New Town Bar, Edinburgh

Rob, Fraser, you won’t believe this. But it actually happened.

After strolling Edinburgh for several hours of a hot August day last year I was naturally somewhat thirsty. Seeing an attractive-looking beer garden I didn’t hesitate much. Incidentally, what I mean by attractive-looking is this: already in the afternoon shade; located in a rather quiet street (especially for the festival season); with two tables only, and only one guy at one of these, reading a newspaper; with ashtrays on the table signifying smoking was not frowned upon there; and the Scottish flag flying at the entrance.

I entered and ordered a pint of Tennent’s. While waiting for it to be drawn I had a slightly unpleasant feeling of something in the mood of the place, something that I had once been well acquainted with but couldn’t put my finger on now, which moreover felt as being somehow connected with me. Anyway, I got my pint, took it to the other outside table, opened my Guardian copy and began browsing it; however, half of my mind was still trying to pin down the feeling.

Something was very slowly emerging from my subconscious: the fact that I was probably still inside the so-called Edinburgh ‘pink triangle’. Hey, the way one of the barmen touched the other one to let him pass did seem a bit… could it be that they were a couple? could it even be that…? And then something caught the corner of my eye. I raised my head and the bomshell exploded, for what I saw was this.

Can you imagine somebody who’s gay, out for some two decades, but who’s never been to any ‘gay’ pub or bar or club or anything, and who eventually strays into one unwittingly, despite the place’s being adorned with several rainbow flags? Still, I assure you that prior to that I had only noticed this one, although the others were certainly at least as prominent.

(I then also realized what the feeling was: it was the sensation you get when you walk inside some pub whose clientele consists to a great degree of regulars that immediately begin to assess who this stranger might be.)

Anyway, amazed at my blindness, poor observation ability or just stupidity, call it what you like, I drank my pint, smoked a fag or two and continued my Edinburgh stroll, invigorated both in body and mind. Pondering that intentionally or not, it’s quite fitting that I should have made my first visit to this kind of place in Scotland…



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