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Working from home: John Nicolson

Working from home: John Nicolson

The SNP MP on working from home

What's the view from your home office?

I’m looking out at an old established garden planted by the Sandeman Port wine family at the turn of the 20th century. We’re only the second family to live here, and it’s a beautiful spot. My aunt bought the house - a wee Arts and Crafts bungalow in a big garden -  when she came back home to Scotland to help look after me and my brother after our dad died when we were kids. Nobody wanted the house in the 1970s because it seemed old fashioned, and the garden was too big. She bought it for a song, and when she died of ovarian cancer she left it to me. I treasure it.

There are ancient, gnarled bushes covered in moss which burst into spectacular bloom every spring, a weeping willow which I planted, and huge pines. I can see deer under the trees as I write. A stream winds its way down to the loch. Just out of eye sight there’s an underground shelter where Miss Sandeman would have taken refuge from German bombers as they headed west to blitz the Clyde, killing my grandfather and many others who were trying, unsuccessfully, to shelter in the Clydebank shipyards. Today her bunker is a peaceful spot, and trees have wrapped their roots around its concrete shell leaving a mostly concealed entrance, much like a Tolkien doorway to another world.

Describe some of the items on your desk?

My study was once my Grandma’s bedroom. When, nearing 90, her old tin bath, kept under the bed in her Scotstoun room and kitchen became too difficult to use she’d surrender to the luxury of weekends here with her daughter and hot running water. I keep a picture of her on my desk. 

I also have a wee curling stone ink well my aunt got me knowing how much I loved the game as a school boy. I have a copy of ‘Usage and Abusage’ by Eric Partridge which belonged to my Dad. He hoped I’d become a journalist. I don’t know how he’d feel now that I’ve moved into politics. He’d probably be glad to see the head phones which I use to broadcast from home for my Sunday Talk Radio show.

Do you have any advice on working from home?

I’ve always been freelance so I’m used to working from home. I don’t have any particular nuggets of advice except, I suppose, to keep hydrated, try not to chat to friends on the phone during the day, avoid snacking on cheese, and don’t forget to change out of your pyjamas before doing Skype video calls.

What's your biggest distraction?

The biggest distraction at the moment is my partner Juliano showing me pictures of all the places he wants us to go to once this crisis is over. I don’t resist. I succumb.

What do you miss most about being in the office?

I miss seeing my colleagues - especially my staff. We’ve become friends.

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