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SNP councillor Jacqueline Cameron: People are always interested in the Franz Ferdinand song about me

SNP councillor Jacqueline Cameron is the depute leader of Renfrewshire Council

SNP councillor Jacqueline Cameron: People are always interested in the Franz Ferdinand song about me

What’s your earliest childhood memory?

I have memories really, really early – about one year of age. People often say you can’t remember things as young as that, but I do, and they’ve been confirmed by my mum.

We lived in a tenement in Rutherglen and I remember the bobbly fibreglass 70s curtains, and I remember looking out the window seeing the trains go by and standing on the coffee table waiting for my dad to come home off the train. He would wave a rolled-up paper.

A young Jacqueline Cameron with her sister Lynne

A young Jacqueline Cameron and sister Lynne

What were you like at school? 

At primary school I was a model pupil, top of the class, and I was really interested up until my teens, when I was less studious and less academic. A lot of things were going on at home. My parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses and I didn’t want to be involved in that any longer so it affected my studies and I wasn’t the straight-A student I should have been.

Are you close to your parents? 

Very close. We’ve just lost my mum, Margaret, mid-campaign [for the SNP general election candidacy for Paisley and Renfrewshire South]. I didn’t say anything [about her health] publicly because I didn’t want it to affect the campaign, but I couldn’t put my all into it because I was looking after her; she had to be my priority. The district nurse team were phenomenal. An independent Scotland needs these services protected. 

Who would be your dream dinner date? 

The actor Ben Whishaw, I think he’s the most beautiful man in the world. Or Simone de Beauvoir and Collette because I love literature. They were miles ahead of their time and they’d be really interesting women to sit and have a glass of wine with.

What’s the one skill everyone should have?

Communication. Being able to talk to people at all different levels is important. There’s nothing worse than when you’re dealing with somebody and you’re not getting that feeling from them of being open. Some people are more introverted, but if you don’t have that skill of communicating with others it’s always going to lead to misunderstandings. If you leave a gap in what you’re saying, it leaves room for people to misinterpret.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? 

That makes me think of songs.  My dad always says I’m a bit of a music snob but I love the band Squeeze.

Speaking of songs, you are the Jacqueline from the Franz Ferdinand song of the same name. Tell us about that.  

That came up when I was first elected. People are always interested in that. I lived up the west end of Glasgow and everybody was in a band, so somebody was going to have to be famous, and they made it.

Franz Ferdinand

I went out with the drummer, Paul, and we had a wee flat in Partick Cross. Alex, the singer, had asked me when Paul was going to be in a band with him, but Paul was quite quiet so I told Alex to ask him and the next day he did. You could tell they had something. At the gigs, the mix was there, the excitement was there, it just had that taste of something special.

The song came to be because when I was in my 20s, I lived in London and worked in a poetry library when an older man came in with a Scottish accent. We started talking about Glasgow and when he signed in, it said Ivor Cutler [the cult poet and musician]. I knew his voice from recordings but I didn’t know what he looked like, and I said, ‘it’s you!’ He took his hat off and did a little dance.

We struck up a friendship and I went to his house for lunch, when he made a pass at me. He was about 72 and I was 26 and horrified. He said to me, ‘I thought we were going to get together’, and there was this realisation on his face that I was shocked. I told Alex the story and he was quite taken by it, so that’s what the song is about.

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

I’d love to go back and be an adult in the 1960s. I love the music and I’d love to go to California and hang around Big Sur and San Francisco and see The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

A young Jacqueline Cameron and sister Lynne

What’s your most treasured possession? 

My sister Lynne’s charm bracelet. She died in 2017, just before I got elected. She had a lot of health problems like fibromyalgia and when she got a really bad dose of the flu, then pneumonia, she was in ICU for about a month. I didn’t get to speak to her because she had to be intubated.

When the pandemic happened all those images from hospitals brought it all back. She never even made it to 50.

What’s the best advice anyone’s given you?

Be yourself. That sounds like a big hippy positivity thing but I think it’s the best advice you can get in life.

What was your favourite holiday?

The holidays I went on to Arran as a child. We went every year with the entire family. We lost my aunt and uncle a couple of years ago so to go back to when we were all together would be just amazing and Arran is my favourite place in the world. We took my sister’s ashes to Whiting Bay.

On holiday in Arran

What’s the last book you read?

Wild Hopes by Dawn Ashworth. It’s poetry and it’s very positive. I got into meditation in the past year and I’m definitely becoming an old hippy.

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