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Anthony J.C. Kerr "A Man of Letters"
Chapter Three

22nd June 1987
PERSONAL CONTRIBUTION BY DR DAVID STEVENSON

In 1962, a mission doctor in Malawi, Central Africa, I had been learning the Norwegian language and had decided to write and publish a 'Scots-Norwegian Wordlist' with words in Scots and their Norwegian equivalents, emphasising but not confining myself to words which are the same, or nearly so, in the two languages. In May 1962 I had a letter from Anthony Kerr about this, in response to an advert which I had placed in the 'Scots Independent'.

This is the first contact which I can trace of many which I had with Anthony related to Scotland and its place in the world and, later, to other topics and to personal friendship.

Returning to Scotland in 1966, I bought a house in Scotland, and married, in 1967. Anthony sometimes occupied the spare bedroom in our basement, on his way to and from S.N.P. meetings in Stirling and elsewhere, At other times he would drop in for a meal to break his journey, or park his motorcycle with us if a lift was available between Edinburgh and Stirling.

He was a frequent writer of letters published in the correspondence columns of ‘The Scotsman' and elsewhere. Many writers of such letters, myself included, feel that we increase our chances of publication by typing our letters in neat double spacing. I remember seeing Anthony pacing the floor of our basement, while talking with me, writing a letter by hand, diagonally, across a small pad of notepaper. It still got published. His views were not always agreed with but they were well argued and well expressed.

His unusual manner and appearance put off many in the S.N.P. initially, but his perseverance, hard work, intelligence, and persistence in seeking to work with those who might have rebuffed him, for the common aim of a free and self-governing Scotland, eventually won him respect and friendship both within and outwith the S.N.P, and a place among its leadership.

His early death was a loss to Scotland and to the S.N.P. but his ideas, expressed in his writings, at meetings and in conversations, live on. So does his example of perseverance in hard work, against many difficulties and despite little immediate reward, for the ideal of national identity, self-expression and self-respect, in an international context.

Anthony shamed many of us who failed to get to meetings, though much closer to them and with much readier access to comfortable transport than him. He was there as a door-to-door canvasser at every by-election and general election, and many local elections.

If every Scot who wishes to free and better Scotland would give to that ideal one tenth of the energy that Anthony gave we would have a self-governing, well educated, well housed, culturally and economically prosperous Scotland, contributing constructively to international affairs, within a very few years. It is a pity that he did not see it in his lifetime but he contributed his share towards it. It would be tragic if we failed to add our contributions to his to reach that goal.

Anthony did not believe that a person's physical death ends his or her existence or possible contribution to the future. An active member of the Roman Catholic Church, he accepted the teachings of that Church but applied his intelligence and experience to their interpretation. Without postulating a precise mechanism, he referred to himself and others as having a 'back head', a memory or knowledge, often subconscious but occasionally conscious, of personalities, events and emotions from the past. He had some such memories himself, possibly from ancient Greece, though he rarely talked of them; and I remember him asserting of a particular tune which someone had remembered, and got him to play on the piano in my home, that this was the first time it had been played in Scotland for over 400 years.

Anthony cared about the past, present and future of Scotland. Let his example inspire those who knew him, and who come after him, to ensure that the old song of Scotland continues into the future to contribute its melody to the harmony of the universe.

1966-67 Anthony J.C. Kerr Publication – Summary of his work
Scottish Opinion Survey

It has been apparent to many Nationalists for some time that the S.N.P., although it has the right ideas, is not putting them across as effectively as it should. What has been wrong with its approach was less clear, and the main purpose of the Scottish Opinion Survey was to find out.

The Survey consisted of two parts. In the first I posted out 1500 forms, mainly to people in various middle-class occupations, inviting them to choose between the present system, a federal relationship with the rest of Britain, and national independence, and to give reasons for their choice on the back of their form, left blank for this purpose. 415 replied, of whom over 160 gave reasons; there were 158 for the present system, 151 for the federal system, 97 for independence now or later, and a few votes for self-government unspecified and void votes.

A wide and interesting assortment of reasons were given, especially against independence. They point to an unsatisfactory public relations apparatus in the S.N.P., especially in its dealings with the educated minority. In addition it seems clear that an efficient research department must be set up without delay and that the S.N.P. should take a more visible and articulate interest in matters outwith Scotland.

Another 800 forms were distributed in the street and in bars, mainly though not exclusively to working-class people. 90 returned, of which 65 for independence and only 10 for the present system. Mull and the Hillfoots area of Clackmannanshire were virtually solid for independence.

