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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


First Base has just received some money from the Government. The Scottish one.
Well, duh!
We'll certainly be putting out the flags on the day any Westminster money finds its way to the likes of us.

Actually we haven't had the cash yet. Right now it is merely pledged and will only be transferred once I have managed to navigate my way through the twenty or so pages they sent me to scramble my brain. Do governments actively seek out people who can take something very simple and transform it into page after page of incomprehensible legalese? Or do they take regular Joes and put them through a crash course on how to write thousands of words of indecipherable jargon.

We don't tend to get a lot of money from the Government, but every time we manage to strike lucky I always have to pick up the phone to Edinburgh to ask for a paperwork translation. Is this an example of the cap doffing oik failing to comprehend the gilded language of the dreaded Metropolitan Liberal Elite?

Surely not. I was under the impression I signed on the dotted line for a life membership of the Metropolitan Liberal Elite on 23 June when I ticked the 'Remain in the EU' box. On top of that I don't mind immigrants and I despise Donald Trump. I've got  a degree, a Black British wife and I follow Paul Mason on Twitter. Surely all of these things put me squarely in the club so despised by the good folk of Stoke and Cleveland, Ohio. And yet I still cannot begin to understand the twenty pages they sent me from deep inside the Holyrood bubble.

Maybe I'm just thick.


Once I work out what figures need to go where and which signatures need to be slotted onto the right dotted lines, we will be good to go. The brass will be transferred across the ether from Edinburgh to Dumfries.

This of course is merely the final leg on what has been rather an epic journey. It is always worth taking a moment to appreciate the Odyssey these electronic pounds have experienced before landing in our bank account.

I guess it goes something like this. A Scottish individual or business does the right thing and pays up their tax. The money is duly sent along the first leg of its journey as it roars down the superhighway to the treasure troves of Whitehall.

At this point some damned fine chaps from eye wateringly expensive schools get stuck into some serious skimming. You see, it is very important to know that these fine men and women absolutely know best. They are like the most sensible parents in the world. They know that we Scots are far too irresponsible to be allowed to spend all of our money ourselves. Well of course we aren't. Goodness me. The very thought. We would blow it on deep fried Mars bars and heroin.


No, that wouldn't do at all. There are important things which simply cannot be ignored. This is why the damned good chaps from the damned good schools do such a sterling job. You see, they know what's best for us. They are able to see the big picture which we provincial types can't begin to understand.

Whether we like it or not, we have to accept there are some bills which absolutely need paying for the good of the Realm. These are the bills which have a vital 'National Importance' and it is only right and proper we Scots pay our fair share. These are the big, big things which we need just the same as everyone else in our beloved United Kingdom, even though it might not seem that way. Mother knows best.

So a firm hand is needed. Scotland is home to 10% of the population and so it is only right and proper that we foot 10% of the bills for the good of the Realm.

Now be honest. Can you imagine what your life would really be like if all of these bills were not paid. Would it really be worth living? I don't think so.

Cross Rail - £8 billion

Heathrow - £20 billion

Hinkley Point power station - £40 billion

HS2 - £50 billion

Cleaning up Sellafield - £55 billion

Tarting up the Houses of Parliament - £6 billion

Tarting up Buckingham Palace - £3 billion

Trident - £200 billion

Come on now. Admit it. Scotland will benefit mightily from every penny of this £272 billion and so it is only right and proper we stump up our share. And when all is said and done, it's not so much.  It's only £54,000 each. Cheap at half the price when you consider what we get in return. Forget joining a Golf Club or a Gym. This is the greatest club in the world. This is sun drenched Brexit Britain. Haven't you heard, we're about to get our Empire back and then the good times will roll again. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?

Now the good chaps need to take a little more before they are ready to give us our pocket money. You see, being provincial oiks we really cannot be expected to understand the big, complicated things which need good chaps from good schools. Mother knows best when it comes to Foreign Policy and Defence and Security.


And if we are to sleep safe in our beds, we have to pay up our 10% to keep the MOD and the Foreign Office in the style they are accustomed to. And believe you me, we're talking mere peanuts here. Our subscription is a lousy £5 billion a year. Nothing. A lousy £1000 a year each and the value for money we get in return is just fabulous. We get the chance to cosy up to Presidents Trump and Erdogan. We get a completely smashing aircraft-less aircraft carrier, so quake in your boots Vladimir Putin. We got a lovingly written dossier proving beyond all reasonable doubt Saddam Hussein had lots and lots of wicked weapons of mass destruction.

Now isn't that better that being allowed to spend all of our money on deep fried Mars bars and heroin? Of course it is. This is why we need to know our place.

