Back in 1986, Andrew Davies wrote a black comedy for BBC TV, A Very Peculiar Practice. It went to a second series, and had a spin-off (a failed pilot?) based on the collapse of Communist Poland.
Well, odd-to-the-point of surreality as Davies’s take on the modern concrete university was, I think my day in St Andrews could match it.
St Andrews is a small town at the end of the East Neuk of Fife. It has a population of some 14,000, of whom half must be the around 7,000 students at the oldest university in Scotland. About a third of the student body come from south of the border, which must make it freakish among Scottish universities outside Edinburgh.
That last factoid might, just might have a connection with a not-quite-recent royal matching.
Oh, and attached to the town is a golf-course or three.
Wander the main drag, and note the proliferation of young-fashion stores.
That leads me to muse there is another oddity about the student population. It seems very, very well-heeled. Most undergraduate populations tend to the scruffy jeans-and-hoodie. St Andrews has a large contingent remarkable for what I tend to term the Morningside Glide. Morningside, for the uninitiated, is the terribly-naice suburb of Edinburgh, and was the natural home of Miss Jean Brodie. The Morningside Glide involves a young woman, clearly a bourgeoise of means, even aspirant bon chic, bon genre, swanning along with total insouciance, almost certainly wearing a tweedy cloak or (at the very least) well-draped shawl, who insists she walks straight at you, expects you to give way, and can look right through you. So clear the way.
Meanwhile, down on the Old Course, I was able to observe a foursome completing their round-of-golf. To be kind, they were not particularly good. But then, since this is still High Season, they would be paying £170 each for the pleasure and privilege. The grass is impeccably maintained, of course.
A very peculiar and expensive practice.