Ah young ladies, just look at you, with the accents of the wealthy and the cheekbones of the aristocracy, bowling along Great Junction Street on your bicycles, like a pair of thoroughbreds coming in to win at Newmarket.
Yes, that peasant you nearly hit was most unpleasant, wasn’t she? Good lord, such language rarely sullies the fields of Benenden or Cheltenham. The lacrosse team has never faced that barrage of angry working class rage, has it?
No, but then again, the lacrosse team has rarely come that close to mowing down a wee wummin as she crossed the road – with the lights in her favour, mark you.
She was, as we on the lower socio-economic grades say, pure ragin’. Thus, fuelled by a temper on the scale of an Icelandic volcano she chased you down all the way along the street – who knew the peasantry were so fit, eh? – just to vent her fury at you in the accent of the shipyards and the vernacular of the Kirkgate.
Two things: she might not have raced after you like a Shetland pony taking on Red Rum if you had apologised instead of sneering “why don’t you look where you’re going?” and giggled to her friend in that madding “gosh, look at the badly dressed lady” sort of a way, and secondly, young lady, thundering abuse at the top of your lungs is positively de rigueur in Leith, and in no way considered a social faux pa.
In fact, had you observed, the mob – well, the people standing waiting for the lights to change, but for the moment, we’ll cast them in the role of possibly rebellious masses waiting to rise – were not in the least embarrassed by the sight of an auld bisom bellowing, but were rather appreciative. Street theatre goes down a storm in Leith and is usually interactive.
Comments such as “we should get the police, so we should” and “that’s a right shame aboot that wee wummin, them on the bikes are a pure disgrace” were being bruited about.
Revolutions, my children, started with less provocation.
In fact, you were lucky it was just me giving you an etiquette lesson in the street. There are folks younger, fitter and way madder than me round here. If I were you I’d learn the Highway Code and some manners and that right quick.
Oh, and this is not an anti-cyclist rant. These gals are no more good, proficient cyclists than they are good, polite humans.
I was kicking off some Mary hell
Mary, Queen of Scots and I have never seen eye to eye. For one thing, she would have towered above me and secondly, I have the sneaky feeling that if she were on a bike on Great Junction Street then she wouldn’t think twice before flattening me under her wheels, which, incidentally would have horrified her mother, Mary of Guise, a terrific woman, who would have taught that girl some lessons.
I blame the French, which, to be honest, is my default position on quite a lot of things. Yes, I know Mary of Guise was French. But she’d been here a while. Jings, look at me, heckling myself.
Mary, Queen of Scots – or as I like to refer to her, the Kardashian of the Stuart dynasty – has her fans, I’ll admit. A few years ago I was leading a walking tour along the High Street, and I did rather revel in my dislike.
An American lady piped up: “I’m sorry but that’s the third time you’ve been rude about Mary Stuart.”
“Yes,” I said. “I don’t like her.”
“Well,” said the lady, “I have to tell you I worked for her in a previous life, and I thought she was just wonderful.”
There was really no answer to that so I gave the lady a refund.
Great expectations don’t disappoint
On the subject of things to see, have patience, my friends, and join the massive queue to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland. I know my pals who work at the Scottish Parliament have probably just screamed “No”’ and bit their desks, because the building is mobbed.
It’s a sight to behold. It’s in the foyer, and the parliament has a bigger hit than any Fringe show on its hands.
For reasons I can’t quite identify, most of the appreciative crowd seem to be lovely wee ladies called either Margaret, Agnes or Patricia. There are men, by the way, but they tend not to speak.
Learn why I’m not a big fan . .
The point of this is to tell you to get up to the National Museum of Scotland and see the huge exhibition all about Mary. Yes, I know I don’t like her, but I know why I don’t like her, and that meant learning about her, and this is a beautiful, fantastic and lavish lesson in history. The summer crowds are away now, so get up there and treat yourself.