On the coach on the road on the porters' annual day out: More of the same
(St. Andrews University)
Paper short abstract:
Superficially, the coach journey to the Scottish Grand National at Ayr Race Course was a typically liminal transition. But considering how the drive and the coach were experienced by the hospital porters, the journey would have to be seen as an extension of their ordinary authentic manly selves.
Paper long abstract:
Ron's name was one of the first on the list when the sign for the 'Good Old Boys Trip' to the Scottish Grand National, at Ayr Race Course, was put up on the buckie wall. I signed up too, and soon there were 26 names. People seemed pleased my name was on the list: 'It's the day, Nigel!', Frank assured me: The best possible day out!. You'll see!'. On the face of it, the coach journey to the race course and back was a typical site of liminal transitioning—recalling, say, Barbara Myerhoff's (1974) account of the peyote hunt of the Huichol Indians, and the ritual reversals or exceptions they practised as they travelled to the sacred world and back in a Dormobile. But considering how the drive and the coach were implicated in the porters' life, I would have to conclude: more of the same; no exceptionalism. Just as they insisted on doing every day at work, the space and time of the coach journey became an extension of the porters' authentic manly selves. Their experience, action and imaginaries on the coach journey—as I experienced them—saw the porters as they insisted ordinarily on being. They moved around the coach and occupied it, they engaged in their activities, with a nervous energy, a restlessness and an assertiveness, that I knew all too well from the hospital itself. The paper is an attempt to bring Ron and Frank's and their peers' behaviour to life and to light.
A new anthropology of automobility