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Graham Simpson: It’s one of my ambitions in life to visit the Village Vanguard

Graham Simpson hillwalking | credit Graham Simpson

Graham Simpson: It’s one of my ambitions in life to visit the Village Vanguard

What is your earliest memory? 

My earliest memory, I think, is getting stuck behind some packing boxes when we were moving house. We moved quite a lot as a child because my dad kept changing his jobs. I think we were moving to Edinburgh; I would have been around four years old.  

I just remember panicking a bit thinking I couldn’t get out. But some adult rescued me. It was probably absolutely nothing, but it stuck with me.  

What were you like at school? 

I was not a swot, I didn’t work hard enough, but I was a dancer. I was known for my dancing rather than my studies.  

Holyrood has covered my disco dancing before. I did enjoy clearing the dance floor. I don’t get the opportunity to do it any more, but if I am near a dance floor and there is a piece of music that gets my feet moving, I’ll be on there.  

What’s your greatest fear? 

I fear having a really poor retirement and basically not having enough money to live on. I think that’s something that a lot of people face. I genuinely don’t know how much I will have.  

So, yeah, I suppose my big fear is not being able to maintain a decent standard of living. I’m not really thinking about it that much because I’m not quite old enough, but I’m heading that way.  

In an ideal world, what would you be doing during your retirement? 

I think you have to make the most of it and keep active. I like the outdoors, so it would be an opportunity to get out more, walk, cycle and travel, but the latter is expensive, of course. I certainly wouldn’t be stuck in the house. I’ll keep active, that keeps you going longer. 

What is the best advice you have ever had?

It is to start saving money as soon as your kids are born. I just wish I had taken it. It was very good advice. If I had taken it, I would be a lot better off.

What is your most treasured possession? 

I’m not very materialistic, so I would say it is the LPs that I inherited from my dad when he passed on. He was a jazz fan like me, and he had some cracking records.  

I have a record player, so I do play them. I have a lot of my own as well. I have hundreds.  

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

I would go to the Village Vanguard, which is a jazz club in New York City, to see Art Pepper who was a saxophonist. He played there over a series of four nights in 1977. Going back to the album collection, he did live recordings of all four nights. I would want to be at those concerts. I would transport myself back in time to that jazz club to watch Art Pepper. The club is still there today, and in fact, it’s one of my ambitions in life to go to that club.    

What skill should everyone have? 

It is less of a skill and more of an attribute and that is to be patient. If everyone could be more patient with others, we would be a lot better off. There is too much anger in the world.  

Do you think that is applicable to the parliament? 

Sometimes. I see colleagues getting steamed up about nothing and you don’t need to.  

I very rarely lose my temper. I can’t remember the last time that I did.  

What’s the worst pain that you have ever experienced? 

The worst pain was when my sister died. She was murdered. You can look that up, it’s all on the record. That was definitely the worst. I don’t really talk about it much because I don’t want to. But you can Google it and you will find it. [Simpson’s sister, Vikki Thompson, was 30 and the mum of two young children when she was murdered near her home in Oxfordshire in 1995.] 

What is your favourite film? 

My favourite film of all time is Magnum Force. I’m a big Clint Eastwood fan and I loved his Dirty Harry films. I just love the lines in it, there is some great humour. It is repeated quite often on the TV and I’ve bought it too, so I occasionally return to it. 

That’s my favourite. But my wife and I also like the Bourne films – all of them.  

What’s your best holiday ever? 

We have had some nice holidays. We had a great one this summer, my wife and I went to California, and we did a bit of a road trip through the state.   

We started off in San Francisco, which has its own weather system, but then as we left it got really hot. At one point we drove into the mountains and there was snow. It was quite amazing to see how varied the climate is. Then we went to places like Yosemite and then up into Canada to visit some friends in Vancouver.  

We quite like travelling about. When we go on holiday, we tend to hire a car and I’ll drive. We like to stay in different places and explore an area. Satnav now makes it a lot easier. When we first we went abroad we went to Northern Spain in our own car, and we were going off maps. I was driving, and my wife had the map; I don’t know how we did it, but we did.  

What was the last book that you read? 

It’s called The Confession Room, it’s a bit of a dark thriller, it’s by Lia Middleton. I tend to like crime books, probably in line with most people. I won’t tell you what it’s about in case someone reading this wants to buy it. All I’ll say is there are murders in it.  

I read most nights in bed, and if I really want to crack on, I try to find some time during the day and just sit down and go for it. 

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