A Castle On A Hill (Edinburgh)
Ok. I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time. Weeks actually. Wait. No, it’s been two months! Man, time flies. I mean, I have been busy. Trip to Mexico City (posts to come), doing a show in Texas, seeing family, and spending a wet and muddy weekend at a music festival. Plus, I really didn’t know which way to go with this post. Here I have Edinburgh; a magical place. Ancient history and modern city in one. “Old” and “New Town” laid out in a Scottish sprawl. (The design for “New Town” was drafted in 1766…so, you know, not so new.) And all surrounding the castle on a hill. Edinburgh Castle. Rustic. Gothic. Fortress. Stand on Princes Street and gaze south up the cliff to the castle above and the child in you comes alive.
That brings me to this trip’s photograph. I have Papa posing for what can only be described as a playful and childlike picture inside the castle. Now, I can still remember my Papa’s husky laugh. A grumbly sort of raspy thing that always seemed to surprise even him. By my dad’s own description, my Papa wasn’t always the most playful of sorts. That was the job of Nanny, my dad’s mom. So maybe it was the place that brought it out. Maybe it was his traveling friends. Maybe it was Nanny. Or maybe what I have here is a glimpse of the child in him. That child in all of us. That sense of awe and wonder and adventure so often sacrificed at the altar of those things that need doing. But whatever the reason, he played in the castle.
I mean, come on. A castle on a hill. Castles in a cloud. Charging knights on sturdy steeds. Rescues and ramparts. Banners fitfully flapping in the wind. Legends and lances lowered. Drawbridges and damsels.
It stirs the imagination. It stirs the hero in us. Memories of forts and towers built of boxes from the garage. The wall and tapestries, blankets and couch cushions; the corner stones, a lamp or stack of heavy books. Britannica Encyclopedia Volumes A-E the thing to secure the palace and hold back the charging hordes. I mean you know you built forts, right? Or castles or whatever. And blankets and tables were your motes and turrets. Nobody had to teach you to do this. Nobody had to suggest it. You just did it. We just did it.
So stand with me again on Princes Street. Where I’m sure he stood. Where they stood. Where everyone who visits this beautiful place stands. Look with me once again up to the castle on the hill and the fortress of your childhood creation comes to life. Within its walls the lover in need of rescue. The tyrant in need of a lesson. The adventure in need of a hero. The child wakes up and you can’t help but play.
Maybe that’s why I love this picture so much. So many of these pictures I have. Papa dancing, singing, laughing or just rooting through a bin of champagne bottles in some east-European duty-free shop. A goofy and silly, playful man I didn’t always get to see. But these images help me to understand him better. And through him my own dad and family…and even myself.
(See below for full gallery of my visit to Edinburgh)