Thursday and Friday 27th and 28th May
A few days before I left for South Africa it would almost have been easier to get in touch with Elvis than the Customs chaps at Edinburgh airport.
It took a series of eight phone calls, not including the three calls to directory enquiries.
I eventually managed to get through to Customs at Heathrow who called me back and gave me the number after they had called Customs at Edinburgh airport to ask if it was ok for them to give me their number.
That was after I had spoken to various fraud hotlines, VAT offices and other Tax Offices not to mention the numbers that were unobtainable.
I wanted to confirm that I could get my Customs Carnet document dealt with in Edinburgh rather than at Heathrow.
I was glad that my hour or so of frustration on the phone paid off because after I had my Carnet stamped and the nine boxes of kit disappeared on the out of gauge belt at Edinburgh airport on Tuesday I would not see them until I got to Johannesburg.
No dragging them off the carousel in Heathrow, schlepping round to Customs and then rechecking them in.
There was one last minute bit of paperwork I needed to do, get my expenses up to date.
I settled down in my local Starbucks with a large coffee to go with my large pile of receipts that I had to sort out before the trip way down south.
I looked up over my coffee cup and saw a tall black haired figure in a black T-shirt. I recognised him straight away. He had been responsible for putting Edinburgh on the crime map with his creation Rebus.
Ian Rankin clutching his cappuccino sat down and began to read the Guardian.
I carried on with my paperwork.
A few moments later a jolly round faced chap in a tweed jacket came in and joined the crime writer.
I had a vague feeling I knew the face.
I did a quick google image search on my iPhone.
I was right.
Sitting just a little bit behind me now were two of Edinburgh’s most famous authors having a chat and a bit of a laugh.
Rebus meets Mma Ramotswe.
Ian Rankin had been joined by Alexander McCall Smith the author of “The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency” novels.
All it needed to make the set complete was the appearance of JK Rowling, and that was not as unlikely as is sounds.
Her house is only a few hundred yards from the coffee shop and she has been known to frequent it.
It made me very proud that my city is home to such talent.
Just wish some of it would rub off!