Light up Leith returns with a dragon and an amazing flying Santa who, ahem, crashed – Susan Morrison

Last year, Christmas was in the deep freeze. The city was dark and cold.

Santa flies through the air, this time without crashing (Picture: Uli Deck/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Santa flies through the air, this time without crashing (Picture: Uli Deck/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

A bright young woman called Hannah had a clever idea and asked the good people of Leith to dress their windows like the little scenes behind the doors of advent calendars. She sorted out the numbers you were to be, and unleashed our artistic impulses.

The republic rose in enthusiasm and reached for the tinsel, glue guns and fairy lights. Whilst on our state-sanctioned one-hour walks, it was a joy to suddenly spot a number beside a waving Santa, an elegant angel or something that was mainly just a mass of glitter and twinkly lights. A sort of Jackson Pollock approach, if Mr Pollock was a Scottish five-year-old child with a selection box sugar rush.

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Light up Leith came back again this year, and I wanted to play. I got number 20. This, I thought, was good, since it meant I could be inspired by other people.

At first, I was content with the notion of some twinkly lights and a simple ‘Merry Christmas’. My ‘mood board’, as us designers like to call it, would feature memories from Blue Peter, the crafting skills I learned at the Girl Guides and World War Two at home. I’m talking recycled and up-cycled, very much channelling COP26.

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I had totally forgotten three vital things. One, I have the crafting skills of an easily irritated chimpanzee. Two, my imagination doesn’t actually soar so much as spiral out of control like a wonky rocket blowing up just after lift off. Three, my raging competitive nature.

To Poundland, which boasts an excellent selection of glittery bits and pieces, card and sticky stuff. Yes, I know I said ‘recycled’, but buying things is sort of re-cycling, innit? Laden with paper and glue I headed for home with ideas of winter wonderlands and flying Santas in my head, and came to a shuddering halt on Great Junction Street, jaw agape.

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Have you seen Window Number 9? It's on Great Junction Street, above the undertakers. It's a 3D multicoloured dragon, for heaven's sake, complete with a glitter ball. It is stunning.

The raging chimp that is my competitive spirit rose up. This means war. I binned the cardboard and glue and hit the internet to buy some of those funky white stick-on things you see in fancy shop windows. They’re made from plastic. Probably created in some toxic factory that pumps out vile effluent into the sea to make dolphins sad. They are, of course, made in China, racking up those air miles to get here. I bought more fairy lights. Enough to make sure this window could be seen from space.

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Lights, plastic, action. I created a flying Santa backed by a light display you’d see in an on-coming Boeing 747.

The whole lot collapsed at 2.30 this morning with the sort of crash that makes you think Rudolph’s been at the sherry and hit the roof.

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Fear not, people, I shall rebuild, only more modestly and within my limited skill set.

Light up Leith is great. It's a lovely thing to wander about and spot the windows. If you are taking a bus along Great Junction Street with some kids, get on the top deck. That dragon is epic.

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