The sober man looking at the thistle is Robert Brown, or Rob Brown as I was billed in my once prominent press byline, or Bobby Broon fae Bathgate if you want to go right back to the start. You should because Bathgate is where it all began, not just for me as part of the Glasgow overspill but for contemporary Scotland. It was around the old shale bings of West Lothian that the SNP bandwagon first really began to roll in the 1960s with Billy Wolfe at the steering wheel.

Why Jaggy? Well, it’s a guid Scots adjective that not only describes our national emblem but signals the prickly perspectives on Scottish affairs I aim to provide in this blog.

Writing was fighting for me when I was media editor of The Independent and Scotland on Sunday and there will be no punches being pulled here either. “The scourge of the Scottish media establishment” was how one London trade rag described me. I probably also caused a few members of our political establishment to spill their porridge when I pronounced upon the state of the nation on the pages of the New Statesman, The Scotsman and the (now sadly deceased) Sunday Herald.

In an obituary for that blatt, my old Glasgow Uni pal Pat Kane described me as “a classic, dour, quiet-Nat-on-the-side senior editor (there was a few of those on the Sunday Herald) who would nevertheless subject his own side’s representatives to merciless scepticism.” It was a fair description – at that time – although I’d say I’m far less dour having experienced the joy of teaching a new generation of journalists as a peripatetic ‘hackademic’ on a string of sylvan campuses.

There have also been impressionable Irish interludes in my life, divided between dear, dirty Dublin and the idyllic coastal town of Kinsale. So don’t be surprised if you find this sober man looking at the shamrock as well as the thistle.

After all my wild roving across the Anglo-Celtic archipelago (and numerous parts of Asia), I now believe more firmly than ever that the truth will set us free in Scotland. Truth articulated with both passion and reason – an uncommon combo in the Scottish blogosphere these days.

I’ve also come to appreciate the benefits of slow journalism as much as slow food, so you’ll just need to wait patiently for your next serving on this site. It’ll be ready when it’s ready. However often you sup here, I look forward to your feedback, which can be proffered by adding your comments to particular posts. Alternatively, you can email

The jaggy masthead is derived from a series of woodcuts by the Belgian artist Frans Masereel, which were commissioned to illustrate Hugh MacDiarmid’s magnum opus ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’. The collectors edition of this epic monologue was published at Falkland in Fife in 1969 by Kulgin Duval and Colin Hamilton. Partners in publishing fine editions and in life, this couple forged an enduring literary friendship with Christopher Grieve and his wife Valda, who became regular guests at their home in Frenich in Perthshire – not far from where the publisher of now contentedly resides.