Monday 20 March 2023

Happy days?

If anyone receives any strange or unexpected email messages from me, please be careful. If in any doubt at all, delete them.

Some time whilst in hospital/recuperating at home, my email was hacked and my email InBox completely cleaned out. The hacker who claimed to be responsible asked for some Bitcoin and the Inbox would be restored. What an eedjit. Where the heck would I get some Bitcoin? Needless to say the demand was ignored.

The matter has been reported to ‘Action Fraud’. The police have assured me that action will be taken, but they will not keep me informed of progress. Very helpful, eh?  Virgin Media have said they may take up to 28 days to resolve the problem. That’s very helpful too, eh? At least my email has been restored but not the stolen Inbox messages.

Although my email is now functioning again, I have nothing at all prior to last Saturday so if you emailed me recently and expected a response, I am not ignoring you!

The hacker’s message was composed in poor English with bad grammar so it’s likely that the scam originated abroad, or maybe came from some recent graduate of the Scottish education system - a system which incidentally once led the world in its quality of education! Sadly no longer.

Anyway, that’s enough politics, so please be careful if you get any strange emails. Meanwhile I’m off down to the Bank to get some Bitcoin – just in case!

Meantime, recuperation is going well so please also be careful if you venture into the woods in the near future. You might bump into an unexpected rally spectator.

Saturday 18 March 2023

Robin Cunningham, 1946-2023

Robin Cunningham, 1946-2023

Scottish rallying was saddened to hear of the passing of Robin Cunningham earlier last week (Friday, 10th March) who passed away suddenly, but peacefully, at home.

A name unfamiliar to many of rallying’s younger generation, Robin won the Scottish Rally Championship Co-driver’s title in 1983, exactly 40 years ago this year. That was the year that his driver, Jimmy Fleming won the national Driver’s Championship in their Toyota Celica GT.

Robin’s presence in the car was somewhat overshadowed by the personality which drove the crew to many successes in the 1970s and 1980s. If Jimmy was the team’s showman and social convener, Robin was the supporting act that kept the show on the road.

When Jimmy opened James Fleming Car Sales in Ayr in the early 1970s, he was the main presence in the car sales showroom while brother-in-law Robin managed the workshop and service. In fact the ideal partnership.

Ever watchful to exploit a sales opportunity, Jimmy was aware of the strong motor sporting culture in Ayrshire at the time, particularly in rallying. Names like Tom Bicket, Gordon Hunter, Drew Gallacher, Ian Gemmell, Andy Smith, Hammie Hannah, George Porteous, Lawrence Seditas, John Wilson and David Fulton were regulars in the rally entry lists, so Jimmy and Robin joined East Ayrshire Car Club.

At first they contested single venue events in a Vauxhall Chevette 1300 but when the business took on the Toyota franchise they switched to a variety of Toyota machinery which included at one point, a fearsome home brewed 3.5 litre V8 Toyota Starlet.

If Fleming’s headline gabbing exploits, especially at the after rally parties, generated legendary renown, it was Robin who kept an eye on the prize. He managed the paperwork and logistics and became an extremely proficient co-driver - despite an initial reluctance! But don’t get the idea Robin was a shrinking violet, Jimmy once let slip that he had to rescue Robin from ceremonial and high jinks excesses on more than one occasion. The ideal partnership indeed.

Robin’s wife Jan and Jimmy’s wife Margaret (Robin’s sister) made regular appearances at events in the early days although it has to be said that it was only the menfolk who over-indulged. Our condolence to them both and their wider family and huge circle of friends.

The funeral service will take place on Wednesday 29th March at Stair Parish Church, KA5 5HW, at 10.00am, thereafter at Masonhill Crematorium, Ayr, KA6 6EN, at 11.15am.

Monday 13 March 2023


I hate hospitals … but thank goodness they and the NHS are there for us all in times of need. They seem to be getting a lot of flak these days but that’s not down to the staff, that’s down to mismanagement at the top, underfunding and ineptitude from those whom we have elected to govern and run our country along with our public health services.

Two weeks past on Saturday afternoon, Lady B called NHS111 at 4pm after I had taken ill. The emergency doctor appeared at 8pm and immediately called for an emergency ambulance. He said it would be with us within the hour and off he went leaving a Note for the ambulance crew. The ‘emergency’ ambulance turned up at 5.00am in the early hours of Sunday morning. Had we known it would take so long we would have made other arrangements but the ambulance service kept calling back with updates saying an ambulance would be with us shortly!

On arrival at Monklands Hospital I was rather dismayed to see three Police cars amongst the waiting ambulances. Three Police officers were ‘on guard’ at one of the assessment cubicles while another officer was being treated for a ‘glass wound’ in another cubicle! It’s not just the NHS that are having hard time, eh? In all fairness, Reception was relatively quiet and there was only a short wait in the corridor before I was received and assessed after which I was transferred to a ward.

I don’t remember much till later that day when I was transferred to another ward and treatment commenced. That first night was a nightmare. There were four other guys in the ward and we were all getting treatments hourly, 2 hourly or 4 hourly which meant a constant flow of nurses and doctors and no chance to rest.

Visions remain of ghostly apparitions during the night. What appeared to be a headless and legless ghost of a nurse floated into the ward pushing the five castored skeletal spawn of R2D2 with its array of flashing lights, beeps and buzzers. A downlighter cast an eerie glow over the contraption and the ethereal being which was pushing it as each ‘victim’ was hooked up, jabbed and checked throughout the night. It didn’t matter whether the patient was asleep or not, the clanking onslaught continued.

There was one other incident. A wee nurse birled into the ward like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, whipped back the blankets plunged a needle the size of a dipstick into my stomach, whilst chortling and chanting: “Oops, we nearly forgot this” before disappearing like a white tornado back out of the room. I thought it was a dream till I saw the big purple bruise in the morning.

What hastened my recovery was the quality of the cooking. No, not in the hospital, but back home. Having sampled the first evening meal of four fish fingers, carrots and a dollop of mash, the desire to escape back to normality was compulsive. I sent a photo of lunch back home which prompted the question: “How did you know it was mushroom soup?” To which I replied: “I saw the plate with the mushroom growing out of it before they poured in the soup!”

In all fairness, catering for such a transient and diverse group of people in such a large establishment must be difficult, although it does seem to help motivate people to get better and get out!

I still hate hospitals, but I’m ever so grateful for their attention and care, Even so, I'm thankful to be out and back home. Normal service will be resumed shortly!