MARK FRANKLAND

I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

THERE'S A GAPING HOLE IN THE MIDST OF THE ENDLESS XENOPHOBIC GOUGH SPOUTED BY TRUMP AND FARAGE.


One night last week I was watching a Channel Four news piece from the Donald Trump inauguration in Ohio. There was much that seemed familiar. The Trump acolytes had the same look and feel of many of those who took to the streets a month ago to celebrate Brexit. They were old and white and angry and overweight and most of time mad as a bag of frogs.

Sure they were a little more crazy than their counterparts on this side of the pond, but that’s America right? When it comes to doing crazy they are in a league of their own. Ever since Brexit we have shuddered at the steep rise in racist abuse and hate crime. But at least our hate tends to mean slagging off the lad behind the counter of the corner shop for being a nasty, smelly Paki. At least we don’t shoot him through the head. Well. Not yet.

The news piece was taking a ten minute dig into the lives of the people who see voting Trump as a ticket to a future of milk and honey. Not surprisingly this involved a journey to the heart of trailer park America. All the usual iconic images of 21st Century post industrial misery rolled across the screen. Rusted up steel mills in the process of being re-absorbed into nature. Boarded up shop fronts. Soulless fast food joints. Miserable faces. Lots and lots of seriously fat people.

And then we were whisked away to the fields of California where gangs of Mexicans were picking the fruit under a blazing sun.

And three things struck me.

Number one was the sight of so many very, very fat black people. This was something which came as a pretty major culture shock when I was in America a few years ago. Think about it. How often do you ever see a fat black person on our side of the pond? Not often. Most of our younger generation of Black Britons look like they are ready to throw on an pair of boxing trunks and fight for a light heavyweight title. When we were in Brooklyn the average weight of the local gang bangers was north of eighteen stones.

Then there were all the disability scooters. I recalled an article in the run up to Brexit from the doomed streets of the Welsh Valleys. The reporter was chasing up and down the blighted post industrial areas of Britain to try and get a handle on the reasons why the forgotten people in the forgotten towns were so hell bent on blaming foreigners for all of their ills. The reporter picked up on the fact that town centres which were home to lots of disability scooters tended to be the town centres where xenophobia was at its highest.

Finally was the extraordinary comparison between the xenophobes in the trailer parks and the Mexicans in the fields. The ones who were doing all of the hating and gearing up to vote for the Donald seemed to be in dreadful physical shape. The Mexicans on the other hand were as lean as whippets and had the look of Roberto Duran in his prime.

The comparison was of the night and day variety.

Back in the trailer park the message was the same as the one that was to be heard from Rotherham to Walsall to Clacton in the run up to Brexit.

I’m not a racist, but….

There are too many of them....

They are taking all the jobs…

There is no work for us…

They are dragging down wages….

Which of course nicely sets up the Trump/Farage solution.

Built a wall and lock the gates.

Get shut of all these nasty immigrants and there will be great jobs for all and everyone will have a 50 inch 3D tele and three weeks in the Canary Isles.

Then I remembered another Channel Four piece from a ceramics factory in the Brexit heartland of Stoke. First we heard from a few of the middle aged white female workers who were throwing and glazing pots.

Too many of them. They’re taking all the work and filling up the hospitals and schools and getting all the houses and being paid £500 a week by the social…….

All the same old same old.

Next came an interview with the guy who owned the factory. He had the Stafford accect of someone who was clearly born and bred Stoke. He explained how he had tried everything he could think of to recruit local Stoke people to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors to become pot throwers.

No chance. Nothing worked. Why? He had no idea. So what was he supposed to do? Close the doors and give up? Without the East Europeans he would have had to shut down years ago. He had no explanation. He merely told it as it was.

It is a story we here over and over again from those who run factories or farms. They can’t recruit local people to do the job. So they load up on Lithuanians and Poles. What the hell else are they going to do?

What indeed.

And then it hit me that there as more to the pictures from America. The Trump brigade from the trailer park were in no kind of shape to even think of doing what the Mexicans were doing. Twelve house straight bent almost double picking fruit? No chance. They wouldn’t make the mid morning break. How long would it take for them to get themselves into the same kind of shape as the Mexicans? Months and months at best. More probably never.

For decades those at the very bottom of the pile in Britain and America have lived the most unhealthy lives imaginable. Most of the blame for this has to be shouldered by the food industry which has found a million different ways to mask vast amounts of reconstituted fat with sugar and fancy packaging. When all is said and done, 24 frozen sausages in a box for 99p just can’t be right. Throw in all the cheap booze and all the nasty pound shop recreational drugs and it is hardly surprising so many people are in such permanently lousy nick.

A hundred and fifty years ago the poor were hammered by TB and dysentery and rickets. Now it is obesity and anxiety and depression and addiction.

So what happens if there are no Mexicans or Poles to come in and do the jobs which require ten hours straight of hard physical graft? The jobs just won’t get done. And these jobs are kind of important, especially when it comes to food production.

Nobody likes to own up to this dismal fact, most of all politicians. It is so easy to peddle the Farage/Trump line. Get the foreigners out and everything will be hunky dory. The problem is that such infantile logic is complete and utter gough. We see this every single day at First Base as we hand out food parcels. Fair enough our clients are unable to get themselves anything to eat, but they don’t look like the victims of a Sub Saharan famine. The majority are in lousy shape, physically and mentally. Most are being propped up by different breeds of happy pills from their GP and their local dealer. They have very little energy or self confidence. Give them a job starting at half past seven tomorrow morning and they wouldn’t last until noon.

I’m not getting preachy here. Back in 2003 when the Foot and Mouth crisis was all over Dumfries and Galloway I got myself onto one of the clean up teams as part of my research for my book ‘The Cull’. I was in my early forties and carrying way to much timber and it was the first time I had done manual work for years. The job entailed twelve hours a day with a power washer and it all but wrote me off. I did if for six weeks. It felt like six years.

Despite being overweight I have always been reasonably fit. My diet is OK. I am well enough used to getting up early. Fair enough, I smoke like a chimney. Despite all this, that six weeks all but killed me.

Was it that hard? Not really. Not when compared to pulling potatoes or standing on a packing line. I remembered the time when we had a mill in Lancaster. Back then the main thing Robert and Harold did to decide if a likely lad was really a likely lad was to check out their hands. Anyone with rough calloused hands had a chance of getting a start. Anyone with hands like mine was told thanks but no thanks. I told them they were Dickensian. They told me I was na├»ve. I have no doubt if the mill was still running today Robert and Harold would have selected a workforce made up entirely of lads from Poznan or Vilnius.

