Festive fairytale of Leith: Santa's elves on a bank job and windows all aglow – Susan Morrison

There’s a 1950s’ vibe about Christmas this year. Uptown is strangely dark and quiet and the shops are empty.

People in Leith are turning their windows into the windows of an advent calendar. This one is for December 5 (Picture: Hannah Ormston)
People in Leith are turning their windows into the windows of an advent calendar. This one is for December 5 (Picture: Hannah Ormston)

Can’t remember the last time I set foot in John Lewis. It’s enough to set off a panic attack, especially, I imagine, amongst senior management.

From our windows, we can usually see the glow of the Christmas markets, which made the city centre look like it was under sustained attack by an enemy that had embraced disco as a primary weapon.

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All we’ve got now are the red lights of the few cranes at the St James redevelopment. During the day, we can see the top swirl of the giant Golden Doggie Poo. That’s not the official title, obviously. Well, not here in Leith.

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On the upside, I have been shopping local. Went to the bank the other day, where the staff were helpfully reminding customers to put their masks on before entering.

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I can remember the days when banks weren’t that keen on masked people popping up at the counter. A woman in the queue was sporting a natty Christmas mask and cradling two rolls of silver wrapping paper in her arm, like a festive shotgun. Looked like Santa had a cash flow problem and had sent the elves in to hit the bank.

The usual festive soundtrack is missing. Smaller shops don’t go in for blasting out the Christmas Greatest Hits CD, possibly because there are only two staff members and they are trapped behind that counter.

Playing Harry Belafonte crooning away about Mary’s boy child on a constant loop would constitute cruel and inhumane treatment. And that’s before we consider Noddy Holder endlessly howling "It’s Chrisstmaaaaaaaaaaaaaas” like a demented yuletide-obsessed werewolf.

So, huge thanks to the folks who have lit up their windows creating that Christmas glow. Here in Leith, a young local hero floated the suggestion of a living advent calendar.

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People took her idea and ran with it. There are stunning home-made displays brightening up this strange dark, quiet winter. I’ve spotted two already. And you know what? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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