Early bird catches ‘wee free’

logoprint 300Not that I’m up to much of a whimper at the moment, never mind a bang, or the bells and whistles of a ticker tape parade style PROMO. But the cat is crawling out of the bag (or out of Schrodingers box at least) and after one one year of hard work in secret, I can today reveal SOMETHING at least.

Tomorrow – 30th November, Ayton Publishing Limited launches itself upon an unsuspecting (and uncaring world). The first full catalogue THE GALLOWAY COLLECTION of 32 books (ebook and POD  paper since you ask) won’t be published till April 16th (though who knows, I may just get some ebooks out there in advance of the publication date for the lucky, desperate or demanding few who want them).

But because FOR YOU it’s a long time till April (for me, believe me it feels frighteningly close) Ayton Publishing is giving things away in advance. We’ve come up with a ‘loose’ collection called ‘Wee Frees’ which, as the name might suggest, are small free ebooks by authors close to our hearts.

test samplerThe first ‘wee free’ is published tomorrow but if you’re reading this you can get your hands on it RIGHT NOW by simply moseying on down to the website and going to the Wee Free page and in a couple of clicks it’ll be right there on your ereader.

It is a St Andrews Sampler – well, it is St Andrews Day tomorrow after all!

More Wee Frees will come between now and April to keep you interested.  And more announcements about theGalloway Raiders coming up soon. We don’t want to deluge you with excitment all in one day after all.


Everyone likes free?

Scotland-flagIt’s Scottish Book Week. I have a slightly cynical attitude to this ‘event’ I have to say. I am somewhat underwhelmed by the Scottish Book Trust if I’m honest. There are many reasons, for discussion at a later date. Suffice it to say I’m not a fan of those who use books in order to promote their own world view – (there will be much, much more from me in the next few months about the Scottish Literature/ Scottish Fiction debate and ‘who says what’s good’)- but what’s sauce for the goose etc, and so today I want to alert you to a FREE ebook for Scottish Book Week.

This is an ebook for anyone and everyone who has any interest in the Scottish Independence issue.

Because yes,

Published today in ebook format, the White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future’ is available free for all.

I tried to download it immediately it came out but it took me an hour to do so – I think the site was overwhelmed (which is a good sign?!) though of course I was worried about it being hacked – and imagining all the nay-sayers giving it ‘they can’t even organise a download, how could they run a country.’  All of which reminded me that perspective is everything.  So I calmed down, and watched Alec Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon take questions from the hungry pack of journalists (all of whom appeared to have been able to read, digest and come up with their ‘spin’ on the document with a frightening speed!! Do you detect the slightest degree of cynicism here?

Then after I’d watched the live streamed ‘launch’ and listened to the questions (the usual questions, the usual media ‘spin’ and ‘soundbite journalism’ through which one has to wade) I went back on the site and downloaded it. And reflected that this is possibly an attitude of mind one might get into in an Independent Scotland.  It’s not all about ‘smooth’ operation. It’s about being US and doing it open and transparently and giving the maximum number of people the opportunity to engage.  Sharing and talking and discussing and engaging. And taking it seriously for once. Taking some responsibility for ourselves.

I have downloaded it, but of course I have yet to READ it.  But I WILL read it. As everyone living in Scotland should. Certainly as anyone with a vote in the Referendum should. This is without doubt the most important White Paper you’ll ever read (or not) in your lifetime after all. And the Scottish Government have done what they can to get us to engage. Now it’s up to us.  Those of an independent spirit will hopefully take up the challenge.

I can’t help but think that at 600+ pages it surely should shut up all those who keep going on about NOT BEING INFORMED.  How much more comprehensive do you want it? How much easier can they make it?  It’s a free ebook for goodness sake (and online and downloadable pdf and doubtless you can front up for a paper copy if you really can’t engage with technology)

Of course there will still be those who complain about what’s in it – already I’ve heard the whining about ‘how can you say what will happen in the future when you may not be the government of the future’… it’s so tedious. The same voices who say BUT YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN US INFORMATION are the ones who cry BUT YOU CAN’T PREDICT THE FUTURE.

No folks, it’s right. No one can say with CERTAINTY what will happen in the next 10 years.  There is NO security in life folks. None.  So you either live in fear or you take some responsibility for life.

For me personally there is one certainty. A country that is afraid to be Independent doesn’t deserve to call itself a country or a nation.  It’s true, if we don’t make our own choices, others will make them for us.  Whether you are SNP or not really doesn’t matter.  The first stage of the argument is simple and beyond party politics. It’s a basic question of how you see your rights as a human being.

Ask yourself

1)     Do I want to be part of an independent country?

