Roddy’ Press & Journal Column


Charleston by Catriona Millar

pj-readers-letter-211113For over 20  years, on a weekly basis, readers of the Scottish daily newspaper The Press & Journal have been given a candid and often humourous insight into Roddy’s family life. You can read a collection of Roddy’s columns in The Familiar published by Black & White, Edinburgh. The first kindle book collection of Roddy’s columns – ‘Lost for Words’ is now available on amazon worldwide. It features columns from 2000 & 2001.


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Necking tea tree oil left me a little worse for wear

Published: 01/04/2016

I never knew those funny little bits of extra flesh on my father’s neck had a name until I started growing them myself.

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It’s a thrill a minute as smoke gets in our eyes

Published: 25/03/2016

I’ve never been for making a dramatic entrance or exit.

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The mystery of the cleaned out motor

Published: 18/03/2016

About a quarter of a mile down our road I had one of those epiphanies.

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On the Bench

Published: 13/11/2015

I was on the phone when the elderly couple turned up.

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Knees Up

Published: 23/10/2015

I was going to get a T-shirt made saying, ‘I hurt my knee playing tennis’, but my wife didn’t think I was going far enough.

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Sweet Enough

Published: 09/10/2015

My wife doesn’t need a supermarket loyalty card, she already has one, hard wired into her brain.

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The Girl on the Phone

Published: 18/09/2015

As a seasoned sunny beastie I know a decent suntrap when I see one.

“I’ll just wait here and soak up some rays,” I told my wife as she headed off for the little supermarket.

“Rays?” she said, “is the Cheesemaster making a special delivery from 1978?”

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The Four Checked Shirts

Published: 11/09/2015

I had fallen into a cosy reverie, which I was actually enjoying, not quite a bonafide daze but I was working on it. Suddenly my wife grabbed my left knee and started shaking me back to reality.

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Soapy Opera

Published: 07/08/2015

Originally we joined our local gym to stay in shape and watch rubbish TV but now it’s turned into something of a social event with friends and neighbours popping up on the next Nordic Trainer like the cast of a fitness-based soap opera.

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Bride of Frankenstein

Published: 31/07/2015

I’ve never really got the whole vampire ‘Twilight’ thing. But after taking my wife for a walk a couple of weeks ago I can now appreciate the primal power of the undead.

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Published: 24/07/2015

As I squatted over the spiked gate weighing up the chances of surviving the eight foot drop on the other side, I was distracted suddenly by the chilling sensation of a sharp iron finger exploring the inner sanctum of my tennis shorts.

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Published: 05/06/2015

I was filling the kettle in the church hall kitchen when my wife turned up looking very pleased with herself.

“Have we won the lottery?” I asked, but she just shook her head very slowly.

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Rear Window

Published: 22/05/2015

One of the benefits of living close to our grown-up children is that we get to worry a lot more about them. There’s probably some scientific name for it like, Adult Child in Close Proximity Syndrome, if there is, then both my wife and I now suffer from it.

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The 39 Steps

Published: 08/05/2015

There were two young men staring into my boot when I returned to the car. After doing a month’s worth of shopping last Sunday I had been systematically unloading the car, while my wife began the long process of unpacking. I was on my second run when the young men appeared.

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Car Bores

Published: 01/05/2015 (column number 1000)

When I phoned roadside assistance a nice man with a cosy Yorkshire accent said there would be a technician along in half an hour.

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The Beastie Head

Published: 24/04/2015

Normally if I see someone scratching their head I automatically start scratching mine. But when the sales assistant appeared from the back of the posh accessories shop furiously clawing at her head I was more fascinated than itchy.

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Hande Hoch

Published: 17/04/2015

Normally I switch off whatever rubbish I’m watching on TV the moment my wife appears. Then we watch real rubbish. But the other night I thought I’d let my newly purchased DVD of Die Hard roll for a few minutes.

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The Hot Rod

Published: 10/04/2015

Our friend Dave was in the hot seat and enjoying every minute. “I love cars with heated seats,” he sighed.

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The Thingummyjig

Published: 03/04/2015

Yesterday morning I found a mysterious clear plastic tube about ten inches long lying on my computer keyboard. A post-it note attached read, ‘I think you’ll like this’. I was delighted. Here was a ready-made excuse not to work, or at least not to finish painting the lovely Victorian washstand table my wife had decided should be bright red.

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The Magic Roundabout

I remember feeling slightly short changed when I discovered there were only four children in the Famous Five. Who would have thought a small dog called Timmy would qualify as a full-fledged famous gang member?

Published: 08/01/2014

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Run Santa Run!

It must be thirty years since I dressed up as Santa and to be honest I don’t have the stomach for it anymore.


