Stepping Stones – Education, Investment, Careers, Family.


18 Months ago  I wrote the following about my son and his journey through education,  getting a 2:1 degree in Cell Biology from Glasgow University and his frustration at being unable to get a job and I could see that it was getting him down that all his efforts hadn’t produced a result but some of his friends who had chosen other paths were starting to make a decent living as police officers,  joiners, etc.

As his dad,  I was worried about him,  particularly as the 18-25 year age group is the highest suicide rate for males.   Possibly because at that point in their life they realise that it hasn’t quite turned out the way they expected or that it looks on tv.

So I funded him through his Masters degree at Strathclyde Business school and we were both delighted at the volume of jobs that were waiting for him as a result.

When he was given a few offers,   we talked them over and decided on a job in Edinburgh with less money than one in Glasgow but with better long term prospects.

Frankly the job at Barclays Bank in Glasgow might have paid a few grand more but it was a dead end,  mopping up and investigating claims but not using the business analysis skills that he learned in his masters.

So he started at a software company in Edinburgh on a lower salary of 20k and has been involved in the design,  analysis and testing of their products.  Becoming a project lead for some of their key products.

Ironically he has picked up some more technical skills like database design and SQL as part of his role.   I say ironic, as that kind of technology and IT bored him when he was younger and he wasn’t interested in learning them .. but now he sees their value,  not only in the work-place,  but also as a means to making a decent living.

After a year,  they had bumped him to 25k,   more than he would have had with Barclays.

Unfortunately 2 weeks ago,   RBS closed down their separation and sell-off of their brand Williams And Glyn as a separate business,  causing his company to lose a lot of work and he was given his redundancy notice.

As expected,  he was worried,   he stopped in at mine after work for a chat and a bit of advice and perspective.

I told him that he should view this as a stepping stone,  that he had been making progress,  that he was investing in himself,  learning to talk the talk and walk the walk and that he now had sellable skills and experience.

Did he believe me? Continue reading “Stepping Stones – Education, Investment, Careers, Family.”

The Doors Alive?

He struts acros the stage,  posing arrogantly,  sneering then staring at the audience,  provocatively inviting them to challenge his machismo.

No-one does.

At times,  he almost whispers then roars or screams through their reportoire of classic Doors anthems,  Riders On The Storm,  Break On Through To The Other Side,  Hello I Love You.

He looks like Jim Morrison,  if thats possible,  tall,  slim,  great cheekbones and those wild flowing locks,  bedecked in black leather jeans and cheese-cloth shirt.

The man has a presence,  raw sexuality on a stage,  that I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen with any other band .. and I go to see a lot of bands

The women seems to love his strutting and I’m jealous, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

For the instrumental section of Light My Fire,  he goes off stage,  having the good grace to let the band take the credit.   The whirling organ and hynotic bass are still playing around in my head today,  much better than the bland covers by the likes of Sinatra.

The band are just as authentic,  the keyboard player even looks like Ray Manzerak and just as virtuoso on his hammond organ.   As a long term piano player,  I particularly appreciate his artistry.

My mate Ian is just as enthusiastic about the guitarist abbilities.

The band roll out all the classic and a few album tracks that I’m sure I must own including Spanish Caravan that I had forgotten.  What an an atmosphere and the enthusiastic crowd weren’t slow to show their appreciation.

I first saw The Doors Alive at the O2 Academy in Glasgow about 10 years ago,  somehow they haven’t changed,  they’ve got better and seem younger .. can’t figure why!

If you’re in Edinburgh tonight,  go see them,  I guarantee a treat.




Eight From The Eighties! – Day 1


Day 1 of my favourite or meaningful music from the 80s as nominated by my friend Alan.

80s music is largely forgettable pop rubbish, but there are some real gems in there,  but I’ll get to those later.

But first and somewhat controversially as I’m a huge fan of his earlier work. David Bowie’s Lets Dance was the end of an era where he went from rock to pop and chasing commercial success. 

Shortly after the album was released, I went to see him play Murrayfield in August 1983 and it was a fantastic concert. A good mix of the new and classic Bowie songs. 

More about it here.

I’m still a fan, always will be, the Bowie tribute I regularly go to see are fantastic. They were in great form last  night at The Hard Rock Cafe, Glasgow. 

But Bowies next album Tonight released 1984 with the cringeable Loving The Alien was the end for me until the reality tour in 2003. 

The Opposite Of Red-Eye?


Sunday evening and I’m on the .. What’s the opposite of red-eye? .. Flight from Glasgow to London.
Work schmurk!!

I’ve had a lovely weekend, the right balance of family and friends, a curry and a few beers with friends on Friday, a day with family yesterday. my kids for dinner this afternoon. 

Who needs to be heading south at this time on a Sunday to start work at 9am on Monday?

I resent that flying down to London for work on a Sunday evening significantly eats into my personal time. 

It’s one thing working for a living but I think that work should be kept in perspective and ones real life is always much more important. 

