Photo: Visit Scotland

An Outsider’s Perspective of St Andrews

Chris Roarty analyses the reputation of the Home of Golf.

As someone who has spent all my life in Scotland, I’ve always been interested in understanding this country – historically, geographically, and politically. I sometimes find myself surfing in the tidal waves of the deep blue world wide web, trying to understand how different parts of this nation I call home differ from each other. I think it’s worth me starting off by talking about my upbringing, as I grew up and still continue to live in the ex-capital of the European steel industry – Motherwell, which once upon a time was the definition of a working class community.

The other day, I had a conversation with a friend that got me wondering: Is there much of a relation between Motherwell, which has been described by my more middle-class friends as “North Korea with a Greggs”  and the affluent coastal Home of Golf? I mean, is everyone in St Andrews an upper-classed snob, who sits about drinking tea, playing golf, and driving around in a Rolls Royce? It’s only Tories who stay around there at the end of the day… Right?

Well sir, turns out you’re wrong. Over the course of the conversation I just mentioned, I learned from my friend (who counts as middle class by our standards here in Glasgow, but is probably a peasant by St Andrews ones) that this is all FAKE NEWS.

What, you may say? Yes. Of course, there may be a Republicans Overseas Society which praises the 45th President of the United States of America, and undoubtedly has a few smug Tories who lurk about with their “Make America Great Again” hats despite the fact I’d doubt any of them have left Giffnock before coming to St Andrews – but it turns out that most St Andrews students have politics that are… kinda normal. There was even an anti-Trump rally there a couple of weeks ago. I have to admit I was taken aback by that, as well as by how popular Willie Rennie seems to be there. I didn’t know Willie Rennie was popular anywhere.

But wait, there’s more! Apparently the “everyone in St Andrews is posh” stereotype is also untrue in the sense that there are actual normal people living there and not just people who are isolated from the rest of country because of elitism. Crazy right? In fact, I can even relate it in a sense to Motherwell: The little mining village which I call home has seen a bounce in relation to luxury homes being built, with the arrival of everyone from Celtic players to Marvin Baird for hit TV show The Scheme (who was thrown into jail shortly after being thrown into a mansion). And if there can be people of all social classes rubbing shoulders in my little town, why not the same thing in yours? 

We live in a world of fake news and alternative facts, where no one can really trust what we see on the news any more. But at least I’ve managed to clear my head of some of the stereotypes filling it.

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