Hooray – it’s holiday time again.
It’s a time when people from all over West Lothian travel to exotic locations ranging from the other side of the globe to the other side of Glasgow.
In my time I have been fortunate – thanks to my job – to visit tourist sites, cities and islands that I never thought I would ever see outside of a picture book.
In fact, later this month I’m off to Saint Petersburg in Russia to perform four gigs in the palace where Rasputin was murdered.
And yet, despite having been to the Caribbean twice, and despite visiting countries like America, Spain, and Zambia, I have trouble actually remembering the places: which islands and what towns. Mainland Europe is a blur. Iceland hardly exists in my memory.
Rather, what I remember with crystal clarity is the people. I can recall the individuals I met as though it happened only yesterday.
In New York I chatted with a fireman who had been at the Twin Towers. On Barbados I met Heather, a taxi driver who took me to the beach and returned at exactly 5 o’clock to pick me up even though she had been paid in advance. Malachi was the old Rastafarian who took me in his boat and revealed the best places to snorkel. Do-a-deal-Dave sold me cheap beads.
Then there was Sean in Zambia who sung to me. Fanwell, the bushcamp guide. The grizzly old farmer I chatted with when I was cycling to Paris.
Dozens of locations, and hundreds of people. But what I have come to realise is that the places and the sights fade with time. They quickly become a faint mind-picture, while the people you meet there remain with you forever. You forget the place: you remember the person.
You might have to rack up a fortune on a credit card to travel and see the sights, but people are all around.
And that’s why I’ve promised myself that I’m going to make a conscious effort to meet more people. To get to know them. To form bonds and friendships.
It’s the memory of the people that will still be with me a decade from now… And that’s what really matters.