The Leither - Issue 133

Page 1

Priceless Issue 133


Leith’s Gift to the World?

A (Un) Bucket List | Faslane & Munitions Dumping | Dominic Cummings An End to Pavement Parking? | The Wonders of Gosford Estate


10% REPAIR DISCOUNT CODE: LM1219 Offer strictly limited until 31/12/19, and to commercial (non-trade) customers only.

Antique Jewellery Restoration

Fine Jewellery Repair

Bespoke Jewellery Design

0131 555 3388

5 Commercial Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6JA

Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 6pm & Saturday, 10am to 3pm

REDPATH AND MCLEAN MOTOR COMPANY LIMITED Buying Leither’s cars Selling Leithers cars For over a Decade 67 Salamander Street, Edinburgh T: 0131 554 9969 e: 2 | | Issue 133

The Sound and the Fury

Editor at Large


s a child I was a voracious reader, ably abetted by my father who airily tossed me any book he had just finished. He did not censor my intake, from the brutality of Hubert Selby Jnr to the density of William Faulkner ‘down the long and lonely light rays you might see Jesus walking, like’. I devoured them all but the Life And Death Of Saint Kilda proved my favourite. Saint Kilda was, and is, a group of thin, inclined, sheets of basalt, masquerading as habitable islands, that cling to the edge of the Atlantic, a hundred and fifty miles north northwest of the Scottish mainland. How did they live, these near mythical people, these Saint Kildans? In my childish imaginings they lived in bursts of feverish activity and quiet contemplation. Which is to say they lived like birds. Last night I returned to Saint Kilda again – where the white whales sing at
 the edge of the world - courtesy of a video I found on a USB stick. In the flickering, ancient, footage, a solid canopy of
 gannets scream like banshees in a field full of razorblades. Kittiwakes and guillemots screech and skree down the scowling cliffs, arguing angles that don’t exist. 
On Boreray the puffins nestle stoutly. In the roiling waters beneath Stac Lee, lie miles of coral reef – feather star, sun star and orange deadman’s fingers. Above the waterline – least willow, purple saxifrage and butterwort flourish. Everywhere, wind blasted heather. Summer shielings full of sheep dry stane and musty wool, cling to the earth in the lea of Gleann Bay. Strange to think that anywhere this elemental could actually belong to someone, but it did, the Macleod’s of Skye were the landlords and they

Where the white whales sing at
 the edge of the world received their rent in kind. The birds – it always comes back to the birds – were the islander’s currency. Feathers for mattresses, rendered oil for lamps and meat for consumption. Supplemented by barley, oats, and fish. In the video it seems, the islands are to be returned to nature again, at least from September to April, so the archipelago give itself wholly to the elements, those driven, relentlessly cruel elements that finally drove the natives away after 3,000 years of clinging to the edge of nowhere. In the winter of 1930 the natives petitioned the Government to be taken off the islands. Diseases for which they had no defence, emigration and dwindling stocks of everything – hell, the

Contents 6

You can stick your dolphins says the bold Colin Montgomery he would rather be a perfectly evolved killing machine

© National Trust for Scotland


A man on the Lover’s Stone, Hirta

rapidly changing world – had devastated the population. And so it was that The Royal Navy sloop SS Harebell hung low in the water at her anchorage in Village Bay on that August morning. Children and women ran hither and thither in an attempt to avoid the prying eye of John Ritchie’s camera, amateur and intrusive, as it recorded the evacuation of the remaining thirty-six islanders. Each Saint Kildan family went into their home for the final time and placed an open bible and a handful of oats on
 the table, succour and sustenance for
 unlikely visitors, before drowning
 all of their domestic pets. Then let us suppose they took one last look up Main Street to the cleats on the higher ground, effectively their fridges, before craning their necks to take in the green vastness of Conachair. Higher still, the glowering sky, fat with rain bearing clouds. Everywhere, in this the nesting season, a cacophony 
of gulls strafing and divebombing every moving thing. Finally, those last thirty-six islanders would have turned with
 the slowness of centuries and walked 
out along the rudimentary jetty. In the distance, three towering Stacs bleached white with bird guano. Then they would have stepped for the last and first time off the edge of the world. ■

The first Odorama movie, John Waters’ Polyester, is out on Blu-ray. Kennedy Wilson asks: is it past its smell-by date?


Deidre Brock tells us that Ferranti were dumping radioactive waste under the Forth Bridge for years


Carolyn McKerracher lets a 5 year old guide her through the ‘spell binding’ Gosford estate. Hmmm

Leither Published by: Leither Publishing Editor: William Gould ( 07891 560 338  Sub Editor: Dot Mathie Design:  Advertising: Sue Glancy ( 07772 059 516  Contacts:  8 Cartoonist: Gordon Riach Illustrator: Bernie Reid Printers: Gladstone Media, Bonnyrigg ( 0131 663 5305 ( 07443 425125 8 * © 2019 LEITHER PUBLISHING. Reproduction in whole or part is forbidden without the written permission of the Publishers. The Leither does not accept responsibility for unsolicited material. If you have an interesting story we should know about, contact William Gould on tel: 07891 560 338. If you would like information on advertising or sponsorship opportunities with the Leither email: Cover: The original rules of golf. Set down and signed by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers in a Leith tavern

Issue 133 | | 3


s I’m writing this, we’re now three short weeks away from the date on which we’re due to leave the European Union. As things stand, it looks as though a no-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome. This is because we have a Prime Minister who is quite possibly the most irresponsible, mendacious and pathetic individual ever to hold that office. Currently, he’s trying to fend off stories that he had a “relationship” with an American bimbo, part of which involved him giving public money to her when he was Mayor of London. Apparently, the money was to help her with the tech business she was trying to start up. Given the fact that she was also an amateur “pole dancer” and our Prime Minister visited her home a dozen times or so, it seems likely that Johnson was involved in a “cash for shags” scandal. Just the man, then, to be negotiating the future of the country as it spirals towards a massive national crisis. He’s also been taken hostage by a bugeyed sociopath called Dominic Cummings whose ambitions are to shaft MPs and people who voted to remain in the EU, shaft the Labour Party, shaft the Brexit Party, and shaft the EU, using whatever means necessary, even if it entails chaos and destruction. With all that shafting going on, it’s not difficult to see why Johnson has had the swiftest onset of Stockholm syndrome in history. He’s fallen in love with a psychopath who is willing to shaft anyone and everyone to get his way. They could be twins. And if you think that talk of chaos 4 | | Issue 133

and destruction is just another bout of Project Fear, read on. The Scottish Government recently published a document outlining an overview of its no deal Brexit preparations and it doesn’t make for light reading. What follows is just a tiny snapshot of the shitshow that will ensue should we crash out of the EU on 31 October. There will be significant disruption and delays at borders which will affect the transportation of foods and vital medicines coming from abroad. Scotland’s ability to export foodstuffs and drinks like whisky, which are a mainstay of our economy, will be “severely impacted”. Tariffs will be placed on food such as lamb, potatoes, and shellfish. Whisky will also be hit. Food and drink exports are four times more important to the Scottish economy than they are in England to the English economy, and many rural and remote communities in Scotland are reliant on the industry. The industry itself has estimated that the potential disruption of no deal could result in the loss of up to £2 billion in sales. There will be significant impacts on our NHS and social care system as a result of no deal. Huge numbers of medicines and medical hardware are imported from the EU – no deal will mean that supply of these life-saving items will be substantially disrupted. In short, although the Scottish Government has not stated it explicitly, people could die as a result of no deal. And what about the impact on people, especially those who are poor and vulnerable?

Protempore …

Illustration: Bernie Reid

A bug eyed sociopath called Dominic

Of course, no deal would impact on everyone, reducing their opportunities in work, travel, study and damaging their financial resilience. But there’s no doubt that it would particularly affect a wide range of vulnerable communities. Increases in prices and reduced availability of some goods are likely to impact low income households who are already struggling because of a decade of Tory austerity. Families with children, disabled people, older people and those with less secure employment status are also likely to find costs of living more challenging. At the same time, the negative economic impacts of no deal are likely to increase the numbers in poverty, and those increases could be considerable: this then increases demand on essential public services which will struggle to cope. There will also be significant impacts to freedom of movement. Scotland depends on people coming here from all over the EU and indeed, could do with more. They work in our food and hospitality sector, in our hospitals, in schools and in our education system to name a few. These sectors will struggle to survive if no deal is the outcome. All of this doesn’t seem to concern our Prime Minister who has said that he’d rather die in a ditch than countenance any delay to our exit from the EU. Given the catastrophe of no deal, there must be millions of people like me who would happily dig that ditch and throw him and his sociopathic chum Cummings into it. ■ Protempore

128 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh, EH6 4BR Tel 01313220701 Monday-Friday: 8:30am-5pm Saturday: 9:00am-1:00pm Email: Website: Issue 133 | | 5

The Un-Bucket List (Abridged) Euan Rannachan

You can stick your dolphins; Colin Montgomery would rather be a perfectly evolved killing machine


eath is, like lies from Boris Johnson, inevitable. But expecting too much from the bit before it can backfire. Let me begin again. With another beginning. The aforesaid bleak one at the top of this page with its idle talk of death and not getting your hopes up – I don’t actually mean it that way. When death comes, I won’t be fronting it up, ready to wrestle with the reaper. Not even a Bergmanian chess game for me. Not even some cosmic Ker Plunk to see me off. Nope, I’d like to be lying down. Perhaps with the smell of cola cubes, a last puff of a rough shag and a bit of whispery ASMR chat as accompaniment. Death can do the heavy lifting. The arsehole. These are of course highly affected words. But behind the achingly studied prose lurks a kernel of realisation. And lo and behold it was a recent funereal moment that sparked it. It would be less than decorous for me to divulge the details; let’s just say that it was the death of someone very close to someone very close to me. The family all knew it was coming. And they handled it extremely well. But standing there at the graveside does bring a degree of clarity. The collections of atoms we refer to as human beings are often moved to consider their mortality by proximity to its end – with all of the attendant rituals, symbolism and conventions. In this case, there was a distinct lack of convention; it was a very personal end indeed. And that, in a strange way was very inspiring. Though not in the way you’d expect. It didn’t have me thinking, ‘God I should swim with dolphins or grow a herb garden or give my hair to a rabbit sanctuary’. Nahhhh. No, quite the opposite actually. Instead, this moving moment sort of reminded me of all the things I don’t want to do before I die. The things I can safely say I would be delighted not to have achieved before I go and sing with the celestial choir/scream in agony with the satanic hordes/the lights go out/I come back as a manatee/haunt 6 | | Issue 133

