Getting to know you: Karen Adam
The new MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast speaks to Chris Marshall about her love of Elvis and going on a trip of a lifetime
What’s your earliest memory?
It would be sitting in my grandmother’s house with all my cousins there. It would be a bit of a rammy, the house full of all the kids, Scooby Doo on the TV. We used to go down to my grandmother’s house every Saturday in Aberdeen and that’s one of my earliest memories. There was always uncles and aunties there, and it was always full of pets.
What were you like at school?
I was very well behaved. I was extremely shy, actually. I always used to have an extroverted best friend. It would always take someone else to come over and make friends with me because I wouldn’t put myself out there. Somebody would always adopt me. I was quite quiet initially but got a bit more outspoken in my teenage years and was known to be quite opinionated by the teachers.
Who would be your dream dinner date?
Elvis Presley. He’s just fantastic. I’ve loved Elvis since I was a little girl; he was a bit of an idol of mine. It’s not just the music, it was the lyrics and also his generosity as a human being. I was always taken with the stories of Elvis’ generosity and how he looked after others. I just love everything about him – I go to Elvis festivals and have been known to dress up as him.
What’s your greatest fear?
It would probably be my children not being happy or fulfilled in life. I have six kids. My oldest is my only daughter and is 30 soon. I have five sons aged 22, 20, 18, 12 and 9. The five boys still live at home, but my daughter’s married and I have two grandchildren as well.
What’s the worst thing that anyone’s ever said to you?
When somebody accuses me of not caring or not understanding something, it’s really quite hurtful because I really do try. I didn’t get anything on the campaign trail, but I did get a death threat online.
What do you dislike about your appearance?
There’s loads of things, but I try not to get caught up in that. Appearance isn’t that important.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about any of my pleasures! I suppose attending Elvis festivals might be considered a guilty pleasure, some people might find it embarrassing, but I’m quite proud of that. The kids say I’m ‘cringe’ all the time. All I have to do is breathe, and I’m ‘cringe’.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
That’s easy – I’d go back to the 1950s and the start of rock and roll. I don’t know if I’d like to live there because the patriarchy would be quite strong; I don’t think I’d like my place in the world. But I love the music from that era and vintage clothing as well.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
To create boundaries and not to be afraid to enforce them. I think that was an extremely important one. I didn’t really learn that until later in my life as someone who likes to be open and connect with other human beings. It came from experiences I’ve gone through in life with domestic abuse situations and things like that. Being a woman in politics, people often like to step over the line and you can often be infantilised. It’s really important to let people know where you stand and that you know your own mind. If there’s one bit of advice I could pass onto my kids, it would be that.
What’s your top film or TV programme of all time?
I love Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance, but I know it’s really inappropriate and no one under the age of 18 should watch it!
What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
I’ve had six children, but the most painful experience was called shoulder dystocia. I don’t want to get too graphic, so I’ll leave people to Google that if they want to. Basically, the baby’s head is born and the shoulders aren’t – it’s horrendous.
What was your best holiday ever?
I went to America with my daughter for three weeks and we went on a road trip. It was seven or eight years ago. We went to Graceland, we went to Memphis; we did the whole Elvis thing. Then I flew into LA and did a road trip to Las Vegas. It was incredible, just me and her spending some time together. My mum passed away when I was in my 20s; she was only 49. She was an Elvis fan, so it was nice to be able to do that. I wore my mum’s ring, so it was quite a sentimental trip. It was my mum that got me into Elvis; she would play his songs and I remember looking at his picture. It was a girls’ trip in remembrance of my mum.
What was the last book you read?
Girls Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given. It’s about modern-day feminism and how women are perceived.