Parliamentary sketch: Food debate
Devolution has had a number of side effects, and it will be for future historians to debate how transferring control of issues like health and education has changed Scotland.
One benefit is that the Parliament is now able to debate the food industry. In fact they seem to do it all the time, with remarkable results.
Put simply, there has never been a food debate that made any sense at all.
This week’s was tabled by Joan McAlpine, who received warm congratulations from across the chamber for securing it. There is nothing MSPs like more than debating food.
Traditionally, the occasion begins with some puns, and McAlpine duly obliged. Farmers markets, she said, have “mushroomed” in recent years. That, apparently, was “just a taster of what is on offer.”
Stewart Stevenson, apparently incapable of letting a debate on food pass without turning it into a vehicle for surreal comedy, told the chamber about the first time he ate a yoghurt.
It was in Dumfries and Galloway in the 60s.
“I continue to have fond memories of that”, he told them.
Fortunately no one asked what else was in the yoghurt, though if they had we might have a better understanding of his behaviour since.
He then took the opportunity to tell a story about his favourite pie, filled with Cullen Skink.
“I hope that Downies continues to produce that Scotch pie to entertain my palate and digestive system and those of people throughout Scotland.”
There is no other way to say it – Stewart Stevenson is a weird man.
But he is not the only one. Mike MacKenzie came next, starting off by saying he did not plan to ask the Presiding Officer out on a date (that actually happened at the last one. Stewart Stevenson tried to sweeten the deal by offering to fly them around in a plane).
Next, he started speaking in the form of a stream of consciousness beat poem.
Verse one went, “I am thinking of the two mackerel that I still catch every year, cooked along with new potatoes for supper on the shore, watching the sun going down over a softly sighing warm summer sea.”
Verse two, “I am thinking of breakfast of sweet, pink, freshly caught brown trout, on the shores of a secret lochan high up in the hills in the early morning, watching the dawn come up.
Finally, “I am thinking of the best bannocks that I have ever had in Tingwall on Shetland, fresh-baked by an elderly lady, that I instantly fell in love with.”
Did he fall in love with the elderly lady or the bannocks?
It was the bannocks, apparently. Gazing into the distance, he said, “A man can usually only dream of bannocks like that.”
Next, he extolled the virtues of eating local food, in order to mitigate what he referred to as, “the curse of carbon”.
By this point seemingly trapped in poetry mode, he continued somewhat wistfully, ruing “the element that is so necessary to life on this planet, but at the same time capable of destroying it.”
What was the debate about again?