“Hey baby, I hate money!!” This was one of his mantras. "Look at all these idiots running around, what are they doing!!??"
The people in question were shoppers. Us; you and me, and ultimately him too. Dad hated shops and shopping. Society at large was beyond comprehension and better off avoided. He described it as S.I.T.H. Nothing to do with Star Wars though, it simply meant sick in the head. Corporate greed and toxic journalism vilified to a captive audience, especially me. I would hang onto every word of it.
The world was just too fast and too greedy, he wasn’t shy of saying he wanted off. He drank heavily for years before becoming an advocate for A.A. and eventually finding the next big escape; the sanctuary of a Hebridean island, namely Iona. We took a pilgrimage there every August from Perth. The family was dysfunctional so the organisation of that was pretty remarkable. My older half-brother Billy, Iona my full sister, my younger half-brother Rory our cousin Christine and me. Hurtling across Mull in Dad's old red Ford Escort. Pretty much the most unlikely gang you’d expect to bump into on the Isle of Iona but Dad kept this tradition going as his father had done with his sister Elspeth and their Mum. Only they did it on a horse and cart back in the 40’s. His dad had been a minister in Saint Johns Kirk and a founding member of the Iona Community.
This was really an extraordinary state of affairs in my mind. Dad just didn’t conform to the traditional aspects of what being spiritual meant. Religious people were false, strict and boring in my experience. Dad was exciting, loud, opinionated, often angry but more importantly extremely honest, funny and imaginative. As a teenager my dad was the most enlightened thing on the planet, he needed peace in nature as much as he needed excitement. I could relate! There was a definite comradery in that. He reviewed movies and books as well as writing features for several Scottish papers. It didn’t quite match up, his desire for peace contrasting completely with his rock and roll personality and his interest in stories that seemed to veer towards the darker side of human nature. Hollywood, murders and criminals barely tallied up with his desire to be at total peace on an isolated island preferred by religious monks.
I guess though that becomes the reality of having a proper pilgrimage with any level of frequency. The bumpier the road is when you follow it, the more it gives you an avid appreciation for any peace you can grasp when it comes your way. That’s no matter how loud and eccentric you are being when it arrives.
As told by Sarah Louise Marshall