" ... in almost all of my Edinburgh novels the characters inevitably at some stage make their way to Jenner's, that great Edinburgh store which dominates one end of Princes Street. Jenner's has always represented Edinburgh - or at least a certain part of Edinburgh - distilled. Edinburgh primness and respectability is, of course, a huge joke that we all enjoy. Jenner's, with the grandeur of its building, and its tea room, is the very embodiment of the old-fashioned city - its face turned firmly away from any form of coarseness or vulgarity. Of course life, for most, is distinctly not a matter of cream teas and perjink respectability, but it adds to the texture and variety of a city to have such things in our midst. (Perjink, incidentally, is a Scots word that I think Edinburgh should claim for itself. Perjink is neat and tidy, perhaps a bit fussy. And it is the fussiness that makes it a real Edinburgh word. Edinburgh is not at all fantoosh - another wonderful Scots word. Other cities can be fantoosh (flashy and showy), but not Edinburgh. If you want to buy anything really fantoosh, you probably have to go somewhere other than Jenner's."
That's from A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh by Alexander McCall Smith, and in a typically personal note to the picture shown above (Jenner's Tea Room, 1895), a place he describes as "the headquarters of genteel Edinburgh", he goes on, "Jenner's features in a number of the Scotland Street novels - not least as a place where the characters go while the author is deciding what should happen next." Sad to say, the tea room visited by Domenica and friends no longer looks as it did in 1895.
For 'Cornflower in conversation' with this much-loved author, click here.