Scottish spirit

When I showed my Italo-Scozzese friends Cristina Odone's column (26 April) saying that Cardinal Basil Hume "has been the nearest thing the British have had to a guardian of the national soul", they threw their hands in the air and cried "Basta!".

It surprised them that an Italian Catholic could make such a claim. Hume's rule does not run in Scotland. Here we have that charismatic prelate and man of the people Cardinal Tom Winning, who received his biretta from the Pope to the sound of bagpipes, presented the old man with a bottle of Scotch and immediately thereafter telephoned Glasgow to find out how Celtic were doing. His smiling face and his (usually witty) words are seldom out of the Scottish media for long, and he was the only churchman to make it on to Jon Snow's list of the hundred most powerful Scots, though admittedly he was a long way behind Kirsty Wark. Many of us think he would make a fine Pope for the 21st century.

Odone shares the English delusion, so annoying to Scots, that "British" and "national" are synonymous with "English", whereas there are three nations on this island. If she comes up to Edinburgh for our election and eats at Valvona & Crolla's, she'd better mind what she says.

Andrew Lockhart Walker
Dollar, Clackmannanshire

This article first appeared in the 03 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, The NS Essay - This country is not so special