A Small Step To Normality

I had my first Covid vaccine shot this week.

It was the AstroZeneca vaccine, a painless jab in the arm at lunchtime, no adverse effect that day but the hot sweats overnight and a bit sluggish until the following afternoon.

But that’s a good thing as our body recognises the simulated viral threat and starts to produce antibodies to identify and attack any future threats.

I will admit to feeling a little elated, like a massive weight has been lifted, that it’s a first step to getting out of lockdown and back to normality.

It’s not a licence to go back out and about yet, but it’s a first step along the way.

Have a look at the vaccine development, It’s a fascinating insight starting with the lead virus investigator Professor Teresa Lambe receiving the DNA profile early one Saturday morning and working all weekend to design the vaccine.

In her pyjamas! Love that!

It’s an insight into the process of design, development and manufacture of the most minute, complex, life impacting structures that we as humans can imagine.

These scientists are true geniuses , allowing us to identify threats at our most basic biological level and defend ourselves against them.

It’s very humbling to watch. This is the iPlayer link to the BBC documentary.


Also note the amount of senior female involvement from lead virus investigator, senior lab manager and overall programme manager.

Never underestimate womankind!

More reading ..


Do You really Want To Change The World?

That’s a year since lockdown started in the UK.

A year since society divided into groups of those who were fortunate to be able to work from home and those who either due to their occupation ( eg. Doctors, Nurses, Care Workers, Supply Chain Workers ) had to work to support the rest of us, or self-employed or lower paid workers without an employment contract who had to work just to make a living.

I consider myself fortunate to be in the first group, designing systems for an investment company. No more 3 hour daily commute to Edinburgh with associated travel costs. I have to admit that I love working from home and don’t have a problem being trapped in my fairly luxurious prison cell with my once a week food delivery.

Yes it’s isolated, its been frustrating at times not just being able to go out and about and do all the things that we would take for granted like going to see friends and family, concerts or the pub. I’ve never been so glad to have a decent garden to enjoy the space and sunshine when it occasionally comes to this part of the world.

Its a huge difference from my upbringing in a Glasgow slum with mum, dad and 5 sons in a one bedroom tenement with no hot water and an outside toilet. Working in Banking is a long way from being an apprentice engineer in the Glasgow shipyards.

You might say I’m lucky. But I don’t believe in luck.

Only fools believe in luck. You keep buying that lottery ticket and keep your fingers crossed.

Only the weak believe in entitlement, you have no right to succeed, you make it for yourself in this world.

Personally, I prefer to educate myself, gain experience and make the most of the opportunities that come when you’ve did all the necessary ground work. Repeat as necessary until you get to where you want to be.

Do you want to change the world, or even just change your own circumstances? Then stop thinking your entitled to earn a decent living, Stop thinking that you’re going to be handed it on a plate.

The only way you can change is to educate yourself and work hard.

Perseverance is a must.

Opportunity doesn’t just come to your door. You need to make it for yourself and have the skills when it does.

It really is down to you.

Of course, if you feel hard done by, if you think the world owes you a living, your attitude is already holding you back.

If you really want to change the world, stop bleating about it and educate yourself, then educate your family, guide them in how to be successful and the world will change.

It’s already changing. It always will. Embrace it, Evolve or be left behind.

In a Neat Little Town They Call Belfast!

The song Black Velvet Band which I’ve always loved starts .with the lines ..

In a neat little town they call Belfast,
apprenticed to trade I was bound
and manys the hour of sweet happiness
I spent in that neat little town

Well, thats tnot entirely true, I was born and bred in Glasgow and served an apprenticeship in the Glasgow shipyards as an engineer then draughtmand before going to uni and changing career to IT and now designing banking systems..

But having an Irish heritage and going to the old family place at Clady near Portglenone as kid I’ve found memories of Ireland. and currently in the process of applying for an Irish passport having an Irish grand-parent.

Anything to get away from this Brexit madness and be able to travel in the EU without any hassle at borders.

