Friday, 27 September 2013

So long Scotland

I've lived in Edinburgh for 17 years. 17! That's nearly half my life. So in honour of my gypsy roots (apparently...) it's time to move on. There's a lot I'll miss about Auld Reekie, but not the smell. I jest – it doesn’t smell anymore, unless you're downwind of Leith. I jest again! Leith isn’t even in Edinburgh... (Sorry. Local joke for local people.)
Unsurprisingly there are various pubs I'll think of longingly from time to time and restaurants I'll salivate at the memory of, what with food and drink being top of my priority list. You could say this is down to greed, I prefer to think of it as a keen survival instinct.
I remember, back in the mists of time, before I moved to Edinburgh, numerous people telling me how beautiful it was, which struck me as very odd. Having mainly Irish towns as a reference point, I had never really seen any scope for an urban area to be 'beautiful'. This was a word reserved for the countryside. But on arrival I discovered than Edinburgh was indeed very beautiful. The striking view of the castle and Royal Mile towering over Princes St Gardens was described ever so eloquently by my brother; "F*$kin' hell! ...d'y'ever just stop and go: 'F*$kin' hell!'?"  An English degree was not wasted on that boy.
'F*$kin hell'
Now the festival is very much a double-edged sword. Aside from the obvious comedy and culture type stuff, it's fantastic for people-watching, late night revelry (drinking) and general atmosphere, but it also brings with it hordes of overconfident drama students and general knobheads, flyers (so many flyers...), queues (I don’t do queues) and price hikes (don’t think we don’t notice, you robbing bastard taxi drivers).
Drama... hmmmmm.
Where's Superman supposed to get changed?
Although they are in increased abundance during the festival, tourists are never in short supply, and neither is their stupidity. Classic questions include, but are not exclusive to:
  • 'Do they put the castle up every year especially for the Tattoo?'
  • 'Where's the castle?' (when asked stranding on Princes St / in Princes St Gardens which, as mentioned, the castle towers over.)
  • 'What time does the one o'clock gun go off?'
No gift shop is safe from touristica stupiticus
My personal favourite, though, is a conversation I overheard between an American couple by the Scott Monument:
Her: 'Gee that's high.'
Him: 'Yeah, but they gotta have an elevator in there.'
Yes, lifts were all the rage in the 1800s.
Which floor sir?
            Another bunch I won't miss are the yas. Every year a fresh batch of Ruperts, Tarquins and Penelopes descend on Edinburgh, or more specifically the University of Edinburgh, ready to spend as much of Mummy and Daddy's money as possible. If you manage to catch one when the braying and guffawing isn’t giving them away (YA! *snort snort*), their 'eccentric' (poor = crazy, rich = eccentric) attire will help you identify, and avoid, them. Think pearls, deerstalkers, pyjamas, blazers and brogues. All at the same time. And that's just the boys.
            On the other side of the social spectrum, and sadly never wearing very much at all, are the NEDs. Particularly virulent in the green spaces of Edinburgh when the sun makes a rare appearance are the skinny pasty torsos of the city's Non-Educated Delinquents, their t-shirts stylishly tucked into their tracksuit bottoms. The bawbags.
            Which brings me to another thing I’ll miss about Edinburgh, and Scotland in general. The expressions. Aside from the aforementioned ‘bawbag’, there’s fannybaws; a lovely term of gentle mockery, often used with great affection, and a great example of a ridiculous joined-up word formed well. It’s no surprise that the Scottish do profanity well, and you know I'm a fan of the sweary word, but it’s really their talent for getting their point across that I love. To have a blether with someone, for instance, describes the ebbs and flows of conversation so much better than a ‘chat’. My all-time favourite, though, is ‘nippy sweetie’, also know as ‘an irritable, sharp-tongued person’, also know as me trying to get anywhere in Edinburgh during the festival.
            When all’s said and done though, ‘haste ye back’ will always bring a little tear to my eye and a tonne of happy memories to my mind.