Saturday Saunter: Writing, walking and special interests

Hey, hey, it’s Saturday Saunter time,

This is being posted as I’m about to head off to Kilmarnock to watch Hibs. This afternoon’s match is quite meaningless in the great scheme of things. Hibs can’t now qualify for Europe or anything like that. There are two games left and Hibs can only finish fifth or sixth. I’ve had the pleasure of going to Kilmarnock a few times and going by experience, I actually asked the Hibs ticket office to give me a seat on an aisle due to the crap leg room on offer. On the plus side, the pies are excellent and they also do hot Vimto, a niche drink but rather fine. The last time I was at Killie, I managed to make an absolute mess of sitting down and cowped a fair bit of my hot Vimto on my hand. I don’t do hot drinks as a general rule – it’s a sensory thing – but it was a cool night. Hence the seat on the stairs. I’m not that tall – about five foot eight, five foot nine – but every little helps.

Tomorrow I’m off to Cumbrae for a walk around the island. A lot of people cycle the 10 miles but that’s not an option for me so the walk it will be. The forecast is to be about 11 degrees and cloudy which is fairly decent walking weather. I’ve been to Cumbrae once before, about a year ago, and it is a very pleasant island, calm and not completely removed from the world. It should be good.

One of my special interests over the years was American talk shows. I still watch clips on YouTube. I just read the new memoir by Craig Ferguson, who hosted the Late Late Show before James Corden, and as well as talking quite candidly about his life, issues with drink and whatever else, it included a chapter on one of his favourite places, Millport. I don’t really believe in coincidences but they happen rather a lot. Reading about a place I’m about to go to in a book about something else is mental. Craig Ferguson’s book was interesting. It went in a lot of different directions, quite tangential, which is the kind of book I like since it’s how I think.

Autism is one of those things that people tend to know dribs and drabs about. One aspect that’s perhaps most familiar to neurotypical folk is special interests. I’ve had a right few. They include American talk shows, The Simpsons, football, the media, the Scottish Parliament, castles, maps and any number of other things that aren’t coming to mind right now. Luckily this makes me quite an interesting person and I can talk about a lot of things, or more often write about them. At the moment I don’t really have a special interest. My life is busy and I have a lot of things going on. That’s okay, though. It means that each day is different, which is quite nice.

I managed to get my to-read pile down quite a bit over the Bank Holiday weekend. Underland by Robert Macfarlane is still there but I’m saving that. I’ve added a few library books to the mix. I ended up going along the shelves and taking some titles that tempted me. They were Proud by Gareth Thomas, the Welsh rugby player, The Hills Is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Jane Austen has been recommended to me several times and I managed a few pages into Emma before giving up. Gareth Thomas I’ve heard about and I think his book should be good, giving some perspective into his life and particularly in coming out as gay in that world. The Lillian Beckwith book about the Hebrides was picked based on reading the blurb. I think I’m taking Proud to Kilmarnock with me today then I’ll read the others as I go.

Every time I write this post it turns out differently. Last week it was a bookish post, the one before went on a bit of a rant. This one’s turned into 700 words without knowing quite how. I treat this a bit like psychogeography: starting without a clear goal in mind then finding that goal somewhere along the way. It’s usually a lot of fun to write. Loose Ends follows a format, which is tougher for me. Paragraph one is the story of wherever I’ve been then the connections in paragraph two and bringing it all together in the last one. I usually work with notes and photos. With this, I’m just working with my head, which is strangely easier. I’m not sure why but that might be the point.

Anyway, enough of this. Let’s get on with Saturday. Loose Ends follows tomorrow and it’s back in Edinburgh. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday and it’s a street I know well down south. There will also be a post on Thursday about the end of the football season and the beginning of the day trip season. Thanks to all readers, commenters and followers. Have a nice weekend, wherever it takes you.


