About McPherson's Rant


McPherson’s Rant is an old Scots Folk Song about a Robin Hood Type Character who was hanged.

There is no connection, unless you count the “rant” part.  The world’s a strange place and sometimes a “rant” at absurdity and unfairness is just what’s required.

Here you can expect to find examples of stupidity, irony and idiocy , especially relating to Hong Kong, and with particular attention to the SCMP, and its’ letters page. A common problem with many blogs is their failure to find something new to say, I find the SCMP, and it’s letters page, provides plenty of ammunition on a daily basis and will reference them frequently. If you have your own letter not getting published, put it on our comments section.





Monthly Archives: September 2011


It’s been a while since I guffawed loudly on the bus while reading SCMP.  This morning it happened twice, TWO LAUGHS from me before Mid-day, a hitherto unheard of event.

The first was the main headline: “Cardinal Slams ‘brainwashing’ schools plan.”  I assume good ol’ Cardinal Zen, can’t see the irony as no doubt he was brainwashed at a young age, hence his adherence to a strange obscenely rich sect, led by a strange German, based in the Vatican City.  Lets be clear here, Zen does not want anything to interfere with his own system of brainwashing in Catholic schools.  Catholic education is designed to remove freedom of choice when it comes to religion, and at the same time is expanding in poor countries as poor people are more likely to believe in their promise of an everlasting heaven as they suffer their hell on earth.

Lets not go into the whole predatory priest thing, it’s been done already, but I’ve mentioned before that church’s obscene opposition to condoms which can mitigate poverty in these poor countries, not to mention HIV.

The second guffaw, related to the story: “Philippines rejects US envoy’s sex tourism claim. ” The US Ambassador said last week that 40% of men visiting the Philippines were sex tourists, hardly worth a chuckle, but the retort from New Tourism Chief, Ramon Jiminez, had me rolling on the floor.  Mr Jiminez took issue with the diplomat and pointed to data from immigration and passenger exit surveys that showed NO TOURISTS admitting to having sex holidays: “Instead, responses showed visitors indulging in Shopping, sightseeing and visiting friends and relatives.”  Now I might be wrong here, but I don’t think the Philippines immigration form has a Sex Tourist option under reason for visiting, I could be wrong, maybe I just never noticed it before, but even if it was there, do they seriously believe that anyone would choose that option?  Surely he is joking, or dumb, or both.

A final point does spring to mind, more irony in fact.  It’s a bit rich for the American Ambassador to opine from the high ground, when in fact the USA was instrumental in creating the demand for sex around their Military bases in the Philippines, not to mention supporting Marcos as he and his cronies impoverished the country, and as we know poverty forces women into tough choices and prostitution is one of those choices.  So Ambassador, STFU!

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Creepy Sex Pests on MTR

In “How we see it” earlier this week in the SCMP, there was an article about sex pests on the MTR.  Fair enough you might think, there are some strange people out there.  Here is the article:

“The good news is that almost all categories of crime are down on the MTR. Only pickpocketing has worsened, with the number of cases going up by 7 per cent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year. Even sex crimes have levelled off or dropped slightly.  The bad news is that offenders are getting more ingenious and inventive.

It appears that crowded MTR stations and trains, and public transport in general, are magnets for sex pests. The overly chummy conditions make it easier for creeps to hunt for victims.  A favourite ploy has been using hidden cameras to shoot up women’s skirts.

One guy was recently arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist because an object was bulging from his leg. It turned out to be a data storage device attached to a pinhole camera in his shoe, which he used to take lewd photos of women’s underwear.

Police have seen 38 such cases in MTR stations or on trains in the first six months of the year, though most weren’t as technically involved.

Molestation is another problem, with 83 cases in MTR stations and on trains in the first six months. One victim was a two-year-old girl who had her leg touched.

This type of crime fuels calls for women-only trains. But such separation is unlikely to be effective. It further stereotypes women as victims needing special protection. And it neglects the fact that many such crimes are committed in stations, not in train compartments.

Tougher penalties, enforcement and patrolling are needed. A public education campaign is also needed to encourage bystanders to lend a hand and call out for help.”

I’ve been sitting on my reply for a few days, as I’m just not sure how to raise the below subject without being hounded out of town, but here goes.