Everything else will follow from that.  I am a great believer in MAKE A CHOICE then MAKE IT THE RIGHT CHOICE.  If/When we are independent we will have to work to make Scotland the place we want to live in. All the politics and economics and social policy and constitution and everything that goes to make up a modern society will be up for negotiation and we will ALL have invested in it.  For me it’s a moral and emotional investment NOT just an economic argument. I want to be a proud member of a nation which has ‘backed itself’ enough to be independently self determining.  Even if we all determine to be Labour, or Tory (sorry, you will have spluttered your coffee there I know!)  or Green or whatever. This is so much bigger than party politics. It’s about us. Our society. Which is what we make it. It’s who we are and what we believe in. Beyond politics. Beyond economics.

I for one get very depressed when I think that the ‘settled will’ of people in Scotland might be NOT to be Independent. That’s so far beyond embarrassing it’s scary. And that’s why I’m prepared to stick my head above the parapet on this issue and encourage people to think hard about this. 300 years ago when the Act of Union was put in place MOST people didn’t have the opportunity to vote on the issue. This time WE DO.   The ordinary, average, Scot in the street had independence taken away from them without a by your leave. Maybe with  the promise of ‘better together.’

And we are the generation that has the opportunity to reclaim this independence. Whether you see it as righting a wrong or whether you simply see it as sensible for a country to be self determining doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be voting on short termism but of course there is no future certainty.  Thinking we’ll be ‘better together’ or better off in the short term is that kind of thinking that set the Union up in the first place. ‘I’m all right Union Jack’ is not a phrase that sits comfortably with me.

‘They can take our lives but they cannot take our freedom’ said that well known Scot Mel William Wallace Gibson.  But they did! And now we have a chance to take it back. Will we take it? Or does being Scottish mean no more than daubing a saltire on your face and singing Flower of Scotland?  Whatever you think about the economic and political ‘benefits’ of the last 300 years, just remember – there is NOTHING better than self-determination. Painting your face bright blue and singing is not the same thing folks.  It’s not ‘real’ independence.

I remember how exciting it was when the Berlin Wall came down. When the Soviet bloc ‘disintegrated’ and the small countries got back their independence. It doesn’t matter whether your country has been part of a communist ‘dictatorship’ or a capitalist ‘democratic union’ – it’s not freedom. It’s not independence.

Independence is about assuming responsibility – about making our own decisions and sticking with them and making them work –  that’s what’s at stake here. This referendum is our chance  to regain some self-respect as a people/country/nation (the word is pretty irrelevant – you either feel this or you don’t) . And it is the legacy we will pass down. I don’t want people 300 years from now to hate me for denying them independence.  And I certainly don’t want to live out the rest of my days in an un-free country however well off I am economically.

So if you feel ill informed, stop complaining. Read the White Paper. It offers the SNP vision of a future Scotland. You don’t have to agree with their ‘vision’ in every respect, but you owe it to yourself to at least get informed about the argument and think seriously about what INDEPENDENCE means to all of us.

And remember as some other independent nation (I think it’s the Australians?) says ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it.’

Happy reading folks. And spread the word.  It’s not Harry Potter or Walter Scott but it’s possibly the most important ebook you’ll ever read.

Download links follow. And remember, your Scots, which means that ‘if at first you don’t succeed’ in downloading you don’t give up and go down the pub. You keep trying.


Read online


EPUB for most e-reader devices and apps (ISBN: 9781784120702)

MOBI for Amazon Kindle (ISBN: 9781784120719)

Wise after the event…?


Or if not wise, busy at least. That’s why after the Extravaganza of the Centenary Turra Coo Riot on Saturday it’s taken me till today to let you know how it went.

The day was cold, breezy but dry and sunny. We spent a happy half an hour enjoying listening to the Pipe Band which was EXCELLENT.


There were horses, but no sign of a LIVE coo.  Someone dressed up in a fancy dress coo and of course THE STATUE but no one took up my challenge to recreate the riot in all its glory by actually bringing a live beast to the street party.

IMGP3302Hector tried to entertain the crowds with some acrobatics… the pavement was too cold for his little paws (!?!) and he kept trying to climb up for a better view of the rioting primary school children who did a sterling job of their ‘play’ despite the buffeting of the wind in the microphones. IMGP3295

All in all it was a grand day out and the dogs were happy to sleep on the sofa on their return. Job done. There’ll be no more riots for another 100 years then? Not round here anyway. IMGP3305

Just a day to go…

coo3Till (literally) the event of the century in Turra Toon.  All is peaceful now.  The coo is waiting for you. Watch the statue unveiling from 3 years ago and set out on your journey to join the throngs who will be in Turra tomorrow morning for the anniversary celebrations. The whole High Street is shut for a market. It’s an outdoor event and so we’ll be taking the dogs. Which in itself may start a riot. I wonder if anyone will actually front up  with a coo?

The Coo is coming…

coo5Two days left. The Coo stands proudly in Turriff Square now, awaiting the 100th anniversary of the closest Turriff ever got to a riot (until this Saturday that is…)

Today we’ve got wur local politician, who just also happens to be wur First Meenister, gi’en his thoughts on the whole thing.