Mr Montgomery’s alter ego a Great White

Horses I give you are, unlike dolphins, definitely not arseholes. But I wouldn’t get on one; I don’t have the arse cheeks for it

the absolute fuck out of a roundabout in East Kilbride. (I think that’s all the bases covered there.) Yep, it was a joy to start ticking off the shit I wouldn’t feel the pressure to do before I shuffled off forever. After all, you can sift the Facebook for weeks seeing people ‘doing stuff’. Most of the time, I get riled by some bullshit political revelation in The Guardian and can barely contain my anger; then later, after a few road rage incidents, you realise how foolish it is to expect decency, honour, morality or any other human attribute from a cabal of sociopathic gangsters in No.10; it’s just a procedural version of Goodfellas right now, but with more overt racism, backstabbing and all round everyday shitehousery. That’s not to say I’d write off ‘doing stuff’ completely. I couldn’t stand the bedsores of a retreat to the chaise longue

in perpetuity. Plus, to even remotely resemble that bell-end Rees-Mogg would be an affront to my own reflection. No, I’ll still do stuff. Like breathe. Maybe drink. And, as my partner rightly reminds me, I do need to get off my arse a bit more to whip a hoover round from time to time. But for now, let’s stick to my Un-Bucket List. Here’s some of the shit I never want to do before I die. Swim with dolphins – too wet. Plus dolphins are show-offs. Fucking tricks and stuff, I mean come on, have some dignity. I prefer sharks. Perfectly evolved killing machines. See the pyramids – I never got the whole ‘let’s look at some triangular masonry’ thing. There are pyramids by the M8 anyway. Not as hot. And you won’t have the shits for weeks. Run a marathon – too long by oh… 26 miles or so. If I could participate in fancy dress I might do it. If that fancy dress was me dressed as a passenger in a taxi. An actual taxi. Then, yes. Take up meditation – it works for some. But I doubt it would make a difference to me. I would be but a chanting Cnut against the rolling waves of anger. Medicate? Yes. Meditate? No. Learn to ride a horse – horses I give you are, unlike dolphins, definitely not arseholes. I would bet on one. But I wouldn’t get on one. Plus, I don’t think I have the arse cheeks for it. Join an illicit street gang in El Salvador – this one feels quite obvious. I mean, the whole tattoo, defiled in prison and forced to sell drugs thing is tempting… but maybe not. Become King of the Badgers – I was genuinely in two minds about this one. I could picture myself leading a counterrevolution against the failed bovine TB cull. Again, no. Vote Conservative – ha ha ha… of course not, just my little joke. For to do so in the face of the evidence/charge sheet that grows more ridiculous by the day would be a crime. Have a nice life, folks. n

Leith’s local plumbing and heating experts Are you looking for a new boiler this winter? We supply and fit a wide range of high efficiency gas boilers. Whether your old boiler is broken or you have simply had enough of cold showers in the morning, one of our friendly gas engineers will be more than happy to visit your home and provide you with a free quotation and advice on how to get your heating system in shape

• Burst Pipes • Broken Boilers • Toilets and Tanks • Bathrooms • Central Heating • Wet Rooms • Gas Engineers • Blocked Drains & Sinks • Landlord Gas Certificates

Call us on

0131 555 2416 Contact us at

Visit our showroom at 28 Salamander Street Edinburgh EH6 7HZ

This Sporting Life W

e were resting on the loungers at the deep end of Glenogle Baths when our reverie was disturbed by a young voice directed to my fellow bather. “Granddad, can we go now? And can I get a £1 for sweets?” I butted in: “Sweets? After we had a swim my Dad used to get me a ‘shivery bite’, a bag of hot chips from a braw chippie on Lindsay Road you dinnae want sweets!” This intrigued my fellow recliner “where did you swim?” “The Vicky Baths with 1930 ASC.” He sat up all alert and said to his grandson “do another couple of lengths and we might have a deal on the sweets.” He settled into himself, “I played water polo for Warrender. I was scared of Willie Mellors. Did you know him?” When I was his grandson’s age I shared the same fear but learned, like many folk from Leith, that his bark was worse than his bite. “Well, he knocked out my two front teeth and a team mate who was a dentist did emergency work that night to repair the damage.” This struck a chord. I too played Water Polo and said that like him I had a plate, two capped front teeth and a gap or two elsewhere due to sharp elbows whilst playing the game. (I should point out that Water Polo is a ‘noncontact’ sport.) The laddie looked a little startled at our talk of violence inflicted on these two old men when we were younger and decided that maybe a few extra lengths was the better part of the deal. The fierceness of Willie Mellors both verbal and physical was talked 8 | | Issue 133

Still from Freedom’s Glory a documentary about the notorious ‘blood in the water’ Water Polo game depicted in Children of Glory

about but when it came down to it we both admired the man. He loved the story Willie told me, later backed up by Galashiels veterans, about how they liked it when he played them down there as club takings went up. “Why was that?” He asked. “Because they used to chuck pennies at him from the balcony as his playing style was so hard. Even Leith Swimming Club called us Dirty Thirty.” When folk couldnae afford a telly 1930 ASC would hang a notice on the railings outside Doctor Bells advertising who they were playing. They would turn up when Mellors was there, “it was better than the wrestling at the Eldorado” they’d say. When I told him that Davy Barr coached me when I was part of the Scottish Under 21 squad (I made the cut for the squad but not the team as I was too wee), he said, “I played against him.” I mentioned that Willie got my Dad and Bill Laidlaw of Porty to get their coaching badges so that they could help coach the next generation of players through. They did as well and my first medals were for 1930 in the Eastern Junior League and the Second division in 1972 with my Dad coaching us. I still recall training sessions. Billy Doc, Mitch, John Williamson and me, the balls leather then, and once wet, heavy as bricks – swim across the width of the Vicky baths hit the 4 foot depth sign on the side then retrieve the ball pass to the next player and repeat. It was a technique from the Bela Rajki book on Water Polo. He was the man who coached the famous Hungarian team who beat the World champions Russia to Gold in Melbourne in 1956. This was

an infamous game that made worldwide news due to the significance of the Hungarian uprising of that year. “Oh, one of our players was a member of that team.” Said my fellow lounger, “marvellous player and so strong, he came out the water waist high to catch, pass and shoot the ball. A joy to watch and play alongside.” “Have you seen Children of Glory?“ He hadn’t. I explained it was about that team and the uprising and was the only film in my view that portrayed our sport the way we played it. I recommend it to all I meet who played our sport and it’s on the shelves of quite a few for that very reason. He asked if I still played “Ocht no I’m too old for that now stopped in 1985.” By that time the game had changed, all you needed then was a pair of trunks and a hat with team number and colour (white or black). The referee checked all our finger and toenails to make sure they were short prior to starting the game to prevent scratching with both coaches carrying clippers just in case they needed cut. I told him that before I retired we were wearing two pairs of trunks with the top pair coated so that the oppositions hands slipped if they tried to pull you back or, as often happened, the top pair were ripped off, cricket box ‘where it was needed’, ear guards on the hats and gum shields so that you kept what teeth you had left. (Not bad for a noncontact sport!) He asked me the name of the film again. “It was called Children of Glory.” And we both agreed that we had been. ■ Gordon Munro - 1930 ASC



# Search

Edinburgh’s number one Hair Extension Salon which caters

Our to services Our work About us Get inproducts touch all types of hair using our very own branded


Specializing in weave extensions, human and synthetic, hair pieces and custom wigs for ladies that suffer from hair loss and alopecia


“We will not be beaten on price”

SPECIAL OFFER FOR LIMITED TIME ONLY Extensions (Including hair) Inches Half Head 16” £75.00 18” £85.00


Indian Remy Hair Full Head £120.00 £135.00

Hair Extensions (Any colour) Inches 16” 18”



Indian Remy Half Head £35.00 £45.00


287-291 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, EH6 8PD Contact: 0131 553 7788

FOLLOW US @hareofthedogedinburgh

We Send Anything. Anywhere. Anything Anywere

• Freight Solutions • Packing Solutions • Express Services

• Business & Consumer 220 COUNTRIES Services "

SPECIALISTS IN FRAGILE, • Art & Antiques LARGE, AWKWARD OR Shop Online • Computers VALUABLE ITEMS & Electronics • eBay ART & Purchases

# Make an appointment


PERSONAL • We Sell Boxes & Packaging



Specialists in the Fragile, Awkward & Valuable!

MUSICAL PackINSTRUMENTS & Send (Edinburgh East) 53 Elm Row, Leith Walk, EH7 4AH & ELECTRONIC T: 0131 201 2244 E: EQUIPMENT W:


Issue 102 | | 5 Issue 133 | | 9

37 Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH1 3JU | 8 Brougham Street, Edinburgh EH3 9JH Served traditional33tier tier stand Served onona atraditional A selection of Canapés & Puff Pastries A selection of Canapés & Puff Pastries Finger Sandwiches RoastFinger TurkeySandwiches & Cranberry Sauce Roast Turkey & Ham &Cranberry Mustard Sauce & Mustard EggHam Mayonnaise & Cress Egg Mayonnaise & Warm SconeCress Served with Clotted Warm Scone Cream, Strawberry Jam and Bergamot Curd Served with Clotted Cream, Strawberry Jam and Bergamot Curd Selection of Christmas Desserts

Selection of £11.99p.p Christmas Desserts Add a Glass of Prosecco £11.99p.p £16.99 p.p or aaglass Add Glassofofchampagne Prosecco £21.99p.p £16.99 p.p Served Throughout December Served Throughout December Queen CharlotteRooms Rooms Queen Charlotte

56aQueen QueenCharlotte CharlotteStreet, Street,Edinburgh Edinburgh 56a 0131-555-6660 0131-555-6660

10 | | Issue 133

TheNoRecipe Man

Give me strength

Tom Wheeler


f at any point over the past few months you’ve found yourself burying your head in your hands and bellowing, “Give me strength!”, be assured that you’re not alone. Like millions of others, you’re perplexed and exasperated by the issue that has polarised the UK, divided families and threatened our quality of life. I’m talking, of course, about the debate around insipid food.. Opinions on both sides are utterly entrenched. The Insipideers argue, until they’re even redder in the face than usual, that if tinned pilchards and gruel were good enough for our boys in the trenches, they’re good enough for us. (Whether our boys in the trenches ever actually ate tinned pilchards and gruel is, of course, irrelevant.) New laws should be passed without delay to ensure that all cabbages are sold in Imperial measures, boiled for a minimum of a week, served on tin plates and seasoned only with our own tears. Flavourful food won’t be banned as such; it’s just that everyone who knows how to make it will be summarily deported to wherever it was they got their star anise from. On the opposite side of the debate are the Flavourists. They would argue that our lives have been enhanced immeasurably by the bold and diverse range of powerful flavours that have arrived on these shores from all parts of the world. (Not “all four corners” of the world, incidentally: only true Insipideers still believe that planets have corners.) Flavourists struggle to understand what exactly was so wrong with the previous arrangements that we should actively choose to reverse generations of culinary integration. Having tasted Tom Kha Gai, they have little desire to go back to Heinz Cream of Tomato. I might as well lay my cards on the table: I am, and always will be, a Flavourist. Or at least, I think I am. The reason I hesitate is that it’s all too easy to be a Flavourist in principle but an Insipideer in practice. When presented with an unfamiliar ingredient or cooking method, our fear of otherness tends to creep in. We might fully appreciate its virtues and its potential contribution to our cooking, but our instincts tell us to treat it with extreme caution. This is a logical extension of our instinct for selfpreservation; but it’s also a significant missed opportunity. By way of example, I was once given a cookbook from the 1960s which ostensibly explored the cuisines and flavours of the world, but did so from a distinctly British perspective. A recipe for “Chinese-inspired” sweet and sour pork was particularly notable, in that it contained precisely no ingredients that were even vaguely sweet or sour. The most aromatic thing in there was a quarter clove of garlic. The second

