|Anstruther harbour entrance and Berwick Law.|
|The remains of the seawater pool at Cellardyke.|
Looking out at the random patterns of ship's mast heads bobbing in the water, the sun glinting on metal, this could be France or Portugal, Skye or a quiet port in South America; but it's really some version of somebody's version of a modern and confused Scotland. Occasional hippy types with scarfs and boots pass by, refugees from the Fence Collective, there are rainbows on doors, freak flags and stained glass, stone painted fishes and advertisements for “Blues” evenings. Houses sell coloured eggs and artifacts and a strange Bohemian strain runs through this once tough and working class Fife backwater. Escapees from the city, St Andrews student types, hiking travellers and builders repairing all the tumbledown and listed buildings. They are all polished up so as to be like another Tobermory or a film set or some coloured in reflection and recreation of the black and white past. That imagined place where no one actually lives but strangers and outsiders routinely inhabit.
It's as if the sun is too bright today, beyond what we deserve, we have no right to bathe in it's forbidden glow, we are the children of salt and storms and repression. God gave us all up a long time ago. All the heat and empty atmosphere bearing witness to the redundant town halls and old churches, each built with a frowning doorway and upturned smile to remind their users of the grim and Presbyterian past. The great and serious thinkers remembered with blue plaques seem to have outnumber the poor, the churchmen, sea captains, founders of schools and political nonentities, and so their imprint is the persistent and strong memory that unfairly lives on.
The smiling waitress clears away my empty dishes, the breakfast was good and was good for me and I enjoyed this free and easy amble through my own slightly time-warped reflections. I like to stare out of windows. I look across at where the old men, the former harbour office, now a public toilet. There the old fishermen once sat and smoked pipes and spat on the ground. They wore flat caps and growled at thin dogs, played pitch and toss and looked out across the harbour wall to the sea and thought of the men that had gone out there and never returned. All for a basket of silver fish. Now a bus full of Eastern European tourists arrive, guttural Polish voices, anoraks and sunglasses. I've no idea what they make of this place but they are determined to have mid morning fish and chips and bask in the near 13 degrees freely supplied by the fickle weather. I get to my feet and square up the bill, the waitress moves on to another customer and I head out for the car and then the cemetery.
Once up there, inland from the sea in the noise of wind and the council strimmers angrily cutting back the spring growth I walk in ever decreasing circles before encountering the various family gravestones. My name is repeated here and there, weathered and faded as the stone letters collapse and lose meaning and clarity. I take some photographs, it may be years before I return, if ever, this is no annual pilgrimage, more a rechecking and box ticking exercise. When did they all die? How old were they? My dutiful errand of respectful remembering and sentimental meandering necessary for the successful navigation of this part of the century. There they all are under the ground, right below my feet. I never can quite get that, standing six feet above the dear remains and forty years away from their breathing. Time to get back to another, more familiar and less distorted but painfully real world.