One line stuck me as rather strange, or at least deserving of more explanation.  It says:

” Molestation is another problem, with 83 cases reported on trains in the first six months.  One victim was a two year old who had her leg touched.”

I’m sorry! Is a leg being touched molestation?  Was there a hysterical mother involved?  Was it a dirty old man, or a young kid. Was someone rubbing a kids leg, or did they brush against it?  Did it go to court?  Would a kid whose leg was rubbed know it had just been molested?

To just throw such an allegation into a commentary piece without explanation smacks of shoddy journalism and a pretty crap effort at sensationalism… oh but then again, it is the SCMP.

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Ranger Vs Celtic

Over the years, we’ve been asked many times by customers to show Rangers Vs Celtic matches.  I’ve always refused as I don’t consider the event a valid sporting event, tribal warfare might be a more apt description.  But on Sunday I relented, a few people who were in asked, and they were neutrals.  All was fine, I went to meet some friends, having no interest.  Later I got an email from a customer explaining how pathetic, sectarian peasants, with barely a brain between them, managed to spoil a pleasant evening in The Canny Man, and this e-mail, explains why I was right all along, I only wish they’d keep their pathetic shit on the West Coast of Scotland instead of exporting it worldwide, and yes, I do concede it’s a minority, however, it’s the minority being arseholes that people remember.

Here was the email from a customer:

Let me set the scene……..
I arrived in the bar at 7.30 as the game commenced on the big screen. 
Inside there were 20+ customers watching quietly, the commentary was turned off and the bar music continued to play. More customers continued to trickle in and everyone was in a relaxed and comfortable mood. 
15 mins passed when suddenly the door flew open and in came a bunch of 6 younger blokes. The group except one were all dressed in Celtic colours and lead by one who was exceedingly more vocal than the rest. 
That complete idiot was later indentified to me as Martin, by Colin the manager from the Blue Goose bar, he told me they had been in his place before coming to the Canny Man. 
Martins battle cry and introduction to all guests benefit was ‘Fuck Rangers’ ‘Fuck the UDA’ and ‘Fuck the Queen’……… 
This group immediately occupied the front stalls seats directly in front of the big screen. 
Martin their leader continued and in fact increased his tirade of abuse against anything Rangers that appeared on screen and requested that the commentary now be turned on. 
As this happened, I watched as guests immediately began leaving the bar. 
Big Norrie my kilted associate, one of the boys on his way to New Zealand, and I decided we would continue to remain seated on the couch and not be intimidated by this obnoxious behaviour. 
Thinking your staff would have informed you by now of what was going down I was expecting you to come thru the door any minute and deal with this problem. 
(Head kicking time)
At half time we gave up listening to the outbursts and decided to move into the pool table area along with another group of kilted Scots guys who had been sitting on the opposite couches. 
By this time the bar had virtually emptied and the staff looked on at these people in disbelief. 
A few games of pool were played, and we continued watching the game on that areas small screen when suddenly the peace and tranquility was interrupted by the sound of breaking glass followed by Martins screaming voice as he remonstrated with one of your girls over by the big screen. 
It was at that point those left decided something had to be done and I immediately asked the senior girl for your number to alert you. 
Before I knew it Big Norrie had decided that it was his time to intervene before the girls copped even more abuse and the situation got totally out of control and went over to confront Martin telling him that his behaviour was disgraceful, to calm down, and behave. 
It seemed to work….we watched as the staff finally persuaded the group to leave.
Was it over ? not quite….. but close !
Martin and his mates came back in for a final go and delivered a few gobfulls of abuse. Realising that the situation could get a little sticky as the numbers started to change against their favor they decided to leave. 
When we left a bit later it was not totally surprising to see Martin and his bunch staggering about outside Carnegies. 
After 5 minutes verbal tooing and froing with him and his mates we decided to head down to the Blue Goose and be told by Colin that he knew Martin and watched them head down your way to you to watch the game !
Alls well that ends well, but next time I’ll understand when you say ‘that games not showing in my place tonight.’

It’s a shame the staff didn’t see fit to call me, as I was out with some rugby player mates, who would have been more than willing to be unreasonable and aggressive to them.

And so, those of you who are sensible and reasonable fans of either persuasion, now know why I will never show that crap again.