But what a weekend that was. … a long overdue trip to Belfast with the tall blonde and my cousin Christine and her husband Jack.

A couple of nights in that fine, vibrant city, which was amazingly busy considering we are in the middle of a global pandemic and a supposed lockdown.

There really are some fine bars and resturants, to enjoy and as luck would have it, we started at the top. The Observatory Bar on the top floor of the Grand Central Hotel is the highest bar in Ireland with great views over the city including the famous landmarks of the cranes of Harland and Wolff shipyard were the Titanic was built.

The highest bar with prices to match .. 55 quid for a bottle of rosie .. aaallch!

But you have to remember where you are and that you’re on holiday.

Robinsons Bistro on Great Victoria Street is also worth a visit, more traditional, with booths, good food at reasonable prices.

The main purpose of the journey was a trip to the old family place in Clady which we did on Saturday and it was like bathing yourself in history and the memories of Granda and family coming flooding back.

We parked at the Watermill Bar, formerly John O’Kanes were we used to go with Granda or walkd down on our ownfor a bottle of soda and crossed the street to the river Bann were we used to swim as kids.

Seeing a few gentlemen standing at the new angling club, we walked over and asked them for directions,, explainging that we were looking for the olf family place.

Whats your family name .. asks one of the men?

Wheen i told him, he says thats my name!

Wow, whats the chances of that! He took us up to the old family house pictured above and introduced us to the family now living there, who remembered us from 50 years ago when we last visitted.

We all took a walk about top the Holy Cross on Moneyshagen hill were we used to play. It was like going back in time, so many memories coming back into my mind.

Got to tell you, I was a bit choked when i met an old auntie of mine Brigid and wish we hadn’t left going over for so long.

Cheating to Remain, Cheating to Leave?


You’ve heard the old adage that men give love for sex and women giuve sex for love?

Obviously, as Billy says,  both of these premises can’t be 100% correct and someone isn’t being honest.

I’ve just read and watched an interesting article on love, sex, masturbation, cheating and lonlieness by the very elegant Maureen MCGrath.

Cheating, Lonlieness, Sex

The article has an interesting twist on that concept that I’ve thought about and occasionally written about on here.

That men cheat to remain in a relationship and women cheat to leave theirs.

The article goes on to explain how not to be unfaithful in a relationship including the use of masturbation and pornography.

Well worth a read,  not just for the insight,  but for the laughs too.




Scaring Off That Big Black Dog.


Somewhere out there,  they are there,  alone,  lonely,  miserable bordering on depressed but they say nothing and if you ask,  they say that “they’re fine.”

“It’s okay not to be okay “.. became a mantra often repeated on social media in the past few years..

But is it really okay not to be okay?

How do you know when your friend,  colleague or family member says that “they’re fine”.

Another popular one .. i would rather listen to your problems than your eulogy.

Sounds cliched,  a sound-bite to like or share on social media,  but what are you actually going to do about it?

Late one night on a camping trip,   when the drinking and singing had settled down to a chilled quiet talk round the fire,   a good friend of mine confessed to having the Black Dog of depression following him.

I’d never heard of the term before and asked him to explain. Continue reading “Scaring Off That Big Black Dog.”

Celebrate The Life and The Living!


Today was one of my best mates Alex’s funeral,  a very different affair in these days of crisis and coronavirus with limited numbers allowed in the crematorium and no purvey in a local pub or club afterwards.

Alex was one of the best, an outgoing,  gregarious character,  intelligent, charming and with a biting wit which he used to wind up opponents at work,  on the football pitch and in the terraces.

He was a semi-pro footballer before we worked together in IT,  clicked instantly and he played football with my group of pals for a few years were his class always showed.

He loved karaoke and would sing on any occasion.  Both of us love dancing and I wish that I had half his confidence in just getting on the flor on his own when a song played that he liked.     He usually dragged me up tho,  even although i love dancing,  getting up on my own isn’t really my thing.

Today,  around 100 people outside the crematorium and 25 or so inside including myself,  for which I’m very honoured.

