26 December 2020

Dumyat

Dumyat

On Christmas Day we enjoyed a turkey feast at Frances and Stewart's house. Stewart's parents were also in attendance having driven up from Bristol the day before Christmas Eve. With the COVID restrictions, they had to stay in a nearby hotel. All that we had was that one day together and we enjoyed it. A little island of normality. Shirley's Christmas pudding was divine and the Christmas cake that Stewart's dad made and iced was also a triumph. I led the lively singing of "Bachelor Boy" by Cliff Richard followed by a less convincing version of "The Young Ones":- 

Tomorrow
Why wait until tomorrow?
'Cause tomorrow
Sometimes never comes

Stewart's dad and I reminisced briefly about being university students and that set me off thinking about my life back then. I was at university between September 1973 and December 1977. In those days, a much smaller proportion of  each generation went to university - something like 14%. Nowadays it is more like 50%. Quite a big difference.

I enjoyed my studies and worked hard to achieve a good honours degree in English Studies with Education plus the Diploma of Education. However, in terms of life skills, I freely admit that I was quite naïve in several ways.  To explain, the following short paragraphs will all begin with "When I was a student..."

When I was a student I never owned a dressing gown. This would have been pretty handy when venturing out of my study bedroom for a shower.

When I was a student I hardly ever bought any groceries to store in the fridge or cupboards. Instead, I tended to eat at the refectory. I never had anything in for breakfast - not even a loaf of bread. How could I have been so dumb?

When I was a student, I frequently didn't get round to putting a fresh sheet on my bed or to putting my quilt in a fresh duvet cover. These tasks seemed so onerous and yet they were easy to perform in less than five minutes.

When I was a student I never ironed anything - not even when I undertook teaching practices in Tillicoultry, Alva and Alloa in Central Scotland. I found I could get away with wearing a knitted V necked jumper and keeping my jacket on. My trousers were "stay pressed".

When I was a student I drank far too much beer and sometimes woke up with extremely hazy memories of what had been said or done the night before. 

When I was a student I never went walking in the nearby Ochil Hills. Nor did I climb to the summit of Dumyat that overlooks both the university campus and The Forth Valley that reaches east to Edinburgh. Such a waste of walking opportunities.

When I was a student I was an extra in "Monty Python and The Holy Grail". It was filmed nearby and I met John Cleese at the catering van up on Sheriffmuir moorland north of the campus but I was tongue-tied like a fool.

When I was a student, I had absolutely no idea where my future life would lead me. In spite of having a steady Scottish girlfriend, I knew I didn't want to work as a teacher in Scotland - having encountered far too much subtle racism towards the English. That is why I returned to my homeland  - Yorkshire  where all rainbows end and shooting stars fall to earth like diamonds.

It's forty three years since I left university. If I could live my life again... 

Happy Boxing Day! 

34 comments:

  1. No one in my family has been to university. My parents said school was something to do while you were old enough to work. Indeed I have huge gaps in my education due to being kept at home as my mother suffered depression and couldn't be left.

    I'm not sure if I've missed out. Two of my three children have degrees. Daughter in English and youngest son in history and politics. My eldest lad has no degree but is head of sales, merchandising and licencing for st Andrews golf club. He earns more than the other two put together. They are all happy with their lot. That's the important thing. And they are kind, decent human beings.

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    1. "Kind, decent human beings" - that is what matters above everything else. I expect that if our Ian had gone to university and secured a degree, "Bosh!" would never have happened.

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  2. I don't think I ever found that I was the subject of bias (it's not technically racism as I discovered later) against the English here on Lewis. Incomers were sometimes commented upon but the Lowlanders were probably even more commented upon than the English in that regard. Scottish and Highland and Island history is very complex. The English were the enemy and therefore easy to understand. The inter clan politics and rivalry was far more convoluted. When I was a Lancastrian I found more bias from people in Yorkshire 😂.

    You were fortunate to be allowed three households to meet up. We were only allowed two. Which is one reason I had Christmas dinner with friends not family.

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    1. I knew some students from The Western Isles. Glasgow and Edinburgh seemed as distant to them as Yorkshire or Birmingham. Lowland Scots are invariably different in their outlookfrom Highlanders, Islanders or Borderers.

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  3. Nobody seems to talk about regional racism. I have often heard football fans calling northerners and southerners.

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    1. And nobody talks much about classism any more. Family deprivation through the generations becomes a heavy burden to bear and it's so hard to break the cycle.

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  4. Well, you did what you did and you got your education and that was the important thing. We can't go back and redo, can we? And that's okay because we're pretty busy living the lives we have now. I'm glad you're back in Yorkshire, walking the hills and paths and about to start a whole new phase of being.

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    1. One must fight against maudlin thoughts of past times and the paths we took for there is no profit in such musings. It is wiser to grasp the present and the future.

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  5. We all see the wouldas, the shouldas, the couldas, no matter what road we traveled. They're not exactly regrets. More like a curiosity about the difference in your life if you woulda ________?

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    1. Yes. You got it exactly Debby. Not regrets but curiosity.

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  6. Hi YP
    Have been following your blog fore some time.
    While I am happy that you could see your extended family from as far away as Bristol please spare a thought for us in rural Kent (I.e as far away from the hotspots) who were hoping to see our young grandchildren from Aberdeen for the first time in a year.

    All. so unfair

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    1. Hello "Unknown". So many grandparents are separated from their grandchildren - missing out on their development as people. Time that can never be retrieved. Hopefully - as The Queen said - "We will meet again".

