Anchor Bowling Club, Paisley, 12th February at approximately 20:00 hours
“Oh my god she’s over there – look! Christ, don’t aw look at the same time!” whispered a friend of mine, but I still couldn’t see Mhairi in a sea of faces.
So, after a feigned trip to the bar (honestly, we would have looked less conspicuous if we held copies of the Daily Record right up to our faces and peered out of eye-holes; however no copies of the *ehem* oh-so-neutral-red-hot-labour-paper were at hand) but there, in the entryway, stood Mhairi Black, MP.
Well, you could have knocked me over with the pamphlet that is the Liberal Democrat Manifesto. However, I had little time to marvel at the MP – I was breathing the same air as her! – for the raffle was very much on the horizon and I’m sure I spotted a Smirnoff Ice on the prize table that needed winning.
As a collective, my band of cohorts had purchased something in the region of fifteen strips of raffle tickets, which were set out atop our table between beer mats and a small army of fruit-shoots. The prizes which had been rattled off so far were all alcohol, which I suppose is no bad thing, until, emerging from a polybag rose a glittering Signed Copy of Mhairi Black’s Maiden Speech. I suddenly became aware of how desperate our chances were: the hall was packed full of people, each table having their respective collection of raffle tickets.
“Nae way are we winning this,” I said to my pal.
“Ye never know,” she said, “we might just.”
Needless to say I didn’t win the speech, and neither did any of my pals; it had gone to an older lady sitting up the back and everyone pretended to be happy for he, which I found very difficult; we all really wanted to win it, or at least I did, and I guarantee I wasn’t the only one thinking this, but for a second I was quite prepared to fight her for the speech in the car-park. I later learned she had a walking cane and felt very guilty for having thought such a thing; you see, unlike the Conservative Party, I have a little something called ‘compassion’, especially toward the less able.
Oh yes. I went there.
After the raffle, Mhairi took her rightful place at the microphone and owned it. It was like watching Aly Bain play the fiddle, or watching David Cameron impose the bedroom tax; like watching someone do something they adore doing, a real master of their craft. Hysterical anecdotes about Eton, wickedly funny reels of Westminster, and a clear and punchy message of hope and togetherness; a real sense of a shared struggle. I’m not exaggerating when I say you could literally hear a pin drop in the hall because everyone, even those who had had one too many fruit-shoots, and there were a fair few of them, was so utterly captivated by her and felt so motivated by her words. I don’t remember a lot of what she said because it was such a blur, but I remember this:
“This, these wee meetings right across Scotland, this is history in the making. People will look back on this and see how the spirit of the people won Independence.”
And she was right as she so always is. Get out there! We’re in this fight together! Try persuading your UKIP grannie or your Lib-Dem uncle (if there exists such a thing) because, if Mhairi Black’s speech taught me one thing, that is how independence will be won.
And ye never know.
We might just.