Monday, February 04, 2008

Don't bomb the East Neuk

impossible songs

impossible songs

This is the view from the "summer seat" at Cellardyke Harbour. My grandmother spent every sunny afternoon sitting at this spot for many years, talking to friends, neighbours and passers by. Everything seemed to be at a slow and easy pace and the talk was of the past, the dead and the old days. I spent my first year in nearby Dove Street before moving away to the cranes and noisy docks of Rosyth. I came back numerous times but I never felt at home or at ease - there is something in the air here that is not good for me. The narrow, shaved and salty streets, the squawking gulls to whom fish are now a luxury, the cruel barbershops and the ghosts of my dead fishermen forefathers all now drive me away and leave me uncomfortable. I choose to be elsewhere, away from this corner of Fife.

Small towns and communities can at times turn in on themselves and foster a hostile, insular and fearful outlook and mindset that promotes uncertainty towards change and mistrust of anything from the wider world. I see this now manifesting itself in the language of my aged mother who has become stuck in the communal mind of Cellardyke in the 1930s. There is no escape either, with each circular spiral of memory she is regressing back into the homespun and well meant but dangerous "wisdom" that her mother and father cobbled together at the turn of the last century and ignorantly used to infect an entire generation. Old age is a trap if you allow it to be and it can quickly snap you back to a childish and feeble state where all the worst things are possible and nothing good ever happens. So blame it on the kirk, the schools, the poverty, the herring, the culture, the war or the Churchill government: nothing makes any difference now, the past is not a good place to be stuck in.

No comments:

Post a Comment