The News Steps

I was on the George IV Bridge when I realised, with autumn, the nauseous, clouded state that I reside in for summer is cruelly stripped away. There is an inherent melancholy with this season. Throughout the summer people are smiling, people are warm, people’s woes and fears are seemingly burnt away by the sun. Especially in Edinburgh, we have the month long festival with its sleepless shows and festivities. The meadows are flooded with sun bathed bodies enjoying barbeques or football, playing guitars and drinking. And it is enjoyable, care free and easy.


But then the autumn drags itself wearily into prominence. The first cold morning bites through my thin veil of apathy and I am radicalised. In my melancholy I grow impatient for true social change. I strive hard to find optimism. The trees. The colours are so beautiful and warm. The rapidity with which they change from their luscious summer green into fiery reds, gold and yellows is astonishing. There is no finer autumn view than from the top of Bruntsfield Links; the endless light blue sky resting above the glorious colours of the trees and green meadows, with Arthurs Seat looming mightily in the background, permanent. The freshness of the air is invigorating and the revolution plays itself over in my mind.


Wandering the cold streets I entertain my internal conflict. I can only stay atop Bruntsfield Links for so long before the streets swallow up the spirit of the revolution with their painful reality. And now, I walk down the George IV Bridge and feel lonely. Not wanting to leave my induced ignorance and apathy of the summer I wear only a T-shirt in defiance of the cold.


The rain started. It numbed my arms and dripped down my face into my mouth. It pounded the cobbles and old town stone buildings, engulfing me in a damp smell. Jackie Levens’ poetic moaning wasn’t enough to cover up the sound of the now heavy rain drumming the floor. I thought perhaps the music and rain could co-exist in my ears. I crossed over towards St Giles street. The sound of a van rumbling up the hill over the cobbles set me scurrying a little quicker over the road. I stopped on the corner to look back down the Mile out towards East Lothian. It was cast under a haze that is common out there but it seemed detached from me. Through summer I was always surprised by how the power station at Cockenzie or the North Berwick Law imposed themselves on the city, but now they seemed a long way away. The sea was grey and uninviting. I turned away towards the News Steps. A huge Ash tree, green and defiant provided a cover from the rain. A few sparrows danced along the branches, hiding from the driving rain. I looked over the beautiful Princes St gardens, yet more nature in the city. The commercial paradise of the new town buzzed with vapidity across the gardens; yet the mismatch of architectures, from the great gothic Scott Monument, to the seventies breezeblock builds, was intriguing. A homeless man pleaded for change and I complied feeling it would be hypocritical to condemn commercialism before ignoring the helpless.


I slipped.


The cold hard stone step cracked my right knee in two and I let out a harsh cry. My right hand couldn’t grip the hand rail so I was left to tumble painfully down the steep steps. My head crashed against a metal fence post splitting my nose. A torrent of blood was set free. The brief sight of the homeless man scurrying away up the stairs made me laugh slightly as I continued to fall, unable to stop such was the pace with which I now fell and given that my right leg was useless and my vision seriously impaired by blood. I came to an unpleasant and hard stop. My own fist winded me as I crashed down. Broken glass grated at my face as I tried hard to move but I couldn’t. The damp stone smell was more pungent now that my nose was up nice and close.


My reddened sight faded to darkness and the sweet chirping of the sparrows in the Ash tree turned to a ringing as blood filled my ears before silence.

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