Life’s for learning

I have just submitted my final assignment for year 1 of my Creative Writing Masters after a rather intensive few weeks redrafting and editing. The task was made somewhat easier by an enforced ten days incarceration having finally succumbed to Covid, just days before the rules changed and I would not be obliged to stay at home. It was serendipitous, however, for although it was a bit frustrating – summer was outside my window and now it’s raining – I was able to complete the required 4000 words to my satisfaction, which I might have struggled to squeeze in around full-time work.

I am already anticipating year 2 with anxiety as there are twice as many assignments and the course is swallowing my life as it is. In a good way, mostly – I am really enjoying both the steep learning curve and the impetus to actually write something – but it has truly eaten into my spare time and now I am breathing a sigh as if unbuckling a tight belt after a feast. It is now time to plan my summer and, potentially, some trips further afield now that places are opening up again.

I have had my hair cut in readiness for a new passport, which I was a little disappointed to discover is soon due for renewal. The hair that has not changed in ten years, or is it twenty? It’s a pity I can’t say the same for the face, but hey ho, I still have one. This will be my fourth passport – rather a scary thought – and my second blue one.

I remember getting the first: I was going to Montenegro in what was then Yugoslavia to celebrate completing my illustration degree. It was my first trip abroad without my parents, and my first beyond France and Switzerland; my first on a plane, other than the tiny one I parachuted out of, and my first holiday with a boyfriend.

Dear Roger gave in to my desire for a week in the mountains before we hit the beach and, along with just one other couple, we endured five hours in darkness across seemingly unihabited, barren wilderness to reach Zabljak national park. The only ones on the bus, the driver stopped around mid-way on the journey to see if we needed the loo – my first experience of a squat toilet and perhaps the worst – and to join a pair of uniformed police officers with alarmingly large guns downing slivovitz shots in the tiny, unfurnished bar. Our hotel for the week, where the waitresses all sported hairy lips and wore footwear resembling ice skates, served the worst food I’ve ever eaten but the scenery might just be responsible for the affliction I’ve suffered for the rest of my life since. After this holiday, I was hooked. My passport became my most treasured possession, as has each subsequent version. Especially, though, the two red ones which offered so much freedom and security.

I will never get over what Brexit has done to my country, my life, my hope, contentment and beliefs about the future of humanity. I will never forgive those who lied, or those who fell for the lies. I will never rest until we are united once again and, for this reason primarily, I am putting all my faith into an independent Scotland in the hopes we can regain some sanity. Meanwhile, I will love my new passport despite its unwanted colour, and make as much use of it as I can. Life’s for learning – and for exploring!