This Life: Guy Grieve

The adventurer searched the world for thrills before discovering all he needed was right on his doorstop in the Sound of Mull

Some people have an allergy to shellfish. Guy Grieve, who dives for scallops in the Sound of Mull, is allergic to the easy option and bored out of his mind by the quiet life. Having spent a year living in a wooden cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, and another sailing from Venezuela to Scotland with his wife and two sons, it turns out that running his own business and hunting alone on the sea bed is all the excitement he needs.
The 41-year-old puts his inability to sit still and watch television down to his grandfather, who was born in China. “He was one of the generation of Scots who travelled, who moved about, who did strange things. I was drawn to Scotland (Guy was born in South Africa, his mother is from Naples and his stepfather was a foreign correspondent) but my DNA is that of a wandering Scot. I’ve come back to Scotland with itchy feet.”
He alighted on scallop fishing as a career – using that term lightly – when the family returned from their sailing adventure. They had left the UK at the height of the boom and returned home to Mull in the teeth of the credit crunch with hefty debts, an overextended mortgage and little prospect of things getting better any time soon. Guy’s previous methods of leveraging his adventures into cold hard cash – writing about them and making television programmes based on them – were no longer an option.
“I was broke in the Hebrides,” he recalls. “We had £500 in the bank. That was it. No one was interested in adventurers, no one wanted any of my book ideas, no one gave a damn.”
He persuaded two old-timers, Mull scallop fishermen whom Guy describes as “battered harbour seals”, to take him on. He was an experienced diver, but he had never collected shellfish from the sea bed before.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article on pages 20-20 of Issue 98

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Words Anna Burnside
Photography Neale Smith
Art Direction Gillian Welsh