Photo: University of St Andrews

The Downside of Sun in St Andrews

Hermione Bird hates tourists.

Having lived in the very attractive city of Bath for ten years, I am no stranger to tourists. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life was when a Japanese lady wanted a picture, not of her, but of me and my friends in the Royal Crescent – which she took and walked off without even showing us. 

To clarify, I don’t dislike tourists because one Japanese lady took my photo. I dislike them because they’re the same wherever you go: they’re loud, they stop for pictures in strange places and they are the slowest walkers I have ever had the misery to stand behind. Tourists are the reason why, every weekend the sun comes out in St Andrews, my heart sinks a little, because I know they’ll flock to our little town in their hundreds.

Nipping out to Tesco turns into an assault course when the tourists descend. You try to get round grandma, only to be met with a pram or, even worse, one of the long lines outside our ice cream shops. And everyone is doing what my Dad likes to term “the holiday shuffle.” Except, I’m not on holiday and I have an essay due and I need to get from one side of Market Street to the other sometime this week. Usually, I’ve only made it a few metres before I feel like screaming: “MOVE IT!” But they don’t ever move it, they just shuffle and stop to look at old brickwork. Yes, we’re an old town, but it’s really just bricks, and not worthy of such fascination.

Which brings me onto my next point. Are we the only town in the entire world with a sun dial? I think not. Yet for some reason the sun dial outside Sallies, which is right by my room, attracts a lot of attention. Ok, so it’s listed, but come on – it’s a sundial? I mean, it’s really just a bit of metal in a stone behind a bench. I can’t fathom the reasons why, but every time I look up from my desk people are posing in front of my window, getting a new profile picture.

Well, I hope you like profile pictures with a disgruntled looking student in the background because that is what you’re going to get. They tend to spot me after they’ve taken the photo and decide it’s a great idea to then take photos of my room… when I’m in it. I’m long overdue a sign in my window, politely telling camera clad tourists where they can go but, alas, that would apparently look bad for the University. Though, if I’m honest I don’t think me glaring at them as I shove food into my mouth and cry over an essay is really giving the tourists the best view of student life at St Andrews either.

The only tourists I don’t mind are the prospective students. Mainly because they’re contained in their groups and move off quickly. But do we have to have the bunfight in Pret every single Wednesday? Can I not get my Chicken & Bacon Caesar Wrap in peace for once? Please? I need it more than you, you don’t have to write a 2000-word essay on the Fall of the Roman Empire by tomorrow.

The worst part of the day is dinner time. I’ve spent the whole day slaving on an essay and all I want is a bowl of pasta or a burger, or even just a quick nip to Tesco. But no, not today. There are no seats in restaurants and the children are screaming and Tesco looks like Dervish on a Friday night. So I find myself grabbing the nearest piece of food I can find and hurrying back to my room. 

So, in conclusion, tourists: Please, please, please, take heed. Walk faster, stop taking pictures of sundials, stop taking pictures of me, and (for all our sakes), hurry up and decide on your ice cream in Janettas. 

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