Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

Blog : Posts tagged with ‘Edinburgh’


In which Boris Johnson might help perpetuate a stereotype

According to yesterday’s Observer, Boris Johnson is planning to stand for election as Rector of Edinburgh University.*

I’m not among the relevant electorate, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Aside from the fact that he can hardly spend much time on the job, it’s hardly going to do very much for the university’s reputation. Edinburgh is already known as the university for posh, rich English kids who aren’t bright enough for Oxbridge; voting for someone who carefully cultivates a reputation for being posh and bumbling is hardly going to help.

* I’m quite pleased that I managed to avoid the cliché of adding “…is planning to follow in Gordon Brown’s footsteps by…” Aaargh, damn, I’ve spoilt it now. At least Brown’s Rectorship had a lasting effect: he annoyed the University management so much that they banned students from standing for the post.

Saint Marys' Spires (and other lyrics)

In which the city makes me think of music

Of course, in the end we didn’t discuss Festival stuff at all, just drank ate and gossipped. After that, we wandered round the New Town looking for ideal places for our next Picnic (next Saturday), and looking in people’s front windows.

Notes on Thai food: if you see small purple chili-shaped things, that is what they are. Do not chew them, or your mouth will be irradiated.

As we walked around the New Town in the dusk, it started to rain. That part of the city in the rain always makes me think of Clientele songs, so as we walked I was humming softly to myself. The rain got heavier, fluming down the gutters of the steeper streets. At the corner of Queen Street and Dublin Street, the gutters were overflowing and pouring over the pavement and downhill in a rippled sheet.

We popped into a late-opening bookshop to think up cunning incentives to get people to come to the picnic. We went to a bar and dripped on the floor. Everyone else looked too stylish for me to feel comfortable in my sensible outdoor raincoat.

Oi! Tourist! Get out of my way!

In which the Edinburgh summer inexerobly approaches

So tonight, I’m off out for a meal with people (woo!) and we’re going to talk about what we want to go and see at the various Edinburgh Festivals. Because they’re almost here already.

I noticed that Richard Bloomfield* has already started to put up on his site a list of the best stuff to go and see. I never have a clue what I want to see at the Festival, which is why I usually end up staying in and grumbling about the tourists getting in my way all the time. I’m tempted to make my own list, of events I might like, and tell you that they’re all rubbish. “Don’t go and see The Show That Caitlin Really Wants To See Show, it’s awful. You’d have more fun if you poured buckets of cold penguin spit over yourself.” That way, the word gets around, and I get to sit on my own watching the show and laughing evilly at my cunning plan. Afterwards, I get the bonus of telling everyone: “it’s really good, where were you?” and being all smug when it becomes a cult West End hit or whatever.

OK, I’m not really that evil. Laziness is more my thing; not bothering to go. Do penguins spit, anyway?

* Update, October 14th 2022: The link this originally went to is now very, very dead; and although there are other bloggers called Richard Bloomfield on the internet, I’m not 100% which is the former Edinburgh one.

...last believed to be on a camping holiday near Wolverhampton

How to get hold of someone in an emergency

Back at work again today. All the machines seem to be still ticking over nicely, which is quite a surprise. I’m not sure whether being back is a good thing or a bad thing; the weekend off ended up being rather traumatic.

Yesterday, I went to the New Acquisitions exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art. Most of it was rather good, but one installation was rather frightening. A video-installation piece called Breathing Space—I can’t remember the artist’s name—which showed two people laid down with their heads inside plastic bags, the noise of their breathing amplified and deafening. It was horrific, like some awful slow-motioned fetish film. I couldn’t watch, and dashed outside

Well, that’s not true. First, I went to the gift shop and bought some postcards. But then I dashed outside, and breathed as deeply as I could.

When I was little, we would go away camping, and we’d always listen to the evening news on Radio 4. Before the news, they would send out SOS Messages. I’ve not heard one for years, and I keep wondering if they ever still make them. “Will Mr and Mrs John Smith of Auchtermuchty, last believed to be on a cycling tour of Brittany, please get in touch with Ward Z, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline. It is about their son John Smith Junior, who is dangerously ill.”

If they’ve gone, when was the last one made? What was it about? Who were all those people?

Update, 14th 2022: The last questions were answered in a way, a few days later.

I didn't ask for a holiday...

Not that it was one, really

… but the boss has decided to go away for a few days, and he’s the only one with the keys. So, the office itself is empty, and I have to just keep an eye on things from afar.

I’ve started recognising some of the same people I pass every day on the way to work, as I’m walking through the Meadows. Today, the Lesbian Couple were crossing Melville Drive at the same time as me, but I didn’t see the Girl With Cute Pink Trainers.

I did see lots of men in black suits and white bow ties, so i think it must be graduation week at the university. They all looked so well-groomed and confident. My graduation, I just looked like me. The photos are awful; they’re up on my parents’ wall right next to my dad’s graduation ones.

Walking through the Meadows every day plays hell with my hay fever. It feels like insects everywhere trying to crawl inside my nose and eyes and ears and scratching the back of my throat. Not nice. I wish it didn’t happen, and I could have summers without my nose gumming up, and sneezing all the time. I’ve been sleeping awfully because every time I lay down my sinuses just fill up with goo.

Ring (not the movie)

Trying to look pretty

I don’t wear much jewellery. Never have. I take after my mother, who who only wears her wedding ring and has never even had her ears pierced.

