What have they done to the Old Course?

Well, they’ve put what resembles a piece of the M1 through the middle.

Ok slight exaggeration but they have put tarmac on the main track which leads out to the loop! But why oh why? The Old Course is a beautiful historic links and a place of great natural beauty. It’s very old (the key is indeed in the name) and shouldn’t be tampered with like this.

But the Links Trust has decided to tarmac it. Mind you, they are the crew who changed the name of the Old Tom Morris Shop and called it ‘The Open’. And that sure doesn’t have the same historical ring or give rise to any real stirring in the guts of a true afficiando of the ancient game.

So got that off my chest. But poor, poor show by some of the unimaginative bods sitting on the Links Trust.

What a Masters by the way? Ok, my lay on Tiger didn’t turn out triumphantly, but at least I got Molinari in the top six and successfully laid Mickelson for a top ten place.

But what a shame for the stalwart Italian. He was going swimmingly until he hit the water. (Sorry!)

However, It was indeed prescient when he said in his interview on the night before the final round that ‘this is golf, anything can happen’ Unfortunately it did.

Anyway, hearty congratulations to Tiger. But I’ll be betting Molinari next year.

I see McLeish has been sacked by the SFA. Seemingly on the back of his poor record while in charge. 12 games, 5 wins and 7 defeats. But hey wait a minute, what’s wrong with that? this is Scottish football we are talking about and I don’t recall us ever being at the forefront of the world stage. 5 wins out of 12 is not that shabby. I guess the 3-0 drubbing by Kazakhstan didn’t help. But let’s face it, anyone can have a bad day. I mean, I shot a ton in the second round of the Jock Hutchison, but this doesn’t mean that I’m not a world class player. So give the guy a wee chance. Poor soul. And remember that he wasn’t even on the pitch. The eleven players should take some of the flak.

So here is my political forecast for what it’s worth. Moggy and crew team up with Farage and win a snap general election to give ‘No Deal’ a welcome push and end the Brexit fiasco. Done and finally dusted. Decisively onwards.

On the American front, Trump finally runs out of luck, the market crashes and he joins Manafort and that hideous, botoxed Stone character in the clink.

The bistrot in Edinburgh has stalled as we are awaiting the builder to finish the new shop front. Looking to the end of May now. Michael is presently in Catania and has unearthed some mega Etna wines by all accounts. I mean they sound pretty volcanic. It’s hard to please the palate of Mr Gardner.

I hit my finest drive of the week on the 17th of the Old on Friday, taking the line between the ‘L’ in the Hotel sign and the actual Hotel and landing it twenty yards from the Jigger wall. This is very fine positioning for the Jigger Challenge which would have involved jumping the wall, ordering and consuming a pint of Guinness before the guys had cleared the green. Unfortunately I didn’t and then paid the price by hitting the most massive shank which headed towards the University Management Building.

Marvellous as Cologne Tom would say.

Yes that would have been the perfect riposte to that shot, should I have had a caddie.

I did actually here Cologne Tom say that to an American chap when out caddying with him on the Castle, after his guy topped the ball. My player turned to me in an aside and said with some slight concern and a not insignificant intonation of disbelief ‘Bert topped it and Tom said ”marvellous” ‘.

I still laugh at that now.

Cologne Tom is the most wonderfully entertaining individual. One of our truest characters.

Why on earth our caddie master didn’t put him out with Obama I will never understand.

But hey ho, he works for the Links Trust as well I suppose.
















remembering Henry Longhurst

As a kid I was besotted with the writings of Henry Longhurst, as then columnist of Golf Illustrated. He was poetic, kind hearted, funny and wrote quite beautifully.

Henry and I share a couple of things in common. We both have Desmond’s in Economics, his Cambridge and mine St Andrews, and we both played on our respective University golf teams.

The only difference is that Henry was a good golfer, playing off scratch for twenty years and winning the German Amateur of all things.

But he also encapsulated something that was very upstanding and very British. Something rather rare nowadays. He was your Sunday afternoon village green cricketer, supping beer in the folds of smiling chestnut trees and laughter and deck-chaired bonhomie. A gentleman.

