Unparliamentary Language: Paul Masterton
6 min read
Marie Le Conte speaks to Parliamentarians to find out more about the human side of politics. This week, Conservative MP Paul Masterton on his biggest regret, hip-hop-aoke and his childhood dream
What were you like at school?
Quite geeky. I had a really great time at school – I wasn't one of those people that was miserable going in every day. I was quite fortunate because I went to a really good school and was always really encouraged to push myself and go on and I had good friends. I was the normal side of geeky. I was geeky, but not weird.
What's your earliest childhood memory?
I have a really clear memory actually, of standing on a ball in my hallway, and falling off and splitting my head on the side of the radiator. I think I must have been about three.
Oh, and I don't remember this but my mum always tells a story of the time I went to get my dad's pack of cigarettes and I ate a full cigarette. And that was the first time I had to go to the hospital. I think I was about two.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always wanted – and this is still my dream – to have some kind of food outlet. So either a sandwich shop, or like a crepe van somewhere nice. It has scaled up from a sandwich shop in Scotland to like, a burger bar in Hawaii. I'm aiming slightly higher than I did when I was seven, but the core dream is still there.
Oh, you could do some Scottish specialties but somewhere else!
Haggis from the back of a van. Sure it would be a big seller. That's the new thing. It's the 2019 version of smashed avocado. It's not very vegan friendly, but you know, using the sheep’s stomach, and being wholesome with the oats and everything, perhaps there's an angle there I can work with.
What's something you've done once and would never do again?
Getting a tongue piercing. That was a bad move. I don't know why I thought that was a good idea.
How old were you?
I was 19.
Did it really hurt?
Really hard. I mean, at the time I thought it looked kind of cool. But then when you look back and you just think "that was fucking stupid". Oh, the other thing I did. Andrea in my office runs this amazing charity on the side and she was doing a charity firewalk last year so obviously I felt compelled to do it. That was also horrendous. I was told by numerous people that doesn't hurt…It really fucking hurt. I ended up with big blisters on the soles of both my feet which isn't supposed to happen. I probably wasn't walking lightly enough over the coals? But yeah, I don't think I would do another firewalk.
What's a habit that really annoys you and others?
Interrupting, which is a terrible habit to find annoying when you're a politician and all politicians and journalists do is interrupt you. But that always frustrates me.
If you're feeling stressed or angry, what's one thing guaranteed to cheer you up?
That's why I have all those family photos in my office; I'm sometimes conscious that it's slightly like that episode of The Simpsons when they're asking why there's no photos of Maggie and it's because Homer has got them all on his desk at the nuclear power plant. So yeah, family and music. I always put something on.
What kind of music?
So I really like dance music. I like dance pop. up to harder trance stuff, and girl bands as well. I've got soft spot for girl bands.
Which one's the best one?
Well Molly from the Saturdays came in to talk about dyslexia a few weeks ago and I met her so that was quite exciting, so I feel bound to say the Saturdays.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
You are no better than anyone else and nobody's better you. It's good grounding advice, particularly in this job.
What's the worst piece of advice you've ever been given?
‘Why don't you go get your tongue pierced?’
How long did you keep it for, by the way?
I kept it for two years, I got it done in my second year at uni. And at the same time I used to get blonde tips in my hair, so probably the worst advice was the hairdresser who told me that that would look good.
If you had a time machine, where and when would you go?
I love reading historical fiction set around the 1500s, political fiction around Cromwell, Henry VIII, so I'd be interested to go back and live there but I suppose that would only work if I was able to go back and live there at a certain social standing.
Do you have any party tricks or unusual talents?
[thinks] I'm not good at karaoke, but you know what I've always wanted to go to because I think I'd be really good at it? So this is an unconfirmed party trick. But you know that hip-hop-aoke thing? Where you get to do rap songs? I think it would be good at that.
Which song would you do?
I would probably do Holiday by Dizzee Rascal. I'm pretty certain I know that off by heart.
If you could meet one famous person who would it be?
The problem is there's a lot of people that I would like to meet, so for example Charles Dickens, who I loved growing up. But I've not heard great things about him as a person, so I don't know if I would actually want to meet him.
What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done?
I've actually been really – touch wood! – really fortunate to not have any kind of stomach wrenchingly awful embarrassing moments that I can think of. So I'm very grateful , but it probably means that that kind of iconic embarrassing moment that happens to you as a teenager that didn't happen to me is a awaiting, it's still out there.
Have you ever broken the law?
Yeah, I got done for drinking the street when I was at uni, because you're not allowed to drink in the street in Dundee. It was a £40 fine, which I thought was quite excessive for a bottle of Corona.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
It would probably end up being whoever it was that played the Sherminator in the American Pie series. Although somebody said to me that they thought I looked a bit like Eddie Redmayne. And I mean I'll take that but don't think that's accurate. I probably need to admit defeat and say the Sherminator.
Paul Masterton is Conservative MP for East Renfrewshire
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