We have a liking for the somewhat outmoded, but jolly exciting, books of John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir, one-time Governor General of Canada and all round fine upstanding Scottish gentleman.

Six of us, we two and four very old chums, will meet in Scotland (2016) where we will (may) take on the tweedy mantle of the BuchaneersGood Chuminess in 39 Steps


The Buchaneers, revealed in quotations …


Archie Roylance

“He found himself ushered into a fair-sized room where a bright fire was burning. On a table lay the remains of breakfast, and the odour of food mingled pleasantly with the scent of peat. The horns and heads of big game, foxes’ masks, the model of a gigantic salmon, and several bookcases adorned the walls, and books and maps were mixed with decanters and cigar-boxes on the long sideboard. After the wild out of doors the place seemed the very shrine of comfort. A man sat in an arm-chair by the fire with a leg on a stool; he was smoking a pipe, and reading the Field, and on another stool at his elbow was a pile of new novels. He was a pleasant brown-faced man, with remarkably smooth hair and a roving humorous eye.”

“People trusted him, because, in spite of his hidalgo-ish appearance, he was believed to have that combination of candour and intelligence which England desires in her public men”.

In John Macnab Archie meets, falls in love with and proposes to Janet. He is running for the local seat as an MP and gets a great deal of inspiration from Janet for his political views. In no novel is Roylance a protagonist, but usually, and less and less reluctantly, drawn into the affairs of others. Apart from Dougal and Jaikie of the Gorbals Diehards he is younger by a dozen years or more than all Buchan’s paladins, a d’Artagnan among the Musketeers, and mostly they deal with him in avuncular fashion, but, ignored, mocked, overruled, he has their respect as well as their affection. Although he never attains their stature we are aware of achievement and potential. Buchan seems determined not to lose sight of Archie Roylance and returns to him repeatedly, dropping stitches which he will later pick up, so that he appears a character recollected rather than invented


Janet Raden

“He did not think of nymphs and goddesses or of linnets in spring; still less did he plunge into the depths of a subconscious self which he was not aware of possessing. The unromantic epithet which rose to his lips was ‘jolly’.” 

“Wait a moment.  We need more turf,” and she disappeared from sight beyond a knoll.  When she returned she was excessively muddy as to hands and garments. “I slipped in that beastly peat-moss,” she explained.


Dickson McCunn

“I’m going back to Blaweary”, said Dickson, “to count my mercies. I’m going to catch a wheen salmon,and potter about my bits of fields, and read my books, and sit by my fireside. And to the last of my day of my life I’ll be happy, thinking of the grand things I’ve seen and the grand places I’ve been in. Ay, and the grand friends I’ve known – the best of all.”


Hilda von Einem

“I have met the Frau von Einem, and that lady’s a very different proposition. The man that will understand her has got to take a biggish size in hats. It isn’t what she has been, but what she is, and that’s a mighty clever woman.”

International beautiful master spy and secret agent. Being a secret agent there is little known about her.


Barbara Clanroyden

Barbara Clanroyden could not under any circumstances be pathetic; her airy grace was immune from the attacks of fate; she might bend, but she would never break.


“Barbara went back to bed” (- The Courts of the Morning)


Sandy Arbuthnot

His particular expertise is in adopting disguises which completely take in Hannay, the “friend [he] knows best in the world”. Captain in the Tweeddale Yeomanry, later promoted to Colonel. Served as honorary attaché at various embassies.

…  “Lean brown men from the ends of the earth may be seen on the London pavements now and then in creased clothes, walking with the light outland step, slinking into clubs as if they could not remember whether or not they belonged to them.”