Like most folk in their mid-thirties, I guess I’ve done some things that make me look back and cringe.
But I’ve also taken chances on things, and look back and think ‘Well, that was a leap into the unknown – but it paid off.’
And one of those was moving to Edinburgh.
Ten years ago, I was really not sure where I was heading. I had spent five years studying full-time, which had awarded me a BA and Masters in Philosophy, and still left feeling that I wanted to do something musically related. A relationship had crashed and burned, leaving me in a state, and wondering what it was all about.
I spent a few weeks in London trying to get a job selling advertising space (why??? I honestly thought in my frazzled state that this would lead me to working for the NME or something similar). Instead I got interviews but no job in this field (thank God) and was filing, once again, for my Mum. So I went up for a week to Edinburgh to see my little brother who was acting and doing comedy in the Festival and studying (t)here.
I fell hook, line and sinker for Edinburgh. I’d visited before and loved it, and couldn’t work out how I could move here. After a few days, I arranged that I would sleep on my brother’s floor for six weeks, try and find and job and a place to live. I briefly returned to England to attend V2001 (so long ago that Muse were headlining the second stage), and grab some clothes. I arrived on August 20, 2001.
I barely knew anyone apart from my brother, and a people I’d met through him. I volunteered at the Edinburgh book festival and within three days was working in a call centre. I thought it would be a stop gap measure for a few weeks; in the end I would end up working there on and off for over two years. But I met some of my greatest friends in Edinburgh there. Amongst those who worked there were Deborah Arnott from Blueflint and Ken McIntosh from Aberfeldy (the latter then playing with his twin in Edinburgh’s greatest lost band, Wayne Paycheck).
And I started to find my feet. I did find somewhere to live – almost directly leading to me meeting my wife. I ended up doing all sorts of jobs from the bizarre (I still can’t believe I ever worked as a door-to door salesman) to the dream come true of finally working in a record shop (or three, if you want to be pedantic).
As the years went by, I trained as a teacher and taught for a few years, as well as doing bits of TEFL. And of course, I sauntered vaguely downwards (with apologies to Terry Pratchett) into the Edinburgh music scene. Whilst I’ve not really got a band together, I’ve had a fair amount of stuff published online, interviewed bands I could only have dreamt about and DJed. And I made many new friends -and against all odds – married and have a wonderful son, and two much adored (if rather indulged) cats. In the last few years I’ve become a Hibee (supporter of Hibernian football club – now who would have thought I’d get into going to the football?) And running my own club night or record label? the sort of thing that people back in England told me I’d never do? Hah!
It’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve lost twelve months in that time to depression, which is one of the most horrible -and still misunderstood illnesses – around. But I’ve got through it, thanks to Edinburgh folk, and most particuarly my wife, brother and parents and close Edinburgh friends (you know who you are).
Against all odds, I gave up smoking and drinking (so much for the ‘sick man of Europe’ tag). I feel very much at home here, even if I bristle about casual anti-English remarks. And this far into my life I’m still ‘yes to vinyl, no to meat.’ A pretty long phase, then.
So God bless all of you who’ve made me welcome. I’ve done some daft things – but this wasn’t one of them.
A sampling of an Edinburgh soundtrack…