,(soccer), game. There would always be 140,000 Scots and about 5,000 English fans in attendance. As a Scot, born and bred, I was brought up, just like the majority of others who were standing around me, to ‘hate’ the English with a vengeance. It was just part of our parochial culture at that time, and probably still is today, although I have not lived in Scotland for 40 years and with the demise of Scottish football and an awareness that political correctness is now the order of the day, perhaps the ferocity of that hatred has mellowed. The two teams, now standing in the center of the field, would face the main stand, where all the dignitaries were seated, and the British national anthem would begin, God Save the Queen. This was before the Scots were allowed to sing their own anthem, a change in protocol that occurred some years later. The band, yes, a real brass or bagpipe band, would strike up the first chord and immediately there would be a wall of noise emanating from the Scottish support just booing as loud as possible at the UK anthem. It completely drowned out the band and any semblance they had in mind of being heard as a unit. We hated that anthem, supposedly, and we all gave it little or indeed no respect. Within seconds, our vocal distaste of everything that the British Monarchy stood for was demonstrated by this blasphemous howling and booing which seemed to last an eternity, but which in fact lasted only about 120 seconds, the length of the British national anthem being quite short. Once over, the game began and the fact that 140,000 Scottish football fanatics had remonstrated vocally against our forced inclusion under the monarchy we all loved, or at least some of us loved, was soon forgotten as the football took over and blood and guts was then spilled on the field of play rather than on the streets of Glasgow. It should also be noted that while the anthem was sung by the players on the field from the England team, all the Scottish team just stood in silence, some smiling, some not, but to a tee, not one of the Scottish team would sing along. It was an unwritten rule, followed religiously. Silent protests against supposed oppression, acceptable and respected throughout the world. No harm done, no one to cry foul. Until now!

When Colin Kaepernick knelt down for the Star Spangled Banner whilst playing for the San Francisco 49rs some two years ago, the whole world, at least the world that surrounded American Football and Donald Trump, went berserk, and for what reason? Well as far as I can tell, the National Anthem was never played at any sporting event before the end of the second world war. And even after that, there were sports events in the USA where the anthem remained just a figment of everyone’s imagination, laying silent as battle commenced on the field of play. So why, all of a sudden, after Kaepernick and some of his fellow Pro’s decided to protest, quite justifiably in silence to make what has turned out to be a very relevant point on an issue that has haunted this country for generations, has the President of the United States and the owners of some of the football teams where protests have been continual and well publicized, lost the plot by telling players they will be fired if they continue to ‘abuse their privilege’? There is not one reason on earth why anyone should be forced to alter their beliefs, especially those who feel threatened or abused and more especially inside a country that not only preaches pure democracy and a right to free speech to the whole planet, but a country that encourages its populous to be vocal in the form of protest when under threat of unjustifiable racism. Racism is rife in America. You can smell it in the streets, it’s a pollution that has become silent in its poisoning of its population. Racism cannot be tolerated, hatred of anyone, any race, any creed and any color has to be kicked out, but, unfortunately, and in the opinion of this author, it’s just being swept under an already filthy carpet, where, when the dust is uncovered, it becomes a mountain of trash that is becoming ever worse and unstoppable, fueled by a President and government that just turns a blind eye and looks the other way whilst telling us all, quite disingenuously that there is absolutely nothing wrong! Well, not much!

My guitar teacher Tony, remember him from the first article I wrote last week, inspired me to make the lapel pins you see in the image above. The players protesting and following in the footsteps of Kaepernick, have a right to do so. It’s not disrespectful, it’s poignant, it’s their human right, it’s peaceful and most importantly, it’s something they believe in. However, it seems if these protests carry on players will be fired or, and I say this with the utmost respect, the President will have to intervene personally, something not one of us would like to see happen.

With all of this in mind, I have this idea, not only to raise the awareness to a very great cause, but to raise money for charities associated with racism and the profound effect that racism still holds on our society. The #SOLDOUT will soon display the pins pictured above for sale, to make people aware that there is genuine suffering out there, whether it be in the murdering of Jews in Pittsburgh, or the simplicity of daily senseless traffic stops on innocent African Americans, it matters not. We have a right to protest, so by wearing this pin, our protests shall be seen, and by the money we raise, out protests shall be heard.

Keep reading this blog for more updates and check out our Instagram #soldout to get your pin.

