Journalistically speaking, it’s been a good year to be Scottish and Jewish. Had I been a Welsh Zoroastrian, say, I doubt I’d have had nearly so much to say.
In recent months, obviously, it’s been the Scottish thing that has really taken off. I used to be marginally Scottish, irrelevantly Scottish; never realising that a period of being helpfully Scottish was just around the corner. I suppose it’s a bit like the presumptions that some bilingual people have, that other people must, must be able to speak other languages really. I think I just assumed that the rest of London’s media knew plenty about Scotland, but tended not to talk about it. But no. They didn’t. At all. Imagine you’d been wearing the same jacket for a decade, and then saw it in Vogue. It’s been like that.
Various worthy types have asked me to sign various open letters, and I gladly have. Rory Stewart asked me to donate a stone to his beautiful Hands Across The Border cairn project, and I gladly did that, too. I’ve been asked to do far more radio and television than is the (frankly lacklustre) norm, and have usually said yes. And then I started to feel uneasy, and began to say no.
It was a documentary that tipped me over the edge. Somebody from a production company phoned me up, you see, and said they’d been asked to make two; full-length, primetime, and for Channel 4. One was to be a ‘yes’ and the other a ‘no’, and they wanted me to do the ‘no’ one. ‘Interesting,’ I yawned, keen to give the impression that people call me up and ask me to present primetime Channel 4 documentaries all the time. Which they don’t, as it happens, even though I’m so very clever and interesting, and also funny on the News Quiz on Radio 4, which TV producers should definitely check out if they’re on the hunt.