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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Militant motorist is parking mad
By Iain MacDonald
BBC Scotland

Back in 2001, "Good Morning Scotland" sent reporter Iain MacDonald off round the highways and byways of the country to document the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign.

As of this week, he'll be doing it again. Older - but not wiser - this is his weblog of the 2005 Tour of Scotland.

It's a glamorous life, Henry.

Iain takes the radio car to Grangemouth

Up in the morning and off to the east - to the south shores of the Firth of Forth, in fact, to Grangemouth - where the sky goes purple.

More to the point, it's also the capital of Scotland's petro-chemical industry.

We are talking terrorist threats, trust and - inevitably - the war.

As it turns out, Grangemouth is parky and the sky is not pink.

This, of course, is Radio Scotland's Soundtown, so you would expect people to be blasť about bedraggled broadcasters showing up with cables and things.

But the guests at the plumber's business next door quite enjoy themselves taking the mickey.

Distant childhood

Three guests turn up. One of them is ex-soldier Malcolm, who is in charge of the British Legion where the radio car is parked up.

He was in the Gulf as a top secret typist. I daren't ask more. He might have to kill me - with his shift key.

Jack is a pensioner and vaguely Tory but he doesn't believe any of them.

And we needed a first-time voter too. Apparently we tried one, but eight o'clock was far too early for her to get up.

Another young voter had to go to work. My guests have things to say about today's youth, which sound very similar to remarks I seem to remember hearing in my own far-distant childhood.

Then a shiny blue car turns up, with our final guest. Who, last but by no means least, is Colleen.

The more senior citizens in this conversation hang on her every word, possibly because she is distinctly less than warmly dressed for the conditions: she's blonde and she does Tae-Kwon-Do.

And the tune changes. Clearly, we're all at an impressionable age. She's a first-time voter, leaving school this year. She won't be voting for Mr Blair. She thinks he lied.

The senior citizens in this conversation hang on her every word, possibly because she is distinctly less than warmly dressed for the conditions: she's blonde and she does tae-kwon-do.

I've no idea whether that's a branch of origami or a local dialect but her fellow guests are very concerned that she might get cold.

After it's all done, we drink coffee from the next door stall and natter and establish that pensioner Jack was a trialist for Strictly Dance Fever - though he decided he wouldn't do it in the end because the BBC wanted his image rights.

And Graham Norton might have taken the Michael, too.

Colleen also produces hidden talents as well - she wants to be an aeronautical engineer.

That means designing planes. And she's learning how to fly - people are unfailingly amazing.

Exotic sausage

But this session ends the week. I'm off, up the A9 to my spiritual cave in the Highlands, which takes longer than you'd expect, because this is the season of the road works.

Temporary traffic lights abound as I travel north. And in Perthshire, as befits the time of year, tractors have clearly been breeding.

I get stuck at the back of a succession of tailbacks, quietly fuming - actually, not that quietly.

I pull off at the House of Bruar on orders to go shopping and fight my way through Barbour jackets and pipe smokers to buy some exotic sausage. No, that's not code.

Back on the A9, I'm stuck behind a series of fellow shoppers, most of whom seem to smoke pipes (and that's only the women) and drive at 50mph.

The BBC Scotland poll at the beginning of the week indicated overwhelmingly we want more wind power, less nuclear.

So. I'm sorry, green tendency, but right now my vote's going to the first guy who promises to dual the A9. I think I'm turning into Militant Motorist.

Anyway, eventually I'm safely in Inverness.

A (very) young lady called Mia accuses me of stealing her chips. She's very perceptive for her age. And she's right.

The rest is weekend.

Monday is Ayrshire - actually Hunterston, to debate energy policy, and whether we need more nukes.

The BBC Scotland poll at the beginning of the week indicated overwhelmingly we want more wind power and less nuclear.

But is that what's going to happen? More later on that, but why do I think there should be more glamour to this job?

An SNP poster has a skeleton in a wheel chair waiting for his/her hospital appointment.

Human kindness

It's eye-catching. Will people complain? Bet your life - this is the season for complaints.

There are already stories of party spokespersons calling news desks about stories which have turned out well.

They are not calling in to congratulate the reporting organ who may have helped get a right result.

They just think we should have given them more credit. The milk of human kindness turns in a day during elections.

Still, there's a funny side.

I like the story about the Tories defending Doctor Who and Tim Collins, their education secretary, proudly proclaiming he used to hide behind the couch when he was young.

And the Welsh rugby coach who's supporting Labour because Wales seems to win more Grand Slams when there's a Labour government.

Exactly how may Grand Slams would that be?

And one that certainly strikes a chord - the RAC says parking is a much more important issue for the voter than any of the parties realise.

Getting it right, says a spokesman, could be a major vote winner. I'm going to Edinburgh on Tuesday too. I'll let you know.

Start of long road to polling day
11 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Broad church of Scottish politics
12 Apr 05 |  Scotland


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