I offer here, not an autobiography, but just facets of my life, some of which are presumably of interest to you since you have arrived here. For example, I have been asked on innumerable occasions "Why did you leave The Rezillos?" (the answer, in short, was for an academic research career, the success or otherwise of which you can judge for yourself).

My family history has a few nuggets of information of interest to students of Scottish history and culture:

  • My father George was a navy spy during World War II, masquerading as an anti-English Scottish nationalist.

  • My grandfather James was a real worldwide explorer, in contrast to the soft, desk-bound members of the geophysics community such as myself, who sometimes grandly refer to themselves as 'explorationists'.

  • Was my great-grandfather George an illegitimate son of Prince Albert at Balmoral Castle? I don't know, but read the evidence, such as it is, for yourself.

  • Better-founded is my grandfather James's friendship with the author Leslie Mitchell (whose pen-name was Lewis Grassic Gibbon). It is likely that James was a model for one of the major characters in Sunset Song, the first volume of the modern Scots classic trilogy A Scots Quair by that author.

I have a good friend, a war-baby born in London in 1939, who never knew his father. He said to me once, enviously but without malice, that I know my roots. I am fortunate that this is true, and I haven't even mentioned the Irish half of my forebears yet!

Back to homepage