Getting to know you: Audrey Nicoll
The new Aberdeen South and North Kincardine MSP talks to Louise Wilson about family ties, mafia films and being stung by a jellyfish
What were you like at school?
I suppose at primary and secondary school I was quite quiet. I was certainly not the class clown. I just used to enjoy learning – without that sounding really a bit dull and boring! I was probably one of the people that would sit in the pack of the classroom and not be sitting up front, certainly not the teacher’s pet. I was happy at school, loved primary school. Less so secondary because I’m not very good at swotting for exams, so that was probably a challenge for me.
What was your favourite subject?
Definitely modern studies. I loved history, also interestingly biology for some reason. But loved modern studies – I don’t know if that’s where my current situation comes from or not. It’s fascinating to just learn about global politics, the way that history links with that and that was allowing us to have a perspective that we hadn’t had before.
What skill do you think every person should have?
I think communication skills. That’s an interesting one. But yeah, communication skills and maybe alongside that an ability to see other perspectives. I’m quite interested in that, and whether that’s something that you develop through your life and your career or if it’s something that you naturally have, I’m not sure. That’s probably something that I would say is important, communication.
I guess that must have come in handy with your previous career in the police force?
Yes, for sure. That ability to communicate can just help you get through a situation that’s maybe risky or unexpected or you’re not sure what you’re doing, so yeah, that would be the one that springs to my mind.
Do you have any unusual skills?
I’m really good at remembering phone numbers. But unusual skills, that’s a really tough one – I can’t think of anything unusual that I’m really good at, apart from rolling my tongue!
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Probably watching trash TV. I find it a little bit of a wind down. I suppose that maybe comes from, I’ve tended to work over the years in roles that have needed a degree of focus and concentration, so actually just to be able to switch off is… yeah, that’s a guilty pleasure! I’m not going to make any excuses! Things like a programme called Amazing Wedding Cakes, A Place in the Sun. Maybe lifestyle TV – Escape to the Chateau, though that’s a bit lovey.
What is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
Childbirth. I’m sure lots of female MSPs say that. The other most painful experience I had was being stung on the foot multiple times by a jellyfish. That sounds really silly, but it was excruciatingly sore. I’d put those two up there. Both equally as painful and etched in my memory.
What is your most treasured possession?
As I’ve got older, I would say that now my most treasured possession would be old family photographs. As I’ve grown a little bit older, I have become more aware of my family history and family background, and obviously with my parents not being around anymore, family photos, I can’t explain it, they’ve started to become quite important to me in a way that I didn’t think that they would.
Did your family inform your politics?
That’s a good question. My memories of my family and growing up include my parents having a big interest in politics, what was going on in the 70s and 80s – there was quite a lot going on at that time – and for working class parents, they were quite engaged with it, so I always have this memory of discussions around politics and the government of the time being in the background in my home. Whether or not that has informed where I am now, I don’t know because subsequent to that childhood phase, I then went into a career that was nothing to do with politics. But maybe it did subconsciously inform a bit of where I am now.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The 80s, for sure. I have lots of nice memories of being a much younger woman in 80s. 80s music’s a huge trigger for me. It was just a time of freedom, happiness, friendships, music and I suppose starting to become an adult. I’ve got very fond memories of that period of my life.
Who would be your dream dinner date?
[Nicoll does not hesitate] Alan Cumming. I just think he’s hilarious. Alan Cumming, or… well there’s lots. Are you meaning dream in the sense of nice looking or…?
Whatever you want the question to be!
He’s the person that springs to mind. I think it would be a fun dinner date to have with him. I just think he’s got a kind of dry sense of humour which I quite like. I also love the fact that he’s so diverse in his acting.
What is your top film or TV show of all time?
My top film is… well, I’ve got a few. I love The Godfather series, I’ve watched them numerous times. But also Steel Magnolias and also a film called Heat, which has got Al Pacino in it, as opposed to The Heat which is Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Heat, Steel Magnolias but probably up there has got to be The Godfather. I don’t know why I’m drawn to that sort of dark mafia world, but I find it fascinating. For me it’s the way they will stop at nothing to protect their family and carry out the most horrific crimes and killings, but at the same time they’ll sit in a restaurant and debate the thickness of the gravy. These are just silly memories that I have of scenes, that was from The Sopranos. It’s that sort of double life, almost.