“Have you been to Greenock?” asked the UK Border Force officer. An old port city along the Firth of Clyde, musician Davy Nicol sang of his native Greenock, “some say that Thatcher finished the job the German bombs never could do.” The implication was clear. Greenock is not on the list of tourist spots except for the cruise ships that dock here and scurry people off to Glasgow.
So if it is not the Highlands or the Hebrides, why Greenock? My self-funded sabbatical is in Greenock and Port Glasgow because these are the places where I have ancestral roots. This is where my grandfather was born and grew up before emigrating to the United States in the early twentieth century.
So am I here to do genealogical work? Sure, there are some specific places I want to check out while here. I really would like to find the grave of my great-grandmother. While that can only really be done in person, much of going through historical records is done online these days.
I am here because this feels like the place to read, write, and be in touch with the spirit that connects all. Over lunch at a local cafe, I scribbled down notes about what I’d like to accomplish while here. I laughed at myself. I need to be in Greenock for at least six months for everything on my list., I have three. Weeks not months. And, so, in collaboration with the universal mystery, I am working toward the list but keeping an openness to what comes.
You know, being and wandering.