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, July 5, 2018


International sport makes for really interesting litmus paper for any immigrant. So who are you going to support? The team from your new place or the team for you old place. And at times there can be all kinds of contradictions.

My brother in law Alan is sports daft to his toenails. To his eternal shame, is greatest sporting allegiance will always be to Manchester United. He was sucked over to the dark side as a young boy and I fear he will never escape from the demonic grip of football's very own version of Mordor.

When England take the field to play Sweden on Saturday, he will be well ensconced in a Lancaster pub, pint in hand, and ready and raring to roar on the Three Lions. 

But here's the thing. When the same three lions take to the field wearing cricket whites tom play the West Indies, Alan's Caribbean roots completely take over. He simply couldn't comprehend the idea of supporting England when they play the West Indies at cricket.

Over my twenty five year journey to Scottishness, I have dipped the litmus paper a few times. Like Alan, club football trumps any other allegiance. In my case it is Liverpool Football Club where I have been lucky enough to have been a season ticket holder since 1973. Unlike Alan, I am with the good guys. Let's just say we have a few pretty heated conversations, but it has never come to blows. Thankfully! Nobody in their right mind would want to come to blows with my brother in law Alan.

And now? Well the litmus paper tells me I have gone more or less 100% native. When England play Scotland at anything, I am instinctively in the blue corner. I cheered when Scotland beat England at cricket and rugby over the last few months. And I was completely and utterly gutted when Harry Kane got his injury time equaliser up at Hampden.

So do I still support England at anything? Well occasionally, yes. Absolutely in the Ashes. Reasonably whole heartedly if the All Blacks are the opposition on the rugby field.

Other than that? Not so much.

This World Cup? I am mainly indifferent. That said, I like the England team and their manager and I am made up by the fact that a third of the squad is made up of mixed race lads like my two sons. There are two Liverpool lads in the squad, so obviously I want things to go well for them. But I feel exactly the same for Bobby Firmino and Brazil, Degan Lovren and Croatia, Sadio Mane and Senegal and Mo Salah and Egypt.

When I sat down to watch England take on Colombia, I was pretty much indifferent. I couldn't help but warm to the in your face skulduggery of the South Americans and their fans were brilliant, especially when compared to the English fans who seemed to be mainly angry bald men running through a playlist of songs extolling the virtues of Brexit.

At least it made a change from the IRA.

When Harry Kane buried his penalty, I felt no urge to punch the air. I wasn't up or down. Merely indifferent.

Then came the penalty shoot out once again I wasn't remotely bothered either way.

And then our Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson took the long walk and I was suddenly invested. For Christ's sake Jordan, don't miss...

He missed.


And now I had skin the game. If England lost, the tabloids would lay into him like a bunch of rabid hyenas which would very possibly screw him for next season.

Well Colombia missed two and England scored two and all of a sudden a surprisingly open road to the final opened up for the Three Lions and their bald, Brexit loving acolytes. 

So how do I feel now? Well now my Indy instincts have kicked in and I hope they go all the way. Just think about it. Imagine the sight of every right wing bald man in every white English van flying the Cross of St George whilst at the same time flicking V signs at Pakistani pedestrians. How long will it be before someone decides the time is right to fly Spitfires over London.

Raging English nationalism is never a good look. On these islands of ours, the Celts know how to turn national fervour into something the rest of the world likes to buy into. Our flags and songs are tailor made for it. 'Flower of Scotland', 'Land of my fathers', 'The fields of Athenry'. All good stuff. 

'God save our gracious Queen', 'Land of hope and glory...'. Yeah. Not so much so, right?

Think about all those hard to get Better Together Unionists. Moral and economic arguments are never going to tip them over the line. Fairness arguments are never going to tip them over the line. Never ending Tory arrogance and nastiness in London never seems to nudge them any nearer to crossing the line.

But the sight of all those white vans and all those red and white flags hanging from the windows...

Well I reckon it might just do it. And just imagine if by some miracle England actually won the thing. Imagine how utterly insufferable they would be. The Spitfires and cheering Tories who have never been to a football match in their lives.

Oh yeah....

That would do it. I reckon support for an Independent Scotland would go over 60% in the weeks and months following and English World Cup triumph.

So this particular immigrant would very much like to see his old country manage the seemingly impossible for a very simple reason - this particular immigrant would like a passport bearing the name of his new place.

En - ger - land!  En - ger - land! ENG - ER - LAND!

But when it comes to flicking V signs at Pakistani pedestrians …. well I think I will have to draw a line at that one. 


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