Someone had left a Bentley in the middle of Waverley Station, slap bang between me and the Newcastle train.
I was startled, but not unduly alarmed. Edinburgh’s parking attendants are a ferocious legion. Dead people in hearses get tickets slapped on them here, so I fully expected this egregious breach of parking protocol to be dealt with swiftly, perhaps by a crack team of elite traffic enforcers abseiling down from the canopy, armed with shoulder-mounted grenade launchers and take that baby out, like a sort of Parking SAS.
A man came out of the Bentley. He was talking to himself. Well, to be precise, he was talking to his sleeve. I live in Leith. We see a lot of this. People talking down their sleeves means they think a tiny fairy lives in the crook of their elbow. Mind you, he was considerably better dressed than the floating population of the Kirkgate.
Up by the new barriers there was a sudden roar of engines and a blaze of flashing lights. A veritable platoon of motorcycle cops fanfared into the station, with yet another car, this time a very new and shiny Range Rover.
Well, I thought, someone has done very well in a quiz show somewhere.
Now, there are two ways of dealing with this sort of hullaballoo invading your daily life. One, get uptight British and just carry on, pretend there is nothing to see here, or two, get peasant Scot and give the free show a good stare. I have unnaturally high levels of nosiness. Time for some serious gawping.
A rumour swept the concourse. Nicola was getting off the Aberdeen train. There was a static shock of excitement. Heads swung and there was a bit of shuffling to get a better look. Counter rumour, indeed truth, flooded back. Charles and Camilla were coming to town. A wave of boredom washed people back to WH Smith and the train that tries to get to Glasgow.
The place was awash with police officers. Tell you what; don’t fancy your chances of getting that burglary solved any time soon if this amount of blue-clad lads and lassies is tied up protecting a pair of pensioners up on a jolly.
The cars carried on waiting for the royal bahookies, right there in the middle of the station.
Fun to be had on Union Canal
Well, before the aliens invade and stop all the fun, why not head up to the Union Canal on Saturday and join in the great festival from the fantastic folk at Re-Union?
Canal Festival is terrific. They’ve got raft racing, boat trips, birds of prey and belly dancing. I’m not exactly sure how the belly dancing fits in with narrowboats and flotillas, but who cares?
They also have something called canoe tasters. Now, I might be wrong here, but I suspect that this will not involve biting chunks out of a kayak.
It’ll still be way more exciting than Prince Charles in a Bentley.
Aliens are taking over St James
This has been bothering me for a while, and I can’t be the only one who worries about this, but who exactly are those two giant people on the side of the St James Centre? You must have noticed them. He looks a bit like the actor Matthew McConaughey, only way more glaikit and she looks like she’s about to tell you the results of those tests you had. And it’s not good news.
They’re both gazing intently down Leith Walk, with an air of faintly annoyed concern. The sort of look Morningside dwellers give Kirkgate radgies, should they find themselves in our universe by accident. That sort of “what are they doing/saying/drinking, Murdo?’” look.
Are they the advance party for our new leaders, d’you think? Is this what the aliens will look like?
Disabled come second in taxi rank rights
Now, my mate Malcolm is disabled. He uses a pretty big wheelchair. Getting in and out of Waverley used to be a breeze. Off the train, and across to the helpful taxi drivers at the rank in the station on the same level as the platform. Bingo.
Why, if a committee of clever folks sat down today to design a wheelchair friendly station, they couldn’t come up with a better plan.
Imagine the gratitude of the nation. Scotland would show the world how to welcome not just disabled people, but also mums with buggies, older folks and even fit youngsters with huge cases. All benefiting from this thoughtful arrangement.
So much more efficient than sending people up slopes steep enough to challenge chamois goats, or do battle with escalators more prone to temper tantrums than Naomi Campbell on a substandard first-class flight or off on a Crystal Maze adventure where the prize is finding the taxi.
Y’see, Malcolm’s big mistake is that he was born disabled.
Now, if he had been born royal, well, that taxi rank would still exist for him.