I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Dear Alex

Well there’s no point in pretending. I was one of those who gave you a tonne of grief after the first debate. And I don’t regret that. Well. Maybe a little bit. Anyway. Having had a rant about how you let the grassroots down by resorting to petty party political squabbling, it is only fair to give you a major thumbs up for your efforts last night.

I cannot begin to imagine the kind of pressure you must have been under when you stepped out onto into that Glasgow goldfish bowl. Serious, gut churning pressure. The five footer for the British Open. The first serve at ten games all in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final. A penalty in a shoot out for the Champions League. Like they say on the other side of the pond, it was the bottom of the ninth.....

Years and years and years of hard work and slog to arrive at a very particular moment in time when everything is suddenly on your shoulders and nobody else’s. And when you arrive at such a moment of truth, it must be horribly apparent that there will be nobody in the world to blame if you screw up.

A lifetime’s work can go flying out of the window in the blink of an eye as the putt lips out or the serve goes long or the weakly hit penalty nestles into the goal keeper’s chest.

One minute you stand on the very cusp of greatness.

The next minute you are yesterday’s man. An occasionally played insert in the archive footage building up to the main event.

Christ, you must have been sick with yourself after the first debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the first time in your whole career that you have ever failed on that particular stage. All those times before when it hadn’t mattered all that much, you had always taken the day with ease. But when it really counted, you lost the winning touch. The Mojo went west.

And once you’ve missed one of those five footers….

And once you’ve double faulted on match point….

Once you’ve mishit a penalty…..

Oh yeah. It’s bloody hard to get back on the horse and step back up to the plate. Not Surprisingly, Churchill came up with a masterful quote which kind of sums it up.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”  

Too right it is.

I guess you must have spent quite a while in front of the mirror yesterday taking a long hard look at yourself. The point of no return. The moment of now or never. Cometh the hour and all that.

Christ, you must have been nervous! Bloody terrified. But you managed not to let it show and for that you have my complete respect. Taking Alistair Darling to the cleaners was no more than you should have expected of yourself. But it still had to be done and you did it.

And if you hadn’t? Well that wouldn’t have born thinking about.

It seems that the media is frantically trying to tell us that even though you won, it still wasn’t the kind of game changer that was really needed.

Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? They’ll spin the thing for Better Together no matter what happens. If David Cameron were to call in an air strike on the Holyrood Parliament, the Daily Mail would still claim it is absolute proof of the PM’s unbridled love for the Jocks. You only bomb the ones you love and all that.

The ground level reality is a million miles from the propaganda of the press. I did a meeting in Portpatrick last week and all the guys who were out and about knocking doors were completely buzzing. They told me how everything has changed over the last couple of weeks. Those on the doorstep who a month ago said the dinner was on the table now want to stand and chat. And everyone is saying it’s going to be 'Yes'. And not just plain old 'Yes'. It’s 'Hell Yes'! 'Bring it on Yes'! 'Kick their sorry London arses Yes!!!'

The tectonic plates are shifting. The sound of a subterranean grinding is making its way up from the centre of the earth. Louder and louder and louder. This must be what a rebellion feels like. Growing from distant voices on the edge of town to a vast sprawling mob crashing through the doors of the palace.

They all will keep on pretending that ‘No’ is still going to win of course. Remember that PR guy working for Saddam Hussein when he gave a press conference saying the Americans had been stopped in their tracks whilst an Abrams tank appeared in the street outside the window behind him?

I think that is how it is now. Every day the momentum is getting ever greater. The grass roots didn’t need you to be Mandela last night, Alex. We just needed you to recover your nerve and put him away.

And you did.

You stepped right up the plate and it must have been a hard thing to do.

And you did it.

So hats off.


Now it’s on the rest of us to get out there and win this bloody thing.

Oh and by the way. If you are reading this from anywhere in the South West of Scotland, then try and make it along on Friday night to listen to Tommy Sheridan do his stuff in Moniave. One day you will really enjoy telling your grandchildren all about it. Telling them all about those heady days in the summer of 2014 when Scotland cut the cords and stepped out into the world.

One day you’re going to want to say those most treasured words of the old when talking to the young about mighty times gone by.

You’re going to want to say ‘I was there.’

So be there.

The Memorial Institute.



No comments:

Post a Comment