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Protempore …

Seagulls the size of Shetland ponies



I wake up trying to scream and suppress a scream, which leaves me making a noise like a car alarm being suffocated


Once upon a time, long ago, this wee magazine used to concentrate on local matters, with contributors waxing lyrical and not so lyrical about concerns and issues regarding Leith and its immediate environs. The magazine has obviously changed over time, but I thought that I’d try to resurrect the spirit of Dutton Peabody, and comment on some local villains who have had Leithers old and new, spluttering into their early morning beer or latte.

As always, I wake up long before the alarm goes off. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve questioned myself about even setting the alarm. What’s the point? Either the crushing weight of my conscience, the anxiety dreams, my bladder, or the seagulls will always bring me round long before the bleeps start.

Now and again, all four kick off at once, and I wake up simultaneously trying to scream and suppress a scream, which leaves me making a noise like a car alarm being suffocated. Or even worse than all of those, I get woken up by the guy who, without fail, has dragged his metal milk crate across the cobbles right underneath my bedroom window at approximately 04.12am for the last twelve years.

I’ve often wondered if there have been different milk guys, but figure not as the same van is always parked in the same spot whenever I look out, and the nocturnal fucker is almost always whistling or humming the same, inane, unknowable tune.

What is it with people who do that? Why do people just whistle or hum a random series of disconnected notes which are obviously designed to slowly send you off your rocker? Why can’t they learn or memorise just one tune that someone, somewhere might vaguely recognise?

The nocturnal dairy man would seriously reduce his chances of being murdered if only he could learn a proper tune. The sun has got his hat on; or Zip-a-dee-do-da; or, if he had any decency at all, he would really apply himself and learn Good Morning by the Beatles, complete with its complex structure and rooster noises. Anything would be better than listening to him clattering along the street and going “Dah da dee, dee dee dah, dee dee dee, diddy da”.

I’ve often thought about how I might go about killing him, and then some Truman Capote-type could chronicle the events which led up to the brutal slaughter. It would be called ‘In Cold Milk’.

I’m old enough to remember Bernie Flint, the singing milkman who appeared on the old television programme Opportunity Knocks. As far as I can remember, he at least had the decency to inflict his talent on the population at a reasonable hour, not before five in the morning. I wonder what happened to him?

And what about the seagulls? Now I’m not the type to start writing letters to the council in green crayon demanding action and threatening to withhold my council tax if nothing gets done. But, seriously, these bucket-raking bastards must surely be coming into the realms of what the council or any sane person would regard as noise nuisance.

Someone once told me that the particular species which currently inhabit almost every corner of Edinburgh are a protected species. This apparently means that you can’t experiment on them by using bread filled with bicarbonate of soda which, according to local legend, make their bellies swell up and then explode.

It would be just my luck to try this, find out that they’re actually immune to the soda’s explosive chemical properties, and the only effect would be that they grow to be the size of Shetland ponies.

Thinking about it though, if they did grow to be that size, maybe they wouldn’t need to scream and rake the buckets, they could get their food by just flying around picking off small dogs and toddlers.

There are, of course, benefits to being woken up in the middle of the night. You get to see the sun coming up, or, given the way our weather’s going at the moment, you get to see a glimmer of light appearing at a far-off spot through the haar or the horizontal rain.

You can be showered and ready for the day before the day’s ready for you. You can treat yourself to two breakfasts, one before dawn and one with Dawn when she eventually wakes up. I know what you’re thinking, lack of a good night’s sleep is probably low down on the list of our worries at the moment and you’d be right. But I’d really like just one, long decent slumber before I succumb to the big sleep.

P.S. Bernie Flint is still going strong, playing clubs and cruise ships, and singing his one big hit I don’t want to put a hold on you.

I’d like to put a hold on his alter ego, the milkman, and throw him to the seagulls.

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