Getting to Know You - Siobhian Brown MSP
Getting to Know You – Siobhian Brown, the SNP MSP for Ayr.
What's your earliest memory?
I might have only been two or three, and I was on a yellow swing in Wimbledon in London because I was born in London, and we emigrated out to Sydney, Australia when I was three.
So I do remember being on a swing - I don't remember much more about London but just as a child growing up in Sydney, the sun and the beaches.
Another memory was during my school holidays when I was really young. My parents had a business so they worked a lot, so they decided to send me off, myself and my brother, to New Zealand to my aunt's during the holidays so they didn’t have to watch us, and then my aunt sent us off to school in New Zealand because it wasn't the school holidays there.
So in my school holidays, I was sent to school in New Zealand and I've never forgiven them for it.
Do you ever get a chance to visit Australia?
Sometimes, but I’ve been here for over 20 years now. Last time I went back, I went back for my 30 year school reunion in 2019, and I just went back for four days, so it was just such a brief visit.
It was quite mad to go across, but I hadn't been back in about 10 years and I just wanted to make the effort to catch up with all my school friends, so it was fantastic.
I don't get to go back as often as I like, I've got four children, three children and a step-daughter - we've got six of us and it's a huge expense to go to Australia. So no, not as much as I'd like but sometimes.
Which country do you support in sports?
Between Scotland and Australia? Yeah, I'm not really a sports fan in all honesty. But I think I probably would secretly say Scotland, I’d like Australia to win and I wouldn’t mind if they won, but I'd say Scotland because I'm here. I live here and my constituents would be rooting for Scotland as well.
What were you like at school?
Oh, very sociable. I loved school and loved all my friends. I think that was what I enjoyed most about school in all honesty, going out and meeting my friends. I didn't really have much time for schoolwork, that wasn't my priority at school. My priority at that age was probably going out and meeting my friends as a teenager.
Who would be you dream dinner date?
I would have to say my husband first and foremost, because we never really get to go out to dinner together. But if it was just to meet someone to hear about their life, I think probably Jack Nicholson because I think he's a fantastic actor.
He's been in Hollywood for many, many years and I just think he would have some fantastic stories and it'd be quite interesting to chat to him over dinner.
What’s your greatest fear?
My greatest fear as I've got older, it's quite strange, is getting claustrophobic and I never was claustrophobic before.
Also height, that's a new thing as well because I was on that big ferris wheel in Edinburgh, just before Christmas. My husband is the kind of guy who thinks it's funny when you're at the top to stop try and jiggle it about and rock it. I came off that thinking no, I am never ever going on a Ferris wheel again. So, you know, I think you sort of know your limits but that wasn't enjoyable. So definitely heights as well.
How do you manage the lifts in Parliament if you're claustrophobic?
Oh the lifts are alright. I went to the dungeon in Blackpool, where you go into like a dark lift and you're crowded with lots and lots of people and you go underground.
That’s one of the times I’ve felt claustrophobic and another time is when I went on the ghost tour in Edinburgh. When the weather's good there’s lots of crowds, and you're going underground and you can't escape quickly.
In the lifts, because of social distancing, at the moment there's only two or three in each lift.
That doesn't cause me concern – maybe if it stopped and I was stuck I might think otherwise.
What's the best thing that anyone has ever said to you?
Probably when someone told me that they admire my positivity and work ethic.
What's your most treasured possession?
Apart from my children? - but they're not really my possessions.
I think many years ago people would say, what would you grab from your house if it was on fire?
The first thing I would grab is my photo albums because I've got my memories in them, but these days we don't have photo albums so I would say like my Facebook, which I've had since 2006, brings up all my memories of my kids, and funny things on Timehop.
I actually spoke to my oldest daughter and said if I die suddenly you're going to have to go to my Facebook and I'll give you the password and download all the photos and memories because I don't want them lost forever because they've never been printed out into photo albums. So yeah, I think my memory is really my treasured possession.
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV but there is one that my husband and I were addicted to, and he never liked anything I watched on telly - it was Married At First Sight Australia. It's a true series, and it is brilliant, and I encourage anyone and everyone to watch it, because it's fantastic.
If you could go back in time to any period, where would you go and why?
I'm not really one to yearn to be in the past to be honest, I’m sort of live in the moment kind of girl.
Is there a time in history that you would like to witness?
Oh, I love all the fashion and the style of the 1920s - I would like to maybe go back there for 24 hours, or maybe the sort of ‘Downton Abbey’ era.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Don't try to be everybody's cup of tea, because then you’re a mug.
What skill should every person have?
I don’t know if empathy is a skill, but I’d love everybody to have empathy but they don't.
I think resilience, and I think we have to perhaps teach our children how to be resilient because we've gone through the most horrific time, in the last two years, and I think it's taught us all lessons. We're all vulnerable, so I think resilience would be the best skill anybody could learn.
What's the worst pain you've ever experienced?
I would have to say childbirth, physically, but also a broken heart, I think that can hurt more than physical pain. Childbirth is only temporary, but when you get your heartbroken, and everybody does, it’s very painful.
What is your top film or TV programme of all time?
Life is Beautiful, remember that Italian movie? I love that movie, it's one of my favourite movies of all time. For television, I did love Downton Abbey.
What was your best holiday ever?
Going around the Greek islands in a sailing yacht, it was fantastic with my family.
What was the last book that you read?
The last book I read is the children’s book Biff, Chip and Kipper to my five year old.
I don't really get a lot of chances to read books. I did get the Billy Connolly autobiography at Christmas and I’m trying to get through that. But if I have any reading to do it’s when I have time to sit down with my five year old, because they’re in P1 and I'm trying to teach them how to read.
Salt and vinegar or salt and sauce – Salt and vinegar
Cats or dogs - Dogs
Pub or wine bar - Wine bar
Early bird or night owl - Early bird
Full English or full Scottish - Neither
Coffee or tea - Coffee
Fame or fortune - Neither
Book or film - Film
Night in or night out - Night out
Couch or gym - Gym