WHERE to live? Life used to be so much better in the past when you didn’t have any choice and never ventured beyond your village, where you toiled 16 hours a day, married a domestic animal, ate plain food with no chips (oven or otherwise) and died young from any number of causes. Happy days.

Today, subject to current restrictions and the threat of death, not to mention your job, income and mortgage prospects, you can choose where you want to live. I say this in the light of news that more and more people are choosing Leith.

Choose mortgage repayments, choose washing machines, “choose sitting on a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing f*****n junk food intae yir mooth”. Or choose Leith.

Any other reasons? Because it’s just been named Scotland’s best place to live. The historic port of Edinburgh topped the list of desirable locales with a citation saying it gave “people a sense of belonging and somewhere people can live their life to the full”. Now I remember why I left.

The survey also mentioned “trendy places to eat” but, apart from that, everything was positive.

Exulting in the news, Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, and source of the facetious choices outlined above, said: “Leith is the sexiest place in the world and it’s the home of Hibs, the sexiest club on Earth. Of course, people want to live there.”

One assumes Irvine isn’t referencing sex in the sense of something messy and disappointing. Although since Leith made messy and disappointing me, the point in that sense might be valid. Bear in mind I’ll have to qualify everything I say here with unfortunate interjections of reality.

For a start, I grew up in EH7, right on the border with Leith (EH6), just round from the Hibs ground, which is also EH7 but which, according to the maps, is just inside the border. So, as usual, the leitmotif of my life, I don’t really belong. Not anywhere. But at least Leith was pretty near.

First school: Leith Walk. First brush with death: Leith swimming pool. First job: shipping department, Leith. First pub: Leith. First bedsit: Leith. First rejection by the opposite sex: Leith. First punch in the face: Leith. Dad’s work: Leith. Dad cremated: Leith. Football team: Hibs. Favourite building (well, one): Custom House, Leith. Favourite restaurant: Vittoria on the Walk. Favourite Pizza Express: the Shore, Leith. Favourite mall: Ocean Terminal. Favourite sky: Leith

OK, I’m getting ridiculous, though it’s scientifically true that as soon as I reach the top of Leith Walk (not technically in Leith either) I do feel the sky change; I have come back to the sky of my childhood; I always recognise it.

That said, we used to talk of “going to Leith” in its deepest, darkest sense even though, ancestrally, we came from Leith: on my dad’s side, before all the Highland shepherds and parish peasants, it’s just Leith, Leith, Leith through the generations.

Leith is Scotland’s enigma. It’s undeniably a different place from wider Edinburgh, which is a cold, inhospitable wasteland populated by zombies and sufferers from psychic syphilis. You must have noticed this if you’ve ever visited it.

Leith, at its best, is all artisanship, integrity, grittiness, the stuff that comes, I guess, from a heritage of hard work, hard times and hard men. Not me, of course. Hard as a soy-based soufflé.

But Leith is in my soul, if not in my sinews. Leith gets to you like that. Leith is edgy, raj (mad), rebellious, radical, daft and down-to-earth. Leith is a good place to be.

Thumb and thumber

RIDDLE me this: who are the thumbs down brigade? You know: those folk who, on the most harmless and even much-loved or enjoyed YouTube videos, click the thumbs down button to say they didn’t like it.

In happier times, when the Colosseum was still in operation and much better value than the football, a thumbs down was the prerogative of the Roman emperor or similar fathead of wisdom and authority.

Today, it’s in the provenance of the ignorant mob. And where do the ignorant mob live, readers? Correct: online.

You see these thumbs down, perhaps a thousand of them to 100,000 thumbs up, on videos about selfless humans rescuing puppies or on genuinely uplifting films by undeniably pleasant people of integrity who provide interludes of joy or peace appreciated in testimonies by folk with problems or afflicted by gloom.

The thumbs doon is not a matter of taste. If you complain about a qualified person saving puppies, you should be traced and apprehended. No, it’s a matter of misanthropy.

Now, no one is more misanthropic than the present writer. I find the human race deplorable to such an extent that I do not believe we are the same species. I was sent to this planet in an administrative cock-up. Where it should have said Pleiades on my ticket, someone had written Leith.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t show kindness or try to encourage better behaviour among the poor, benighted savages waddling about on this wretchedly smelly orb. Indeed, it’s the misanthropic thumbs-downers that make me misanthropic.

These are people just being anonymously nasty. They’re an absolute shower. And they should be deplored in the strongest terms. What do the thumbs down brigade deserve, readers? Correct: a poke in the eye.

Follicle to be wise

THERE has been much anguish at the prospect of people having to cut their own hair.

I cannot see what the problem is. I’ve cut my own hair for years and look at me. Is that the sound of a woman weeping I can hear out there?

Here’s the technique: just run an upside doon beard trimmer over your heid. There’s no need to look during the operation because it’s not going to make a blind, so to say, bit of difference.

It’s not really possible to look anyway, ’cos your arm gets in the way and if, like me, you have to take off your glasses to do your heid properly, then everything’s a blur.

There is, I admit, a slight to very large chance that you’ll get a Mohican down the back, as you can never get that middle bit done right. There’s also a fair to highly probable chance of bald patches.

But it’s a small price to pay and saves you five or six pounds a time, or whatever a haircut or perm costs these days.

No sweater

ONE thing I thought about taking up recently was knitting. You titter, but the temptation was driven by need.

I just had to have a woolly pullover – or sweater or jumper – like my Mammy used to make. I got laughed at for saying “pullover” recently. What’s that about?

But a woolly jersey is the impossible dream. They just don’t make them any more. Well, they do, but I can’t afford 300 notes for these Icelandic efforts. Every other pullover in the world is acrylic. Even when I went online, and looked in a local shop, all they had was “acrylic wool”. What’s that about? Either it’s acrylic or it’s wool.

When I asked a knitting person about this scandal, she said it was to do with cost. But, since the last time I looked (admittedly some time ago), you could buy a sheep for a fiver, how does that compute?

And, no, I’m not going to buy a sheep, shear it, add chemicals to the wool, dye it and then knit with it. Somebody should be doing all that for me. It’s disgraceful.