The wonderful thing about the ageing process is the tremendous accumulation of knowledge that builds up in your brain over the years. Unfortunately there is also a downside – with such a khichuri of trivia sloshing round the cranial cavity, when you dredge up a nugget of information, you’re never quite sure where it came from or even if it is true or not.
This thought came to me as we wandered through Edinburgh on Wednesday and passed the bronze statue of local lad, David Hume, and I noticed that the toes on his left foot were shiny, rather than the weathered verdigris of the rest of him. I had a nagging feeling that I knew why this was, then up it popped from the soup – the statue has become a pilgrimage site for philosophy students from around the world who believe that rubbing the great man’s toes will bring them luck in their exams.
Where I know this from I have no idea, but it would have annoyed Hume no end because, of course, he believed that philosophical reasoning could free mankind from the grip of superstition and you’d think the students would realise this. Unless it is some metaphysical game of bluff and double-bluff.
You can surmise from this that we did make it to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay festivities, although it was touch and go. Storm Frank was dumping even more water on the north of the UK on Wednesday, but the journey went well until we reached junction 13 of the A74(M) south of Glasgow where the road north was closed due to floods.
This in itself wasn’t a problem as the sat-nav was taking us off at that point to cut across eastwards to our destination, passing fields that had become lakes, but when we reached Coulter, the Clyde or a tributary (I’m not sure which) made the road impassable and we had to double back and take a detour to get through Biggar, arriving in Edinburgh an hour later than anticipated.
Thanks to Miss P, our base could not have been better situated. We stayed in a spacious two-bed apartment nextdoor to the The Scotsman building in the centre of the city in what had once been the offices of The Heritable Securities and Mortgage Investment Association Ltd. That’s the living room above with Master P making himself at home.
There were remnants of its former use dotted about the place, not least the door to bathroom which was the old vault with a four-inch steel door that weighed a ton. Fortunately, it had been ‘fixed’ so that you couldn’t accidentally lock yourself in, but neither could it be entirely closed.
Wonderfully retro accommodation with so many original features and just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile – who could ask for more?
In the evening we joined the throng to take part in the torchlight procession through the city, the opening Hogmanay, which involved buying a wax torch for £12 then hanging around in a pen for an hour until we were allowed to light them and head off through the streets.
Five percent of the proceeds from the torch sales went towards Unicef, so I suppose virtue-signalling doesn’t more conspicuous as that. We were told that £8,000 had been raised and if I’ve got my sums right, that means there were more than 13,000 people taking part. It felt like more, but still a drop in the ocean compared to crowds on New Year’s Eve. More on that to follow.