Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist
I am happy to say a busy time ahead:
18 January in Aytoun Village Hall, Berwickshire at 7pm for Yes Berwickshire documentary film London Calling talking about BBC Bias in the Independence Referendum, and how to prevent and counter it next time.
19 January Montrose, George Hotel, 7.30pm talking about Alexander Burnes just fifty yards from the family home where he was born
21 January 2pm Perth, Soutar Theatre, for Yes Perth City. London Calling, post film discussion also with Alan Knight and Allan Grogan. Register here.
23 January 2.30pm Jaipur India Sikunder Burnes. Talk at the Jaipur Literature Festival – the World’s largest with 330,000 visitors.
27 January 7.30pm Edinburgh for Edinburgh SNP Club. Talk on the situation in Iraq and Syria.
As I visit London, frankly, as seldom as possible, I thought I might give an early shout out for what seems to be an excellent event on 25 February at University College, London, a colloquium entitled “Noam Chomsky: The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Half hour papers will be presented by Neil Smith, Milan Rai, Hilary Rose, Chris Knight, Krizta Szendroi, Nicholas Allott, Jackie Walker and finally by me; I am genuinely worried about following some brilliant minds. After which Noam Chomsky will respond by video-link. I can’t let this pass without noting my book Murder in Samarkand has an American edition, Dirty Diplomacy, which has strong cover quotes from Harold Pinter and Noam Chomsky commending it. My Edinburgh publisher wouldn’t put the Chomsky quote on the UK edition, arguing that nobody had heard of him!
The perceptive among you may have noted that I face a heal of a dash from Perth to Jaipur. It is however possible. But yesterday I received an email from Jaipur stating that they had changed my talk from 23rd to 20th, when I will get a larger audience. I have replied that this is impossible for me. I am waiting to hear back, but this has potential to go wrong.
When I published my offer to take over Bella Caledonia if the alternative was it folding, I received a surprisingly large number of offers from Independence supporters offering to write. Some – but by no means all – were excluded from writing for Bella because of what many perceived as that websites rather specific ideological focus. As there are a number of good pro-Independence people anxious to express themselves in writing but with no outlet, I was wondering about starting up a new pro-Indy compendium site that gives a voice to every shade of opinion supporting Independence, providing it is not racist. It would run on the basis of minimal cost and not paying anybody, including me. I probably need friends to talk me out of this venture!
One place I am not speaking is at today’s Scottish Independence Convention. I asked but was turned down. This saddens me as I addressed the SIC by invitation twice when it was a bit in the doldrums, years before the referendum. I fear that this is another example of ideological narrowness taking hold.
I hugely enjoy speaking and the intellectual interaction of discussion with people in a meeting, and please do invite me to talk to your group. I do not charge any fee. I am however horribly disorganised, so do not be scared to keep sending me constant reminders. It is helpful rather than annoying. I am pretty sure for example there are engagements in Lanark and Aberystwyth I have lost touch with. Anybody expecting me do get repeatedly in touch!