Get to FIFA!

I am struggling to believe FIFA’s decision in attempting to still play the Russia World Cup games against Poland etc. Albeit on neutral territory and all that. But to try and get the game played at all in this critical moment in civilization’s history. To fail to make the proper stance. I am incredulous. Thankfully Poland etc have decided themselves not to play and rightly called the FIFA decision ‘disgraceful’.

I heard David Moyes, the West Ham manager, say that football has such power to make itself heard or something along those lines on the radio yesterday. No David. Your governing body has just acted with a pitiful lack of backbone.

Mind you, I do recall that you were the man who decided to put your cat-kicking striker in the team two days after he had been exposed for his dreadful act. Indeed you started an interview about it by saying that you were an animal lover? An animal lover sans a thing called a brain. (David old boy ‘sans’ is the French word for ‘without’ , marvellously utilized in a speech in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ about the infirmities of old age. And Shakespeare is an English writer)

For the love of Christ David and FIFA get your act together. Somethings in life are serious. And football is not. Even though it’s potentially all you know or indeed think about.

That’s my wee rant over. But really.

On another note, I didn’t overly ingratiate myself with Peter Dawson, the ex-captain of the R&A, in Marks and Spencer the other night. He was in an aisle with me and walked past two items that had fallen on the floor, ignoring them. I picked them up and put them back on the shelf, commenting ‘ok I’ll pick them up then’. Rather taken back he said ‘oh did I knock them over’ and I rather tartly and quickly replied ‘no, but you could have picked them up’

Not massively furthering my R&A hopes on this occasion.

Americans and their Superbowl thing

Ok I’ll admit that I don’t understand American Football like I reckon most Americans won’t understand cricket. But the day of the Superbowl Final seems a bit like Thanksgiving to me when the nation goes a bit stir-crazy about nothing very much. I mean once you take away Tom Brady and the hype and the beers and the popcorn and the cheerleaders, it’s probably got about as much actual interest for the average Joe America as the Queens Speech has for us over here.

I suppose there must be something deep in the American psyche about getting a kick out of seeing a ball flying a long way through the air. Because as far as I can see that is what this game is all about. Ok some bloke has to throw and another to catch it without being annihilated by helmeted and shoulder-bolstered bruisers but in essence it’s all about that ball flying high and far, while all the other team members appear to beat the hell out of each other.

On that note, I see that Tom Kitchin is now trying desperately to defend himself over the accusations of bullying in his restaurant. Indeed he says that some of his old chefs have been phoning up in his defence. Well all I can say is that these chefs probably weren’t in his employ when Tom and his wife were appropriating to themselves the lion’s share of the tips. It was a bit like the Montpelier Group clowns when they tried to include the tips in making up the minimum wage payment to their hard working staff. Honestly, as if these guys didn’t all make enough filthy lucre. Yuk.

Ok I have now heard first-hand from an ex-employee that he didn’t see Mr Kitchin being physically abusive, but mentally yes. And that’s possibly worse. Moreover, it’s a bit like slave labour in his restaurants by all accounts, cleverly offering salaried 60 to 70 hour, 5 day weeks but with little (if any!) breaks and a culture of ‘making or breaking you’. That’s not at all healthy and it won’t make you wealthy either, because at the end of the day you don’t end up getting much more than the minimum wage per hour by all accounts (tips included, even all deserved ones!). However some poor souls are sticking with it. Although there has been a recent exodus and I believe they are struggling to retain new staff. Well good.

To this end I have great respect for the team at Dean Banks who admirably dealt with a situation I was having at work in his Edinburgh Pompadour restaurant. Dean told me that he didn’t want that sort of thing happening in his kitchen and wanted to uphold a positive and enjoyable working environment. Well done Dean.

I served my old boss David Ross last week. He got rather a shock though when I said ‘Hi David’ as I presented his hand-dived Orkney scallop. He was indeed rather lost for words.

His is an interesting story though. His dad got him the job at Ivory and Sime back in 1968 when he was a green 16 year old. He believed he was going to work in a garage, so got rather a surprise when he pitched up at One Charlotte Square to find himself as the office boy at an up and coming Edinburgh finance house. After eighteen years though he had become MD. Ivory’s floated and he made a packet with his accrued shares and then a few years later set up Aberforth and Partners and made a further packet. Who needs a Masters in Finance from St Andrews!