Saturday Saunter: Book talk

Good Saturday,

As this is posted, I’m on the way to work. It is a holiday weekend so at least I get Monday off. Tomorrow I’ll be watching the football. Hibs are at Ibrox and I boycott that particular place so the telly it will be. Monday I am off so I might do a day trip. I’ve been thinking about really going far and ending up in Fraserburgh at the Lighthouse Museum or maybe Dundee or somewhere like that. Earlier tonight I saw a Tweet from STV reporter Mike Edwards who seems like my kind of guy. He travelled from Glasgow to Kyle of Lochalsh by train, by road from Kyle to Armadale (the Skye one not the one in West Lothian), ferry from Armadale across to Mallaig then a train all the way from Mallaig to Glasgow, all of this in one day. I’m not quite sure how he managed it plus it might be a bit dear but I love day trips like that. I’ve done London in a day a few times, usually by train, and Dublin once too, though that one involved a plane. It might not be south but I feel like a proper journey.

Since the last Saturday Saunter, I’ve managed to read two full books plus finish another one. Unfortunately, though, I think I might abandon the one I’m reading now. I read a bit of it on the Subway earlier and it annoyed me. It was a series of first-person essays, thoughts about love in all its forms gathered as the writer walked across Scotland. Love can move mountains, as the Proclaimers said, but this one brought to mind another couple of Scottish cultural icons: Jack and Victor. One episode of Still Game featured the two old codgers at the cemetery as Victor spoke to his wife standing by her grave. Victor defends it but Jack decries it as ‘birthday caird pish’. That’s what I think of this book, unfortunately. For the non-Scottish readers, the book’s getting ditched.

I try to read a range of things and this week I’ve read a book about football (State of Play: Under The Skin Of The Modern Game by Michael Calvin), a crime novel (Well of the Winds by Denzil Meyrick) and a coming-of-age book about a trans girl (Becoming Nicole: The Extraordinary Transformation of an Ordinary Family by Amy Ellis Nutt). I’ve enjoyed all of them for different reasons. I am a Hibs fan to my fingertips and I like to read about football beyond 90 minutes at Easter Road. The Michael Calvin book was superb, delving into dementia, women’s football, mental health and all sorts of things which are around the game. Calvin manages to be objective without being passive, which I like. I’ve read a few Denzil Meyrick books and the one I’ve just read was good, going into a bit more depth about each of the three main characters. Becoming Nicole was interesting, a bit of journalism rather than a memoir as other books I’ve read about transgender people, giving a really valuable perspective about the legal and moral battles that can be fought just to be yourself completely.

I actually bought books on Thursday. The brand new Robert Macfarlane book, Underland, is out. Macfarlane is one of the few authors whose books I have to get hold of as soon as they’re out. I might save it for a long journey as Macfarlane’s books are to be savoured rather than rushed. He has an excellent perspective on the world, writing with verve and passion about wild places and how they must be preserved. The other book I bought was about yoga, incidentally.

I have a couple of books on the go at the moment. The one in my backpack is The Relentless Tide, the most recent DCI Daley story by Denzil Meyrick. Well of the Winds was a return to form and The Relentless Tide is shaping up fine so far. Sitting on the side in the house is The New Girl by Rhyannon Styles, a memoir by a trans woman. I’ve started it but there’s only so much room in my backpack to carry books and all my other junk.

That’s the Saturday Saunter for this morning, Saturday 4th May. Loose Ends returns tomorrow and it’s in Paisley. Streets of Glasgow is back on Wednesday and that’s going to the heart of the city. Both series take a break in about five weeks time. I’m working on some new things to put in their place. Anyway, have a good weekend, whatever you’re doing. Cheers.


Saturday Saunter: 27th April 2019

The view from Queen’s Park, last Friday

Good Saturday,

Not sure what I’ll be doing when this is posted but it’s Saturday so I’ll be somewhere. Tomorrow I’m off to Easter Road to see the Hibees play Hearts which will be another early rise. Afterwards I’m going to find somewhere nice to walk. Hopefully it won’t be as warm as last Sunday when Portobello was absolutely hoaching with people.

This week I’ve been thinking about nuance. This was after last week’s Saturday Saunter post in which I mentioned reading a book about transgender issues. We live in a world of instant reactions where perspective and taking a broader view just seems to have gone. Social media isn’t wholly the cause of the problem. Naturally enough it is broader than that. While I read a lot online, I think that it is worth taking the time to read more widely around things. I don’t pretend to know much about anything. It’s why I prefer to count to 100 before venturing an opinion on a lot of things in society. There is usually an explanation behind the headlines. Maybe social media needs a ‘count to 100’ button. Certainly a story needs more than 140 characters to be told.

