Standard Issue writers are penning a letter to their hometown. In hers, Siân Bevan raises a glass to the higgledy-piggledy celebration of everything that is Auld Reekie.
Hey pal. I know I say this about once a month but you are just beautiful. And yes, I know when I say it, it’s like I’ve got my arm slung over your shoulder while breathing hot, beery breath into your ear. But you are beautiful, hen. Heart-wrenchingly bee-you-tee-full. *burp*
I know you’re not even my hometown. Not really. I wasn’t born here and didn’t go to school here. I drifted here in my early 20s when I just wanted to be somewhere else and you rolled me up into your hills and I got too comfy to leave.
It’s one of my favourite things about you: you love a drifter. You’re home to so many wanderers, people who pass through you and leave a wee piece of their soul on Arthur’s Seat and a wee piece of their dinner on some cobbles after too many drams.
“Edinburgh, you are basically a festival of festivals – a continual championing of everything, like a Scottish Ellen.”
You open up so much during August that you’re going to get yourself a reputation, my love. Bajillions of people stomp all over you and you just watch as families argue on the Meadows, tourists get soaked at the Tattoo and comedians hand out flyers with increasingly broken hearts.
Even with all of this, you still seem so…solid. You’re never a granny to us; you don’t bustle around a cosy kitchen, looking after all your guests. You’re more like an impossibly cool academic, smoking in the corner of a fabulous party and gently wafting a hand around your abode saying, “Help yourself, darlings. I’m sure you’ll find someone to get along with.” And people always do.
Maybe it’s all the slopes, making people tumble into each other, but I’ve never known anywhere as good for making friends as Auld Reekie. It could be just the total acceptance of a catalogue of niche groups: a veritable internet of hill-walkers, role players, fetishists, improv fans, comedians, slam poets, artists… Your soul mates are here and catalogued for your convenience.
I could witter for ages about all the things I love about you: stroking your hair while I reminisce about kissing in parks, napping in pubs and stomping up hills in the rain, only to turn around and gasp – literally, wankingly, gasp – at the ridiculousness of the view.
I love the National Museum of Scotland on Chamber Street. A rainy afternoon in there doing terrible drawings of your animal collection is one of my most favourite things in the whole wide world. I love your cafes. I love comedy venue The Stand. I love the theatres that I forget to go to. I love that Glasgow is right there, like a neighbour you have a massive crush on but that you pretend to argue with anyway. I love the streets that twist and turn and are suddenly on two levels, like Dali created a computer game designed to make you question your understanding of maps.
I love your festivals. I love celebrating comedy, books, science, jazz, storytelling, politics, history and theatre. Edinburgh, you are basically a festival of festivals – a continual championing of everything, like a Scottish Ellen.
Sometimes you make me tired. Staying here – crashing on your couch with your continual hosting of all the people from everywhere – can make me grumpily want to whinge, and cling to your legs and complain that you should pay more attention to me. But I know you’d just ruffle my hair, and send me off to a basement to play with some poets and I’d have a lovely time.
You’re a classy bitch, Edinburgh, and I love loving you.
Siân is a writer, performer, creator of joyful things and sometimes she tries to explain things to young people. She’s a mainly vegan feminist who loves elephants, is scared of the dark and likes stories most of all.