Friday, April 11, 2008
Since the Nationalist junta run by the Senior Retainer Mr Alex Salmond took over the Casa Poporului on the lower slopes of the Royal Mile, I have been following the advice of Mr Alasdair Gray, and working as if I lived in the first days of a better nation.
At first I chose Denmark, but the smell of bacon drove me to distraction, so I settled, instead, on the Scotland as it is reflected in the Edinburgh novels of Mr Alexander McCall Smith. Mr McCall Smith is as well-mannered as he is productive, and his version of the capital has all the hurly-burly of a damp November in Tannochrae. In the Scotland I imagined, the local GP would be an avuncular figure in a maroon Pringle v-neck and a tweed suit, straining slightly at the waistband, and smelling faintly of camphor and Old English Spangles. He would be a stern man, but fair and forgiving, and able to cure all but the most troublesome of ailments with a kind word and a handshake. The police force would be of a pre-Taggart vintage, roughly modelled on the example of Oor Wullie's PC Murdoch, surveying the absence of crime from the well-sprung saddle of a boneshaking bicycle. I fancy there would be a community centre, where kindly matrons would fashion quilts for the starving orphans of Africa and Lanarkshire, and a town daftie with a tinsel hat and a five-string guitar, with which he would harmlessly serenade the local children, before continuing on his daily inspection of the bins, looking for Globe bottles to redeem at the Italian Fish Bar, run by a man called Toni, who would serve him a free portion of "little chips" gone crisp in the frier.
(To be continued...)