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

Small Cog

I work in the Old Town of Edinburgh, and occasionally someone takes it into their head that North Bridge is as good as place as any to end it all. Or just to have a think about ending it all. One person took this course of action on Tuesday. North Bridge is a major thoroughfare in Edinburgh, and it's also unfortunately a popular spot for 'jumpers'. When this happens, the authorities close the roads to stop rubberneckers from gawping at what's going on. It all looked a bit chaotic from my office window - the traffic was diverted along Chambers Street, pedestrians were turfed out, and the emergency services were all over the place. Thankfully, they managed to persuade the woman down. The road was reopened after a couple of hours and everything returned to normal.

Until 4.30pm today, when a colleague rang to say she'd heard there was another jumper and that North Bridge was closed again.

I normally go home via North Bridge, but today I thought I'd nip to the shops before going home (as I knew the traffic would be chaos), so I walked down Fleshmarket Close to Market Street, intending to cut through Waverley Station.* When I emerged at the bottom of the Close, there was a police barrier, and a big crowd of people milling about and staring upwards. I looked casually up at the Bridge, and there was the man standing on the ledge of the parapet right in front of me (the bit in the very centre of the picture below), gazing down at the crowd of people below him.

Although I knew there was a jumper on the bridge somewhere, I wasn't expecting to see him so closely and I felt like a bit of an intruder. I heard people around me saying 'if he was gonna jump he'd have done it by now' and one girl on her mobile saying disgustedly to someone, 'no, he's not even jumped'. I didn't hang around. It felt a bit gruesome - the crowd, and this solitary man standing on a ledge above.

I was reminded of an incident back in April - the Boy and I had gone to the Scotsman Hotel (the building at the far right of the above picture) for a drink one Saturday afternoon and I looked out of the window and saw a man standing at the very edge of the parapet, staring straight down at the ground below. I got a bit of a shock and was in a bit of a tizz about what to do (I'm totally the kind of person you want around in a crisis), when I noticed lots of high-viz jackets on the bridge, and realised that the police were already there.

On that occasion the man stayed on the ledge for two whole days. Alan Sharp, of Random Burblings, wrote about this at the time and managed to take a picture of the jumper-who-didn't-jump. In the end the fire brigade managed to pluck him (the jumper, not Alan) to safety after he'd fallen asleep.** They apparently weren't sure if he ever intended to commit suicide, or if he was staging some kind of one-man protest.

Anyway call me mental, but this dude today looked familiar and I wondered if it was the same person. As I walked through Waverley Station I tried to imagine what was going through his mind as he perched up there on his parapet.*** I wondered if he really was some poor tortured soul who saw no other way out of his problems, or a bored anarchist with a penchant for clambering about on high ledges. Or just someone who enjoyed the feeling of power that inevitably comes from watching a major city thoroughfare closed off just for you and the ensuing disruption at the busiest time of day.

I don't know which he is, but I certainly hope he gets down safely, whatever his motives were for going up there in the first place.

*For those of you who don't know Edinburgh, North Bridge overlooks Market Street and Waverley Station

**How anyone could fall asleep on a tiny ledge 100 feet above an enormous glass roofed structure is beyond me, but I guess he must've been knackered after two full days on a ledge.

***I also wondered if he was going to come crashing through the glass roof above me and kill me outright too, but that's neither here nor there.


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At 8.6.07, Blogger Shameless said...

When I lived in Madrid I used to have to pass under a viaduct to get home. Apparently it was very popular for jumpers too, hence I named it Viaduct of Death. However the authorities put a stop to this by putting large glass sheets/walls along the edge of the viaduct so you can still the view but can't jump off the edge. Genius.    

At 8.6.07, Blogger Cat said...

I once saw a man jump from Union Bridge in Aberdeen and found it incredibly traumatic. If, God forbid, I was suicidal, I think I'd prefer a bit of privacy around the job...    

At 11.6.07, Blogger Drama Queen said...

Last time I saw a potential jumper loads of people were standing around him screaming 'JUST JUMP'. It disturbed me greatly. . .    

At 14.6.07, Blogger Drama Queen said...

#sob sob#

This is Teeny's blog. Teeny doesn't love me anymore. Not since she found Bebo.    

At 14.6.07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think if anyone around here tried to go the route of a jumper, basically, there would be people around going, what is he trying to do? then hollering at him, dumbass, that stupid bridge isn't high enough to kill you, it's only high enough to do a little damage.    

At 15.6.07, Blogger Teeny said...

It turns out that the chap in question never had any intention of committing suidice. Maybe he just liked the view. Anyway, he was arrested and charged. So all my worrying about him was for nothing. Twat.    

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*Logan Pearsall Smith

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