Saturday, 3 July 2010

How tae be invisible

Ah wis rakin through ma box o auld photies an ah came across this yin o me an a tram up at Pilrig. That's me wi ma new hat oan, ye can jist see me ower the shooder o the auld man in the bunnet. Ah mind buyin that hat, it cost me seeventeen an six in the New Year sale at PT's up the Bridges. Ah had tae staun in the queue fer three oors listenin tae ma pal Mima McCrudden gaun oan aboot her man an the bother she wis haein wi him. He wis either at the Clan or the bookies she says, an if he wis up at yin, he'd be doon at the ither. He aye went oan aboot how he wis a great yin fer the form an he could pick a winner fae a mile aff, but if he ever did, then he drank aw he won fer nane o it ever got back tae Mima. Aw she had tae feed the bairns wi wis whit she got fae her cleanin jobs. She did offices in Queen Street fae six till eight in the mornin, then stairs up Easter Road efter she'd fed an dressed the bairns, an then she cleaned the school kitchens efter dinnertime. It's nae wonder she couldnae be bothered cleanin her hoose when she got hame. Noo ah'm nae yin fer talkin, but Mima wis a clarty besom. She swore like a trooper, smoked like a chimney, had no a tooth left in her heid, fartit when she felt like it, an she nivver cleaned her windaes. No beatin yer rugs every week, or missin yer brasses noo an again's yin thing, but haein dirty windaes? Well, there's nae excusin laziness is aw ah'm sayin...

Ah'm no even sure why she wis there that day. She wisnae yin fer spendin money, an PT's stuff wisnae her style onyway. She wis mair o a coats-fae-auld-rugs than a rugs-fae-auld-coats sortae wumman. Ah hadnae expectit tae see her there, an jist happened tae end up staunin next tae her in the line. Ah kent her fae when she wis a bairn in Lorne Street an her mither, auld Mrs Fleming, used tae serve in the Alhambra picture hoose ticket booth. She wis a quiet lassie, bonnie wee thing wi long jet black hair, rosie cheeks an bowdie legs. Ah used tae laugh at the bairns when ah watched them aw playin in the street an the laddies wid try tae ride their guiders atween Mima's legs, or get her tae be the goalposts. She jist laughed an telt them they'd be thankin her soon enough fer her legs...

She might no hae been there tae buy right enough, a lot o wummen in thon days couldnae walk past a line withoot jynin it. Ye aye wantit tae find a bargain whether ye needed it or could afford it or no. She might hae been oan the thieve, ye nivver ken. She widnae be the first an it wid hae been easy fer her tae sneak past the flairwalkers, bein sae wee, an ye wid nivver see her in a sales crowd. Mibbe she wis missin her work whit wi the holidays an that, an jist wantit somebody tae talk tae. It can be a lonely life if ye've no got yer work tae go tae. So ah let her rabbit oan. She soundit like she wis haein a right hard time wi her man an the bairns. That still disnae gie her an excuse no tae wash her windaes though.

Whitever she wis daein there ah'll nivver ken, fer ah lost sicht o her yince auld Mr Fraser the commisionnaire opened the doors an we aw rushed forrit. She seemed tae be headin fer ladies' underwear when she jist vanished. Ah ran aw the way up the stairs tae the millinery an found this lovely broon felt hat wi a wee yellae ribbon reduced fae yin pound fifteen shillin, ye cannae see the ribbon in the photie cos it wis oan the ither side. Ah wore that hat tae the kirk fer years, week in week oot, lasted me weel it did. Ah passed it oan tae some bairns fer a jumble sale in Buchanan Street, alang wi some tea-cosies ah'd knitted an three pound o' ma best pink-an-white coconut ice. It wis a grand hat so it wis, see, ah'm mistin up jist thinkin aboot it...

Ah'm tryin tae mind why ah had this photie taen. If ah mind right this wis taen the day they jyned the tramlines atween Embra an Leith, the last day o the Pilrig Muddle. Ye see, fer nigh oan twenty year, Leith Toun Cooncil had been runnin fast new electric trams, whilst Embra Corporation had still been oan the auld cable cars. Consequently, when ye were gaun by tram up tae Embra ye had tae get aff at Pilrig, cross the toun line, an climb oan an Edinburgh Corporation vehicle, which then dragged ye oan up the hill tae Greenside, past the auld Gallow Lee, past whaur stood the elm trees that ah wid meet ma pal Jean fae Picardy under, past the Tabernacle an Admiral Haldane's thrillin sermons. Thae auld cable trams were creaky affairs tho, an they were aye breakin doon, cable snappin or some such, an it wis a joke ye wid hear aw the time tae say that if ye were gaun tae Edinburgh, then yer quickest way wis tae take a tram tae Pilrig, an then walk the rest!

That wis aw many year ago, an even though we voted eighty percent tae stay independent o Embra, wi control ower oor ain affairs, we've accepted the 'union' that wis brought upon us. We Leithers are nae yins tae haud a grudge, not at aw. Let bygauns be bygauns, aw water unner the brig, nothin tae see here. Sae why are Edinburgh Cooncil tormentin us, threatenin tae revive the auld joke?

"Whit's the quickest way tae get tae Leith?"

"Ah dinnae ken, whit is the quickest way tae get tae Leith?"

"Take a tram tae York Place, get aff there cos ye huv tae, an walk the rest."

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