While we were in Scotland over the summer, we took the children on the train up to Edinburgh and spent the day sightseeing. The Francoscotlets were underwhelmed but P. and I had a great time, although it did feel a bit strange being a mere tourist in a city I once knew intimately.
The city also kept popping up in things I was reading* and watching.
First in a biography of Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare. Chatwin spent a couple of years in a flat on the Canongate in a "nasty building with a good address". It seems that he hated "the gaunt northern capital" for its strait-laced society, its weather and it's sexual climate. No doubt the antipathy was mutual.
Then I saw a BBC4 documentary called "Ian Rankin's Hidden Edinburgh" during which I discovered that although you can't actually see the South Bridge because building were built backing onto both sides, it is still actually there and you can even visit the vaults underneath. Whole families used to live in this warren of underground rooms (which more or less brings us back to my last post). In fact, Edinburgh is such a many layered, many faceted city that it almost seems to have been built with novels about hidden depths in mind.
Kate Atkinson's "One Good Turn" also turned out to be set in Edinburgh. One of the less sympathetic characters — a festival performer — declares that it's a great city "fantastic to look at and all that, but it has no libido". A discussion ensues about which cities do have a libido - Rio de Janiero, Marseille... But the main character Martin concludes that "it was true that Edinburgh didn't have a libido, but would you want to live in a city that did?"
Well, would you?
* I've changed the LibraryThing widget in the sidebar and now it shows the books I've added recently, so you can see what I'm reading now rather than what I might — or might not — have been reading last year or when I was 18.