Anyway, rant over. This week I’ve been reading State of Play: Under the Skin of the Modern Game by Michael Calvin, an excellent book about the people in football. I was reading the chapter about Jeff Astle and the many footballers who have ended up with dementia the night before it was announced that former Celtic player and manager Billy McNeill had died at the age of 79. Billy MacNeill was an important figure in the Scottish game and it was touching to read the tribute from John Greig, for a long time captain and then manager of Rangers, which was filled with genuine warmth and affection. they could be opponents but friends too. In these times, we could do a lot worse than respect the rivalry, beginning tomorrow at Easter Road and in a couple of weeks when the Gruesome Twosome play again.

I’m getting on my high horse a bit today.

Sometimes I get songs in my head which I have to listen to. A few days of one and onto the next. Last week it was ‘Miracle’ by Chvrches, a Scottish electronic band, and today it’s been that and the completely different ‘It’s Not Unusual’ by Tom Jones. ‘Miracle’ was probably a bit appropriate as personally last week was busy (but successful) while Tom Jones is generally more jaunty. There’s quite a good version of ‘Miracle’ on YouTube, incidentally, featuring Chvrches and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, produced to hansel the new BBC Scotland TV channel.

Right, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Loose Ends returns tomorrow (it’s a castle) and the April digest is on Wednesday. Have a nice weekend. Cheers the now.

Postscript: After typing up this post, I watched back the funeral service of journalist Lyra McKee, killed in Derry last week. The coverage of the service tended to mention the prominent politicians present rather than the awesome person Lyra McKee clearly was and the difference she made in an all too brief time. Watch it if you can. And her TED talk too.


Saturday Saunter: 20th April 2019

Happy Saturday,


As ever, this Saturday Saunter is being written ahead of time. When this is posted, I should be having a family day around Glasgow. It is of course the Easter weekend so I’m off until Tuesday, which is quite lovely. Tomorrow I’m off to Edinburgh for the football, which has been thoughtlessly scheduled for a Sunday lunchtime, necessitating an early rise for the trip to the capital. Still, it’s Hibs and I’ve had two weeks without football, a dire situation indeed.

I actually managed to read a book the other day. It was a bit of a diversion from what I normally read, Trans Like Me by CN Lester, a series of essays about the transgender experience. I picked it up off a new books display in the library and read it very quickly, pretty much over a lunch break. As a person who doesn’t know a whole lot about trans issues, it was a great introduction, insightful and thoughtful, tinged with sadness, anger and hope to varying degrees. There were quite a few moving passages and one sentence really got me, in a discussion about feminism. ‘This labelling of the world into things for men, and things for women – good things, bad things – twists what is designated ‘womanly’, ‘feminine’, and uses it to punish nearly all of us’. And another: ‘We do not need to pursue only one goal at a time, help only one type of person’. I think we have a danger of thinking in a silo, to use a horrific management term, keeping in our lane without trying to actively explore and comprehend the world around us. This book broadened my perspective a little, which is always a good thing.

Easter Road

I’ve also been reading the latest issue of Nutmeg, a Scottish football periodical. I’ve actually contributed to Nutmeg (issue 7, if you’re interested) and even if I hadn’t, I would be reading it. I also listen to the podcast and particularly enjoyed the recent interview with Leeann Dempster, the Chief Executive of Hibs, who comes across as knowledgeable and passionate. Any time I hear Leeann Dempster speak, I feel confident about how my club is run. Her focus on community is impressive and even though she didn’t grow up as a Hibee, it is clear that she is emotionally invested in the club and its ups and downs. Nutmeg‘s podcast is excellent and has previously featured various football writers and personalities, including Ron Ferguson, who wrote one of my favourite books, Black Diamonds and the Blue Brazil, about Cowdenbeath FC. Issue 11 of the magazine is great and I’m 68% of the way through my digital copy. I enjoyed the articles about Stirling Albion, women’s football and stadium architecture, though I particularly liked the articles at the start about youth football and the Performance Schools run by the Scottish FA, giving a good insight into the future of our game. Reading about football is no substitute to going to the game but Nutmeg is a good way to keep thinking about football in the long week between games. It’s good to have thoughtful comment about the Scottish game, beyond the instant, social media and tabloid headlines.

