Growing up in Leith was an education in itself — the kind of education that you don't find in books and which proved to be invaluable. Born in a tenement flat in Burlington Street, as soon as I could walk I was outside mixing with the neighbours and getting up to all sorts.
My formative years were spent in Cannon Street, Leith, from the age of four until I was 15 when I had to move due to the damage that a huge storm had inflicted on the street.
A product of Fort Street Primary and Leith Academy, I was privileged to make many friends throughout the area comprising all races and religions.
As a young keen pigeon fancier I was regularly clambering over sloping roofs, four floors up, to install 'doocots' for pals who were also participants in the sport and who then took offence if I managed to capture one of their doos to sell or swap at Ernie's at the Top o' the Walk.
Playing fitba' in Keddie Gardens, which was prohibited, but closer to home, or Vicky Park, was the highlight of our summer nights and many a friendship was forged whilst nutmegging an opponent and then trying to avoid the waist-high tackles that ensued as a result.
Teams supported were almost exclusively Hearts and Hibs with only one or two supporting the two main provincial clubs from Glasgow (definition of provincial: "of, or concerning, the regions outside the capital city of a country, especially when regarded as unsophisticated or narrow minded." How apt!).
All told the social interaction was second to none and it was recently brought back to mind with the social distancing guidelines currently in force and, in particular, their application to young people.
Hopefully after all this we will fully recognise and value the meeting of friends.
In the words of Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell: "Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got till it's gone."
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Added to Library on May 30, 2021. (734)
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