History v Progress?

I love a bridge. And this walk was full of bridges, large and small. Some of historical note (as in you can find info on the internet), others not…… Starting with this beauty.

My wander started in Tomatin, just under the Findhorn Viaduct. And I was aiming for Boat of Garten, following one of General Wade’s old military roads. As I climbed higher and looked back, the road was clear to see although it more resembled a river after the recent snows than a road. I saw a weasel and a deer and a buzzard. This was looking back toward Tomatin.

I left the moor behind and dropped down to the Slochd, a high point on the A9 I’ve passed hundreds of times by car, but never in foot. Below is the old A9 (foreground) and the newer A9. Plans for the future duelled A9 we’re being looked at higher up the hill on the left.

After passing an abandoned cottage at Ortunan and forest plantations I reached Insharn and after crossing another lovely old bridge, the view opened up ahead.

I reached Sluggan Bridge, an impressive structure which crossed the River Dulnain, and another ruin. The bridge was one of General Caulfield’s.

It’s hard to tell from the picture but the bridge is huge and makes a lovely gateway from the moors to the Carrbridge forestry, and the final few kilometres of walking through sun kissed trees down passed Kinveachy and into Boat of Garten.

The history of the bridges and paths and the progress of the later roads and future A9 are a contemporary headache which everyone shares. What’s more important, the history or the progress?

Our history helps us to learn, often from our mistakes. But history, in the form of one of General Wade’s roads, won’t allow 21st century communications to seamlessly stride on. This struck me in its most blunt form as I passed Ortunan. Over the top of Wade’s old path, a tipper lorry and road roller were filling in the past with new stone to improve the road, allowing modern day road vehicles to rumble conveniently over them, presumably for access by geological teams planning the progression of the new A9 dual carriageway.

I was left feeling a bit shameful of my fellow man as the historic old right of way was turned into little more than a forest road. But I appreciate the need to make A9 journeys safer and quicker, especially as it’s a road I use often.

Appreciate the history while it’s there I think is the answer. Walk over those old bridges and follow the line of the old roads and take pictures and films of how they looked on the day you were there. So you can appreciate how different they become later. Check out the film below:

https://youtu.be/WBdn72gWRfA

What I Did in 2018

img_8824-1Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not 2019! Happy new year to one and all. 2018 is here and it’s a good looking number. Much more attractive than 2017. More curvy? Bigger? More contemporary?

I’ve got a few resolutions. Take on the challenge of a new job (that I start in 7 short days). Spend more time with my wife and family. Lose a bit of weight and get a bit fitter (a daily box of salt and vinegar Pringles has added a few rolls). More outdoor adventures in my boots, on my snowboard and in my tent.

I’ve got one more resolution or plan which is going to be tricky but fits in with my love of the outdoors. This year, I’m going to walk 1000 miles. By New Year’s Eve, I’ll have walked at least 1610km in 365 days. In everyday life as well as in the hills. Easy? Well, I’ve managed a solitary, single kilometre on day one. So I’d better get a move on!

And the post title? Let’s just say I’m an optimist.

Whatever you’re planning this year, good luck and happy adventuring!

Island Children

As a primary school teacher I’ve taught boys named after the isles of Harris and Lewis. I’ve taught an Ailsa (Craig), a (North) Rona, a Tara (nsay), a Summer (Isles) and a (Stac) Lee. And not so long ago I taught a girl called Skye. I’m bearing in mind that when teaching some of these nippers have told me that they often canna do something…but that’s another story.

In my present class of P6’s, I have a boy called Arran. And in my opinion it is far more acceptable to name your child after a Scottish island than a model of car (Mercedes) or brand of wine (Chardonnay). Especially when you consider how beautiful and peaceful our coastal archipelagos are.

Last Saturday I had a glorious looking weather window with warm and sunny days promised and clear visibility. Beinn Tarsuinn and Cir Mhor are a pair of Arran corbetts that I’d been eyeing up for a long time and so I boarded the 7am ferry to explore these igneous monoliths and then later, camp in Glen Rosa.


The weather forecaster did his job and the climate was warm, sunny and still. Even at sea the breeze was light and as we docked my route became clear very quickly. You can see Glen Rosa from the shore and that was where I headed, passing the big wooden house and the heritage museum. The sun lit up the whole glen to Beinn Nuis on the horizon and I set up camp ready for my no-doubt tired return later.


