Friday, October 23, 2009

Are All Aussies This Rude?

So I was crossing the street early this morning and nearly got struck by an Aussie on a bicycle. I had 10 minutes until my next bus, so decided to check the newsagent on the other side of South Bridge for the latest Economist. I had just finished by 8th night shift in a row, so was functioning at limited capacity when I suddenly heard a crisp, “Watch yerself.” I stopped and stood there stupidly in the street while the Aussie zipped past. I mumbled “sorry” to the chap as he passed, but he was dressed all in black and it was still quite dark out. He did have one of those flashing lights on the front of his handlebars, but that could have been a distant car, a flashing UFO, a dancing will o’ wisp, Tinkerbell, or any of the other various hallucinations I am prone to after eight days of sleep deprivation. However, as this Aussie passed he continued with, “For fuck’s sake.” Well now, that was totally uncalled for and demanded a witty repartee. So the rusty, sleepy wheels of my brain grinded out an interesting amalgamation of random words and I hurled back the gem of an insult which appeared before my lips: “Kiss off… fuckhead.”

Hmm…. Interesting. A combination that has likely never been uttered by my lips and could only have been constructed in the workshop bowels of the sleepy subconscious. I decided it was a most glorious comeback, nevertheless. It reminded me of George Costanza’s jerk store. The Aussie must have been dumbstruck, because he kept on riding in silence.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Edinburgh Cavalcade

To kick off Edinburgh Festival 2009, the annual Cavalcade was held yesterday in Holyrood Park. The parade is usually run along Princes Street, but this year Princes Street is in utter chaos due to the new tram they are installing so it was instead in the Park - which I think was a great spot due to the massive crowds. They say that despite the recession, this may be a banner year for the festival. It seems like although we may be lacking in international tourists, lots of Brits are pinching their pence by taking their holidays within the UK instead of elsewhere.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cramond Island

This morning I volunteered with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, out at Cramond House in Cramond village outside of Edinburgh. From 10 to 12 I helped stuff envelopes with member renewal letters, enjoyed some tea and bisquits, and chatted with three friendly retirees. Cramond House is right next to the ruins of a Roman fort, and it is itself from the 1600s.

It was a beautiful day so after we finished at noon, I walked down to check out the beach nearby and discovered this lovely little tidal island. I was expected back at work so didn't have time to walk the 1 mile out across the walkway to the island, but I'll definitely be going back to explore. At high tide, the walkway is totally underwater so you have to be careful to not get yourself stranded. The walkway runs alongside a series of concrete pylons that were erected during WW2 as a submarine barrier. Below is a better perspective on the barrier.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leith Street Junkies

I saw my first Leith junk dealer today. He was right there on Leith Street, near a Ladbrokes, trying to collect money from a junkie. The guy was about 5 foot 6 inches tall, and could not have weighed more than 120. But he had one of those crazy, wiry, junkie builds. I have no doubt he has the ability to call upon reservoirs of crack, heroin, and speed stored in fat cells to help him kick the shit out of anyone he jumps.

He was dressed in a white jumper and track suit bottoms. He had the hood of the jumper up, of course. Among Leith streeters that is the universal sign of, “hey I’m a badass, and I’m too cool for peripheral vision..” In the pocket of his hooded jumper was one of those large beer cans that look like soup cans. The kind that you have to rip the top off, like a V8 can. They must be really cheap, and really potent. I have never actually seen one in a store, usually just tossed in the gutter.

He was up in some junkie’s face (and he was short, so he had to look up), pointing with the finger of his right hand. All the fingers on his right hand had large gold rings on them. Not the kind you get in jewelry stores, more like the kind you buy from the counter of a tattoo parlor. He held a leash in his left hand, which was attached to one of those Spud McKenzie dogs. This one was a little leaner and meaner than Spud and looked like his idea of a good time was biting someone’s nads, rather than hanging out with beer chicks.

I couldn’t make out what he was saying to the junkie. He was being very expressive though. I suppose you have to be with junkies. The uniform of a junkie is this: dirty blue jeans, a hooded jumper with the hood either up or down, a used coat, probably from a local shelter, in decent condition, chin stubble, slightly mussed hair (but greasy enough that it is not sticking up), and a downward stare. Usually they are in their late teens or twenties. I am sure there are not many that make it all the way to thirty without getting clean, getting killed, or getting jailed.

I didn’t stop and stare. The junk dealer was sure to eye any passerby’s who didn’t pretend not to notice a mean, raging glare, as if to say, “you want some of this? I got plenty to go around.”

I continued to Scot Mid and bought some beer and wine.