He may no longer enjoy the trappings of power, but he still looked like the First Minister as he strode purposefully around Strichen Community Park, Fraserburgh firing out instructions in all directions, writes David Knight.
Alex Salmond was shooting a TV commercial for The Courier, but sounded like he was in charge as director, producer and script editor all rolled into one.
Alongside the filming we were there to conduct the first of two in-depth interviews about his past, the referendum battle and the future, ahead of his new weekly column for The Courier.
Wrapped in a heavy overcoat to withstand the cold, frosty morning, Mr Salmond was in his element. The only clue that he was not on official business was his otherwise casual look: open-neck shirt, jacket and corduroys.
Considering the demands of the day, he remained in remarkably good spirits apart from one minor flare-up where his renowned sharp tongue put me in my place.
* Read the second instalment of Alex Salmond’s interview only in Friday’s Courier
As lunchtime arrived any tension evaporated as we dined in the Strichen Lodge restaurant. The chat was warm and relaxed even although he knew, and we knew, that every eye in the crowded restaurant was on him. But he is the first to acknowledge he revels in the fame and the selfies for which he is constantly posing.
You get a feeling he does genuinely get a kick out of mixing with people at grassroots level, even if it is time-consuming.
In the chess-like feints and parries of an interview, it is hard to throw him off balance. Many have tried, most have failed.
At one point, I asked if he woke every morning asking himself why things had gone wrong in the referendum and if he blamed himself. He paused and then turned his attention to berating our photographer, who was documenting the interview. Was this the ultra-professional wanting pictures to be perfect, or the wily politician buying time?
When speaking about his late mother, he appeared to fill with emotion and faltered, but quickly collected himself. He spoke with deep affection for wife Moira and the strength of their relationship was clear to see.
Another woman who figured quite prominently in his life also provided one of his many anecdotes. The great racing fan gleefully told me how the Queen gave him a tip one of her own horses and it came romping home in front. However, he didn’t tell me how much he won.
Over the next few days you will read all about this man who changed the face of Scottish politics, about his life away from Holyrood, about the man behind the media mask.
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