NICOLA Sturgeon has said she can’t wait until she doesn’t “give a f*** anymore” and is getting closer to that point every day.
The First Minister, an MSP for 23 years and leader of the country for eight, fuelled speculation about her future earlier this month when she admitted she might not lead the SNP into the next Holyrood election.
She said she would make a judgment about the job “nearer the time”.
She made her latest Freudian quip at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, hosting an event with Dundonian actor Brian Cox.
The star of the award-winning US drama Succession and an independence supporter, he was promoting his new memoir Putting the Rabbit in the Hat.
The pair lavished praise on each other, and Mr Cox, who promoted the Yes side in 2014, said he would also campaign in a new independence referendum.
Ms Sturgeon said Mr Cox was a “brilliant human being” and an “amazing living legend”.
Mr Cox said it was “such an honour to be talked to by this woman”, adding: “This is an amazing woman. What she's doing for our country is incredible. And let her do it please, because she’s doing a great job.”
The actor said he was enjoying life at 76.
He said: “It's got better as I've got older, you know. I like being my age. I enjoy being my age [more] now than I've ever enjoyed before.
"As I've got older, I just, I don't know, I feel more free. I just don't give a f*** anymore, you know what I mean?”
Ms Sturgeon said: “I can’t wait to reach that stage.”
Mr Cox said: “Nicola, you will reach that stage.”
She said: “I get a bit closer to it every single day that passes, believe me.”
Mr Cox, a former Labour backer who grew disillusioned with the party over Tony Blair and the Iraq War, also spoke about transferring his support to the SNP and the Yes cause.
He said he wanted “social democracy” and independence was the means to achieve it.
“We're on a hiding to nothing [in the Union]. It's all always going to be the same stopping game endlessly. And my country has to be free. We have to be free. We have to be our own person.
“Anybody who comes here sees the difference between the North and the South.
“It's so evident now, and Scotland has never been more ripe before. It.
“The only thing is, I just wish the people of Scotland would have a bit more confidence.”
He added: “That's the thing that really gets me. And it’s through conditioning that we haven’t got that confidence.
“This is where we should be and we should have our own country, and it should happen now and it shouldn't be about personalities, it should be about country first, not politics, country first - and democracy.”
Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second independence referendum in October next year if it is legally possible.
Mr Cox, who lives in New York state, said he planned to come back and live in Scotland, although he has previously said it is too damp for his health.
Ms Sturgeon asked him: “So you might be here and around for the referendum campaign?”
He replied: “Oh no, I’ll be here. Nicola, I will definitely be here.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “For me independence is about everybody who lives here in Scotland.
“It doesn't matter where they come from. If you live here in Scotland, you have a stake in making this the best country it can be, and people who live here deciding the kind of country we want to be and the future we want.
"We have to have the confidence, and our task is to persuade people that we can do better by taking our future into their own hands.”
Mr Cox said: “Absolutely. And it’s time. I’ve lived 76 years and I came to the party rather late, but I’m so happy I’m at the party now before it’s too late.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “I look forward to campaigning for Scottish independence with you next year as we seek to win a referendum.”
Mr Cox replied: “You’re on.”
The only awkward moment of the night was when a women in the audience complained about Scotland's high imprisonment rate and the disproportionate number of people in prison coming from children's homes.
Ms Sturgeon, whose government has pushed a presumption against short sentences in a bid to reduce the prison population, said: "We lock up far too many people in this country. And we lock up far too many vulnerable people in this country.
"And frankly, we've not looked after care-expedienced young people well enough in the past and that's something, on both counts, that we're trying to change."