Yesterday marked thirteen years since my bus pulled into Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square Station, and I was met by my host, a bearded fellow in a loud houndstooth tweed jacket. When Benedict Ambrose asked if I needed anything, I indicated that I would like a meat pie and beer, and so he led me from the station to Rose Street, where we just avoided a street fight, and into a pub.
Last night we went back to this pub, but it was so quiet, the upstairs room where we had our first meal together was shut. Thus, we sat downstairs and admired the traditional wooden bar in the middle of the room and ordered meat pies and beer. At the quiet bar the transsexual barkeep commiserated with a transsexual patron, which was a change from my first visit–although who knows? I was so tired and the downstairs of the pub was so crowded when I arrived that September evening so long ago, the entire cast of La Cage aux Folles could have been there and I wouldn’t have noticed.
One thing I had noticed, that morning in London, was that the signs forbidding smoking and other anti-social behaviour in the bus station were bilingual. The second language, full of the letter Z, was a complete mystery to me. And on the bus, a family that seemed to take photos the full length of the journey, kept up a very long foreign language full of shushes and buzzing noises. Thus, I was introduced to Polish even before I met modern Edinburgh.