I almost exclusively wear Skechers. I have never had a bad pair of Skechers shoes and they generally fit right and don’t hurt my feet. I have at least six pairs in different colours and styles but most often I like to wear my ‘foamies’, grey Skechers trainers with foam bottoms. They are fine in most conditions except when it’s wet. In the wet, they are absolutely useless, aquaplaning all over city pavements. More than once, I have just about ended up on my arse while wearing these particular trainers. I should have known better than to wear them to Manchester a few weeks ago, a city renowned for rain, and I slipped and slid all over the place. When I went to Edinburgh last Sunday, what shoes did I wear? And what weather did it become? Exactly.
I was in Edinburgh for a pre-season friendly involving the Scottish Cup winning Hibernian FC play Birmingham City. As the train pulled into Waverley, rain was lashing against the windows. Before I hit London Road, I had slid about four times as my foamies did their stuff magnificently efficiently. It was still wet as I headed not for the East Stand as I normally do at the Holy Ground but for the West, a two-tier affair that doubles as the Main Stand. I had sat there before but never in the upper tier. So, I headed up the six flights of stairs to the West Upper. As I walked towards the pie stand, I noticed a braw mural featuring a quote from Eddie Turnbull, famous player and manager of our club:
‘There’s class, there’s first class and then there’s Hibs class’.
Class. I bought some pies and went to find my seat, which was right in the back row. I had a momentary sense of vertigo as I reached the top of the stairs but this soon went away as I realised I had a good view. Admittedly, the game I was about to watch was effectively a reserve fixture as most of our first team had been playing Brondby in the Europa League a couple of days before, but it was worth it just to be at ER to watch Hibs and particularly Calum Crane in left defence.
After the game, and spending a few quid in the club shop, I decided to have a wander, heading back towards Easter Road then towards Leith Walk and ultimately the Botanic Gardens. I walked along McDonald Road and noticed the Fire Station features a rather fine mural. I also looked towards the old mill and factory buildings just up the road, now derelict, and at an electricity sub station that might once have been a cinema or a burgh hall, judging by its fine, 1920s architecture.
I have written here before about the Royal Botanic Garden and my great love of it so I will try not to repeat myself. I stood for a few minutes in the John Muir sequoia grove and kept hearing quiet thuds, soon realising that cones were falling from high up the trees, thankfully not from the one I was standing under. It was regular, every minute or so, always from the same trees. I gave them a wide berth as I walked away around the rest of the Botanics. I took a different route past the Glasshouses towards the northern end of the Garden, where the Botanic Garden has just reopened after its move brick-by-brick from Leith Walk (where the Botanics once were) to the present location. I am not really a fan of buildings being rebuilt elsewhere or old-style buildings emerging in a Prince Charles-approved vision of the world but I liked this one, purely because it didn’t stick out like a sore thumb in its surroundings.
To town, I walked along the Water of Leith walkway from Stockbridge to the Dean Village, passing St. Bernard’s Well and under the Dean Bridge. There were a few folk cutting about playing Pokemon Go, as most of the planet seems to be at the moment (I’m not. I don’t disapprove of gaming, just the bit that lands people in minefields and walking off piers.). I walked on, just musing as I often do, pausing under the Dean Bridge for a few moments to listen to the Water of Leith pass noisily below.
I ended up taking the bus home to Glasgow, partly because of the Scotrail strike but also because I like taking the bus for a change. It was worth it because of a sign I noticed on my way through the bus station welcoming attendees to the World Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, no less, taking place in this fine city that weekend. Thinking on it now, I wonder what form that conference would take and the discussion points. The right stance to profer magazines? The correct door-knocking approach? Even how to smile and persevere after being told to ‘fuck off’ for the hundredth time that day? The mind boggles.