John Muir Country Park, last Easter Monday

This is of course the Easter weekend. Like Christmas, Easter is very far removed from its original meaning, lost in a whirl of bunny ears and chocolate. I am a convinced heathen and for me this weekend is all about the time off, first and foremost. The last two Easter Mondays have seen me in Dunbar, last year in snow and general gloom, 2017 a bit sunnier and warmer, and this year I’m not sure where I’m going to end up. Maybe on a bus. With being out today and Sunday, I may just spend Monday in bed. We’ll see.

Craigmaddie Reservoir

The above was written on Tuesday. It is now Friday night and I’ve had a very full day out and about. I had never been to Milngavie and set off for there. It has been very warm and sunny today, almost summer, and I had a good walk around the reservoirs at Milngavie, which were beautiful and historically interesting. I then stopped off at the Bearsden Bathhouse, ruined and very well interpreted, built by the Romans nearly two millennia ago as part of the Antonine Wall. Later I headed across town to Queen’s Park to look over the city from the flagpole, then I did a bit of wandering in that rather fine bit of the city. Some of this will appear on the blog in various forms in the coming weeks.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Loose Ends is back tomorrow and Streets of Glasgow on Wednesday. It’s a street most Glaswegian readers will know. Have a lovely weekend.


Saturday Saunter: 13th April 2019

Good morning,

I’m starting this on Tuesday night, which seems to have become my night for writing. I’ve already written up a couple of Loose Ends posts which will be appearing here in the coming weeks. It is fairly late and I hope to write this then do a quick bit of yoga before bed. In my ears right now is the Lower League Ramblings podcast, presented by Arbroath player Danny Denholm. His guest this episode is Keaghan Jacobs, who plays for Livingston, talking about only playing for that club. That they are friends and have a shared background is an advantage and it’s a good series.

This Saturday is another one without football. At time of writing, I’m thinking about a wee trip on the bus to St. Andrews. I’ve done that journey quite a few times and while it is a fairly long bus ride, around two hours and forty minutes from Glasgow, I like it for its variety, from the very urban to rolling fields and countryside. It features some beautiful places and two, TWO, New Towns, Cumbernauld and Glenrothes. Plus the bus has spacious leather seats and plugs for phone chargers. What more could anyone possibly want? I may stop at Dunfermline en route but will see. When I write things like this, I often end up doing something differently so don’t be surprised if I do something entirely different.

Now listening to David Tennant interview Ian McKellen. Two very fine actors and Ian McKellen’s voice is wonderful, without even focusing on the words.

I’ve finally finished my Harry Potter re-read and I’m still working on Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, which I’ve had in my bag for the last couple of weeks. The book currently gracing my iPad is What Kept You, Hibs? by James Stephen, a thoughtful account of Hibs going up to lift the Scottish Cup in 2016. No sarcasm in that epithet. To be more serious, I also have a few crime novels which I could be reading. The Hibs book is getting me over a reading slump. When that happens, it just needs to be the right thing to get back in the way of it.

Dirleton Castle

Last Sunday I ended up going to Dirleton Castle. I’ve been to Dirleton many times and I seem to go once every couple of years, even living on the other side of the country. From Edinburgh I could have taken a train to North Berwick and walked or bussed the couple of miles from there but I ended up taking the bus there and back. I am a very regular bus passenger and in my time I have been on some very rickety buses. The East Coast Buses 124 I got to Dirleton was immaculate with comfortable seats and USB charge points, as well as an immensely irritating automated announcement of the next stop. A lot of the buses here in Glasgow are being replaced right now, pretty much because of the Low Emission Zone the city council is gradually introducing in the city centre, so many buses operated by First and McGills are all shiny and new, which is weird and makes me self-conscious as I don’t want to dribble, spill crumbs or break anything. It feels a little space-age though thankfully the bus I got home tonight was older with the lining of the seat cover coming away.

