Celebrating The Big Five-O #3: Edinburgh

After my last two posts recounting my Liverpool jaunt on the cusp of my fiftieth birthday, I’d intended to do this final, third post concerning my follow-up trip to the Scottish capital. But (how dare it), life got in the way!

I wanted the trilogy of Big Five-O posts shared before the turn of this year, and so to meet that deadline I’ve decided to do the final one this way: a pictorial guide to my three night stay. It obviously won’t contain the usual eccentric conversations that seem to plague me wherever I go, but at least it will give you a little flavour of my time there.

My first night on the Royal Mile, looking all Christmassy. The lights draw you up towards the castle.

Dramatic, eh?
Its ghosts shut away behind those walls.

From the cold and the bustle, I took some welcome respite inside St.Giles’ Cathedral, movingly regaled by a practising choir.

The castle was that impressive I decided to do it again, the next day, in daylight. Not because of ghosts or anything . . .

Down the barrel of a gun
From the inside out

I might have been in Scotland, but I turned down the chance to hold a Golden Eagle to instead give my change to an American busker who was covering the Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman.

Then, after that bird of prey, I saw another Scottish symbol.

Not sure what he was playing, but it wasn’t the Stones.

I hope he made it back.

I had a spare twenty minutes so I thought about nipping in here to become a wizard.

On one of the Christmas market stalls:

Obviously I had no money left after that busker.

When I’d been up at Edinburgh Castle I’d spotted this extinct volcano, known as Arthur’s Seat, in the distance, and decided the next morning that I’d climb it. Like you do.

Problem was, Storm Barra was forecast to hit that very day. What could possibly go wrong?

So I decided to take another path. In a storm. How Radical is that?

It wasn’t too bad when I set out. A little breezy. It got breezier as time went on.

The cap was swapped for a woolly hat. The zip of my waterproof coat went higher as I did. The view was worth it, though.

Any which way but down.

I spent twenty minutes or so up there, offering to take a few photographs of couples and groups who’d likewise risked the weather.

There was a larger group, a Spanish class, who made the summit a little after I did. I offered to take a photograph of them all for posterity. One of the students was a girl with an expensive looking camera around her neck. I’m not sure exactly what was being said between her and the teacher, but she seemed very reluctant to hand her camera over to me.

Eventually she did do, motioning me to ensure the strap was around my neck as we took position on the summit edge. “Back a bit . . . “

Of course, the damn thing wouldn’t work, or I wouldn’t. After a couple of attempts, handing the coveted camera back and forth, the teacher handed me his phone instead. “These I can work!” I said. Thankfully it did.

The clay-coloured rain pools at the top.

With the weather worsening, my eyes streaming in the wind, I decided to begin my descent. After around ten minutes I noticed that corvids were gathered on both sides of me, maybe amazed at my foolhardiness.

Were they a bad omen? Nah, they might be carrion crows but I’m Jackdaw, don’t forget. I see my feathered totems wherever I go.

Shit! I’m outta here!!

I made it down okay, which you know, because, well, this post that’s been written . . .

(Oh yes – I stopped by the ruin of St.Anthony’s Chapel along the way.)

I even had time to visit Easter Road, home of Scottish football club Hibernian, which I’d spotted from my vantage point.

And that was about it, my friends. A brief summary of my stay in Edinburgh. There was more to it, of course, but hampered by both space and time I’ve given you the bare bones.

Heading back to the Royal Mile from Easter Road the storm finally unleashed some of its fury and I had to make my way through a snowstorm. I think I’d got my timing spot on.

I dried out in a Starbucks, passing the time writing a poem and talking to a couple from Yorkshire. I also kept an eye on travel disruption updates and was able to journey home the next day.

Fifty. Let’s do it all again.

Yes, it’s Manchester, alright.

Do The Bots Have No Sense Of Humour? Free The Manchester One!

Well it had to happen sometime, didn’t it? I mean I must have been on Facebook, what? Ten years maybe?

I woke up this morning to discover I’d been slung into Facebook jail for twenty-four hours without parole, unable to post or comment or like anything.

Why? I was informed that it was for a comment in reply to a friend’s joke post making a request.

I can’t even remember which friend it was now, nor exactly what his/her post was, but it was done with humour and went something like: ‘Has anyone got any (something)? Asking for a friend’.

So I’d commented ‘Has anyone got any crack cocaine? Asking for my Nanna’.

It seemed that the Facebook Police really thought that I was trying to procure some crack cocaine for my Nanna. I was given the right to appeal and so I did – under their criteria that Facebook didn’t understand the context of my comment. There was no place that I could add that, not only was I joking, my Nanna had been dead for 31 years. And no, it wasn’t by overdose.

I failed my appeal in five minutes flat. I wish that our justice system was that fast.

They also cited a previous comment of mine from back in January. It was in a Jack the Ripper group. I’m in some groups you wouldn’t believe. My wife Jen says “You know, on paper, you sound a right boring bastard.” 😂

Anyway, this was a Ripper group, and a researcher was trying to access records that had been denied him on the grounds of the Official Secrets Act. So all I’d commented was: ‘They’d let you have them but then they’d have to kill you and hide the body. That’s how Jack the Ripper started out’.

It now appeared that the Facebook Police believed that I was 1, trying to score some crack cocaine and 2, inciting a murder.

Not only do they not have a sense of humour, I don’t think I’ll ever be free again.

I wonder now why some of my earlier posts haven’t been flagged. Like the Jenisms my wife comes out with. I posted one once when she had a heavy cold, and wanted me to get some menthol crystals to help with her breathing, but instead asked “Will you go over to the chemist and get me some crystal meths.” Up here on Langley there very well could be chemists that sell that kind of thing.

But anyway, for future reference, I’ve now learnt that the Facebook Police allow crystal meths but not crack cocaine. Life’s a learning curve.

Free the Manchester One.

Meanwhile, In Prestwich . . .

I managed to get this photograph yesterday while we were driving through Prestwich. It’s a mural, created in 2019, of Victoria Wood, who was born in that town.

Heading North is of course a compulsion with me, too, though her full joke includes the punchline: “Even in Tesco, I head straight for the freezer cabinets on the back wall.”

Seeing it took me right back to the 80’s, laughing at this northern ballad of frisky Freda and the poor, beaten Barry. Give it a watch, those of you not from the north of England may have to give it a couple of goes to catch the lyrics. Google may help, too!