Getting to Know You - Douglas Lumsden MSP
The Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, Douglas Lumsden, chats to Louise Wilson about skiing trips, karaoke and that one time he broke a bus...
What's your earliest memory?
Going on holiday for the first time abroad and the excitement of going on an aeroplane. I’d never been on one, I think my mum and dad had never been on one either. It’s strange to think back, this was in the mid ‘70s, people used to dress up, put on their Sunday best, to go on an aeroplane. It was such a big thing. It was a holiday to Malta with my mum and dad, I must have been about three years old.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I would go back to Gothenburg in 1983. It was when Aberdeen won the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the final was in Gothenburg. I was only 11 at the time and I'd been to all the games up to it before that, the Bayern Munich 3-2 win in Aberdeen, I’d queued overnight to get tickets for the semi-final for the tournament, and then Aberdeen got to the final. It was in Gothenburg and they beat Real Madrid. But because I was only 11, my mum and dad weren’t going to just put me on a ferry to go on my own, so I obviously wasn't at the final. But if I could go back in time, it'd be to go there for that day. I also remember when Aberdeen won and then they come back, and the city was… just everything around the city at that time, the whole buzz and anticipation of the final, it was something special. And then seeing the team come back with a trophy as well was a good day for the city and it'll probably never happen again.
Are you a big football fan or was that just because it was your home team?
I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan, it was just the whole excitement of that era within Aberdeen. It just gave everyone a lift, it lifted the whole spirit of the city. I think that's why it was such a special time for my hometown.
How do you rate the chances of the Scotland team?
Well, they’re doing a lot better now, things have really picked up! We're just a couple of games away and we could be in the World Cup again. I remember the last time we were in the World Cup, 1997, it was in France, and I was actually in France on holiday with my wife, and one of the friends phoned up and said look, we've got a spare ticket for the game in the south of France. So I persuaded my wife to let me go to this football match and unfortunately I missed the train so couldn't get to the game! That would have been my only chance to see Scotland in a World Cup, so fingers crossed we get there this time. It lifts the whole spirits of the nation when we’re all behind the team. It was a bit different last year [with the Euros] because lots of bars were closed or restricted, so hopefully we'll get back to the World Cup this year, then it will be a big event for the nation again.
What is your best holiday ever?
When I go on holiday, I'm not really one for sitting about, lounging about. The best holidays for me are when I'm doing something, like skiing holidays, those are probably my favourite ones, being out in the fresh air, on the slopes. My first skiing holiday was when I was at school. We had to get the bus from Aberdeen, it was a 30-hour bus journey.
What were you like at school?
I would say a bit of a joker, I wouldn't describe myself as a swot or anything. I'm always a bit of a last-minute person, ‘oh, there’s an exam tomorrow, I better start to get the books out tonight’. I had a laugh at school – maybe just a bit of a pain at times.
Do you remember any time you were particularly annoying?
The worst thing I did – and I never got found out – it was going on a skiing holiday with school and we were on the bus for 30 hours. I had a massive ghetto blaster for the back of the bus because we were going to be listening to music all the way there. But of course this ghetto blaster took about ten huge batteries, and I thought this is going to cost a fortune – so I had a scheme that I would connect it up to the bus electrics. It was working really well until the two connectors touched together and then the bus stopped working. Fortunately, it wasn't far from the start of the journey so then we had to change buses at Dundee, all the luggage got taken out and put into another bus and everything else. Nobody ever knew and I never owned up!
What is your greatest fear?
I'm really petrified of the dentist. I think it’s from when I was a kid, something went wrong and I had to get 12 teeth out all at once. And I've been petrified of the dentist ever since.
Are you scared of Anas Sarwar?
Ha! I was actually thinking of saying to him, ‘Anas, how can I get over this fear?’ Maybe he can help me. Maybe if I knew my dentist more, it would be better, so perhaps I should ask Anas if he would take a look.
What’s your most treasured possession?
If I’m allowed to say a pet, my dog Alfie. But he’s not really a possession, so I'd say… when I got elected, I got a present from one of my friends of an antique flag. I don't know how old it is or where it comes from, but it's quite threadbare. It looks like it's got bullet holes on it. Well, I always tell people it’s bullet holes, but it might just be like moths have eaten bits, but it's a better story if I say bullet holes and shrapnel. It's a union flag and I've got it hanging in my office.
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
This is easy for me: karaoke. Every time we go for an office night out, everyone knows we will be going to karaoke. I normally have a few drinks first, and then drag everyone to karaoke.
Are you a good singer?
In my head, I'm a brilliant singer. But I've seen the videos that people have taken afterwards, and I'm a lousy singer! But in that moment, I'm brilliant. I grab the microphone and nobody else gets a look in once I’ve got the mic. And no, I’m not going to share the video.