Where I live this seems to be happening for two reasons. The first is akin to the gated community idea, though whether a real community exists I have no way of knowing. The fact that people live in the same housing estate does not mean they have much to do with each other in the normal course of events. All I know is that where once I could walk from one street to another, the route I used to take is blocked off by a wrought-iron gate to which only the residents have the key.
I have, of course, considered seizing up the lock with superglue or some similar substance but as yet I haven’t good round to it. Artfully placed plastic explosive has also crossed my mind, but I don’t have any and don’t know where to get it. The corner shop? The Dark Web?
What are the residents afraid of? That we long-time inhabitants of the area, straw sticking out of our ears, might resent these affluent newcomers and make off with their flat screen televisions in the night? Probably not. They just like to feel select.
The other category of locking out is more complicated. In the past, in the good old days, Infirmary Street boasted a Victorian swimming pool. The pool itself was excellent. I particularly admired the ladies who swam side by side, rather slowly, conducting lengthy conversations about the burning issues of the day. They always kept their heads carefully above water to protect their hairstyles. How they swam this way without killing their necks I shall never know. I couldn’t have done it. Let the water take the weight, I say.
Meanwhile, the upper floor hosted a series of cubicles each with its own bath much beloved of the gentlemen of the streets and the occasional student. So really, Infirmary Street Baths showed social stratification in action.
My route from the baths took me from Infirmary Street to High School Yards, at the end of which was an impressive flight of steps down to the Cowgate. Then the builders moved in and cordoned the area off. Renovation was under way. But when the renovation finished we found ourselves confronted by more wrought-iron, a heavy gate complete with lock. They shall not pass.
Why have the powers that be done this? I can’t be sure, but this is what I suspect. Since the steps were roofed, they were also popular with the gentlemen of the street, the occasional lady of the street, cans of lager and bottles of cider. Since what goes in must come out . . . To make matters worse, the steps are very near a Salvation Army establishment on the Pleasance where some of those concerned like to gather.
The steps at High School Yards are closed to all in order to exclude some.