He was Grantchester and Wootton and Slad all rolled into one. Rupert Brooke and Auden and Laurie Lee I suppose. Except, all sunk into the deep pasture of a beer embraced village green. England there England and all that.

God get me a train!

Anyway enough of nostalgia. Life has been busy here in the Home of Golf. We are well into the season already, the tourists are piling in, the competitions are stacking up, the students are back and I’m an ageing old hack.

The horses have been running like donkeys I’m afraid. Apart from Kemboy who made up for falling at the first in the Gold Cup with an emphatic win in his next time out at Fairyhouse. We are on him at ten to one for next year’s Gold Cup already.

I’m going for Rose and McIlroy in the Masters and will lay Tiger for the cut.

But what about Watford versus Wolverhampton in the semi-finals of the FA Cup? That was the come back of all come-backs. Two ahead with eleven minutes left, the Wolves manager told his players to take the foot off the gas. They did, conceded two goals and then lost in extra time. Ouch.

Managers are my bugbear, of course. For goodness sake, let the guys play football. It’s got far too analytical in my mind. It’s all got a bit ridiculous. I mean when you get a substitution nowadays you have some really official looking guy pointing out stuff on an iPad to the oncoming player. I mean what on earth is that all about? Is he just going through rudimentaries like showing the player where the goalposts are located and reminding him that the idea is to get the ball into the other teams net? That’s what it looks like. And it sure looks like the oncoming player is not listening.

Ok now to politics…..

That’s enough of politics.

Leftbank is motoring ahead and we should have the new shopfront in this week. The furniture is on the way, as is the first barrel of Dark Star, by all accounts. That will surely have to be tasted. Quality control is immensely important.

My swing tip for the week is balance. I’m very much rolling along with this one and took it down to the new practice area yesterday. It;s working well.

I like it because it fits my new life philosophy and is what underpinned Sam Sneads lovely, elegant swing. It indeed also has resonance with Dai Rees’s eloquence.

And you may well be wondering how I know?

Because dear Henry Longhurst told me so.




Catch the bloody thing

Of course I’m talking about professional goalkeepers, who seem rather incapable of doing the most obvious thing when a ball comes towards them.

This was highlighted last night when Tottenham’s Lloris decided to parry a ball that was surely made to catch. as it was going pretty much into his chest. But he weakly tried to parry and it unfortunately then hit the foot of his defender and went over. So they lost a vital and hard fought match in the last seconds.

I suppose given I’m a rugger player my instinct is to catch a ball coming towards me, but I’m sure that most blokes at Anfield yesterday knew that football was for catching. The other option was far too dangerous. And I’m sorry but if you can’t attempt to catch that then hand me your gloves.

It would be ok if it was a Sunday afternoon kick around, but that bloke’s getting paid millions to do that.

So I’ve got that off my chest.

Now the Brexit thing is stuffed. I hope there is no revocation mind, as that would have very serious ramifications. The core of this is democracy, the peoples democracy. Stuff your perfuntory Peoples Vote.

My golf is erratic as ever. In the Charles Grieve Cup on Saturday, I was sitting pretty at four over on the fifteenth tee of the New, only to finish with a glorious 84! And there were no seagulls involved. It transpired that a couple of bogey’s and par’s in the last four holes would have secured me the trophy, everlasting immortality in the annals of history in the St Andrews Golf Club and continued my sequence of knocking off one trophy per year (I say ‘sequence’ in that it would have followed my victory with Alex Paton in the Ayton thing last year)

Trump now looks in a stronger position for 2020. God help us.

Leftbank should be open in six weeks. So Murrayfield will soon have a decent eaterie and a cool place to hang out. It’s going to be as successful as Montpeliers I hope, but without the nasty backstabbing of the partners.

The difference is that I have real friends and decent human beings with me in this.

My brother unfortunately didn’t.

Yes, it’s not all about money and that is going to be our mantra. We would much rather people got a very good glass of wine than that the margins are maximised at every turn. That would be far more satisfying.

My tips now for the rest of the year are Ms Pafois in the National, Man City, Oxford (boat race), Japan (rugby world cup and Olympic ski long jump), Shug in the MCBA champ, that chinese chap in the snooker, Dominic Raab for PM and Scotland to win the cricket. (that’s any cricket)

Roll up at boost odds of 420 to 1. £500 min bet.