I’ve always had a hankering to live on an island. The feeling of serenity that drapes herself over me changes my thought processes, slows them to a light whir. And I can think with greater clarity. Add some mountains to the mix and the reset button is well and truly punched.

So feeling already more refreshed, I walked up the valley to the footbridge, swung a left uphill and after a couple of hours hiking had reached Beinn Nuis. The view towards Brodick and Holy Isle were stunning.


Passing over the snow-covered Beinn Tarsuinn was in itself a joy with the Paps of Jura and army helicopters vying for airspace. The ridge over to Cir Mhor looked incredibly inviting but I took the bypass route around the base and appeared to see the corrie and tors of Caisteal Abhail on my left and Cir Mhor ahead.


I followed the snowy path to the top of Cir Mhor and from their I could almost touch the top of Goat Fell. The deep, blue sea all around was licked by the spring sunshine and was blinding at points. But that blindness couldn’t have hidden the beauty of the views all around.


I could have stayed forever. It also reminded me of something I’ve long known. I should have been an island child.

A Hole Lot of Wonder

Q. What equipment do you need to go caving?

I only ask because if a Trivial Pursuit victory depended on my knowledge of potholing, I would be left floundering with 5/6s of a pie. The very idea of exploring the depths of middle earth excites me but scares the bejesus out of me, probably because I saw The Descent. I’m no caver, not for me the dark, creepy and ever decreasing holes in the ground where my larger frame would be constantly screaming “diet!”. But I do like the idea of natural howffs or shelters, which give you a genuine sense of protection from the wind, rain and snow, cut into or made of rock such as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Cave near Elgol on Skye.

I recently heard about a cave in Glen Almond near Amulree. Not a deep cave. And no evil creatures apparently. Thieves Cave (Thiefs Cave on OS maps) can be found at the back-wall of Coire Chultrain. There isn’t much information online, but it’s link to reivers and catarans (and no mention of Neil Marshall) made it sound worthy of a expedition.

As it turned out, the cave has mostly collapsed, leaving a pile of particularly large, slabby boulders. It was at least a lovely, snowy walk up from the bridge at Sma Glen, but what really made the trip was that some enterprising soul has placed a geocache on the site. And a well stocked one at that.

I swapped trinkets. However, my new helicopter wasn’t quite big enough to fly me out of the corrie.

Continuing my search for dark places, yesterday I went looking for Cave number two of the week. Balnamoon’s Cave can be found in Glen Mark, near Edzell. The hiding place of a Jacobean laird on the run, I was hoping for better luck this time, something I could clamber inside and get a sense of protection from the wilderness.

After a mornings walking through light snow and then an hours rock hopping around the hillside looking for the tell-tale vertical slit, I was in luck.

Water streaming down the back wall like a fountain, but roomy and with two heather single beds already created by some expert howffers, it inspired some  mixed thoughts along the lines of “Who last slept here?” and “I’d like to give that springy bed a shot”, which I duly did.

But actually, I was well chuffed with my find. More than big enough to hold a crowd, lots of protection from the elements and a feeling of stepping back in time, the cave was just deep enough to be a shelter, but close enough to the sunshine to escape any strange predators that Hollywood might create.

Sitting under one 500 tonne rock was scary. So to ask my initial question again, what equipment to you need to go caving deep under ground? The answer is simple. You don’t need ropes, rucksack or even a helmet. You need balls. Big ones.

Lost in Song

Driving to work the other day I was listening to the radio. Amongst the news stories about Trump, TTIP and terrorism, and songs like Walking in Memphis, I Left My Heart in San Francisco and New York State of Mind, the wavelengths took an easterly turn on the compass:
“I was sick and tired of everything, when I called you last night from Glasgow”. Super Trouper – ABBA

How many popular songs from the last 50 years have you heard with Glasgow mentioned in the title or the lyrics? Not many I’d imagine, none probably. I’ve known this particular ABBA song for years and never noticed the Scottish link.

I put my thinking cap on. Letter from America by The Proclaimers is almost universally known for its mention of what seems like every Scottish town between Wick and Stranraer and Johnny Cash did the same in the US with I’ve Been Everywhere.

Kurt Cobain penned a song celebrating the the Northern city of Aberdeen. But it was the North American city of the same name in Washington state which inspired said tune.

