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Kist with a tawse

The launch of the curriculum council's Kist of Scottish materials (TESS2, page four) became as near to a ceilidh as is possible on a Friday morning in a mothballed parliament building.

Lionel McClelland, of the Black Biddy Band, who demotically started the proceedings with song, was worried by the number of "suits" he saw on the plush benches. But children from schools across the country got going in Scots and Gaelic, verse and prose. From "The Coming o the Wee Malkies" to "Fi'baw in the Street" (recited by a boy from the Royal Blind School) and Lochee primary's encounter with spacemen in Dundee's Baxter Park, 5-14 pupils demonstrated goodies in the Kist.

They were so good that Neil Galbraith, the curriculum council's chairman, asked them to do the performance all over again, although he may also have been prompted by the need to fill in time for a rather delayed Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.

The minister of state had pulled rank on Raymond Robertson, his successor as education minister and a mere parliamentary under-secretary of state.

Lord James revealed that Galbraith had once given him a tawse as a memento. As a custodian of our national heritage, the minister passed it to the Royal Scottish Museum.

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