The second part of the Survey involved sending out 1,000 more forms, mainly to the same sort of people who had received the first part forms, but also to 50 peers and 50 M.P.s. These were questionnaires covering some fifteen issues likely to arise when Scotland becomes independent or shortly after, but they were also asked what they thought of the S.N.P. as a potential alternative government for Scotland.

Among the other issues were - monarchy or republic? One House of Parliament or two? Methods of election, function of the two houses if two were preferred (as turned out to be the case); what basic rights should be guaranteed under the Constitution; whether National Service should be restored, and if so at what age and for how long; the broad lines of Scottish foreign policy; how to halt and reverse the "brain drain" and, most important of all, how to tide Scotland over the difficult period which might follow a unilateral declaration of independence if we should have to retrieve our freedom in this way rather than by an agreed Treaty of Separation.

The best reply overall was received from Lord Belhaven & Stenton, but there were other interesting replies from Lords Balfour, Boyd Orr, Cromartie, Mar & Kellie (who does not wish to be quoted by name) and Stonehaven; from Sir Philip Christison and several Tory and Liberal M.P.s, from the Provosts of Galashiels and Prestwick and from many others with various qualifications.

The S.N.P. did not come out too well on the final question, and this again appeared to be mainly due to the absence of a research department and the inadequacy of the public relations side, since the Party is in fact much better than it is widely believed to be.

2nd June 1967 – The Glasgow Herald
S.N.P. DEFECTS

Sir,

I hope the S.N.P.'s highly successful conference - their largest so far - will not blind Nationalists to several grave defects in the party organisation.

There is no research department. Hence the S.N.P. do not have adequate facts and figures to back up their ideas and make little impact on people who know about money, production, and trade.

The publicity department is grossly inadequate and cannot put the party's case to educated and responsible Scots. Nor does it have authority to put minor spokesmen firmly in their place when they make irrelevant and offensive remarks anent "Anglo-Scots," "Eng1ish-type schools", and "the Establishment." As a result the S.N.P. alienate many people who could be a great asset to them.

The present branch-controlled structure encourages men with small but busy minds and holds back those with something worthwhile to say but only a limited amount of time available for political activity. It also makes the National Council a cumbersome and unwieldy body.

Too little interest is shown in matters outwith Scotland and too little effort is made to build up useful contacts abroad.

I end on a note of warning. The S.N.P. cannot get much more support on the basis of protest alone - probably only just enough to elect an M.P. or two. Thereafter they must show that they have what it takes not merely to gain but to sustain our freedom.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

24th June 1967 – The Scots Independent
SCOTTISH STAMPS

Sir,

Two Danish girls came into the Post Office here to-day asking for Scottish ninepenny stamps to write home. None were available, so they settled for Scottish sixpennies and threepennies. They also wanted Scottish fivepenny stamps for postcards to Denmark, as none exist they bought fourpenny and penny stamps in the national colours. Finally they asked how much it was for a postcard to England – apparently thinking they would have to pay the foreign rate again.

Their determination to buy distinctive Scottish stamps nearly made me miss a bus, but it was worth it to see our country recognised for what it is - a separate and distinct nation. I wonder how many Scots would have been as insistent.

I might add that Jedburgh G.P.O. always has Scottish stamps - or has done so up till now - even when other Post Offices are trying to foist various commemorative and pictorial issues on the public. The Scottish fourpennies on the other hand are already out of stock in Glasgow and Motherwell and I believe they are no longer being produced. Have they been withdrawn because they are a constant reminder that Scotland is different.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

August 1970 – The Scots Independent
CONFIDENCE IN THE OLD GUARD

Sir,

Though I have at times been at loggerheads with most of the S.N.P.s Old Guard, they still inspire me with greater confidence than do some who have not been Nationalists for quite as long.

They inspire me with greater confidence for two reasons: firstly because they have a sound grasp of essentials and a solid sense of priorities, and secondly because they kept the faith in times immeasurably more difficult than the present, when to be a Nationalist meant constant exposure to ridicule and a serious handicap in one's career.

I believe with them that the S.N .P. cannot go far wrong if it sticks to the centre track.

It cannot function at all as a spare Tory Party, and is unlikely to try. It may be tempted to behave like an alternative Labour Party, but must also resist this temptation.

If it is seen to be doing appreciably more damage to Labour than to the Tories - and I got that impression in 1967-69 - left wing voters who are Scottish in their sympathies, but not committed Nationalists, will be afraid of letting the Tories win by default and will therefore go on voting Labour. This indeed is what generally happened in June.