If there are any athletes, well known or otherwise and or charities, who would like to be considered as spokes people for this idea, please get in touch. Colin Kaepernick, if you read this please know that I have tried in many different ways to contact you because I believe you should lead this movement, but to date, no response.

Thank you everyone.

What Happened To Humor?

imagesA Muslim called Mohammad who owns a watermelon stall in a Paris suburb is sick and tired of Chaim, a little Jewish boy from the same neighborhood, coming past his stand every day and stealing a watermelon. Mohammad decides he’s going to put an end to this and sticks a sign outside his store which read “One Of These Watermelons Is Infused With Cyanide!” Undeterred, Chaim comes past the store on that very same afternoon and while Mohammad isn’t looking, he sticks another sign up stating, “AND NOW THERE ARE 2!”

Why would that joke upset anyone? I can give you a hundred reasons I suppose, but then again, I can’t give you any!

I heard a program on the BBC World Service last night. It was broadcast with the intention of trying to explain this Muslim uprising around our planet. Seemingly they all believe, (by saying ALL, I am of course generalizing), that the end of days is about to happen, as prophesied in the Koran, an end of days that would begin in Syria, Yemen and one or two other hot spots around the world. It tried to suggest that the reasons for all this violence we are witnessing, most of which isn’t even mentioned in our news bulletins, is completely justified in the eyes of the Jihadist factions that we see taking over our headlines every day. They all believe that the end of days is a significant event that they can help accelerate with their violent disruptions of our daily lives in order that they can be with the prophet Mohammad for all eternity. They will do their very best to bring about a nuclear Armageddon or any other kind of final solution to bring this planet to its final conclusion as soon as possible.

My question is, how fucking stupid are these idiots? Brainwashed and misinformed, they continue to create chaos in the lives of those who couldn’t give a rat’s arse about their beliefs. I really don’t care who you are or what you believe in, honestly, I really don’t, just don’t ram it down my fucking throat and don’t think that because you believe, I should too. I respect you for the views you have, as long as you respect that not everyone else wants to share those same views. Get a sense of humor for goodness sake. Who cares that there are cartoons depicting Mohammad in unfortunate poses, and if not Mohammad, Jesus, Buddha or even the Chief Rabbi. It’s only humor! It isn’t insulting to anyone unless you have a preconceived conviction of causing violence for any reason whatsoever, and this ‘trigger point’, a simple piece of satire, gives you the excuse you are looking for to go out and kill, which it obviously does. Get a life! We all want a life, so let us live it our way, and you live yours your way. If you don’t like the way we live ours then fuck off to a place where you won’t every see us or hear us. We want peace, we want laughter, we want love. What we don’t want are antagonistic self-centered idiots who think their way is the only way. That includes America, the UK and all the other countries around the globe who feel that invading other cultures in order to ‘improve’ them, is right. It’s not, it’s all terribly wrong.

No one ever died off this planet, and quite possibly no one ever will, so pack up your guns and get out your pens, your smiles and your ability to compromise. We all need one another now, more than ever so wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along?

Chaim opened a store opposite his great foe, Vikram, in London’s Nottinghill Gate. Vikram put up a sign that read ‘Bacon, $4.99/lb” so that very same day Chaim put up a sign that read ‘Bacon, $3.99/lb’ Vikram was pissed and when he arrived at his shop on the next morning he changed his sign to read ‘Bacon$2.99/lb’ only to be trumped once again by Chaim on the same morning, when he changed his sign to read,’Bacon $1.99/lb’

Vikram was pissed, so with venom in his brain, he sprinted across the street to Chaim’s store and confronted him , face to face. “Why is it when I put out a sign for bacon at $4.99/lb, you change your sign to $3.99, then I go to $2.99 and you go to $1.99? You are killing my business” he spat. Chaim looked at him straight in the face and said, “Vikram I don’t give a hoot about your business, I don’t sell bacon!”

Give Me My Money Back -Part 3

“Where are you from?” he asked.

“Glasgow, and you?”

“Bannff”

“I have an aunt who lives in Bannff, Lena McClaren.”

“She lives right next door to my mum and dad!”

“No f…g way!”

