Monday, 20 April 2009

A Govanhill Grilling

Recess is over and the first week back to normal working got off to a flying start today. I had been invited by P6/7 of Victoria Primary School in Govanhill to visit them and well, to talk about myself - tough gig but what could I say? The pupils were fantastic. Sixteen of them had written to me teling me why they had chosen me. One said "because you're really into Govanhill" :-) So, today was the day and they each had their questions ready. They ranged from

"why did you join the SNP?" (hmmm, how to keep it apolitical!) and

"why did you want to be an MSP?" to

"what do you think of Glasgow City Council's decision to close our school?" (what, indeed!)

and the surprising (there's always one) "when are you planning to resign?" ~ "er, yes, em, well, who let that kid ask a question?!"

Anyway the children were very good, they clearly have a great teacher and they were incredibly attentive and interested (or good at pretending) and they spoke eloquently about why they wanted their school to stay open.

Esther, who works with me and lives in Govanhill asked them what they felt the big issues were in the area and they started off talking about the amount of dog "excrement" on the streets. Not just the streets either - the grass area they used to muck about in is apparently now frequently covered in the stuff bringing a whole new meaning to the term "muck about"!

This lead to a story of a local dog going into Govanhill Park and dying because he ate rat poison that had been laid unbeknownst to the owners ~ or the dogs!!

Talk of dogs got one wee boy round to telling us about a dog in his street that went into the bushes and ended up cut and bleeding because local thugs had been storing their knives in the bushes.

The kids all became animated at this point sharing tales of what they'd found in the bushes - knives, broken bottles, a hammer and several used syringes. And it made me mad. Here is a class of 10 and 11 year old kids, all lovely, all interested in the world around them and almost all having experienced going out to play with their pals and stumbling upon dangerous weapons and suchlike.

Anyway I told them they are all constituents of mine and if they wanted me to look into this for them, I would. They did and I will. Children need to be able to play freely without fear of picking up an infected needle but they also need to know that they've a right to complain and expect their politicians to represent them. They can't vote for quite some time but I want them to believe there is a point in voting when the time comes ~ and they were so smart these kids that I've no doubt they'll vote the right way!

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