Sunday, March 4, 2007

Day 43 : Edinburgh (Rest Day)

Monday 26th February 2007

Distance Walked: 0 miles
Start Time: n/a
End Time: n/a
Elapsed Time: n/a
Weather: Cold but bright
Distance walked so far: 820 miles

Today I’m a tourist. Strolling into the centre with the morning workers, the options for entertainment are astonishing. It’s believed that civilisation began when men first developed the ability to grow and harvest their own food. Freed from the constant cycle of hunting and scavenging, different pursuits became possible. The concept of the job was born, and with it the city, where the workers could gain access to the food that was provided for them. Money was created to determine the value of exchanged products, and with it was created the pursuit of money itself. Into the cities flooded every perversion and decadence. Whatever you desired, you could acquire.

Cities offer choice. It’s all here. And it’s overwhelming. I ride the tour bus and whip through the castle. This may be history, but it's not my history. The struggle of the rich and the royal is as relevant to me as the preening of celebrities. The tokens of Scottish power, The Honours, glitter and shine and are fiercely protected but are simply ridiculous symbols of supposed superiority. People are slave to symbols. Beware the dangers of the logo! There are tokens of wars, and statues to men (always men) long dead who mean nothing now. What did Walter Scott actually do to warrant such a huge memorial? There seem to be more monuments to Waterloo than any other event other than the World Wars.

Holidays are stressful. The pressure to make the most of the time available becomes too much. There’s always something else that could be done. What if it’s better, more fun, than the current activity? Life drips away. I give up, and sit in the cafĂ© of the beautiful sunlit foyer of the Royal Museum and watch the people as they wander through. It’s more interesting than any exhibit. And more relevant. I’m tired of the Walk and long for normality.

Back in the B&B, having carried a puncture repair kit ever since the overtrousers were ripped on Bodmin Moor, I try to plug the hole in the left boot with superglue and positive thoughts, but only succeed in fusing the sole to the shower tray. I persist with the notion that it’s only proper that the boots I embarked with will carry me to the top, and am loath to contemplate replacing them. Of greater concern is the left shoulder which, even after a day without the pack, aches with every slightest movement. Motionless, I plan for the future.

The logical route northwards from Edinburgh would be to cross the Forth Bridge and head through the Cairngorns directly to Inverness. Perversely, I’m heading west, adding days to the journey, but in search of drama. For west are the mountains and the lochs and the monsters. The Scotland of myths and legends and romance. The heart swells as the allure of the city fades.

Song of the day:

Don Cooper
“A Better Way”

It’s a job just livin’ in the city /
Tough breaks the only pay /
I spent many a year /
And too many tears /
Now it’s time to stop and say /
Surely there’s a better way /
Tomorrow looks as bad as yesterday

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