Invisible Cities – Lassies of Leith Walking Tour

The evolution of the Edinburgh Fringe has long been a gripe for many locals. What was once a showcase for new and upcoming acts has turned into a jolly for television comedians. Jimmy Carr doing one night at the Conference Centre feels far from the Fringe I grew up with. 

The Invisible Cities walking tour certainly doesn’t have a corporate feel, thank goodness. Before we set off to discover some fascinating and saucy facts about the various “Lassies of Leith”, our award winning tour guide Paul tells us that he, like all the Invisible Cities guides, was once homeless and our ticket price will 100% go towards training other homeless people to be tour guides and supporting the charity’s initiatives to give the homeless more access to fundamental human needs.

Paul, himself a local legend, bats off some astounding Leith knowledge before we even get going. A clearly super intelligent man, he wears his learning lightly and his delivery of the various stories and tales is as down to earth as only a Leither can muster. We begin at the Queen Victoria Statue at the New Kirkgate. Sticky Vicky, Paul informs us, was both a drug and sex addict. It just gets juicier from there.

Whilst Paul is none too impressed by Sticky Vicky, “Drugs only became illegal when poor people started taking them, man!” he is clearly in awe of some of the women he celebrates on this tour and is quite disgusted that there are more statues in Edinburgh of dogs than women.

From medic and Suffragette Grace Cadell, Jacobite supporter Colonel Anne, the Queen of Leith and legendary publican Mary Moriarty to Mary Queen of Scots, Paul’s knowledge and eye for often scandalous detail is something to behold. He simply has a natural charm and gift for comedy.

At the end of the tour a few of us lament that we never had such interesting history teachers at school. Invisible Cities should certainly do school tours and see history degree applications soar in the capital.

Invisible Cities also run tours in Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and York and will soon be launching in Liverpool. It’s the perfect way to see the hidden secrets of a city.

Three new dates have been added: Saturday 14 August 1pm (2pm); Monday 16 August 2pm (3pm); Friday 20 August 11an (noon).

Tickets are available from Leith Comedy Festival

Paul of Invisible Cities