The problem is for thirty years we have swept millions of poor people under the carpet and pretended they aren’t actually there. We have signed them off sick and given them just about enough money to shop in Farmfoods and drown their sorrows with Frosty Jacks and to plane off the sharp edges with street valium at a£1 a pill. Many are barely literate and most are in woeful physical nick. It sounds awful, but it is dismally true. There is no point being in denial and signing up for the Trump/Farage Walt Disney view of the world. The reality is a bleak one. We simply do not produce people who are capable of doing the nuts and bolts jobs which keep the show on the road. Well. Not nearly enough of them. To make up the shortfall we import fit, ambitious young people who have lived lives which make them more than capapble to doing twelve hours worth of hard graft.
 
To make thinks worse, we have told our young people a pack of lies. We have conned 50% of them into getting themselves into tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt to earn a university degree barely worth the paper it is written on. We don’t have an economy remotely capable of giving 50% of young people well paid graduate jobs. Maybe 20%? Maybe. And is it really so surprising the ones who have worked so hard for their piece of expensive paper are not overly keen on picking spuds for minimum wage?

The fact that not a single front line politician seems willing to own up to this grim set of facts speaks volumes. Of course people need to do their best to talk the country up. I get that. It’s part of the job description. But constantly indulging in complete denial does none of us any favours. Even if we started now to better prepare the generations to come, it would take years and years before we might be remotely capable of managing without importing huge numbers of immigrants to make sure everything doesn’t go to hell in a handcart.

We should count ourselves lucky there are so many immigrants willing to come and do all the work we can’t manage ourselves.

Fat chance.

Instead the towns where mobility scooters fill the pavements will continue to hate foreigners and to live in the Trump/Farage dream world.

Monday, July 25, 2016

INCONVENIENT TERROR TRUTHS NOBODY SEEMS TO WANT TO TALK ABOUT.


A few nights ago I watched the Munich horror unfold as a breaking news story on Sky. It didn't take so very long for me to feel the urge to scream at the TV. It was pretty damned obvious all of the emerging clues were suggesting the perpetrator was some kind of right wing nut as opposed to a fundamentalist ISIS nut. Social media photos showed a lad dressed more for MTV than the mosque. People had already clocked the fact it was the anniversary of the Anders Brevik massacre. And then there was the phone filmed footage of the perp on a car park roof shouting to the skies the fact he was a born and bred German.

Despite all of this emerging truth, the studio anchor continued to quiz his guests about Angela Merkel's catastrophic decision to let in hundreds of thousands of migrants. No doubt the anchor guy had been through hundreds and hundreds of hours of the best media training Rupert Murdoch could lay his hands on. Keep well apart from the breaking story. Sit back and wait. Don't jump to any conclusions you might regret later. In the cold light of day. Once the dust has settled. Once the true facts have emerged.

No chance.

The lad was well and truly wrapped in the fairytale post 9/11, post Brexit world.

There's a nutter on the streets. Let's talk migrants. Because night follows day, right?

And as the thing unfolded, the usual procession of politicians and experts were rolled on and off the screen to peddle the all too familiar party line. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. Nice and safe. Thank God for the wonderful men and women of the security services who do so much brilliant work to keep us safe. Nice and safe. And of course we will do all we can to help our German/French/American/Belgian allies on this dark, dark day.

And then?

Well then opinions start to divide up a bit. Some will square off their jaws and turn determined faces straight to the camera. Then they will tell us like we are all seven years old how we all need to be tough and find some more buildings in the desert to reduce to rubble. We need to fight with fire. We need nice black and white shots with digital information in the top corner of the screen. This is an arial view of a building in the desert before. Then.... pooooofffffff.... and here is an arial view of a building in the desert after. Bang and the building is gone.

Others take a more considered line than the bomb the bastards back into the Stone Age brigade. They tell us we need more of our taxes to be poured into MI5 and MI6 and GCHQ and Langley and the Pentagon and all those places filled with the heroic spooks who flog themselves 24/7 to keep us safe. And if only we can have more spooks and more satellites and more CCTV and more tapped phones and more intercepted e mails everything will be all right. Course it will. It has to be.

And all the while the serious faced anchors nod their serious nods and they wouldn't in a million years dream of questioning such absolute wisdom. It all just sounds so very, very good and the guys who tell it like it is always have such a lot of letters after their names.

It's just gotta be right, hasn't it? Surely.

Or maybe not.

Take the nutter who drove the truck along the Nice waterfront. Would more spooks and more surveillance really have pegged him as an ISIS main man? Well I presume the spooks must look for a number of key indicators when they are trying to guess who will be the next murderous maniac.

Maybe something like this.

So where's he from?

Tunisia.

Is that a Moslem country?

You bet it is.

OK. So far so good. Maybe we have a live one here. He's from a Muslim country. He's male and he's young. He has brown skin. So let's look deeper.

Has he been to fight in Syria?

No

Iraq?

No

Afghanistan?

No.

Mmmmmm.

Does he go to the Mosque every Friday without fail to chant like a Holywood bad guy?

No.

Well does he at least go sometimes?

No.

Ah. Right.

Well let's check him out another way. Let's imagine him turning up at an Al Queda recruiting office. Let's see if he is their kind of lad. What kind of questions might they ask to check the cut of his jib?

Maybe something like these.

Do you go to mosque every Friday?

No.

Do you go most Fridays?

No

Do you go sometimes?

No

You you EVER go?

No.

Do you eat pork?

Yes.

Do you drink alcohol?

Yes.

Do you take drugs?

Yes.

Do you have friends who are unbelievers?

Yes.

Do you like infidel music?

Yes.

Do you watch the television and movies of the infidels?

Yes.

Do you like to wear the clothes of the infidel?

Yes.

Oh dear oh dear. Not a good set of answers for a wannabe Jihadist. He would be more likely to get himself beheaded than invited along for an all expenses paid stay at a desert training camp.

Any spook worth his salt would assess all the above information and conclude that here is a lad who is about as likely to be accepted into a Jihadist group as a black lad is likely to be clutched to the bosom of the Ku Klux Klan.

So all the spooking in the world couldn't have done a damn thing to prevent the carnage of the Promenades Des Anglais.

Maybe we all should be building up a very different kind of profile which better describes the nutters who are causing so much death.

Male.

Young.

Tend to be loners.

Not popular at school.

Not very good at school work.

All kinds of mental health issues, especially anxiety, paranoia and depression.

Plenty of time on the dole.

Desperate to find a place to belong, usually street gangs who usually kick them out because they are deemed to be sad losers.

