We were in Aberdeen and the Grampians -- "a strange choice of holiday destination", as it was put to me beforehand.
It's true one expects Aberdeen to be always grey and wet, but we were lucky -- it was so for only one day. The rest of the time we had warm sunshine. It is actually quite a pleasing city. We hired a car and explored castles in the surrounding countryside, which is delightful. The National Trust for Scotland may be in trouble over its accounts, but the people showing us some of its castles did an impressive job.
The journey from London to Aberdeen and back was courtesy of Messrs East Coast, whose ageing but nicely refurbished HST 125 performed faultlessly. To my surprise, the train was pretty much full between London and Dundee in both directions.
On the way back, a young woman getting on at Dundee and going to York found a seat marked "reserved from Newcastle". "Which comes first, Newcastle or York?" she asked another young woman in the next seat. "I have no idea", was the reply. These were both British (in fact I think English) people, clearly intelligent and middle-class. I never cease to be amazed at some people's ignorance of elementary general knowledge. Do schools teach anything at all nowadays?
Which reminds me, I had been moderately impressed with David Cameron so far -- not all his policies, obviously, but his evident general competence -- until he said on TV in America that Britain had been the USA's junior partner in the Battle of Britain. As any fule kno, the USA wasn't even in the war for another 18 months at that point.
The summer of 1940, when Britain's very survival was hanging by a thread and when it stood alone against tyranny, was always supposed to be a, if not the, defining moment of this country's modern identity. And here we have our prime minister, for heaven's sake, educated at Eton and Oxford, who apparently understands nothing about it at all. It would almost be funny, if it weren't so desperately sad.