There are quite a few little shops near the hostel where I’m staying. On my arrival last night the staff kindly showed me where to avail of beer and fish n chips and I started to feel better after that.

I had expected the hostel to be rammed full of people just here for the demos, after all there were precious few other places available in the city. Instead I appeared to be the only one and everyone else was either tourist or staying to find work. This gave the hostel a nice feeling of continuity. Except in my room, an 8 bed dorm which was empty save for me. The hostel is fully booked tonight tho’ so there may be many more of us. There are people who have been here for months and I like the semblence of the hostel running as a collective. The atmosphere within reminds me of inter-railing how I remember it from the late 80s early 90s.

It makes me realise how much I miss that sporadic nomad existence that I used to have. At the time it was partially through choice and partially thru’ simply not knowing where I wanted to end up. You learn about yourself in those situations and in your interaction with others and I always enjoyed both the challenge and trying figure it all out.

Another thing I like about Edinburgh is that in spite of having to at first pay always in English money that I brought with me I have only ever received Scottish money in return. It’s as if the English money is vapourised upon the moment of entering the Scottish tills, I don’t know why it amuses me so but it does.

Edinburgh is a good city to visit. My overriding impression so far is that it is very tall, there are lots of imposing 19th century dark stone buildings, many stories high. Some go from the lower part of town to the upper part. Obviously there is the inevitable tourist area around the castle and the Royal Mile with it’s “authentic Scottish” souvenir shops selling Tam O’Shanters with added ginger mullets, everything under the sun with a tartan pattern and of course kilts.

It feels a lot more laid back than London. Perhaps I am simply more at ease due to the current influx, there are of course a lot of people here now who are “my lot” if you like. Of all the times for a long-haired leftie loon with politically inflamatory attire to feel at home in the city this must be as good as it gets. It’s always a nice feeling to seem to fit in. All in all tho’ the city has a less crushed more positive feel about it. I would be interested to contrast this with how it would be the rest of the year.

Of course the minor misfortune that seems to follow me round like a bad smell caught up again. I had been blithely wandering around town taking pictures thinking that for much of the rest of the week I may have other things on my mind. I took some grand pictures including some of people in particular situation the like of which you cannot replicate you either get it or you don’t. My plan was to rattle off a film from the East German Praktica BC1 I got for £15 off ebay and to get it developed whilst I am here so as to assure that it works properly. Otherwise I’ll need to take the Minolta around with me everywhere and there are certain places I’d rather not have it just in case. Anyway as I strolled around I noticed that the picture counter on the Praktica had reached 26 which seemed strange for a 24 exposure film. I tried winding the film back to find that it seemed to vanish all too quickly.

So a brief period of reflection later I realised that I could either go home with nothing to show for it or do the whole thing again including the walk along the entire Royal Mile twice. I bought another film and trusted the fact that since the city seems photogenic I would be able to find things that maybe I hadn’t seen last time to make up for those I’d lost. Sadly the Make Poverty History double decker bus on the Royal Mile and the 2 gents in formal Scottish dress leaning on the fence having a fag break at the castle will be pictures that remain only in my head.

Pleasingly there seem to be a great deal more events going on this week than I had thought. Sunday there is to be an Anti-War demo whilst on Monday an Anarchist demo and obviously tomorrow and Wed were the ones I knew and came for. The city and its regular inhabitants are gearing up for it all. The feeling is of mild to severe apprehension as to whether there will be any trouble. The owner of the hostel came in half cut today and chatted at me for some time about how worried he was about the hostel being trashed by anarchists and the like. I tried to reassure him that it would be fine and the anarchists had no reason to cause any damage to his hostel the like of which they will probably be staying in themselves. I have to say I hope I’m right, there are so many establishment figures who would derive so much political capital from being able to brand us thugs and hooligans and therefore giving themselves an excuse to write off the actual message that we are here to deliver. They’d bloody love that, the bastards, it’s the hysteria caused by the establishment and the police about the nature of the anachists that has made local residents so fearful about this anyway. We must not give those idiots the chance to bury their head in the sand yet again as they have done year after year from Seattle through Genoa and Evian. Of course they will try to brand us all as violent militants in an effort to dilute the cause and make it seem less attractive to those who may be thinking of joining us in what is becoming a noticable wave of public dissent.

What do the next few days have in store? Are we sitting on the verge of something powerful, something of such significance? How are we going to get there, will it be peaceful or is it going to be like Seattle and Genoa before? Am I ready for the consequences if it turns out to be the latter? This is something I have had to think very seriously about. As a political, non-violent coward I have always shied away from violent confrontation because a) I genuinely don’t believe in it being the answer and b) I fear it and the lack of being able to exert any control over it. The randomness. Yet I know that the coming week more than any other occasions I have taken part in heralds the potential to be caught up in confrontation. This is just something you have to learn to accept and get on with it. It’s all very well to have principles if they are never tested and you are not forced to defend the tenets you stand for. Not going on the demos, not coming to Edinburgh was just not an option. Besides, personally I think there will be too many well-known faces for anything to happen during the main events. Monday is an unknown quantity. We shall see.

People have started arriving in the hostel in numbers now. The tranquility of my empty dorm will be broken by the nocturnal noises of 7 other people.

Song Of The Day ~ James Blunt – Wise Men

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