Getting to know you - Ruth Maguire

Written by Jenni Davidson on 14 June 2017 in Inside Politics

Ruth Maguire talks to Jenni Davidson about bad television, playing in the mud and advice for housewives

Ruth Maguire - Image credit: Holyrood

Ruth Maguire was born in Inverness and went to Millburn Academy before taking an HNC in Business Administration and Highland Studies at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. She worked as a sales and marketing manager at Skye distillery Pràban na Linne, then as an account manager for Compaq, before becoming a reflexologist and hypnotherapist. She has also been a mentor and a Gaelic tutor. She was a councillor on North Ayrshire Council from 2012 to 2016 before being elected as the SNP MSP for Cunninghame South in 2016. 

What’s your earliest memory?

I think my earliest memory is of playing in the garden in Edinburgh – we lived in Edinburgh briefly when I was younger – and I must have been two or three and I remember the ground was really, really dry and myself and the neighbours’ little girl were pouring water onto it and there was boys playing on a bogie, and I thought that looked really good fun, but I was too little to go out myself.

That sounds like a really nice early memory. What were you like at school?

There was bits of school I really loved. I had a fair amount of friends and was pretty happy; I was as happy as you can be as a teenager. I really loved PE. We had a great PE teacher who used to do loads of extra stuff with us: we had a hockey team, we used to do dance and stuff like that, so I loved that.


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Who would be your dream dinner date?

This is probably going to sound really, really boring, but I would just love to have dinner with all my family.

Not Barack Obama? I was kind of expecting it was going to be Barack Obama.

Yeah, I know it’s a bit boring, but I think it would be a bit of an effort having someone like that, whereas I’d just really, really like to have all the family together. My eldest is at university now and my brother’s off travelling with his family and I rarely see my husband or my other daughter, so it would just be nice to get everyone round for a nice rowdy family meal.

What’s your greatest fear?

Public humiliation, probably, just like most MSPs, most politicians. Just breaking in something publicly, doing something, mucking up. 

Like Jeremy Corbyn or Diane Abbott?

Or worse!

What’s the worst thing that anyone’s ever said to you?

I can’t recall any mean thing anyone’s ever said to me, because I think you just have to be able to [indicates flying in one ear and out the other] not hang on to them.

That’s a good skill. That’s like a super skill. What’s your most treasured possession?

I’ve got a book that my nana gave me. We had a laugh when she gave it to me at the time. It’s from the 50s and it’s a kind of how to run your house book. And it’s just fantastic. It’s things like reapply your make-up before your husband comes in from work, don’t bother him with your day or your feelings, he’ll be tired, so make light conversation, ask him how he is, so it’s all stuff like that, but it’s got some interesting things in as well, so I do enjoy that. It makes me think of her.

What do you dislike about your appearance?

There’s nothing that keeps me awake at night. And I’m not going to take my shoes off like Mairi Evans. My feet are perfect, but you’ll just have to trust me.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

My girls are 20 and 15 and sometimes I sit and watch really horrific television with them. I can’t even think of the name of it. In fact, I’m too ashamed to say what it is. Real Housewives of such and such. Oh, it’s just horrible! And at first I just sat so I was hanging out with them to spend some time, but then occasionally I just think ‘Oh are they watching, right, I’ll maybe just…’ Really rubbish television would be a guilty pleasure.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Now, am I just going back and living or can I go back and speak to myself? I’d go back and tell my 15-year-old self, my 14, 15-year-old self not to worry so much, and that everything would be OK, and don’t pay boys so much attention, pay more attention at school. But don’t worry. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

My mum said to me once, ‘What people say about you behind your back is none of your business,’ and it’s quite an interesting one, because although it’s kind of light on one level and a little bit funny, it’s also that bit about being present and just dealing with what’s in front of you and don’t worry too much about chatter and other stuff, so it can be quite helpful.

What skill should every person have?

Cooking. You should be able to make yourself decent food on a small budget – or a large budget, depending on where you’re at in your life.

What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?

I chipped a rib when I was younger on a hockey stick and that was quite sore, but it was nothing compared to how sore it was when I sneezed later in the week.

What’s your top film or TV programme of all time?

Not Real Housewives! I’m trying to think of something clever to balance that out. If I think about when I really loved television when I was younger, I really loved Fame and I loved Dirty Dancing. I was quite obsessed by programmes like that.

What was your best holiday ever?

I went to visit my friend in New Zealand and I went by myself – this is probably going to show that I’m not completely a family person, because I did leave my children and my husband – and we travelled round New Zealand a little bit and we went on a boat trip where we saw dolphins and also a flying fish, so that was pretty amazing. But that was just a really relaxing and lovely holiday.

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