Newsweek Scotland: Back from Vacation
There is no better feeling than getting back to work at the BBC after a week off. (I've just stopped for a minute to read that again and realised what a load of hogwash it is. I'd much rather still be in Perthshire chugging up Loch Tay with the outboard, shredding the fairways at Kenmore and taking the kids on a visit to the Crannog Centre). Still, needs must...unless you've become too accustomed to Ken Macdonald and want him to carry on. Frankly, he needs the work.
This week we couldn't resist a wee look back at the Economist story which provoked at the same time a volcanic reaction and a hilarious one. The interesting part of this is the reaction from Unionists who know better. You may remember we talked to Scot Ben Brogan of the pro Union Daily Telegraph on the same subject weeks ago and he told us hysterical nonsense about puir wee Scotland only damaged London's argument. Tomorrow we speak to another London Scot Fraser Nelson of the right wing Spectator who is also pro Union. Will he agree that the Economist jibes only help to make case for the Nats?
We have the Newsweek take on the local elections where instead of delving down the way to local issues we take the lofty aspect and ask what local government is really for and why it mostly doesn't work and certainly doesn't engage the punters.
France is wondering if there will be a surprise in the first round of presidential elections - un coup de foudre. Will Sarkozy fall? Will a Socialist - remember them? - enter the Elysee Palace? If so, there could be big changes at European level which might affect Scotland.
You're probably thinking: This is fantastic stuff. How do they ever let Bateman go on holiday? Surely after this Macdonald is toast. (Just get on with it. Ken reads this, you know - Producer)
And we cast an eye over tartan and ask why are our inland waterways are devoid of traffic and our vast countryside largely unused? What's wrong with us. Can't we be bothered? Do we just want to look at our environment or do we want to play in it?
I have an idea for a map of Scotland where it's called Slothland and the capital is Edinbore and there's Cumbernaw, Ayrless, Dullness, Tongue-out...any other ideas?
Lastly a word about the filmmaker David Peat whose obituary appeared in the press this week. He and I went on assignment in Brussels many years ago and I rushed around like the big time reporter challenging interviewees, hailing taxis and bagging the nightlife experience. David watched on with detached amusement and quietly got on with the professional stuff. He was like a camera lens on life, ever steady as the stream of human absurdity flowed around him. I sometimes wish I could have seen what he saw. It may be the reason why he was such a sought-after cameraman and director. I last saw him in the BBC canteen a few weeks ago but, as usual, didn't have time for what would have been our last chat. He would be wryly amused that I hadn't changed. I find it strangely moving how people touch your life and then walk off into the mists of memory remaining tantalisingly out of reach. RIP David Peat.