I normally walk along the street without taking much notice of my fellow pedestrians. However, here I am in one of Oxford’s numerous restaurants, this time I have decided to take stock of the other diners.
It is early, just before 6pm, but as it is still winter it is dark outside. It is dark inside too, the lighting is very subdued. Is it for ambiance? Or is it to save on electricity? Two girls sit at adjacent tables tucked away in a corner. The glow from their laptops light up their faces as they no doubt fit in some studying while waiting for their meals to arrive.
There are several groups of friends clustered round some of the other tables. Conversation and laughter flow from some groups. Others, however, converse in 21st century mode – their phones are on the table and they are busy texting away to friends who are not present. Unless, of course, they are texting each other. Not wanting to speak, they text, after all the standing joke is that the modern family no longer indulges in conversation, they simply text each other instead.
A man in a bright yellow jacket enters and waits to be seated. Like me he is on his own. Perhaps he is going to the theatre afterwards and is taking advantage of the “early bird” fixed price offerings. As usual I don’t fully take in what he is wearing until he gets up to go to the loo. He is wearing a kilt. Burns Night has been and gone, but there are men who are proud to wear the kilt on any occasion. He must be one of them, no doubt a fellow Scot, proud to wear national dress in everyday use. But wait, he is wearing long leather boots the length of wellingtons. His kilt is a mini kilt with no sporran sitting way above the knee. The sort of kilt young boys wear, the kilt that has been handed down from brother to brother, the embarrassing short kilt. However, he seems non plussed and obviously sees it as a fashion statement. Rather him than me I think, but each to their own.
I finish my meal, pay, and leave to go to the theatre. Films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival are being shown in the New Theatre, Oxford. Virtually a full house, the majority much younger than me. Maybe they are the sort who go on the adventures portrayed in the films. Me – I just like watching the feats and endurance of my fellow man. Maybe 40 years ago I might have gone on such trips, but not now. I like my comforts when it comes to travel.
The film showings over I leave and make my way to the bus stop. In front of me is my kilted fellow diner – he did go to the screenings after all. I wonder if he enjoyed them as much as I did. If he goes on such trips does he wear his kilt?