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  7. When I was a young woman...every supper I made contained ground beef and noodles.

    I was a mum at the ripe old age of twenty so not quite the same. When I went to university I had a three year old. Not the best way to get an education.

    If I had a chance to do it over I would pay more attention in school, drink less and have less sex. But we don't. Perhaps my next life:)

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    1. Twenty? That is so young. You did well to grasp a meaningful future in nursing in spite of the odds stacked against you.

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  8. It's 4.30 in the morning of the 27th and I've been awake since 3.00 listening to our 3rd day of rain, not much fun if you're summer camping which I am happily not.
    Regrets, I've had a few...not for things I've done but for what I didn't do when I had the opportunity or the time. Not being brave enough to leave home. Not going to the UK and Europe after University when I had the chance. It became an itch that wouldn't be scratched for 40 years!
    That's why I encouraged my daughters to leave New Zealand and explore the world after their studies in spite of the risk that they might not return if they met their life partners overseas.
    Their travels were what enabled me to finally scratch that itch. It was a wonderful experience in the summer of 2015 to at last make that trip all by myself. You've no idea how many people told me they wouldn't do it. Get on a plane for 24 hours by themselves? No way.
    More fools them. I had a daughter waiting to meet me with an Oyster card and an App for my phone and 3 months away from my "normal " life. No meals to cook and no cares or responsibilities except to explore and enjoy all the sights I had spent the last 40 years dreaming about. The freedom to do only what I wanted to do, to wander ancient roads, explore churches, museums and art galleries, National Trust homes and gardens and charity bookshops. All to my hearts content. There were so many "pinch me" moments. Two wonderful months in the UK made possible by the free nights in my daughter's London flat were followed by a month of solo travel in Italy and 3 days in Barcelona. I stayed in convents and ate cheaply, got lost in Venice but mastered the trains and planes and was only scared once in Naples.
    It was a life changing experience even for a 62 year old. It also gave me an appreciation for what I had achieved at home in those intervening 40 years and the understanding that this was not my place. I was content to be returning home with a bigger world view.
    I planned to repeat that trip before now once I retired but as the song goes "life is what happens when we're busy making other plans". The London daughter came home with a Devon man and there's a grandchild due in April.
    Someday, one day.....maybe I'll be back to see Sheffield and explore all that Yorkshire and the Peak District offer. In the meantime like so many other grateful followers I will content myself with seeing what your camera records on your "travels with Clint".
    Christmas Cheers, Adele

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    1. "Travels With Clint" sounds like John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" though I believe that Charley was the dog and not the vehicle. I think that your great adventure must have meant far more to you than a big overseas trip would mean to a twenty something New Zealander. I applaud you for doing it. Dreams can come true. Best wishes Adele - Neil.

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    2. Thank you to Adele for sharing her achievement of solo travel after emptying the nest. I will take inspiration from that.

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    3. Yes. You can do it too Carol... and by the sound of it Brody can pay for it all! (When COVID has been driven down)

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  9. Happy Boxing Day Mr Pudding!

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    1. Mr Christmas Pudding if you please! Have another G&T Sue! And a small dry sherry for Paul.

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  10. The closest I ever got to student life were the two years I spent at Librarian School. As I was already 18, I was free to come and goas I pleased, not like the under-18s who had to be back at the student accomodation at a certain time. I enjoyed those two years and learned a lot - not just for my work at the library, but for life.

    I am glad to know you were able to spend the day with family. We, too, were allowed to meet with more than the two households that have been the rule since mid-December and will be so again from tomorrow onwards.

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    1. We were allowed just the one day. How many steins of lager beer did you guzzle down? Did you have a turkey?

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    2. I am not much of a beer drinker except for shandy on a hot summer‘s day or as refreshment during a hike, but better not ask how many glasses of wine and sparkling wine I‘ve been having!

      Turkey is not something we traditionally have on Christmas Eve; we stick to Wiener sausages and spuds salad.

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    3. I am sure that your rare ability to guzzle vast volumes of wine is what attracted OK to you.

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  11. When you were a student, I had a baby and was very busy making two others, one who did not live past being a little acorn in my belly. Then when those babies were growing, I had a career and at the same time worked on that anthropology degree. I can honestly say that I am still a student and am still learning and always will till the day I am no more!

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    1. Is it too late to say that I am sorry for the loss of your tiniest baby? Such losses are too readily dismissed as just "Oh she had a miscarriage". There's usually an emotional toll. I hope that you and Yogi Bear had a nice Christmas Day Boo-Boo.

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  12. There is the saying, If I knew back then what I know now...... , and I used to think that at times, but now I don't. For all our supposed wisdom and knowledge we have gained, it will die with us but that won't stop us from learning.
    It sounds like you had a very enjoyable Christmas.

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    1. It was a splendid Christmas Day and now back to the penal colony of COVID restrictions. Oops that analogy was a little insensitive! Sorry.

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  13. Were you one of those random medieval peasants?

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  14. Were you writing about me? I did most of the things you did. there were many great opportunities at school but I missed most of them. I didn't know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. That's how I bumbled into the Arctic. Of course, I missed a few more things there.

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    1. The polar bears were right behind you Red. You were looking the wrong way my friend.

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  15. John Cleese! Holy rainbows and shooting stars. But at least you remember.

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    1. Fortunately, dementia has not set in yet Joanne.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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