About a bridge

The drawing of the New Forth Road Bridge that was given to me.
The drawing of the New Forth Road Bridge that was given to me.

I’ve never been strong with dates. But, I think it was fifteen years ago that I received an old drawing of a bridge.

The lady who gave it to me made me promise that I would take good care of it.

So despite my numerous moves and stays overseas, I’ve always made sure that the New Forth Road Bridge drawing didn’t get thrown out.

A few years ago I came across the drawing and wondered why I’d never done a Google search. I jumped online and discovered that the bridge was in Scotland. I saw a recent picture and that seemed to satisfy my curiosity.

Recently, I’ve signed up to reddit and have enjoyed asking and answering interesting and incredibly specific questions.

If you don’t know what reddit is, it is, in reddit’s own words, ‘a source for what’s new and popular on the web. Users like you provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk. Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.’

There you go.

So last night I looked at the NFRB drawing on my wall and thought, “why don’t I ask Scotland reddit about the bridge?”

So I did:

“I’m an Aussie who received this old drawing of the New Forth Road Bridge about fifteen years ago in Brisbane. Please tell me interesting stories about this bridge.”

It didn’t take long for the comments to roll in:

“I live in Edinburgh and work in Kinross, so I cross this bridge everyday in my car to go to work. I work at a dog shelter so I work the days no-one else would, like Christmas day. Last Christmas, I left for for work at about 6:45. It was pitch dark and the roads were very quiet, almost deserted, as you can imagine. As you enter the roadway of the bridge, there are various electronic signs that indicate lane closures, speed limits and so on. These had been changed to say “Merry Christmas”. Made me smile. Also on a related note, The same sings were changed recently to this. Made a lot of us laugh!”

From pranks to promenading:

“I took a walk over the road bridge (the one in your picture) last week. Here’s a photo I took from it of the rail bridge”

From photos to films:

“Last year I was a stand-in on a film and we spent a day filming in a car-park that serves as a viewpoint between these two bridges. If you ever see ‘Filth’ starring James McAvoy you will spot the scene I’m talking about.”

From films to games:

“Not really a story but still pretty interesting, the bridges have made an appearance in the game GTA San Andreas as the studios making the game are in Edinburgh basically next to the bridge.”

From fictitious danger to real danger:

“The road surface is 10mm thick stone mastic asphalt on a metal sheet. The bridge engineers call it the biscuit. All that’s between you and the ocean is about 30mm of metal and 10mm of tar.”

From real danger to possible danger:

“I am going to check with my sister before I confirm whether she flew under it in a helicopter. She is definitely a nurse in a small highland town, she definitely acts as medical escort on air ambulances -i am just not definitely sure that I didn’t dream the first bit…”

And an update after checking with his sister:

“sorry, but I have to confirm that she did NOT fly under the Forth Road Bridge in a helicopter. However, if you also have a painting of the Erskine Bridge…”

From danger in the air to danger in the water:

“I was sailing between the bridges (amazing, great views of them from water level, just DON’T GO IN THE WATER!!). Was my first time in a way more powerful boat than I was used to and strong winds, just starting to feel fun not terrifying when I hear a huge horn. Looked under the sail to see a metal wall coming towards me, kept trying to find the top, ended up lying in the bottom of the boat looking up at an oil tanker headed straight for me. Was about 250m away (guess, distances are hard on water). Choices were cross in front of it and end up in the shipping lane, or jybe (just a fancy term for a corner, except the sail comes crashing across and you’ve got to duck it and run to the other side) with a good chance of turning the boat over in the worst place in the world. Got a massive adrenaline rush, nailed the turn, then sailed off surfing the 4ft bow wave. Good times.”

From traffic under the bridge to traffic on the bridge:

“A friend of mine was trying to get from Fife to Edinburgh for a performance (that he was in) in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For whatever reason, there was a huge amount of traffic and his family were on the bridge and could see that the traffic wasn’t likely to diffuse in time for him to get to the theatre. He got out of the car, walked back across the bridge towards Fife and into the town and hopped on a train and managed to be there in plenty of time, while the rest of his family didn’t get into the theatre until the interval.”

From frustration with the traffic to frustration with technology:

“I once threw my mobile phone from the middle of that bridge. It was a frustratingly awful one and after having bought a new one in Edinburgh, decided to give that piece of crap the sendoff it deserved – a disdainful fling into the Forth.”

From criticism of technology to criticism of architecture:

“It’s shit. Not the drawing; the bridge.”

From excretion to regurgitation:

“Personal stories? A mate of mine once puked over the side of the bridge after a rough night out in South Queensferry. The wind was rather unfair to him and he was picking bits of kebab out of his shoes for the next few days.”