Chaps in Caps and the Westray Wave

The first time I visited Westray I was on foot and I walked from the main village, Pierowall, to the ends of the Island and back along the main roads. As I walked, a car went past and the driver waved. What were they waving at me for? Much later on another car came along and that driver too gave me a wave. The next stopped, asked if I was okay, and offered me a lift, discussed the weather and then waved goodbye. It struck me that they were just being friendly and that I might like to wave to them too. This was a revelation.

Soon I was happily waving to all comers. I felt much, much better for it. Sometimes I even smiled. I started to notice different styles of Westray wave. There was the ‘full palm with spread fingers’ from friends. There was the ‘raised fingers with palm on the steering wheel’ acknowledgement style. Then there was the Westray finger – the ‘slightest raising of the index finger and the smallest change in the chin’, normally from chaps in caps.

It made me feel happy. It made me feel included. Later, when I drove to the Island I enjoyed giving people the Westray finger, timing it perfectly to just get my wave in first.

I might try it back in Devon. I’ll probably get arrested.

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