Fear and Respect for the Gun.

Time is shrinking and mere months remain before many words must be expressed, collated, and arranged in sufficient patterns to please many stuffy academics that would much rather be at home with their kids than poring through self-indulgent historical ramblings by smug young upstarts who callously hope to one day procure their jobs. I’m not alone, here – virtually every MSc student I know in this country is at the same drooly, do-anything-but-writing state as I, from Aberdeen to Stirling to the bowels of Edina. We make a mean (and moist) conglomerate, to be sure. But if you can’t fuck things off while you’re a student, when can you, really?

Another project has reared its ugly head, and I hope to be offering a greater glimpse of it right here in the coming days, of course mostly to provide an efficient distraction from Things That Need Doing. But you might find some interest and joy within, as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a Gentleman’s Club of some sort – though composed not entirely of gentlemen, or even those of the muskier sex, in general. As a matter of fact, it’s mostly a bunch of degenerates, but degenerates of the best ilk, of course.

Edinburgh, you see, has been swallowed up by a horrific dose of modernity, as most urban areas are, given the proper amount of time and economic dilution. Where once Stevenson and McDiarmid and Boswell thought, plotted, and penned, now J. K. Rowling gets all the glamour. Where tobacconists and Luckenbooths and importers of exotic Oriental goods once stood is now blighted by Gap, Virgin, and *gasp* the Celtic Store. Yes, football jerseys are far more appealing than hand-carved sundries from the wilds of Africa – and they attract the ladies more quickly, as well. The architecture and the mystique of Edinburgh is simply just a backdrop to its commercial and capitalist sheath, introduced over the years to bolster the city’s economy and desirability, and to make a loch-load of cash along the way. In the process, the teeming masses roiling down Princes Street chase away many of the more demure natives and residents, confiscating one of the most wonderful views of the incomparable skyline in this brilliant jewel of the North. It is a hub, right on the nexus of Old Town and New, of the Royal Mile and Calton Hill – the exact spot that anybody who has been to Edinburgh will tell you that they first fell in Love with.

This is not really a complaint about people going about their business of modern life. This is more a juxtaposition of that common way of doing things with a layer of the city that still exists just under the surface of the Modern. Just behind the shops and shopping, and right beneath the Fopps and the fopping. The people of this city have forgotten what had happened just a few centuries before. This is not to say that they don’t have a sense of history, because the more acute reminders are lurking all around. Living in the shadow of the Castle demands that none forget entirely. But I’m speaking about a lifestyle that established this place – a proud tradition that parented what Edinburgh is today, and that is still extant if you’re wiling to look a little closer.

This was a city with countless stories, crafted by countless thinkers over countless pints. A home to visionary artists and planners, world-builders and organisers. Love them or hate them for their ideas, but their stone visages won’t be removed from George Street or the Mile, and their imprint is an indelible auger that bores far beyond the old, piecemeal walls of this city. The stench and living conditions were horrible back then, but the boundless Creation was commendable, and astounding. Not to say an appreciation for these things doesn’t still exist to a degree, but an awareness of the old cadres of intelligentsia and their contributions should be a prerequisite to all citizens of Edinburgh. She’s worth it, and it is only fair that we give something back that fits so nicely around her fine form. Sadly, though, Boswell has turned into Beckham and Fergusson has decayed to Franz Ferdinand.

Must we exhume old George Drummond just to find the right path to walk? No, there is an alternative!

Now we go back to the degenerates. You see, this rowdy mob of artists, students, and professional drinkers have seen fit to bring back the ol’ traditions through a medium that is easily accessible to the general populace: Subversive Journalism. Aside from meeting often to discuss philosophy, religion, improvement, history, education, poetry, and the boundless ways to kill yourself with libation and tobacco, they publish a newspaper, currently strategically placed around the city for maximum efficaciousness. In it, the Ghosts of Edina still haunt, and through its language and subject matter evokes the memory of perhaps a more illustrious time in the city’s history. Think Revolution principles wrapped around a core of progressiveness and joyful wonder at what fortune passes within the closes and cobbles. Think effortless ritual combined with a deep knowledge and appreciation of life, and life here in this glorious metropolitan village.

Yes, there is a place that one can still go to find a window to this past of which I speak. Strangely enough, it can be found at the Elephant House, Jolly Judge, and soon – all 30 libraries in the greater metropolitan Edinburgh area. Pick up an issue of the One o’Clock Gun. It’s free. Enjoy it, and ruminate on this place in which we live. Enjoy the wonderful blend of wit, poignance, memory, and evocative language, and Be Proud of Your Surroundings Once Again!

(And look for my contributions within, starting in Issue #3, which will be out just in time for the Book Festival. Tell your friends!)

For Johnson, Boswell, Hume, Home, Stevenson, Fergusson, Burns, Knox, Robertson, Stewart, Smith, McDiarmid, Gibbon, Gunn, Montrose, Carlyle, Adam, Craig (and reluctantly) Scott. This is but a few. Let’s create more!

2 Responses to “Fear and Respect for the Gun.”

  1. spiffington Says:
    June 28th, 2004 at 7:23 pm

    old cake…
    We can all walk the path together!
    One great slurring, stumbling contingent wading through the murky waters of the past, arms outstretched, towards the glistening, hidden treasures of times gone by.
    *And* we can have cake and tea while we do it too…

  2. avalokita Says:
    June 28th, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    And all along the east coast, urbanites are fleeing cities and leaving the decrepid urban nightmare to the constant inflow of poor immigrants…
    And those urbanites are devouring every last inch of green land…
    Imagine that going on across state lines with no breaks. People need to stop having so many children!

Leave a Reply