We have survived, with reasonable credit and profound relief, a day which was added to our joint jobsheet some time ago shortly after the publication of that bloody book: we were required to show Old Aberdeen to a Very Gracious Personage. The trouble with Personages these days is that people are sometimes distressingly keen on shooting them, and the amount of fuss and bother involved before one personally inoffensive Personage can walk down a High Street admiring the architecture is almost beyond computation. Before it could happen, there had to be paroxysms of diplomacy, since various people had to be cajoled into not doing things or doing them at a slightly different time or whatever, without actually telling them why. The Laird of the Pink Castle, who has been responsible for organising all this, has been at high doh for the last week. Perhaps the principal entertainment of the day, as far as I was concerned, has been his PA, a young woman I have always had a lot of time for. She is Jewish, and has classically Jewish looks, with a mass of corkscrew curls and that peculiar capacity of looking massively unimpressed by anything up to and possibly including the Last Trump. She does the Laird no end of good –– while she is always perfectly polite, her withering gaze, I have observed, is not without its effect. She tipped up today wearing no makeup, sensible shoes, and a long, very smart black linen coat which, what with the curls and the general demeanour, made her look like a very attractive rabbi. As zero hour approached, and then passed, a variety of Special Branch hunks in bad suits rushed to and fro about the place being macho, quailing a little whenever they encountered a sceptical grey rabbinical eye, the Laird was chewing his beard, oh the suspense, and finally a barouche-landau with a cloak artfully flung over the door to conceal the coat of arms whispered o’er the gravel to the agreed rendezvous, a mere ten minutes late. Nothing, after that, went wrong, though bits of ‘and it was on this very spot’ had to be truncated to the point of ludicrousness to make up the missing minutes. One of the more comic aspects of the tour was that the party couldn’t travel as a crocodile because it’s too noticeable, so the Personage and his minder strolled down one way with various boys in bad suits deployed to either side, while Professor and I had to wire round by various alternative routes only to appear as if by magic at some further point on the itinerary. I began to wonder whether the Graciousness, having met us for the third time, might be privately asking questions about how far the University had got with its cloning programme. We are told that it was a great success. I am happy, however, to report that the curtain of secrecy, for all that the Special Branch could do, was not proof against the Principal’s housekeeper, a lady we are on friendly terms with. ‘When they wouldnae tell me who it was, and I had to buy organic Earl Grey, I knew alright’, she told the Professor when he went to help with the teapots, with justifiable satisfaction. We reeled home, drained by the effort, and thanked our lucky stars for the privilege of being able to walk down a road without attracting attention.