What seems like yesterday, though in reality now two years ago, I met a couple driving an RV on holiday in the USA in the state of New York. I was astonished to hear that they had driven just 36 miles from their home. This, apparently, was typical. Most people do not travel outside of their own state. I once heard that some never leave the city they are born and brought up in.
I kept thinking how incredible this was, given the amazing diversity of the natural landscapes and its people in North America. This would never happen back in Scotland. Right?
Just now I am working on a short film for a local charity. The overall theme of this film concerns the referendum in 2014 on whether Scotland should go independent or not. My own personal view is it is a ridiculous notion with little or no benefit. But the film is not about my views, it is about the views of those in their more senior years, upwards of 80 years old.
It is fascinating listening to them, hearing of the simple ways they would entertain themselves when they were kids, getting great joy out of berry picking in the summer holidays, or chasing a hoop down the street for hours on end. I also ask them in the interviews what they have done as far as work is concerned throughout their lives, and today one lady took me by surprise. Usually they tell me it's either office work, tradesman, miner or something similar. Today this lady told me she had been a magician during a large part of her working life.
However, the biggest surprise of all, is, having interviewed seven people so far, not a single one of them have travelled in Scotland. One of my questions asks them to name their favourite place in Scotland, and the majority reply they have never left Edinburgh! One gentleman said to me that he'd been to Perth once, but that was a long time ago! I'm even more astonished at hearing this than I was with the RV drivers in the USA. Scotland is hardly big, but it has incredible beauty and diversity not to be missed.
I am also sad for these people to have never seen the beauty of a Scottish loch nestled in a forested glen, or a temperate inversion from atop a rugged mountain peak, or the snow capped mountains of Glencoe on a crisp winters day.
I've been very lucky over the past few decades to experience this and more, and if ever anyone interviews me in my twilight years at least I will not reply, I've never been north.