Mark E. Smith was an Edinburgh Man (but actually Mancunian), Hue and Cry sang of Mother Glasgow (a lovely image for a title for a song about “Billys and Tims”) and Snow Patrol wrote a song about Dundee, where they formed.

California wasn’t written about the sleepy mining village near Falkirk. Bon Iver sang about Perth, Australia rather than Perth, Scotland. No one has written about Lebanon in the Middle East, or Lebanon in Fife. At least not that I know of.

Scottish cities seem largely forgotten by musicians, no muse to be found presumably and perhaps little in the way of royalties to be made. Which is unsurprising when you take any well known name dropped song song and replace the town or city; Walking in Greenock? I Left My Heart in Kirkintilloch? Bathgate State of Mind? There are songs that take you on a journey, inspire you, make it all feel better or just make you walk a little taller. Would your heart skip a beat when hearing Galashiels Express for the first time?

For Scots we either know there’s no great redeeming features about these places or assume there are none. The Tenderloin or Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco is as rough as any Scottish estate. But the sunshine sure does make it look exotic and a place to aspire to. I wonder if Americans feel the same about Musselburgh or Dundee.

And as for ABBA’s Super Trouper, wouldn’t it make a far better lyric to be called by someone staying in New York or Memphis? Why Glasgow?

That’s a story I’d like to hear from Benny and the crew. Were they lost?

My top 5 “Place Names in Songs” (note the lack of Scottish entries):

1. Streets of London by Ralph McTell

2. Calgary by Bon Iver

3. Don’t go Back to Rockville by REM

4. New York, New York by Ryan Adams

5. Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen

Morning Dad

Last night I felt my boy kick me through Kirsty’s belly.  He’s not quite ready to say “Morning Dad” yet but in a few short weeks he’ll arrive and we’ll both get to meet him for the first time and find out if his lungs are as powerful as his foot.

Seven months of pregnancy have rushed by like an avalanche of thoughts, fears and plans.  At 37 I’m a little older than the average new dad but I feel ready for this major step, something I certainly wouldn’t have said a couple of years back.  My thought processes have been fairly steadfast.  A week of “oh my god” in the beginning and a few “are we actually doing this?” moments since have been bubble wrapped in the excitement and trepidation that has taken over our every day life.  Our first day in Mothercare looking for a buggy was a crash course experience where everyone seemed to know what to do and which overly priced cart we should buy while we listened and learned like eager beavers.  After a few months of speaking to various professional parents (and hope-to-be’s and never-want-to-be’s) I see now how the grand baby plan works.

There isn’t one.  Every baby is different and everyone has an opinion and the only way we’ll know what to do is to try absolutely everything and find out what works for our little atom ball from day one.  We were in Alton Towers last year and I can see that our due date will be a little bit like being on the Oblivion ride.  Right now we’re riding away from the entrance, all excited and nervy, building up to the big overhang (which I did with my eyes closed I seem to recall…..). Once that little boy is here, we are dropped at high speed into a whole new world of challenge and frustration, love and devotion.

As I said, I rode Oblivion with my eyes shut.  In spite of the hugeness of what we are about to face, my eyes are and will be well and truly open.  Because I genuinely can’t wait to say “good morning” to my new born son for the first time.

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The Listener in the Box (Short Story)

The air was very still and I could hear myself breathing. Low gasps of breath, the kind you take when you’re not sure what’s going on and you’re aware that your breathing sounds louder than usual. It was dark, darker than the night sky, darker than the deepest mine. I could see nothing, no lit outline of person or object. And it was mostly quiet although I could hear something. Sometimes it seemed far off, sometimes it sounded like whatever it could be was almost on top of me. My confusion was as deep as the darkness around me. And then a noise became clear. It was a voice, I tried to link a face to the words.

“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING!? Why didn’t you watch where you were going?

Even at its loudest and most angry, the voice remained calm and low, like they were trying to keep what they were saying between me and them. It was Steven, my best mate, and a man who I was indebted to for many reasons. He got me, and we had enjoyed many jolly japes in our time and together we, or he, had got us out of them. He could also take credit for getting me to start drinking after years of sobriety, for taking me to the pub, for saving me from the many fights I got into, and for getting me some help when it all got really silly. He was a real friend, not the kind who wants to lap up your bad news like a bad soup. What had I done?

