Adventures in Edinburgh

Part Three
Todd and I ascend to Edinburgh for two weeks of hard work in the office. This time, we eat a duck and buy some milk.

I

Todd was irritatingly smug that Andrew Neil had responded to his tweet. This was greatly annoying as nobody has ever responded to me on Twitter, except for the guy who plays Maria’s dad in Sarah Jane Adventures, who I make a habit of bantering with whenever I watch it. I also once won a competition to win some free orange twirls, but they fobbed me off with a hidden term and condition stating that only people living in the centre of Birmingham could get them delivered. I might have relented had this been a reasonable precondition, and if I were a moron. In fact, I could have walked to the end of my road and been within the catchment area, and I informed Cadbury of this via a private message. They never responded to me, and I never got my orange twirls. I was therefore quite envious of Todd’s newfound Twitter fame. However, a cursory read of the myriad replies made it clear that literally everyone was against him, and so he would probably be crying himself to sleep tonight. This made me feel much better.

After all this excitement, it was definitely time to get back to work on our top secret projects. A few minutes passed before we were immediately thrown back into turmoil. As part of some sort of festival, Todd and I had signed up to receive some free food, as all mortal men must do. We had assumed that this would be a little pot of leftovers. However, we actually received two whole ducks of rather large size. While we were indeed voracious eaters, even we could not consume such astounding portions. Nevertheless we had transported the ducks and their accompanying trimmings to our fridge at home. But now something had arisen - Dan desired our second duck! And we were all too happy to provide, but there was a problem: the duck was in the airbnb and we were not. This meant that I had to wayfare at high velocity back to the flat, ascend eight flights of stairs, and retrieve it! With duck in hand, I returned to the office and stored it safely in the fridge, which the ducks had actually been removed from the day before. Later Dan asked where the duck was, as he could not find it in the fridge. I responded that it was actually in the fridge, as I had placed it there myself. But Dan was adamant that it wasn’t in the fridge! Where had the duck gone? But we had all been deceived, for a second fridge had been made: it turned out the fourth floor had a secret fridge that I had not been aware of, and it was this fridge that Dan had checked. After this had been resolved, the exchange was performed, and now we only had to consume one duck, a far easier proposal.

Soon enough it was time to head home for the day. Since we were feeling energetic, we decided to use the stairs rather than the lift. This meant that we would miss out on the fun fact that the little screen in the lift told us every morning, in addition to the weather forecast and other exciting news stories. But for some reason walking down eight flights of stairs just appealed more to us that day. And to spice things up further, we opted to use the other set of stairs to the ones that we had been using so far in the week! We were almost giddy at the prospect of this new adventure, and set off post-haste. What would we find at the bottom of this secret stair? A naive observer may have said we would simply find the ground floor of the building. But this was not so! After we had descended a few sets of stairs, we found that they abruptly ended with no escape to street level. We had descended into a cavern from which there was no exit! Fortunately we used our innate genius to retrace our steps and then proceed down the main staircase, eventually escaping from the building.

Todd attempts to proceed down the stairs

Todd attempts to proceed down the stairs

After this harrowing experience, we returned home and set about preparing the duck. This took us a while to figure out as the duck did not have any instructions and we just had the word of the person who had given it to us the day before, which we had forgotten. To make matters more confusing, we were pretty sure that this duck was already cooked and had simply been vacuum packed ready for our consumption. We decided to whack it in the oven for twenty minutes and hope for the best. Once we pulled it out, many google searches suggested that, yes, the duck was meant to be pink, and yes, we probably wouldn’t die. While we ate, Todd complained at length that the vegetables I had carefully prepared were cold. I rebutted that this was because of the length of time it took him to cook an already cooked duck, and decided I had won the argument.

Todd serves the duck

Todd serves the duck

The next morning, Todd had to rise early in order to give a talk at Heriott-Watt University. Since we were in Edinburgh already, we were actually quite close to Heriott-Watt proper and this was the one fortnight when a physical talk would have been somewhat possible. However, the talk was virtual anyway, so of course Todd had gone to use a cushy Huawei meeting room rather than our dining room table that still had bits of duck and broccoli on it. But he had left me a message:

Milk gone off

This immediately burst my bubble of slumber. How had this happened? We had bought the milk like two days before! I leapt from the bed and traversed to the fridge. The problem with determining the gone-offness of milk is that the top of the bottle always smells gone-off. So the solution is of course to pour some milk into a Gü ramekin and then check that. And so I divined that Todd had not been mistaken: the milk had indeed gone off. This was indeed a blow! To console myself, I had some crunchy nut cornflakes without milk in. Fortunately crunchy nut has such majesty that it transcends the requirement for milk. But this was not a permanent solution: something would have to be done. Suddenly I had a brainwave: I could buy some more milk.

I quickly showered and then headed for the tesco express that we had visited some days previously. I acquired the milk quickly and then went to a self-serve machine. As I had my trusty rucksack with me, I decided to place it in the bagging area, in the hope that it could act as a bag. Of course it would not be this easy, and the machine really didn’t like this. I tried picking up the bag in case this would fix the problem, but the error remained. I put the bag back to try and shock the damn thing into doing something, but nothing happened. This meant my worst fears were realised: I would have to talk to an actual person. But the person was currently dealing with other people, which meant that I had to make some awkard waves to try (and fail) to get their attention. After some time they came over, and since I had had ample time to prepare what I was going to say, I came out with ‘it’s had a mare’, which provided no information whatsoever regarding the situation. Luckily this was a common problem and the bag situation was quickly rectified.

Soon the milk was safely installed back in the fridge. When Todd returned, he did not shower me with praise for completing this Herculean task, as I hoped he might, but he did have a bowl of cereal to test the milk out. We melded over the possible cause of the milk going off. The obvious possibility was that the fridge wasn’t cold enough. We had a look at the dial, and were immediately thrust into a complex problem. Did the number mean the temperature of the fridge, or the amount of coldness generated? If it were the former, then the number would have to be low as it was at that moment. But if it were the latter, we would have to completely invert its current setting! We decided that this must be the actual reason, so we whacked it up to 7 and hoped for the best. We also observed that the fridge light was a bit dodgy, but this was nothing to do with us so we ignored it.

It was now time to explore Edinburgh some more, as we had taken the day off. We headed immediately for the Royal Mile. On the way, we passed the legendary bar of Lebowski’s, which had sadly closed down some time previously. This ‘The Big Lebowski’ themed bar was apparently one of the few places you could get a white russian, which is apparently the favoured drink of the the main character in ‘The Big Lebowski’ (presumably he is ‘The Big Lebowski’ otherwise I’m not sure why they’d have named the film that). Since I had never had a white russian, I didn’t understand why this was a problem.

Todd laments the closure of Lebowski's

Todd laments the closure of Lebowski’s

I remarked that I had never seen ‘The Big Lebowski’, so it was decided that we would watch it at some point in the next few days. But that’s a tale for another time.