Ginger in St Andrews: a year

It’s a little known fact but being a redhead in St Andrews is almost as bad as being a Mars bar in KFB, just waiting for that drunken student to pluck you off the shelf and ask for you to be fried. The phrasing of this metaphor might be a little confusing for you regular-hair-coloured people, so I’ll explain. We too, us gingers, are fried and burnt… by sun soaked September days and cruel winds swirling up from the North Sea. Whilst the rest of you might rejoice at the temperature rising above 9˚C, we gingers despair, choosing to huddle together for sun-fearing solidarity in sheltered spots among the library stocks. 

Nor can we seek solace during the cold, wicked months of October and November. Guffawing students mock our titian hair with their Halloween pumpkin costumes, forcing us to retreat to more ginger-friendly climes. Many a Halloween of mine has been spent sipping Irn Bru, dressed as a ghost in white bed sheets to shelter from the mockery.

Raisin Weekend is no better. Gingerbread people, Weasley families, leprechauns and yet more pumpkins march along the cobbled streets whilst us natural gingers are suppressed into minor acting roles, myself a highly convincing Red Riding Hood. No need for a dressed up wolf, the howls of laughter from passersby echoed in my ears. To this day, the wolf whistling targeted at the Scandinavian walking beside me can bring back jarring memories of that cruel November foam fight.

The Winter freeze settles in and my kind thrives. The blandos (our name for you non-ginger folk) struggle with the icy wind, lack of sunlight and drizzling rain, whilst we strut to class, heads held high, scarves and hats wrapped tight around our brazen hair. We don’t need any Vitamin D supplements. We create our own vital vitamins to help us remain strong throughout these desperate months, just call us GlaxoSmithGinge.

A New Year begins and as it does, the typical food chain of St Andrews reappears. We make our way discreetly through the first months of term, our hair still relatively darkened from the shady snowy times. Yet as the sun appears, our locks grow lighter and lighter giving off a light bulb like hue and illuminating our section of the library late into the night.

Easter comes as a form of solace, where bunnies and eggs become à la mode and we can stock up on ginger beer in peace whilst those around us fill their boots with chocolate supplies (they occupy the same aisle in Tesco, thank you o wise store managers!).

And so our treacherous year terminates with the grand old Graduation appearing on the horizon. Gone will be the red gowns, clashing angrily with our burning bonnet, replaced by the black of sombre reflection allowing our locks to shine brightly once more and those around us in the Bubble to ponder the glow we’ve always possessed. 

Now for some wise, lyrical words from Tim Minchin…


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Illustrations by Olga Loza.