When I was growing up, my Scottish grandfather had a series of lame jokes he would often repeat at certain times and places – what we might refer to now as ‘dad jokes’ (or ‘grandad jokes’). For example, if we were upstairs on the number 1 double decker bus going into Edinburgh – and we always travelled on the top deck for the views – we could see over the wall into the cemetery at Dalry. That’s the dead centre of town he would quip, a statement which I never found funny on two accounts. Firstly, as a solemn little girl I did not think we should make fun of the dead; and secondly, it was clear to me that this graveyard was not actually in the centre of town at all.
Grandad liked graveyards though, and I feel sure that this joke was one he used to better effect at Greyfriars Kirkyard. Not only is it actually in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town, but it’s also famous for the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, erected outside the entrance to commemorate the loyal dog that is said to have refused to leave the grave of his master for many years. Now the statue is always crowded by tourists rubbing its shiny nose (said to bring good luck) and taking endless photographs, but fifty years ago Edinburgh’s Old Town still looked dark and gloomy, and Bobby looked sad and alone. I remember then feeling quite upset by the story of that little terrier and trying to imagine what kind of a life it would have had in such a bleak place.
Read more of this post at my new family history blog: A Scottish Family Album.
The Incidental Genealogist, November 2022