A Valediction: Of Caledonia

This time last year, I travelled up to Edinburgh for four of the five days during Freshers’ Week for the Research Methods Course. A year on, this marks my final trip.

I hadn’t made an easy year of it, and so it continued. With 21 library items still to return, including the Passions of the Renaissance anthology and the Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, it was a weight to carry up the valley.

At Edinburgh’s library, books are to be returned on a single window shelf during open hours. There was amusement as the pile almost boarded up the window single-handedly.

There was also a £7 fine for my sins, which was declared to the librarian as ‘my last task’. (Reminiscent of Knightmare’s final episode, fittingly enough, as the library presently resembles a dungeon.)

Bristo Square, Edinburgh

It was a strange day; there was little sense of belonging in Edinburgh after all. It was quite a shock to see the place awash with students, many new, after the summer of tranquility.

The library has been the only place of belonging this year, and it is not an inspiring building. The main hope was to say farewell to the two tutors who helped me this year, but all lecturers have fled for their lives.

In contrast to the peaceful Bristo Square, hundreds of people swarmed aimlessly around the precinct. Once up the lofty flights of the David Hume Tower, the corridors of the English Department were also eerily deserted.

After waiting twenty minutes to catch my supervisor, I left a copy of the submitted dissertation against his door. That was the farewell to the David Hume Tower, which apparently holds the best views of Edinburgh. (I argue for the top of the News Steps.) I’d also hoped to catch Adam Fox, but his neighbouring office was being stripped of furniture, and he was not around.

So, anticlimaxes achieved, a farewell to Edinburgh (and the customary mile of George Square, Bristo Square, King George IV Bridge, the National Library, down the News Steps and across the bypass into the station).

Maybe it was less about people and more a snapshot of experience: a gateway to another future, a bizarre coincidence, and a time memorably forgettable, or forgettably memorable.

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