Suddenly in the darkness of a summer night….

‘high blue hills showing northwards…’ – JOHN BUCHAN

If you are enjoying our glimpses into John Buchan’s adventure
story, and the views of Scottish life a hundred years ago which it
gives us every now and then, well — you are understanding
something of the richness of the tapestry of Great Britain and its
many dimensions: those of fact and history versus imagination
and story; those of rich people with land as opposed to poor
people with sheep; and those of terrible events, threatening world
peace, ready to unfold exactly when no-one expects it (like 9/11)
set against the beautiful and changeless rhythms of everyday life in
the open country, in the villages, and in the small towns, ‘far
from the din of noisy cities’ – as another writer, the American
poet, e.e. cummings, rather beautifully puts it…

There is no love interest in the original novel (only that of
Hannay’s love for his country and desire to defend it from people
trying to upset world peace…) but the 1978 film has some of its
best moments when Hannay meets the charming Alex at the
Scottish country estate, and they clearly fall in love with each
other.

Woven into these charming scenes, whose transcript I give here,
is also a lot of interesting detail about Scottish manners and
customs; and we can look into this aspect too…

Exactly at the moment that we are investigating this, some people
in Scotland are hoping to become independent of the United
Kingdom and set up a new single state — which, if it came about,
would result in a situation a bit similar to that of Georgia losing
Abkhazia and South Ossetia some years back…

It’s unlikely to come about, because the Scottish people who must
vote on this idea – much as they love their tartans, whiskey,
shortbread, hunting and fishing, bagpipes and tweeds – are also
among the coolest and cleverest in the United Kingdom.

They will quickly see that they cannot pay for a new country on
their oil profits which may not last very long (the oil is in the
North Sea near Aberdeen, far more of it lying closer to Scotland,
rather than close to England) so that it’s far better to let London
act as the elder brother and take all the difficult decisions…

They can then concentrate on selling their attractive and colourful
products to visitors – and via the internet, to people all over the
world (the Japanese, for example, are very fond of Scotch
whiskey!) leaving London (which as we can see from the film, is
the real political centre of gravity) with the ultimate power, a status
for Scotland a bit like that of Georgia under Moscow during the
‘good old days’ of the Soviet Union…now passed into legend…!