Another much-travelled man about the world is Dick Johnstone, Stirling University's own walking compendium of foreign languages. He reached the selfsame seminar in Dunfermline via Finland, Russia, Gatwick and Stirling, but seemed none the worse for wear. Indeed, he treated us to some fluent German - as far as we could tell.
Johnstone was not the only speaker to confound the normally mono-Anglo nature of such proceedings.
The unlikely figure of Sam Galbraith slipped effortlessly from Glaswegian into German to quote Willy Brandt. The former German Chancellor once underlined the importance of language for business when he advised an English audience: "When I sell to you, I must speak English. When I buy from you, Sie muessen Deutsch sprechen."
The case for modern languages in a nutshell - don't be surprised to find the dictum in the forthcoming report on modern languages from Herr John Mulgrew.