Tuesday 16 August 2005

"Hark, hark, the dogs do bark...

... the beggars are coming to town."

This was supposedly sung in London when James VI arrived from Edinburgh on the 1603 shuttle to claim the English crown.

I attended an excellent presentation by Leanda de Lisle at the Book Festival this morning. Although I'd sworn to severely limit book purchases this year I'm afraid that I gave way with this one. The Telegraph's man in Scotland, Alan Cochrane, asked Ms de Lisle whether there was a similarity between London's reaction to the arrival of James and his entourage and today's English feelings about the Scottish Raj. Answer: Yes.

The talk was chaired by BBC Scotland's political editor, Brian Taylor. He told us a good story. When he was covering the Robin Cook funeral Taylor complimented the Minister of St Giles on still using the King James Bible. The superb reply: "Well, he was one of our parishioners!"

(Brian Taylor also chaired last night's sell-out talk by Christopher Brookmyre. For those who don't know, Brookmyre's novels are full of black humour, chaotic events and mutual back-stabbings. How appropriate, therefore, to note the presence of the Scottish Tory leader in the row in front of me!)

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