One of the traditional markers of the end of the summer holidays was the start of the Scottish football season; alas that has now been put forward almost to the start of the holidays.
But the thud of exam certificates landing on doormats (or the multifarious beeping and chirruping of mobile phones with text messages containing results, or the quiet arrival of emails containing the same) certainly reminds pupils that it is nearly time to go back to school or on to college or university, or indeed out to work.
Once again pupils in Shetland have done well, for which congratulations are heartily given. This is the time to pay tribute to the hard work put in by pupils of all ages and abilities. For those sitting Highers especially, in many cases they will have worked harder than they ever have in their lives and indeed than they may ever have to again.
More generally, it is noteworthy that on average results in Highers across Scotland improved slightly and in Standard Grades markedly. Whether we like living in a global economy or not, we do and increasingly the individual and geographical spread of prosperity are going to depend not only on maintaining high standards in education but improving them. This is not an easy challenge but it is one that we are bound to rise to.
To those now going into tertiary education, good luck, and to those about to apply to do so, good luck with the applications. We look forward to seeing you, like your older peers on p.17 today, in the paper as graduates.