Rather than the main coast road through Berwick and Dunbar, we took the minor road, diagonally cutting and climbing across land. I like this route, bringing me memories of driving to university, visiting my friends up north, going to Crovie or the Hebrides and plotting the geography with speed cameras and the loud radiowaves. I talk to my parents in the car but end up falling asleep, waking up to the Border towns and wide sweeps of hill farms and wind turbines.
There are the familiar streets, the tenement flat of my godmother, her voice and cups of tea in the high walls of her sitting room. My mother and her remember parties thirty years ago – Mary in a tiger print jumpsuit and my Mum hanging out of the window to talk to the boys next door. I see my Dad’s smile as he watches me watching them. The cobbles and tilts and railings of Edinburgh. Curved pavements and hills, big Scottish bathroom spiders, the evening light on the Meadows. The festival is beginning and the streets are full and noisy.
At work, we have the old faces and catch up on a year of university graduations and jobs and holidays. One of the boys is engaged and one of the girls had to leave a love in a warzone. In Charlotte Square, there is endless rain on the tented venues, we are in wellies and hold polystyrene cups of hot tea. On the first day, the gates open, the samba band begins to play and the sun comes through a break in the banked cloud.