The most easterly point in Scotland yesterday at Peterhead. I could go no further. Fences and barbed wire, steel work, netting, plastic and fishing detritus mark the end. The harbour is a space where everything I know of the world is redundant. Here is engineering, steel, speed, weight, scale beyond dimensions I understand. Tonnage of boat and net and hold. Fast cars speak of money from the herring and mackerel. A place of noise where fuelling and fixing and preparations are made for the next trip. Sun sparkles on the water in the harbour where grey seals play, waiting for their next easy meal, and it is hard to think about the nature of water beyond the sea wall as the gales promise to swing in from the northwest in the next few days. All of it I can only imagine.
There are numerous small engineering workshops at the harbour, manufacturing and repairing parts for the fishing boats.
Voices come soft and angled in a way not from my everyday. A form of Doric, this Scots language is unique to the landscape of the north east . I overhear the word ‘quine’ and my heart skips, am greeted with ‘Fit like ?’ My tongue silently forms the words as I seek to find the answer – ‘I’m well, thank you’, I say, here at this point on the coast, where to this day lies the remains of a telegraph cable that brought the first news to Britain of the Russian revolution in 1917. It came ashore here, a migrant message from the east. A man tells me he had seen a Peterhead boat off the coast of Namibia. The world comes home to Peterhead, God willing, to this small east coast town, the Blu toon, on account of their sailors blue knitted socks that identified them from Peterhead as sure as the greeting, ‘Fit like ?’ to a stranger walking. In the cafe I meet Sheila and Anna. Anna tells me of a family connection, a mothers cousin in Pittenweem . Sheila says I should visit her uncle who is an artist in the town. The next moment she is on the phone, telling him she has a new friend for him, an artist and I am invited to visit. I have a lovely chat with Ken about where I should go and look. I ask him what is the best thing about the town and he says ‘The people, it has always welcomed folk from all over.’ I too was so welcomed that day, thank you for your kindness. I think Peterheid will be a special place to work.