Saturday 13 September 2014

Saturday Interview: Catriona Grant

Catriona Grant is from Edinburgh and has been active in the Trotskyist and women's movements. Presently a social worker, Cat is also campaigning for a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum. You can follow her on Twitter here.

- Do you regularly read blogs? If so, which ones?

Not really, I probably read your blog the most regularly. I used to read Richard Seymour's Lenin's Tomb and get sucked into Socialist Unity but the past year I don't tend to follow blogs any more. I will look at blogs if they flagged up on facebook or twitter. Male leftist blogs bore me now, I much prefer radical feminist ones - one about recipes and follow a friend whose child has cancer. I used to be a blog addict but I'm alright now!

- You did used to blog many moons ago. Why did you stop?

Yeah, I've got a blog. I've had a couple. Was involved in a great blog - The Independent Republic of the Canongate - which was a blog about Save Our Old Town against developers Mountgrange who in cahoots with the Edinburgh Council wanted to knock down parts of Edinburgh's Old Town to build a five star hotel and conference centre. The blog was a central part of the campaign, there was a small group of us. It was exciting talking about what the daily blog would be - it would fluctuate from factual campaigning information to nonsense, for light relief. I was a guest blogger on StroppyBlog and have a blog which I rarely blog on. I just can't think of orginal things to say and the stuff I might want to say might get misinterpreted. I find it a bit of a bind to tell the truth.

- Have you ever been tempted to give it another try?

I have my blog if I feel a blog piece inside of me. Been tempted to write on the referendum on how rubbish the Brit Left are being but don't want to be seen as anti-English or vitriolic or grumpy so I just say it in my head or on facebook.

- Do you find social media useful for activist-y-type things?

Completely! I think the Yes campaign have used social media to build support. I use it for feminist stuff and would never have found out about the shenanigans in the SWP if it wasn't for facebook, etc.

- Who are your biggest intellectual influences?

Hmmm, probably Karl Marx. But I have loads of influences Alexandra Kollantai, Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, Angela Davis, Beatrix Campbell, Sheila Jeffreys, Andrea Dworkin, Julie Bindel, Ann Oakley, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Gabor Mate, Paulo Friere, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky but really it's Bill and Ted (from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure - "be excellent to each other") who influence me the most!

- What are you reading at the moment?

Alan McCombes and Ros Paterson's book Restless Land and China Mieville's The City and the City. I always have an unfinished book on the go, just now it's The Magus by John Fowles (it's an endurance). I've also got on the go Gabor Mate's book The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts about addiction and Minding the Child: Mentalization-Based Interventions with Children and Young People and their Families by Nick Midgeley

- What was the last film you saw?

At the pictures? Lego Movie. In the house? Jumanji. I live with two four year olds I would love to say it was a French Art House film but it wasn't.

- Do you have a favourite novel?

Oh yes, I love Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, I've read it about four times. The only novel I've read more is George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl. The twins' favourite book of choice is that and The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

- Can you name an idea or an issue on which you've changed your mind?

Prostitution. I used to support legalisation or at least Toleration Zones. But now I see all prostitution on a continuum of rape and abuse, it's part of rape culture. I think it harms all women. I support criminalisation of the men who buy women and men for sex. I hate liberalism nowadays, I used to be more liberal that I am now! Oh and abortion, as a young person I was an anti-abortionist! I was a member of SPUC!

- How many political organisations have you been a member of?

Scottish Militant Labour, Scottish Socialist Alliance and Scottish Socialist Party. Been involved in campaigns and stuff. Is the Legion of Mary and SPUC a political organisation? I used to belong to them.

- What set of ideas do you think most important to disseminate?

Hmmmm depends on what I am doing, I suppose. But radical ideas but that is hard to define, just now it's "VOTE YES"

- What set of ideas do you think most important to combat?

Racism, islamophobia and rape culture.

- Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major influence on how you think about the world?

