Letter from Edinburgh

I have a terrible admission. Saturday was a day off so I went with half of the Highlands and Islands to Hamp­den. The Scottish Cup Final, for those not of a footballing fraternity, was played between Dundee United and Ross County.

Being an occasion where light refreshment was in order, the party I was with took public transport.

So, as we alighted at Edinburgh’s Waver­ley station to catch the train to the west, who was I regaled by but the political columnist Alan Cochrane, who writes an acerbic column for the Scottish edition of the Daily Telegraph.

Alan hails from Dundee so with his son, a professor at the London School of Economics, was taking the pilgrimage through to Glasgow.

So having made it publicly clear that, for the purposes of this encounter, my heart was certainly in the Highlands and nothing would be better than the underdog beating the Premier League team, I discovered that this brave opinion was not conducive to coverage in the Telegraph. At least I backed a team to win – Alex Salmond said he was supporting Ross United.

I was spotted walking up to the Hampden turnstiles by Sky TV’s Scottish reporter who was about to interview the Ross County chief executive.

We were surrounded by some good natured banter from Dundee United fans while answering some searching questions along the lines of: what are County’s chances today? Luckily the gaggle of United fans singing at the top of their voices for the benefit of Sky failed to clock who I was.

That has to be a good thing as a few lads, lubricated by a lemonade or two, are not an audience on which to try out the latest arguments for proportional representation for the Westminster Parliament. I got away with paraphrasing the late and great Bill Shankly and retreated.

The following 90 minutes need not be dwelled on. The result went the other way. But 20,000 County fans had some day out. What was genuinely great was both sets of fans applauding the others as the losing team collected their medals and the winning captain was given the trophy.

We repaired back east to Edin­burgh with a variety of choice Jamie Stone stories to keep our minds off the result. Jamie represents Caith­ness, Sutherland and Easter Ross including Dingwall – home of County.

There is one about Jamie in deep conversation with the Polish consul at a reception hosted by the Queen. At some point Jamie and the consul were introduced but the introductions were mixed up. After Jamie had answered the first question the Queen apparently remarked how good the Polish consul’s English was. No correction was made. Presumably a night in the Tower of London for an altercation with the Queen isn’t worth it just to prove you’re not the Polish consul!

Tavish Scott MSP


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