Tuesday, 21 April 2015

My first book

My first book, "KERBY: Funny tales from a 1990's Scottish childhood" is available now from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/pfg3t7n and has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KERBYbook

If you're a fan of the blog, please check it out!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Referendum week. Wednesday.


A frustrating morning spent phoning people and trying to find where I could be best used today. It felt like I was at a loose end, a ball of nervous energy, just desperate to find the most effective way to spend my time.

Eventually I just picked up my phone, rang my pal Colin, and asked if he fancied meeting up to stoat around town finding strangers to talk to! In the end, that's exactly what we did, bouncing around Kilwinning main street, Ayrshire College, Kilwinning train station and finally Pennyburn, having discussions with anyone who was happy to chat about the referendum - and today, 24 hours out, that was most people we approached.

The most overwhelming experience from today wasn't the high number of yes voters - easily 80% of those who did stop to talk were YES, and many said that the majority of family/friends were the same - but the large chunk of folk we met who were still undecided with just a day to go. Loads of people still desperate for that last bit of information to knock them off the fence they were sitting on. Thankfully we were armed with The Wee Blue Book - in my opinion, the best bit of Yes literature out there - and sent them away with something to think about over a cup of tea tonight.

It was a great feeling to think we were helping these people reach their monumental and historic decision. Whether by answering their questions or just sending them away with the book, my hope is that even just one of the dozens of undecideds I spoke to elects to put an 'X' in the Yes box based on my input - although I'd much prefer all of them did!

After a few hours at that, I headed to Bourtreehill in Irvine to chap doors and - in all honesty - to get rid of the last of my leaflets! My worst fear was still having bags of leaflets/flyers/books to be chucked into the recycling on Friday morning. If sticking these bits of paper through another hundred doors helped convert even one person, it felt like it would be worth it.

Again, speaking to people in that community, from old ladies on the street to the Scottish bus driver who had lived almost all his life in London through to the Asian guy running the village shop, the overwhelming impression was of a neighbourhood that was about to go out and vote yes tomorrow.

I came home full of hope and optimism, only to receive message after message from friends that strengthened that feeling. I had spent the day texting 20-odd friends and family that I thought might be worth following up, and pinging out half a dozen private messages on Facebook to people I had had conversations with over the months.

People came back to me tonight - some with questions, which I answered as best I could - to tell me in their droves that they had decided to vote yes. Friends, family, people who I had written off as a "lost cause" as they seemed so likely to vote no. It's hard not to go into tomorrow with a lot of optimism based on these experiences.

I hope tomorrow isn't just a case of putting my X in the box then waiting for Friday. I hope to find something productive to do - whether it's taking up a spot outside the polling station and chatting to folk as they come in in one last attempt to help change minds, or going to the college to remind folk to get out and use their vote for the first time.

But either tonight or tomorrow, I'll reach a point where I know I can no longer do ANYTHING to help Scotland win its independence. And that's going to be a weird, saddening, uncomfortable moment for me, as that fight is one I've fought since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

I'm just glad that this opportunity - which I never truly thought we would have - is one that Scotland grasps. Please, let it be YES.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Referendum week. Tuesday.

Following on from yesterday's article, I got a call last night from local Yes campaign organiser Helen, who had been passed my number. I headed round to her house and picked up boxes full of The Wee Blue Book and Yes Scotland's 'Your Future' books, to be delivered to known "undecideds" in the area.

As I arrived at nearly 8pm, she and her family were just sitting down to a takeaway after a long day on the campaign trail - and she still made time to meet me, interrupting her dinner, to hand over campaign materials and chat for ten minutes. For me, that summed up the nature of the grassroots movement that is happening all across Scotland.

After a broken sleep, nervous and excited about Thursday, I watched a bit of Kevin Bridges' 'What's The Story?' referendum special over breakfast then headed out with my one year old in the pram to get started. As I was already covering an area of Kilwinning's Whitehirst Park with Yes Scotland fold-out leaflet/posters and Green flyers, I went out with a couple of pals this morning and killed two birds with one stone - hitting the undecided houses with The Wee Blue Books or Your Future books, and the rest with the fold-outs. Over the course of a few hours we must have covered a couple of hundred houses.