Spices of the world in an Italian market

most aromatic was cornflour. I imagine thousands of ‘60s Brits dutifully following this recipe, only to be left wondering what all the fuss was about this Chinese food everyone kept talking about. (Insipideers, on the other hand, would probably have been surprised, and somewhat conflicted, at how agreeable they found it.) These days, our knowledge of world food is much greater; but our instinct towards the insipid still holds us back. We never quite understand why the curry we make is a feeble imitation of our favourite takeaway; yet the simplest solution to this problem – adding spices by the mound instead of the thimbleful – seems just too extreme for us to contemplate. (I suspect, incidentally, that this comes in part from our inexplicable tendency to buy our spices in tiny expensive jars rather than in the huge cheap packets available in the very next supermarket aisle. Using half a jar of cumin in a curry

Flavourful food won’t be banned as such; but everyone who knows how to make it will be deported to wherever they got their star anise from

feels indulgent and ridiculous, whereas the same quantity sprinkled from a large packet looks perfectly reasonable – as indeed it is.) Similarly, we’ll never come close to the intense garlicky hit of a proper pesto or the concentrated meaty oomph of a well-reduced jus if we don’t allow ourselves use of the same raw materials. Having gone to the trouble of peeling a few garlic cloves, it’s no great hardship to peel a few more; and if we’ve already spent hours making a stock, why skip the ten minutes required to reduce it to a more lip-smacking consistency? As with anything in life, it’s possible to go too far. Nobody wants every meal to be the savoury equivalent of eating a whole bag of Skittles in one mouthful. And in fairness, some apparently insipid foods can have a magic all of their own; but as a counterpoint to flavour, not as an alternative. Think of a fragrant, steaming pile of jasmine rice, plain and unseasoned, alongside a fiery and vibrant Thai curry – the combination is way better than either part in isolation. But in the main, we’d all be better off confronting our fears, embracing the true potential of flavour and finding ourselves on the right side of food history. Just don’t do anything so daft as to put the issue to a destructive and completely unnecessary public vote. God only knows where that sort of thing might lead us. n ÊÊTwitter: @norecipeman Issue 133 | | 11

From Smello-Vision to Odorama The first movie of John Waters, Polyester, is out on Blu-ray. Kennedy Wilson asks: has it passed its smell-by date?


rom the off, Hollywood was constantly evolving its technology. Early silent movies were often just a notch above the nickelodeon on the seaside pier. Even primitive classics with stars like Valentino or Gloria Swanson are practically unwatchable today. With the invention of synchronised sound in the 1920s suddenly movies became talkies and a whole new world of nuance opened up. The first all-talking film was Lights of New York (1928). There had been experiments with colour movies since 1898. Full-colour gave films a new, spectacular immediacy. You need only think of when Dorothy leaves monochrome Kansas for the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz (1939). That same year Gone With the Wind (through sound, colour, music, fine acting and a literary script) became – and remains – one of the greatest films ever made. In the 1950s there were assorted widescreen offerings the apotheosis of which was Cinerama’s presentation of How the West Was Won (1962), which has three screens, three projectors and even three directors. The IMAX owes much to Cinerama. In Aldous Huxley’s 1931 novel Brave New World he envisioned a dystopian future where the population was tranquilized by the drug soma and by regular trips to ‘the feelies’, motion pictures where physical sensations were impressed on the audience through the arms of the cinema seats. (Huxley went to Hollywood briefly to try his hand at screenwriting.) The nearest thing to feelies was Sensurround where the whole movie theatre seemed to shake during films like Earthquake (1974). Thanks to low-frequency rumbles fed through a phalanx of speakers. Such effects are still with us thanks to Dolby Surround Sound. Other gimmicks like 3-D were introduced in the 1950s and this is still on the go in various guises. But the ‘smellies’ never took off. The only cinematic offering in Smell-OVision was 1960’s turkey Scent of Mystery. According to Halliwell’s Film Guide the process saw smells ‘pumped to the cinema audience through pipes leading to individual seats in the auditorium’. It 12 | | Issue 133

never caught on. Audiences just didn’t seem to want a whiff of Catherine Deneuve’s eau de parfum or Easy Rider’s burning rubber – although such sensations might have improved many a B-movie. Then in 1981 came schlockmeister John Waters’s malodorous Polyester, so named he said because it was the worst possible thing you could ever wear. The manmade fabric was also an effective trap for bodily smells. Film director Waters had made his name in a series of cheapo underground indie films in the 1970s. Many became cult ‘midnight movies’ popular with students. In the denouement of his Multiple Maniacs a fat drag queen gets raped by a giant; greasy, papier maché lobster. Suddenly with a big fan following, a big budget and 35mm the mainstream beckoned. Waters made Polyester with his muse Divine and it co-starred 1950s teen heartthrob Tab Hunter who had just turned 50 and was a bona fide hasbeen. The movie took as its inspiration a soft target. Douglas Sirk was famous for a series of women’s pictures – bold colourful weepies like All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life wherein assorted glamour queens get their comeuppance. Waters’s movie would be more smelodrama than melodrama. Divine played Francine Fishpaw a put upon mom with two bratty teenage kids and an unfaithful pornographer husband. The son is a solvent-abusing foot fetishist, the daughter a go-go dancing nymphomaniac. Francine has a highly

The very film in question

To enhance this cheesy feat of tastelessness the filmmaker produced an Odorama “scratch ‘n’ sniff” card, reproduced for the Blu-ray release

developed sense of smell and her home is a shrine to Airwick. To enhance the cinematic enjoyment of this cheesy feat of tastelessness the filmmaker produced an Odorama “scratch ‘n’ sniff” card (reproduced for the Blu-ray release). When numbers flashed up on-screen during crucial scenes in the film audience members would be enjoined to scratch the relevant numbered patch on an impregnated postcard and get a whiff of Mr Fishpaw’s ‘Dutch oven’, the delivery boy’s pepperoni pizza, Francine’s gas cooker or a pair of her son’s rancid sneakers. The whole movie is as hilarious as it is appalling. Although, it must be said, the hilarity was enhanced in the collective environment of the cinema. Scratching ’n’ sniffing in the privacy of your own home isn’t quite the same. Polyester was the last of Waters’s shockers – he went on to make the much more sedate Hairspray in 1988 and Serial Mom in 1994. Hairspray was Divine’s last picture (he died prematurely) and it went on to become a mega-successful stage musical before being filmed starring John Travolta in the Divine role. It wasn’t filmed in Odorama. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @KenWilson84 ÊÊInfo: Polyester is released by Criterion on Blu-ray on 14 October




Ben Macpherson MSP Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Northern and Leith Constituency

Help & Advice Surgeries (no appointment necessary) Every Monday:

Every Friday:

5-6pm at Leith Library 28-30 Ferry Road Edinburgh EH6 4AE

4-5pm at Royston/Wardieburn Community Centre Pilton Drive North Edinburgh EH5 1NF

Contact Ben Office Address: 34 Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6RS E-mail: Telephone: 0131 600 0134 Website: The cost of this advertisement has been met from parliamentary resources. The SPCB is not responsible for the content of other internet sites.


Roofing and Building Contractors Call NOW for Free Estimate & Expert Advice Flat Roofing, Slating, Tiling, Lead Sheeting, Zinc Specialists

Issue 133 | | 13

Falling back in love with Poetry Kevin Williamson, of Rebel Inc. and Neu! Reekie! fame, will be writing a poetry column for us. Here he introduces us to what he hopes to achieve


y do people fall out of love with poetry? This is a question that gets asked much less than, say, why do so many folk hate poetry? But maybe it’s more to the point. To explain: If you go back in time, before school does its level best to put you off, poetry connects with wee kids (us) before any other art form - via nursery rhymes. You’re barely able to string a sentence together and your parents are already reciting simple rhymes to you at night. And they tend to stick. These are the original memes. Nursery rhymes create small vignettes of verse, often with highly visual scenarios, that lodge in your brain, often for a lifetime, until you’re ready to repeat the same process with your own kids, or with kids of friends and family. Why? What is it about nursery rhymes that kid love so much? Adults too. Nursery rhymes aren’t always light or comic. They’re often dark in content. Humpty Dumpty is a tragedy. The egg falls. Breaks. Naebody can sort it. Tough shit. The End. Or take Jack & Jill. Off they go happily, up the hill, for their pail of water. Then Jack trips and busts his head open. Then Jill falls. Maybe she breaks her crown too. It’s a mystery. You have to fill in the blanks. The End. Ring-A-Ring-A-Roses is another nursery rhyme whose words are shrouded in mystery and whose origins are unclear. Why do kids form a circle, sing “a-tishoo-a-tishoo” then fall down? Popular twentieth century wisdom said it dated back to the bubonic plague of 1347. For sure, some of the words suggest it could be a possible interpretation. But modern folklorists contest this and argue it first appeared in print in 1881 and as such would almost certainly have existed in written form centuries earlier, if, indeed, it had been chanted for over 600 years. 14 | | Issue 133

K W with the infamous E issue of REBEL inc.

Humpty Dumpty is a tragedy. The egg falls. Breaks. Naebody can sort it. Tough shit. The End.