I kept imagining the darkness would go away. I closed my eyes and then opened them again and it made no difference. Maybe I’m blind and everything around me is as real as you or me. It was just that my eyes lacked the ability to paint my pictures. It was starting to freak me out that I wasn’t able to see and I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t. My muscles refused to budge. I felt a cold bolt of lightning run down my back and legs as I realised I couldn’t move. And then I heard another voice, and knew this one immediately.

“Hi Sam……..How are you? Sorry, silly question I suppose……..Stevie’s mad at you, but I’m not. I’m trying to keep it together for your mum. She’s sobbing all the time. I haven’t cried, I still hope that it’s all going to be fine. It is Sam isn’t it. It has to be. See you later. I love you.”

I recognise that voice, Ellie, she’s my partner. Or girlfriend as I still prefer to call her. Partner sounds like we run a McDonald’s franchise. So I stuck with girlfriend even though she was constantly telling me off for it. The look she gave when chastising me was always a loving look, with just a hint of a smile, and I suppose that was her way of allowing me to be myself, despite her own strong contemporary beliefs. She was very good at letting me be me, even though I was a pain in the arse. She made me being me seem easy and that’s all a partner should be.   I’ll have to start saying partner instead of girlfriend.

I started to make out noises like footsteps. They kept to the same rhythm, becoming more emphatic as they neared. These folks were in their smartest shoes, the clip-clop kind that always cost a fortune, high heels for women and metal toes for men. The only difference was the speed, some people walked like penguins, quickly while barely lifting their legs. Others walked like they were taking huge steps every time and hopping from stepping stone to stepping stone trying not to get wet. I had never noticed this before. That’s something else to tell Ellie when I see her next. I hope she comes back soon. I miss her voice, although now that I come to think about it I couldn’t smell her when she was standing over me even though she was inches away. I can also hear the faint sound of crying. If there’s one thing I hate it’s a fuss. Give me a little time and I’ll be fighting fit, ready to take on the world again. Once again I could hear footsteps coming towards me. They were long, slow steps, as if a little nervous of coming to see me.

“You don’t know me. I’m the reason you’re here. I’m sorry Sam.”

And with that I heard the footsteps again, but much faster this time, heading as far from me as possible, shuffling with embarrassment. Well, that’s a fine thing to say to a sick man, who was that? I didn’t recognise the voice this time but I hope he gets the next train to the land of positivity. I wish I could see, I’d pretend to be asleep next time he came around.

I became aware of a continual weeping and sniffing to my left that was getting louder and louder. This was getting silly. It sounds like my mum, but I haven’t heard her footsteps, has she been there for a while? Or is she getting lighter footed in her old age? Not that she is old, she’s 54. She does sometimes act like each day is her last and that can get a bit wearing. Maybe she needs to take a train ride with that other guy. It could be the start of a beautifully miserable relationship! Anyway, she sounds very sad, if only I could lift an arm and reach out to her. I hope it’s enough for her that I’m thinking about her and if I could, I’d give her one of my legendary bear hugs. People underestimate how powerful a hug can be. I can hear more footsteps.

“Andrea, how are you?” said a voice.

“I’m fine, been a difficult few days since……..” said my mum.

“I can imagine. We’re all thinking of you and Sam. If there is anything we can do, you have to promise to let us know.”

“OK, I promise, thanks for being so kind. I think we both need that at the moment.”

And with that both sets of feet wandered off, leaving me to ponder what had happened to me. I remembered little, but the last thing I did remember was the setting sun on my face and birds in the sky. I also remember Ellie. I was taking her for dinner, nowhere flashy but somewhere she liked and I remember the night we had after, full of joy, warmth and talk about what we wanted to do in life. We had been together for a year and in that time we had made vague plans of getting married and a dog, although not necessarily in that order. She loved animals, although some said that was why she loved me. I wasn’t the best choice for a future but I had dreams and hopes that I wanted to share with her. I just couldn’t always explain them. On that night I shared my thoughts and she smiled and looked almost embarrassed that I wanted all these things with her. That smile made me really happy and despite her sad words earlier, that’s the face I remember now. I promised myself that when I got up again I wouldn’t just talk about being her partner, a good partner, I would act like one. This made me feel better than I had all day.

