Sunday 13 May 2018
The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England
A fascinating history of the territory that was once neither English nor Scottish but was Britain's wild west. I was born very close to the Debatable Land, in Annan, Dumfriesshire - my mother's home town. My father came from just over the border in Cumbria. I can recall my maternal grandfather telling me about the rescue of the Border reiver Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle in 1596. The chief rescuer was the then Duke of Buccleuch. The current Duke is an upright member of the British establishment! In four hundred years or so I expect that most members of the upper house will be libertarians.
Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings
Good stuff here from Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat (a fellow borderer), James Crawford, James Roberston and Kathleen Jamie. There's lot more here than Edinburgh Castle although, inevitably, it's mentioned.
The Railway Detective
Edward Marston has written a series of these books set in the classic period of Victorian railways. I've read eight of the books so far and can thoroughly recommend them. We have the usual set-up: the inspector in charge of the case and the trusty sergeant side-kick. Just as with Rebus, Morse and so many others. Inspector Colbeck is more a Morse man than a Rebus. The inspector was educated at Oxford, became a barrister, and then joined Scotland Yard. To catch criminals rather than prosecuting them, but always with the help of Victor Leeming, the tough London sergeant. I detected a touch of the Atlas Shrugged in these books: the great sense of optimism in the railway world with an understanding of those who have Skin in the Game as opposed to those in the predator class. Plus ça change.