A speech delivered on the occasion of Hamish Fraser McLauchlan’s 80th Birthday Saturday 6th October 2018 Glenesk Hotel, Edzell My dad… Hamish is many things to many people. He’s ‘Hamish’ or ‘darlin’ to my mum. The ‘bunker’ to customers past and present. ‘Grandpa Bum’ to Rosalyn and Jamie. ‘My secret tartan love terrier’ to TV chef Nigella Lawson. But to me, Colin and Neil – he is our dad. When my voice finally broke, I was always mistaken for my dad on the phone. Do you…Continue Reading “Address to a Hambo: my dad”

The Secret of the Kelpie by Lari Don My rating: 4 of 5 stars Stunning illustrations and a story that doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of the Scottish myth of water horses. Wee Flora is an inspired little character and reminded me of Small from Levi Penfold’s Black Dog. Secret of the Kelpie doesn’t do dry humour like Black Dog, though. There is no pretence, the Kelpie really does want to eat the children. Classic wintertime bedtime story. View all my reviews  …Continue Reading “The Secret of the Kelpie”

An incredible thing happened last week. The General Teaching Council of Scotland sent its members an email informing them that the fees had been increased by £15, from £50 to £65 a year. And suddenly the world of social media went ballistic with rage. Apoplectic teachers unleashed a firestorming mix of criticism, disbelief, abject disappointment and dejection. They were unhappy at a 30% increase in the fees despite their own meagre pay awards decreasing in value compared to the rise of living costs in the…Continue Reading “Tipping Point”

Tell your tales, set yours sails, you’re on your way In January 2001, I left my job as a projectionist at the Cameo Cinema in Edinburgh and set off for the bright lights of Bottrop, Germany to work as a British Council lingua-assistant in a Grundschule (primary school). I played this song by The Guthries on repeat before I left. It was a transformative experience. Overnight I became the exotic teaching legend of Herr McLauchlan (not my own definition). As soon as I returned I…Continue Reading “Season To Leave: let’s go exploring”

SCRUBBERS! Being a wee brother is both a curse and a blessing. There is a 10.5 year age difference between me and Neil. Growing up, Neil and Colin were more like gods than mere mortals to me. They arrived back from mysterious far away cities, like Dundee and Edinburgh, fitted out in long trench coats, attitude and humour that influenced and guided my tastes in music, book, films and life in general. I still had the feeling they both looked upon me as but a…Continue Reading “With Neil and I”