1. First Hibs game

There’s the song, when I was five my daddy took me down to Easter Road and in my case that was that. When I was five years old in 1966 I was taken to Easter Road. My biggest memories are the evening games, the midweek games.

Easter Road was a massive stadium. You had this big sweeping east terrace and it was split halfway up. In those days, big games in particular with a big crowd, the only place to see it was where that split took place and as a kid you could sit on the wall halfway up.

As a kid, the whole sense of the occasion, the noise the atmosphere, the colour, looking down with the floodlights and the players on the park.

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Hibs probably didn’t achieve as much as they should have done in the 60s but they had some great players like Colin Stein. It was a theatre of dreams. I’ve got lots of family pictures and with monotonous regularity I’m wearing my Hibs strip. I was Hibs daft.

2. Attending the Royal High School in Edinburgh

I went to secondary school in 1973 and we were almost like a test case because my year were the first fully comprehensive year at the Royal High School. I’m pleased with the education that we got.

I remember going into that school for the first time in 1973 and I was like a kid in a sweet shop when I saw the opportunities there were for clubs, for societies.

Things like the debating society helped hone any skills you might have in terms of speaking in debates so I’m really grateful for what the school did in preparing us for life thereafter.

I suppose in some senses I'm a bit angry that not every schoolchild had the opportunities we had because everywhere should have that range of opportunities whether it’s clubs, societies or sport. We were really lucky with the kind of opportunities afforded to us.

Three of us in my year have ended up in Parliament although I regret two of them are in the Labour Party – Ken Macintosh and Sarah Boyack. There was something in the water that year.

3. First concert

It was in the Odeon Theatre in Edinburgh and it was the Skids. The Skids were a Scottish punk band from Fife fronted by Richard Jobson who then went off to do a variety of other things.

They’re still around and about to release another album. Other members from Skids went off to form Big Country. They had a huge influence on me and the type of music they played and it’s been a part of my life story.

The pals I was with that night are still good friends. Pete (Wishart) was in Big Country before Runrig and I was given the opportunity at a Big Country/Skids concert to meet Richard Jobson.

It was a surprise when he said to me he’d like to come into the House of Commons. When I prepared for PMQs I would listen to music for 10/15 minutes to make sure I was in the right place.

4. Having children

We have quite a large family. I’ve got three children and three step-children and for us family events are really quite important. There is a link from the children back to music and I’m struggling to come to terms with it.

As a family we went to see a Big Country/Skids concert last year and you never expect your children to come along and have the same interest in music that you had.

I remember as MPs a group of us went along to see Big Country and I asked Alison Thewliss if she enjoyed it and she said her dad used to play Big Country in the car and I laughed and said ‘you really didn’t have to put it that way’.

We have a good relationship with our children although most of them are in the central belt and we see them on a reasonably regular basis.

5. Mercury Asset Management

I suppose this is a surprising tale in some respects. In those times it was possible to emerge from the back office into the front office. I didn’t go to university, I don’t have a degree and I remember I had a summer working for Mercury Asset Management.

I basically did the support for two mercury unit trusts. You’re supporting the fund manager, doing all the backup and the tradition was they would take out whoever was doing the support work for lunch at Christmas and she asked why I wasn’t a fund manager. I just shrugged my shoulders and put it down to circumstances.

I met the head of the European team on the back of that and within weeks I was given the opportunity to move from the back office to the front office and I knew the ropes to some extent so within relatively short order I was managing my own funds.

From there, I became a stockbroker and became for more than a decade the number one rated financial analyst in the Netherlands and I really loved the time I had in the city.

I think in some respects the experiences I had in the city and particularly being a leader and running businesses helped shaped me to be the type of person I have become as an elected politician.

6. 9/11

It goes back to my city career. The day of 9/11 I was in the Netherlands chairing an investment conference. These things tend to be big affairs, quite glitzy to some extent, a lot of big investors and companies presenting to them.

I came out the chair, it was early afternoon and my wife phoned me to tell me to turn the TV on to see the events that were unfolding at the World Trade Centre and of course a building I knew very well because of my career.

The significance for me at that time was that I had a number of US investors there that had partners in the World Trade Centre so the first thing is trying to make sure you’re supporting them because there was a lack of news as to what was happening.

I discovered that people that I knew were in the World Trade Centre and colleagues. I had a colleague who I still keep in touch with who was supposed to take a German company in there and at the last minute he asked a junior colleague to take this company in and they all perished. He’s obviously had to reflect on all of that and when you hear these personal, human stories then you can’t be nothing other than touched by these things.

I do think about it from time to time but certainly every year when it comes round then these are things you always reflect on. 

7. Marrying Ann

My wife is someone I’ve known for a long time. We were both youngsters in the SNP in the 1970s. It’s fair to say at that time she was not my biggest fan let’s put it that way. We got together after the 1999 Scottish election.

Ann was an SNP candidate in Clydesdale and sadly narrowly lost out. She has been my soulmate, my support, my political confidante, mentor and everything else thrown in.

Every evening at home is a political discussion and a review as to where we are so there’s no escape from any of that.

8. Moving to Skye

We lived in Lanarkshire for a while and we took the decision in the early 2000s that we were going to move here. This place is my home.

As I turn to the right and look out the window, it’s the most beautiful view over Loch Snizort. Bluntly it’s a place I’ll get carried out of a box in. I'm so grateful that we call this place home. It means so much to me. Being elected as an MP and representing your constituency is a big responsibility and you should never take it for granted.

The National: Sunset at Neist Point on The Isle of Skye.

Returning to Skye is something I’ll never grow tired of. Just the grandeur and the beauty and the spectacular nature of it and in a way having two lives – one as an MP but coming back to help out on the croft.

The day to day that has to go on here is important as well.

9. Joining the SNP

I joined the SNP in 1978. Of course, the SNP had a few ups and downs in the 1980s and my own journey probably reflected what happened in the party but in essence the SNP has been part of my life since I was a teenager.

That burning desire for Scotland to become an independent country has never left me, that desire to complete that journey burns as strongly in me today as it ever has done and that responsibility that individually and collectively we’ve got to get this job done.

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That we’ve got to push this over the line. We’ve got to deliver that better country, that greener country, that fairer country that so many of us so desire.

10. Becoming SNP Westminster leader

In 2017 there was the sadness of Angus Robertson losing his seat. I certainly hadn’t given it consideration but a number of people came to me and asked if I would become the SNP's Westminster leader.

The election was on the Thursday and that weekend Scotland played England; Leigh Griffiths scored these two marvellous goals. I was straight down to London after that and was selected as SNP Westminster leader and my goodness my life changed.

The National:

I’m so honoured that colleagues gave me the opportunity to do that but that responsibility to stand up in debate at PMQs and to hold the Government to account and try project what Scotland can achieve, why it should be independent, has been an enormous privilege.

It’s meant on one level I haven’t had a minutes peace in the time I was leader, it was 24/7. I don’t regret any of that, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s the duty that came with being leader and I took that.

I suppose at the moment we need to complete the journey to independence, we will. But at least I can celebrate that we’ve seen off Boris Johnson.