Party on Princes Street

Dark and very wet in Edinburgh as they are doing the final preparations for tonight’s Hogmanay bash – maybe not the best weather for standing outside for a huge open-air party. I’m giving it a miss – been there and done that many times (was there right at the very first one) and now at my age can’t be bothered freezing outside for hours, queuing ages for the loo etc, better at my age to retire to the billiards room of my Gentlemen’s Club with the port and (chocolate) cigars… The traffic was utterly fubared by the closure of Princes Street for the party, an endless line of cars and buses all the way back past Haymarket (I decided to walk, rain or not, it was quicker), which makes me worry how bad my daily trip to work will be when the stupid tram roadworks hit Princes St soon – wouldn’t mind if it was useful, but the line won’t go near 4/5 of homes so its bugger all use to most Edinburgh folks… Anyway, shot a quick panorama just after sunset; you can see a camera crew setting up on a platform to cover it, the lights of the fair in front of the illuminated Bank of Scotland Building over on the left, the stage almost ready in the Gardens and the Castle above it all.


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?