Robert in lockdown – 30.7.20

Robert enjoying a staycation on Arran as lockdown eases.

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It was a nice (though nerve-wracking) feeling on Saturday evening to know that the two-hour television programme we’ve been working on with BBC Alba for the last few weeks was out in the public domain.

Thankfully my golf swing (which made a cameo appearance) didn’t come in for too much criticism!

Looking back at the show, a highlight for me was collaborating with Tamzene on one of our songs called Shadow to the Light. We had recorded in Glasgow and she had recorded remotely in the Highlands, so it genuinely wasn’t until the programme was aired on Saturday that I saw the finished product. If you fancy catching the programme, it will be available on BBC iPlayer for the next month or so.

As this is the second week of the Glasgow Fair, I thought I should follow tradition and head ‘doon the watter’. The fair’s earliest incarnation occurred, believe it or not, as early as 1190 when Bishop Jocelin obtained permission from William the Lion to hold festivities. I imagine it reached its height when industry was at its peak in Glasgow and factories would shut on Fair Friday to allow workers and their families to head the Firth of Clyde or the Ayrshire coast – hence: ‘doon the watter’.

Having fallen out of fashion as foreign holidays became cheaper, I wonder if future years will see a revival of the tradition as people favour staycations in the aftermath of Covid-19.

My staycation destination of choice was the Isle of Arran. The reason for my escape from the city was primarily to get away from the multiple nests of seagulls who have set up shop directly opposite my bedroom window in Partick. For the last few weeks, I have been wakened by their squawking every morning about 6am. Not to mention the mess they’ve been making on both my windows and my car!

It was a great relief, therefore, to arrive in my accommodation in Arran, lie back on the bed, and relax without the ear-piercing racket of the gulls. I remembered that I had quickly thrown a book into my case on my way out the flat, so I lifted it out onto the bed to begin reading in the welcomed peace and quiet. My heart sank as I revealed the book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull! A big photo of a seagull was emblazoned across the front cover. I just can’t get away from them, I thought.

In seriousness, though, I recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it. It sold an incredible one million copies within two years of its publication in 1970. It’s over-arching message is: “our purpose in living is to find perfection and show it forth”.

If life is indeed a search for perfection, then, as I stood on a sunkissed hill on the west of the island, looking over to the Mull of Kintyre, the paps of Jura in the distance, and the sea shimmering, I felt I must have been getting pretty close!