I'll start off by giving some personal background which explains how I came to my current political position.
My late father came from Cumberland and we have a family tree going back in Cumberland and Westmorland for several hundred years.
My mother came from not far away but on the other side of the border in Dumfriesshire.
I was born in my mother's home town of Annan and we lived there till I was around two. After leaving the Army my father got a job with the Saxone shoe company in Kilmarnock and we went north to live in nearby Stewarton where I started school. Father was transferred to Leeds when I was six and we stayed there for just over three years. Back to Kilmarnock as renters for a few months and then my parents bought a house in Prestwick where we lived until just after I finished school when I turned eighteen. In Prestwick all I was interested in was aeroplanes. I neglected school somewhat although I was in the A Stream and achieved five Highers.
One day my father, by now a director, told me that we were going to move to London as Saxone was merging with an English company. I was heartbroken. I wanted to stay in Prestwick forever. I asked if the English company was bigger than Saxone. Not really I was told but here's the point my father made: "When two companies merge and one of them is based in London that's where the merged headquarters will probably be." The reason was that even when the government is not a major customer there were now so many rules and regulations on business that it was easier to be as near government as possible. I didn't like the sound of that at all...
After moving south I rejected my father's suggestion that I should sign up as a trainee auditor. It was good advice, but what teenager goes along with his parents' recommendations especially when he's just moved to London in the swinging 'sixties? Also, I vaguely realised that I would have to do some serious studying in order to qualify!
Every year I would make a return trip to Scotland. I only went as far as Prestwick for the first couple of years but gradually to the rest of the country. I can well remember plodding round what's now called the North Coast 500 when I was learning to drive in my flatmate's car.
In 1966 a General Election was called and shortly afterwards I bought a copy of the Scotsman on the way to work in central London. They were covering all of the Scottish constituencies in great demographic and economic detail and I learned a lot more about the country. I've read the Scotsman ever since.
In 1968 I went through a new left phase for a few months and started reading the Guardian and the New Statesman as well as the Scotsman.
... to be continued
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