THE war against the car continues. I expect that where you stand on this issue depends on your own transport choices. When I was a full-time pedestrian, I wanted all cars banned. Now that I’m a motorist, I want all pedestrians banned.

Only joking. Pedestrians, no (after all, we’re all pedestrians). Cyclists, yes (preferred mode of transport for the white bourgeoisie).

But I can see where folk are coming from on cars. They’re a pain in the neck. My literary heroes, JRR Tolkien and Kenneth Grahame, disliked them intensely for their effect on the countryside. I feel this too. You can hardly find anywhere now that hasn’t got a road and its racket nearby.

However, the thing about cars is that they get you around the countryside briskly and with no attrition of the shoe leather.

In Edinburgh, only a nutter takes his or her car into the city centre now, or parks there at least; it’s so costly. London has all sort of restrictions, including a surcharge on furry dice.

This week, Professor David Begg called for drivers who switch their commute from car to public transport to be given a £400 a year bonus from the proposed workplace parking levy. Before slagging him off, I should fess up that Prof Begg is a very good friend of mine, and I can vouch for his credentials as a transport expert.

He used to be part of a small group of us that went to Hibs away games together and, whenever we stood at the platform waiting for a train home, he’d pick the exact spot for the carriage door to appear right in front of us, allowing us ingress ahead of the mob. It was uncanny. In the past, he’d have been burned as a witch. And rightly so.

However, despite someone misleading you a couple of paragraphs back, I’m not going to slag off his plans to give drivers free money. Four hundred notes sounds like lovely jubbly and would surely appeal to many.

Motoring organisations said it wouldn’t work because folk love their cars so much but, I mean, £400! With £400 in your pocket, you could afford to get a taxi in. I’d leap at the chance, but I’ve just remembered I work from home.

Some idiot mentioned taxis there and, in other news this week, Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi predicted that owning cars would soon be for the “elite”. Ooh, I’d like that. I’ve never been part of any elite before, if you don’t count knobbly knees contests.

I’ve never got the Uber thing and so, unusually, have no idea what I’m talking about here, but Mr Khosrowshahi kept banging on about his app, and my experience of these is that they’re just the same as websites except they don’t work properly.

Who knows? At any rate, I haven’t been in any kind of taxi since the Boer War, though I used to use them all the time. Uber are a fine one to talk about elites, anyway, since they also revealed this week details about a forthcoming airborne taxi service.

The “taxis for higher”, as one newspaper called them, would be cheaper than taking a helicopter, the company said. Well, thank goodness for that. My helicopter bill recently has been shocking.

Mind you, the cost of running a car is terrible too, particularly when it’s as old and ailing as mine. After my mortgage and my Greggs bill, the car is my biggest expense. You’ll find this hard to believe,, particularly looking at the picture of a fit young man in the prime of his life (posed by a model) that accompanies this printed lecture, but I qualified for a free bus pass a couple of years ago and have never been down to collect it. Well, you have to get your photie took and everything.

I don’t like buses because they have other people in them, and that usually means trouble. But maybe it’s the way to go, so to say: public transport and, at best, shared cars. I can’t even remember why everyone got such a downer on cars. As usual, I’ll bet it’s something to do with the stupid planet.


THE BBC never gets anything right nowadays. It’s what happens when you pay people too much. They start acting daft.

In a week when they made the cruel decision to take away free TV licences for the over-75s, it was also revealed that they’re taking The Beechgrove Garden from its traditional BBC2 slot and putting it on the new BBC Scotland channel, which nobody watches.

I’ve haven’t seen the channel myself but, then, I disapprove of television generally. Such a lot of nonsense. To make matters worse for Beechgrove lovers, the Beeb plans to remove the show for two months in summer, at the peak of the gardening season.

The decision has led to rioting in several rural areas, and an online petition has received thousands of signatures. Although I haven’t seen Beechgrove for years, I back these protests.

Beechgrove has become a part of Scottish culture, as much as kilts, haggis, and voting for another country to run your affairs. It might seem like mulch ado about nothing to some, but the seeds of rebellion have been sown and, as for the BBC, surely it’s time for pruning at the top or, as I believe gardeners call it, some head deading.


NOBODY expected Change UK to change anything but at last they have. Their name. Again.

Originally known as The Independent Group (or TIG), they changed it to Change UK but now, after a legal threat from petition site, they’ve had to change it again, to The Independent Group for Change. How dull. They might at least have gone for The Independent Group for Electoral Reform and got a decent acronym, though hardly one suitable for such saps.

Mind you, the only electoral reform sought by the breakaway anti-Brexit group was to change the result of a democratic vote. It’s also had to change its logo, which was rejected by the authorities partly for its inclusion of a hashtag. Yep, they even made a hash of that.

I suppose it must be difficult choosing a name for a political party. You notice that, internationally, parties with “Democratic” in their title are often anything but. Here in Scotland, meanwhile, The Labour Party has no working class support, the Liberals are authoritarian bullies, and the Scottish National Party eschews nationalism.

At least the Tories make some sense as the Conservative and Unionist Party, though most people in Scotland have other names for them.


EVERYTHING in Scotland is right old. I’m always amazed at tourist bumph that describes a place as “historic” or, worse still, “uniquely historic”.

This news just in: everything is historic. Indeed, every place on the planet Earth is equally historic. But at least when it comes to person-made buildings, some are more historic than others.

Take crannogs. Yes, madam, you heard right: crannogs. Crannogs were fortified structures set in lochs as artificial islands. They were thought to have been built in the Iron Age but now researchers working in the Outer Hebrides have found that they go much further back than that and are even older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of yonder Egypt.

It’s a thought, isn’t it? One wonders why they built hooses on lochs. Maybe it was so you could dook your feet without going back and forward to a well.

One wonders too who these people were and if they were like us, only with worse halitosis. What were their claes like? Had they invented troosers? Or did they wear kilts and tammies like we all do? Picture a fine figure, standing by the lochside in his kilt, feeling a stiff breeze swirling round his crannogs.

Read more: Why it will take me until 2049 to do anything about climate change