far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from entry of April 18]

Er, did I write that last bit, about hands on throat and all? Think of it as a measure of lack of sleep (blended with a teensy bit of artistic-license type exaggeration). And, of course, a measure of things beyond sleep — the roommate in question had been producing a cavalcade of noises all that day and night. A sweeping spectrum of noises, a kind of display I don’t remember experiencing around him before. Some of them a species of noise my father used to make in his later years, in particular the sounds of sucking food from teeth, post-mealtime. For hours. Not a subtle sound, not especially pleasant, and one with strangely difficult resonance for me. Not only for the paternal echo — this friend is an older guy, I haven’t seen him in a long while, apart from a fast cup of coffee during my layover in Boston on the first leg of this trip a month ago. He’s feeling old, is thinking of himself that way, and so has begun acting like someone of advanced age — certain tendencies becoming accentuated, with others, like the production of a strange soundtrack, brand new, at least for me. A good guy — a smart, interesting, talented guy — and I found myself having difficulty spending extended time around him. Which I’m sure he at times felt.

The only time I felt like I actually saw the person I used to know was at dinner Wednesday night — my last evening in the U.K. for now — during animated conversation between the four of us in attendance. Suddenly, there he was, the person I recognize, his conversation interesting, reflecting self-awareness and intelligence, listening to what was said around him as he spoke, taking it in and adjusting on the fly. Freer, more dynamic. A person I enjoy being around.

And as expected, when I finally managed to rouse him on Saturday night in Edinburgh –- Himself coming to with a jerk, body bouncing up to sitting position, sleepy vocal apparatus producing a mumbled “Wha’?” — he was genuinely sorry. An hour or two later he was again horizontal, again producing sounds like a tenor buzzsaw, rendering earplugs ineffective.

This, sometimes, is the price of sharing a room with male (and, once in a while, female) humans.

Next morning: we skipped the hotel breakfast, drifted through surprisingly active Easter morning streets to a coffee joint to wake up before tossing ourselves into an art museum crawl, the day outside shifting back and forth between beautiful weather and cold spitting showers, the tourist-swamped city beautiful amid all of it.

We drifted through four museums, all of them well-attended, all featuring museum guards sporting pants of a green and black plaid (with Doc Martens and modified goatees, they could easily have been mistaken for members of ’80’s punk/ska bands), using the adjective ‘wee’ with conspicuous frequency.

Art!

Found our way to a pub a few blocks from the hotel late in the afternoon for caffeine, a comfy little place with high ceilings and people scattered about eating, reading Sunday papers, talking. Retired to the hotel to pull ourselves together (again with the snooker on the telly), ventured out later for an extremely so-so dinner of fish & chips at a nearby joint, us the only customers, the proprietor a bit too much of a hovering presence, a radio playing hip-hop at high volume. Packed, hit the hay at an excessively reasonable hour (and yet again with the snooker, right up to lights out).

Next morning: I was up with the sunlight, the others gradually followed suit, we were on the road shortly after eight, retracing our route of three days before, D. at the helm, retracing our route of three days before, taking the winding two-lanes like the reincarnation of Richard Petty.

(Roads that featurned speeding cameras in unbelievable profusion, something that vanished as soon as we crossed the border back in England.) No stops apart from a fast pit stop outside of Durham for caffeine/bladder relief and a brief gas purchase an hour from trip’s end, the weather slowly morphing from blue skies/plentiful sunshine to clouds/rain, the views changing from sprawling landscapes to things stranger, all of it sliding by at high speed.

Six hours, fifteen minutes later, we were out of the car, feet once more planted on the rain-damp sidewalks of Newcastle-under-Lyme, my adorable bod happier than I can describe to be vertical and free of seat/seat belt. D. took off in the direction of a cash machine, G. and I stopped in at a pub known for putting on a good Sunday carvery lunch, walked in the door at 2:30, just as the food was being carted off into the kitchen. I watched excellent-looking edibles vanish, allowing myself a brief moment of gastronomic grief before returning to the car, reclaiming the keys from D., driving us home at saner, more leisurely speeds than we’d been subjected to in the previous hours.

Back home, D. resumed normal life, making a couple of phone calls before leaping into his Porshce, disappearing off to Manchester for various activities. G. retired to an armchair in the living rooom — his current bedroom — with a book. I retired to my bedroom, unpacked, fell into bed.

A Monday afternoon in the British midlands, the last leg of a holiday weekend, rain falling on and off. Two short days remained before my return stateside, something I did my level best not to dwell on.

España, te echo de menos.

5 Responses to “Edinburgh, part III”

  1. cube

    Hey, that looks like Two Mile Island ;-)

  2. rws

    Sorta does, doesn’t it? Those cooling towers, however, are on a much larger island.

  3. bushra

    it’s funny, i’m sure these are the same cooling towers.

    been meaning to comment for a while!

  4. bushra

    it’s funny, i’m sure these are the same cooling towers.

    been meaning to comment for a while!

  5. rws

    They mght very well be the same towers. The only real difference I can see is that they look much nicer in your photo. (That would be because yours is a much better photo.)

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