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PEOPLE?ceremony of Sasine was a Celtic invention, its rootslie in Anglo-Saxon culture.The Dalyells had no idea how many visitors woulddescend upon them and pay their two shillings tosee the house. Happily, for 65 years, people havebeen fascinated by all the Binns has to offer.Dalyell believes such a house demands a guidedtour. "It is essential, and you must have guides whohave an understanding of Scottish history." After asuccession of ex-military guides, Dalyell's motherdecided students would better fit the bill and thefirst was a young David Steel, the future Lord Steel.A crucial event in these early years, Dalyell says,was the visit in 1949 of the Gowers Committee,which, he recalls, included a man called JohnCarruthers Little, "a complete socialist". Dalyellrecalls: "My father asked him whether he thoughtthat families should remain with the propertiesgifted to the nation. Carruthers Little repliedemphatically that they should."It is tempting to speculate on the effect hisparents' actions, the association with the Trust andthe words of such men as Carruthers Little had onDalyell, who in 1956 joined the Labour Party. Itmight have seemed a strange decision. He lived in astately home, even though it was now owned by thenation. He had been to Eton and sounded it. Butstand for Labour he did and at 29 was elected withan overwhelming majority. He never looked back.As we part, Dalyell reminds me to mention thecarefully worded acknowledgement that he hasincluded in the book, paying tribute to "thetolerance of successive generations of Trust staff".He also emphasises the role of his wife, Kathleen."I owe everything to Kathleen. She takes the viewthat she should deliver everything that would beexpected of a Trust representative. I have beenextremely fortunate."The Binns remains the only Trust property stilloccupied by its donor family. Dalyell says me: "Wehave always enjoyed a cordial relationship with theTrust. Kathleen has always made a point of askingsuccessive chairmen whether they are quite surethey wish for the family to stay on as residents.Happily the answer has always been yes." lThe story of the Trust's acquisition of the House of theBinns is recorded in a fascinating new book on themotivations for owners to give up their estates, works ofart and treasured artefacts for public benefit -A NobleThing, by Merlin Waterson (Scala, 2011). TheImportance of Being Awkwardis published by Birlinn.????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????