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.

Saturday, September 6, 2014



Good morning and welcome into the world of a pulp fiction writer. It is a sunny morning outside and a couple of hopeful Collie dogs are laid out in the yard waiting for a walk. I am sitting here in my ramshackle front porch with a cigarette in the ash try and a cup of coffee at my side.

This is my environment for making stuff up. Then the made up stuff becomes a story and the story becomes a book. The key to making stuff up is that it never leaves the realms of possibility. If it is too far fetched, then the reader will get fed up and move on to another book.

In many ways the world of a pulp fiction writer is not all that dissimilar to that of an elected politician. They make stuff up too and try and find new and imaginative ways to get us all to believe in it. They work on how to wear an earnest expression and how to speak with an honest gravitas.

Sometimes we believe them and sometimes we don’t.

The real hard work for a politician comes when they are expected to tell us an absolute porky whilst still keep that earnest look on their face and that gravitas in their voice.

Sometimes this is such a big ask that they need a bit of help. When the politician in question is a mouthpiece for the Establishment, they often look to the shadowy figures in the background to give them the tools they need to hoodwink the punter whose vote they are trying to win.

This of course is the grey area where fact and fiction can tend to get a little muddled. A little intertwined. It 's the land of smoke and mirrors.

Of course we have seen an awful lot of this sort of thing recently as those tasked to maintain the grip of the British Establishment have strived to paint their pictures of the doom and gloom that awaits an Independent Scotland.

The whole point of the useful chaps in the shadowy corners of the Establishment is that they always remain in the shadows. They pull their strings from the shadows. We suspect they are there, but we never get to see them as they go about their work.

Of course they are good for endless material for pulp fiction writers like me. Could they really do something like that? Would they really do something like that?

Sometimes when the truth appears many years later, it is rightly trumpeted as a great triumph. In 1944, the fields of East Anglia were filled with thousands of cardboard tanks and planes which were deliberately badly hidden under dodgy camouflage netting. It was classic smoke and mirrors. The big con worked in spades and the German High Command bought the pup we sold to them. They were completely confident that the Norfolk tanks meant that we were about to land our D Day forces on the beaches of Calais. When we turned up in Normandy, it came as a very nasty surprise indeed for Adolf and his cronies.

Let’s face it, those men of the Establishment did a hell of a job from their shadowy corners.

That was a fact.

I wonder if this is a fact.

Summer is here and the clock is counting down to the big vote on September 18th.. And the race is tightening with every passing day. The politicians and newspapers who are out there fighting the good fight on behalf of the British Establishment are saying with complete and utter certainty that the ‘No’ side is still in the driving seat. They tell us that the ‘Yes’ side is nothing more that noise and the reality is that ‘No’ are so far in front that it is an impossibility for ‘Yes’ to close the gap.

But people don’t tend to believe politicians much these days and more and more people are noticing that all their friends and neighbours seem to be talking about voting ‘Yes’ in September.

So. Time for Plan B. Get the newspaper boys to cuddle up to the polling companies and get them to gently massage the figures to make sure that ‘Yes’ is always a mile behind.

But then those pesky online sites on the ‘Yes’ side start revealing uncomfortable facts about how polls can be gently nudged to give the answer the person paying the bills craves.

So. Time for Plan C. If those pesky voters are not willing to believe the politicians or the media or the polling companies, then who will they believe?

Time for some pulp fiction. One of those clever Establishment chaps in the shadows identifies something we have always held to be true.

The bookies are never wrong!

Oh we all believe that, don’t we? The bookies are some of the cleverest chaps in the whole of the Realm. They never end up on the wrong side of anything. People trust the judgement of the bookies over just about anyone else’s judgement. We love to try and beat the bookies. But in our heart of hearts, we know we never will.

So, how can we get the bookies to back up the words of the politicians and the media and the polling companies? Well our clever chap in the shadows has a cunning plan.

  1. Find £600,000 in one of those dark little funds which are set aside for dark little deeds.
  2. Invent an anonymous businessman in London.
  3. Get that anonymous businessman in London to put two bets of £200,000 and £400,000 on a ‘No’ vote in September.
So what happens next?

Well the key here is that this amount of money is enough to make it into the Guinness Book of Records as the greatest ever political bet to be placed in the history of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This guarantees lots of press coverage.

But it does something else as well. William Hill need to get the cash laid off as fast as they can to make sure they are not over exposed. So what do they do? They lengthen the odds for a ‘Yes’ vote to 5 to 1 against and they tighten up the odds on a ‘No’ vote to 6 to 5 on.

And now when the politicians and the media and the polling companies get out there to tell us all that ‘No’ is going to win by a mile they have a new and formidable string to their bow.

Look at what the bookies are saying!!!!

They are saying the ‘Yes’ side is still so far behind in the race that it is 5 to 1 against!!!

They are saying the ‘No’ side is so far ahead that it is still odds on to win!!!

And of course the bookies are never wrong…..

Not a bad result for a £600,000 investment from a murky slush fund.

It is peanuts if it helps to keep the warheads up at Faslane and a seat at the table of the UN Security Council….

When stakes are as high as this, £600,000 is loose change…

That is the essence of pulp fiction. It is just about believable….

In fact, hold on a minute here.

In the run up to the first debate between Darling and Salmond, an anonymous London businessman walked into a branch of William Hill to add £200,000 to the £400,000 he had already punted on a ‘No’ vote.


And the odds on a ‘Yes’ vote went all the way out to 5 to 1 as William Hill laid off the bet.


And politicians and media all told us that the bookies are never wrong….


That is the enduring attraction of pulp fiction. You can take a few clear facts and you add a sprinkling of fiction and the reader starts to wonder.

Is there really a clever chap in the shadows of the Establishment? …..


Don’t ask me.

I’m just a pulp fiction writer.  

1 comment:

  1. What confuses me slightly are the odds on the betting exchanges. Still pretty high for yes vote even though the punter is the bookie.