By Annie McNamee, Features Digital Editor
University is time-consuming. Keeping up with seminars, readings, essays, and lectures whilst attempting to eat some food and maybe shower every day is a more impressive balancing act than tight-roping above New York City. So, naturally, extracurricular hobbies often fall from our priority lists. For me, the idea of writing for purposes beyond explaining the use of religious imagery in nineteenth-century poetry becomes but a dream, a vague light at the end of a Wordsworth-shaped tunnel.
And that tunnel is where I stay, at least during term time. Bristol may be known for its colourful houses and street art, but being a busy student does not lend itself to creativity. It’s hard to relax enough to do anything except worry about the fact you’re not being productive, let alone take enough time to create something good. Because of this, all of the work I’m the proudest of is made when I’m at home.
The first time I came home from uni I remember feeling as though my entire life there had been a dream. Hiatt Baker evaporated into a hazy idea. It was just a story to tell. And yet, home was different. Walking down my street I could tell that something had changed, I just didn’t know what. All the houses looked the same, all the same people lived in them, and my brother still walked home from school with the same friends. The feeling was strange, and so of course I immediately began to write.
Art is usually just a thing that we do to make sense of our awful, bizarre world. Returning to a place you used to know intimately as an outsider is an awful, bizarre feeling, so it makes sense that it would be inspiring. Plus, returning home for me means coming back to Glasgow; the closest thing I’ve ever had to a muse.
Glasgow is a city most people at Bristol know very little about. I have sincerely been asked if I pay international fees, or if we ‘have Sainsbury’s up there.’ Down south, it’s not thought of much, and when it is, it tends to be conflated with drug abuse and knife crime. You’re all missing out.
Glasgow’s character as a city is unique. It is harsh but caring, it breathes in rain and music; it has the best £7 pasta dish in the country and I’m willing to bet good money on that. I’d like to say that there’s just something ineffable about Glasgow specifically – that anyone who finds themself strolling along the Clyde or rejecting a high five from a cheerful drunken man would immediately feel the magic and hail it as a creative paradise – but unfortunately, I am told this is not the case. To most people, it’s just another place in another country they’ve never visited. What makes it so special is probably not carved into the sandstone walls, but what happened inside them.
It’s hard to get this point across without sounding like the inside of a 50p Clinton’s Valentine's Day card. I ask you to indulge me for a moment without prejudice as if we were both middle-aged wine mums.
Going home drives inspiration because it allows us to easily understand how much we’ve changed. Walking into your bedroom, unaltered since you were sixteen, and cringing only proves that you have lived since then. Nostalgia, which I believe to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment from the brain, reframes old memories. Suddenly an event from 2017 feels completely different and requires an entirely new psychological investigation in the form of poetry or sewing or whatever other art form you desire.
So go home and create! And when you have time, do visit Glasgow. You won’t regret it and if you’re anything like the average Bristol student, you’ll be blown away by our understanding of 21st-century technology.
Featured image: Ella Carroll
Which art forms do you find lean towards when you return home?