When your face appears on a stamp you could say you have made it big time, some people get their image on a stamp or their picture shown worldwide but even then it doesn’t begin to tell the story of their genius their character and the contribution they made to the world. Such a person is Sir James Black the Nobel prizewinning physician and pharmacologist who died earlier this year, he appears on a stamp launched today. A truly remarkable man who happens to have been born in Uddingston and raised in Fife or put another way he was Scottish born. Born in that part of the UK called Scotland and we should be proud of him. I am often accused of being in some silly way anti Scottish which is rubbish and Sir James Black is a hero and should be celebrated as such because of his life and achievements. It’s nice and it’s a bit of a bonus to be able to say “I come from the same country as Black and Alexander Fleming” Etc. as long as we don’t fall into the trap which cod patriots often fall into of associating in some way their greatness with being Scottish. Scotland can no more claim the credit for Sir James Black’s gifts and moral fibre than it can be blamed for the Moors Murderer Scottish born Ian Brady, good or bad they belong to the world.
James Black’s greatness manifests itself to me in two major ways, I can’t begin to understand how his brilliant mind worked but I can appreciate what his mind produced and I can also appreciate how he lived his life. His life outside the laboratory or high academia was unremarkable and identical to millions of people who work marry and raise a family, so what I hear you ask? Well; had he chosen to he could have lived his life as one of the richest people in the world, rich in fame and adoration as well as “wealth beyond the dreams of avarice” Quite literally millions of people avoided death due to his invention of the ‘Beta Blocker’ for heart problems and millions more due to his invention of the drug Cimetidine which treats stomach ulcers. These two inventions saved the health service billions of pounds and continue to do so; millions of operations for these conditions became unnecessary because of James Black and his beautiful inquisitive mind, these are the two major manifestations which make him great his achievements and his lack of interest in making money from them.
I would rather see statues to people like James Black and Alexander Fleming than some of the so called Scottish heroes real or imagined which we see today, these people are more entitled to be called heroes and have our children taught about them than past imaginary loosely researched heroes who beat up the English. A man like Black epitomises what is best about the human race. We should use him as an example to future generations, a man dedicated to science and saving lives without a thought for personal gain. How great would it be if society used people like him to look up to and copied his character but: hold on now this is beginning to sound like Socialism, what a great idea.