Letter from Edinburgh 13.03.09

There is a primary school right next to the parliament building at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. At lunchtimes the children pour into the playground and do what kids do – run around, kick a football and generally let off steam.

My office window opens out onto these happy sights and sounds. In moments of reflection, when I am desperately thinking of what to write for the editor of The Shetland Times, I look out the window at the school playground and contemplate their future.

On my desk this week has been the Financial Times. I have been desperately trying to get my head round some of the economic num­bers. Vince Cable, my colleague from the House of Commons, who visited Shetland back last summer, is in Perth this weekend and we are meeting up to talk economy and recession. Now Vince knows his stuff. He’s rarely off the television giving precise analysis on the latest banking fiasco or economic issue. So, just as with school, I have been swotting up the numbers.

But it’s not just the actual state of the economy today that has been dominating the pages of the FT. It’s what kind of worldwide economic system we will have in the future. How different will it be to what we have taken for granted in recent years? What world will the young children in parliament’s neighbour­ing primary school grow up to live in?

As secondary school age young­sters approach the impending exam season – note to this parent: son will study this weekend whatever the weather, the score from Old Trafford and the Six Nations live on the TV – having skills, exam results and a good educational CV has never been more important.

What a wild day last Sunday. My youngest had said on Saturday night: “Dad tomorrow we are going to walk up Ander Hill.” He likes it at the top because there’s a great view, right out to Whalsay and Skerries, north to Yell and south to the Ness.

There’s a World War One look-out tower erected to keep an eye out for the German grand fleet. It was, in its day, an impressive three story building with panoramic views from the top, all behind glass. I remember it well when I was young, or younger!

The building’s fittings are long gone but it doesn’t take too much imagination to stand up there in a westerly breeze and imagine what it was like all those years ago.

But we didn’t manage up the slopes of the hill last weekend. It was a job to even get out the door. The Bressay ferry didn’t run in the early part of the evening so I was denied a dancing practice for the CLAN event at the end of the month in Clickimin.

I haven’t yet plucked up enough courage to practice the quick step by myself in the parliament office. Mostly of course because the kids from the neighbouring school would see, and undoubtedly laugh.

Tavish Scott MSP


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