Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ignorance and bliss

Yesterday was spent in Edinburgh on a high powered Gurkha Welfare Trust meeting. As always, these events are prequelled by lunch in a Nepalese restaurant.
The chat turn to " other things" and two gems emerged.
The first concerned the brand spanking new court in Livingstone, required because this "New Town" has the highest crime rate of anywhere in Scotland.
Just before it was due to open, a group of the Sheriffs who would be presiding were ushered round it's magnificence, until they actually got into a court room.
Almost instantly, there was consternation.
" What's the matter?" asked the (English) civil servant who had been in charge of this pleasure dome.
" You've only got 12 jury places."
" So?"
" In Scotland we have 15"
Of course the design had been approved in Whitehall, who, as ever, show complete ignorance of pretty much anything.
It took three months and about £30,000 per court room to sort that one.
The other little story concerned David Niven, who we all love. He lived with Errol Flynn for some time and I can only imagine what the state of the shared house would be like after a night....
My late father-in-law knew Niven before the war, and, indeed, has cine film of him playing hockey at the old Maryhill Barracks when he enlisted.
Niven went on ( with breaks) to become a decorated senior officer, but first he had to undergo Sandhurst.
Towards the end of the course, a senior General came to address the assembled subalterns, and at the end of the briefing, asked for questions.
Niven put his hand up.
" That man there ... good chap.. What's your name?"
" Niven Sir."
" Jolly good, what's the question?"
" I was just wondering, sir, if you could tell me the time of the next train to London?"
I'm pretty sure he didn't get to go...officially anyway.