Today’s feature at L.A.P it is a dual collaboration of Scott Moore’s photo of Calton Hill in Scotland and a short story by Stuart S. Laing that is inspired by the photo.
On Calton Hill
“Britney Lourdes McKelvie! You better not be on your phone!”
I can always tell when Mrs Ossowski is angry with me, or anyone else in the class. She insists on using your full name. Getting labelled with Britney was bad enough but imagine going to Gorgie High School with the middle name Lourdes! My friends all know that it’s my mother’s fault for being mad keen on Madonna when she was kinda relevant, Madonna, not my mum, and before she turned into a ‘raddled auld trout’ (my gran’s description). I suppose I should think myself lucky when it comes to first names. Britney isn’t that bad compared to the Chardonnay’s, Mercedes’ and Porsche’s that can found on the class register. I’ve long wondered why folk that drive clapped out cars held together by masking tape and rust think calling their daughters after posh cars is a good move? And as for my mate Chardonnay, I know for a fact that her mum drink’s nothing but Buckfast. Imagine if she had been called that? ‘Haw Buckfast, yer dinner’s ready!’ I wouldn’t be surprised to hear there’s a lassie down in Leith called Fiat Panda, or a boy called VW GTi.
Slipping my iPhone discreetly back into my blazer I give Mrs Ossowski my most charming smile. “No,” I say sweetly. “I was just enjoying the view up here on Calton Hill.”
To be fair it is a cracking view. It’s like the whole of Edinburgh is laid out below you. The monuments, the castle. The Old Town and Princes Street. You can see why the tourists flock here. Personally the only place me and my mates go when we haul ourselves into town from Gorgie is to the shops on Princes Street. That’s more interesting than anything else.
Anyhow, back to what I was saying. There’s fifteen girls here listening to Mrs Ossowski talk about history. This is meant to be a learning experience for us (lucky us, eh?). A wee trip out the classroom, and all that. So we got crammed into the decrepit school minibus and driven across town to here. I can see the jannie who doubles as the driver having a fly fag behind the bus. Jammy sod. I don’t mean smoking. That’s bogging, but at least he isn’t listening to old kipperface Ossowski. Behind us is what she tells us is the national monument to the dead of the Napoleonic Wars. She mentions Waterloo but the ony thing I can think of is my gran belting out the old ABBA song at Hogmanay when she’s got wired into her Asti Spumante or Lambrini. When she turns her back and starts pointing out landmarks to her bored audience I take the chance and scramble up the tiers of the monument to get a photo of the haddies as they listen to her drone on.
When I stand on the top plinth between the dead tall pillars I’m surprised to find that there’s nothing behind it. I had thought it would be like a temple or something. It’s just a piece of land. Grass, bushes and old beer cans with a fair old drop if anyone was daft enough to fall off the back of the monument. Getting my phone out I quickly snap off a couple of photos feeling pretty smug that when I post them on Instagram and Facebook they’ll all wonder how I managed it without Ossowski going mental. Still, what she doesn’t know, doesn’t hurt me.
Actually the view is pretty impressive now that I take the time to properly look. I might as well take a proper tourist photo. My mum will love that. I just need to frame it properly in the screen. No, not quite right. I just need to take a wee step bac…..
I can’t believe I fell off the monument. God, it’s a wonder I didn’t kill myself. A wee check shows that nothing is broken (especially my iPhone) My mum would slaughter me if I broke this one. I only got it for Christmas and we’re not even out of January yet. Aye, Britney, don’t break the phone. Legs or arms are permitted, but not phones. With a groan I manage to get myself upright. My trousers have survived the tumble which is a surprise. They’re so tight I nearly panic every time I bend over in case the backside splits. Now I have to try and rejoin the others without anyone noticing I am missing. As I scurry around the corner of the monument I glance towards the minibus but it’s gone. That brings me to a halt. There’s a coach and horses standing where it was parked. And there’s another coming up the road to join it! It must be a wedding. Never mind that Britney. Have they gone back to Gorgie and left you here? My mum will go radge if they have.
As I get back to where the class had been standing I stumble to a halt. No class. No teacher. No tourists either. What there is though is a load of folk in fancy dress who are all staring at me. Good manners stop me from pointing out that I’m not the one dressed up like extras in Pride and Prejudice (we had to watch it in English), and anyway it’s rude to stare.
Britney, I hear a small, worried voice in my head say, never mind looking at the cast of Poldark, what’s happened to Edinburgh? I can hardly see the castle for the smoke belching out of every chimney and someone has stolen the Scott Monument. For everything that looks normal there is something that looks wrong. Princes Street looks almost normal but instead of cars, trams and buses all I can see are coaches, wagons and carts all pulled by horses. This is mad! Grabbing my phone I take photo after photo while men in tall hats and women in ridiculously wide skirts approach me nervously as though I’m the weird looking one. In my finest Gorgie tones I politely tell them to ‘get right tae…’ which produces much nervous fluttering of fans amid the women and looks ranging from amused to angry in the men. Sticking my phone back in my pocket I push my way through them all and run back around the monument to where I first landed. Now that I more aware of what is happening I notice it looks more like a building site with blocks of stone waiting to be put into place while workmen stare at me as though I have come from Mars. I need to get away from here. Feeling panic starting to grip me I turn again and try to run while I hear a man shout out a warning to be careful. Looking up I barely have time to register a large iron wheel on a rope swinging towards me. Duck Britney. Duc…
My head is banging like the big drum at Tynecastle on match days as I find myself lying on my back once more. I am almost too afraid to open my eyes to find I am back in the time of the dinosaurs.
“Britney Lourdes McKelvie! You stupid girl, you could have killed yourself!”
Nope, no dinosaurs then. Just a dragon.
With a groan I manage to sit up and find myself surrounded by my classmates with the red, angry face of Mrs Ossowski only inches from my own. “Listen,” I say urgently. “Something amazing happened. I think I travelled through time back to Victorian times!” (see, I do pay attention in my classes…sometimes)
Mrs Ossowski gives me the sort of look that normally precedes detentions and extra homework. I would shake my head but the pounding suggests this would be a bad idea. Instead I say, “I’m not lying. Look, I took photos on my phone. That’ll prove I’m not lying.”
“What? This phone?” Mrs Ossowki asks holding up the remains of my shattered iPhone.
My mum is going to kill me.