Digging Deep

Of course, I’m referring to my second qualifying round for the prestigious Jock Hutchison Trophy at the St Andrews Golf Club and not Theresa May’s Downing Street speech.

32 qualifiers get through to the match play stage which is played over the Old course. I had a reasonable first round of net 69 over the Eden. However last Saturday over the New, it was raining and it was raining hard.

I finished my round, caught a severe chill and scored a 100. Yes a ton. More than that, I missed a 6 to 1 horse winner in the 2.50 at Hexham, as I’d left my phone in my locker. Sod’s law of gambling number one.

A hundred is not a good score by anyone’s standard. In fact it takes some doing in all honesty. One par, no birdies and a whole lot of very ugly play.

The upshot was that I amazingly came 33rd after being tied with Ian Mason who, with his second round of 88, easily beat my hundred on the count back. In fact by twelve (100 minus 88).

To say that I was gutted was an understatement. A few hundred quid lost on the gee gees, a miserable day on the links, a bag full of very wet clubs, a dose of influenza and just missing out on qualification after being tied for 32nd spot. That’s not what I call recreation.

However, the surprising end to my wee story is that I got an email from the St Andrews Golf Club on Monday, congratulating me on qualifying! Yes one of the thirty-two couldn’t make the match play stage.

So, I expect I’m the first player in the long history of the Jock Hutchison Trophy to qualify after shooting a ton.

Of course the wonderful maxim of this story is never to give up. On the golf course, on the racecourse and in life for that matter, I expect.

Apart from this and on some positive notes, we have ordered the furniture for the bistrot and it should be open in May, I’ve put in the sweet peas, manured the roses, my diet is working, I’m rejoining Mortonhall, Brexit means exit, the Pope’s a catholic, and the R&A is a very fine place altogether.

And so is the House of Commons for that matter, but I can’t get my head around British Parliamentary procedure and that tiresome Speaker bloke Berko.

It’s enough to turn you into a Gilet Jaune or indeed, make you yawn.



Done by a birdie and the bookies

Yes a seagull. Well in command and hitting a straight drive down the middle of the 16th of the Eden in last weeks McGregor Trophy, it transpired that a seagull must have picked up my ball as there had been a flock sitting there. Silly me, not knowing the proper rules (I could have dropped one for free) I ran back to the tee and carved a ball far right. I didn’t finish the hole. With a par I would have won by two shots.

But that’s golf I’m afraid and you are supposed to know the rules. Well I’ve learnt that one the hard way.

But what the heck. It’s racing at Cheltenham this week and we have a few bets on. One day I’d like to head down as I love the Cotswolds and would probably nestle into that lovely 18th century coaching inn at Hollowbottom and savour the atmosphere. It’s a bit like the Woolpack in Slad which is one of my favorite places. Time stands still there. And the beer is rather good. You can spend a lovely afternoon in the beautiful rolling hills and believe that life is quite a rum thing altogether.

Our bistrot project in Edinburgh is gathering pace. It’s now looking like it will be open in May. Our designer Paula has got some great ideas and I think the place is going to look rather fancy. We’re all heading down to London soon, so Mick can show us a few places that he likes that are near his office in Hatton Gardens. Yes Mick has an office in Hatton Gardens, as he does something with diamonds.

Anyway that should be a bit of a fun trip and it will be nice to hang out in Mayfair wine bars I dare say.

I’m wondering if I’m going to be able to commute from St Andrews to Edinburgh for a bit. Get the 7.50am bus in for 10 and then get the late train home. I think I could manage that for a while, but it looks like I will have to live in Edinburgh . Now that’s by no means a bad thing, as a lot of my friends are there and it’s a pretty fine place.

I do feel that home is partly here in St Andrews now though and I have met some great people here. It is a super place to live and of course the golf is unbeatable.

So here are my present hot tips: Duc Des Genievres for the Arkle, Justin Thomas for the Masters, General Election on the first of April, Trump impeached, England Six Nations, Matt Wallace The Open, Hugh Anderson MCBA champ, stock market crash in May and lastly, I get invited onto Strictly after a miraculous stroke of luck resulting from a certain video facebook share.