And with that we became inmates for the day. We were tied together by both nervousness and determination. If you thought my experiences with attorney’s were bad, you should have heard his. I’d been waiting almost 9 years, he’d been waiting longer. Both of us had married an American citizen, (not the same one!), both had invested into business’s and both of us had lost tens of thousands to get to where we now stood. With all that said, so had the other’s who joined us that day.

At around 10AM, we were rounded up and given a pink slip to go to a Harley St doctors office for our chest X-ray and HIV test. We were told that we had to make our own way there and then return at 3 PM to the embassy for the results. I was still clinging to my top-heavy briefcase wondering when they were going to go through its contents to prove that I was who I said I was. So far, nothing, and no one had asked to examine one iota of evidence, and that seemed to be the case for all of us except one woman, who was grilled for at least an hour before they let her join the rest of us on our trip to the doctor’s office.

The embassy didn’t provide any transportation to Harley St and with rain poring down, we all decided to get on the nearest tube train and go cattle class all the way to this dreaded date with reality. We arrived, and were once again herded into an office where music played quietly in the background and where you could cut the tension we were all feeling with a blunt knife. It was frustrating. Not one of us ever imagined having to take this test. After all, did it really matter? Yes, of course it did, and when I thought through the consequences of allowing anyone carrying the AIDS virus into the USA, I could see clearly the paranoia of screening every new immigrant to the nth degree. We all sat a joked, all be it half heartedly about what we would do if we were HIV positive. You have to realize that at that point in time, no one really knew the extent of this epidemic and it was affecting not only the Gay community but heterosexuals too. The authorities had also released figures and studies suggesting that the virus could incubate in anyone’s body for as long as ten yeas before being found. I’d gone over and over in my mind who I’d slept with, praying that each one was OK and that today was just a formality. “please, please, don’t let this be the day my dreams are shattered” I kept repeating.

“Zoltie!” came the shout that broke the tension. I was up first. Reverse alphabetical order! Yeah baby, get me in there and then let’s do lunch!

One prick, no not me, and it was over. Then came the chest X-ray. One hour and I was done, and so was my new best buddy Tom, from Scotland. We hit the pub, or rather the pub hit us. I actually had a beer, or three. We sat, chatted, sweaty, nervous, fearful like conversation. Nothing helped. I wanted to know, and I wanted to know right there and then, as did everyone. We tried to eat, we talked about what we were going to do when we got to America, all the time knowing that it might never happen. Everyone knew someone who lived in the States illegally. Everyone! The sad thing was, if you were illegal, and that could be for many reasons, you were stuck in a country of 300 million people and were unable to go anywhere outside that country and perhaps even the town you lived in. Being illegal wasn’t seen as being criminal, even though it was, it was really something that came to most by accident and not by choice. Some had come to make a better life in a country more prosperous than the one in which they lived. Some had come in on a visitors visa and decided never to go back. Some were just plain stupid and done both. No matter what, none of them had gone through the right channels, the right methodology and the correct legal process to assist them in their plight in becoming a citizen of the United States of America. Not a good idea unless you’re seriously happy about doing jail time or being deported. I had little sympathy for such people, mainly because of the trials and tribulations that I and millions of others had been through following the system to the letter of the law in order to achieve or goal and not cheating or short cutting what had been made clear for a hundred years or more. If you want to join us, follow the planed route!

We had another drink and then it was 2PM and time to leave. Taxi!!!!!

Canonized Courtesy Of Cannon!

downloadTwo billion people are expected to watch the new Pope Francis canonize two former Popes this weekend. They will become saints, though for just what reason, I still fail to understand. As one American lady put it when being interviewed on the local news station last night, “I was abused by our priest, (well join the club lady), and Pope JP 2 had every opportunity to acknowledge the extent of abuse that was rife within the Catholic church for many years, perhaps hundreds of years, and chose not to do anything about it.” So true madam, so true! And the other Pope, John the 23rd, didn’t actually become a Pope until he was 76, but he’s credited with revolutionizing the Catholic church, though quite how, I fail to understand. In any event, the two Popes, popular to say the least, are, so I’m told, worthy beyond doubt and very deserved of this sainthood, something that’s never happened in the history of the church where 2 living Popes will ordain 2 dead ones. Tit for tat I’m sure.

