Saturday, July 7, 2012

Close quarters and embarrassing bodies

Mary King's Close: This alley in Old Town was buried under the Royal Exchange and preserved for hundreds of years. It is now reopened as a "tourist attraction", with tours led by costumed figures from the close's history. Our best description: Very touristy, so go early in the day. But it is enlightening to understand just how crowded the city was in the 1600s and the differences in how the classes lived (12 people living in a small windowless room with a bucket for sanitation that they could only empty into the alley twice a day). Pity the extremely poor people who had to live next to the cow shed and scrape up the blood from the floor after a slaughtering to make black pudding (something we will definitely not be eating while we're here). No photos were allowed in the close.

No bland network PSAs here: We took an opportunity Saturday night to watch some local television programming, particularly a show called (no joke) Embarrassing Bodies. It seems to be an educational reality show, and this particular episode featured morbidly obese individuals who:

  • desired surgery to remove excess skin after a dramatic weight loss
  • required gastric bypass as a life saving procedure
  • need to have a stomach removed because it hung down past a man's knees

The doctors who host the show also staged screenings in cities throughout the country and work with families to address the nation's obesity problem (apparently Britain is the "fat man of Europe" -- their words, not ours). It was shocking to see, especially because they show everything - topless women, surgical procedures, and even an anatomically correct animation about why obese men frequently have problems with intimacy.

There is also a companion website where you could look up your own health issues, or try to find out more about one's spotlighted on the show, or even apply to be on the show yourself.

The site contains this well-deserved warning: "The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context."

Educational but truly frightening, and it made me feel really guilty about our post-dinner chocolate run at Sainsbury's.

Rainy weather: Someone needs to patent a pair of waterproof dress pants. It has rained nearly every day since we arrived in Scotland, though Saturday was by far the worst. We were soaked by the time we made it up the hill to our first stop of the day. Then we walked all the way down and back up the Royal Mile to do some souvenir shopping and get lunch. By the time we made it to the Scottish Parliament and had to remove our belts to go through the metal detectors, I had to hold up my jeans to keep them from falling down due to the heaviness of the water.

You probably can't see the water lines around Ryan's knees, but we both had them.

We stopped at a Turkish coffee shop to warm up in the afternoon. I had Turkish apple tea, while Ryan had Turkish coffee (and we both tried Turkish Delight). 

Photo of the day:

This is the outside of the Scottish Parliament, which Ryan looks at in depth in his post 

Sign of the day:

The signs outside the Deacon Brodie Tavern, named after a disreputable Edinburgh resident who was supposedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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