Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Trip to London

'What's London got to do with Scotland?' You might ask. 'A lot!' is the answer. It's the nearest world city to Scotland, and has attracted on-the-make Scots like a magnet down the centuries. It's a busy, exciting place, larger, more varied and unknowable than any city in Scotland. The population of greater London is bigger than that of the whole of Scotland! With something like half of all new-graduate jobs in the UK and the epicentre in Britain of national museums and galleries, yet only four and a half hours from the centre of Edinburgh by train, visits - or even permanent settlement - by generations of Scots is almost inevitable.

Westminster the other night:


It's also good for shopping, theatre shows, tourist sights - especially of the royal variety - and, once you've run out of money, wandering about, people-watching.

London is the capital of the UK, and so most of the important political decisions affecting Scotland are made behind the huge imperial edifaces of Westminster and Whitehall. The two most important people at the top of the tree are currently Scots - though, given the low popularity of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling in London, Scotland, and elsewhere, perhaps that is not something to feel particularly puffed up about. David Cameron, Gordon Brown's likely replacement, is, like the Queen, only semi-Scots.

Whitehall: Horseguards, the Scottish and War Offices:


We were there on business, so didn't get the chance to wander about much, but still walked into a demo by Tamil protesters about the political situation in Sri Lanka. You don't get that kind of thing in Scotland.

Edinburgh, on return, always seems cooler, smaller, saner - and no less breathtaking, in its own way.

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