Edinburgh Days, or Doing What I Want to Do
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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I got to the dentist’s office early and, sitting down, looked at my fellowpatients. Across the room a large woman sagged into a stuffed chair, theJune number of Connecticut Magazine balanced on her diaphragm likea screen, on the cover of the issue the phrase “Summer Times” brighterthan noon, beneath the words fat hunks of watermelon, red as sunburn....
Up from Boston
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I flew from Boston to London on Virgin Atlantic. The flight was achildren’s excursion. Classrooms raced around the terminal as if theywere at recess, all the students enrolled in foreign study programs inBritain. Clots of students were so thick I felt like a hall monitor. No aisleseats were available when I checked my bags. “Ask again before you...
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...“Dear Invisible Man,” the note began. I’d been in Edinburgh twoweeks. Since the day of my arrival, Barbara Phanjoo, my landlady, hadnot seen or heard me. “I just wanted to be sure that you were well,” shewrote. In the old days when gods wandered the earth pursuing nymphsor during more restful times granting wishes, the Rose begged Zeus for...
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For dinner last Tuesday I slathered Coleman’s En glish mustard overa Scotch egg, toasted and buttered bread, brewed a pot of Earl Grey tea,and opened a can of Baxters Royal Game soup, this last containing, thelabel said, “Highland venison and pheasant in a rich stock.” Later Ibrewed a cup of instant coffee, Nescafé’s Blend 37. To sweeten the cof-...
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At breakfast every morning I swallow four tablets: a small gel resem-bling a golden blimp fat with fish oil; a vitamin the color of red sand-stone, the ingredients a gravel pit of mysterious, invigorating minerals,the print on the bottle too small for my eyes to sift into words; and, tokeep my blood flowing no matter how long I sit cramped at a desk, an...
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...“I’ve seen you a lot. Are you a tourist?” the woman behind the con-tainer at Bonningtons delicatessen asked. “I am not sure,” I said; “I live inthe United States, but I’m in Scotland for four and a half months. Is thattoo long to be a tourist?” “I don’t know,” the woman answered. At noonI walk from the institute to Bonningtons and purchase either a raisin bun...
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...“Have you become an anchorite?” my friend Josh wrote after I saidI didn’t plan to leave Edinburgh. Anchorites were Christian hermits. Inthe fourth century they settled in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. By retir-ing from society they hoped to mortify the devil and control temptationsof flesh and the world. Anchorites usually lived in caves dug into ridges....
A Traveler in Little Things
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At the beginning of the twentieth century the En glish writer W. H.Hudson spent a night in a commercial hotel in Bristol. The next morn-ing he ate in the hotel’s coffee shop. A manufacturer’s representativejoined him, assuming Hudson was also a commercial traveler. The manwas successful. He wore fine linen and gold-rimmed glasses. His clothes...
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In “Little Gidding,” T. S. Eliot got things wrong when he wrote, “theend of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know theplace for the first time.” Exploring does not weave experience into a car-pet that enables a person to fly back through years into diapers andthing may lead to another, but the only connection between the two is...
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In THE RIGHT PLACE (1924), C. E. Montague described “knowing aroad.” To know a road entailed more than “seeing it all once or twicefrom a seat in a car.” On the other hand, a person did not have to “learnit by heart, to the last house and tree.” “There is a mean,” Montagueexplained, “to know it as people soon come to know the daily way home...
Things That Interest Me
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In the 1920s Arnold Bennett, the British man of letters, publishedthree collections of occasional pieces, all the volumes entitled ThingsThat Have Interested Me. While the first collection contained 121 shortessays, the second and third each contained 38. Almost nothing Bennettwrote about interested me: being a tourist in Portugal, “Unknown...
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Frankfurt, cramped between “two gigantic German Goths who spilledover their seats and smothered the arm rests.” Because she bought aninexpensive ticket, she had an eight-hour layover in Frankfurt, afterwhich she flew to Edinburgh, arriving at noon on Monday. The apart-ment was ready. I raised a cot in the sitting room and cleaned the shelves...
No Place like Home
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Oceans separate Connecticut from Scotland, only one geographical.In part I came to Edinburgh in hopes that different surroundings wouldPolitical doings blighted optimism, and instead of bouncing throughdays marveling at the wonder of fall and winter, I limped along, halt andso gloomy that I was partially blind. In Edinburgh I imagined new expe-...
Fast Falls the Eventide
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...“Abide with me, fast falls the eventide,” Henry Lyte wrote a monthbefore his death. In three weeks I leave Edinburgh. As soon as my planeturns west, place and event will start drifting from thought. Experienceslodged along the shoreline of awareness will slide into the sea. Life is notshingled, and the tide will strip Scotland from mind. One or two memo-...
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...“You’ll regret it if you don’t travel,” my friend Jay wrote. “Go to St.Andrews and visit the Isle of Skye.” Travel would have shattered bothbudget and me. Shouldering the anxiety caused by visiting strange placesalone was too heavy a burden. If Vicki had accompanied me to Scotland,I might have traveled. When I became foot and mind sore, maybe she...
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In February I registered for the Great Caledonian Run, a ten-kilometerroad race held early in May. Training, I told fellows at the institute,imposed structure on days, a necessity when one was away from home.I said I planned to finish in the last 5 percent of the runners. “Anyonecan mimic youth and bolt from the start,” I explained, adding that dis-...
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Symonds, depends less upon intellect and planning than upon “senti-ment, emotion, involuntary habits of feeling and observ ing, constitu-tional sympathy with the world and men,” and “tendencies of curiosityand liking.” Despite my intention, I didn’t stop jogging after theCaledonian. With the end of my stay rushing into sight, I became more...
Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012