FORSAKING THE HABITS OF A LIFETIME

I’ve been reading A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith. I read and enjoyed his series of novels about that generously proportioned Lady Detective Precious Ramotswe, but this series is set in Edinburgh, and it is – well, it’s very Edinburgh. If you were to compare Edinburgh to an American city, it would be Boston (and how Edinburgh would disapprove of the very thought

of comparing any other city to itself). You can’t very well complain that Edinburgh has ideas above its station when it is acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and the capital of Scotland as well. But Edinburgh is a presbyterian stronghold, and is certainly neither friendly nor welcoming. The glad rags it puts on for the weeks of the Festival are not at all typical of its garb for the rest of the year. But we who love it are faithful in spite of its failings and it’s good to see it so precisely captured by so distinguished an author as Alexander McCall Smith.

In this novel there is a boy who attracts the reader’s sympathy who suffers with an absolutely ghastly mother. She’s a bully; a ‘feminist’; a ‘suffragette’; (she brings these honourable estates into severe disrepute.) She hates men and disparages her husband and son, whom she makes wear pink dungarees. She insists that he attends psychotherapy to avoid any problems arising, and he makes up dreams which he hopes will satisfy the therapist. The latter is very excited because he thinks writing about this unusual case will bring him fame and fortune. The woman is so awful that the cunning and experienced Mr McCall Smith took the opportunity to give her one or two fine qualities and so render her credible. Very few people are completely lacking in finer feelings.

I have to admit now to being wrong in my judgement of Theresa May. (An admission of error is not common with me. I leave it to you to decide whether this is because I am rarely wrong, or just because I’m too pig-headed to admit to mistakes!) I sneered at Mrs May with her goody two (leopard-skin) shoes; her girl guide freshness; no doubt she’d been head girl somewhere or other. Yet I find myself – in spite of my best efforts not to – admiring the lady – and she is a lady which that other so-called one never was. You have to admire her courage and fortitude. Even when looking a little fatigued, after days of overwork and not enough sleep she still stands there for hour after hour, giving clear, comprehensible and concise replies to questions. She answers the questions too. When she says she has put the national interest before party or personal ambition then I (God help me) believe her (while feeling my pulse to see if I’m feverish). Doubtless if she hung around long enough we’d come to the point where we had had enough of her. But that doesn’t seem very likely.

But if her cabinet colleagues turn on her like the pack of rabid dogs they are, and she, fleeing from their uncalled for viciousness, appeals to us over their heads (can she do this?) then though I can’t believe I’m saying this, I’m going to forsake the habits of a lifetime and vote for whatever Theresa May asks for our support over, despite the fact that I was a remainer and Theresa May is a Tory who wears leopard skin shoes!

Advertisements