Thursday, 8 November 2012


(for my dear friend Lyn Clements)

Was that you I saw last night
on the other side of the street,
wearing a far away smile
and light on your feet?

Was that you I saw last night,
untouched by Autumn  cold?
All heartbreak in the past
Now  the story's been told 

Was that you shining back at me
between the street lights and the cars,
suddenly so young again,
as untroubled as the stars?

I wrote this before I heard of the death of my
beautiful and gracious friend, Lyn Clements.
I hope she doesn't mind my presumption
in dedicating this to her.

John R. Nicoll

My comic novel, The Balloon Man in Edinburgh, is available
on Amazon. To rerad the reviews etc. please click on link below

Friday, 19 October 2012


And the prize for toe curling, nauseating, self righteous, put you off your ginger latte hipocrysy goes to Starbuck's right out of Seattle.
  These are the guys who like to see themselves as the model for modern, caring corporate life. They are all for saving the Rain Forest and drenching you with their self proclaimed righteousness from the moment you walk through the door with their point of sale advertising telling us what they are doing to save our world.
  What they are NOT doing is paying taxes commensurate with the fortune they are raking in off our High Streets. They may, indeed, be making some small difference to the health of the rain forest but if they paid the taxes they should be paying a sane rate of tax they could be helping to pay for the health care for some of the inhabitant's of this country who have been lining their pockets for years but, through their convoluted accounting procedures which would make the average seem as straight as an hb pencil, they have contrived to pay an absolute pittance on the profits they have sucked out of the U.K
 They are not the only corporate bandits playing this game but they are all over our High Streets so the fact that they are so "in our face" makes their bare faced impudence all the more unbearable.
  People might argue that they create jobs etc. but if they closed all their outlets tomorrow and stormed off in a huff, rival British based outlets such as Costas and Cafe Nero would take over most of their shops AND pay their taxes. They have only gotten away with this because our useless politician's are either fawning over big business or letting them get away with "murder" - a happy medium is not a familiar concept to them. But owing to the press furore something may just be done this time and then we can go after Google and all those other other corporates who would rather control than serve. I would not advise you to hold your breath though.
 Just wish I had been a customer then I could have satisfaction of boycotting Starbucks!

My comic novella, The Balloon Man  In Edinburgh is available on Kindle from amazon

see below


Thursday, 20 September 2012


I love my country but sometimes I weep for it. Scotland has given the world Robert Burns, one of the greatest  lyric poets ever, Adam Smith, the towering intellect behind "The Wealth Of Nations", and William Wallace, a beacon for freedom lovers everywhere.  Down the centuries Scots have spread across the Globe benefitting many other countries with their business acumen, inventions and, like Adam Smith, their influential ideas.

  Now, though, our country is being increasingly tormented by a bunch of moral and intellectual pygmies masquerading as politicians in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood in Edinburgh. With very few exceptions they are small people with no great ability and even less vision. They are "seat warmers" whose greatest ambition (this is particularly true  of the increasingly dictatorial Scottish National Party) is to keep drawing their salary whilst poking their grubby little fingers into every area of people's lives, no matter how private.
If they have an aptitude for anything it is for arrogance and impertinence and right at the moment the chief culprit is the Deputy First Minister, Ms Nicola Sturgeon.

  Ms. Sturgeon is what is known in Scotland as a "nippy sweetie". Loosely translated this implies something that seems rather sweet but that can turn rather sour and bitter if you get too close.. Ms. Sturgeon is not so much a politician trying to serve her countrymen (that would require a modicum of humility and the lady does not do humility) more of a hectoring schoolmistress or a sort of toxic "den mother".

  Her current obsession is enabling gay couples to marry in Church. Nanny......sorry Ms. Sturgeon says:
"We are committed to a Scotland that is fair and equal...............we believe it is the right thing to do!"

  This is despite the fact that 64% of the people who responded to the Scottish Parliament's Referendum on the subject ( that's 3 times more than the people who responded to the referendum on Scottish separation from the U.K.) were against gay marriage.

