Feeling Rather Good

Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile in Edinb...

Heart of Midlothian on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Shows the mosaic and one of the brass markers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I went up to Edinburgh for the conference. I wrote about it here: mental health + faith conference. I had a good time. Went up on the Friday, stayed at the Travelodge on Rose Street (nice and central, but somewhat noisy. Not too bad though. Could have done without the couple having noisy sex!) That first day I had a wander, went to the B. McCall Barbour bookshop (link takes you to a page on their history, they are not online). I love that shop, even though I vehemently disagree with many of their books. I first wandered in when I was a divinity student in Edinburgh and I was told of this fundamentalist bookshop. And they really are fundamentalist Рthey believe that any other Bible than the King James Version is wrong, and of Satan! They sell a range of books from highly conservative authors on the inerrancy of the Bible, the dangers of the occult, Islam, gay people and women in leadership. So, you see, not quite my style.

You may wonder why I go? The answer is simple: the brother and sister who run the shop are absolutely lovely. Really sweet elderly people who are genuinely interested in the people who come to their shop, always pleasant, never ever preaching to me even though it must be obvious given the trousers and piercings that I am not wholly in agreement with them. They always ask what I’m up to and we talk about God – because despite our differences we are all Christians, and they do love the Lord. I once got what I consider to be my greatest compliment from the lady in the shop, when she said she thought I would make a good minister (I think she thought I was a candidate for Church of Scotland ordination). Coming from someone who thinks that having a female minister is the road to hell, this was quite a compliment! I always try to visit them when I go up there, and I do actually like some of the books they sell. I buy the extreme stuff (and the Jack Chick things) for amusement, but many of their books are fine – highly orthodox and usually written for a popular audience. I may not agree on the hot button issues but they have some excellent books on grace, on faith, on the Bible, and I have just bought a book on Christian counselling from them which I think might be interesting.

Anyway, after going there I went back to the ¬†hotel, put my stuff away (I also bought a rather fetching tartan bag) and set off for a wander. After a detour to Pizza Hut (very friendly staff) I went up to the Royal Mile again for a drink. I went to the Scotsman’s Lounge, a place for which I had a strange obsession when I was a student, but it was very busy and there was no where to sit. I tend to get paranoid that I will fall over if I am standing with a drink and there is nowhere to put the drink down, I don’t know why, so I just had the one and moved on.

I went to the Jolly Judge, up near the top of the Mile, which was a delight. That was my local pub when I was a student as New College (the divinity school) is just beyond it. It had changed a bit but still recognisable so I had a few in there. I didn’t talk to anyone, they probably thought I was peculiar because I sat with a smile on my face remembering the fun times I had in there. I played a pub quiz, we were called Stackroom 2 (because that room looked like you could get murdered in there) and once my friend Drew came and unfortunately had brought his work with him. He was a taxidermist so him bringing out a dead bird was a bit odd. I also remembered the time that Simon, a ministerial student, was writing his first sermon in the pub and got us to help him!

Then I went to a slightly dodgy pub next door to the hotel. It wasn’t that bad, just a bit of a sports bar so I wouldn’t normally have gone in. Had the slightly amusing experience of sitting there and having a girl come up and say “Are you gay?” which I thought was a bit rude…it turned out she was actually saying “are you OK?”

Then to bed, and up early the next morning. As I said, I wrote about the conference itself on the other blog. After the conference I got the bus back to Princes’ Street, dumped my stuff (had a little rest in the hotel) and went to meet my friend Shirley and her mother. Because I had a little sleep I didn’t meet them for dinner (I went to McDonalds, which wasn’t very nice) but found a nice pub. Well, it was lovely, we sat and chatted, and I had a great time. I was a bit concerned to find that Shirley is under the weather physically, and also depressed. Her mother said that that night was the first time that she had admitted having it, so I tried to persuade her to go to the doctor, but she hates doctors so I don’t know whether she’ll go. Hopefully.

After they left (both a bit knackered and haven’t been 100% recently) I went back to the slightly dodgy bar and stayed there, chatting randomly to people for the rest of the night. Then sleep, and back off to where I live in the morning.

So I have a bag full of interesting literature (there was some at the conference) and no money, for I have spent all my benefits money in a few days. Which is a bit unfortunate, but there you go.