I could give examples of many more nursery rhymes, and their dark, deathladen verses, and most of you readers will know all the words. Interpretations can be tricky but here’s the thing: their lasting appeal didn’t come through analysis or determining meaning but because there is something about the language in nursery rhymes that we all enjoy. They trip off our tongues. Football chants echo them. Fans chant simple rhymes - I’m one of them - because they like the words and they like the emotions they generate, even if they’re about, say, a football manager’s magic hat. Language is the key to poetry. This goes for both its enduring appeal and its mass unpopularity. I’d go as far to say the unpopularity of poetry begins in schools. Schools can’t help trying to teach poetry as something to be interpreted. They want to test school students, because the education system is obsessed with testing, therefore they ask their students to find hidden meanings, as if poems were puzzles to be solved. But this isn’t what poets have in mind when they write poems. Poets want to explore their feelings; dredge

up images and experiences from deep inside their subconscious; or excavate from a lifetime’s worth of memories. They want to communicate these in the hope they might trigger something inside the reader. What they trigger is the joy of poetry. It could be memories and feelings that are at a complete tangent to the poet’s actual words. Once set loose poems work their own magic. If we want children, and subsequently adults, to enjoy poetry, it might be a good idea to go back to basics and take the nursery rhyme approach in schools: propose the reading of poems aloud, where the words themselves can be savoured on the tongue. We could encourage the enjoyment of the images that words create inside our heads. We could suggest readers try and connect with the thoughts, feelings and emotions of strangers. Poetry is an intimate one-on-one dialogue based on empathy and connection. Every reader will respond differently. There are no correct or incorrect responses. There is no need to understand everything. It might only be a line or two that connects. Poets would be happy with that. Chatting with the editor of this esteemed publication about writing a regular poetry column we kept coming back to the questions: Why does poetry have such a relatively small audience. And does it matter? We both think it does. In the coming months I’ll jot down some random thoughts on poetry, poets, and the poetry scene today. I’ll try and steer those of you who may be Poetry Indifferent or Poetry Curious towards some of the good stuff, towards modern poetry worth checking out that is neither too esoteric nor preaching to you what you already know. If you can’t wait till next month check out a Twitter poetry project I’ve been working on every day since 1st January this year. I post a poem on my Twitter feed every dinner time (or at lunch time for the posher folk) all modern poetry. Follow @williamsonkev or search on Twitter for the hashtag #365poems365poets and you’ll find them all there. Happy reading. n

The Lawrence tree in Leith

Katy Nixon’s Short Story Illustration by David Lynburn


fter her shower, after she had been dressed by kind hands the care workers had sat Iris beside her bed in the moss green chair filled with foam cushion. She liked it there. There was a window beside her and she could see the sky out of it and feel the breeze on her skin. Sometimes she would be sitting with her hands folded in her lap, occasionally smoothing out her skirt aware it was her favourite one covered in little yellow flowers. Other times she would pass the hours by longing for her place amongst the birds that flew above the care home building. Iris wondered what it would feel like to fly in formation, not thinking in words but just knowing things. Oftentimes her body would be in the chair but the whole room would fall away to somewhere else. She was a silver haired time traveller. Suddenly she would find herself looking all the way up her mother’s arm to find her smile beaming down at her as they walked together to the Kirkgate. Or she would be eight and hiding and looking at her feet tucked into her, almost holding her breath so that her brother wouldn’t find her and win hide and seek. That afternoon a girl came into Iris’s room. Iris looked at her face as if it was a map she had travelled before. The girls eyes were the deepest brown... they reminded her of holding a baby boy with the same eyes in her arms. The girl cuddled and kissed her and said “hiya gran.” She was light, and Iris couldn’t help but grin and reach up and touch her gently on the side of her face that was perfect with youth. She sat herself down on Iris’s bed and began to pull books out of a bag. “Started college on Monday was amazing honestly, all the lecturers are sound and we got straight into painting.” “That’s good hen.” Iris could remember now. The girl when little was always running, paint on her hands, streaking it across her carpet, and the girl’s Dad giving her a row. Iris had pretended to be cross but part of her had enjoyed the colours that splashed on her cream carpet like a rebellious dream. “Bought these books today, thought you might like to look with me.” The girl – Amy with the brown eyes and hands covered in paint – opened a book with beautiful flowers painted across the pages. She turned them slowly so Iris could take them in, then one painting made Iris put her hand on the book so Amy didn’t turn the page. Something about it was familiar. The painting was of a tree from the perspective of being underneath it looking up through the branches at night. Iris knew that view. “Let’s see,” said Amy, reading the tiny writing at the bottom of the page, “that’s

George had then kissed her with the tenderness of a whispered question. Their mouths together broke gravity The Lawrence Tree by Georgia O’ Keefe gran, do you like it?” Iris smiled at Amy as, out of the corner of her eye she saw George McKay walk into the room, still fifteen, with curly cropped hair and her boyish smile. George smiled and tapped at her watch. Iris closed her eyes and allowed herself to disappear into another time. To her Lawrence tree, the one in Leith Links. “Hold on tight Iris!” Iris clung onto the handlebars of George’s big brother’s bike as they cycled down Leith Walk. George’s hands touched hers as she steered the bike with no effort. The streets were silent; the red ribbons in Iris’s hair untangled and flew behind her. Reaching the links, George slowly stopped the bike and helped Iris off. They pushed the bike together across the silent space, the grass moved like waves in the night breeze. There was one tree in particular, it was huge with branches that created a perfect place to sit and talk, sheltered, it felt secret. The girls sat with their backs against the trunk. Iris looked ahead, too shy to take in George’s face, through the grass their hands found each other. Happiness they weren’t meant to have, it made Iris want to cry. Time collapsed and folded as if Iris was sped up and watching her and George from somewhere else. The girls were

holding hands, looking up through the branches of the tree, the black sky punctuating the space between branches, tiny stars made them hopeful. George told Iris quick stories about them escaping Leith for London, Paris in a red hot air balloon, sailing the seven seas with spy glasses and a map, finding somewhere that they could be more than the fact of their biology. George had then kissed her with the tenderness of a whispered question. Their mouths together broke gravity. Iris left the grass her body hitting every branch of the tree as she fell into the night sky. She span through her entire life after that moment looking for George. She was nowhere to be found. A breeze came in through the window of her room. The birds circled the care home. Iris looked around but George Mackay had gone. Amy, the girl with the brown eyes and hands covered in paint, looked concerned as she wiped away a quiet tear from Iris’s cheek. “Who’s George, Gran?” Iris took her granddaughters hand and tried to speak, but George still held all of her words with her first kiss underneath her Lawrence tree. The one in Leith Links. ■ ÊÊInfo: Katy dedicates story to Terry Issue 133 | | 15

Leith’s gift to the world A statue unveiled on Leith Links in early September acknowledges the remarkable contribution of Leith Links to the story of golf, says Tim Bell


eith has a new resident. He’s 110% life-size and he’s out in all weathers. He is John Rattray, born in 1707 and died in 1771, and a statue of him is now opposite Salamander Place. What’s a Perthshire boy doing here? Well, he lived 64 action-packed years. As second son he didn’t become Clan Chief, instead coming to Edinburgh to train as a surgeon. Multi-talented, he won the Edinburgh Silver Arrow, as prize of the Royal Company of Archers in 1735, and he took up golf. Golf was something of a craze among the relatively wealthy of Scotland, and Leith Links was the most prestigious course. They agreed the rules of play on the day, and settled their wagers in the Leith howffs of an evening. There was plenty of claret, which is the origin of the Claret Jug as prize for The Open to this day. But it became more formalised, and golfers wanted to hold an annual open competition. They petitioned the Edinburgh Council to supply a silver club, which was agreed to, but it was clear that written rules were required in order to establish consistency over the years. Thus it was that on 7th March 1744, John Rattray signed the world’s first written rules of golf for playing on “the Links of Leith”. Rattray won the first competition and the Silver Club that year. He also won the Silver Arrow, again. A year later the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed from Italy, making a claim for the crown of Scotland as a Roman Catholic. Rattray 16 | | Issue 133

attended to the wounded after the Battle of Prestonpans, and marched with the insurrectionist army as far as Derby. He became personal surgeon to Charlie, and surrendered after defeat at Culloden. “If anyone hangs, you shall”, warned a Hanoverian officer who knew him. He was taken to London, and, after an intervention from his Leith golfing friend Duncan Forbes, Lord President of the Court of Session, returned to Edinburgh. He won the Silver Club again in 1751, and practiced as a surgeon for another fifteen years. Golf (and the fut-baw) had been banned throughout the land by the Stewart kings of the 16th century, as they were distractions for young men who should be practicing their archery for the defence of the realm. South Leith church banned the playing of golf on the Sabbath; anyone caught playing would have to sit on the penitence stool and give to the poor. None of this stopped the wealthy, and even royalty, playing on Leith Links, which is home to an astonishing collection of golfing firsts: in chronological order, the first recorded game; the first club; the first port of export of golf equipment; the first written rules; the first competition for a prize; the first international challenge match; the first club house; and the first professionals’ tournament. Leith Links were the most prestigious golf course in Scotland – and therefore the world – until they were reduced by the industrial developments along the new coast road to Musselburgh, Salamander Street to the north, which

Smaller versions of David A Annand’s sculpture of John Rattray

separated them from the dunes and the beach. Also crowding in were the villa houses along the south side. The golfers in St Andrews adopted the Leith Rules in 1756, local rules and all. Later, in a fine combination of self-interest and a wish to preserve the traditions of the game, they called themselves the Ancient Club. Then in 1834 King William became their patron, whereupon they called themselves The Royal and Ancient. None of this is a claim to the historical origins. Golf is Leith’s gift to the world. Leith is to St Andrews as Bethlehem is to Rome. It all started here. A young Ben Sayers, born in Leith in 1856 and later golf instructor to royalty, nobility and fellow professionals, was

Lucy J Toms

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club were there, publicly acknowledging almost for the first time their indebtedness to John Rattray and Leith

introduced to golf on Leith Links. But the Links were levelled and grassed over, and Leith Franklin Cricket Club played on the east end. Just over a century ago Leith Council banned golf on the Links because it had become an urban park. Leith Links is one of the oldest open areas in Scotland to be protected by Act of Parliament, along with Calton Hill and The Meadows. Edinburgh Council did not have authority to grant permission for the statue; it turned out that the authority had migrated to Westminster, and it had to be repatriated to Holyrood. The 1744 course was five holes. Heading north from the first tee in front of the old Leith Academy, was Sawmill Hole. Eastwards along the northern edge were North Mid Hole and East Hole, and returning westwards along the southern edge were South Mid Hole and Thorntree Hole, a total of around 2,250 yards. Leith Rules Golf Society, formed in 2003, was formed to reclaim Leith’s golfing legacy. It holds a series of golf events on the east end of the Links, with permission and support from the Council, in the week before The Open, wherever in Britain it is played. Starting in front of the cricket pavilion, the five holes are reduced to the eastern end. Check the website www.leith-rules-golf. Join the fun. The unveiling of the statue on 11 September was a fine occasion. The descendants of the Leith golfers, now at Muirfield, were there. The Royal and Ancient were there, publicly acknowledging almost for the first time their indebtedness to John Rattray and Leith. Lachlan Rattray, Clan Chief, and the Royal College of Surgeons were there. And the City Council, with a lively interest in making this a landmark not only in Leith but also on the worldwide golfing maps, was there. Everyone wants a piece of him. There’s something that needs explaining to modern golfers. That stance of John Rattray as he addresses the ball, is all wrong, with his left foot forward. The long-nosed and long-shanked club he’s holding was made using technology that was similar to the making of bows and arrows: strong, supple wood had to be securely spliced. It was not swung over the shoulder, with feet slightly apart and evenly spaced from the ball, as we do now. It was swung round the back of the golfer in a wide sweep. The nearby mounds, introduced to help resemble the dunes on which the 18th century golfers played, are not ready for public access yet. Marram grass was planted, but it hasn’t taken well. Leith Rules Golf Society is still responsible for the site, but before long the council will adopt it and it will be open-access. We’re going to start a rumour that if you rub the ball at the end of the club, next time you go golfing you’ll have a hole in one. That’ll pull ‘em in! From America, Japan, India, everywhere. Already tour buses have had to be told they can’t yet call in on their way to FRY Britannia. Let’s take John Rattray to our hearts – he’s a Leither now. n

