Morag’s blog about Max Blinkhorn’s idea for film shows in the Town Hall made me reflect on my first meeting with Max. It was in a cold meeting in Bellfield one dark night in January 2020, where I met, for the first time, the people who I now regard as friends, who formed the original Portobello Central Group, (the story of what ensued will be the subject of musings over a glass of something in due course).
Working my way back through history, I then reflected on how I came to be there. It was an email from Max, one Sunday lunchtime, as I savoured my oloroso sherry before a light early January lunch. I knew the name, of course, who could forget it, but why was he writing to invite me to the meeting and how did he get my email address? I have several addresses for different purposes. I accepted the invitation, still slightly unsure what I could offer, as a person largely unknown in the maelstrom of Portobello life.
The mental excavation continued. I had been invited, (well, perhaps put myself forward) to represent Northfield & Willowbrae Community Council at a meeting convened by the City of Edinburgh Council in the City Chambers to consider the future of the closed Town Hall – as many Town Hall users came from Duddingston, closer to the building than some parts of Portobello itself. I had sat next to a lively lady, who asked fervently for the Town Hall to be re-opened.
Then it clicked. I had previously sat next to the lively lady, now known to be our Jennifer Elliot, at a meeting in Bellfield on 28 August 2019 convened to consider the closure of the Town Hall in July. I had spoken vigorously, on behalf of my community council, for a new approach to the Town Hall, a building with potential and new opportunities.
As the meeting ended, we were invited to leave our email addresses if we wished to be kept informed of Town Hall progress. I was writing my address on the sheet, when a woman came up behind me and harangued me loudly about a planning issue dealt with many months previously. She wanted to know why I had not done something. The thought went through my head “ I don’t need this, they don’t need me to sort out the Town Hall, I’ll just go.” But I’d written half my address, so for some reason I completed it and was then chased out of the building by my haranguer still yelling about my incompetence.
So that’s how I joined a group which today is feeling good about the progress now in hand to re-open a safe Town Hall in the first part of 2022.
It’s taken 2 years – and lots of people doing stuff, working us back into the Town Hall.