Travelling: Edinburgh - Livre d'Or








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livredor
Travelling: Edinburgh
Sunday, 12 September 2004 at 10:40 pm
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I've spent a delightful weekend in Edinburgh; particular gratitude to pseudomonas for being a charming host and FB for making things happen and being generally lovely. Other lovely people involved included lethargic_man and justinep.

I'm so pleased pseudomonas was able to be around, cos it had seemed up till the last minute that he wouldn't be. And I'm really glad I got to spend time with him before he left Edinburgh! He was there to greet me and make me tea and converse interestingly when I arrived, tired after a long week, on Friday afternoon. I was quite unenthusiastic about leaving him to go to synagogue a couple of hours later!

Actually synagogue was very nice, as the first part of doing shabbat the way it's meant to be done. Lots of service, lots of good company and interesting discussion and long, leisured meals accompanied by singing and finally some more intimate time with friends after all that general socializing. Yum. Edinburgh scored very well as an experience of walking into a strange synagogue; everyone was friendly and welcoming, especially the rabbi who invited us (together with all the other strangers he could round up) for meals both on Friday night and Saturday lunchtime.

R Rose is an interesting guy, to say the least. I had already heard of him by repute (he's relatively new in Edinburgh), and he did indeed live up to his reputation. Over the course of the weekend said or hinted quite a lot of stuff that's almost shockingly liberal for an Orthodox rabbi, but at the same time his sermon on Saturday had me absolutely seething. Clearly someone who doesn't toe any party line. And very boisterous, not at all afraid to ask strangers very probing, if not actually directly personal, questions, or to forcibly drag the conversation round to topics he wanted to talk about. Luckily his interests and erudition are extremely broad, so this wasn't a problem. He was also astoundingly good at the multi-national (and multi-lingual) game of Jewish geography that was going on among a dozen strangers from three continents.

lethargic_man was being most endearingly geeky about LotR at one point, but the conversation covered a far broader range of topics than I can summarize here. And R Rose certainly wasn't going to let anyone be too shy to talk about politics (whether national, Israeli, international, or Jewish community). He also pounced on me at lunchtime: hey, you, tell us about today's Torah portion! This was particularly problematic given I'd not arrived till the middle of the Torah reading that morning in synagogue, so I was working from the memory of having taught this week's bit years ago. I was better off than lethargic_man, who through a combination of circumstances actually ended up more or less sight-reading the Haftarah (reading from Prophets) in synagogue.

There was annoyingness at the end of the Friday night meal about people insisting I couldn't possibly walk home on my own, and coopting this American exchange student into accompanying me, when he clearly had no wish to do so and wasn't actually going in my direction at all. He was very nice about it, but we agreed tactfully that he could turn back and head to where he was staying once we were out of sight. What really got my goat was a particular woman bleating on about how women are never safe on their own at night. It's bad enough coming from anyone, but she's a professional feminist; she's studying feminist interpretations of the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, which is kind of cool in its way, but meant that she typifies exactly the kind of thing that annoys me about a lot of feminism. I just don't see how women are helped by someone devoting her life to feminist literary theory while at the same time professing opinions which restrict and belittle women.

Anyway. It turned out that one of the people from the community who was being nice and welcoming and friendly was in fact justinep. It took me a while to work this out, but as it happened she had gone back to pseudomonas' after she'd left the Friday night meal early. Meeting her didn't feel like meeting a new person, it felt like filling an unexplained gap in my social circle. I should have met her, and now I have. Anyway, she is very delightful!

On Saturday afternoon lethargic_man and I didn't manage to extricate ourselves from the company until 5 o'clock. At which point we went for a little walk, and lethargic_man showed me an extremely cool old railway tunnel and we enjoyed the sun coming out after a rainy afternoon and shining on beautiful views across Edinburgh. Then back to pseudomonas' for a truly delightful evening with him and justinep. We drank pseudomonas' cherry mead, which, like all his mead, is utterly delicious and a lot more alcoholic than it tastes. I think we were more tipsy from the general good company and relaxation after a long week than the mead though. We had some really interesting halachic discussion, and some somber reflection about the Significant Date (including lethargic_man telling us about the US-mediated coup which led to General Pinochet seizing power in Chile on September 11th back in the 70s), and also lots of friendly silliness and much cuddling and stroking. Yes, I had only just met justinep, but she managed to discover how susceptible I am to good purring and was most amenable to the kind of petting that such an excellent purr deserves.