There is in fact little wrong with the existing policy except the failure to distinguish between what is absolutely basic - national independence and a democratic form of government - and the rest, which is secondary and may have to be reviewed in the light of circumstances at the time when we recover our freedom.

For this failure, I think that relatively new Nationalists are mainly to blame; they have carried over into the S.N.P. the attitudes which they developed in other parties which did not happen to have an essential and identifiable purpose - other than that of retaining or retrieving office.

Older Nationalists - and after ten years in the Movement (though at present outwith the Party) I think I can count myself among them – are much more aware of the different.

What of the future? I believe the S.N .P. must answer two questions to the voters' satisfaction if it is to get anywhere.

(1) Can Scotland survive as an independent State?

(2) Do we have the men and women who are competent to run this country?

If we can give a convincing answer on both counts, nobody is going to worry a great deal about details of policy, since it is generally known that no party ever fulfills the whole of its mandate, or confines itself to doing what it has said it will do.

If we can't we cannot expect to make any further progress. What the people are looking for is a credible country and at least the nucleus of a credible government.

In all honesty I am adequately convinced on the first point, but I would like to see more evidence on the second.

ANTHONY J .C. KERR

21st May 1971 – The Scotsman
LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Sir,

I write in support of Provost Murray's excellent letter today. Local Government must be kept local and there are many purposes - e.g., the allocation of council houses for which some of our existing units are already too large.

The demand for bigger units, which does not come from people nor, in general from their elected representatives, is linked with an erroneous doctrine of economic viability. Administration is not a business; it is a service, which should be provided economically and efficiently but is not expected to make money.

In some cases the best solution can be for most finance to be provided nationally and for most decisions to be taken locally. Since national and local authorities are ultimately elected and paid for by the same people - ourselves - there is nothing wrong in this.

I might add that a considerable number of studies have been carried out mainly in the United States on the relationship between size and efficiency, not in administration but in various types of industry. They have shown conclusively that growth beyond a certain point, which depends on the nature of the business, is not an advantage. The decision-makers become isolated in a world of their own, the spirit of initiative and personal commitment to the firm is lost and flexibility is sacrificed. Furthermore, many of the economies of scale achieved by larger firms can also be made by smaller ones through the use of service bureaux, research organizations, time-shared access to computers etc.

This may well apply to local government also, and perhaps some independent body could investigate the comparative efficiency of various existing units in Scotland to establish whether this is indeed the case.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

22nd June 1971 – The Scotsman
EUROPE’S TONGUE

Sir,

As a conference interpreter with a side-line in written translations, I am not anxious that Europe should have a common language. As a convinced European with fairly extensive knowledge of not only of the six countries and of all the applicant states, but of several others on both sides of the Curtain, I believe the present diversity should continue because it gives Europe her unique character at least among the developed parts of the World.

I do not think it necessary that everybody should be able to understand everybody else nor that populations should become intermixed to the point where in any given area, most of the inhabitants come from another region or country. If this were to happen, Europe would become an unsatisfactory copy of the United States and something priceless and irreplaceable would be lost.

The strength of a language is mainly in those who speak and understand no other, and to a lesser extent though significant extent in those who have some useful acquaintance with one or more foreign languages, but only feel really confident in their own. There have been exceptions Chaucer's Italian was nearly as good as his English and Goethe's French as good as his German, but even they opted for their mother tongue in their major works, although their alternative language was more significant on a European scale at the time.

If a language loses its basic pool of monoglots, incomers make no effort to learn it, and the children of mixed marriages all speak the incoming language. The next thing that happens is that the local people begin to speak it among themselves and lose their cultural souls, because things that could only be thought and said in their mother tongue are no longer thought and said.

For this reason, I try to respect the Sprachgebiet - the legitimate territorial area of each language which does not always coincide with state frontiers - as far as I am able. Where this is not possible I use the traditional second language - English in Scandinavia, French (not Spanish!) in Portugal, German in Hungary. This involves greater effort but earns more goodwill than trying to impose English or French everywhere.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

26th July 1971 – The Scotsman
LITTLE PRIDE

Sir,

Your leader on the deplorable occurrence at Benghazi Airport is too submissive and resigned.

This sort of thing no longer happens to the Israelis, because they take hostages or occupy other people's airports when it does. Israel and Libya together have the same population as Scotland. Yet the British Government has done no more than protest. If it had any sort of pride in being British it would have airlifted a battalion to El Adem and held the place until the aircraft and everybody in it was allowed on to Khartoum or go back to Rome.

