Edinburgh, but not.
I’ve been once for a weekend and it was aces: it remains now a city of love & luck. But this wasn’t really that city and I’ve never been there with this person.
Jess C & I are stood at the bottom of a steep granite staircase in Edinburgh. I recognise the steps – they are real and somewhere near the top of this city. We are talking about something, but over her shoulder I can see Scottish Willy. Oh, Scottish Willy. A character I knew back in the early 1990s; we worked together for several years. He was/is Scottish, but he was from Paisley and not Edinburgh. I found him then vaguely annoying, but oddly everyone used to think that we were brothers. I couldn’t see the similarity (or perhaps I could and this is what annoyed me: he was, to me, the anti-Nick Reeves and, I suspect, he thought the same of me. He was younger and the sort of guy who’d wrestle you to the ground instead of saying hello. But, surely, I was better looking and cooler? Well, obviously!)
Anyway, I can see Scottish Willy (crap nickname I know… but some soubriquets stick and some don’t…this one stuck) stood in a doorway beyond Jess C’s shoulder. I’m trying to listen to her but he is as annoying as ever. Eventually I take her by the hand and we ascend the steps. But he keeps appearing in every doorway… annoyingly! I suppose that my fear is that she finds him more interesting than me… which is the whole point of the dream.
Nick B comes to visit. How delightful! He has never been further north than Liverpool and if you ever ask him of that trip he shudders. Liverpool though, geographically, is south of here and west, too. He expects to see whippets and ferrets and flat caps and smokestacks and grime and poverty and miners… but, of course, the north east is not that as this is only a stereotype…just as some northerners think of Londoners as rude and edgy and fast and uncaring and posh.
So, Nick B comes north and stays. I am still married and my wife is moody as she didn’t realise that he was coming (which, in real life, would be fair enough – but in the dreamlife she is quite over the top – an exaggeration of herself).
Nick B and I wear brogues as we would sometimes do in real life. I wonder what brogues represent? – perhaps some kind of yearning for a past that we never knew, perhaps a reaction to trainers? – something. We call a cab and travel to a city for a night out. The city is far away and the journey is long and expensive. I begin to question the sense in going to the city when a perfectly good night could be had on the coast.
I sit in the passenger seat and watch the countryside unfold.
The driver drives the wrong way up a one way street – there are plenty of signs to warn him of this, but he just chats away nonsensically as cab drivers do in cliché comedies and films…and real life. At one point the street is filled with dog walkers. He swerves to avoid sausage dogs. He swerves to avoid little alsatians. Dog owners shout at the car as we pass! Dear god, why doesn’t he slow down!
Casey A wakes up from a sleep. Hello, she says. And I have to look around myself before I realise that I am stood beside her bed. Hi, I say. Did I sleep long? she asks. Well, you seem to have survived the plague, I say. Plague? she says.
I pull up a chair. There is a ball of yarn on the carpet and I pick it up and pretend that I know how to knit… “well, it’s been a strange year…”
I am not knitting, just tying knots. She watches intently and so, a little embarrassed, I put down the needles and perform a trick with the yarn that only she and a northern farmer with a penknife will know.