Over the last ten years too many of my friends have left me behind. My lifelong friend and then my accountant Stewart Holliday went first, then Ruth and John Murry, Maggie Noach my agent, Rob Holdstock, Bob Nottage a schoolfriend who served alongside me in the RAF and more recently Iain Banks. Iain was not a close friend, but we corresponded on occasion and I liked him a lot, despite our different views on things. He wanted independence for Scotland and he was in his own words a 'militant atheist'. I made him laugh at a recent convention when I countered this with my assertion that I am a 'militant Quaker', Quakers being dedicated to peace of course. The Scots have their right to choose independence from the Union of course, should they wish it, but I think both countries will be the poorer for a parting. Should it happen there will be new flags, some lost politicians since 'foreigners' are not able to serve in another country's parliament. Those Scots who choose to become English, Welsh or Northern Irish will of course be permitted to remain in our parliament, but it will be a difficult emotional choice for them. There will be other changes, many of them, to emerge as the time for choosing gets closer. Iain of course has had the choice wrenched from him on the eve of this momentous event. A very swift and cruel wrenching it was too and the book world's loss is great. I miss all those friends I have listed above, quite desperately at times, and it would be nice if no one else went before I did. Naturally I'd rather that was later than sooner - at least a decade I hope - but I certainly don't want to be, in the vernacular of action movies, Last Man Standing.
The picture was taken on the shores of Lake Bled in Slovenia - a small beautiful country which gained its independence from Yugoslavia and seems to the thriving, so what do I know.