Leith Dockers Club Both Function Halls and Members Bar Newly Refurbished for All Functions

Ladies night at The Dockers October 2019. Photo: Harry Fisken

Leith DockersClub

 As usual we have Follow us on Facebook Domino’s every Wed to keep up to date afternoon, Bingo every Thu with events in the club! and Sun evening and Ladies night the first Wed of every month

Upcoming events  1st Wed of every month: Ladies night £3

 Fri 22nd Nov The Candidates

 Sun 3rd Nov Sound of the Sixties - Band Afternoon

 Sun 24th Nov Elvis and Shaky Show - SOLD OUT

 Wed 6th Nov Ladies Night £3

 Fri 29th Nov Afterglow (see Facebook for tickets details)

 Sun 10th Nov Leith All tickets available from Athletic 2002 Sportsman’s the club or call us on 0131 Brunch 12 - 6pm £25 467 7879  Tue 19th Nov Tea Dance 1pm - 5pm Tickets £3

Tickets now on sale for Xmas Eve and Hogmanay see our Facebook page

17 Academy Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 7EE T: 0131 467 7879 Membership 2020 renewal fees are due by 14th Dec. All members renewal letters have been sent out, if you haven’t received yours please come in and see us! Issue 133 | | 17

Deidre Brock MP

Edinburgh North and Leith Regular Surgeries First Friday of the month, 1-2pm Constituency office,166 Great Junction Street Second Friday of the month, 3.30-4.30pm McDonald Road Library Third Friday of the month, 1-2pm Stockbridge Library Last Friday of the month, 4-5pm Royston/Wardieburn Community Centre

0131 555 7009 | facebook/DeidreBrockMP @DeidreBrock

Able Girl Plumbing offers a range of plumbing services from small repairs and maintenance to full bathroom and kitchen installation We offer a courteous and professional service. We have respect for your home and understand the value of cleanliness and tidiness. We also have respect for your time, we all lead busy lives and therefore keep appointments

We have full trade support & public liability insurance

07752 269 108 01875 821 781

This Napoletana Pizza has no inventers. No father, No owners, but it is the fruit of the Neapolitan people’s genius

Electrolysists! Try the Elite Spectrum with us

Specialist Electrolysis and Camouflage Skin, inside and out 89 Giles Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6BZ, UK 07814 783 867 Facebook/Pinterest/Flickr/Twitter 18 | | Issue 133

59 Great Junction St, Leith EH6 5HX 0131 554 4748

If we all join hands Sally Fraser wonders about the meaning of light in its Hebraic sense


r Fraser dropped a bombshell. He had always thought the T’Pau classic track China in Your Hands was about China the country. What a thought. Mind you, in fairness, I myself am pretty shaky with getting the wrong end of the stick with song lyrics. I was in a pub quiz once where the question was about a Simon and Garfunkel track with an animal in the title and we put: ‘I’d rather be a hamster than a snail’. Seriously, don’t wish too hard folks… imagine if your dreams aren’t fragile and breakable little teacups and saucers in your hands, but they are actually powerful and overwhelming. That new shed you were hoping for might turn out to be one of the biggest nations on earth. Being a size ten, or very good at yoga, or learning Italian, might actually mean holding on to a multi-billion pound economy… Can you really handle that? Mr F, it transpires, also thought that ‘many hands make light work’ meant that lots of little hands were what made light, as in light that helps you see, work. Which is utterly fascinating. However, he felt sure I had got it wrong when I thought ‘to make love’ meant to generate it, I’m not convinced about that one, I think I might be on to something there. It’s interesting to think about these things we take for granted but might have been misunderstanding all along. It’s like when I spoke to that gentleman in the street the other day. (Leith, I am finding, is full to the brim with prophets if you know where to look for them. Which is nearly always not

Then who knows what we will be able to do, maybe we’ll find our dreams aren’t so fragile and breakable after all

where you expect, they usually have a few more tattoos than you might expect as well). Anyway, this guy starts quoting scripture at me. “Come to me,” he says, “all of you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. Which if you are in the business of quoting scripture at strangers as a cracking place to start. “I don’t know Hebrew” he said, “but I wonder about the meaning of ‘light’ in that sense.” My mind was blown for a moment but I didn’t have too much time to think about it so I shelved it for later. When I got back to my computer, settling down to procrastinate from work by watching a quick Taylor Swift video on YouTube, a compulsory advert popped up. “Did you ever want to learn Hebrew?” An American voice enquired, then promptly talked us through an example; “What is light in Hebrew?” An automated voice replied. “The Hebrew word for light is OR.” Now, I know in the terrifying world of Alexa it’s a little bit tricky to know the difference between the Holy Spirit and surveillance, but considering I don’t even use a smartphone this seemed like it had to be either extraordinary coincidence or God having a bit of a show-off, which I tend to find he does like to do from time to time. And I shall not even bother going into whether the Hebrew might have different meanings, just the spooky YouTube advert thing made me think

I wanted to un-shelve my Leith Walk prophet’s conundrum. What if His burden is the kind of light my husband thought many hands make? After all, we are not supposed to hide our lights under bushels. Maybe that is an acknowledgement that having a light at all, or being light to anyone, is quite difficult and the sort of thing you might want to hide. Not just that we are prone to be modest but… if you put yourself out there, if you try and shine a little, people can be pretty horrible can’t they? Not everyone, but we all know someone who just can’t handle other people’s goodness or talent or kindness or general radiance and has to try and stomp all over it. And the more light we bear, the more painful all the dark and horrible things are. Once light is shed we can’t un-see things, we can’t become uncompassionate and disinterested again, and that hurts. Especially when there are so many absolutely ghastly things going on, and the monsters seem so monolithic, so unstoppable. But there has to be a crack, as we know, there is a crack in everything, and being the light that gets in might feel like a burden sometimes, but we can all do it, we will have to. Then who knows what we will be able to do. Maybe we will find our dreams aren’t so fragile and breakable after all. Maybe we will find they are both ancient and new, and powerful, and overwhelming. And maybe we can generate love, and maybe, just maybe, many hands really can make light work. ■ Issue 133 | | 19


Weapons dumps around our coasts

MP for Edinburgh North and Leith


ake a few tons of phosphorous, a few more tons of mustard gas, add in radioactive waste for variety and as much unwanted high explosive munitions as you can find, add some stuff you’re not sure about, load it onto ships and dump it in the sea. That’s what the UK Government did for the best part of a century. Thousands of tons of explosives, chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear waste all dumped into the seas around our coasts. Most famously over at Beaufort’s Dyke between Scotland and Northern Ireland which was the largest of them but also in other areas. In the sea just off Aberdeen, helpfully referred to by the MoD as East of Aberdeen to narrow it down, there’s a fairly large one. They’re dotted around our coastline and we know nothing about them. I asked the MoD what they know about what’s dumped there. I was told that the records made at the time weren’t very good and what records they had were lost, damaged, destroyed or transferred to the archives. The dumped munitions did, however, include those seized from defeated enemies after the two world wars and we’re not very sure what was in the boxes. We do know about the chemical and biological weapons, and about the radioactive waste because MPs have asked questions in the past and their words – and the answers – are in parliamentary records such as Hansard, but there are no details. Nobody knows what has been dumped in our seas by UK Governments over decades. This isn’t flinging the odd tea chest overboard either, sometimes ships were loaded full of the stuff sailed out to the dumping site and sunk. To some extent it’s understandable that there was a need to dispose of excess munitions immediately after the world wars but the dumping continued right up to the 1970s. There’s no excuse for not keeping records of what they were flinging in the water, either – that’s unforgivable. It happened near here – there’s a marine munitions dump in the Firth of Forth at the Isle of May, for instance, and our food chains could be contaminated with the residues of these offloads. Defence contractors were at it, too. Ferranti was dumping radioactive waste under the Forth Bridge for years – with the nod from the Scottish Secretary of the time – and UK Time dumped uranium-coated dials in drums into the Tay. None of it properly recorded. I asked how the MoD monitored the sites and I was told they didn’t. I asked how it monitors the environmental impact of its operations across the country and I was told that “The Defence Infrastructure Organisation and its Industry Partner undertake routine

20 | | Issue 133

Faroes stamp depicting munitions dumping in the North Atlantic

Defence contractors were at it, too. Ferranti was dumping radioactive waste under the Forth Bridge for years – with the nod from the Scottish Secretary of the time internal audits of its Environmental Management Systems delivered across the UK Training Estate” but they won’t tell us what they found. They won’t tell me what environmental damage has been done in the Pentlands or at Cape Wrath, no recording of the damage done by the shelling or what kind of shells have been used. I’ll be asking them about that “industry partner” too – why does the UK defence ministry have an “industry partner” on its training estate? What does it do? I got them to admit to nearly 800 nuclear safety incidents at Faslane and Coulport in recent years as well as spillages that a civilian would have had to report to SEPA. Four out of the six Oil Fuel Depots that the UK has are in Scotland – including refuelling points for NATO ships. For far too long now Scotland has been used as a dumping ground by the MoD and as a testing ground for its weaponry without any consideration being given to the damage that it does to our environment. They don’t know what’s in our seas and rivers or what’s happening to it. They know what damage they’re doing

on land but they won’t tell us about it. It’s time that changed. In Belgium and In Norway there is concern about the marine dumps and they’re monitored. That’s how they know they are leaking. The International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions says that dumped munitions are point source emitters of pollution and should be cleaned up. Action is being taken elsewhere to start cleaning up the messes left behind by the dumping of chemical, biological and conventional weapons and the radioactive waste is getting special attention. Scotland should not be left behind. It’s time our seas and our land got the respect they deserve from the MoD. It’s time for a full environmental audit of all of its activities – past and present – and it is time the UK Government started clearing it up. No more weapons dumping in Scotland’s seas, no more environmental damage on Scotland’s land. I have a message for the UK Government – clean up your mess and do it now. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @DeidreBrock

SCHOOL STREETS ARE COMING to Leith and St Mary’s Leith Primary Schools We’ll be closing the streets at the start and end of the school day around Leith and St Mary’s Leith Primary Schools to make it safer and reduce pollution for everyone in the area.

