Tuesday, 28 October 2008 Bad morning. Really bad. Not surprising, I suppose, and maybe even overdue--too much alcohol and pub food,
not enough rest. It isn't just a matter of feeling unwell; physically, I'm not that bad off. But the world seems a very unkind place
just now. Part of it is the usual end-of-trip letdown, and the fact that I'm genuinely about fed up with the guesthouse. My room is freezing--
I can get the radiator to work for a little while, but then it quits and will not be roused. And I've had it with the shower up on the first
floor, which is lukewarm at best. The bulk of the problem, though, is simply Mr Tattie Heid in very low spirit. Fear and Lothian in
Edinburgh. It happens.
I've already decided to skip breakfast this morning, and curl up under the covers, breathing warm air on myself, for some time after that. Finally drag myself up to the miserable shower at about 10:00. Back in my room, I get dressed...and go back to bed, fully clothed. Don't get out until about 1:00pm.
Walking up Dundas Street, I spy a sandwich shop, and go in for a panini. Complement it with a packet of Thai Sweet Chilli crisps and an Irn Bru. Haven't had an Irn Bru in several years. Putting some crap in the belly definitely helps, at least short-term. I don't know why, but greasy junk is the best thing for a hangover--must be some sort of craving. Salt deficiency, maybe. Under the circumstances, a panini practically qualifies as health food.
I need to get one useful thing done today, and that is to buy a piece of luggage of some kind to carry the booty acquired over the past month. It's not really all that much--only three full bottles of whisky, plus the five 20cl's from Cadenhead's, the smallest haul in years--but jamming it all into the Giant Rolling Duffel would undoubtedly set off the weight alarms at the airport check-in.
Up at the corner of George Street, a scruffy-looking fellow with a long beard walks past me. It takes me a moment to realize that it's Mike Katz, piper for the Battlefield Band. I call after him, and we have a brief blether on the street corner. I ask him if he knows where I might find some inexpensive luggage. He shrugs and says he usually gets that kind of thing in the States, where it's cheaper. This gets us talking about the exchange rate, which has taken a dive over the past month. Last year, the pound was at $2.00, which really hurt, and I planned this year's trip with that in mind. Looking over my bank withdrawals online the other day, I saw that I was charged about $1.80 early in the month, with the pound steadily declining to $1.58 this week--the lowest I've seen it since 1999, I think. I'd have bought more whisky, had I known! Mike says that the band actually like a strong dollar against the pound, since they make the bulk of their income in dollars.
I find a fairly weird but cheap and serviceable bag in the St James shopping center, and bring it back to the room. Lounge around a bit before heading back out. Have my morning coffee at 5:00pm, at Starbucks on George Street. It's very crowded, and I share a table with a very attractive young businesswoman with an unplaceable accent. When I ask about it, she tells me that her father was in the oil business, and she spent parts of her childhood in Scotland, England, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, the United States, and maybe a few other places I'm forgetting just now.
A grande latte and a chat with a pretty woman tend to make one feel a little more human. Done with our drinks, she goes back to work, and I head for the Oxford Bar, where I nurse a pint (just to get relubricated) and read a good chunk of Fleshmarket Close. I keep the book down low, below the tabletop...feel too much like a tourist, reading Rankin in the Ox. Read some more while nursing a couple more pints at the Bow before retiring to the guesthouse. No Smithie's tonight.
One lost day out of thirty is not so bad--I've had worse trips.