I left a message on Tom’s mobile suggesting we might take a rain check. Or even a snow check. But the Guardian’s new beatblogger is made of strong stuff and how could I refuse? He wanted to follow up my blog about Tesco by interviewing real shopkeepers in Broughton Street and he wasn’t going to let horizontal rain put him off.
Or, to be honest, he says, he didn’t know how bad it was until he was on his bike and heading for Broughton.
This is Tom Allan’s first month as the Guardian’s first Edinburgh beatblogger setting out to cover the stories that other parts of the media too often do not reach.
Take a look at his blog. It’s a promising mix of community activism, politics, poetry and personal whims (I particularly like the piece on the young film makers at Pilton Video, including the nerdy comment from a reader correcting Tom’s spelling: for goodness sake this is the Grauniad!).
And of course I like the fact that he wanted to follow up my story even if it does mean traipsing up and down Broughton Street in rain that feels very much like snow. Over quick lunch in the Broughton Delicatessen Tom speaks to someone at Tesco who confirms they are indeed committed to opening an Express Store in Picardy Place.
Outside in the street, shopkeepers are welcoming and surprisingly ready to talk to a man with a microphone. I haven’t had so much fun for a long time – takes me back 35 years, when St Cuthberts Co0perative was the closest you could get to a supermarket, and my first freelance story for the Scotsman (those were the days when it was a real newspaper) involved being photographed among fish heads (don’t ask!) in a friendly fishmongers.
Some things don’t change. The fish shop puts on a star performance: “They’re gutted,” says the newish owner of Something Fishy, pointing to the pile of filleted fish on the slab. “That comment is going in the podcast,” says a grinning Tom alternating between mic, camera and mobile phone.
I leave him editing the podcast in the warmth of Nom de Plum cafe. He hopes to get the story, just one of his three or four posts a day, up on the Guardian’s new Edinburgh website by tonight or first thing tomorrow. That’s new media for you (with just a little old media assistance).