Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gigha's A Break From Canvassing

I've spent today in the company of my mate Russell, his sister Vivienne and his friend Jen, campaigning for his mother in her bid to become one of the 3 councilors for the Kintyre and the Islands ward on Argyll and Bute Council. It seemed like a great idea in the pub last night (back in Leith...), but this morning was a bit of a fankle getting bins emptied, dishes washed, windows locked and the cat dispatched to her regular sitter, Richard.

To save him the hassle, I set out to buy both food and cat litter before we left. This led to a bizarre moment in the Tesco on Great Junction Street, when the assistant told me that she had litter, but it was still in the delivery crate so could I come back later in the afternoon? I wonder if she tells cross-legged customers the same thing when they run out of toilet roll? Anyway, all such minor niggles behind us, we duly hit the road at about 11am, only an hour behind our planned schedule.

We reached Tarbert in under 3 hours, which was reasonable going given the number of dawdling Sunday drivers about the place (we wouldn't have got there at all yesterday, thanks to a lorry spilling Formic Acid all over the road). And after a cup of tea and a sandwich courtesy of Russell's mum, we all piled back into the car and headed off to catch the Gigha ferry. There's only about 60 houses on Gigha, so given the size of the ward, it would have been an easy place for candidates to overlook. However, suitably armed with our leaflets and a couple of SNP umbrellas to advertise our presence, off we went round the houses.

It was my first visit to the island, and for all that the day was dull and dreich, the beaches were still the equal of anything I've seen in the Caribbean. There's been a fair amount of development there too, with a number of new houses around the jetty area, many of them by the looks of things being occupied by young families.

All to the good. I'm sure it would be an idyllic place to bring up children, and with the community recently having bought the island, there seems to be a real spirit about the place. It was epitomised for me by a man who having earlier offered to deliver our leaflets to the rest of the island, popped into the hotel we were having a quick drink in before the ferry came back. His outlook was straightforward - having campaigned for the 'independence' of his island, he said, he was now going to do exactly the same for his country. Fair play.

The evening ended in the back bar of the Tarbert Hotel, perhaps predictably in a debate about politics. I got involved in a fairly robust exchange with one punter, in which he expressed his extreme dislike of Labour alongside his continued scepticism over the SNP. My parting shot that if he wasn't going to do any good, that he should at least avoid doing any harm, seemed to touch a nerve. But having listened in to all this badinage, I just wonder how the Finnish barmaid, who claimed that the discussion was 'educational' for someone 'uneducated' like her (aye, right!), will decide to cast her vote?

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