The singer Mark E Smith was not everyone’s cup of tea.
In fact there are plenty of people who would even dispute that description of the Fall frontman, arguing he was more of a snarler than a singer. He was though a bit of a hero to many of my generation, especially those of us who fancied ourselves as members of the 1980s awkward squad. Angry, abrasive, witty, he was one of the natural leaders of our “indie” tribe.
It is interesting to look back, following his death at the age of 60, on his love affair with Edinburgh. Having lived for relatively short spells in both Leith and the New Town, the songwriter quickly formed a deep affection for the city, which seemed genuine and heartfelt. The reason, he said, was that he was “accepted straightaway” when he moved here from Manchester following the break-up of his first marriage. Like many artists before him, his favourite part of the Capital was Leith, which he described as “a bit more of the real Edinburgh”, and voiced concerns about it losing some of its character as a result of ‘gentrification’ in recent years.
The welcoming attitude that struck an outsider like Smith remains one of the city’s great strengths as an international melting pot.