Attempts to self- medicate their ongoing mental health issues by taking every drug they can lay their hands on.

Too much time in their bedroom on their computers.

A growing desperation to be noticed. By anyone. For anything. A gnawing need for attention. Any attention.

Years worth of online cries for help, all of them ignored.

Lads who nobody wants to have a pint with. Lads who never get invited to any parties. Lads who lost every shred of self worth and self confidence in the school playground when all the cool lads took the piss and then took the piss again. Lads who can's find a girl to say yes. Lads who can't find an employer to say yes.

Only no.

No and no and no and no and no.

Until they come up with the nuclear option for attention seeking. Go kill and bunch of people and then kill yourself. Be someone. Be huge. Show all those bastards who took the piss in the playground. Show all the bitches who laughed and walked away giggling at the very thought. Show all those bastards on the other side of the desks who said thanks but no thanks.

All of them.

Every last one.

Drown rejection and anonymity in an ocean of blood.

But do we know these people?

Of course we do. Because at some stage they find their way to the mental health services only to find cuts and staff shortages. They are given some pills and then forgotten. Then we see them again when their drug use puts them into the justice system. They are given some community service and forgotten.

Tossed.

Like so much junk into an overflowing bin complete with hovering wasps.

In my 13 years at First Base I have met at least five of these individuals. They tend to have the same common denominators. Desperate childhoods dominated by violence, usually domestic violence. No mates at school. Bullying and piss taking at school. Rubbish at school. Finding the company of fellow serial losers in the ever welcoming world of drugs. Petty crimes and lousy CV's and not a chance of a job. Mental health problems made a little bit worse every day with constant Skunk and valium use. Right on the edge with brains like a bowl of spaghetti and a raging anger in their bellies. Right on the edge with nothing in their dismal lives they are remotely bothered about losing.

And if one night the rolling news had told the story of one of these guys doing something unspeakable I would not be overly surprised. They are the unexploded bombs.

Thankfully in each case we were able to shout loud enough for mental health treatment to be provided. And with good psychiatry and the right medication, the clear and present danger was slowly but surely pushed back. They were eased back from the edge. They were diffused. They were made safe.

Well.

Safer.

And so we arrive at the inconvenient truth nobody seems to want to speak of much. What is the best thing we can do to stop future acts of horror from appearing on our screens as breaking news?

Easy.

Stop spending so much on spooking and bombing buildings in the desert. Start spending a whole lot more money on mental health services and drug clinics.

But that seems really crap and boring. I mean where's the Jason Bourne in some poxy drug clinic? We are all desperate for the right kind of Holywood bad guys. We want them to hide in those desert buildings so that we can blow them into a millions pieces. We don't want sad misfits who completely flip their lids in the bottomless loneliness of their bedrooms.

At the end of the day the truth is so inconvenient that we just don't want to know it. How can sad places like First Base ever compete with something as completely hip and cool as a Hellfire missile?

No chance.

Monday, July 11, 2016

ALL OVER THE WORLD PIGEONS ARE COMING HOME TO ROOST

In the end his name was Micah Johnson. We have been waiting for Micah Johnson for many, many years. He was always going to arrive. It was always a question of when. Never if. Micah Johnson is the pigeon and the pigeon has come home to roost.

The nightmare Micah Johnson brought to the streets of Dallas has been a recurring nightmare for years and years. The nightmare is born out of a straight forward recipe for disaster. You take a particular group in society and treat them appallingly. You demonise and denigrate them. You make sure they have worse life chances than everyone else. You park them up in ghettos and give policemen a free hand to crack the whip and when they crack the whip too hard, you turn a blind eye.

And when you are a young guy growing up in a place where youth unemployment is twice the national average where is the 'go to' place to get a paycheck at the end of the month? The army of course. Where the hell else? Always has been, always will be. Maybe it is an official army of a government. So the boy from Easterhouse, Glasgow joins 1 Scots whilst the boy from Cleveland, Ohio signs on the dotted line for the United States Marine Corps. Or maybe it is an unofficial army. So the boy from Karachi joins the Taliban whilst the boy from Kano signs up for Boko Haram.

And then what happens? Well it couldn’t be much more obvious. The young men from the wrong side of the tracks are taught the arts of violence. Professional violence. Maximum violence. They are taught how to deploy their ‘war face’ as they plunge a bayonet into a straw model of whoever is the enemy of the time.

Maybe they will get to put their new skills into practice on battlefields from Helmand Province to Fallujah. Or maybe the skills they have been taught will simply be put away for a rainy day.

Unsurprisingly governments have always had sleepless nights when they take so many screwed over kids and invest tens of thousands of pounds and dollars into teaching them the art of deploying efficient death. What happens once they have taken off their uniforms and returned to the ghettos from whence they came? What if they get even more pissed of about being poor and unemployed and pushed about by the cops? What if they decide enough is enough?

The most surprising thing is that it has taken so long for Micah Johnson to make the nightmare come true. The American Government was more or less convinced there would be a hundred Micah Johnsons way back in 1967. Statistics emerged which prompted the black citizens of Detroit to set the city alight. The stats were stark and hard for the White House to answer.

8% of the population of the USA was black.

8% of the army fighting in Vietnam was black.

So fair enough.

But…….

25% of the soldiers killed in the jungles and paddy fields of Vietnam were black.

It was a hard discrepancy to explain away. Were black soldiers being used as cannon fodder? And the White House couldn’t find a way to explain it away. Instead they tackled the Detroit riot with every ounce of maximum force they could put on the streets. They put out the fires. They locked a lot of lads up for a very long time. They went back to having their nightmares.

And finally the nightmare has become a reality nearly half a century later.

The Micah Johnson story is in many ways the story of our times as pigeons are coming home to roost all over the world. All the festering garbage which has been swept under the carpet for years and years and years is starting to crawl out from under. And those who have become so accustomed to being in control are discovering to their horror that that control is a thing of the past. Everywhere you look there is anger looking for a channel like the water from an overflowing drain.

Everywhere we look we see what was not supposed to happen is happening all the time. The rage is blind and beyond logic. A couple of weeks ago pissed off people from Hartlepool and Burnley and Stoke and Walsall voted ‘Leave’. Was it because they were perturbed by the democratic deficit implicit in the beaurocratic structures of Brussels? Aye right. Instead it was a straight up and down two fingers job. Pissed off people took the opportunity to let the world know just how pissed off they are. At immigrants. At closed down factories. At benefit sanctions. At no more Woolworths. At everything.

I saw one young lad from Hartlepool interviewed about his decision to put his cross in the 'Leave' box. He grinned a grin of triumph and said he couldn't wait for all the immigrants to be sent home and for the town’s factories to be re-opened. Poor sod.

