"I don't know if that is more damaging to his credibility or to mine," McConnell quipped. He had just returned to domestic duties from a trip to Poland, whee he neatly combined his "triple E" portfolio of education, external affairs and Europe.
Despite being there on the day of the Scotland-Poland football match, he dutifully stuck to his brief and did not attend (although, he said cheerfully, he was happy to claim credit for the result - a 1-1 draw, as it happens).
He discovered that 17-year-olds in Poland are taking a leaving exam based on the Scottish model. "I was told they were nervous," he said. "Not half as nervous as I am."