Bread St

I lived in a flat once which underlooked Edinburgh castle. Just far enough away to be able to hear the bagpipes during military tattoos without actually being inflamed enough to declare war on Scotland. That was to come later. My tenant and friend was a lanky young man with lots of strawberry blonde hair, some of which had located itself on his upper lip. He owned one pair of shoes and lived on nothing but 80 shilling beer, pork pies and what might euphemistically be called nightlife. He bravely lived with the danger of becoming one etiolated, sleep-deprived ‘plook’.

We had mutually decided that that smell in the living room (I had sold him the idea that it was his bedroom) must be coming from what had once been the carpet. In a futile gesture towards hygiene, we decided to pull it up and discard it. Eventually after a titanic battle, it was tugged away from its moorings (mostly it was held in place by mouse droppings, sweat, six-inch nails etc) only to realise that it was incredibly unwieldy. There was nowhere to leave something of this size; the street outside was already polluted by the cretaceous settee we had pitched there, four floors down, the previous week.

So there the carpet rested on the sooty plain of the front room’s floorboards. It looked like an attempt by a gang of disturbed four-year-olds to model in miniature the volcano above us that was Arthur’s seat. It’s probably still there, waiting for the day when Edinburgh City Council nail a blue plaque to the wall (right next to the Condemned notice).