Some time in the wee hours of tonight, an hour of darkness mysteriously disappears into the aether (only to reappear, equally mysteriously, in the autumn). As those who've spent less of the last two centuries in a coffin have explained to me, this isn't unusual: it's that sleep-thieving time of year when the clocks spring forward to British Summer Time. For me and my phantom crew, this means one thing above all: it's time to kick off the 2019 Ghosts & Gore Tour season!
Edinburgh author (and long-suffering veteran Witchery Tour guide), Euan MacInnes, has just had his new book published.
Edinburgh: 10 Walks in the Historic Old Town explains why the Old Town of Edinburgh is so important to Scottish history, and includes everything you will need to explore the world-famous Royal Mile. In full colour throughout, the book has detailed maps, 250 photographs and illustrations, hundreds of historical vignettes, in-depth sections on people and places, and, in addition, supplementary sections on both Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
1st October 1788 - On this day Deacon William Brodie was hanged along with his accomplice George Smith for burglary and housebreaking.
Prior to his arrest, Brodie had been living a double life. By day he was known around the upper-class parts of town as a successful businessman, council member and deacon of the Edinburgh Incorporation of Wrights and Masons. He was a professional carpenter, and did work for some of the richest people in the city.
Alexander Clapperton (deceased) is the chief guide on the Witchery Ghosts & Gore Tour. We found him on George IV Bridge ... well, we found his name in the Edinburgh Room of the Central Library on George IV Bridge, where we do much of our local research. We very much liked the sound of his name, 'Clapperton', and the fact he'd been a Director of the Edinburgh Western Cemetery Company. He passed the 'looking for an historical character with an interesting name who can conduct one of our walking tours test' with flying colours.
Over the years we have created and implemented quite a few April Fool spoofs in and around Edinburgh.
In 1999, we worked with Scottish Television on an April Fool about Brazilian footballer Ronaldo. The challenge was to convince the public Ronaldo had Scottish ancestry and was eligible to play football for Scotland. The idea was conceived by Stuart Reid of Scottish Roots, who enlisted the help of our very own Robin Mitchell, and Tony Higgins from the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association.
In March 2018 we celebrate 15 years in our wee shop at 84 West Bow (Victoria Street). Now, to avoid any confusion, this anniversary is for our shop not the walking tours as they've been running for almost 35 years - founded in 1984.
Has it been a year already? Yes, this weekend our small but perfectly-formed exhibit of awfulness celebrates its frightfully festive first anniversary.
The William Burke Museum, which displays only ONE exhibit, a calling card case made out of the skin of notorious Edinburgh "bodysnatcher" William Burke, celebrates its first birthday on 28th January 2018, exactly 189 years after the execution of William Burke which took place on the 28th January 1829.
The term jumper-ooter (or jooter, for short) was invented by our co-founders Robin Mitchell and Colin Macphail on a warm summer's night in June 1984. In those ancient pre-jooter mullet-haired days of auld, Robin and Colin, resplendent in the full Highland garb, conducted personal walking tours of Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
Although we have recently been preoccupied with some other popular-culture boondoggle that apparently ought to be worthy of a scribble, this year I thought I'd focus my attention on that other festive date that's often a bit of an afterthought, falling as it does in the wake of that merchandise-bloated celebration of death and all. I speak, of course, of Guy Fawkes' Night.