With politics and religious bias put to one side, the thing that caught my eye when I was reading through the timing of events and what this event really entails is that it’s actually sponsored by more than 10 major corporations! Sponsored!! Yes, you read that right. The corrupt Catholic nation, with over 1 billion of its followers living below the poverty line, and with the Pope living in the richest city/country on earth, had gone beneath what I would call dignity and sold its soul to corporate sponsors! It’s beyond doubt that from the direction the church has decided to take, they are pandering not only to a world driven by advertising and (Pop)e Culture, they are demeaning the good name of the church by taking on board corporations run by people who have no interest in religion, no interest on the canonization process and no interest in anything other than how to get more bang for their buck. Spreading their gospel through TV advertising, billboards and the like, how do you think Jesus would have felt about this? How would the two dead Popes feel? They gave their lives, so to speak, for the good of their faith, and now their faith is repaying them by canonizing them for the price of a bar of soap? I could go on and on here, having a field day out of their complete disregard for the Catholic faith. Whoever decided to go down this road knew exactly what they were doing and exactly where the cash from all the sponsorship will be placed. Can we expect Sunday mass without donation boxes? Can we hope that holy water will be given to all who wish to partake, free of charge? Will confession come with a rebate coupon? Who knows.

The main sponsors of this gigantic event are, Nestle, closely followed by Italian oil and gas giants ENI and Enel. There are 12 more, to boot and some, including Nestle who are Swiss, are from other countries outside of Italy. We all know Nestle is Swiss and we all know the Pope is guarded by a regiment of Swiss guards. I am asking this with a straight face, so don’t laugh, will Nestle be providing their chocolate bars to every recipient of that very same Swiss guard who willingly gives a blow job to some horny priest? Two blow jobs for a box of Maltesers! A good deal for a billion dollar sponsorship scheme. Nestle can only win!

With all that in mind and the fact that tomorrow, Sunday April 27th is the big day, I came up with other companies who might want to jump on the “Sponsor a Pope” bandwagon.

Orville Redenbacher would run commercials for Pope-Corn

Ben and Jerry would be Popesicles

Johnson and Johnson, a family company could do Pope-purri

The local Indian restaurant would be selling Pope-adoms

And finally, before you switch me off, everyone in attendance should receive a free giveaway of a Pope on a rope to cleanse themselves of all their sins!

Yes the world has changed since Mother Theresa was required to show that she was a saint by all the miracles she performed. Now it seems the only miracle required is that of financial capitulation. Why don’t they just name all the ex-Pope’s saints? There could be a canonization every Sunday, broadcast live during football, ice hockey or Basketball games, guaranteeing at least double the revenue. We could anticipate a 30 second spot on one of the major networks to run at more than just a wing and a quick prayer. It could be great fun too. The announcer stating clearly that so and so is now ordained a saint and they break to a commercial for Halo, the X box game!

Anyway, good luck with your service tomorrow and to all you believers out there, how on earth can you do anything else but laugh? I rarely mock anyone with sincere beliefs, but the sincerity for me left this show the moment this new Pope, pope-d up and declared it common practice to sell his soul for rock and roll, oh, and a Twinkie too!

 

 

 

 

We Have Guns, But……

downloadBest article of the week so far came on NBC news last night, and I quote.

“The Russians say they have not invaded but their soldiers are carrying guns around in the streets of Crimea, only they haven’t fired them just yet.”

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. We come in peace, shoot to kill, as that old song suggested. Ukraine of course is in turmoil. Our politicians too are in turmoil, but most of all the poor people who claim citizenship of the Ukraine are in more trouble now then any of us could possibly imagine. And all through this unbelievable episode, Putin sits like a king on his throne telling everyone that Russia is a peaceful and well-meaning nation. How about No you’re not!

50 billion on the winter olympics and now 150 billion on another invasion of a yet another defenseless country. Yes, of course, Ukraine was at one time aligned with the old Soviet Union, but no longer do they give a rats ass about Putin and his cronies. Well some of them do, perhaps even half of them, but that’s not the point. The point is that yet again, we, as in the USA, are set to police a region that we should quite frankly stay away from. It’s none of our business and it’s not financially viable for us to get involved with yet another conflict.

Where does it all end? If we keep Ukraine stable, do we then go to Scotland in September of this year to ensure that their vote for independence, should it be unfavorable, is seen to be fair and just? Do we keep the good folks of Edinburgh and Glasgow happy by showing up on their doorsteps telling them, ‘it went well in Ukraine, so don’t worry, all will be well here?”

