Living in town.
Apropos of nothing at all, well, other than I am bored this Friday afternoon at work, I have things I could do but they are more boring (by a considerable margin) than this. Also, this activity serves the double purpose of amusing me for a few moments and wasting some of your valuable time, although you may not realise that until you've stopped reading and started to feel mildly cheated.
As you may or may not know I live in town, its Edinburgh so not exactly a crawling metropolis, it's a pleasant place big enough in which to get stabbed but small enough so you could very well bump into the person that did it the following day, assuming you survived the ordeal. It has all the challenges you'd expect to have in a city and many you might not, here is my rough and not altogether accurate account of what they are and how you can survive them.
No self-respecting city can claim to be so without having its fair share of beggars. Edinburgh is quite posh so the beggars on balance tend to behave differently, for example, in Glasgow the type of money that jangles is usually acceptable but in Edinburgh, it needs to fold. Edinburgh beggars are far more well-to-do sporting as they very usually do such accoutrement as mobile phones, filter cigarettes and dogs wearing waistcoats. I can't afford to buy my dog a waistcoat and I don't know about you but walking past a beggar forcing him or her to interrupt what might be a very serious phone call to ask me for money is very awkward and more than I can stand; I there-for cross the road and so should you.
A universal golden rule with beggars is this: Never ever engage in conversation with one, you will never ever be able to extricate yourself from the ensuing friend-ship, if you try to end it they will put you on a such a powerful guilt trip soon you will feel obliged to let them bunk on your sofa, there isn't enough Febreze in the world to counter that.
A different sort of beggar one with an identity badge and such a bubbly, energetic visage and 'mission' that you'd like to douse them with petrol, set them alight then not piss on them. They'll be collecting for Whales, Dolphins, abused dogs/cats/OAP's/children/birds/blind people but conspicuously not pedestrians who just want to get to the other end of Princes Street without being made to feel like the most selfish, unfeeling bastard the world has ever known. These pious little shits line Princes Street, you can see them a mile away, people going to extraordinary lengths to not be sucked in to the vortex of righteous enthusiasm, a huge vacuum appears around these charity lepers less someone be ensnared. The price of release? Your bank details and a generous direct debit for the cause.
Recent studies in Edinburgh have shown that the prime spot for charity collectors is outside Debenhams, the reason being; most local people know if you go into Debenhams via one door and try to exit from another, you're lucky to reappear in the same century never mind city. Ok, there was no study but I once bought a cardigan for my dad there and had to take it back, when I bought it I found my self exiting a different door roughly near to where I entered. When I went back I wanted to enter via Rose Street (the back door) and exit onto Princes Street (the front door.) I'm not sure what happened, I did go in the back door, couldn't find a way through to the front of the shop, went up some stairs, down an escalator, possibly went somewhere in a lift (I don't remember exactly) and got spat out into a Victorian street scene in Cardiff; I was very nearly mown down by a horse and trap!
Ok, I made that up. But I swear it was Cardiff because I saw John Barrowman.
I have experimented extensively having had the opportunity to do so by living in the shit areas of Edinburgh, Sighthill, Pilrig and the part of Leith they forgot to gentrify to name but three. You need to be careful in town, covered in this section is theft, muggings, general assaults for no reason and being punched in the head by Polish people.
Understand though, 99% of the time you'll be fine in town, it's actually quite nice, not so much so on a weekend evening though. As a rule you probably shouldn't walk around with the tell-tale white wires hanging from your ears, it screams "I'VE GOT EXPENSIVE SHIT ON MY PERSON!" It's an invitation, if the choice is between someone without earphones and someone with, the person with the earphones is going to get taxed, (an interesting slang term for robbed.) Similarly while abroad of an evening, watch those corners, always take them wide, same goes for dark recesses. You might laugh but one day it'll save you your pride and possibly your life.
If I can impart a lesson taught to me by an ancient Native American Warrior brave named; my Granda. He demonstrated that while walking with your hands in your pockets, people seemed not to want to get out of your way, they won't even turn sideways. However, walk with your hands swinging confidently by your sides; people are far more accommodating and keen to 'make a hole' as they say. Try this, its absolutely true, it also helps if you froth at the mouth and mutter under your breath.
Pikey eye contact is a double edged sword. I'm old and miserable and believe me when I say; I look it. There are a great many Pikeys where I live, a Pikey by the way is the kind of person who doesn't work, speaks from a point just behind their nose and wears sports kit although doesn't indulge in actual sports, except the odd cross country run if the police are in attendance. They are generally spotty, sallow toned and shouty, if for example they have forgotten to impart some important morsel of information, they won't phone the person (Pikeys always have good phones) they'll yell, scream and shout the person's name (usually Becky) down the length of the street until they are hoarse to the point of death, (usually after about a minute because these people are always close to death, some might argue; their only endearing quality.)
Pikeys in some respects are like Beggars, indeed many are beggars which explains why if you befriend a Pikey they will not ever leave you alone, which is where eye-contact comes in (I knew I'd get back round to it some how.) Eye-contact is dangerous, they will either instantly become your BFF or will stab you, different ends of the social interaction spectrum you'd agree. The trick is to let your eyes slide away to the side directly on to something else, always to the side mind, never up because that signifies disdain (you might get stabbed) and never down because that signifies weakness (you'll either get stabbed or they'll move in with you and you'll be the one on the sofa.)
I think when you live in town for long enough you develop a certain bearing that says 'stay away from me or I will kill you where you stand'. Obviously if enough alcohol has been imbibed it's of no use because your assailant will be blind, but then that in itself is useful because you can then beat the crap out of them and teach them a lesson by stealing their clothes and leaving them in a cemetery to be eaten by a fox.
I am continually exercised by the existence of pikeys, I could go on at length but I'll stop here.
Except to say, never ever offer first aid to a pikey, if you do you will be punched in the head by the same gang of Polish people who beat him up.
It's quite simple, don't use it, specifically during rush hour. Unless you want to sit next to people of indeterminate hygiene standards in a germ filled metal box then have at it. Off-peak it's not so bad but Edinburgh isn't so big that nothing is more than a brisk walk away, I know what you're thinking but it isn't and you know it.
I should probably say something about the trams, I never get political here because others are far more persuasive than I and more authoritative to boot so I'll just say this: The trams are the fault of the Unionist parties in Government and on Edinburgh City Council, the SNP did not support the idea at any point and recused themselves from all debate knowing that not commanding a majority (at the time in government or at all on the city council,) they could do nothing to stop it dead. Indeed, a little known fact about the trams are, Iain Grey was the Labour Minister for Trams pre-2007 when Labour and the libdems were in government at Holyrood, that was before he was boring everyone to death as leader of the Labour Group in Holyrood and talking nonsense on a full time basis.
Hopefully once they're finished more stringent standards of passenger cleanliness will be enforced, else the upholstery will be ruined within days.
I'm summarising because although I find it really hard to start these blog entries I find it almost impossible to stop. Living in town has its advantages but so does living elsewhere, its great having all the shops nearby, the eateries and stuff. I suppose I should say it's vibrant and multicultural (which means 'like Poland'.) If I had the money I'd have a place in town and a place in the country, when I get bored of one I can recharge at the other. In the meantime, I hope for an increase in the population of urban foxes and a decrease in the population of Pikeys in general.
I'm off to work on my facial tick, frothing at the mouth is just so five minutes ago...
PS: On the off chance anyone is reading these, please leave a comment, even if its only to say the blog is shite. I'm beginning to feel like Will Smith in I Am Legend.