Scottish sojourn

25 Nov

I allowed my not-particularly-well-hidden child out over the weekend. One of the biggest joys of the last year has been reconnecting with what I see as my true self – those little indulgences and tendancies that no amount of growing up can ever kill off completely. From watching a favourite television programme to spending time in a special place or indeed pursuing a particular dream or creative goal. You might notice I’ve been a little more reflective than previously of late – that constant reconnection and reconfiguration is ongoing and taking me to some interesting places (both physical and virtual).

I am by my own admission a Doctor Who fan – and have been since I was a kid. Heck I talked about the importance of the show in my own development a few months back. And so with the 50th anniversary coming up I made the decision that I wanted a happy weekend using the birthday of one of my favourite programmes as a chance to mark a regeneration of my own. You know, still the same person at heart, but in the mid of a total renaissance. Once you’ve reached the absolute bottom, you have nothing left to lose. and a form of reinvention becomes much more of a possibility.

At any rate, I scrabbled the pennies together and booked myself a rail-sail ticket and set off on Friday morning for the boat to Cairnryan and the train (sometimes disguised as a bus) to Edinburgh to spend the weekend with my brother Jonny – well, the Saturday and Sunday at any rate. I haven’t been over for a few months, and I do like visiting whenever possible. Getting out of Belfast and seeing another city in the UK (or indeed anywhere in the world) is good for broadening the horizons – reminding us just how stunted Belfast’s growth actually is and opening the mind to a broader spectrum of work possibilities and networking opportunities.

This weekend of course ended up being doubly enlightening. Almost from the second I left I started reading stories on the BBC website of shootings and hijackings and then late on Sunday night as I repacked for the trip back home, a failed car bomb at Victoria Square. I was reminded of being in France on a summer holiday back in the 1990s and seeing a tv screen in a cafe filled with scenes of rioting during the awful Drumcree protests. I don’t want any part of this violence – more than ever the desire to move away and find pastures new is at a height.

For the 50th I couldn’t think of anyone else that I’d rather spend it with, or who might appreciate my childish indulgence, other than my brother. We were both introduced to the show by my uncle and aunt when we were impressionable kids – or at least, we certainly watched a lot of it when visiting them in Derry/Londonderry. But we also watched it at home together, and I recall us recording Silver Nemesis, the 25th anniversary story, on our first VHS recorder at home. Very much of the McCoy generation, we lived through the cancellation, the brief glimmer of hope in 1992 and 1993 when BBC2 did their 7 Faces (or whatever they called it) season of repeats, and the 30th anniversary indulgence of Dimensions In Time (spot the actor…) and the Paul McGann TV Movie. There were hirings of tapes from the local video store (Family Viewing, on the Belmont Road in Strandtown if you must know – where I once complained about the unfamily sexual sequences of one video I’d seen, such a moral guardian I was aged 10), and the weekly Doctor Who Society I ran at school (when such things weren’t cool in the slightest). With my uncle now living on the other side of the world, and my aunt similarly indisposed (Yorkshire is the other side of the world, right?), it was time to indulge and watch with Jonny.

And so, Saturday night that’s just what I did. We didn’t bother with a cinema screening, what really mattered was the company, and a family connection. Sure, by his own admission Jonny hasn’t kept the faith in quite the way I have, but that didn’t prevent a bit of friendly banter, and a reverend 76 minutes, followed by the companion spotting of BBC3’s pisspoor afterparty, and the affectionate sillyness of The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. As a prelude to the family time of Christmas, and a celebration of the past, and rethinking the future, the trip was very worthwhile.

I first visited Edinburgh in primary school, an impressionable P7 pupil on his first proper trip away from the family, for a week in the rain. Somewhere there’s a diary we were made to write about the trip – I’d love to relocate that and see what I actually did that week. Since my brother headed over to study at uni there, a decade ago, I’ve been back repeatedly, getting to know it better and better. My trips for a couple of years there were very limited, and I don’t think I’ve seen anything at the Festival since 2010, but hopefully that will change again. I’m certainly actively looking for worthwhile work opportunities that might take me over to Scotland and away from Northern Ireland, where with the exception of some family ties and possibly one or two close friends, there really is nothing for me. Like many of my ancestors and their siblings, I’ll simply be continuing the continual exodus and return so many of us have performed. Starting afresh in a new country is terribly appealing for many reasons. Plus, before I got myself involved with someone at the end of 2010, I had actually been looking seriously at making the move. Taking a leap of faith into the unknown is what 2014 is going to be all about for me as the shackles of the past are cast aside.


One Response to “Scottish sojourn”


  1. 1st Annual Review – 2013 | The Sherlock Holmes English-speaking Vernacular - January 2, 2014

    […] November was also going to involve Doctor Who for me, so I used the opportunity to disappear to Edinburgh for a weekend to watch the special with my brother and discuss a couple of 2014 projects. A […]

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