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The Original Canny Man’s Obituary

Over the years, in fact since I opened The Canny Man in Wanchai in 2005, many people have asked me what it means, and why I called it The Canny Man, the story began in Edinburgh, in 1993, where I was a journalism student.  One day a few drinking buddies and I, just fresh from avoiding the last class of the day, elected to go to a bar called ‘Canny Man’s’ a bar adjacent to our campus up in Morningside, home of  ”wee women in tweeds”, an affluent area, if you disregard the ubiquitous students.

In short, we were refused service, as The Canny Man’s owner held somewhat disparaging attitudes towards students, and preferred to keep his bar an Oasis of regulars.  There and then, I decided one day I would own a bar called The Canny Man, and I would also elect to make it my own wee oasis, and so my oasis in Wanchai came about.

The old fella who refused me and my mates, died a few weeks back, and it seems only fitting that I should reprint his obituary from The Scotsmans Newspaper.  The old boy was a character and you don’t get many in the trade anymore, dominated as it is by soulless chains offering the same shit.  To Watson Kerr, famous around the world, and to his family…A toast… Slainte, I hope the family carry on his worthy traditions. Original obituary here

Here is the full text, it makes interesting reading.

Obituary: Watson Kerr, renowned Edinburgh innkeeper

Published Date: 07 September 2011

By Martin Hannan

Extraordinary Edinburgh publican whose unique approach to hospitality brought his Canny Man’s pub legendary status

Watson Kerr, renowned Edinburgh innkeeper.

Died: 3 September, 2011.

IF EVER a man suffered from the wrong image it was Watson Kerr, innkeeper extraordinaire of Edinburgh, who died at the weekend.

Arguably the capital’s most famous publican, Kerr was “mine host” of the utterly unique Canny Man’s public house in Morningside. He passed away last Saturday, leaving his family in shock, and his devoted regular clientele bereft of a kenspeckle figure in their lives, while not a few people around the world are still bewildered as to why he refused to serve them simply because he didn’t like the look of them.

Watson Kerr gained his celebrity by doing things very much sui generis, and to coin a phrase, it was either his way or the highway for those who entered his establishment. He had no hesitation in barring people whose conduct was less than becoming, or even because they were wearing what he termed offensive apparel.

His lovely and loving wife Gloria once summed up the Kerr philosophy succinctly in a note to customers: “You drink where you want, I’ll serve who I want.” She added: “He can’t stand people who can’t handle their drink.”

The Canny Man’s once boasted a sign saying “regulars only”, which was useful because, if you didn’t pass muster, staff would invite you to leave because you were not a regular, rather than say your clothes were dire or your face didn’t fit.

Kerr was what might be termed a colourful character. Even in a licensed trade which abounds with larger-than-life figures, his reputation as a publican who would stand no nonsense gained him fame far furth the boundaries of Edinburgh. Yet his renown as a martinet was not really fair, for he was by nature a kind and hospitable gentleman whose creed was the maintenance of proper public house standards.

In essence he ran The Canny Man’s like a private club and, while the rules were often unwritten, some were indeed put down for posterity in writing. To this day The Canny Man’s has a prominent sign outside – No smoking, no credit cards, no cameras, no backpackers.

Formerly the Volunteer Arms, The Canny Man’s has been in the ownership of the Kerr family since it was founded by Watson Kerr’s great grandfather John in 1871.

In appearance it looks quite normal outside, but the interior is completely eccentric, the entire premises being festooned with the eclectic collections of several Kerr generations. Bric-a-brac vies with fine art prints, lithographs, and notices and, of course, a huge collection of whiskies and other drinks on the walls behind the bars.

One small notice seems apposite at this moment: “Don’t make plans, it makes the Gods laugh.” Another notice says “Nobody’s perfect, except the captain” – a definite Watson Kerr touch.

The Canny Man’s nooks and crannies are set in richly wood-panelled recesses where a curious amalgam of the ladies of Morningside, well-bred students and the professional classes enjoy the pub’s atmosphere of dedicated relaxation.

Kerr was committed to keeping that clubbable milieu, and gained his greatest fame in the 1990s when he decided he had suffered quite enough of Christmas excesses bespoiling the Canny Man’s. He issued edicts which at various times included the following imprecations:

“NO OFFICE PARTIES. This means: DO NOT ASK. The answer is NO. And do not bring the remnants of paper-hatted clowns back here. They won’t get served and you’ll be barred.

