You'll have noticed I've been on something of a hiatus recently. And Candy Crush  - the top grossing app on itunes - isn't the only reason - but my current 'habit' has got me thinking.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it is a highly addictive Tetris-type game, which you can download to your phone/tablet/computer for nothing. "So how come it is the highest grossing app out there?" I hear you ask.

Well. When you fail to complete a level you're given the option to pay a small fee for a few extra moves. It looks a little something like this...

So... as well as wasting my redundancy cash on games aimed at eight year olds, I like reading the latest news online  - usually via twitter. 

There's a big range of how much content you can access for free out there. The Wall Street Journal has a certain amount of articles each day which are free - for those not on the 'gratis' list you have to subscribe.  The Guardian gives you it all for nothing.  The Herald lets you read a certain amount of stories a month before you have to take up one of their subscription offers. 

The Herald's online subscription offers are detailed below and as you'll see, to read on your iphone you're looking at £3.99 per month. It's not pictured here, but a Kindle subscription is £9.99 a month
Herald subscription options
Now what I've been pondering tonight is whether papers need to think more like Candy Crush and only charge people for what they actually want. I don't sign up for subscriptions because a) they feel quite pricey and b) I know I can probably find the content elsewhere for nothing. I also hate that 'gym membership' feeling of paying for something that I then don't use. That's always annoying when your bank statement comes in.

But, say The Herald started asking for 20p to read each extra article - rather than asking for a monthly subscription? They might  (if they drew me in enough with quality writing) get more money out of me than £3.99 per month and they would certainly get more out of me than they do at the moment.

So this is a genuine question - why don't papers offer this option? They're all on twitter highlighting individual stories, but not letting me buy individual stories. Surely it makes sense to allow the impulse buy in journalism? The equivalent of the Twix by the checkout in the supermarket? It might get me off Candy Crush and doing something more interesting instead.....
So a couple of days ago I posted about the ridiculous price I'd just paid for a treatment for a teething baby. The good people at Alliance Pharmaceuticals (who make the wondrous but scarce 'Ashton and Parsons' powder) got back to me earlier today with this response.

Alliance Pharmaceuticals acquired the Ashton and Parsons brand from Reckitt Benckiser/SSL in 2011.  We knew when we did so that demand was beginning to outstrip that company’s manufacturing capacity. Integral to the acquisition therefore, has been our upgrading and expansion of the product’s manufacturing capability not only to meet current demand but also to satisfy on-going and future customer needs.  As I am sure you appreciate it is not in our interests to have unhappy customers who cannot find the product and please be assured we are working hard to ensure that our upgraded manufacturing process means that availability issues become a thing of the past.  

Of course human nature dictates that if a shortage is perceived people stock pile and even in some cases try, to resell on sites such as e bay at hugely inflated prices.  We don’t like this situation but regrettably it is outside our control.

Please be assured that we sell the product to everyone at the same wholesale price and recommend a selling price (RSP) of £5.35 per pack. As you have seen this may vary significantly. We have no ability to influence this. The majority of the retailers we supply have maintained the RSP of £5.35 we have suggested, but they have also seen excessive purchasing and have had to restrict some purchases to try to control the reselling you have seen.

We believe that increased manufacturing capability will mean that these issues will be resolved and should end the speculative trading and pricing should return to the RSP.

I will be in touch again when we have confirmed dates for increased supply.

If you have any further questions please do contact me again.

The story here seems to be that retailers (both conventional and via ebay) are fleecing the mothers of young babies...because they can. If you have paid more than the regulation £5.35 let me know in the comments below! Name and shame may be the way forward....


Right: I know the economy is in a mess, but there's something going on in the world of baby-rearing that makes the hyperinflation of Weimar Germany (when bank notes became so worthless they were used as wallpaper!) seem tame.

Babies are brilliant right- and then they get teeth and it all starts to go wrong - they scream, they bite, they drool, heck it even makes them poo funny! And there's a miracle solution - Ashton and Parsons powders. A tincture of Matricaria 0.002 ml in a lactose base ( who cares what it is, it works!). Thing is, for reasons nobody seems to be able to explain it is very hard to come by. I have heard everything from a fire at the factory to Boots having bought the license then failed to produce the product.

Imagine the excitement yesterday when my local chemist had a poster in his window : 'Ashton and Parsons now in stock!!!'. Brilliant I said, I'll take 5. "Aw by the way," he says, "they're £8.99 now...".

Okay so I first bought these 6 months ago and they were £3.20. So they're almost three times what I paid at the start of 2013. I decried my local chemist as a charlatan, but when I looked on eBay a box was going for £15 and even the good old Co-op are selling them at £5.35 with a restriction of one per customer! Should I contact George Osbourne and warn him of impending financial doom?!

Of course I still bought them. Just one packet though- there's a recession on! I would be very interested to build up a nationwide map of A&P prices and availability so if you've been ripped off post below!


Tomorrow is my last day as a BBC employee after nearly 11 years. Back when I started I was obsessed with 'top 5s' so I've decided to reprise that with my top 5 BBC times! You'll notice they mostly happen abroad.

5) Being on 'Test The Nation'

Remember that quiz that you were meant to play along with at home? Presented by Anne Robinson and Philip Schofield? It was weird eh? Well I was part of the victorious team in the 'spelling and grammar' one. Which will leave me open

to ridicule if there are mistakes in here. We beat a team of ballroom dancers which included Anton du Beke. Can you believe this is only number 5?!

4) July 2008 - T in the Park

Interviewed The Prodigy, R.E.M., Vampire Weekend and many others for BBC Radio Scotland - and went on to marry the producer, which was nice.

3) December 2002, Andy Gray interview

This was my first TV interview for BBC Scotland for the series 'Footballers Lives'. I made him cry, and then he invited his next door neighbour round, who happened to be Tony Iommi out of Black Sabbath.

2) November 2007 - Commonwealth Games announcement, Sri Lanka

In 11 years of covering sport, this was one of very few occasions on which I saw Scotland win! The tv people also missed the announcement so it was one of those days you were very happy to be on the radio.

1) July 2008, presenting 6-LOVE-6 with John McEnroe at Wimbledon

Tim Henman got stuck in traffic so I got to read out the texts and emails on

John McEnroe's tennis phone in. He said my name and stuff. Incredible.

I always thought our advertising tag line at the Scottish Football Museum was genius: The love of your life has a past you don't know about. The personification of Scottish football history as a bounder and a cad was maybe a bit far fetched right enough, but if you were to hire a private detective to look into it, you'd get my old colleague Richard McBrearty. We started the same week; me a 21-year-old graduate, Richard straight from his old job at the gas board and a former Hamilton Accies player at youth level. Fifteen years on he's still there, now a lone curator on a ceaseless quest for new stories about Scotland's contribution to world football. And he's started a blog: which means you don't even have to cross the museum door to find out his latest discoveries. Goodness knows how curators in 2113 will look back on the current travails of Scottish football. I certainly don't envy them having to sit at computers to trawl through the countless twitter posts (and now what are almost 'wikileaks' coming out about the Rangers saga via accounts like @charlottefakes) - give me the dusty tomes of Mitchell Library over that any day!