The Royal Wedinburgh - 29 April 2011 (a travel memoir)

Having wandered around the Scottish National Gallery's gift shop for upwards of thirty minutes, I suddenly noticed the time. What was I thinking? I’d managed to underestimate the strength of the treacle forming on its hands. To make amends, I rushed back and recommenced an exceedingly casual stroll around the gift shop. Time was chugging to a standstill. I spent a further twenty-five minutes treading a similar, yet even slower path around the shop than I had done before. I was waiting for part of the gallery that contained Sir Henry Raeburn’s The Skating Minister to open. It stands as one of Scotland’s most iconic paintings and, by way of an English to Scottish dialect translation site, I'll be buggered if ah come aw th' way tae Scootlund jist tae miss it!

It was the day of the Royal Wedding. People were going bonkers over it. I mean really bonkers. A real British sort of bonkers, if there is any other kind. The scale of Royal Wedding hysteria fell somewhere between the news of a Take That reformation and England winning the World Cup. All the while, I was playing Where’s the Skating Minister, an inverted and, as such, rather easy spin off to Where’s Wally, within the shop itself. Imagine a picture of a busy scene like the ones depicted in the Where’s Wally books. Now imagine the Skating Minister, Reverend Robert Walker as Wally, but not as the typically elusive type hidden in a crowd, but the Reverend as the crowd: duplicates of himself everywhere, like all those Agent Smiths in that Matrix sequel, just more focused on skating and less hell-bent on causing anyone any mischief.

Having ruminated over paintings big and small for two or three hours, my intellect was spent and panting like a horse towing a Boeing from a dead start. I had been reduced to playing games of Where’s the Skating Minister in a shop so chock-full of his profile that it would have proven vastly harder to lose. My winning streak continued until my brother, who, having clearly had an earful of sorts, put aside his Medical Science revision at university to send me this picture message:

"Next time you listen to Joanna Newsom, think about the complexity of hearing. It may invoke some appreciation and make you listen to decent music."

I roared outright with laughter from the bare cheek of it! I saw the Reverend when the time rolled by, but didn’t tell him about my brother’s text, lest he was a Joanna Newsom fan and fell on the ice.


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