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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
14 October 2022
Getting to Know You: Roz McCall

Getting to Know You: Roz McCall

What is your earliest memory? 

This is going to sound really bad. My sister had not long been born – there are almost three years between us – she was annoying the you-know-what out of me. I remember getting really annoyed, upset, and having a go at my dad. 

He told me that she was my baby sister, and I was going to have to look after her and that I was going to have to be the big girl. I remember very vividly the guilt trip that my dad put on me. 

Did you take his advice? 

Absolutely, I still look out for her. 

Does she still annoy you? 

I couldn’t possibly say. 

What were you like at school?

Bubbly, full-on, cheeky, and careless, is what my report cards used to say. I think that is probably the best way to describe myself.

What were you into?

I liked to try everything. But if we actually look at what I was good at versus what I went to that is an entirely different thing. I tried drama, I tried sport, Brownies, and Guides. Did I excel at any of them? No. I was a pretty typical middle-of-the-road person. 
I enjoyed school, I wouldn’t say that I was the most academic, I didn’t go on to university. I didn’t get bad results, I got a couple of Highers, but I didn’t do anything really that fantastic with it. But I had a great time and made lots of pals that I still keep in contact with.

What is the worst thing that anyone has ever said to you?

This is incredibly corny, but I don’t remember negative things. I try very hard to keep them out, I don’t use any mind space for it because you are never going to gain anything from it. I’m in politics, I’m an MSP through the regional list system from the Tory party, do you think I haven’t had some pretty nasty horrible things said to me? I can’t dwell on any of them.

How do you block it out?

There is always somebody that needs the voice, there might be twenty people shouting at you, but there could be one person asking for help. 

When I was campaigning, before I became a councillor, I was getting an awful lot of aggravation. I was going out with leaflets, trying to give them out to people. A few choice words I wouldn’t put on the record were said. And I bottled it, I walked away. 
Two or three days later there was a guy that came up to me on the main street and told me he would have liked to have heard what I had to say. I didn’t get to him because I let that stop me, and that was the biggest lesson to me, and I will never let it happen again. I see that person’s face all the time. 

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Going to the cinema. I am a major film buff, and I haven’t done this for a while because Covid knocked everything out. I used to check my diary, my husband would be working, and the kids would be at school, so off I would go in the car. 

So, you would go on your own?

I would go myself; it would be like the half 10 or 11 showing, nobody else in the big cinema, totally dark, brilliant. 

I have to ask, sweet or salted popcorn?

Mix. It is a Marmite question, but there is nothing better. You get two small, and you mix it, you don’t know what you are getting – it is really quite nice. 

When you’re at home do you have a favourite TV programme?

It is serial, it is a problem, and it is the fact that I grew up predominantly in the 80s, but I could watch the Gilmore Girls on repeat every single time. It’s a habit. 

What is the best holiday that you have been on? 

We went walking in Switzerland last year, and it was not long after my husband’s stroke, and we didn’t know if he was going to be able to do it. He needed somewhere where he could go out and the weather was going to be almost guaranteed. And he could do it. 
We were walking on very flat paths; the air was incredibly clear. It is very similar to going for walks in Scotland, there is phenomenal beauty, but knowing that he needed to walk, he needed to go places without the hindrance of people. So, we went to Switzerland. 

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

I would go back three years to when my dad died, and I would have a long chat with him. But if the question is about any period in history, I would love to experience the Victorian era. I would love to see how it was then. You know, so much of our political opinion of people back there is still that Dickensian, Victorian belief of polarised views. Equally, I wouldn’t mind going back a little bit further. Toryism dates to the 1600s, it would be interesting to see what happens there. And the Scottish history, I am a Scot through and through, and I would be really intrigued to go back and find out more about that. I mean right back to the Kings of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, and see what the proper reasons for independence, and why did we get to where we are. 

What is the worse pain you have experienced?

The loss of my dad. He was a great guy. He died two years ago. 

How do you remember him?

Annoying, but fun, but frustrating, but fabulous. He was just one of those guys, he was funny, and he loved taking the mince of people. He liked the humorous side of things, and he was good at that. But equally, he was very level-headed. For better or worse, he is the voice in my head.

What did he think about you going into politics?

Years ago, when I first wanted to do this sort of thing he was very, very nervous. His exact words to me were “are you sure you want at least 50 per cent of the population hating you at any given time?” I said to him if there are 50 per cent of the population hating me there might be 50 per cent of the population liking me. 

But it is not a popularity contest, and that is what I learned the more I got to know about it. I don’t need to be front and centre, I just need to help people. 

What is the last book that you read?

The air fryer manual. 

I thought the air fryer was fairly straightforward.

Well, so did I. This was down to the fact that I have started working here at parliament. Three days a week I’m not cooking. My husband is doing it, and he is doing it phenomenally well, but he was never a chef before. I have known him for 35 years, married for 28, and he has cooked four times for me.

So, the air fryer was something that he wanted, and it was something that he was going to cook me dinner in three nights a week. I won’t comment on the dinners. 
So yeah, it was to make sure I knew how to help him work it.

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