My International Women's Day speech to the Scottish Parliament was a zinger, but then it turned into a turnip recipe – Susan Morrison
Every year the Scottish Women’s Convention, that sterling group of doughty sisters, celebrates International Women’s Day by taking over the parliament and filling it with women.
It’s a wonderful day. They invite a host of inspiring speakers, including young schoolgirl delegates who always present with terrifying confidence. Wish I’d been half as gallus at their age. Even the First Minister speaks, that’s how big this deal is.
In some unaccountable glitch in their careful planning, they asked me to be a speaker this year. Now, who’s going to miss the chance to sit at one of those funky wee desks with the wiggly microphone and play at FM?
Tiny problem. This is proper public speaking. Can’t just rock up and witter on about how great it is being a woman. No. A speech must be written, with rhetorical flourishes and zingy one-liners and no swearing. Tricky.
I’m fond of a curse word. Well, a doctor once told me that letting loose with the sweary words and curses has enormous health benefits. Lowers blood pressure. They should be prescribing four-letter words. Safer than tablets. Fewer side-effects and safe to use when driving. In fact, use particularly when driving. My BP is great. So, I sat down and I actually wrote a speech, free from foul language.
On Saturday morning I woke bright and early. Oceans of time. Glorious morning. Why, I thought, I could get a washing out. And so I did. The kitchen floor was a bit on the tacky side. Someone must have spilled something. So best give that a clean. Jex the ginger then decided to hairball up something that looked like Trump's toupee. Had to sort that out.
The oceans of time suddenly evaporated into a car-park puddle and I still had to shower, do my hair and get dressed. No one wants to be standing in the Scottish Parliament in the scud. Not in front of the First Minister.
I barrelled through the house like a one-woman hurricane. Heading for the front door at something a little under Mach 2, it hit me that the carefully crafted words of wisdom were still in the print tray. Upstairs, two at a time, grab sheets, fold them up, stick ‘em in my bag and just catch the 35 bus. And relax.
Great speeches from everyone, and then my name was called. I rose, strode to the podium like I’ve seen Barack Obama doing, opened my notebook, took out my speech and smoothed the paper under my hand. whilst eyeballing the delegates with a steady gaze and firm jaw. Nicola had done that. I thought it looked very presidential. Four hundred women waited for me to start.
Then I looked down at the first page of a letter of complaint to Scottish Gas and a recipe for turnip. I’d grabbed the wrong paper.
As I said to the schoolgirl delegates, this is pretty much what happens to women. We’re endlessly trying to Sellotape jellyfish to the beach. We think it’s all under control, but then the time runs out, the tide comes in and the sand shifts beneath our feet and all we can do is wing it. And swear. Which I did. Once. The Presiding Officer let me away with it.
Actually, the turnip recipe was pretty good.