OPINION: The pandemic strikes at who we are

Updated: Mar 9

This column was originally published in the Fife Free Press on 25 February


The news that the Links Market won’t run in April will be met with shrugs from those already resigned to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. “What did you expect?’ will be a common refrain.


Some can take change in their stride, while others will be disappointed, even a little unnerved. But for a few, the impact of the pandemic on cultural events like the Links Market can have a traumatic and dislocating affect. The postponement impacts the showmen the most, but it will be felt by every one of us.


We are the renewed appreciation of our local businesses. We are the folk out picking litter to clean up our parks and beaches. We are the café hiring an 82-year-old man to recognise his worth, while combating his loneliness.

This might sound a bit melodramatic. Aye, it’s the longest market in Europe, a fun day out for the family, and one that brings in around 300,000 visitors to the Langtoun – but, it is just The Shows, isn’t it?


Well, I’d suggest that completely misses the point. The pandemic is tragic on so many levels, and whilst still in its grip what remains largely unexplored is its devastating strike at our sense of who we are.


Being a part of the Kirkcaldy community will mean different things to each of us. For some, our community might be defined by its rich history, for others our stunning location on the banks of the Firth of Forth. Our belonging might centre on our support for the Rovers, or the Flyers, or our schools, parks, theatre, library, high street, and you guessed it, being the home of the Links Market.


So, what does it mean to be part of the Kirkcaldy community when we have been unmoored from our cultural anchors – when the things that make us who we are have been closed, limited, or postponed? And if belonging tae Kirkcaldy is a large part of how you identify, what impact does that have on you?


These are challenging questions, and the temptation can be to shirk away from them. But I think that would be wrong.


So, this is what I think our community is showing in these trying times. We are the renewed appreciation of our local businesses. We are the folk out picking litter to clean up our parks and beaches. We are the café hiring an 82-year-old man to recognise his worth, while combating his loneliness.

This is us. It won’t always be this way, our events, our sport, normality will return. And we will be right behind them and once again we will know who we are.



Image: © Copyright Bill Kasman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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