November 30th was St Andrew’s Day.
I was one of the first students from my school in London to go to St Andrews University. It is an old town on the east coast of Fife and as well as a renowned university, and well known as the home of golf. There were three main streets, one supermarket, a coffee shop, a fish and chips shop, a baker, a chemist and a charming shop selling watercolours. (It was some time ago!) There were a lot of pubs and it was a wonderful few years. I loved the architecture of the older houses, the beaches and skies, the inspiring stone remains and traces of history bound up in St Andrew’s Cathedral. Behind the town we could explore some of the extraordinary landscapes that shape Scotland.
It was a good choice for many reasons. My grandfather was an outstanding golfer playing many tournaments on the Old Course whilst my father had played there as a child and was pretty good as well. I did manage to play a round (at student rates) but decided to admire the art of golf instead. Otherwise I turned my hand to dinner parties and a few excellent practical jokes. My flatmate, nicknamed Smiles, was a great cook and I learnt so much from her. I do remember being the cox for a rowing team in the summer term and got stuck in the mud; whilst during the winter terms, a friend, Charlie Barclay, and I ran the Scottish Reeling Club.
The university is rightly proud of its achievements and heritage. I very much appreciated the range of subject courses I could take, from Logic and Metaphysics, to Anglo-Saxon within the English course, Moral Philosophy as well as a Russian literature. I still pick up books today from those times to help focus or relax. From Anglo Saxon grammar, however, I have moved towards Middle High Egyptian Grammar given the family I have married into and the need to know more about this fascinating subject when we were constructing our Egyptian Exhibition in the Castle cellars!
Above all the process of learning, the analysis which hopefully teaches skills for life, to try , to stand up and regroup when it has all gone rather wrong, to be kind and get on with people. I am hugely grateful for my education it was the one thing my parents kept saying they wanted to give me and my sisters.
Soon, my husband and I are off to New York for 3 days to a gala event to give an auction prize, to fund raise for St Andrews, so others can benefit, and to do a tiny bit to help. St Andrews has always had strong connections with the USA and I am sure we will have a good party and it is for a very good reason: 600 people for 600 years of an ancient university and seat of learning. Since it is at the Metropolitan Museum, I might even be able to test my hieroglyphics! I have occasionally written place cards for dinner here in the Dining Room in hieroglyphics and it took everyone ages to sit down….
The St Andrews auction details are now available online, please visit http://gavelandgrand.com/auction/standrews for more details.