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  • Dougie

In the immortal words of John McEnroe ...

You cannot be serious!

We took a mid-morning train to Edinburgh Waverley. As far as I know, it's the only train station named after a novel. It was written by Sir Walter Scott and first published in 1814. Scott was one of the early-19th Century writers who invented the historical fiction genre. And he re-imagined Scottish history.

Eight years after Sir Walter died a grateful nation decided to build a Gothic monstrosity now known as the Scott Monument. At 200 feet high (61 metres) it is, according to Professor Wiki, the second highest monument in the world erected to honour an author.

If you want a point of reference -- think Thunderbird 1 (piloted by Scott Tracy -- eponymously enough) with frills and 64 statues representing characters from the novels.

But that's not what I'm here to write about.

This is.

This is the wheelchair access to the Ibis Styles Hotel at 19 St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh. There are a number of characteristics about this "access" that are -- what shall we call them? -- shite.

  1. This "access" isn't actually on St. Andrew's Square. It's 20 metres down the slope to the bottom of St. Andrew's Square, turn left onto Thistle Street and head west for another 20 metres on the broken pavement or the Edinburgh cobbles, turn left onto Thistle Street South East Lane and head back up the hill for another 10 metres or so on either the narrower broken pavement or the rougher cobbled lane.

  2. There is no bell, intercom or signage at the bottom of the four steps at the main entrance to the hotel on St. Andrew's Square. Make sure you have a human being with you when you arrive -- to climb the steps to tell reception the old grumpy Scottish guy is downstairs in the chilly Edinburgh breeze -- waiting.

  3. Or ask a passing stranger hauling their suitcases up the stairs.

  4. When someone from the hotel finally opens the locked double doors on the narrow pavement on Thistle Street South East Lane -- let's say he works in the kitchen, not the reception -- get off the narrow broken pavement onto the cobbles because when the door is open -- to allow access -- the pavement is too narrow to actually allow access.

  5. Once on the cobbled lane there is no dropped kerb. See point 2 above for advice on access procedure. In short -- bring a human with you.

  6. Enter the mines of Moria.

  7. Have your accompanying human open the gates of the cantilevered goods lift while the guy from the kitchen enters the building by a different door to run up the wee flight of stairs we do not know about so that he -- not me or my accompanying human -- can push the 'start' button (which is positioned only at the top of the journey -- not at the bottom or both or (heaven forbid) fixed to the lift cage (there is no other word for it) so that -- you know -- the lift could be user-operated.

  8. Contemplate the nature of existence as the cage slowly rises. Concede -- as you reach half way -- that you may not actually need user-control of the kitchen lift -- sorry, wheelchair access lift. I mean -- when is the last time you ever saw a cabbage or a box of stuffed chickens pushing lift buttons in your hotel?

    1. Fair point Dr. Watson.

  9. When you reach the top, have your accompanying human operate the gate-opener which is, in fact, a spare screwdriver, because the proper bit broke. Apparently.

  10. Inspect the kitchen as you pass on your way to the reception lift.

  11. Have a hotel employee -- kitchen staff are not essential for this task -- push the B button in the lift to open its rear doors.

  12. Enter the lift.

  13. Have a hotel employee -- kitchen staff are not essential for this task either -- push the 0 button in the lift to open its front doors.

  14. Exit the lift.

  15. Enter Reception.

  16. Follow this procedure -- or some variation of in which Spike has to show reception staff how the kitchen lift operates (especially the bit with the emergency screwdriver) -- EVERY time one needs or wants to leave or enter the building.

I thought about bringing out Difficult Dougie. But that would not have been fair. Everyone who works in the hotel is maybe 12 years old. Thanks to Brexit and COVID-19 restrictions they all perform as if they've worked in the hotel for less than a week. They know less about their kitchen lift than we know.

I'll take it up with the multi-national conglomerate that owns the franchise when we return to Canberra. It'll keep me busy on our cold winter nights.

We found the room. It's fine. There is a wet room shower.

Some hours later we met up with Heather and Andrew, Barbara and Brian in the Café Royal. Both the people and the pub are too fabby for words.

Heather had booked a table for us at Baba Restaurant and Bar in what used to be the Roxburghe Hotel on Charlotte Square. I have no idea why they used to spell "Roxburghe" that strange way.

It also doesn't matter.

The hotel has changed its name twice since I was last there. It is -- by the way -- where I met briefly for the first and only time the unjustifiably confidant man who wrote that odious biography of the late Princess of Wales (a woman I never met and about whom I have not even one opinion).

We sauntered along the length of George Street.

We dined well (good choice Heather).

I am in Edinburgh with people I love, eating good food and talking about life.

Fuck Ibis. And its kitchen lift. You'll be hearing from me soon.

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