And what are all these millions of pissed off people about to get? They are about to get a shiny new leader selected by 150.000 blue rinse Tories from the south of England. The reward for the great vote for 'Leave' might well be a born again ex banker who God has taught to hate abortion and gay people. The sainted Andrea has a crystal clear vision of how she will make everything better in these troubled times. Andrea absolutely vows to overturn the foxhunting ban. Andrea is determined to ban pessimism. I wonder how the good folk of Hartlepool are going to feel about that? The immigrants they hate so much will no doubt up sticks and find work somewhere else. Because there will be even less work to be had in Hartlepool. And all those factories? Has God instructed Andrea of open them all back up to provide jobs for all at £10 an hour? Or will more pigeons come home to roost?

I had business down in England last week. And it felt odd. I drove 300 miles south on the M6 and the M65 and the M62 and the A1. I drove past the towns where 17 million had taken the chance to vent their fury. The tower blocks of Blackburn and Oldham and Rochdale and Halifax and Pontefract and Doncaster and Newark. And the place where I grew up suddenly felt like a foreign place. The border at Gretna felt more like a real border than it has ever felt before. I filled up with fuel at a service station near Peterborough. It was shiny place filled with canned music and overpriced everything. Behind the counter were three East European women. Young women. And to say they were putting 150% into their work wouldn’t begin to do them justice. Imagine walking onto the Porsche stand at the Motor Show. Imagine the kind of young women Porsche would hire to present their high end brand to the world. Imagine their demeanour. Well that was the demeanour of the three women behind the counter of the petrol station near Peterborough. And there was a part of me that hated myself for going so far out of my way to smile back and be as friendly as possible. And a part of me hated the country for making these young women feel they had to show everyone they were not the wicked immigrants of the gospel according to Nigel and Boris.

The sight of the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign felt different this time. Completely different. Like sanctuary.

And of course the pigeons are about to come home to roost here. Will anyone seriously want to be ‘Better Together’ this time around? Some will I guess. But not enough. Not this time. This time the cord will be cut. This time the pigeons will finally come home to roost.

The hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme has been all over the media over the last couple of weeks. And a statistic has dusted itself down and appeared here and there on Twitter. The statistic is eerily similar to the statistic that saw Detroit burn back in 1967.

Percentage of Scots in British population 1914 – 1918?

8%

Percentage of Scots in the British Army 1914 – 1918?

8%

Percentage of Scots in the death roll of the British Army 1914 – 1918?

25%

We can see this statistic engraved on war memorials all over the Britain. Have a look for yourself. Look at the number of names carved in stone in a small English village. Count them. Then look at the names on the memorial in a Scottish village of the same size. And count them. And compare the two numbers. It is truly shocking. 

It wasn't an easy statistic for the British Establishment to explain away. Just like the very same set of numbers were never something Lyndon Johnson could explain to the black population of America in 1967.

When the pigeons finally came home to roost for the American Establishment, they came in the form of Micah Johnson.

Thankfully our pigeons will not require semi automatic weaponry to announce themselves. Our pigeons will require nothing more than hundreds of thousands of ticks in the box that says ‘Yes’.

Will there be enough this time around?

Oh yeah. There’ll be enough. There’ll be more than enough. Can you hear the sound of flapping wings coming ever closer? 
 
I can. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

THE BALLAD OF TONY - A SHORT STORY FROM BREXIT BRITAIN.


ONE

Tony stares at the pint in front of him. Two thirds full. One third empty. It's one glass among many. Most of them empty. Some of them full. Some of them with fag buts floating in the dregs. All of them blurred.

Shit...

He just about makes it to the cubicle and throws up seven hours worth of ale. Into a pan clogged with paper.

"That's the way lad. Better out than fucking in.”

Yeah.”

Back to the table and his fellow night riders. Familiar faces now so much older. Faces he used to see every single day of his life. Back in the day. When they were men of the Council. The maintenance team. The Famous Four. Taking the piss over open copies of the Sun and full Monty breakfast rolls from Tina's. Who shagged who. Who battered who. How shit are the Town? The easy morning routine of Page Three talk. Wouldn't mind shagging that...

Another time. A better time. Before the cuts. Before voluntary redundancy. Before everything was subbed out to bastards from Poland and Lithuania for the sake of efficiency savings. Before his life turned to shit.

The Famous Four. Not so famous any more. Just a bunch of sad looking old bastards. Tony and Mobbo and Stu and Frank. Christ. And here we all are again. Back in the saddle. Back in the Black Bull for a lock in. Back making out we count for something.

Why? Because Mobbo sorted it. Mobbo. Always the top dog. The alpha male. Mobbo who used to rob everything that wasn't screwed down and shared out the proceeds. Mobbo who always seems at home chatting away in the corner with hard looking lads from out of town. Mobbo who flaunts his new BMW and adorns himdelf in gold. Mobbo with a different brassy looking tart on his arm every weekend. Mobbo with a pocket full of twenties. Mobbo who had rung round and told them not to worry about the brass because he was paying. For old times sake. For the Famous Four. Mobbo the only one of them at home with ten pints in him. Still gym fit and gym tanned in his tight T shirt. Still doing alright then are you Mobbo? Aye. Fucking right. You know. Bit of this. Bit of that. Packets of fags that taste like dry camel shit for £4. Litres of 50% proof vodka for a fiver a bottle. Anything and everything. Rumours of big blokes talking Russian or something. Rumours about Mobbo now in the smack game. All kinds of rumours and a fat roll of twenties. Don't worry about brass lads. I'm in the fucking chair tonight. King Mobbo. Bling Mobbo.

Twat.

Stu. Stu with the worst life in the world. Stu who was always a bit quiet and now just about silent. Stu the carer who stays home and looks after his mum who last got out of bed in 2012. Stu with eyes as bleak as an abused dog. Stu in his sad looking golfing jacket from Matalan. Stu still with four full pints in front of him. Stu who was the first to chuck his guts up in the bogs. Sad bastard Stu.

Frank. Frank who once upon a time had always been the first to pull. Frank who once upon a time had strutted his stuff on the dance floor of the Mecca. Frank who never had his face away from a mirror. Not any more. Bald now. Bald and fat and divorced and angry at everything and everyone. His bitch of an ex whom hounded him for alimony. His bastard kids who never stopped bleating for cash. And most of all the Paki bastard who ran the cab firm and gave Frank all the shit jobs. Frank the stuck record. Frank who hated everything and everyone.