The later part of the evening got kind of weird. We ordered a takeaway from Ayutthaya (sp?), and unfortunately, the food took a really unreasonably long time to be delivered. So by the the time we ate (getting on for 11pm) we were all too tired to properly appreciate the undoubtedly delicious food. Then I turned into a pumpkin and spent the next couple of hours half-falling asleep inconveniently and impolitely, then half-waking up and being fretful and clingy and confused. And I apologize profusely for being such incredibly bad company. (The reason we didn't just give up and go to sleep was that we were waiting for pseudomonas' parents who were coming up from London to help him move down south, and they didn't arrive till about half past one.)

Anyway, after all that we took quite a while to get going on Sunday morning. I said goodbye to pseudomonas and then headed off with lethargic_man to do touristy stuff in Edinburgh. So we went to visit the new Scottish Parliament building. This was kind of interesting but I was deeply unimpressed with the architecture. I'm not normally curmudgeonly about modern architecture, but really, the Parliament seems to be trying far too hard to be ultra-trendy and I guarantee it will look dated in 10 years' time. Besides, concrete is a really ugly building material, particularly for interiors.

Then we climbed Calton hill for more magnificent views (offset by a bunch of rather quaint follies and other miscellaneous buildings). And in the afternoon, tracked down an exhibition about Etruscan archaeology which I'd seen advertised on the side of a bus. It turned out to be in the Museum of Scotland, which is itself a very fine building. And the exhibition was as much fun as we'd hoped it would be, so yay.

We then met up with FB again for tea. He picked a very nice café called The Elephant House, which I was most taken with. Lovely atmosphere, individual without being consciously look-at-me-I'm-so-eccentric, and really taking advantage of the big rooms and high ceilings that old Edinburgh buildings have. And the sort of place where strangers sit together at the big tables, and people read and play board games and it's generally relaxed and friendly. Also I got to introduce lethargic_man to spiced chai, which is always a good thing. Finally, lethargic_man and I went out for dinner; despite our intentions to try something new, we ended up in Ann Purna as always. But Ann Purna is so much of a good thing that I'm not really complaining.

Wow. That was a really, really lovely weekend.


Moooood: happyjoyful
Tuuuuune: Lehitaneg betaanugim ('celebrating with yummy food')
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karen2205: default
From:karen2205
Date:September 15th, 2004 04:26 pm (UTC)
1 hours after journal entry, 05:26 pm (karen2205's time)
(Link)
I tend to shout at people who tell me I ought not to be walking alone at night. If I didn't feel safe I wouldn't do it. I have no choice but to walk around London in the dark (how else would I get home after LPC classes?) and I feel as safe at night as I do during the day.
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livredor: ewe
From:livredor
Date:September 17th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:05 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
Agreed. The assumption that every man is a potential rapist is not just a miserable attitude but would mean that a lot of people simply couldn't live their lives at all.

(And making it a gendered issue is simply ignorant. Men and women are about equally likely to be victims of random violence by strangers; the vast majority of violent crime, including rape, is not committed by strangers. Hence, there is absolutely no sense in making a man walk home alone in order to make sure that a woman doesn't have to.)
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xnikki118x: default
From:xnikki118x
Date:September 15th, 2004 08:32 pm (UTC)
5 hours after journal entry, 04:32 pm (xnikki118x's time)
(Link)
hey, i just wanted to thank you for helping me fix my journal layout. i have it looking the way i want it to now!! you're so sweet, thanks so much. =)
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livredor: teapot
From:livredor
Date:September 17th, 2004 02:06 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:06 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
i just wanted to thank you for helping me fix my journal layout
No problem at all. Thank you for taking the time to make me feel appreciated! I'm glad you got it sorted out in the end.
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rysmiel: good things in life
From:rysmiel
Date:September 16th, 2004 10:04 am (UTC)
19 hours after journal entry, 06:04 am (rysmiel's time)
(Link)
You know, one of the things I really like about you is how natural it is to you to spread your joy in ways that cheer other people up.

*hug*
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livredor: portrait
From:livredor
Date:September 17th, 2004 02:20 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:20 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
*hug*! That's such a lovely way of looking at it; I'm extremely delighted that you can be cheered up by my having a good time with my lovely friends.
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justinep: default
From:justinep
Date:September 17th, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry
(Link)
*purrrrrr*

And yes, it is indeed spelt Ayutthaya despite the fact I've always thought of it as 'Attayhu'. On this subject, I still owe you money for the meal. I don't really know what to suggest as a good method of transferring the money. Ideas on a postcard, please?

