Top down, fingers crossed

29th August 2003 at 01:00
IT was a summer holiday for trying new things. I have already written of my experience of driving on the right for the first time. This affected me profoundly because it was one of the few times I have had, and overcome, an emphatic belief that I could not learn how to do a particular task. One to share with the pupils.

You probably don't want to hear too much about the new jobs I learnt to do when my Reliant SS1 developed a habit of stalling at alarmingly frequent intervals. I did think of doing a smart-ass piece where I owned up to caus-ing a raft of new faults every time I tried to fix an existing one, but my metaphor for Higher English can wait.

On the final day of the break I had another Big New Experience. I was asked to read some of my King o the Midden poems at Itchy Coo's "Manky Mingin Dinosaur Show" at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Unwilling to pass up a chance to show aff in public, I agreed.

Only an idiot would have taken the sports car he had fixed only the day before into the capital, so I did. All along the A70 the two-seater behaved impeccably. Through Currie and Balerno, top down, all was well. I had no idea that I was heading for severe discomfort induced by the latest thinking on learning.

Problems started when I failed to find a parking place at my usual haunt near the university. I decided to head down the Royal Mile to Castle Terrace but the High Street was closed. I took the Mound and swung left on to Princes Street. Traffic was very slow but a check at the water and oil gauges and the rev counter showed that all was well with the SS1.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for its owner. All through the journey, whenever I had been stopped at traffic lights, I had taken a swig from a water bottle.

I knew this was good for my brain. My brain was fine. My bladder wasn't. As I advanced only metres at a time, the urge to relieve myself became so strong that I began to develop increasingly wild solutions to my problem.

Put the hazard lights on and find a bush in Princes Street Gardens. Raise the hood and get the petrol can out of the boot . . . I settled for biting my finger.

Eventually I reached a car park in Morrison Street. When I saw that it had a loo, a symphony played in my head. Not one to share with the pupils.

Gregor Steele enjoyed his three minutes of fame.

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