Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with Edinburgh again

When I arrived in Edinburgh it had been more than three years since I’d last visited. More than anywhere I’d goto in the UK, it was definitely the city that made me most feel like I was ‘home’.

The trip was mainly a chance to catch up with old friends, introduce them to my Australian girlfriend and to try out the amazing coffee shops they’d set up. It was all very pleasant.

Living in Edinburgh was a strange time for me, but mostly I have fond memories. I’d moved down from Aberdeen, where I was on a contracted job that kept getting extended as more women took maternity leave, but I knew that couldn’t last, no matter how hard I tried. I found a job online that I didn’t really understand, but it had the word ‘media’ in its title which was enough for me. The fact that it also had ‘optomiser’ (sic, sadly) should’ve told me a lot about the company I was going to work for.

The company itself was balls. The work was reptitive and menial and, despite my team leader giving me great marks in the six-monthly reviews, there was no reward financially or career-wise, the latter stunted by an ineffective/awful HR manager and a two-faced guy with a job description I have no idea of.

Those types of people were in large the exception, with that office letting me meet some wonderful guys and girls, and make some great friends. I’ve recently caught up with some of them in Bangkok/Sydney, Los Angeles and New York, as well as now again in Edinburgh. The next will probably be in Asia again.

As well as the people I met, I did, for a while, have some sort of pride in landing a full-time job and performing it well. A lot of that disappeared when one of my friends was included in a round of redundancies which one of the directors repeatedly made light of in company meetings. Outside of my job, I was also happy to get back into cricket and had a strong sense of being an adult when I was asked to captain my side, regardless of its low standing.

The city itself is a beautiful place and despite all the positives, the underwhelming prospect of going to that same, morale-sapping job every day soon stopped being bearable. I tried without success to find another job, so when I found out that my two flatmates had plans to move out when our lease came to an end it seemed like the perfect time for me to try something else as well. That turned out to be a great decision, as the past three years have turned out very well for me, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to returning for a while.

Staying in Leith was perfect for nostalgic reasons. Walking past the spot I saw a kid doing a dump on the pavement, where I saw a couple of neds having a fight and all the shops and cafes I used to go to at lunch. Of course, it also offered the chance/had the danger of running into old workmates and, while I wasn’t too fussed about most of them, there were one or two who I heard weren’t so keen on me after my exit.

Given what I thought the slim chances of running into one of them, I did. I was in Ocean Terminal, looking in some women’s fashion store, when in she popped in. Not really wanting a confrontation, I kept to myself, tried to be innocuous and, although she practically walked right into me, she didn’t seem to recognise me. I’ve heard things aren’t going great at my former company, maybe if their employees weren’t going shopping at about 11 in the morning on a work day they’d be doing a bit better. If only HR knew. Oh.

OT hasn’t really changed, and neither has Edinburgh. I went to loads of my old lunch spots and was amazed at how bad most of them were, especially how bad the coffee was in most of them. No wonder davelaw00 wanted to open somewhere that serves good coffee, and he’s done an amazing job with Brewlab.

There were some disappointments, of course. Fleur’s place has shut down, meaning no ace food with terrible, terrible service. And Chocolate Soup, one of my favourite places, has been replaced with a chain coffee store. Which, as I’ve just said, is not what Edinburgh needs. Google has also updated its street view thingy, which means no more me and the amazing KT walking to OT on our lunch break.

The trams, of course, still aren’t in place, despite telling me that’s how I’d be travelling to work in 2010 or ’11 or something. It looks like they’re almost done, with whatever shortened version of the route they’re now taking, so maybe the next time I visit I can have a go on them. Probably not, but maybe.

Although I didn’t spend enough time there to catch up with everyone I wanted to, I did get the chance to speak to a lot of the good and great people I knew there. And, of course, I caught up with the most important person I met in Edinburgh.

sandy robertson

Filed under: europe, , ,

3 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    This place is the closest I have to ‘home’ too. The area I grew up is only associated with childhood and a dull adolescence, and my university town is mainly just pub nostalgia, but so many streets and footpaths in Edinburgh have strong associations – even if it’s just of the audiobooks and badly acted radio dramas I was listening to while wandering.

    • Oliver says:

      Probably the biggest reason for me is that my parents moved away from the village I grew up in after I’d gone to uni. The place they’re in now just seems strange and unknown to me, and I’ve rarely been back to my hometown. Maybe if I did that then it would feel more like home.

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