WHILE teenage celebrities are ridiculed for continuing to release autobiographies, no such charge could be laid against Judy Steel.
“I reached the grand old age of 70 and its a good time to do it,” Judy told TheSouthern on the release on her memoirs, Tales from the Tap End, in October.
The wife of one of the Borders’ best known politicians, Lady Steel will be reading from her book and will be in conversation at the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles on Friday, January 14.
The book details a well-travelled childhood for Judy before she met future husband David (pictured, top of page) as she studied law at Edinburgh University.
“The Boy David” became MP for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles in 1965 and the couple moved to the Borders, where they have lived ever since.
Two years later, he was famously responsible for introducing the Abortion Act and by 1976, David was Liberal Party leader.
Speaking to TheSouthern last year, Judy described those times as “terrifically exciting”.
She told us: “I look back to a time, particularly in the 60s and the 70s, when politics was so exciting and there were issues that we were very passionate about.
“There weren’t issues of money or what effect something would have on such and such an income band or people. Politics was much more about the principles of things.”
There were difficulties as well, which are discussed in the book, such as the effect the pressures of having a major political party leader as a husband had on the family.
But the couple’s political commitment helped them cope. “If you agree about things which a partner is committed to, it makes things a lot easier,” said Judy.
“And it was easier because David went into parliament so young. And as with any marriage, you have to have a sense of humour and tolerance – you have just got to look at the positive things.”
Her memoirs also detail David’s involvement in debates on Europe and his role in establishing the Scottish Parliament, where he was the first presiding officer.
It also notes colourful stories from inside and outside of politics. Away from Westminister, Judy has spent more than 20 years working in the arts, in particular helping to form the Rowan Tree Theatre Company.
She is an established voice on the works of novelist and poet James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, and along with David, restored 16th century Aikwood Tower, near Selkirk, in 1992 – it is still their home.
Reflecting on her memoirs, Judy said: “What I do think is that I have been very fortunate. I have had a very blessed life.”
Tickets for an evening’s conversation with Judy Steel are priced at £10, which includes a glass of wine, and it starts at 7.30pm. Telephone 01721 725777 for further details.
z To win one of two copies of Tales from the Tap End, answer this question:
Who was the Ettrick Shepherd?
To enter, send your answer, name, address and phone number by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Judy Steel Competition, The Southern Reporter, The Hermitage, High Street, Selkirk, TD7 4DA, by Thursday, January 13. Usual Southern rules apply.