Ian McKellen has given way to Jodie Whittaker being interviewed. I’m not a Doctor Who fan but luckily the discussion is going far beyond the Tardis.

Dirleton Castle is a fine place and I was glad to wander around it for a while. It’s going to be part of the Loose Ends series in the coming weeks so I won’t write too much about it now. What I will mention briefly is killing time walking around the village, around the kirkyard. Dirleton Kirk is a lovely church and the graveyard was quiet, unspoiled and full of old gravestones. Some of the graves were modest, others more elaborate for landed gentry. I did think about walking down to Yellowcraigs but time was against me and it was a bit cool with haar (sea mist) rolling off the Forth. Another time maybe.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow’s post is the 600th post, part of the Loose Ends series. On Wednesday will be a post about the end of the line. Loose Ends returns next Sunday and Streets of Glasgow is back a week on Wednesday. Have a lovely weekend, wherever you end up.


Saturday Saunter: 6th April 2019

Good Saturday to you,

Today’s Saturday Saunter is being written a few nights ahead of time. It’s Tuesday and the weather has been strange today. I walked home from work – about three miles – and it was pleasantly sunny, cool but not freezing, though only a few hours before that there was hail. Very odd. This post is being written with YouTube playing on my telly. All The Stations, which went to all of the railway stations in Great Britain in 2017, is now doing Ireland and they are on the way to Tralee at the moment. As with the British version, I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar stations. I’ve only been to some of the stations around Belfast though I don’t think they’ll be there for a few days.

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when this is posted yet. Hibs are playing today, against Hearts at Tynecastle, but I now boycott Tynecastle so I won’t be there. I’m off so I’ll be away somewhere but keeping a very beady eye on the score from Gorgie.

Dunglass Collegiate Church

Last weekend I went on a few adventures. Some of them will appear here on the blog in the coming weeks but one that won’t is a trip I took to Dunglass Collegiate Church. I’ve been there a couple of times before but this time I was there on foot. Dunglass is about eight miles south of Dunbar and it is fairly awkward by public transport. On a Sunday a grand total of two buses go to Cockburnspath from Dunbar and I had to be on one and then on the last one back, 2 and a half hours later. I wasn’t really going to Dunglass but it was rude not to when I was passing. The church sits in an estate. Right next to it was a marquee from which emanated music. Actual live jazz singing, perhaps a soundcheck for a function later. That was slightly surreal. I wasn’t even alone in the church with a few likeminded souls. Dunglass was a burial chapel for the Home family and it might be small but it has some character, the light reflecting the right way whenever I’m there.

One contender for today might be Linlithgow Palace. I’ve been to Linlithgow many, many, many times and I’ve written about it here a right few times too, most recently as part of Loose Ends, I think, but I’ve been past it a lot on the train and I’m overdue one of my twice-a-year visits. Linlithgow has lots of Royal connections and those are interesting but I just like going there, wandering about and looking out.

I was really tired on Tuesday night so ran out of steam. It’s now Friday and still no further forward on what to do tomorrow. Thoughts I’ve had include Dumfries, Doune Castle or the East Neuk of Fife. I also thought about Arran but it might be too cold and windy. I fancy a long bus or train ride so hopefully I can figure out something.

This week has been World Autism Awareness Week. My line is always that it’s not just about awareness, it’s about acceptance too. I’ve had a lot on this week and I couldn’t think of anything to write here, as I did last year. One thing that gave me cheer this week was reading about Watford Football Club installing a sensory room at their ground. Other clubs have sensory rooms and plans in place to support autistic supporters though Watford seems to have done a lot, which is encouraging. My club, Hibernian, haven’t done so much yet though I can only hope they will at some point. I seem to remember a small-scale effort to try and get something happening. Going to the football is very important to me as therapy, really, a source of enjoyment, pleasure and sometimes deep frustration, as on Wednesday night. It can be an overload but I’ve found a way to try and make it work.