I tried to call out, to find out what had happened, but my mouth remained still. So I tried to wiggle my fingers and I couldn’t. My toes were the same. I thought it might be funny to fart and shock everyone that was around me but that wasn’t going to happen either. Up until now my breathing had relaxed but once again it started to get faster as I worked out that I was not in a position to communicate in any way at all. And the darkness felt cold against my skin. They need to turn the heating up. The last time I felt like this was when I went to see Steven in his flat, he was a bit of a skinflint and didn’t have the heating on even though it was mid-January in Edinburgh. There was no condensation, not even a hint of warmth, just a pile of thick jumpers of various colours on a chair that got smaller as the night drew in and the haar brought in the icy North Sea air through the thin walls. As I thought about that night watching the football on the telly I felt a thud above my face and in all honesty I nearly jumped out of my skin. And maybe I would have, if I could move.

“Is it time to leave?” said a voice.

“10 minutes and we’ll be ready” replied my mum. With that she sobbed some more.

“The flowers are lovely, did you choose them?”

“No” replied my mum. “They were sent over by the idiot who caused all of this. Can you get them out of here for me? Subtly.”

No more was said. She must have been talking about the shuffler. He’s the reason I’m here then. I can understand being the reason for the pain of others. Ellie and Steven know this more than most, they have been the butt of my excesses over the years. They argue over what best for me like I’m not even there and then expect me to take sides between the two people I love the most in the world. The last time was over driving lessons. I wanted to learn to drive, easier to get a better job and also it would be great for Ellie and I to escape from the city now and then. She loves the sea. She thought it was a great idea and said I might grow up a bit with the responsibility of having a car. Steven thought it was a bad idea. I couldn’t control a beer bottle, how could I cope with a car? Fair point I suppose.

……That’s it, why I’m here. I have a vague memory of walking along the road near my flat. I’d had a couple of beers at my local, not that I would tell Ellie or Steven that. They give me enough grief over my poor choices without actually inviting their disgust. And Steven clearly blamed me even though it wasn’t my fault. As I walked I heard a scream and a commotion behind me, the rev of a car engine, the squeal of brakes and then a hard thump in the back. I don’t remember much more, but it must have been a 4×4, the thud was quite high up my spine. No wonder I can’t move, although the blindness I can’t really explain. Some sort of after effect, hopefully it will pass. I felt a strong sense of relief as the images of that day, despite how painful they were, were now returning.

I needed Ellie by my side, but all I could here was crying. It was getting louder and I suddenly felt movement all around me. A creaking noise and muffled dunts like far off thunder. I could feel myself being lifted. I was uncomfortable and as I was rocked gently to the left and right I could feel just how hard this bed was. Except it wasn’t a bed, too hard for that and the creaking sounded like wood bending. I was in a box, a wooden box. My breathing became rushed and shallow as I yearned for Ellie’s voice, but I couldn’t hear her. I wanted to cry out for her but I couldn’t. I could only listen. I knew now what had happened. In a state of shocked paralysis I waited for the inevitable resolution as to what had happened to me. I could make out music and one loud voice booming around my wooden cage.

“Sam MacIntyre was your son, friend, colleague. His death will leave a huge hole in all your lives which will be impossible to fill.”

Blane’s Careless Wispas

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A man with a rusty tannoy and a wooden clipboard told me I was on. I stepped onto the stage and walked over to the table which stood at the front of the stage and the faces in the crowd stopped bobbling, eyes widened and the chatter of voices died away. The table in front of me was a fold away and it dipped a little in the middle and on this chocolate altar was placed a line of 10 cups of warming hot chocolate. This was my first ever chocolate eating Heptathlon. The 10th Great Annual Chocolate Ingestion was in full spring and there was a category for every kind of chocolover. There was tasting of new formulations. There were world record attempts, such as eating 8 Mars Bars in the fastest time without being sick. There were talks and lectures by expert gourmands. And finally, there were the extreme chocolate sports. You could surf on liquid chocolate or go paintballing with chocolate filled paintballs. It was the Comicon of cocoa beans and here we worshipped with awe and some silliness in equal measure.

Clipboard man took the microphone, which hung from the roof like in a boxing ring, and announced my name, age, where I lived and my all time favourite chocolate. I received a cheer for each piece of information, but the fact that Cadbury’s chocolate buttons were my favourite was met with a low dismissive buzz and a few wolf whistles. I assumed this wasn’t good. The clipboard man smiled. He had few teeth. Too much sponsors product I thought to myself.

