Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Being Middle Class is Class

Allow me to set the scene.  The sun is shining and I am sat in picturesque Inverleith Park in Edinburgh.  The model boat club members are tyring to avoid swans fed on organic, wholemeal bread, there are two games of cricket and a softball game being played, the catering van here is selling crepes, and people are actually 'picking up after themselves'.  Perhaps I've chose the wrong place to 'shoot up' - although it's the Greg's I'm eating that seems to be getting the more disparaging looks.

It's a lot nicer than the park I used to live next to.  There you would never see groups of people using cricket or baseball bats for their intended recreational purposes.

The differences between my current and previous EH residence is typical of the class divide you see all the time in Edinburgh.  Okay it might not be 'favela' to 'Fettes', but I've definately moved to the better side of the tram works.  It's only recently however I've been a victim of crime - turns out in Edinburgh you can't leave your football boots outside the front door to air.

I'm quite naive when it comes to stuff like this, being from the Highlands I'm not particularly security concious.  At casa del Downie we safeguard our belongings by hididng the back door key underneath the wheelie bin, making it marginally less convenient for any potential burglars - and leaving us dangerously exposed on collection day.  I remember a brief period of security paranoia when mum - obviously concerned about the foibles of our existing system - insisted we kept the key in a new camouflaged key holder.  Ordered from a catalogue it was disguised as a grey rock which looked inconspicuous amongst the red chipie stones at our back step.

She's a worrier my mum.  When we were in school my brother and I were instructed to sit in the middle of the bus, her reasoning being that if the bus was invololved in a head on collision the kids at the the front would be fucked, likewise if the bus was rear-ended it would be the kids at the back that would get it.  She didn't like it when I pointed out the middle of the bus was the furthest from the exits.  We talked about it and it was decided an aisle seat in the middle would provide the desired aisle access needed for a quick getaway, while also protecting from collisions from the front or behind - top decks were out of the question.  On a seating plan the optimal seats are as follows.

The fact I now live in the big smoke obviously doesn't help things.  To be honest I can't blame my mum for worrying.  When I first moved to Edinburgh my flat was situated in an area of such socio-economic depression it would be prime real-estate for Olympic or Commonwealth re-generation, plus, conveniently enough, it was located adjacent to a methadone clinic.  But despite the knife attacks, the car fires, and the prostitutes at the end of the road - who once asked me how my mum was, a case of mistaken identity, I hope - I was never concerned about living there, I was always confident that the wee 'jake baws' who ran about the place would rather rob houses where there was stuff actually worth stealing, i.e. none of the houses in close proximity.  Even crack-dens could provide better offerings than my granny's old TV set and a freeview box.  When two plain clothed detectives came to inquire about one of my neighbours, I was convinced they had come to bust me for not paying my TV licence.

The only time I was ever worried was when my American pals came to stay with me.  I made them aware of the dangers that the local young team posed, but they didn't seem particularly bothered.

In reality Edinburgh isn't all that intimidating the only gun fire we get here is to let us know its lunchtime - and I'm pretty sure they just do it to scare tourists.

Perhaps we do lead a sheltered life in this country.  I know my traumatic tales of personal torment such as the time I got my head stuck in a chair, or when i got locked in a potraloo, paled in comparison to my ex-girlfriend's anecdotes of being caught up in a bomb plot in Madrid, or a Columbian earthquake.  It may not have been an earthquake but my pals did a good job recreating one while I was locked in there, and I've never been involved in an explosion that I didn't create myself.  I remember we were in Madrid when she told me about the obviously harrowing, life affirming experience of witnessing an ETA bomb attack.  As usual in these situations I managed to say the wrong thing.

In school the highlight of our summer was an agricultural event called the Black Isle show.  It was never called off on account of a bomb scare but its eclectic mix of teuchters, minks, gypsies, and farmers meant that fireworks normally ensued, usually set to the soundtrack of a Robbie William's tribute act at the shows culmination dance.  The best thing about the Black Isle Show was that a few of the girls would usually have cousins with them who were on their holidays or they were there with friends from different schools.  It was a great opportunity for us to impress, usually by offering to pay the girls onto a ride - 'onto' not 'for ' - we would spend all the money we made from berry picking over the summer on buying tat and paying girls onto the attractions.

As the years progressed the vomit was less likely to induced by waltzers as it was by half a bottle of Grants - or a combination of the two at least.  I served a decent amount of my drinking apprentiship at the shows but aside from locking me in a toilet, my friends and I didn't cause all that much carnage.  There was one year when my pal got drunk and decided it would be a good idea to have a nap in the middle of the road which resulted in him getting, well, run-over.

So maybe we're not street wise in the Highlands but we don't need to be, we've only got one street, we're 'high street wise'.  And its not like bestiality is the only law being broken, last time I was home my pal was complaining of opportunist thieves in the neighbouhood.

That's the standard of thief we have in the Highlands, if that car was left in the seemingly safe surroundings of Trinity Edinburgh it would be in the same place as my football boots.  The only joy-ride a true Highlander is interested in are the ones at the Black Isle show.

As you climb life's social ladder you'll find yourself looking down less, probably because you no longer have to constantly scan the pavement for pitbull-mastif dogshit.  I'll admit it is nicer living in leafy Trinity with the cricket players and touch rugby tournaments than next to the methadone clinic.  But the more you have, the more you have to lose - I mean I have Sky now.  When I'm king of the castle I'll be happy to have the walls, and the gun to let me know when lunch is. 

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