Sunday, 29 April 2007

Familial Bonds

Sleepy Edinburgh in the morning looking down Princes Street

I went to Dunfermline on Friday evening for a good ‘ol fashioned home cooked family meal at a friend’s place. I noticed there was a lot of new housing hastily being constructed in the suburbs, leapfrogging out from the city in frenzy. I saw evil Tesco had already staked its territory. The average house price in the UK is now £180,000, yet what I am seeing – county Fife - is still the cheapest place in the whole country.

Anyway, what a great chap…and his three adorable children, the youngest being a two-year old wee lass who took a liking to me, and like children that age, danced (literally) on the threshold between being shy and being intensely curious.

There is a natural unadulterated joy and directness that children have we lose as cynical adults. I’m usually okay with kids. She proudly showed me her magnetic doodle drawing board and I deftly drew a simple stick figure with a grinning bubble-head. She giggled and immediately named that as her brother. She copied me but drew one with a bigger bubble-head with lopsided Picasso eyes and nose. That was her eldest brother apparently. She erased that and then drew another one with an even more deformed features and massive head. That’s mum I was informed. No prizes for guessing who had the biggest head in the next drawing.

After a gut-bursting meal and an encore worthy artery-clogging dessert, we chatted about how the UK was going down the loo (a favourite topic of mine of late). After a perfunctory football game with the boys in the backyard, we sleepily drove in the orange-pink hued sunset towards Edinburgh to pick up a piece of IKEA furniture from Olga, a former landlady of my mate, with the shimmering soul calypso of Kevin Lyttle reverberating into the cool evening air from the car stereo.

Olga’s mum, house sitting for her daughter, was a sharp-witted (she guessed my profession straight away) quirky old widow who has been husbandless for 26 years after losing him suddenly to sub-arachnoid haemorrhage. One day he woke up with a God-awful headache, got up to the sink saying he was going to be sick and then popped his clogs just like that. She never re-married. ‘Life goes on’ she quipped as she took a phone call from her grandniece calling from Vancouver. She also has a grandnephew in South Africa and unusually they both keep in touch with her every week. She felt blessed she remarked. She still has a zest for life despite recently fracturing several bones from a road traffic accident…of all things when standing in a mobile communal library that got rammed by another vehicle. It’s funny how some people just tell you their smallest personal details so casually. Such is life but I definitely agree about the family bit. I keep in touch with my folks and sister weekly. I also speak to those regularly whom I care very much.

We wended our way down the bustling streets and passed the cobbled Royal Mile. The ghostly-neon lit magnificent Edinburgh castle stood silently over the city like an ageless sentinel. It still amazes me how safe and parochial downtown Edinburgh felt for a capital city. Maybe it’s a tad far to drunkenly crawl around on all fours but the centre is certainly walkable. George Street was packed with the usual revellers venue-hopping and laughing merrily into the clear moonlit night. Another friend, Lisa, remarked to me recently how money wasn’t really the most important thing in life and that human relations are. I agree (although what with the housing bubble, having a nice financial cushion is highly desirable atm - mwahahahahaha). She’s moving on to her next job next week and wants us to keep in touch and for me to stay over anytime. I’d like to pop back to Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival later in the summer so I’ll pencil that into the diary as a perfect excuse to drop by.

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