Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Visit to Edinburgh - Part 1 - Trainspotting Tour of Leith

Last January I was the winner of a Trainspotting T2 promotion on Radio Nova 100 (a Dublin radio station). The prize included a walking tour of Leith, site of Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting and it's sequel Porno (films Trainspotting and Trainspotting T2). The  totally enjoyable "psycho-geographical" walking tour was led by Tim Bell of Leith Walks (http://www.leithwalks.co.uk/).


The tour was, as expected from seeing the film, a walk around some of the grittier areas of Leith, but Tim/Mr Bell gave a fabulous background to Welsh's fictional characters through historical and contemporary references. Cables Wynd House, dubbed "Banana Flats", is where "Sick Boy" hails from.


The Percy pub features in a spectacularly racist/bigot scene in Trainspotting.


I had not read the books, only seen the films, so Tim Bell gave great explanations of the fundamental difference: while the focus of the films was addiction, the focus of the books was loss of community with addiction being one of the results.


Leith was and is a working class town. On the tour we were also shown reproductions of historic prints showing its former glory as a harbour town. Some buildings survive to show this tale, as this architecture signifying ropemakers shows.


The carved stone decoration is magnificent.


Persevere is the motto of Leith.


Outside the Workman's Club, Tim Bell shows us the mural celebrating the port heritage of Leith. The mural was unveiled by Irvine Welsh.


I highly recommend the Leith tour and Tim Bell as a guide full of knowledge, humour and passion for history, literature and social pyschology. What a great start to a short holiday!