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Rhoda Grant MSP: Getting to Know You

Rhoda Grant MSP | Credit: Alamy

Rhoda Grant MSP: Getting to Know You

What’s your earliest memory? 

I must have been really quite young. I was in a highchair and I realised that I could rock it, so I was having great fun rocking on the highchair. Then I went flying. My mum and, I think, my auntie had been upstairs painting and they obviously heard this almighty crash.  

I think back and it is lucky I went the way I did because I was right in front of the fire. Safe to say, I think I got a bit of a fright. Thereafter the highchair was lowered whenever I was in it, which was a bit disappointing after only finding out that I could make it rock.  

What were you like at school? 

I wasn’t awfully scholarly, it depended on the subject. I was really enthusiastic about things that I liked, and that depended a lot on teachers as well at that age. Looking at it the other way around, I suppose there would be some teachers that would have said “she was a really good student”, and others who would have said I was a nightmare.  

What were you fond of and what didn’t you like? 

History, that was a bad mark. I was good at maths and arithmetic; I got quite absorbed in that and worked really hard at it.  

Who would be your dream dinner date? 

It would need to be someone who has all of the gossip. Maybe Graham Norton, he gets everything out of everybody.  

But actually, and this is going to sound a bit crass, I really like it when my husband and I go out for dinner. We hardly see each other properly, so we can actually sit down and speak. You know, even when we are in the house and having dinner the TV is on, the cat is shouting for food, there are all of those other distractions. 

What is your most treasured possession? 

Although I’m not wearing it, I have a ring that my cousins and my uncle gave me when my aunt passed away. She wore it all the time. But I took it to the jeweller to get mended and they told me not to wear it all the time because it’s just not going to last. It comes out on high days and holidays rather than every day. 

It’s not got a financial value, and I think the jeweller is saying that you’re throwing good money after bad here, but it has got a huge sentimental value to me.  

I suppose the other thing, I’m not particularly a materialistic person, but the other thing that I hold onto is a blouse that my granny gave me when I was 12. Now there is no way I’m getting back into that, but I just can’t bring myself to throw it out, it’ll probably be with me forever.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Maltesers and sugared almonds. I can make a sugared almond last a long time, but they are not that easy to get a hold of. People who know me well will really put the effort in to find places to buy them for me and that is really appreciated.

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

There isn’t a period of time I am that keen on to be honest because, as a woman, we are still fighting for women’s rights but to go back I would be raging if I was brought up in those days.  
But in my own life, when I was a really small kid, in spite of the highchair incident, we were brought up somewhere where we had loads of freedom and it felt quite idyllic. It was a tiny wee village and we didn’t have a road or electricity. I mean, nowadays you would say it is pretty basic, but you don’t miss what you don’t have.  

Now I think ‘what on earth were my parents thinking of?’ because we would go off out and they didn’t know where we were, all while we were playing in the sea, climbing rocks.  

There was one time, and my sisters always say this as well, we would run away from home, quite a normal thing for kids to do, but nobody ever noticed. I didn’t go very far. You hid and nobody noticed you, but you’d be waiting so long that whatever miffed you, the anger subsided. 

I also really enjoyed my early 20s, that was a period in time when I was getting my confidence. It was a time when I was having a lot of fun before the responsibilities piled on. 

What is the worst pain you have experienced?

It wasn’t too long after I had left school, I was living away from home and I got an abscess on my tonsil. That was really sore. I remember thinking I was totally in for it and I ended up in hospital. They were sticking a scalpel down my throat trying to lance it. And actually, I didn’t really care. I was just at that point.  

It was over a winter and I had multiple rounds of antibiotics, probably four or five. I would get a wee bit better each time but the moment I finished them the pain came back. 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever had? 

I remember when I was in school, I don’t know why it was given, but a teacher said to me “whatever happens to you, never lose your sense of humour”. I think at the time I was probably quite close to leaving school and it could have been advice for before I went into the world, I don’t know. But I remember at the time I was like, what is that about? 

But it stuck, I don’t know why, possibly because I was a wee bit taken aback. And there are times in your life when things happen and you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself. 

What is your favourite film or TV programme? 

There are loads. I loved Brookside and it’s starting up again. I also love Father Ted. Every time you watch it the humour in it never fails to make you laugh. 

On the film side, one that I recently watched was Schindler’s List. My husband and I were talking about the one that’s won all the BAFTA awards, The Longest Day, and I said to him I don’t really want to watch a film with subtitles, you know, it’s in German. But then I thought, mind you if I knew that Schindler’s List was in black and white, I probably would have said the same thing. 

What is your best holiday ever?

I suppose the one that sticks out in my mind is visiting my cousin in South Africa. We did quite a bit of touring around. We went on safari, and we stayed in a wee cottage in the park. In the evening we were just above a waterhole and all the animals were coming in to get their water. It was just amazing.

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