Memories of Leith: Dodging the Tally Man, playing in the water mains spray and Balloon Bobby's bugle – Steve Cardownie
As a youngster unequipped with a laptop or mobile phone, many of my days were spent wandering through the streets with pals, exploring and taking it as it comes.
There was a time when I knew the place like the back of my hand. I also knew the local rituals such as lights and TV off in the house and making any noise was akin to taking your life in your hands (or a least a skelp roond the ear fae yer ma) when the Tally Man was spotted in the area.
Then there was the unmistakeable sound of a bugle when “Balloon Bobby” was on his rounds (so-called because of the number of balloons attached to his vehicle), collecting rags for payment, usually enough for a packet of Five Park Drive cigarettes which would last until the next time he came round – usually a fortnight.
Then when the Scaffy opened up the water mains to spray the street, we would all rush in to put on our woollen trunks and proceed to jump about the cobbles like banshees, getting soaked by a fountain of freezing water.
I often wonder how many of my pals are still around: Brian, John and his brother James, Norrie, Roy and my fellow Jambo, Billy (at least was then but is now a Hibby).
Childhood was so much simpler then – and no worse for all that.