Published: 18/12/2014

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Published: 11/12/2014

It’s not something I like to boast about but I am in fact a time-served waiter. I was apprenticed to my mother at an early age but have spent most of my finest hours waiting for my wife.

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The Bench

Published: 04/12/2014

I was disappointed last week to see one of my favourite benches lying dismembered on the pavement like a bundle of firewood. No doubt the relatives of the bench’s dedicatee Miss Barbara Simpson ‘loyal friend of this parish’ would be even more distressed.

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Busy Doing Nothing

Published: 27/11/2014

I had been casually watching our neighbour Tom for about half an hour. I was working in my study, but Tom was obviously more interesting than the piece I was writing.

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Cold Play

Published: 20/11/2014

So far I haven’t had a cold this week. I didn’t have one last week either, or the week before, but apparently that didn’t count.

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Published: 13/11/2014

There was a very smart older lady waiting for me at the door to the hall. She was in tweeds and was brandishing a clipboard as if she meant it. From the end of the path I thought she was wearing a crash helmet, but it turned to be her hair, which had been energetically whipped up and completely immobilised.

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Published: 06/11/2014

At first I thought it was a black coat someone had dropped. In the darkness from the other side of the road it could have been anything, a bin liner or a giant vampire bat. But then it moved and took human form.

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Take Cover

Published: 30/10/2014

I was expecting to see Pat behind the counter of his record shop, instead there was a punky young girl. Punky probably isn’t the right adjective but my youth culture lexicon is limited.

“I see the tablets are working Pat,” I said.

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Published: 23/10/2014

I like to think I’m almost supernaturally in tune with my car. After driving it for almost 10 years through thick and thin I’ve reached the stage where we have sort of blended together. We are what the Italians call ‘simpatico’ – of a similar mind, or temperament. We are in a nutshell, comfortable in each other’s company.

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Spiced up

Published: 16/10/2014

Despite a level of hygiene that would have been the envy of Howard Hughes my wife and I have been playing pass the parcel with a particularly nasty stomach bug.

We can’t remember who had it first but I certainly had it last.

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Leaning on a Lamp

Published: 09/10/2014

I asked Pete if anyone had ever serenaded him for a discount before but I think he was too traumatised to answer.

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Fifty Shades

Published: 02/10/2014

Sometimes in charity shops my wife inexplicably suffers a massive taste bypass. She’ll start pointing excitedly at the weirdest things. Earlier this week it was a tray featuring three Chihuahuas sitting in teacups.

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Watch Out

Published: 25/09/2014

When the watch my wife has worn for the past 12 years finally disintegrated last week, I knew she wouldn’t dash out and buy the latest Rolex. The word ‘expensive’ isn’t part of my wife’s vocabulary, which is one of the things I find so attractive about her.

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The Pink Thong

Published: 18/09/2014

Either my eyesight is going or street lighting just isn’t what it used to be. Walking home around midnight on Saturday you could see why the streets were deserted, or rather you could guess why they were deserted.

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Bird Fancier

Published: 11/09/2014

My wife often has a bird in her paintings, usually perched on the shoulder of a figure like some feathered confidant. Consequently there are bird references all around our house, on vases, lampshades and shelves. Once you start noticing them they seem to breed before your very eyes.

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The Lock In

Published: 04/09/2014

Holding a writers’ workshop in a pub has interesting advantages. For a start it gives me an opportunity to hone my table waiting skills. I’m quite adept now at balancing a laden tray while climbing two sets of stairs. Three or four heavy trays is quite a nice little workout of a Friday afternoon.

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Published: 28/08/2014

It’s probably some primal instinct that kicks in when I’m grazing around food and small domestic appliances, but I’m just not that keen on being watched while I’m shopping.

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Love All

Published: 21/08/2014

From a distance the park looked relatively quiet for once, there were a few people with toddlers, a couple of dog walkers and in the distance a half hearted game of sweary football. 

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Published: 14/08/2014

One of the main problems my wife faces whenever she goes away on her own is her fear of the unknown. Basically there is just no way of telling what I might do to the house.

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Hair Today

Published: 07/08/2014

I always get nervous whenever my wife volunteers me for anything. Naturally she only volunteers me for stuff she doesn’t want to volunteer for herself. Even when she does volunteer for something she’ll somehow manage to bring me along as her understudy.

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Call the Midwife

Published: 31/07/2014

We now have a large plastic box in the kitchen packed full of pills and potions and plasters and lots of other medicinal stuff that doesn’t start with a P. We keep it all in the same big box so we know where to go in an emergency, apparently.

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Old Hotlips

Published: 24/07/2014

I didn’t notice the couple at first, I was probably too busy laughing at the trailers for forthcoming films featuring flying people blowing up giant flying robots. But after the fourth trailer full of exploding buildings and screaming people my eyes started wandering, searching for something more interesting, something that wasn’t being blown up or firing a gun.

