Guest Interview: Adam Lyal (deceased)
Adam Lyal (deceased) is the ghostly figurehead of the Cadies & Witchery Tours. A former highwayman, he has led the Murder & Mystery Tour through Edinburgh’s closes and courtyards since its inception in October 1985. Our fearless interviewer met him in one of his regular haunts in the Old Town of Edinburgh.
Fearless Interviewer: Good evening Mr Lyal, can you tell us how you got into leading ghost tours in the first place?
Adam Lyal: Well, after my execution back in 1811, I hung around for about 174 years…
I’ll forgive the pun.
You’d better, it won’t be the last. Anyway, it was then, in 1985, that a mysterious figure known only as Black Robin approached me, and suggestedthat people might pay me to scare them.
An unusual idea for a job?
Yes, I thought so too at first, but then I realised just how haunted Edinburgh really is, and how under-employed most of the ghosts in town were! So, I got together a few of my mates from the Underworld, and we started frightening tourists for a living!
So to speak. Didn’t you ever consider getting back into highway robbery?
To be honest, I was never really any good at it. I mean, I only tried it once, and it didn’t work out very well for me…
You got arrested and hanged, didn’t you?
Um, yes. As I say, it didn’t work out. Plus, it’s a much tougher job in Scotland these days. I mean, shouting "stand and deliver" at an articulated lorry on the M8 just isn’t that effective, you know?
Quite. So, who did you get to help you with your new venture?
Well, I wanted to get quite a mix of historical figures on my tour, but I also needed them to be cheap.
Of course! I mean, I couldn’t expect to get Mary, Queen of Scots to traipse around the Cowgate at 10 o’clock of a Saturday night, could I? Besides, everyone knows the stories of the big figures, so I thought it would be better to get in a few of the more obscure and more interesting ones,people like you and me…
Probably more like you…
Okay, so maybe they weren’t all the nicest people when they were alive, but they certainly had character! And they were all pretty historically significant, too. We got in a Foule Clenger, who collected bodies in the days of the Plague, Agnes Fynnie, one of the best witches from the 1600’s, and a Mad Monk! And as for big names, we managed to get William Burke, the bodysnatcher, to do a turn for us! I even found a part for my wee pet rat. All our ghosts are the authentic people of old Edinburgh too. Apart, obviously, from the rat. He’s not a ghost, but he is from Edinburgh, so I would say he counts.
Well, you’ve clearly got a lot of friends in the old town, but did you ever have any enemies?
Well, I wasn’t highly admired when I was alive, obviously. Even my hanging failed to attract much of a crowd, though to be fair it was raining, and umbrellas hadn’t caught on yet. On that subject, I’m not too fond of the fella who hanged me. John High was his name. Interesting story that,incidentally. He was a particularly popular hangman, and whenever he was doing the business, people use to shout to him, "Hang ‘im, High!" and that’s where that saying comes from.
No. There’s no such thing as a popular hangman. They’re like traffic wardens, only less annoying and more lethal.
Right. Obviously you’ve become a lot more popular since your death…
Certainly, I’ve got a few big fans out there now! It’s amazing how attached people can become to a white-faced ghoul after and hour-and-a-quarter of torture and mayhem! I guess that’s just what people like these days, especially if they’re in a hen party…
Hmm. So what’s your favourite memory from working as a tour guide?
Oh, it’s always great when the group is really up for a tour, so I’ve got so many good memories that I couldn’t begin to list them! After all, if most of them weren’t good, I wouldn’t still be doing it after 20 years! One of the funniest things that happened to me was when I was leading a group down towards the Cowgate, and they accidentally ended up following someone who wasn’t even on the tour! They followed this woman all the way to a pub on the Grassmarket where I found them later, and which they thought was the next stop on the tour. It was decorated with skeletons and pictures from horror movies, so I can see where they made their mistake, but I’m still not sure how they managed to lose track of someone who looks like me! Still,I found them in the end!
Great. Just one final question, Mr Lyal. Why exactly is it that you look like Dracula?
Dracula, Smachula! This has been my look since the end of the seventeenth century! Admittedly, it’s probably not the best idea for a highwayman to dress like this, it is a little conspicuous, I suppose, but it’s my style and I’m sticking to it! Just because Dracula made it big first…
Adam Lyal deceased, thank you.