I noticed this shiny brass plaque on a very posh building in a rather expensive (even by Edinburgh standards) section of the city – it is a real charity, “The Royal Society for the Relief of Indigent Gentlewomen of Scotland”, and I was hugely amused that something with such a title still existed in the 21st century…
Spent chunk of the day with visiting cartoonist/journalist I know who was up to cover the referendum, and at one point we strolled down the Royal Mile, passing so many media crews (more camera crews than even during the festival). There was a crowd of Yes campaigners there, this was just after Alex Salmond had announced his resignation as First Minister, although we didn’t know that until we spoke to some of them. This chap got up to make an improvised speech, and, I am glad to say called for understanding and moving on:
Then he finished by calling on the crowd, in Scots tradition, to forget divisions and come together, hold hands and sing Auld Lang Syne, and there they were singing and dancing in front of the Scottish Parliament
This chap started up with his pipes…
And there was the crowd doing some Scottish country dancing, Strip The Willow, right in front of the doors of the Parliament – loved it (and what a contrast to a small cadre of bigoted boot boys in George Square later in the day and their disgraceful behaviour)
And here’s the media village set up by the parliament – think half the world’s media has been on the streets of Edinburgh the last few days
Edinburgh is buzzing tonight – Yes and No campaigners out, all seem to be in an almost carnival mood, and our ancient capital is also awash with massed media from all over the world and in addition to many flags – mostly Union flags for the No and Saltires for Yes – there is a sprinkling of foreign flags, notably Catalonian flags and many from Catalonia are here tonight, exuberant, watching closely, offering support and wondering if they will get their much-desired chance for a proper referendum that would decide if they stay or depart from Spain.
In front of Saint Giles Cathedral tonight, appropriately enough in Parliament Square, close to where the original Scottish parliament met before the Act of Union in 1707, the flags of Catalonia and Scotland re-created in coloured glass and fluttering candles. Turnout for the vote is huge, reports say, polling stations now closed as I write, the counting begins, by tomorrow we will know the outcome.
Even the world-famous Greyfriar’s Bobby statue has had a makeover, with a natty new doggy coat in tartan all dressed up for the Independence Referendum!
So today I and millions of fellow Scottish citizens decide on the issue of staying in the Union or returning to a state of independence, the most important constitutional decision in three centuries. I said months ago I thought it would be far closer than the previously (over)confident No camp thought it would be, but I had no idea just how close it would become this close to the wire… I’ll cast my vote first thing before going to work, no way I will miss this. I decided a long time ago how I will vote, not on nationalistic lines, or from jingoism or feelings towards Westminster but mostly drawing on what I think is the most important thing, what I consider to be the most democratic outcome for Scottish citizens, that gives us the fairest form of democratic represenation.
(aircraft vapour trails crossing above Edinburgh Castle, creating a Saltire-like image, a floating, ephemeral version of the Scottish flag in a blue sky above the great castle at the heart of the capital)
I have held off from talking about it here because far too many people from politicians in London who ignored most of it for two years (until recently!) to that useless parasite of modern society, the opinionated but brainless celebrity, have been busy trying to tell people how they should think and vote. And while I have (surprise) strong opinions, as I tend to do about most things (Neil Gaiman once commented I was opinionated, but in the good way), I have no desire to try and influence anyone. This is not a decision anyone should try to make for you, not foolish, interfering foreign politicians (yes, Mr Tony Abbot, you and others), not the London government, not celebrities (especially those who don’t even reside in the UK most of the time), this is our decision, for Yes or for No, our nation, our ancient nation, and our choice.
And afterwards… Afterwards, whichever way the result goes, no rancour, no discrimination, no in-fighting, we are, as the grand old Scots saying goes, all Jock Tamson’s Bairns. And recall the words of our great Scots makkar and artist, Alasdair Gray, “work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.” Whichever way the vote goes, work for ever more change – because change doesn’t stop because life is change and we can’t stop it as long as we live – change that makes for a better nation, because our nation is ancient and it was passed to us and we will pass it on to others, hopefully changed for the better each generation.
With being so busy and also doing some stuff with the book festival I clean forgot to post some more of my photos from Festival time in Edinburgh
(these performers were from a production of Oliver Twist – presumably an alternative Nazi bondage version of Dickens!)
