While speaking to the women featured in my documentary, The Herring Quines, I was struck by the sense of history, legacy, and tradition they conveyed. In fact, these themes seemed to emerge in every discussion I had, both on and off-camera. They emerge again in this chat with my wonderful friend Lucy about how these women made ends meet, the role of mental health, and the wonderful world of fisher fashion.
Today will be known to many as Easter Monday. But the date, April 6th, is home to another celebration: Tartan Day, which marks the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It’s commemorated in Arbroath here in Scotland with loads of themed events, and has also sparked a huge parade in New York City that brings together Scots Americans in celebration of their heritage.
I’m immensely proud of my own Scottish identity, but like I say in this piece, there is no one standard experience of a country, or one way to live a nationality. Even a small country like Scotland has space for more than 5 million different life stories to play out in the hills, by the sea, in the country and the city. These 11 Scottish books exemplify that.
I sometimes reach a point where I think, actually, what on earth have I spent my time doing? I’m not always great at keeping an up-to-date diary, and when things get busy it seems I’ve let the time pass and just existed through it, floating from day to day. Now there are busy weeks and quiet weeks, but sometimes I feel a little bit like Moss:
To cure the soggy-crisp feeling, I like to keep a list of events that took place and things that I’ve done, from milestones like turning 21, to smaller actions like learning to take breaks from social media, to show myself just how much I’ve packed in to the past 365 days. Taking stock of things like this is a good reality check, and stops me getting hung up on the (usually tiny) things I think I’ve done wrong. It reminds me that while I might not be sure of where I’ll end up, what I’ve done up to now constitutes a path I want to be on.
Among other things, in 2014 I saw a lot, read a lot, traveled quite a bit, wrote quite a bit, and snapped a load of photos. Below are some of my favourite ‘postcards’ from the year, collected on my travels around Dorset, Great Yarmouth, the Outer Hebrides, Dublin, Fife and good old Aberdeenshire. A wave of calm washes over me when I see these photographs again. I’m transported back to where I was when I took the photo, who I was with, what sort of day it was, what the scene inspired me to write. Here’s hoping 2015 brings more of the same – sometimes unexpected – opportunities and experiences as this past year. My path seems reasonably well-lit until graduation. I don’t know where it’ll lead next, but I do know the steps I take between now and then will take me closer to finding out, and form a new list along the way.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip around the East Neuk to St Monans to watch the annual crowning of the Sea Queen. It’s a tradition I first came across in Mike Hildrey’s documentary, Sunrise to Sunset: East Neuk Fishing, and a prime example of the role of women in a fishing community. Since this is exactly the topic I’m examining in my own documentary, I seized the chance to see the ceremony first hand.