 Many rightly fear that clergy who do not agree with the proposed changes could be prosecuted for refusing to marry gays in Church. Sturgeon has made airy claims that the law will be amended to prevent this happening but she must know that she has no power to keep that promise.......even if she ever intended to.

 The European Court Of Human Rights has said that while gay marriage in Church is not a "Human Right", if any Government gives gay marriage the "green light" then gays must be allowed to marry in Church. Still, "the nippy sweetie" insists in making her unkeepable promises.

 A recent survey came to the conclusion that less than 2% per cent of the overall population are gay. Probably half of them are never likely to want to marry in Church anyway and so, for the sake of 1% of the population, she is willing to snub 64% of it. This is State aided tyranny of the minority. It is manifestly NOT democracy.

 Gays are NOT persecuted in Scotland. They have huge freedom and if they so desperately want to be able to marry in Church is it not feasible for them to form their own denomination?

 Most people who balk at the reforms could probably be placated if gays were told that if they could find a Church willing to marry them all well and good but it is this element of compulsion that alarms and religious groups quite rightly see it as an interference too far. What price freedom of belief now?

  "Belief" - that is the key word. Ms. Sturgeon and too many like her have no discernible beliefs other than their own right to power and their own rightness .............see again Sturgeon's self serving quote. They pride themselves on dragging Scotland into the 21st century but if clergy go to jail for their beliefs is that not dragging us back to the 17th.

 She and her ilk, holed up in Holyrood, that coccoon at the bottom of the Royal Mile, have become more and more distanced from the lives of ordinary people who are in no way homophobic. Looking for "brownie points" from the militant gay lobby will do the general gay population no favours at all.

  I don't give much for Scotland's future if it does break away from the rest of the U.K. If Sturgeon and her kind have their way they will turn Scotland into a nasty little neo Stalinist P.C. riven state perched on the edge of Europe. Adam Smith, that hero of the great, and truly liberal, and outward looking, "Age Of Reason" must be spinning in his grave.

On a happier note

Don t miss Buster while he is in town!!!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


In any word association test the words "easy listening" could be followed by the words "Bacharach and David". That would be understandable but it would also be to sell these two song writers short.
  Together, they wrote at least 700 songs that encompassed everything from songs for at least two Classic Westerns ("The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head") to the jaunty "Magic Moments" (their first big hit in 1958 and recorded by Perry Como) to the haunting, plaintive Alfie.
  Bacharach's melodies were original, fresh and wonderful but it was surely David's sometimes witty, sometimes plaintive but always elegant lyrics that put the proverbial "icing on the cake" Lennon and Mc Cartney were cool, Dylan was social conscience in song but, when you really think of it,  it was Hal David who voiced, for the rest of us, the joys and sorrows of 20th century relationships. He did so with consummate skill and his unique brand of urbane American style that travels so well.
  He was, as a lyricist, every bit the equal of Lorenz Hart, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and for that matter - Noel Coward. Is there any better depiction, in popular song, of the misery of rejection than "Walk On By" ? Part of us would like to express those sentiments if we found ourselves in that situation but pride or a lack of eloquence prohibits us. Hal David puts it all succinctly into words though, so we don't feel isolated or foolish for feeling our hurt.
  David looked on song writing very much as a business but it might be more appropriate to say that he was a craftsman whose tools just happened to be words. Lyricists, like their poet cousins, know the value of economy and precision and the need to fashion a line of a song skilfully enough for it to carry the weight of a world of meaning. David was easily up to the mark.
  There are many good lyricists in the world but not many Hal Davids. He managed that great feat of saying profound things in a simple, though never facile, and heartfelt way.
  Hal David's lyrics helped prove Noel Coward's remark about the potency of cheap music - except for the fact that there was nothing cheap about them.

My modest effort: The Balloon Man In Edinburgh is available as an ebook from Amazon. See link below.

5star reviews   "a little gem"!