Not that I’ve got one of them to be honest. Just my Desmond in economics.

on the benefits of walking

I’m a walker and always have been. Well since I was able to walk of course. But I’ve got Walker blood too. Dad’s mother was a Walker and Uncle Jimmie walked his way over the Braid Hills every day and lived till he was a hundred and three. Walking is obviously good for you too.

And I’m a great fan of it. I walk all over Edinburgh when I hop down there for the day. Edinburgh is such a walkable city. Take the other morning. I left the West End at about 9, got to the infamous butchers Wm Christie in Bruntsfield at 9.30 ish, had a chin-wag and shot the considerable breeze with Angus and Bob for half an hour and then trooped up towards the Pentlands. I got three quarters the way up Caerketten by 11am and took a lovely photo of Edinburgh. I piled back down the road and popped my head through the butchers door again and told Bob where I had been. He was incredulous though and I had to show him my pic that I’d taken to prove it. Some people just don’t get walking. And that’s a shame and their loss.

I bumped into my old boss, Kevin Moffat, just past Mortonhall and had a good catch-up chat and informed him that I was back into Morty as a country member.

Kevin was my boss at Ivory and Sime except he stuck at it. He became head of Blackrock in Edinburgh and now lives rather comfortably in a rather large house across from the golf club. A bright guy though and a nice one to boot. I think I was a bit of a challenge for him mind you.

But this is also the beauty of walking. You meet old kent faces. That morning I had also bumped into Raymond Stark at the foot of the Pentlands. He is another Mortonhall member and an avid walker too. He’s up the hills daily and looks a very trim and fit figure for his 64 years. Yes, who needs to pay for a gym? Give me the Pentland Hills and a few trees to hang off any day. Anyway, I also told Raymond that I was back into the club and he said that some of the old brigade would be rather happy about that. Which was nice.

I also bumped into an old ex and she got the shock of her life. She said I was looking well which is always good to hear and we caught up a bit on the past twenty years which is always a tad hard. Her life has been as non-conformist as they come. She had been a bit of a rebel in her youth and went to school one morning with a one way ticket to LA in her pocket and returned ten years later. Not a copy book St George’s lass by any means. But one with a kind and good heart.

I saw Hutch twice yesterday. Now Hutch doesn’t know me from Adam. Well unless he is pretending not to know me. Some people do you know. But he is doing a remarkably good job if that is the case. I first saw him in Greggs at the West End when he was in for his brekky like me and then later, he was loitering around the corner from Rutland Square and smoking as is his want. I have never seen Hutch without a cigarette in his hand or mouth (well except when in a Greggs queue or doing a shift at Whigham’s Wine bar). In fact mostly it’s in his mouth all said. He is a consummate smoker. Remarkable actually. It’s like watching that West Coast steam engine. I reckon that he must get through at least 60 to 80 a day by the looks of it. He always has one after the other too. Yes two. Talk about addiction there.

Anyway he is a bit of a mystery is Hutch. One person who is not a mystery is my old acquaintance Alison, who I bumped into while waiting for my bus. Her husband Thompo will definitely know Hutch because Thompo was in the same year at Heriots and Thompo knows everyone. A bit like Dave Clark who I saw in the butchers last week. Dave is also a Herioter and a man in the know. Dave looked most relaxed and has just retired from forty years at Standard Life (or was it 40 years life at Standard Death?)

Anyway, he has just won the Seniors Champ at Morty for the second year. Dave is rather defined by championship wins I’m afraid. He won the main championship twice too. Never won the junior champ mind!

So the old gossip machine is about to start churning again I fear now that I’m back in town more. Alison already knew about our wee pad and that is courtesy of Angus the butcher who is the epi-centre of all this. A very nice soul he is but just loves ‘the chat’.

I tell you what will get people talking though, as I plan to have a bit of a laugh, Zurich style. I’ll get all togged up in my ski gear, boots on and all and troop along by the West End, I’ll drop by Whigham’s or Le Di-Vin first for a little snifter, leave the skis at the door and then go and catch the 4 bus up to Hillend , walk up to the top of the dry slope, have a cursory run and then back down town for a bit of apres-ski.

Now that should get them talking back at the club.

Especially if I pop by the butchers for a wee steak pie on the way doon!

Now Wm Christie steak pies are something to talk about.