Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Men’s Sheds

I had the chance to lead a Member’s Debate on Thursday on the topic of Men’s Sheds. Incidentally the debate is on my Facebook. I have had dealings with a couple of sheds at least: Peebles and Lauder but hope to be invited to the Gala Men’s Shed in the future. These seem a new phenomenon but they are not, having started life in Victoria, Australia, with the first recorded Shed in 1998. Today in Scotland there are over 106 Sheds with more than 1612 members. The Borders is particularly well served having 10 per cent of Scottish Sheds and 19 per cent of the nation’s members. Each has its own individuality which is the strength of Sheds. Some, such as Gala, make for example wooden tree boxes for red squirrels and mend furniture for charities but of course apart from craft and wood working it is a place for men to meet and chat, away from the pub or sit watching afternoon telly to pass the day. It helps prevent isolation and it is reckoned that for every £1 spent on Men’s’ Sheds £9 is saved to the public purse on for example health issues. If you don’t have one in your area and are thinking about setting one up you could start by visiting the excellent website the Scottish Men’s Shed Association and also getting in touch with local 'shedders'.

Mollie McIntosh

I couldn’t let the passing of Mollie McIntosh go without comment on this wonderful, formidable and mischievous lady.

Though she was true blue Tory and me the Scot Nat, we got on like a house on fire. Memories of my encounters with her are many but here are a few. During the 2014 Referendum campaign in a debate in Walkerburn Hall who should I spy twinkling away near the back but Mollie. I ended my rallying speech with the words “the day I convert Mollie to Independence is the day we have won!” She took it as usual in good sport. Next we met on one of my Summer Surgery Tours. We, my brother Tony and I had stopped the van at the allocated spot in Walkerburn and there waiting alone in the pouring rain was Mollie. Brother was introduced to her and we invited her into the seated area at the back of the van out of the weather. “Only if he is coming in the back," she replied with a naughty smile. He did and we all had a great laugh though of course I never did convert her. Last time I saw her I was doing my regular surgery in Tesco in Peebles and there pops up Mollie by then well into her late 90s. I asked her how she got there. “In my car of course," she replied, pointing to a vehicle in a disabled parking space. Wonderful, lively mischievous Mollie. I’m glad she had a good run at life.