On the subject of finally having met, as dear psuedomonas has talked of you so often it felt more like putting a face and mannerisms to a person I already knew quite well. I am very pleased to have met you as it was frustrating to hear about a fun person and not get to meet them. One down, the rest of your crowd to go :) Also, you weren't bad company at all, even when unconscious :) I have fallen asleep on that self-same sofa many times, in a state of abject exhaustion, so I couldn't possibly hold it against you (without pseudomonas and I knowing I was a big, purring hypocrite)

On the subject of Sept 11th, I was pleased lethargicman told us about Chile, Pinochet and the USA. Here's a quote from the Wikipedia page on Allende : "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people." -- Henry Kissinger

Also, interestingly :

In a 2003 interview on the U.S. Black Entertainment Television network, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked about why the United States saw itself as the "moral superior" in the Iraq conflict, citing the Chilean coup as an example of U.S. intervention that went against the wishes of the local population. Powell responded: "With respect to your earlier comments about Chile in the 1970s and what happened with Mr. Allende, it is not a part of American history that we're proud of." Chilean newspapers hailed the news as the first time the U.S. government had conceded a role in the affair. (ibid)
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livredor: teeeeeeeeea (thanks to darcydodo)
From:livredor
Date:September 17th, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:32 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
*purrrrrr*
Curses, your knowing my fatal weakness for purring may make things awkward for me! *tries to look nonchalant about petting the lovely purring creature*

And yes, it is indeed spelt Ayutthaya
Ooh, linky. I should have thought of Google, but given I wasn't quite sure how to spell it I figured that might not work too well. Thanks for putting me right!

I still owe you money for the meal. I don't really know what to suggest as a good method of transferring the money.
Don't worry about it too much. If your conscience is bothering you about it, you can always send me a check. I will email you with some proper contact details (cos I'm slightly paranoid about putting my address in my journal).

it felt more like putting a face and mannerisms to a person I already knew quite well
Yes, that describes it exactly. I was trying to explain something like this in my original post. We were supposed to know eachother already, being so multiply connected! It's only geography's fault that it didn't happen for a while.

One down, the rest of your crowd to go :)
Ooh yes, you should definitely meet hatam_soferet and darcydodo! I will keep racking my brains for a way to make this happen.

Also, you weren't bad company at all, even when unconscious :)
Um, should I be worried about this remark?! I'm glad I wasn't too annoying, anyway; I felt like I was being.

*bounce*
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lethargic_man: beardy
From:lethargic_man
Date:September 18th, 2004 02:20 pm (UTC)
2 days after journal entry, 03:20 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
A propos of nothing more than your icon, I suddenly realised the other day, decades after first encountering it, just why the Infinite Improbability Drive is driven by a nice hot cup of tea: it's because you use a Student's "tea" test to assay (im)probabilities.

Dear oh dear.
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pseudomonas: default
From:pseudomonas
Date:September 19th, 2004 04:16 am (UTC)
3 days after journal entry, 05:16 am (pseudomonas's time)
(Link)
Is that a Douglas Adams pun or a lethargic_man pun?
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lethargic_man: default
From:lethargic_man
Date:September 20th, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC)
4 days after journal entry, 01:52 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
Search me.
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justinep: default
From:justinep
Date:September 28th, 2004 11:04 am (UTC)
12 days after journal entry
(Link)
Besides the fact this would impinge on your personal space, I'd be a bit worried I'd find more puns hiding away in your pockets. *fears*
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livredor: teeeeeeeeea (thanks to darcydodo)
From:livredor
Date:September 29th, 2004 01:54 pm (UTC)
13 days after journal entry, 02:54 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
*applause* This is brilliant, and so true. It makes perfect sense that further and more terrible puns are hidden in lethargic_man's pockets!
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lethargic_man: beardy
From:lethargic_man
Date:October 2nd, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC)
16 days after journal entry, 02:37 pm (lethargic_man's time)
(Link)
I can't see how that makes sense at all. Online my puns are hidden in my packets, but that's different.

I've just made myself some toast. I don't have a toaster here, but when there's a grill, there's a way...
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livredor: portrait
From:livredor
Date:September 17th, 2004 02:42 pm (UTC)
1 days after journal entry, 03:42 pm (livredor's time)
(Link)
about Chile, Pinochet and the USA
Yes, it is good to know that part of history, however depressing. And thank you for the Wikipedia snippets. I am ashamed to admit that I left Allende out of my post because I wasn't sure how to spell his name (Ajende? Ayende?), so your information is extra-useful!
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justinep: default
From:justinep
Date:September 28th, 2004 11:02 am (UTC)
12 days after journal entry
(Link)
The WWW has done us a great service in providing Just-In-Time knowledge.

There are plenty of times I have suddenly needed to know something, in order to not look completely ignorant, and have rushed straight to Wikipedia or the like.
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