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 […]
A place called home


There’s a neon sign on the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art not far from where I stay. It’s an installation by the artist Martin Creed which reads ‘Everything is going to be alright’. I’m not normally a lover of installation art. But this piece just works. Its sublime message wraps me with reassurance. And over […]
The road less traveled by


“I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” The final two lines of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, take me back to a turning point in my life that I had cause to reflect on at the recent Stonewall Scotland Equal at Work conference. I had been […]
On being my fathers’ son


‘You only get one dad.’ I don’t know Ricky Ross. But those were his words to me in a Twitter exchange the week after my adoptive dad died last year. The conversation arose because I had thanked Ricky for his solo concert at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall a few days earlier. In particular, I mentioned his […]
Who spoke for us?


Making policy that protects the most vulnerable without using a sledgehammer to crack a nut can be a challenging business. Combine that with a tenor of policy debate in Scotland which, because of the political landscape, can quickly become binary and you have something of a perfect storm.
How Long Lost Family reeled me in


I was sceptical about Long Lost Family. The programme began in 2011 and I missed most of the first two series. I dipped in and out a little because I thought I ought to. I was chair of an adoption agency and I knew that each time the programme went out there was a spike […]
A letter to Lawrence


I went to see you this week. On Thursday in fact. I hadn’t intended to when I woke up that morning but 12 hours later I was stood in front of our old front door in Stoke Newington. The house looked as sturdy as ever. They built them to last in the Victorian housing boom […]
The day the new dawn broke


‘A new dawn has broken, has it not?’ I remember that dawn and the speech but I wasn’t there to hear it. I had left the Festival Hall shortly before Tony Blair arrived. As I said good morning to the night and headed away from the revelry I had another new horizon on my mind. […]