The Grand Tour: Fife and Beyond

Ramblings of an inveterate cyclist

 This has been a most unusual year and no mistake, I doubt if we will ever see another like it.

Yesterday was history,

Tomorrow is the future,

Today is a ‘Gift’,

And why we call it ‘The Present’.

That was a favourite saying by the wife of the late President Roosevelt, and I think she was right, today is a gift that we should all rejoice in.

However, the older you get the more time we seem to spend in the past, reminiscing, for our memories are just our unwritten biography. Couple this with time on our hands (lockdown), it is so easy to daydream your time away.

I have been doing a lot of daydreaming of late, thinking back on all the things I have done in my life, all the people I have met, and my dreams for the future, many now having to be tempered, for I can no longer leap mighty building in a single bound.

Of course, there will always be things we regret, choices made that you wish you had not made, opportunists that came our way and allowed to pass by. People that we let down, or unintentionally hurt in some way, how we which we could have now the opportunity to say, Sorry, or had chosen different words, and avoided the hurt we caused, as mum would have said: “Bitten you’re tong”. Then again, if we did have the ability to rewrite history, would it really changed anything, in the grand scheme of things? I don’t believe so, therefore I do not dwell on such thoughts for long.

As for the future, it is difficult to ‘forward cast an eye’, to make any kind of firm plans, in such uncertain times as these, although the little garden group here at City Park, (that I am a very small part off), are making plans for spring planting. We are to have Chrysanthemums, Wallflower, Sweetwilliam, Poppies and mighty Lupins, should be quite a show. The girls will spend, a lot of time, in their little group, discussing, taking notes and make diagrams, and yes drinking lots and lots of tea, and in general having a good blether, before coming up with such a grand plan. Me I prefer just to get stuck into the digging and planting.

Sometimes the future comes to us. There are many empty shops in St Andrews, some will have come to the end of their leas, with the owner deciding that the market is so volatile at the moment, best to not renew, others, alas, will have gone under because of the bad trading conditions. However when things start to return, to some resemblance of normality, although I’m sure this will be a different kind of normality, the shopfitters will move in and the skips will fill up, and Hamilton (the skip vulture) will be there with his tricycle and trailer.

One of the studies I loved at college, and later university, was marketing, it was one of those subjects that just grabbed me, I seem to understand it from the first words my lecturer uttered. Sometimes in life situations overtake us and can overwhelm, we have seen this with coronavirus and of course Brexit is not over, Brexit will be that flash flood that comes just when you think you are over the worst of the storm. But a lot of people make a lot of money out of a disaster, such as wars, and I’m sure many will have increased their empires during this coronavirus pandemic.

My (estranged) daughter chose to go to the ‘woolie college’ just before Maggie Thatcher sold off all the manufacturing jobs in this country to the Chinese, it was called ‘outsourcing’. By the time she qualified the mills had gone and with it the weaving industry in Scotland. My daughter set up her own loom in a shed in her garden but has struggled to make the business pay, like all art and craft goods, there is no economy of scale, so you pay for the artisans time and materials. She needed a marking adviser and super-duper salesman by her side but alas as I said she was my estranged daughter.

Looking around St Andrews today there is an opportunity for such small artisans to leas a small shop on the main thoroughfare, that would not have been there a few years ago, when the tourist trade was at an all-time high, (sadly the Scottish government put far too much store in tourism). I suggested that she should rent a small shop and install her loom in the window and work from there, (for many years big shops such as M&S did not advertise, then again having a shop in every major high street in the UK was an advert in itself) a loom being worked at in a shop window likewise. This would, not only attract people into the shop but also show potential customers the amount of work and skill that went into making that scarf that they so admired, so, was not so expensive after all.

The shop could also display goods by other artisans in the area, sold on commission, or they might give a day of their time to man the shop in lieu of payment. 

We have seen since lockdown that many people have shown and interested in learning new skills and craft skills are right up there. Why not run evening classes in weaving, and reap a crop (spin-off) selling wool and materials to your students. However, my dreams are not her dreams, and that is what we must always remember.

I was talking with a friend and he was telling me about a lad, and as he put it “Had not made much out of life” (in comparison with what? I wondered). We all have a life to lead and we lead it in our own way, we can only advise when we see people making (what we consider wrong choices) but it is up to them whether they wish to take this advice, we make our own bed and it is we who must then lie in it.

Sorry, it is a bit dreich here today in St Andrews.

Stay safe.

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