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Anima locus

February 4, 2008

I have realised recently that places have a spirit, some essential essence we can interact with. Personalities, if you like. And we can have relationships with places, which can bring out the best or worst in us.

Take Cape Town, for example. I have just spent five weeks there, and I love the place, but I am not sure if it’s good for me.

I have a lazy streak as long as Noordhoek beach, and Cape Town is a lazy city. When I am there I turn into a slacker, and don’t blog. I love every minute of it, but if I don’t get away, I’d still be lying on the same beach at the age of 70.

Nothing wrong with that, maybe, but I want more.

This is where Scotland is good for me: it puts me to work. Scotland invented the work ethic – which is why the destruction of its industrial base by Thatcher was so demoralising. I am busy when I am here, and I don’t mind it – it makes me want to develop myself, to become more than who I am. This is a very Scottish attitude that comes out of the Scottish enlightenment.

Another thing I like, particularly about Glasgow, is the strong egalitarianism.

Then let us pray that come it may
(as come it will for a’ that)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth
Shall bear the gree an’ a’ that
For a’ that an’ a’ that
It’s coming yet for a’ that
That man to man, the world o’er
Shall brithers be for a’ that

Try to get above yourself in Scotland and you’ll be brought down to size with some one saying “ah kent his faither”. It’s a nice change from snobbish, cliquey Cape Town.

(It’s not all good: Scotland’s bad for my health. I drink far too much whisky, eat badly and don’t get enough exercise).

But it makes me think maybe we need to be more strategic about where we live. I want to live in Scotland long enough to internalise its positive attributes without losing what I’ve learned from Cape Town.

Like, fully, bru.

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