On the death of a friend in shot gun alley


On Monday I lost a good friend in shot gun alley. I’m told that’s a term for our 50s. The idea is that if you make it through the random fire of premature death you’ll probably live to a ripe old age. I’ve no idea of the veracity of the claim. But on hearing of […]
Rainbow Laces comes to Scottish athletics


One of the big sports stories of the last week has been the decision of rugby league star Keegan Hirst to come out. People have rightly praised his bravery. But others will be probably be thinking surely it doesn’t matter, it’s nobody’s business but his own. However, the very fact that it’s such an uncommon […]
On being one of the 1 in 4 (and the road back)


In September I will take on the position of chair of the board of trustees at SAMH, Scotland’s leading mental health charity. This post explains why I got involved with SAMH and one of the things I hope to bring to the role. PART ONE It’s the summer of 2002. I’m 41 years old. I’m […]
Ten fault lines at the heart of the Farron affair


Much has been written and spoken about Tim Farron’s views on homosexuality. Initially, I hadn't intended to add my voice to the mix. But the more I've explored the coverage, the more I've been struck by a series of tensions and contradictions in the commentary. This piece is in part about Farron but also about […]
Letting the light in on death: love, memory and loss


Twenty years ago today at 10.21pm my partner of almost 10 years died. He was 37 and I was 34. It was a shattering moment. But it wasn’t a shock. I can’t begin to understand what it must be like to be bereaved in sudden and shocking circumstances like the relatives of those murdered in […]
The aspiration debate: why inequality matters too


Aspiration is back at the top of the left’s political agenda. Apparently Labour lost because people have it in spades and the party didn’t reach out to them. And yet not so long ago it was poverty of aspiration that was all the talk. Onlookers could be forgiven for thinking that people should make their […]
Enniscorthy, equal marriage and the ’embrace of love’


There are moments when something immediately resonates. Such a moment happened to me earlier this week when I learned that in the midst of the referendum debate about equal marriage in Ireland a number of people had walked out during Saturday evening Mass at an Irish cathedral. The walk out happened because the bishop had […]
Why Generalissimo Cameron is the wrong response to child abuse


Another week, another brief media frenzy or two about child abuse and sexual exploitation. This week it was Oxford. Next time it might be Rotherham again. All too often we get a news spike when something happens to the perpetrators or the authorities; or when the home of an alleged celebrity culprit is raided. And […]