There is a character I’ve dubbed Pigeon Man; he’s one of those characters you see regularly around town and I suspect a lot of folk in Edinburgh have seen him since he seems to get around all over the city. He’s a tall man in his late 50s or 60s, gray hair and beard and always but always clad in a Duffel coat, regardlress of the weather. I’ve seen him everywhere from my street to Arthur’s Seat, city centre, he gets around and wherever he goes he pulls out bread crumbs to feed the pigeons. Which is great because obviously we really need even more of these flying, disease-ridden rodents around urban areas crapping all over the place and trying to rip open bin bags. I’ve noticed him several times strewing around the bread crumbs near the huge wheelie bins so the residents end up with even more bloody pigeons and screaming, scavenging seagulls than usual, which does inspire me to wallop the senile old fool over the head with a frying pan.
But I’ve never talked to him, he’s just one of those repeating characters you see around town – every city has some variation on them. That changed this week though when I was on the way to yet another Film Festival screening and saw him strolling down the road in his Duffel coat (all buttoned up on a summer day of course, nature’s way of saying ‘freak alert’). As he passes me he suddenly stops, lunges in on me until his silver beard is inches from my face and mumbles “accept Jesus” while rolling his eyes. Then he straightens up and walks on as if nothing had happened, so I run up behind him and shout “only if you accept Lucifer” which he ignored. Gee, if I didn’t already hate organised religions that’s the sort of spokesman that would make you question your faith. Oddly I have never had an agnostic or aethiest or Wiccan or Buddhist run up to me in the street like this (more disturbing than the old loonies like this are the earnest young believers who start off by asking an innocous question like directions to someplace then suddenly they are inviting you to prayer meetings and these smegheads seem unable to grasp the notion of “no” as an answer or indeed the notion of personal space as they always lean in as close as possible to you).
Oh well, been ages since some holier-than-thou, I-Know-Better-Than-You type has come up to me in the street and try to introduce Jesus to my life (if I wanted a 30-something Jewish man in my life I’d hang out at accountants conventions). Still, my favourite street preacher was another silver-bearded rambling, foaming the mouth nutter who used to parade up and down Princes St with “the end of the world is nigh” signs; during the height of the summer tourist season he was on Princes Street with a number of radical Christian youths who had tied a number of boards to the railings explaining to us all why we would all be going to Hell except him. And being touristy Edinburgh he had the same board repeated in a variety of other languages! Only in Edinburgh…