RLS Another Year Older



Last year I wrote a post about the First Robert Louis Stevenson Day.  Since then I’ve been hard at it working on getting a collection together which has some connection with RLS.  My ‘writer’ never met RLS but he had correspondence, dedicated some of his work to and had good feedback from Stevenson, who by this time was in Samoa.

By this time next year all will be revealed and I’ll hopefully have made some ‘connections’ myself with RLS and those who love his work.  Watch this space…

In the meantime, here’s the link back to last year’s post for those who missed it, or whose memories are not 20/20.

And for anyone who is in and around Edinburgh today, there’s this on tonight


Turra Coo Countdown

turra coo3Only 3 days to go till the biggest event in Turra since the last biggest event (apart from the Show of course) in 2010, which was the last biggest event since the original ‘event’ or ‘happening’ or ‘riot’ in 1913.

For those of you who might like to venture forth and take part in the riot (sorry, celebration) yourself on Saturday, I just got my invitation  and here’s what’s happening.

Turra Coo Centenary and Turra Market – Saturday 16th November 9.30am -2pm

9.30am Turra Market, Street Closure and Shopping Extravaganza (Extravaganza… that’ll be a first in Turra!) 

10am Turra Coo Book Launch in the Auld Post Office Museum

10.30am Turriff Silver Band  and Period Costume Competition

11.oo am Welcome by Robert Lovie (compere)

11.15am Turriff and District Pipe Band Procession

12noon Markethill Primary School Play of the Turra Coo Re-enactment

12.45 Poetry Competition Readings

1.pm Bothy Ballads.

So what are you waiting for – start making your way up the road… and to keep you going, you can have a flavour of the 2010 event – another bothy ballad – the Barnyards o’ Delgaty

Turra Coo 2

coo2It’s just four days till the 100th anniversary celebrations. I predict if not a riot, then at least a crowd.

While you’re waiting, here’s a flavour of entertainment Turra Style from the Coo unveiling ceremony in 2010. This is the Bothy Ballad – The Turra Coo…

The Turra Coo

coo1Something’s happening in Turriff. Or it did 100 years ago.
Yes, here in the town that makes SleepyHollow look like a heaving metropolis, something is about to happen – again.
It was only 100 years ago, in November 1913 that A BIG EVENT happened locally. Well, the event was actually so big that it happened from September right through to November. At the time it was an act of defiance against the new fangled National Insurance Scheme. It’s gone down in history (or is that legend) as ‘The Turra Coo’ incident.
Never heard of it? Well, no, it doesn’t have the impact of the Bedroom Tax or indeed any other great world event, and for myself I’m still in two minds about exactly what the significance of the whole deal was.

Like most things, there are a number of sides to the story and with the benefit of hindsight it’s pretty hard to tell whether this was a revolutionary or a reactionary event. Depends on your perspective I suppose. But whatever, I thought it worth mentioning simply because it HAPPENED. And it’s going to be commemorated all over again this weekend.

Turriff isn’t widely known for anything much. Okay, there’s the biggest Agricultural Show in the North East every August but apart from that… so the Turra Coo centenary celebrations should just about hit the mark. And in order to give you all the big build up, right here all week  you can enjoy snippets from the ‘unveiling’ ceremony of the Turra Coo statue in November 2010 (see, up here the locals can get their act together to have things ready in advance of a big date!) The YouTube video is a bit shaky but at least someone was recording it. The last time the story of the Turra Coo was broadcast more widely, on BBC Radio was 2009 –(unavailable for viewing when I last checked it) so  if anyone knows anyone who has influence it would be nice to see it dusted off and re-broadcast (even only on iplayer) for the centenary (but then that would be too sensible a programming idea wouldn’t it?) Don’t hold your breath dear readers.  News in Turra tends to be only news for Turra. I guess there will be something in the local news about it – maybe even hit BBC Scotland- but you heard it here first…

Anyway, for those who want to know about Cows, revolution and not paying your National Insurance… here’s part one.
Introduction to the Turra Coo ‘incident’


With little time for myself to write stuff right now, and with other people writing INTERESTING things, it may look like I’m becoming some sort of hub/portal for other people’s work

Today I’m reblogging Mark Frankland’ s Class of Capitalism 2013.  It’s good. Read it. Or listen to it.  The detail follows:

And the reason I’m doing this frantic  reblogging is because I’m  trying to find a way to make quick reblog connections (outside of FB)  I’ve joined Tribrr but can only repost from my own blog on it. I’ve found something called IFTTT (I think) which will connect between Blogger and WordPress BUT only from one’s own blogs. So how the hell does one pass on someone else’s blogger post when you are a wordpress person?  I thought all this techno stuff would make life easier. if anyone has a 101 on how to get things shared properly and easily at the click of a button please feel free to let me know. Otherwise, I’ll keep experimenting.   But don’t forget to read Mark’s piece.




Blue chip? What is ‘blue chip’? According to Google, the term comes from poker: the blue chip is the highest value chip.

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