Edinburgh's tourists are back: Americans, French, Germans and even 'The Sticky People' – Susan Morrison
After two summers of silence, the mob on the High Street was something of a shock last week.
I was trying to get to the BBC (darling) and had decided to use public transport. It was a schoolgirl error, if that school girl was Greta Thunberg. Great-hearted warrior for saving the planet she may be, but she’s not got a scooby about the state of the bus service between Leith and, well, anywhere.
We’ve grown used to detours via Easter Road, heck, even Easter Island, but now we have to cope with a new game in town, a sort of Bus Stop Where’s Wally? There are many wee poles with bus stop signs above them, but are they working right now? It's a new way to make friends at the Fit ’o the Walk as people anxiously ask if the Number 7 stops here now? Does any bus stop here now? Have we been sealed in like plague victims, waiting for folk to throw food down the Walk for us?
As a result of this confusion, I missed my bus, was forced into mum-running for a second and finally caught a third, which meant I was looking at arriving late, unless the driver was suddenly possessed by the spirit of Ayton Senna, which wouldn’t have done any good anyway, given that the traffic was moving only slightly faster than Boris Johnson jogging.
The bus was packed. Everywhere is packed. By the time I reached the High Street I was a sweaty mess of little old lady. Tell you what, if that Prince Andrew really has sorted out how not to leak like punctured sardine tin, I’m interested.
I bounded off the bus and into a riot. At least, that’s what I thought was going on, until I remembered. Tourists. These are tourists. Wall-to-wall. The Americans are most certainly back. French, Germans and sundry other European nations seem to have managed to fly here despite airport chaos and airline meltdown.
I’d forgotten how loud they all are. And slow. Yes, I know this is a beautiful city, but for the love of Pete, people, pick up the pace.
The Sticky People have returned. You know, the people who have their mobile phones on those extending arm things and shout into them whilst filming themselves.
Two American ladies were screaming into one as I came barrelling towards them. They lowered it so suddenly whilst recording that they narrowly missed my shoulder and one of them shrieked into my face, “Oh Ma gawd, everything here is so old!”
Into. My. Face.
We should be grateful, I guess. Those dollars and euros were missed. We can do without the roubles.
And soon, it will be August. In 2020, the Fringe was on life-support. Last year, it was in a hospital bed whilst we sat around eating grapes and saying encouraging things like, “you’re looking better”. This year, it's wobbling out of the ward, wheezing consumptively and wincing in the sunlight.
The flyering teams will be back on the streets and the posters will appear on the railings. The sound of the wheelie case will be heard on our cobbles as the good, the bad and the downright bonkers turn up to entertain us or, at least, themselves.
Edinburgh is totally open for business again.