Like a schoolboy eager to please a good
teacher, I showed up 20 minutes ahead of the appointed time for my
interview at Scotland’s Northsound Radio. I was immediately impressed
with the radio station. Everybody seemed to work on tightly synchronized
timing. The atmosphere could be defined in two words: “All Business”.
There wasn’t any idle chitchat anywhere, and I didn’t mind that at all!
This felt like the right place, at the right time, to be in.
I sensed this to be one of the great
moments in my life. I was at last in my grandfather’s country, there to
tell his countrymen the story of my search for him. During my years in
politics, I had experienced some profound defining moments, most often
just before delivering a major speech. My mind would be singularly
concentrated on the task at hand. All unimportant fluff would be purged
from my head, and my purpose in life, crystal clear. As I sat down in
the studio opposite the host, Cammy Campbell, I was living such a
Having read my story beforehand, Cammy
eased naturally and immediately into the substance of the search.
“HeRre we have an Eskimo seRRching for his SCOE-tish gRraanfatheR! …So!
Y-RR lookin’ for Big Pete-R, aRR ya?” There were no patronizing or
inane questions, and Cammy gave the subject a lot of respect. At the
same time, he made the search sound like an item of great Scottish
national interest, and a lot of fun besides!
One of his questions forced me to size up
my quest in a way I hadn’t previously given much thought to. “ARR ya
seekin’ ta plug a grReat hole in y-RR identity?” “No”, I replied,
“We, the grandchildren of this man, are very secure in our Eskimo
identity. That’s what we are. That’s how we were raised. We have never
felt ourselves to be partially mysteriously anything other than Inuit. I
do, however, remember my late mother’s deep longing to know about her
father. Over time, her longing became mine.”
The interview, originally scheduled for 15
minutes, stretched to 30, without anybody becoming uncomfortable. No
listeners called in with any “smoking gun” information, but it had been
a good show. I was genuinely content with how everything had gone. Cammy,
however, ended up nervously tapping his fingertips on any handy surface.
I found out why, when he told me:
“I’ve colled a caab f-RR ya. HeRe’s the
add-RESS of the AbeRdeen Town RregistRy.” Here, I had been prepared
after the radio interview to simply go back to my hotel, have a nice
haggis dinner, and catch a good night’s sleep before heading back to
England the next day. Cammy’s firm suggestion was something I would have
never thought to pursue, but, in giving me this lead, he was now “seRRchin’”
along with me.