Schools, Retreat and Brexit

Monday September 24th 2018

Christine Grahame MSP

Christine Graham MSP writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.

Schools

I often am invited to schools or they come to Parly and ask loads of questions- some quite near the bone-and it’s all good fun.

Last week it was Sacred Heart in Penicuik and there are the usual: How did you become a politician? What do you do during the week? What is the most interesting bit of your job and so on.

As it’s usually p5 and 6 so I have to edit my answers somewhat as I am a complete and utterly accidental politician having been selected by my party when I didn’t realise what was going on. But that’s for the memoirs as they say.

Because of my interest in Animal Welfare –I chair the Cross Party Group in Parly on this-the talk inevitably switched from the dire topic of politics to animals we have known and loved. Through this exchange I learned who had dogs , cats or rabbits and even stick insects. One boy has a brother who had giant African snails. I have seen these in a market in Ghana so I was relieved to learn neither he nor his brother slept with them in their bedrooms. That would be the stuff of nightmares.

There was also the rabbit called “Splash”. Yes apparently he doesn’t dislike water but he was named mainly on account of the white markings on his chest. What a relief.

Today there was an interrogation by Gorebridge Primary. One questioner wanted to know if I liked everyone in our party. I dodged that one as another for those memoirs.

Beating the Retreat

Every year, along with other dignitaries and politicians I am invited to Beating the Retreat at Penicuik House.

The Lord Lieutenant took the salute as the pipes and the silver band marched past. A lone piper played a dirge on the steps of the old house.

Now I go weak at the knees with the skirl of the pipes and yes a wee lump in my throat so it was stirring stuff against the evening silhouette of the old Penicuik House just hinting at its earlier grace and grandeur.

But as in other years Beating the Retreat becomes very personal to me as the mighty midgies yet again took a fancy to my flesh and to this day I bear the bites and scars. To them I must be Haute Cuisine. Now I don’t know whether I should take this as a compliment or not. Perhaps they just like causing pain and distress to a politician. They are not alone!

Brexit

To B…. or not to B….. that is the question. If you recall it drove Hamlet mad and it must be having a similar effect on the Tories and Labour.

Chequers is dead long live Chequers Mark2? How to keep the DUP happy and on side and avoid an election that is another question.

Labour has shoved the Lib/Dems off their traditional seat on the fence and now is for/against a second EU referendum, for/against a second Scottish Independence referendum, for/against the Single market, for/against a Customs Union.

Who knows? Who cares? There is nothing to choose between Tory and Labour. Actually there is, let’s ditch this lot and go for our own Independence. We’d definitely make a better fist of things.

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