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Political Surprises

I have always considered myself a-political and have voted according to beliefs relating to my age, environment and community, preferring not to affiliate myself to one political party.

I do get caught up in the major events of our political landscape – general elections, referendum, deciding on local MSPs, but I also know that after a certain point I have to let them just get on with it. Of course, a collective vote makes a difference, but I don’t see the point in spinning myself into an early grave just because I disagree with someone’s political viewpoint.

Today I took a group of pupils to meet Iain Gray MSP for East Lothian. He invited us to hold the interview at Holyrood in order to give us a tour of the Scottish Parliament. I have heard all the rumours about the spiralling costs during the creation of this extraordinary building and was quite content about not really bothering to have a look, believing in my ill informed way that there would be nothing much to see.

Well I am always happy to be proven wrong – especially when given such a personal insight from an impassioned MSP.

The pupils were there to ask questions in relation to the sudden increased housing developments in East Lothian and in particular Haddington to form the basis of their presentation for the BBC School Report Project we are working on.

I was incredibly proud to be leading this group and they did the school proud – asking thoughtful and insightful questions and listening intently to Iain Gray’s answers. I found him to be affable, an excellent tour guide and genuinely interested in what our young people had to say. I know he has given them plenty to think about and has certainly changed my opinion of how the Parliament works and the incredible legacy left by Enric Marelles, architect.

Iain shared excellent stories about the building, but none more so than the fact that it was designed for the people of Scotland to use should the need arise. I liked the meeting areas, the current John Bellany exhibition, and the original lintel rescued from Arniston House after Donald Dewar located it there being used as a bridge.

I am no more political than I was before today, but I have greater respect for the building and at least one person who works there. Go and see for yourself.

Political Surprises – a poem

Great swathes of concrete, metal and wood,

twisting and turning, leaning and supporting.

An architect’s imagination – what inspiration:

a leaf, a viewpoint, a sense of the land;

an awareness of a nation rising up

walking onwards and standing side by side.

A political landscape uniting ancient and modern

unifying a seething mass of debate and consideration.

An extraordinary legacy, a place to contemplate,

tiles and floorboards shared,

a collective power swooping and diving like a flock of starlings

as each term ends and begins again.

A subtle hierarchical seating plan;

ascending and descending according to power.

Underlying beliefs and values but still a shared camaraderie,

until the close of business. A vote.

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