They were looking for a gritty underworld but the sun shone and even the seagulls behaved
Some Radio 4 chappie is making a programme about songs that have place names in the title, and so they came trekking North with their bottled water to take in the Shore and talk about Leith.
They were here to explore the themes and dynamics behind the song Sunshine on Leith. I always thought songs consisted of words and music, but there you go, I didn’t do meedjah studies. I do, however, do little walking tours of Leith’s gamier history, so they roped me in to ask a few questions, along with some grown-ups who know much more than me.
They stood on the old Victoria swing bridge and were determined to find Trainspotting. Unfortunately for them, Leith decided to turn on the old Shore-sur-Le-Med act, and the sun was sparkling off the water.
We did reel a bit on hearing Leith described as a suburb of Edinburgh. Now, let’s get this straight. A suburb involves bungalows and people who complain if you smoke in front of their children. Croydon and Corstorphine are suburbs. Leith has never been and never will be suburban. Bungalows would get bullied. As an aside, I’ve never been fond of bungalows. They’re just flats with attitude.
As for complaining about smoking in front of the children, well, that would be a full-time job as you wheeled your buggy from one end of Great Junction Street to the other.
Let’s put it this way. Irvine Welsh has never written about the chaotic lives of shortbread addicts as they run wild in the streets of Corstorphine.
Far from a vice ridden den of iniquity, Leith had ushered her visitors from the South into her front room and had clearly been whizzing about with the Dyson. Even the seagulls behaved.
We tried to ramp up the tension for them a little by telling them that house prices in the area were still a bit depressed. We thought that’s what BBC Radio 4 types would be worried by. They did, indeed, look a tad anxious, so we immediately assured them that hummus was widely available in Leith, even on the Shore, in the deli, right over there, where they hauled that body out the water.
Leith just smiled and turned on the charm.
Bless them, they were even mildly disappointed when Gordon Munro, Leith laddie and councillor, turned up wearing a suit.
We taught attention-seeking clouds a lesson
There was at last, sunshine not just on Leith, but actually on Gala day, which was a triumph not just of the weather, but of a community that pulled together when the funding ran dry.
There were tombolas, pony rides and stalls with homemade wine on them. People were encouraged to guess the number of sweeties in jars, throw hoops at prizes that looked just like the sort of gift set the Treasurer got for Christmas and toddlers got lost then reunited when announcements were made over the tannoy.
It was a glorious day. Not even the wee shower that put in an unscheduled appearance could, as the BBC presenters of the Jubilee shebang endlessly shrieked, dampen our spirits.
The grey cloud came over and chucked rain at us. One of the Leith Festival organising committee glared at the sky, then sternly told me to ignore it. The rain was merely attention seeking. As one we turned out backs on it, and you know what – it stopped raining.
Sir Singalots not a patch on Proclaimers
The papers have been full of complaints about that big bash for Her Madj, because Sir Elton and Sir Paul were out of tune.
Well, let me tell you, Craig and Charlie Reid can wipe the floor with the titled rockers, any day. As part of the programme, they sang Sunshine on Leith live on Calton Hill and were heartbreakingly note perfect.
Obviously, getting knighted is bad for the voice.
Only direct commands will work
When I was young and foolish, I would hint at potential birthday presents to my husband. Silly, silly girl. “Hint” is no way to talk to a Yorkshireman. Like the terriers, they respond better to direct commands.
In those early days, I would stop by the appropriate shop window, then wait for him to notice I had stopped. That would take a while. When he glanced round, I would, smilingly, gesture to the window. Passers-by thought I was practising my tennis back hand and someone had stolen my racket.
Eventually, he’d amble back and look in the window. Then I’d point at the object of desire and say how nice it was. He would agree.
Four days later or so, I would unwrap, say, Afghan slipper socks which smelt so bad we had to leave them outside.
This year I told him I wanted a bathrobe. Type, material and size. He got it bang on. It’s exactly what I wanted.
Direct commands, gals, that’s the way ahead.