Tonight I met a girl called Annie, Amy or Anne, it’s hard to say which for certain. When referring to her in subsequent conversations I called her “Annie, Amy, whatever the girl with the screechy voice, was called…” For the purposes of this blog, I shall call her Ms Screech. You’ll have to remember that, because a lot happened before Ms Screech entered our lives.
Our day started with a lovely cooked breakfast among scores of French rugby fans and Schumanian serving staff. Seriously, we could have been anywhere in Europe. We then set off up to the Royal Mile to visit Mary King’s Close.
The last time we were in Edinburgh (with Mirinda rather than Nicktor) we tried to visit but the earliest timeslot was too long away for us to wait so we missed out. This time, Nicktor booked us in online, ages ago, so we were safely on the 10:30 tour. And I’m so glad we went. What an amazing tourist site.
Back in the dim, dark times, the inhabitants of Edinburgh Old Town (actually it was before the New Town was built, so I guess it was just the town) lived in squalid conditions. They were packed into small tenement rooms along long, narrow lanes. The lanes went down the hill, finishing in the long gone North Loch (Nor’ Loch as the locals call it). This was the finishing point for just about everything in Edinburgh so was a bit ripe…to say the least.
These days, the remains of Mary King’s Close are beneath a building that became known as the City Chambers. It was originally supposed to be the Royal Exchange but the merchants it was built for didn’t like it so, eventually (1811) the Town Council gave up trying to convince them and reclassified it’s purpose.
Rather than remove all the buildings, they simply levelled off the Closes and used the walls and original foundations for the new building. This created a series of tunnels and small dark rooms. These were used for storage and air raid shelters as required.
In 1853, Cockburn Street was started, ploughing straight through the lower part of the Closes.
Eventually a group called Continuum researched the area and carried out detailed archaeological investigation, finally opening it as a tourist attraction in 2002.
We wandered through rooms and down dark, dank alleys, hearing about all sorts of appalling things from our excellent tour guide, Connor Jones. It’s an amazing place and well worth seeing when visiting Edinburgh. It certainly set us up for the day.
We went straight from the Close to Waverley Station (where the evil Nor’ Loch once fumed) to catch a train to Dunfermline. We were off to watch Dunfermline Athletic at their home ground, East End Park, play Stenhousemuir.
Mark is a Dunfermline supporter. He grew up there and is a fan like Nicktor is an Aldershot fan. The thing is, the Pars (as Dunfermline are called) are in the same sort of league as the Shots but in a much bigger, all seater stadium.
But, before the game, we were given a guided tour of the town.
On our trip around the town we discovered that it was the birthplace of Robert the Bruce, Charles I, Ian Anderson of band, Jethro Tull fame, Moira Shearer and Andrew Carnegie. In fact, the original Carnegie Hall is there. We also discovered there’s a palace and abbey, a lot of it in ruins, sited there. We actually walked through bits of it as we made our way up from the station to the Old Inn for a few pints.
From the Old Inn, we made our way up to the East Port pub. We didn’t like this as much as the Old Inn and the beer wasn’t as good but Mark met up with a few people he knew and it was only a brief stop before we headed to the football ground.
There’s a few things to say about the ground. It’s quite big, it’s an all-seater and the bridies are brilliant. For anyone who doesn’t know what a bridie is, it is a wonderful delicacy full of beefy goodness and gravy, all wrapped in a pastry shell. Imagine a Cornish pasty and you’ll get the general look. But that’s where any similarity ends.
Mark had promised us we’d love them. And he wasn’t wrong. Nicktor and I liked ours so much, we had a second. I didn’t eat anything else all day, it was so filling.
Sadly, the football didn’t quite live up to the bridies. The game was a bit dull (apart from a flurry in the second half) and ended 0-0. While the Pars did most of the attacking and looked like scoring quite a few times, it never happened and we all went away a bit sad.
We made our way back to the East Port Bar (though I went via the local Costa for a much needed latte) for a final beer before getting a taxi back into Edinburgh, via the airport so Andy could leave us. And so we ended up at some awful bar which I’d rather forget than name.
We met up with Ken who works for the same company as Mark, and a bunch of clients he’d taken to the rugby. Included among this group were Ms Screech and Dave, a guy who’d fallen into the Thames at St Katherine Dock and lived to tell the tale, though his luggage didn’t.
Ken, I didn’t like very much. He was very dominating, loud and a bit of a bully. The others seemed all right, though I didn’t really get much of a chance to talk to them. This was mainly because of the music being played in the bar which was at a level so loud, it made talking and hearing simply painful. It wasn’t a club and there was no dancing. Whenever I walked through the main bar, everyone was shouting. Why does anyone go there? I know I’ll never return.
Anyway, the night was basically about drinking and people trying to have conversations. At one point Ms Screech had a massive argument with Nicktor about what a true football fan really is. She is of the opinion that to win an argument, it’s really important to screech at a pitch high enough to attract dogs, shatter champagne glasses and deafen people. She was awful. She also said she was born with the screechy voice. If that is so then I pity her mother at feeding time.
A little later, I did manage to have a sensible conversation with her about music where she spoke at a normal level. I think, given enough help and training, she could actually be quite nice. Sadly, I don’t think this will ever happen since the main tactic people employed with her was to try and speak louder and more forceful.
Anyway, this was all about business and, frankly, I was quite bored, though had I been a client I’d have been less than impressed with the venue and some of the people there. But, that’s not a problem for me to worry about. Apart from Mark (who I like very much) I’ll probably never see any of them ever again.
We left the bar well after midnight. By all intents and purposes, we should have been quite drunk but, due to years of training, we weren’t. Though, mysteriously, Nicktor did manage to have a hangover the next morning.
So, that was it. A big day and a blog post that is far too long. I wanted to mention the amazing railway bridge we travelled across but I’ve gone on way longer than is reasonable, so here’s a link instead. It really is simply amazing.