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Noel Chidwick, 28 Nov '12

Look. Don't blame me. I told my boss and he told his boss, and his boss told his boss.

All I said was: is that pile of sand shrinking? We were just taking a breather—it's hard work with the jackhammer, trying not to hit Edinburgh's precious tram lines. All the while you can feel the eyes of the Princes Street shoppers on your back.

Me and Joe took a closer look at the sand. A pile twice as high as a man, shaped like a volcano. Sure enough, as we watched, the crater at the top was slowly getting bigger and deeper. Joe and I climbed up the slope, thinking we'd take a real look, when there was a massive bang and I was knocked off my feet. The sand was falling from under us, taking us with it. Where? Underneath the road, that's where, pal. We were dragged along, in a cascade of noise, and swirling sand as the whole bloody lot vanished under us. Joe saved my life. Just as I was about to be dragged down like a spider in the plug hole Joe, grabbed my boots and held on for all he was worth. He earned his pint that night, all right.

I was head down in a huge space, sand pouring over me. Finally it stopped. Joe dragged me back up, and we peered down into a hole the size of a skip, right opposite Jenners. We thought it was yet another uncharted cellar, but there was an eerie sound echoing around like the moan of something large and sickly, and the draught up out of the hole was deathly cold. It took a while for our eyes to adjust to the dark, but there was a red glow, way, way down. Hamish—my boss—ran over, shouted at us to get away from there.

Quickly we erected screens: more rubberkneckers with camera phones we did not need. Some more of the lads had gathered round. Hamish asked for a couple of volunteers - yes, paid as overtime, he said. Joe and I were up for it. They brought over the big crane, attached a large bucket and before we knew it, we were lowered down. Did I say this space was big? It was huge. I've seen the Grand Canyon. Imagine a chunk of that, roofed over. That's what's under there, right under Princes Street. We had torches, but we couldn't make out much. But the red glow was getting bigger, flickering. It was a fire, right at the bottom. We smelt the smoke. We shouted at Hamish to haul us out of there pretty smartly.

No you won't hear about the canyon under Edinburgh. They've patched up the hole, hopefully even reinforced it.

Two things I'll tell you. One, I won't be riding a tram. The other? Oh, the smell of the smoke. Bad was it? No, I think it was bacon, or pork: someonewas cooking something down there.

Comments · 7

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  • Noel Chidwick said...

    Radio Wildfire Entry

    My fascination with the hidden spaces of Edinburgh continues…

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Noel. Really enjoyed this, especially the fantastic audio. Good luck for the competition.

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • Noel Chidwick said...

    Thanks for your kind words! Burrst is a great idea.

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    This was certainly quite intriguing, going from the mundane to the fantastic in a short period!

    I'm quite interested in hidden/abandoned/underground places myself, are there real caverns under Edinburgh then? Not the size of the Grand Canyon I'm sure, but anything would be quite fascinating!

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • Noel Chidwick said...

    Ross, thanks for your comment. Yes, Edinburgh has plenty of underground chambers and passages. As big as the Grand Canyon? Who knows?

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • bill spencer said...

    Very well written, Noel. The first line and then the next brief paragraph beautifully establish the voice of the narrator, his place in his world and at the same time his smartness and independence, and integrates the exposition effortlessly. That he's very likeable is also there, and of course that's key. Either you've been doing this for a while or you have a real knack for this sort of stuff. I like it a lot.

    • Posted 2 years ago
  • Noel Chidwick said...

    Bill, thanks for your words - made my day. I like to tell the story through the eyes of the protagonist, be inside their head; other folk can then be the judge of their character and actions.

    • Posted 2 years ago