Posted: 9/1/2007


     In the New Town district of Edinburgh you can visit the cafe where an out of work J K Rowland, recently divorced and with a small baby started scribbling her first Harry Potter book.   Right now she is back in the Scottish capital at the  Balmoral Hotel, No. 1 Princes Street, writing a new novel, nothing to do with Harry and pals.

     The most popular local fictional detective is Inspector John Rebus, written by Ian Banks for the last 20 years.  His novels, set in Edinburgh and its surrounding, have also been made into 10 TV dramas,and follow the hero through his life, and now that the Inspector is 60 years old, the retirement age for Scottish police, the series comes to an end.  Lots of novelists have called Edinburgh home and there is a gigantic Sir Walter Scott monument on Princes Street and Robert Louis Stevenson lived here.

     Edinburgh is not that big, half a million, compared with Glasgow an hour to the West, the capital of soccer, but the relatively genteel Edinburgh burr of a dialect is a lot more pleasant to hear.  Heart of Midlothian,  Hearts or the Jambos-Jam Tarts, who play in the north at Tynecastle are rivalled by Hibernian or Hibs, further south.  Hearts have the distinction of being labelled the worste run soccer club in Europe. After a take over by Lithuanian millionaire Vladimir Romanov, they have had frequent changes of  managers, and many quality players have quit. Their relativly modest home stadium can't really expand and they have played some of their infrequent European matches at nearby Murrayfield Stadium, home of Scottish rugby, but with 70,000 plus seats its really too large.

    Rangers and Celtic in Glasgow dominate Scottish league soccer, having won the majority of awards, and their 60,000 stadiums are usually full, and are watched by 50,000 more fans than most North of the Border clubs. It was over 20 years since there was a challenge to the dominance of The Auld Firm, as the 2 are known, when a young 40 year old manager called Alex Fergusan took Aberdeen to the title and into Europe.  This week in his autobiography, Sir Bobby Charlton mentions how he was determined to pursuade the Old Trafford board to give the young Scot a chance, over the other favourite, Terry Venables.    Anyway, Hearts might be the nearest thing to a challenge to the Big Two, if the club can settle down on concentrate on soccer instead of off the field wrangling.

     A skye terrier named Greyfriars Bobby merits a statue outside the pub by the same name at the corner of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge in the Old Town.  On 15th February, 1858, John Gray, who worked as a night watchman for the Edinburgh police, died of tuberculosis and was buried at Greyfriars Kirkyard.  Bobby, his pet and companion spent the remaining 14 years of his life sitting guarding the grave, except when he went for free meals at a nearby restaurant. In 1867 the unowned dog was to be put down until the Lord Provost, Sir William Chambers prevented it. He was Director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He paid to renew Bobby's licence. Greyfriars Bobby died on 14th January 1872 aged 16 years and is buried outside his masters graveyard.

    On 1872 a statue of Bobby was unveiled with the inscription- 'Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to all of us'. Originally the statue faced the graveyard, but when tourists started taking photographs and became a big tourist attraction the pub owner had the statue turned round so that the pub is always in the background.