Good Old Shoes

The author's bad old shoes

For my graduation ceremony last week, I went full-formal. Male students, we were advised, should wear a white bow tie with a dark suit. Well, the specificity of the neckwear notwithstanding, a “dark suit” covers a multitude of garments.

But you know, graduation comes but seldom, and for a doctorate, is indeed the celebration of a significant achievement and investment of time. And since I am in possession of a tuxedo and since it was with me in Edinburgh, why not wear it? (The tux was first acquired for a gala I went to as an undergraduate in the company of my uncle, aunt, and not-yet-fiancé. It was a decommissioned rental job, and we determined that if I wore it three times, it covered the cost of the separate rentals, so why not? That one of those “times” was not yet specified but kind of hanging in the air like a descending hot air balloon makes the tux most significant for my now-wife.) (And how did it come to Edinburgh? We had been invited to dinner with a certain Lady So-and-So at the kirk, and the high-bond invitation indicated that gentlemen should wear a dinner jacket. My lexicon is not fully Britishised, so I had to check with my supervisor as to whether this really meant a tux; he said yes it did. Mine was senselessly squatting in a closet in Ottawa, so I hit the charity shops and got a 48-chest British-wool dinner jacket for seven mighty quid. That it was impossibly large for me was tempered by its obvious quality and inviting price, so I bought it and wore it, convinced that the low light of dinner would obscure its ill fit. The next time I was over in Canada, I made a point of returning with the tux, just on the off-chance another high-bond invitation should slip through the door-slot. Still waiting.) Continue reading

Last Walk

Panoramic photo of Edinburgh skyline from south of the Meadows

My morning walk

It’s the last day of school for my eldest two kids – not just for the summer but, at least in this jurisdiction, for like ever. I have secured a job in a different city, so we’re moving over the summer. The goodbyes are significant; the lasts more meaningful. They’re both excited and mournful, as you would expect.

We’re really happy with our current neighbourhood, and the people, the places, and yes the school are all important to us and a big part of what made us love Edinburgh and feel at home here.

But the walk to school in the morning has been a special treat for me. If I’m honest, it’s the walk after the walk to school. Getting out the door is almost alway fraught – full of grumbles, inducements to hurry up, and sometimes forgotten bags, lunches, and violins. We hustle through the neighbourhood, past doors of classmates. Drop-off is a mass (often a mess) of small and large huddled bodies getting in and getting organised. Some parents are lucky enough to get hugs and kisses before the kids go in.

And then, for as long as I had an office at George Square, during my PhD, I would walk to it. Through the Links, and across the Meadows, to the low-storied buildings on the west face of the leafy square. Barclay Viewforth on the left, and the undulating Links rolling down to the Meadows. Over the roofs of the buildings, the castle sticks up – solid and exciting, every morning. Follow the skyline to the east and you see the Quartermile development, with the old infirmary wards interspersed with square glass towers; it’s actually a remarkably attractive blend of old and new buildings. Amid church spires the minaret of the Edinburgh Central Mosque is just visible, and away to the right are the imposing and inviting humps of Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat.

As commutes go, this one certainly didn’t suck.

The picture above is so compressed and undynamic as to not only not do justice to the walk but actually to do it injustice. Well, it’s what I can muster for you. I took it this morning. We’ll see what the new commute has to offer.