Beyond the Fringe

Our Scottish friends were trying to explain the phenomenon of the television police, and we were trying to understand. Television sets are taxed yearly in Britain and require an annual sticker. But since the sticker buying is done on the honor system, the citizens of Great Britain enjoy an occasional visit from the television police, who come into the house to make sure the stickers are current. This year the postman had come up the glen sounding a warning that the sticker checker was just behind him. Our friends were in the clear but there was a lady up the glen, said Margaret, who'd had to make a quick run to the post office for a sticker for her black-and-white, and who'd simply hid her three color sets.

With a few exceptions the Scots seem resigned to the television tax, but the same cannot be said of the poll tax, which, they will remind you, Scotland had a year before the rest of the union. In Edinburgh, whose beauty is not generally marred by graffiti, what graffiti we did see was opposing that tax. In general the level of Scottish resentment against England goes largely unreported here, but the Scots National Party has a fair amount of sentimental support in Scotland, even among those who do not really want to break with England. (One strongly nationalistic lady of my friends' acquaintance persists in calling the land below the Tweed "Englandshire.")

We were in Perthshire to see our friends,...

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