It’s a wet day – there have been a lot of them recently. A wet day shielding overpriced textbooks from the deluge whilst traipsing between Sallies’ Quad and the Buchanan building may be unappealing, but there is a certain warmth and comfort in being indoors and watching it all unfold out of the window. Letting it happen without you; relinquishing the day and the wet to the rest of the world.
April is a moist month generally, which makes sense; it is as if the year, a quarter of the way through, presents us with the opportunity for renewal. The idea of New Year’s resolutions is arguably misplaced – there is no sense of rebirth in January. There is no sense of renewal in stony winter ground; no life at all. In the New Year’s resolution we attempt to resurrect or to recreate; we desire to fashion ourselves anew, afresh, in the sad, bloated aftermath of Christmas; in the inhospitable January air.
Though obviously it is not the first calendar month, it would be more logical, then, if we had our annual crisis of discontentment in April. April is resonant of rain, yes, but rain is resonant of cleansing – of detox, if you will. Cleanse your mind of the resultant images of laxatives and raw pepper diets, and contemplate those words. ‘April’, ‘rain’. Redolent of squeaking shoes on hard floors and damp earth on long walks and peeling off wet jeans to feel cold skin beneath.
Recently, my younger brother came to stay with me in order to attend an open day, and it was interesting to see our town through new eyes. I gave him a fairly standard beach tour, and as we descended onto Castle Sands at low tide, he marvelled. ‘You must come here quite a lot’, he mused, and I began to reply with numerous excuses as to why, in fact, I don’t. I have too much on, hall mealtimes are strict, I’m too busy writing revolutionary articles (laugh out loud) for my student newspaper, etc, etc.
It isn’t as if I am not appreciative of the beauty here; I am still frequently taken aback by it. When you’ve lived in Hull for seventeen years – a town better known for its fishing industry and lively, if grubby, pub scene than its scenic landscapes – and you’re aesthetically inclined, it’s harder to ignore. It’s also generally nicer and easier to live when everything around
you is not just pretty in the sunshine.
To quote Françoise Sagan, ‘money may not buy happiness, but I’d rather cry in a Jaguar than on a bus’. As a philosophy, it may not be entirely relevant to what we are currently considering; however, it sort of runs parallel to this idea of beauty and the aesthetic. It feels far more darkly romantic to wander to the pier and weep over the foaming waters beneath than to snivel by the side of the Anlaby Road dual carriageway in Kingston-upon-Hull. Just saying.
However, the beauty is easy to take for granted because it is always there. I know that at any point I can go and walk amongst it, which is precisely why I don’t.
Before I discovered that there is a shortcut to Kennedy Hall, I would take the longer route down to where North Castle Street opens up onto the Scores and a panoramic view of the sea, like a painting through a picture frame. Now that I know that I can get to my tutorial quicker if I cut through Gannochy, I don’t do it anymore. Nor do I take that route after my tutorial; a slave to my impulses, my inclination is to get to the curly fries as soon as possible.
Just as rain gives new life to things redundant or unborn, so the irresolute weather here in St. Andrews – and our startling proximity to a wealth of the most overwhelming natural beauty – grows us.
Nature is something which opposes our capitalist culture; it gives in abundance without demand for compensation, but only offers insomuch as we care to glean from it. Nature waits for us; it does not make promo calls, it has no method of propaganda. It simply is, and those who look for it will always find it.
Last night, I went to East Sands with a group of friends after dark; the simplicity of being so close to the sea, everything inky and glimmering – our eyes having adjusted to the glimmer of the moon – reminded me of how inordinately fortunate we are to live in this amazing place.
For St. Andrews students, April does represent an ending of sorts. This is the ending of the academic year; for some, the end of a long period of stress (on a related tangent, yesterday, from afar, I mistook someone’s completed dissertation for a traybake).
I am writing this article to be published in the final printed publication of The Saint; this will mark one year of my writing for this great newspaper, and my initiation into usurping the ineffable Tom Coombes’ role, as the new Viewpoint editor.
And so, endings bring about beginnings.