General traffic won’t be able to drive on: •

St Andrew Place

11 to 31 Links Gardens Lane

Mon–Thurs 8.20am–9am and 2.30pm–3.35pm Fri 8.20am–9am and 11.50am–12.40pm Mon-Thurs 8.35am–9.05am and 2.50am–3.25am and Fri 8.30am–9am and 12.05pm–12.40pm

People with residents’ permits will still be able to drive on these streets. We’ll send permit application packs to residents soon. More information 187 Great Junction Street 0131 554 5537


Artisan Shop | Cafe | Yoga Studio | Therapies Three course lunch menu £15.95 per person

Shop fairtrade eco ethical gifts artisan crafts nepalese art

Café vegan & veggie community space family dog friendly

Sanctuary holistic therapies mindfulness wellbeing

Studio yoga & meditation movement dance | | 0131 555 6255 21 Albert Street | Edinburgh | EH7 5LH

**Vouchers on request

Issue 133 | | 21

Sandy Campbell

Leith needs you – in 2020

On the Loose


magine the scene: The House of Commons, 8th June 1920, the Second Reading of the Edinburgh Boundaries Extension and Tramways Bill: Captain Benn, MP for Leith from 1918 to 1927, rises to his feet to oppose the annexation of our Burgh and its resulting forced incorporation into the metropolis of Edinburgh. “It is not to be assumed naturally that because one area is contiguous to another therefore the best interests of good government are served by joining them together. Every boundary is compelled to go through some place. In the late war I have seen camps in which men slept with their heads in Asia and their feet in Africa, and I have never heard that advanced as a reason for amalgamating Asia and Africa.” He goes on… “How can this House tolerate the suppression of this burgh merely on the grounds of some geographical expansion, and not on the grounds of real necessity? Lord Rosebery, speaking of this bill said: “If Leith is willing to surrender her individuality and illustrious traditions as an historic city, she will deserve her fate. What advantage or honour Edinburgh expects to reap from annexing free communities strongly opposed to the absorption is a mystery.” This same bill also sought to annexe Portobello and Corstorphine. I don’t hear impassioned references to ‘individuality and illustrious traditions’ coming from Corstorphine-ites a century later. Perhaps those City Fathers in the Chambers at the time fully expected the same fate to befall Leith. After all, the Union of 1707 planned for the renaming of Scotland as ‘North Britain’. The destruction of identity is so often the aim of conquest. Integrate those on the periphery lest they rise up and become a nuisance. I have met many older Leithers who lived here in the times when industry defined us clearly. There was no need to remind the people of Edinburgh that Leith was different; they knew it, and many steered well clear. Interestingly, those same Leithers say that Leith is probably more different to Edinburgh now, than it has been since those days when the docks literally anchored us. ‘Leith is Edinburgh’s Glasgow’ is a phrase I often use when matters of a Leith nature are in the air. Without fail it brings a smile of recognition. As true now as it was back when the shipyard reigned supreme. Lord Rosebery, however, was wrong: we didn’t surrender our individuality or our illustrious traditions. Our perseverance remains robust. Leith has not become just another suburb

22 | | Issue 133

Stephen Dickson spent 3 years sketching these images of Leith Depot regulars

“They’ve renamed Leith,” my dad announced in the early 70s, brandishing a copy of the Evening News. “It’s now going to be called EH6” of Edinburgh, just as Scotland has not succumbed to becoming a northern province of Greater England. 82 years after Captain Benn’s stirring speech in Leith’s defence, his son, Tony Benn MP, would similarly join the (successful) fight to retain Leith as a parliamentary constituency by name, and not a nameless part of the North East Edinburgh constituency, as proposed in 2002. Family connections with Leith run deep. Some year later, there was Forth Ports’ short-lived attempt to rename our docks as ‘Edinburgh’s Harbour.’ Once more, our motto was put to the test - to persevere and win yet again. This disregard for Leith’s separateness casts a long shadow. “They’ve renamed Leith,” my dad announced in the early 70s, brandishing a copy of the Evening News. “It’s now going to be called EH6”. At the stroke of a post office civil servant’s pen, Leith had ceased to be a postal town in its own right, resulting in slower delivery of mail if ‘Leith’ rather than ‘Edinburgh’ was on the envelope. (Still the case to this day.) Now my dad, an old-fashioned Scottish nationalist with anarchist tendencies, loved a story of bureaucratic conspiracies against the plucky wee man nae feart tae defend hisel’, of which both Scotland and Leith are fine examples.

Strong and confident identities are infectious. Newcomers embrace Leith’s with the enthusiasm of converts. Many of Leith’s most fervent advocates hail from elsewhere: the Irish, Italians and Sikhs were pretty much in with the bricks, whilst those from deepest England and eastern Europe are more recent acolytes. Ours is an inclusive civic identity, unsullied by the bitter taste of ethnic nationalism. Make Leith your home and you are welcome. We are a port after all. But Leith is a defined place with a marked difference from any other part of Imperial Edinburgh – as we will show next year, a full century after our forced annexation. 2020 is the year when Leith will make such a noise that the City Chambers will be reaching for earplugs. You bulldozed our Kirkgate, you closed down our hospital, you tried to change our name, but as long as a hundred of us remain we will never surrender to the domination of Edinburgh. Over the past few weeks I have met with all manner of Leith activists and passionistas. All are hatching plans to mark the Annexation. Some are pretty whacky. I’m looking forward to what unfolds. What I like about the ideas I’ve heard is that everyone’s doing their own thing. There is no Leith Central Committee sanctioning what will happen. In our own unique Leith way, unlike the corridors of committees in the City Chambers, Leithers are doing it for themselves. ■ ÊÊHelp: What are YOU doing for Leith in 2020? Start by completing our survey:

From Derry to a shop in Leith E

very time someone asks me what I do for a living, I face a dilemma, because there is no easy way to describe my work. I am the director of a social enterprise; a not-for-profit business that exists to improve the health and wellbeing of our community by offering the best variety of products and advice that we can. It just so happens that all the products we sell are made from cannabis. My story starts over 30 years ago. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland in the city of Derry. When I was just a toddler my Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In case you aren’t aware, MS is a disease of the central nervous system, where immune cells attack the insulation surrounding the cells of the brain. There are lots of symptoms and various treatment options, but there is no cure; over time MS only gets worse. Many MS patients use cannabis to manage their condition, but my dad was very principled and would not have taken any substance without medical oversight. Following his diagnosis, my Dad resolved to do everything he could with the gift of life; he went to the gym 4 times a week, and accessed every legal medical intervention available to him to slow the progression of the MS. He worked with vulnerable communities in Derry, including people affected by homelessness, poverty and substance abuse. His health was in a constant state of ebb and flow, and over the years he used dozens of prescribed drugs to maintain functionality. Overall he gave it a fair crack of the whip and every time I visit Derry I can see his fingerprints on a range of initiatives in the city that were before their time and still provide benefit today. In 2016, my dad was rushed to hospital for the last time. His MS had suddenly, and very aggressively flared up leaving him with severe brain damage. Within a few minutes, he had lost the ability to walk, speak and eat. The consultant neurologist said the MRI scans were the worst they’d ever seen. The next 2 and a half years were spent in 24hr hospital care. Drifting in and out of consciousness, existing in a dreamlike state. Awake enough to observe his surroundings but thankfully not cognizant enough to realise the severity of his condition. My family had no choice but to watch and to wait, and to patiently love this man from whom so much had been taken.

The author, Dan Collins, in his shop in Leith

Whenever I visit Derry I can see my father’s fingerprints on a range of initiatives in the city that still provide benefits today

It was during this rather exceptional period that I discovered CBD. With my dad laid up in a hospital bed, I found myself in a peculiar predicament; there was nothing I could do to help him and seemingly nothing I could do to ease my own discomfort. The sudden shock of my dad’s situation became a slow, arduous grind for my family. Every day the same; with no indication of when his life and our trial might end. On a whim I bought a small bottle of hemp tincture. Within a couple of weeks of taking the CBD oil, I noticed my mood brighten…no blinding light on the road to Damascus, rather the flicker of a small candle in the distance. Slowly but surely I continued with the cannabis oil, and the longer I kept going, the more improvement I noticed. Within a month I had started toying with the idea of starting a CBD business. It was too late for my father – even the miraculous cannabis plant has limits, the extent of the trauma his brain had suffered was almost total. There was a sliver of himself left, but little anyone could do for him. In August of 2018 he passed away and was buried in a hilltop cemetery overlooking the city that he loved. Meanwhile, there are millions of people out in the world who could avail themselves of CBD products, if only they had a place to get them. More importantly, they would need someone

to support them through the process. My goal became, and has remained, to afford people the choice and opportunity to try cannabis products from an ethical, local business. To open their eyes to the variety and potential of CBD products sourced from companies we know and trust. If there’d been a Hemp shop in Derry back my dad might still be with us. Running Hemp Community Interest Company hasn’t been easy; as a social enterprise AND a cannabis business, we have struggled to access support and funding. My job description routinely raises eyebrows and it can be an uphill struggle to assure people of our intentions and legality. The constant and confusing news reports about cannabis and CBD often muddy the waters rather than clarify and we have to tread the tightrope of giving people the right information without succumbing to the marketing hype that many companies employ. Instead, we opt for humility and infinite patience, quietly plying our trade in our shop on Great Junction Street. The advice we give is based on customer questions, science and the experiences of our growing customer base. In a recent survey two thirds of them said they regard the shop as a very important part of their CBD journey and a 100% of them would recommend us to a friend. I like to think we’re doing something right. ■ Dan Collins Issue 133 | | 23

11 Great Junction Street

Have you tried CBD yet?





