by Mike MacKenzie
Work took me to London for the first time in 2001. As a new kid on the block I stepped cautiously at first with â€˜When in Romeâ€™ in mind but this did not work well. Some old fashioned Scottish assertiveness did the trick and then it was, â€˜Yes Guv, No Guvâ€™. They do let you know when you have arrived in London.
Having arrived though, I was then straining to get away again with every sinew. We broke our backs to finish our work, desperate to get back to Scotland, each day of our six months a gaol sentence.
Like many before me I discovered the streets are paved with gold. Lavish, magnificent buildings proliferate. Tower cranes perch as numerous as starlings on the skyline as everywhere money is poured into fabulous new construction. A thousand years of wealth has been invested and reinvested in a few acres.
I had never seen capitalism in action before, full blooded capitalism with money pumping through bulging arteries. With money to hand you can cut a swathe in London. You can do business. You can make things happen. It is, â€˜Yes Guv, Yes Guv, will tomorrow be too late Guv!â€™ In a very few years I could have become wealthy but Londonâ€™s crowded streets are not for me.
It has its own pleasant micro climate this most foreign of cities. A smir of rain gives outrage. A millimetre of snow brings it grinding to a halt. A train halts for a second and there are a thousand complaints and as many apologies. There are twelve million voters in the metropolis and they must be kept happy. This is where elections are won.
It is five hundred miles from Easdale to London. It is a million miles from London to Easdale and almost as many to Scotland. You can rule at a distance but you cannot govern. Government needs insight and understanding. Those who govern for better or worse must swim or sink and suffer with the people.