7 October 2010--Back to Waverley this morning, where I pick up another Skoda, an Octavia Estate (that's a station wagon
to us Yanks). It's probably the largest car I've ever rented over here, and I'm a little apprehensive about negotiating the
narrow Highland roads with it. I'm also worried about getting to the airport in time to pick up the lads. I've cut it a little
close, and I'm thinking they might even be a bit early, as eastbound flights often catch a pretty good tailwind. My logic is
twisted--they're changing at Schiphol, and their connecting flight would not be affected. In fact, when I arrive, I find their
flight from Amsterdam has been delayed by an hour.
It's probably not the best use of time, once the lads are in, to sit in the airport Costa with a cup of coffee...but it's what I've done with Ron (except on Sunday in Aberdeen), and actually I find a bit of conversation and decompression help to get the trip off on the right foot. Not that we have anything pressing on the agenda, anyway. I've given the lads several choices for their first few hours in Scotland, and they go for the nap option. They get a couple of hours in back at the B&B while I catch up with the journal.
We catch the bus up to George Street--the boys enjoy the front seat upstairs--and I take them to the Standing Order for dinner. The cuisine at this Wetherspoon's pub is nothing to shout about, but it's quick, and the ornate former banking palace is worth seeing in itself. We end up sharing a table with a Pakistani gentleman who has lived in Scotland for a dozen years or so. Our conversation is quite enlightening. Always good to get fresh perspectives.
After dinner, we rush off to find the Pleasance Theatre, where we have tickets to see the Kathryn Tickell Band. Or so I believe. We miss the unmarked venue--not so much as a sandwich board on the sidewalk--and have to ask a local, who isn't too sure himself. When we arrive, I am deeply disheartened to discover that there is no record of my online ticket purchase, made weeks ago. As it turns out, there is no trouble getting three more (I'll straighten out the online thing later), for the show is woefully undersold. The sight of the few dozen attendees scattered around the theatre is more troubling than the ticket snafu. It's unconscionable that a top-notch performer like Tickell should not find a suitable audience in Edinburgh, and it seems that the problem lies with poor promotion. Thinking back, I had even more trouble finding the proper online ticket outlet (from whom I seem to have gotten no tickets, anyway) than we did finding the theatre. Bad enough not to seek out your audience actively; worse still when even enthusiastic and motivated fans literally cannot find you.
The band, pros that they are, don't let that stop them from giving their all, and it's a great show. It's been six years since I last saw them, and as good as they were then, they are now that much more polished. Tickell, from the same northeast corner of England I've just vacated, is a virtuoso on the Northumbrian pipes and fiddle. She is joined by her brother Peter, a fine fiddler himself; guitarist Joss Clapp; and melodeonist Julian Sutton.
We have a chance to chat with various band members after the show, and then set off for a couple of pints at the Bow Bar, followed by a nightcap at the Standing Order. On the long walk back to the B&B, we encounter a fox wandering the streets of Canonmills. No, boys, this is not normal.