Now it is time for the damned good chaps from the damned good schools to take the really serious money. As in more than half of it. Because of course we Scots are completely incapable of working out how to pay benefits and pensions. Well, come on. Would you leave your pet dog in charge of paying the gas bill? Well, would you?

We need to be honest with ourselves here. If mother gave us this kind of responsibility we would fritter all the money away in a blink of an eye. We would get all silly about it and dole out the cash to every shirker in the land. People who were ten minutes late at the Job Centre would still get their dole. People with cancer would be signed off sick. I mean, come on. No.

We need mother to take the tough decisions. It is good for us. We need every bit of tough love mother is willing to give us and we should thank our lucky stars she is willing to give it.

Now it's time for some nice and very round figures. Every year we send £150 billion down that well worn superhighway to Whitehall and they send us about £50 billion back. What's not to like about that? Only the most rabid of ScotNat nutters could have a moan at this kind of generosity. Tough love never comes cheap and we need to remember just how loved we are.


So. After it's trip up and down the superhighway, £3350 is wending its way towards First Base. Part of the cash has enabled us to launch our new 'Meal of the Week' initiative. The idea is to give our food parcel clients the ingredients thy need to have a bash at cooking up some hearty, healthy fare. We are doing the Delia Smith thing and providing what are supposed to be hyper simple recipes for guys who don't do much in the way of cooking.
Here's our first effort.


Three big meals for a fiver.

You'll need - 3 pans, one tin corned beef, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, I passata, chopped onions, veg mix, spaghetti, one baking potato.

1.      Stick a decent sized pan on the hob and pour some oil.

2.      Put the onions in and fry them until they start to turn brown.

3.      Chop the corned beef into cubes and add them to the onions once they are ready.

4.      Add the tinned tomatoes, passata and pasta sauce.

5.      Stir it all up and let it simmer.

6.      Put a big pan on the hob, boil a kettle of water and get it simmering. Add some salt and a few drops of oil. Once it is seriously boiling, add the spaghetti and stir so it doesn’t stick together. Boil for 20 minutes.

7.      Put another pan on the hob, boil a half kettle of water and get it boiling in the pan. Add the vegetable soup mix and boil until all the chunks are soft.

8.      Take a third of the corned beef mix and add it to the boiling veg soup mix. Stir it, add some salt, switch it off, let it cool and bung it in the fridge.

9.      Take a third of the corned beef mix and put it on one side to cool. When it’s cold, stick it in the fridge.


1.      Spag Bol – Drain the pasta, put it on a plate, stick the corned beef on top and you’re good to go.

2.      Jacket Potato and corned beef sauce. Prick the spud with a sharp knife, stick it in the oven on a high heat – say 200 - and take it out when it is done enough to suit you. Once it’s ready, put it on a plate and open it up. Microwave the corned beef mix you made earlier and pour it on top of the spud.

3.      Corned beef soup. – Take it out of the fridge, heat it up and eat it with some bread.

All of these ingredients cost about a fiver which means you have three pretty serious meals for £1.70 each.
Please let us know how you get on.

So far so good. Just over half our clients are giving it a go and one of them - Drew - has come up with the recipe for next week. Here it is in all its glory.



If you hate this, then don’t blame us.

Blame Drew!

No doubt you’ll know where to find him. So no pressure Drew!

You’ll need – 1 frying pan, one flat oven dish, bacon, 1 tin beans, 2 packets of crisps, grated cheese, 2 tomatoes

1.      Put some oil in a pan and add the pieces of bacon.

2.      Fry them until they are crispy and then put them to one side.

3.      Heat up the tin of beans.

4.      Get some kind of flat oven dish and pour in half the beans and then put half of the fried bacon pieces on top.

5.      Empty one of the packets of crisps, scrunch them up and sprinkle them onto top of the beans and bacon.

6.      Pour on the other half of the beans, put the rest of the bacon on top and add the second packet of scrunched up crisps.

7.      Spread out the grated cheese over the top.

8.      Slice up the two tomatoes and put them on top of the cheese.

9.      Put the dish into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees and keep it in there until the cheese melts.

10. Eat it and then you have two options –

A)       You tell Drew he’s a top man.

B)       You give him a tonne of grief

Over to you.

So here's the thing. As ever we could use a bit of help. If anyone out there has an idea for an ultra simple, ultra cheap recipe please e mail it in to me at We aim for it to cost between £1.50 and £2.50. For any of you living in and around Dumfries, I am pretty sure lots of the guys will not have pans, oven dishes etc, so any donations of any such items you might have spare would be really welcome.

I guess this blog has been quite a journey in its own right, all the way from Whitehall's money super highway to Drew's bacon and crisp supreme!

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