When I was about 22 years old I prayed for something to happen in Dundee that would change the world. Fast forward fourteen years, and it did.
I’ve lived in Dundee since I was five years old – my mum relocated the two of us from just outside London, so that she could support her parents. As I grew up and reached my late teens and early twenties, I discovered that although I loved the safety of Dundee and my little home comforts, I also longed for a ‘bigger’ life – I often dreamed what it might have been like if we’d stayed in London.
I hankered for adventure by way of travel and big cities. I came to resent Dundee for being just another town. But I had fallen in love and couldn’t bring myself to leave him, he who was settled in Dundee. I decided to make life interesting without leaving by travelling whenever I could (to Australia, America, Europe, Morocco) and undertaking work experience at glossy magazines in London, which led me write for Vogue, Grazia and The Huffington Post, as well as local publications such as the institution that is The Courier. At 28 I graduated with an arts degree, at 30 I was married, at 34 I had my first baby. Life has been very good to me, and I think that’s had a lot to do with living in Dundee.
But there’s always been this missing piece, that something that I’d always hoped would make the difference to my city. Over the years Dundee had been gradually changing because of the people in it, who were starting to believe in themselves and in their city because of a plan for a brand new design museum. As the plans developed, so too did our confidence; new groups, new bars, new restaurants, new shops and – most importantly perhaps – new conversations sprung up. Over the course of ten years, with a changing waterfront and the physical construction site of the museum actually appearing, Dundee became an exciting place to be. It was as though we were all in a bubble, bobbing just below the surface of the ocean, waiting to float to the top and burst into hundreds of thousands of diamond droplets to sparkle beneath a beaming, golden sun.
That bubble is surfacing now, this week. My writing and blogging career provided me with the opportunity to preview the V&A Dundee today before it’s official opening on Saturday and I am so grateful because, as an honorary Dundonian, I am one of those people who really feels it. Of course, the world’s press and media is here and I’m sure they get it, the magnitude of it, but I doubt they understand the feeling of being a local who’s waited years for this moment of discovery, for ourselves, our little city and the big wide world.
It’s hard to describe the energy that’s in the air, the absolute pride that is erupting from us all as Dundee finally stands tall, but one way to try is to say that even the wildest of dreams really can come true.
Look out for tomorrow’s post when I share more about the inside of the V&A Dundee with you.
Thank you to V&A Dundee for inviting me and including me in to the museum.
Image: Kris Miller.