Pitt Street garage.


Crow black skies bring the threat of rain. The wind hustles fallen leaves and a tramped on can of Irn Bru along the street. Sitting on a bench at the ‘fit o’ the walk’ I meet an elderly woman. She tells me she stays in sheltered housing along the way but used to stay in flats by Leith Links. Drug dealers lived in the flat above hers and sometimes the addresses would get confused and she would get unwelcome visitors. She says she would open her door and say ‘….this is the brothel, the drugs are upstairs.’ I laugh. So does she. Pigeons huddle in the lee of a tenement roof. The woman tells me she is waiting for her friend to arrive. ‘She’ll be wearing her slippers. She says they’re boots, but they’re not, they’re slippers. Indoor slippers.’ A man begs for money for his children, a woman shouts ‘… Let me tell ‘you’ something….’, again and again until I can no longer hear. I continue my walk. It starts to rain.


In the city…



‘Up the Junction’ cafe. The waitress, new to the job, smiles at me. A young red haired girl comes out of a shop cradling half a dozen eggs in her hands, singing as she crosses the road. Donald Trump on the radio, customers murmur. Steaming plates of sausages and mash. The cafe owner doodles on his order pad. Outside the smell of mens’ cologne mingles with diesel fumes and stale beer in the doorway of the Central Bar. A woman in her car, sits smoking a last cigarette before her shift starts. The city’s recycled glass piled high at the edge of the quay. Gulls sit, picking amongst the shards, fragments of music pitching, falling, twinkling in the sun.

The picture framers.


Charlie Marr, picture framer, Leith. The shop – fluorescent tubes light the archive of forty years of scoring, cutting, nailing, stapling, glueing, fixing, stringing. Frames hang from the ceiling, row upon row of windows waiting to be filled with a pastel portrait of a first world war soldier, a photograph of a loved one. Landscapes you painted of a favourite view, the place where you fell for her, where you forgot to bring the flask of tea, again; to be mounted and boxed and glazed to keep the dust and the dirt away from what time does to paper and our memories.