Got lost on Leith Walk which is kind of a popular street leading to all the touristy places. Seems all the Scots need are take-aways, pubs, and haircuts as these are the only shops will ever find. The pubs are complete with British/Scottish names like “Dirty Dicks”, the takeaways consist 90% of Gregg’s (a shop renowned for its pies and fantastic name), and barbers of all kind. I don’t understand why people’s hair grows quicker here than anywhere else, but it appears to as they are always busy. Perhaps it’s just people trying to get rid of the ranga. I’m not one for the hair-cutting, but booze and pies will do me just fine.
Although technically no longer a student, I consider myself a student tourist, taking photos of both monuments and lunch specials alike. I also found out where I can get a Tennents 4 pack for a pound and a half for padkos, seeing that public drinking is legal here. Less legal more encouraged. Mandatory in fact. But drinking was something of a goal for the future as my cousin and his wife decided that our time would be better spent jogging. Like fucking running. In the dark. Not from anything or to anything, just running. It was bizarre. All that money spent on a bus card and I was trekking through Edinburgh like a peasant avoiding Bourke and Hare. So off we ran, aimlessly through parks, tunnels, along the coast and past the kebab shops. The coast here isn’t quite the same I am used to in SA. More pebbly than sandy, think Nice. More cold water than warm, think Cape Town minus the shitty people. And less a beach than a wet area for trading items and diseases, think every hot tub you’ve ever been in. But alas, I survived and even made it up the 100 or so stairs back home, still keen to go out. But I crashed instead. I blame jet-lag.
Wednesday came around, and it was time for me to earn my keep, having offered to take over the ironing duties (disclaimer to customs officials creeping my social media: earning my keep is a manner of speaking. I was not actually earning things. Hell, I wasn’t even keeping anything. I just did what I had to do, sang God Save the Queen and threw money at locals/refugees.). Now I’ve touched up clothes with an iron before, but I usually just did the wet cloth in the tumble-dryer trick. But this was different. These were work clothes for real work professionals. Creases in clothes meant decreases in pay, and I was not going to have that shit on me. So after a ferocious session of YouTubing, and finding the difference between pressing and ironing, I dug in. It was not fun, but it was interesting. I had seemed to crack the shirts, getting into a rhythm and an embarrassing sort of dance that went with it. The “trousers” were a far greater challenge I hoped my cousin stood behind counters for the rest of the week. I was caught mid-act, ironing barefoot in the lounge to some kind of beat only audible to me by another cousin. It’s weird now.
With callused hands, and not for the usual reasons, (customs: that was a wanking joke, not labour-related humour) I decided it was high time for a pint. I was now comfortable with the busses thanks to an app, and in dire need of man-points. Unaware of the student situation, I hoped they were as big piss-cats as we were in our first couple of years. Google was of little help.
The first bar, Belushi’s, was unpopulated apart from Spaniards and Liverpool supporters, neither of which really counted. I had a quick one and mosied on. Walking the streets, trying to act cool. Found a popular spot where a whole bunch of chicks dressed as pirates were flocking to. I naturally followed, but kind of assumed it was a closed party. This lead me to Brew Dogs. Bad call. Those that know me know that I have mixed opinions on craft beers. That is that craft beer must be mixed with cyanide, so we can knock off hipsters one by one. But there I was, drinking something called “Adopt a Bastard”. It was like beer, but more expensive. I left with a bad taste in my mouth.
Word on the street is the Tron was the place to be so I gave it a hurl. The bouncer was nice enough to comment on my Kollege scarf, while assuming my minordom. Although it was more likely that he thought it was a Newcastle scarf. They discourage sports colour in bars as it causes fights and vandalism. The same goes for Geordies, so this was a double-whammy. I managed to find a pint of my favourite Scottish beer, Belhaven Best for less than 3 pounds at this bar and I knew I was going to like this place. The playlist was decent enough to stay for a second and luckily I did: the pirate betties arrived.