The celebrant was the same person that married him and and second wife Laura 11 years ago,   a lovely celebration of the vibrant life of a colourful charactter and complete gentleman.

His passing last week was very sudden and came as a shock and I’m not ashamed to tell you that I had more than a few tears for him.

I’m going to miss my pal very much.

The funeral was on the other side of Glasgow,  so after paying respect to Laura and the family and friends,  I stopped in at my dads on the way home.

He’s 85 and has been in serious lockdown for the past 16 weeks as he knows himself that if he gets this virus then its game over and contact is limited between his carers,  my brother Duncan and myself.

We sat chatting about life,  watching the tv that he watches,   usually series and movies created before I was even a glint in his eyes.   But its what he likes and I was happy just to be in his presence and listen to his stories of Glasgow and the mischief he got up to as a kid.

Someday, and hopefully that day isn’t anytime soon,  I’ll be the paying tribute to him,  as I did for my mum,  only this time i won’t have dad looking up at me with pride.

So while he’s here,  I’ll celebrate the living.

You should do the same,  it’s too late when their gone.

Cheers Alex,  cheers to you too.










How Much Is Your Investment Worth? #SolvencyII


How much is your investment,  your pension,  your unit trust,  your ISA worth?

Simple answer .. same as your car or house,  it’s worth whatever someone will pay for it.

Markets change, we all know that,  the value of shares have plummeted during the current crisis as uncertainty grips and the economy crashes.

But forgetting about the actual monetary value of your holdings for a moment as that is transient.

Imagine that a few tyears ago you or your pension manager bought 100 units in some fund or other,  this time next year you’ll still own 100 of those units .. right?

Not necessarily .. Continue reading “How Much Is Your Investment Worth? #SolvencyII”

Oh No Not My Baby – COVID-19.


The old adage that if you play with fire,  you will get burned has always beeen true.

But never more apt than for our NHS and care workers on the front-line dealing with patients who have the virus.

My daughter Laura has been working on the front-line since people started being hospitalised with the symptoms in early March.

She texted me a few weeks ago to tell me that she had tested positive for the virus and sent me a copy of the positive test.

Obviously I called her immediately.

Continue reading “Oh No Not My Baby – COVID-19.”

About The Corona Virus

Some interesting reading I have just seen on the corona virus.

Most informative description I have read so far! Shared by an NHS colleague to a Coronavirus Group, set up to share advice and support for NHS staff 👍🏻

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand…

It has to do with RNA sequencing…. I.e. genetics.

Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.

Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.

Now…. sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, thats what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be..

H1N1 was deadly….but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

Fast forward.

Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket. And this was because, Humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.

And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.

Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed…(honestly…I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

And let me end by saying….right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.

Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now.

flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on.


For live statistics check the following Corona Virus stats page

Train Stories – Make Up Girl?

She’s sitting across from me now, the beautiful young woman with the long blonde hair and gorgeous features and fabulous figure.

It’s an hour long train journey from Glasgow to Edinburgh via Shotts and it’s difficult not to make occasional eye-contact when someone is sitting directly across from you.

Maybe that’s why so many people stare at their phones?

She is a particularly good looking girl with her tight silver fitted jumper highlighting that she has all the right curves in all the right places.

If I was 20 years younger …

She probably still be too young for me! 😀

Yeah I know, I’ve got daughters her age, so believe me that although I’m admiring her beauty there nothing untoward in my thought process.

What has caught my attention is her need to sit in a public place and plaster her face with make-up, thick foundation, blusher, ruby red lips.

Firstly is she so insecure that she has to cover her face in fake colour when she’s already a beautiful girl?

Secondly, call me old fashioned but how inappropriate is it to be doing your make up for 20 minutes on a packed train?

I’m all for personal freedom and letting people do what they like as long as it doesn’t impact anyone else, so no one is questioning that entitlement.

What I am questioning is the need and the appropriateness.


I’m somewhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh, hurtling cross country through a cold winter morning.

Early March and the sun is now appearing low on the horizon scaring away the darkness.

Spring is on its way.