Tuesday 3 November 2009

Letter from America: Malcolm McLaughlin

I’m in Austin, Texas this week working at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on the campus of U Texas, home of the famous college football team the Longhorns. Austin is famous – or infamous – for the live music and boozing scene downtown on 6th Street, old Pecan Street. In fact Austin claims to be the world’s live music capital and has a festival here every year. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately from a work point of view – it’s the book festival that’s on during my visit. That being said, when I went to see it they had a pretty fine Scottish Pipe Band marching about, in kilts, sporrans, and the whole enchilada. It took me right back to my ancestral homeland – except that the weather here stubbornly remains at around 25 Celsius, which one rarely finds in Edinburgh come November.

So, I’ve been working out of the LBJ library on Red River Road, a wonderful facility staffed by some excellent archivists. It contains a museum dedicated to President Johnson and perhaps the most intriguing exhibit is a reproduction of LBJ’s Oval Office. Walking in there you can imagine the big man sitting down to talk civil rights with Martin Luther King. I asked if I could sit behind the desk but no luck, sadly. I’ve attached a photograph of that room here and a couple of other snaps of Austin.Malcolm

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