JUST AN OBSERVATION

Just an Observation
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Do they know it’s Christmas?
Well maybe ‘they’ do but with only two weeks to go I have managed for the second or third year running-I’ve lost count really- to totally avoid the whole debacle so far. This year however it has been entirely unintentional and despite every advert on TV proclaiming the event, every shop in town marketing itself towards it and even the return of the farcical and totally commercial vehicle Winter Wonderland blighting our cityscape I was still genuinely surprised when someone mentioned it was virtually days away.
I must admit my head had been bothered by other more important things recently including our government’s decision to go to war by sanctioning air-strikes on an already destructed and war-torn Syria. Confusion about what good this is actually going to do added to further confusion that MPs cheered this decision in the House of Commons when it was announced, especially as only a few months ago the SNP were admonished for cheering a speech which set out objectives to help the poor, vulnerable and needy. Perhaps cheering is only acceptable when poor, vulnerable and needy people in other countries who have already had their lives ripped apart are being bombed.
There was something particularly disheartening about watching this boorish display of macho bravado which confirmed to me that those making such important decisions are little more than overgrown schoolboys who have little compassion for civilian lives.
On top of this Donald Trump, who is intending to run for government in the US, thought it wise to announce that all Muslims should be banned from entering the country as they are a danger to Americans. It is beyond belief that such outright xenophobia still exists in a supposedly evolved culture but apparently it does and apparently it has support, cue that Hopkins woman leaping onto that bandwagon in her usual ungainly way.
A petition gaining over five hundred thousand signatures- the highest ever handed to this government- banning Trump from entering the UK has been doing the rounds and he has been decried by Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and been stripped off an honorary degree by the Robert Gordon University. Personally I don’t think this in any way goes far enough at all and every dry-cleaner globally should ban him from entering and having his hair cleaned.
Elsewhere although I have been moaning about the rain for weeks wondering just when and if it will ever end I must admit most of our grievances were not so bad when I saw what the poor inhabitants of Cumbria have been going through. My heart went out to them when I saw how their community had been wrecked by flooding but was heartened by their spirit in fighting back by banding together in an attempt to salvage what they could and plan for the future only for a second round of floods destroy all their valiant efforts and my heart sank again.
It makes my whingeing about getting wet every time I leave the house seem slightly irrelevant. It looks pleasant and dry enough out there today however but on recent form I don’t expect it to last and still think this is one of the most miserable winters in recent memory; discounting the snow deep ones of 2009 and 2010 of course.
In a vague attempt to try to raise some of my missing Christmas spirit- raising the Titanic would likely be less of gargantuan task- I am going to go along to Christmas Markets in St. Margaret’s House- London Road- and Summerhall over the weekend. On top of this there is also Neu Reekie’s XmasKracker at Central Hall on the 18th featuring with a bumper festive line up including Irvine Welsh, Liz Lochhead, White, Withered Hand and many others in what promises to be a night not to be missed. On top of all that I am also going to the camp piece of froth that is ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ starring Jason Donovan at the Playhouse next Friday which, by the way, is the real Black Friday and has been for years.I may also take a look at the ‘Street of Light’ on the Royal Mile which looks so impressive every time I pass, although less impressive is the brightest and most prominent lights of all declaring ‘Virgin Money’ which detracts more than a little from the spirit of the whole thing. If that lot doesn’t make me realise that Christmas is here then nothing will!

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  1. Please, dont forget all your little independent shops who have really had it hard with the weather, Black Friday, lack of Xmas spirit etc, and of course people not having any money, jobs etc.
    I must admit that on a personal level, this has been one of the grimmest Christmas years in the Grassmarket – perhaps some of the events concentrated by the Council in a central “commercial” zone could have been shared further afield – in Leith, Grassmarket, Tollcross Bruntsfield etc – Certainly the view from my shop window is more bleak midwinter, than deck the halls.
    But my only solution to this is going to be closing down on 9 January…. as I am sure many other little retailers will be doing as well – it has been painful and the pain felt so much worse during one of the seasons where many businesses rely on Christmas trade. Of course – not the least offset as well by all the Christmas Markets popping up in profusion – this world of pop up shopping events at prime times seems to be where the retail trade is going in Edinburgh to the disadvantage of small independents.
    We shall be open right up until Christmas Eve – and tomorrow when the Santa Run is on as well – and just to prove that our Greater Grassmarket BID have completely lost the plot and are just bonkers – we have afternoon entertainments of Beltane Dancers and Fire-eaters tomorrow – of course if they are not blown off the stage as happened last week. I have yet to see any reference anywhere to the little baby Jesus… and the desperation of the major stores to increase personal debt was evident in Christmas things going up during the Festival!
    It has certainly been a grim year … I will plan to kick off my shoes for a few days over Christmas and New Year and attempt some sort of chill out – if not a celebration – before looking at developing my new online ventures next year. But when you all go … bah Humbug – remember your little high street shops who are relying on you at this time of year to stay open….. too late for me…
    PS – my shop takings yesterday – were £3 on a one inch high model of a panda – dont think this even covered my heating bill. If I had a pound for everyone saying oh! why are you closing down – what a shame – I would be a rich woman – the reason is… no customers and the Grassmarket being a complete dead zone.
    All of this despite being pursued with threats all year to pay thousands of pounds by the private company backed by the Council called Greater Grassmarket BID – who have hundreds of thousands from us to stage and promote their Director of Finances market enterprises down here… oh! Christmas… ding fecking dong!

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