It was like a real pirate ship. We all went down stairs into the deck to drink, the floor was water-damaged, most people at the bar ended up with a mouthful of salt, and most seemed a little sea sick. I tried to line up all the pirate-related humour I could find (If you think the ocean is salty, you should see my sea men) and asked what the fuss was about. Turns out they were the Edinburgh Cheerleading Team. Yup. Believe it. Granted, a couple of these girls were going to need some seriously strong arms, but the title was pretty cool. They tried to convince me in a very Bring It On-esque way that cheerleading was a competitive sport but I was nowhere near drunk enough to believe that. I tried to share my limited cheer-knowledge to the few cheerleaders I knew at Tuks, and this lead me to meeting the South African one, of course.
She tried to convince me that Johannesburg was the only true capital in SA. I, in turn, tried to educate her that of the three capitals in our fine country, Johannesburg was not any of them. But who was I, a graduate of the arts, compared to her clearly a superior intellect as a fucking cheerleader. We didn’t hit it off, but I did get the low-down of what places to go on what night, all of which I have now forgotten. They told me about a club called Lulus that they were headed to, but I didn’t want to seem like the creepy guy following them around.
So I followed them to Lulus. It was shit. To Pretorianise it, Lulus had the attempted class of Ty’s, with the sub-human patronage of Drop Zone. I also got conned into 5 pound entry so I was real pissed off. As the night closed in on 1 AM (the usual last call, 3AM for some clubs) I decided to go to the original and best Whistle Binkies. This is like Arcade Empire, but closer. As I arrived I was sad to see a band setting down at the end of their set. I had a beer with my favourite person in the world (me) and looked on. To my delight, Binkies is a 3 AM club, and a new band was setting up. I had just enough time to meet some Americans. I asked them who they’d be voting for. They said Hilary. I said there are support groups they can go to if they want help.(Scotland is cold, but I can still feel the Bern). I may need to be nicer to make friends. Na, fuck it.
Losing all gees to walk home, I kept a sturdy eye on the time for the night bus. This left at quarter past everything, but you did have to sit in the cold to wait for it. Having not completely got my bearings right, I took the gap to ride home while still copus mentus. Good job Greg.
Thursday was a wee bit of a late start, decided to walk the other half of the town. Like industrial side. Saw some swans swim in sewerage. It was nice. The docks are a weird part of the town, but none the less interesting. However, the fast food places ran out and I ended up taking a bus to fucking anywhere just to get a bite to eat. Ended up at a shopping centre called Ocean Terminal. I decided a toasted cheese and Irn Bru were the order of the day. In Scotland however, even though they call them “toasties” they don’t actually toast them. They come apparently pre-toasted, which gets sealed and sold to you cold. I was pissed. Still ate it, but it was crumby. Found out a Gregg’s was right next door to these charlatans and were selling warm soup for less than half the price. Pissed off, I grabbed as many free samples of pretzel that I could and got the fuck home.
The evening saw me join my cousin for an ADHD support group that they had affectionately named “the Squirrels”.. The meeting was set at a Cafe, despite the obvious problem of adding caffeine to the mix of squirrels. They did their thing and I caught up with my cousin’s wife. Decided that I would have to mingle and volunteer more to get the most out of this trip. I also decided I was going to teach her Afrikaans with a word-of-the-day kind of method. Unfortunately, she already knew some of the keywords I had intended on sharing so I actually had to get academic. Boo.
I finally trekked through the Royal Mile, arriving at the plateu at the tip. This was awkward, as all the monuments were to fallen Scots in the South African War. Sorry. Found a place called grass markets and finally found a cheap coffee shop. I typed most of this in a “Female Hostel” which I am sure is a front for some kind of lesbian operation. But they had WiFi so I didn’t care. Thursday ended tamely as I had plans to go wild on the Friday. And go wild I did. But that’s a story for another time.