Business people: Campbell Hart | Humza Yousaf

FORMER BBC journalist turned PR man Campbell Hart has joined the ranks of Scotland’s crime novelists with his debut work Wilderness now available on Amazon.
MSP Humza Yousaf. Picture: Greg MacveanMSP Humza Yousaf. Picture: Greg Macvean
MSP Humza Yousaf. Picture: Greg Macvean

The book has been inspired by the bitterly cold winter of 2010 when temperatures dipped as low as -12c for weeks on end. Out of work and with time on his hands, Campbell realised a long-held ambition to craft a crime fiction novel in the tartan noir tradition, writing the first draft in just six weeks.

The book-writing bug has clearly bitten and Campbell, 39, an account director at the Big Partnership, has two more novels already in planning.

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“We’ve all been to the party where you meet the guy who says he’s got a book in him. For about ten years that was me but after a decade working in radio news, I felt I had something to say about modern Scotland,” he says.

“The eruption of Scandinavian Noir has been a big influence, with its common theme of exposing the grim reality beneath a supposedly perfect society. In Scotland we’re being told the opposite – that our society is ‘broken’ but that we have the chance to transform it through independence. That’s a dynamic which interests me and this book is the start of a planned trilogy looking at international crime, nationalism, and the referendum.”

Friendly jokeathon

Scottish Friendly is getting even more affectionate this week as it stages a “Jokeathon” night of non-stop jokes courtesy of its very own comedian in residence Donnie Maroot.

Maroot, author of Donnie Maroot’s awful jokebook – and head of actuarial at Scottish Friendly by day – will be attempting to break the world record for the most jokes told in one hour. The record is currently held by Anthony Lehmann, who managed 549 jokes in one hour – snatching the record from Edinburgh Fringe regular Tim Vine in 2005.

The event will take place at the Park Bar on Argyle Street in Glasgow on Wednesday evening , and proceeds from the event will be split between four charities in the Western Isles, for whom Maroot has previously raised more than £10,000.

More information about the charities and the event itself can be found in the community section of the company’s website.

Minister’s grand ambition

MSP Humza Yousaf knows he has to play to the audience if he wants the younger generation to appreciate what he’s driving at.

Scotland’s external affairs and international development minister cited a legendary video game as an example of Scottish innovation when he launched the 2014 Converge Challenge in Edinburgh last week. He said: ‘It’s remarkable to think that, amongst Scotland’s illustrious roll call of inventions and innovations, from the steam engine and tarmacadam to the telephone and television, one of our more recent successes gave the world a video game – Grand Theft Auto – that has kept gamers enthralled across every corner of the globe.”

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Academic staff and students at any Scottish higher education institute can participate in the challenge and, since its inception in 2010, the initiative has trained 120 academic entrepreneurs, from which 24 companies have been formed. It has also helped secure more than £2.5 million of follow-on funding.

Aegon’s Grace and favour

Aegon UK boss Adrian Grace wrote three big cheques for charity last week after staff at the firm’s Edinburgh Park headquarters raised £25,500 during 2013.

Fundraising events included charity football matches against Hearts and Hibs “legends” teams.

The three charities benefiting from these efforts were the Complementary Therapy Service, Ecas and Pancreatic Cancer UK. They were selected from 40 nominated charities following an employee vote in 2012.

As the company matched the total raised by its employees, Grace presented each charity with a £17,000 cheque.