“There will be NO Christmas decorations. This means I don’t want anyone cutting down a tree on my behalf – and I’m not a friend of the earth.

“No festive lunch. This means be truly thankful I’m not going to serve Christmas pudding, give you a cracker, and charge you double… I’m serving lunch as usual and you’ll have to wait as usual and more than likely the food will be cold by the time you get it, as usual.

“NO FREE NIPS. This means that you have not had a drink on the house this year and you will not be getting one. So don’t ask.”

He concluded his tidings of comfort and joy as follows: “Having said all of that, have a nice Christmas and New Year.”

Kerr was adamant he was only acting in defence of his regulars. He said at the time: “They give me their custom 365 days of the year and I’ll be damned if I’ll allow hordes of once-a-year clowns to disrupt things here.”

The press loved these stories and flocked to The Canny Man’s for further elucidation of the gospel according to Kerr only to be told by the staff to “go away, as we’re not publicity seekers”. Which is true – he never actively sought publicity, and even in death, the Kerr family are respecting his privacy and no obituaries are planned.

Instead, his wife Gloria penned a personal note to customers, which is on the Canny Man’s notice board: “It is with deep regret that Gloria Kerr and her children Tristan, Tara and Mark have to inform you of the death of her loving husband and their loving father.” Alongside is the first of what will no doubt be many notes of condolence which says: “Watson – a perfect gentleman.”

It can be revealed today that Edinburgh Licensing Board and the then district council took up the Christmas matter informally with Kerr, attempting to discover if his less than welcoming message was an act or the real thing – there were fears that Edinburgh’s image could suffer among potential tourists.

An emissary reported back that it was no joke and the “Christmas, bah humbug” message was quite sincere. I know, for I was that emissary, Canny Man’s being one of my haunts at the time. The board took no action, it should be said – more than one member agreed with Kerr.

He was serious about curbing the excesses of Christmas drunkenness, just as he was serious about keeping The Canny Man’s as an oasis of peace in a rambunctious city. Completely belying his image, he did innumerable kindnesses for customers, but never publicised any of them – that was not his way.

The tribute he would probably have most enjoyed came from a regular customer at the Canny Man’s for more than 40 years who, over a pint yesterday, said: “In all that time I would never dared to have addressed him as Watson. He kept a good pub… no, he kept an EXCELLENT pub.”

In an age when so many pubs have closed for a myriad of reasons, the good news is that the Kerr family will keep The Canny Man’s going. They know they have a very hard act to follow, but will surely maintain Watson Kerr’s standards, for, in an era of homogeneity and boring sameness in so many walks of life, there is surely an honoured place for a pub like The Canny Man’s.


It’s not easy being crap at sports…

It’s not easy being crap at sports, you really have to work at it, especially when blessed with a glut of talent.
As the world cup approached I took to posting a few jokes on my facebook page to wind up my English friends, always an easy task, a few phrases like this one from comedian John Bishop:
“Being an England supporter is like being the over-optimistic parents of the fat kid on sports day.”
“Snow White was returning from town to the cottage in the forest where she lived with the 7 dwarfs. In the distance she could see smoke, then as she got nearer she realized that her cottage had burnt down. Frantically, Snow White searched the forest for the dwarfs, then she heard a a lone voice saying, ‘England for the World Cup, England for the World Cup, England for the World Cup. On hearing this chant, Snow White gave a gasp of relief as she knew that at least Dopey was safe.”
Or even: What do you call an English fan with a bottle of champagne after the rugby world cup final?

Strangely, quite a few of my aforesaid English mates, have had their sense of humour surgically removed and are still very sensitive after the operation. One mate was moved to retort: “At least we’ve won something.” True, one Soccer world cup and one Rugby world cup, for the nation that invented and codified both games, but is it fair to draw a comparison between the two countries, one with a population of 60 million, the other with 5 million? ( Yes I know New Zealand has 3 million)

Lets be clear here, I am not English bashing, being a Scot I have a sober sense of expection, unfortunately, even that low expectation is generally thwarted by Scotland’s ineptititude at both codes, an ineptitude borne from pathetic participation in sports generally in Scotland. In fact the very few successes Scotland have in Rugby have been upset or shock results, more often than not against England, a common theme in Celtic nations when they face the ‘auld enemy.’ A grand slam in 1990 and shock wins in 1999 and 2000 to deny English slams, as well as a brace of wins against South Africa and Australia, are the highlights of the last 30 years!  But it can be said that given their rather small population, their rather unhealthy lifestyle, Scotland has somehow managed to punch above their weight over the decades, however, even that seems to be on the wain.

