Legal Alien: A Scotsman in Montreal

 
Flashback! Edinburgh, Summer 2000

I'm feeling nostalgic today, maybe cos I'm wearing my Edinburgh Uni hoody, so I thought I'd recount a classic misadventure that happened to me whilst I was working in Edinburgh...

I was lucky really, I was working on Blackford Hill which is basically a big park (I should point out that my company wasn't IN the park, just on the very edge). This afforded fnatastic views of the surrounding countryside as well as of Edinburgh, castle, Arthurs Seat et al. Thus it was understandably quite popular with dog-walkers - it was a common joke at work that the hill got higher every year from the accumlations! It also meant that when it was a nice day, I, along with my co-intern Fay, would buy sandwiches and go sit on the hill somewhere to munch our lunch.

The previous summer, however, Fay hadn't been there and so I would often sit on the hill, on my own, and relax for an hour soaking up the rays. I knew the hill quite well: it's quite barren except for a large clump of gorse bushes. Throughout these bushes run paths in various states of overgrowth, along with small secluded clearings. I explored the area and found agreat little spot, sheltered from the wind and the path but still allowing great views.
The great thing about it is that when you look up its turn off from the main path, it seems to lead nowhere as all you see are gorsebushes. However after a few steps you emerge in a small clearing nad it is from here you can see the city but not be seen from the path (it's on a slope y'see). A bit of a coup I thought. And so I would return lunchtime after lunchtime, and only rarely would someone pass by me (the path continued up past the spot.

This is where I need to fill in a bit of cultural background about Edinburgh. The gay community has always used Carlton Hill, nr the centre of the city (at the E end of Prince's St actually) as a 'meeting' point, especially at night. Everyone knew this and there were no problems. However, apparently, during the day, Blackford Hill becomes another prime location! This is much less common knowledge.

So picture the situation if you will; I am happily walking down the path towards my spot and I reach the little turn-off. I start to walk up. Remember, this is on a slope, so my head is down towards the ground as I push through the gorse. As I approach the clearing, I look up and over the gorse bushes I see one guy standing up and then the torso of another sunbathing with his shirt off. I climb another step and all of a sudden I realise he's not sunbathing with his shirt off, he's completely naked (on his front thankfully). Uh-oh.

To my credit, I think, I cool-as-you-like walk past them and continue on up the path and up the slope. However, this path then leads right into the heart of a little maze and it's quite an indirect route to get back to more open ground. So I'm walking, cursing my naivety, when a few things suddenly fall into place.

I had always noticed there seemed to be quite a high proportion of middle-aged men wandering around the bushes, but put it down to dog-walking, or my imagination. Then I remembered I'd thought I was being followed a few times, which I'd always thought was just paranoia. So the penny drops!

Then to my horror I realise what T-shirt I'm wearing: it's my old Ash T-shirt. No problem, they're a cool Irish indie band, who were pretty much out of the limelight. The problem, the band consisted of 3 guys. The slogan on the back of the T-shirt is, get this: (ok, my firewall blocks me from typing this, I may try in the comments, but trust me, its bad) I almost died.

All's well that ends well though, and let me put it to you this way, I didn't wander round the gorse bushes on my own, ever, ever again.