Three hundred plus years of anecdotes and tales of Scotland’s greatest essayists, novelists and poets, an informative and entertaining evening exploring the streets and pubs of Edinburgh and, of course, a little pub banter. I could only be speaking of the Edinburgh Literary Pub Crawl- I mean tour.
The evening’s frolickings began at the Beehive Inn where a Scottish actor by the name of Mr Clart familiarised himself and abruptly began reciting verse by Robert Burns. No sooner than he began however, a pompous Englishman by the name of ‘Mr McBrain’ interjected. This sparked a few witty comments back and forth, after which the duo recalled three or four short bits of prose and poetry. The Scot versus the Englishman, the actor opposite the intellectual: it was a clever and wholeheartedly successful ploy aimed at reinforcing the fact that there are two sides to every story. The accentuation of the duality of these writers’ personal lives - Burns, Samuelson, Ferguson, the list is endless - offers insightful explanations into the subject material and rationales that underscore such famous works as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Next on the list of stops was the Jolly Judge, a 400 year old, recently renovated pub. Overlooking the fact there were segments that looked more like work contracted out to IKEA, it was the site of arguably the most humorous moment of the night. The two lads delivered solid impressions of a series of correspondence between Robert Burns and his mistress Nancy. On a more serious note, however, knowledge of the lives and works of Samuelson and Stephenson was also bequeathed on the audience in great detail.
Time restraints deemed necessary an abridged tour of Row Street found in Edinburgh new town. Highlights included stops at the Kenilworth and Milne’s Bar, the latter of which was frequented by the likes of Hugh MacDiarmid and William Soutar, (in)famous for their leftist tendencies. Hence its affectionate nickname, the ‘Little Kremlin’. Last but not least, there was a brief exposition on the many contributions of several of far more contemporary authors such as Iain Banks and, yes, JK Rowling. For an evening well spent, come along and have a drink. Dare I say, you might even learn something.