, ,

On Saturday night they queued outside St Andrew’s Church, Muirhouse, to attend a memorial service for Mikaeel Kular. Early that morning police found the three year old’s body in the woods next to his former home in Kirkcaldy.

The Kirkcaldy address makes you wonder why deaths like his don’t happen more often. Think of a caravan built of bricks with a Sky dish tacked on. In Newmarket the stables – houses for horses to live in – look more prepossessing. 

Welcome to the pinched world of Kirkcaldy, part of the Ancient Kingdom of Fife….or Poundland, where masked robbers raid Glen [the] Bakers, making off in the delivery man’s van with cash from the till, his phone, and perhaps a pile of Scotch pies (salt content to rival the Dead Sea); and the local sign writers haven’t yet mastered the English language.

Back in Muirhouse on the north side of Edinburgh, again there’s little to stop us killing each other. Many of the postwar flats have already gone – the last bonkers tenant (‘no surrender’, ‘remember the Alamo’, ‘citizens’ republic of Pennywell Gardens’) was evicted in 2007. But the new housing stock seems to have the same pinched look built in. Is it something they add to the cement?

Then look again at the Saturday night queue. These people are more than the sum of their ‘built environment’. They are not tacky or tawdry. They don’t appear to be climbing on to the emotional bandwagon, either. Suffused with light, which happens to be coming from inside the church, they look like people who wanted to help find that boy and give him back his life. Now he’s been found dead, they’d like to give something back to each other.

Just don’t read the messages tacked to the teddy bears.