Come find your dose! @hempcommunity

You can also order online

Tianguis Jackson Silver Jewellery Now stocking Ortak scottish jewellery from Orkney Rhodium Plating, Same day service available ÂŁ20 per item Jewellery & watch repairs Large selection watches & gifts

Jeneil Jewellers, 48A Great Junction Street, Edinburgh 0131 476 9706 Email:

CASK AND BARREL *10 Real Ales & extensive range of bottled beer *Home cooked lunch served 12-2pm *8 TV’s showing extensive sports *Opening times 11am to 12.30am

15 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, 0131 556 3132 24 | | Issue 133


Climate change & Pavement parking

MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith


hile Westminster is in a Brexit storm and static jam, Holyrood is striding forward to tackle climate change and ban pavement parking. At a time when Westminster has been mired in Brexit paralysis, the Scottish Parliament has been getting on with making a positive difference. Over recent months we’ve been working efficiently and effectively, passing pioneering legislation in a number of key areas. For example, the Transport (Scotland) Bill that was passed through the Parliament on 9th October 2019 has implications both large and small. I was very pleased to pass the Bill because I could immediately see the positive benefits it will bring to our everyday environment here in Leith - and the streets that you and I walk down every day. It will help transform this area into a cleaner and healthier place to travel through and enjoy, as this new law enables Local Authorities, like the City of Edinburgh Council, to introduce low-emission zones that will improve air quality and public health; to manage roadworks more effectively; to implement measures to reduce car use and support public transport; and, importantly in Leith, to enforce a strong ban on pavement parking. I know that improving our air quality is recognised by many constituents as something that will positively impact on everyday life. That’s because, though air pollution in Scotland has reduced over recent years, air quality remains an issue in a number of streets in Leith, such as Salamander Street. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) will help to protect our health and help us meet our legal limits on air quality. The Bill enables the creation of, and civil enforcement of, LEZs and sets certain national standards. Traffic jams caused by road works add to pollution. That’s why the Bill will help to create a regulatory environment that encourages an approach to getting roadwork reinstatements right first time. This means that we should get better information about roadworks, and will help ensure a consistent approach to safety at roadwork sites regardless of who is carrying them out. While road works are necessary to keep roads, and the utilities that run under them, safe and in good repair, it is important they are managed and carried out well. The new measures in the Transport Bill will help to increase the efficiency of roadworks, which I know will be very welcome in Leith! The Bill will also introduce a national ban on pavement and double-parking, to make it easier for Edinburgh Council to ensure that our pavements and roads are safer and more accessible to all. In Leith

Spot the photo bomber…

From conversations with constituents about climate change, most Leithers agree that we have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now we are all aware of how inconsiderate, obstructive and dangerous pavement parking can be. That’s why I was so glad to vote for the parking prohibitions in the Bill. They are aimed at promoting, supporting and advancing the rights of pedestrians to ensure that our pavements and roads are accessible for all. How often have you seen a parent pushing a buggy, or someone who has trouble walking, put themselves in possible danger on the road because the pavement is blocked by a parked car? Now Edinburgh Council will have robust powers to enforce new restrictions and keep pavements free for people. The Transport Bill as a whole creates many new measures to help Scotland transition to having a greener transport system, improving our air quality and reducing our climate emissions. This commitment to a more responsible attitude to our climate was also highlighted by another significant piece of legislation, which I recently helped pass. I was very pleased to vote in favour of the world-leading Climate Change Bill, meaning that Scotland will now have the most ambitious statutory targets in the world. I am proud to say that Scotland’s contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation.

The landmark legislation commits Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK and in line with the advice from the expert-led UK Committee on Climate Change. The Scottish Government has also adopted an ambitious new interim target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 – the toughest statutory target of any country in the world. This means that Scotland is rightly recognised as a world-leader in tackling climate change. Scotland was one of the first countries to declare a climate emergency, and the SNP is now leading by example by committing to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. From the many conversations I’ve had with constituents in recent years about climate change, I know most Leithers agree that we have a moral duty to future generations to tackle climate change now. That’s why the Scottish Government has acted and acted boldly. At a time when British politics feels broken and inward-looking, here in Scotland we are firmly connected to what politics should be about – improving people’s lives, taking care of our environment and striving to build a better future for all. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @BenMacpherson Issue 133 | | 25

Cooperating with bereaved families W

hen someone dies it’s one of the most challenging things we have to deal with. Talking and coming to terms with death is still a taboo subject, but funeral directors deal with this every day, helping families through the most difficult of times. Our friends at Scotmid Funerals (part of Scotmid Co-operative, we all know their food stores) have been conducting funerals for over 90 years in Edinburgh and Leith, so they know a thing or two when it comes to funerals and supporting families. . Christine Crompton – one of seven funeral directors at Scotmid Funerals – has kindly agreed to chat to the Leither Magazine about her role, which she loves, as well as answering some questions the readers have asked. So Christine, how did you become a Funeral Director, what made you want to do the job? I worked in the hospitality industry for many years and have always enjoyed dealing with people. I started as a Funeral Arranger and progressed through to a Funeral Director. It’s an amazing job, and it is such a privilege to look after people when they need help at a very painful time. Have you ever dropped a coffin with a person in it [we won’t tell anyone}? Fortunately no, its not happened to me, and I hope it never does. Care and dignity of the deceased is paramount to us, so I’d be devastated if it ever happened. Do you ever get spooked with a dead body? In my early days, yes, I did get a bit ‘spooked’ as you put it, but you quickly learn, and appreciate your dealing with someone’s relative. You just concentrate on the care you give the person; the team treat everyone as if they were a member of our own family. What was the strangest request at a funeral? You can get some unusual requests, one thing I’ve learnt is that there’s no such thing as a traditional funeral, they are all different, so whatever a family wishes we’ll try to accommodate it; as long as it’s legal! The strangest request so far would be when we were asked to book a funeral for someone who hadn’t died yet! Not a question we get every day. Ever had a bump with the funeral cars on way to service? Not that I’m willing to admit too! Only kidding! No it’s not happened to me yet! 26 | | Issue 133

Christine (left) and Lisa, outside Scotmid Funerals, Duke Street

It’s a privilege to look after people when they need help at a very painful time

How much training do you have to do to become a funeral director? We have a comprehensive 12 week training that all staff go through to learn how to arrange a funeral, with a further 6 weeks of training to be able to conduct funerals. There are also external qualifications we can take, I’ve just passed with a distinction, which I’m really proud of. What happens when weather prevents a funeral service from going ahead? We only cancel a funeral if it’s absolutely necessary, we did have to postpone some during the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018, but these were quickly rearranged the following week. Are you ever surprised by what some families may want to put in the coffin? Yes, with a cremation there are certain things that can’t be included, as the crematoriums have to comply with strict emissions. With a burial almost anything can go in the coffin. The usual things are lovely photographs and letters from the family, to the more unusual items,

such as a lottery ticket (hopefully not a winning one). Are there lots of females in this job? People seem to assume it’s a male role? Out of the seven funeral directors at Scotmid there are three females, myself, Kirsty at our Broxburn office and Danielle who is a 25 year old trainee, it’s great to see her coming through she’s really excited and passionate about it and I’m sure she’ll do really well. Tell us some of the questions your family and friends asked you when you first started working as a funeral director. People don’t seem to know what to say at first, a taxi driver asked me what I did for a living and he was speechless (a first for a taxi driver!). Then people are inquisitive about the role. They usually ask do you get emotional? Well we do, it can be difficult to hold emotions in, especially if you’re dealing with the death of a baby or a very young person. But it can also be a very rewarding to help families to celebrate the lives of their loved ones. n

@loganmalloch @logan_malloch +44 (0)131 564 1307

Mrs MacPickle Solves All Your Problems!

Dear Mrs MacPickle, As a long term Leith resident I am struggling to deal with the changes brought about by Lothian buses. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be more delighted with being able to pay with my card and not have to endlessly buy fruit gums I didn’t want from that shop at the bottom of Leith Walk that says NO CHANGE FOR BUS FARES in the window. The thing is, for more than a decade now I have been stressing myself out of my little brain about whether I might accidently underuse a day ticket, or fail to buy one on a day I needed to take three buses. I have been known to go out when I didn’t really want to just to get my money’s worth, or walk home rather than get the dreaded Third Single. What am I to do with all that neurosis now? What if it consumes me? And also, how is one to cope with the new Middle Doors in the Big Buses where one can’t say thank you to the driver? Is the whole of Edinburgh going to dissolve into bad manners? Yours, B.G

Dear B.G, Goodness me, in all the years I have been writing this column this is one of the more bananas queries I have had, if you don’t mind my saying so. Alas I suppose even I need a break from telling people they just need some red lippy and a new bra from time to time. In fairness, regarding your second point, as someone who has been known to say thank you to the cash machine, I feel your pain. What I recommend here is a vague all-round “thank you” as you exit the Middle Door. Perhaps with a gesture of open hands, as if to say ‘thank you for being on the journey with me, fellow travellers’. You will look like a bit of a nut but might momentarily make the world a better place. Regarding the bus ticket neurosis, I’m afraid it might be a case of only time will heal. Perhaps some soduku will use up the extra brainpower? Or, failing that, maybe some red lippy and a new bra might help? n Mrs MacPickle

CONTEMPORARY SCOTTISH DESIGN & CRAFTS Textiles Ceramics Art, Prints Books Maker Goods

Furniture Homewares Home Furnishings Jewellery Gifts

Logan Malloch 13 Leith Walk (Foot of the Walk) Edinburgh, EH6 8LN

I recommend a vague all-round “thank you” as you exit the Middle Door

If your Dad wanted Sunshine on Leith, green & white flowers and Hibs tops on everyone... We’ll make it happen.

ÊÊGot a prickly problem? E-mail Mrs MacPickle at

Contact Mark: 0131 476 4517 / 07766 198 398 /

152 Duke Street, Leith, EH6 8HR

0131 555 5550

Issue 133 | | 27


Gosford Estate, East Lothian

Carolyn McKerracher Carolyn McKerracher


often wonder why autumn is so popular as a season. It is, after all, about dying, about endings, about grief and about loss, shrinking daylight and falling clocks. Spring, on the other hand, is all light nights, galloping lambs, rebirths and hope. I love the colour green, but somehow I find spring too green. Too happy. Like that annoying person at work whose life is fantastic. Even when you know it’s not. I prefer autumn. The colours are the colours of life. A palette of reds used to light up the streets, the riverbanks and the parks. A walk in autumn is like rejuvenation for the soul. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, the days are getting shorter. Yes, it’s nearly the X word. But it is also the most beautiful time of year. One of my favourite autumn walks is at Gosford Estate in Longniddry, East Lothian. Bordering the coastline, Craigielaw golf course and the John Muir Way, the Estate is comprised of 5,000 acres of trees, grasses and ponds, a nineteenth century mansion (designed by Robert Adam and featured in the 2001 film of the same name) and a farm shop with cafe. The house is only open for a few days each year, so check the website (, but the farm shop (Gosford Bothy), situated just off the A198, before Aberlady, is open 7 days a week. Take an East Coast bus (124, X24, X5) from Fountainbridge, Princes St or Waterloo Place, to Craigielaw golf course, or the first stop in Aberlady. Or park in the Bothy car park. One day, having been out Walking Solo on the coast, I popped in to the Bothy for some eggs, veg and a cheeky wee coffee and cake. As I sat on the decking outside, quietly sipping my latte, a small boy at the next table suddenly shouted, “Look at that ginormous cabbage!” Heads turned. Admittedly, the brassica I’d had to place on a seat of its own beside me was very large indeed. Rather like an extra in the tale of the Enormous Turnip. I smiled. On the other hand, perhaps the small boy had heard about my first illfated visit to Gosford Estate… I had been working for a charity in East Lothian and was tasked with taking a 5yr old out for the day during the school holidays. Her mother had said: “Take her to the ponds at Gosford Estate. She loves it there.” “I’m afraid I don’t know it,” I replied diligently, conscious of my health and safety/safeguarding responsibilities. “Don’t worry,” she replied breezily, “she knows the ponds like the back of her hand. She’ll show you the way.” Easily (and foolishly) reassured, we set off in my car, as I told myself that ‘The Ponds’ were probably just small cousins of those in Inverleith Park. Sadly, they’re not. Gosford Estate is like something out of an Agatha Christie novel. Quite simply,

28 | | Issue 133

spellbinding. The majestic mansion is hidden amongst a tranquil oasis of still water, floating swans, trees of all species and a scattering of magical 19th century outhouses, all made of local stone and decorated with shells. It is a bewitching place. Perfect for silent contemplation, slow walking – or a game of hide and seek. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit confusing. When I say, ‘a bit confusing’, I mean we had a full-on Hansel and Gretel situation going on. And I didn’t bring any pebbles. After an idyllic hour of hide-n-seek (me with one eye open all the time – I am not completely irresponsible), I suddenly realised I was lost. Turning to the 5yr old for advice (that phrase itself should be a cause for concern), I discovered that her ‘back of the hand’ knowledge was seriously lacking. It was also at this point that I ascertained that Mum had never been to Gosford Ponds. Granny had always taken her.

