After trams enter Republic of Leith, they may soon need new ding-a-lings – Susan Morrison
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Around about 0.000009 seconds after that universal detonation, they started building the trams. For us here in the Republic of Leith, we feel like they’ve always been with us. For years now, Leith Walk has been sort of No Man's Land, festooned with safety gear, metal fencing and trenches.
Men in hard hats and hi-vis jackets endlessly drove about in tank-like machines, or patrolled the lines, or stood silently staring into big black holes like scientists gazing into space, seeking evidence for the birth of the universe.
We couldn't see up town. Sometimes we couldn't get up town. Gradually, we began to forget "Up Town" and started to secretly like our very own Trump-like wall, especially in August. We were sealed away from those desperate to flee the Fringe.
It's all gone. Leith Walk is open. I'd forgotten just how sweeping and majestic the view from the Foot o’ the Walk is. The tram paraphernalia of cables and tracks make it look positively European, if we are allowed to say such things anymore.
The trams are moving. It's still something of a novelty. People in coffee shops look up from their Victoria Sponges when one glides past the window. When a tram slides alongside a bus, there's a wee buzz of chatter.
Admittedly, they're not going at any great speed. A nursery fun run could take first place against a tram. But they are here and they are moving. We can see them. And hear them.
As we all know, trams like to ding. You sophisticated folk in the Burgh have been familiar with the ding of the angry tram for some time, but down here it still causes heads to turn. People crossing a road must be alerted to the approach of the advancing tram, even if that tram is about two miles away.
Admittedly, I have seen tourists do the most exceptionally mad manoeuvres on Princes Street. Quite why they should risk their lives for a shot of the Castle is a mystery to me. You're not taking a photo of a rare bird or something. It's not going to suddenly fly off. It's a big lump of rock, mate. You’ve got time. Let the tram go, step boldly into the middle of the road and get blared at by Lothian Buses instead.
Down here in darkest Leith, I rather suspect we are going to be very familiar with the ding ding ding of the trolley. This is, after all, Leith, where the writ of the Green Cross Code holds no sway.
Like many Leith drivers, I am familiar with the need to take sudden evasive action when one of our chemically enhanced fraternity veers across the road like a rogue proton particle barreling around the Large Hadron Collider. Certainly keeps the reflexes sharp.
They're usually on the hunt for dark matter to ingest, or a very sudden need to talk to a pal outside the Central Bar. Given the trams’ deep love for their ding-a-ling, it probably means they’ll wear out the mechanism in record time.