Anti Climax by Sheila Jeffries introduced me to radical feminism in 1990. The Communist Manifesto I read in 1986. Pornland: How Pornography Highjacked Our Sexuality by Gail Dines. Pornography: Men Posessing Women. State and Revolution by V.I. Lenin and 1491: The Americas before Columbus by Charles C Mann.

- Who are your political heroes?

Different times, it's been different people. Malcolm X, Angela Davies, Huey Newton, Nelson Mandela, Bernadette Devlin, Bobby Sands, James Connolly, Alexandra Kollantai, Clara Zetkin, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Leon Trotsky, Thomas Muir, Arthur Scargill, Tony Benn ha ha ha ha at one time Tommy Sheridan!!!

- How about political villains?

Life is too short for villians but the whole of the Lib Dems and the Tories, all fascists and ......... Tommy Sheridan. And those horrible people who go on Question Time - Melanie Philips, David Starkey etc. Oh and the entire SWP membership!

- What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?

With less that 5 sleeps to go ............................... the referendum in Scotland!!!!! After that sexism , racism, homophobia and environmental destruction.

- If you could affect a major policy change, what would it be?

Bring in real legislation and resources to protect women and children experiencing domestic abuse. All children to learn to swim, ride a bike, visit the beach, opportunity to play a musical instrument, opportunity to play sports and to have a free nutritional meal every day (probably a school dinner)

- What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?


- What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Bill and Ted gave us great wisdom "Be excellent to one another"

- What is your favourite song?

Zoom by Fat Larry's Band.

- Do you have a favourite video game?

Pac Man in 1981, since then ............................ NO! Oh in the early 90s I had a flurry with Tetris. It was short lived.

- What do you consider the most important personal quality?

Hmmmm .....I'm kind and I'm tenacious. But I don't know really!

- What personal fault do you most dislike?

Bite my nails! Eat too much and don't exercise enough and I loose everything - despite no longer being a Catholic I remain on very personal terms with St Anthony, the patron saint of lost things.

- What, if anything, do you worry about?

I once read an article that jelly fish would take over the oceans, that worried me. When I was wee I worried that all the volcanoes in the world would explode at the same time! I spent a ridiculous amount of time worrying about it, that and nuclear wars. I nowadays worry about really mundane things like have I turned off the hot water? Will it rain now that I have put out a washing? And my overdraft. Not very rock n roll, is it?

- And any pet peeves?

I am scared of snow globes, I call them shaky things. I hate them, they are everywhere, they give me the complete and utter creeps. The words gusset and pish. Soap operas. Social workers (even though I am one). The Brit Left. Fried eggs. Pink for girls!

- What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?

Get a proper bra fitting, life is too short to wear the wrong size bra. Relax and have fun. Go to university and study law. You don't have to read all those pamphlets and books by Lenin and Trotsky. Get fit and stay fit. Read Alexandra Kollantai's Love of the Worker Bees and Great Love sooner than 30. Travel the world, go to South America. Never have a credit card and DONT sell your flat in a bad mood one day because you "don't want to be part of capitalism". Be nice to your mum. Moisturise your hands and go to the dentist regularly.

- What do you like doing in your spare time?

Spare time? Are you having a laugh? That's a bourgeois concept!

- What is your most treasured possession?

My books! My memory!

- Do you have any guilty pleasures?

I like going out for tea and a scone, love a high tea. Going to the cinema on my own.

- What talent would you most like to have?

To play a musical instrument, to crochet and to swim fast.

- If you could have one realistic-ish wish come true - apart from getting loads of money - what would you wish for?

That I do my Diploma in Legal Practice and get a traineeship to be a solicitor firm/organisation.

- Speaking of cash, how, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money?

I'd buy a larger house. I would open a Women's Centre in Edinburgh. I'd live in Mongolia for a year.

- If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be?

Genghis Khan, Boudica and Joan of Arc

- In the event of a Yes vote in the Scottish referendum, do you think the Yes movement will feed into a wider reawakening of civic culture?
And will the same be the case in the event of a no?

Who knows Richard, who knows! I hope so, everyone in Scotland seems to be discusing politics, there is a mass movement going on or so it seems. I think even with a no vote that will still happen.