My new flat mate, fellow Rotary Scholar Robin, arrived a week before me and did the research to find our place. Robin is from Leveland, Texas, and is friendly, creative and pursuing a Master’s degree in Producing from the Screen Academy Scotland, affiliated to Napier. I knew we would get along when we both came home with bottles of wine before buying any groceries whatsoever.
She found us a flat off of a street called Leith Walk. It’s spacious and sunny, has a great kitchen for cooking, and comes furnished with everything down to a “hoover” and new garlic press. It also has an adorable fake fireplace that glows.
Our neighborhood is residential, a 10 minute walk west to City Centre at Princes Street. 15 minutes to Edinburgh Castle. 20 minutes to ECA campus. Heading east, its 45 minutes to Leith itself, looking on the Firth of Forth (yes, to Fife). After three years of Los Angeles car culture, I am loving Edinburgh’s accessibility.
Recently we made our first venture to a neighborhood pub. We bought a pint and walked out to the patio, finding seats next to a group of jovial Scottish men. One guy got up immediately, motioned for us to squish our chairs closer to one another, and put a green felt blanket around our shoulders. Chivalry is alive!
Over the next few hours and pints, we laughed a lot and learned some things. The guys were out in traditional Scottish celebration to “wet the baby’s back” - ie, celebrate the birth of one guy’s baby daughter. I learned that Ewan McGreggor is NOT ENGLISH (oops) and that under no circumstances should one confuse a Scot for a Englishman. We learned that blanket guy was actually an Irish war hero, and had received his country's equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Incidentally, he was IMPOSSIBLE to understand. The only thing I caught the whole evening was the following expression: “A man is a man, a woman is a woman, a flower is a flower, a pair of boots is a pair of boots”. Meaning remains indecipherable.
Politics might be inappropriate party conversation, but our party conversation turned political by the first round. The only reason it stopped is because we were all getting a wee bit depressed. This particular group of Scots, all decorated military veterans of the 1st Gulf War, were vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq, and had negative things to say about their own leaders. They were especially perturbed that neither Blair nor Brown has been present to receive the coffin of a military deceased at Britain’s equivalent of Arlington. On the brighter side, all of us sitting round the table shared high hopes for the next eight years : )