On a whim yesterday, I bought a copy of Scotland on Sunday and thus became the proud owner of Spectrum magazine, which contained a feature on "Bright Young Things". "Meet the talented young Scots who will shape our future", it implored me, along with a mouth-watering cover map of Scotland made up out of tiny photo-portraits of a couple of hundred talented young Scots.
One for the collection, indeed. Namely, the collection which I have been amassing for years and years of similar features called "New Stars of 2007", "New Faces 2006", and so on, back to dusty old newspaper mags called "Fresh Faces of 1991" and "Who to watch Out For in 1982". A collection I am going to scour one day to see if any of these young actors, writers, chefs, sportspeople, entrepreneurs and painters ever made it to real fame out of the promising obscurity in which the newspaper first found them.
People love putting together these features, because they never get proved wrong. Whether you are tipping The Year's Best New Gadgets, The Political Year Ahead, Wines to Watch, Films That Will Make Waves at Cannes or Best Cars to Buy, it's all the same. Foolproof.
Nobody knows now if the predictions will turn out to be accurate, and by the time we can judge whether they were or not, which is presumably in a year's time, we will have forgotten if they were. Unless we collect these predictions. Which I do. And if we can remember exactly where we put them. Which I can't at the moment.
But I can testify that yesterday's "Bright Young Things" is very much par for the course. The six categories, for a start. The rising stars are picked from Style and Design, the Arts, Sport, Food and Drink, Business and Politics, and Innovators. Those are the sort of areas from which rising stars are always picked. Nobody ever nominates rising stars in the ranks of the police, religion, cake design, circus skills or street buskers, or science or engineering.
Despite which, the categories are strangely fluid. Alastair Forbes, rising architect, 29, could be listed in the Arts. In fact, I think he should be listed in the Arts. But he is in Innovators. Ben Coutts and Susan Doherty, both 30, have opened several Hula Juice Bars this spring, so their claim to fame is in. Well, Business? Innovators? No, Food and Drink. And sorry, Alastair, Ben and Susan, but we have never heard of any of you, and in a week's time we will not remember any of your names, and in a year or two's time we will not register whether any of you shaped Scotland's future or went under or, even worse, went to London. But that's all right, because that's not the point, the point is to make you feel good, and us all feel good that there ARE talented people coming up, who are going to look after the future – even if it is Scotland's future, and that scores of young people have buckled down to doing a bit of hard work and are not frittering away their future.
Did I say scores? Well, not quite scores. Thirty-nine, actually. That's fewer than two score. You get the impression that there are loads more bright young Scots than that because of the photo-map on the front, showing Scotland overflowing with little faces full of talent, well over a hundred of them.
But hold on a moment! What's this? If I look carefully at the photo-face map of Scotland, I can see that some of the faces recur over and over again. No, ALL the faces recur over and over again! Whoever did the map montage for the "Bright Young Things" feature has very cleverly multiplied the available forty faces into several hundred. Why, there are a hundred faces north of Inverness alone! I wonder who is reponsible for this cunning sleight-of-hand.
Ah, here we are. There IS a credit for the cover photo. It was done by Grant Paterson. Well done, Grant! I predict you will go far. I hereby tip you as my personal rising Scottish star.
And if in real life you are a canny old professional with a shrewd twinkle in your seen-it-all-before eyes, I don't want to know.