The Power of Nostalgia

Music affects everyone. Its universal ability to evoke memories and feelings from just a few strums of a guitar or lilting notes of a falsetto is a powerful weapon which is usually cynically harnessed by big businesses in advertising.

Their adverts lure you in with their images that your eyes hungrily gobble down, but it is the background soundtrack which is the alluring tendrils of scent that lead you down the path to lusting after whatever the object of the advert is for.

Music is alongside your sense of smell in terms of power to sway your mind. The smell of freshly baked bread is enough to delay me indefinitely. If I were to pass a bakery on the way to a funeral of a dearly departed friend – then I’m afraid to say I’d miss the ceremony.

Ed Sheeran has recently awoken something within me with his most recent warblings. His latest effort, ‘Castle on the Hill’ is all about his upbringing in the countryside and his escapades with friends as he dealt with a typically tumultuous pubescent period.

The catchy chorus helped to snare my usually picky eardrums, but his words – aside from the titular Castle itself – instantly took me back to my hometown. I was reminded of how I used to skid down steep hills on my knees, fish for minnows in the many streams, bike for miles around the town and how I thoroughly enjoyed my scholarly years.

Born and bred in this small town, I knew nothing else when my idyllic existence was snatched from under me at the precarious age of 16. My Father-in-law had found steady work in London, and in the last year of my compulsory schooling, I was told that the family were going to up sticks to the Big Smoke.

Cue my teenage histrionics, but to no avail. The setting to my entire life was to change inexorably.

And how. No one can explain the contrast between a sleepy Scottish town nestled between countryside and babbling brooks – and the hustle and effervescence of London. I remember my first year attempting to acclimatise was akin to being dropped into an ice bath.

I found my feet and the longing I had for friends and my hometown soon consigned themselves to an overstuffed filing cabinet in a dusty corner in my mind. Life in London demands that there is no time for nostalgia or a breather. The rat-race waits for no man. The dream that is dangled in front of you each day that promises success and riches cannot be attained by those that wait. You must keep the unrelenting pace.

In those small pockets of time that are usually allotted for sleep however, I would steal away to that dusty corner and breathe in the sights, sounds and smells of my own little corner of Bonny Scotland. I could not tear myself away from it as quite simply – it is a part of me.

I am now thirty three and the hectic nature of life has shown no sign of letting up – and neither have my pangs of home. They have become less frequent as the length of hiatus grows ever larger though.

Until that damn Ed Sheeran released that infernal song. Now, every time the radio blasts it out, I employ a primitive form of astral travel back to Lockerbie. I walk the High Street. I walk the sloping hills. I breathe in the freshly cut grass – and sneeze thanks to my hayfever – I see the old faces that still reside in the place that never lets me cut the ties.

The singer and songwriter in question has harnessed something in his song. I can hear how he regards his own hometown and how he misses it as he jets around the world. The power of nostalgia echoes within his song.

This boy from the country will probably never rip himself from the roots he has put down in the capital, but my home will always be in Scotland and I know I can always visit, whenever the urge takes me.


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