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People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*

yon Empress of the North

I love Edinburgh but you have to have a strong constitution to live here. It likes to scare you, see?

There's always the odd surprise waiting round the next corner. Yesterday I was walking along Princes Street, in that Novemberish way (i.e. at a 30 degree angle against the howling wind) when all of a sudden there was an almighty explosion, just off to my left in the Gardens. I nearly flung myself to the ground for cover, but thankfully I remembered I had a cream coat on and decided to take the hit standing.

Once my breathing and heart rate had returned to normal and I realised I wasn't dead, I quickly figured out that the noise was a fireworks display, which was part of the Christmas Light-Switching-On Ceremony. Now I'm used to the big ol fireworks they like to put on to give the tourists a good sending-off at the end of the Festival, and at Hogmanay, but I wasn't expecting this one on my way home from work and I nearly wet my pants. Thankfully I wasn't the only one to get a wee start, and when 200 people stopped in their tracks to see what was going on over there, there were numerous shunting incidents to distract people from my yelp of shock.

And as if major deflagrations aren't enough, there are other things that will scare the bejeesus out of you during a typical day in Auld Reekie. Despite living here for 26 years, I still sometimes get a fright at 1 o'clock when the dirty great gun goes off (although like most Edinburgh residents I try not to show it in front of the tourists - we like them to think we're immune to it). All the ghost stories that keep the Royal Mile in business are fine in August when it stays light till 9pm and the place is crowded with Japanese tourists and their cameras, but in November when it's dark and you have to pass Greyfriars Kirkyard or take a short cut through Fleshmarket Close? Not funny. Then there's the man who paints himself white and stands in front of Jenners pretending he's a marble statue (SO freaky). And if you have the misfortune to wander into the midst of the opening of the Next sale? Well, you can incur serious injury (or death) if you don't stay on your toes.


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At 27.11.06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree that the centre of Edinburgh is prone to unusual sights and unexpected noises at times...-)

Mark and I live in the 'burbs in the south of the city so we like to think we are reasonably safe of a weekend.

However, I somehow managed to miss the publicity leading up to this:


And so I got something of a fright when I was ambling along Morningside Road the other day!

A bit geographically challenged, me, so I couldn't even tell you where Oxgangs is (!) but I am guessing it must have been pretty loud round their way...    

At 28.11.06, Blogger Stacey said...

I've been trying to dig up a picture of me at the Christmas lighting thing in '03 (when I was studying in Edinburgh). No luck so far, but great post nonetheless! :)    

At 28.11.06, Blogger Teeny said...

Elisabeth - I don't know how you missed it either! Lucky you don't live in Oxgangs (for more reasons than one!)...

Stacey - you'll just have to get another pic taken when you visit next time!    

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*Logan Pearsall Smith

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