Saturday, October 13, 2012


At 4:30am local time, the fire alarms went off, a never ending klaxon that chased us out of our beds and down the street below, where the pretty flashing lights of the fire engine contrasted with the downpour of rain. We shuffled about in the shelter of the hotel car park for ten minutes, then walked down the street to the hotel's sister establishment, where we were offered coffee (at this time of night? No thank you), just before the alarm ceased and we all trooped back again.

It turned out to have been an electrical fault due to water coming through a ceiling and short-circuiting an alarm. That meant we slept straight through our alarm and only crawled out of bed at 9:30, when we had to rush upstairs (apparently at the same time as every other inmate of the hotel) to catch breakfast, which meant the staff were deluged with a crowd of hungry and sleep-deprived guests all at once.

A full Scottish breakfast is a lot like a full English, as far as I can tell from the menu, just with haggis on top. I missed out on this delight because of my awkward vegetarianism, so I can't report on that. After breakfast I deployed my wife to sightseeing while I stayed in the room and worked on various clever or difficult things, until my eyes crossed and it was time to stop.

Perhaps that was the lack of sleep, not my brainpower shortfall. It wasn't great for recovering from jet lag.

In the afternoon, we went to the National Gallery, which is largely full of 17th century paintings of people waving their arms or looking very cross indeed. There's more variety at the National Portrait Gallery, but less arm-waving and rage, which are clearly the main reasons to look at any representational art.

I was feeling crummy, but we went on to the Stand comedy club and bought some tickets for tonight's show, then made our way back across town to recuperate. To recuperate from a few hours of walking around indoors looking at paintings. I really thought we were made of sterner stuff.


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