Talking about overloads, I wrote here recently about cutting down the number of Twitter accounts I follow. Mainly I culled all the political stuff and anything that didn’t give me joy, in true Marie Kondo stylee. That is helping during this time of political uncertainty. At time of writing, it is uncertain whether the UK will still be in the European Union by next Saturday. It’s much nicer to read about football (mostly), nature or ghost signs than the latest fuddery from Westminster. I avoid watching the news and I only really glance at the headlines otherwise. That’s probably best.

I’ve been re-reading Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, which has been a very good antidote to all the shite in the news. I haven’t been reading a lot apart from that, apart from my Harry Potter re-read, which is just about done. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood to read at the moment. Over the last few years I’ve read more than in the last decade so maybe a barren period is natural.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow will be Streets of Glasgow, as will Wednesday. Next Sunday will be the 600th post, Loose Ends-style. Have a very nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Postscript: Staying in to watch the football today. Possible day trip tomorrow.

Saturday Saunter: 30th March 2019

Good morning,

When this is posted, I hope to be away on manoeuvres working on the 600th post. I might not be out as on Friday night, last night, I was at the football, watching the Hibs play Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena, Livingston’s ground. That stadium, Almondvale as it was originally called, isn’t one of my favourites though the name some wag off Twitter has given it, the Spaghettiad, is quite possibly the best thing ever. A lie in might be the plan for today especially as I might have been pissed off after trudging the mile to the railway station around many, many roundabouts. Livingston is horrible.

I don’t really do tags. In the early days of Walking Talking, I sometimes entered the WordPress photo challenge but I can’t be bothered with that sort of nonsense anymore. I saw one on the Orangutan Librarian blog – not sure what the name is about – and it interested me. It was about good reading habits. I also saw one about reading your country, which was on the Portobello Book blog, so I’m going to break tradition and write a little about them. I just like the ideas so will take them without tags.

My own reading habit is to read when I feel like it and when it is possible to do so. I don’t read every day and I don’t read the same genres all the time. Often I like crime fiction, other times non-fiction, particularly about football or travel. I’m of the school that as long as people are reading, that’s good enough. At the moment I’m re-reading Harry Potter for the umpteenth time. I often read in series but usually the latest instalment as I’ve often binged on them previously. I usually read when I’m travelling and most of what I read is on paper right now. It’s a higher percentage than eBooks at the moment. Given what I do, a lot of what I read comes from the library. It is one of many reasons why I don’t like being given books. I’m not sure if my reading habits are good, bad or indifferent. It’s just what I do.

As for reading my country, I’m very lucky that some of the finest works of literature have come from Scotland. I can’t think of a Scottish book I liked from my childhood but the first one that came to mind that I like to read aloud now is The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee by Michelle Sloan and Kasia Matyjaszek. A book I read in school was probably the poetry of Norman MacCaig, which I still like today. There are loads of examples of historical fiction but it isn’t a genre I read. Quite a few books are set in my favourite areas of Scotland – Glasgow, where I live, and East Lothian, where I’m from – though the Quintin Jardine Skinner crime novels mainly feature Edinburgh and East Lothian but Skinner did work in Glasgow at one point. Peter May’s Lewis trilogy features a part of the country I would love to visit. There are so many Scottish classics and I read a right few of them as a teenager. One I would recommend, and I’ve also seen it at the theatre, is The Cone Gatherers by Robin Jenkins, quite a dark novel set in an Argyll forest during the Second World War. He was quite a versatile author, Robin Jenkins, and I would encourage anyone to delve into his work. A Scottish book I haven’t read but I would like to is Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. I’ve never read it though I know people who are very devout fans of his oeuvre. Finally, my favourite Scottish authors are Nan Shepherd, Kathleen Jamie, Muriel Spark, Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride and quite a few others that I couldn’t begin to adequately list.

Yesterday’s travelling book was a re-read, Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie, an excellent book of essays.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. The March digest follows tomorrow. Have a very nice weekend, whatever you end up doing.

