The Sunday Times Scotland, as we know it, is gone. The section I edited, Ecosse, was launched in 1995. I wrote the cover of the first edition. It was a re-imagining of Scotland had the Jacobites won the Battle of Culloden. As I recall, Sean Connery was President because we were independent and - for reasons no longer clear - Michael Forsyth had ended up Prime Minister.
Ecosse gave all its staff the opportunity to write at length on matters close to home. In those early days I conducted a cover interview with the late Donald Dewar in which he confessed to never having owned a coat. We went to an Indian restaurant called the Killermount Polo Club which I imagined was his local but he said he found "a bit too expensive". He kindly offered a lift into town afterwards in his very modest car. Donald died within a few years and his will showed him to be wealthy man. He was not so much "canny" as completely lacking in materialism.
I will always be grateful to The Sunday Times for giving me space to write columns that were pro-independence. I could cast a critical eye on the country, but always with the presumption that we'd be better off outside The Union. My work has covered everything from the cultural ubiquity of the Playboy bunny to the merits of education in the great outdoors. The Sunday Times style demands clear, direct writing. It loves wit and despites waffle. Self indulgent digressions and purple patches just wouldn't make the paper. The discipline of these restrictions helped me me develop as a writer from the day I joined in 1995. That's why I was happy to return in 2006 after spending five years as deputy editor of The Herald. The team of writers at Ecosse - Gillian Harris, Gillian Bowditch, Allan Brown, Anna Burnside and Rachel Devine made the job of editing a pleasure. So did working with photographers like Stuart Wallace whose picture features here.
Finding out you are about to lose your job - on the first day of the Conservative Liberal government - has a black humour about it. The "continuing economic uncertainty" was quoted as the reason. Given that we were market leader in Scotland, that gives you an idea of how bad things are. But nobody working in the newspaper industry expects a job for life and such events bring opportunities we might have considered too risky with the safety net of an annual salary.
The last few weeks were pressured - hence the sporadic nature of this blog. That will change, and Go Lassie Go will soon go even further. I have not abandoned the paper media either and you will see my by-line again very soon.
PS If you want the LAST EVER Sunday Times Scotland featuring Ecosse you will need to BUY it. The online version has not been put up today. I would recommend highly that you do. There's a great piece by Stuart Cosgrove on why it's okay not to support England, an interview with Louise Welsh by Gillian Bowditch, Rachel Devine on the new album by McFall's Chamber, Anna Burnside on the launch of Glitterball to help Cancer Research and me on the Alcohol Bill.