Some of the houses identified as "undecided" had evidently made up their minds in recent months - 3 displayed Yes materials while 2 had No stuff in their windows.

We came across 1 No sticker on a car, in contrast to around a dozen Yes stickers. The only negative reaction we had at doors was one guy coming out to hand back leaflets.

Otherwise it was all pretty positive - we spoke to 10 yes, 2 no, and 4 undecideds. 4 people didn't say. A couple of the undecideds came across as soft yeses, and I left optimistic that with the help of The Wee Blue Book they were likely to reach a Yes vote.

After a morning going round the doors, the wee one and I headed down to Ayrshire College in Kilwinning town centre, to help run a Yes stall during the college lunchtime. There was huge interest from the students, with loads taking badges, stickers, leaflets, and coming over to chat and get more information. Over the course of a couple of hours, we came across very few Nos, and had car after car after car tooting their horns and giving thumbs up in support.

There was another Yes stall just a short walk away at the bottom of the main street and we heard from them that the reaction was similarly positive.

This evening, I headed back out to cover more of Whitehirst Park, covering another 100 houses and having some very positive chats with people on their doorsteps.

Tomorrow I'll be spending all day leafleting, chatting to folk on their doorsteps, distributing The Wee Blue Book and getting together with pals to run more stalls/events in town.

Not long now... Fingers crossed!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Referendum week. Monday.

Headed out with a few pals to cover some of the huge Whitehirst Park area of Kilwinning armed with 300 Yes newspapers, as many Greens For Yes flyers and dozens of copies of The Wee Blue Book.

With a handful of us heading round the doors, we made pretty light work of the deliveries and had it done within a couple of hours - although not without a break to scoff some 'Yes' decorated cupcakes from The Kandy Bar!

Our experience was overwhelmingly positive. Although we weren't chapping doors, we did end up speaking to people we bumped into - 10 yes, 2 undecided, 1 who didn't say and 1 no.

We also had a few Yes-decorated cars honk their horns in support, and saw maybe a dozen Yes stickers/posters in house windows. We didn't see any No material whatsoever.

In the time we were out, one of the boys got word through via texts and Twitter of no less than three undecideds he knows moving over to yes!

After covering our patch, I phoned the Yes Shop in Irvine and asked for more material to dish out and more streets to cover. Within 10 minutes, a very helpful couple had arrived in their Yes-emblazoned car to drop off 200 new flyers and a map with more streets to do tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning will involve firing those out before heading into Kilwinning town to help with a stall during the college lunch time.

All positive!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A fresh start

With 97% of eligible adults now registered and turnout expected to be between 80-90%, September 18th will mark the first time in history that the will of the Scottish people has been truly heard.

300 odd years ago, we were "bought and sold for English gold"; next week, we, collectively, decide whether to be governed by the union or whether to become independent.

Creating an independent Scotland would be a message to the world: we are fed up of the current political system. We demand accountability, democracy, equality, justice, redistribution of wealth. The government in an independent Scotland would always have to be accountable and democratic: it would answer to its people, the people who created it.

Conversely, a no vote is a weak acceptance of the status quo. It says: we're okay with this. We're okay with the private school elite, okay with unelected clerics in the legislature, okay with power in the hands of the 1%, okay with illegal wars and an aggressive foreign policy, okay with nuclear weapons, okay with rising child poverty.

The sort of political apathy that sees 66% of voters pick their cuddy in Westminster's two-horse race has been washed away with the referendum debate. The millions of apathetic or young voters who come out to vote for the first time next Thursday can be encouraged to keep a stake in politics, if we all get out to the polling station and grab ourselves something worth voting for. Not the same old, same old, but a new country. A fresh start.


With turnout on Thursday expected to be in the unprecedented 80-85% region, the electoral commission have announced measures to ease congestion at polling stations which would otherwise be unable to cope.

Yes voters are being asked to go along on the 18th September between 7am-10pm, while No voters have to cast their vote on the 19th.

Please bear this in mind, everyone.

Scottish independence referendum: OUR JOURNEY

An interesting look at the Scottish independence referendum through the eyes of the young people of youth group Arran Youth Foundations.