The thing I love about the Scots is that they can say my surname.
I can't understand anything else they say. Just kidding, I get a word in every few. Someone said something to me as I was coming along the waterfront between the two Forth Bridges just now, I plainly understood the word 'backpack'. He translated after I had stared at him answerless for a while: where are you going lass with that big backpack? That way, I said, pointing eastish, and you? Oh, I'm staying right here.
There was sunshine on Leith as I went past. Gives new significance to my favourite Proclaimer's song. I'm thinking sunshine on Leith is not a frequent occurrence. The sunshine shone brightly, surrounded by black clouds that touched the earth in some places. I took a panoramic photo of the difference in skies that surrounded me, recalling too late that the last time I did that it snowed on me. Not today though. In fact the forestry workers (dragging humungous trees out of the forest with tractors and rattling chains) kept exclaiming how warm it was. I think that is because it may have actually got to a two figure temperature with a two at the front!!! A late teen at the very least. Balmy. Both senses.
But what you are all waiting to hear about, I am sure (I would be), is the ghost tour. Wooo, ooo, wooo. Our guide, a diminuitive Aussie with a large black, leather coat and surprisingly strong vocal chords, told us she wasn't there to convince us about the existence of ghosts, but rather to entertain us. There were a great collection of cynics along which helped the entertainment no end. I provided the obligatory paranoid screaming everytime she stamped her foot, kicked doors, or snuck up and yelled. Also when one of the other groupies accidentally elbowed me in a very dark vault. I get jumpy, okay. I was doing the Double Dead Tour which did a bit of both of the things that this company (Blackhart) specialises in—the South Bridge Vaults and the Greyfriars Graveyard. I didn't even realise that there are two bridges running north-south in the Old Town—two apart from the ones you can obviously see linking the New and Old Towns. These two are surmounted by floors and floors of buildings—as they have been for hundreds of years (although now, apparently, not as high as they were). Under these bridges, and believably in order to make money, the builders made vaults on three levels that they then rented out for storage. We're talking sixteenth, seventeenth century here. Of course, with vagrancy laws not allowing anyone to have nowhere to live, people ended up living in these underground spaces. And not the nice people. People like, god forbid, criminals, wantons and the Irish. (This is not my comment about the Irish here, that's how some people of the time looked at things.) It was pitch black, lit with only tallow candles, no running water, no plumbing. The authorities would not follow anyone who managed to escape inside. Life expectancy, once you were forced to live down there, was eighteen months. Grim.
[Aside: I keep ending up sitting next to people who appear to be on first dates. Today's couple don't seem to be going that well. She is sitting with her arms folded and criticised his playing of Scrabble. She is laughing a lot though and she has just allowed him, despite his asking if it offends her on a deep philosophical level, to pay for the meal. Does she owe him anything now? On the other side of me are an incredibly good looking family of three who, in trying to get a sneaky parking space drove their car off a high pavement on the pier and couldn't get it back on again. People had gathered around to help, to no avail. My idea was to jack up the front of the car, put something under the wheel that is too high off the ground and then back up from there—that is what the AA man did at a very high cost. They should have asked me.]
But back to the vaults. And on to the Graveyard because they are linked. In both, bad things happened and now, in both, there appears to be negative energies that attack people. They have had lots of cases of people being scratched, bruised, pushed, even knocked out by these entities. They had photos in their wee scary shop at the end. The energy in the graveyard is meant to be MacKenzie's Poltergeist—created when the grave of arguably the world's first developer of a concentration camp, George MacKenzie, who imprisoned and tortureed twelve hundred people for their religious beliefs, was disturbed in 1998. There were lots of stories about women having their hair pulled and two big burly men who couldn't remove a girl who was being tugged towards the ground, and a guy in a mask who popped in to the tomb we were in to scare us, but we were all, I bet, disappointed that someone (else) didn't get injured on our tour. As she promised, we may not have been convinced, but I, at least, was entertained. We finished with the grave of Greyfriar's Bobby, a dog, who followed his master's coffin into the graveyard and then stayed on his grrave for fourteen years. He is the only dog to have ever been given keys to a city. There is a statue of him outside. I was expecting a noble shepherd or springer, but he was a fluffy lapdog. Maybe that is Lollii's issue—she is too noble to be so loving and loyal.
Good night to Queensferry, good night to you.