David McIver on Arthur’s Seat

As part of our performer's city guide, the comedian tells us how to maintain your wellbeing in Edinburgh through the mysterious healing powers of Arthur's Seat

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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David McIver
Photo by Andrew Jackson
Published 31 Jul 2023

I moved up to Edinburgh in 2021. I'd just spent seven years in London, grinding away at the comedy circuit, working minimum wage jobs, and paying extortionate rents. City life was getting me down, and I left in search of peace, quiet and green spaces. My world has been totally transformed since I moved to Edinburgh, where I grind away at the comedy circuit, work a minimum wage job, and pay an extortionate rent, except now I live near a big hill.

The big hill is a giver of life; whenever you feel bad, go up the big hill. It is like a medicine for when you are sick with the illness of being in a city. Whatever malaise you feel lifts with every step you take towards its tourist-strewn peak. Climb it with your back turned away from the buildings below, pretend you're deep in the wilderness with only a £3 ice cream for sustenance, and watch as your soul becomes lighter.

Sometimes my friends come to visit from other cities that do not have a big hill. They come with lungs blackened by soot, and eyes strained from a lifetime of squinting through smog, and I say to them, look, we differ from your bleak industrial multi-chimneyed hellscape, we have a big hill. I take them to the big hill to admire its beauty, and of course they cannot begin to imagine scaling our Everest, accustomed as they are to perfectly flattened concrete. Instead, they walk an impotent little circle around it, like a lost man travelling through the desert on a broken leg.

From atop the big hill the problems of the city are far away enough to seem small. As I look out across a sea of unaffordable homes, I can spot my flat, where I am lucky enough to contribute to the passive income of a woman who had the smart idea of being born in the 1960s. I breathe in the fresh air, I gaze hungrily upon the surrounding greenery, I listen as… ah shit, some arsehole has brought up his bagpipes.