As May bleeds into June, and the UK enters its third month of lockdown, St Andrews remains a desolate wasteland. Seagulls cannibalise each other, searching for something – anything, really – to fill in that gaping absence of the Greggs sausage roll. No hipsters are skateboarding to the library; only the lingering scent of their eau de marijuana and Taste coffee remains. And with the absence of fashion show and ball tents, Lower College Lawn’s grass has never been taller, truly liberated from the shackles of consumerism and capitalism. Balance, it seems, has been restored to St Andrews. The town had been spared from prying eyes of tourists, and the rowdy hooliganism of the students.
For locals, the coronavirus was a surprising blessing in this way. And with time blending together, one could be forgiven for forgetting that students existed in the first place. Most people believed that they had buggered off to the fairytale land of their second homes in Spain, maybe for the rest of their degrees.
Alas, fairytales are just that: fiction. And with the relaxation of lockdown rules, something ominous stirs…
It all began one bright Tuesday, the clocks striking thirteen. Angus McDonald, 84, lumbers along The Scores on his daily mandated walk. Nothing out of the (new) ordinary. But as he passes Castle Sands, he is greeted with a shock. Slowly rising from the stairs, like some ghoul rising from the ashes, Angus is greeted with the sight of a young person in a Barbour coat. His jaw drops – the Barbour coat can only mean one thing, and one thing only:
The students have returned.
‘It was a shock, I tell you!’ He tells us in an exclusive interview outside of Tesco. ‘I couldn’t believe it. I squeezed my eyes shut – I would have rubbed them, but you’re not supposed to do that now – hoping that the Barbour coat was just a figment of my imagination. But alas – it was still there. I was not dreaming. Nevertheless, I still held out hope. Anyone can own a Barbour coat, I told myself. Barbour coats and St Andrews students are not always mutually-exclusive.’
Angus quakes, shakes his head, and continues on his walk, headed towards the pier. There, he is struck with a second fright. A person emerges out of the water, a kraken cometh. Instead of drying themselves out with a towel, they pull a red gown out of their Känken bag, using that instead. This time, there can be no mistaking; the students are indeed back, and perhaps they are back for good.
Angus waggles his cane angrily at us. ‘It was like seeing Jesus emerge on Easter, I tell you!! A sight to behold. Terrifying, but a spectacle none the less. I had to pinch myself. Just when I we had won our centuries-long battle with the students, they have emerged yet again, ready to strike once more.’
When we asked Angus what he would do now that he was certain the students had emerged once again, he paused. ‘I’ll gather the locals for an immediate meeting. We’ll barricade Pret a Manger until September. That will buy us some time, and peace, and quiet.’