At last! I have entered Scotland. And the dirty bitch didn’t even make me buy her dinner first! 🙂
More than a decade ago, I took an eight-hour coach trip for my first ever visit to the Scottish capital. I remember only one thing about that journey, which was a Welshman who sat next to me and droned on and on. He was under the misapprehension that a teenager would be enthralled by stories of his childhood in the Valleys. He also taught me the word “conurbation”, which I had never heard before. Based on the “-bation” part I’d assumed it meant something sexual and suspected he may be trying to groom me for a NAMBLA-approved rectal desecration.
For my 2013 Edinburgh expedition, I was planning to fly there as (strangely) it was working out cheaper – and far quicker – than taking the train. As Britain is such a tiny island, it would have been a rare treat, and a new experience, for me to take a “local” flight. I was genuinely excited at the prospect. And then, on the day I was ready to make the booking, I came across an ebay listing offering a return coach ticket to Edinburgh for less than £15 i.e. shaving 90% off my travel costs! Sure, I’d have to endure nine hours of uncomfortable British motorway, but visiting Edinburgh during Fringe Festival season is a painfully expensive endeavour. So any options that lessen the damage to my bank balance over the coming fortnight have to be taken seriously.
So there I was at 8am boarding a bus from Birmingham Coach Station to my temporary home north of the border. Bleary-eyed and ready to doze off, I was hopeful I could sleep through the majority of the journey. Some hope!
I was first to get on board and took a seat on the second row. These are the ones directly above the front wheel, so you feel every backbreaking pothole, but worth enduring as they give you almost 12 inches of extra legroom. When you’re tall and gangly, that extra foot could well be what saves you from a blood clot in your legs.
The coach driver had warned me it was likely to be pretty full for the whole journey, and he wasn’t wrong. The day started with some live entertainment as an old man with a cane and a blind passenger almost came to blows arguing over who had more right to sit in the uber-comfortable disabled seat. The smug satisfied smirk was soon wiped off my face though when a Chinese guy took the seat next to me. Despite there being room available elsewhere, he has chosen to plonk himself there, even though he was travelling with his wife! My mood was further dampened when I realised he’d brought with him a strong smell of meat that I would now be forced to endure for the next 400 miles!
I was now seriously regretting not buying those ‘plane tickets!
Of course, flying there I would have missed out on all the astounding British scenery that suddenly presents itself to you once you venture north of Manchester. Unfortunately, thanks to rush hour traffic, and a pair of downright inconsiderate bitches who made us all wait an extra 20 minutes at the motorway service station, the whole journey took an extra two hours. Which meant I had to suffer almost half a solar day sitting on that damned bus! I can’t describe to you how relieved I was when we finally pulled into Edinburgh Bus Station at about 7.30pm.
As part of my cost-saving plans I’d decided to eschew the expensive hotels and book myself into a “Motel” next to the Royal Mile. I wasn’t expecting much and feared the worst. So it was a blessed relief to discover my accommodation to be surprisingly comfortable and spacious. OK, so they didn’t supply any toiletries, and the rooms don’t even have ironing facilities. But the bathroom is clean – always a good start – and the mattress is comfortable.
The friendly German receptionist was kind enough to arrange a top floor room for me. I wish I’d known before I started getting changed into my PJs that, thanks to Edinburgh’s hilly terrain, the window of my top floor room actually faces directly onto the Royal Mile at street level!
Pity the poor passers-by subjected to my man-boobs as they were tucking into a late-night kebab. On the plus side though, I am chalking that up as my first public performance – and humiliation – at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So it can only get better from here on in…
Tomorrow I re-launch my quest for stand-up comedy world domination. Wish me luck!