Thursday, 29 April 2010

22 things I love about the number 22

The number 22 bus from Edinburgh's Princes Street to Ocean Terminal in Leith has to be one of the great journeys of the world. From elegant Georgian architecture to delightful junkies smacking their kids, it's a smorgasbord of human triumph and human faeces. Before it gets replaced by a new-fangled tram, here's are 22 things I love about the 22 bus and its route.

1. It's pink!

2. The blind man who stops every bus yelling 'Are you the 22?' (Note to blind man: it would maybe help if you took off your ipod - are you a glutton for punishment or what?)

3. The 'clientele': ranging from Scottish government workers and urban professionals to fragrant homeless people.

4. It's gay friendly: the 22 passes Priscilla's drag bar and Number Eighteen, a gay massage parlour. I love Priscilla's. Sadly I've never been in there, but yesterday, scrawled on the window in semi-literate luminous marker pen was the legend: 'TONIGHT - Miss Kitty Litter'. Genius. And if you're a fan of that little known drag act 'E.Coli', on St Patrick's day they offer free Irish Stew. Unless 'irish stew' some kind of niche gay euphemism?

5. Unexpected pathos: In the sheltered wheelchair ramp at the side of Majestic Wine lives an old man with a white beard and dreads - dodgily but quite accurately known to the locals as 'Black Santa'. Or at least he did live there until the powers-that-be at Majestic cruelly boarded up his house. Santa, if by chance you've got a laptop and you're sitting in Starbucks using the free Wi-fi, I wish you good luck in your new home in a cardboard box on the motorway.

6. The joy of overhearing the conversations of stupid people: 'God, there's no worse feeling than missing a bus is there? It's awful. It just feels worse than anything.' I heard a girl say to her friend yesterday. (You sure about that? How about waterboarding? Losing your entire family in a fire? Having your fingernails ripped out by Triads? No. Apparently nothing. Duh.)

7. Edinburgh bus rules. In Glasgow, everyone piles on, fists flying. In Edinburgh you have to wait for people to get off before you get on. V. civilised.

8. The CCTV. Check your hair in the bus telly as you get off.

9. The amusing shop names of Leith Walk. The Yummy House, The Spicy Pot, The Cat's Miaou, Lolo's Gemstone, and Chimei, which I can't go past without internally yelling 'CHIMAAAAI' in the voice of Timmy from South Park. Not forgetting Borland's Darts and Television (because throwing darts at the television is FUN!)

10. The S&M Hotdog: on the way to Leith shore, the 22 goes past a snack bar with an enormous fibreglass hotdog standing outside it. With a deranged expression on its sausage face, it stands there gleefully slathering itself with mustard and ketchup, waiting to be devoured. Weird.

11. Watching the inevitable slide down the social scale from the bottom to the top of Leith Walk. Bottom of Leith Walk - Italian delis, theatregoers, groups of well-heeled Spanish children on school trips. Top of Leith Walk - lepers with nae teeth.

12. The silvery glistening delights of Leith Shore. The water of Leith is really quite beautiful on a clear morning, even with dead ducks and Farmfoods carrier bags floating in it.

13. God, finding 22 good things about a frigging bus is hard.

14. The bus stop is right outside the Disney store, which means I can watch Tom and Jerry cartoons through the shop window while I wait.

15. It's never late. Or early. If you miss it, there's always another one along. It's just always there. In fact, it's so reliable that you could probably phone it at 3 am and cry about getting dumped and it'd be all like 'oh, don't worry, he was a bastard anyway.'

16. You can play ned bingo.

17. I've never had to stand up on it, ever.

18. Once this total loony got on and started singing the complete works of Gilbert and Sullivan under his breath at super fast speed. It was a virtuoso performance.

19. It deposits you at Ocean Terminal, where you can eat and go shopping - providing you only want a helium balloon from Birthdays and a M&S sandwich.

20. It stops outside an aquarium shop which has a sign on the door saying 'No Dogs. We have a cat.' (WHAT ABOUT THE FISH??)

21. It goes past Gayfield Square *giggles like an idiotic 9 year old*

22. Er, that's it.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

wind and pish

If I've got a hangover and a child to entertain, (a rare occurrence I hasten to add- ahem) I feel a sense of terrible desperation - to cover up the fact that Amstel is coming out of my pores by overcompensating on the Fun Mum front. With a lightweight giggly hangover it works a treat, and it's a seamless transition from drunk and disorderly to 'hilarious woman rolling around in the soft play area with her knickers on her head'. However, when I've been out til 1 am and the bloody woman upstairs has her washing machine on ALL NIGHT directly above our bed, and Louis gets up at seven saying 'want Malties want Eatabix want Snap Crackle Pop' Fun Mum is replaced by Mentally Unstable Alkie Bipolar Mum who acts like Mr Tumble one minute and Ed Gein the next and says stupid, guilt-ridden things like 'I know, let's go on a family day out to a wind farm!'

So off we went to freeze our tits off at the Whitelee wind farm and visitor's centre. God knows what I was expecting, but fuck me, it was windy. The kind of windy that gives everyone hair like Howard Jones and grimacing faces like people from Ayrshire. The turbines started giving me the fear, with their strange swooshing and monstrous War of the Worlds dimensions - the wind chill factor was about minus 2, then Louis tripped up on a rock and cried and I had to carry him for about a mile up a hill as he whimpered at the SHEER BLOODY WINDINESS OF IT ALL. Conclusion: wind farms are too windy. Do not leave the house ever.


Even though I know children and 25 year old indie music obsessives generally don't mix, me and my husband decided to get back in touch with the people we used to be and attend Record Store Day at Monorail, Glasgow's finest vegan vinyl hipster village. Of course, we didn't buy any records because we're skint, but it somehow felt important to stand near people who had, so we took Louis along to experience this special day. Unfortunately I'd forgotten that Louis' favourite game when in Monorail is to take all the laminated A-Z cards out and re-catalogue them in the idiosyncratic style of someone who doesn't actually know what the alphabet is. In indie record store terms this is a crime akin to wearing a Lighthouse Family t-shirt and doing a dump on Daniel Johnston. Must sit him down and teach him the error of his ways - filing Times New Viking next to Tom Tom Club = Naughty Step. Tsk tsk.