I just don’t get it. I have no idea what the foreign policy of this country is anymore, nor do I really care. We have millions of poor people struggling to survive right here in California and in all the other 49 states, so why get involved in someone else’s mess? Take the funds required to mend Ukraine and spend them here. At least we can all see the benefits! Right? I’ve seen too much of this ‘we need to be responsible for their problems’ attitude in my lifetime, and while I agree it’s better to help than to just watch, why have we done nothing about Syria in the 3 years since civil war broke out there and yet we are so involved in Ukraine after three short weeks? I’ll tell you why. It’s the old ‘cold war’ syndrome raising its ugly head yet again. The Russians, always fear the Russians. It’s ingrained into the American physique.

So, to all those poor Russian lads, marching endlessly up and down the high streets of every city in the Crimea with your guns loaded and your egos in a tizzy, I say to you simply and nicely,GO HOME. You don’t need to be there and we don’t need to tell you not to be there. These are all your people, all cousins, all brothers and or sisters. Leave them alone. March in Moscow and march with the hope you can change your own society the way Dr Martin Luther King, and others, changed our society. Only look carefully before you try because we fucked it up big time and now we are trying to impose our fuck ups on you!.

 

 

 

Cruise Blues – Part 5

IMG_3886Taking advantage of people trapped on board a ship with no possibility of escape seemed to be a recurring theme on this cruise. As we marched back down to deck 7, at 11 AM on Monday morning, or perhaps it was nearer to noon, (time flies when you’re not having a blast!) a group of jewelry vendors had set up shop in the Atrium lounge. They were offering half price jewelry to everyone who purchased something, anything,  before 2 PM. What an offer!! On closer inspection, and just before a cooking demonstration, which was about to begin right behind them, we found the product to be no more than cheap crap. Losing interest and again trying to avoid the lines that were gathering around these vendors, we made our way to the cheap seats, enabling us with a good view of 6 top chefs taking on recipes to die for. We were all given a recipe card, which I read and an instant thought came into my head, ‘where the heck was this great food when I wanted to eat it?’ My question was soon to be answered, although not in the manner I quite expected. The recipes looked amazing, at least the pictures did, and now these 6 incredible chefs were about to prepare them, live, right in front of us.

Tossing ready-made salad and adding tinned crab, then encapsulating it inside an oval bottomless tin band, made for interesting viewing, until the chef started to get it wrong and began describing everything as ‘fresh’, which it wasn’t. His efforts, followed by a round of applause, led us to an early exit and dress rehearsal for the speech I was about to give to guest services, which, we hoped, would get us off the boat some 24 hours from now. That cooking demo had proven to both of us that everything on this boat came out of a can or freezer. I suppose if you think about it, there’s not really any other way to serve up food to 3000 people all day every day. But in the end, my impression was that quantity and not quality was the sole aim of the kitchen staff. Frequent visits to the buffet would prove that theory beyond a shadow of a doubt.

“I have a family emergency and have to get off the boat!”

Erickson, Filipino by birth, Scandinavian by name, looked at me, bemused, and devoid of any retort whatsoever.

“I will disembark in Juneau if that’s OK with you Erickson?”

He stood there, if only for a moment and then looked at me with his sad eyes, “you will miss the rest of the cruise?” A question, not a statement of fact.

“Yes Erickson” I said with a glum expression spread across a hidden smile. Our conversation ended as Erickson made way for his superior, who in turn made way for her boss, who in turn made way for a reading of the law!

The Jones Act.

Now, let me tell you, getting off a ship, even if it sailed out of one US port and was approaching another US port, is nigh on impossible. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if you boarded in the US and asked to get off in a foreign country! I was going to summarize the Jones Act for you, but to save me the trouble and you the pain in reading it all, here is a link. If you are interested, please go ahead and take a look.

http://www.cruiseco.com/Resources/jones_act.htm  Copy and paste this into your browser to be amazed and amused!

