CALLS in this here Herald for more people to move back into city centres got me thinking.

Perhaps “thinking” is an exaggeration but, oddly enough, I had at least been discussing this very subject with friends. The motion before the public house was that, if you’re going to live in the city, you should live right in the city. Ditto the countryside.

Suburbia, where I live, is half-way between the two, making it both ideal and unsatisfactory. No one is ever really happy with a compromise.

My characteristically unhappy contribution to the discussion was coloured by recent visits to Easter Road, Leith Walk and Easter Road in Edinburgh. These bustling streets, with their commerce, pubs and restaurants, are such a relief from the deadness of suburbia.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy deadness. But one needs variety, even a little life, from time to time. I’m sure if I lived in proper city streets like the above I’d be yearning for the suburbs. The pavement is always greyer on the other side.

When, years ago, I considered buying a flat in deepest Leith, my mortgage consultant said I’d hate it because of the noise. She knew my obsession with quietness, but I’d come to see that blessed state as an impossibility.

Previously, I’d lived in the remote wilderness where, within a week of moving in, workmen from a salmon farm had pulled up their cages on the beach in front of the house and started rhythmically hammering on them.

There were also sheep with their irritating baa-ing. So, I thought, if you’re going to have noise, you might as well have proper noise: from drunks and the like. Background racket, like white noise, can be comforting. The Lord has blessed me with tinnitus anyway so, even in silence, I’m always hearing something.

The deepest silence I feel is at my friends’ house in Skye. Every time I arrive after the long, engine-harsh journey, the silence washes over me immediately. It is soothing, living, a presence made of absence.

But, even there, a road runs fairly nearby (it’s almost impossible to get away from roads, even on islands). Noisy boats start up. A workman’s radio booms across the bay. A dog barks. That old cliché in fiction that says “somewhere in the distance a dog howled” would be followed by me shouting: “Shurrup!”

Of course, I’m being ridiculous. My point is that a similar, relative silence should be available in the suburbs. But it ain’t.

In the suburbs, you can find yourself next to someone who plays the dreaded doomf-doomf-doomf music at all hours. Summer brings aural re-enactments of the Battle of Somme as the B&Q gardening artillery is deployed.

But this is all lug-hole geography. What about the sights? Skye is obviously beautiful but, returning to Edinburgh recently, I thought it equally so.

The best way to enter Edinburgh is from the south by road. Come off at Fairmilehead and, before Comiston Road, take a detour down Braid Road. A panorama across the city and the Firth of Forth opens up before you, and the posh streets are so glorious at this time of year, with their flowering cherry trees.

But there’s a dark underbelly, mainly related to parking. Once, I parked in a broad side-road here. Mine was the only car in it. When I returned, someone had parked right on my vehicle’s rear bumper.

It happens frequently. And worse: tyres slashed, paintwork scratched. All for parking near the house of these savage, territorial suburbanites. Friends have suffered the same.

The suburban Edinburgh bourgeoisie are the most vicious people in the world. They’re like the ratepayers’ wing of Isis. They’re proof that modern evolution only really applies to technology. Humankind? Not so much.

I’ve lived in dreadful urban environments and found people there more civilised than in the anti-social suburbs. There’s beauty in the inner city too: proper architecture rather than identical semis. The sun shining on old stone streets and backgreen walls warms my soul and takes me back to childhood summers.

There are more young persons in the city – all life and hope and beauty (I’m sounding like Miss Flite out of Bleak House now) – whereas the suburbs are full of folk shuffling quietly towards their graves.

The inner city is probably for the young, but communities benefit from a mix of ages. When young, I didn’t like living only among the young and, when old, I won’t like living only among the old.

To conclude inconclusively, I don’t know what I want, apart from everything: a flat in the city centre, a villa in the suburbs, and a dacha in the country. Well, don’t just sit there with your mouth hanging open, God. Make it so.