dial or stab at a mechanical preset button or the off-switch - much slower. On the other
hand there was no Channel Five back then either). Books are fine - indeed respected -
and even novels are okay, strictly providing there's no smut (that House of Stuart again;
racy novels of the 1600s; tsk). Singing in church is permitted, but must be unaccompan-
ied. The Sabbath is observed with some severity; no going for a walk unless it's to and
from church (and no taking the scenic route) and no reading unless it's religious in nature.
I always felt kind of sorry for the MacLeod family, and especially for Ken because as
the eldest he seemed to have had the most authoritarian upbringing of all, but for all the
- by modern standards almost laughably grim - strictness imposed by the Reverend and
Mrs MacLeod, they were a loving and protective family, and - unless they're really some
secret sibling-hood of mad axe murderers or something - Ken and all his brothers and sis-
ters seem to have grown up to be well-adjusted, well-educated, functional and productive
members of society, with flourishing families of their own.
More than I can claim, I guess.
Anyway, with no telly, and it being perfectly obvious to me and my pals that Python
was the best thing on TV at the time and hence the only thing worth talking about the
following morning, it seemed only fair to keep Ken in the loop by recounting as much as
possible of each programme to him before register class (I wasn't the only person doing
this - Les and others did too, though I maintain I was the most enthusiastic). I doubt my
memory would be up to it these days, but at the time I used to quite enjoy the process.
Ken and I have taken entirely different routes to getting published; I wrote six books
and a million words of purple prose, picked up rejection slips from every reputable pub-
lisher in London and - very gradually - learned some important things the hard way (such
as: It's often what you leave out that's most effective, and: You rarely need that many
adjectives, Iain), while Ken talked about writing a novel for twenty years and always
seemed like he was just about to start, but never did - so that his friends started to despair
that he ever would - then sat down, wrote a book called The Star Fraction and got it pub-
lished by the first publisher he sent it to.
I pick Ken up from South Queensferry on yet another brilliantly sunny morning; per-
fect convertible weather. Ken and Carol live on Society Road, which is part of the ap-
proach to Hopetoun House, Scotland's grandest stately home. I feel like I know Hopetoun
fairly well by now; I've recorded a TV programme there, done the tour a couple of times
(fine view of the bridges from the roof), taken photos of Ken in the grounds (in my Kim
Sabinan, ace photographer, persona) and - when we were taking in the gardens with Les
and Aileen one sunny day in 2002 - got to watch the Worshipful Company of Archers on
one of their ceremonial practice shoots.
This was great fun; all these toffs in tartan trews and bonnets with feathers in them
whanging arrows from man-tall longbows over the giant fountain towards straw targets