The Jones Act prohibits any cruise ship passenger from disembarking at any port other than from the port where that passenger originally boarded the vessel. Unless, and there always has to be an unless, unless you pay $300 to the government. See any sense in that one??? Nope, me neither! In other words, if you get on in Seattle, and even though the ship hasn’t been to any other port of call, AND it’s 1st port of call is another US port, you are fucked and have to pay. As far as I was concerned, $300 was worth every penny. Heck I would have paid them double just to disembark! Erickson was back, and he was startlingly reassuring with his sympathetic solace. After about half an hour, we were all set. Instructions had been radioed ahead, the cruise company had very nicely offered to book me a hotel and arrange a flight too. There was no way on earth I was going to allow this to happen because we’d already decided that we would spend at least two more days in Juneau, and I wanted to make all the arrangements myself in order that I didn’t get lumbered with a shitty hotel and an early flight home. I told Erickson to do nothing until the following morning when I would confirm my exit plans.

Back in the room, it was time to access the daily entertainment guide, just in case there might be something, anything, to take our minds of this tedious experience. There was nothing. Nothing other than a singles get together for the under 20’s, followed by another one for the over 40’s, followed by yet more trivia, a scavenger hunt and oh yes, another trip to the buffet. I went to sleep.

Monday afternoon dragged by. It was perhaps the longest day I had ever lived! Evening came, and we wandered out on deck, still foggy, and walked yet another mile or so, after which we walked into the funniest scene I think I’d ever witnessed. In the Atrium bar, there happened to be a duet performing. One was a 70-year-old Filipino on guitar, the other, an even older African-American with an Apple Mac, and a sax. These guys were singing, half asleep, reading the words, which were sung in a manner that sounded like both of them were drunk or stoned or both, from the Mac, as some of the old folk on the boat were dozing off on the comfy chairs provided. In the other corner, there was a line of people all dressed up, waiting patiently to get a photo opportunity with the ship’s captain. It was as if we’d wound the clock back 100 years. They were dressed in tuxedo’s, long dresses, short skirts, jewelry, scarves and many other fashion accessories one could imagine. I looked around and wondered what had happened to ‘party like a Norwegian?” and where was ‘Freestyle Cruising?” This was OTT and by far the best comedy show we’d seen since we boarded. People were taking it so seriously, and in the end I had to make a quick exit before my sides burst with laughter.  My cold, now in full swing, was becoming miserable, and so soup, yes from the buffet, and an early night were the order of that particular moment.

With all our plans made, and an offer of free internet from Erickson, and unlimited access to the ships satellite telephone system if required, we went back upstairs to plan all the details of our ‘great escape’. The noise from the ocean, as we steamed at 20 knots, made for a very soothing and comforting alternative to the fight that the kids next door were having and after taking a night-time cold remedy, I was out in moments and managed to sleep for about 6 hours, only to be rudely awoken by the nightmare I was having about spending 5 more days on this boat.

Morning was soon to arrive, with dawn at 4.14 AM, and our clocks having been put back an hour to adjust to Alaska time. The sun was up, the fog was gone and the scenery breathtaking. We were ready to depart this Hell on water, but we still had 9 hours to Juneau. Time to make all our arrangements and more.

Scotti-Leaks- What you always wanted to know about Scotland that was until now, hidden.

imagesWith Edward Snowden now looking to live in Russia, God only knows why he would want to do that, I thought it was time to come clean and admit to stealing precious never before released secrets about Scotland. Should the Scottish parliament decide I have breached the Official Secrets Act, I will of course flee the country in which I now live, (yes, they have an extradition agreement with Edinburgh) and seek residence in Grand Cayman, where, according to all my ex-wives, I have hidden my millions of dollars from their once greedy finger tips.

Snowden was a fool. He should have made a B line for the Scottish Highlands, where the mere fact that it rains every day and is engulfed by a semi-permanent darkness called ‘Scotch Mist’, would have kept him hidden from all satellite tracking systems and fanatical ex military types hired to capture him and bring him back to justice. Instead he will now be roaming the streets of Moscow, St Petersburg, or even Vladivostok, hanging on dearly to his Marlboro’s whilst trying hard to flag down a taxi driven by an alcoholic Russian who couldn’t give a fuck about anything except where his next smoke and pair of Levi jeans is coming from. At least in the Scottish Highlands Snowden could shag sheep, (and there and plenty of them), instead of drunk ugly Russian women, whilst claiming insanity and an insatiable appetite for the bizarre. Poor Edward, he should have known better.