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The Rule of Thumb

Published: 17/07/2014

I made some very interesting discoveries earlier this week, all purely by chance, which is so often the way. Scientifically speaking I should probably try and repeat my findings but I’m quite satisfied the results were conclusive.

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Civic Mindedness

Published: 10/07/2014

The overhead streetlight at the end of the road had been on for weeks, which was just a waste of electricity as far as I was concerned.

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Sleeps like a Bat

Published: 03/07/2014

Strange things happen at night while I’m asleep. Sometimes I wake up and all the furniture seems to have been moved around or replaced with slightly different, creepy versions. The wardrobe is the worst culprit. It’s big and white and has the ability to transform into a foreboding, dimly lit corridor.

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Dumb Founded

Published: 26/06/2014

I have a great system for storing our important personal and household paperwork. Everything is carefully filed in separate A4 wallets and then catalogued in chunky box files.

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Coupon Man

Published: 19/06/2014

Stuff doesn’t normally fly out of my wallet. I’m not saying every pound is a prisoner, but there are no Great Escapes on my watch. The trouble is my wallet has also become a repository for receipts and money off coupons. What I really need is a second wallet that I can keep all my important paper work in.

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A Right Humdinger

Published: 12/06/2014

At first I thought I’d just swallowed coffee granules. I was on the phone to a friend and swigged the dregs of a luke warm cup of coffee and it went over my throat like a body scrub.

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Shaken but not Stirred

Published: 05/06/2014

I must admit that while I was gazing admiringly at the loch and it’s attendant mountains it never occurred to me that I should go and buy a chunk of Namibian fluorite. Although I can see how it’s really just all about rocks, of one size or another.
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There is no Show

Published: 29/05/2014

It must have been the excitement that sent our collective bladders into overdrive. Suddenly at the Manse gate all seven of us were desperate for what my wife calls, ‘comic relief’ and there were dark mutterings about the minister’s Rhododendrons.

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Published: 22/05/2014

I’m not normally given to sudden frights. What I get are secondary frights after my wife has been startled out of her wits by something inifintismal.

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The Great Escape

Published: 15/05/2014

There must be an official nursing home temperature because every one I’ve ever been in seems to simmer with the same nap inducing heat. It’s hard not to succumb, particularly if the TV is on and someone has turned the sound down to a low burble.

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House Training

Published: 08/05/2014

While on a train last weekend my wife happened to sit opposite a mutual friend. Michael was with his wife whom neither of us have met. There was the usual chat about the weather, reasons for travelling etc until it occurred to Michael that my wife was travelling alone.

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Published: 01/05/2014

I think if you’ve been forced awake at 4am by a nagging bladder you’ve probably earned the right to a decent yawn.

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Through a Window Darkly

Published: 24/04/2014

After an Easter week in warmer climes things seemed to have taken a decidedly gloomy turn back at Phillips Mansions, despite the fact that the sun was actually shining. Unfortunately, it wasn’t shining inside our house. For a moment I thought I’d forgotten to take my sunglasses off but it turned out the windows were opaque.

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Knock -Knock

Published: 17/04/2014

Sometimes I quite like the cold evening air wrapping around me, especially if I’ve just come from a stifling room that feels like a Pizza oven.

The writers’ workshop room was a little too toasty last week so after I had set the timed exercise and served everyone their hot beverage of choice – 6 normal teas, 3 Lemon and Ginger teas, 1 hot chocolates, 1 black coffee and 1 plain hot water, I thought I’d award myself a five minute fresh air break and take the evening air, cold as it was.

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The Green Chaise

Published: 10/04/2014

I only have myself to blame for the green chaise longue. It caught my eye at a junction sitting outside a second hand furniture shop and before I knew it I was stopping the car and my wife was jumping out.

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Vacuum Packed

Published: 03/04/2014

I was in the gym when I saw it. I can say that with some certainty because the gym is the only place I watch trashy TV. It’s a guilty pleasure assuaged by the fact that I’m normally in pain and sweating myself out in buckets.

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Spray That Again

Published: 27/03/2014

You don’t get much colour choice with spray paint, which suited me fine. My wife only took half an hour to decide between the white, brilliant white and cream. If there had been the usual vast range of strangely muted colours to choose from like Vicar’s Vest and Elephant’s Breath we’d probably still be in the DIY store.

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The Yellow Car

Published: 20/03/2014

Apparently my wife doesn’t have a natural gift for navigation; I just have no sense of direction.

Last Monday evening I found our friend Ellis’ house without my wife saying a word.

I was quite pleased with myself, it was dark and there was a slight mist but we were a few minutes early. However, as we waited for Ellis’ to make an appearance it occurred to me that his house had doubled in size since I had last seen it.

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