I’ve been away for a couple of days savouring the delights of Tectonics (see under Perambulations, Tectonics). This has become an annual exercise taking me to Glasgow, a city which has clearly developed a beguiling cultural scene. It seems to me that Scotland has somehow developed a self-confidence and cultural identity which England lacks. A smaller population and highland topography undoubtedly play a part in this rich blossoming, but I wonder if that’s the whole story. It can’t be. There has to be something else going on beyond a bit of faux heritage (bagpipes and kilts) – there is undoubtedly a post enlightenment spirit in the air, a celebration of independent thought. I’ve not experienced it in England, a nation which it has to be said, never really believed it possible that anything less than a conservative political worldview was possible. Let’s not forget at this moment that Thatcher thought Blair was her greatest creation. How was England involved in the Enlightenment, apart perhaps from the idea that the Industrial Revolution was an enlightenment phenomenon? But this was the enlightenment summed up by Adam Smith, not Hume. The English enlightenment was all about the product of the hand (invisible or not) not the mind. The great thing about Scotland is that ideas still seem to have a vibrant salience, whereas in dear old England politics is stale, demeaned and let’s face it, insulting. If I had energy and youth on my side I would be off to live in Scotland tomorrow. Not least for the smaller population and the topography.
Talking of topography, on the way home I walked along Hadrian's Wall for a while, just north of which I spotted the intriguing structure pictured below. What, I wonder, is it?