Friday, October 23, 2009

Things To Do In Edinburgh

Written for the BBC Culture Show (Oooh! Get me). This is very classy stuff and proves I have 'culture' coming out my ass.



It’s a beautiful building on Queen St, all very Gentlemen’s club like, fabulous staircases, huge windows and high ceilings. But it’s not remotely snobby. It’s perfectly acceptable to get drunk and ask stupid questions about whisky.
The staff make it a real occasion, they basically spend the evening telling you about all the different whiskies and what area produces what type.
Believe me very soon you will imagine you know what you’re talking about and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to talk bollocks about whisky – “Oh yes, I’m getting peat with a hint of caramel”.

I came across these glorious men (and it is all men!) and their model boats by chance in Inverleith Park.
The Park is well worth a look in itself but on regatta day – truly a treat. They had racecourses set up for the boats, which range from miniature warships to cruisers to tugs. They sit drinking tea and race their boats. Times are recorded and it is all very serious in a completely silly way. Many of the men are wearing Captains hats. One member told me how the Swans have to be removed, as they kept attacking the boats.
According to their website the next Regatta will be on Sunday 16th August, there’s also something about meeting in a beer tent on Sun 19th after a boat showing – I’ll going to that one!

A Gay club on Picardy place, opposite the Italian Restaurants.
I have a friend originally from Edinburgh and if ever we find ourselves in CC Blooms we will always text each other. “In CC’s” means I’m VERY drunk and have put aside all plans and ambitions for the foreseeable future.
CC Blooms is unlike any other gay club - well for a start there are very few men that look well dressed enough to be gay.
All human life is here – drunk. Very young gay men who run around as though it’s a school playground – screeching and gossiping, Hen parties doing much the same thing but all in matching outfits, trannies, mannies, grannies, straight men who’re too drunk to care where they are and are enjoying getting in touch with their gayness, people who want to tell you their problems, people who want to marry you, odd men from Fife who stand in their anoraks contemplating ‘coming out’, It’s a wonderful celebration of vice.
In the song “Let me take you to funky town” this is where they would take you.

Even the name of it is like something from Brigadoon. The Water of Leith runs from Leith all the way to Balerno, it’s 13 miles but let’s not get crazy with healthy pursuits. I walk a short bit of it going through Dean Village, where there are beautiful 18th century ivy covered mansions and old 17th century mill cottages, up by botanical gardens and the Gallery of modern Art where you can get that great Scottish masterpiece – homemade soup and a roll. Scotland is king for homemade soups.

A lovely girly thing to do. I met a friend for drinks here and it was like drinking gin in the womb – which I think of as a nice and relaxing thing to do.
The Barman was ancient and completely charming. And like the whisky club although the surroundings are beautiful and very posh – you don’t have to be.
Whilst we were there a lovely old Edinburgh lady got up and sang at the piano. I don’t know if anyone can do that, for all I know she owns the Balmoral, more likely she’d just had too much champagne.

Ok, I realize this sounds like the tackiest ‘McTourist’ thing you can do BUT……..
It’s actually really interesting. The place is huge inside and has mock ups of weaver’s homes and tells the whole story of tartans and tweeds. Also I found the gentle, ‘thwack ‘ of the working looms incredibly soothing.

Go and see someone you’ve never heard of at the Free Fringe. Last year I had a fantastic hour seeing Rob Deb’s show “The Dork Night Returns”. This year I’m going to see his new show “Rob Deb V’s Army of Dorkness” – (do you see what he’s done there?).
The show was in the Jekyll and Hyde Pub – a perfect venue for a meeting of geeks. Rob is a genuine geek, not a trendy geek liking everything in an ‘ironic’ way. No Rob’s the real thing, a joyous enthusiast who dresses badly and lives with his mother.
He told stories of his long love affair with all things Batman. Then there was a question and answer session, which I have to confess I hardly understood a word, having an only basic knowledge of Batman. But it was a show filled with warmth and self deprecating humour that had me wanting to run off to a convention and become a geek.
The Jekyll and Hyde is on Hanover Street.
Tip: the ladies toilets are reached through a hidden door in a bookcase.

Also just to make it ten – The Italian restaurants at the top of Leith Walk (great food served till 2am), The Commonwealth Pool and Duddingston Village.

The Stand Comedy Club
5 York Place, Edinburgh
(Thursday 6th – Sunday 30th August)

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