And Tony? The last into the Famous Four who had been the first out. How's things with you Tone? Oh you know. Same old same old. Fair to shite. Still with Trace? Yeah. Just about. Working? Yeah just about. Zero hours. You know. That distribution place out on Ringway. Alright is it? Nah. Crap. Sometimes I get 40 hours. More often I'm lucky to get ten. You need to be Polish to be guaranteed forty. Well cheer up you miserable old twat. That's all about to change, yeah? You never know, Mobbo. You never know.

And when it had been midnight they hadn't known. At midnight it had still been nothing much more than an excuse for being out on the lash. Then came Sunderland and the whole of the Black Bull was on its feet and punching the air and bouncing to the song YouTube had brought back from the glass strewn pavements of Marseilles.

We're all voting out...
We're all voting out...
Fuck off Europe.....
We're all voting out....”

Then it had been town after town. Towns like their town. The shit towns. One by one until it was an avalanche. And Mobbo had played it large and got one in for the whole pub.

Stu says he off now. Best get back. Best make sure his mum's alright.

Frank says he's off too. On an early one. Later lads.

Mobbo stretches and shrugs. Fair enough. We'll do it again lads. Roll back the fucking years.

A deserted table loaded with glasses. Some full. Most empty. Some with dregs filled with docked fags.

TWO

Shit.

Shit shit shit shit shit.....

Tony's phone says it's almost half past nine. And Tony's phone has no reason to lie about it. Which makes it two and half hours after the it was seven o'clock. When he had been due to start his shift.

Shit.

He tries to focus his eyes and to focus his life. He's on the sofa. Why is he on the sofa? Because his bitch of a wife told him to go on the sofa. Told him he was a disgrace. Said she wasn't having him anywhere near him. Told him to make sure he had a bucket handy.

Shit.

He roots around in the vague hope of finding a spare fag. Under all the unopened envelopes. Under all the stacked up debt. Under all the stacked up threats.

No chance.

Get some on the way in. Then he sees them. More scratch cards. A pile of them. Ten of them. Scratched and tossed. Rage rises up his throat. How many times....

Shit.

Later. It needs to be later. It has to be later. That bitch.....


THREE

He checks his phone again and not surprisingly his phone hasn't changed its mind. It's ten past ten. It's a complete disaster.

Shit. Just wing it.

Onto the floor. Into his place. He nods to the others on the line. And nobody is about to acknowledge. Well what a fucking surprise. Its like being in Poland. Bastards....

A tap on the shoulder

Office is want you. Now.”

'Office is want you'. What kind of fucking English is that? Polish English. 

Twats.

Eyes are on him. All the way. From the floor to the iron stairs. Up the stairs by the white painted breeze block wall. Onto the steel mezzanine floor. Second door along.

'Human Resources'.

Knock.

Come.”

Magda. Magda with her swept back hair and her bright red lips. Magda with her large glasses and her posh bitch suit. Magda with her big white teeth and her soft leather briefcase and her super neat desktop.

Please, you can sit.”

He can sit. Course he can fucking sit. He sits. And she doesn't bother to look up. Her eyes are fixed on the desktop and her voice sounds like an answerphone.

Mr Holland, you have already had two verbal warnings for being late for allotted shift. Now is third time. So I give you written warning, OK? This one, OK? You can take please...”

And she is sliding an envelope at him with her orange painted nails and still she isn't bothering to look up....

And all of a sudden something breaks open in his head. It just does.

All of a sudden he is on his feet and he is shouting and pointing.

No it isn't OK you fucking Polish cow. Not OK, right. You're not telling me what to fucking do and pushing your fucking envelopes at me. You can fuck right off. Didn't you watch last night you stupid cow? We all voted out which means it's time for you to fuck off back home....”

But now there are hands on him. Strong hands and strong arms and hard faces. Dragging him out of the office and along the steel mezzanine floor and down the steel stairs and across the shop floor.

Smirking faces. Gloating faces.

Out of the door. Onto the ground. The tarmac ground. The soaking wet tarmac ground. Grazed hands and oil all over his jeans. Rain in his eyes. And two of them standing over him. Bigger than him. Stronger than him. Laughter in their eyes.

Go on. You can just fuck off, OK?”

FOUR

Later. Later after hours of shit. Later after supping a bottle and a half of Mobbo's vodka in the park. Later after all day in the rain. Later after throwing up and throwing up again. Later after hour after hour of picking apart just how shit his life is. Magda and scratch cards and the smug look on Mobbos' face and the pile of bills and those two hard faced bastards with the laughter in their eyes.

Pissed beyond pissed. Blundering in the rain. Staggering in the rain. In the rain as the Town Hall rang out nine and then ten and then eleven and then twelve and then one. Pictures of scratch cards and bills and Magda and hard faced bastards with laughter in their eyes.

A shop front. Familiar in the rain and the orange light.

'POLSKIE SKLEP'

Everywhere. Like cockroaches. Like the rain. Like all the shit in his shit life. And now he is a man with a plan. A breeze block from the building site over the road. An armful of rubbish from an overflowing bin. A last drag on one of Mobbo's shitty fags.

Breeze block through the window.

Rubbish through the window.

The rest of the Mobbo vodka through the window.

Onto the rubbish.

Lighted paper through the window.

Onto the the rubbish.

Wummmfffffph.

Nice. Fucking excellent nice. Maybe he should run? But he can't be bothered to run. Sick of fucking running. Just fuck it. Stay and watch as the yellow becomes orange. Stay and watch as the smoke pours through the broken glass. Stay and watch as the blue light mixes in with the orange light. Stay and watch and piss himself laughing as the sirens howl in at him through the night. Through the rain.

Stay and watch because who gives a shit.

And how is he to know there is a first floor flat? And how is he to know that there is a young mum from Katowice in the first floor flat? And how is he to know there are two young sisters from Katowice in the first floor flat? And how is he to know the lock on the back door of the first floor flat is all rusted up......?

How is he to know any of that......?




Friday, July 1, 2016

SOMETHING TRULY HISTORICAL IS HAPPENING. AS IN RIGHT NOW. ODDLY ENOUGH NOBODY SEEMS TO BE TALKING ABOUT IT.

I have always found it an interesting exercise to imagine how the times we live in will look in a hundred years time. When I did this the other day, it occurred to me that we are living through one of the greatest turning points in the whole of human history. Right now. Dramatic stuff, right? The funny thing is that absolutely nobody is talking about it.

