I didn't expect to be moved by the sight of a statue, but - surprisingly - I was. On Thursday I travelled up to Edinburgh for the unveiling of a magnificent monument to the Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith, who lived and died in the city.
To mark the occasion, the Adam Smith Institute had decided to host a series of events (organiser: Brian Monteith). On Thursday evening, therefore, we assembled in The Caves, a collection of dark, atmospheric vaults under the ancient Cowgate, for a debate featuring former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth, former Labour Energy minister Brian Wilson, Alex Neil MSP, and the ASI's Dr Madsen Pirie.
Yesterday's programme included lunch at the City Chambers and a gala dinner in the University of Edinburgh's neo-classical Playfair Library Hall. By chance I found myself on table 2 with Madsen on one side and R Emmett Tyrrell, founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator (and one of two guest speakers), on the other.
Bob (or "Mr Tyrrell" as I felt obliged to call him) lives and works in Washington. Other guests on table 2 had come from California and New Orleans. The evening flew by and I was one of the last to leave, with my new American friends, shortly before midnight.
Highlight of the two days was of course the unveiling of the 10ft bronze statue in the High Street (aka the Royal Mile) opposite the Exchange Buildings (now the City Chambers) where Smith worked. Commissioned by the ASI, designed by Scotland's leading monumental sculptor Alexander Stoddart, and funded entirely by private subscription, it cost £250,000.
Today, standing on a huge stone plinth emblazoned with the words ‘ADAM SMITH’, the statue is a magnificent addition to the Royal Mile. I'm just delighted I was there to see it.
PS. The Scottish edition of today’s Daily Telegraph has a large picture of the statue on page 9 and I'm in it (at the back). At last, something I can show my grandchildren (should I ever have any)!