Friday, August 19, 2005
On The Town
Work = duff.
Normal routine for Friday lunch - Clark's for a pint and a sandwich with Dave and Tom; always good.
After work I met up with my parents and youngest sister at The Filling Station on the High Street for some drinks. They were through from Glasgow to see the Military Tattoo and had plenty time to fill until it started.
We had a couple of beers and caught up and watched the street festivities going on behind us. Two English pirates stopped to hand us fliers and ask where we were from. "Doon the road," I told them, and they realised we weren't Australian after all.
We went for a meal at the Metro restaurant in the Apex City Hotel on Grassmarket. Then I walked them back up towards the castle and left them when it started to get too busy. I could see the castle in the background between the buildings on either side of the street; all lit up in blue and yellow it looked fantastic.
As I was about to jump into a taxi I got a call from Tom who was in All Bar One on George Street so I joined him in there for a few more drinks. It's one of my least favourite bars in Edinburgh; always too busy, lack of bar staff, no atmosphere and full of ya-ya posh types with Gucci shoes and handbags.
We were sat near the bar at one of the large wooden tables when two guys sat down opposite us. One was young, well dressed and spoke his English very well. The other was older, had a strong Glaswegian accent, wore a ponytail and was dressed in jeans and a white vest top. They struck up a conversation with Tom, but I smelt a rat and immediately withdrew from their questions, directing my attention elsewhere while keeping my ears firmly on what was being said. I had seen this before; once they get your trust they get you to buy them a round, then they ask for your wallet and watch, a knife pressing under the table into your knee, and you are so shocked and taken back you don't want to make a fuss.
Their initial questions revolved around work; where, who with, position held etc. Then they started to challenge the answers; why do you do it, I bet you love ripping off companies for hundreds per week etc. All typical stuff. Then just as Tom had managed to deflect most of their more probing questions, he came out with a defensive question of his own. Whether he asked this in an attempt to rattle them, change the subject or out of pure naivety I will never know. But he did and it shook the pub to its foundations.
"Are you two gay?" he asked.
My jaw hit the deck. My worries increased further when the older man, now identified as 'Billy fae Glasgow', became slightly tense at this accusation and told Tom he was only wearing the vest top because he had "nae other clothes that were clean".
His friend, David, calmed him down and things returned to semi-normality. Billy lit his roll-up and Tom, realising the error in his questioning, turned his attention to the American girl sitting next to him (who he later persuaded to accompany him on a dinner date next week). I decided to find out as much about these two as possible, because if they were up to anything I'd be able to tell.
Turns out they were the most unlikely couple of pals you would ever suspect. David was having problems at home with his girlfriend - who he soon left to go and try to patch it up with - and Billy had nowhere he could really call home as such. He stayed with a friend and busked for a living in Rose Street. He let us hear some of his singing while in the bar and I couldn't stop thinking he looked and sounded like Francis Rossi of Status Quo.
I left soon after and made my way home. I still think they were up to something but perhaps Tom was nearer the mark than he realised. Whatever their story was, Billy and David may well find representations of themselves in a story somewhere along the line.