I’m off to Scotland for the second concert in my Scottish National Portrait Gallery which has been closed for the past two years. It opened again in Edinburgh on December 1.with Erich Hobarth. While I’m there, I’m hoping to visit the newly refurbished
The Portrait Gallery is in a most attractive old building and always has interesting exhibitions. Moreover, it has a very nice cafe. Before it closed for renovation, the cafe used to serve delightful cheese scones, large and golden-brown with a real ‘kick’ of cheese. I missed these scones during the two-year closure, and was worried that they would have disappeared from the menu when the Gallery re-opened. Cheekily, I e-mailed the Gallery’s management team to ask. With perfect politeness they replied that yes, indeed, cheese scones would be back on the menu, and they hoped I would enjoy my visit. They did not reproach me for having my priorities all wrong. I feel this is the mark of a civilised establishment.
I already knew they were civilised. Some years ago I visited the Gallery when I had awful bronchitis. In one of the exhibition rooms I was overtaken by a bout of coughing so bad that I thought I might need medical help. One of the attendants brought me a chair, and quietly cleared the room of visitors. I sat there gradually getting my breath back, watched silently by the famous Scots gazing down at me from their frames.