Let's take a glance into a crystal ball and imagine what might be going down a year from now. The whole EU disengagement process will be well and truly under way. The news will show Prime Minister Teresa May arriving Berlin alongside her Secretary of State for Brexit, Angela Leadsom. Waiting to meet them for formal handshakes and photographs is the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. In the background, voices from home are snapping at May and Leadsom's heels. Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is well along with the task of easing her people towards the UK exit door. In Belfast, First Minister Arlene Forster demands that the border question is properly addressed. Trade Union Congress leader Francis O'Grady and Labour leader Angela Eagle angrily insist that the rights of British workers must not be forgotten. Meanwhile other voices urge the Brits and Germans to make nice for the sake of the world's economic stability. Christine Lagarde tells it as it is as far as the IMF are concerned. President Hilary Clinton speaks out for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave...

Get the picture? Sure you do. Here are the most powerful people in the world and every last once of them is a woman. Fair enough, one or two of these predictions might not come true, but then again my fictional scenario it is far from inconceivable.

What does it mean? I reckon it means that after many thousands of years human beings have finally caught up with nature. Cast your mind back to one of those documentaries we have all watched about a pride of lions on the Serengeti plains. What is the role of the females? Basically they call all the shots. They run the railroad. They do the hunting. They determine who gets to eat first and how much. They decide whether or not the pride should move on or stay put. They sort out the cubs and oversee the training of the coming generation. And the male? Well he doesn't hunt and has no say in the day to day running of the pride. He is kind off of to one side looking vaguely grumpy about life and he tends to get even grumpier when the cubs come over to him to take the piss. He gets to eat when the female bosses allow him to eat.

In fact the poor old sod only has two roles in life. To breed the next generation and to fight off other males who come along to challenge his territory.

And this is how things work in just about every mammal society. For some reason human beings have bucked this trend and for thousands of years it has been the males of the species who have called all the shots. When you think about it, that is exactly what they have done in the most literal sense. Called shots. Waged war. Allowed their testosterone fueled urges to wreak centuries worth of havoc.

So why have we chosen such a different course from the rest of our fellow mammals? Is it because our human males are so much stronger than the males in other groups of mammals? I don't think so. Try going up to an eighty stone silverback gorilla and tell him he is a weakling. Instead we have justified the top dog status of our males through a long list of completely artificial rules. Basically, religious rules. Woman have been deemed to be inferior by most of the world's religions. Islamic women are required to hide their faces from all but their husbands whilst Christian women are not allowed to aspire to become bishops. It has mainly been religious rules which have backed up decisions like depriving women of the vote or the right to fight in the front line of shooting wars. Once you get away from all the biblical/Koranic tosh, none of this stuff stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Who would you prefer to have beside you in the trenches when the bad guys are coming at you – Jess Ennis or the overweight bloke from the Post Office who smokes forty a day?

All the stuff about the 'fair' sex who are so weak and need so much looking after has always been bollocks and slowly but surely as the centuries have rolled by it has been exposed as exactly that. The odd thing is how hard society finds it to admit it. Not many people were able withstand Gestapo torture. Not a single one of this extraordinary group was male. Every single one was female. Fairer sex? Aye right. Tough as old boot leather more like. When it comes to dealing with the outer extremes of pain, women are Premier League to our male Championship. This is hardly surprising of course. They have to give birth: we don't. It makes a lot of logical evolutionary sense for them to be well and truly harder and braver than we are.

Over the last hundred years or so, the grip of religion has become ever weaker all across the western world. Over the same period, law after law has been passed to move us closer to gender equality, both in the home and the work place. Once this equality has been granted, the female side of our species has hit the outside lane of the track and run past us males as if we weren't there. The gap is becoming wider with every passing year. Check out the A level results when they come out. The girls are pulling so far ahead of the lads that it is almost impossible to ignore any more. A couple of months ago we were visited by some students from the University Of Georgia State. I asked about this. Last year 70% of new admissions were female. This year it was on target to be 75%. The university authorities are worried about it and planning to introduce some king of positive discrimination for lads. Imagine it. If you are female and you want to come our university, you need at least three straight A's. If you are male, three B's will be plenty.

It is worth looking at the craziness of the post Brexit world as if it was one of those Serengeti lion documentaries. Look at idiotic, strutting behaviour of the males. Corbyn and Cameron and Farage and Johnson, wounded old lions roaring in anger at being removed from their place in the pack. Lots of noise and not a drop either calmness or basic common sense. They have been so hell bent on winning their pathetic turf wars they have neither noticed nor cared that the country is going to hell in a handcart. And once the crisis threatened to become overwhelming, they ran and hid like utter cowards.

And then? Then all of a sudden we started to hear calm female voices fill the void. Female voices with carefully thought through plans for clearing up the mess created by all the vanity and testosterone. Maybe we agree with these plans, maybe we don't. But at least there is some competence and courage. Now that the lionesses are taking charge of the situation, things are slowly but surely becoming less chaotic.

So what will happen now we have finally arrived at this historic tipping point? I think for those of us lucky enough to live in the liberal West, it is all good news. Less war and more carefully thought out government. What's there not to like? Sadly this will only be half of the story. We will become ever more divided from vast areas of the rest of humanity. There is no sign of girls losing their second class status in places where totalitarian regimes call the shots or where the bullying voice of Islam or Catholicism drowns out all others.

We are entering a whole new epoch. It will be the Venus of the West against the Mars of the rest. For what it's worth, my money is well and truly on Venus.

Two and a half thousand years ago a really, really smart guy from Ancient Greece saw all of this coming. He was Socrates. And here is what he said.

'Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.'


Smart cookie!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

AS THE TIDE OF RACISM RISES, HERE IS MY OPEN LETTER TO UBER. PLEASE HELP IT ALONG ITS WAY TO RIGHT GUY.

I have never written out a pitch to any of the Silicon Valley giants before. I guess I will just have to wing it. I gather you guys don't go in for neck ties and old school formality, so maybe you will give me a pass for my terminally dodgy grammar. I gather you guys also hate paper, so I give you my word of honour never to print these words out. I reckon bullet points are probably the way to go. 

So. Go.

WHO AM I?

A pulp fiction writer who is punting an idea in your direction.

HOW MUCH CASH AM I AFTER?

Not a penny, not a brass farthing, not a cent. As in zip, zero, nothing.

SO WHY AM I BOTHERING WITH THIS OPEN LETTER?

Because I am father to two mixed race sons and I am getting seriously pissed off/concerned about the rise in race hate in Britain in the wake of the Brexit vote.

SO WHAT'S IN THE IDEA FOR UBER?

Loads. Masses and masses of positive PR in return for barely any cash spent. You get to do good for the families of lots of your drivers. You get to feel the warm glow of doing the right thing at the right time. Silicon Valley is all about choosing to wear white hats instead of black hats, right guys?

