Friday, 22 August 2008

Book Festival - Part 4

Last Friday we went to the Stories in Stone: Literature and Landscape event, which dealt with Edinburgh's position as a Unesco World Heritage Site and City of Literature. There was a preview of some of EWH's podcasts.

On Sunday I went along to listen to Roy Hattersley. I've never been a great fan of the Tub of Lard but I thoroughly enjoyed his confident presentation. A "chairman" briefly appeared on the stage and introduced Hattersley and then disappeared for the rest of the hour. Hattersley spoke without apparent notes on his book about the inter-war years. Short version: Ramsay MacDonald has been wrongly traduced by subsequent Labour supporters and Baldwin once said that Churchill wasn't in the cabinet as it was important to keep him fresh for whatever might happen in the future...

On an exceedingly dreich Monday evening I contemplated not bothering to turn up to hear Tom Devine speak about Scotland and Slavery. Just how much political correctness can one stand? But I'd paid my money, so off I went. The rain fell but the big tent was full for what turned to be another worthwhile visit. Short version: Scotland didn't play much part in the slave trade itself but many Scots were heavily involved in managing slave plantations, especially in the West Indies. That's why there are so many "Macs" in the Jamaica phone book. According to Devine the earnings from this and also from the tobacco trade with the 13 colonies is what funded Scotland's unusually rapid subsequent industrialisation. Sort of funny story: there was an island off the African shoreline that acted as a slave transhipment centre. You could tell that it was run by Scots - it had a (two hole) golf course and the caddies wore tartan loincloths...

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

john b
Makes sense - my area of vaguely-family-related British Empire dissection is India, where a massively disproportionate quantity of Civil Service and Army expats were Scots from the British East India Company all the way through to 1947. 
(what proportion of the current British Army are Scots? My guess would be at least 15-20%...)

23 August 2008, 00:16:05 GMT+01:00