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Mary King's Close

I went to Mary King's Close today. Which was not as cool as I wanted it to be, but was interesting.

The story I was told about the Close was that, during the height of the Black Death, the close was walled up and people were left to die there. Several years (several several years) later, when the overcrowding in the city got insane, people began to consider moving back to the Close. The first night the new family, the Coldhearts, stayed there, they saw floating heads, and heard ghostly voices. There are conflicting accounts of whether they stayed or fled in terror.

Of course, what actually happened isn't quite so disturbing.

Mary King's Close was the worst of the areas affected by the plague when it happened, but it was never walled up. I understand from the tour (it wasn't quite clear) that it got very depopulated, but was a working street up until it was covered over to build the City Building in the 1700s. The way the Closes off the Royal Mile work is that they're all very sharply slanted downhill, towards what was the Nor'Loch and is now Princes Street Gardens. (This was so the waste buckets would travel down hill and into the lake. Yum.) When they decided to build the new buildings, they wanted them at the same level as the Royal Mile. So, they razed the buildings to the level of the street, and used them as the foundations of the building. Part of the Closes underneath that still exist, as well as some of the houses.

And yes, the story about the Coldhearts is true, or so the tour says. The Close wasn't abandoned at the time, and I'm not quite sure where they were when the haunted night happened, but it did come up during the tour.

There's also a part of the place that's haunted by a girl's ghost, named Annie. A Japanese psychic apparently found her in one of the houses that still kinda survive. She was very sad because her whole family was dead, and she had lost her doll. So, the psychic bought her a new doll, and now people who come through occasionally leave her more toys, to appease her restless spirit.

I left her one of my ducks, cuz I have about a million of them. So, if you ever go down there and see the little yellow duck with the goggles and the face mask, that's mine.

As a side note, the whole area is very very cramped, so every time I had to bend over double to get under a doorframe, I thought about Don.

Well, after that I went for a walk down to the People's Story museum. It was...

Okay, I hated it.

I'm sure it would be more interesting if I had something better to base it in, but it isn't really set with much context, and it goes all over the place. It's never really clear what time period they're going into next. It starts in the 1500s, I think, and goes up to the modern day. I think. Part of it was interesting, because I was comparing it in my head to a similar museum I saw in Halifax, Pier 41, which was showing people wanting to leave Scotland (and half the rest of the world) to live in Canada. But part of it was so... condenscending to their subject matter.

For example, showing a widow living in one of the tennement. "She is feeding the baby with a bit of milk-dipped bread, because her breast has run dry. The children would be better off at the school run by the (pastor), but she's afraid that if they find out one of the children is illegitimate and she will lose her widow's pension. Only the bottle of whisky can ease her pain."


I'm just going to leave that for itself, because foaming-at-the-mouth isn't my idea of a fun blog post.

Other than that, it was a quiet day. I had a nap that lead to a surreal dream about a role playing game back home, Purgatory, which included the line "You're only trying to kill me because I'm pretty and now you'll never be again". Being uttered by Nolan, who has never played, to some woman wearing a plague mask.

Ah. I'm apparently the only sober person in the room, and people are asking for ducks. I think I shall sign off for now, and go in search of food. Or sober people.


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