it is now more than 40 years since the last school bell rang at the old Royal High School – and the years since have told a sorry tale for the city.
There have been the flirtations with power, when this beautiful building was lined up to be the home of the proposed Scottish Assembly in the 1970s, and then – by some at least – to house the Scottish Parliament.
Later, there was the buzz of excitement as Sony ploughed £1 million into the dream of creating a Scottish National Photography Centre there, before the Scottish Government refused to stump up too. But through all those decades – and might-have-beens – one of our great architectural treasures never became more than spare office space.
It is hard to believe that any other city would have allowed such an imposing Grade A-listed building to sit empty or under-used for so long.
Maybe we are surrounded by so much beautiful architecture that we allowed ourselves to become blasé.
But now it seems that finally the old Royal High has found a more fitting purpose.
The “art hotel” concept – a combination of an international hotel alongside a public art gallery – may not be what many had hoped for.
Yet it is hard to argue against a plan which will see the grand old lady of Regent Road appreciated once more by thousands of visitors.
A deal struck right now might not raise the kind of money for the city that it once would have done, but the historic building will no longer be a drain on public funds. Instead, it will be making money again.
And imagine how sad it would have been if the years of limbo had dragged on and the building had been sitting empty as it celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2029.
A modern icon
some will love the idea of a public art work to celebrate in his home city the achievements of Sir Sean Connery – while others will be distinctly cool, especially if it turns out to be a statue.
But there is no denying that the former Fountainbridge milkman is a modern icon with millions of fans all over the world.
We do not do enough to celebrate a man who has often been described – by smitten film fans – as the greatest living Scotsman.
A statue or mural would be a major point of interest attracting new visitors to the modern neighbourhood that is gradually emerging in the place where he grew up.
Let’s hope that Big Tam is well enough to join us for the unveiling ceremony when the work of art is complete.