5 January 2017

Late afternoon in Leith

I love Leith. Rough and ready when I lived there many years ago - a famous old port of working people and pubs and a fair few gangs and thieves and prostitutes; but alive with the dirty messy vigour of humans being human in the best way they could manage, which was often not very well at all. Now greatly gentrified in a wonderful vibrant way, but with all the old traits and characters and drink and drugs still clearly there in the muddled messy mix of humanity heaving and flowing like the lapping sea that surrounds it. I was educated in Leith, until the age of 17, in the days of uncontrolled playground fights and bullies and girls and youthful attempts at love and hate and good and bad, but not much evil, although under the surface, yes that was in there too. I got hurt in Leith, physically, emotionally, romantically. I got tough in Leith, more mentally and emotionally than physically. I grew a hard carapace that even now can hide the wobbling soft pathetic jelly of the man within. And I come back occasionally, not often enough, to walk and eat, and still again yesterday to shake my head with an almost apologetic smile when a surprisingly pretty lass tried to sell the brief use of her slim body to me near the dock gates... where my father used to stand as a young police constable, fresh from fighting a war, but then directing the traffic when not called, as he often was, by a shrill whistle - no personal radio in those days - to intervene in another melee of flying fists and smashing glass in a riverside pub. I love Leith, and I will be back again, sooner next time, to walk and watch and sit and drink and eat, and probably to shake my head with an apologetic smile again and say, "no thanks", sweet, sad, young, dear, lost, lass... no thanks.