Tag Archives: writing

The 15 Least Romantic Edinburgh Date Ideas

17 May

1. Boneless Dip Meal at Meadowbank KFC


Seduction is a tricky business. Sweep bae of their feet with a piece of crispy chicken. Afterwards why not squeeze eachother’s blackheads in the carpark?

 2. Whopper in Waverley Station Waiting Area


Stare longingly into bae’s hair as they watch the train times gently flicker across the Waverley Station timetables. Share aspartane rich beverages through a communal straw and get a lend of thirty pence to go to the toilet when done. Enjoy the meat sweats together later.

 3. Lothian Road

3284822036_135f93aaaa_bDazzle bae with a trip to the majestic pubs and clubs of Lothian Road. Take the big step and ask them to hold your hair whilst you’re being sick in a doorway at 11pm.

4. Poorly Attended Fringe Festival Act


Find an intimate venue far from the bustling Fringe Festival Crowds and marvel as an up-and-coming comedian or spoken-word poet practices their stagecraft. Savour the feeling of their spittle landing on your cheek as they massage their ego and insult your intelligence.

 5. Cav


Lose yourself in the Cha-Cha Slide at Cav, and encourage bae to do the same. Find them later in a quiet booth stroking someone else’s thigh.

6. Diane’s Pool Hall with Bae

Diane's Pool Hall, Morrison Street, Edinburgh (exterior)

Or any similar venue that offers a combination of cuesport and champion pint drinking. Flaunt your skills on the baize and hope that bae can hear your sweet nothings over the rising chords of Darude’s Sandstorm.

7. Greggs 

LX3 12 Dec - 028

Seal your tryst with a Sausage & Bean Melt. Get there just before closing to ensure your scrumptious gift doesn’t burn their mouth.

8. Strip Club?


Share a priceless moment at one of Edinburgh’s thriving lap dance bars. Catch the glassy stare of the dancers as they work for your titillation. Get a chippy afterwards and throw it on the ground outside for an authentic feel.

 9. Twenty Chicken Nuggets at West End Mcdonald’s


Stroll hand in hand down Princes Street before making a sharp turn into Maccy D’s. Wait in silence together as your nuggets are prepared then get through as many as you can before talking. Try not to sit near a window.

10. Fountainpark Dance Machines


Beat the crowds to Fountain Park and dance the night away on a mechanised dance arcade game. Aggresively hold your position until a group of teenagers start shouting at you. Bus it to Nando’s on Lothian Road afterwards if you haven’t used up all your change.

11. Portobello Sex Party


Head to the suburbs for a private sex party where you can watch bae have sex with complete strangers. Check any surfaces before you sit down.

12. Manky Techno Night and After Party


Not all techno nights are manky, but most are. Turn your back for one minute and bae will be having their chest rubbed with neon paint by a harlequin. Pass the time in a corner, fearing for your sanity.

13. Pack of Crisps


Don’t let budget constraints scupper a budding romance. If you find you are spending all of your money on yourself most of the time get your sweet baby a pack of crisps.

14. Scotmid Tannoy Slowdance


If you listen carefully you’ll find that your local Scotmid plays a variety of heartwarming ballads over their tannoy system. Invite bae for a slowdance down the aisles and a browse in the discount section.

 15. Moonlit Walk on Calton Hill


In the words of the great Ray Charles, ‘the night time is the right time to be with the one you love.’ Share this exquisite moment with a passing flasher emerging from a hedge.

Images by Mr MPDkyzLaVladinaCharlotte KeeysbrewmookeasylocumAnosmiaRusty Clark – Heading to Quebec!((brian))forayinto35mmCabaret VoltairetawalkerHealthGaugePhotographingFairies  used under Creative Commons license.

With a Twist: Waldorf Astoria Magazine

14 Nov


Here is a small piece I did for Waldorf Astoria Magazine about The Caley Bar at the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian.

unforgettable cover 3When the job came up I was like “yes finally, my Hunter S Thompson Mint 400 moment”.

unforgettable cover 4I went along and spoke to the staff and tried the cocktails. It was all very nice, and there were no giant bats or anything.

unforgettable coverIt was only small but it made my Mum happy.

unforgettable cover 2

The piece is now in Waldorf Astoria hotels all over the world.

Cigs, Edinburgh’s Banksy

12 Nov

For months I have been haunted by a latent presence on the streets of Edinburgh. Cigs.


