Friday, 13 November 2009

A Day in Auld Reekie

I've been surveying the wreckage of my working life recently, after 18 months of not being fit for work, and decided to see what I could do about it.

The idea of a new career as a proof-reader/copy editor had been forming in my mind for a while, and I signed myself up for a day of introductory training provided by Publishing Scotland, held in Edinburgh. Yesterday was the day; I was rather nervous about how I would cope, and spent two days resting up beforehand.

7.50 saw me at Cupar station, and the 7.55 Cross Country train duly turned up on time. However, everything ground to a halt outside Inverkeithing, and the train was 25 minutes late into Edinburgh Haymarket.

I emerged from the station into the unaccustomed hustle and bustle of a city rush hour. There were plenty of signs of the tram works everywhere: Heras fencing, excavators, chaps busily leaning on shovels, and a general air of chaos.

I found my way to the venue - just a 5 minute walk from Haymarket. Publishing Scotland have rooms in the Fountainbridge Library, a handsome Art Deco building on Dundee Street. Despite the railway's best efforts, I was on time, and I was soon plunged into the mysterious world of proofreading, with its strange squiggly marks and much talk of 'n-spaces' and 'm-spaces'.

The course was well presented and very interesting in a geeky pedantic sort of way, so as a pedantic geek (or possibly a geeky pedant) I was perfectly happy, and I coped well with the morning session. In all training, the period after lunch, 'the graveyard shift', is when everybody nods off a bit and can't concentrate, but I survived that well. However, the afternoon coffee break was the start of a bit of a slide for me, and everything started to go rather soft focus and vague as the ME 'brain fog' put in its appearance. I'll be needing to reread the handouts for that session with some care. Luckily for me, the course tutor was a fellow ME sufferer, so she understood my predicament.

We finished up at about 5, and I plodded back to Haymarket rather wearily. I'd taken the precaution of booking a First Class seat home - given the rush hour plus the fact that I knew I'd be shattered. It was a good deal - only two quid more than standard, and I got a free cup of coffee and a muffin, so I was well pleased. Somehow, I managed not to sleep through my stop, and I was retrieved from the station by Mrs Lucas.

There followed a bite for tea and a bath, and I retired to bed at 7.45! I'm still waking up now really, and I have few expectations for today. I ache from head to foot, and my brain won't work properly.

But - it was a good day in the Athens of the North, and I think I've found a way forward. Here's a plug for The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).

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