The roll up on this is 200 to 1 and bets close on Friday. No cheques please.

Talking of gambling rip off’s though. BetVictor claim to give you best-odds guaranteed on wins. However, in the 2.30 at Musselburgh yesterday Wishful Dreaming went off at 5 to 2 and won. Yes it won. So good, but these sods only gave me 15 to 8, the price I had bet it at! I queried the fact that they advertise best odds guaranteed on their site and they came back saying ‘they had made a business decision’ not to give me it any longer. Well stuff that!

The seagulls and the bookies are ruining my life.

God, it’s enough to turn you to trigpointing.







Shocker of a week

That’s only on the gambling front mind. Two of our horses did no running whatsoever and it’s mostly been loss making. But that’s the way of gambling. It’s a bit like life really. Bit of a mare sometimes.

Apart from this there has been an upside. I got my funeral music sorted. It will begin with some upbeat stuff in Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees , then amble onto Imagine by John Lennon and finish off with some more reflective stuff with the Intermezzo of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet, played by Martha Argerich of course.

Otherwise, I had a very fine day out at the Balmoral which included a spot of lunch and a huge wine tasting event organised by Liberty of London. A pretty rum time was had, it must be said.

We met a lovely Albanian lady who worked at Project Coffee, who agreed with me that their coffee is not great. I remember I once wrote a Trip Advisor review titled ‘Projectile Coffee’

I am just amazed that the owner doesn’t get this. It’s just not good coffee and is too bitter by far. That’s not to say that the guy is doing badly. In fact he’s going along swimmingly because he has got great venues around Edinburgh (six now in fact).

But that’s an awful lot of poor coffee to pour down the throats of the Edinburgh public.

The Cohen open interview with Congress was the high point this week, of course. Wonderful to see desperate Republican buffoons trying to make something of it. Urinating against the wind comes to mind.

I wonder how Trump really feels about all this? for the New York District are almost certain to indict him. That’s some web he’s woven.

My golf is consistent for the first time in thirty five years. I put this down to a very good butcher in Bruntsfield and the latent realisation that I’m very much a feel player. I have mostly chucked out the technical stuff. It’s all a bit like my wayward path through life really.

I should however add that it’s mostly consistent, as I did have a noteworthy lapse in the first medal of the year over the Jubilee. Level par after four, I hit a drive and six iron pin high on the par 5 fifth and incredibly walked off with an 8. Let’s just say that I tried to play safe and it all went pear-shaped.

Playing safe is just not me.

In the bistrot we have got the tiles down in the bathrooms and they look great. Lovely marble effect polished porcelain. Luxury Bronze nonetheless! Our designer Paula at Supertonic is forging ahead and there is a chance we may even open this year.

I see that the Leicester City Manager got the boot as they got beaten 4-1 by Palace. That’s a bit unfair as the poor bloke wasn’t even on the pitch. This manager blame thing is so unreasonable. Well apart from the Mourinho case of course, because he couldn’t even successfully pick his nose.

But imagine if professional caddies were sacked with the readiness and frequency of Premier League managers? It would be a field day for a budding golf caddie agent mind. What a mint you’d make. I mean that Sala agent was going to cop a million quid for getting him to play for Cardiff.

There is kind of quite a close parallel in reality ie top caddies get paid exorbitant amounts for not doing very much. Well unless of course you got Matt Kuchars bag!

But come on football world. We all know that it’s very much the Leicester players on the pitch that are to blame for getting beat 4-1.

I paid my £2394 to Hargreaves Lansdowne for their ‘advice’ on my pension transfer. This was very little short of extortion and does nothing to alleviate my jaundiced view of the investment management industry. Mind you, I used to work in it and saw how guys used to swan off for quarterly ‘management meetings’ with their wives to a rather plush 5 star hotel in the Maldives. Bit of a knees up by the look of the bar bill.

Well got that off my chest at last.

