* Readers: I apologise for the now fortnight backlog in updates. I’m still alive and travelling, but have had little time, electricity, and internet connection. Fortunately there’s been some extraordinary adventures and encounters – some really magical people and experiences. In the meantime, please bear with me.
‘People have stopped going to the blockbusters…’ – Nia, Aber.
I awake in Machnylleth, a sleepy town on the mid-Wales coast with dormant dreams of a green revolution. I’ve slept the night in a lovely house in the town, eating and talking with a group of housemates who I’d like to count as another collection of friends made on this journey. Travelling by the day, one meets so many inspiring and curious characters, and it’s been a delightful treat to gorge each day on anecdotes, ideas and opinions. I believe that every person possesses inside them a small universe, their own unique imaginative internalisation of the world around them. Connecting with people can, at its rare best, feel like an electric connection, charged and powerful, transforming both interlocutors in the flow of ideas. Or, on a less mystical note, just damn interesting. There’s a lot of damn interesting people on these islands. Keep faith in one’s fellow companion. That stranger is a friend not yet made. I’ve held close to that dictum, and so immensely profited from every encounter.
‘That’s what I hate about the modern world. You see kids out on their mobile phones, and they’re not talking to each other. And their parents are doing the same. And we’re all guilty of it, together.’ – Lady in pub, Malham.
Hail the morning that arrived too soon. Farewell the night that never finished, misspent in writing, and thinking, and talking too late. Tiredness and fatigue, my companions. They decorate this stage-set called ‘reality’ in the tones of grey. Everything with a tired mind feels that little bit unhinged, as if someone’s whispered into one’s ear that tomorrow probably won’t roll around. Just look at these people, with their fancy hats and shoes, their long words and their urgent obligations. Why on earth are they all bothering, don’t they know that reality’s a joke at their expense?
‘I’ve been skiving for like, the whole week!’ Young teen to older brother, Tollcross, Edinburgh.
Every part of me had started to ache: knees, legs, heart and head. I needed a few days rest with my partner in some cosy, lovely and friendly town, surrounded by wonderfully sunny weather and friends old and new. Edinburgh has therefore been a gentle delight.
It’s also a city of contrasts. Its historic Georgian town centre just about conceals large and troubling social problems cast out to the suburbs. Its confidence in displaying its own past is undermined by an uncertainty about its future. And for a town that some remark as being the ‘most English’ Scottish town – on account of its seeming gentility perhaps? I’m not sure – the built scenery often reminded me of a Scandinavian or German town, pleasant if somewhat sterile. I’ll try to relay what I’ve found, and I encounter visions of its past and future quite at odds with each other.