P.S. It's not a childrens book!

Monday, 13 August 2012



Well that's it then! No more self delusion. No more beating about the bush. I have
at last faced up to the truth and, in doing so, the proverbial weight has dropped from
my shoulders!
  My small Epiphany came up a back street in Aberdeen - no, dear readers, this is
not going to get sordid!!!  I was engaged with my "day job" of selling advertising space
in small local publications on a commission only basis. Things were not going well. In fact
they were not going at all, so I adjourned to a bar to get off my feet, quench my thirst and to
review the situation.
  I got more of a review than I bargained for. The truth has a way of grabbing you by the scruff
of your neck and dragging you where you don't necessarily want to go. It wasn't just this lousy
day, it was all the other lousy days. There have been two many others where I have traipsed around all
day for what amounted to, as they say in the U.S., "chump change".
  At my age EVERY wasted day is a crime. I have been doing this work to buy me time to
write - but it has done no such thing. I waste time and energy and I barely make enough to cover the expenses.
 Also, I have a bum leg which makes hours a day walking a real problem. By the end of a
working day I am hobbling along like Quasimodo on one of his "not so good days!" So, enough,
sez I.
 I am going to cut my living expenses to the bone and concentrate on writing. I have a part time
job taking disabled children to school. It only takes about an hour of my time a day and I might
just manage on what I get from that alone. Time will tell.
  I think I have made a fair start to this belated writing career. I have a short comic novella set
in Edinburgh out on the ebook format. If it goes well I shall bring it out in printed form. It has started
to sell modestly and already got 2 five star review - snippets of which appear below.
  I have set out an ambitious writing programme which includes another Edinburgh set novel and
a series of Private Eye novels - a little out of the usual - set in Glasgow.
  Well ambition is a fine thing but the "proof is in the pudding" and time alone will tell.
Wish me luck - please. I shall keep you posted. Maybe my "writer's epiphany" will bear worthwhile
fruit, after all!


"Funny, sad, poignant - a beautifully written novella. Quite an achievement"
Catherine K. Favali

"This novella is, indeed, one of life's little this fact
for yourself"
William G. Neill

The photo is of The Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh where some of the action
takes place.

ebook available from Amazon

Link for The Balloon Man directly below

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


Apologies for the gap in my posts (might have been a relief for some though). I am afraid that I do not even have a good excuse. It's not as if I have been doing anything particularly exciting - like travelling the world or single handedly saving the rainforests!
  No, the days have just drifted by in that inexorable way that they have. I have drunk a lot of coffee, stared out of coffee shop windows a lot, watching the world go by (mind you, that bits O.K. as it's one of my favourite pastimes).  You can get too much of a good thing, though, and so I decided to reconnect with the big bad world again.
  There I was, wracking my brains looking for something to write about. I was "all at sea", floundering in the waters of non-inspiration when, quite unexpectedly, dolphins swam to the rescue and nudged me to the shore. Aren't extended metaphrs wonderful?
  Seriously, though, I was greatly cheered and jolted out of my lethargy by a story about the aforesaid dolphins in my local newspaper. Every year in May they visit the mouth of the River Tay and can be seen from Broughty Ferry where I live - only this year they didn't show up.
  I regarded this as yet another piece of bad news to add to the avalanche of bad news - Syria, the failing Euro etc that has hit us all recently.
  However, I needn't have worried. They arrived safely in June, (hence the newspaper story) playing around their favourite haunts and generally cheering the locals up.
  And now a tiny bit of the world has been set to rights again!

Friday, 3 February 2012


The thought
of letting this moment
slip out of my grasp,
of surrendering it to time,
might just be bearable
if it could be vouchsafed
that each time I return to it,
down through sullen years,
it has not yellowed,
like old newsprint,
become foxed, fogged or tainted
with the aura of dead things.

Grant it, instead
the vibrance of a shard of glass
and let me forget that
each time I look
that shimmer and sparkle
will lead me on
to the inevitable wound

John R. Nicoll