Talk of the Town: Uninvited guest puts frighteners on staff

PERHAPS they should have seen it coming when they moved into a historic building on the route of Edinburgh's many ghost tours.

Staff at the Capital's newest boutique hotel are concerned that they may have few extra, non-paying guests after claiming to have discovered a "ghostly presence".

Frightened staff at Fraser Suites Edinburgh have reported hearing odd noises and experiencing a "strange chill" in an underground cellar which lies just a few yards away from the notorious Mary's King's Close.

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The underground cellar had been undisturbed for decades before renovations opened it up – and perhaps disturbed a more sinister presence.

Assistant manager Laura Richardson said: "Some of the housekeeping staff have reported hearing strange thumps coming from behind the door a couple of times – and there is a strange chill at a certain spot in the room."

Of course, strange noises and a bit of a chill are not that unusual in an old basement, while there may be an even more obvious explanation for any "sightings" of ghosts – the room is now used to store linen and sheets.

Humble beginnings for long-running rivalry

EDINBURGH'S City Chambers has been the starting point for many political careers over the years. Former Foreign Secretaries Robin Cook and Malcolm Rifkind sparred as councillors in the 1970s before going on to face each other across the floor of the Commons. Also on the council at the time were Labour's George Foulkes and Tory James Douglas-Hamilton, who have both gone on to serve in the Commons, the Scottish Parliament and the Lords. But in his recent memoirs, Lord James recalls how he suffered an early blow to his political ambitions thanks to Lord Foulkes soon after first being elected at a by-election in Murrayfield. "When it was proposed I should go on the same committees as my predecessor, Councillor Foulkes said that in view of my total lack of experience it was hardly appropriate for me to be considered for such illustrious duties. So before I had even uttered a word, the vote went against me and membership was denied."

Drummed out

WE'VE come to expect the sound of bagpipes on Princes Street and the Royal Mile, especially at the busiest tourist times, but their laments rarely trouble visitors to the Meadowbank Retail Park. Nevertheless shoppers stocking up on last-minute groceries at Sainsbury's ahead of Hogmanay were taken aback to be greeted by a piper and drummer beside the fruit and veg racks. Judging by the grimaces on the face of staff every time the enthusiastic pair struck up a new number it wasn't just the attraction of a New Year's tipple that they were looking forward to at the end of their shift.