Sunday, 8 January 2017
Arthur's Seat. Raven Tongue. Sunset Silhouettes.
One of the reasons I was determined to go to Edinburgh over the Christmas period to see the festive lights was this... I'd already been with Alan and his dog on Arthur's Seat in mid December 2016 and had a long range glimpse of what was on offer around Princes Street, with tiny figures milling around far below. I realized then it looked good to visit and there was also the fact it had been years since I 'd explored the city centre district properly- all my other visits concentrated on Edinburgh's many hills, volcanic plugs, cycle trips through the outskirts, canals or 'colourful' housing schemes few tourists would wish to go.
I feel like I couldn't give a complete and accurate picture of Edinburgh unless I mention that we did notice dozens of rough sleepers begging on the streets during my city centre trips here and just like Glasgow a couple of months ago practically every street corner in both cities had one sitting with a cup or hat on the pavement. Some of them were surprisingly young.. mere teenagers- mostly boys but with an occasional girl. Belinda, her Mum, and myself also observed that they didn't go off to a hostel after nightfall but just curled up in sleeping bags in the middle of thousands of people celebrating Christmas and New Year and went to sleep. I wondered at first why they picked such a busy visible stretch of pavement with thousands of passing tourists to fall asleep beside then it dawned on me that any place quieter without witnesses might leave them open to physical attack or sexual abuse after dark. Competition to keep the best pitches for earning money from passing tourists might also be a factor in them staying put in the one spot. If I had to do that all winter I might just turn to drink and drugs myself, even if previously sober and reliable. I'm being honest here as it's not a life... it's just grim pain- filled existence from one day to the next with zero hope.
When you shop on the outskirts in retail parks, like we do usually for the last 20 years, you don't really see beggars much anymore, or maybe just the odd one or two. Even in my youth as a child we always had beggars in the city centre but they were usually old men with severe drink problems. Between both cities now you are well into the homeless hundreds by the look of it and it seems rather disappointing in 2016/17 to have so many folk living on a knife edge sleeping rough. I know hostel places have been cut in many parts of the UK due to budget restrictions, homelessness is up 30 percent in England... and Scotland seems similar going by what we observed.. and it's not just migrants but local folk as well... probably due in large part to the ongoing government benefit sanctions. Austerity means austerity... but if this is people "just about getting by" I'm very glad I'm not one of them. I'd imagine life expectancy is not that high for a rough sleeper of any age but happily there never seems to be any shortage of new recruits to replace them. It's an important growth industry for our country and not one you can easily ignore when it is so prevalent in many towns and cities UK wide.
Art Deco influenced when it was built in the 1930s but it owes just as much I think to German and Russian architecture from the Hitler- Stalin era. Certainly wouldn't look out of place in Berlin or Moscow.. or a Leni Riefenstahl film.
Video this week is mountain bike trick artist Danny MacAskill as his videos are always works of visual art, great Scottish scenery and feats of extraordinary ability combined. None of it is faked and the broken bones, sprains and bruises occasionally collected performing the jumps are very real.
An additional short video one of the guys in the club found on the internet. Is it real?... or is this just 'fake news'?... or is it genuine facts presented in a non histrionic manner? Does anyone even care what's fact or fiction anymore in the modern era? You decide.
Thank you technology for making our existence far less complicated and educating the masses towards enlightenment. You are truly a gift to the human race :o)