5 Days in the Life Of: ALEX SALMOND
Salmond, Alex, The Independent (London, England)
MONDAY: Looking forward to a week off from politics. Apart from releasing a New Year message - 1997 to be Scotland's year - I have disciplined myself to doing nothing at all, except celebrate Hogmanay in the proper manner.
In my first year as an MP, I took a phone call on Christmas Day, just as the turkey was coming out of the oven. Two hours later, a constituent had told me about the quality of every harvest in the north-east of Scotland since 1926. I made a lonely old Buchan farmer happy, my wife incensed, and the turkey burnt. Now, I am streetwise enough to get out of the constituency when on holiday, to my home town in Linlithgow.
HOGMANAY: This is my birthday - a distinction which I share with Alex Ferguson, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Sir Anthony Hopkins. I intend to celebrate in style in Edinburgh. Nice of them to throw a party just for me. We set off, and managed to reach the bottom of the drive before slithering to a halt. Our friends in Edinburgh find it incredible that you can be snowed in only 20 miles away. This is usually the attitude in London, but not tonight because even Big Ben has come to a stop. This must be an omen for the coming year. BBC Scotland now has a fixed menu in the build-up to the bells. First, there are the reminiscences of the richly talented Dorothy Paul. Then there is the biting wit of Only An Excuse, which is a bit like Rory Bremner devoting a show to football impressions. And in the run-up to midnight, Ricky Fulton reviews two decades of his Hogmanay institution, Scotch and Wry. But incredibly, with 350,000 extras in the capital, some of the best live bands, and snow swirling round Princes Street, BBC Scotland spends three-quarters of its transmission time in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle, with David Essex murdering Rabbie Burns in front of around 50 invited guests. They even have a cutaway of the frozen Big Ben to announce the arrival of 1997. I put this bizarre behaviour down to their setback a few years ago, when in a live transmission from Glasgow, Robbie Coltraine was half-way through a joke at midnight and missed the bells. One day, we'll have a real broadcasting organisation for a real country. …