What a testament to intellectual training in later years, was, what turned out to be Robin Downie's last piece for the Scottish Review
. One cannot even begin to imagine the number of moral philosophy students that have passed through his hands at Glasgow University over the decades.
As a callow youth of 17 in 1975, in the days when moral philosophy was a compulsory subject for an MA degree at Glasgow, I was required to buy his 'set book', Roles and Values,
which sits on my bookshelves to this day. I think it was his lucidity which attracted me to his work most and his clever use of everyday scenarios to illustrate deep philosophical and moral dilemmas. A technique with which, as we have seen over the years in the Scottish Review,
he has challenged and intrigued readers.
Which got me to thinking in the old Scottish terminology 'Wha's like us….' Wha' indeed. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong places, but looking around our contemporary cultural and intellectual landscape I do wonder, with some anxiety, from where the new Robin Downies are going to come.
Whether as students or as readers of the Scottish Review,
we have been enormously indebted to Robin for his contribution to all our lives over many, many years.
What with all the things going on in the world, like Nicola quitting and Chinese balloons flying overhead up to who knows what mischief, I am not sure what follows matters all that much in the scheme of things. However, the closer the time to leave it approaches, the more arrangements need to be made.
My grandmother was a wise old bird. She had three daughters and a son to leave things to, grandfather having preceded her, so to avoid any disputes about possessions she left instructions as to who was to get what. It just about worked. In her drawing room, she had a huge Indian carpet sent back by one daughter who had married a tea planter which was far too big for anybody to take except her son and none of her daughters liked his wife. The daughter who had arranged for her to get it was furious as was indeed my mother – and, while neither had a room big enough to put it down in, the fact their brother's wife got it rankled for years. But at least nobody came to blows.
I have reached the age when I have started to wonder what will become of all the things I have accumulated, so like grandmother, I am about to leave a letter saying these are the items I would like my brother, this niece or that nephew to have – they can do what they like with the rest of the stuff. I also plan to warn them that some things of no apparent worth are actually quite sought after.
When I moved into my first flat some 60-odd years ago, grandmother decided I must have some china so a half set of green Spode plates, cups and saucers with sugar basin and cream jug were duly provided from grandfather's shop. This design is no longer made so breakages matter. There are – Google is at times a blessing – firms who search for discontinued lines of china so I have augmented my store but at a pricer a lot higher than when they were originally on sale. They are not yet antiques but they will be – I don't watch Antiques Road Trip
for nothing – so they might be worth not sending to the charity shop or tossing into the skip they are going to need.
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