But this is an industry where only about 10 per cent of managers are able to outperform their benchmark and brazenly charge you 1 per cent of your hard earned money every year for doing so. No wonder lower-cost passive investment funds are coining it in. The penny is dropping.

But come on Hargreaves, that was a complete and utter rip and you know it. Value for money? No. Your advice was dressed up, perfuntory gobbledygook.

And don’t try and fob me off with your insurance liability nonsense to justify your charging. It’s my ultimate decision for goodness sake. You are giving advice and not coercing me. I am a free agent.

Come on. A four year old could take that on board.

Get in the real world please.


First compliment of the year

My foursomes partner, Azzie Paton, ingratiated himself massively with me on Saturday as we almost pulled off a win in the Hamada Trophy. Coming off the seventh tee I told him that I was down to play in the Alex Fairlie Trophy the next day, which is an over 50’s event. He seemed surprised that I was over the half century and indeed much more surprised when I revealed I was a full six over. He had me down as late 40’s.

Alex Paton is a very fine man.

But this has nothing to do with the cost of haircuts. A woman now pays about forty five quid a pop. And a blow dry comes in at about thirty. My goodness! Why didn’t my career’s advisor mention this to me and prevent my rather hasty and tortuous route down the road that is chartered accountancy?

I could have opened a nice wee salon somewhere, called myself the creative director and copped a good few hundred a day breezing around with a pair of scissors in hand while blowing a bit of hot air. In my opinion that’s quite serious money for not very much. I mean it doesn’t look that arduous or complicated.

Not that I hang out in hair salons over-frequently.

Now over to politics….

Well, that’s enough of politics.

Here are my current forecasts for the year; Kemboy to win the Gold Cup, a stock market crash in May, Roger Stone and Sarah Saunders jailed, Oxford win the boat race, I get put up for the R&A, my hair grows back, Andy Murray is pictured smiling, Nigel Farage is pictured not smiling, JK Rowling becomes PM, Donald Trump scores a new course record at a golf club in Texas and I pass my grade 4 violin exam with distinction.

Yes, I do miss my violin. Unfortunately it got rather warped as I left it in the coal cellar over the winter. Not the brightest thing to do.  It’s now going to cost about 1.5k to fix and the judge is out as to the merit in this. Besides, I would think that my second string seat in The Really Terrible Orchestra is no doubt now filled.

Anyway I have no real time to give to it. The bistrot is coming on swimmingly and it’s all meetings with people and stuff to do. We have a wonderful interior designer in Paula who runs Supertonic, so it’s at least going to look good. Yes, it’s all going in the right direction at last. It’s going to be called Left Bank. Well because we are on the left bank of the river and it’s got fairly cool overtones, I think?

It’s taken an awful lot of pain to get to this. Choosing a reasonable name is hard. I mean The Ubiquitous Chip, Babbity Bowsers, The Canny Mans, La Folie Douce, La Grande Ourse, Quagliano’s and The Fat Duck have all gone, gone , gone.

I quite liked The Crazy Duck mind?! But I’m a bit crazy.

Talking of ducks I have had a great run on the gee gees and am now in profit this year.

That’s nay bad.



Foul Play

What a load of baloney from the BBC pundits reporting on the Six Nations match between Scotland and Ireland at the weekend.

Shame on John Barclay for not answering the question as to whether he thought the no-arms tackle by Paul O’Mahony, that took out Scottish captain Stuart Hogg, was late.

Of course it was late, My blind grannie could have seen that. Which match were you watching sir?

This was poor and weak stuff by Mr Barclay. Why wouldn’t he call it as it was? And he is Scottish! Annoying what? He even declared that he didn’t think that this caused the crucial injury which saw the Scotland captain walk off five minutes later. ‘He held his head at first and only held his shoulder when he stood up’ What nonsense?

Give me strength.

Anyway, I’ve got a bet on England at 8 to 15 to win the championship. It seems they are pretty unbeatable. Unfortunately, I think Scotland’s rather slim chances were ended with that phoney by O’Mahony.

I was up at my old golf club, Mortonhall in Edinburgh, last week and was glad to see that the professional course record still stands at 68. A score which I actually and miraculously achieved in a mid-week medal, one fine summer’s day back in 1979.

