A very beautiful and sunny day off for me today. The spring sunshine bathed Edinburgh in a warm glow, flowers burst into bloom in Princes Street Gardens and women are wearing more revealing tops. Ah yes, spring is in the air. In this spirit I decided to leave aside the cares of the modern world for one day and embarked upon an ancient Celtic tradition, a pagan ritual the Celtic people have followed faithfully since long before the Romans came to Caledonia. A life-affirming celebration of the end of the long, dark winter and the rebirth of the Earth goddess in the form of spring. Yes, in other words I had my first outdoor beer of the year
Don’t mock – for those of us who live in the ancient lands of Scotland the first outdoor drinking session of the spring is a very important ritual, which must be solemnly observed on the first reasonably warm and sunny afternoon. The ritual demands several local ales to be imbibed and for small delicacies to be served to honour the Goddess (crisps will do). Dear chums, I hold my Celtic heritage very dear and sacred to my heart and so I did my best to carry out this ancient ceremony to the best of my ability, onerous though that burden may be.Suitably enough for someone who works in the book trade this al-fresco imbibing took place outside of Milne’s Bar in Rose Street. For those who don’t know Edinburgh, Milne’s was the home away from home for a large number of Scottish poets in the post-war period. A composite portrait of our drunken bards in this historic tavern hangs in the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. One of the pluses about living in Edinburgh is that even the pubs are historic landmarks to be visited. So you can go pub crawling and still call it a tour, wonderful. Never trust a poet who doesn’t indulge. Come to think of it, never buy a pair of used roller blades from one either, especialyl if he’s been drinking.