The old curling lodge at Gosford Estate

Not wanting to alert Mum to our ‘Lost in 5,000 acres of Woods’ situation, but also acutely aware (too late) of my health and safety/safeguarding responsibilities, I kept Mum in the (partial) loop by phoning regularly to reassure her that we were having fun and would be back soon. Three hours later, a fortunate encounter with a gardener at the locked iron gates and a 1.5mile walk back along the coast, we finally made it to the car. I confessed to Mum and thankfully it has never hit the tabloids – so far. Later, I discovered that you need a permit to walk in the grounds. This costs £1 from the Bothy and you get a free map. I’d totally recommend it. Though I’d still take a ball of twine. ■ ÊÊInfo: Follow on Instagram

I prefer autumn. The colours are the colours of life. A palette of reds used to light up the streets, riverbanks and parks


Stricken at 20. 45 and Not Out

Tracy Griffen Islet Studios


was fired immediately, of course. I could barely stand up, unable to hold a pint, let alone handle money or write IOU notes. A stroke can hit someone at any time, and after waking up very late and groggy I managed to catch a cab to my bar job without realising I’d been stricken. After being fired on the spot, I somehow got home and slept for 18 hours before my mother took me to a GP. He sat me on a chair and pushed my right side. I fell on the floor. Three days after having a stroke I was diagnosed and hospitalised. Bummer dude. Being an obstinate 20 year old, I discharged myself within three days and then began the interesting process of rehabbing my life. I went to two different neurologists and after a MRI scan (very high tech back then) the general prognosis was that I’d had the affect of a stroke after I had shingles. Apparently when some viruses recede it can cause inflammation of body tissue. In my case, brain tissue expanded causing a lack of blood flow to a chunk of brain. A bit of my brain was dead. Never to come back, they said. Neuroplasticity was not a common concept, and I was told that I may or may not recover. I was given a month on sickness benefits, and Nick the Exeter Hotel publican promised me my job back when I could stand straight. To get sickness benefits, I had to sign. Not being able to hold a pen was a major issue and I can recall a very upsetting scene with a cashier. When I got my crisp 50 dollar note, I stuffed it in my pocket with my numb hand, and it promptly fell out and got lost. I was depressed before, but it got real bad after. There’s months of my life I can’t remember, but some bits are very vivid. The brain is an interesting thing and after getting a few speech therapy sessions (say “oooooh”, say “aaaah”) and physio (“put objects in a bucket of lentils and try and find them with your left hand” I was a student, if I had lentils, I’d be eating them). I tried to get back to normal life. This was before laptops, so I tried recording my University lectures on a Dictaphone (English Literature and Psychology) and typing them up on the library computer. I went back to my bar job, running gigs and writing for various magazines and then dropped out of Uni. A major bummer was I wanted to be a writer, but could no longer hold a pen. I could no longer play piano. I could no longer tie shoelaces, put on make-up or wear spray deodorant. I couldn’t ride my bike. I did stagger around quite a lot, often walking into things (trees, poles, other people) dropping and breaking lots of stuff, throwing food everywhere

A minimal view – the brain has almost 100,000 miles of blood vessels!

A major bummer was I wanted to be a writer, but could no longer hold a pen. I could no longer play piano. I could no longer tie my shoelaces when I tried to eat. I can remember at a Uni party someone gave me a baby sippy cup and I managed to throw it with ferocity over the fence, shouting “I’m not a spazz” in a very slurry voice. One side of my face had dropped, I looked awful. Thankfully it had not affected my vision, or most of my working memory. Mechanically I was pretty stuffed. I blamed myself. I was so angry. And then very, very depressed. Mercifully I was also rubbish at suicide; perhaps the force of life ran strong through my veins. Which is good as I was constantly falling over, dragging my foot around. Gah! It was unbearable. After a few years, I ran away to Scotland where no-one knew me. And over twenty years later I’m still here... My journey to becoming a Personal Trainer started with my own personal rehab. Sitting in front of a mirror lifting dumbbells (the left arm wouldn’t go up, so I visualised it lifting the weight and after around eight years it all became

more symmetrical). I loved learning the theory about building up strength and got into lifting weights. I built up walking, then running on a treadmill (safe, with nothing to trip over), uneven footsteps slowly becoming more steady. I’m now obsessed with neurology and how the brain affects the body and vice versa. Publishing my first book, the Healthy Living Yearbook in 2011 was a personal triumph, but I still wasn’t confident to tell you guys why. So I’ve come out, stroke victim and all. I have learned that life is precious and we can’t take it for granted. So live your life to the fullest, even if you’re a bit wonky. And if you personally have had a stroke or are a bit wonky, do know that the body has amazing resources and building up strength is essential. Just don’t try to read my handwriting. ■ ÊÊTwitter: @tracygriffen ÊÊInfo: Tracy’s second book is published in 2020 Issue 133 | | 29

CrosswordNo.108 Win a coffee & your choice of cake across 1 5 10 11 12 13 15 18 20 23 25 26 27 28

Two boys lose oriental period (8) Revolutionary crew, short-handed, first to the Nursery (6) Newcastle icon has cameo role in Leith perhaps (5,2,3,5) Loose and model inside the nation’s going rate perhaps (4,3) Dog right pitman (7) Wicket, first at bat, pocket these (8) Bandsman who was the epitome of Americana (5) Stud orange house in part (5) Rout undone without hardy girl, she’s a teacher (8) Fighting ice cats that have no bodily gratification (7) Various underwater eels first (7) Paper agent cause to be on the bill maybe (5,10) Beat out bird that left university for the Orient (6) Donkey put on Eastern ship newspaperman valued (8)

down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Ugly Betty, not! (6) Magpie not liver but feathery (9) The Spanish giant breaks down to glue (7) Very loud in French town, attach (5) King with leg pieces gets annoyed (7) Wow! Soldier gets dog. (5) Oriental leather stretched spirit-like (8) Broad body or stupid TV? (8) Browser catches poncho! (8) Stupid grin stuns and puts out of tune (9) Sat right out! Upright? (8) Taste or spin? Yes, spin (7) Right, always, that is a fanciful notion (7) Rely on rude Pendragon, partly (6) Part louche erethism, hooray! (5) No notice before speech to gut game (5)

Sponsored by

Bespoke, quality food made fresh to order


ur friendly engaged staff caters for all tastes. From homemade soups, juices and delicious rolls to toasted wraps, smooth coffee and tempting homemade cakes. For the carb-free, skip the bread and create your own salad box – including healthy veggie fare like Falafel, Baba Ganoush and Couscous or Goats Cheese, Pesto and Grilled Vegetables. Our Mediterranean influences also include Salami, Chorizo, Parma ham, Feta, grilled Halloumi, marinated olives and sundried tomatoes. Whether you choose from our menu or create your own, everything is freshly made with

Embo Deli & Event Catering 29 Haddington Place EH7 4AG, 0131 652 3880 @embodeli /embodeli

Send your entries to

answers: crossword 107 across

1 5 10 11 12 13 15 18 20 23 25 26 27 28

Champion (8) Squeal (6) Birds of a feather (5,2,1,7) Lobster (7) Interns (7) Otoscope (8) Rompu (5) Ticks (5) Abstract (8) Undergo (7) Tactile (7) Mountain beavers (8,7) Resume (6) Deployed (8)

down 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 14 16 17 19 21 22 24 25

Cobalt (6) Acrobatics (9) Pesetas (7) Offer (5) Quarter (7) Ether (5) Larkspur (8) Officers (8) Oratorio (8) Machinery (9) Strummer (8) Stratum (7) Rockall (7) Versed (6) Daubs (5) Table (5)

winner crossword 107 Collette Gray, Hermitage Park Grove Take page and proof of name to Embo for prize, enjoy! 30 | | Issue 133

great love driven by our passion for food and for making people smile! Embo is small in size, but what it lacks in space, it makes up for with a big friendly welcome and great tasting, visually impressive food. Growing out of our small Cafe that opened 15 years ago, as word spread of our delicious food, came the outside and events catering arm of Embo. Taking the same love for food and making people smile, off-site to Offices, Birthday Parties, Weddings, Anniversaries, Corporate Events, Launch Parties, The Edinburgh Festival, Classic Motor Bike Rally’s, Private Dining….. and the list goes on!!

Supplied by:

Remember a loved one this Christmas, dedicate a light on our Tree of Remembrance Join us in Charlotte Square Gardens to switch on the lights, Monday 9 December, 6.30pm @stcolumbas St Columba’s Hospice Ltd (Registered in Scotland No. 48700), Charity No. SC003634 Issue 133 | | 31


STRATHMORE BAR We have just given the place a bit of a makeover and some tender loving care whilst exposing some of the ornate original features including the lovely cornicing


Open Mic’ nights are scheduled for Wednesday nights from 8pm - bring your Instruments, Words and Gags and have a go, allcomers welcome Dr. Paul’s famous quiz will join us on Thursdays from 7pm (with Mega prizes and Jackpots) Live Folk music will take place on Fri/Sat

All s spirit 35ml

+ Sky & BT Sports for the sports fans


We can hold any kind of party/event for up to 35/40 (including Christmas celebrations), in our back room. And would be able to offer finger food e.g. nibbles, sandwiches, canapés etc. to your specifications and needs once we’ve had a chat.

Strathmore Bar

Stude Disco nt unts

17 Iona Street, Edinburgh EH6 8SG, 0131 554 8717 Sunday to Thursday - 11am until Midnight Friday and Saturday - 11am until 1am