AS I’VE SAID often enough before, East Lothian is a nice place to live. It is a county of contrasts; lovely beaches and douce wee coastal villages; stark, ugly former mining communities struggling out of adversity; dramatic landscapes up in the Lammermuir Hills; and a pleasant county town in Haddington.
It is also a place of contrasts as far as its inhabitants are concerned. Oh yes indeedy, there are all types here. Some would make you laugh, others would make you greet, ken. Let me take a moment of your precious time to illustrate a few of the diverse kind of folk who bide in the fair county.
Blonde lady in sunglasses driving car – You’ll have seen this one, because she’s everywhere. Always in a hurry but never anything important to do. Often seen with mobile clamped to her ear while driving, inevitably she’ll be talking to other blonde ladies about nothing much. So wrapped up in herself that she never notices the glares of others as she carries on in her determined way, she’s probably your next dinner party hostess. No matter, she won’t remember who you are anyway. She takes out her frustration at the hand she’s been dealt via a succession of fad activities before seeking solace in drink. Eventually she’ll lose her licence, leave her husband, and move to a wee flat in Edinburgh and look after her cats. And she’ll stop dyeing her hair.
Shaven headed man with earring and tattoos – Hardly exclusive to East Lothian, but this guy does seem to get around a bit. Natural habitats include outside every village pub on weeknights (he smokes, natch), mooching grumpily alongside sidekicks and/or partner and child(ren) in various downmarket supermarkets, or – my personal favourite – on the touchline at his kids’ football matches at the weekend. Behind the bravado and posturing lies a slightly sad individual whose best years are already behind him. Overweight and unfit, he pursues a lifestyle of drink, fags and fast food that will probably see him dead before he’s 60. Can be aggressive after taking alcohol and best avoided in groups. The sort of bloke who fancies Cheryl what’s-her-name, which says it all really.
Devil child at private school – It doesn’t take long to learn that the 16.42 from Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick is a no go area for ordinary folk. That particular service has been hijacked by the true spawn of Satan, the kids from Edinburgh’s many independent schools on their way home to, presumably, their families of the undead and other assorted such bogles and whatnots. The train is possessed, no doubt about it, by screeching banshees who leave the other passengers cowering quietly in their seats. To remonstrate with them risks a death stare that silently asks: “Do you know whom you are talking to? Do you know who I/my Dad/my Godfather is?” The devil child looks through you, not at you. It’s a chilling experience. Far better to get a coffee in Waverley and wait for the next train.
Man in funny coloured corduroy trousers - You really have to ask yourself what’s going on when a bloke’s idea of dressing casually for the weekend involves putting on a pair of cherry red corduroys. It gets worse when you realise that they’re usually combined with a pair of tasselled loafers and a yellow V-neck jersey. Yet, hang around any golf clubhouse in the county and before too long one of them comes along. Are they colour blind? Do their wives/partners know they are out dressed like that? From what manual of sartorial elegance did they draw their inspiration? Do let us know so we can ban it forthwith. And please, please, consider your family’s feelings and don’t ever venture forth again looking like a circus clown – unless you are one, of course, in which case yes, very funny, but we’ve now got the joke.
Council manager in grey suit – It’s a well known fact that half of the folk living in East Lothian work in Edinburgh financial institutions, the other half work for the Cooncil in Haddington. The latter can be distinguished by their uniformly monochrome demeanour. They are creatures of habit; turn up at 0855 every morning (except when on “annual leave”, which is called that because it lasts most of the year as far as I can see) and completely fill all the car parks in the town centre; crowd out the local take-aways at lunchtime so nobody else can get served; and create a mini traffic jam every evening at exactly 0455 when they depart en masse. In between times there’s presumably some other activity going on, out of sight of the great-unwashed public. And possibly someday we’ll find out what that is.
These are but a few of the variety of human sub-species that make life endlessly joyful and interesting in East Lothian. You never know what’s round the next corner. But if she’s blonde, driving a 4x4 on the wrong side of the road with mobile phone clamped to her ear, don’t be too surprised. You read about her here first.
Photos courtesy of http://lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.co.uk