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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    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.

    Fasten your safety belts

    Why have I called this blog “No, Luton Airport”?

    Most of you will be too young to remember, but there was once (1976 actually) an ad on TV starring(?!) Lorraine Chase for Campari. When asked by an upper-crust smoothie “Were you truly wafted here from paradise?“, she replied (in her best Estuary accent) “No, Luton Airport“.  Since that ad was on TV, I’ve probably had the phrase “No, Luton Airport” repeated back to me more times than it was screened.  As soon as I let on that I originate from Luton, such is it’s place on this planet, that expression is the first thing people think to say.

    Campari Luton Airport

    Incidentally, the ad was written by the late Vernon Howe, architect of the “Heineken refreshes the part other beers cannot reach” campaign, amongst others. It probably wasn’t a bad campaign, I seem to remember that Campari sales improved drastically at the time. It just didn’t do much for Luton. And who will ever forget The Cats subsequent smash hit featuring that line. What, you don’t remember it? Let me remind you.

    Anyway, I escaped about 16 years ago and ran away to Scotland, where I now have a nice family and a crumbling house in Leith within crawling distance of the infamous Port O’Leith Bar.