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Inside Track: Hong Kongers look askance at my Irn-Bru tablet

This is a tale of office snacks.

It started in a sweetie shop in Crieff, and ended as a diabetic Darien scheme in Hong Kong. There I stood in Crieff, trying to select what to take back east to The Table in my office. It's where treats are left, a competitive culinary stage.

What you proffer is important, as you want your tidbits to succeed; especially so in this case as it would be both a personal and national offering. I was plying morsels from Scotland. It would be an early referendum: would the rest of the office say Yes or No?

I chose tablet. It is real, quintessentially Caledonian and not shortbread. I would tell Hong Kongers it's served with coffee at swish Scottish restaurants and that I've lived with the fear of having a sweet beer belly - tablet tummy - ever since I had baby teeth.

I even chose, for added Scottishness, the Irn-Bru-flavoured tablet. I arrived back in HK, went into the office on Monday morning and offered the tablet to The Table.

It was in a gift bag with a ribbon, and I pondered upon loosening the fastening in a confectionery cue which said, "come hither, I am a sweetie". Early afternoon, the bag wasn't open.

It had the makings of an overseas Scottish trade mission going badly wrong. A colleague hadn't even heard of tablet, let alone Irn-Bru. What followed were conversations explaining tablet.

"Um, imagine fudge without treacle" or "caramel without a tan".

When I returned after being out filming for a week, the tablet was still there. I seized it from The Table and furtively had two bits with morning coffee, five with afternoon tea and another five before starting the subway journey home.

But when I repositioned the empty bag on The Table and heard my editor say "oh, all your treats have gone," I didn't feel sick at all. I am a proud nationalist, in the cultural sense. When the initial passive-aggressive stance was taken by the Hong Kong palate against tablet, I didn't turn round, yank up a tartan skirt and waggle my bum at a culinary enemy.

And, yes, I know, Hong Kong is a savoury kind of place, in taste and through an alleged inability to digest sugar. But the experience did make me wonder about the export skills of Scotland. If tablet is unknown, can we really make it internationally? Tablet is so good its international revenues should be making us argue: "It's Our Tablet."

And what happened to our national skill for seeing an opportunity, as business parlance now refers to "being a wee chancer" or "gallusness"? We should have raised a patent action when the iPad came along.

We had tablet first. Apple made billions of dollars from its patent victory over Samsung. The revenue from Apple paying us could have financed a year or two of independence.

I fear the realisation of this marketing miss could be a great bit of propaganda for the Better Together campaign. That phrase doesn't, incidentally, apply to tablet with ~ Irn-Bru.

Next time, I'll take haggis.

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