Now if you saw me duff and scrape my way round the Eden course last Saturday you would not believe this and indeed probably suspect some foul play. But no.

There are certainly cheats in the game of golf though. My favorite anecdote relates to an Edinburgh businessman playing in a medal with my brother, who was marking his card.

They came off the par five 15th and were standing on the next tee. The conversation miraculously went like this:

My brother  ‘What did you have?’

Edinburgh businessman ‘5’

My brother  ‘I thought you had a 6?’

Edinburgh businessman ‘a net 5’


Lordy me! For the love of Christ! Cripees. blimey O’Reilly and many other expletives.

But unfortunately, this is God’s honest truth.

Anyway, we should maybe relay this wee anecdote to Mr O’Mahony and let him reflect upon his behaviour. For it’s nice and right to be a good sport.

And you Mr Barclay should get hastily down to Specsavers, I would think.

The bistrot is getting there and we have now got to the design phase which involves choosing flooring, lights etc. We are getting a designer to have a wee look today so it will  be interesting to see what she comes up with, apart from a handsome bill. We have chosen a wonderful new coffee from our supplier Mr Eion to compliment Alessandro’s and have got Paolozzi beer on tap, as well as some unusual and interesting wines on board. We will be having real loose leaf tea (Rosevear) and of course hot chocolate from The Cocoa Tree, Pittenweem.

Oops I’d better be off. It’s Monday 7.30am and I’m teeing off the Old in 40 mins.

Life sucks.




Laugh? I laughed out loud

I am not prone to laugh out loud much when reading stuff. In fact, I’m not sure if I ever have or indeed ever will. Reading doesn’t do this for me. I really distrust book reviews which have this claim, just like I am most wary of people who put ‘lol’ on Facebook posts. It all a bit like that fake laughter they have on some of these crappy sitcoms. You know it’s not real.

But I’m a funny old bugger.

I did nevertheless guffaw rather loudly at 5.30am this morning when I happened to listen to a past recording of Desert Island Discs with Jeffrey Bernard. What an interesting and eloquent chap he sounds. Well, sounded. He’s dead of course, but it would have been fun to meet him I think.

Anyway, what made me laugh was him being asked about his drinking by Sue Lawley and she wondered what he feels when doctors intimate that he may only have 6 months to live if he carries on. Jeffrey pauses and utters a resolute and pained hmm, saying with the most marvelous and melliflous intonation  ‘I probably feel that if they carry on talking I’ve only got about ten more minutes to live…(long pause) they’re so deathly boring’

Of course I can’t do justice to the way he said and put it, but I did guffaw out loud to myself. In fact twice as a matter of fact as I replayed it. I do recommend you listen to this BBC Sounds recording. Even though to my astonishment Sue Lawley didn’t laugh at all! No reaction whatsoever to this very droll remark. Or, do I just have a spare sense of humour?

Now, American politics. What’s this Roger Stone guy all about? What a miraculous performance outside the court. After being busted by the FBI in a morning dawn raid, up for indictment and a potentially long jail term, he acted like he’d just won an election, landed the lottery or been nominated for a Grammy. It was unreal.

But this is the state of American politics I’m afraid.

I thought Alex Salmond’s court performance much more in keeping with decorum. Mind you what’s he been up to? Two charges of rape doesn’t look good.

It’s certainly not looking good for Trumpy. One does feel that Mueller is about to play some pretty powerful cards and I hope soon. I really can’t take much more of this bloke.

I reckon that Brexit is heading towards a softer out and I expect we will end up with some kind of Customs Union which will probably be along the lines of Norway plus plus, Canada Rocky, Fisher, Dover sole, Dogger, German Bite.

But this was never going to be easy and it’s certainly no joke I’m afraid. It’s just a shame our Theresa hadn’t been a bit more forthright at the outset.

My golf has finally turned a corner since going to the butcher’s last week. Yes, my man Angus of WM Christie the Family Butcher’s, Bruntsfield Edinburgh, has given me the tip of a lifetime and it goes to show that Facebook and some hearty crack down at the local butcher’s can be very positive things. My new strong right leg position has worked wonders and I’m suddenly striking the ball very solidly indeed. Thank you Angus.