Viewforth/Union Canal

Not since the Caves at Lascaux has man witnessed such mesmerising treatment of bare stone, such bold purpose. In ancient Pompeii, the artisan tiling his mosaic could not have hoped for greater dexterity of hand and symmetry of line.


Leith Walk

I have been tracking down this elusive talent for some time now. I believed initially that his base of operations was in Leith but then I witessed the scene below on a drive to North Berwick one day. Who knows his dastardly reach?


City Bypass

Nobody knows exactly where Cigs comes from. What scant records there are show that as a young apprentice he did mottling work on the famous mural of Erich Honecker kissing Leonid Brezhnev on the Berlin Wall. Latterly he sprang up in Paris where he made the murky subway system his subterranean workshop. He also worked with Richard “Richie” Morando aka ‘Seen’ in The Bronx for a few months in 1996.


West Bowling Green St

But it is the subversive ‘Edinburgh Series’ that Cigs is most lauded for. These surgical vignettes are to be found all over the Scottish capital, from Tollcross to Torphin, striking fear into the hearts of the city’s elite.


Tollcross Area

Cigs is a wraith, a shadow, a Mr Hyde, a Moriarty. His lurid crest is as familiar to me as the lines on my palm. He’s in my head.

Damn you Cigs!


West Port

Once I thought I had caught him in the act. I was walking back from a night out and took a shortcut round the back of the University. Turning down a gloomy alley I saw a hooded figure addressing a virgin wall some distance away. I took my chance and approached.

“Cigs you fiend,” I shouted, “Cigs, is it you?”

The figure twisted round gracelessly. It wasn’t Cigs. It was a drunk man vomiting whilst simultaneously trying to urinate.

“Dinny smoke mate,’ he said, before resuming his wretch.


Leith Walk

Who are you Cigs? Are you a force for good?


Tollcross Area

Perhaps there is a little bit of Cigs in all of us. The unending urge to make our mark, to be seen, to be remembered. But as the ancient Greek philosopher Democritus once said “Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds”. For Cigs the price of fame is the life of the nameless fugitive and absent visionary.


Newhaven Road

What next for Cigs? Rumour has it that Cigs will soon be making a feature length film (working title “Exit Through The Butcher’s Shop”). And a major retrospective at The National Galleries of Scotland is also in the offing, where Cigs’ work will be shown alongside Jack Vettriano’s, among others.


Drummond Street


If you are reading this Cigs, drop me an email. I always protect my sources.


24 Jul


There is something to suit everyone’s taste,

nothing goes to waste, prices exclude VAT,

dim sum chicken feet, rat-a-tat-tat,

ding-a-ling-a-ling, hoi sin, Szechuan –

prawns, duck, pork, squid, twenty quid.


Battering the Fiat’s soft grey shell

under the streetlight’s mango glare,

he soaks up the city’s spicy heat.

That’s what he’s here to do – for you.

He gets £6.50 an hour & tips, and sweet chilli chips.


The hallways have their own distinct aromas,

a hum of shoes, the lemon breeze of cleaning.

In one he visits twice each week the ancient

smog of cat hangs dense as glue

and stinking gusts of sloth are deep and sudden.


The place is a nightmare to get to,

slipped round a bend on a wooded road,

turned in on itself,

the windows black,

the lights in the vestibule motorway orange.


The man is a crone, his face a troubled oyster.

He can hardly walk,

his delivery  is essential.

He asks each night for his fortune biscuit,

a colossal freight compressed in his ogle.

The Dissertation

6 Apr

You’ll know him for his stories

Some are eerie, some just gory

And that poem of his ‘The Raven’, well I’m sure that’s one you’ll know,

He’s the source of my frustration,

And my fucking dissertation:

‘On the textual orientation of the works of Edgar Poe.’



I know just what you’re thinking,

You’re thinking: ‘what’s he drinking?

Who on earth would write a paper on the works of that old loon?’

Good point, but I’m in shit,

I need to fucking finish it

Before the English Lit department shuts this afternoon.



Well the word count isn’t great,

And I feel compelled to masturbate,

And organise my socks in rows of black and rows of white.

Perhaps I’ll write to Granny…

Clean my room from nook to cranny…

It is really quite uncanny that the hoover looks so …right.



Jesus Christ this essay’s bad,

Two thirds wanky, one third mad;

I didn’t think it possible to reach this kind of low.

Quoth the Raven: Nevermore.

Quoth the student: I am bored

And I don’t think I can stand much more of old Lenore and Poe.



