Margo the icon
(Given the Warhol treatment by me)
Last Friday it was very sad news for anyone who grew up seeing this lady all over the news their whole lives. Regardless of your politics, was there anyone who didn't like Margo MacDonald? I don't think so. The sadness for her family comes first, but it's tinged with that extra layer of tragedy of her going in this year. It was especially cruel for a woman who had dedicated her whole adult life towards Scottish Independence to miss September the 18th. We hope we'll see her dream come true.
Like many folk, I had a wee bubble reading the lovely obituaries from friends and political foes alike that were all over the Scots media. It was nice to see a brief amnesty between indyref sides, with everyone coming together in admiration for Margo, sharing stories on radio and television. And, there was definitely something in my eye seeing old footage of her on the TV news. Man, she was one hell of a woman! Think about it; it was the 70s, she looked like one of the glamorous busty ladies in a Carry On film, politics was chock full of blokes like Gene Hunt from Life on Mars. But she did it! She showed them. She became THE icon of the SNP and Scottish politics in that era. A nine year old me thought she was like some kind of film star.
Gene Hunt or a Seventies MP?
Up until Friday I was happy to pootle my way online, retweeting indy articles, challenging the odd piece of Westminster doctrine in a breezy 140 characters, writing the odd pro indy blog, organising Aye Inspired (the indy art show, folks!), showing Alan Bissett on Youtube to anyone that stood still long enough, posing for a selfie with Patrick Harvie in the pub like a fangirl and flinging a bit o' cash at Wings Over Scotland and Women for Indy on the odd payday. But I was hiding from the obvious. What would Margo do? She'd get out there and start knocking on doors, that's what she'd do- that's what she did do! So I bit the bullet and did what a heap of folk did for the first time on Saturday- I canvassed for the Yes campaign. I was absolutely terrified.
And then Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon messaged me on twitter after I said how nervous I was and she told me I'd be fine and that I would have fun. Well I guess that's what people mean by wanting to be closer to their government, eh? Had any tweets from William Hague wishing you a Happy birthday this year? George Osborne sharing some stock market tips? No? What about Michael Gove giving you some advice on your exam revision, then? No? Hmmm. I was set up for the day after that.
I arrived in the area of Powis in Aberdeen and knew nobody. But I was given a very warm welcome. I mentioned I'd never done this before so they chummed me up with the SNP leader for Aberdeen City Council, Callum McCaig. We canvassed one block together and had a right good chat with an undecided lady and her West Highland Terrier (who was leaning towards yes, I believe, but I had to break it to him that he didn't have the vote- too young. Gutted.). Then we decided I was ready to knock on my first door. I took the ground floor, Callum ran up to the top one. Folks, I kid ye not, a naked man came to the door. Inner monologue; " What would Margo do? What would Margo do?!" I found out how he was voting, that's what I did. I can't remember what he said. Somewhere there's a form with shaky handwriting on it that has a record of it.
The first door, folks! The first door! I told my team when I got outside. Other than a woman that came to the door in a negligee once, the seasoned canvassers couldn't top that. I'd clearly hit upon an anomaly. Or was just cursed. Or blessed depending on how you feel about that sort of thing.
The next hour was pretty good. All residents were perfectly polite to me, and not one person said they were voting no. Bonus! Could the polls be wrong? Not for me to say. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was all rather straightforward; fun even. Nicola was right. Folk gladly took a leaflet, even the ones who looked a wee bit harassed with kids and dogs round their ankles like I would have been on a Saturday morning if I hadn't got up to go out.
And then, BOOM- naked man number two! This time smoking a fag- a devil-may-care-singe-risking maverick! And then I thought how wrong I'd got things. Jeez, we're not reserved British who keep their vests on at all- we're natural Scandinavians! Before we know it, we'll be sauntering along the beaches with nothing on but a jaunty sunhat, we'll be sitting talking in saunas giving each others' backs a good burnishing with a bunch of Douglas fir twigs, not caring about seeing each others' bits in the slightest, we'll be cutting iceholes in the Dee and jumping in, bollocks to the wind, in midwinter. There will be snow rubbed about our person, and no-one will cry like a jessie at that.
Hogmanay, East Kilbride, 2019
That night Nicola Sturgeon tweeted me again after she got back from the Anti Trident rally in George Square. "How did it go today?" she asked. I told her about my day*. Turns out she couldn't top that.
* Note to everyone. Not all men can do nudity justice. Be warned.
Disclaimer: Getting off your butt and going out to speak to voters does not guarantee shocking displays of nudity. But it does make you feel like you are actually doing something. Dinnae be feart, it's ok.
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