Hey everyone As I journeyed back to Glasgow after a great day’s training in Edinburgh a few weeks ago, I was privileged to enjoy a chat with a true. sporting icon. The word legend is I believe overused when it comes to sports stars but in the case of the this particular gentleman it is and will forever be the only accurate description.
As I boarded the 900 bus I made my way to the first available seat and a distinguished gent was sitting with his wife in the seats across from me. Initially I didn’t click as to who it was, this maybe because I grew up supporting Celtic his fiercest rivals. The man was a star from my school years and his name was synonymous with the club he captained and later managed. I refer to the man many called Mr Rangers John Greig.
To be honest, I was shattered after an excellent day where I had to use my creative and analytical skills far more than is good for a woman on a Friday afternoon when finances permitting I really should be thinking about socialising and all that thinking was making my head hurt. In fact I was so shattered I dropped my bottle of diet coke before I had the chance to get a drink from it. The man across from picked the bottle up for me and that led to a brilliant chat between myself and the man I have always considered to be to the great living Ranger of all time.
During our journey we chatted on topics from the training course I had attended, my interest in poetry, the independence referendum, and Scottish and British culture. Football received only a passing reference as
we exchanged civilised opinions and even shared a couple of humorous anecdotes during an hour which passed quicker than it otherwise might have with a man who certainly killed the old fashioned stereotype that footballers left the brains in their boots.
As it is the hot topic of the moment, I was interested to hear his opinions on the independence question and I have to say if politicians showed each other as much respect as we did then maybe there wouldn’t be as much animosity between the two camps as there currently seems to be.
I do however think, he may have been slightly surprised when I agreed with his comment that there were many questions which needed to be answered though I did say that there as many if not more questions which need answered by the no campaign as there is by those who support a move to Independence.
I clarified this by stating that I am a long standing supporter of independence and believe that the Yes campaign need to drive home the message that independence is the natural state for adults and that dependency was only normal for children. Therefore in my view if Scots wanted to be treated like adults it was perhaps time we started behaving like adults and taking responsibility for our own decisions rather than blaming others for taking decisions which suit them.
I also said that the voters I had found it hardest to convert were not Labour or even Tory supporters as I believe that the prospect of independence gave their parties a chance to reinvent themselves and give them a fresh start in a new more confident Scotland and some of them were at least open to persuasion, it was the Liberal Democrats I found the toughest nuts to crack. I explained this by saying because they were federalists they are prepared to come on the journey 80 or maybe even 90 per cent of the way, they just want to don’t go to the final destination.
However after listening carefully to my analysis he responded with a very insightful comment which really set me thinking. He did this by saying that the group that the Yes campaign really need to convince are those voters who will vote SNP at every election and will continue to do so after the referendum but remain committed unionists saying that there may a higher percentage of them than many people think. When I described this demographic as those who identify as primarily as patriotic Scots who still perceived themselves as British with a small B, I noticed that he didn’t disagree with my assessment. Nor did he disagree that some unionists are going over the top in their attacks on First Minister Alex Salmond
I said this could be counter productive for the unionist argument as people may think they are just a wee bit obsessed with him and you hate someone to that level unless you actually fear them which he said was a valid point. I also said that l found it laughable that some of our less informed unionist supporters had wrongly claimed that Alex is only in it for the money.
This is an illusion I waste no time in shattering by telling them that if Alex Salmond had been a career hack rather than a principled politician who believed in his cause he would have joined the Labour Party in 1973 rather than the SNP and probably served as Scottish Secretary in the days before devolution. I then went on to say that this route could also have been taken by Nicola Sturgeon who I am sure will be Alex’s successor as leader of the SNP and leader of our country.
I must admit it did please me when Mr Greig said that I was principled and passionate and I had obviously researched my topic. I replied that four years of studying Geography and Politics before gaining my Joint Honours Degree had taught the value of two things researching my subject and speaking my mind as no matter what people may think of my opinions they would be more likely to respect me because I say what I mean even if it doesn’t always suit the party line and I think that gives me more credibility as a party activist than those who just parrot a set script. I think it shows a wee bit more creativity than those who stay on the safe side of the street.
Eventually of course football did come up and I declared that I was a Celtic girl however I had always rated him as a player. In fact I said the main problem he faced when he became the manager of the club was that he needed to sign the one player in the team that he couldn’t replace namely himself and I think he liked the idea of an opposing fan appreciating his talent as he said it’s always more of an accolade what that happens. I said that as someone brought up to be fair minded I had remember that in any contest there were two teams on the park, and sometimes in a discussion you could get as many sides to a debate as there were debators in the room or round. Well poets do have to have enquiring minds and should always question ourselves in an attempt to improve our writing.
Earlier in our chat we had spoken about the fact I had attended a leadership training course for spoken word and writing group facilitators on creating an inclusive environment and safe space for both performers and audiences alike. I explained that I fitted both roles as I performed my poetry at open mic events one of which I compere and I also facilitated a writers group so this training session ticked all the boxes for me.
This is especially true as I before losing my job I worked as a trainer in equality issues so it was good to be sitting alongside participants rather than needing to worry about evaluations and feedback. Mr Greig smiled and said that must have been a relief that I didn’t need to worry about on how the day would turn out. I said it was nice though it did feel strange to be at the other side of the training room and I tried where possible and appropriate to be a supportive ally to the trainer.
I said one of the most important reasons for attending the training was the fact it was for poetry and spoken word facilitators. I told him I was a poetry evangelist and I believed there was a poet in everyone. He said he could tell it was certainly an interest I had a real passion for.
I asked him if he would like to hear one of my personal political poems which explained my support for independence and when he said yes I
read my epitaph for Mrs Thatcher The Voice Of Number 10 Which he said was a good well written poem which expressed my pro independence sentiments clearly. However I think diplomacy demanded that he didn’t state his position on our country’s future.
However we did agree that no matter what the outcome of next September’s vote people will need to learn to live together
as friends. After all life as we said is short even if we make it to 100 that we must enjoy every day as it comes and we only needed to look at the recent disaster in the Philippines to realise that life is a precious gift and we never know when it is going to end.
As the bus drew in to Buchanan Street. I thanked him for his chat and his time and he returned the complement saying it made the journey more interesting than otherwise might have been. So as made my way in to town before going back home to Baillieston I have to say I was happy to have met a gentleman who played a very intelligent game.
Love And Best Wishes