My degree mark will diminish,

If I do not get this finished;

Just a few more hundred words and that is that, what’s done is done;

I’ll get my cherished third

Never write another word

And forget I ever heard of Poe, get drunk and have some fun.



And the student still is sitting,

Never flitting, still is sitting,

In a bedroom full of open books and folders on the floor,

And his eyes have all the seeming

Of an idler who is dreaming

Of a doctor deeming him unfit to write it anymore.



Read the dissertation here.

(image: Forsakenfotos/FlickrCC)

Sea Story Blue Sea Red Story Blue

15 Aug



I handed it to her.

‘No, I don’t want to read this,’ she said.

I said… well … I don’t know what I actually said.

But she kept saying no, no, no, and then she yawned and fell asleep.

I left her sleeping on the boat. As I climbed ashore I undid the rope tied to the jetty and let the boat drift out to sea. She would wake up in a few hours or so and sail back to land. She would be alright.

Two days later the story was all over the news. Local Lady Missing Out At Sea. I read the newspapers and watched the story unfold on the television. I felt acutely self conscious all through that day and the next.

On the fourth day I decided to notify the authorities of what had happened. I told them that I knew the lady well and that she would understand why I had done it.  I said that we would have a good laugh together once this was all over and asked if they needed to know anything else. I was encouraged to come down to the police station to give a formal statement – I declined.

On the fifth day there was a knock on the door of my house and it turned out to be two plain clothed police officers there to escort me down to the station. I told them that I had spoken to their superiors the day before and that everything had been sorted out. Still, they insisted that I accompany them down to the station and warned me that, if I did not do exactly as they asked, they would take me there by force as they had a warrant for my arrest – I agreed.

At the station, after filling out a number of forms, I was ushered into a small room with no windows. One of the walls of the room was a mirror. As I had seen many police dramas and films on the television, I was aware that were probably people behind this mirrored wall watching my movements and assessing my character. I tried to look calm. I sat down and waited, sitting very still. For ten or twenty minutes nobody entered the room and I was left to my own thoughts. Calmly thinking over my situation, I decided to try and make a daring escape.

I am at the table now, thinking out my escape. In my pockets I have a coin, a packet of cigarettes and a cigarette lighter. I can think of no escape plan involving these objects. Other things in the room: there is the chair I am sitting on, the table I am sitting in front of, the door (which has a silver handle, shaped like a moth without wings) and the mirrored wall. I am not handcuffed. I also believe that the door is unlocked, as I do not remember anybody locking it. I am going to get up from the chair and simply walk out of the door and then out of the station.

My plan has worked. I am now on the street outside of the police station walking back towards my house. On second thoughts, I will not go back there as shortly, I expect, the police will be looking for me and my house will surely be the first place that they will look. I am making a right turn down a side street towards the sea. I now plan to get a boat and look for her, as finding her will put an end to the trouble I am in.

The sirens have started. Great wailing sounds. I have lived here all my life and have heard them only once. And that once is this time. I do now feel a little bit worried and sick: perhaps I should not have escaped from the police station without talking to the police. Now they may think I am a danger to society and shoot me when they find me. There is a blue boat bobbing on the quay. I will take this boat and sail towards the horizon.

I am at sea. The wind is breezing through my hair and the salt spray has dried out my skin, the sun is beginning to set. I can no longer see land behind me.

A cloud covers the moon. Her boat is red, but I am well aware that I will not recognise any colours when it is pitch black.

In the night I feel safe, like a little spider crouching on a bit of dark in the carpet. I fall asleep on deck, closing out the stars behind my eyelids.

That was a week ago, I am beginning to starve. I also think I am going a little bit mad. Over the past days I have kept a record of my thoughts in a black diary I found somewhere in the boat. I forget where. I have written something down four days in a row.

Day 1 – I am happy that I am on my way to find her but worried about the police. Hungry.

Day 2 – I am happy that I am on my way to find her but still worried about the police.       Very Hungry.

Day 3 – I am no longer worried about the police but I am starting to doubt whether I         will find her. Extremely hungry. Slightly Mad.

Day 4 – I am starving and going insane. No police. Her not found.

I have made a friend called Jim Lad. He is a cabin boy but he is sick, and I must continue nursing him back to health. Jim Lad is the descendent of a great admiral who sailed the high seas killing pirates and crooks. Jim Lad has the fever but still has a glint in his eye. He talks of doubloons buried on an island in the region and says I must find them before the evil Captain Barnacle and his crew of crooks. I pity him, as he is slowly dying and talks little sense.