The other week—after wandering round the city with The Friend From The Suburbs looking for presents for The Australian because he’s going back to Australia—I bought a ring. Nothing special, just a polished stone ring from the National Museum shop. I’ve been wearing it most of the time since I bought it.

I’ve noticed—when I wake up in the morning now, without it on—that I’ve started to realise more when it’s missing that when it’s there. It’s becoming a part of my body-image. When I wake up in the morning, hand underneath my pillows, I have a negative spot on my left middle finger, where there is something missing. I didn’t think a change like that to my mental maps could happen so fast.

In other body-image news: walking through my local shopping centre today, I suddenly realised just how mirrored its interior is. And I hate it. I don’t want to have to see myself all the time.

Holyrood Park

Oh, last night’s dream: a race of space aliens were living in Holyrood Park, which is just by my flat (see above). They were silver-coloured, a bit like Cybermen but fatter and more organic. I would look up at the cliffs, and they would be stood on the edge (see below) waving at me. They wanted me to go back to their home planet with them; they said I would be worshipped or something; but it was all a big plot and I managed to run away.

The crags of Holyrood Park

More overuse of the word "Gah!"

Or a day in town when nothing seems to go right

So, on Sunday, I was sat around at home idly playing with Movable Type and seeing what some of the more obscure options do when A Friend In The Suburbs phoned. “I’m having a crap weekend,” she said, “want to come round some art galleries?”

So, I went out and we wandered down to Queen Street, to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, because they have three rather good exhibitions on at the moment. We got there. And it was shut.


So, we walked back the way we came—in the rain, of course—and said “I know, let’s go to the Fruitmarket Gallery, they’ll be open even though it’s Sunday.” So we did. And they were open. But they didn’t have any exhibitions on.


So, we wandered round their wee shop and ooh’d and aah’d all the books and postcards, and Friend In The Suburbs said: “Why don’t we go to the City Café and get some food?” So we did. We looked at the menu, and thought “mmm, desserts.” We tried to order pancakes.

“Sorry, we’re halfway through changing the menu. No pancakes.”

“Ummm … do you have any desserts?”

“Sorry, no. We’ve got rid of them all. We still have milkshakes, though.”

OK, I’ll have a chocolate mint milkshake.”

“Sorry, we only have chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. No mint.”


So, in the end we went to Favorit and had lots of cake there, whilst spying on all the other cafe-users and saying we wished we’d had our camera with us so we could photograph them all.

And the clocks were striking thirteen

Some Embra graffiti

I was walking up The Vennel today, in heavy drizzle, when I saw a piece of paper pinned to a wall. On it, it said “What would make Edinburgh better? Have your say!” The top entry was “SUNSHINE” in big letters, and with a smiley-faced sun. I couldn’t help but agree.

Mind you, lower down it said “more sweaty moshing”, which isn’t really the sort of thing I’d encourage, at least not right next to me.

Fingers crossed...

Trying to bring things back to life

Well, it’s still broken. Sort of. I managed to get it running again most of the time—I’m not sure really how—but every so often the disk drive starts making nasty clonking noises and the whole thing just freezes. Actually, it did The Noises just then, but for some reason kept on working.

Because I’ve not been writing things down, I don’t seem to have anything interesting to write down. I quickly got bored of going back and forth to an internet café every two or three days to read all my email (I know, too many mailing lists). I was planning to take up lots of exciting new activities—and especially, get some more things ready to type and put up elsewhere on this site. But, um, I haven’t. I wrote a letter to a friend in the US, two poems to post to one of the many, many mailing lists, and that was about it. Oh, and I managed to get two friends’ computers online. No self-interest there, of course. One of them paid me in cake, which has to be a good thing.

If you go to Not You, The Other One, you can read all about what students at my university were like. Not me though, of course. Everyone else seemed to be Dead Posh. When I worked in the library, behind the counter, we could see what the students’ names were when their matric cards got scanned. There was a frightening number of people with names like “The Honourable James Twistleton Ponsonby-Smythe”. I had friends whose flatmates thought a nice weekend in the middle of term was a quick flight to Switzerland, for the skiing.

Oh, of course, I have to remind you that it’s the Eurovision on Saturday. My friend W (the actor) would be terribly disappointed if I didn’t point it out.

Update, 27th April 2022: Not You, The Other One no longer seems to be online these days, although its writer is still around and about on social media.

Got that in a size 10?

Or, buying a wedding guest outfit

This month I won £50 on the Premium Bonds, so today I thought I’d go and look for clothes, and maybe get some ideas for a wedding outfit. I know it’s only April and the wedding I’m going to is in August, but I wanted to be prepared. Anyway, I searched round every branch of Armstrong’s and didn’t find anything. I was thinking maybe some tweed trousers, but they’re a bit expensive. Part of the problem is that each of their shops has two or three racks of clothed attached to each wall, one about the other, so you can’t really see what’s way up near the ceiling. They have a ladder you can borrow, but I daren’t use it for fear I’ll fall over than thwack the assistant on the head, knocking over everything in the shop in the process. In any case, you can’t really browse through everything whilst you’re stood on top of a stepladder.

So yes, I want to go back and go through everything again, but it will look a bit odd if i keep going back to these shops every day and not actually buying anything. I can’t be bothered with waiting. I thought about spending an extra fiver and going to Glasgow to shop, but I don’t know where any of the decent cheap clothes shops in Glasgow are (except one), and I’d probably end up meeting people and spending lots of extra cash on booze.