But what are we to make of England’s consistent underachievement? They have the largest player base in world rugby and they have the best football league in Europe, so the answer  can’t be structural, well in the case of the idiots that run the RFU, they are dysfunctional, but the league structure is very competitive.

Is it the national psyche?  And here I am referring to the UK as a whole.  Westwood, Andy Murray, Jimmy White, Colin Montgomery, all glorious under-achievers yet were or are at the pinnacle of their sports.  Is it our appreciation of the underdog that undoes us?  Is it the way we revel in glorious defeats, Charge of the Light Brigade and Eddie ‘the eagle’ Edwards writ large across our collective sporting history.

Every country can breed winners, but it seems the Brits lack that final 1%, the mental toughness, that turns a contender into a champion.  Nick Faldo had it but the Brits didn’t like him, Colin Montgomery didn’t and eventually became the countries favorite woolly jumper.

I am not offering a solution, merely positing a truth that deserves serious exploration.  The simple fact is England specifically,  should have more sporting success but continually fail to satisfy their adoring and long suffering fans。And it is down to individuals and teams not performing to their best on the national stage.

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Interview with Ex-Scotland Scrum Half Andy Nicol

(This article was written recently for BC Magazine and is reproduced with permission.)

It’s Sevens Long lunch time again soon in Hong Kong, Friday 16th September at Grand Hyatt.  This year the guest speakers are flanker Richard Hill of England, with 71 England caps and five Lions caps, and ex-Scotland Captain, Andy Nicol with 23 caps at Scrum Half.

Nicol, who famously led Scotland to an upset victory over an unbeaten England in the 2000 Six Nations, was in ebullient form when BC Magazine spoke to him recently

Nicol was last in Hong Kong in 2005, en-route to Clive Woodward’s disastrous Lion’s Tour; previously he played in the sevens here, in 1992 for the Barbarians at the old Government Stadium; in 1993 he returned with Scotland to the new Stadium, and then in ‘94 he played at the Hong Kong Football Club tens.

“Hong Kong is just the most amazing place.” Said Nicol, all three years were incredible and many a long night was had in Wanchai and Lan Kwai Fong.”

In fact Nicol has another reason to love Hong Kong, having kicked off the relationship with the woman who would become his wife in that venerable old Hong Kong institution, Joe Bananas, and cemented it, in another Hong Kong institution, The infamous Dragon Bar from the Hong Kong Hilton, transplanted to Scotland.  Nicol explains: “I met my future wife in Joe Bananas in 1993. I was playing with Scotland in the sevens and Janet was in holiday with her great friend Janie McLaren, the daughter of legendary commentator Bill McLaren. We first met at a function in the HSBC building, hosted by Willie Purves for the Scotland team, on the Wednesday before the tournament. But it was in Joe Bananas on the Sunday night that our romance officially started! We spent our wedding night in a hotel in Scotland called Kinfauns Castle, which was owned by James Smith who used to run the Hong Kong Hilton where we had both stayed in HK. The infamous Dragon Boat Bar was moved from HK to Perthshire and we enjoyed a few drinks reminiscing about how we met!

Nicol started playing rugby at age 6 in his hometown of Dundee and went on to his senior career with Dundee High School Former Pupils and Bath.  His international career started on 18th January 1992.  As Nicol explains: “I was 20 years old and was playing for Dundee HSFP in the 2nd division of the Scottish Leagues. The week before I had played in front of 800 spectators for Dundee v Ayr and just one week later, I played in front of 60,000 at Murrayfield for Scotland v England.

