Christmas comes early when the First Minister of Scotland visits Crieff
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
UK politicians are on the election campaign trail, kissing babies, shaking hands and asking the public, ‘can I rely on your vote?’
Blue Noun were delighted to learn that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon planned to visit Crieff, and we made sure that we were amongst fans gathered at the Nutcracker Christmas shop to welcome her.
In English class that morning we’d prepped by looking at the biography of Scotland’s First Minister. We discussed how the skills of a lawyer would translate into politics. We also looked at the diverse social demographic she represented within her constituency of Glasgow Southside, and we read online about her motivations as a politician. We looked at the powers held by a devolved Scottish government and the SNP led campaign for Scottish independence. Finally, we took a detailed look at just one policy and manifesto pledge (tree planting) in a bid to learn more about the SNP and the environment.
Personally, prior to her visit, I’ve admired Nicola Sturgeon as a smart, direct and eloquent politician.
I now want to tell you how warm, charming and funny she is. She lit the room up with her pleasure at meeting her supporters. She twinkled as much as the Christmas lights around her.
Here’s the story of our encounter. It features Blue Noun friend, Lynne Crawford Knight and Blue Noun’s youngest member, in a rather fabulous unicorn hat.
Here’s Lynne, waiting for Nicola Sturgeon to arrive.
The crowd is growing. Local SNP campaigners pass out flags and flyers. The children, who have mostly come straight from school are as high as kites: not only about the imminent arrival of Scotland’s First Lady - the displays at the Nutcracker Christmas shop are incredible, and a festive, friendly and relaxed atmosphere abounds.
Here’s my little unicorn.
After a period of waiting, there was an influx of people with large and professional-looking cameras and lenses. Then two film cameras backed through the swing doors, and Nicola Sturgeon was amongst us.
The fastest kids got their selfies with her before she was fully though the door, then I slightly lost her in the crowd as I admired their first photos.
I expected her to stop to meet only a few people and I was quite slow to realise that Nicola Sturgeon would happily meet every single person in the room.
Babies were cuddled and adored, toddlers were high-fived. She posed with kids and their parents for selfies. Whenever she was introduced to a person, she had a chat with them - but not to the room. I noticed that she held their eye contact and attention completely, touched their arm while she listened to them.
I’d been planning to keep in the background taking photographs, but my young unicorn likes to sit on my shoulders when we’re anywhere remotely crowded, so she’d scrambled up, and I was soon trying to move around the crowd wielding my camera and feeling slightly top heavy.
I stood with Lynne who had brought Nicola Sturgeon a copy of a book she had illustrated (‘No Fair City: Dark Tales from Perth’s Past’ by Gary Knight). Lynne is a business woman who, with her husband Gary Knight, runs History and Horror Tours. They do fantastic, scary ghost walks in Cultybraggan, Perth and now Dunkeld, which our language students love.
Lynne eloquently introduced herself to Nicola Sturgeon, told her briefly about her ghost walk business and gave her the book (which she seemed delighted to receive).
I was next in line, and all psyched up to say, “I’m from Blue Noun, a new kind of language school based here in Crieff”, when all attention went upwards towards my young unicorn instead.
Nicola addressed the young unicorn, complimenting her on her hat.
Now this hat has a hidden mechanism that makes its ears wobble. If you press its paws (hooves surely?) its ears flip up and waggle about. My girl is pretty shy. She didn’t speak back (I don’t even know if she smiled - probably not), but together we waggled the unicorn’s ears at the First Lady in reply.
Suddenly we had the attention of the room: the press, all the cameras - and the First Lady of Scotland, in front of me, staring up at my head, all laughing.
Lynn McGregor, of Strathearn Snapshots was one of many to capture the moment (thanks Lynn!)
Nicola Sturgeon admired as the unicorn waggled its ears some more (while I did a frankly terrible job of keeping my eye contact on her, and not the rest of the room staring back). I desperately wanted to proffer the unicorn hat to the First Minister, but knew what my daughter’s (not unreasonable) reaction would be.
Divided, I did nothing, the moment passed and she thanked us and moved on. Much later she passed by a second time, thanking Lynne for her book a second time.
Here’s a picture of just Lynne after Nichola Sturgeon held both her arms and wished her a Merry Christmas!
I was impressed by the warmth and friendliness that our First Lady showed everyone.
As she was leaving, she took time to write a personal note to a local SNP member who’d been in hospital that day.
Nicola Sturgeon left us all with the impression that her brief stop in Crieff had been a joy (and a bit of a party). There was a wonderful sense of community and happiness while she was in the room, that I'm sure we all took home to our individual houses.
I’m certain the ambiance of the wonderful Christmas displays at the Nutcracker helped, but I know too what she brought into the room and I’ve never experienced it from a person before.
Thank you Nutcracker Christmas shop for hosting!
Thank you to the local SNP campaigners for organising this visit.
And thank you Nicola Sturgeon for the calm and kindness that you are (but don't just take my word for it)
Find out about History and Horror Tours here.
Link to the Nutcracker Christmas shop here
Live Language learning!
Strathearn Herald, 12.12.2019