On the way home from the cinema tonight I saw a flickering orange light in the distance, silhouetting the distinctive towers of Donaldson’s School for the Deaf over by Haymarket (where I once did a photo project back in my college days). Since Donaldson’s is one of the few large buildings not lit up at night in Edinburgh it didn’t take me long to realise the reason I could see the towers after nightfall must be because that glow must be from a fire behind the school. And from the size of Donaldson’s I’m guessing it must be a fairly big damned fire to illuminate it light that.

(fire at or near Donaldson’s School for the Deaf, Edinburgh – larger versions on the Woolamaloo Gazette Flickr set)

Too early for anything to be on the Scottish news yet and I have no idea from this distance if it was just a huge bonfire nearby (but who has a big bonfire just a few weeks before Guy Fawkes Night??) or an accidental conflagration, but I clambered up onto the wall near me, stuck the camera on the mini tripod stashed in my bag and snapped a couple of pictures – sorry, they are a bit blurred but it is impossible to focus when all the viewfinder shows is mostly black, so I had to just point it in the right direction, set the lens on night shot and let it go (I decided the subject matter outweighed the poor quality of the pics). Still, despite being a bit out of focus if there is a story here then I can say the Woolamaloo Gazette scooped it first! I do hope that it isn’t something in the actual school though; it is a rare institution that helps a heck of a lot of hearing impaired kids and the day I spent doing my photo project there back at college was a great day, the kids being so friendly to this big old dumbo who couldn’t even sign properly (yup, I was the odd one out there that day because I couldn’t lip read or use sign language, so in effect I was the one with impaired senses).


Friday morning’s ride to work was a pain; after being stuck in log-jammed traffic for a good while the bus finally inched towards the West End where we discovered there was a major fire on Princes Street, which had closed the whole thing down, forcing the buses to divert. Since so many go along Princes Street this made a real mess of city traffic and I ended up having to get out well away from work and walking the rest of the way. At least it was a nice morning for a change and not pouring down as usual. As I walked through the Meadows, trying to to be too distracted by a large-chested woman jogging past (the bounce was like the gas suspension on those old Citroens), I noticed some unusual marketing for a Fringe show – instead of flyers they had put chalk outlines of bodies, like a crime scene, on the paths with the show name and venue written inside.

Only partially successful as marketing though – I thought they were cool and passed several (if I hadn’t been on a hurry to get to work before it was even later I’d have stopped for a pic, they’ve probably washed away in the rain now) but all I could recall of them ten minutes later was the cool chalk body outline, not the name of the show or venue. As one friend commented, it was a bit like the cool TV ad from a couple of years back where various components of a car all worked in pieces to make the next piece work – great visual ad, but neither of us can ever recall what make of car it was promoting (and didn’t really care anyway).

I glimpsed smoke from the burning building as the bus turned up onto a diversion and could also see the tall ladder platform – it had a lot of firefighters there and was fairly major. It turned out to be Romanes and Paterson, a shop dealing in kilts and all sorts of Scottish material. Princes Street on the south side is a view to the Castle and Old Town, but the shop side is a real dog’s breakfast of buildings, with a number of fine, old buildings and some truly hideous monstrosities that were allowed to be built there in the 60s and 70s (not architecture’s finest eras) which utterly ruin that side of a major, historic street. And of course it was an old building from 1878 (which is actually new by Edinburgh standards, really) that caught light and not one of the brutally ugly 60s horrors which would be better suited to a shopping block in Murmansk. Couldn’t the gods of architecture and fire have gotten together on this one?