That baptism of fire ended in defeat, however there was the famous 2000 triumph to come, when asked to describe the events of that day Nicol had this to say: “The music played before Scotland ran out of the tunnel had changed just before this game to a wonderful pipe tune called ‘Highland Cathedral’. It builds to a wonderful crescendo and we planned to run out at the same time as this happened. To do this we locked the changing room door and one of the staff had a stopwatch going because it had been planned with military precision. The touch judge started knocking on the door to get us to run out but we were having none of it. As the knocks got more and more angry we stood firm and, just before the touch judge was going to knock the door down, I led the team out at exactly the right time as the pipes blasted out the crescendo. My abiding memory of that game was how cold I was at the end, I’ve never experienced weather quite like it that day. The pitch resembled a swimming pool at the end but it was also bitterly cold. When I went up the steps at Murrayfield to receive the Calcutta Cup from Princess Anne, I have no recollection of what she said to me because, by this stage, I was so cold and so wet all I wanted to do was jump in a hot bath. Still enjoyed the picture though!”

With the impending British and Irish Lions Visit to Hong Kong BC asked Nicol for his thoughts.  He said: “I think it is a brilliant idea the Lions playing in HK. It has been tried with some success, with NZ playing Australia, but I expect the Lions will be even bigger due to the large expat community. The franchise is one of the strongest in world sport already, the shirt is one of the biggest selling shirts on the globe, this game will only make it bigger.”

In fact Nicol was on two Lions Tours, which he describes in an understated way as “quite interesting!” He says: “My Lions career is quite interesting because although I went on 2 Lions Tours, this does not tell half the story! My first tour was in 1993 in New Zealand and I was flown in as a temporary replacement as cover for Welsh Scrum-Half Robert Jones who had taken ill. I was there for 6 days and during that time I sat on the bench for the Lions v Taranaki, got on for the last 6 minutes, then got sent home the next day. So my first Lions tour was 6 days and 6 minutes of rugby and that was the longer of my two tours! In 2001, I didn’t make the squad but I went to Australia with a supporter’s tour. Now everyone knows what happens on those trips, you drink, fall down and then drink some more. This was my ‘ training ‘ schedule as we went round Oz, from Brisbane where the Lions won the first test, through Melbourne where Australia leveled the series and up to Sydney for the deciding test match. On the Friday night before that match, I received a phone call from Donal Lenihan the Lions Manager, enquiring about my fitness. Lying through my teeth I said I was fine and asked why he was asking. He informed me that there was an injury to one of the players and, when he told me it was Austin Healy, I thought, that’s such a shame because he is such a nice guy! So, having spent the previous 2 weeks sampling every bar in the Australian Eastern seaboard, I was asked to sit on the bench and be the replacement scrum half for the final deciding match. Probably, it turned out for the best, as I was not needed to go on to the field of play but, just to round off the most bizarre 24 hours of my life, when I went back into the changing room after the game, my number, No 20, was pulled out of the hat for the drugs test! All I can say is, thankfully, they do not test for alcohol!

Since Nicols’ last cap Scotland have endured some pretty torrid and tortuous results as they struggled to adapt to the new level of professionalism, BC asked Nicol his thoughts on the current Scottish rugby set up:  “There is no doubt that professional rugby has not been a friend of Scottish Rugby. Since professionalism in 1996, there have been a few highs but many more lows as Scotland, as a country, failed to adapt to and embrace professionalism properly. We suffered from terrible infighting between the traditional clubs and the centrally run districts that the SRU decided was the best route for Scotland to take when the sport was opened up. It is only really in the last few years that we seem to have found some sort of balance in the Scottish game and, coincidently, the performance of the national team has improved. Scotland struggles on two counts in particular and they are, lack of playing numbers and lack of private investment into the professional game. Until we see increased levels in both, Scotland will still struggle at Pro Teams level.  On how to enhance the sport in Scotland Nicol had this to say: “Government investment is key. Too many people in Westminster or Holyrood are happy for the private schools to develop the game at grass roots level. There has to be much more emphasis on getting our kids doing active sports, not just rugby, and key to this are good facilities. We are not blessed with the best weather in Scotland yet we insist on trying to encourage kids to take up the sport when it is freezing cold and pitches are waterlogged. I know it is radical, but I would move to summer rugby for kids to allow them to experience rugby in the best weather and hence, conditions we have.”

