Tom Johnston, wartime secretary for Scotland

THE day before the premature closure of Ravenscraig was announced I chanced to be in Caledonia Books, one of the excellent second-hand bookshops in the West End of Glasgow. Among my purchases was Memories, the autobiography of Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland during the war. He is remembered today mostly for the foundation of the Hydro-Electric Board but there was more to him than that.

When Churchill summoned him to London in 1941 and persuaded him -- rather against his will, for he wanted to write books -- to join the national Government he made two conditions. One was that he didn't want to take any money for office during the war. ''My resources are adequate to my needs and I don't want to make a song and dance about it.''

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Billy Connolly

ONCE, during a short season on the staff of the old North British Hotel in Edinburgh, I took up in the lift such notables as Gene Kelly, Kenneth More, and Sir Arthur Bliss. Quite apart from acquiring a lasting appreciation of the patience of those who have to wait on the public, and a tendency, out of a lingering feeling of solidarity, to tip too much, I have been dining out on my days as a lift boy ever since.

Glamour rubs off on those who find themselves close to it but celebrity is a two-way street. This week in Edinburgh, a tourist in my own home town, shuttling about the place as a consumer of culture, I have again seen this truth at work.

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Scots champion of EC ideal

Herald, Oct 5 1989. Stanley Budd was Scotland's representative at the Commission of the EC. Arnold Kemp writes: Stanley Budd brought a whiff of exotic diplomatic circuits to his task of representing the European Community in Scotland.

His house in Edinburgh, with its grand piano (of which he was an enthusiastic amateur), had a friendly elegance to which was added a hospitable and convivial welcome. If one had to listen to an arcane discussion about the agricultural fund, there was no nicer place in which to do so.

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John Smith

ACROSS the Ness from the hotel policeman keep watch from the roof of the Eden Court Theatre where the Tory conference is in session. The Prime Minister is arriving shortly to bring this melancholy but oddly inspiring week in British politics to a conclusion.

It has been melancholy, of course, because of the cruel death of John Smith. In its grief the British political establishment has found a rare unity. Our adversarial system has the virtue of in the end producing a Yes or a No to any political question. Its defect is that its perpetual mutual slagging becomes arid. The prying eyes of television, and the eavesdropping radio microphones, have revealed also its petty, schoolboy side.

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Pat Chalmers and the BBC

Pat Chalmers, controller of BBC Scotland between 1983 and 1991, has retired from the corporation after a two-year stint in Hong Kong, and this week friends and colleagues attended a dinner given for him in London.

Pat belonged to an era of broadcasting that seems now to be disappearing. Both in the Birtian BBC and in the commercial world increasingly ruled by market forces, it would now be difficult for an independent and rumbustious spirit like Pat to survive.

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