Saturday, October 06, 2007

En Route for Edinburgh

I am travelling back to Scotland from France today and I have had a busy time these last few days with the necessary social arrangements on departing the village, including visiting the mayor on local matters, neighbours in social matters, and peparing the house for the winter shutdown.

Inevitably, there are domestic chores too, of which my share are not insignificant (in my view anyway!).

Much as I love Edinburgh, I also love this small corner of France - le pays perdu - and the people who inhabit it. It takes years to become part of a village life with the French; some outsiders never manage and miss so much when they don't. The French state has its own way of working and understanding its logic (though often inconvenienced by it) makes life a lot easier for outsiders.

Scots are on the whole more amenable to ordinary French people than many Les Anglais, who never seem to quite get it when living in a foreign country. In shops, people hear our (or mine) version of French and say 'Anglais?', to which we reply, 'Non, Ecosse!' The genuine reaction of welcome is so obvious it's so pleasing. Of course, we have English neighbours who are well integrated, but the majority who moan to us, as if we are on their side, about their version of the latest, to them, French 'attrocity', will never understand why French people can be 'rude' to them...

Anyway, enough of this rural philosophising! I have to pack those of my books that will return with me; my key books of Adam Smith's, mainly. My sister-in-law took back last week my 'Farewell to Alms', which I shall need at the University library when I read some of the references. I have my partially completed ms of the fourth edition of my Everything is Negotiable (Random House, 1982), due for delivery next month - it's from my former day job at Edinburgh Business School and sells well - a welcome portion of my pension earnings too.

Next week I am speaking at the Edinburgh Dinner Club, a sort of 21st-century version of one of the 18th-century Enlightenment Clubs that Adam Smith attended regularly. My subject is Adam Smith's relevance today. It has an unusual format. The guest speaker has 20 minutes during the dinner to speak and then each attendee speaks to the subject in turn. Remarkable! Given the selective audience, known for their intellectual approach to right-of-centre politics, it should be fun.

OK. Family calls (I cook breakfasts everyday) - they're arriving in the kitchen. To work, indolent Kennedy, to Work!


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