| by D. Nisbet
The Boeing 737 banked slowly to the left heading almost due West
following the line of the Forth on its gradual descent to Edinburgh
Airport. It shuddered as the fuel supply to the massive Pratt and
Whitney engines was gradually reduced to slow its forward momentum.
He had a window seat as the city unrolled in the clear spring air
showing its landmarks proudly, the dull black of the Castle rock,
the green sward of Holyrood Park with the Palace gleaming brightly
beside it. He drank in the architectural symmetry of the new town,
its beauty much more noticeable from their elevated position. All
too soon they flashed past the twin bridges spanning the river,
each so different from its neighbour, one a sturdy relic of its
solid past, the other slim and supple, a marvel of modern design
and the calculations of stress factors. They landed with a gentle
bump and the scream of jet engines thrown into reverse pitch. How
long had it been since he had set foot on his native soil? He did
a quick calculation — over 20 years, a quarter of a lifetime.
He collected his overnight bag and made for the rent-a-car counter.
The girl behind the counter looked fresh and smart in her tartan
outfit. "Yes, Sir?", she asked turning on her best smile. "Mr C.
Ferguson", he replied "I called ahead from London ". "Oh yes", she
answered all brisk and business-like. "I have a 2-door Escort ready
for you in the car park. If you could just let me have your identification
we can complete the formalities fairly quickly". He handed over
his passport and Fiona, for that was the name on her company badge,
efficiently completed the few details needed on the form. "Will
it be cash or credit?" she asked coming to the bottom of the form.
He handed over the dark blue plastic strip hesitating over the hackneyed
phrase "American Express".
At last he was on his way, moving carefully through the unaccustomed
gear shift reminding himself that they drove on the left side of
the road here. His confidence grew quickly and he decided to take
a chance and drive through the city centre on his way east. The
rush hour was over and the traffic was light. He had time to take
in the beauties of the gardens below the Castle although many of
the old names had gone from the shops