I guess that my only golden rule about politics is “expect that unexpected”. Thus I was really quite surprised when Ed Davey offered me the spokespersonship for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in addition to my shadow Defence duties.
Only two days earlier, my son had texted me speculating I would be demoted to being in charge of stationary.
I took the call from Ed in the station square in Inverness as I gazed at the statue of a Highland soldier opposite – to tell the truth I thought I’d have to lean against it to steady myself, such was the surprise.
Enya in my office points out to me the fact that I have done a bit of ‘culture’ in my time, and I suppose she’s right. The Duke of Plazza Torro in the Gondoliers over 20 years ago (what a lot of lines!) and then more recently the Panto Dame in Jack and the Beanstalk, and indeed, a panto villain or two as well.
You could say that I get a thing or two about the notion of ‘culture’ – having 60 kids on stage for a pantomime has a reach out to families in all walks of life, a reach out like no other. Same is true of football of course. While I was mentally scarred by being on the terraces when Dundee United beat Ross County at the cup final, I still fly my flag for the ‘staggies’ (name after the Stag on the Ross County Football strip).
This week I had a chat with the Football Fan Association. We’ve agreed that my first line of questioning in the House of Commons is going to be along the lines of encouraging the ‘beautiful game’ and empowering the people that watch it – the blessed fans – to decide the direction of their club. After all, the health and happiness of the nation through sport is one small part of the battle for COVID recovery.
Change of subject… tonight I embark on a two night trip with the Armed Forces Staff College at Shrivenham. My uniform is packed in my case, and at the time of writing, my biggest decision is whether to slip into the case a couple of lagers - because you see, the 40 MPs who I will be going with, have just been informed that Shrivenham is entirely dry…. Actually my wife thinks this a really good idea…
So that’s it. From ham acting, to footie, to square bashing. When I was first elected three years ago, I never remotely dreamt that an MPs life could be quite like this.