It is largely because successive Governments showed so little pride in being British that I decided the only thing that made any sense was to put Scotland first; specifically, what made up my mind was the disgraceful failure to see the Suez operation through to a finish.

I suspect the same kind of thinking underlay many decisions similar to mine, at least on the right wing of the National Movement, among others who like myself were previously Tories.

The only advantage that I can see in being a citizen of a large country rather than a small one is that the Government of the larger state can do more to protect its own people and anybody else for whom it is temporarily responsible, e.g., passengers on the aircraft of its national airline. This advantage is now shown to be illusory so far as Britain is concerned, and I think many Scots will draw the obvious lesson.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

18th August 1971 – The Scotsman
LEVITICUS

Sir,

On reading Mr Kenneth Brown's second letter, I turned to Leviticus 20 and found it to be as I remembered it, a fairly detailed section of the old Jewish criminal code dealing with offences against common decency or the integrity of family life.

It prescribes death for child sacrifice, "cursing" one's parents, sodomy, bestiality and the more grossly unnatural forms of incest, and excommunication for three more tolerable varieties of incest and for intercourse with a woman during her periods.

Two very marginal varieties of incest are not to be punished at all, God being left to deal with them.

I see no possible comparison between a legal document, even using the rather explicit language of Leviticus 20 (and some other parts of the Old Law) and hard core pornography, nor do I see who would be competent to expurgate the Old Testament, on what basis or criteria or on whose authority.

The Old Testament is part of our moral background and of our cultural heritage as much as the New. It helped to shape our nation and inspired some of our greatest men even if they did not always keep to all the rules. Let it stand as it has stood for a hundred generations and more and if we must have comment, criticisms and explanations, the right place for them is in separate volumes so that we do not have to read them with the sacred text.

ANTHONY J.C. KERR

December 1984 – BBC RADIO TWEED
"REFLECTIONS"

Anthony Kerr with Colin Wight

"Anthony, you are perhaps known as an enthusiastic contributor to the letters pages of the national press and as a supporter of the Scottish National Party, but you weren't actually born in Scotland were you?"

"No. I was born in Geneva. My parents happened to be working there at the time."

"Were your parents Scottish?"

"My father was part English, Scottish and French and my mother was half German and half Russian."

"It must have been a rather confusing childhood for you, was it?"

"Not really, I got used to the idea that people spoke different languages from the start, and I found it helpful in learning other languages later. I really started with French and then gradually picked up English, and when I started formally learning English I learnt it a lot faster than a foreigner normally would."

"How long did you spend in Switzerland?"

"9 years."

" And after that?"

"After that I was in England most of the time from about 1938-39 until 1960 with fairly frequent trips abroad. And then I've been in Scotland more or less continuously since 1960. But again, spending up to periods of weeks or months at a time on the continent, and in Africa."

"Why did your parents decide to leave Switzerland?"

"My father was called up at the start of the war. And my mother returned also to the UK to work for the BBC."

"So once you came to England you were aged 9?

"I was 9, yes."

"What happened after that?"

"Well I went to prep school for some years and then I took a scholarship to Harrow and spent 4 years there. Then I spent a few months touring US and Canada before being called up. Then did National Service. Then went to Cambridge and got a First Class Degree in History. Did some more travelling, by land to Cape Town. Then came back and took on different teaching jobs. Then got on television and had a row with my headmaster and so moved from an English school called Millfield to Jedburgh Grammar and have really been in Jedburgh most of the time since."

"It was after you were at Cambridge that you decided to go to Cape Town is that correct?"

"Yes. I bought a bicycle and got on it and kept on peddling for 10 months. Got on lorries when I was feeling tired or lazy, and finished up in Cape Town about 10 months later."

"Why did you decide to go off on a trip like that?"

"Well I felt I had done enough in the way of studying and I thought this would be my only opportunity before really settling down. And thought it would be interesting to do something different."

"Why Cape Town though?"

"Well Europe, one can always get to. It's not far away. In fact we are in Europe anyway. But places like Cape Town, particularly by the land route, that sort of thing is quite an adventure. It does require one to be free for a few months and to have no family commitments of any kind. And it is the sort of thing that can be done just after leaving University and normally at no other time."

"Well you say it was, could be seen as an adventure, was it?"

"I think so, yes, I met a couple of hyenas and I took a photograph and found a lion in it afterwards when it was developed. Met one or two cannibals but they didn't think I was edible."

"What about the hyenas, were they, was that particularly memorable?"

