From The Wire – Once dismissed as a mere ‘love story’, Daphne du Maurier’s masterpiece is a novel that has haunted and enchanted generations of readers. Her boat had been found with its queer prophetic name, Je Reviens, but I was free of her forever. The name of Rebecca de Winter’s boat – Je Reviens (“I […]
I suffer from sensory overload, which means that the over-stimulation of the modern world causes me physical pain and anxiety.
I have a strategy for when this over-stimulation happens (regularly) and a map in my mind of places I can go – for free – where I can take a few moments to get myself back in control when the state of loud becomes too much.
I hope my tips help you. All these places are free and you should not ever encounter any objection to being there, so go for it, if you find life in the state of loud too much.
These are my favourite calm places in Edinburgh, there a many, many more in this beautiful city, but the list is just for starters.
1. Public gardens
The National Health Service (NHS) Astley Ainslie Hospital and Royal Edinburgh Hospital grounds on the South Side of the city, are stunningly beautiful and free to walk through and enjoy.
There are many, many places within these two hospital sites that have special spots to sit still and enjoy nature, with no one rushing you or telling you to move on. If you’re in Edinburgh city centre, and can’t get to the South Side of town, try going to the idyllic Water of Leith where you can meander for miles in peace and quiet along the famous Water of Leith river-way and listen to the tinkle of water as you walk by.
2. Prayer rooms at airports – airports are hell for introverts but if you’re sick and tired of the neon lights, piped musak and glittering shops begging you to buy endless quantities of stuff, then head to airport’s prayer room. Every airport has a prayer room and it’s usually empty. Sit there and gather your thoughts for a few minutes, enjoy the peace and quiet and get your energy back to face the world. Prayer rooms are free spaces to use and you don’t have to be religious to use them.
3. Libraries – it’s goes without saying that libraries are safe and quiet spaces with which to engage with your mind, without the rabble of car traffic and endless people. You don’t need a library card, just go find your seat and listen to your own heart beating while you scan the glorious bookshelves. There are always toilets too.
4. Galleries – exhibition spaces – my favourite quiet gallery space in Edinburgh is the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. It has a sublime central foyer area that has benches around it (you’ll always get a spot). Its stunningly beautiful, stained glass windows dapple the light. Portraits of famous Scots will stare down at you as you sit in the peace and quiet, and contemplate your own inner world. It’s also next to the loos too and that’s handy. It’s free, central, gorgeous and my top place for a bit of inner city soul reflection.
5. Churches – mosques – I am not religious but I really value the inner world of silence that is always prominent in religious buildings, so find a church or a mosque (although I don’t know the policy on just walking into a mosque) and go sit, think, and regain your energy before you head back out into this chaotic world. They are free to use and you don’t have to be religious to use them. No one will bother you, ever, so take the time to use them. That’s what they are there for, even if you don’t believe in god, chances are you are spiritual in some respects, or if not, maybe by using these places you will become spiritual.
6. Theatre foyers – another Edinburgh quiet space favourite are theatre foyers. You can go sit a theatre foyer and no one will ask you what you are doing there. You can gather your thoughts and take a big slice of peace and quiet, all for free. Take time to admire the theatre posters from yesteryear that will almost always be gracing the walls of any theatre foyer.
Edinburgh is my city and I adore it. It’s a city full of special places and with nature and quiet spaces weaving through it. You will know the quiet spaces in your own town/city. Use them regularly and get your mojo back every single day. You’ll feel better for it.
I find life exceptionally hard. Now that’s not a negative statement, just a fact. I align this statement with the explosion of Ego (capital ‘e’). Ms. Ego is everywhere. As an introvert, I find this intolerable. I said to a friend yesterday, I feel the only thing I am now capable of – at my time of life – is sitting in the sun somewhere with a cat on my lap, stroking it like a mental patient. This is how hard I find life. But I love life, and love living – more about that later.
I grew up in a family where Ms. Ego had a home and a stage. Ms. Ego had a face, or rather there were two Ms.Egos in my birth family. And their word won out and their voices were the loudest and everyone cowered and agreed with them, and just did what they said…
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Other people’s money is a noose around your neck. With every mistake you make the noose is pulled tighter. Nowhere is this more obvious than the sight of a beautiful young woman marrying into royalty.
Meghan Markle is beautiful, stylish, flawlessly polished. Every camera angle of her is photographic perfection, sparkling white teeth, delicate features, gorgeous mocha-coloured skin, slim waist, sleek gleaming black hair.
She’s everyone’s idea of a modern-day princess, like Grace Kelly, a former Hollywood actress, now marrying into the ‘prison’ that is a royal family of eye-watering wealth.
Wealth and power have long fascinated me; the control that wealthy people use to dominate and control others. Ms. Markle will not be allowed to put a foot wrong. She will have no private life, she will be controlled in a way that most people would find unimaginably difficult to endure. Her entire existence, the little girl inside her, her family, her soul, now belongs to the British Royal Family and there is no going back.
The heavy arm of this royal family’s eye-watering wealth now lies heavy on her and will kill her. It’s inevitable, because massive wealth – the wealth of others – always does that and in order not to anger the holder of that wealth, the person can do nothing except become a passive zero, always at their disposal.
I love money for the good it can do, for the opportunities it can give people, but not money owned by others because I have seen with my own eyes the way money is used to control.
This one theme was my guiding light in writing my award-winning novel The Hidden, which I have now republished under my own imprint 8dpress, as The Parchment Notebook.
In 1919, Hezba al-Shezira was the daughter of the Sultan of Egypt. She lived in an ornate palace on the banks of the Nile, but because she was female, she was considered a nothing. All her money was allocated to her on the whim of her father. And then she was married off to the nasty Khalil al-Shezira who also used his massive wealth to control her every move.
She was an Egyptian Princess, an old-world Meghan Markle. She was beautiful, mocha-coloured skin, pearly white teeth, fiery black eyes, richly dressed and groomed, but she was different to Ms. Markle too.
In 1919 Egypt, in a country ravished by nationalist rioting, where working men, academics and radicals were plotting to overthrow the controlling British who coveted Egypt as though it was a passive, servile maid, they wanted to take back control and make Egypt theirs again.
Hezba wanted to join them. She was revolutionary in nature, hated the controlling arm of great wealth and the human greed it induced. She was determined to live by her own moral standards, even if it meant death.
Meghan Markle is a product of this glitzy age of wealth identity politics. She is a glittering pawn in a high-stakes game. She will be allowed to support human rights causes with her husband Harry as a PR exercise to make the British Royal Family look ‘nice’, but behind the scenes, her life will be one of insupportable pressure to conform.
I feel desperately sorry for her. She is no Hezba. I hope she and Harry find happiness, but a royal lifestyle is not one to be envied or admired in any way. And for those who love the entertainment factor of this type of pomp, perhaps it might be a good idea to step back and ask the question, who is funding this right royal show of bullshit, of slavery, of in-your-face over-the-topness?
It’s the British tax-payer, that’s who. Think on that when you examin your next pay slip and gawk at the tax taken and the fact that you’ll struggle to pay your rent and bills this month. Thank Meghan and Harry for that.