Getting to know you: Stephen Flynn
The SNP's newest addition to the Westminster group on the recent changes in his life and on some things that always remain the same
Did you grow up in the North East?
I was born in Dundee and my parents moved quite a lot between Brechin and Dundee when I was a kid, and then they settled in Dundee. When I finished up school, I went to university, did an undergrad and a postgrad and moved up to Aberdeen and I’ve been up there ever since. That was the best part of 10 years ago. Love it up there, so decided to stay and ended up being really lucky and representing the area that I live in.
What’s your earliest memory?
This might sound a bit cringe, especially for the Aberdeen audience... but me and my family are all big Dundee United fans, so it was probably going to see Dundee United play, with my dad and my sister. We probably got beaten, incidentally, because that’s what Dundee United do.
What were you like at school?
I was a really active kid. I imagine my teachers would say overly active, particularly when it comes to talking and the like in class.
Yes, something like that. I did mellow as I got older and I like to have a good joke with my wife about it, because she’s a teacher. If I tell her some of the stuff that I used to get up to, she’d tell me off. I was probably a bit of a challenge for teachers at times. But I was fortunate enough to go to a number of different schools, and I enjoyed meeting lots of new people and learning lots of new things. Diplomatic answer.
Was it strange to be moving around between schools as a child?
At times, yeah. I guess you want stability at that age but it was actually, on reflection, a good thing because I got to experience going to school in a wee place like Brechin and then in a big place like Dundee. What’s on offer is totally different and the characters are totally different as well.
Who would be your dream dinner guest?
Probably Bruce Springsteen.
I am, yeah. It was a toss-up between him and Billy Joel there. I sound like my dad, actually. But, probably Springsteen. Big fan of his music – I’ve actually seen him quite a few times, too many times, maybe. I actually saw him in the States in my early 20s and he puts on a good gig. I’d love to sit down and have a chat with him about some of the folk he’s played with, like Bob Dylan and all that, I think it’d be a good chat. I say good chat – I’d probably just sit there in awe.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring. I’m not really one for getting overly sentimental for possessions, so to speak, but I make sure I look after that, because it means a lot.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Well, as someone who lives in Aberdeen and represents a fair chunk of the city, my guilty pleasure is still travelling down to Dundee to watch Dundee United play.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
What is the last book you read?
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones. I say the last book – I’m almost finished. I was reading it on the plane down today.
What’s your top film or TV programme?
Top TV programme, hands down: The Sopranos. Nothing will ever top The Sopranos. All these companies try really hard to make something as phenomenal, but it’s still head and shoulders above the rest.
What’s your greatest fear?
Is it too much football chat if I say Dundee Football Club winning the Scottish Cup? I don’t have to be worried about it, because it’s not been since 1910 that they last won it. But if it did happen, I’d be pretty upset.
You’ve been in Westminster for a couple of weeks now – what’s been the weirdest thing about the place, for you?
Well, I came down a few weeks after everyone else because me and my wife just had our baby boy three days after the election result, so I’m the newbie newbie. When I came in, the thing that first strikes you is the staff – who are absolutely lovely – but it is strange seeing folk wearing bow ties to work. That’s the first thing that jumped out. But you then realise you’re working in a place that’s so steeped in tradition that I don’t think they realise how archaic it is at times.
What has surprised you most about fatherhood?
I think the fact that you think you can prepare yourself by reading so much, but ultimately, you can’t. Dealing with sleep deprivation is something I thought I could do, but there’s a big difference between being tired, and being tired with a wee baby who is needing attention. I’m just lucky that I got a couple of weeks paternity leave because I don’t know how I would have coped otherwise, and my wife’s doing a superb job back home just now making sure the wee man is getting on good.
Which has been harder to get used to: Westminster or being a new father?
Yeah, I don’t do things by halves. Definitely being a dad. Mentally, you just can’t prepare for it. You can for going down to the House of Commons and asking a question or doing a speech but you can’t prepare for the sheer joy and delight of having a wee baby to look after.
Salt and Vinegar or Salt and Sauce?
Salt and vinegar. What even is salt and sauce?
Cats or dogs
Pub or wine bar
Early bird or night owl?
Full Scottish or continental?
Coffee or tea?
Fame or fortune?
Book or film?
Night in or night out?
Couch or gym?
In the gym, probably.