"Yes, well one of the hyenas came into my hut when I was sleeping in it, this was in French Central Africa. I scared it away with my bicycle pump. The second hyena was a much more dangerous object, or beast rather. It was the size of two German Shepherds together and that was on the road out of Rhodesia close to the South African Border. The thing was about to attack me, when a 10 ton truck arrived and ran the beast down."

"That was very fortuitous, very good timing."

"Very fortuitous and a good thing for the driver too because he was a black man, as most of the lorry drivers were, who was probably only earning £5 a month. And he could get another £5 for presenting the hyenas's tail to a District Commissioner."

"So the hyenas were valuable were they?"

"Well hyenas are a nuisance to farmers. And therefore there was a bounty for killing them. And if you presented either the head or the tail to a District Commissioner you got a fiver. And if we had thought of it we would have cut off the head and the tail, and presented them to different DCs."

" And you could have made some money as well!"

"Yes. But we didn't think of that at the time."

"How did you come across the cannibals?"

"The cannibals, they were living in French Central Africa again, and apparently they don't eat white people, they didn't eat white people. Either because the French who were still overlords there took reprisals in such cases. Or because we wear clothes and so we don't have as much vitamin D. And therefore we are not as interesting to eat."

"I'll bet you were glad of that. "

"Well, it's a good idea not to be edible."

"Did you just travel to Cape Town by the main roads, or did you get off the beaten track eventually?"

"Well they were main roads, but in many cases they were really earth roads, rather than anything we would call a road. The only time I really got off the beaten track was to go up the mountain from the Uganda side."

"How much of an education was that trip for you?"

"Well I certainly understand Africa and Africans rather better than most people do now."

"It must have been difficult after such an adventurous trip as that to come back to civilisation again, as it were, and then start anew, was it?"

"Not really, no. I had intended to do that all along and I simply looked for the first available job, which was in a prep school near London."

"This was teaching French and History?"

"French and History, yes."

"But it was from that school that you were asked to resign?"

"No. It wasn't from that school. It was from another school called Millfield, a few years later."

"And that was because you won Double Your Money, with Hughie Green?"

"That's right, I was on Double Your Money in what was actually my free time. But the Headmaster felt that it was rather demeaning for the school to have it's staff appearing on these quiz programmes. So he made it obvious that he would feel happier if I resigned."

"You've been on quite a number of quiz programmes over the years, haven't you. Mastermind for example?"

"I've been on Mastermind, Brain of the Border and Double Your Money. I think that's about it."

"You obviously enjoy quizzes, is that why you decided to enter Double Your Money or was it for financial reasons?"

"No I thought it would be fun to be on. I never thought I was going to win the thousand. I thought I might get as far as £125 or so."

"So you won the star prize?"

"I got the star prize, yes."

"A thousand pounds, when, in the late 50's must have been."

"It would be equivalent of about £8,000 now, maybe more."

"What did you do with the money, did you spend, spend, spend?"

"I spent it, but not as fast as Mrs Nicholson. I bought a couple of motor bikes. And I toured the whole of Europe within months, researching for a couple of books I was writing at the time. Then when that was done, and the money was spent, I took up the first available job which happened to be at Jedburgh Grammar School."

"That trip to Europe was actually to carry out research on books on education in Europe?"

"I was writing, I had already written a book called "Schools of Europe" which described the primary and secondary education systems of all the European countries. And I was then writing the second and third book of that series, one of which described the Universities and other higher education systems and the other described the general way of life of teenagers throughout Europe."

"How do you find that Scotland compared with some of the findings on that expedition?"

"Basically our educational system at the time was one of the best five or six out of about twenty-five or thirty systems. It was quite a good system at the time. It has deteriorated since."

"You went down to Russia 10 years ago in 1974. Under Brezhnev of course then. Did you notice any changes during that period?"

"Not a great deal. I followed different routes so that comparisons would be difficult, possibly the militia and the KGB were a little more in evidence than they had been before. But this again could simply have been due to the route I was following. I may have been through rather a sensitive military area for instance."

"Your method of transport was quite unusual as well, wasn't it?"

"Well the first trip was a very conventional thing, I joined a package deal, tour of educationalists went by train, and that was in '58. The second time I went in with a motor bike inside the car. And I'm one of the very few westerners who has been allowed to ride a motor bike into Russia at all."

"What was the difficulty with motor bikes?"

"The difficulty is that there aren't too many places that can repair them. And therefore the Russians don't encourage their use."

"There aren't too many petrol stations either in Russia?"

"They're spaced out about 70 miles, quite adequate for one's purposes, but the main problem is maintenance. Particularly of western vehicles. And therefore the Russians don't normally let westerners in with motor bikes. The third time I used a little car, a three wheeler."

"And you travelled to the Crimea?"

"I travelled to the Crimea, yes."

"Did you find that people were very interested in this strange westerner on his motor bike, and later on in his... ?"

"I think they were especially interested in the vehicle itself. I mean they had seen plenty of westerners, but they hadn't seen a motor bike and they hadn't seen the Bond car either."

"What did they think you were up to?"

"Oh. I don't think they thought I was up to anything very dangerous. I think they just thought I was unusual."

"Would you agree that you are unusual Anthony?"

"Well possibly, yes."

"Would you say you were eccentric at all?"

"I don't know about eccentric, I would say rather unconventional. I don't worry too much about what people think on me for a start."

"Now your trip to Russia must have been something of a home-coming for you as well, because your mother, as you explained earlier was part Russian."

"That's right, yes. She was the daughter of a businessman in Kharkov, and I actually visited her birth place and met one or two people who could remember her father."

"Was that a very emotional occasion for you?"

"I don't know that it was very emotional, but it was certainly an experience."

"Anthony, you moved north of the Border to Jedburgh in 1960. That was a period which also coincided with your conversion, is that the correct word, to Scottish Nationalism?"

"Yes, I had actually been conscious of being Scottish and basically in full favour of some form of self government for many years before that. But this was the point where I decided I ought to be doing something about it."

"And why 1960, was there anything significant about that period?"

"What was significant about it, first of all, was that I had been on this sort of research trip for about 6 months and happened to be at a loose end and looking for something to do. But secondly, from the Nationalist stand point, it was the time when Nationalism was emerging from the shadows and ceasing to be just a rather quaint cultural movement, and becoming a serious political force. I think that people felt we had something new to offer and for a variety of reasons, people felt more Scottish and less British than they had done for a while. So there was a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with the major British parties. And as I say there was this sort of search for a new solution."

"So was your decision then to join the SNP, was it a political decision or was it one of sympathy, wishing to see a revival of the Scottish consciousness?"

"No it was a political decision. I felt that this is a country and it's time it was independent like other countries. In the present system, we will always be a minority and we will always be sacrificed."

" Anthony, chains and slavery are hardly the words we could use to describe Scotland's position now. Do you think that that song, 'Scot's Wha Hae', is still relevant to the Nationalist's cause?"

"It is, and I think the chains and slavery still exist. The only thing is that we don't see the chains and we don't realize we are slaves."

"So the position hasn't changed much at all, as you see it, over the centuries?"

"If anything changed for the worse. In that say 100 years ago, alright we were in political subjection to England, but we did live our own lives and think our own thoughts to a far greater extent."

"You seem to conduct your Nationalist campaign mainly through the letters pages of some of our national newspapers. When did that begin?"

"1960."

"And how many letters have you written in that, since that time?"

"Probably between 500 and a 1000. Possibly a little over a 1000."

"How well do you know the letters Editors of The Scotsman and The Glasgow Herald?"

"I haven't actually met them, I've occasionally spoken to them over the phone. If I'm going to write a letter of much more than my average length, I might occasionally phone the Editor first, or the letters' Editor to establish whether a letter of that sort of length on the subject would be acceptable."

"They never ring you up and say "Anthony, it's going to be a quiet day in the letters pages, can you supply us with something?""

"No that doesn't happen. Because that's not the way the letters pages work. What sometimes happens is that they put a letter into cold storage for a week, two weeks, even longer and then if they are running short of letters, they suddenly exhume a letter from, for instance Sir Andrew Gilchrist or Andrew Haddon or myself, and it's produced maybe several week's after it was written. But I have had a letter in the Hawick News which was published a year after it was written."

"Do you still get a thrill from seeing your name in print in newspapers?"

"Well I'm fairly used to it now. "

"Do you keep all your cuttings?"

"Not many, no. Cause the place would be cluttered up if I did."

"You could almost publish a book from your letters."

"I have thought of it occasionally but I haven't got round to it yet."

"Anthony what do you see as your future now. You've lived in Jedburgh since 1960, but you're very fond of travelling. Why have you lived in Jedburgh for all that time?"

"It's the home of my family and it's the place where I feel comfortable. And I dislike moving anyway. I like to travel, but once I've got a house I like to stay there. I'm just used to being where I am. I see no cause to live anywhere else."

 

 


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