THIRTEEN appeared to be health secretary Alex Neil’s unlucky number last week when he made his debut at the 13th annual Scottish Enterprise life sciences dinner in Edinburgh.
Not everyone in the audience realised Neil was joking when he quipped about how the National Health Service’s patient databases could be “data mined” to identify the criminals of the future for his colleague, justice minister Kenny MacAskill.
But while Neil is well-known for ignoring civil servants’ pre-prepared speeches and instead speaking off-the-cuff, alarm fuelled a flurry of phone calls the following morning until it became clear it was indeed a joke.
Albeit one that was a little too “1984” for the audience.
The speaker who received the warmest round of applause on the night was BBC Radio Scotland presenter Fred MacAulay, who – as the regular compere on the night – has spent years trying to perfect his pronunciation of scientific terms.
Academics and entrepreneurs alike were suitably impressed when he described the “saccadic vector optokinetic perimetry” technique used by Edinburgh University spin out I2eye Diagnostics to test eyesight.
Biggar and better charity drive takes on Six Nations
Retired stockbroker Alan Biggar is combining his love of rugby and classic cars in his latest – and apparently last – charity fundraising mission.
The former head of Brewin Dolphin’s Edinburgh office is planning to visit the Six Nations’ rugby stadiums in a 1971 Morgan Plus 8 to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust in the east of Scotland.
Biggar has already raised £250,000 after being touched by the death of a colleague’s daughter in 2007. Two previous drives in memory of Zoë King covered 5,000 miles a 1957 Morgan Plus 4, in 2008 and 2011.
He said: “This is it, my third and final drive. I am extremely grateful to my co-drivers for agreeing to join me on this slightly longer journey, and also my artist friends who are once again donating paintings.”
Biggar mixes with a rich vein of artistic talent, so works from the likes of John Bellany, John Lowrie Morrison, Margaret Evans and Denis Ribas will be auctioned at a Sportsman’s Dinner on 22 February.
Elgin wins in game of love
When you think of where to find the bleeding edge of the Scottish games industry, not many people think of Elgin.
But the northern town has been the home of Hunted Cow for nearly ten years. At first the company was just two young lads, both graduates of the games development programme at the University of Abertay Dundee. Now they employ 22 in a swish town centre office that boasts an onsite gym and a pool table. But why Elgin?
Elginite Andrew Mulholland sheepishly admits the decision was more to do with the heart than the head.
“It was my fault. I met a girl just before I went to uni.”