BACKGROUND.

Britain calls a referendum on its membership of the European Union – 'Brexit'. The campaign gets nasty, ugly and toxic. Elements of the 'Leave' side play the race card and elements of the tabloid press give over their front pages to hating foreigners. The 'Leave' side wins the day and parts of the community take this win as a signal. All of the sudden they feel victory has given them the right to racially abuse any foreigner they can find. Incidents of race hate climb sharply.

SO WHO IS ACTUALLY DOING IT?

There is not hard evidence yet. But we can take a guess. The older generation voted overwhelmingly for 'Leave' and so it seems likely much of the racial abuse will be coming from the older end of the age scale. Under 24's voted 'Remain' to the tune of 75%. The last few days have demonstrated that young people are well and truly pissed off. They reckon their future has been stolen by people who will be long gone before this particular future arrives.

ARE YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE MOOD TO FIND AN OUTLET FOR THEIR OUTRAGE?

It would appear so. Early days mind.

HOW DO MOST YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT RACISM?

Most hate and despise it. They have grown up in classrooms filled with all creeds and colours. Racism makes no sense to them. The see it as one of those pathetic things stupid old people hang onto.

MIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE BE READY TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

It looks and feels like they most probably are. Look at who is supporting Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. Lots of young people are outraged at the selfish, nastiness of the older generation.

AYE RIGHT, BUT DO TODAY'S YOUNG GENERATION ACTUALLY EVER GET OFF THEIR OVER PAMPERED BUTTS AND ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING?

Oh yeah, sure they do. Check out the 'Indignados' in Spain. A potted history. Post Lehman Brothers, the Spanish banks found themselves up the creek. So the bankers started to crack the whip and call in the poor buggers who had got behind on their mortgages. This meant they were sending out bailiffs to evict pensioners and turfing them out onto the streets. Well. Most pensioners have grandchildren and the grandchildren were pretty damned angry at what was going down. So the young people branded themselves as the 'Indignados' and found a way to make it stop. OK Gran. Listen up. If the bailiffs turn up, DON'T open the door. You text me and I will fire out text to my local 'Indignados' group. Everyone will drop everything they are doing and get themselves round to your place. Within 5 minutes of you sending the text we will have the bailiffs outnumbered by 50 to one. No contest.

And so they did it. And it worked. Every time banks sent out their bailiffs round to evict pensioners the bailiffs were confronted by hundreds of angry young people. The banks had a tantrum and told the police step in and fire off some tear gas. The police told the banks to get stuffed. In the end the banks gave up trying and wrote off the debt.

It was people power and it worked.

DO UBER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AT THE MOMENT?

Of course you do. You already have the App. If one of your drivers finds themselves in trouble with a passenger, all the driver needs to do is to hit the App on their phone and every other driver in the vicinity will head their way to back them up. People power, right?

SO?

So maybe you could tweak this driver safety App a touch and stick it up on iTunes free at the point of downloading.

TO DO WHAT AND WHO FOR?

Well maybe I'm an immigrant living in Britain. I watch the news. I read the paper. I check out Twitter. And what I see makes me scared. Race hate is on the rise. The streets don't feel so safe any more. I feel alone and vulnerable. I feel eyes are on me. I hardly dare open my mouth. So I download the Uber 'Race Hate Alarm' App from iTunes or wherever. So if some meathead gets in my face and starts telling me to get back from where I have come from, all I need to do is hit the icon on my phone. Just like ordering an Uber cab, right?

OK. SO THEN WHAT HAPPENS?

Uber will have by this time used its mastery of the online world to promote the new App to all the young people who are disgusted and appalled at the post Brexit rise in race hate. If their phone buzzes with an alarm in their vicinity, they can make their way to where in incident is playing out. Then they get out their phones and start filming whilst at the same time letting the racist idiot know exactly what they think of them. The footage goes up on Youtube and the racist is suddenly kind of worried to show a public face. The person who has been attacked feels protected and welcomed. Even if they are not attacked, they will be able to check out their phone at any time to see lots of re-assuring blips which represent young people in the vicinity who have signed up to make a stand against racism.

DOES THIS WORK FOR UBER?

Oh come on guys! What age group represents your main customer base? Young people. Are they going think good things about you if you do this? Duh. And let's face it, you have a whole bunch of skin in this particular game. What percentage of your drivers were born outside the UK? 80%?These are your people who are being attacked right now. Will it cost you much? I doubt it. Most of the technology is already written. A few days worth of time for some of your smart guys and it will be job done. A mix of Uber and the young can put these idiots back in their nasty caves. Imagine how good that would make you feel. It's called doing the right thing guys. Go on. Give it a go.

THAT IT?


Yup. That's it. Over to you. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

INDYREF TWO? BRING IT ON. PRIVATE FRANKLAND REPORTING FOR DUTY!


Twice in the last two years I have written angry blogs aimed squarely at the older generation. In September 2014 there were tears of rage in my eyes in the wake of the over 65's stamping down on the dream of an Independent Scotland. On Thursday morning I wondered aloud if it was about to happen again.

Well it did. In spades.

75% of the 18-24's cast their votes for what they saw as their best chance of an optimistic, outward looking future. A few hours later they were rewarded with the nauseating sight of a half pissed Nigel Farage boasting of a revolution being won "without a single bullet being fired." Maybe he was right in a way. Early evidence suggests Jo Cox was shot three times, not once.

But as the hours of the most horrible election night I have ever known unfolded through the wee small hours, it became very apparent that this time it was worse than a mere betrayal of the young by the old. Much, much worse.

To be honest there were times when I found it almost too hard to watch. Names of small towns jumping on and off the screen. Burnley. Blackburn, Darwen, Preston, Bolton, Blackpool.....


Leave, leave, leave. 

And not 'Leave' by a whisker. It was leave by a country mile. Leave with the kind angry howling rage I used to hear on the football terraces of the 1970's. You see, these were not just any towns for me. These were my towns. Lancashire towns. They are where I grew up. The towns where I cut my teeth. And these people who were filled with such a hatred of immigrants and everything had once upon been my people. In the years since settling up here, I have become Scottish, but I guess I will always be a Lancashire Scot. When Scotland play England, I now root for the lads in the blue shirts. But when Liverpool play anyone from the rest of the planet and beyond, my allegiance will forever be with the boys in red!

What happened on Thursday all across the small blighted northern towns of my youth was a cry of rage and pain. These are the forgotten places where once upon a time enough cotton and wool was combed, spun and woven to clothe the people of the world. But it all stopped. When I used to walk down Montague St in Blackburn on my way home from school, the skyline was still dominated by tall red brick chimneys. 

