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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    2000 Miles

    Last Thursday saw the passing of the 2000 mile mark since I started cycling to work in April. It would have been good to have been out on a nice ride but the event passed quietly somewhere along the North Edinburgh Cycle Path on the way to the office.

    Instead, I clocked up a few extra miles on Saturday morning, having dragged Maddie and Alice reluctantly out of the house on the promise of breakfast at McDonald’s. We headed off along my usual work route, Maddie on the tag-along and Alice on her own bike, stopping at McDonald’s in Corstorphine. From there we headed out to South Gyle and up to Cammo Estate near Barnton where we locked up the bikes and went for a walk around.

    The grounds of Cammo House were laid out in the early 1700’s and there are some lovely trees (including Edinburgh’s oldest Ash Tree). Everywhere you go there are interesting features like the former horse stables, walled gardens and a water tower/folly. The girls had a lovely afternoon in the sunshine; Maddie now knows where conkers and acorns come from.

    Creative Commons License photo credit: kyzCammo Tower

    Back on the bikes, we headed over to The Cramond Brig then down the River Almond into Cramond village for a drinks stop at The Cramond Inn where, incidentally, a pint is still under £2! We then followed the promenade to Granton, onto the Trinity Path and back to Leith along The Water of Leith walkway.

    A nice ride, almost exactly 20 miles, nearly all of which was off road. If you want to try it yourself, you can see the detail here.

    TV stars

    Alice and I have been on TV daily since 17th January, starring in the Northlink Ferries ad which was made back in August. You did spot us, didn’t you? Yes, that’s me crossing the background in the reception scene (50 milliseconds) and Alice in the bunk in the cabin scene (0.5 seconds).

    I mention this just in case you missed us because tomorrow is your last chance. The final ad’s appear as follows:

    ITV Scottish – ITV News – 18:58
    ITV Scottish – Coronation Street – 20:45

    I’m sure I’ll get a singing part next time.

    UPDATE: OK, so the schedule they sent me wasn’t complete. The ad is still running, in fact I saw it about 5 times yesterday. I hope we don’t get overexposed, we could get typecast.

    By appointment

    I know it’s a bit late now, but I must mention the official opening of the brand spanking new and very, very expensive Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood which took place a few Saturdays ago.

    Alice had been badgering me all week to take her to see the queen and I have to admit that I wasn’t over enthusiastic to say the least. The few times that I’ve seen the queen in my life have been on major occassions like Charlie & Di’s wedding and it’s no fun, is it? I can remember standing crushed against a barrier for hours, only to see the entire royal family flash past in a matter of seconds. I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience with a six year old on a freezing Scottish Saturday afternoon.

    However, come two o’clock when she asked again for the twentieth time, guilt got the better of me and I gave in. We got dropped off at Abbeyhill and made our way down towards Holyrood, pushing through the, er, almost totally absent crowd. I knew we hadn’t got the wrong day because we’d seen the queen on TV just minutes before we left the house, so where were the hoardes of royal watchers? We strolled right up to the main entrance and positioned ourselves on a concrete block about 6 feet from the barrier. I was convinced we must have missed her, the Royal Palace being a mere 100 metres from where we stood. She was probably back in her sitting room laughing at us from the window.

    But no. A sudden burst of activity as police lined the barrier and the crowd doubled in size, swollen by the mass of plain clothes security people: you could easily spot the little plastic curly wire running from the collar to the ear. And there she was, right in front of us about 8 feet away, dressed in shocking pink and royal waving as she strolled slowly past. Needless to say, Alice was ecstatic. I took a couple of quick snaps with the camera phone, no mean feat with a six year old perched on your shoulders while teetering on the edge of a three-foot drop into an icy pond. Unfortunately, the camera phone being a crappy little device, you’ll need to play spot the queenie. At least you can’t see how much makeup she had on. Absolutely plastered in the stuff.

    It’s a wrap

    It was actually a little embarrassing arriving at security and announcing “our daughter’s here to make a TV ad“. I said it a bit apologetically I suppose, not because I’m not proud of her of course, but for fear of being judged. And we’re not pushy parents, really we’re not. Plus we’d kept her off school on her first day back and I was half expecting that lunatic Blunkett to send a SWAT team after us.

    Suitably tagged with our electronic passes, we boarded the ferry and were shown to the club class lounge which had been reserved for the production crew. We were then introduced to the Director, Andy, who took the trouble to shake all our hands, and then to the other actors who would be Alice’s parents for the day. Her mother was beautiful, tall, dark haired and tanned, just like her real mother, obviously. Well, except for the dark hair. Her father was the spitting-image of Daniel Day Lewis. I started to feel inferior.

    Next we met Kris, make up lady to the stars (Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Busted, East Enders, Emmerdale…..), who sat Alice down and did her thing. I discovered that she came from Luton too so we chatted about parents, districts, schools and EasyJet, as you do.

    Just then, Shona the producer dashed in. “Tony, do you want a part since you’re here? We need a shadow for the background in the scene we’re shooting in the bar“. “Yeah, why not” I replied. “Count me in“. Just replace me as a father with a bloody sex-symbol model and use me as a shadow. That’s cool. I signed a release form (yes, you even have to give them the rights to use your shadow) and off I went to join the action in the aft saloon bar. No make up needed of course.

    I don’t think I ever realised just how tedious it is being a film extra.

    Director: “Very good everybody, can we just do that once again. Shadow, I’ll shout ‘One and Action’, you move on ‘One’ this time. Lachlan, you’re on your honeymoon, look into her eyes, the atmosphere is charged with sexual tension“.

    Lachlan: “But this seat’s too low, I’m looking up at her“.

    Director: “Christ, get Lachlan a cushion somebody“.

    Over and over. Must have been ten takes. I have to hand it to him, keeping the sexual tension going that long.

    Next scene was in the ferry cabins where Alice had to play the big sister to wee Jake. This part of the shoot was nothing short of a miracle. I mean, have you seen the size of those ferry cabins? They had to accommodate a fully grown actress, two child stars, 2 lights, a super 16mm camera on a giant tripod, a focus puller, the grip and the clapper loader. Oh, and a teddy bear. Whatever happened to “never work with children and animals“. Especially when trying to film in a cupboard. But, they did it, in only five takes.

    Later, Danielle (of Leith TV and Leith FM) arrived and was introduced to Ben, her boyfriend for the afternoon. They had to shoot a scene in a lift first. I sang “Love in an elevator, Lovin’ it up when I’m goin’ down” but I don’t think Danielle had ever heard of Aerosmith. From there they moved into the cinema for a scene but it was filmed behind closed doors. Guess we’ll have to wait to see the ad for that bit.

    Before we knew it, a quarter to five had arrived, so we grabbed our things, said our goodbyes and jumped ship just before it left for The Shetlands. As we wandered down the walkway from the ship, Alice suddenly stopped. “Dad, Dad! We didn’t get the money!” I explained to her what an invoice is.

    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.

    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.