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Nip of the old

First Minister Donald Dewar was among friends last week as he delivered the annual lecture at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye - or at least one particular friend.

Farquhar Macintosh, chairman of the board, welcomed him in Gaelic and then, with the customary courtesy, translated himself into English."You don't need to translate for me," replied Dewar. "I've known you for a long time and I trust you implicitly."

Just how long emerged later. The 76-year-old Macintosh vouchsafed to Jotter that he taught 63-ear-old Dewar when he was a callow fourth-year at Glasgow Academy and was himself starting out on a glorious career which would bring him three headships and chairmanship of the much-lamented Scottish Examination Board.

One piece of classroom advice Macintosh gave the future father of the nation was not to speak so quickly and to "slow down so the rest of the class can get the benefit of your wisdom".

Clearly a lesson learnt as the First Minister raced through the 6,111 words of his lecture in a mere hour.

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