Saturday Saunter: 16th March 2019

Good morning,

I haven’t actually written anything for the blog in a couple of weeks so it’s nice to be able to sit down and write something new now. The luxury of having lots of scheduled posts ready to go. What I like about the Saturday Saunter is usually it is current, written a couple of days before it is published, and it is spontaneous, invariably without a clear plan or focus as I start it. Today’s is no exception.

This Saturday I am off to Easter Road to watch the Hibees play Motherwell. My team has been in the news in recent days and for all the wrong reasons, a pitch invader during last Friday’s game against The Rangers and for a bottle of Buckfast chucked in the direction of a Celtic player when we played the lesser greens in the Scottish Cup the week before. Leeann Dempster, the Chief Executive of Hibs, has released a statement detailing just how the club will deal with unacceptable conduct and I agree with every single word of it. For the first time in a while, in fact since a similarly tumultuous fixture at Tynecastle in October, I sat at Easter Road last Friday and actually thought ‘what am I doing here?’ I felt unsafe and uncomfortable in one of the few places on earth where I feel I belong. The strong words from Leeann Dempster immediately after Friday’s game and again in the statement released on Wednesday have reassured me. The actions of these morons at Easter Road, St. Andrews and the Emirates over the weekend tarnish a game so many of us try to enjoy. Thankfully Hibs are back in action today and hopefully Paul Heckingbottom’s team go and get three points and keep us on the road to a top six finish.

I’ve not read terribly much this weather. I finished an history of grime music last Friday night before the Rangers game and apart from that I’ve been re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on my iPad. Today’s travelling book is Why Are We Always On Last? by Paul Armstrong, a book by the former editor of Match of the Day about the trials and travails of scheduling football matches to try and please a large audience. Randomly my very favourite song, and of course favourite football song, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ is currently playing in the background. The finest song on this planet. I’ll pause as it comes up to the good bit.

Back now. The Paul Armstrong book comes with mixed reports. One of my colleagues had said it wasn’t very good so we’ll see. It’ll come with me to Easter Road anyway.

Ghost sign on Paisley Road West

This is the 587th post on Walking Talking. I publish three posts a week here so the number count just goes higher. I thought it was lower so I maybe should get round to thinking about the 600th post. The 500th was Streets of Glasgow along Paisley Road West and the 400th was in Scots. I loved writing that one. I’m not sure what I will do yet. Any thoughts will be gratefully received.

The above was written on Wednesday night. On Thursday evening I managed to cram in a trip to the Glasgow Women’s Library to see Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, which is on display at the GWL until Monday as part of a national tour. I’m not really a big fan of 16th century Italian art but I was interested by this one, particularly reading the information boards beside it. Anabel Marsh wrote a post about it, if you want to find out more and can’t get down to GWL. There was a pleasant bustle of people at the GWL, which was nice to see. Also beside the Artemisia was a display called Decoding Inequalities, which was insightful in quite a lot of ways, featuring objects and printed material from the GWL’s collections to try and understand inequality in our society.

Anyway, that’s the Saturday Saunter for today. Tomorrow’s post will be another Streets of Glasgow, this time Jamaica Street. On Wednesday will be Loose Ends. Beyond that, who knows? I think I need to get some adventures undertaken. Whatever you end up doing, have a good weekend.

Loose Ends: Leakey’s Bookshop


I hadn’t planned to do anything for Loose Ends while in Inverness but it occurred to me while browsing in Leakey’s Bookshop that it would be just dandy to link from the potteries in Portobello, a book on Leeds pottery catching my eye. I had seen pictures of Leakey’s on Facebook, of all things, and I decided that when I was in Inverness I would pay a visit. Not that I need more books but the fact I had finished my book on the bus up confirmed this particular notion.


Leakey’s is housed in an old church, a Gaelic church, to be exact, built in 1649 and rebuilt in 1792-1793. Inside it featured a main floor with multiple mezzanine levels. I passed a fire burning and crackling away though it was cold the further I got from it. There was a sense of organised chaos with just a semblance of order, labels segregating sections. It wasn’t too cluttered. A fair few people were milling around, mostly younger folk. The Scottish, fiction, history and travel sections were biggest and I had to exercise severe self-restraint not to come out with more than I could carry. I ended up with four books – Cameroon with Egbert by Dervla Murphy, A Traveller’s Life by Eric Newby, Night Falls On Ardnamurchan by Alasdair Maclean and Seeds of Blood and Beauty: Scottish Plant Explorers by Ann Lindsay – and they came away with me back to Glasgow clad in a paper bag. It was a joyous place to while away an hour, realising not for the first time just how much I want to read and how little time I have to do it in.

