Getting to know you: Mairi Evans
What is your earliest memory?
I remember very clearly – it was me screaming and crying under my duvet because there was a spider crawling up the bed. I was too scared to look out and I was hoping my mum would hear me from underneath the duvet. I think I was about two – in fact I’ve had a phobia of spiders since then.
What were you like at school?
I always got on with everybody, but I was probably a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I was a bit of a tell-tale, especially at primary school. I mean, I loved school, I absolutely loved it, but I just wanted everybody to obey the rules – what’s not to like about that?
Well, indeed. Who would be your dream dinner date?
Bon Scott. The lead singer out of AC/DC – the first lead singer. That would be mental. It would be a rocking dinner date.
What would you and Bon Scott do for dinner? Would you go out? Have him round?
Well, I would invite him round but then the house would get trashed, so maybe it would be safer to go out. There would definitely be some karaoke on that dinner date.
You would sing as well?
I would definitely be singing.
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What is your greatest fear? Spiders?
Spiders. I hate moths. I am claustrophobic. I have a bizarre fear of something that will never happen to me in Scotland, fingers crossed: tsunamis.
You have a specific fear of tsunamis?
Specifically, tsunamis. I have really bad recurring nightmares where either I die, or my family die, or my friends die in tsunamis. I’m transfixed by programmes about tsunamis and things – they’re kind of fascinating, but also something that terrifies me.
What is your most treasured possession?
Probably my engagement ring – I’ll go with something sentimental. I’m getting married in the summer so that would be it.
Well, I have to say that in case he reads this.
That’s true. What do you dislike most about your appearance? Is there anything you would change?
There’s probably a load of things I’d change. I like my hair but I hate it in equal measure, because it’s pretty wild. You are seeing it on a relatively tame day – there were straighteners involved. It can be crazy, but I like that so I’m not sure it’s something I would change.
I would change my toes.
You would change your toes.
I have really bad hammer toes and I get loads of running injuries. Do you want to see? It’s not that bad…
[Evans removes her shoe]
You see they curve around like that, see? [pointing at toe] – that’s a hammer toe. I think it’s genetic but it’s got to the stage now that on my other foot – I won’t show you it – one of the nails is permanently split from running, and it never heals because it’s curved over.
That’s a very good answer. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
It’s quite rare now but I absolutely love it if I get time to veg out and watch hammer horror films, from the 60s – Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Vincent Price – those are the kinds of films I love, where the effects are so bad they’re amazing. And also, Jason and the Argonauts – I love that film so much. So it would be having a few hours to watch rubbish CGI.
What skill should every person have?
This isn’t a skill but a quality I think every person should have is empathy. It is a really important quality, which some people seem to completely lack and other people have in abundance and in this job it is important. If people were more empathetic with each other the world would be a better place.
What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
I’m not sure… I was in a car crash around three years ago but you get doped up for most of that and for getting stitched up, so I actually didn’t feel a lot of pain from it.
Was it a serious car crash?
No, not really, I was the only one that was taken to hospital. Someone pulled out of a junction in front of me and I crashed into the side of someone’s wall. The car shredded the inside of my arm. But you don’t feel it at first because of the shock and then they doped me up and stitched it.
It still sounds painful.
No, it was OK. It would probably be something that sounds inane, like earache. I know that sounds pathetic but earache is crap. It is really bad. In terms of physical pain, I have never broken a bone.
What is your top film or TV show of all time? Is it Jason and the Argonauts?
That is really hard, Jason and the Argonauts is definitely up there. I am also obsessed with Lord of the Rings – I love those films. Can it be a TV programme as well?
Yes, you can put whatever you want.
Jason and the Argonauts would definitely be one – there was a summer when I was younger when I watched that film pretty much every day, I knew every line off by heart. Another would be The Haunting – but the black and white version, I think it was made in the 40s – that’s a cracking film. Also, The Wire, as a series.
What was the last book you read?
That’s a long one.
It was, and it took me ages to read because I kept on dipping in and out of it. I love reading and I was a voracious reader at school but because I have to get through so many papers now I hardly ever get time to read for pleasure. But that was the last book I read – my fiancé is French and I thought I would dig into some Victor Hugo – and it was brilliant.
Mairi Evans was born in Dundee, studied at the University of Aberdeen and was elected to Angus Council in 2007, representing the Brechin and Edzell ward. She was elected to the Scottish Parliament as the MSP for Angus North and Mearns in 2016, replacing the previous incumbent, Nigel Don. She is a member of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee and the Justice Committee, and takes part in cross-party groups on Russia and tourism. Evans is parliamentary liaison officer to the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities.