photo from here

I’ve had a terrible week having over done it last weekend. I keep on doing this and then thinking how dim I was. Last weekend started with the enormous Christian Aid Booksale on George Street. I was hoping to pick up some Eric Ambler books but failed. I got plenty of others so will not suffer. Earlier this year on a trip south I dashed into  WH Smiths at the station and grabbed a reprint of Epitaph for a Spy and was gripped. I’ve been slowly picking them up in charity shops and online. Anyway as I moped around yesterday I was enormously cheered to find that Epitaph for a Spy was being serialised on the radio. – use the link to listen on iplayer. Marvellously diverting.



At last  Edinburgh University has withdrawn their collaboration with the 536 student hall to be built on the site of Stead’s Place on Leith Walk. Student accommodation plus a hotel for their mummies and daddies to come and stay for 50. Drum Property are as far as we know still going ahead with their appeal to their rejected planning application.

I’ve spent the last 10 years either in campaign groups or on the fringes of campaign groups where the battle for the soul of this city resides. Parts are already hollowed out by airbnb, there are parts where almost no long residents live. Parts which I walked through daily in the Eighties. Things which improve citizens lives are downgraded but profits steam over all of this. Left behind are the city people. On Sunday walking around looking at the sites of Archibald Burns’ photographs before the demolitions (much of what we see in the Old Town is relatively new) on Victoria Street I witnessed an alteration between a group of American tourists and some slightly leery local lads. But I felt sympathy for the latter. The city is invaded (and not just in August) it becomes a set to traverse and gawk and the locals are just a nuisance. This is not a good state of affairs. Edinburgh University may be raking it in, the multiflat owning airbnb nabobs, but others?


Yesterday I went to a totally engaging study day on Archibald Burns at the Patrick Geddes Centre at Riddles Court.

Burns took photographs before and during improvements to Edinburgh Old Town in the 19th Century. Using dry plates very slow exposure of up to four minutes at a time. After some background  in the morning and looking at examples of his work after lunch we did a loop walk down the High St, St Mary’s Street, Cowgate, Guthrie St then back to Cowgate and up Victoria St then nipping up the stairs to West Bow. This way we were able to fix the location of the photographs we’d seen in the morning in their physical location.


Image from here

I’ve been very lucky and managed to get 6 tickets for the Gifford Lectures which Professor Mary Beard is doing on The Ancient World and Us. We are half way though and it has been great to listen to her speak – she is a great lecturer and despite my classics restricted to 3 years of Latin in the early eighties and Asterix I can follow along easily. Even better the questions at the end have been quite sane – the upside of it being in a university setting.

The Gifford Lectures happen each year and are free and open to the public. Worth keeping an eye out for if you are local. If you are not the lectures are all filmed and put online.lucreciatitian

The Rape of Lucretia

Also discovered that Mary B has a blog.