The flight is full, no seats left and unusually for Easyjet, I’ve been allocated a seat number .. Or has that been happening for a while and I didn’t notice

Having a look around the passengers, most are travelling for business, commuting on the Sunday evening to avoid the Monday morning madness of the red-eye flight and then rushing across the city trying to get into the office at a reasonable time. 

Nah .. Fuck that!!

It’s just not worth the hassle. 

But sitting here onboard a flight at 7pm on a Sunday evening, away from family and the thought of living out of a suitcase for the week, it dawns on me that this isn’t worth it either. 

That’s the problem.

But never leave a situation with a problem, always consider the options and the solution.

Option 1 – Maintain the status quo, carry on regardless. 

Option 2 – Go back to working in Edinburgh and travelling 3 to 4 hours per day.

Option 3 – Take a job in Glasgow even if it’s not ideal, but be thankful with a commute of only an hour per day. 

There’s only one winner!

Real life is always much more important than work. 

The quote above from the Dalia Lama shows he had it sussed!  

The Consultancy Game ..

“That’s the thing about luck,  it always balances out in the end”

A while ago I posted a story on here about my ex boss not liking me,  typical IT geek, a bright guy but as pretentious as they come, loves having his posse of sycophants.

I wasn’t one of them.

In this previous story,  to my surprise my contract with the consultancy firm who had me farmed out to one of the UKs biggest banks was renewed when I fully expected it to elapse after it had ran its course.

Then just to surprise me further .. a month later while I was on holiday it was cancelled and I worked my notice period as contractually obliged.

A bit disappointing but life moves on.

Since then I’ve been working with a different consultancy firm who are currently farming me out to a different bank.

That’s the way the consultancy game often works,  sales guys touting for business are sharks,  often buying the favour of the hiring manager .. it would be naïve to think that it doesn’t happen,  not as overtly as it used to but its still there.

Then technical guys like me come along and do the work,  we earn pretty well, but the consultancy takes its cut for providing .. err .. what?

The difference between direct contractors and the consultancy supplied contractors or staff is significant,  on a contract that I’m working,   that difference can be a bog-standard rate of 750per day for junior staff who would be lucky to find a direct contract at 300 per day.

The consultancy game is about bums-on-seats and making the margin between what you charge the client and how much you pay the ndividual staff or contractor.   Continue reading “The Consultancy Game ..”

I Heard The News Today .. Oh Boy! #DavidBowie

I was absolutely stunned when I heard the news that David Bowie had passed away earlier this morning. 

David is part of the music of my lifetime and I’ve always been a big fan. 

He’s the first musical icon that I was aware of that was “my” music,  not my parents Sinatra or The Beatles. 

I was probably a late follower,  being just a kid playing football in the park while he had his success with Ziggy Stardust and Aladin Sane in 73/74. 

By the time he brought out Heroes in 1978 I was a commited fan.   Although if the truth be told,  I inherited him second hand from my first girlfriend. 

I wanted to look like him on that Heroes album cover, my skinny white face as pale and gaunt as his.  I even had my hair styled to match. 

We went to his 1983 Serious Moonlight gig at Murrayfield Edunburgh.   I’ve blogged about that with a set list on here somewhere.

She’s long gone,  we seen each other at a Bowie tribute a few years ago and didn’t say hello.  

But the man, his music and the way it makes me feel has stayed with me and will do forever.  
Only on Saturday night I was flicking through the Sky Arts catchup service and came across a few of his tours

1983 – Serious Moonlight

1987 – Glass Spider

2003 – The Reality Tour

Watching the reality tour marvelling at this beautiful creature who looked healthy and happy in his own skin,  I hoped that with the new album Blackstar being released last week,  we might get to see him one more time. 

RIP David Bowie,  a true legend in your own lifetime and mine. 

“I heard the news today, oh boy”.  From Bowie’s Young Americans, paraphrasing and paying homage to “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles. 

Family Isn’t Always About Blood. #Scotland

Just had a fantastic weekend starting on Thursday night with a visit to Balmaha on the shore of Loch Lomond then a trip to Ardlamont Point south of Tigbnabruich with its fantastic views to the isles of Arran, Bute and The Mull Of Kintyre. 

There’s just something fundamental about wild camping,  no electricity or running water that brings you back in touch with nature and makes you realise what is important in life. 

The most important thing in life isnt money, clothes, music, concerts or everything that city life in Glasgow or Edinburgh provides.  All of wlich I enjoy to one degree or other. 

But it’s about having friends and people that care about you.  Having them around doing all the basic things like cooking together, helping set up tents, finding firewood,  sitting chatting about life rather than watching tv. 

It’s very grounding. 

New friends and old friends including  Jim and Tommy, my two best pals from childhood. 

People that know you from your earliest age,  like having another two brothers that know you inside out and will back you or give you it straight as real friends should. 

I love my 4 real brothers but family isn’t always about blood. 

A few pics below.   

How beautiful is the west coast of Scotland?

I count myself very blessed to have been born here. 

Balmaha Bay   
Loch Lomond


The Rest And Be Thankful   
Argylls Secret Coast – Kyles Of Bute


Ardlamont with Arran in background   

 Portavadie Marina