I’ve uncovered a secret plot to turn Leith into East Berlin – Susan Morrison

26th August 1965:  British corporal Phyllis Luke with her American and French colleagues on duty at the Checkpoint Charlie border point in Berlin.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
26th August 1965: British corporal Phyllis Luke with her American and French colleagues on duty at the Checkpoint Charlie border point in Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Susan Morrison is not buying cover stories about roadworks around the Republic of Leith, which is clearly being sealed off with enough barriers to stop a Soviet invasion in its tracks.

For some time now the good people of Leith have suspected that we are steadily being sealed off from the city centre, although there is a sizeable body of opinion that isn’t particularly worried by that idea.

The steady isolation of the Republic was stepped up a notch this week, when the bridge on Great Junction Street was closed in one direction. Notably, that one direction was the one leading to the Kirkgate.

You’re not telling us that ­something is afoot. There’s a cover story that it’s to repair the bridge. Not buying that.

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Duke Street used to have a perfectly respectable roundabout at the end of it. There was a flower bed in the ­middle and very cheering that could be on a miserable morning. Gone. All gone. There are traffic lights now, which take so long to change you could read an entire instalment of the Harry Potter saga whilst you wait, and that gal Rowling writes books big enough to convert into a two-car garage.

Checkpoint Charlie near Pilrig Street?

Constitution Street is sealed off with enough barriers to see off an advance of Soviet tanks. Again. Just to make sure nothing can get along there, least of all the Number 16 bus, there’s huge hole in it now.

Leith Walk will soon be lost to us as the trams start their advance Shorewards. Roads will be closed, junctions rerouted and for all I know a Checkpoint Charlie installed somewhere around Pilrig Street.

Soon, there will only be one way out and one way in. And I think I’ve rumbled the plan. Leith is soon to be revisioned as the Arrivals Lounge. Think about it. There are more and more cruise ships pulling into Ocean Terminal.

Tourists piling off their ships are going to be funnelled carefully through Leith before being bussed up to the castle or off to Loch Ness.

Leith version of Hawaii welcome

To make our visitors feel even more welcome, the Leithers will be pressed into service to sing songs of greeting to our moneyed guests, like those folks at airports in Hawaii who do welcome dances and fling necklaces of flowers around your neck. Well, not mine, I get hay fever.

Obviously, we shall adapt our “hello to Scotland” for a more local flavour. We could welcome our tourists with a giant Strip the Willow. In fact, I bet we could pass smaller visitors all the way up the Walk.

That floral thing round the neck would have to go. We don’t have much in the way of local fauna to festoon people with. We’ve got empty crisp pokes a-plenty blowing in the wind, and whatever is currently floating on the surface of the Water of Leith. String that lot together, that’ll have to do.

Yes, good people, if we don’t stop this I see proud Leithers singing songs of welcome and draping Leith Leis around the necks of baffled Chinese tourists as we dance them on their way up to the turnstiled gateway to Edinburgh where the staff in Underbelly-branded fleeces will be waiting to sell them the entrance tickets.