Seething Hatred?

I discovered yesterday that poet W H Auden spent some time (two years) in Helensburgh – eight or so miles from Dumbarton – teaching at Larchfield Academy.

This information came to me via a review in the Guardian of a book Larchfield by Polly Clark.

The book, a novel, deals with Auden’s time there but there is also apparently (I’ve not read it, only the review) a present day section featuring Dora, an incomer to the town, who finds herself ill at ease there as it is “seething with hatred of outsiders.”

Really? Helensburgh, in my youth at least, was a tourist town and has had a fair number of incomers over the years what with the Faslane base just up the road. Is it really seething with hatred to such outsiders who bring – or brought – money into the town? Is it unwelcoming? No more so than anywhere else I’d have thought.

Or is Clark unfairly traducing it for literary purposes?

(It is entirely possible of course that a few incomers might “play the English” – as an English writer acquaintance of mine who now lives in Edinburgh depicts some of his compatriots who come to Scotland and moan about why it isn’t English and try to throw their weight about – and suffer adverse comments as a result.)

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