August 26th, 2002
At 8 o clock, The sun was shining, but it was weak: so long as you were in the sunshine you were warm, but as soon as it went behind a cloud, it became freezing. Every so often, a gentle breeze would rise up and the leaves in the trees would rustle. It was barely summer any more, and maybe that’s why they don’t have this bank holiday in Scotland, because calling it a “late summer holiday” would be disengenuous.
The festival was over. The ladyboys’ tent was being packed away into a truck, leaving behind the usual marks on the grass which would be complained about until they came back again the following July. The Meadows would enjoy its sabbath until the Gillespie’s and Sciennes kids came to play football on Saturday morning and on Sunday when the festival came back to life for one final, spectacular finish with the fireworks.
On the east end, two young men were enjoying a fish supper they’d bought from Franco’s. They’d stuck around at the end of their first year to work over their long summer break, while their friends went back to their families or off on mission trips. One was intermittently humming “a little less conversation” annoying the other, who told him the a World Cup was finished 8 weeks.
They bantered for a while, ranging from wondering why Nelly thought disrobing was a good solution to overheating and whether England would have won the World Cup were it not for Ronaldinho and what it was exactly that Sarah didn’t see in Joe and why it was the end of the world and why it wasn’t.
When done with dinner, they talked about the forthcoming university year, the freshers who might come, and about how they were so excited this time last year. Kyle brought up that it was maybe the worst time to be a mum. He remembered that he could hear his mum getting up in the middle of the night because she couldn’t sleep and that she’d been conflicted about wanting him to do well in exams because failing meant he would stay at home.
And he was right. Across the country, in Rochester, Bangor, Greenisland, Newton Mearns, Aberdeen, Sheffield, and Bristol, there were mothers everywhere losing sleep over the kids who got their results. But they couldn’t stay on the meadows any longer. It wasn’t July any more. In Edinburgh, as in everywhere, the shadows drew longer, the sun set sooner, and the wind picked up, and the looming specter of autumn gained its flesh and bones.