But none of them smoked any more. The mills were dark, satanic and very much closed. The red brick was daubed with the slogans of the National Front as more and more people turned on the hated 'Pakis' and blamed them for everything turning bad. Cobbled streets became places of brooding hate as the pub and the chip shop were replaced by shops run by Asian families with frightened eyes. Those who could leave, left. The local media called it 'White Flight'. Those who stayed learned to hate. A charming little ditty from my youth which could be heard late on a Friday night in the brooding Blackburn streets

'We're going Paki bashing, we're going Paki bashing, nah, nah, nah nah..."

The first wave of immigrants from the Sub Continent were frightened and disorientated. When they got bashed, they curled into a ball and took the kicking. But their children took a different view. As their children grew, they looked back into the warrior past of their forebears from the mountains around the Khyber Pass. They weren't about to get bashed by anyone.

The community split and the hate hardened and as a mixed race family we knew the time had come to get away. I guess in our case it was black and white flight.

In hindsight, we were a bit like a Jewish family fleeing Germany in the 1930's and carving out a new and better life in Britain. Carol said something very profound as it became clear the hate of Vote Leave was about to win the day.

"Thank God we moved to Scotland."

Thank God indeed.

Two years ago I discovered the kind of fervour for my new home nation only grateful immigrants can ever truly know. Fighting for 'Yes' was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was an honour and a privilege and something I will never forget. None of us will ever forget those heady summer days of 2014 when we seemed about to achieve what was supposed to have been impossible. And but for the bloody over 65's we would have made it.

Until yesterday I had been pessimistic us about getting another chance for many years. But everything changed yesterday.

Maybe for the first time, the rest of the world truly woke up to fact of the sheer extent of how Scotland has become different to England. The map shows it not in black and white, but in yellow and blue. The wall to wall, 62/38 yellow north of the border was a badge of honour. And it wasn't just most of Scotland painted yellow: it was all of it. Every last square inch. I have to say it was a monumental relief when the TV screen told me that Dumfries and Galloway had chosen to be yellow along with the other 31 council areas!

It couldn't be any clearer. We don't do UKIP up here. We don't give Farage house room up here. We don't do poisonous hate up here. And we refuse to be dragged along by the poisonous hate that has taken hold of so much of the England I first grew up in and then fled from.

If Carlsberg built lifeboats, then the lifeboat they would build would look a lot like Scotland.

It didn't take Nicola long to throw down the gauntlet. Is the time for Indyref Two really here? Christ I hope so. It looks like it. Bring it bloody on.

Private Frankland reporting for duty!

As someone who stood up on many Indyref stages, I am more aware than most of how essential it is we have a great story to tell. This time the issue of currency has to be well and truly nailed down from the get go. We need to be able to say this is what it is. No ifs no buts. A statement of fact.

Obviously the biggest game in town over the coming weeks is for Nicola to get the nod from the other 27 countries of the EU. She needs to persuade them to keep the door open for us whilst we free ourselves from the clutches of Boris and Co.

And once the campaign gets into full swing, we need to make sure we have great stories to tell from all those community hall stages. We need the tools to sell the dream of Scotland like it has never been sold before. We need to raid Barack's 'Hope over Fear' playbook.

One thing we can do right now is to start advertising ourselves as being a lifeboat for all of those south of the border who are now ashamed of the country where they live. Many of these people are doctors and nurses and teachers and social workers and entrepreneurs. We need to get the word out.  

Go north. Come north. 

Maybe the Scottish Government should commission a 21st Century version of the Statue of Liberty and stick it up about 10 yards past the border signs at Gretna. We can be the sanctuary for all those who cannot abide the prospect of living their lives in the shadow of the new racism of little England. And let's not be shy about it. Let's get right in the face of Boris, Farage and the hate mongers. Let's start stealing their best people from them.

We need to grab the moment and start forging links with the islands of yellow who have proudly broken up the sea of snarling blue. London and Liverpool and Manchester and Bristol. I absolutely love the fact that Nicola is already in cahoots with Sadiq Khan. You've just got to love it. The Ayrshire lass and the East End Muslim versus the rest.

Just think of the kinds of deals we could cut with our new friends in London. We could build whole 'care' villages in the midst of some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe for the people of London of make available to their poorest pensioners. Why would London want to pay twice the price for a godforsaken care home in Romford when they could send their people to the fresh air and safety of the Scottish Countryside? 

And maybe we could start talking water. You have 8 million people who suffer hosepipe bans every summer. Nae bother. We have all the clean water in the world and a perfect collection system of glens and streams. So let's build a pipeline. Let's take Scottish Water to our newly found allies in London. Let's do the deal.

We need to start wooing businesses of all sizes and from all corners of the world. Want a base to trade with the single market of the EU? It's here guys. It is right here. It isn't exactly a hard sell. We've got a billion acres of clean air and drop dead gorgeous countryside. We've got a grade A financial sector in Edinburgh. Oh and by the way, we like foreign people here. We welcome them. We are the people who vote for building bridges not walls. What's there not to like?

I read an amazing fact a few weeks ago. Amazingly enough, Britain has recently overtaken America when it comes to projecting 'soft power' around the world. What is soft power? It is films and sport and law and music and language. All over the world people have a fond view of Britain as the being the home of Shakespeare, the Beatles and the Premier League. And the bloody Royal Family of course. Now this rather false picture is about to be spray painted with graffiti by the Farage hooligans. Well before that happens, we need to claim as much of this soft power as we can in the name of Scotland. After all we were once home to the Enlightenment and we are still home to the world's largest annual celebration of culture.

If the time for IndyRef 2 has indeed arrived, then we need to ready to sell ourselves like we have never sold ourselves before. Thursday proved that we are different to England in so many ways. We look out whilst they look in. We want bridges, they want walls. We want welcome people in, they want to push people away. We need to drop any vestige of diffidence and shout this message from the bloody rooftops. And no doubt they will call us every name under the sun, but who cares. After Cameron's Brexit fiasco, will there be anyone ready to march behind the banner of Project Fear 2? A few, but not many. They have all told far too many lies. Right now they are in complete disarray. Right now they are wondering just how they will contain the expectations of the racist monster they have reared into angry adulthood. Right now they are as weak as they will ever be.

It really looks like the time is now. We need to strike whilst they are so weak. We need to drown their hate with our hope.

Oh yeah, nearly forgot. We have to find a way to persuade grandparents to do the right thing for their grandchildren this time. That is no kind of easy task, but surely a way can be found.

Like I said.


Private Frankland reporting for duty!