The views, the architecture, the mathematics; Edinburgh-based author Ruaridh Nicoll pays a loving tribute to the city’s spectacular beauty
n winter. the air clears above lidinburgh and hills appear beyond my window. The Largo Law rises from the llatlands of Files Iiast Neuk while. to the north. the ()chils are white with snow. They reflect the light from a low-slung winter sun. somewhere over the Pentlands behind me. I love the Iidinburgh skyline. I live in an eyrie that allows me to see thousands of chimney pots. Spires mark the compass points. and the blots — Leith's grain elevator. the (iranton gas tanks. liettes -- add character and life. In the booming city. cranes are always rising above the roofs to rotate and point at me.
Back in the early 1990s. I used to work at the old Scotsman building. and would be astonished every morning by a walk to work that would take me from Stockbridge up over (ieorge Street and across the North Bridge. I would pass endless \‘ICWS. the city often drenched in a light that was Arctic in its clarity. In the crisp air. the tenements of the High Street climbed up towards the castle. feudal in their deference. while the Bank of Scotland sat stout and self-assured in front of them.
Then there is the mathematics of the city. I like to stand in the middle
w. of Hanover Street. looking up at George IV so
that beyond. the Ilub slots between the twin
towers of the (ieneral Assembly. As the sun falls. I gaze
down Princes Street to watch the cathedral in Manor Place turning black as cancer against the burning sky.
I‘ve never felt the same affection for Arthur‘s Seat as l have for the rest of the city. although the crags seem beautiful from Regent‘s Terrace. I do love the story. that back in the 1800s. the city fathers offered Queen Victoria her pick of the city to place a new statue ofAlbert. She wanted it on the top of Arthur‘s Seat. Bless their hearts. they frowned and murmured and shuffled their feet. and pttt it in Charlotte Square instead.
Most of all. I love it when it rains at night. From my window. the serpent curve of Raebum Place is unaccountany pleasing when it is slick and wet. The Botanics sit in the middle of my view. and I can see the lights on at the heart of the dark garden. in lnverleith House. and know whether the curator. Paul Nesbitt. is working hard enough. I wonder how my brother is among the halogen of Kirkcaldy. while the lighthouse on lnchkeith Island flashes on and off. seeming to warn of sleep.
5-19 Feb 2004 THE LIST 21