Big Dog came in at Newcastle last week to end a costly losing run. Saying that, with three lengths clear and going to the last he very nearly fell which would have been most unsettling, not least for the jockey. There is only so much of that stuff you can take with the nags. Sods law of gambling and all that.

Mind you, I have been reading the rather fascinating biography of Harry Findlay, the notorious professional gambler, who once staked £2m on a single bet for the All Blacks to win the World Cup. It was jinxed by a French try made off a forward pass. That would hurt. But what did he expect when betting £2m on a rugby match and inviting all your cronies to a corporate hospitality bash at Cardiff Arms Park to watch and celebrate? Forebode doom? What.

The fascinating thing is that one of the bods woke the Saturday morning of the match with a very uneasy feeling and decided not to go.

Some interesting facts I have learned during the week: Sweet Peas need lots of water, the average hedge fund only makes 3.4% return and charge 1.75% commission,. there’s a lovely restaurant next to Rouen cathedral which does a marvelous Sole Dieppoise, La Rioja is in the north of Spain, Phileas Fogg went round the world in eighty days and Yvette Cooper is not a car.











In Praise of Jacob Rees-Mogg

I am an unashamed and massive fan of Moggy. I watched the Andrew Neil interview when most articulately and calmly he dealt with the tricky and sometimes unreasonable questioning. Even when he had been quoted out of context Moggy stayed calm, acknowledged the underhand attack and quickly revealed it for what it was. A class act in discourse.

And it is this facet of the man that I love. He listens, he evaluates and he answers in a composed and honest way. He keeps his emotions out of it and tells the thing as it is.

What a refreshing human being and politician to have around in these turbulent times. Compare him to Donald Trump where it’s all hype and cover and lies and money and grossly insincere self-aggrandizement. Yuk.

But what a let-down for Moggy and the country that he’s been ostracized by a huge part of the electorate for his accent and unusual demeanor. This is the worst kind of inverted snobbery and I wonder if people acknowledge that? Because I bet it’s at the bottom of a lot of the antipathy towards him. A shame because we need a leader with this clarity of mind, goodness and intelligence.

Anyway enough of Moggy. My golf has been in a parlous state. However, things remarkably changed on Thursday after I ventured into the butcher’s shop in Bruntsfield and came out with a steak pie and a revelatory new swing thought. Good old Angus put me straight on something he’d observed in watching my Facebook video. My right leg was all over the place by all accounts. There was no pivot or anchor there. And he was right as I replayed the video when I got home and headed to the practice area.

So may I heartily recommend Angus and William of WM Christie the Family Butcher, Bruntsfield, for not only the best crack in town but  immense steak pies and at £1.80, possibly the best golf lesson I have ever had. That’s cheaper than going to a Dave Leadbetter clinic or being subjected to an Ali Ross ski week (which I once did and learned zero).

Most attempts at teaching bark up the wrong tree (ancient Japanese proverb).

But now over to football. Manchester United have won seven games on the trot and this Ole bloke is being seen as a revelation and heaven-sent saviour. But not really in my book. He just had to smile, not have Mourinho arrogance and then put Martial and Pogba on the actual pitch. By simply doing that you’ve got one of the best teams in the world and with guys who actually want to play and win for you. Sorry, but this is not rocket science. Take away the bad egg from the top. It’s the same in most places.

Now for the bistrot. We have almost got there with the name. It started off with ‘Wild’ which we quite liked the edginess of. It then morphed into Blacklisted and Blackballed and Barred. Of course the latter is a bit close to the bone, given my history of entering the nations’ public houses.

Anyway, I was joking with friends that at least I couldn’t be barred from Barred. But I then reflected that my brother had indeed achieved this feat 20 years ago at the time he was the third partner in the newly opened Montpeliers. He was ordered out of the establisment! And not through drink may I add.

So never say never guys.

However Alessandro and Michael are very decent human beings.  Which I’m afraid I can’t say for a couple of Craig’s ex bar-partners.

But I have been lucky.

So eventually, I hope to open a wee bistrot in St Andrews and yes, it will be called Blackballed.

And of course, all R&A members will be most welcome.