Tipping points everywhere you look.

A couple of days after the third tipping point of the year – the autumn equinox – there’s an unprecedented number of runner beans still on the stem and there for the picking. I’ve never seen the likes. Does it foretell a cold winter? Is it...

Getting to know me…

I’ve just come across a recording I did with The Living Memory Association (TheLMA – good name, eh?) a year or so ago. As a newcomer of only forty years in Leith, it seems some folk might be interested in me, so here Barry Davidson splices my biography...

How do you like your cruelty, sir?

In the BBC1 programme to mark VJ day on Saturday evening, Japanese expansionist ambition was presented as a “bad thing”, to be resisted. Those who resisted it, in support of the status quo ante, faced great hardship and cruelty. It struck me very forcibly, however,...

American Tabloid

Good to see some active collaboration between two satirists and commentators who cut their creative teeth in the 1990s, Irvine Welsh and Bret Easton Ellis. As I say in my book, there’s little doubt that BEE’s American Psycho was an influence on IW when he...

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

Following Michael Holding’s powerful speech about taught racism before the first England v. West Indies test Match, I’m reminded of a little-known song in South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1949). With incipient racism running through the whole show,...

Of last journeys and shoes

On the opening day of the Test match series England v. West Indies, let me make this contribution to Black Lives Matter and to Israel/Palestine. Two personal memories, thirty years apart. In 1978 I was in Senegal, the most westerly country in Africa. I came across...

Lazy journalism

Oh dear. Lara Feigel  is trying to assemble 10 novels that explore character and friendship. Included are Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, book of the year Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, various other classics – and Trainspotting. Oh dear. The claim...

Tipping point no. 02

Midsummer day. The solstice. We should mark it more than we do. It’s not just another day. A few years ago on this day I was visiting the coal ships in Leith, and got friendly with a Philippine crew. At 10 o’clock in the evening I was extolling with them...