About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 28) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999


Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    This coming week sees the culmination of another huge drain on my time, once again for no financial recompense. Leith FM and Leith Festival. I really hestitate to add up the time these two ventures take up, and why? They are both thankless tasks without appreciation for the efforts given. The results are taken for granted, errors criticised, peformance questioned. The focus is always on what hasn’t been achieved rather than what has. And, the reality is, I don’t really have any free time to give to either venture, I have to steal it from other tasks which are much more important from a family perspective. It is a constant cause of friction between Louise and I.

    In the last two months I have burnt the midnight oil on the Leith Festival programme (several all-nighters), organised the Leith FM finances and licences for the current broadcast and worked on the websites for both ventures. All in the name of ‘community’. I’ve thought long and hard about why I do this and I just can’t come up with an answer. It’s certainly not for attention or recognition (most people wouldn’t even know what I do), it’s most certainly not for financial gain (more like drain) so it must just be for the feel good factor of doing something for the community in which I live. The more I think about it, the more bizarre it is. I must have inherited it from my mother, she’s very similar.

    Sayonara

    On Friday Louise and I got a rare night out, sans enfants, courtesy of my ex and Holly & William’s mother, Clare, who kindly invited Alice to stay at her house for the night.

    We went for a meal at The Smokestack (Leith branch) with Frank’n’Steph. I had the burger with spicy red onion, jacket potato with garlic butter and roquefort side salad. Good, basic food cooked perfectly and the no-smoking area is a separate room so it really is smoke free. Unfortunately, the meal was followed by an early night as Frank and I were both falling asleep at the table. The night before, we’d done our duty as Leith ambassadors and shown Japanese friend Mee the delights of The Port O’Leith Bar, followed by the free buffet in the local casino.

    Mee left for Tokyo this morning after a tearful goodbye from Alice. She gave Alice and I messages which she’d painted (mine pictured) – if anyone can translate it I’d love to know. I think she said it was about trying to be as kind and generous as me, although I can’t think how she got that impression. She did teach me a few words of Japanese: I can now ask for two beers in eight languages.

    Sayonara Misuzu.

    Rising star

    Much excitement in the household tonight as our youngest, Alice (age 6) prepares for her big day tomorrow. She’s bunking off school (the first day back too) and making her TV debut in an ad for a ferry company in Aberdeen.

    Some of you may have read about her more regular method of making money. As this latest venture pays the equivalent of about 1500 swearwords, I think she’ll be making a permanent career change.

    Her first scene is in the ferry bar at 10.00am as part of “couple A/family”. We need to arrive a bit early so she can familiarise herself with her new parents and brother. I just hope she doesn’t keep trying to extort money every time she hears a swearword.

    It’s also my wife Louise’s 40th birthday tomorrow, so all in all a very busy day in store. Must dash, I want to pop out for a late drink and a bit of Slaterwatch: Christian Slater is appearing in a play in Edinburgh and living in Leith for the duration. I know Louise and the kids would love his autograph. Well, Louise definitely would. I might even buy him a Campari.

    Tide of change?

    The most expensive bathroom shop in Leith has gone bust.  You know the one, by the Scottish Office with that teak bath in the window.  And the kitchen shop just along the block. David James.

    Fascinating to see that even liquidation sales have now gone high-tech.  You can tender for the whole lot online at www.sweeney-kincaid.com.  They’ve photographed every item, stuck a lot number on it and plonked it on the web, e-bay style.  I’m going to bid for the 16.5″ waterproof LCD bathroom TV (with heated screen).  Oh, and a bath, we don’t have one in our house yet (but not the teak one – we’ve got woodworm).

    I wonder why they went out of business?  If you think about it, there are very few successful ‘up-market’ shops in Leith.  I reckon that property prices are so high you have no choice but to live with the shite bathroom and kitchen the developer puts in.  Perhaps Harvey Nicks did the right thing when they shunned Ocean Terminal.

    We had lunch in the ‘eat yourself stupid for a fiver’ Chinese just along the road in Commercial Street.  Alice and I were the only ones in there.  The owner sat glumly in the window with his chin in his hands while the tons of uneaten buffet baked under the lamps.  Do I sense another Leith business going down the pan?

    …and later…

    to the local pub, The Port O’Leith Bar, where a lovely 22 year old Polish girl came in and asked for a job.  Mary, the landlady, took her phone number and CV then, after she’d left, she took down a couple of those picture frames full of foreign bank notes (regulars will know what I mean) and proceeded to remove some of the strange notes.  I reckon they were the Polish Zlotych notes to pay her for her first shift.  She doesn’t miss a trick, our Mary.

    Extortion or education?

    I just took my six year old daughter, Alice, to bank her cash. Last week she bought herself a set of roller blades for £24.99.

    She occasionally chums me to the local bars, namely the Compass, the Malt & Hops, Bar Java and the Port O’Leith, where she now announces herself as ‘Alice the walking swearbox’. Strangers beware. This child knows what she is doing. Behind that cute smile is a ruthless business kid. You’re allowed one swear word for 10p, 3 for 50p or 5 for a pound. Payment in advance ‘on account’ is encouraged.

    This week she bumped into Donnacha, our local Dubliner, who can regularly be seen wandering around Leith with a Thai girl on each arm. Within 15 seconds she gave him her usual smile and demanded her money for the offending expletive. “Fook off you little turd, oi’m Oirish, oi fookin’ swear, roit. If oi start payin’ you you’ll fookin’ bankrupt me!”.

    Unpeturbed, she smiled sweetly and roller bladed down the bar to hang around the most unsavoury looking bunch – more likely to swear, you see.

    You have to learn to take the knocks in Leith.