To the connections and a bookshop, like a library, yields links to practically anything and everything. Some books could take me to familiar places, those in East Lothian linked with witches or just Haddington though not for any occult reasons; I just saw a book about it. One of my book choices was about Ardnamurchan on the west coast though there is absolutely nae chance that I’ll be going there, unfortunately. Dervla Murphy could lead me back to the Glasgow Women’s Library or to Maryhill, a place Anabel Marsh writes about from time to time. Anabel catalogued the GWL’s Dervla Murphy collection. The book about plant explorers could lead to the botanic gardens at Dawyck or Benmore. 1649, the year the Gaelic church opened, could lead back to Dunfermline, the birthplace of Charles I who met his end in that year. I could also go to a church which is now something else, the Mackintosh Centre in Maryhill or the Mansfield Traquair Centre over in Edinburgh. An interesting bookshop, like Category Is Books in Glasgow, might also be an option. This one was amazing and I’m glad I got to be there.

Thanks for reading. Another Loose Ends adventure follows next week.

Saturday Saunter: 2nd March 2019

Good morning,

I had actually written something for this morning but I’m up and I can do this live. As I start this, it is 08:31 on Saturday morning and there is blue sky interspersed with some scattered white clouds. Playing in the background is a special edition of the West Wing Weekly podcast featuring Martin Sheen. What a dude he is. I might change what I’m listening to as I go. We’ll see.

Today I’m off to Edinburgh to see Hibs play the lesser greens but kick-off isn’t until teatime so I’m not sure what time I’m going to head through to the capital. It was extraordinarily mild last weekend and earlier this week but cooler and more February/March-like now. It is forecast to be wet tonight but hopefully it will stay dry enough to have a wander either here in Glasgow, which I haven’t done in ages, or in Edinburgh. Tomorrow I might go for a jaunt around Glasgow or I might have a lie-in and not cross the threshold. The lie-in would be good though I only woke up about 8 this morning, which counts in my book.

My travelling book today is the history of grime music which I took with me to Dundee last weekend and actually managed to start on the way to Perth on Wednesday. It is actually quite interesting, giving an insight into the music and its creators as well as the broader context of its origins in London in the early part of the millennium. After that, I might read some crime fiction.

After this, I’ll do some yoga and weights then start to think about how I will proceed into the day. My regime isn’t that elaborate, taking around an hour, but it works at the moment. My yoga book has three stages and I’m still doing the first stage poses though I tried to do a full bow last night, which is more advanced, and it didn’t go well. There was a lot of swearing, let’s say.

I write something every day with the blog getting some attention every few days depending on what I’m doing. Last night I sat down and wrote the Saunter post I was going to post today (it will be here next week; it’s a tour of Glasgow) and also the February digest, which will appear here tomorrow. I tend to write in bursts and if I’m on a roll, I can go for a while. Then I woke up this morning and decided to write again too. When it’s going well, writing is wonderful, words appearing on the screen, flowing and ebbing like a mountain river. It is an outlet, a great one, and it’s nice to be doing.

Another train has passed my window. I live right by the railway and hundreds of trains pass every day. Yet they don’t really register any more, only picked up when I’m not focusing on anything else. Every few minutes, there is an electric train in a hurry, sounding like a speeded-up car horn with the wheels clattering on the tracks, speeding for the coast or the city. Sometimes I see a train and wish I was on it, maybe bound for Glasgow or a ferry somewhere. Today it’s Central and then to Edinburgh. It’s going to be great.


Central Station gates

Anyway, that’s our Saunter this morning, live and still with Martin Sheen in my ears. Love that man. Tomorrow will be the February digest, Loose Ends will be back on Wednesday. Have a very lovely weekend. Toodle pip.