I fear I was wrong about the mendicant of Princes Street. He is indeed back from his summer hols and was in his usual situ when I returned, wallet lighter, from Rose Street. His wee dog, back in its camouflage jcket (Holiday in the Basra sun?) was with him but they both looked cold and miserable on the first day of Autumn, usually a very short season in Ould Reekie. A few yards down the pavement a new colleague also with a wee dog had taken up a pitch. Unlike our old friend the newcomer was sheltering behind a notice which said' Not an alchoholic. Just down on my luck' Neither were doing a brisk trade; September tourists seem less generous than the August festival visitors but it may have been too cold to take hands out of pockets.
A 'streamer' bloggee has warned me not to slag off Pipers. With all due apologies I have to say that a post season Piper free Princes Street is a joy. I enjoy good piping but I must say that I prefer the keen of the Irish Pipes to the strident war like clarion of the Scottish variety. 'The great Gaels of Ireland, the race that God made mad. All their wars are merry and all there songs are sad' GK Chesterton got that right and that charecteristic is reflected in the Irish Pipe's mournful message. But the Pipers that infest PS in the summer are not of the highest quality and are there to extract much money as possible from intimidated tourists who fear to pass them by without crossing the outspread bonnet with silver. I suggest they be rounded up by the city fathers and sent in chains to Coldstream for compulsory training by the Coldstream Pipe band before being allowed to busk again in the Scottish capital.