Susan Morrison: In great tram wars, you must pick a side
There are times when I think we've never been free of The Curse of The Trams. Probably the first question Mary, Queen of Scots asked when she stepped ashore was: 'What about the trams, eh?'
I bet even John Knox had an opinion. Well, come to think of it, if there was one thing ol’ Johnny had by the bucket load, it was opinions, but I’d lay odds that Knox would have tuned up his full firework display of gospel thunder and Presbyterian lightning to unleash hellfire tramwards from his pulpit.
Has there ever been a time when a conversation in Edinburgh hasn’t slowly, inexorably turned to the trams, especially in a taxi? And before anyone accuses me of disrespecting our noble black cab drivers, I have nothing but admiration for these poor folk, some of whom quite clearly suffer from PTSD. That’s Post Tram Stress Disorder, obviously.
Why none of them have turned into psychotic banshees hurling traffic cones at diversion signs by the light of the full moon is a complete mystery to me. Salut!
It’s been going on longer than the Trojan War, and that lasted a fair old time. For ten long years this city has lay stunned by the onslaught of cones, rails and temporary traffic lights, all to bring us sleek silent trams crewed by drivers obsessed with tinging bells at people mad enough to even consider crossing a tramline half a mile away.
In the film Zulu, there is a moment of false peace when the impis withdraw and Michael Caine gets to have a word with Stanley Baker about his grandad, and then suddenly it’s Zulus all over the shop and you can see Mr Caine’s 1960s gold fillings as he basically tells the beleaguered defenders to stop singing and fire everything.
It’s been a bit like that in Leith. The trams glide, growl and ding up town, but here, down at the bottom of the Walk, we thought they had gone, like the Zulus. We stopped talking about them. Well, there’s the dog mess to discuss.
Then, suddenly, they were back.
There are some questions you can’t be waffly about. Sugar in tea? Europe? Eurovision? Marmite? All the big questions of the day. Yes or no. There’s no hokey-cokey option. You’re either in or out, no shaking all about, mate.
It’s the same with the trams. They sit poised to advance down the Walk.
Well, what say us down in Leith? There are those in favour of barricades at Pilrig Street and those already weaving welcome garlands to drape around the driver of the first tram to New Kirkgate.
And so I must declare one way or another. Welcome, trams. They caused enough bother at the top of the hill. Perhaps if they snake down to us we might get more use of them (builds barricade and hunkers down …).