Train Travel - and a defence of faith schools

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, but he might have changed his mind had he caught the London-Edinburgh sleeper last week. A six-hour delay was compounded by the behaviour of one guard who positively delighted in shouting passengers awake and hurling them off the train at Crewe - without telling them the train we were on would be heading north a little later anyway.

My husband explained I had a migraine and the guard immediately threatened to get security to chuck us off, although his colleague had given us permission to stay put.
Delays happen with all kinds of transport, but contrast our experience with the caring service generally offered by air stewards. Buying berths earlier, I queued at Kings Cross only to be accused of being a potential fraudster as I did not have our train tickets. So I called ScotRail on my mobile, bought the berths by phone and picked up tickets from the station machine.

Read more: Train Travel - and a defence of faith schools

Some thoughts on Iraq.

The situation in Iraq is complex and difficult and although I opposed it strongly before it started, my view now is that after the fact, secular society and those who are trying to build a new peace in Iraq ust be supported.

Here are some of the columns I wrote on this issue from the Herald.

Read more: Some thoughts on Iraq.

When does security turn to paranoia?

So what, finally? So what that a middle-aged man in a wrinkled pyjama suit and bat hood climbed a wall at Buckingham Palace? After a while he got cold and came down again. Then he was arrested. Later he was released without charge as he did not appear to have broken any obvious laws.

Nobody was hurt, nobody died, nothing was damaged. The Queen and her gang weren't even there - they were about as far away as it is possible to get and still be in Britain, shooting anything that moves on the Balmoral estate.

And yet the nation seemed to go into an instant paroxysm of fear and panic. The home secretary was called to account to parliament for a ''breach of security'', calls were made for security to be stepped up.

Read more: When does security turn to paranoia?

Headline Losing the life and soul of the party

Rock on, Tommy. What would the Scottish Parliament be like without Mr Sheridan? It is like asking what small Scottish towns would be like if the Italians had never arrived. They would be about as exciting as watching paint that has already dried gradually flake and fall off.

Picture a wet November night in 1850s Airdrie with the chip papers blowing across the high street like tumbleweed. Do we want Holyrood to be like that?

There are very few memorable characters in our young parliament and we simply cannot afford to lose Sheridan, who is under pressure to step back from public life in the aftermath of an expose of his private life in the News of the World.

Read more: Headline Losing the life and soul of the party

Saki and Sven Goran-Eriksson

There is a Saki story about a woman who begins telling the truth about everything, even her age, which greatly annoys her older sister. ''Veracious, even to months,'' she goes around informing everyone that she is 42 and five months old. The habit grows on her, ''like lichen upon an apparently healthy tree''. Soon she can no longer restrain herself from truth-telling. She tells the truth to her dressmaker - which is reflected in the bill. Finally, in a few ill-chosen words, she tells the cook that she drinks: ''The cook was a good cook, as cooks go, and, as cooks go, she went.'' Sadly, this satirical portrait of the pitfalls encountered by the sanctimonious truth-teller will probably seem rather shocking today.

Our increasingly puritanical society seems to demand that those in the public eye tell the truth about everything, even or especially, those matters about which  it would once have been de rigueur to dissemble.

Read more: Saki and Sven Goran-Eriksson