Edinburgh Fringe August 2019

He was Spanish, the man who served our breakfast.
He looked cool,
in a cool café.
Designer stubble,
Baseball hat backwards on his head.
We found he was to cycle 500 miles
for cancer research

The Indian family
outside the Scottish parliament.
Up from London.
The Fringe was a mystery to them.
Introduced us to his children,
his wife,
his brother,
his wife,
but only the men shook hands.
They were not keen to
walk the Royal Mile,
as we, 40 years older set off
up Arthur’s Seat.

He was Australian,
the man we met as we came down Arthur’s Seat.
He looked like an ageing hippie,
his wife, a comforting granny.
Touring the UK.
So friendly
we couldn’t get away.
Loved our land,
but, so crowded

In the West Bow Pub
on one side
the locals,
Sandy and Martha.
Didn’t mind the Fringe
“If you don’t like it, don’t go to it”,
she said.
Sandy, sat in jumper and thick winter coat,
recommended another pub
me, in my shorts and shirt, nodded.

On the other side
A young Spanish couple.
In struggling English
we conversed.
He and her from
La Coruna
sipped Whisky,
whilst I sipped
my beer.

When they left
seats taken by an older couple
from Morpeth.
Another ageing hippy male
and conservative looking wife.
Is that a ‘thing’?
We shared an interest in music.
Then they surprised us by saying
“We are going on a cruise”.
They just didn’t seem the type.
They both drank Ginger Ale,
I sipped my beer.

Eating chocolate brownies
after the play
an American Dance Therapist
going home the next day.
No train ticket booked.
Shared our thoughts on
and the USA.
We had Trump and Johnson
in embarrassing conformity.

All of these conversations
and other shorter ones
were fringe benefits.
They lifted our already
raised spirits.
People talking to each other
from many countries.
From all walks of life.
Not ignoring each other,
not suspicious,
coming together,

And all the time
Arthur watched approvingly, from his seat,
the global crowds
scurrying on the cobbled streets beneath,
in his shadow.

Malcolm Henshall [August 2019]

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