Jim Lad I say, Jim Lad how do you feel today. Jim Lad says he’s fine, surviving at least. Jim Lad I say, do you know of a red boat with a cargo of one sleeping lady? Jim Lad says yes, he does, it be on the horizon.

I run to front of the boat and indeed see a vessel on the horizon. Jim Lad I say, it might be the pirates, might it not? Aye, he says, but I am sick and you are starving, that vessel’s our only hope. Right you are Jim Lad, right you are.

I pitch a course for the vessel.

The vessel is red and a woman waves from on deck. Jim Lad, I say, Jim Lad it’s her, it’s her. Mooring up beside the vessel I climb aboard, leaving Jim Lad on the blue boat. I embrace her. She takes me into the cabin and introduces me to a friend of hers.

Her friend is a mermaid called Ariel, who is sick because she cannot swim. I am greatly saddened by the tale and tell both women of my new friend Jim Lad who is also sick and is lying on my blue boat. Leaving Ariel in the cabin I walk out on deck with her and discuss what must be done.  I tell her in no uncertain terms that Ariel and Jim Lad are dying and that if we are to get home we must leave them together on the blue boat and take the red boat home. Though distressed by this prospect, she agrees.

Back on the blue boat I speak quietly to Jim Lad of a beautiful mermaid that cannot wait to meet him. By now he is very sick but he smiles as I carry him onto the doomed red vessel. Laying him down on the floor I say Jim Lad, you will be very happy here.

She and I watch the blue boat sink into the distance over the horizon. I ask her why she would not read it. Laughing softly, she says she knew it would be too sad and that she would cry if she finished it.


20 Jun

‘I’d like to report a missing bag please.’
            ‘O.K then, let me just get a pen and paper. O.K, right Madam, can you tell me what colour it was?’
            ‘Gold Jag you say. Classy.’
            ‘Bag I said. I said bag.’
            ‘Yes bag. B…A…G.’
            ‘Oh bag.’
            ‘Yes. Bag. That’s what I said. My bag is missing. I have a missing bag.’
            ‘Sorry, I thought you said Jag, like the car.’
            ‘I know, I know. Look, I’m running a little late, can we get on with this.’
            ‘O.K then, so, what colour was your bag.
            ‘Gold. I told you already. It’s a gold bag.’
            ‘Gold, oh yes, right. Let me just note that down, G…O…L…D bag. Can I ask where you last saw the bag?
            ‘On the number 2 bus. It was stolen.’
            ‘Fine, that’s absolutely fine. But can you tell me where exactly in Poland?’
            ‘You must be joking.’
            ‘I assure you Madam, this is quite a serious matter. Krakow or Warsaw?’
            ‘Where was it stolen then?’
            ‘The number 2 bus.’
            ‘Well you should have just said that. There’s no need to get snappy. O.K, let me just note that down then, right. Now, what was in the bag, and what exactly were the circumstances of it being stolen? Tell me everything.’
            ‘Well, I was on my way to buy some buttons in Clark’s, on Fir Street. I sat down beside a tall woman at the back of the number 2 bus. She got off four stops before me on North St. When I went to get off, my bag was gone. The bag contained all my money, my cigs, my notebook and my car keys.’
            ‘So, let me get this straight. You were on your way to buy some fur in Button’s, on Clark Street. You were standing up beside a short man at the front of the number 2 bus. He got off on Forth Street while you went south for a few more stops. When you got off you realised that you’d left your bag on the bus. Your bag contained all your honey, your wigs, your coat hook and your barbies. Correct?’
            ‘Are you thick or something?’
            ‘I have been feeling a little under the weather lately, yes – how kind of you to notice.’
            ‘Look, just leave it.’
            ‘Hang on a second.’
            ‘My colleague has just informed me that somebody dropped in a bag earlier today containing, remarkably, two jars of honey, six blonde wigs, a coat hook and three barbies. But it was a green bag. Are you absolutely sure that your bag wasn’t green Madam?’
            ‘Let me take a look at it.’
            ‘Here it is.’
            ‘Yes, that’s my bag. That’s definitely my bag. Case closed. Look, I’ve really got to run.’
            ‘Glad to be of service Madam. And if your Jag turns up we’ll be in touch. I’ll get on to the Polish Embassy first thing tomorrow morning.’