The bagpiper outside of Edinburgh’s Waverley train station dared me to write this post.
Me and my frozen hands, in 2 pair of gloves that weren’t helping and couldn’t even carry my inside-out umbrella properly, to keep the hail off my hat. I could’ve probably managed a brief text with my famous last words (spelled incorrectly), but not much else.
Going from 26C desert wind in Jordan to 6C winter gale in Scotland is not for the weak.
Don’t tell anyone, I was about to say.
Plain as day on the bagpiper’s face that any heartiness my Scottish ancestors might’ve demonstrated had clearly been lost to the generations and if you think this is cold, miss, you’re a bona fide wuss and need to head back to London or wherever you belong, because it’s not here.
Although, mind ya, you’re welcome. It’s a spot uh sumthin’ is called for, miss.
I settled for a spot of caffeine.
You’re going to say ‒ hey, I thought you were in Jordan! I am. There are just so many interesting stories to tell from elsewhere, since I wasn’t celebrating Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice, which would’ve required me to buy a newly headless sheep and take it home and cook mansaf for the whole neighborhood), nor was I doing Hajj, the pilgrimage Muslims make to Mecca once in a lifetime, nor was my presence required on Islamic New Year 1434 AH…
Instead, I’m eating a full Scottish breakfast ‒ full English breakfast minus the grilled tomatoes, no big loss ‒ at the Slug & Lettuce, overlooking the Firth of Forth, where my forefathers probably didn’t offer daily tourist cruises on the Royal Britannia.
(Firth of Forth, “Linne Foirthe” in Gaelic, is the estuary of the River Forth, where it flows into the North Sea.)
Speaking of family, my dad and I had this discussion once about who was the best James Bond, a subject about which frankly I was surprised he had an opinion…which I immediately disagreed with anyway.
For 3 reasons: Sean Connery Forever.
And coincidentally here I am in Edinburgh, the capital city of Sean-ville, on opening night of Skyfall, the 50th anniversary James Bond film.
With Daniel Craig.
With Scots queued up for 2 city blocks on a if-not-freezing-then-mighty-close Friday night, to see another offering by the Blonde Bond.
Yer brethren ‘r wastin’ no time butrayin’ ya, Sean, jus’so ya know.
The next day I’m at the International Storytelling Festival, at the Tell-a-Story Workshop.
It took me awhile to realize that while some people ‒ even some entire nations of people ‒ have this gift, storytelling is also a learned skill. There’s a structure to it. The trick is letting loose enough within the structure to make it fun to listen to.
More wacky tall tales; fewer Cliffs Notes. Pretend every story is a fish story.
Any storytelling student who laughs at his or her own story while telling it: A+
Storytelling teachers spend their mornings in storytelling seminars, including “The Box of Delights: A Multi-Sensory Workshop,” no doubt writing it off on their taxes as professional development…
…and later sharing the proceeds on stage at Live Storytelling sessions, a welcome break from scaring themselves ‒ and all of us ‒ to death while recounting Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Most of which, I’m tellin’ ya Sean, deserve an R rating for violence.
Note that this event in my case followed the “Double Dead Tour”: the Underground City of the Dead Tour + the Haunted Graveyard Tour, including the Mackenzie poltergeist.
What “Scariest Places on Earth” producers of American TV network Fox called “TERRIFYING” (caps theirs).
NOW who’s the wuss?
Right about when even non-believers would give pretty much anything to hear, in that familiar brogue, “Bond, James Bond.” Coming to save us.
So, that’s why on Skyfall premiere night, I’m just sitting in a nondescript café across the street from the theatre, sipping hot tea, watching the frozen queue inch along Princes Street.
Now, Sean: that’s loyalty.