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Getting to know you: Beatrice Wishart

Beatrice Wishart MSP - Image credit: Jenni Davidson/Holyrood

Getting to know you: Beatrice Wishart

What’s your earliest memory?

My very earliest memory is being taken out of a bed on New Year’s Eve. We were on a cruise ship with my family, and I remember my dad taking me out of bed to take me up on deck. We were in Madeira and it was to watch the fireworks at midnight when the new year came in. I can remember that. And I know I was three because my mother was pregnant with my younger sister.

What were you like at school?

Probably quiet and shy, I would say. I don’t know if others would.

Who would be your dream dinner date?

Well, if it can be somebody from the past, maybe Gertrude Bell, then, to hear all about her explorations in the Middle East. She’s fascinating, I think.

What would be your greatest fear?

The greatest fear is anything happening to the family, I guess. It’s the obvious one.

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

I can’t remember. If it was so awful, I’ve just ignored it and it’s gone.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I’ve got a little note that my dad wrote to me on my 40th birthday. And, I mean, all the usual family photos and everything else, but I think that’s probably one that I treasure a lot. It was very personal.

What do you dislike about your appearance?

I don’t know if I want to go public! Maybe the fact that I wear glasses all the time. And when I do use contact lenses, I put them in, and it looks as though I’m somebody that always wears glasses. You know that feeling?

I know that feeling as well. People don’t recognise me because they’ve only ever seen me wearing glasses.

I can do that. I can actually take my glasses off and I can scrape back my hair and put a baseball hat on, and I can walk past people who have known me for years.

So, it’s quite handy in some ways. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

My guiltiest pleasure is probably liquorice, which has become a bit of a tradition. My youngest daughter scouts for good quality liquorice. We’re doing Scandinavian liquorice and she sends me a little tub every Christmas.

Is it salt liquorice?

Yeah, I tried that. I think it was from Iceland last time.

So, does she live in Scandinavia or is it just from her holidays?

No, she lives in Liverpool, but she’s very much a foodie kind of person. And she knows I’ve always liked liquorice. So, it’s just sort of started. She always finds stuff from Sweden. She went to Sweden once. I guess that’s maybe where it started from.

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

Maybe the 1920s.

Why?

I just think there’s something about that era. While it was hard for many, I think that [at] the other [end of the] spectrum, it could have been good. I don’t know, it just appeals to me, after the war. After the carnage of the war, and then a decade afterwards, recovering from that.

And women getting the vote?

I think women and their role starting to be accepted.

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

Probably to treat people the way that you would want to be treated, you know, be respectful and considerate and tolerant.

What skill should every person have?

Diplomacy.

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

Probably the time I trapped my fingers in a ladder. Nothing was broken, just badly bruised, but that was painful. And I’ve had three children as well and that was nothing compared with that.

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

Not sure whether it’s Forrest Gump or Downton Abbey.

Fits in with the 1920s. What was your best holiday ever?

I’ve been very fortunate to have had a few good holidays. Perhaps the one that was the spur of the moment after a particularly wet and miserable summer. I took the kids – they were quite small – and we went down to, I had a sister living in Leicestershire at the time, and we went down there and it was wet and miserable down there, so I went into travel agent and said: “What’s the first flight you can get us out on within 24 hours and where can we go?” And we found ourselves in a villa complex so brand new that we were actually taking the plastic wrappings off the cutlery and stuff like that. It was completely spontaneous. And we just had a lovely few days in Majorca. It was just so simple.

What was the last book you read?

That’s easy. That’s The Century Girls. I haven’t quite finished yet. Tessa Dunlop. About women born in 1918 and they’d reached their hundredth birthdays and their lives. It’s all about them. I’ve always liked reading about strong women, so I found it fascinating what they’d all been through.

Read the most recent article written by Jenni Davidson - First chair of the Scottish National Investment Bank appointed

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