Wednesday, 2 June 2010

volume two.

Ok. Arrival into London was a success, no lost baggage or lost Jordan, although clearing immigration was a much longer and more nerve-wracking experience to what I'm used to. I guess the naive innocence which usually ensures the friendliness of scary officials wasn't working properly. Perhaps caused by lack of sleep. But I made it to London and subsequently to Edinburgh, at which point I was quite delirious with tiredness and the grandma within me was waving her stick and demanding a nap. Though of course I didn't yield to her- I only had 2 nights in Ed and they certainly weren't going to be spent going to bed at a reasonable hour. Fate intervened and I happened to be put in a dorm with a group of Aussies who, as it turned out, live right around the corner from me (relatively is actually about 45 minutes away). This was something to celebrate, as I'm sure any South Australian who has travelled knows, if you ever meet anyone who knows Adelaide is real you need to befriend them.

So after we excitedly chatted about life in the homestate we went out and spent the Saturday night in Edinburgh as it should be spent...drinking, drinking and dancing.

Sunday saw the sun rising at 4am as we covered our heads with our pillows and inwardly groaned about which idiot didn't close the curtain the night before. Fast forward a few hours and, fortified by a hearty youth hostel breakfast, we are preparing to take a walking tour to learn some of the darkly comedic stories about Edinburgh's past. And there are are just a couple.

***When the witch burning craze swept Europe back in the 17th century Scotland thought it should get involved as well, and after setting some obvious criteria with which to discover witches (red hair, 3rd nipple, that sort of thing), they began to scourge the city of Edinburgh of the ungodly. After many triumphant captures and burnings a slight problem became apparent. The city had used its entire supply of wood, which was needed to burn in order to produce the coal from which walls and buildings were made, burning witches and they were left with nothing to build with. It's ok though, some quick thinking saved the day. The coal that remained from the witch burnings was gathered and used instead, and to this day you can visit Scotland and lean against a wall made from dead Scottish witches.***

The second tale is a little less macabre and a little more gross.

***Back in the day, Edinburgh was a maze of narrow, cobble-stoned alleyways surrounded on both sides by tall tenement buildings. It was also a city lacking a sophisticated sewage system. I say 'sophisticated' because there was a system in place, however basic. It was, more or less, 'throw your waste out the window and into the street whenever is necessary'. This worked for a while, but when the councilmen decided something needed to be done about hygiene in the city they declared there was to be 2 daily times allotted for sewage disposal. 7am or 10pm. Since nobody (one would hope) has a full bucket of sewage at 7 in the morning, 10pm became the norm. Special time, 10pm. It was also when all the pubs closed and the loyal patrons had to stumble back to their homes and lives.

So it is dark. The inebriated crowds are filling the narrow streets eager for bed. Those at home are emptying their buckets of sewage before also going to bed. As a common courtesy, a warning was shouted before any bucket was dumped but, in this situation, it is easy to understand why there was an unfortunate few who did not make it to safety in time. A little bit of imagination here...and this is how the term 'shitfaced' was born. Thankyou Scotland.***

Ed also has a story about a lady who was hanged and came back to life, a dog who was given the keys to the city and a local carpenter/criminal who was the basis of the story Jekyll and Hyde.
But. This entry is more than long enough so I would suggest you hop on a plane and discover this city's stories for yourself or, perhaps a little more realistically, jump onto Google and search away.

Edinburgh Castle.

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