From the stage I caught sight of Jonas Blane, a gargantuan character. He was outspoken, sneering, contemptuous and possessing of a belly that took away the view of his size 14 feet. He was well known in chocolate circles for his knowledge of chocolate and his contempt for others with lesser wisdom. For instance, he knew to smell first, and then eat. He prided himself on his knowledge and his tastes were as refined as any wine or whisky drinker. He knew the best instantly and the worst was treated with a screwed up face, which during competition made him look like a magnificently fierce chocolate monster. I momentarily sang a couple of bars of a song from REM’s Monster album. Blane had been in trouble with the law in the infamous “Chocolategate” scandal a couple of years ago. He had been filmed trying to sell Thornton’s premier range recipes to a competitor and had been jailed for industrial espionage. Blane returned and when he won the competition last year it was seen as a great return to form by some and a disaster for the respect of the competition and indeed the industry for others. He was in prison for 4 months and it had not been plain sailing by all accounts. I could see him in the crowd and he didn’t look himself today. He seemed more hunched over, his head dipped a little more than usual and it gave him a less confident posture. Surely he had known he would get caught and a chocolatier getting nabbed by the law is obviously bad news:

• Bars are for drinking in and having a merry old time, not for peering through with a tear running down your cheek as you realise the guards won’t be bringing you hot cocoa or Horlicks in bed.

• Prison officers are often no better than their captive audience. They’re called screws for a reason. They will screw you over for a bite of your bounty bar.

• The minimum wage for prison labour is 49p an hour. This hasn’t changed since 1974. If the rest of the prison is stuck in the same twisted time-warp then I’d happily live in 2012 instead. Nowadays I can only get a snack size Twix for that price and I have a preference for king size.

• Cinema has it all wrong. There is no Red or Andy Dufresne in Saughton and no Colditz style solidarity in Barlinnie. Everyone hears about the drugs stashes, but did you ever hear of a chocolate stash in prison?

• Individuality is stamped on in prison. Look at the uniforms. How could you celebrate a love of coffee Revels in that environment? And there are no pockets in the uniforms. Where do you keep your break time Walnut Whip?

• The only heat of human contact you’ll feel is when your roommate (usually called Ramon or Frankie) is snuggling into your bed late at night to tempt you with his tube of Smarties.

• Charles Bronson and Peter Sutcliffe are in prison. Would you really want to share your Toblerone with them?

If prison is for people who are master manipulators then I think anyone like me with the cunning of a goldfish should stick to paying the bills through legal means. With that I refocused my mind on the competition. The crowd was silent and not even the grass twitched under the audience’s feet. Clipboard man counted down from three. “THREE”, my hands were still shaking, “TWO”, I imagined the look on Blane’s face if I managed a favourable time, me, a novice, “ONE”, A fly was buzzing about and I shooed it away from my first cup of chocolate goodness, “GO!”.

The last cup seemed to take a depressingly unfeasible 10 minutes, in reality it was much quicker and I managed all ten cups in less than a minute and a half. The crowd cheered and hurrahed and went completely nuts. For a moment I felt like Justin Bieber on stage. The adulation was overwhelming and I walked off stage and immediately went to the toilet, pulled down the lid and sat down. My whole body was dancing with the glucose, adrenalin and excitement and I wondered how I was going to manage 8 mars bars later that afternoon.

Where are all the “Wizzard” new Christmas tunes?

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If you were around in 1973, you might remember Noddy Holder and the Slade boys releasing “Merry Christmas Everybody”. I don’t, as I was born 5 years later. But every Christmas since then this song and a select few others (Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin’ Stevens etc) have been the soundtrack to my festive season.

Isn’t it strange that since these songs were written there has been very little in the way of decent Christmas songs that have captured the imagination. The Killers tried. The Darkness tried. Many X Factor failures have tried. But no songs have appeared since the late 80s/early 90’s that have broken into the Christmas CD monopoly. And that’s sad, in a way only Santa on Boxing Day can appreciate.

So here’s a suggestion. In the film About a Boy (2002), Hugh Grant played Will Freeman, who’s dad wrote a famous Christmas song and this has allowed him to live comfortably from the royalties ever since. Considering the lack of creditable alternatives, would it be that much of a stretch to believe that the unappreciated actor who played a dick of a guy and is the son of another guy with some musical DNA could create the next great tune of the Christmas songbook? Could it be worse than Bob the Builder? Could Hugh Grant fix this Christmas tragedy?