Hurtling south from Edinburgh
I came back to Edinburgh, picked up the rental car Iâ€™d left in the airport car park, and shortly thereafter was having a lovely cup of tea at the Elephant (haunted by J. K. Rowlingâ€™s ghost, scribbling away at a table in the back) with Chris, long-time Friend of LRK and member of the Virtual Book Club (hi, Chris!) After a stroll through the city, I embarked on another round of hotel laundry, and then lay awake much of the night listening to the revels of drunken yobs. On a Sunday night? I thought Sundays were dead, certainly in Scotland? But oh no, they were well entertained.
The next day I set off south, meandering through the countryside, locating various sites and Neolithic monuments in odd parts of the countryside with a barely adequate AA map, which mostly shows the directions one needs to head for, and faith does the rest. I have not yet found one of these monuments guarded by a bull or a jealous dog, but one this day gave good evidence of bovine residence (with care, I escaped with clean shoes) and the dog was in the farmyard, barking away.
I listened to Radio 4, the BBC radio channel that does a startling variety of audio entertainments (including, some years ago, an adaptation of The Beekeeperâ€™s Apprentice). Monday those ranged from a very silly radio play in which Charles Dickens confounds a plot against the Bank of England to a hot discussion on divine versus human kingship in the Hebrew Bible. Makes hurtling down the motorway at great speeds most entertaining.
And now is the time for a confession of secrets: I have a shameful fondness for large and anonymous hotels, especially in this country where a kettle, tea bags, and small pots of milk are found even in the sparsest accommodations. I like their sterility, their sameness, the polished faces of the receptionists. I like the delicious options: wander down to the dining room with a book and listen to strangers, or order room service and think of ordering a movie? Not that I do, mostly, unless I have a daughter along to share the film with, but I enjoy the possibility of a Will Smith or Angelina Jolie movie as I dine.
In this case I went downstairs and had a meal in the lounge bar, the same food as the restaurant but in comfortable chairs and no tablecloths.
And being a hotel all on its own off the ring road, there were no drunken yobs outside my window at night.