What I have failed to understand is, what’s so important about letting the whole world know America is spying on it anyway? We all knew that already. The fact that our government is spying on its own citizens through the interception of phone conversations, emails, and social media content, well, that’s a matter I cannot overlook. It’s getting to the point where two tin cans held together by a piece of string is the only way I can keep my conversations private. One mention now of Osama, money laundering, shooting it up in Vegas and countless other ‘buzz’ words, and yep, here we go, the ‘secret’ communications satellite rounds an infinite corner up there in space, finds the exact position and street corner where my ‘alleged’ conversation just took place, and within 60 seconds (often referred to as one minute) the men in the big black van are standing opposite me with their huge arsenal of guns and missiles, all loaded and ready to fire, unless I surrender peacefully. Oh how things have change and oh how sad we have become as human beings. I’m not suggesting for one minute that all the worlds populous are pacifists, nor am I suggesting there are absolutely no bad people on this planet, but surely our paranoia has taken this whole idea about ‘living’ a normal protected life to another extreme? Surely there are better ways to find those who are trying to destroy us without listening to Mrs. Jones tell her husband  over the phone she wants to shag him tonight but only if he plays the part of a rich terrorist trying to kidnap her and take her away to Afghanistan? It’s overkill, stupidity and it’s just as well someone like Edward Snowden has the balls to inform us all, big brother is not just here, he is also the biggest of bullies and isn’t going away any time soon.

In Scotland, the ultimate sin would be to remain sober while divulging exactly what is going on inside that particular country. With thousands of pubs, great beer and the best whisky on the planet, there would be no need to stand up straight and tell the truth about the inadequacies of the Scottish diet, sectarianism found inside the church, (not to mention the child abuse, all hidden of course), our insane belief that we should not be part of the United Kingdom, the staggering fact that we have more heart disease than any other place on earth, or the well known premise that is an outright lie, Scottish people are tight! (Thrifty) No, these are not secrets, these are well known facts. Our secrets are hidden deeper than that. Hidden beneath a society that dislikes express its own feelings, where the word ‘love’ is treated more like a matter of respect than actual sentiment. Scotland itself is a hidden gem, surrounded on 3 sides by water and on the fourth by the dreaded and often hated English. It’s no secret why the English are classed as the Auld enemy, but it is a secret that those who would stand up and be counted as ‘English haters’ are few and far between. More often that not it’s just good natured banter and old fashioned saber rattling that separates good from evil where the English are concerned and although most Scots would never admit it, there is an overriding and strong desire to be as one with their enemy and to get along and to prosper. There are probably more English living in Scotland that claim to hate their fellow countrymen than there are Scots claiming the same purpose!

Our beaches are better than any beach in Caribbean or Florida or Thailand or all of the above, combined. When you drive up the west coast of Scotland you are surrounded by white sands and the most pristine clear blue ocean, unless it’s pissing down with rain and you can’t see 5 feet in front of you! Mallaig, Oban, Ullapool, the all encompassing Isle of Skye, boasting some of the most unspoiled terrain you are every likely to witness anywhere on this planet. There are no 5 star Hilton hotels here, no Ritz Carlton’s and certainly no fancy Spa’s, but what there is, often surprises those who venture out into the wilderness to enjoy some peace and quiet with little distraction, other than the elements. Scotland boasts some of the best Bed and Breakfast homes that the UK has to offer. These homes are run by some real characters, (see previous blog about Granite City), offering a comfortable alternative to those concrete monstrosities that line every beach around the globe. And there are so few people living in this part of the world that when the rain stops, and you do actually venture out onto those incredible white sands, more often than not, you are alone. No need for the Marlboro’s or Levi’s and not a taxi in sight. I’m sure the people who live in the part of Scotland crave the sunshine, just like the rest of us, but frankly, and I realize this week is the exception to the rule, they rarely see the sun, and when they do, the really appreciate it!

And so, Mr. Snowden, you should have turned left and not right when you got to Hong Kong and taken the high road and not the one that has become so low. We in Scotland would have welcomed you with open arms, got you completely pissed, robbed you blind and hung you out to dry like the hero you are not. But, in doing so, you would have had a bloody good time, you wouldn’t have had to drink any crappy vodka, eat any shite caviar and you would have had the pleasure of watching the famous Glasgow Rangers, every week, for less than the price of a shag with a sheep in Leningrad.

Good luck Edward. See you in Siberia when I come to visit. Nostrovia!