And of course I shot some at the Book Festival
(Bryan Lee O’Malley signing in the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet a few hours before I talked to him on stage at the Edinburgh International Book Festival)
(from left to right, Kate Charlesworth, Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot at the Book Festival)
(Ken MacLeod and Mike Carey signing after their Book Festival talk – Ken I’ve known for many years, Mike I have known but only online so at last we got to meet in person and have a nice drink and natter after the event)
(Mike Carey again, this time talking comics at the Book Festival with Isabel Greenberg and, on the right, Stuart Kelly)
(Nick Hayes – left – and Reinhard Kleist – on the right – after the talk I chaired with them at the book fest, a very good evening)
(between events it’s nice to sit in Charlotte Square at the book fest in the literary-themed deckchairs)
(night-time at the Edinburgh Book Festival)
(and the traditional 45 minute classic fireworks concert launched from Edinburgh Castle which marks the end of the Edinburgh Festival season. Didn’t go all the way into Princes Street and the crowds, instead took these from bridge over the Union Canal near the regenerated area)
Orange fish-headed people walking along Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile? Ah yes, it’s time for the Fringe…. And that means I end up taking even more photographs than I usually do! Here’s the batch from the first few days of this year’s Festival:
Isn’t this just one of the best smiles you’ve seen??
Zombies on the streets!
And there is sexy retro sci-fi space-babe action too!
And some folk have a different angle on things…
It’s Monty and the Funtastic Bucket Man!
And then their masks came off…
The Fringe – the world’s biggest arts festival – and the main Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Book Festival start in August, but we’re currently already in the Jazz and Blues Festival, which kicked off last weekend with with a carnival style parade along a packed Princes Street on a very hot day, then down into Princes Street Gardens afterwards where some performers put on shows in the Ross Theatre (open air theatre in the gardens, right below Castle Rock) and others did little bits on the parkland around the theatre too.
I loved this very colourful costume and the lettering round his tuba:
Of course, being Edinburgh as well as exotic musicians and dancers we had a pipe band:
This is how busy the Ross Theatre in the Gardens was after the parade:
Asian performers waiting to go on stage in the Gardens:
Performers relaxing on the grass after the parade
Celtic warrior woman putting on sword fighting display while band plays
Didn’t catch this foreign band’s name, but they were belting it out and really getting the crowd going
Go off the main road in the West End and you find more interesting spots, such as three pubs right by each other down a nice, old cobbled road, including this one, Teuchters:
Good real ale pub, comfortable, a little pricey perhaps, but not by the normal West End standards to be honest, and a nice place to relax (also dog friendly), although it can get very, very busy. How cosy does it look at night though?
I had actually been shooting some other parts of town at night, walking home past the pub with tripod still over shoulder, so thought may as well take a few more. I’ve grown fond of doing some city night scenes in black and white in recent years, amazing the difference it makes to switch to monochrome rather than colour. I tried focusing in on a window, giving a glimpse from cold, dark nocturnal street outside into the cosy, warm, well-lit glow within the pub, didn’t expect it to work, but seemed to come out okay:
Every now and then I post a photo to my Flickr and it the viewing figures leap up for no reason that I know of – even with the pro version of Flickr the stats page is annoyingly vague, often lists a percentage of links from “unknown source” or not at all. In the case of this photo of dandelion seeds read to blow away for some reason I got over 1600 views in less than 20 hours, just for that one pic. To put that in perspective, three of four years ago I got around 600-800 views a day on average for my whole Flickr, on a good day maybe 1000, 1200, 1500 if the pic had been shared somewhere prominent. These days I get 3000 to 6000 on average a day, some days north of 10,000 though. I suppose some of it may be sheer weight of numbers, given I have well over 10,000 images on there now if even in in 5 gets a single viewing each day in one of the groups I shared it in on Flickr it will mount up, along with larger views for newly posted items. But getting 1600 views in less than 20 hours for one pic? No obvious links posting to it, perhaps it featured on Flickr’s front page for a few hours and folk just liked it. Not complaining, nice to get the views, just wonder sometimes why some leap up all of a sudden:
Walking home from work earlier this week on a very fine, sunny spring evening, spotted a crowd of tourists on the Royal Mile watching this street performer, Sideshow Stevie, paused on route home, had missed most of the act but did see little of his final part…
Which involved this small bed of nails, laid across his tummy
Then this fairly hefty chap climbed up and stood on the board!
Now that is a pretty extreme form of acupuncture!