Mad Dogs – a bit scary but always entertaining.

A Mad Dog yesterday

A Mad Dog yesterday

This is a story about serial killers and seedy boozers. So it’s strange that it should kick off with Ian Kyle, the mild-mannered, well-loved and thoroughly decent head of the communications team at West Lothian Council.

Last Friday was a special celebration for the wee man (nicknamed Kylie Minnow) to mark his imminent retirement. Pals from across the years gathered at the Inchyra Grange hotel in Central Scotland for a fond tribute to Kylie, who’ll be taking up full time getting-under-the-wife’s-feet duties from early next year.

After the do, a group of us who had all served in the trenches at the Evening News with Kylie (Between the mid 80s and the mid 90s) caught the train back to Edinburgh. For a bunch of blokes in our 40s there was only ever one venue we were heading to as the clock ticked towards 1am. Madogs.

The George Street basement boozer has always been one of those bars where the sign above the door should read: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here“. (Check the reviews – “Bring yer wellies” says one. “Reminds me a little of my holiday Rome,” says another. “Drab, dark and damp.” Ho, ho)

Despite its reputation as a haven for the desperate and the delusional (not to mention the very, very drunk) there are times you can’t help but find yourself there. Especially when no-one else in your crowd is prepared to brave the queue at nearby Fingers Piano Bar. But that’s another story.

One of Friday night’s drinking buddies was Stephen Rafferty – and it was like old times for the pair of us to find ourselves supping in Madogs, which might be a bit scary – but is always entertaining.

Every time we’ve ever found ourselves there, we’d reminisce about the stories Raff had covered in his Crime Reporter heyday about the serial killer who shares a name with the dive –  Archie “Mad Dog” McCafferty.

He’s the man who left Scotland as a wee boy, grew up in Australia to become a mass murderer, then was promptly shipped back to Scotland after completing his jail sentence Down Under. 

It still defies belief that while we worked at the Daily Record, Raff was fined  and earned a criminal record, for sticking his foot in Mad Dog’s front door while trying to get an interview with the killer, not long after he arrived back in Scotland.

Raff makes mention of that incident on his own blog (click here), while  I’ve also blogged on this in more detail – here. It was a travesty of justice at the time and looks even more ludicrous now, since McCafferty’s been up to all manner of bonkers behaviour and criminality in the intervening years.

So, it seems entirely appropriate that while we were drinking in Madogs, the barking one himself was making  his presence felt again. That very evening, Deadline Press & Picture Agency reporter Paul Thornton was receiving menacing phone threats from – yes, you’ve guessed it, Archie “Mad Dog” McCafferty.

Paul is Deadline’s Sheriff Court reporter and picked up a cracking yarn about Mad Dog being in court – under his new identity (read the full story here). It appears Archie is now calling himself James Lok. Why, I have no idea.

However, Paul tells me that after uncovering his story he made contact with Archie/James and added:

I called him and told him I was doing a story and he went bananas but did not threaten me.But on Friday night at about 8pm I got a call from a drunken guy calling himself Colin Stone, he said he was a friend of Archie McCafferty and if I did not drop the story I would have to “face the consequences”.

Unfortunately I did not have a note pad or anything to record what was said but it was along the lines of “you don’t know what you are dealing with and we will sort you out”. I asked him if he was threatening me and he said yes, soon after the conversation ended.

It’s not every day a member of your staff gets death threats from a convicted mass murderer (or his associates), so young Paul can wear that as a badge of honour as his journalistic career progresses.


Meanwhile, it’s also upped the ante dramatically for me. It used to be no Friday night was complete without a scary-yet-highly-entertaining Mad Dog interlude – now I need two if I really want a night to remember!


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