We are lost in Edinburgh.
To be specific, somewhere between Hermiston Gait and the Gyle. Our friend Gill is staying in a Premier Inn near Edinburgh Park and we're trying to pick her up and take her to dinner. The sat-nav has got us here but it keeps wanting to lead us down a road that has barriers across it. What road has barriers across it? The ones in this soulless industrial estate have.
I turn round and try to find another way to our destination. The only problem is I don't know another way to our destination. I have only the vaguest notion where our destination is. We drive round and round, lost in a world of bland, blank architecture and mini roundabouts. The only sign of life is a Krispy Kreme place. It's as if - doughnuts apart - we've arrived in a post-human landscape. This, I tell everyone, is what the future will look like once Cyberdyne Systems (1) takes over. Our sat-nav is probably some early Terminator model.
We end up back at the barrier. I press the button expecting to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead I get a very nice Indian man who tells me I've come the wrong way but he'll let me in. Good news. The humans are still in charge.
We haven't seen Gill for years, not since that time on the beach at Bamburgh when her kids were small and our kids were small and it felt like one of those pure, good days when we thought this whole life thing was, you know, actually OK.
It's our fault we haven't seen her since. But it's fine, we spend a couple of lovely hours in her company, catching up on her news and vowing not to leave it so long next time. We mean it too.
Gill is the main reason I think Geordies are the best people in the UK (2). She's someone who makes you proud to be a human being. She's a doer. She makes things happen. She has her own business. She used to work for Northern Rock in the days before the fall. Not as a banker. Which is a pity. When the bankers started talking about re-lending she'd ask them: "So where is the money in all this?" And nobody could answer her.
We have a lovely night, walk back through the Grassmarket to the car, drive off through Corstorphine, turn left at the Gyle and … suddenly I'm lost again. We drive round and round trying to find a Premier Inn that has probably been wiped out of existence by Skynet. I envisage us trapped for ever in this nowhere, just waiting for the Krispy Kreme doughnuts to run out. Obsolescent humans now doomed to …
"It's over there, Dad," daughter number two says from the back of the car.
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