HK has always had a large Scottish community, who were and are always very supportive at Sevens time. To try to capitalize on this latent support a new team, Hong Kong Scottish with links to London Scottish will enter the Premiership division this season.  There are now 5 Scottish Under 20 players with Hong Kong Scottish, as well as Andy Hall, Sam Pinder and David Tait all playing out here, plus HK-born Graeme Morrison and John Barclay in the Scotland team alongside Jim Hamilton who has a HK Chinese grandmother. We asked Nicol if there should be more focus in the Scottish set up on players from abroad, he had this to say: “I was working for the BBC at Melrose so was delighted to see HK Scottish playing there. There are so many Scots all round the world but especially in HK that I think it is a great idea and if they ever need a guest coach!” He went on: “I played with Andy Hall and Sam Pinder and look forward to catching up with them on my trip. Scotland need to pull on all players that are qualified where ever they are playing in the world but HK Scottish should help in this regard.”

With the impending world cup, BC thought it prudent to ask Andy his thoughts on Scotland’s potential, with confidence he stated: “I fully expect Scotland to qualify for the knockout stages as they have done in every World Cup to date. The tough game is obviously Argentina but I think Scotland are peaking just when Argentina look like they are slightly passed their best of 4 years ago.” He went on: “ I cannot wait for Scotland v England at Eden Park in Auckland, it will be awesome. The carrot of winning this game will be to avoid playing the hosts New Zealand in the quarters.”

There is some criticism in both non-rugby and rugby circles regarding the stop-start nature of the current game and like many Nicol have thier own thoughts, when asked if he could change two rules of rugby, what would they be, he replied instantly: “Advantage over when the ball is kicked. This will stop teams going for the drop goal knowing they have a penalty if it misses, and something has to happen to scrums and the engagement. Just about every scrum is reset and we waste too much time watching the forwards mess about.”

As this reporter is a scrum-half and thus only interested in scrum-halves we asked Nicol whether he saw himself as a ninth forward or a back, he had this to say: “Throughout my international career, I battled with 2 great Scottish scrum halves in Gary Armstrong and Bryan Redpath. Gary was definitely a ninth forward and Bryan had a fantastic pass so I tried to place myself between the two on the scrum half spectrum if you like. I had a good enough pass to get the backs moving, a reasonable break also but I could also play the physical stuff with the forwards as well. The ex internationalists that I am in touch with are a mix of forwards and backs, which proves that I was a bit of both really!

We asked Andy what the highlights and low points of his career were and he was quick to answer.

“Highlights were winning my 1st cap, every cap after that was a bonus as my dream was to emulate my grandfather who got one cap in 1932, to do this and win another 22 was beyond my expectations.  And of course winning that Calcutta Cup match in 2000, and winning the Heineken cup with Bath in 1998.  My least favourite part of my career was every loss and every injury.”

Finally as a parting shot, we asked Nicol what were his plans for the future?  He replied: “I tried coaching when I stopped playing but did not enjoy it. Hopefully, I will be involved with the BBC for some time yet as I love being involved in international rugby especially the Six Nations.”




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National Education

I’ve mentioned Peter Lok before on this, blog, here is his latest diatribe from Todays SCMP.
A bad case of double standards

I refer to the letter by Charles Chow (“Human rights violations create national and moral education dilemma”, August 24).Would he care to explain why it is OK for American presidents to promote national and moral education by exhorting their citizens to back the “my country, right or wrong” idea and putting down those who believe “me first, my country second”, but it is not OK for China to do likewise?

It is not as if America has not suppressed dissenting voices, it is only that it does so more with foreign dissenting voices than its own.

The invasions of Cuba and Vietnam are prime examples of such external suppression. In the case of Vietnam, the US sought to stop what it saw as the domino effect.

Internally, soldiers did fire on students who were demonstrating against the conduct of the Vietnam war.

Basically, America does not like to see a foreign country putting its house in order to be able to quickly rival it, which is what China has done.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Ach, where do you start with this Pish? Lok loves China, to me an illogical position for an educated man, ergo!

I’m no fan of American foreign policy, but as Churchill said: “You can always rely on them to do the right thing, after they’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.”

But regardless of America’s faults, what we are talking about here is National Education in a Hong Kong context. The government wants to introduce courses in our schools to teach kids to love China. Fair enough.

But a mature country, one that is comfortable in and of itself, would educate their citizens about the good and the bad, China accepts no criticism, least of all self-criticism, hence Mao is still a hero despite being a murderous bastard, so when they say they want national education, rest assured, The dead of the Great Leap Forward, the victims of the Cultural Revolution, the dead from the Square in ’89, and the ongoing persecution of millions of people, will not be part of that education, therefore, call a spade a spade and call it indoctrination Mr Lok.

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