Sixty. That’s the age I’ll be before I plan on playing golf again. And it’s the reason I’m not keen on playing golf until then, because it’s also the score I happened to achieve during today’s play (if you don’t know golf, 60 is bad (I normally get under 50)) – more than a year since heading out to paint Edinburgh-town red with Stevie the New Zealander. What does my playing golf (poorly) today have anything at all to do with my being in Scotland 18 months ago? Well, golf was invented in Scotland. Wasn’t it? As has been commonly the case in my approach to writing this journal, I’m not going to bother researching the issue. Suffice to say while sitting outside the golf club afterward and trying to drown the memory of such a horrendous game with a couple of beers, it occurred to me as a good way of segueing into the next chapter on my time in one of the world’s great cities. I can’t honestly remember whether Sunday or Monday – Christmas Eve – was the night I headed out for beers with a Kiwi bloke equally displaced from his comfort zone and climate as me. So I might as well make it Sunday. The night starts off a little hazy, according to my notes, but I’m pretty sure we didn’t have pre-drinks at the hostel. (Alcohol was prohibited in its common room, which was the first time I’d come across such a rule at such a place.) First stop was Rose Street, running parallel to the train line north-west of Waverly Station and the adjacent Winter Wonderland. Either I’d read about Rose in Lonely Planet, or Stevie had recommended it. Either way, we must have been too early because it was a struggle to find pubs of any interest. So I promptly tried to recall my kind of drunken Saturday night city bar wanderings with Sarah, by looking for the same places to visit with the entirely different but no-less stimulating company of a young New Zealand dude.
We ended up at The Bank Bar – a swanky joint running parallel with and south of the train station, on The Royal Mile. A group of French guys pointed to it across Nicolson St while we were waiting to cross the road, and said it was to host the start of a pub crawl beginning shortly. While we were sitting outside smoking, a couple of eggs came from I have no idea where and smashed near us. After I drank a couple of Guinnesses, and he Tennents Lagers, we forgot about joining the pub crawl and instead hit The Globe Bar, around the corner on Niddry Street. It was supposed to be a backpacker bar, but instead seemed more of a sports bar – a fact that was backed up by one of its disappointed looking staff. Indeed, there was sports paraphernalia everywhere. Even a Wallabies (rugby union) jersey on the ceiling of a grotto, which was an enclosed, arched space with a large TV at one end, and only one entry and exit. The grotto reminded me of the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange, though it was brick instead of painted black and white, had benches on either side for seating instead of contorted, naked mannequins and of course booze instead of milk. It was very cheap. Two pounds 40 pence for a Jack Daniels and Coke. It was there, in fact, I drank my first Scotch since New Orleans. It seemed appropriate, and I’d regained my courage. We had a few drinks there quite uneventfully, then left. I was thankful for some non-blue-collar company, in the form of a bloke who still did have a blue-collar sort of personality.
I must at this point lament my lack of memory, especially in regard to my nights out with both Sarah and Stevie. There’s a vague sense in the back of my mind that things happened while spending time with them wandering through Edinburgh’s night-life which are worth relaying. Perhaps it’s that I didn’t catch up on the journal until a few days later in Los Angeles; or perhaps it’s simply that, in both cases, I went drinking with them, we talked some largely inconsequential shit, and while it was enjoyable truly very little worth remembering or relaying really happened. Maybe it’s a mixture of both. The next sentence in my journal explicitly states: “I wish I could remember Monday better.” It turns out according to my notes that Monday, not Sunday, was in fact the night I went out drinking with Stevie. And that it was also the night I sat up until 3am with Christmas Eve insomnia and watched the Inbetweeners until 3am. “Thank God for those bastards.” Then I woke up late, probably late-morning, on Christmas Day for the first time in my life. I hadn’t heard anything from Sarah about what was happening that evening, since the initial invitation on Saturday to her family’s Christmas dinner. And still she didn’t, until I had waited past the 3pm she had “kind of” said her dad would pick me up. So I checked Facebook, which held a message in which she said she’d pick me up at 4pm. “No problem”, I wrote back, partly because my phone needed a lot more of a charge anyway. Plus it’s highly probable I was more than a little hungover, if not sleep-deprived, so was quite happy to lie down in my warm, underground dorm room for a while as my sole reliable electronic connection with the outside world recharged. Christmas evening with a bunch of Scots would be one to remember and, ironically due to the flow of booze, also one to struggle to remember.